Dimmu Borgir - Interview
On one hand they are an arrogant, overconfident bunch of guys that think they are the best thing that happened to black metal. On the other hand they create excellent music, which is a hundred times better than most artists of this genre. But calling them commercial is a little too much. Every band, I’ll repeat that, EVERY band wants to sell thousands of records. No one can tell me that he doesn’t care if they sell 1 or 100.000 albums. Bullshit!!! Once they get to this point their whole philosophy on underground and commercialism will change in the blink of an eye. Maybe Dimmu Borgir had more luck than their peers but don’t judge their music by sales figures. A couple days after release of “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” I had a chance to talk to Nicholas (drums) about this and few other things. Here’s what he had to say…
How does it feel to be a member of one of the most popular black metal band and on the other hand the most hated one?
Well, I’m used to it. I was in Cradle Of Filth and that basically was the same deal there. Everybody either loved or hated Cradle Of Filth. I guess the same is in Dimmu Borgir. The only difference for me is I enjoy playing in Dimmu Borgir a lot more than I ever did in Cradle of Filth.
What happened in Cradle that you changed your mind and moved to Dimmu?
I just basically didn’t agree with the decisions which have been made, wasn’t happy with the musical direction. Basically, I didn’t get on with Dani so I decided to quit.
A lot of people are still comparing Dimmu Borgir to Cradle Of Filth as bands playing this same type of music, melodic black metal. It doesn’t seem than like a huge change for you.
It is a big change for me because... for me personally, I played in Cradle and in Dimmu, when people made comparisons. But I think it’s just because Dimmu is like this the big selling, big commercial whatever band people call you, you know? So I guess people make that kind of comparison, but I played in both bands and the music is totally different.
Probably you get this question a lot, but what does “Dimmu Borgir” mean?
Essentially it’s a place in Finland. A big historical volcanic eruption, that’s millions of years old. The myth behind it is, that it's supposedly a gateway to hell.
Don’t you think it’s kind of strange that so many black metal bands/fans hate you for so called commercialism, but based on sale’s figures you have one of the biggest fan base?
Yeah, well there’s always going to be people that are jealous. You know, it’s a part of human nature, you know, envy. We just do what we do and if people don’t like it then just don’t listen to it.
Can you tell us how good the last album sales were?
I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you.
All right then, let’s fuck what everyone says and let the music speak.
Exactly, all those people waste so much fucking time and energy talking shit about Dimmu Borgir and it’s like, you know, they have like a pathetic existence. The only thing they do is talk shit about us. Try do something positive in life or something more creative than talk shit about somebody you don’t even know.
Can you explain all the line-up changes that happened since “Spiritual Black Dimension”? There were more changes than behind the drums; you also got a new guitarist.
Yeah, we had to fire Astennu for a lot of reasons. It just wasn’t working out with him and he wanted to do his own thing. He wasn’t really interested in Dimmu Borgir any more, so we said fuck, it’s not working out, we get somebody else. Then we got Galder from Old Man’s Child, he’s been a long time friend of Shagrath and Silenoz cause they grew up in this same town together. From small kids, they went to school together and stuff and it seemed like a natural choice. As far as drumming goes I actually joined the band for the “Spiritual Black Dimensions” tour in March 1999.
So, it’s not only for an album or a tour, you are a permanent member of the band now?
Yes, that’s right.
You also changed the studio from the Abyss to Fredman. Wasn’t Peter’s studio good enough any more?
No! We just felt that it was time for Dimmu to have a new kind of sound. You know, as far as the album goes we wanted to have more heavier, more punchy sound and we felt it was time for a change. We didn’t want to go for the Abyss sound again. We wanted to do something different. We are the first Norwegian black metal band to go use Fredmen. I think that was a good choice.
I have to admit that I’m very impressed with your new album. It’s more extreme and aggressive. Is this the direction the band wants to go or do you have different plans for the future?
No, we have to become more aggressive. It’s how Dimmu Borgir sound is evolving every day. The new album will have a few surprises but it will also be more extreme.
You added a violins section and hired a professional conductor. How did you get together in the studio?
Everything worked real well in the studio. At the end we used a fourteen-piece orchestra, the Gothenburg Symphonic Orchestra or something [laughs], and it worked out really well. They took all the Mustis keyboard parts and just played it, as it would be in a classical piece.
So you actually wrote all the notes?
Yes, the conductor just took what we already had and translated it into fourteen-piece orchestra.
Why did you decide to cover "Burn In Hell" from Twisted Sister on this album?
Basically because we all grow up in the 80’s listening to heavy metal and Twisted Sister is a band that we all like from being a kid. It seemed like a good thing to do. Everybody else desires to make something like Judas Priest and we wanted to be different.
What other bands influenced Dimmu’s music? What are you guys listen to?
Oh, we listen to all kind of bands. We listen to The Cardigans, Shagrath likes Chris Isaak, Silenoz likes W.A.S.P. We listen to Pink Floyd, Rush, 80’s heavy metal, thrash metal, black metal, death. We don’t just listen to a metal only, we listen to a lot of different stuff. We listen to a lot of soundtrack music. Music from movies like Gladiator, the Omen, Braveheart.
I know you love your latest release, but is there anything you would like to go back and change?
Maybe I would make the drums just a little bit more quieter and maybe more guitars.
Could you refer to the album's lyrical concept? What are the lyrics talking about?
Well, just basically Silenoz, Shagrath and Vortex wrote all the lyrics and get influenced from a number of things. Some of the concepts on the album is basically how the human race is heading for it’s own destruction and the world is a very brutal place to be and it’s gonna kill us all eventually.
How important do you consider your lyrics to be in you compositions?
The lyrics are very important, they’re, like, probably 30-40% of the songs.
So, when you write a new track is it text and then music or is it the other way around?
It all depends really, Silenoz and Shagrath sometimes have lyrical ideas and they decide to which song the lyrics will fit to. It works two ways, sometimes we write the music first sometimes the lyrics. It changes from week to week when we write in the rehearsal studio.
Your album covers are getting better with every release… What does the cover of “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” represent? Does it have any hidden meaning?
Not really. We just thought it would be a cool album cover.
On “Spiritual…” she was “dressed”, on “Puritanical…” she’s naked, what’s on next one?
It’s a surprise. [laughs]
In your opinion, why does the U.S. have an almost non-existent black metal scene?
I don’t really know. I know the Scandinavian and European bands are very popular in the US but I think it has a lot to do with history. US has only 300 years or so of history and a lot of the black metal inspiration and influence comes from the Viking age and the whole Viking mythology and that kind of concept, which USA doesn’t really have. The US is more death metal country.
Do you remember when was the first time that you sat behind the drum kit and why did you choose drums instead of, for example, a guitar?
Yeah, I was thirteen. For some reason I always wanted to be a drummer. When I was a kid I played with pots and pans and it just seemed like a natural thing for me.
Do you regret anything you’ve done in the past, something you want to forget about?
A number of things, most of them personal. [laughs] As far as my carrier goes all of the things I’ve done in the past has got me where I am today, so I don’t have any regrets as far as my carrier goes.
Now, let’s talk about the future. Do you have any plans for shooting a video from your latest album?
Yes, hopefully maybe sometime after the US tour we’re gonna shoot a video for “Puritania”. It’s still in the embryonic form at the moment, we don’t know. We have lots of ideas and we have to pick one, so we all have to get together and have like a big meeting and decide which one will be most effective idea to shoot the video. I don’t know when we going to shoot it yet because at the moment we have rehearsal before the tour and the rehearsal for the tour is the most important thing right now. We can’t really see too far into the future.
It seems like you guys gonna have a pretty busy schedule this year.
Oh yeah, in April – May, we come to USA, then we go back to Europe, after that we go to Japan, Australia and South America. We play the Wacken Festival in Germany and then we come back to the USA in the fall for another US tour.
What does the pentagram and upside-down cross mean to you? Are they just part of an image or something important in your life?
For me it represents going against conformity, everyday bullshit. You know, you have to get up, you have to get to work, you have to get money, you have to pay bills. For me it’s about living life by my own rules and not conforming to the mainstream.
And what about makeup? Don’t you think right now too many bands are using it and this form of an image is loosing its original meaning?
I don’t really know. A lot of bands from the old days like from 92-93 they don’t really use the makeup anymore. I mean it’s a personal choice. We don’t use so much makeup anymore, we don’t do what we call a 93 style. It's a very subtle now for Dimmu Borgir. It’s just a little around the eyes and we white the face to make you stand out more on the stage or during photos. It makes the image more defined.
Something you want to add… Did I forget anything?
Not really, just a thanks to everybody who supports Dimmu Borgir and hopefully everyone will come and check out the shows across the USA and thanks for all the support.
Forces Of The Northern Night
The Invaluable Darkness
In Sorte Diaboli
Death Cult Armageddon
Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia
Alive In Torment
Spiritual Black Dimensions
Godless Savage Garden
Enthrone Darkness Triumphant
For All Tid
Inn I Evighetens Mørke
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