TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This phone interview with the bass player Iscariah from the Norwegian / American black / death metal band Wurdulak was done by Sam Chronic in June 2003.
You are probably wondering why someone would want to listen to a band with lyrics that include, “Standing knee deep in human waste”, “The stench of decay” and “Implant the rotting organs”. The better question is why would you NOT want to listen to this band or those lyrics?! Wurdulak is the extreme scream team that is the epitome of making music that other bands either can’t or are too scared to make. Wurdulak has recently released it’s sophomore album that is a true exhibition of black metal at it’s best with some of the biggest players in the game there to execute it. This band consists of the dual vocalists, Maniac (Mayhem) on Vo-kills, Killjoy (Necrophagia, Viking Crown, Eibon) on Vo-kills, Iscariah (ex-Immortal, Necrophagia) on bass, Frediablo (Gorelord, Necrophagia), Fug (Soul Forsaken) and Ihizahg (Perished) on guitars and Jehmod (Bloodthorn) on drums. If this has not drawn enough interest to make your eyes travel to the downward letters than there is probably no chance of pleasing you at all…sorry! I recently had the horror and privilege to catch up with bassist Iscariah to talk for a little while about everything from leaving Immortal, horror movies, arachnophobia ……and Teletubbies??? Read on my friends to find out more.
How is everything going?
Pretty good actually.
How is everything in America?
Oh, you know the usual, terrorist threats and bomb threats. (Both of us laugh) How is everything in Norway?
Actually, there were terrorists as well last week. There were terrorist threats to Britain, US and Norway and we have no idea why. The only thing that I know is it might be because we have this guy in Norway; Mullah Krekar that is a supposed terrorist that has never been proven guilty or anything but everybody wants the personnel in Norway to put him back in Iraq. There was some sort of conference and nothing that people think added up to the reason why there was terrorist threats but everyone is a bit nervous right now (laughs).
Well that is certainly no good. I wanted to know first off what does the name Iscariah mean?
It is basically a fictional name that I came up with about five years ago when I joined the band Immortal I wanted to have an artist name as they had the same thing as well. It does not mean anything specific I just tried to find something that sounded interesting and something that I could live with.
I want to talk about Wurdulak's latest album "Severed Eyes of Possession". Is there a religious or better put anti-religious message from the album?
Obviously there are anti-religous overtones in the album, which I think is quite necessary for this band. Basically the main theme is on the misanthropical side but the majority of it is based upon religion and I would say it is anti-religious as well.
The cover for the album is pretty brutal, I believe that you used the same artist Patrik Tremblay on the last album?
Yeah exactly, I think he did a marvelous job and he really overdid himself. I am also a really big fan of his work and it is just really killer artwork. In Europe we have some censorship problems and they had to put like a slipcase outside the CD so people could not see the actual cover. I know we had some troubles in France and I think Germany. Actually Germany is very strict and I don't know why, maybe it was the Second World War, but they are very careful with those things. But it has not disturbed the sales or anything so I really don't care and it is just a really good cover. All the censorship is really a problem in Europe, I don't know about how it is in America, is it bad?
Oh yeah it's terrible, I got the Wurdulak album from mail order and it probably came directly from the record company so there is no slip case or hard cover over the album. But like Dimmu Borgir's album "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" for example, has a hard cover over the CD because they did not want to the naked torso to show.
It's just amazing; we have problems with that over in Norway as well with showing your tits or whatever. You have all these rated R movies and everything in Norway but pornographic material or even nude pictures of girls is censored and it just does not make any sense. That is something else, all this stuff that they put on movies especially horror movies, they don't see as bad to the people but pornographic material they find that very terrible to people. And then what's the worst that's going to happen? Everyone is going to go around fucking each other? I don't see what is so bad about that! (Both of us laugh)
Here there is really no censorship at the porn shops and you can walk around and look at the videos and there is nudity. But the theatres are very strict and there are attendants that walk around to make sure that there are no underage kids in the movies. I even still get ID'ed to get into an R rated movie!
Oh really? Here it is quite strict still. For example about 8 years ago movies like Evil Dead were forbidden in Norway and it is actually a funny movie. It's supposed to be "extreme horror" or whatever but it is not scary for fucks sake. So things are loosening up here but it is still pretty strong on the pornographic side.
I just wanted to say that I think that the album is killer.
Thank you very much. At least for this album we put a lot more soul into it because the first one was more like a "tryout". Basically it was six guys coming together and trying to get to know each other musically but for the second one we knew where we had to add everybody and there was a certain goal for the album. So it came out more nicely and everyone is very happy with it.
You guys are like an all-star black metal band. How does the writing process flow with so many people?
It's basically Fug from Soul Forsaken and Ihizahg from Perished that did most of the writing for the album but I made one song. Basically I made some ideas and put them down on tape and sent them up and if it is something that they disagree on we just work on it and send ideas back and forth with MP3 files. So it works fine and we communicate very well, it does not have to be very hard anymore and it has been running very smoothly. Writing-wise this album is just as good as it would have been if we lived in the same country so that has not been a problem so far.
So there is no head butting between the members?
Oh no, not really. We are all into this band with the attitude of being fans and making music and we just want to put out whatever we think in the likes of extreme things that we want to hear today. So there are no rock star attitudes from anybody and we just meet in the middle and it has not been a problem at all.
As if the overall theme of the band is not extreme enough you have three guitarists and two vocalists too!
Yeah, to most people that may seem a like a bit of a chaotic thing. We really have not tried the live thing yet but I think that we are going to work that out somehow because we hope to do that as well. But as far as the recording side goes it has been running very smoothly. I don't know how that is going to look on stage with two vocalists and three guitarists (Laughs). We'll see how that ends up, so far so good.
Well the end result is definitely a killer sound. How do Maniac and Killjoy work on the lyrics together?
Basically they work on the songs separately. Killjoy does some of the lyrics, Maniac does some and I know that Susan6 (executive producer) did some. Again it has never been hassle between anybody because now everybody has a certain goal so everyone knows what to do in a way.
As far as sound goes, I hear early Immortal and Darkthone in the music. Are these some of your influences and what are some of your other influences?
Definitely, this is a band, which we decide upon what to be. Put it this way, we don't try to hide our influences with this band because we really don't give a shit. We just try to do what we want to do regardless of what everyone else thinks and if someone compares us to those other bands we really don't care. We don't see it as a problem because we are fans of those bands as well. Really we just do whatever the fuck we want, we really don't care if people think it is Darkthrone or Immortal.
Well that is the way it should be. I think that people worry too much about how people are going to perceive the music and it just buffers their creativity because they are trying to make a certain sound to fit a certain person. Instead they should do what you do and make what they want to.
I think it is kind of funny though, and that is something else but in a way the same. For example when I grew up listening to Slayer when they came out with "Reign in Blood" and everything, I did not really think, "that sounds like this or that". Nowadays people care about what record label a band is on. When I grew up listening to Slayer I did not give a fuck what record label they were on, I was just happy that I could find the album in the store and listen to it. It is funny how things have changed and people take all these different things into consideration.
What about Kiss? A lot of bands site Kiss as an influence but really, how many farewell tours can a band take before they...say farewell?
(Laughs) Exactly, well I don't make fun of Kiss because I grew up with Kiss. I went to see them in concert and it really was not anything of what I expected it to be. I went to the farewell tour as well and after going to the states it was "Hey, we're back again!".
About leaving Immortal....I don't want to go too deep into this as you are in another band now doing your thing. But after leaving Immortal you were once quoted saying "If you asked me directly why, I would not be able to give you a direct answer because there is no definite reason why." You certainly have my respect for your decision and I love what you are involved with now but I was curious after sounding a little unsure if you were positive on the decision you made?
Oh yeah, definitely, I had no doubts in my mind afterwards. I had people coming up to me saying that in a couple of months I was going to regret what I did and when Immortal go on tour again you are going to regret leaving. But not really, because if you don't have that gut feeling before going on tour and if you don't see yourself in the future of the band it is hard. I just don't improve focus on a band that I can totally identify with and for me it is very important to get that boyish magic with a band to a certain degree. I am not saying that Immortal wasn't that but coming into the band it was a very established band already and I basically just wanted to build up something and feel more apart of it. That way I can become more influenced into writing material. It is kind of hard to explain.
No, I am like sitting here nodding my head to everything you are saying because it makes so much sense and it seems right on.
I came to the point where I was kind of hoping that Immortal was going to tour sometime because I just did not want to put them back and break them or slow them down and have them end up canceling tours just for my benefit. I just think that's wrong and being a fan of the band for over 10 years now I did not want to do anything wrong to them. I made way for some guy that could give them more and I think that they are doing very well for themselves now. I had actually had enough and I came to an agreement with myself that I knew from that day on the band was going to get bigger and bigger and tour more and more so I had to do something fast. If not it would be too late because then it is going to be so much that I was going to end up breaking something down. I actually quit the band about two months before I really expected a European and American tour. But of course if they did not find a new band member before that time then I would have done the tour because I would not have wanted them to cancel because of my gut feeling.
Well, you have to go with your gut feeling. You were not into it so you got out but it is good to hear that you respect Immortal so much.
Oh yeah. My accounting would have been much better now if I was in Immortal but it comes to the point that if I stayed with them for the money and still was in the band then I would feel like a whore. And I do not want that feeling because that would be like living a lie and that would make me feel so fucking low and I would just end up getting upset with myself. I just had to get out while the time was good.
I understand completely, it would be like me going to school to be a lawyer just so I could make money whether I was into it or not.
Exactly, there is always a different way. I have a saying that no matter what you want to do you will achieve it if you put your mind and soul into it. I knew that if I quit the band I was not going to fucking wither away from the scene or whatever because I have so much in my blood that I want to get out. I never ever thought it would be taking two steps backward in my career and never had a doubt in my mind after I made that decision. I have had a lot of support from Immortal as well. They did not really understand my choice then and there but after some time went by they understood it more and saw that I was much happier with my other band afterwards. But they are cool about it and we remain really good friends, I spoke to Abbath today and he is a really, really close friend of mine, and Horgh as well. There is no bad blood between us and I only wish the best of luck to those guys.
That is really killer, I actually think that it is a forward progression for you because you are able to express more with a band that like you said, is not as established, and you are not creatively restrained at all.
Definitely, I feel that as well. I feel with Necrophagia, I use my influences, which are laid upon old Bathory, old Celtic Frost or Celtic Frost (pronounced Sel-tic Frost) as you say in America (Both of us laugh). I really feel that it comes more natural to me to make music with that kind of band than Immortal because when I was to make music with Immortal I feel that I have to follow a certain recipe to make it sound "Immortal". I don't have that sort of restriction with a band like Necrophagia for example because it comes more from influences.
I actually hear that you can play any and every instrument impressively well.
Yeah, I started out on bass guitar when I was 8 or 9, I did drums then I went to bass and then I went to guitar. The reason for that was lack of members in my previous band so I was kind of forced to take over and do "this and this". I will be the first in the whole fucking scene to say this but I am actually not good at any instrument, I just play them all but I am not good at any of them. (Laughs)
Did you go to school for any training?
Not ever, I don't believe in the fact that you go to a course to learn how to make a song. We have those stupid courses here in Norway with like serious guitars and they teach this course for a week that teaches you how to write a song. I just think that is fucking blasphemy...I just think it is wrong. I am just fully self-learned and for me that is the best way.
How do you feel about the music scene in Norway right now?
It is very different from what it used to be on the extreme metal side. There is a lot more death metal bands like Blood Red Throne and Cadaver and stuff like that coming back and I think that especially those two bands have quite a big impact on the newer bands coming up. Take a look at the early 90’s; the scene has changed so much. It has kind of wandered out in a way because back then there was like 100 people that listened to extreme metal and now there is like 5,000. Norway is strange in a way from the rest of Europe but we have some good bands coming up here. I don't really check out demos too much anymore because I don't have time to follow that but I always check bands if my friends advise me to. We have this new band called Orcustus (www.orcustus.com) which is made out of ex members of Gorgoroth and Enslaved and it's just really, really fucking good black metal and it brings me back into that early 90's atmosphere. But we have different kind of things in Norway. We have Darkthrone who is always doing their thing as they have always done. They are still 1994 in the way of thinking and the way of creating albums and recording in like 26 hours. Then we have bands that spend four months in the studio like, Borknagar, The Kovenant and Dimmu Borgir. Either you are one way or the other so it is a bit strange.
What about all the bands that are implementing electronics into their music now, especially black metal bands?
Well I have nothing towards that in principle but I think that electronics can work if it creates the right atmosphere. But the problem is that you have to maintain that whether it is speed metal or black metal, they should make sure that the band brings with them the certain darkness and not just go happy and dancey and stuff. But in principle I have nothing against it but there is a thin line in that direction. If you bring a lot of noise for example, into extreme metal it sounds good but it's not something that I listen to very much. For example, I don't want to listen to the new Kovenant stuff; it is just not my thing.
I don't like a lot of it either and I always feel myself saying that I like the old stuff. But it goes back to what we were talking about earlier and if that is the music that the band wants to make then that is what's important. They are doing what they want to and not what everyone wants them to.
Definitely, of course I have a total respect for that. If someone comes to me and says that they don't like my album, that is fine and I have respect for their opinion and they are being honest. If you are a professional guy you should not be offended by it.
I think what you said is so important and that you have to remember where you came from. Look at Metallica, they have completely sold out and gone from being metal to pop stars.
I have this thing that when people change from one album that is extreme metal and the next is total electronica, there is no bridge and there is this total change of identity. I just find it a bit weird, it just does not sound natural to me.
On to the band name Wurdulak; this is actually a short horror film starring Boris Karloff. Are you a big fan of horror movies?
Oh yeah I watch horror movies all the time. I have some friends of mine that are bigger fans of horror movies like Killjoy of course but I watch a lot of horror. I have to get into a certain mood to create music and horror movies for example are quite important to me. Not necessarily just horror movies either but good movies in general-but some of my favorite movies are horror movies. Being from America have you ever heard of August Underground?
No, actually I haven't....
It is actually a brand new movie that a friend of mine called Fred Vogel, he is the special effects artist for Necrophagia and works for Toe tag pictures which is in the US. They did a movie called August Underground, which is basically made with an 8-millimeter camera doing a documentary of a serial killer, and it just looks very real and it is amazing. He did a new one called August Underground Mortum which is going to come out now on DVD in about June. I was one of the first to see it when on tour with Necrophagia in Europe and it was so brutal, I have never seen anything like it before it is the most vile, depraving movie ever. It just comes to the point where it is no longer entertainment and it is just vile (laughs). Some parts are just wrong and just extreme like fucking necro-pedophiliac stuff...fucking crazy stuff. There are just no boundaries, nothing; it is just all chaotic…it’s just crazy. If you can get a hold of it you definitely need to check it out.
Definitely! I wrote the name down.
It is on www.toetagpictures.com and I know that if you send in $25 he will send you a copy of the movie. He has gotten a couple of reviews already from magazines like Rue Morgue and Fangoria and they said that basically it was one of the only movies ever that they had to turn off after 5 minutes. It is so fucking vile, really womanizing and really humiliating. You just have to experience it.
It sounds so killer.
It is very brutal, I actually could not watch the whole thing it was just too much for me.
Oh yeah, it was really, really bad. All these puke scenes and puke sex, of course cannabilism and it is just mixed together in this really weird way that sort of fucks with your head. It's mixed in a contradiction to nice family things and it is just very vile. It has to be the creepiest movie I have ever seen.
Wow.... I am a little frightened now.
Because it is so brand new he actually thought about laying copies around in trashcans in the US so people would find it. It's made like a personal video of some crazy people that just went insane on drugs and started killing people.
Is it believable as far as the cinematography goes?
Yeah, that is what is so fucking scary about it because it looks so fucking real and the actors are just amazing. Just imagine if some kids found it...it would fuck their heads up. He is definitely going to jail for this movie and he even has all of his papers ready. You'll see-I am sure that you will hear about it. If you are a kid, go home there's nothing! (Laughs)
Have you ever heard about the movie "28 Days Later"? It is a new zombie flick.
I have heard about it but I never actually got to see it.
It has just been released here but actually a friend that I talk to in Finland told me about it.
Cool, do you know who did it?
No, but I am pretty sure that it is a Finnish director because I was told that at the end of the movie the Zombies speak in Finnish...I could be wrong.
They also did another horror movie out of Scandinavia. Have you heard of a movie called the Night Guard or the Night Shift? It's about a guy who works in the morgue.
Yeah, I have seen that.
It's a Danish movie but I am not sure if there is an American version of that.
Yeah, there is...we could be talking about 2 separate movies but it sounds like the right movie.
It is about this guy that works in the morgue and he actually fucks his girlfriend there. And there is this police investigation because someone went over the corpses and they found semen on the wall. I don't know if it is the same movie.
Yeah, it definitely is. I don't think there are too many movies like that!
No, because that movie is very, very good at least the Danish version which I saw on TV.
With DVD's now a movie can be made in any language and it breaks down any language barrier.
I think I have like over two hundred something DVD's right now and I am just a huge fan.
I am a huge fan as well...I can't stop buying DVD's.
I have to allow myself a certain amount of money for DVD's per paycheck. It sometimes comes to buying groceries or DVD's. (Both of us laugh)
I definitely know what you mean, I buy all kinds of movies because I have a daughter and… have you ever heard of the Teletubbies in America?
I just bought her a Teletubbies DVD today (laughs). It is for my daughter obviously but I buy all kinds of movies but mostly horror these days.
This is a little off topic but it is just a funny story and Johnny Depp who is one of my favorite actors. He told Rolling Stone magazine that a solution to the crisis in Afghanistan is to force-feed the country liquid LSD and then have the US troops invade dressed as Teletubbies. (Both of us laugh)
That would be good.
All right, another off the wall question. Imagine House on Haunted Hill, I lock the entire band in an abandoned house that is haunted with ghosts and whatever you imagine. The last man standing is awarded with money, who gets the money?
Definitely Frediablo, he is the kind of guy you cannot scare so he would win. I am shit scared of spiders.
ME too! (Both of us laugh)
If I saw a spider in a haunted house I would run.
Me too…. there is nothing worse than spiders.
With the Necrophagia tour we went to France and we went to cross a bridge at nighttime and there were so many mosquito’s that in one night light there was probably six thousand or so-it was just insane. There were spiders like 5 cm long and they were all over the place, when you were walking all you heard was "crunch, crunch, crunch". I would have never thought that it was possible, I just ran and ran and ran across the bridge.
I don't know how you did it I would have frozen.
It was horrible, we parked under this tree in the park and the spiders were dropping down out of the trees into the bus and I got a huge spider bite on my finger. When I woke up in the morning it was totally swollen and I was itching all the way up tom my elbow. I knew it was OK as long as I did not get a red line up my arm, so it ended up being fine. But I fucking stripped searched that bunk afterwards and it was just horrible.
That is horrible. I think it was like three weeks ago I was up in my attic running cable and when I woke up the next morning my whole face was swollen. Ends up a spider bit me right below the lip and the worst part is that the doctor said that it was trying to get into my mouth!
I think that in general people here in Norway sleep with their mouths open and spiders crawl into your mouth 5 times a year.
I have heard that also and I think that is worldwide, for some reason spiders want to get in your mouth.
My worst-case scenario would be a wasp getting stuck in your ear. Imagine that buzzing sound deep in your brain...echhhhh. (Laughs)
Speaking of horror movies again, Wurdulak has a track in the new horror movie Revelations.
Yeah, we did a soundtrack for that and it was the director that did Cradle of Fear, Alex Chandon. I don't know when it starts recording but we just did a soundtrack for the movie.
How did you feel about the movie Cradle of Fear?
I thought it was cool; I really liked it and the way it was cut up. It was not really like a horror movie but it was like 3 shorts films in one. I liked it because there was not any famous actors and that makes it much more real. The girl in the movie is also in Razor Blade Smile; I am a big fan of hers.
A fan of hers as in her looks?
Yeah definitely her looks! (Laughs)
So what is next for you with Necrophagia and Wurdulak?
We are recording a new album for Wurdulak in August, which is going to be called "Guts of a Virgin". We are not sure what record label it is going to be on but most likely Season of Mist is going to do it but I am not sure. Most likely we are going to start recording in August depending on Maniac’s schedule and my own as well. We are also going to try and make a live show in Norway sometime. For Necrophagia, we hope to get onto the Danzig tour in the US in late September for what will be called the Black tour.
Oh yeah, with The Haunted and Superjoint Ritual?
And Immortal as well, I spoke to Horgh yesterday and he said they are working on getting on the bill but that would be such a cool package.
Yeah, it would be like the Gods of Metal tour. But hopefully it will not get cancelled like that one did.
Yeah, I think they played something like 8 shows?
They played 5 shows and then the bands were told it was cancelled and were basically told to go home.
Halford is a big name and is really famous and you would imagine that on that level of professionalism it would run smoothly. But the whole industry of setting up tours has the wrong people involved everywhere.
The more that I hear about it the more I feel that something behind the scenes was just not handled correctly from the booking agency or something. It was shocking....
Yeah, I just hope everything goes okay with the Danzig tour and it comes through. I would love to come to the US again as I have only done a few shows there myself. But I just really want to get over there and with Necrophagia we should be okay there.
Oh yeah there are a lot of fans here, Necrophagia is a pretty big band here and a lot of people know about them and hopefully a lot of people will know about Wurdulak also.
I think that the sales went quite okay for the last Wurdulak album, I don't have numbers or anything but it actually sold as much in the US as it did in Europe which is good.
That is good. Well I have probably entertained you for long enough now!
No problem, it has been a joy.
Would you like to say anything to all the readers?
I really hope that we are going to come the US with Wurdulak and Necrophagia so I really hope that will happen in the not so different future so we will see what goes on.
Well hopefully I will see you in Atlanta sometime and good luck to you guys in the future!
Definitely! Take Care.
Thanks to Iscariah for spending so much time with us and be sure to go check out Wurdulak’s latest album “Severed Eyes of Possession”, it is really just a killer album and I am a huge fan of their work. For more info on Wurdulak and Necrophagia as well, including news and tour dates, go to www.necrophagia.com. Thanks to Gro Narvestad at Khaoz Productionz for hooking the whole thing up!
Links of interest:
Season Of Mist