Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview With Jontho from Ragnarok
Interview By Anders Sandvall

Here is an interview with Jontho, the drummer from the Norwegian black metal band Ragnarok, about their new album, ”Blackdoor Miracle” and about their plans for 2004 - a year when they also celebrate 10 years as a band.

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Where in Norway do you live? Are all of you based in the same city?

I live I Sarpsborg, just 50km from Strömstad in Sweden and just 85km from Oslo. I, Jerv, and Ryme live here but Hoest lives in Bergen in the west of Norway 500km from Sarpsborg. I can also inform you about that Metalion of Slayer mag lives in the same city if that help people to understand where we live.



What has the response been from the crowd on your previous three albums?

First of all I can tell that we have released four albums and the response has been fucking great. I can proudly say that we have never got very bad reviews on the four last albums. Some reviews have been less good than others but in general always great reviews and unbelievable good response from the fans.



In 2001 you signed with the Swedish metal label Regain Records. You have released one album on that label. How was the response on that one and how is it to work with Regain Records?

That's right. We signed a deal with Regain Records for two albums. Compared with HNF records it is 110% improvement when it comes to distribution and promotion on the first album, "In Nomine Satanas." But these days I can see that Regain have become even better than before to promote our album. I am always working hard with promotion myself also, so together with the label we manage to do a greater job for each album.

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Why did it only take 11 days to record the previous album?

That is simply because we work very well together in studio and we have rehearsed a lot before we enter the studio. This time we also got the chance to work with Tommy Tägtgren in Abyss and that made us work even faster and smoother together.



On this album you - once again, have a new singer. Why has it been so hard to stick to one vocalist through the years?

Well it is not hard to stick to a vocalist but as it happened with time he decided to leave because of personal reasons, so we couldn't do anything about it except to respect his choice.



Why did your last singer Lord Arcamous quit the band? According to the info note it was because he couldn’t handle the pressure of being a front man. Would you please like to tell us why he left?

The reason of why he in the first place wanted to live the band was because he met a girl that didn't manage to respect that he was playing in a band. She was so fucking jealous and fucked up his brain every time he went on rehearsal or on tour. The pressure from us was then very hard... He had to choose between the band or the girl because in all of this it was a lot of problems for us also because of their relationship problems. He did not take the pressure on tour either and was always complaining...... Anyway, that is the past.



How did Hoest end up in the band?

I met him at the cult festival Under The Black Sun festival in Berlin when I played there with Tsjuder. I really liked his energy on stage when I saw him with Taake and it just hit me that he would been perfect in Ragnarok. After the gig and still on the festival we got together and talked, and I just asked him if it sounded interesting to try Ragnarok. He said that he had to think about it, and when we was back in Norway I called him up and he was interested in to give it a try. At that moment we were going to record a cover song of Celtic Frost for a tribute to them and he found it very interesting to participate on that song as the first involvement in the band. He then came to Sarpsborg to put on the vocals and it worked out very well and he decided to take part as a full time member in Ragnarok.



Why have you chose to record your new album in the Abyss Studios once again?

The reason is because we were in Abyss Studios under the recording of In Nomine Satanas and the outcome of that stay was very satisfying. We also enjoyed working with Tommy he is the best sound engineer we have ever used. When we stay in Abyss we also live there so we get all the time we need to really concentrate about the music and the recording. Besides of all this, Abyss have a very good sound and especially the drum sound is something of what makes Abyss that magnificent.

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What is it that makes Tommy Tägtgren so special that you’ve used him as a producer again?

He is a great guy and is very easy to work together with him. He understand what we want and are really into our music. He is a very skilled sound engineer and at this time we have not had one single problem with him.



Are you going to record the next album in the Abyss Studio as well? Or are there any plans of changing studios?

At this time we would go straight to Abyss without even thinking of another studio... But anything can happen in the future...We'll see.



Do you have any favorite band that you look up to in the black metal scene?

We do not look up to any other bands but there are different bands that we do respect.



I think that you play genuine, old school black metal without any keyboard or samplers. How come you ended up it that genre?

Well I can not say that we do play completely Old school black metal because we have different sound compared to the earlier days and old school band as Darkthrone and so.... Musically it is Old school, at least the two last albums. On the three first albums we used synth but much of it was more old school than to day also. It is hard these days to explain the exact term of Old school, but we are not in the scene of new wave black metal as Dimmu Borgir, Old Man's Child, Susperia, and bands like that. Or Satyricon for that matter.

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What do you think of black metal bands that use keyboards in their music, like Dimmu Borgir for example?

I think it is up to the band it self to decide to use it or not. But it is not my cup of tea. I like the more brutal style that Ragnarok plays, filled with pure terror and aggression.



Why has it taken you so long to follow up your previous album? Why have you chosen to call this new record, ”Blackdoor Miracle?” Does it mean anything special to you?

First of all we got a new vocalist and had to rehearse a lot before we could enter the studio. But we recorded the album in March last year so it has taken more than a year before the release. That was because the cover art took fucking long time and the label used a lot of time to get the albums from the print. It had just been delayed for different reasons the whole time. But in the future we will change that. The reason we have called it Blackdoor Miracle is because it is a song in the album with the same name which deals with releasing your inner demon. This is an important aspect of the Ragnarok concept and therefore representative as an album title.



Who writes the music/lyrics in Ragnarok?

The music is always written by Rym, but on the In Nomine Satanas album, Lord Arcamous wrote the title track. The lyrics are always written by the vocalist, but on   Blackdoor Miracle, Hoest only wrote three lyrics because lack of time before we entered the studio. The other lyrics are written by a friend called Espen Dyngen and the lyrics we have used is from his archive of many lyrics and poems he have done through the last 10 years.



The cover looks very brutal. What’s the story behind that?

The cover in itself does show exactly what we mean by black metal. You can find all the symbols of true black metal in that cover. It is also a symbol to show what kind of music that is inside the album. The pentagram shows the satanic essence, the naked woman and the candles symbolizes black magic, me with the gun symbolizes the unleashed demon and total destruction of the weak, and the flames symbolize the chaos forces of hell. All in all the cover explains the themes of the lyrics but still it is more to find when you read and understand them.

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Why are there only nine tracks on the record?

Of all the songs we had, we chose the best songs together to form a magnificent album. At this time we just needed nine songs to create a great album with a decent running time of 42 minutes.



Have you done a lot of touring through the years? Have you been out as a headliner act or as a support act?

We have been on some tours but not as many as we wanted to. That is something we are going to change now and we will do a lot of headline shows and also some support tours/gigs. We have toured with bands as Dark Funeral, Marduk, Macabre, Exodus, Impaled Nazarene  in the past. Future gigs will always be added to the homepage www.ragnarokhorde.com when they are booked. Keep your self updated there.

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Have you read any reviews of the new album yet? If so what does the media think about it?

Yes, I have read about fifteen reviews so far and they have been just fine. All of them are of top points so I am satisfied. I know more will come and all of the reviews are great in the way of for example 5 out of 5, 9 out of 10, and so on. The media so far loves the new album. Check all the reviews under the media section at the homepage!!



Are you going to do any touring on the album? If so, are you going to do a world wide tour?

Yes we have some offers but I will not tell with which bands we will tour with yet. Some gigs so far as headlining is one gig in Sweden (Karlstad) the 5th of March, Belgium (the Fronline) the 6th of March and Holland (Baroeg) the 7th of March. More will come, and again, check the homepage regularly to keep your self updated.



How many albums do you think you’re selling across the world? How big are Ragnarok worldwide?

I am not sure, but after this album we will sell a lot more than earlier, and we are growing stronger and bigger day by day now. It is just up to the audience to open their minds for Ragnarok. How big is hard to say, but we are not a small band anymore and it is always a lot of people at our gigs.



You’re celebrating ten years as a band this year. Are there any plans of doing anything special for the fans this year?

We have some plans, but it's too early to talk about.

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How does the black metal scene look right now in Norway?

It is strong as always, but I would like more of the good old feeling that many of the bigger bands have made disappear. It is good that there are still strong bands as Ragnarok, Tsjuder, Gorgoroth, etc left to strengthen the scene.



What do you think of the Swedish black metal scene? Do you have any favourite bands amongst them?

I have always liked the Swedish scene. Good bands are Marduk, Dark Funeral, Lord Belial, Naglfar, Setherial, Sigrblot, and Dissection



What are the plans for Ragnarok during 2004-05?

Play a lot of gigs and do one or two big tours. In 2005 a new album will be recorded but still unsure of which label.



Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of metal-rules.com?

I want to thank the people that support us and believe in us. Check out the new album and the homepage www.ragnarokhorde.com for updates everyday.



Thanks to Regain Records for the promo pictures of the band.

Band Website: www.ragnarokhorde.com
Label Website: www.regainrecords.com