This e-mail interview with Fenriz of the Norwegian black metal band Darkthrone was done by Fjordi in September 2004.

Darkthrone are not only one of the founding fathers of the infamous Norwegian black metal scene but they are also one of the few bands who have achieved as much in their career with such simple means. Fenriz was kind enough to spend some time answering our questions. [The Editor]

It´s almost mandatory to ask you about the Wacken thing, what are your feelings about the joint Nocturno Culto-Satyricon gig. I´d also like to know if it´s true that Zephyrous approved that show too, as it was said.
Zephyrous approved, yes. He called me and said it the week after. I, on the other hand, have no comment, and Nocturno Culto has adviced me not to comment on the whole thing. Anyone who knows me knows what I feel...

The Darkthrone website (www.darkthrone.no) only features the band logo and there is nothing more to see (that´s really “true”...). Is that intentional, willing to show that Darkthrone mark their own rules and don´t care about the rest, or is the website being actually changed? Is there any source in the internet nowadays to know the latest official news about Darkthrone, apart from Moonfog Productions?
Are you being FREKK? Anyway, closing down the website is to show that we don’t intend to become MORE in the spotlight. And what are YOU complaining about? Without information on the net, this interview is worth ten times more, have you ever thought of that!? INFORMATION WANTS TO BE SYNDICATED.

By the way, what is Zephyrous doing right now? Is he involved in any musical project, or is he retired from the scene?
He thought the scene was becoming a boys club in 93, so he drifted away. He is not into sharing either, and I think he is right. The spirit of Zephyrous is always with me when I am making riffs! I doubt that he is doing any music at the moment. Him and me are not really musicians, just a lot of attitude.

Live shows mean too much noise, too many people and too many negative things. Being aware of your rejection of live appearances, tell us what are the worst thing of playing live in your opinion, namely the main reason why you hate concerts.
SHARING VISUALS – the whole BONDING thing is quite disgusting. I have perhaps 20-30 reasons not to play live, but the one I am promoting now is that the book is better than the movie – listening to albums gives a PERSONAL experience while live people see the same thing – like a movie. Also I see the PREACHER MAN and live performance in context, especisally when people are looking forward to see a band – they WANT TO SEE GOD. I prefer going to small shows to discover bands or support bands in the start of their carrier.

Following to the previous question, I´d like to know if you enjoy attending concerts, what is the last gig you watched, and if you have listened to some of the live Darkthrone bootlegs that are in the market (“A night of unholy black metal”, “Evil past”, etc., some of them wielding a quality close to pure noise).
Bootlegs are just sad, it’s a kind of honour but the whole concept is just depressing. Wasted energy. Back in the day Euronymous was always trying to sell these metallica bootleg at gigs. I didn’t understand why people bought it. I know I am RIGHT, not wrong. The last gig I watched was a super 20 minute gig (1 minute of silence for that Ramones guy who just died) with Follo punk band THE UPSTROKES. Before that I saw a good gig by good norwegian death metal band CHTON.

“Hate them” have always had a certain punk attitude in general, but in “Hate them” this punk element also appeared in the music. Will “Sardonic wrath” continue this tendency? Is it you who listens regularly to punk music, or is Nocturno Culto? After having recorded “Sardonic Wrath”, what are the main differences between this album and the previous one?
Nocturno culto is more and more positive to the “punk” thinking, one sorta have to to be a fan of ABSCESS. So ABSCESS is something we have in common, for sure. We were always fans of AUTOPSY rather than more modern styles of death metal anyway. I listen to punk all the time, but I prefer new york dolls, sonics, dictators, ramones from the old style, not the sex pistols thing. Newer styles I like the CRUST bands, DISRUPT, DETESTATION, ACURSED, UNCURBED, DISFEAR, SKITSYSTEM, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH (wearing their t-shirt right now) etc. these are bands that are angrier and rawer than most so called black metal bands I have heard. Others can fuck off with their leather SKIRTS and hair gel. I see no big difference between hate them and sardonic wrath, our albums are just viewed as individuals from you in the outside world – from the inside it is more like one LOOONG chain of songs..

“Hate them” and “Sardonic wrath” have brought the use of Norwegian language to songtitles again. Do you prefer English or Norsk to be sung by Nocturno? Do you think that some languages “fit better” in black metal, or any tongue can be used and is ok?
I am a serious writer, so i have to use what looks best on paper or in spoken word. Often i come up with stuff that would be lost in translation. The best language for black metal would probably be ARABIC (Euronymous wanted to hear this...) because everything sounds like WAR, atleast to our ears. But we don’t know the language, so... (hahaha, all of this coming from a “serious writer”?!) after all, it’s just a statement saying I DO NOT CARE ABOUT RULES THAT SAY I CAN’T HAVE ENGLISH AND NORWEGIAN SENTENCES SIDE BY SIDE.

The videos included as bonus on the re-issues of the Peaceville albums were really great: simple, home-made and with a huge Darkthrone vibe. The making seems to have been really funny. Tell us how the whole thing was made, who came up with the idea, where it´s filmed (it was sort of a cabin in the snow...), etc.
It was filmed 30 minutes outside Trysil (ski resort in Norway). I was smoking cigarettes, so it was easy to tell a story. Now i use mouth tobacco and i am just angry all the time. Uh!

Many people wish to see a Darkthrone DVD in the future. But since Darkthrone hasn´t made a videoclip in their career, and concerts simply don´t exist, that urge is close to utopia, unless you release some footage of you in the making of an album, recording in the studio. Could that be possible one day? Or you rather think that Darkthrone is away from those merchandising devices and must be just dedicated to release albums and nothing more?
I am planning to film my toes for a couple of hours. Nocturno Culto is putting together something...but it’s a surprise...i am not very visually interested, so i tend to only think lyrics and riffs

What is the balance between evolution and the need of keeping up the Darkthrone spirit? Do you make music getting rid of any previous pattern, or do you take into account the past and what Darkthrone represents in order to create the new songs?
The last thing you said. Plus what is unique with darkthrone is WE ALREADY WENT THROUGH THE EVOLUTION; 87 – 90 was just evolution. Then we decided to quit it and just play primitive raw grim shit instead. That’s why it’s easy. Wee aaare ooone eeevolution aheeead. In 89-95 i made lots of other music in OTHER PROJECTs until i was empty – since then i just fill myself with OTHER PEOPLES MUSIC.

Of course we know you probably don´t listen to the Darkthrone albums regularly, but looking back to the past, what do you think of the “Goatlord” album? Do you feel proud of every release of the band and regard them as good albums with no exception?
I think it would have been better in it’s original form – just a rehearsal without vocals. The rehearsal was put together after making new songs. Late 90 – early 91. the vocals were done in..94? probably. But it is our best death/dark metal album, the riffs are great and the sound is very original, which I like.

Correct me if I´m wrong, but I heard Nocturno Culto lives in a town in the mountains of Norway while you spread the evil in Oslo. Rehearsals can become dead boring since Darkthrone appears to be a band that dislike to practice together in a regular basis, so this situation of rehearsing difficulties is really excellent. However, some negative points appear if you have to deal with the band duties. Explain us a bit the “Darkthrone working method” (hmmm, this sounds really serious...), the routines of putting ideas in common, the contact between Nocturno and you when creating music...
We just make the riffs, put them together, and when we have a little material we go to the rehearsal place (very desolate) and drink and record the songs onto a rehearsal tape. Then we go home. We continue this process until we have a short album that is not very annoying to people (I hate long albums! Keep it under 40 minutes!)

Nicknames have been a really interesting subject. On the first album you used your real names (that in the re-release have been changed by the relevant alias). On “Ravishing grimness” your partner in musical crimes dubbed himself as “Nocturnal Culto” (I don´t know why). I´d like you to speak something about the Spanish element in your real name and Ted´s popular nick. Why “Nocturno Culto” instead of “Nocturnal Cult”? Have you ancestors based on South America or Spain?
Hahaha, you think HANK AMARILLO is my REAL name? Hahahaha, no it was just a joke, I was fed up with the idea of having finally an album out with the picture on the back and real name under so one could show their parents LOOK, HERE I AM! Pathetic. So imade up a WESTERN-NAME for myself! It got boring after a while. Too bad the re-release changed the name, though. My joke is almost lost! But the EVEN FUNNIER thing: I do have ancestors from Argentina! My brother got my fathers name Benito! GYLVE FENRIS NAGELL is my real name (“underground spelling”) – or Leffie (hi Grutle and Linda!) don’t ask me about Nocturno Cultos name – we never discuss things like artistic choices much – that’s why we can still work together after all these years, among other things.

Nowadays it´s really lucky to find a classic black metal band that is alive and killing like Darkthrone is, with a certain aura around, with many things to say in an interview, and releasing good albums that haven´t lost the essence of what the band stands for: evil, ancient, cold, dark black metal. Other bands like Satyricon or Immortal haven´t done the same and their evolution gave as fruit weak albums. What are your impressions on these (and other) classic bands´ latest releases? I´m aware that your opinion is relatively “tied up” since they´re friends of you... try to be objective as much as you can... I think they can forgive you if you don´t love their recent LPs, hehehe...
I disagree VIOLENTLY – my favourite Satyricon album is REBEL EXTRAVAGANZA, it is a HARD album not for wimps. Somebody out there seems to think stuff with symphonic melodies or FLUTES are the best, but they can take a long walk on a short pier. ENSLAVED is better than ever! And Immortal was so solid, damned in black...GREAT stuff. But it’s hard to beat diabolical full moon mysticism or pure holocaust...

We know you used to be as DJ some nights in Oslo, playing Exodus and old school classic bands... are you still doing that nowadays? By the way, what are your favourite old acts?
I am preparing tonights dj’ing NOW as we “speak” – listening up on some Hollywood music from the sixties/early 70s. So it’s not a metal gig, hehehe.. I like best to play metal on the radio, as it is depressive to play it out and see that people aren’t really listening. Metal get togethers are mostly social, people not there to LISTEN. My old favourites? That would take a LIFETIME to list. NECROVORE, 1st IMMOLATION demo, DEATHSTRIKE, REPULSION (got their logo tatooed), DARK ANGEL darkness descends album, SLAUGHTER (canada), PENTAGRAM, MANILLA ROAD, DEVESTAION (Illinois, not the texas ones), TERRORIZER.. the list goes on, and this was just a VERY FEW from the american continent. See more favourites on my FENRIZ PRESENTS OLD SCHOOL BLACK METAL compilation, out now on peaceville.

Since you have met Phil Anselmo because of the Eibon stuff, you are capable to answer this question in a convincing way: many people think that his sudden interest in Norwegian black metal is nothing but a cheap pose. It´s time to you to give us your thoughts on this subject: is he a real “black metalhead”?
I think it would be a very unfortunate move to call Phil a poser. He is one of us – meaning he has been in the game for a long time, he is still into metal and he don’t take any crap from no one. People are entitled to like Darkthrone if they play in ABBA for all I care, this is a typical reaction from the “UNDERGROUND METALHEADS”, people that should probably be collecting stamps instead of being into music. ARGH! hahahaha

Darkthrone have always rejected to play cover songs, whereas some time ago a tribute was released where well-known bands of the scene payed homage to you. Did you listen to it? What was the best version and the one you liked the least?
I think I listened to it twice...4-5 years ago?... I remember the Emperor version (¿) being closer to the original than the original itself (¡). TRIBUTE is maybe the word I am most tired of. Playing other people's songs and singing other people's lyrics is more often than not FAKE EMOTIONS.

This is something I´ve asked myself for a long time: could you tell us why “Panzerfaust” didn´t include the lyrics for “Hans siste vinter”?
My dog ate them.

Time to close the torture, I hope you haven´t had a bad time. Say some last words if you wish, and thank you very much!
Haha, cool interview, thanxx for supporting THE UNDERGROUND SOUND. Look out for AURA NOIR and support SARCOMA INC, AUDIOPAIN and NIFELHEIM. NATTEFROST rocks!

Links of interest:

Moonfog Productions