Darkthrone: The Guitar World Interview
You mention in the liner notes of Circle the Wagons that Metalucifer's Gezol said Darkthrone’s early releases were “too black…little metal.” Did you feel like this back in the day?
About the Darkthrone's releases? No. This was another fault of the Nineties: the black suddenly got overexposed and the organic heavy metal of it just got lost. How many Mercyful Fate-style bands existed in, say, 1997? Come on, answer me! The answer is none! It was the darkest of times for metal. All metal styles of the Eighties died in the Nineties but were re-animated in the new millenium! All the old styles with old sounds are back. You have the traditional doom of Age of Taurus, thrash metal of Deathhammer, death metal of Obliteration, heavy metal of Blackolicus, speed metal of Speed Trap, old style grindcore of Lobotomized…
The only thing missing is a band playing the style of the first Crimson Glory, first two Queensrÿche and second and third Fates Warning. Satin Black from Germany are trying, but they’re still are a bit too thrashy and their drum production is too clinical sounding. But they are worth a listen—they are fighting their own fight!
Four of the tracks were written solely by you, while “Stylized Corpse” was written with Nocturno Culto. Can you talk about your writing process?
Yeah, five of the tracks are by me—in a 1979–1985 style—and four are by Ted, in a 1970–1987 style.
Since the summer of 1991, after we recorded A Blaze in the Northern Sky, I said to Ted, “You write your songs and I’ll write mine, they will all be accepted and recorded and released.” We still work that way. We still record in batches, four sessions each album and with no dogmas. There are exceptions, of course.
How do we make songs? I cannot answer for Ted—I have no idea. I get music falling into my head and I hum it until I can get to an MP3 player to hum it in to. Then I make the guitar parts for it. I will mull it over in my head for two to three months, making some lyrics as well. Finally, I take the three-and-one-half hour bus ride up north to set the studio up in our friend’s house in the wilderness. I’ll teach Ted the riffs and structure and immediately start recording.
I already know half of what the drums should be like in my head. Some bass lines too. The rest I make up on impact. This ensures nerve and freshness for my personal listening enjoyment. Perfection is nothing to strive for. Perfection was already achieved on the second Watchtower album [Control and Resistance, 1989], first Dream Theater album [When Day and Dream Unite, 1989], Gaucho and Aja by Steely Dan, Moving Pictures by Rush, etc. It is not for everyone to do, and certainly not for us.
So does Nocturno track all the guitar parts on the record?
On the record, almost always yes. I do some guitar and bass on my songs, as well as the vocals, obviously. We have to be multi-instrumentalists in this band. It helps our understanding of songwriting. Ted plays drums in some band up in the north as well. He secretly wants to be a drummer. I enjoy playing bass and singing more than anything. Drums are merely a fucking tool to me. I stopped playing with ambition in ’93. Since then I have un-learned drumming.
What was the main guitar and amp you used when writing these songs?
At gunpoint, I couldn't tell you. Ted uses some kind of custom-made old-school crafty effect pedal, though. It has almost no knobs on it.
The Terrorizer-sponsored Live Evil Festival is made up of bands chosen entirely by you, based on your Band of the Week blog on your MySpace page. How did this festival come about?
I was doing my blog, each sixth day posting a new band that I'd like to share with the over 62,000 friends on our MySpace and beyond. Then came a serious inquiry from Mark Lewis [writer from the U.K.’s Terrorizer Magazine] about setting up a festival in England. My terms were: 1) I don't have to be at the festival and 2) several of the bands have to be from “other” parts of the world, especially Brazil. We also tried to get Pentagram from Chile. They wrote me and said they wanted to be a part of the festival now too.
I don't get any money out of this, not for posting the bands nor for the festival. To me, music is idealistic and uncorrupt.
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