How would you describe how your co-headline tour with Triptykon has been doing so far?
I think the tour is a great one. As far as crowds go, it’s been up and down, really. I guess that promotion of the tour could have been a little better, I just also saw that when this tour was being planned, it was a Triptykon tour. 1349 entered as a co-headliner at a later stage, so local promoters promoted it as a Triptykon with “guests” kind of tour. I feel that 1349‘s reputation hasn’t really been taken advantage of to it’s full extent. We’re trying to rectify that situation, now that we are on the tour. But, we can’t turn back time and I guess 1349 fans that haven’t got to know that we’re around or don’t understand that this a co-headliner tour.
Still, the crowds have been good in very many places and I really love to tour with Triptykon. There’s a bond between 1349 and Triptykon that is perhaps going a little beyond musical understanding, musical bonding; there’s spiritual bonding, as well. I think that two bands together in one tour is a fantastic happening. I’m not sure whether people realize what an event it is to have two such high-profile bands that basically represent two extremes in the dark metal scene. You know, Triptykon being very groovy, at times very doomy, and still also very sinister and black; and 1349, on the other hand, being very, very intense, fast, intricate, and violent. But, you know, the darkness really binds us together, and also the fact that I think I can hear some heritage that goes back to the 80’s and to Celtic Frost in 1349‘s music and Triptykon, are today, the band that really brings that heritage harder. I mean, Triptykon sounds like Celtic Frost did in their heydays now, almost better even.
We love to tour with them, I can’t emphasize that enough too; that’s so weird about that, it kind of fits on the bill, better than I realized in the beginning, actually. I like their music, but I feel that they add something to the bill that wouldn’t have been there without them. So, they’re great to jam with us, as well.
Describe the success received from Demonoir since it’s release this past April ?
Good, I think. I mean, I haven’t seen any figures for that album as far as sales go. It seems like our record company [Prosthetic Records] is satisfied and that’s a promising sign. Reviews have been fantastic; real, real good and they are really happy with the album, very, very (inaudible) about it and songs we play from it live also works really well. So, we cannot ask for that much more, can we?
The most important thing is that we, ourselves are satisfied with the album, that it became what we wanted it to be. I feel it’s, it’s the album that 1349 has been trying to make all these years and now we’ve finally got to release that musical project. We have been taking steps up the ladder in order to make it happen. We have gone through the motions, we have brought the intensity, and the fastness there, and brutality, and also this deeper darkness, and we managed to bring it all into one album and make it sound meaningful, like everything came true to a very profound extent, like the intensity is coming through even stronger than our earlier albums, and there’s a definitely more menacing darkness on this album than on any of the other earlier recordings. And, those two factors combined, is simply ideal for 1349 because that’s what it’s about.
Are there any plans for a new 1349 album to come out maybe next year?
We will get to work with that, certainly. But first we have to tour with this album, I mean we released two albums without really getting to tour that much with Revelations [of the Black Flame], so basically we’re touring with both of these albums now. We are going to keep up the touring cycle for a while before we sit down to write and rehearse new material, but it’s going to happen. We have certain plans as for what we want the next album to have, but we are also very open, like if we feel that somehow it would be better to go in another direction, then we will let the music lead us there.
How do you believe 1349 is perceived through the eyes of your fans?
I think that we are almost as many different perceptions as there are people, it counters the band, it’ll necessarily have to be that. I think that perhaps there are some different main types of opinion. Perhaps you could say that there are three categories of people or three categories of perceptions; there are those people that perceive 1349 as a very fast, brutal, black metal band that put us in the same league as other bands that mainly play very fast music, and perhaps they see 1349 as a little one dimensional; certain people like it to be that way. It’s very far from my opinion of the band, but I do understand that there are certain people that enjoy 1349 basically only for the fast-pace of what our music is, and those people definitely would get much out of Revelations of the Black Flame, for instance.
Then, I think there are people that simply see 1349 as an old-school, no-kidding-around kind of black metal band and see us more in line with bands like Darkthrone or early 90’s black metal bands from Norway, and more than just focusing on the fast-pace, they perhaps perceive the grimness of the music, the fact that it’s very rough, edgy, brutal, and violent, very dark.
I think there are some people that have gotten more, of what I would say, the full picture, and that understand the importance of the darkness and the ambience of the band and that see that 1349 really has a very creative source, and that it’s insane brutality and high pace that we often bring into our songs. It’s more like something that just comes from the band’s spirit or character. It felt natural for us to play very violent music and never hold anything back, that is how I felt in the beginning and it still very much feels that way. But as the band spirit has gotten to develop, we have also managed to bring much more into it, and we have made 1349 a much more faceted musical beast. And if that development wouldn’t have happened, the band wouldn’t have existed today because we are not a band that could be satisfied, you know, simply following a very predictable life.
Personally, I think that Revelations of the Black Flame is a very, very important album for 1349, I find much of the band’s soul in that album, and the atmosphere that we have managed to capture is pretty much done (inaudible) and I feel at the studio, where we go to record our albums, is placed far out in the woods, a pretty desolate place, which has a very, very particular and in-lack-of-a-better-word, I should say, ghostly feeling to it. We draw so much inspiration from that, it brings us to the right mind-set, or at least offers the kind of surroundings and scenery that easily brings that mind-set and hence the album is close to our hearts because it’s almost like it’s the essence of that feel which is captured on Revelations of the Black Flame.
It’s a journey, I can very well understand that many people find it to be boring or uninteresting, that it failed to catch certain people, I mean, I could expect like 13, 14, or 15-year-olds are like into Dark Funeral, Marduk, and 1349, and for them to like the album, what got them there, is basically just the intensity and the wild pace and all that. They’re enjoying that and understand shit, you know, when an album like that and that kind of music hits them.
Those that are more receptive to the more ambient and darker side of the band will perhaps get the album. Though, many people are into it and I hear from people that find the album to be extremely underrated and it’s their favorite album, I’m always happy when I hear that, because somehow I realize that they have understood something that many people have missed, and that we, ourselves care a lot about.
But still, it was very much of an experiment, we always knew that it would meet harsh criticism from a lot of people and it’s true that we don’t really expect everybody to like it, but then, it makes a little more sense when I hear Demonoir because of the blend of the deeper, scarier darkness that you find on Revelations [of the Black Flame] and the insane, insane brutality that you’d find on Hellfire and the earlier albums. That merging of the two worlds is something that we’re going to keep focus on and yeah, that third category understands and appreciates the fact that there’s something more to 1349 than just the race-like speeds and violence and brutality, but there are also people that do like that.
How do you let yourself connect through the music to create albums such as Demonoir, Revelations, and Hellfire?
With 1349, that’s pretty simple, actually because this band has a very, very strong band spirit. There’s something that will be present when we are gathered, for instance, in rehearsal space or in the studio. That is what when we’re there simply as single individuals, that is something that is more than just the sum of our qualities and properties, but there is something extra that brings us to get in touch with the source or something deep, scary, and very, very energetic. So, like, when our guitar player, Archaon, which is our main composer now, and he writes music for 1349, he manages to really to go beyond what we come up with, if he hadn’t been part of this band.
This is so true, I think it’s difficult to understand, but other people around us, having witnessed the process with the band, that knows the different individuals on a more personal level, they see very, very clearly. 1349, itself, is an inspiring creative force for us, so when I do the drums also, I basically let that band-spirit guide me, it gives me this urge to play extremely violent and fast and to do very militant or brutal drum lines.
I saw some clips from Until the Light Takes Us, the black metal documentary where you were breathing fire and you did an artistic show of cutting yourself…
I haven’t seen the movie. I don’t know what’s there, I don’t remember. There was so much that was filmed. It was a long time ago, it was something that I was interested in at the time of the movie was being filmed, I didn’t know exactly what that project would end up in, but I understood from Aaron [Aites] and Audrey [Ewell], from what they seem like, it was a pretty artful project. I also got the feeling it would be a movie that didn’t really have a proper storyline, and it wouldn’t be like a typical documentary, but it would have a more artful approach to it; trying to convey atmospheres and a movie that was building quite much upon the visuality of all the black metal genre and the interesting and fascinating aspects of that.
And at that time, I thought it was interesting myself to find other ways of expression, and since I, myself am very interested in aesthetics and visuals, I found it intriguing, and so hence, I enjoyed working with Audrey [Ewell] and Aaron [Aites] on this project and at the same time, I also worked with an artist, actually a very respected and quite known artist in Norway called, Bjarne Melgaard, he took part of a couple of performance exhibitions that were rather extreme and one of them that was the one in Milan [Italy] which didn’t get banned, the other got banned; it was being filmed and took elements from that and all that.
Then, time was passing and I got on with my other project and eventually I started to lose a little interest in everything that I felt was (inaudible) projects that, you know, didn’t have to do with my band or my development as a musician. And also, all of these documentaries were starting to come out, I was getting telephone calls from people who were getting ready to make another film documentary. Students at school that were, you know, writing to have their degrees, or whatever, writing about the history of black metal and whatnot. And I just got fed up with it and thought, “This is too much now, I’m not going to take part in anymore documentaries or any such things, we’ve already been in a couple television programs about it, but enough is enough.” It’s like this industry that’s starting to get bigger and the main thing, we were like, “We’re losing focus here.” So, that’s enough of it, and quite a long time after death again, I heard about it.
This project was going to be released, and then I saw the title– so what? It could probably be interesting, but I feel a little finished with it. It fails to make me interested. Then it was also the thing that I understood in it, it ended up as a documentary anyway, I thought that perhaps it would be that. It’s possible that it’s good, it’s possible that I’m going to see it one day, but so far that has not happened, and it’s not something I feel the urge to do either. Apart of many things, perhaps it’s better to just not see it, so I would not be bothered by something I just like. (laughs)
Have you done anything else since filming that with the fire breathing and the artistic self-mutilation, or was that just it?
Umm… Well, the fire breathing is something that usually takes place when 1349 plays shows in Europe, here in America, you fan forget about that, of course. After that Great White incident many years ago, people are freaking out if you even mention the “F” word– that’s the fire; one thing that has denied all use of pyrotechnics on stage, except perhaps arenas, and those sort of places. But if you mention fire breathing to them, they are like, “What the fuck? You plan to do that here, you will never perform here again if we as much see a torch.” So, unfortunately, that cannot happen.
Have you done any other types of art forms besides those that were mentioned earlier?
No, I haven’t. It was a short period when I found that to be interesting, and long before that I liked to do drawings and to create symbols and decorations and you know, work with stylistical elements that I find there to be time left doing that. I let my universe revolve around drumming and the bands and the music that I like, I can’t find time for nothing else.
You obviously have so much passion towards black metal and music, how did your passion begin? And when did it?
I started to listen to that sort of music when I was 13-14, I guess, I had already been into hard music for a while. But I think I heard my first extreme metal albums when I was that age. I got my turntable and I think the first album I ever got was the first Bathory album, which to me was enormous, that was also the first time that I actually realized that music could have something dark to it.
It was puzzling me a little because I had gotten the album, I felt very drawn to you know the color and the pentagram on the back, kind of a weird feeling of it. I made a poster of it– I made use of a copy machine, just made a little poster, put it up on the wall, before I actually put on the album, I turned off the lights in my little cellar room, and listened to it. It felt so impressive, but I can’t really you know find the right terms for it, I don’t have the right vocabulary, and for a while, I was just generally interested in hard, fast extreme music.
Back then, it wasn’t really those genres between thrash metal and black metal and death metal. So, it was basically all speed metal or thrash metal; that is what it was called. But then I got to Euronymus’s [Øystein Aarseth] shop in Oslo, for the first time, Helvete, I must’ve been 18, I guess, and something happened right there. And then with this room was dimly lit, painted in black, there were wax figures of people with capes, they were having bullet belts, there was like blood that was running from the eyes, and so on. It was part of something grotesque, they were using inverted crosses on the wall, things that were obviously stolen from churches and so on. And also those few people that seemed to be rather obscure figures and somehow, it just felt right.
It was like I had wanted to see and feel all of that and the music that was being played in the shop and everything, it just connected very deeply within. And already as I walked out of the shop having bought a couple demo tapes and an album, perhaps, I felt that there was something for me here, and that would probably be there for the rest of my life. And I gradually started to get into it and follow that line of interest. There was like a door that had been opened to me and I went in and closed it, lost it, and threw away the key! (laughs)
How would you say 1349 has become stronger as a band over the years of being together?
Well, it has become stronger because we, that are members of 1349, have dedicated ourselves to the band to that extent and we, ourselves have grown with the band, we have gotten better at composing music, we have increased our technical musical skills and abilities and we have actively tried to learn from the process of recording albums and basically tried to bring resources into the band.
That strict focus on always improving and getting better, bringing resources into the direction of the band has helped us a lot, and also the fact that we are pushing the level of ambition all the time. We feel when we have reached something that we have tried to achieve and put up new goals for ourselves that, you know, are a little more involving; never to rest on one’s laurels and never be satisfied, having fans or formulas, whatever works. That’s the way to success, at least in musical terms, if not otherwise.