If there is a band that I have wanted to interview sine I listen to Metal is without any hesitation the mighty BATHORY because his Devilish and Vicking hymns are an invitation to a merciless and destruktive Battle. With honour and bravery Quorthon has written with his own blood Infernal torments ; compositions which stay unequalled in the History of Black Metal. He will remain the master who has influenced the actual Black Metal scene and also this new tendence called ‘Vicking Metal’. His musical art could be qualified of real virtuoso so the gloomy/epicaatmospheres give birth to strong emotions. Beyond vulgar critics, from many chroniclers of great old magazines in the beginning of his career, he has stained his shoulders high despite this critics and insults. In July 2004 a tragic event announced his death due to mysterious circumstances whom he will keep the secret in Walhalla. Nevertheless he answered with prettiness and in short times to my interview in October 2003, I think it was the most intense day of my life due to the fact that one of my beautifulest dream was realized. My last words will be for him and also for his wife and family, Shall your soul rest with The Nordik Gods
01 - Hail Quorthon, how are you today?
I’m just fine, thank you. It’s been a very hectic two years. First writing and arranging the entire NORDLAND saga between January and June 2002. Then recording and producing all of that, more than two hours of music, between July 2002 and January 2003. Then all the additional work that goes into manufacturing two albums and conducting more than 220 interviews for NORDLAND I and NORDLAND II between September 2002 and June 2003. Then I’ve also spent several months digitally re-mastering 12 full albums between January and June 2003, and producing new CD’s and vinyl on all the back catalogue, plus enhancing the covers for all these albums and producing new shirts for all albums. So yeah, it’s been pretty hectic. But very much fun and creative. And BATHORY has sold more albums ( both new and old albums ) in the past 12 months than during any previous 12 month period in the past 20 years. Additionally whenever there has been a few hours to spend we have been working on setting up the first official BATHORY website which went active late last year.
02 - I shall begin this interview by a warm heartfelt thanks for answering my vicious questions, I’m so proud about it since you are the mightiest band in the world in my own opinion
Quorthon : Shot….
03 - When you founded bathory, did you imagine you would have such success? The first time have been somehow chaotic and it seems that you had no support from magazines, isn’t it? Was it because of your misanthropic attitude which was very avant-garde at the time?
When I formed BATHORY in March 1983, I could of course have had absolutely no idea of what would come. And the first year and a half wasn’t very serious or pretentious at all. We didn’t have any ambitious to obtain success or fame or any of that sort. We were just playing metal very loud and very fast but in a very innocent way. We were just 17-18 years old. The following years between 1984-1989 were chaotic in the sense BATHORY were mostly out of a line-up and Sweden was a dreadful place to find suitable members for an act like BATHORY. Those were hair-band days and BATHORY wasn’t exactly a band in the Europe or Bon Jovi lane...
The success of BATHORY lies in the fact BATHORY have always been one step ahead of most others in a sense, and very original in everything we’ve done. The uniqueness and greatness of BATHORY is always recognized posthumously, when other bands claim BATHORY to have been their greatest source of inspiration etc. BATHORY have usually been a pioneering entity with mixes and brands of sounds and styles at least a handful of years before everybody else. That’s why albums like UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK, BLOOD FIRE DEATH and HAMMERHEART are considered legendary albums today. But when they were first released the press hated them. And sometimes parts of even our own audience didn’t always understand what we were up to. I think the answer to BATHORY’s status lies in all of that. BATHORY have walked its own path, doing very original things and have been recognized as a leading source of inspiration to two generations of fans and bands.
We always had support from most fanzines from day one, but not always from the magazines. The magazines are mostly against BATHORY even today. The bigger the magazine, the more anti-BATHORY they seem to be. Judging from the letters and emails I get from people from all over the world, the big magazines have a very different opinion about BATHORY compared to the opinion of the audience at large. That’s proof of the big magazines lack of contact with the fans and the streets. We trust the opinion of the audience, not the big magazines. The audience pays for their albums with their own money whereas the big magazines can afford to ridicule acts because they don’t pay for their CD sample. But I must say I wouldn’t agree that I have a misanthropic attitude. I believe that might be the result of a misinterpretation or a misconception of myself as a person. Any misanthropic image of myself might be the result of my patience coming to an end as far as a lot of the metal press is concerned. The image of myself as somebody that turned his back on the world is of course not true at all.
04 - Is that correct that you play guitar and drums since you are 15 years 'old? When you were younger you had a punk band named stridskuk, of course different from bathory. I know you don't disown your first influence because we feel this rebel/anarchist urgency in your compositions in such albums as "requiem" "octagon" or "destroyer", those releases didn’t seem to please bathory's die hard fans. What is your personal opinion?
Actually I started out with the drums at the age of 9. I picked up the guitar and bass at the age of 14.Yes, it’s true I formed a Oi-punk band a couple of years before BATHORY that was called STRIDSKUK. The Oi-punk influences I think is very much apparent in everything that BATHORY did between spring of 1983 and autumn of 1984, including the first album. But then it got more and more Death Metal mixed with Black Metal in 1985-1986, and then something labelled as Viking or Nordic Metal in 1988-1991.When we wrote and recorded REQUIEM and OCTAGON in the summer of 1994 and the spring of 1995 respectively, it was the result of a desire to get back to the garage-attitude, the street-noise and the basic and simple up-your-ass kind of metal, with social lyrics and modern themes. We had been doing the Satanic lyrics and the Nordic lyrics for several albums and wanted to try something different. BATHORY had been doing more and more arranged and pretentious stuff since 1987 and in the end it felt like we had painted ourselves into a corner, a corner that didn’t feel very comfortable at all to be in for too long. We missed the easy playing and great fun of the early years and decided to get back to that for a couple of albums in the mid 90’s.It’s true the traditional BATHORY fans didn’t like those two albums very much. But I think that was mostly the result of strange reviews and the fact one half of our audience wanted BATHORY to be Satanic and the other half of our audience wanted BATHORY to be Viking or Nordic. Very few enjoyed anything on REQUIEM and OCTAGON. But the funny thing is that both of these albums are selling very good these days when people have got a little more perspective on things and they realize they don’t have any of these albums in their collection. And the same is true for DESTROYER OF WORLDS, that one is picking up now a days when the influence of the strange reviews doesn’t have as much effect any more.
05 - In the past of the glorious era of the eighties the heavy metal reign supreme, very few extreme formations were around except venom, Sodom, mayhem, sabbat (jap) and hellhammer/celtic frost. Your motivation was other things from other bands to write satanic evil hymn to celebrate forces of darkness. What were your sources of inspiration and what made you so hateful/aggressive? Some doubts still exist about the creation of the first three opus, you were the only composer, it seem you had two session members. Please be clearer about this trouble period
I don’t know if the 80’s were all that glorious. It was a very much more innocent era than what the scene looks like today. Metal didn’t reign at all back then. Metal was underground stuff, it was “our” music against pop, new wave, disco and hip-hop. Today metal really reign in a totally different way. There’s even metal on MTV and in daily news papers etc. There are special metal magazines for every style and every image in tons of countries, there are metal festivals, metal clubs and metal labels in every territory plus thousands of albums released every month. In the early 80’s nothing of that existed. And to a certain extent I miss those days dearly. Because everybody was a lot more friendly and didn’t give a shit about your image or lyrics. It was just metal and we were all metal heads. Today it has become a fashion or is being treated as a fashion and it’s no more fun, it’s just business.
I heard about Venom first time in late 1984. We heard about Hellhammer/Celtic Frost in early 1985 and I heard about Sodom about the same time. But Mayhem I didn’t hear about until late 90’s, I don’t think Mayhem existed back in the early 80’s. And I still haven’t heard about a Japanesened it just now.
Actually, I don’t know if there was any exaggerated bits of hate or aggression in anything we did. It might have seemed very angry or hateful because of the lyrics and energy in the music. The music and lyrics we created might have seemed hateful and aggressive but it was only painting with words and trying to create a demonic and morbid atmosphere.
Lyrically I drew a lot of influence from horror movies, horror comics and medieval paintings. Initially early BATHORY music was influenced by Black Sabbath, Motörhead and GBH. But around the time I formed BATHORY I stopped listening to metal and drew exclusively inspiration from the operas of Richard Wagner, the symphonies of Beethoven and general classic music.
The first, second and third albums were recorded with me on vocals, guitar and sometimes bass, with several hired people playing drums and bass. Stockholm was an awful place to find members to an act like BATHORY in those days, it was a dead wrong place for Black or Death Metal. So a lot of times I asked people I knew from previous bands to help me out and play on the albums.
The reason why we didn’t put any names or pictures on those albums was not only because the people playing on them were hired guns, but we didn’t want to lie to people by saying these are the true members and we didn’t want to confuse people by giving them different names and new faces with every new album.
I was auditioning people all the time in Stockholm between 1984 and 1987, but none of the people I got in touch with were suitable for a band like BATHORY. Whenever I needed people to help me out playing on an album, I could always ask friends of mine from past bands. But they were not members of BATHORY, just hired guns. And I have always been frank about this in interviews since the late 80’s. It’s not a big secret at all. It’s just that there are these weird legends surrounding BATHORY and people are getting these strange ideas regarding BATHORY. There are no secrets, I have answered all questions about line-up’s and members truthfully for at least 10 years.
06 - When you decide to create your band you hesitated on several names as nosferatu, natas, mephisto, elisabeth bathory, countess bathory. Why have you chosen “bathory” as the final name?
It’s a very long-lived misconception that BATHORY had other names back in the early days. We were never called Natas, Satan, Nosferatu, Elizabeth Bathory or Countess Bathory or any other name. It was always BATHORY. What I have said sometimes in interviews is this: when we sat down one day in March 1983 talking about a name for the band, those names were suggestions. But even after only five minutes, it was only BATHORY. And that’s a big difference; having other names and contemplating other names.
The name as such of course was an influence from having encountered the life story of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. I went to London as a teenager and saw this exhibition at the London Dungeon, sort of a horror wax cabinet. And the Countess Elizabeth Bathory display just made me interested in her life story. So I read more about her and when the time came around to name the band that I would go on to form in March 1983, my suggestion was BATHORY.
07 - aarrgghh!!! I see you appreciate carnal pleasures like me because "bestial lust" is dedicated to all bitches groupies that you fucked. Could you maybe tell me some perverse/sodomite stories about this particular lust aspect of your life?
…ha-ha-ha-ha-ha…..no I couldn’t. It’s the way of a gentleman never to talk about those kind of adventures. It’s enough I wrote a lyric about some adventures. But yes there has been a lot of perverted and monstrous encounters with the opposite sex in these 20 years I must say. Female BATHORY fans are very bestial. Life has been good…
08 - One pioneer meeting was when you jammed with witchunter of the mighty Sodom in 86. Do you own the record tape on this screaming total holocaust assault rehearsal? What was the aim of this collaboration? However I heard that the drummer from artillery would join your secret horde!!!
The reason why Christian came to Stockholm was a planned tour in the US that BATHORY was supposed to be a part of. But we didn’t have a suitable drummer at the time and so I asked Carsten Nielsen of Artillery if he wanted to join BATHORY. But he replied that Artillery was going to be a million times bigger than BATHORY in a year’s time. So I had to look around for another suitable drummer and got a hold of Christian Dudek of Sodom.
Christian came to Stockholm and stayed for less than a week. We were jamming a bit and had some fun, but then he went back to Germany to re-record some stuff for a Sodom album. In the end we realized that both the Sodom fans and the BATHORY fans would be really confused if he would join BATHORY even just for a US tour. Would that mean that Sodom was over? Is Sodom and BATHORY joining or what? So we cancelled that idea. And a little later the tour in the US was cancelled as well.
No, there is no tape of Christian and me jamming. We didn’t record anything.
09 - I own a video bootleg of your journey to Portugal for the promo/session of "blood fire death". Do you keep good memories from this experience in the south?
Well, I have great memories of all promotion trips naturally.
10 - There is still a mystery about your refusal to play live! Why do you deprive your fans from this pleasure?
There is no mystery at all, but it’s true I am not seeing BATHORY as a band or a live act. BATHORY has been a studio project since 1989. To me it’s all about the music anyway. And I am very happy with that situation. Between 1983 and 1988 there was always one or the other form of a line-up in BATHORY. But in those days there were no places to play in all of Sweden and no clubs that would book a band that looked and sounded like BATHORY. The 80’s in Sweden were awful. So around 1988 I decided to give up the idea of a BATHORY tour or shows.
There are tons of issues to answer before even considering taking BATHORY onto a stage. Who should perform on stage, it’s been either one of two assistants helping me out in the studio since 1990? Who should play the additional 5-8 guitars you get on the records sometime? Where do we find 24 choir members (to do the backing vocals you get on most albums) willing to perform with a metal act like BATHORY? Which songs should we perform? Half our audience consider BATHORY to be a brutal Black and Death Metal band while the other half of our audience consider BATHORY to be a epic Viking and Nordic Metal act. I have already heard of Greek BATHORY fans kicking the shit out of each other outside a club in Athens for being fans of the “wrong” BATHORY era. And in order to pay for the kind of show that people expect from BATHORY it would cost us a fortune and take a hundred people to organize. Not to mention the flying drums, horses running by and dragon ships sailing across the stage…
Seriously, I am not depriving people of anything. I am just rational in realizing it wouldn’t work.
11 - For the promotion of "under..." you went to new york, did some photos session at the top of skyscraper where you spit flames, but a bit more later you have been arrested by the police. What happened with this tragic incident?
I’ve been going to New York (and elsewhere) a lot of times promoting many albums, but I didn’t go to New York for UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK. First time I went to New York promoting a BATHORY album was for BLOOD FIRE DEATH.
The fire-breathing incident you are referring to was in Los Angeles (not in New York) and wasn’t tragic at all. We were just on top of this high-rise building breathing fire for a photo session and some people in another building must have thought we were trying to set the house on fire. So they called the police. But just as the police arrived and were taking one elevator up, we packed our gear and took the other elevator down. So I wasn’t arrested. But we got some great shots. A picture from that session can be seen on the reverse of the BLOOD FIRE DEATH picture disc.
12 - Today most of bootlegs from bathory are sold on the ebay site ? Have you visited or flyed over the strongest bid? Lastely some old materials under name "the black mark" see the day on a little label immigrant darkness. it contains some old demos, unrealeased tracks. Did you ever consider all your work essentially precious to your eyes? So I don't think why the four covers of black sabbat, sex pistol, motorhead, beattles never appeared on the official albums?
The whole bootleg circus is really beyond my comprehension. Why would anybody even want to buy something called “Bathory demo 1983” from ebay, when everybody knows it’s fake and that BATHORY never recorded any demos?! Everything that has ever been released by BATHORY you can find on the official albums.
The tracks sometimes referred to as “demos” are not demos at all but early BATHORY recordings that have been copied from our official JUBILEUM volumes.
do not take any responsibility at all for the things they allow for people to sell on their site. 99% of the BATHORY stuff on ebay are bootlegs and fake. Should anybody want to have a BATHORY vinyl, CD, cassette, picture disc, T-shirt, longsleeve shirt, hooded sweatshirt or poster, all they have to do is getting it from us. We have it all because we want to serve our fans and help them find the things they want instead of having to buy bad quality stuff that’s also illegal.
The best way for the audience to kill their favourite bands and to bleed metal to death, is by home-copying and buying bootlegs. Bootlegs and home-copying is not the underground mentality. That’s typical parasite behaviour. Back in the early 80’s we didn’t do that. We traded tapes and shirts. Today a lot of bootleggers are stealing our art and make money from that by producing illegal bootlegs. And they rip the fans off.
The Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Sex Pistols and Beatles covers you are referring to are taken from two BLACK MARK TRIBUTE CD’s released in the late 90’s. The covers were recorded exclusively for these two albums and never intended for a BATHORY record. All the covers by all the various Black Mark bands on the two TRIBUTE CD’s, recorded covers exclusively for these CD’s. None of the covers were taken from other albums.
13 - Is that right that the two first albums were released on your mysterious label? How many copies did you sold?
All of the albums released in the 80’s were released on a label that was exclusively for BATHORY. I invented a label for BATHORY exclusively that really only existed on paper. Up to 1990 all the BATHORY albums came out through Typhoon Records but with a Black Mark 666 label on them. In 1991 the Black Mark Record company was formed. I gave them the right to use the name Black Mark because they had done so much good work for BATHORY for 8 years, they deserved the name.
BATHORY has sold 1,4 millions copies so far. All the press have always said that BATHORY was always doing the wrong things: going Epic when it was fashionable to be Black or Thrash, doing hardcore when we should continue to do Epic Metal, no live shows and no tours, only one video flick in twenty years etc etc. So for having done every conceivable mistake and being such a crap act, 1,4 million albums is a very good figure I think
14 - Your previous drummer johan akerlund is now a famous video clip director (madonna, prodigy, metallica...) Do you agree on this direction as artist professionnal?
Jonas Åkerlund was the drummer of BATHORY for only 1 year. I haven’t seen any of his videos (I never watch MTV), but I know I have seen some commercial flicks that I’ve been told he did. I guess he must be talented if everybody want to use his services. Personally I believe whenever someone becomes that big there’s always a measure of people wanting to use somebody for their name or fame. Which of course is a very good aspect commercially. And he should use his commercial value to maximum effect and have as much fun as possible. For one day people won’t think of him as high fashion anymore and they’ll stop calling him.
He was an ok drummer, not very good, just ok. All three of us back then were ok but not very good musicians. Come to think of it, we all sucked. We had a great time though and that was the only important thing to us. We had no ambitions or anything. We were just in it for the fun and the jokes. But we weren’t die hard friends and would hang out together only very seldom twenty years ago
15 - Now, bathory is very oriented by the norse mythology in relation to your Viking origins. Are you interested by the celt culture which is somewhat similar?
It’s true the most recent release was very much Viking or Nordic oriented. But BATHORY have never been about doing one and the same thing for all time. BATHORY will never stay on one and the same spot forever. BATHORY moves around. In six months you might get a new BATHORY album in your hands that’s more Satanic and brutal than any BATHORY album in the past. Or you may get a BATHORY tango album. BATHORY is not one style or one theme.
I am not interested in the Celtic culture. I am not even interested in the Viking culture. I am not interested in any culture. I only use the various themes as a backdrop when writing lyrics. When I write an album like NORDLAND, I use the Nordic theme as inspiration. But I am not interested or initiated at all. The same can be said about the Satanic and Demonic themes, I have been using those themes when writing albums like BATHORY, THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL and UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK for instance, but I am not at all interested or initiated in the Satanic rituals or the Demonic aspect. It’s just art.
16 - Epilogue: Bathory celebrate its twentieth birthday, I think that you are very proud of your realm…simply to stay legendery in most of memories forever! May your spirit rest in peace in the grave of your ancestors, blood and Honour !!!
…and if you think the last 20 years in BATHORY history was exciting…just wait for the next 20 years. The best BATHORY albums are in the future.
It’s all because of the BATHORY Hordes…the best fucking fans in the world...Hail the Hordes!!!
Interview : Kanz-Noz