Giannis Koutsousimos and Rock Overdose contacted the leader of Darkthrone, Fenriz, for a discussion around Darkthrone, the underground resistance, Isengard and many other and interesting things. Go ahead...
Rockoverdose: Hello Fenriz. It’s a big honour for me and for the whole team of Rock Overdose to do this interview with you! How are you?
Fenriz: Great, just did another interview, answered some emails, fetched vinyls at the post office, maybe 15, both old and new metals from the 80s and 00s, going to late shift at work after this interview, then afterwards work all night with emails, interviews, transferring cassettes I get from bands to turn to files and then to cd and then to mp3 player so I can rate stuff at work when I can listen perfectly in earphones. ONLY HEADPHONES IS REAL!!!
Rockoverdose: The 16th album from Darkthrone will be out in a month. What are your thoughts after 16 albums? For me it’s not the fact that you have so many albums, but the quality of them and the differences among them.
Fenriz: I am thinking we are almost as productive as our countrymen MOTORPSYHCO! And at least as varied, I mean most bands don’t vary a lot, if they do they do it SAFELY and boringly and maybe also change their name. Βut as humans don’t change name just because we change, and Darkthrone is a NATURAL band, so we also don’t change. But I understand people who think we should have changed name. But then we would also had to change after our 3rd demo, and after the “Soulside Journey” and “Goatlord” albums, and also after the “Sardonic Wrath” album. No, we try to do it our way instead, the natural way. No plans, only we do what we feel like in a natural way and follow our hearts.
Rockoverdose: I would say that the tilte “The Underground Resisatnce” is somehow a continuity to the title “The Cult Is Alive”. Right? What is an underground resistance for a music fan like you? Is it only the survival of albums from the golden era of the ‘80s with those cult productions or something more?
Fenriz: Hehe, nice train of thought there! For me it’s the only production. I STRONGLY MEAN WITH ALL MY HEART that no ONE metal style need more modern or plastic or compressed production. They only need “Master of Puppets” sound, or “Piece of Mind” by iron maiden. Bringing more modern sound production techninques than that destroyed thousands of bands in my ears. And more and more people are with me, thinking just this! 2012 was the biggest year of 1970s sounding music (both in music and production) since the actual 1970s!! YES! REVENGE!! VICTORY!!! Fuck the typical sound of 1997!!! Soulless shit. The underground resistance is fighting for the old metal sound. They have large record collections and cultivated taste. They CARE about music. A large band that sounds cult is still underground (hour of 13). Small bands that copy overground shopping mall metal like Slipknot are overground because they WANT TO BE overground even if they will never succeed. That is one of the differences with overground mentality and underground mentality.
Rockoverdose: How come you and Ted decided to record only 6 tracks for the album? And I have to tell you that the songs are so strong that I want to hear them again and again without asking new and more songs.
Fenriz: We decided to record 42 minutes of music for this album, compared to 38 or something on the previous album. We have had many albums with 6 songs, many albums with 8 songs, and some albums with 10 songs. All of this is normal, it depends on the songs lengths. Now it was time for some longer songs again. But I never know really if a song will be long or short when I am in the process of making it, to say it with GRIFFIN “Griffin” album from 1972: Whatever happens happens.
Rockoverdose: Which bands or songs were your inspiration for the lead guitar part of “Valkyrie” and for the speed one of “Leave No Cross Unturned”? Is “Valkyrie” one of the most epic songs you have ever written?
Fenriz: You think epic as in “a feeling of elevation”, but epic in my world means just “long and has many parts in it”. Most people think epic is the latter. But I think you have the better feeling of it. I never thought of it as epic because it is only 5 minutes long! Haha! But it can probably clearly pass as epic, at least in your sense of the world. Splendid. I play the lead in “Valkyrie”, but it’s not as much a lead as just another harmony. I always like to make harmonies like that, even when I sing along to other peoples music. The lead in “Leave No Cross Unturned” is played by Ted and he just plays absurd leads, even from our 4th demo “CROMLECH” he has played mainly absurd leads and stuck to doing that. It’s crazy!! Haha!
Rockoverdose: What do you think of black metal nowadays? From one side we have bands that keep playing what Norway created and from the other side we have new bands like Satan’s Wrath or Portrait that bring back the black/thrash spirit from the early ‘80s.
Fenriz: That’s the only way for me. But I think many of the bands playing the 90s style now do it better and many also have better and more obscure sounds, like the Nidaros bands, I mean I could never even listen to the first emperor full length but I can DIG bands like MARE!! But from early 90s I prefer Beherit, and again Beherit is echo of 80s sarcofago so I am as usual at home as forever in the 80s.
Rockoverdose: Where do you believe that Darkthrone’s music can reach? Is there a possibility sometime to write an absolute epic album mainly based on Norway’s mythology? And of course offer more lightning screams?
Fenriz: I think Enslaved is continuously doing the above. Except the falsetto screams. I did my first one on Isengard song “DOMMEDAGSSALME” in around 1992, at that time I also had recorded two songs in typical 1985 metal way with power metal vocals too, but I can’t fucking find them now, been lost since that time. Anyway I would like to do more, but I am very good at falsetto while drinking beer and listening to metal but when I get a microphone in front of me I CAN’T DO IT. It’s very difficult then.
Rockoverdose: Apart from Darkthrone, are you thinking of recording a new Isengard album? Or this is a chapter that has finished for you?
Fenriz: It depends more on studio solutions, if we can get the KOLBOTN THRASHERS UNION studio and rehearsal place together. Ongoing project and we don’t know if it will happen. I am thinking about it from time to time, I got one song ready already, recorded in early 1990 was my first traditional doom song ever. But I am doing stuff with Darkthrone now that I would also do for isengard, I really do give a lot of myself to Darkthrone these days, also musically and vocally, and I hope people can hear that Isengard is also within Darkthrone now.
Rockoverdose: Of course, I couldn’t finish this interview without asking you this… Tell us which new bands you have heard in the last 5 – 10 years and you suggest us listen to them?
Fenriz: Well, there’re around 170 bands on the BAND OF THE WEEK pages that I have put out for everyone to enjoy but also so people can silently search and find my musical taste so they understand my taste and don’t send me music that I obviously don’t have interest for. But main focus here today can be the Swedish WOLF “Wolf” album from 2000. Waaaaaay ahead of the HM revival and veeery good. Also METAL INQUISITOR “Doomsday for the Heretic” is great. And then both albums of BLACKHOLICUS from texas. Then the PORTRAIT and HELL albums, kings of the 00s heavy metal all these are.
Rockoverdose: Fenriz thank you a lot for your answers. Keep remaining underground! Any last words to the followers of the underground resistance…?
Fenriz: Don’t forget to listen to manilla road!!!