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INTERVIEWSInterview with Iscariah from "Spear" magazine (# 05, July 2000)
How's your tour going?
It's been going good. You know, we haven't done that many gigs yet here in the US but so far it's been good. I mean the audience is really good. It's been kinda hectic, you know, we get late to the club so we didn't get a proper soundcheck, but we have a good sound engineer so it works out good. We did like seven shows in Mexico as well, which was totally wild, and so far so good.
Were they loving you in Mexico?
Bothering us? Loving you? Loving you, yeah, we had some, quite a few "love yous," but you can't really take it serious. (I think this question was a bit misinterpreted. -ed.)
Have you met a lot of rabid Immortal fans since you've been in the US?
Yeah... a lot of people say that it's been too long for them to wait. It has been too long. The thing is Immortal's had a lot of changes and a lot of plans had to be changed because of the lineup changes. So, it's about time we get here.
You have kind of a cult following here.
I hope so.
If you go out there, there's hardly anyone even listening to Satyricon, but they were freaking out for you guys.
All right. I heard you've been driving around in Joker's monster truck in Chicago.
Joker? Yeah, yeah, he's cool. I like him, he's very blah, blah, blah (makes universal hand gesture for someone who runs their mouth), but he's cool, I like him.
And his truck?
Yeah, he had to go easy on the turns though, but that's OK. (The sound guy, whose name I don't know (Espen/Septagh), adds:) I like it, the monster truck. (Back to Iscariah:) The Christian Crusher.
The Christian Crusher? Is that what he calls it?
Do you have such a thing in Norway?
Monster trucks? We don't have the roads for it. Where I come from we definitely don't have the roads for it. I mean, it's no problem crushing a car, though, because your car would survive, all the people in the other car are dead. But no, we don't have that much there. (Sound guy again:) There's a lot of rules, you can't put this tire on, you can't modify your car too much.
You guys have a new album coming out - "At The Heart Of Winter" isn't really the new album. (During the set, Abbath referred to it as their new album.)
No, but the thing is that when we come to America now, we're not here to promote, like, a new album that's coming out, like, a month from now here. Basically we're here to promote the band live as a band, there's no point for us to do our new songs live that people don't know here. People want to know the songs they're into and all that stuff, you know. But there's talk of coming back here the end of the year, hopefully, nothing is like confirmed yet, but we hope so, do a more covered tour across the states. The new one is coming out in Europe, after what I've heard, since I got here, like two days ago. So I guess it should follow in US about a month, month and a half. I don't know.
The title of the new album is departing from the winter theme. What's going on there?
The thing is, on the new album, we tried to go... I mean, the concept, the winter concept with Immortal... (Abbath storms in, ranting in Norwegian, because he can't find any cigarettes. - ed.). All right, where was I? The thing with "At The Heart Of Winter", the winter concept was such taken full out, you know, there was a lot of winter there. For this album we decided we want to go more beneath the earth, more cryptic, like the "Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism" album. Kind of like a thing that, what evil lurks if you lift up a stone, you know, like behind trees and all that stuff. More darker, more cryptic, not this visionary thing. So I would say in that way it doesn't have that extreme visionary winter concept the previous ones had, at least from the "Battles In The North" album. I definitely like the direction that it's going to. As musicians in the band we can't stagnate, we just have to proceed, as musicians that's very important for us and hopefully our fans will come after us on the path, you know.
Who wrote the lyrics on the new album?
It's written by Demonaz.
He's still writing for you guys?
Yeah, he still has a strong spirit in the band, you know, and he's an excellent lyric writer, you know, and it just happened the way it did and it turned out fucking excellent. I mean, the lyrics now, I think, is more stronger than ever.
So you're not doing winter anymore...
(He interrupts:) We're doing winter, you know, because, the winter thing has always been, I mean, it's a part of the concept for Immortal. But it's still the winter theme, but it's not as pushed forward as it's been... I mean we can't, as I said, we can't stagnate, you know, as musicians and as persons, you know, that's suicide for musicians.
Is the concept of Blashyrkh still part of this?
We haven't mentioned Blashyrkh, the Blashyrkh name has not been said in the new lyrics but it's definitely in the same vein. I mean the whole thing is based on Blashyrkh, you know. The place Blashyrkh is actually a secret place for us, which not many people know. The Blashyrkh theme is still within because in Blashyrkh there is everything for Immortal. Blashyrkh can be a state of mind, it can be a place, it can be... you know what I mean? As I said, we are trying to reach deeper here and lift up stones and see what's behind trees, the evil lurking beneath, you know. I would say the lyrics for the new one, the whole concept for the new album, is the most evil concept ever. The lyrics are actually more straightforward, you can't misunderstand them, because they're so, to use a cliche, "in your face." I mean, you'll have to read them and see, for us it's very important, because musical-wise it's so intense, it's very important that the lyrics is also very intense because the music and lyrics has to stand side by side, be parallel, you know.
It seems like most of the concepts are based in the natural world. Do you consider that Immortal has a special or spiritual relationship with nature?
I mean, we grew up in it, we are not city kind of guys, we're in the countryside and we obviously have a love of winter. We have a lot of snow and... (I couldn't make out much of this answer due to other people talking in the room, which is a shame, because he was saying some really cool shit about the connection between black metal's concepts and the natural world. -ed.) This comes natural for us. I think that's the reason why what a lot of Norwegian bands sings about is based on this nature concept because it's natural. Nature can be so dark, the forests and all this, I mean, you just know what you have to do. It just feels so natural to do it. That's it.
In New York state there's a place called the Adirondack mountains... we took a trip up there and black metal was just the perfect soundtrack for driving through these mountains. It fit with the place.
Cool. Also, I think, when you go out on tours, I mean tours are great, but when you go on tours then you really know what your home is, if you know what I mean. Because, after a while, you want to relax and go home and just get peace and silence, maybe take a trip to your cabin or whatever. I think that coming home after being away maybe a month, when you come home, you see how beautiful it is. You have this place inside. Just that is an inspiration.
Do you live in the same place as you grew up?
More or less.
I was told I had to ask you this question: there's a band here called Twisted Tower Dire...
I've heard of them. They have a CD out, right?
Yeah. They are kind of power metal. Anyway, their guitarist says Immortal is a main influence and he wants to know if you find this strange in any way.
I don't know. I mean, this band has been going on for a long, long time, and after this band got started things have developed quite a lot. I have to admit, there's a lot of heavy metal in black metal. There is. So I don't see that as a surprise. It's a compliment. I'm not personally a power metal freak, but if that's their thing and they think that's good for them as an impression source then OK.
(Scott's retort: "I don't care what Iscariah says. That scrawny little pudwacker is lucky to be in Immortal." Scott has a bad attitude. -ed.)
OK, I'm going to show you this picture. (I hand him a picture of my cat, Cockamamie, world-famous for resembling Abbath, with the "Blizzard Beasts" CD sitting next to her.)
That's a cat, right?
This is my cat.
This is Abbath.
That is Abbath! How did you know that? (laughs)
Because I've seen a picture before of a cat.
(Horgh chimes in:) We've seen other pictures of animals. Also a dog.
The Twisted Tower Dire guy has two dogs, so my plan here was..
What kind of dogs is it?
Huskies. Black, white, you know.
So, the plan here was I was going to make a picture with my cat, his dogs, and we have Immortal: pet band.
OK. I see. (He's giving me a look like I'm cuckoo.)
But I couldn't do it because my computer died.
I have a cat. I used to have one but my ex took it. My ex took everything from me, you know.
You lost custody.
Yes, I lost custody. Ah, it's the "Blizzard Beasts" CD here. (He's looking at the picture.) Can I keep this?
Yes. This is a little souvenir for you guys. Tell Abbath to hang it on his fucking refrigerator.
Will Immortal ever stop wearing corpse paint?
Ah, no. Because the corpse paint is so important for the concept. We represent as demons, from the winter world, which the whole concept is based on. I mean for Abbath, it's a trademark, I mean it's very well known. So that would never happen. Not with Immortal.
You put it on yourself?
Yeah, of course.
How long does it take?
About 25 minutes. I mean, we do this all the time, so.
Did you ever go to the grocery store wearing corpse paint?
(He gives me this incredulous look.) I mean, when we're off touring? No. We don't. (laughs)
Not just for fun? Give the people something to think about?
(Horgh missed this question, so Iscariah tells him what I asked.) Horgh: We don't go to the store with corpse paint.
What kind of jobs do you guys have?
I'm a student and he works for explosives. (Horgh explains:) I work for about ten years doing construction work... explosives you know. That's what I do. So that's what I've been working with for almost ten years. (He got more detailed here but I couldn't understand much of it.) (Back to Iscariah:) And Abbath is like total metal. For me, it's like, I was pushed by my wife. If it was up to me, I'm more like living in the now. But you can't do that, you can't base your life on living on the now. The thing is that, it doesn't matter how big your band is, because someday it's gonna end, you need something to fall back on, so I'm doing school now.
What do you study?
I'm doing computer technology. I get paid for going to school because I have a knee injury and was forced to quit my job so I'm entitled to government education. I'm in private school, it's like $10,000 a year, but anyways, it's nice to have something to fall back on, just in case something fucks up, you know, if I get fucking tendonitis or whatever.
Like poor Demonaz.
So is that what you want to be doing in 20 years?
I definitely want to progress some parts of my life but I will always do metal. I will always do music. I will always do that. I've been preparing for this life for all my fucking life.
What does your family think about what you're doing?
My family? I got into black metal in 1989. My father bought me actually the first Sodom record in 1986. And now afterwards, like in 1989, he's like swearing, like "What the fuck you're doing, you think you're a Satanist or something?" You know, don't get me started, you got me into this shit. But, at that time, they said, it was just a puberty thing, he's gonna grow over it, but it just got worse and worse, I mean now, I'm almost 25 so they should think that I'm over puberty by now. As of today, my parents support me as parents should support their son. That's a problem if parents doesn't like what their kids do and they work against them, the kid's gonna go fucking worse in what they do, to a certain degree. I mean, parents should support their children when it comes to interests, more or less. I mean my mother was very worried about the Satanic part of it, at least, but she knows me. I have my views, which she should respect as long as I keep things to myself and I respect other people's views as a fre society, then she shouldn't be bothered. She understands that by now.
You said you have a wife?
I have a wife; I got married in October.
No kids though.
(He exchanges looks with Horgh.) Uh.... I don't know. No comment. (Horgh is being an instigator:) Not as far as he knows. (Iscariah tries to talk his way out of it:) Not as far as I know but... I had this weird phone call the other day, but, I don't know. (Much laughter from both of them.) That is off the record. (Not anymore. -ed.) But anyway, if it happens, it happens, you know. I'm not gonna freak out or anything. I'm a man, you know. No freaking out. Responsibility.
What's been the best thing so far about being here?
The best thing I would say is the contradiction. I mean, over here, it's all a different way. I mean, it's the first time Immortal's been here, so... I've been on one European tour with Immortal and I see the fans here are very much sober, actually, because in Europe it's like everybody's fucking drunk all the time. Here I can actually communicate with people. I mean, people show their appreciation for us coming over here. It's pretty good. So far, so good.
What's been the worst thing so far?
Worst thing is the flight tickets, you know, has been fucking messed up. We had to cancel a show in San Francisco. The confirmation came the day before we were supposed to be there. It was outside our league, it's like, we can't do anything about it. But that's a pity because the fans is gonna blame the band. "They don't feel like showing up," you know.
I got an e-mail about that, a press release saying, "Immortal refutes rumors, blah, blah, blah."
Ah, that's good, that actually was the case. Just planning.
Author: Kristie Snyder (© 2000 "Spear" Magazine)
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