Hell Awaits

After the recent release of his third "Jubileum" album, Mr. Quorthon, BATHORY's alma mater, is taking it easy. One can see in this interview that this Black metal veteran is outside the business (from his own words). Sincere, self-critical like hell, serene and with the maturity that time has given to him, Quorthon speaks about his lengthy musical career the same as he refers to diverse subjects, as satanism. HELL AWAITS gives you the chance to know a bit more one of the nicest Swedes that we've found until now.

Let's begin with this third "Jubileum" CD, in which there are some unreleased tracks.

"We have been making albums during fifteen years and this means we've got several studio recordings that because of different reasons haven't seen the light. "Jubileum" are for making known to the people everything we've done in studio and in the last years haven't been released. I didn't plan editting these albums (now the third is out), it simply happened, it was something almost unavoidable".

And what about the next BATHORY studio album?

"We've got thousand ideas, according to the fact that we haven't released nothing in the last two years; we will probably get in the studio this winter, it will be in shops in spring and it will be called "Destroyer of the world". I can't tell you no more. I'll speak when it's recorded".

Will you carry on with QUORTHON or maybe dedicate all your time to BATHORY?

"Well, QUORTHON is something funny for me, I never thought about quitting BATHORY to devote myself to QUORTHON. If I temporally withdrew from BATHORY it was only that: temporally. The QUORTHON thing is only entertaining, is, as I said before, funny. I could enter the studio and do what I wanted, the result confused many people but others enjoyed it because they could see other side of me. This is what made me record a second album".

Why are there so many differences between BATHORY and QUORTHON, if you are behind both projects?

"Everyone's got two sides, I mean no one likes to eat always the same. Well, for example I love "paella" but I won't eat "paella" every day... (laughs). Everything's changing, every day we change clothes, girlfriend, I listen to different kinds of music. Well, I still haven't planned how my next solo album will be but perhaps I'll do a surprising mixture".

I've read in other magazines that you aren't very proud of your first works.

"I certainly don't like none of my previous works, it's only a job. It's like when you write an article or interview, I don't think you stand there, worshipping your own work. The same thing happens with my music, I mean, before releasing an album you've been living with those songs for a year, you've listened to them millions of times, and when the album is out you won't listen to it again. I remember the first "Jubileum" in which I compiled songs from my six first albums. When I heard it I simply couldn't believe how bad it was".

Is the fact that you aren't very fond of your first albums the reason why you never play live?

"No. In the beginning, in the 80's, everyone wanted to play at great venues, in great pubs, everyone wanted to see reviews in the mags saying how impressive their shows were, but the truth is that 99% of the bands, including mine, had an awful sound live. Besides that, finding people to create an stable line-up wasn't easy at all in Sweden because at that time everyone thought the greatest thing was EUROPE's "Final countdown", so most of the times that guys came to play with me, they looked like Joey Tempest, and it wasn't just what I was looking for. So every time a mag asked me for photographs to put with a report, I sent them some of mine because I never had a stable band. I had a lot of offers to play live but it didn't took place, the things were this way then. Now everything's different, you can form a band and tour a few days later.
In 1988 I had the chance of touring the USA with CELTIC FROST and DESTRUCTION, but finally it didn't occured for different reasons".

In your first albums your lyrics were clearly focused to satanism. As time passed by, you decided to leave that stuff and concentrate in norse mythology. What can you tell us about this change?

"It's true that our third first albums took satanism as reference, probably because it was the trend in those times. I really knew and know about satanism as much as my grandma could know: absolutely nothing. It was around 1986-87 when I sat down and tried to read seriously something about satanism, and then I realized that I stood before something created by the church itself, by religion itself, it isn't something isolated, it's a product of the christian faith, it's something that feeds their fears and has influence on their deeds. And then I asked myself 'How am I using a weapon that was created by Christianity to fight against Christianity?' It was a contradiction, it was a nonsense, I had been putting crap on my first albums. So I began to plan what to write about and... well, I decided to write about vikings that was what concerns to my country; if I had been Spanish or Japanese, surely I had written about any other thing".

You're a reference for many modern black metal bands, because of this I'd like to know what do you think about some of them as SATYRICON, MAYHEM, IMMORTAL, DIMMU BORGIR... what do you think about their music?

"I don't know nothing about the music because I never buy this style of music neither I receive tapes of this scene".

Really?

"Yes, it's true".

Have you never listened to DIMMU BORGIR? (I couldn't believe it...)

"No, never. Look, there are twenty-five different bands in the Black Mark label, I come every week to the offices, and I've never listened to none of these bands".

What kind of music do you listen to, then?

"Music that common people plays. Of course I don't have Dance music and that shitty Hip-Hop among my tastes, I'm talking about that is true, from Classical music to Jazz, Pop-rock, Punk... but concerning to extreme music, it's something I don't listen to since I was 16 or 17".

(Hmm... that's a long time, I think extreme music has changed a lot since he stopped listening to it). How can you know if you're gonna like it, if you don't hear it at least once?

"I don't know, I suppose you need a special interest in this kind of music to hear it. I mean I'm probably double older than you, isn't it? For... how old are you?"

(Here one of the biggest secrets of HELL AWAITS is revealed) I'm twenty.

"Twenty? OK, I founded BATHORY when I was five years younger than you. Many years have passed since then, people from fourteen or sixteen years old to twenty-five are who lock themselves only in this style of music; I don't think it's good or bad, in fact Black Metal is part of my life and it lives in my heart, I know most of these new bands by seeing pictures of them on mags, I know their aspect but not their music".

What do you think about some Black Metal "stars" attitude that are burning churches or, as Jon Noedtveidt from DISSECTION, stabbing a homo until death?

"Everything one does every day have a consequence, the same way as if you break the law you must pay for it, and things happen that way leaving aside who you are, which country you are from and how the society is gonna judge your acts. If you're a... how did you say it? Black Metal Star?"

Yes, it just has been a kind of parody.

"I hope so... (laughs) Then a lot of people could feel confused and some things can happen, like in USA, where there are guys who take off their own lives because they think music is saying it to them. In what concerns to the church burning I can understand someone does it as an act of self-defense against Christianity. It's supposed to be something symbolic, but you really can't kill God because God doesn't exist. Music can't mix concepts as satanism, paganism and all this because they are completely contradictory. We are people, and that's all. There is a confusion of terms".

Don't you think things maybe had been different if you had toured?

"Well, we've sold several records but perhaps not as much as Madonna or any other. In 1989 I sent these big tours full of problems to fuck off, anyway, in the 80's BATHORY wasn't the legendary and great band that has become. Besides that, our fans have grown and have taken the market (radio, mags, labels...) and, in the beginning, when we started, mass media were ruled by old dodos that didn't know nothing about the existence of bands like CELTIC FROST, BATHORY or DESTRUCTION. Nowadays this scene is ruled by adult fans and this makes everything be different".

Are you aware of the huge amount of BATHORY tribute albums that have been done?

"Oh! Yeah, I know there are many... hmm... one in England, another in Greece, another in Japan and... some more".

Have you heard them?

"No, none of them".

Don't you feel curiosity to know what the other bands do with your songs?

"I don't know, if someone sends me one, maybe I'll listen to it. If bands wanna do covers of some BATHORY songs, well, they can do it, I think it's good".

What can you comment about the "One rode to Asa bay" video?

"I can't tell you nothing about it because I still haven't seen it yet".

But it's done, isn't it?

"Yes, it is, and it was finished ten years ago, I spent a lot of money in that video, hundreds of people took part, there were horses and all that stuff, it was a good recording. But after making it, I didn't wanted to have nothing more to do with it. I didn't see it, but I know how it was, more or less".

Which is the secret to be a band that stands all its musical career in the same label? In this case Black Mark.

"The first CD we released in 1984 was afforded entirely by ourselves, we didn't have a deal with a label, nor with a manager, we did that album with our own money. We wanted the people to think we had a record deal, we invented our own label and there were a lot of people that really believed that there was a label behind us. Meanwhile I was in my kitchen with glue and scissors creating that supposed label called Black Mark. It really never existed from the beginning, it was just a personal fantasy. Later, in 1991-92, a friend of mine by then BATHORY manager decided to give form to Black Mark making what it is now. Because of this I know and have a good relation with the people working here. Those who created this label at first were our agents, who took charge of everything. I feel very comfortable here and I come often to the offices to have some coffee or whatever. It's not the same being in a huge label, in which apart from you there are two hundreds of bands more, than being in a place of nearly familiar atmosphere".

Have you heard the last CRADLE OF FILTH work?

"What?"

The last CRADLE OF FILTH album, "Cruelty and the beast" (thinking he hadn't heard me).

"Is that a band?"

Yes (I answer, baffling)

"Uh, I haven't heard them, then".

Well, I said it because they dedicated the album to Countess Bathory and... are you really unaware of CRADLE OF FILTH? (I insisted utterly incredulous)

"Let me explain you who I am (laughs). I am the grandfather of all these people".

There's no doubt about that...

"I have withdrawn, baby. I'm outside the business, now I can sit down calm on a chair and... do nothing".

Interview from Hell Awaits #5, November 1998
Provided and translated by Jordi Prieto.
Taken from Twilight web-site.
www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Palladium/6646/


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