BATHORY - An Epic Interview With Quorthon

Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen

AH...! BATHORY. It's been a while since I have heard anything from them either in a form of new BATHORY releases or just in a form of interviews, wild rumors, - whatever you can make up in your vivid mind really.

"Blood on Ice", their previous and one of the BATHORY's most monumentally moving concept albums, came out as late as 1996, so I was taken by a rather big surprise when I found a promotional-CD for BATHORY's new opus "Destroyer of Worlds" from amongst my mail when arriving back to home after a stressful day at work. It's been 5 tremendously long years of waiting since Quorthon made his previous move concerning his very much ambitious song writing - and the following chat between me and the master Quorthon himself is mostly based on the details of making "Destroyer of Worlds", but there's also many other interesting topics and facts touched upon of which I haven't had the slightest clue about before. I have to admit that I learnt a HELL of A LOT more 'bout everything around Quorthon himself and BATHORY; some REAL hard facts that should dock the ugliest gossips and all the bad talk round the ultimate pioneers of both Black - and Viking Metal, BATHORY once and for all.

So stay tuned - all of you, as Quorthon speaks out about the past and the present of BATHORY; a bit of Vikings, more of women, a rotten business around the Heavy Metal circus, oi-punkers and host of other mind-wrecking things as well..."


Hi there Mr. Quorthon! So, what are your chief feelings right now when you´ve reached at least one milestone in your long-lasting career by getting out your 10th studio album, titled "Destroyer of Worlds"? 

I guess after 18 years and 17 releases I'm used to it. When it all comes down to it, though, it's really not about quantity but about quality. The quality will not be determined by you or me but by the audience. So I guess it's just like any other album no more or less.

 

 

 

Would you let the readers of METAL-RULES.COM know next, what kind of a process was it to actually come up with all this stuff for this new BATHORY album ´coz to me it seems like since your previous output, "Blood On Ice" came out 5 years ago in 1996, you´ve had a rather long period to come - and work up with new BATHORY compositions for "Destroyer of Worlds" and bring the songs to maturity within this period of the time on the quiet? And did you use all the songs (i.e. 13 songs clocking in at 66 minutes...) for this new - pretty damn pompously titled new BATHORY creation - or is there any leftover material somewhere left from these particular sessions to be used for your future efforts possibly?

Actually, the reason as to why it took so long was the growing awareness of what the fans really wanted from a new album, that changed our direction. I had written more than 25 songs for a new BATHORY album. When we began working on demos and pre-production, we told Black Mark that they could let people know that an album was being worked on. So there was an official release date out. This led to a flood of fan mail during 1999-2000 from fans talking about how much they wanted this new album. They mentioned how much they wanted it to sound like a mix of the albums released in the 1987-1990 period. I realized then, that if BATHORY would have released an album containing this rather progressive material that we were working on, it would have been to go in a direction which was not what most of our fans wanted. So we decided to scrap all that material and write stuff that reminded of earlier BATHORY albums. The material on DESTROYER OF WORLDS was hastily written in June this summer. Nothing on DESTROYER OF WORLDS is older than that. Nothing of the material we had written in these interim years ever ended up on DESTROYER OF WORLDS. Perhaps in the future on the next album for 2002, will we use some of that material, it all depends on what the fans really has to say. That scrapped material was very progressive and not at all what's on the earlier classic BATHORY albums or what's on DESTROYER OF WORLDS.

Initially we wanted to take a break after having done BLOOD ON ICE. During the first half of the 80's we had done three albums containing semi satanic death metal. In the later half of the 80's we did three albums containing epic Nordic metal. Then we remembered our more brutal fans and out of that came two hardcore power metal albums. These two hardcore type of albums were not very well liked by the majority of our fan base which at the time were totally into anything the Nordic epic stuff. So we released BLOOD ON ICE as a souvenir to all our Nordic metal fans. In addition to that we had released three "Jubileum" volumes to celebrate 10 and 15 years, plus I did two solo albums. I felt it would be good to take a break, to come up with fresh ideas and to let both BATHORY and the audience get the hunger back.

Originally the break was supposed to be for only two years or something like that. And so just when we thought we had found a new style and sound and a new direction for BATHORY for the 21st Century, the fans wrote us and said they want a new album to sound like the classical BATHORY. DESTROYER OF WORLDS is therefore a mixture of earlier BATHORY albums sound and style-wise.

 

 

 

People may get an idea that you write new BATHORY songs in the terms of what your fans decide only - and NOT the way how YOU feel or want your songs to be like. So that makes me to ask from you what´s actually a balance between you and the BATHORY fans; how much do you write primarily for yourself only and how much for the fans?

Well, actually I write for myself not one bit. At least not in the sense that all I do on BATHORY albums are according to my personal taste. Naturally I will hopefully be able to do things in such a way that I am satisfied while in the writing and recording process. It must always be interesting to work. It must never be a pain in the ass. But the actual direction - the style and the whole form of BATHORY material in large - is always a case of trying to get as close as we can to the requests from the majority of our fan base.

When people write us and ask for a specific sound and style, the requests may be very diverse. It depends on whether it's a 100% Black/Death Metal fan writing us asking for more brutal stuff, or whether it's a 100% Viking/Nordic Metal fan writing and asking for more heavy Epic stuff. With every album we have produced, we have basically always disappointed up to 50% of our fan base. You will not please our more brutal Death Metal audience with an album like "Hammerheart" or "Twilight of the Gods". By the same token, you will have no sympathy from our Viking Metal audience if you release an album like "Requiem" or "Octagon".

Then you tend to allow yourself to be led into either one or the other direction of style. That is why perhaps our back catalogue may seem pretty schizoid. Our third album "Under the Sign…" contained a couple of tracks ("Enter the Eternal Fire" and "Call from the Grave") which received a lot of response from our fan base. They requested for more stuff like that. So we developed that a bit further on our fourth album "Blood Fire Death" with tracks like "Odens Ride over Nordland", "A Fine Day to Die" and "Blood Fire Death" plus that sections of many of the other more traditional Death stuff on that album were arranged differently.

We began to arrange our music in layers, incorporating multi-track-backing vocals, acoustic guitars and an atmospheric depth. This was much liked by our audience. We began to sell much more albums, receive a lot more fan mail and magazines stopped calling us Venom clones. Considering that I have never owned a Venom album in all my entire life, it felt weird to be dubbed a copy of something you knew nothing about at all.

But the change from the material on albums like "Bathory" and "The Return…" and the material on albums like "Hammerheart" and "Twilight of the Gods", was a change that was requested by the majority of our fan base, according to the fan mail. And the change wasn't happening over night, it took several albums for that change to occur. Now looking back, it is easy to compress time and just have a quick look back on the albums, label them and say that "this is Death" and "this is Viking". Our fan base asked for the change but it took several years and several albums to happen.

Once we had done "Hammerheart" and "Twilight of the Gods", we realized that our Death fans had been neglected. They wrote us and begged for some brutal shit again. So we did "Requiem" and "Octagon". By that time the entire audience, not just BATHORY fans, were so used to BATHORY as "the Vikings", that "Requiem" and "Octagon" was received with a bit of a cold hand.

Since the Death and Viking styles are very hard to combine, it is difficult to make an album containing both styles in an effort to satisfy your entire fan base. So in a way the most important thing is to make sure that at least the majority of your fan base gets what it want. If you don't write us and let us know what you want from BATHORY, it is impossible for us to know what to do. We can of course make an album entirely by our own mind and heart, but we don't buy or own albums. I don't even have the BATHORY CD's myself. The fans buy our albums. They pay my rent. They put food on my table. They have made it possible for me to live off my music. I haven't had a job for 15 years. They are the reason for BATHORY having made albums for 18 years. Their request must reign supreme as far as the style and sound of BATHORY is concerned.

 

 

 

How did the making of "Destroyer of Worlds" differ from the making of "BLOOD ON ICE" as far as both the song/lyric writing - and the time you spent in the studio are all concerned? You had explained in very detailed way how much work you had to sacrifice for putting all the songs together for "BLOOD ON ICE" due to a large number of different things indeed, so maybe "Destroyer of Worlds" got you off a bit more easily this time around... ?

Of course it was easier doing ""DESTROYER OF WORLDS" than "Blood On Ice". "Blood On Ice" was recorded over a number of years, on tape varying in width. We had to add a lot of stuff and tie the story together. The reason for the rather extensive booklet that came with "Blood On Ice" was to explain the whole history of the making of "Blood On Ice". We started to record "DESTROYER OF WORLDS" on the 24th of July. We worked for only 112 hours (that's the truth) in a demo studio in Stockholm.

 

 

 

I bet it was a rather time-consuming task to get the story together for "BLOOD ON ICE", but while you were doing it, did you have to scrap some of those ideas that were intended to be a part of it due to way too different, "unfitting" ideas in them - and instead of using them for "B.O.I.", you ended up saving some of them for some of your future efforts possibly?

I think I understand what it is you are trying to say in a very nice way. You're asking for "Blood On Ice" part II. "Blood On Ice" was recorded during several sessions. We played with the idea of making a concept album already around the "Blood Fire Death" period, but cancelled the whole project when we realized most of our fans were still into Death Metal. It had only been a couple of years since we had done stuff like "The Return".

The "Blood On Ice sessions were never completed. During the years that went by through interviews, fans found out about the existence of the "Blood On Ice" material. They believed it to be a complete album ready to be released in 24 hours.

It was a lot of work making it into an album. First of all we had to copy all of the recorded material onto modern 2" tapes. Then we had to decide what to keep and what to re-record. Much had never been done properly either. Some of the songs lacked guitar solos, vocals or even an ending etc.

There wasn't a tough or time-consuming task to write the story itself. I just allowed myself to be liberally inspired by the Wagner operas and the original Conan story written by Robert E Howard in the 1930's sometime. It's not a "Viking" saga. It has nothing to do with Sweden or Vikings at all. It's just a saga.

To fully answer your question, there are no original "Blood On Ice" tracks left out and no material scrapped to be released at a later stage. But we did cut out a middle section in a couple of songs like "Revenge of the Blood On Ice", "One Eyed Old Man" and "The Ravens".

 

 

 

Unlike ""BLOOD ON ICE"", which was pretty much a thematic concept album, "D.O.W." contains very different material both song - and lyric-wise; offering some epic "Viking" Metal, Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal and even almost straight Rock´n´Roll to its listener. It´s like an album that sums up everything and almost every musical style you have done on all your previous 9 albums. Was your main purpose just to do so; to give all the BATHORY fans an album which could contain everything that BATHORY has - and is - and will be all about - and "Destroyer of Worlds",  BATHORY´s 10th opus in order, was an ideal, golden opportunity to recollect all these years together for just this particular album?

Well, like I said earlier; "DESTROYER OF WORLDS" was tailor made for the taste of the many various groups of BATHORY fans. We have fans who only enjoy the heavy, slow, powerful Viking styled Nordic metal from some albums. And we have fans that enjoy only the more brutal, hardcore death stuff we have done on other albums. In order to please them all, we decided that this was the way it had to be done after almost five years of resting.

 

 

 

What was - or what were the most challenging yet time-consuming thing(s) you needed to face while putting the album together? One tiny detail out of all this hard work must be figuring out the running order of the songs for "D.O.W." Could it have been the most ideal one for the album which, however, in the final end, adhered to a certain order: The 1st three songs, "Lake of Fire", the title track, ""Destroyer of Worlds" and "Ode" could as well be placed onto either "Hammerheart" or "Twilight of the Gods"; the most epic albums of the whole BATHORY career. Then we get "Bleeding" which sounds very much like a pure Thrash Metal song which, on the other hand, could easily be placed on either "Requiem" or "Octagon" albums. With the 5th song on "D.O.W.", titled "Pestilence", we are thrown back to an epic world of BATHORY again for a while ´til we get totally thrashed by "109" and "Death from Above" - and so on and so on. There seems to be this certain formula on the album how you´ve obviously figured on while you have sketched out the running order of the songs on a piece of paper in order to place the songs into some certain musical periods - am I right? But obviously figuring out the running order of these songs for "D.O.W." was one of the minor things you had to go thru in this massive process anyway...

Well, I don't know if there ever was a massive process at all. ""DESTROYER OF WORLDS" was the second most rushed album we have ever done. I am not even sure we got all the guitar solos done, some songs even had just temporary vocal lines and acoustic guitar parts etc. We spent just two weeks (the studio report says 112 hours effective time) doing the album. We didn't even have time to shit. Because we had been working on this other project between late 1999 and early 2000, then cancelled it and tried to come up with a mix of styles that would please all of our fans, the release date had been pushed forward all the time. So we had to rush things to have the album ready for release on October the 8th. As a comparison the first album took 56 hours to do. This album was the second quickest we have ever done.

Some songs were given a different position on the album at the very last moment so that the titles and lyrics come in a different order than the actual tracks. The album cover was manufactured even before we had recorded the album. Some have asked me if the World Trade Center incident inspired the artwork, but the truth is that the cover was ready already back in early July.

 

 

 

What kind of things actually caused all these delays to get "Destroyer of Worlds" out earlier? Do you think if this album wasn´t so "rushed", it would possibly have a bit different songs on it as well?

There were no delays with the actual release of "Destroyer of Worlds". Like I said in my answer to your second question; the delay was due to the fact we began a project that was cancelled due to what the fan mail asked for. The release date was pushed forward all the time making everybody believe that we have been working on "Destroyer of Worlds" all this time.

We had a meeting with our record company in February this year during which it was decided that it would probably be best if we, after so many years of absence, would return with the classical BATHORY sound. The ever forwarded release date kept people on their toes and made everybody talk about this album even before we had started to record it.

It may have seemed that we have been working on "Destroyer of Worlds" forever. But we began writing the material for "Destroyer of Worlds on the 10th of June. We began recording on July the 24th. Nothing of the material on "Destroyer of Worlds" was ever intended for the cancelled album of 1999-2000. These tracks didn't even exist back then. No material written and worked-on in 1999-2000 is on "Destroyer of Worlds".

Of course "Destroyer of Worlds" could have sounded much different if we would have had more time to work on it. Because of other people having first their holiday to attend to, then working their regular jobs during the day so that we could record only during the evenings for a few hours, the recording of "Destroyer of Worlds" turned out pretty rushed. I mean 112 hours is fucking nothing. I have a hard time believing the studio report myself. But it's accurate. We worked between 4-5 hours per evening for a couple of weeks.

 

 

 

Did the kind of thoughts ever cross your mind that you could have recorded "Destroyer of Worlds" with a stable line-up, well, let´s say, dividing the burden of song writing between other members as well - and that way, easing up your own efforts at the same time a little bit, too? Or, are you basically that type of person who isn´t too keen on making any compromises; that´s why you rather work alone than share your musical ambitions and visions with anyone else except with yourself?

I have been working with one other person in the studio this time as well. There has always been this stupid thing said about BATHORY to be a one-man-band. Reality is that BATHORY is a studio project. It is not a band. We don't think in terms of line-ups. BATHORY is not a member's thing. We have no ambitions to be anything like any other act. BATHORY is just the music on the releases.

 

 

 

So, could you then reveal who were the rest of the studio musicians involved with the recording of D.O.W." ´coz there´s no credits - whatsoever(!) for them to be found in the sleeves of that particular album. Maybe that´s done on purpose, I don´t have a clue... And if there´s always been some other musicians recording and playing some instruments for the BATHORY albums, why haven´t you credited every dude separately on each of the BATHORY release what their role have been on those albums, etc. ´coz I´m pretty darn sure that people are dying to find out the remaining warriors of the BATHORY -hordes by their real names? There´s just no question that many people still think BATHORY is a one-man band, run by Quorthon only...

"Reveal"…I am so amused how much people care about "other musicians" or "line-ups". I have said it millions of times and I don't know how many more ways that I can say it. I play the guitar and bass plus doing all the vocals with a friend of mine helping me out with the drums and the drum machine. BATHORY is a studio project 100% and has been since 1989. If it would please anybody, I can make up a lot of names just to please everybody who asks for line-up names all the time. Allow me to just use an example from the past. When we recorded the first album, the original line-up had just split. The other two original members weren't interested in continuing. They wanted to do other things in life and their interest was more towards main stream heavy metal.

The number of fan mail in response to the two tracks on the "Scandinavian Metal Attack" compilation we did in January 1984 was endless. The record company asked us to write material for a full-length album. But there was no line-up.

Nobody had ever even thought about the band as something serious. We had no ambitions to make records or make a name for ourselves at all. We just wanted to have fun in the rehearsal place and play for the sake of making noise.

In order to record that first album, I asked a couple of friends of mine to help me out. They were oi-punkers and easily adapted to the style. After all, BATHORY's origin is a mixture of early Black Sabbath, early Motörhead and early GBH. We spent just 56 hours recording the first album. We were happy to have made an album. We were shit kids that had just come out of school. I could never even have dreamed of what would come out of this debut.

By the time the first album became such a tremendous hit, and it was decided that we should make a second album, I still didn't think of BATHORY as something that would go on into the 21st century.

At the time, the ever-ruling trend in Sweden was the sound and style of Europe. Every asshole that I had coming down the rehearsal place to audition, looked and played that shit. It didn't matter that we had a record contract, people just didn't want to sweat and wear black spiked leather. I would addition tons of bass players and drummers between 1984 and 1988. When some of the albums were recorded I could end up having played up to 50% of the bass on a record.

When an album was released, the question was if we really should confuse those who bought the record by have listed on the album cover a set of names of people who were not in the band anymore. They might have played on the tracks, but had decided that commercial metal was their thing and consequently left shortly after the recording or even during the making of an album. We decided to just release the albums without names and pictures.

Still someone had to answer questions when talking to the fanzines that wrote us and asked for interviews. It was only natural that it was going to be me answering the questions and occasionally my picture would be in the interviews.

By the time we actually did have a stable line-up that stayed together for more than 6 months and we actually could put a line-up photo and names on an album ("Blood Fire Death"), people were so used to the fucking one-man band issue. They just brushed the line-up shot off as a fake. I realized then it didn't matter what we said or did, people make their own mind up about things. So I stopped caring about all that bullshit.

And I am still amazed that people are interested in knowing the name of someone who might have banged on the drums on this or that song. I don't even remember their names and I don't care to remember.

 

 

 

Now if you´re looking back, do you still remember what kind of things inspired you to write such songs as "Lake of Fire", "Destroyer of Worlds" and "109", for instance? As far as I have understood while you were putting songs together for "D.O.W.", you were influenced and inspired by several different type of things at that time; from great Viking-like stories to World War II to motorcycles to even "socially aware" of topics - and even more really! That´s quite "extraordinary" by the standards of BATHORY if you ask from me or someone elz ´coz BATHORY is, however, mostly known for its "blood-fire-death" themes more than anything.

I think it all depends on whom you are talking to. One fan may regard BATHORY as an old death metal act that wimped out and started to do Nordic stuff. Another fans may regard BATHORY as a Viking power act that has a brutal death metal past. Some people may regard BATHORY as either this or that.

That is the whole point. You aren't supposed to be able to pin BATHORY down to one style and sound. BATHORY is a lot of things. BATHORY still makes albums after 18 years despite no tours. And we sell more albums today than we ever did in the 80's and the 90's. The pre-sale figures for "DESTROYER OF WORLDS" is almost ten times higher than the pre-sales figures for any other BATHORY album. All this is because BATHORY is interesting and not tied to a temporary fashion or fad.

Any "Viking-stories"? I am not even mentioning anything Viking related on all of "DESTROYER OF WORLDS". I wrote a track about the old Messerschmitt Me 109, because there are so many Spitfire exhibitions, Mustang TV programs, Flying Fortress books, Hurricane posters and Thunderbolt movies around. I felt sorry for the old 109. Also, because I know the Germans are hysterical about not mentioning anything that has got anything to do with WW2, I always try to slide something like that in on an album just to piss them off.

One Canadian journalist asked me once; -"How come that you, who are such a big hockey fan, never did a hockey track?" He was of course making a joke, but I though it was a great idea and wanted to be the first to do a hockey track, and so I did "Sudden Death" just for fun.

"Krom" is about riding a Harley-Davidson, which I do. A fan wrote me and said that I had stated so many times that Motörhead was one of the reasons for the start of BATHORY. Yet BATHORY had never done anything related to motors. I had already used the sound of my bike on a track on my second solo album, but that particular track wasn't about bikes, it was just about breaking away. This time the whole track was about riding a Harley.

"Death From Above" is about the bombing of Berlin in WW2. Again, because the Germans are allergic to WW2, I wanted to use that topic and paint with words the imagery of around the clock bombing of a civilian target in WW2. I am not taking a side, I just simply describing actual facts. I was in Berlin one time when this enormous thunderstorm broke out one evening. The combination of that ever present smell of typical German brown coal and all that lightning sort of inspired the lyric to "Death from Above".

"White Bones" is a true story. We had some cases of young women in Scandinavia ending up in Swedish and Norwegian black cults. I just wanted to describe the true story of this American girl who ended doing the same thing some twenty years ago.

"Destroyer of Worlds" is about Openheimer who if not invented so at least put together the first practical atomic bomb. I read a biography on Openheimer. There was this moment when he watched the blast of the first atomic bomb in the Nevada desert that summer of 1944, when he remembered a part from an old Hindu script referring to the death god Shiva. When Shiva one day came down to earth, he introduced himself to an old man as death - the destroyer of worlds. That split second when Openheimer was suppose to have been just as happy as all the rest of the crew around him, he felt sad and realized the powers they had just unleashed. So he spoke out loud to himself that now he had become death - the destroyer of worlds. After having spent some 4 years, some 200.000 hours and some 6 billions US dollars on trying to construct an atomic bomb, and now it actually worked, he should have been very happy indeed. But then there was this moment when he realized what they had actually done. I really liked that contrast that occurred within a split second going from joyous celebration to seriousness. At the end of the song you can hear how the bomb is carried afar over Hiroshima (that is why there are Japanese instruments in there).

If anyone finds Viking or satanic stuff in there, it is more the imagination of the listener and the idea of BATHORY as either a satanic death metal act or a Nordic Viking act, more than anything else. I was very careful not to use those topics.

 

 

 

Another question goes, did you kind of want to break the basic rules of BATHORY this time a bit more and somewhat "conquer" new, untouched venues (mostly lyrically, tho.) where BATHORY has never been that determinedly earlier before? 

In a way, lyrically some new ground was won on "DESTROYER OF WORLDS". Musically you always have to take great measures not to stride away too much. The material that we scrapped last year was much more progressive lyrically as well as musically. The lyrics on "DESTROYER OF WORLDS" I think do not achieve a revolution as far as BATHORY is concerned. It's still BATHORY in a way but with a slightly different touch.

 

 

By now, people, I mean the fans around you, really should realize that there´s really no limits for you to deal with several, different types of topics in your lyrics whereas many other bands really cannot move too much lyrically or musically by getting stuck with some certain styles and themes for the rest of their lives due to bands´ image and genres where they are coming from. Still, aren't you afraid of losing some of the credibility which you´ve gained over the years by moving your limits further and further constantly by breaking certain rules within the world of BATHORY both music and lyric-wise as well? What could some of these disadvantages possibly be in your opinion with regard to the very matter here indeed?

One bit of stretching the limit back in the mid 80's was a track like "Enter the Eternal Fire" which received much more response than all the rest of the material on "Under the Sign…". If so many of your fans write you and beg for more like that you'll expand further. If we hadn't expanded and picked up other sounds and topics, we would either still sound like the sons of Satan or no longer exist at all. Then nothing of the so-called Viking Metal period would ever have happened.

If after 18 fucking years and 17 fucking releases we can not make a song about motorcycles or ice hockey without people scratching their heads wondering how the hell we dare to pick up other topics than hell or broadswords, then there are two ways to go. Either you give up for being too afraid to write about anything else than one single topic, then you'll die artistically and stay in the same corner all your life. Or you don't give a fuck and just try to mind about your more intelligent fans and keep on being creative.

People have always had bigger problems with BATHORY's image and the image of Quorthon than I have. There have always been so many strange rumors around BATHORY fanning the image and legend of BATHORY. Some say that I eat babies flesh, drink blood and live in a cave in the North of Sweden. Some say that I am a satanic neo-nazi Viking. Some say I died in 1991 and was replaced by the record company. I stopped caring at the end of the 80's. People were either saying that BATHORY were the original Black Metal gods that wimped-out, or BATHORY was the creators of Viking Metal with a satanic history. Everybody wanted to pin you down style-wise.

While we did care about the majority of the fan mail that we received in the past couple of years asking for a classical BATHORY album in the 1987-1990 style, we didn't want to use the word Viking or pick up Satanic topics again. In some ways you have so make it clear that time is ever changing. If you stand still for enough long time you are going to shit on your own shoes. I went great length to re-create the feeling of the 1987-1990 period on "Destroyer of Worlds". But that doesn't mean that you have to copy yourself to the letter all the time.

 

 

 

I bet many BATHORY fans have been asking this constantly from you many, many times, but why don´t you consider doing a sequel for "Blood Fire Death" or "Hammerheart" albums as those were the ones that are probably considered as the all-time classic, stand-out BATHORY albums on your flattering career indeed?

We have been asked to at least consider doing an album that would be very close to "Hammerheart". I am not sure that would be the best thing to do. I think "Twilight of the Gods" and "Blood On Ice" both were very close to "Hammerheart". If people enjoyed "Hammerheart" or "Blood Fire Death", then they're there for all to listen to forever. I believe some fans may want BATHORY to stay static to one style and sound forever. "Hammerheart" is one of the favorite albums of the fans and I agree that it is a very distinct record as far as the atmosphere is concerned. But it is more interesting to celebrate the past for what it was without duplicating it all the time and stay static.

 

 

 

Besides, the past is the past and you can really neither go back and change any of that what you´ve done previously - nor you could hardly re-create something precisely, y´know, with the same sounds or atmospheres what you may have accomplished on some certain releases. All you can really do is to stick with the future and see what you could possibly do and achieve in the terms of imagination and your own creativity - agree?

Of course. If you can enter the 21st Century and still have the same genuine atmosphere on your albums, then you have achieved something hardly any other act has been able to do. Slayer will always have everything they will ever do compared to "Reign in Blood" even if they should come up with an album that actually is a better one. I know that everything that BATHORY will ever do will always be compared to the 1985-1990 period.

 

 

 

So, as a mouthpiece for the other BATHORY maniacs, I bravely spit out a question in the air once again, filled with a huge curiosity, is there ever going to be either "Blood Fire Death pt.2." or "Hammerheart pt.2."?

No. Not just like that. We are not going to call it part II anyway. We might do a record in the future that may sound just a little bit like "Hammerheart". But again, the fans will have to decide. If the fans can convince us that an album just like "Hammerheart" is what we really should do, then of course it all ends up in a different light all together.

 

 

 

I was wondering whether you could be so kind and let us know something ´bout your working methods at the legendary Heavenshore Studio? What´s so special in that studio indeed why you always find yourself recording your new albums there? Is it a certain calm and relaxed atmosphere that is haunting there all the time or is there something totally special and unique in the equipment there that some other studios simply don´t have at all? And have you ever considered recording your albums somewhere else besides Heavenshore Studio, well, let´s just say, for the sake of new, refreshing inspirations, for example?

BATHORY, UNDER THE SIGN, BLOOD FIRE DEATH and HAMMERHEART were all recorded at Heavenshore. THE RETURN, TWILIGHT, REQUIEM, OCTAGON and most of BLOOD ON ICE were done in professional 24-track studios.

Heavenshore was not a studio. It was garage with some old recording equipment in it. Technically it was really awful. I could do albums technically better in my living room if I had the same equipment. We only used Heavenshore because it was cheap, available and we could come and go as we liked. There was absolutely nothing special about Heavenshore at all. Sometimes we couldn't even record there because it would be either full with car-parts, tons of gravel or have no electricity. We could only use up to 12 tracks on some songs.

I believe people only made Heavenshore legendary, greater, bigger or more special than it actually was. It's like everything about BATHORY. It's a circus of legends beyond control.

"DESTROYER OF WORLDS" was not recorded at Heavenshore. Because Heavenshore does not exist anymore. It was torn down in 1995.

 

 

All this, I did NOT know at all. It´s funny, however, how some (cult) status has been gained for Heavenshore by a simple fact that BATHORY has recorded some albums there - people making up these "legends" - dare to I say, basically "out of nothing", if you know what I mean?

I have always said that the legend of BATHORY is bigger than BATHORY itself. I don't know if that makes any sense to anyone. But to me it is so obvious. I believe people enjoy making up these rumors and legends to enrich and lighten up their own lives, to make things more exciting than they really are.

As long as people deep down inside know that this or that rumor or legend is quite possibly just made up by someone, then it is ok. But if someone actually does believe in it all, it can hinder a straight communication between yourself and your fans.

 

 

 

I think it could be well possible to re-build the Heavenshore studio again; only this time making it like a REAL studio and putting the most advanced studio technology in there in order to make some decent sounding recordings there sometimes in the future - probably for the very 1st time of the history of that particular studio. It may well be a good, golden opportunity for someone to make some business in the name of Heavenshore as that place itself, has already gained such a value as a legendary studio amongst some people at least. Well, what do you think all this I just threw in the air here... ?

Well, people would have to ask the folks that live in that house today. The fucking place is a fucking garage. I don't think anybody would ever consider your garage or your neighbors garage any bit exciting or historical at all. The BATHORY records are interesting for the extreme metal history. But Heavenshore was simply just a fucking garage. It doesn't exist anymore. Nobody would spend a single dollar trying to make that into a modern studio with modern equipment. There are tons of studios to record in, you know.

This whole thing with Heavenshore is ridiculous really. I mean, it was just a garage with some small recording equipment in it. It is the name Heavenshore that is legendary. It's just a garage that we named Heavenshore. How exciting is that? Here's another legend that people continue to kneel before as part of the BATHORY legend. If we would have put a picture of the place on the album cover and called it "garage", it wouldn't have resulted in all this hysteria.

 

 

 

What kind of expectations are you personally running towards "Destroyer of Worlds"? How do you want it to be remembered amongst the other BATHORY albums ´coz I´m pretty positive it´s going to divide opinions due to its diverse songs on it anyway?

I know it will divide our fan base into several camps, because every BATHORY album has done so. You don't live or die by one album alone. If you don't like it - that's ok. If you like it - then that's ok too. I have no expectations from ""DESTROYER OF WORLDS" at all. As soon as an album is released I think no more of it ever. I don't ever think about "Hammerheart" or "The Return" or any other BATHORY album. I can not even remember all of the songs on those albums. I don't even have any of the BATHORY albums myself. I had Black Mark send me some CD's this spring to catch up on the past.

 

 

 

WHAT?! SERIOUSLY??! You DO NOT HAVE any of your albums in your own personal collection!? Are you kidding me?! How is that possible?! Why are you ignoring all the releases you have made by yourself such a strange and odd way? And I don´t think I´m the only one wondering this...

Well, I can listen to Motörhead's "Iron Fist", Black Sabbath's "Black Sabbath", Kiss' "Alive!" or Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" and enjoy all of that as a fan. But listening to BATHORY is just work. I will always hear this guitar or that vocal line and think of how I could work more on that until I remember it is already released and it can not be worked on anymore.

It is not for being ashamed of the past that I didn't collect the BATHORY albums, I just knew I wasn't going to listen to them so I didn't bother about collecting them. When we decided to do what the fans wanted and make "Destroyer of Worlds" remind of the 1987-1990 period, I asked Black Mark to send me some old CD's. Listening to those old songs made it easier to remember how I used to write material in those days and what the atmosphere on those albums was like.

 

 

The cover of "Destroyer of Worlds" is pretty exceptional to be used as a BATHORY album cover in my opinion. The only element there is fire; a massive sea of flames - and if you have got sharp eyes, you can actually spot a figure of some sort of "a twisted, laughing (joker´s?) face out of that all. Is that just a coincidence that there´s really this face sticking out on the top of the flames - or was it put there on purpose? What´s the symbolic meaning of it or does it have any at all?

Fire consumes all life, fire is alive and comes from nowhere. The demon of fire has fascinated man since the dawn of time. The title track deals with the creation and implementation of the first atomic bomb. I didn't want an atomic mushroom cloud or any military or political symbolism on the cover. Just fire. The backside of the album shows the aftermath of destruction - a cloud of ashes.

 

 

Did you have any other ideas in your mind at that time to be used as a cover for "D.O.W." except this "fire"-thing? And was the cover originally chosen by you only or do these credits belong to someone else possibly?

No, I just wanted to have the feel of fire and destruction to be present on the cover. The track that had the best title that could also be used for the entire album happened to be "Destroyer of Worlds" and the whole topic behind the title track was the creation of the atomic bomb. I didn't want any war imagery as such on the cover. It wasn't about war but about the demon of destruction as such.

I have seen so many album covers in the last couple of years leaning towards a clearly identifiable trend. There are either plenty of dragon images and castles giving the impression you're looking at a fantasy game magazine, or you have all these naked women and close up shots of tits and asses, you don't know if you're looking at a metal album or a porno magazine. I wanted to break the trend. It doesn't look like a cover from the year 2001.

 

 

 

It goes without saying that BATHORY are kept as the true torch bearers in the evolution of modern Black Metal. Your influence in the whole Black Metal movement is undeniable and yet BATHORY still keep on inspiring many new up´n´coming bands in many different ways - who knows how many generations from this day forward. How have you felt for being in the very spotlight of success and fame through all these years and what all this "stardom" has taught to you ´bout the music business in general?

Of course BATHORY has had this tremendous effect on hundreds of acts for almost 20 years now. BATHORY has dealt with such a vast number of styles and sounds throughout the years, in the end you will have influenced a great number of bands.

I remember when Kerrang wrote after the release of our first album, that we were only Venom clones. But we had actually never heard venom at all. I heard Venom for the first time in late 1984 or early 1985. I believe that there were a handful of acts in Europe and the USA that came out all at the same time just doing the same thing, acts like Sodom, Kreator, Hellhammer, Possessed, Metalica and Slayer. Today's Black Metal is more influenced by BATHORY's Viking styled epic metal than Venom which - looking back - is more Black Rock.

Sometimes I receive a CD or a cassette from a young band asking me what I think about it. Most of what they do is so close to actual tracks from earlier BATHORY albums, it's quite funny sometime. I have to check if it's not a tribute to BATHORY or something. I feel honored of course. I regard all this, as proof that what BATHORY did over these past 18 years was right, good and original.

What I never liked is all the tons of people who make me out to be this satanic, neo-nazi, vampire, baby eating, blood drinking Viking who lives in a bats cave in the north of Sweden and never goes out in the sunlight. I did my best to scare the most fanatic nutcases away with my solo albums. I did blues, rock, punk, unplugged ballads and fun pop. This material was of course not intended for the smart BATHORY fans, just to get rid of all the nutcases who hailed me as some sort of God and made me out to be something I wasn't.

I have been doing everything a guy into the rock bag ever dreamed of doing. I have done TV, radio and press. I have signed tens of thousands of autographs. I have fucked hundreds of girls in limousines and 747's. I have had the pleasure of recording tons of my own music. I have been involved in 17 releases up to date. I have traveled to more than 20 countries. I have made so much money. I haven't had to take a real job for 12 years. I have had a million laughs and I have privately corresponded with many hundreds of very special and wonderful fans for almost two decades. And when I'm dead and cremated the music of BATHORY and the love of the BATHORY HORDES will still top it all. The BATHORY fans are the best fans that ever existed. That is why ""DESTROYER OF WORLDS" is dedicated to the fans.

 

 

 

... and one of these coolest BATHORY fans must be a long time friend of both yours and mine, Chuck Keller of (ex-ORDER FROM CHAOS, ex-VULPECULA) ARES KINGDOM from Kansas City, U.S.A.. He has told me like you and he share this very special connection; like for being distant cousins who just happen to live in a very different continents or something like that - and who have been knowing each other for so many years already. You actually thanked him for ´inspiration´ on "Hammerheart" album!! How did he inspire you at that time while you were putting songs together for the "Hammerheart" album if I may ask... ? At least I do know that you two share some similar interests: WWII, Wagner, Nietzhe, etc., but obviously there´s just even more between two of you than I´m aware of really...

I hope "more" does not incline butt fucking or something (don´t all the guys do that to each other in Sweden?! NO!? HA! HA!! Just kidding ya there, of course!! -Luxi). Chuck was one of many fans with whom I corresponded for many years. I have always corresponded with tons of fans. I enjoy getting a personal connection with people who are at the receiving end of BATHORY. Sometimes fan mail can simply be of the sort "I listen to your albums 24 hours a day and you are my God". You don't get too much of a personal touch out of that and it's very hard to expand further once someone make you his or her god already in the opening sentence in a letter.

Chuck played in a band himself and it was interesting to correspond with someone who wasn't just a fan but a musician himself. The life situation, background and everyday situation of most fans that wrote me was of course very different from my daily life in Sweden. You need to meet with other views and have peeks into rooms other than your own.

I was down in Portugal many years ago and met hundreds of fans who's everyday situation was totally different from the safe and sheltered life of Swedish youngsters. I had the impression many of them lived a very tough life. Some looked like street kids that hadn't had a bath in weeks. They bought a BATHORY album even though it must have cost them possibly a week of hard and dirty labor if they even had a job.

Other times Russian, Chinese or even Burmese kids have written me to say how much they're taken away by the waves on "Shore in Flames" or the atmosphere on "Bond of Blood". And you think of the fortune that LP or CD must have cost them and how very hard it must have been for them to even get their hands on it. And even though they may just have a third generation cassette that could never reproduce the original recording, it still catches you off guard completely to receive response like that. Things like that gives you perspective.

Chuck and I haven't written for a couple of years. He got married to a Danish pastry and moved to Denmark I believe (Nope! He still lives in Kansas City with his lovely Danish wife! -Luxi) . I moved as well, twice, before I returned to Stockholm. I traveled a lot in 1996-1999 and did so many other things in life I haven't kept in touch with any of those I used to correspond with during the 80's and 90's. It was healthy to get away from that constant "You're my god!" issue and that "Are you really drinking blood?" bag.

The reason for mentioning someone on the credit list of an album can be whatever. To thank somebody for "inspiration" can be anything really. I had a flight stewardess on credit list on some album, and the only thing she did was giving me a blowjob during a flight.

I think it is safe to say that for anybody to end up on a BATHORY album credit list, one has sort of excelled in a way. I have put my rat down in one credit list. I have the names of old masters like Wagner, journalists, magazines or radio stations which has supported BATHORY in one way or another.

When some fans somewhere formed their own BATHORY fan club or just called themselves the BATHORY whatever from wherever, I got that down in the credit list. Years afterwards, I have been contacted by fans that may have just recently picked BATHORY up and discovered that the area where they live or to which they have just moved have its own BATHORY fan club. And so they write me and ask for the address and all I can tell them is they're about 10-12 years to late.

 

 

 

I guess one of the biggest reasons for that why BATHORY is still classed as an obscure and somewhat oddball act, is the hard´n´cold fact you haven´t ever played a single live show with BATHORY. People find it somehow mysterious and strange for a damn good reason ´coz BATHORY has been around since March 1983; over 18 years - and of course it´s very natural to expect that within all these 3 decades that BATHORY has survived thru more or less successfully, at least a tiny bunch of gigs could have been played - maybe even some tours could have been accomplished by now, but nothing like that has happened ever thus far.

Well, sometimes when people ask me when are we going to play, I say I play with myself every night. But I guess that is not what they ask for. Seriously, there was a time in the 80's when all we wanted was to get on the road. But we didn't have the money or the organization behind us. I gave up the whole idea of tours and stuff like that in the late 80's. I said, let's make BATHORY a studio project. Our music had progressed so much by that time it would have been impossible to duplicate on stage what we did on record.

Every time when I traveled to do promotion, people were more concerned with convincing me to wear spiked leather underwear and breath fire. I said that the music is important too. Also, I was fed up with all the bullshit in the media. I don't know if you are old enough to remember, but there were actually a time when all the magazine editorial staff was filled with old journalists who still believed that Led Zeppelin existed and considered Iron Maiden and Judas Priest to be true metal. They looked upon us and all the rest of the extreme metal scene as spotty little brats who didn't know how to play and that we were going to be gone in a year and hence we were ridiculed and treated as scum.

Every time when I traveled to do promotion, people were more concerned with convincing me to wear spiked leather underwear and breath fire. I said that the music is important too.

English Metal Hammer said that we evidently wanted to prove to the world that we were Swedish by having the sound of a moose farting in the distance. The sound was the sound of ancient Swedish bronze horns. That only shows just how terribly ignorant and vicious their intent was.

Several magazines wrote more about how stupid it was to pretend being satanic and how bad musicians all these young bands were. In the mid 80's I remember Kerrang put King Diamond against the wall and made him out to be nothing more than a Danish alcoholic clown and not this true satanic medium he pretended to be. I never liked King Diamond at all, but he is just acting and performing a role just like Ozzy or Gene Simmons, but for the media to treat an artist in that fashion was more than I could care to take.

BATHORY was treated equally bad particularly by the German media. They called us neo-nazi for using certain symbols or when we based a song or two on topics that was taboo mentioning in that particular country more than in any other.

So, after a last effort in the late 80's to build an organization behind us and to take BATHORY on the road, I said I was fed up with it all. And from then it has been the music, and nothing more than music. We haven't even had an official photo session since 1988. The only pictures taken since has been snapshots taken by a fan or a journalist.

 

 

 

I indeed remember reading some articles ´bout BATHORY from some "supposedly professional (WOO-HOO!!!)" (metal) magazines sometimes in the mid ´80s - those articles saying how bad and awful BATHORY was without any real talent and how they were only full of noise and how they were infested by a senseless Satanic crap that had no chance to survive in the long run - whatever! I´m not 100% sure, but I guess it was probably a magazine like KER-CRAP! That was putting BATHORY down constantly; or at least some of their unfair and negative journalism has been judged by some metal bands both in the past and in the present. Besides, I think the British journalism regarding new Heavy Metal bands outside of the Great Britain wasn´t too fair and equal at all due to a strong and dominating NWOBHM - boom at that time. If you weren´t a British - or weren´t made out of the mould of JUDAS PRIEST or IRON MAIDEN or BLACK SABBATH musically, then there´s just no way that you could have been treated or rated as equally as some Brit Heavy Metal bands by some of these know-all Brit journalists whose values towards metal music in general, were stuck with the traditional British heavy shit more than a Heavy Metal doctor had ordered. Of course it was sad for all the bands with a real talent in them that were out of that norm and were not allowed to be THAT radically unique and original in this great island of Heavy Metal by coming up with something totally different by contrast with the current trends in those days. And BATHORY were definitely NOT everyone´s all-day happy shining standard metal band in the early ´80s; just loved and hailed by minority of metalheads who supposedly were after more obscure and original bands - probably getting fed up by the all the way praised NWOBHM -thing completely and ultimately, too - you just never know. Anyways, can you remember, however, what was that "stand-out" BATHORY album that really started to turn some of these ol´ metal journalists´ heads in mags like KERRANG! and UK METAL HAMMER - "I-love-NWOBHM" branded on their foreheads, towards more acceptable and positive direction when some promo stuff of BATHORY was sent to their shaking headquarters for "a fair review (yeaa.... sure...)"? And do you believe that they just had to go along with the mainstream´s opinion in order to maintain some sort of journalistic credibility amongst one of the world wide most important medias - specialized for metal music and somehow show and prove to the rest of the world at the same time that they are open-minded people and can be renewed by brand-new trends and genres as well - even understand bands like BATHORY, f.ex.?

You have to remember that the history of English rock and metal is a lot more to be proud of than the history of Swedish, Finish, German or French rock and metal. The English had a lot more to defend and a lot more to lose. That generation of journalists was at least fifteen years older than we were. They had grown up listening to Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. They considered the only good metal to be Iron Maiden, Whitesnake and UFO.

The whole range of extreme metal bands was probably not treated with full respect in those days. Many of us were considered a joke, a fad. It's sad that a magazine like Kerrang began to feature all those militant-vegetarian, save the planet kinds of bands, all while they turned their back on the rest of the metal spectrum. They lost out on a big and creative metal scene and an enormous audience.

But then magazines of other nations have treated individual acts from the extreme metal scene rather ugly as well. It has to do with the fact that journalists some times allows too much of their personal taste and friendship with certain acts to show through in their reviews and articles. I never read reviews on BATHORY records and I hardly ever read my own articles.

 

 

 

Will your principles still remain the same in the future as well - just like you once planned your own stratagem as far as BATHORY´s live appearance is concerned?

Yes.

So, you wouldn´t be even interested in doing a single one-off gig if some gig organizer offered you a backpack full of $$$... ?

It is not a question of money. We have been offered huge sums of money to do a show. But people I am afraid are really missing the point.

Since 1989 BATHORY is a studio project. We make music on record. Who the hell will be on that stage? Me plus a friend of mine helping me out with the drums? People expect these Viking ships to sail across the stage. People want flying drums and bombs. Even in the 90's people asked me to dress up in black spiked leather, breath fire and spit blood for pictures. People cared more about an image and theatre. BATHORY is all about an atmosphere on record.

I have been to two concerts in ten years. I am not a concert person and get nothing out of that.

 

 

 

You were close to join in a tour with DESTRUCTION and CELTIC FROST in the Summer of ´86, arranged by IMPORTANT RECORDS, but however, the timing for that wasn´t right at all due to a massive Hard/Glam Rock boom that was raging around Sweden and the rest of the world at that fateful time - men dressing up and sounding like girls and being complete clowns and "whores" back then. The main problem was you couldn´t get a live line-up hired with guys with the right enough attitude, determination and the same innovation which you had, so that opportunity for playing live was soon to be buried. Was that incident something to give a starting shot for speeding up your decisions to keep BATHORY as a studio band only which would NEVER play live - no matter how much your fans would have wanted or deserved to see BATHORY onstage?

I have no memories at all concerning that cancelled US tour. I can not remember which other bands was suppose be touring with us or what the management was called or anything. I only remember that we were supposed to go on a US tour together with a couple of other acts in 1986-1987.

Our drummer had just quit the band after "The Return" because he had to do the army for a year. Our bass player at the time was taking so much drugs I told him he had to step aside. I auditioned several bass players and wrote a letter to Carsten Nielsen in Artillery and asked him if he could consider joining BATHORY. But he replied that Artillery was going to be much bigger than BATHORY ever could be. So I called Witchhunter from Sodom and asked him. He did come to Stockholm and we did rehearse for a week or so. But after a while we realized that our fans respectively would be very confused.

I also auditioned several other bass players and drummers during most of the 80's. But BATHORY was deemed so different from what was going on in the mid stream rock scene in Sweden at the time it was pointless really.

It's true that Sweden was an awful place for a band like BATHORY in the 80's. If the rest of the world was just as bad, due to the Bon Jovi, Poison and Motley Crue fashion, Sweden was even more a misery as far as powerful metal was concerned. Europe was the big act in Sweden at the time and every other guitar-based band was supposed to look and sound like them. Although Sweden is a big country we have a very small population, so the effect that Europe had on the rock scene in Sweden was tremendous. Their sound and style dominated supreme and influenced everybody other rock act to play that stuff even though they might have wanted to be different.

When I auditioned bass players and drummers, it didn't matter that we had a record contract and had made several albums and that we were suppose to tour Europe and the US in the future. Because BATHORY didn't look and sound like Europe the guy's who auditioned decided not to join.

Yes, Sweden was an awful place for extreme metal. Today it is totally different. There are so many acts in Sweden doing all sorts of extreme metal, which is great. And my personal belief is that BATHORY is responsible for that to a very great extent. But in those days it was totally dead to be playing this sort of music.

We couldn't get a club gig in Stockholm because the club owners were concerned they weren't going to be able to sell drinks to BATHORY fans and that we would scare away the Glam-rock audience. I remember one bass player said that we weren't going to get laid after concert if we would play this type of music and look like Satan's brothers.

There is this famous story about one guy whom I talked to over the phone. He was going to audition for BATHORY and I warned him that we were kind brutal musically. He said that he was so tired of his band and that he was ready to join my band no matter what we sounded like. He came to our rehearsal place and we played him the first album. He left the rehearsal place after three minutes and didn't come back.

When I think back, I am surprised that I didn't give up and just took a job or something. There are so many guy's from that time who were in Stockholm bands copying Europe and Bon Jovi who said to me that I was an idiot and an asshole for doing what I did with BATHORY and that it was a waste of time. When I am going to some rock clubs in Stockholm, I occasionally bump into these guys again. They never did get to make a record, and they still dress in spandex and spray their hair, talking about maybe having secured a contract with a label. In the daytime they drive a taxi or clean up the subway. And here I am, after 18 years still making albums. And I am not driving a taxi. I do not dream dreams that will never happen, pretending to be a rock star in a club at night and a dreamer during the day.

 

 

 

Lucky you, HA! HA! HA!! Don´t you ever feel any pity for these "rock stars" who were saying all this bullshit that you should get a real job for yourself instead of playing "a very unfashionable, crappy noise" and not scaring old people and kids by your utterly Satanic and evil appearance? I bet there´s a pitiful bunch of "almost rock stars (tell me ´bout them!)" in the Stockholm area who´re now envying you because of what you have achieved and become in your life compared to their lives that probably suck dogs´ shit these days, eh?!

No. In moments of victory only a truly great person will be humble. A low person ridicules and mocks their beaten enemy. We have to remember that BATHORY was a lot of noise at that time and even I would have said the same thing had I been invited to BATHORY's rehearsal place to hear the stuff that we did back then.

The greatness of BATHORY is that we developed and did our best to create, to be interesting and innovative. Today BATHORY is considered truly original even though the style and sound of our music has changed considerably over the 18 years that BATHORY has existed.

The other greatness of BATHORY is that we have the best of fans. Again that is why "Destroyer of Worlds" is dedicated to the fans.

 

 

 

A Viking culture has been more than obviously something very special for you personally where you´ve been drawing a great number of influences from into everything what BATHORY has become known for on the albums like "Blood Fire Death" and "Hammerheart". When did you start showing a real serious interest towards them and their rich (and cruel) culture anyway and what has their great history taught you? The music life of Vikings in those days, for example? Hmmmm.... sometimes the only ´music(!)´ for their ears may have been a moaning of dying enemies... a crying of abandoned babies whose mothers were just brutally raped and murdered by these horned warrriors...

I know absolutely nothing of the music of the Swedish Vikings, they didn't have tape recorders. Seriously I don't think that the Viking age was any more rich or cruel than any other period in history. And the Viking history weren't any bit greater than any other time in world history. By the way, they didn't have horns in their helmets. They were great sea merchants. And they raped or killed no more or less than Napoleon, Rome, USA or any other culture in any time. This whole idea of the Viking as barbarians killing, raping and plundering for fun is Hollywoodism I call it. The Christian church did that for 700 years. BATHORY was never a satanic act but we have always been anti-Christian.

When we did the first album, we had absolutely idea what Satanism was all about at all. We just wrote stuff that came from horror films and horror magazines. We were not Satanists at all. By the time we did the second album, I had read a lot on the satanic topic as well as the Christian bible. But after that I came to the conclusion that it was all just bullshit. Christianity was based on a Jewish fairytale and had nothing to do with my part of the world. God was a fascist - you shall no other Gods have and worship but me etc.

Looking for something else to write about, I said that maybe we should pick something up that wasn't influenced by modern society, which in essence, is Christian. We didn't want to go political and criticize modern society and write about the environment, which was high fashion in those days.

When we started BATHORY we were too young to ride bikes and fuck all these girls and drink Jack Daniel's for breakfast. So we picked up the satanic demonic topics from all those horror movies and magazines we had watched and read as kids.

Looking further back in time I realized that maybe Sweden in the time before Christianity came around was a good topic for future lyrics. I did read a lot on the Nordic mythology, but we didn't go fundamentalist about it all. We just used the Swedish nature and the imagery from a pre-Christian time to create an atmosphere on our records that was so different from what all other acts were doing at the time.

We arranged our music and used sound effects to create an atmosphere of the north twelve hundred years ago before there was a Satan or a Christ. We didn't pretend to know all about the Viking age, we just borrowed ingredients from that time. We didn't even call it Viking Metal. All that was a thing that came later and it was mostly an imagination thing among our fan base.

 

 

 

So, do you think some of the media people should be credited by inventing this term, "Viking Metal", for describing all that shamelessly bold and epic atmosphere that your songs have so well captured on "Blood Fire Death" album first - and which thematically continued both on "Hammerheart" as well as on "Twilight of the Gods" albums later on?! Or, was this "Viking Metal" thing totally your label´s, BLACK MARK´s merit more or less?

Black Mark had nothing to do with labeling any type of music we have ever done on record. But I remember when we released "Twilight of the Gods", and because I had mentioned that I listened to mostly opera's of Wagner, how somebody came up with the term Opera Metal. It was just an attempt on their behalf to label what to many was very different from what the rest of the acts were doing at that time. But that was a short-term phrase used only on the release flyer. But other than that, they have never ever interfered one bit with our music. We have always been given 100% freedom.

In our very first interviews 17 years ago we stated that we played Death Metal and I believe it was the very first time that terminology was ever used. We developed musically and lyrically during the middle 80's and people got confused, calling what we did anything from thrash, epic, doom and Nordic whatever. The "Requiem" and "Octagon" albums were called hardcore. When "Hammerheart" came out, because of the cover, "The burial of a Viking" by Sir Frank Dicksee, people labeled it Viking Metal despite the fact that we never called what we did anything like it.

Today we use these many terms ourselves to of course simplify what we mean when talking about changes and contrasts musically. That is also the reason why these terms are used by the media. So by and large it is not a bad thing. But some acts may find a specific term that is being stuck to them by somebody else uncomfortable.

 

 

 

Just out of my never-ending, burning curiosity, was there any bands out there that had some impact on you musically on your earlier recordings - and what ´bout with "Destroyer of Worlds"? Do you dare to name MANOWAR f.ex. as some kind of an influence for BATHORY, mostly on lyrical level, tho?

I have always said that if you want to know where the initial BATHORY stuff came from, all you have to do is to listen to early Black Sabbath, early Motörhead and early GBH at the same time.

The other two original members of BATHORY may not always have shared my views on what we really should be doing musically. But on the other hand they never showed an interest to contribute. They were into anything even remotely similar to metal in all forms. I even wrote a song to intentionally remind of early Iron Maiden because they once requested for something that wasn't all going at full pace.

I began to listen to classical music around 1985. Eventually that would be the only music that I listened to. So I am afraid I can not help much in trying to explain from where we would possibly have picked up influences.

As far as Manowar in concerned, I had never heard a Manowar song. I only knew what they looked like. My initial idea was that you couldn't take a band for real if they wore fur underwear. The guy, who was the drummer in BATHORY in 1986-1989, was not a metal fan at all. He listened to David Bowie, Johnny thunders and Sex Pistols. However, for some reason he enjoyed Manowar.

At the time, early 1986, I had reached the conclusion that the usage of the satanic topic for lyrics was a waste of time. We weren't Satanists. I was no Satanist. We knew absolutely nothing about that. Only when I started to read everything that I could find on the subject did I reach the conclusion that it was all a fake. Satanism was a product of Christianity.

So I looked around for other things to write about. Had we been a Japanese act, we would probably have been picking up the Samurai period. Had we been Italian, we would probably have picked up the Roman era. We happened to be Swedish and I thought that the Vendel period and the Viking age of Swedish history was an interesting subject well worth trying. So I explained that I was going to phase out the occult lyrics and phase in the Nordic stuff.

Around that time, one day in the rehearsal place, I played this guitar riff and he picked it up with a heavy peculiar beat. We realized immediately that it suited the new topics very well. He explained to me that this was an ordinary basic Manowar beat. By that time we didn't think too much about it. It wasn't like we listened to Manowar and said we wanted to do just that. On the contrary, had we felt that using the Nordic topic writing about swords and dragon ships was going to be too close to Manowar, it would never have happened out of fear for being called Manowar clones. The memory of being called Venom clones was still fresh.

 

 

Hmmmmm.... pretty strange co-incidences have been happening lately at the very front of new (metal) album releases... -eh! Pay attention to such album titles as "Unholy Terror" by W.A.S.P., "God Hates Us All" by SLAYER and last but not least "Destroyer of Worlds" by BATHORY. Ain´t this pretty damn ironic, y´know, knowing what happened both in New York and Washington D.C. last month? I only know that none of the bands wasn´t prepared to name their albums on purpose by such "hitting" titles ´coz those cowards behind these terrorist attacks had their master plans available for the public first if I may put it this way...

You only make that connotation due to recent events. We could spend an entire evening coming up with song titles and album titles that fit perfectly with any event.

 

 

 

Everyone should know by now where the name of BATHORY originally came from for the name of your band - and keeping that Hungarian noble woman´s name in our minds within my next question, have you ever given a thought of making a real concept album ´bout the "Blood Countess" herself? Wouldn´t that be considered as a worth thinking idea or what?!

No. I would rather spend the time writing an ordinary album so to speak. Everybody knows about Elizabeth Bathory and her story anyway. I would have to duplicate myself genetically to have the time to do everything that people ask from me. People want me to write a truly classic Black Metal album because of the very prolific recent Black Metal scene. Some beg me to write a continued story for "Hammerheart". Other wants "BLOOD ON ICE" part two. Some even asks for a third solo album. So I would have very little time writing an entire album based on her life. We did one track on her many years ago. That should be enough.

 

 

 

What I find extremely extraordinary is an unwritten fact that BATHORY has stayed loyal to its own label BLACK MARK since the very 1st sunbeams of BATHORY´s history. Where´s your loyalty based on indeed? How come can you explain that? Because I´m very positive that during all these years that BATHORY has existed, there must have been a number of labels around the globe that have proposed to you to sign of a contract with them. But... you have stayed with BLACK MARK for all these years!!? Are you married with the label faithfully unto death... "´til death do us apart", kind of... ?!

Black Mark didn't exist when we released our first album. Black Mark formed in 1991 and our first release on Black Mark was "Twilight of the Gods". We have stayed with Black Mark because they give us 100% freedom. Sure we have been asked to sign with other labels but we have never even given it a split second of a thought.

When we released our first album, I just came up with the idea to draw a label carrying the goat head to give the impression that we had a company of our own behind us.

The company that had helped us doing the first album was called Typhoon. When Black Mark was formed in 1991, with some people from the Typhoon days, they didn't have a name for the label and I simply just gave them the name Black Mark.

If BATHORY should have signed with any of the really big labels that showed interest over the years, we would eventually only end up to be a number in a catalogue. We know that on Black Mark, we are their first babies and that we will always be their number one act.

I have always wanted BATHORY to keep that underground feel. With Black Mark, it feels that we have control of the situation and we are very satisfied.

 

 

 

Any plans to put together a BATHORY box-set in the coming years, featuring rare, never before-heard takes of some unreleased material from BATHORY´s past and present...

There is plenty of material in the archives that hasn't been released yet. We recorded 4 tracks in the summer of 1983 of which two tracks ("You Don't Move Me I Don't Give a Fuck" and "Die In Fire") has been released on "Jubileum" CD's.

We also recorded 6 tracks for a EP in 1984 just before the first album of which two tracks has been released on the "Jubileum" volumes ("Witchcraft" and "Satan My Master").

Additionally we recorded 8 tracks in the autumn of 1984 just after our first album for an LP called "Maleficarum" that was never completed or released. None of these tracks has ever been used on any release.

We recorded almost an entire Black/Death Metal album, entitled "Occulta", way back at the end of 1985 after "The Return…" which was left incomplete and thus has never been released. None of these tracks has ever been used on any release.

We had several sessions between 1986 and 1988 that went under the name "Valhalla", which was never completed. Some of that material was re-recorded for "Hammerheart".

Around the same time we worked on a concept album "BLOOD ON ICE" which we completed and released in 1996.

Just before recording the "Hammerheart" album, in the summer of 1989, we began a session that went by the working title "Requiem". None of the material recorded during this session was ever used except for a couple of tracks released on the Jubileum CD's. The "Requiem" album that was recorded and released in 1993 only had the same title and none of its material was from the "Requiem" of 1989.

From the session that resulted in my first solo album, there are three tracks that never ended up on the released "Album".

There are also these two tracks recorded during the "Octagon" session that has never been released.

There has to be a reason for putting a box set out. You just don't do it because it's Wednesday or nice weather outside. Of course a box set would include a lot of goodies and we have talked about putting a box set out one day. But there has to be a very specific reason indeed for doing something like that. Perhaps when BATHORY is no more.

 

 

 

Well, first of all, I wanna thank you for all your efforts for making this interview possible for METAL-RULES.COM. A HELL OF A GREAT WORK from you there. So many sincere thanks for being so in-depth and devoted for my (partly silly?!) questions here and I´m wishing you all the best with BATHORY ´til the end of the world. If there´s still something you´d like to add to this chat, then feel free to use the rest of the space just for that purpose - THANK YOU!!!

Well at least you didn't ask me if it is true that I died after "Twilight of the Gods" which some rumors had it. I hope that you are pleased with the answers. It always feels great to be able to talk about other things than eating babies, drinking blood and shit like that.

As a suiting end, I would like to take the opportunity to praise the BATHORY fans. You are the best. You are all a part of BATHORY and everything that BATHORY has ever been and ever will be is for you and because of you all. HAIL THE HORDES!


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