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Interview: Fenriz (Darkthrone)

Pure metal...interviews

Being a devoted Darkthrone fan was not the only reason why I was looking forward to conducting this interview with the band's skinsman Fenriz. Two months prior to the release of the band's latest album, a four track EP entitled “New Wave Of Black Heavy Metal” has manage to create such a stir that some important questions needed to be asked.

In between listening to some of his favorite tracks and angrily expressing his contempt towards the representatives of today's modern music scene, the founding member of Darkthrone found the opportunity to explain how “F.O.A.D” came to life and also to promote some of his favorite bands.


Hi Fenriz. I am really happy to be conducting this interview with you, especially having been recently exposed to some of the latest products of your inspiration. What is the spirit in the band nowadays?

Fenriz: The last record started with the words "666 Steps Ahead...and I Can't Be Traced". The spirit now is furthermore so, it means that our sources of inspiration has nothing whatsoever to do with the "familiar" metal scene of today - our inspirations and a lot of the stuff we listen to is a picture of us TURNING OUR BACKS and WALKING AWAY from the last 18 years of typical "scene" bands, as you can see pictured on the front cover of NWOBHM. Other than that, our spirit is set on wildlife. Fu*k the "kings of the chat rooms" eternally!

I was informed by your label that you are not planning on sending promos to websites prior to the album's release. Is that a way of dealing with the ever increasing problem of file sharing through the Internet? How much has a leading band like Darkthrone been affected by this phenomenon?

Fenriz: I never heard of this, and in any case it is not us that are planning this, it is usual label policy or something. I write music and sing, I don't dabble with these things. I rather listen to my vinyl of the glorious French band Trust and their "Savage" album, like I do right now. (Fact)

In our previous interview together you had informed me that two of the tracks that were to be featured in the band's forthcoming album "F.O.A.D" were ready. Does the fact that there is only a year gap between the release of "The Cult is Alive" and your latest effort mean that there are many common elements between the two releases?

Fenriz: It always is, we don't look at what we are doing as "albums", our releases are just a long tube of songwriting. The way we work now is that when the both of us each have a song ready, we meet and set up our portable studio and just record it.

If you were to compare "F.O.A.D" with "The Cult Is Alive" which would you say are the main similarities/differences and which are the elements in your latest effort that show the signs of evolution that the band underwent this last year?

Fenriz: It's one year and a half, by the way. I think some of our songs just went heavier meaning slower and leans towards classic metal songwriting as we know from the 70s/early 80s. My songs are angry fast rock or something, but you can read all about it in the press sheet which includes the liner notes to each song.


I have just received a copy of the band's latest EP "New Wave of Black Heavy Metal". Is this title in any way indicative of the musical direction that Darkthrone will be following from now on?

Fenriz: No, we never had a plan, we just make songs that we need to do because our hearts tell us to. The songs are results of listening to rock and metal for 30 years. Thousands of bands influence us! Ahhh side B of that Trust album now...#drool#

Listening closely to the four tracks that are featured in "New Wave of Black Heavy Metal" one can clearly understand the difference in the song writing style between yourself and Ted. Do you find your simple and more "old school" approach responsible for the variety that one can find in the band's more recent releases?

Fenriz: Usually, but sometimes Ted writes songs that sound like mine, and I have a slower heavier song on FOAD too, as you will hear. The point is that we are perfectly "happy" with having different style of songs - as a heavy metal band SHOULD have - not only one style.

Even though I enjoyed all three of the band's latest compositions that are featured in this new EP, I would like to make a special reference to "Canadian Metal", the reason for this being your very impressive vocals. I seem to hear a certain Paul Baloff vibe in them - am I right in assuming so?

Fenriz: Thanks, that's very cool, but I never tried or even thought of Paul while singing that stuff. But it is true that he is one of the best vocalists of metal. One of my other favorites is nasty Ronny from Nasty Savage, he really makes my mind explode, but I can't copy these vocalists, because I only end up with the stuff that comes out of my throat! I usually just do one take. Not like other POSERS that record thousands of vocal tracks hehehehe sorry to some of my buddies here...but that's just me. It's better for me when it's rough and risky. A lot of great metal vocals took a long time and effort, but that's just not me...and on the Testors cover, I guess I sing like one of my favorite vocalists, Eric Anderson from New Bomb Turks. Their first album “Destroy O Boy” is raw as fu*k and TRUE!

Last time we spoke, I remember you saying that you have become more involved in the writing process of the band's albums. How many of the songs that are part of the new album carry your personal signature?

Fenriz: I wrote 5 of 9 songs and I sing on 4 of them. I'm on a fu*kin roll, and I already have 1 song + various riffs ready for our next album number 14 called "Dark Thrones and Black Flags"

I am well aware how unhappy you are with the idea of doing covers and I do remember you saying how you would like to avoid having to go through that process in the near future, yet we see you guys once again performing one - this time for the Testors track "Bad Attitude". How did this thing come about?

Fenriz: Only guys like Rain Man don't change. Ok, I still don't really like doing covers, but I am also a great fan of Spreading Great Music. If I can get one person to check out Testors or Siouxsie and the Banshees from our covers - it's worth it. But people that cover cliché bands....HAHAHAHAHA internet losers

Talking about "Bad Attitude", my personal opinion is that this song has a vibe that can relate to Darkthrone's music. Was that a reason that led to its selection?

Fenriz: It was easy enough and it rocks and the rest of the songs that Testors has to offer is glorious, everybody I show Testors to end up loving them a lot.

What was the source of inspiration behind the creation of "F.O.A.D"? You seem to once again feel the need to make a strong statement with your chosen album title.

Fenriz: Nah, it's just 80s sentimentality. It was even a magazine back then (Now in my world, I'm happily stuck in the past and damn proud of it - but I follow many other new bands that are also stuck back there/here) called FOAD.

Is there any specific message that you feel the need to convey through your songs nowadays, or are you happy to leave each listener to reach his/her own conclusions?

Fenriz: As we choose not to do lyrics this time, but instead explaining stuff, it's clear (?) that I somehow want to leave listeners in the blue but still wanting them to understand more than before - this is because I am SICK AND TIRED of having been misunderstood throughout my entire life's work (which is Darkthrone).

There is no such information in the EPs press release but I assume that the recordings took place in your "Necrohell 2" studios. How different was the whole recording process this time round?

Fenriz: Well, my man, as I already told ya, we record 2-3 songs when we have them ready and head into the studio. We don't have sound check other that level checks (we don't want to record distorted/on RED) and then we just play together and record the songs, usually me playing drums and Ted plays the guitar and it's all recorded and we have to use those takes, so it's LIVE AS FU*K! And no room between drums or guitar amp, everything leaks into everything. After that we have to put down the rest of the takes, and then Ted takes the studio to his mountain home and does ...solos...and his vocals…and sometimes he has a friend come visit him, and the friend can do vocals from Grutle (Enslaved) on our last EP or Czral (Aura Noir) that does a lead guitar and a little vocal on this session...we don't plan much for EP/album, everything ends up as coincidences.

I think mega control of creation and nature is Christian, so there's a lot of coincidences in short, we don't give a fu*k. We leave that to other control freak bands. The more there are of boring bands, the better it is for us.


There is a certain "live" element in the production of "New Wave of Black Heavy Metal" that I assume was deliberate on your part. How long does the band need to stay in the studio in order to achieve the results that we heard?

Fenriz: I think I already explained enough about the studio situation and how live we are, this goes for “The Cult is Alive” and now - and in the future - until something else might happen. We don't have a clue about the future - any of us. Ahh just put on the 2nd Europe album. Their latest album is pretty cool too, by the way!

We are fast approaching the band's 20th anniversary. Have you guys made any special plans to celebrate the occasion, such as a special release of some kind?

Fenriz: No, but I urge everyone to check our "Top Friends" at our official myspace page and celebrate by checking out bands like Salute. Uh!

You have clearly positioned yourself in the past regarding this question, but people say that "hope dies last" so I am once again inclined to ask you whether you have considered changing your attitude towards live performances. Any chance of seeing Darkthrone live in the near future?

Fenriz: There are a lot of obstacles for playing live. A lot of people, for instance…hehehe.

In your own words, the only "scene" that you are interested in being part of is the cross-country skiing scene of your country, but in recent years we have seen quite a few bands that are trying to recreate the raw sound and attitude that pioneers like Autopsy introduced to the metal world back in the late 80's. Do you recognize the existence of such a scene, and more importantly, can you see Darkthrone becoming a leading figure in the years to come?

Fenriz: What? The last years have seen me definitely being more into 1964-1985. Try the first Tank album instead, although Autopsy rules in hell for sure. In short, what you are talking about is that the 90s sucked and in the 00s there has been an explosion of "new" true bands honoring the "forgotten" styles of the 50s-80s. And that's nothing more than fantastic. So many bands out there that understand that old is best and modern is ridiculous. And I am thinking about this every hour every day, might I be wrong? Might modern metal have something positive in it? The answer is NO, the only positive about posers playing silly metal is that the resistance from our RAW underground becomes even stronger. Check out Whip, Deathhammer for instance from Norway, or Atomic Roar from Brazil or basically any bands you can trace on the punkier side of our myspace top friends! GO ON, DISCOVER THE RAWNESS OUT THERE! HOLOKAUST! 64 64 64 WARS!!

Can you name a few of the albums that you have been listening to recently and which do you feel our subscribers should definitely check out?

Fenriz: "Sea Shanties" by High Tide (1969), "Black Rider" EP from Canadian Mystique (1985), Death Beast "The Awakening" USA LP 2005. That was a short list, and I discovered these through my union of music freaks, called "One Of Us". Hail all of you! Deep Deep and Fu*kin' True!

Now that one more album is ready to see the light of day, which is the next goal for Fenriz personally and Darkthrone in general?

Fenriz: Do the next album, and staying alive to be able to hike in the forest as usual, 23 tent trips last season, 14 so far this year (the weather has sucked up here and it's our albums in the way, too many interviews, hahaha)

Fenriz, thank you for taking the time to answer my question. The last words are yours!

Fenriz: Support true metal like Demon's Gate (Australia) and Alpha Centauri (who knows where those brothers are residing right now)

Interview © July 2007 John Stefanis

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