MetalKings.com: How're you doing?
Abbath: I am fine thank you.
MetalKings.com: You're calling from Norway or Germany?
Abbath: I'm calling from Bergen, Norway.
MetalKings.com: Let's start with a quote which dates back to some years ago and comes from a TV show where different musicians were to explain what's black metal for them - Immortal: Spikes… leather… So is black metal still that or has the attitude changed somewhat?
Abbath: Well for me, you know, black metal is a conception for the grim, dark, morbid side of metal, y'know, extreme music. And black metal first came as a conception for a Venom album which came out in 1982 so basically it comes from Venom. And I would say that if you are true to the eighties and true to the basic… you know, like many call themselves black metal bands today but I think that many of them have become more in this goth, in this gothic kind of way, but for us it's still the feeling of the eighties, the fashion of the metal eighties with spikes, or leather, or bullet belts - we are old-fashioned. And we still think that if it's gonna be true metal, it has to be in old fashion.
MetalKings.com: The new release Sons of Northern Darkness - your comments, good/bad, drawbacks, points of pride, special feelings…
Abbath: Well, with Sons of Northern Darkness we have taken our style to the next level. That's still on the same part, or on the same track, if you know what I mean, but also this time we felt like doing some of heavy stuff, and experiment with some old-fashioned heavy metal shit. And just do it our way, and I think we proved able to do it pretty well, with 'Sons of Northern Darkness', you know, songs like 'Tyrants', 'Beyond the North Waves' - things that we've never done before but we felt like doing this time and we're very pleased with those songs. Or take 'Antarctica' - it's still Immortal but in a new fashion, you know. But also still I think that 'Sons of Northern Darkness' has a lot of links to what we have done previously, but also we have gone more back to the eighties, the more basic, thrash stuff. But that's important for us, that's what had inspired us and made us who we are today. That's this thrash, black, death metal - you know back then even Bathory was called death metal so it's the metal of the eighties which still burns and reigns, but we are going it in our own way and it's for the next era, for the next generation. I think it's important to keep that feeling alive.
MetalKings.com: Yes, because for instance 'Damned in Black' sounded like it had a lot of Morbid Angel feeling to it.
Abbath: Yeah, of course, already when we did 'Blizzard Beasts' people told us "you sound a bit like Morbid Angel" - and I was "Of course! Yeah!" You know Morbid Angel have always been a very big influence for Immortal. We were just fascinated by 'Altars of Madness'. It's a great masterpiece, and of course Morbid Angel as well have been like mentors for Immortal, like you know, all bands are inspired by other bands, we make our own stuff, our own style out of these inspirations, out of these influences, you know. We've never wanted to make 'Battles in the North' part II - we don't want to stagnate, we want to develop and see where we can go with our style. And we are so far very pleased with the direction everything takes and we don't feel any stagnation. I am already working on two new songs. Now that many of those bands which we grew up listening to and which gave us the inspiration to start with this are gone, or they are not the same anymore, and we feel like kind of responsibility to what we are true to. And if we are true to ourselves, and true to what has made us become what we are then we are also true to the future and to the scene.
MetalKings.com: That's your first record with NB, how is it different from the previous works (I mean management and promotion wise) and do you feel you gonna prolong the deal?
Abbath: Well, you know Nuclear Blast is a much-much bigger record label than Osmose. We've been on Osmose for eight or nine years we've pretty much grown together with that label. Now it was time for us to move on, and for Osmose to let go. With Nuclear Blast we've got full priority. And for a band to be on such a label without the right priority it's a waste. But we've got total priority, total artistic freedom, they can't tell us what to do, we have a very lucrative deal, so of course they have a much bigger capacity, and that's also good for metal in general isn't it? That a band like us got distributed in the right way. Osmose still hasn't got distribution in the United States, for example that explains a lot, doesn't it? So it was time for us to move on and so far Nuclear Blast have been an honest and strong ally.
MetalKings.com: My favourite on the new record is 'Beyond the North Waves', a mid-to-slow-tempo epic - can you tell me how you came up with it in a bit more detail?
Abbath: Some of the riffs on 'Beyond the North Waves' have been along for quite a while, also some of the riffs on 'In My Kingdome Cold' have been around for a couple of years. We haven't got the right ideas or feelings for making those songs until now. And still while working on 'Sons of Northern Darkness' album, I would come up with riffs which I just have to put in the freezer and wait and see if I can fit them into the next album, because you see, I got killer riffs and sometimes they don't fit in. And this time I got the key riffs for those old riffs, to make 'Beyond the North Waves' and 'In My Kingdome Cold'. So you know we are very-very fucking satisfied and proud of that song, you know 'Beyond the North Waves'. It really came out right, it really came out the way we wanted it. And some people… like I did this interview with this guy a couple of months ago and he said it reminded him of Bathory's 'One Rode to Asa Bay' and stuff like that.
Abbath: I said "Yes, sure, of course." 'Cause Bathory have been an influence for Immortal. But we have done it our way. I can always come up with a riff which some people might find they heard before but it's the way you put the songs together, it's the way you're performing, that makes it unique and exceptional for your band. Or otherwise you could turn into this clone but that has never happened with Immortal. We have been able to make our own style. And 'Beyond the North Waves' has its very own feeling, it's also the Immortal feeling. But maybe that's the song that the people will either love or hate, you know. That's what I think. But we'll play it live anyway, ha-ha.
MetalKings.com: how was the work with Peter Tatgren in the studios?
Abbath: It's just got better and better. It's been three albums now with Peter, and you know it's just that that collaboration and that team work with him is just growing every time. And this time also Peter was more fastidious and he was even more fastidious than us, especially with the guitar sound. We connected these amplifiers together, I thought and you know were like fixing a little bit of sound and suddenly I had this great feeling with the sound, like 'This is cool, I like this." And then he said: "No fucking way, it's not good enough! No way!" And I said: "Erm… okay. (laughs) okay." And I think the sound kicks ass, and the he connected three amps, and still he never got satisfied. We were working for three days, and then he found this very old, old shitty amp, it was a throwaway, you know. It was some piece of shit he almost had forgotten about just lying out there in the studio, and he connected that and then he pushed the right button and everything becomes more juicy, he's a fucking magician! And also for us working with Peter, because we know what we want and he has this great understanding, so he is just a perfect producer for Immortal and the way we work together is unique. And we were very glad that he still worked with us because we heard that he's gonna cut down a lot on that [producing] because he is very busy with Pain, and Hypocrisy and his family, and we were very pleased that he still wanted to work with us. Because we still have a lot to work on with Peter, because we don't feel any stagnation and as long as there is no stagnation we still want to work with him, we have this development working with him. So… Peter rules!
MetalKings.com: When I was checking the by-lines on the CD I noticed that all songs were made by you and Horgh, why such discrimination of Iscariah?
Abbath: (bursts out laughing) Discrimination?!
MetalKings.com: You don't let him near the music-making, do you?
Abbath: Well, I make all of the compositions, I make all of the guitar and bass parts. And I put it together with Horgh and he has a lot of ideas and contributions for drums and beats and sometimes my ideas can change totally when he comes with his ideas, so it's very interesting to work with him. I record the arrangements to him and he sits down at home with his electronic drum-kit and he works on them, and he gets his opinion and ideas towards it. And then we go to the rehearsal room and discuss it and then put the songs together. And Iscariah he hasn't been involved in that yet he won't ever anyway because he has left the band. Not because of any arguments or anything, but because he doesn't want to tour so much. We have a lot of touring this year. And he wants to be with his family and his education. And we have got a new bass player from Sweden. He will be with us when the tour starts on the 28th of March. Anyway so Iscariah he hasn't been so much… argh, how should I put it… I've always said to him if you have some riffs, if you have some ideas we are open, but he hasn't gotten any. He hasn't been ready yet for any contribution. But of course it was important that he plays on the album, we want the whole band to play on the album, we want to present ourselves as a band. Not like it was 'At the Heart of Winter' and 'Battles in the North' there was only two of us. We want to be a band, y'know.
MetalKings.com: What's the name of the new bass player?
Abbath: He hasn't got a name yet.
MetalKings.com: The lyrical concept was created once again by Demonaz who was forced to leave the band due to health problems?
Abbath: Yeah, he got this injury in his arms from too much guitar playing without warming up or stretching out and he got something called tendonitis. He won't come back to the level he left at or to the level that we're at now, but you know he is quite busy with his new company and he is also doing managing stuff for Immortal. So he is pretty much involved, you know, even though we can't play, but he has already started to work on the lyrics for the next album. He is like the fourth member you don't see, but his spirit is totally involved. And the way we work with him, is that I make all the compositions, all the guitar riffs and guitar compositions, all melodies, and when I have the stuff ready I present it to Demonaz as early as possible and sit down and we discuss where I want to sing and how I want to sing. And then he gets ideas for lyrics. And sometimes I contribute with several lines, but, you know, he is the expert on that and when it comes to Immortal, I mean he is very important for us, and Immortal is still very important for him. He is more and more back mentally now, you know, off his injury, and I think that his new lyrics are better than they have been for quite a while. So our union is just getting stronger and stronger.
MetalKings.com: A line in the CD inlay says you were making the weapons together with Horgh and some other guys, can you please tell a bit more about it?
Abbath: Well, you know, on 'Battles in the North' the guitars were our weapons. And this time we felt like okay, let's try having some weapons on the cover, but not something that you buy in a hardware store. So we just started to experiment with a couple of friends of ours and we came up with these weapons and we thought it was cool, y'know.
MetalKings.com: So you actually invented these two spiked sticks, it's not something coming from history?
Abbath: Back on 'Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism' we had this more primitive stuff with just spikes, these regular normal spikes. But this time we wanted to make something more extraordinary, something, you know, more like fantasy weapons, more like a demonic thing or like an orc thing.
MetalKings.com: But I mean, how far does it go, do you forge it yourselves or do you just make something out of whatever comes at hand?
Abbath: The one Iscariah is using is made of wood. The other weapons, which I and Horgh are using are steel. And we have these couple of friends of ours who have all the tools in this garage to make this stuff. So we did it together with them. The wooden weapon, the wooden spiked club I'd made myself. I was sitting one day and I was bored, didn't really have anything to do, so I just started… I found this piece of wood and just started to do something with it and suddenly I came up with this club, you know. And then I decided to make something more, but in steel.
MetalKings.com: Sometime ago I think I read about that side project you had - this Motorhead cover band called Bombers - is that still in existence and how are things going there?
Abbath: Yeah, it was a couple of friends of mine who I grew up with, you know. And we were also listening to Motorhead, hell, I'm still listening to Motorhead and I think it's a cool band. And these other guys are really very big Motorhead fans. And one day we were drinking and decided to make this Motorhead tribute band and then we had this show at the Garage pub downtown in Bergen. Just for the hell of it, you know. I sang and played bass. And it was very popular and a lot of people showed up. We did a couple of shows after that, but it's nothing very serious. It's like when we have time we put up a show.
MetalKings.com: Do you yet have any plans for a concert record?
Abbath: We definitely will record a bunch of shows this year. And we'll see what we have at the end of the year. Because, you know, it's been seven albums, and we are a totally live band - so it's about time, definitely about time. So we are definitely gonna work with it.
MetalKings.com: Usually we would dedicate the last ten minutes of the interview to a bunch of stupid off the wall questions not related to music, and that are normally to test your sense of humor… so Christina Agiliera approaches the band saying she is a big fan of you and wants to contribute for your next record - what would the song sound like, what it will be about and what weapons and corpse-paint you'd choose for her to appear on the cover artwork?
Abbath: We don't want anything to do with pop singers.
MetalKings.com: So you won't let her near the band?
Abbath: It depends how you mean (laughs) Well, sexually - yes. If she wants to be fucked, of course.
MetalKings.com: For one week you are thrown back into the Viking times on your own, with only the weapons that you made yourself - what are your chances on survival and how would you do it (you cannot stay in one place, hide in the forests, and yes you do have to interact with people) Suppose you are forced to go out on a duel what would be the weapon of choice?
Abbath: Well in the first place I would do some… argh, what the fuck was that word… reconnaissance! And then I would have taken it from there, he-he-he.
MetalKings.com: Suppose you are forced to go out on a duel what would be the weapon of choice?
Abbath: I guess a twin-axe.
MetalKings.com: One night you turn up for the concert and find out that all of your chain and leather ammunition was replaced with pinkish, fluffy toys and garments made of artificial toy-fur of the same pinkish color, and there is only clown makeup at hand. How would you deal with the situation?
Abbath: He-he-he-he… Err… Put up a fight and get drunk… Ha-ha… And everything would be like pink satin and stuff like that?
Abbath: Oh, er… Are we supposed to go on stage?
Abbath: Guess, we would have had to play naked then. He-he-he… Or something. With makeup all over our body.
MetalKings.com: What was the most useless and the coolest birthday present you ever got?
Abbath: Errr… I can't remember the last time I got a birthday present. My mother makes me dinner that's all.
MetalKings.com: What was the funniest episode on your last tour?
Abbath: Our T-shirt salesman, the guy selling the merchandise he didn't have any sleep for almost a week and he freak out. That was kind of funny. And we smoked some dope, I never smoke dope except on tours, so I did and we had it on video, looking like complete fucking idiots.
MetalKings.com: Best drink and best hangover treatment?
Abbath: The best hangover treatment is to sweat. So if I am not going on stage the day after I take a walk or just jog it off. My favourite drink when I fly is gin-tonic or I really like burbon and cola, red wine, or… beer. But I don't drink that much beer when I'm on tour, I prefer beer when I'm home.
MetalKings.com: Final word.
Abbath: Keep the true metal spirit alive and die hard!
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