Heathendoom

"The Bathory fans can be divided into four categories... those who wants this old '80s Satan stuff, and they are more or less gone, maybe they are jerking off to the old songs. Then we have those who only wants the speed stuff, and they don't care what we sing about. Then those who wants the Viking stuff, the heavy stuff, and then that category who likes everything we do just because it's Bathory..."

Quorthon is not doing anything, he has no job, no occupation. He has the liberty to do anything he likes, but he doesn't. Why, you ask?
The only times he walks out through the door are more or less when he goes down to the Black Mark office at nights to do some interviews. When this interview is being done Quorthon hasn't even touched a guitar in two months, they are still in the studio...
But a new album in May this year is at least to be expected for all sold Bathory souls...
Revealed names is something you won't find in this story as it is of completely no interest at all, the more interesting I find the Bathory story though, and probably more people than I do.
This journey between heaven and hell in the company of Quorthon should be interesting to all Bathory fans, no matter what category!

Hard to find Bathory

Something that irritated me to the maximum during the early years was that it was virtually impossible to find some sort of magazine where Bathory appeared, so I asked Quorthon why?

We never did anything in Sweden. It wasn't until the Jubileum albums we started to do some stuff, we though we should stay calm here because most people who are in this business are someone who you have a relation to in one way or another. You have to keep off in your own country so to speak.

The birth of Bathory 1983

When I ask Quorthon if he remembers the birth of Bathory, from the first rehearsal, I'm a bit astonished by this man's memory...

Oh, shit. Yes, I had to try to remember, because during '95 I've been trying to sit in front of a computer to write a sort of a 500 page Bathory book with all the lyrics and lots of pictures from the studio and so on, almost day by day during these, what is it, 13 years? It was pretty fun, I dug out all my old diaries, which goes back to our first rehearsal. Unfortunately I never wrote down the names on all the guys who was in the band during all these years, because some of them only stayed for 4-5 days when I wasn't particularly interested in the group, for the first album that is.
But how it all started. I had been playing in a lot of oi-punk bands, sort of like Exploited and that stuff, then moved more and more towards Motörhead. There was no metal in Sweden in those days, the only metal that existed was Saxon and Iron Maiden.
So I advertised in a music magazine where I wanted a drummer who could play double bass drums, fast, fast, fast, and I wanted it to be violent. So I met two guys at the end of February or in the beginning of March sometime. So March the 3rd in '83 we went into the rehearsal place for the first time at Sigtunagatan by S:t Eriksplan in Stockholm. We had a place about 20x20 square meters, below ground, so we could play during the evenings too sometimes.
We stayed there until August-September something. The two guys I hung out with that first year, the only reason I did that was because one of them, or both, had very rich parents, so we never had any troubles with rehearsal place, loads of amplifiers or things like that. The only thing I had back then was a Japanese copy of a Gibson.
They grew up listening to Whitesnake and Iron Maiden and wanted to play those types of songs, and I tried, but I grew up listening to Black Sabbath and Motörhead, so it turned out a bit odd. Particulary because the bass player couldn't play the bass, he just used the e-string, so he didn't change strings at all during that year. The drummer played only to impress on girls and get free beer. You noticed pretty fast that it wouldn't work. But there are some songs from that first year recorded on a cassette, two of them are out on these two Jubileum albums, "You Don't Move Me" and "Die In Fire", one song on each album. …that's what we sounded like in those days, a bit Motörhead-influenced before we went for the underground things.

"Scandinavian Metal Attack" 1984

Scandianavian Metal Attack is an album that I and probably a lot of other people too would like to get their hands on, but as for now I guess I have to be satisfied with the answer to how come Bathory appeared on it at all.

In those days, late seventies, early eighties, there was something called adapted course of studies, for troublemakers like me. A couple of days a week you could quit earlier and do something else. I wanted to work with music but there wasn't one company or a studio that wanted to pick up a brat from senior level who failed all subjects but English, Music and Drawing. But I got in touch with a company called Tyfon Grammofon. At it I did anything from making coffee, photocopying, listen to cassettes, sorting books and things like that. Then I heard that they were recording a metal album, and back then there were no hard rock bands on record except for Europe. Wow I thought, I have got to be on this one. So I skipped classes at days and on the evenings I went there and was allowed to be in the studio. Then there was a Finnish band I think, that couldn't make it, something about military services or something like that. So that band disappeared. They said, damn, we have to find another great band, and I said I had a band... so two days later we brought along our instruments.

Did they know what kind of music you played?

No, nothing, they didn't even know our name... well, we didn't either. So we went in there and did "Return", only half as fast as when it ended up on album later, with doubles.
There were no doubles in Sweden in those days, and we had one meter long hair, black leather jackets, and everybody had black hair except for the bass player who had short curly hair and looked like shit. Anyway, they thought it sounded great so we were allowed to record one more song. Then it came out on record. The funny thing is that we were the only band who received mail, all the other bands were like "Oh yeah, we're big guys!", and then we found out that the same music we did existed in Europe, in the underground movement.

So you had no idea about the underground that existed in those days?

The only music magazine in Sweden in those days was Okej and what did they have? Carola (Swedish pop singer... /Twilight) on one page and Mötley Crüe on the other.
We had no idea there were so many bands. It was us, Sodom and Celtic Frost, previously Hellhammer. So I went to a record store were I knew a guy who worked and he said, here's a band who sounds exactly like you, he had been with us in the rehearsal place, and he put on an album and it was Venom. I was like, what the fuck, are there other bands who play that kind of music too? So I realised that I might as well break up the band and form a new one, because I couldn't do anything with those guys. I wanted to play more and more brutal while they wanted to play Iron Maiden-type of songs.

Bathory and Elizabeth Bathory

I read a book called "Natural & Supernatural". There was chapter in it about vampyrism and Elizabeth Bathory who was the female version. I thought Dracula was so tedious, everybody knew about him then and he was too Hollywoodised. And if people really wanted to find out the story behind the name there was a great explanation and for people who had no idea about it it was a great neutral name. I have been interviewed about that for thirteen years and if you had named yourself Satan's Penis you would have put a brand on yourself from the very beginning.
Then it had to be gothic and old English writing and this "th"-pronounciation that we don't have in Sweden, that's were we got our artist names. It was supposed to be as difficult as possible to pronounce, because it was a dig at Europe and those guys who didn't use their real names. We decided to do the same. But in the beginning we called ourselves anything from Satan to Natas, Nosferatu and Mephisto... there was another band already named Mephisto, you know.

Which by the way were big fans of Bathory, Quorthon informs me.

But they never continued, did they?

No, Sandro was sick I think, he had cancer since 1985 I believe. I remember, those guys came and did an interview with me on a little dirty tape recorder in 1985, so they have been around quite a long time... they were pretty interested in us, that was the first time you noticed that you influenced people around you.

But other than that you were quite alone?

Yes, there was no way to communicate with other bands. We didn't know what happened in for example Malmö or Göteborg or other places. So when we invited fellow musicians who played in other bands, for example A.T.C., if you remember them, and what were they called "Epicus Domicus" or something like that (Candlemass, huh? -Ed.), we were great friends anyway. And when they came to our rehearsal place and listened to a couple of our songs they just shook their heads and said you'll never get the chance to do anything with that, you won't get any gigs or so... and well, they were right, but anyway.

No gigs

So you did no gigs?

We did, we played in Alvik a couple of times and in Nockeby, by Smedslätten, at a cinema.

It was a small gig, right?

God yes, a hundred people at the most, and there were at least thirty other bands. Everybody were drunk and everybody were friends and everybody swapped girlfriends backstage. It was just for fun and it probably sounded like shit too.
There were no places in Stockholm. Hardrock Café emerged after a while, but it wasn't a place like that. There was Studion too, and they did this black back-combed hair thing sometimes. But honestly, we couldn't play well enough and we didn't have enough material. Besides, we had no idea how we wanted to look or perform. And once a lot of clubs emerged we had already been playing for a couple of years and by that time our music had developed so much it was completely impossible to do it on stage. Personally, I get no kick at all going to a concert, I just sort of stand at the end of the hall with my arms crossed watching the lights and things like that.

So in other words, you wanted more of a show, not just standing there straight up and down?

No, that's the most honest thing to do, rather than go up on stage wearing jeans and t-shirt.
I am part of the generation who grew up with KISS, which you discovered... when was it, January '75 sometime, and back then there weren't a lot of people in Europe who had heard about them. But that's the way it is, you have your dreams and say OK, let's go up on stage, we're going to have this and that many bombs... how much money do we have? Nothing! It was all dreams and then it's very stupid to say in magazines that we'll try to do a tour next year. People get tired of hearing it after a while.

The Bathory cover

You've heard different versions about the first album cover, I asked Quorthon about the right one.

It was a week at the most before the cover was due to be printed, and I had no idea how it worked with covers, I thought the record company would take care of that. But they said we had to make a group photo, a nice cover, front and back, and print lyrics and stuff like that. We knew nothing about that, image and things, as I said we knew nothing at all.
Then in a book I had there was this Baphomet pentagram, but Venom had already done that on their first album, so I thought why not copy this and draw a pair of hornes to make it look a bit different. So I took a picture from a horror magazine or something like that, and put these two pictures together, very amateurish, with glue. Then we photographed it... it looked like shit. I intended to print it in gold, because gold has a special meaning when you are into black magic, but it was as expensive to print as five other colours, so it had to be done in yellow instead... and when I saw it I almost threw up, but that's the way it is. I think there are only 900 copies of it, it's a goddamn collector's item today, and I don't even have one myself, I think I have the jubileum albums and Octagon at home, you never collect that stuff.

You didn't realise what kind of a cult band you would become either...

We didn't realise that until four years ago, when we did the jubileum stuff, about the time for "Twilight...". Then we realised that maybe there are others who like this.

And that you would mean the same to bands today as Motörhead did to you?

Yes, the disadvantage, or the difference is that Motörhead did a lot of tours and never changed style, but there aren't as much go in them today, so I think they should have quit sometime in the mid-eighties.

Labelled "Grandfather of Rock"

What do you think about being labelled "Grandfather of Rock"?

Well, if you are in the centre of it or have connections everywhere and have seen everything from the inside you look at it from that point of view. I think I have met fans when I did these in-stores, signing albums and so on, and people who approached me couldn't even talk. They were just standing there looking at me, then you realise that these people know nothing about the music business, that it's just a couple of guys who are in the studio and have fun for a week or two.

It must have been a big fucking difference between the recording of the first Bathory album and today...

Incredible differences! Today when a band enters the studio they might come straight from the rehearsal place, having existed for only six months. They are skilled musicians who can play doubles and solos three or four times faster than what we could when we started. We had no models, we had to teach ourselves. But today the musicians are grown up with this, they have this music in their backbone. So with a load of songs they enter the studio, which have all the latest techniques, most studios have it because of the competition, and it's usually digital technique for 24 or 48 channels, it's microphones, soundproof rooms and the lot, while we were in a garage.
Album numbers three to five are recorded in a garage with technical equipment from '69. The mixing table had 14 channels, but since that mixing table had no effects such as stereo, choro and echo and things like that, we had to use channels on the table for effects, sort of like The Beatles did in the '60s. Sometimes we only had 10 channels to record our instruments on. It's enough if you are only three guys. There are people who get great sound with a 4-channel porta.
But we had no equipment... I had a crap guitar, a tiny Yamaha amplifier the size of a computer screen, and the drums we used were so poor we had to use a, not even second generation, drum machine to get a good sound. And we recorded it in 26 hours I think, including soundcheck, recording and mix. I think it cost us 2000 SKR, untaxed, so these albums have paid themselves many times.

A sound of their own

In other words, Bathory would have sounded completely different if you had had the same opportunities as today...

Yes, oh yes. If you listen to albums like Under The Sign..." and "The Return" we use ten second reverb on a lot for example. No bands do that because everything becomes one big mess. The reason we did it is because we recorded in a garage with dirty instruments, crap table and so on, it was so cheap and bad, we had to cover all clips and things like that with a lot of echoes.
Then a lot of bands picked up on that because they thought it would sound like hell, you know deep pits and so on.
A temporary solution became a sound of our own.

Did you ever think you would sell the amount of albums you have?

Never, never! It's like this, when we did the two first songs for Scandinavian Metal Attack in January '84, it was like wow, we've been in a studio... now we can die. Then when all these fan letters began to rush in from Europe and the U.S.A. when this album had been released I realised that the people who owned this company wanted us to make an album. But unfortunately the band had broken up just a month after we had been in the studio. Because I wanted to play more violent, more technical and more brutal, so there was no band. I said OK, I have two friends who can help me out if I enter the studio, so I sat down and wrote 10-12 songs. Then we went into the studio for 36 hours and thought that's it, now you have done something, but then this album became cult and Kerrang started to write about us. So we did LP no 2, and that was "The Return", and that was the first time we thought wow, this is "The big one..." Unfortunately we were far too deep into these occult and dark things.

Were you really into it or was it just a cool thing?

It's like the punk wave. When you see an aunt who's 63 years old with green hair, it's not that cool anymore. You have to find out new ways to punch the society and the establishment, so you have to do something political or something else that really upset people, and this was something that was completely unknown. I mean, Black Sabbath sell just because of their name although they never said anything about Satanism, and they get lots of free publicity in magazines.
So I can not say we were into it 100 %, but we were interested. And it sort of was our thing.
It's like I write in the booklet which comes with "Blood On Ice", that when you come straight from school and are 15-16 years old you have no experience of drinking scotch, and girls and so on.

But today it's different...

Yes, it's different today. When you are approaching thirty years of age you have that experience, you have done everything. You had fun on the toilets on a Jumbo Jet when you went to the U.S.A. to do some things, appear on TV in California with a 14 million audience... you sort of get satisfied and go back to the social issues, like Octagon for example.

The fixer in the band

Seems like you were the fixer in the band.

It just happened that way because you had new members all the time. It's very hard, if not impossible, for a new guy to take over or become equal.
I don't know if it's luck or bad luck, but I never met anyone who was capable enough to write songs, it just happened that I wrote all the songs.

Occultism, magic, Satanism and aesir belief

Of course I wonder if Quorthon are interested in magic today.

No, I write about that in the booklet which comes with "Blood On Ice", that I one day came to the turning point.
The reason we picked up on that in the first place was that it was supposed to be exciting, disgusting and full of contradictions so that people would be taken aback and feel ugh, what is this?
But when you try to form an opinion from an academic point of view on what you are really doing, and you read more and more stuff like the bible, to evaluate different opinions, I came to the conclusion that this whole Satan thing, Satan as a person and Satanism itself, is a product of Christianity. Something Christianity created to scare people, and old religions always become bad religions in a wide specrta where Christianity can pass by.
If Christianity hadn't had the sword in one hand and the crucifix in the other it would never have had the power it has today. It wasn't thanks to Christianity that man went to the moon and said prayers in 1969, but because of technical advance, because of the Western world and that stuff.

And all these Satanist articles...

Yes, it would have been pretty unnecessary to do yet another album shouting about it, because I tried to go further back in history, before Christianity, and then you end up in the Viking age. Not because you are a Nazi or racist like things are today, but because you wanted to be on another cultural level and with other values, when man and woman where equal and society as a whole was better.

Christianity is not what should be closest to the hearts of us North people.

No, it's more a hymn to the mid East religion, and the bible is a saga of the Jewish liberation which eventually developed, but it has been censored and rewritten many times.
Because the Christian bible or the Christian writings that existed, let's say a thousand years ago when the Vikings still believed in the Aesir gods, it's not the same bible you read today, and the bible five years ago is censored compared to the one we read today. There are pieces that are taken away all the time. It's the same thing with the hymn book so that it wouldn't upset anyone or be misinterpreted. So Christianity today are just christenings, weddings and funerals, nothing more than that.

But there are still Christian fundamentalists and Satanism still scares people...

Yes. But those who burn down churches and do this and that in Satan's name, what they are doing is that they are doing Christianity a favour. Like when Hitler during the war, when he broke down the Jews, it's the worst thing that could have happened to them from their point of view, and Christianity. But those who burn down churches do it as some sort of symbolical act of resistance, because they are so into this thing. But it won't help a thing. Burning down a church is like burning down any fucking house... OK, god lives there, it's god's house, but there's no use in it.

I personally think you can look upon god and the devil as different kinds of principles within us...

Yes, that's something incredibly abstract that we interpret and put values in. Then we try to shout at each other because we have different opinions on what's on the other side of the moon, and when we find out that there's nothing more than empty space, vacuum and other planets there. Christianity tries to lead us into a certain attitude towards life, death and life after death in their own way, to survive.

"Hammerheart", "Blood On Ice"

A record that touches me completely and makes me a bit sad is Hammerheart.

Like me, I get depressed just hearing about "Twilight Of The Gods", because at that time we were all depressed, completely depressed.
With Hammerheart we had a very good feeling because we had been rehearsing the whole summer and had found a really good beat, a really good sound. Maybe you know we were doing a theme-album?

Yes, "Blood On Ice".

Exactly, it will be released in three months.

So it is the same album?

No, we had the idea back then, I tell the story about Blood On Ice and our development in this booklet which comes with the CD that will be released soon. So to make a long story short...
When we had decided to make this Viking thing we didn't know if it would be very serious or if we should just play around, like Manowar. So we started out very serious, with Blood On Ice, and then it developed into a saga, very Conan-influenced, because we thought it would be easier for the Americans to accept than if we had done than. If it had been very Yggdrasil-based, which no one wants or has the energy to look into. Being such a narrow band to start with, it would maybe be to our disadvantage if we specialised too much. So it was a compromise, and that is what became Hammerheart. So it is a lot of Viking stuff, but it's not a theme-album and the songs are not connected.

"Under The Sign Of The Black Mark"

"Under The Sign..." seems to be the album that the Bathory worshippers look upon as the best.

There isn't one album I hate as much as "Under The Sign...". There isn't one second in those songs I like. The sound stinks, I sing like a crow, play solos like a pig and nothing on that album is good, absolutely nothing!

Isn't there a little story behind the album cover?

Yes, there's a very funny story behind it. I called up the former Swedish bodybuilding champion and asked if he wanted to be on it. What we had in mind to do was to have a gigantic sacrificial stone, sort of like Stonehenge, and a lot of naked girls who would be sitting around it. Light would come from above, and he would have slained an angel and would have the heart in one hand, the axe in the other and wear the Bathory mask. We couldn't do this the way I had in mind because the girls I got hold of, girlfriends of friends of mine, when they realised that this would end up on an album cover and be there forever, they backed out of it. So I tried to get hold of stones by calling the material store of the Swedish national television and from them got the advice to contact the opera. I did so and he said sure we have stuff but we use it in Carmen right now. This is many years ago, when was this album released, '86 right? So I called them and asked if I could rent or borrow some stuff. But as I said it was impossible because they were using all of it at that moment, but I was welcome to come and take a look at it. So I went there and saw this big thing, you can only see one third of it on the album cover and it is just as much left of it upwards and to the right and to the left. So I said I want this, the whole set. So he said hey, it's insured for about 2,5 million SKR and was made in France at the end of the 19th century.
It looked very cheap when you watched it from the side, it's just painted flat carton pieces. But I gave him a couple of thousand. Then I called that bodybuilder and managed to get four girls and one photographer over there. He put on the Bathory mask and ran up the stairs between two acts, while the curtain is down, the whole opera is packed with dress suit-dudes, and we have about 30 seconds to take ten pictures. The stair he was standing on was designed for a little opera singer, maybe weighing 50 kilos, and he's weighing about 125 kilos. So while he's standing there the whole thing was almost collapsing. But we got a great picture.

"Nocturnal Obeisance"

"Under The Sign..." had another title in the beginning, right?

It was going to be called "Nocturnal Obeisance".

But it was changed because the girls disappeared?

Exactly. "Nocturnal Obeisance" comes from the English mythology. The four daughters of the Wind; North, South, East and West. They sell themselves to the darkness causing eternal night on Earth, disturbing all balance. The goat would symbolise the evil one, or the darkness, and illustrate the evil side. But no one would understand it anyway.
We had no album contract when we did the first album, so I made up a label called Black Mark, you know this devil sign you make with your fingers, so we thought what the hell, let's just call it "Under The Sign Of the Black Mark".
That a company with the same name was formed is another story. They bought the name from me.

"Blood Fire Death"

Has "Blood Fire Death" got anything to do with "Blood on Ice"?

No. We were going to give the album a name, something with ice or blood because we were really into that Viking thing, but not completely. We still had some dark songs, "The Golden Walls Of Heaven" for example, and "For All Those Who Died", was on it too...
But in those days we were on Music For Nations and they had a band called Onslaught. So when I was there in October of '87 to do an interview I found out that their album was going to be called "Blood Upon The Ice", and would be released a month later, so we had to change the title. Their album had a completely different title when it was released but that's another story.
But it was called "Blood Fire Death" and I got the title from an adventure in "The Savage Sword Of Conan".

So you read a lot of Conan?

Yes, I guess so. When I was a teenager a friend of mine, his father had a shop that had Conan magazines among others. It was almost impossible to find it in Sweden in the '70's. It's great that it still holds true.

The Hammerheart video

A lot of people have probably heard about it but not many have seen it. I ask Quorthon to tell the tragic story.

Yes, we did a video for Hammerheart, back then people had been nagging us for years to record a video and I said, it's no use, it costs too much and no one will play it anyway - back then hardly any of our songs were shorter than eight minutes. But they made got us to do a video... on which I wasted 25000 SKR of my own money to rent armour, horses, girls who would be in the video, clothes, build a Viking village and so on. We poured 50 litres of gasoline into a lake by a big cave and ran around in lots of caves...

Where were you?

Everywhere. All over Stockholm, Lidingö, Birka, Ekerö, everywhere. I think we had 14 hours of film when we were finished. The problem was that I was going out on a two month promotion tour ten days later to do interviews in practically every magazine there is, and radio, TV in England, Super Channel, MTV, the lot.
So the video had to be finished. We gave all the material to the guy who had filmed everything. He promised he would make a raw copy. The days passed and we called him but he never got back. So if you have air tickets and have to go...
Eventually we had to accept this raw copy and I said I didn't want it to be sent out, because the things we do for European TV probably will not be broadcasted for two weeks or so, so there's time to mix it and then send a copy of it to them. But for some reason this video came out without my knowledge. So I haven't seen this video and I won't do it either, because I spent so much money on it and all those 14 hours of film...

You must have spent a great deal of time on it besides those 14 hours...

Oh yes, we worked 24 hours a day for two weeks. I lost 11 kilos during that time. I spent almost all the money I had, I sold a lot of my records to be able to afford renting horses and stuff, and food for everybody.

But those 14 hours are lost?

They are lost. Someone gave them to the guy who had filmed it, and he was a bit shady and had messed up things for others too. He and the film material are gone.

That must hurt...

What do you think? Every time someone says to me that they saw it on MTV or something, it hurts. Especially because you wanted to make something great of it.

And all the others who missed it!

Exactly. You think you are in control, then you have the misfortune to do business with a person of that nature.

Ripped off...

Have you been swindled on more occasions?

On the business level you mean? Yes, we had a distribution contract with a Canadian label called Bonzai, and I know they still sell Bathory stuff, T-shirts, caps, badges and they never accounted for a cent. That was many years ago we had that deal, sometime in '85. They even sold bootlegs and stuff like that.

You were more or less thrown into the business or?

Well, it's not until now with Black Mark that we had a real album contract. We refused to sign real album contracts. We only had distribution contracts before. So we were never ripped off that way.
I know there are a lot of bands, especially when they go out on tour, who think that hell, now we're going to sell albums and T-shirts and so on, and when you sign a contract you get big amounts in advance. Then they sell maybe 10000-15000 albums, they won't get their money back. They know nothing about how it works, it's handled right but they fool themselves. It's better to do it the way we do, you're friends with someone who owns some technical equipment, and you go into the studio for two weeks and have fun. You produce it yourself, then you travel by tourist class and stay at dirty hotels and then you get all the money, no, not all of it...
It's not until two years ago that I have started to make some money out of it.

You have enough to live off then?

I have now. It takes so long for them to count all the money from all the countries, and they did a lot of blunders. And there's a new system in Europe, so it's not until now that I have received all the money I should have got in the early 80's.

"Twilight Of The Gods"

When we did Twilight we knew that it would probably be the last thing we would do. I had no ideas, no idea what we would do in the future, since we had done Black Metal, Thrash Metal, Speed Metal, Psycho Metal, Epic Metal and I still hadn't managed to find two guys that worked out fine in the band. I still had the same friend on drums, and I had been playing bass on the last albums, so when we did Twilight we said, let's make a really depressing album, sort of like the Swan Lake, so we went in there and did our thing. We did the title track with no compromises whatsoever. I think it's 15 minutes long, so people would understand that we didn't follow any trends, not following Slayer or something like that, we didn't try to copy Metallica or so. Back then we thought this was the last thing, so I simply quit. I guess people found out, because loads of letters arrived from people who said damn, you can't quit and so on. But I had run out of ideas, I had quit, started studying and gotten into classical music a lot and a professorship in history and things like that. The music was no more for me.
So we mixed these two jubileum albums until I would get some ideas again, but by the time they were released I still had no ideas about what we wanted to do. So they said to me - go into the studio and have fun for two weeks and call it a solo album, and so I did.

The solo album

How did it feel just having to think about yourself after all the years with Bathory?

Picture yourself being involved in a band for 12 years, and everything you do, every time you say something, you don't even use your own name in the magazines. You're not yourself on the pictures, and all of a sudden you are standing there with a guitar about to make something that is you. You ask who the hell am I? Because everything you did private, all the songs, I mean I have written all kinds of music; ballads, acoustic, everything, and you don't take anything of it for granted or serious. So it was really hard. I had to go back and find the influences I had when I was a kid; Led Zeppelin, Mountain and those kind of bands.

But it turned out OK...

Yes, but I regret not using a real drummer. I had a friend which helped me out programming a drum machine, I simply didn't have the time to rehearse the songs with a real drummer.

"Octagon"

Octagon got bad reviews in practically every magazine...

Yes, but it's just here in Sweden we got terribly bad reviews on the two latest. I can't understand them, but on the other hand you don't get sulky or negative, you just think it's fun.

As long as it is an honest review...

Yes honest, but they write for example "stop milking the legend", oh it is a legend all of a sudden? You have been taking shit for 12 years and then all of a sudden you are a legend! While another writes it used to be better. Oh wow, it did?
You have been recognised here and there, and they contradict themselves.
What is this brutal stuff and so on, just because it's fast all of a sudden when it was heavy during the late 80's. But as I say to all those who ask me "what will the next album sound like?". I say I don't know.

I'm part of that fourth category which likes everything you've done...

It's very hard to accept if someone says that everything you've done is great.

Of course there are favourites, but there's still that Bathory feeling in everything you have done.

Yes, I hope there is. But I don't think we are particularly good.

The Best Of...

When we did these jubileum albums I had to sit in a studio and listen to every album, something I wouldn't have the energy to do today, for a whole day, and I just sat there shaking my head. What is this shit? How the hell can people like this? How the hell can people buy this, I would never buy it...
But I had to, in order to be able to pick songs for a 32 best of.

You got help from the fans, or?

Yes, at the end of the 80's we started to put together track lists. Because people always write that this and that song is the best one. I had two, three pages with all the song titles, so every time a fan had written that a certain song was the best you marked it with a star. Eventually you came to the conclusion that these were the 30 songs that the fans liked the best.
When I was out telling people why this solo album was released and explained that this will not last forever, this is just for fun, like the first album, just to have some fun, simple as that. Like eating fish after you have been eating pasta for three weeks.
I met a lot of people who were in my age group, which I probably had been corresponding with for all these years, and they had tears in their eyes when they told me how much the old albums had meant to them. You get a completely different understanding of it compared to just sitting at home with a letter in front of you. So when I returned from this two-month promotion thing, after the solo album, I thought damn, if you just could get the energy and the inspiration back...

"Requiem"

I got it thanks to talking to all those people, because two weeks after I got home I had all the material to Requiem. So I went into the studio for three days and then everything was finished. We thought that it was probably the most brutal thing we had ever done, and we didn't have any effects, echoes, nothing extreme, it was going to be naked, raw and simple.
When it was released I was still running on top gear, so I started writing the material for Octagon. That's why these two albums were recorded six months apart and released half a year apart. So they call them the twin albums because they think they sound very much alike... I don't think they do!

Quorthon II

Of course I wondered if there would be a Quorthon II...

Yes, I have 30 songs which are finished, but I'll probably have 50 if I work some more, but that's not a priority. We were supposed to have made a "Quorthon II" last year, but the reason nothing happened is because it came out in the American press. We experienced a huge boom in the US with "Octagon" and "Requiem" for some strange reason, and they really wanted, you know how Americans are, they like it exotic, blond women and so on, so they wanted that Viking-stuff. The company thought we should spend this year '95 with "Blood On Ice" instead and trying to get the tapes straight.
So nothing happened with "Quorthon II", but I could enter the studio tonight and finish it more or less, because all the songs are finished, but I don't know if there will be one, maybe if there will be any time. The priority is "Blood On Ice", to finish it, and it is finished, we just have to mix the last songs. Then we'll see if there will be a second solo album or a new Bathory album... or a gore movie, anything, a cookbook or something.

No plans for a video then?

I have to have a complete line-up, it's not enough calling a friend, saying hello, I have a few songs, do you want to come to the studio and have some fun? Because that's what it has been like since the end of '86, close to ten years. What band could survive that way? Make an album every 20th month, never toured, no pictures, nothing?

Bathory?

Yes, err, Pink Floyd. Yes, and what's that band called who makes an album every 20th year, Toto.

New pioneering music

Do you think there will be more revolutionary music?

They said when The Beatles came, now the last revolution has arrived, now people can't dress more extreme or be more violent and unmusical. And then came Jimi Hendrix, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Sex Pistols and so on and today you have Nirvana and this alternative wave, so music will renew itself all the time. Someone said in the late 19th century, when Richard Wagner and Johannes Brahm made their music, now all music that could ever be composed has been composed.
We think only in terms of the 20th century and in the time in which we live. But in the beginning of the 21st century, which sounds very far away although it's just five, six years away, then there will be completely different music. But metal will always be, black metal and death metal too, but in other forms. For example, if Red Hot Chilli Peppers or Faith No More had arrived about ten years ago, the early 80's, people would have thought it was a reggae band. Then we have this cross over sensation when you take influences and rhythms from different styles, black metal is like that, they took the rhythm from punk and oi-punk and the lyrics from Black Sabbath and the sound from Motörhead. Then it developed with time. So it will always be there but I don't think something like the Satanism thing will come, that's an anti thing against Christianity which has existed for 2000 years, so it's very old and will always be there, but it won't attract the same attention.
But yes, the difference between today and tomorrow, that's what we were talking about before? About the bands who enter the studio and release a CD right away. I don't think we ended up on CD until, I think it was Twilight. And by then we had been going for six, seven years.

Many bands demand to be released on vinyl in their contracts today.

Yes, but no one sells it today. Bathory is the only band which Black Mark releases on vinyl too. Vinyl, cassette and CD.

So you can get hold of albums you don't have in your collection then...

You can. But unfortunately those who make record players have stopped making needles these days so you have to cherish your needles or sort of buy pirate copies.

Pyromania and image

Are you a bit of a pyromaniac?

Oh, no, but it looks striking on photos. The first times we went over and did interviews with Kerrang and Metal Forces and other big magazines I thought this myth thing had been built up for a long time with, I think the first three albums, yes we had done three albums I think. So this legend made people go like shit, here comes the devil himself. So when I went there I brought clothes looking like a mixture of Blackie Lawless, Gene Simmons and Nikki Sixx, I looked hideous. I even think my hair was black in those days, even back-combed, ha ha ha, and chains and devil shit and big pieces of meat and of course fire breathing too, to make it really striking.

Fiery stories

The problem was that every time I went to England, the US, Germany or whatever, to do a photo session they said why don't you put on your leather underwear and breathe some fire. And I come with my solo album and it's like -sorry guys, I sort of grew up. This fire breathing thing, I can still do it, but I burned myself so many times and it is a thing of the past.

It has gone bad a couple of times in other words?

Oh yes, oh yes, I should have written down all the occasions when I burned my eyebrows. It was worse in the early 80's because then you were supposed to use hairspray to impress the girls and have big hair. So you have this mixture which you have in your mouth when you blow fire and hairspray in your hair... not a successful combination.

When did you start doing it?

Oh, I've been doing it since early '76, late '75, something like that. The first time you used chocolate drink-powder, because if you have it on a spoon a hold a torch in front of it and then blow it very hard you make a really big flame.

The contents of these mixtures are a secret, right?

Yes, everybody has their own mixture. I went through some problems because I couldn't get through customs with it on one occasion when I was going to England.
I use one-third water, and two thirds of something else. And these other two thirds are very explosive, and having it in a bottle on an airplane 20000 meters up in the air are not very good, high pressures and so. It falls under the terrorist law I presume, and it is no use bringing water along, because they have that in England too.
The problem was that I couldn't remember the names of these ingredients. You know what gasoline is called in English, but I didn't use it. The closest we came was paraffin oil.
Then I was standing there in the middle of the night in my leather underwear by a fucking closed down vehicle building. We drove there in the middle of the night with the photographer from Metal Forces, and he had no batteries for his flashlights, he had to use his car, so I had a car 2-3 meters in front of me when we were taking the pictures. So every time I was spitting fire not only did I shower myself with it, because not all of it burns up, it drips back at you, so besides from almost setting myself on fire, a lot of these drops ended up on his car. I almost set that one on fire too. -That's cool Quorthon, that's cool was all he said.

So he was just standing there waiting for a big fucking bang...

Yes, my god. The legendary thing is when I was standing on a sky scraper in Los Angeles breathing fire. The neighbours called the police and shot at us with shotguns, and when the police came I ran around with a Bathory mask, oh, oh, oh, I was really drunk, I tell you that.

A morbid drinking story...

We had a contract with a company called New Renaissance Records in California, a company owned by girls. It was four girls and we had been talking over the phone and they said they had heard so much about Swedish guys, being able to drink a lot and so on, but we're going to drink you under the table. Ha, I thought, let's see about that, so I drank a 0,75 litre bottle of Absolut Vodka lemon every day over there, they had it in the US back then, it took years before it came to Sweden.
I was doing interviews at the same time, live and so on, so I'm sitting with the phone talking to an American when all of a sudden I find out that there are 24 million people in Los Angeles listening to it live and I'm sitting there slurring my words. I had to say something about "jet lag" and things like that and by then I had been in Hollywood for three days.

Seems like you had a lot of fun though.

I have done everything that guys who stand in the rehearsal place dream about. Stupid things on toilets on 747 Jumbo Jets as you called them back then, and things in the back of a limousine, death threats when I thought I was going to die.
I was going to do an in-store, on a Sunday of all days, as many as 400 Bathory fans were standing outside this little record store, they were almost destroying the windows, and then I came there in a limousine of course, glaring red and 13 meters long. Back then some guy in Poison, this glam rock band, had received a death threat from some Christian wing over there in the States and that was the talk of the day over there, and we had our Satanist stamp. So I almost had a fainting-fit when a guy approached me just staring into my eyes without saying a word, and he pulled out a piece of paper which said "Jesus". And I thought, in three seconds I'll look into the muzzle of a 38 special and then he'll blow my brins out all over the room… But then I realised, wait a second, this is Hollywood, 60% of the people here are Mexicans, the guy is Spanish and doesn't speak English. He just wants me to sign a photo, and his name was Jesus. That's what is was. So what looked to be a Christian lunatic who wanted to blow my brains out it was just someone named Jesus. That's cool.

Yes, sounds fun...

No place for female bands

Yes, the problem with female bands is that there are no journalist or fans who can look upon female musicians like we do in Sweden, as musicians. We'll probably have to put up with that for another 100 years. Especially when all female musicians have such bad models like Madonna and Courtney Love and so on. Than there is that fact that when they act like all the guys it feels like they are nothing but addicts and whores, so we'll probably have to wait another 50 years.

The mysticism surrounding Bathory

Bathory was always labelled as a band of "mysticism".

Yes but hey, that's very easy to explain. There is absolutely nothing mysterious about this band, it's just that is has been almost no information available. There is nothing horrible or very exciting, it has been me a friend on drums for the last ten years, the years before that there were a lot of drummers and guitarists. So Bathory are actually nothing but a big fucking bad sounding failure, which never succeeded as a live band, never succeeded as a video band. We release an album every 20th month, one album is rarely like any other, we are not particularly good musicians, we have a terrible singer, there is nothing. For me this is still a mystery. Because if we'd had the attitude that we are in the greatest band on the earth and this is very serious and we're going to fuck the world and screw every babe there is and so on, you would have given up long ago. But this is just fun all the time.

Rock Box '87

Fontander said in the Rock Box (Swedish hard rock radio show which was hosted by Pär Fontander. /Twilight) interview in '87 that he thought you sounded like the devil himself.

Yes, you scream until you crack some blood cells in your brains and get a terrible headache, because you have to make your voice sound really wheezing, and it takes a while. You scream and scream and sing and just let the tape roll. And it just might work. You were supposed to sound like that in those days. The disadvantage with a harmonizer is that you can't strike any notes, you just sound grey, grey and more grey all the time.

What's up next

It's "Blood On Ice", this Viking theme album we recorded in three sessions between '88 and '90 but never happened. There aren't even vocals on all of the tracks, so what I did was take all these old tapes into a studio and transfer them to 24 channels. I added vocals to four or five songs, solos and things like that, and a new drum sound, because you can do that today with computers, you just take the old drums and switch sound. So all I have to do now is to come up with a cover, the rest is finished. It would have been released January the 6th, but the guy I'm using was busy with another job.

Interview from Heathendoom magazine #1, February 1996
Petra Aho interviews Quorthon.
Typed out and translated by the Twilight Webmaster.
Taken from Twilight web-site.
www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Palladium/6646/


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  1. Petra aho:
  2. 1996....well, well, hell, year passes by. Well done and thanx for the awsome nostalgia trip I got while reading this interview from the paste. Keep up The good work and keep on banging...
  3. Sweden, September 30 2016, 23:10


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