TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This interview with Lord Ahriman of Dark Funeral was done face to face by Audrey Dujardin on March 12th, 2006.
Dark Funeral are finally back in Lyon, France, after 7 years of absence. I met the band on their tour together with Endstille, Amoral and Naglfar. We spoke of the tour, what changed since we last saw each other, recording in the haunted Abyss Studios, how much more extreme their shows could get, the Original top 10 Most Ridiculous Black Metal Pictures of all time, and much much more.
Hello, my first questions are about the career of Dark Funeral. Could you please first of all go over the whole of your career and pinpoint the most important achievements in your eyes…
Oh that’s difficult. Our debut CD is the first main thing in the Dark Funeral history. And I guess the timing was right because it exploded just in the first week. That took us all by surprise. After that maybe I could say in one way that signing to no fashion and getting the first full- length out and getting proper distribution was a good think but I really don’t want to give those bastard any credit, so fuck them. Uh they destroyed more for us than what they helped us. So to speak so… I don’t know… some us the line up changes have been very important because you gotta find and work with people who have the same goals and the same spirit as yourself. So even thought we parted way as friends with some of the old members, the common thing is that they haven’t been into touring as much as we have, wich I fully understand because it’s a pretty tough… but hum.. I don’t know…
There have been many landmarks in the career of Dark Funeral… usually the deal with common Black metal bands is you get a record deal, and then you tour in Europe, then you end up at least once in Wacken and if you’re really lucky you get to tour in the USA…
We toured in 35 countries. Up til today. But it’s kinda weird. For me I do my thing and I close the world outside. And it’s like that with pretty much everything… people always tell me ‘how can you not notice this or that ?’ and I just .. I’m just walking around in my own world, I don’t give a fuck. Of course, everything we do is important in one way or another… I guess we’ve been quite lucky that everything we’ve done has been more or less a success. We are kinda spoiled with superlatives, but we have been through so much shit at the same time, things that most people don’t know about, things that I don’t really want to talk about right now, but it’s been a constant struggle that’s for sure.
And if you knew what were going to happen is there anything that you would change?
Oh yeah I would never sign to No Fashion records, that’s for sure. Other than that… I think everything.... There’ no reason to regret anything, what happens happens, you gotta learn from your mistakes and you gotta learn from the things you do well. And you have to improve yourself and the band and everything around it as much as possible. I mean everything as far as line ups go, it’s been a natural development of the band, nothing that really affected the band so to speak.
Is it an option in the future that you would work with Dan Swanö again?
No I don’t think so. I’ve no problem with him whatsoever these days. It just didn’t work the last time we worked together so… But I mean that’s over 10 years ago and I don’t dwell in the past. We’ve gone so much further in our life and our work that there’s no reason to look back and walk in old shoes again.
So what is you relationship with Peter Tägtgren?
Friendship. No working plans together, but good friends.
But you’ve recorded a whole lot of material with him….
Oh yeah, its not that we weren’t satisfied with him that we decided to change, there’s other reasons. But I guess with the new album we wanted to start a completely new chapter. And erase lots of things from the past and umm.. If we went back to the Abyss I don’t think I would have felt that I was starting on something new, because we’ve been there’re so many times before.
Because you’ve done everything already?
No. We needed just new people around us, both with the label, studio, a new booking agency.. We basically tried to erase all our past partners and find new people to work with because it’s a dirty business you know…
Is there a specific event or a specific reason that you wanted to evolve?
Uh yeah. Everything is caused by our former record label. It’s been a fucking nightmare to be honest. We’re currently in court with them. There with be a new court rule in this coming week. It’s in the process. We won the first round and now we’re going to fucking destroy that piece of shit company once and for all. They tried to destroy us, so now we’re going to destroy them.
So is Regain is just the second best option, or did Regain really bring something extra to the table?
Yeah. But I think the one there were a lot of labels who contacted us when we announced a split. And I told everyone: ‘What we are looking for in the first place it’s not money it’s honesty’. And that’s something you barely find in the music business these days so… We said ‘when we feel that can trust you, then we can talk business. But before that no’. And Regain… I think that was one thing. Because you know he’s also from Sweden. And he came to Stockholm you know, visited us. Several times, we had several, several meetings and discussed everything. We went thru everything we were looking for in a label.
I was going to go back to several questions on working with Peter in the Abyss Studios. I was wondering if you could tell us a couple stories about how he works and behaves in the studio?
Oh our old studio days have been pretty crazy…
Well give me something!
Well what happens in the studio stays in the studio! It’s not that bad, but you know sometimes, bands let loose. And I guess that’s a kind of sickness musicians have, they tend to become very crazy, and sick… But… I don’t know…Of course there’s going to be… But in Ludvika where the Abyss is located, there’s a biker club call Big Twins and we’re good friends with them we just go down to their club and hang with those guys. But that was in the past.
Well I once read that while Dark Funeral were recording at the Abyss, you guys met the ghost in the Abyss studios and were scared to death. Fact or fiction?
We were living in this big two floor apartment complex building and it was indeed haunted, that’s for sure. But I find those kind of things more interesting than scary.
How did you know that it was haunted? I mean, how id the ghost manifest itself? What did people hear or see?
Well people hear and saw things. There are even bands who took off because they couldn’t stand staying there.
Well how did Peter deal with that I mean when the bands come up there he hosts them in that building…
He doesn’t use that house anymore. But there was some crazy shit going on. I stayed there by myself a couple of nights and there was a lot of doors smashing and windows opening and you know, lots of weird noise throughout the night. I didn’t see anything myself, but Caligula met one person once in the hallway one night… And he basically he jumped out of the window! It was for sure haunted.
I’m going to change subjects again now… I remember interviewing Dark Funeral I think it was in 1998 or 1999 when you guys were on the Satanic Inquisition tour with Dimmu Borgir. How do you think your audience changed since then, as you gained more and more success?
On this tour, the first thing I noticed is that there seems to have come up a new generation. Yeah. You see them in the first row every night, like 14 or 15 years old guys and lots of girls seem to get into this kind of music. Young girls! That was the first thing that surprised me on this tour. But also the response we are having every night. This is black metal, and you know… It should be kinda more primitive. But yeah it was like yesterday in Italy… They were singing along, they knew all the lyrics…And everyone were like… They even had these football choruses, you know chanting ‘Dark Funeral Dark Funeral’… And you that didn’t happen a couple years ago and now it’s a more normal behavior from the audience.
Why are people so passionate then?
I don’t know! Like I said after the show yesterday, I forget who in the band I talked to , I think it was our new guitarist Chaq Mol, but I said ‘all this sing along stuff the way the audience sings, if that has something to do with our live album and the way the South American people are…’ because it seems like that atmosphere has been brought to Europe, when we play. Maybe people listened to our live CD and see how the south American audience are going completely crazy like a football game… That was just something I reflected on yesterday. I don’t know if it has something to do with it or not… Maybe… Otherwise I can’t tell… Of course I really enjoy going out on stage on this tour because… I think we had one or two shows that were pretty bad. But other than that it’s been really surprising for us. And it’s the same as Naglfar said. They said: ‘we’ve never seen the crowd like this, they even seem to get into us the same way, shouting like for Dark Funeral’. I said ‘it’s really cool for you guys, you get some more response than what you’re used to. ‘
Well that’s also because the billing is more coherent on this tour. I mean I was on tour with Naglfar last year around this time.. And Amoral too actually. And back then Naglfar had a more mixed response, because they are a black metal band and they were touring with a death metal band and a folk metal band. So of course the crowd is going to be more diverse and they aren’t going have as many black metal fans in the audience. But on this tour, it’s different, because there are 3 black metal bands touring together, so it’s pretty much a 100% black metal audience out there. That means more excitement for Naglfar… It makes more sense to me to have booked the 2 bands together…
Apart from that I was wondering: why doesn’t Kenny tour with you anymore?
I don’t know really …. I mean he just helped us out on a couple of shows when none of our regular session bassists could do it.
A lot of people had been referring to him as the bass guitarist of Dark Funeral…. But he’s never been on the official line up…
No. he just filled in on a couple of dates, that’s all. The guy who’s with us now has done 10 times more shows that what Kenneth has done. And it’s the same as Richard Demon, 20 times more shows than Kenneth has ever done, so as I said he just helped us out at a time when we needed a bassist for just a few shows, that’s it. The bassist that we have on this tour has done more shows than Kenneth has ever done. Also before Kenneth help us out the first time.
You guys have been touring for quite a while, you did the No Mercy festivals with Cannibal Corpse… So among all the bands that you’re toured with, who is your favorite band to tour with?
Ok, and how come?
Uh we’re very good friends and the mixture between their death metal and our black metal is really good. They are very skilled musicians. They take everything professionally and seriously as we do so… I dunno, we just get along super well. With Naglfar, it’s the first time we tour with them, and we got to know them really good. They’re very good friends.
Now I was wondering… You guys have been with Metallysee for a long time, and Cannibal Corpse are going to be on the No Mercy festival AGAIN with Metallysee. So does that mean that if you did another tour with Cannibal Corpse you’d have to do it with someone else than Metallysee?
Yeah, but it doesn’t HAVE to be in Europe. Because we toured with Cannibal both in Europe and in the States. And I’ve already talked to Pat right before this tour and they really want to tour with us again. But it’s about timing and opportunity. It’s not as easy as one may believe. We are in contact and we’re talking about it so we’ll see…
Are there any other bands that you’ve NEVER toured with yet that you’d like to tour with now?
Just to piss people off I would LOVE to tour with Slipknot.
And do you think you’d get along with them?
We already know the guys. We’re very good friends. Well not VERY good, but I know Joey and we’re in regular contact with Joey. We met several times. I’m pretty sure we’d get along really fine.
I’m pretty sure that would be a good thing for Dark Funeral.
That means opening your audience to a whole bunch of new people.
They are very cool guys. If they were pricks we would never have thought about it. But since we already know those guys… I know it would work out very good. Secondly I’m sure if would piss people off really badly. I think all of us would have a great laugh to that.
So would it be a tour in America? I mean in Europe you’d get an even WORSE response…
Yeah.. I think that mix will become more normal within a couple of years. Because the first time we toured with Cannibal Corpse in 1998, that was the first European tour that ever mixed black and death metal. And people said that that’s not going to work. And I know the reaction from our crowd on that tour was ‘how the fuck can you guys tour with Cannibal Corpse, they’re fucking death metal, it’s not right. Fuck those, but we love you guys’. And their audience said the same. And we had kind of fun about that. But it didn’t take more than 6 months and it become more of a rule. When you do a tour you mix black and death metal. So we did those kind of things, opening up new doors and I’m not afraid to do it again.
So how did the USA respond then? I mean I used to live in America and so far Americans are not very well educated when it comes to extreme metal. They know the mainstream mostly. Not the extreme. So how did they react almost 10 years ago when you went there for the first time back then they were even less aware…
I guess … We got a very good response, but now I’m looking back at it and I think you know, looking at the line up of the festival we did in 1996 I think it was, I think people saw us more as a freak show than as a metal show.
That was also going to be one of my next questions… (all laugh)
Which bring me to a question requested by people on Global Domination… So it’s not my fault! (laughs)… How does it feel to score number 6 on the Original Top 10 most Ridiculous Black Metal Pictures of all Time on Ruthless Magazine?
Well you can take any fucking band in the world, all bands have bad pictures. That picture… I know what picture you’re referring to…
Actually I brought it for you…
Oh I know EXACTLY which one it is, and I think … it’s a bad picture… We got worse!!! (Laughs) and I can tell you… that’s still a professional picture.. I mean just take a look at all the other underground bands… I can find a thousand more ridiculous pictures …. But you know, people can think whatever they want. But I agree, it’s a bad and funny picture! (laughs) But every band has those bad pictures… If you really want to find a bad picture on whatever band, you will. And then you can have a laugh about it.
But don’t forget that the number of hits to Ruthless’ Website has really increased since they published those photos. So in a way that does nothing but increase notoriety for Dark Funeral anyway…
Yeah and you know these days I really don’t give a fuck what people think anyway… And I can tell you , we have a very black irony in Dark Funeral too, which is strange, people would think we are really fucking assholes, but our irony can be really fucking rough. And as I said I feel really secure about myself. So if somebody wants to laugh at me, I probably sold more record than they have, I’m on tour, what the fuck are they doing? They’re sitting behind their computer talking shit and they have a lousy fucking life so who’s the fucking moron?
Now this makes me go back to the first festival you did in America, the one we just talked about where you said that they saw you as a … curiosity… I’ll read you the text that was in Rock Hard Magazine…
The second leg of Satanic War Tour follows with Ancient and Bal Sagoth as support. Also, Dark Funeral plays their very first show in America at the Expo Of The Extreme festival in Chicago. After totally desecrating the unsuspecting American audience with their blasphemous stage show complete with impaled pigs heads on upside down crosses matched with the unholy members drenched in pigs blood and finishing the set off with Emperor Magus Caligula's firebreathing.’
My question is going to be: do you intend to develop even more extreme stage performances than that?
Well is that extreme? (laughs)
Well yeah, Americans! Put things back into their context in 1997!
But they have to see it from our perspective. Everything we do.. Of course we try to break some boundaries, but we’re trying to impress ourselves more than the audience… How far can WE go, to please our own wicked lusts? I mean because we are doing it in the first place, this is something we need to do ourselves, to enjoy what we are doing. We have some really fucked up ideas… I’m pretty sure we’re going to try to do that sometime in the future. But it all comes down to money, which we don’t have much of so…
So if you had money, what kind of stuff could we expect?
Yeah…That’s something we like to bring in. Fire obviously suits our shows very well. But I really have a thing for torture.
That would be kickass. Having it staged like a Marylin Manson show with cages in the audience…
But maybe not that we have some worse ideas…
Not animal torture?
No no no… We just eat animals. (laughs) but we’ll see… I don’t know the English word for it but … If the opportunity comes we’ll do it. Normally we don’t plan things so much ahead. Like one night we feel like ‘oh maybe we should do this or that tonight.. YEAH that sounds killer!! Let’s do it!’ we just follow our mood… So I guess that’s the fun thing about going on stage because you go by how you feel at that time and whatever happens happens… You know…
Ok I stole my last question from Ruthless. According to what I heard from other people, Dark Funeral are heavy drinkers. So here is the question.
‘So Finntroll have decided to challenge Dark Funeral to an old fashion Midsummer's Eve brawl. Your national pride is on the line, Swedes vs. Finns. Finntroll show up drunk, wielding the very weapons stolen from the cover of Sons of Northern Darkness. While you (Dark Funeral) are outnumbered by 2 people, are only armed with your instruments and stage props. It all comes down to the last man standing. Who wins?’
Because no one beats Dark Funeral.
Yeah, but alcohol is involved!
Yeah but I don’t drink anymore. I haven’t had one single beer so far on this tour. I decided to stop.
I guess I can’t handle it anymore… I don’t want to just lay on a tourbus all hungover and feel like shit to go on stage every night. But the last tour I had a few beers 2 nights on the whole tour… So I have taken it down a little bit. But I think I enjoy a tour more when I don’t have to be hungover and I play much better and I think that it’s more important for me to put off a good show every night than having a party and feel like shit everyday.
Well it’s true that after touring for over 10 years you’re starting to know what you can do and what you can’t…
We fucked up a couple of times and I really hate it every time when it happens. That’s why I’m trying to at least myself, not do the same mistakes twice. Well I’ve done it more than one time, but you know what I mean!! (laughs) . I mean in the old days it was a fucking RIOT on the tourbus every night. But we were younger and could handle it better. The hangover wasn’t too bad, and nowadays it is. But of course the alcohol flows pretty good on the bus… but there are 2 camps on the bus, which there always will be, but I’m fine with that. As long as I can feel myself that I can go on stage and enjoy myself… if I’m hungover I can’t enjoy being on stage. I mean I enjoy being on tour SO much more this time around. Because I feel so much better each show, and after the show with such a good response and so on. I feel in good shape and that gives me… what I need.
Okay, is there anything that you’re like to add or announce?
I don’t know… expect some new stuff from us during this year. A new DVD and some other stuff, and we’re going to shoot a video too. I’m probably going to talk to Regain in a couple days to see the planning.
Sounds good! Thank you so much!
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