Immortal: The Brothers Grim
GW Demonaz, when did you know you wanted to become a guitarist?
DEMONAZ It was when I started listening to Nazareth’s Hair of the Dog that I was first introduced to rock and roll. I wanted to play guitar so bad that I made my first guitar. I would stand in my living room and play through our tape player. I lived in a place miles outside of Bergen where nobody liked metal. So I was very alone until my family finally moved to Bergen and I got to know more people who were into metal.
GW How did you two meet?
DEMONAZ I met up with these guys at a Slayer concert in Oslo, and I got to know some of Abbath’s buddies through them.
ABBATH This was in ’89. My friends were older than me, and they went to the Slayer concert, during the South of Heaven tour. I couldn’t come because I was too young and they were selling alcohol there. My friends met Demonaz at the Slayer concert. When they came back, they told me about Demonaz, and eventually he came up to our place. I still remember the first thing Demonaz said: “Oh yeah, so there are thrashers around here as well!” I’ll never forget that. [both laugh]
GW How did you end up forming Immortal?
DEMONAZ I used to watch Abbath play in his first band, Old Funeral. We eventually started messing around with some songs. It was an easy choice for me to work with Abbath because we share a connection. It was very natural. It had to end up that way, sooner or later.
ABBATH Back in ’88, I was playing bass in Old Funeral, but it wasn’t going in the direction I wanted. I wanted to get more serious. This was my life, so I needed to get out of that unit and find something else. When I hooked up with Demonaz, we both knew right away. That kind of connection is really hard to find. I mean, look at our luck with drummers. It took how many years before we found a drummer that fit, so long that I had to do drums for two of our albums. [laughs]
GW You were in Old Funeral with Varg Vikernes [a.k.a. Count Grishnackh, who would go on to form Burzum and eventually murder his one-time friend, Mayhem guitarist Euronymous]. Some have said he wasn’t serious about the music. Is that true.
DEMONAZ Varg was only with them for the last half year…
ABBATH It was actually me who got Varg into Old Funeral. Well, about Varg… [pauses] Fuck Varg!
GW Immortal’s image and lyrical content has always been connected to nature and winter. Where did this inspiration come from?
DEMONAZ When me and Abbath started, we were quite inspired by death metal bands, like Morbid Angel and Possessed. Our lyrics for the first demo was more oriented like that. Then when we adopted the imagery and makeup, our views became different. We started to look more towards Bathory and Celtic Frost for inspiration and began to develop our own style. We drew inspiration from our surroundings: the winter themes and nature.
GW That, of course, led you to create the realm of Blashyrkh in your lyrics. Why did you decide to do that?
DEMONAZ I always read lyrics. The first thing I would do when I bought a CD would be to read the lyrics while I listened to the CD. I cannot get into music, really, if I don’t have the whole package. That is how I’ve always judged music. So for me, Immortal needed to create our own thing, our own world.
At the time I walked a lot. I still do. And when I was out walking, I would get all these lyrical ideas that I would set to Abbath’s riffs. I didn’t want to write about the same things that Venom, Manowar or Slayer wrote about; I wanted to have our own thing. At the time, we had this attitude, which was, Fuck the rest! Fuck everybody else. This is our fucking band and we’re doing it our way.
GW You guys also took the genre’s corpse paint and theatrics to a whole new level, which at the time caused you to become the butt of a few jokes.
ABBATH What we were into at the time was not “in.” We wanted spectacle. We wanted that Venom/Celtic Frost–type of thing. Back then, we would sit at my place, drink some whisky, put on makeup, watch Venom videos and then go walking in the woods. People laughed at us. They were like, “What the hell are these guys doing?”
But if you don’t care about what other people are doing and believe in yourself, it’s only a matter of time before people believe in you. I won’t mention names, but some really big, high-profiled black metal names that are still around today used to laugh at us and call us silly. And today they are ridiculous.
Me and Demonaz are true. You can’t find truer people than us. But what’s true? We’re true…to rock and roll. It’s not about being evil and nasty to the rest of your fellows; it’s about showing those who think that rock and roll is a bad thing that, yeah, it is a bad thing: It’s baaad, in an all right way.” It’s good. It’s freedom. Metal? Sure. But it’s rock and roll! If you don’t have the rock and roll attitude and vibe, you’ve got nothing.
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