Backstage #24

BATHORY
More brutal and fast than ever before

In connection with the release of the first solo album Quorthon told me, in #22, that there would probably not be any more Bathory albums. It didn't take many weeks after our chat before the rumours about a new album started circulating. Now, about half a year later, "Requiem" is in the shops. A real back-to-basics album!

Quorthon starts by trying to explain why an album was made at all.

When I released the Quorthon-album I went around and talked to a lot of people - old fans and journalists - and I met many who complained, and was afraid, that there would be no more Bathory albums. They talked about the good old days and what it meant to them so I thought maybe I shouldn't disapoint them but try again instead.
The reason I didn't want to do anything, or felt that it was no use rather, was that I doubted myself, that I couldn't make real Metal again. We had painted ourselves into a corner, pretty good, with the Viking stuff, but I guess everyone have to make a "The Elder" album at some point. Two weeks after I got home I had written basically everything for the new album so it went fast - in two ways.

New/old title

After Bathory released "Hammerheart" they went into the studio again and recorded a relly brutal album, which was never released. It was entitled "Requiem", but the only thing it has in common with the new album is the title, which Quorthon felt was established. He explains that nothing of the new material is from that session. Everything is new, written and recorded.

We went into Montezuma the first week in June and did bass, drums, guitar and solos in three days. Then we had to wait, partly because of vacations, partly because I only had finished half of the lyrics. I spent most of the summer finishing them. The first week in August we went in and did the vocals, and after that we started mixing.

With we Quorthon means, except himself, the drummer that has played on all Bathory albums since "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark" or "Blood Fire Death" (I'm not sure which one).

The hardest things Vvornth listens to is Johnny Thunders or maybe David Bowie. But he played Punk in the early '80s and still has the beat in his body. We are old friends.
When I did the solo album and told people I did everything on it they were really surprised as they for ten years though that that was the case with Bathory all the time.

Quorthon wasn't really pleased with the sound on the solo album, which in his mind contained too many echoes. He promised that the next album would sound like if they were standing in a phone booth. Does the new album sound as if it was sponsored by the telecommunications administration?

When we went in and recorded this album we said that there must not be one second of echoes, anywhere, and I don't think it is either. It's practically recorded live, as much live as it can be when you are two. No effects or frills.

More brutal than ever

Musically, "Requiem" is a step back to the early albums, even though the sound is quite different. It's fast, fast as fuck.

No song is slower than the fastest we've done before, Quorthon says. We want people to react, they can't know where they have us. We played as fast as we can. But it's not speed for the sake of speed. When I explain to people I compare it to "The Return...", but 100% better played, combined with "Reign In Blood", so that they have a clue what it's about. There are as much doubles as possible and sometimes I scream in a little plastic box, to gain a funny sound.

The vocals are a step back to the old things too. There are a lot of primal screams.

I never liked that harmonizer thing, when bands use a lot of harmonizer on the vocals to sound like an underground monster or something like that. It might be funny as an effect but not throughout an entire album.

When me and Quorthon talked at the end of '92 (I think) he said that even if he wrote 300 speed songs it wouldn't give him anything musically.

It gives nothing musically because a speed song, if you're talking about speed itself, is very limited. I was very surprised that we could play so tight and so fast, and still sound so good. But it gives me nothing musically compared with writing a string quartet for example. I write a lot of music which isn't anywhere near Bathory. It's AOR-Rock like Foreigner, early Kiss, The Beatles and even classical music.

Money not important

I can't help thinking that a big reason to the step back is that Quorthon saw an opportunity to make money. At the same time there's a big risk that many might not be able to take them seriously when they after so many years went back to the style that made them successful, and gave them cult status. Quorthon doesn't agree:

How much the album sells doesn't mean a thing because we don't do it for a commersial reason because we don't sell that much. We sell 120000-150000 at the most (that's not very much - ironic Ed.), without tours, without videos and things like that. The production expences are incredibly low. We're beneath 15000 SKR with this album and the cover costed a couple of thousands at the most.
Money was never imortant. If so, would have bothered to push the right buttons to make money. We would have done videos and even toured but that's not our thing.
The step back to the fast, brutal and a hell of a lot Death Metal doesn't mean we're ashamed of the last years, or that we're trying to go back to gain fans. OK, it's fast and brutal but it has nothing to do with the early albums because it's incredibly better played. Listen to the early Bathory albums, it's so terribly played that it's regrettable.

But he doesn't really manage to convince me that the new album was recorded more with the heart than the wallet.
The lyrics on "Requiem" have partly gone in a new direction too. Quorthon tells me that they deal with death in different forms but it's not a theme album. I wonder where he got inspiration?

Caused big reactions

The hardrock magazine Metal Zone, now unfortunately departed, had a big article about Bathory in connection with the solo album. The interview caused strong reactions because it clearly showed that he's not a Satanist, something old Backstage readers already knew. Quorthon is very surprised when he learns what kind of reactions the article caused. At the same time he comments on it he reveals something which came as a complete surprise to me.

If I am a Satanist or not is completely unimportant, it has no importance whatsoever. When I did interviews in '85-'86 a lot of Americans reacted because I was a vegetarian, which I actually was for seven-eight years. That's not important either.

He tells me that on exactly the same day as "Twilight Of The Gods" was mixed he started eating meat again.

I had been bodybuilding for some time, and during boxing workout broken a bone in my left wrist so I couldn't lift weights for a while. When I was about to start again I needed proteins so it was a completely natural explanation... There was no ideology behind the fact that I was a vegetarian.
When it comes to the Satanist thing it's completely bizarre that someone at all cares about it. No matter what religion or political opinions, what football- or hockey team you cheer on, like brunettes or blondes it shouldn't matter. You wonder what kind of people are reacting. Do they have an altar at home?
I had between '82-'85 but I wouldn't call myself a Satanist but antichristian. My whole being is antichristian. My way of thinking, my view of life is based on hatred towards Christianity. The sooner that religion disappears the better, and it will, but not during my life time, because it's a weak religion - compared to Islam for example.

Participates in a new book

All of a sudden Quorthon tells me that he will participate in a book, which should be released - at least in England - when you read this, which deals with the subject.

The past winter I talked with an English writer named Kevin Bedley (?). In his book there will be a chapter about Death and Black Metal, and I explain that it above all strive after effect, trying to be rebellious.
There are those who have a more ideological look upon it and study it a lot and thinks Christianity is a big lie. Then there are those who are into it because they think it's cool with Satan and Hell, or thinks it suits them better than witchcraft and things like that.
I came to the point where I realised that Christianity is shit. Satanism is a product of Christianity. It's not something Satanists made up, it's something the church made up to convert people from the evil to the good. It's a product of the Christians so you cannot call yourself something which is a result of Christianity, if you oppose it.

Refuse to be on stage

When we come to the live part Quorthon is as steadfast as ever. He says they will never play live, at least not as long as he is in the band.

There are still a lot of people who insists that I should get together with the guys and go out in Europe for 10-15 shows. When they can't pursuade me with the artistic talk they talk about the financial part. That we could become almost millionares, but that's not important. I can't get anything out of going to conserts, I think it's terribly boring. I've been to five shows the last ten years. I'm a headphone kind of person, who likes listening to music with headphones where I can analyse sounds. Playing live to me is just as interesting as it would be hosting a talk show.

He promise there will be more Bathory albums though!

I have written ten new songs so we'll hopefully enter the studio sometime in January-February and record a new album, and it will be even more brutal.
If there will be more Quorthon albums is more uncertain. Quorthon has 30 finished songs but since the first album didn't do as well as it should have - it only sold 90000 (!) - it's put on ice.

It's more likely that he will realise the plans on a Bathory book. A book which will contain history, discography, lyrics, photos and facts from the recordings. I'm looking forward to that!

Interview from Backstage #24, 1994
Lennart Larsson interviewed Quorthon.
Provided by Johan Hellström.
Typed out and translated by the Twilight Webmaster.
Taken from Twilight web-site.
www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Palladium/6646/


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