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INTERVIEWSInterview with Abbath and Demonaz from "Revolver" magazine (March 2010)
Black Metal legends Immortal released the excellent "All Shall Fall" (Nuclear Blast), one of "Revolver's" Top Albums of 2009, last October. Starting Saturday in Toronto, the trio will be playing a four-date North American tour, including their first U.S. dates since 2007. Beginning a multi-part interview "Revolver" recently conducted with the band, frontman Abbath talks here about performing live. Check back in the coming days for more with Abbath and the band's lyricist and former guitarist Demonaz.
Are you looking forward to playing the States again?
Abbath: I can't wait. We did the States in 2007, a couple of shows, and I can't wait to come back there. I think the American audience is more into the new Immortal stuff than the old Immortal stuff. So can't wait to come over there and do 50-50. I can't wait to go out. It's really fucking awesome to finally play these new songs.
Have you ever thought about doing a live album?
We are also talking about doing a live album this year. I think it's about time. Also, we hired a German film team to film us in 2007. It is edited but not exactly the way we wanted it. So we have all the tapes and we're gonna fix a little bit of it, because if there's an angle and everybody can see how fucking fat I am at the point I will take away that picture. I love food too much, but I'm fit. I jog. I exercise, but it takes time to get rid of that stomach. [Laughs] I'm just kidding. I mean you can't see it all through the video, but there are some clips when the pyros goes off, and they don't film from the outside, you just see it like one or two from the wrong angles or something. Stuff like that.
Peter [Tägtgren, who co-produced "All Shall Fall" with the band] has mixed it, so it sounds a little bit better than it did on the original. He has worked in the studio, but it's nothing fake. I'm not gonna do like many other bands, I'm not gonna do like Kiss on Alive for example. If I play a shit solo, I'm not gonna go in and fix it. But we have fixed the levels on the sound, like, for example, in the opening, when Horgh goes into a blast beat, the snare was too loud, stuff like that. We're gonna work on that, and we're gonna also work on a bonus DVD* on the same-it's gonna be like a double, one of the concert and one with bonus stuff. With stuff people have not seen from the old days, which is not on YouTube. And if people still want to make fun of us after this, that's OK we don't care. [Laughs]
What sorts of older footage would you want to release of the band?
Me and Demonaz and Erik [a.k.a. Grim] did a video in the rehearsal room, but it came out real cool, of one of the songs from [Immortal's second album] "Pure Holocaust", which no one has seen. It's just unbelievable no one has seen it. Other than that, maybe some behind-the-scenes stuff, not too much. It's not going to be like Immortal Exposed or anything like that, some special things from the reunion time, and maybe some stuff from the earlier days. Like you might find a Horgh drum solo on there from the "Blizzard Beasts" tour-from a drum solo we had in the middle of the "Pure Holocaust" song.
We have some footage from the release party of [Immortal's first record] "Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism". It was filmed in Bergen, a very special concert. Stuff like that. There is more, we are working on it. The era up until Demonaz got tendonitis in his arms and he couldn't play guitar anymore was a struggle, finding the right drummer. But we had the spirit and we never gave up on Immortal.
In the second part of Revolver's interview with the members of Immortal, we discuss the way the internet has affected the band. As previously mentioned, the Norwegian Black Metal legends will be playing four dates in North America beginning this weekend. To read the first part of this interview, click here.
In the seven years between albums, the internet has become a lot more prevalent in promoting bands. How do you feel about that?
Demonaz: Only on the internet do they make a lot of parodies. Maybe we should make a Benny Hill T-shirt with Immortal on the front? No, seriously I don't mean that... Bloggers are always wanting to write some shit about you. I don't know, I think that is something that follows every band.
Abbath, do the internet parodies bother you?
Abbath: No, no not at all. It did in the beginning, because especially after 1999 when we released "At The Heart Of Winter", there was this mistake. We were experimenting with this guy and had this photo session with him, and none of the pictures came out right. So with the outfits and everything we had on us, so we decided to not use those pictures. But only a couple of pictures of me and Horgh's faces, which came out really good. And we sent those pictures on a disk to Osmose Productions [the band's old label] and but some-fucking-how all those fucking pictures came over to Osmose Productions and suddenly the whole booklet was full of them and after that, you know, the internet was coming up and we were sitting duck. [Laughs] In Immortal, we have self-irony; we understand, we can have a laugh about it too, but we are a serious band, we take it serious. I mean we still have the same image.
I still use that axe on the new album, you know. People have a laugh about that axe because it was on the "Sons Of Northern Darkness" cover, but for me that's the ultimate axe. I love that axe and if it for some people looks like a butterfly I can understand that but hey, so what? Maybe it is a butterfly. Maybe that's the meaning. Like what's more evil than a butterfly, black butterfly, or a fucking bat? They all come from the freaky kind of nature. [Laughs] Whatever. I mean we're gonna have the last laugh anyway. The people who do not take us serious... I think it's our fans doing this.
What do you mean?
Abbath: All this manipulating of Immortal pictures on the net and all this video stuff like "The Call Of The Wintermoon" video we did, the first video. That was just a total mistake. It was out of our hands. There was this TV company who just wanted to do this thing with us and we said "OK". And it was out of our hands suddenly. What can you do? It came out, and now it's on YouTube for everybody to see, and I thought, That's shit. That's fucked. But then I saw they had manipulated it; they had made like a Benny Hill version of it with the Benny Hill music and the fast-forward filming. And then I thought, Fucking hell, that's funny. That's really funny. Now I can finally laugh about it, too. [Laughs]
Norwegian Black Metal legends Immortal are currently on a four-date North American tour, playing Brooklyn, tonight. Since we're excited about this tour, we have been posting a lengthy interview with frontman Abbath and the band's lyricist and former guitarist Demonaz (read part one here and part two here). For this installment, the duo discuss their relationship, which they've both called almost psychic and which as been the band's foundation since the beginning.
You've often spoken in interviews about the connection you guys have, you just described it as telepathic. When did you first kind of start feeling that connection with him?
Demonaz: When we started this band and when we started to work together. I think that when we work together I know his shit and he knows my shit, in a way, 'cause we never disagree. When we did this album, I think we never disagreed on anything... I really don't understand it myself, 'cause I work with a lot of other people, too, but with Abbath and me, it becomes Immortal; it becomes this kind of thing, which is very crucial to us.
Abbath: Maybe that's a problem: We agree too much. [Laughs] But we have Horgh, he doesn't always agree with us and that helps.
Well how are you different form one another?
Demonaz: Well, I'm more like ummm... thinking through things. Abbath is more impulsive, and he is a live character. As persons, we are different but we agree on everything. I understand his skills, and he understands my skills, you know, and together we have the skills. It becomes a two-headed monster.
Since you're talking about the close bind you guys had, what was it that actually led immortal to disband after "Sons Of Northern Darkness"?
Abbath: The band's spirit was not there. Me and Horgh, we were out, we did the studio, we did the music, the touring, everything, and Demonaz only did all the lyrics. He wasn't that much involved, just the lyrics, and we didn't have a permanent bass player. [Touring bassist] Saroth, he was good onstage and all that, but we didn't feel like a band at the time you know. So the band's spirit was not there, so we just took a break and now and also because we were kind of fed up, especially me. We could have continued and made more money, but that's not the first issue in this band. Immortal is about the brotherhood; Immortal is a sacred thing, you know, it's not only for the money.
Demonaz: I think that there wasn't an issue between me and Abbath or Horgh or anybody else; it was more like everything around us wasn't right at the time. We didn't have proper management, and the industry was more interested in us for the money side than the musical side. We felt like it was maybe time to say, "Well let's put the band on ice for some time and do something else 'cause we've been doing this for a very long time and we had several issues which happened to us."
What brought you two together as friends again, what rekindled that?
Demonaz: Two weeks after we put the band on ice, we didn't stop seeing each other. Me and Abbath hooked up on doing a project together, 'cause even if the band stopped, we didn't stop writing music or writing things. Abbath came with his riffs and I came up with this idea of a band name: Instead of making a new band name and trying to make a new band, it will be different. We just want to make I, like a monument. He came with his riffs and arrangements, and I came with some ideas and he also worked a little with [guitarist] Ice Dale for the preproduction. Even before the I album came out me and Abbath started to talk about doing immortal again, 'cause during this process we saw that well, I told Abbath, "We have to do Immortal in 2007 and we have to go for a new album." And he said it to me or I said it to him. We just hooked up on that. It got us back together.
What is it that you learned about Immortal when looking back at it objectively?
Demonaz: I learned that the band was much bigger for everyone than it was when we were in it. I also realized how much the fans really understand what we do, the die-hard fans, they really understand Immortal much more than I ever was hoping for.
Abbath, what did you learn most from the I project?
Abbath: Maybe that now we can do anything. I found out that my way of writing music is kind of paramount for what this is all about.
Norwegian Black Metal legends Immortal are currently on a four-date North American tour supporting the excellent All Shall Fall. It is the first release to feature new bassist Apollyon (pictured below), who also plays in the excellent blackened thrash band Aura Noir. For this installment of our lengthy interview with Immortal, Abbath talks about why he wanted Apollyon to join the band. Click 1, 2, and 3 to read the previous parts of the interview.
Why did you want to work with Apollyon when you re-formed Immortal?
Abbath: Horgh and Demonaz knew who he was and all that, but they had never met him that much. They didn't know the guy that much, but they knew which bands he's from. He's also a huge fan of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto from Darkthrone. He comes from the true, old-school Oslo.
He also got married, believe it or not, to this woman from, like, eight kilometers from where I live. I live in the countryside 30 kilometers south of Bergen, by the sea, and he called me now and then like, "Hey, I'm in town. Want to hang out?" Because this guy, he pretty much likes exactly the same music as me, and he is so fucking relaxed. I mean he doesn't stress about anything, he's totally dedicated, but besides from being Apollyon, he creates balance in the band.
I called him one day. He was like the first guy I thought about. Because this other guy who played with us in 2003, this Swedish guy [Saroth], he didn't even call us at all. We tried to stay in touch with him, but we never heard anything from him. Only when the news was out that we were going to reunite, then we heard from him. So fuck him. He was a good guy, but when it comes to Immortal, fuck off. You know what I mean?
When we went to a place, anywhere it was, he never hang out with us. He showed up to do the job, he did a great job onstage, but it was like only me and Horgh, and it had only been me and Horgh for quite some time. I really missed Demonaz, and we didn't have a bass player who fit in with us. Because we know some bass players, like Ares from Aeternus who did the bass on the 1998 tour, on the "Blizzard Beasts" tour, when I took over the guitar. He was a great guy, not a real bass player or anything, but he was a really cool guy to hang out with. He was dedicated and he did a great live performance. He could have stayed with us but he was.
And then we got Iscariah, who was totally dedicated, but he was kind of like Erik, our old drummer; he didn't improve. But all of them, great guys. But I mean Saroth, the Swedish guy, he was more like a guy we met through [producer] Peter Tägtgren, who played in this band Pain with him. Actually he helped us out. He was never part of the band, it would have been wrong to re-join with him, especially when 't keep in touch with us all these years.
Anyway, Apollyon, when I asked him if he wanted to join, I didn't take for granted that he would say yes, because his baby is Aura Noir. But he was, yeah. He also wanted the bigger gig and he got the offer from the right band. He would stay with us forever if he wants, he's our fucking brother; he's more than Apollyon.
You said that you and he had the same taste in music. What bands would you say you guys are both mutual fans of?
We share the same love for early, old KISS, old Heavy Metal. Maybe I'm more of a Motörhead guy than him, but early Manowar stuff and especially Venom. We share the same special tastes for Venom. You can se Apollyon on stage with me, with Immortal, he is like, it's like standing next to Cronos, you know? It's like "Raaahh!" I'm playing guitar now. I cant pose as much as I did before when I played bass, so it's great to have that natural demon next to me on stage.
* Upon checking with Immortal's label, the DVD mentioned above has no slated release date.
Author: Kory Grow (© 2010 "Revolver" magazine)
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