Menelaos Megariotis

After the release of two subsequent albums, 'Destroyer Of Worlds' and 'Katalog' (read more about them in the interview), we thought it was a real need to speak to Quorthon about them and get his opinions on several subjects about them. He luckily turned to be a really fantastic guy, answering to all questions with accuracy and detail! That's how an interview should be! Read or die!

Hail! For the beginning, let's talk about the new album, and, first of all, could you let us know a few general things about this release?

I understand that people have been waiting for this album for a long time. There were a couple of release dates and tentative titles flying around for a time. The musical history of BATHORY is pretty diverse musically and lyrically. What happened was this, after "Blood On Ice" (1996) and my second solo project "Purity of Essence" (1997), we told everybody that sure there would be a new album out within a year, and I did begin to write new material, but there was a change of plans. And there's a pretty long story one must take into consideration to fully understand. The 90's were a rather strange decade for BATHORY, though. In the 80's it was all so easy. In the 90's, all that changed. The BATHORY fans grew up, formed their own bands and radio stations and fanzines/magazines. BATHORY was made out to be legends, talked about as the originators of "Viking" Metal, hailed as the most influential source for an entire generation and the grandfathers of Black/Death Metal etc. The influence that people figured BATHORY had had on the entire scene elevated the first six albums to a divine level of importance. All the albums of the 80's were met with open arms by the fans at the time of their release and they are still must-have for every new generation it seems. In the 90's, our past became a handicap. We had so much to live up to. BATHORY's past was made out to be something impeccable, unbeatable and the all-original. Everybody was pulling me in either this or that direction, to make me come up with either this or that kind of style and sound on a new album. I was torn between the many different fan bases and my personal wishes. So I said to hell with it all. I stopped writing for that new album and said I was going to take a two-year break. By then, the working title "Nemesis" was already out as well as several release-dates. With every album we did, our fan base would write us and express wishes for either less or more brutality, less or more arranged epic stuff, less or more basic thrashing speed or whatever. The requests from our diverse fan base began to suffocate creativity. Don't get me wrong, I love them all and they are the best. Do you think Backstreet Boys would be remembered after a couple of years of absence on record? The fans just expressed their various desires for what a future BATHORY release would be like style-wise. I am at least honest about caring, not what the media or the reviews would say, but for the wishes of those who were proud to wear a BATHORY shirt. Even if all that bothering began to strangle me. We had no idea what to do, really. We put out a couple of Hardcore/Death albums in the first half of the 90's that were welcomed by one half of our fan base only. We put out a heavily arranged concept Epic album in the mid 90's that was welcomed by the other half of our fan base only. So the planned two-year break was badly needed. I didn't touch a guitar for ages. I began to write new material early 2000 for the album that was going to show BATHORY had moved into the 21st century. This was rather progressive music incorporating both classical and medieval instruments, heavily arranged and multi-layered, much like the soundtrack to a movie. We began pre-recording in the summer of 2000, and in the meantime told Black Mark they could tell everybody there was a new album on the way. A new release date was out and fans began to write begging for either this or that style. The tone used in the letters was such that I couldn't ignore the fact that the material we had begun pre-recording wasn't anywhere near what our audience asked for. We had a meeting with our record company Black Mark. It was deemed that after a couple of years of absence, maybe it was best to sort of return with a compromise. So we did exactly what people asked from us. A couple of tracks were written with the intent to remind of a specific era. If people get the idea that we have been working on this album forever, then the truth is I began writing the material for Destroyer of Worlds on June the 10th, we entered the studio on July the 24th and were all done the second week of August. And no it was all done in one and the same studio. The studio report says 112 hour. That's fucking five days effective time. So it was the second fastest recording in the story of BATHORY. I am not even sure we got all the solo's down. A couple of tracks still have parts of demo vocals on them.

How would you describe it, and what should a Bathory fan expect to find inside?

It is not for me describe the album in any other way than letting people know what the lyrics really are all about etc. The album is too close in time for me to have a clear perspective on it. I know that some want BATHORY to 100% demonic & satanic or 100% epic & Viking. What people get from "Destroyer of Worlds" is a mixture of brutality and heavyweight, but no demonic and Nordic themes.

By the way, do you agree to those who proclaim that Bathory are becoming more acoustic, with each and every album?

Are they proclaiming that as a sort of complaint or as a compliment? They should be telling me anyway. If they don't write us and let us know what they want from a BATHORY album it is very difficult for us to please them. Well, we used acoustic guitars on a BATHORY record for the first time on "Under the Sign", so it's been a while. There were probably no acoustic guitars on "Requiem" and "Octagon". So there's no pattern to be found in the history of BATHORY at all. And only 3 tracks on "Destroyer of Worlds" have acoustic guitars. As for the entire sound picture from a acoustic perspective, I think there is always a clear distinction between the more brutal Black & Death related tracks and the more epic Viking stuff on all albums, not just on the new record. You have to consider the use of acoustic guitars and treat the whole production as such accordingly depending on the basic atmosphere of the specific track. But if we're becoming more acoustic I don't know. There's certainly nothing acoustic about tracks like 109, Kill kill Kill, Death from Above, Bleeding or Liberty & Justice on the new record.

As for the lyrics and the music, now, what differences would you highlight between this album and your other works...?

The important thing this time was to make sure that we didn't cover any topics we had used in the past. In order for both our Demonic/Satanic fans and our Nordic/Epic fans to be able to enjoy the album, we left those topics out intentionally. That doesn't mean that this is what BATHORY will be like forever. Just that we thought this was a good way to return on record after a couple of years of silence.

Can you tell us a few things about each song?

For "Destroyer of Worlds", I really didn't dig too deep for topics. There are two World War II tracks ("109" and "Death from Above"), a track about myself ("Ode"), and story from real life ("White Bones"). One track was for all the ass-holes in our lives ("Bleeding"), and one track dealt with modern society ("Kill Kill Kill"). I did a track on the self-righteous western world ("Liberty & Justice"), and again painted with words in the ending track ("Day of Wrath"). I was once asked by a Canadian journalist how come that I, being Swedish and an out-spoken Hockey fan, had never done a Hockey track. He was of course joking but I picked the idea up for fun and wrote "Sudden Death". It may not be about the Hockey I like, it's sort of "BATHORY"-hockey. A fan once wrote me and asked how come that BATHORY still had never done a motor related track, though I have always claimed Motörhead to have been an important source of inspiration when forming the band back in March 1983. I had used my Harley-Davidson on a track on my second solo release ("Purity of Essence"), but that track wasn't about bikes. So I wrote a track on riding bikes ("Krom"). I brought my bike down to the studio and recorded it. Some have asked me why I spelled it "Krom" and not the correct English "Chrome". Well, firstly there's a joke made there connecting with the God of Conan, secondly that is how Chrome is spelled in Swedish. The only tracks for which I know I picked inspiration from a specific source were the title track and "Pestilence", which was influenced by watching the Ingmar Bergman movie "The Seventh Seal". (en: which is a fuckin' great movie and you must all see!) The title track "Destroyer of Worlds". I once read a biography on Openheimer who if not invented so at least put together the first practical atomic bomb. There was this moment when he watched the blast of the first atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert that July of 1945, when he remembered a part from an old Hindu script about the death god Vishnu, as death, the destroyer of worlds. That split second when Openheimer was supposed to have been just as happy as all the rest of the crew around him, he felt sad, realising the powers they had just unleashed. So he spoke out loud to himself that now he had become death - the destroyer of worlds. After having spent some 4 years, hundreds of thousands of hours and some 6 billions US dollars or whatever on trying to construct an atomic bomb, and now it actually worked, he should have been very happy indeed. But then there was this moment when he realised what they had actually done. I really liked that contrast that occurred within a split second, first joyous celebration and then thoughtful seriousness. At the end of the song you can hear how the bomb is carried afar over Hiroshima -that is why there are Japanese instruments in there.

As for the cover, now, who is the creator?

It was created in the computer.

And what connection does it have with the album's attitude?

When I had written all the material for the album, we sat down and simply asked ourselves which track had the best title for the entire album. We deemed "Destroyer of Worlds" to be the best title. The scenery of flames on the cover and the face of the demon of destruction was just trying to portray in one image what the title was all about…I mean a destroyer of worlds is like no ordinary little destroyer...

Will you shoot any videos for this album?

No.

By the way, I've heard that there was a whole strange story behind the video shooting of 'One Road To Asa Bay', so... what exactly is the case...?

Well I guess you are referring to the fact that I have never seen it and I didn't get to see any of the 60 hours of film we had worked on for several weeks. I know I paid for it, but I didn't have anything to do with it. The guy who was responsible for the whole filming just went on holiday once the last shot was made and he was unheard from and impossible to reach. We badly needed the material to edit the video together and time was running short. When he eventually did send us something, it was already cut down. The rest of the material nobody has ever seen and it is probably erased.

You also released a compilation this time around, Katalog. Why did you choose to do so, and did you release it almost consequently with "Destroyer of Worlds" of Worlds?

"Katalog" is not a compilation. It is simply a CD that was made for all the new personnel at the various distribution offices to get a grip on the various styles/albums of BATHORY for them to know what they talked about when in contact with local shops and media. There were also a lot of metal radio stations requesting pre-release copies of at least a track from the new album for airplay. For practicality, we gave them one new track plus a track from each BATHORY album all on one CD. It was never intended for sale in shops and will never be found in any shops or mail-order catalogues. A lot of fans found out about it and begged for a chance to buy it. We said it was for promo only, but they persisted. So we produced a limited edition which we will sell to the die-hard fans through our web shop only.

In this compilation you have included one song from each album you have released so far. So, can we see this album as a timeline of the band's (and Viking metal's) development...?

No no no, it is simply a CD for internal use that has been made available for the very die-hard fans who just must have it. There is no plan behind at all and you don't have to mind about it. It was intended for our business partners only and now it is available through the web shop only.

Also, Katalog is only available through the internet. Why?

We didn't want people to think we were trying to cash in on the name BATHORY by releasing some old shit. If people would see it in the shops, they'd get this idea for sure. So we offer it through the web shop only. That way, we are guaranteed only the very die-hard fans will get it. They will not complain about another compilation.

Do you believe that Internet helps musicians to distribute their work and gain fans, or is it just an enemy for anyone in the music industry?

Some people copy music off the Internet, this is an effective way to kill music released on albums commercially. But for a young band that want to reach out to the whole world, the Internet is a very good thing. In the 80's we would receive up to 100 fan letters every week. Now a days I spend most of the days answering fan email.

Bathory have always been pioneers in metal... Why do you believe you were successful in your musical experiments?

Probably because I don't listen to metal and I have never been a fan of Black, Death, or any other extreme style. I have been listening to mostly classic music throughout the whole time that BATHORY has existed. And I think that has an effect on the material. When you hear a BATHORY album you know that it is BATHORY and not something that is influenced by what's fashionable in the extreme metal scene of the day. I think the reason as to why people consider BATHORY to be either the gods of Nordic Metal, the grandfathers of Black Metal or the creators of Epic Metal is because we have always been original, innovative and interesting. BATHORY has a rather personal atmosphere and some people tell me that BATHORY is special because when you hear BATHORY, you know it is the original and not some modern cop

Do you believe that your music is still Metal, or is it non-metal epic music?

I am really dead tired of labelling music and hearing people filing you either by this or that name, style or whatever. But even I have to use these terminologies sometime to facilitate communication. What is metal, when do you stop being metal and when do you begin to become metal !? I use the same fucking guitar today as I did millions of years ago, I still use Marshall amps and my hair is 90 centimetre's long. People should really stop wondering about what the music they are listening to is called. If you enjoy it, enjoy it for what it is and not for what somebody else calls it. (en: A REAL music fan's answer...)

Which of your albums do you believe to be the most important and why?

I consider all the albums my little babies. They may sound very different, they may contain very different kind of styles. But I will stand up for them and claim them through thick and thin. They are all important because they make up the book on BATHORY. They are each a chapter. Some fans may like other albums more than other albums, but each album is as important to BATHORY.

And now, I would like you to give us some info about Bathory's future plans...

Well, no exact plans as such. I would very much like to back inside the studio to record the next album as soon as possible, or write the material for the next one already today. But in order to have a wider perspective of the album and await the reaction from all of the fans, I have promised myself to wait for at least two or three months before I start to write material for the next album. But you can expect a new BATHORY album out within ten months hopefully.

Thank you very much for your time, and all the best for your future! Thanks!

Thank you and may I take the opportunity to thank all the BATHORY fans for being the best there is – that is why the new album is dedicated to them. The BATHORY Hordes rules forever!!

An Interview with Quorthon by Menelaos Megariotis
E-mail, on Thursday, November's 1st, 2001
Taken from: www.metal-realm.com


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