Metal Forces

Out Of The Black Hole

Bernard Doe meets the mysterious Quorthon as Bathory rid themselves of their satanic image.

Bathory first came to the attention of the world's metal underground hordes when they appeared on the Scandinavian Metal Attack compilation in 1984 and gradually built up a cult following with the release of two albums, 'Bathory' and 'The Return', on the Swedish label Black Mark, which both sold very well despite only being available as imports and without the aid of any live appearances and very little press.
However earlier this year Music for Nations signed the band for their Under One Flag label and promptly made Bathory's first two albums available in the UK for the first time, and in May released their third album 'Under The Sign Of The Black Mark'.
But to find out more about Bathory let's talk to the band's main man Quorthon whose virtually been on his own since the original line-up split in April '84.

OK Quorthon, since this is the first time you've appeared in MF let's startright at the beginning. Were you in any bands before Bathory?

Not really, well none that are worth mentioning anyway , because before Bathory I was just playing punk and Motorhead type stuff and it was only just for fun.

So you used to be a punk did you?

Oh yeah, when I was a kid I was walking around with green hair and safety pins and stuff - I was totally into it. Ha! Ha!

When did you form Bathory?

That was in March 1983 when I met these two guys who had a lot of equipment and had somewhere to rehearse for free. We recorded two songs for the Scandinavian Metal Attack compilation album in February '84, but soon after that we split up because I wanted to play more faster metal which they didn't - we just grew apart from each other.
Then a few months later the record company got in contact with me and said they had been receiving lots and lots of fan-mail because of the compilation album and they wanted Bathory to record a full length album. I told them that the band had split up but they still wanted me to do it, so I started to write some new songs and create a new style for how I wanted Bathory to sound, which was very difficult because at the time I was also auditioning a lot of musicians for the new line-up.

You've never really had a stable line-up with Bathory have you?

No, there has been a lot of different line-ups and that's because I often didn't realise until a couple of months after people had joined that they were not the right guys so I had to kick 'em out. They didn't even last long enough to have our photos taken, so that's why when I've done interviews with magazines we've only given them photos of me.
It's only now that I've managed to find two guys at the same time that I'm satisfied with. They both have the same attitudes and ideas that I have about the music - they're just perfect.

What are the names of the new members in Bathory?

Oh we haven't come with any names as yet but I think on the next album we will have pictures of all of the members.

Are the new guys from Sweden?

Yes they are.

Have they been in any metal bands before?

That is of no importance at all, the important thing is that they are now the new drummer and bass player in Bathory, and that's all the people need to know.

OK, but have either of them had any recording experience before?

I think the drummer has, but that's not important either.

Fine, well, we've at least established you've got two new members in Bathory. Will they contribute to the writing side at all?

No, I'm the one who will be writing all the music and the lyrics.

You've already mentioned punk and Motorhead, but what other influences do you have? I read somewhere that you liked the Beatles!?

Oh, I listen to a lot of different stuff, from classical music to the most outrageous music you could possibly imagine. I personally think that the Beatles are the best band that have ever lived, but that's obviously got nothing to do with Bathory.

I understand that you're a big Kiss fan as well?

I used to be a Kiss fan when I was a kid. When you are young you tend to be influenced by everything that is outrageous and at that time Kiss were very theatrical and outrageous.

Why do you use the name 'Quorthon'?

You have to have a stage name to seperate yourself from the private person to the one that plays in a band, and I think 'Quorthon' fits me quite well. It means a prince who's half-human and half-demon.

How seriously do you take the satanical image that you've built up about Bathory?

I'm not into that anymore, that was something that happened two or three years ago. Y'see once you've read the christian bible and found out about one side you want to find out about the other side as well. But once you've done that you then realise that both sides are just bullshit. So I don't need any of that anymore.

But you're still writing satanical songs on your latest album?

Well, I do mention the word satan in '13 Candles', but that is the only song, and that particular song is very old, I could have included that on the first album. The only reason that it's on the new album at all is because I didn't feel I had a stronger song at the time.

I take it from your comments that you are not religious at all?

No.

But in the song 'Call From The Grave' you are actually asking the question 'Is there a God?'

That's a very good remark from you, because I didn't think anyone would realise the whole point of the lyrics. In that song I scream 'If there's a God in Heaven, hear my call from the grave...' and my point is this: No matter what sins you may have committed in this world, there is always someone to who you can ask for forgiveness and you can enter the holy gate. Anyone would ask for forgiveness if they could, in which case, why is there a hell? Also if God is the almighty then why doesn't he destroy the evil side? So 'Call From The Grave' isn't just about being buried alive or being abandoned by God, it's really questioning the religious theory from both sides.

So really you're undecided about religion?

No, personally I've decided about religion but I'm still fascinated by it and will continue to write about in the future. I'm really playing with peoples imaginations about the evil and good side.

But you dismiss that you're a black metal or demonic band, which you've been labelled by just about every metal magazine?

I think it's totally wrong to put labels on a band's music because you should let the music speak for itself and it doesn't matter if you wear chicken bones, studded leather, spikes and upside-down crosses - the way you dress has nothing to do with the music at all. I mean you don't play any better because you wear studded leather or not, do you?

No, but it's the job of music journalists when reviewing a band to let their readers know what style of music a particular band play and the best way of doing that is, to a certain extent, make comparisons with other more established acts. Admittedly that, at times, can be misleading because everybody views music differently, but there are a helluva lot of albums being released every week and metal fans just don't have the cash to buy literally every album that comes out, and rely on music publications like ourselves to give them a guide as to what to buy. So I certainly don't think making comparisons is a bad thing and I'm sure a majority of our readers would agree. Anyway back to the interview.....

Venom is of course a band that Bathory have been compared to on many occasions. What are your views on them?

I don't think there are any similarities musically between Venom and Bathory at all. But I do think 'Black Metal' - which I heard for the first time 3 months after we formed Bathory - is one of the best albums ever made because it has genuine feeling. At that time there was no speed or thrash around, so Venom were very unique, even though they wimped out later on and spoiled the whole thing. I mean 'At War With Satan' and 'Possessed' are shit compared to Black metal'.

Now you've got an established line-up can we expect to see Bathory play some live shows?

Well we intend to record a live video as soon as possible to give all our fans, wherever they live, an equal chance to see our stage show. But to go on the road touring and putting on the type of show we have would cost a lot of money which we don't have right now.

Is that going to be a promo video or one that will be available commercially?

Yeah, the kids will be able to buy it. It will have about six or seven tracks and we will probably incorporate a little bit about the history of the band as well.

When do you think the video will be recorded?

Probably after we've recorded the next album in the summer.

Did you write the track 'Of Doom....' especially for your older fans?

Yes that is totally dedicated to our fans, because they've been so patient andvery supportive towards me through the years. They've been totally aware of themember situation and have always kept on encouraging me to carry on. So 'Of Doom....' is especially for them.

Who plays keyboards on the track 'Woman Of Dark Desires'?

I do.

Now a lot of metal fans say that keyboards should not be used in metal. What are your views on that?

Well think it's ok if you use them the right way. I know if you mention the words synthesizer or keyboards that everybody goes crazy and says that it's not metal, but that's just bullshit. If you use a synthesizer as an instrument it works quite well, but only as a compliment to the other instruments because the guitar, the bass and the drums will always be the most dominant part of Bathory.

What musical direction do you see Bathory taking in the near future?

Well I've written six new songs so far and I think I'll probably write about ten more and then decide which ones to use on the next album. But I think the album will contain both fast and slow songs because we want to please the doom metal fans as well as the people just into speed metal.

Well 'Under The Sign Of The Black Mark' (reviewed MF23) is certainly the band's best release to date and should expand Bathory's growing following even further. Incidentally US readers will be pleased to know that the album will, at last, get a US release on New Renaissance Records shortly.

Interview From Metal Forces Magazine, 1987
Provided by Emmett Rees.
Taken from Twilight web-site.
www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Palladium/6646/


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