Even though 1349 is still a rather new name in the Black Metal scene people already keep talking about these Norwegians as "the next big thing" hailing from the land of DARKTHONE and MAYHEM. The band originally started out in 1994 as HOFDINGI MYRKRA with Ravn (on drums and vocals) and Seidemann (on bass and guitar). During a long break Ravn played in a band called ALVHEIM, who split up again in 1998. Ravn then joined forces with the two ALVHEIM guitarists Tjalve and Balfori and formed 1349; Balfori left the band due to musical differences after 1349’s first demo (which was recorded in January ’99, but never released). The next summer 1349 entered the studio to record a new demo entitled "Chaos Preferred" with Tjalve handling all the guitars. This demo was faster, darker and rawer than the older material and way closer to Ravn’s vision of true, synth-free old school Black Metal. After its release 1349 started to look for another guitarist, and in September ’99 they finally found Archaon whose excellent technique and blistering speed took 1349’s music to a new level of extremity. 1349 continued to rehearse and write new songs while sending the demo to labels, and were recording new material when they landed a deal with Holycaust Records, who released the "Chaos Preferred" material on a mini CD. The new material was faster, heavier and more complex, that’s why 1349 asked Frost of SATYRICON to help them out as a session drummer in the studio. And that’s exactly where this interview kicks off…
Frost, how did you personally end up in 1349?
"I was asked to do a session job for this band in spring 2000, as 1349 wanted to capture some material on tape, and felt like increasing the speed a little. We had a short rehearsal and recorded three songs under the most shitty circumstances. It sounded horrible, and I feel it is most unfortunate that this recording is now released on a mini-CD (in a short email conversation between me and Frost he went even further, naming the mini CD "a worthless fucking piece of shit, that is no part of the 1349 history!" – Frank) I joined the band on a full time basis later, after hearing two songs composed for the full-length album "Liberation". The improvement was enormous (relative to the mini-CD material), and I felt that now it connected with the very essence of Black Metal. This was real art, not just a promising attempt by people with honest intentions. I’m first and foremost the drummer of this band, expressing my most violent and intense musical side, but I’ve also contributed with some guitar themes, an intermezzo / intro song, arrangements, and lyrics for one song. To bring the story all the way, I can tell that more than a year has now passed since we recorded the immensely powerful debut album, and these days we have come far creating material for the next full-length hell. The insane violence and freezing coldness of this new material is almost freaking me out. It’s really scary – pure dark ecstacy."
I think a lot of people were surprised to know that you started playing for the relatively unknown 1349. What made you take this decision? I firstly got the impression that you should function more as a session drummer until the band found someone who could be their permanent drummer.
"I was asked to do the drums on a recording for 1349 some time in between the SATYRICON tours two years ago; from what I understood the intention was to get the songs on tape to get a reference. We rehearsed only for half an hour before the recording was done in a hurry the day after, and it need to be said that the recording sounded horrible! Anyway, the three songs plus a cover version of ‘The Usurper’ by CELTIC FROST (on which I did not contribute) was later released on a mini CD by Holycaust Records. To those having heard about this mini CD: forget all about it! That release is not representative of what 1349 later turned into. So you see, the material for this mentioned release did not motivate me to join forces with the band. What did was the material I heard a bit later, that was intended for a full-length album. What a change! The new songs truly blew me away; their enormous intensity and grimness touched my black heart, and I found out that this was a band I wanted to put my soul into. I asked 1349 if they wanted me as a member of the band, which they responded more than positive to. The (at that time) foursome were looking for a permanent drummer, and had tried out several without much luck, and it turned out that our joined forces now made for an extremely dynamic and powerful Black Metal unit. Today I am more than happy with my decision, I feel certain that I fit like a glove in 1349."
Ok, how’s this for a scenario: “Frost, who love the pure essence of playing Metal for all what its worth, discover the joy of finally being in what can be labeled as an underground band again and slightly slides over from the considerably more famous SATYRICON to more or less fully concentrating on 1349…” Is that likely to happen?
Even though this is not a SATYRICON interview I am curious to know, apart from the obvious difference in the size of the bands, what are the main oppositions playing in SATYRICON and 1349?
"To be as short as possible: where SATYRICON is strict discipline, 1349 is pure intensity."
How would you describe the past material from your demos and the new musical direction of it with the debut album and / or future releases?
"Past material (recorded before "Liberation") is no issue. When speaking of recorded music, the chapter starts with our first full-length album. Earlier recordings must be regarded as honorable attempts at best, "Liberation" is audible hellfire."
Your “Liberation” album is a fucking great one indeed and I am sure the band will grow as the time passes by. How do you plan to be able to combine both SATYRICON and 1349 regarding studio work and tours?
"Thank you for your compliments, it surely is an honor. Working with two highly active bands demands a lot from me, and it is necessary to rehearse almost every day. SATYRICON has top priority, of course, but I am still very dedicated to 1349, and rehearse a lot with them. When SATYRICON is on tour or working in the studio, 1349 have to do without me, but I am sure we’ll make both bands work."
What are the main influences that turned 1349 musically into what you are now? Which bands do you respect the most?
"Those bands that defined the Black Metal genre (both the 80s and the 90s wave – i. e. DARKTHRONE, CELTIC FROST, BATHORY, MAYHEM, VENOM, BURZUM etc.) were Ravn’s main musical inspiration (inspiration, not necessarily influence) when creating 1349. For my own part, I would say that these bands are among those I respect the most – alongside with other unique acts as THORNS, MERCYFUL FATE, POSSESSED and FURZE, to give a couple of examples well worth mentioning."
Do you think there is a limit for how long you can perform as a drummer? I mean, the way you speed the music up along with extensive rehearsing as well as other physical activities must be very hard for your body?
"I will take it as far as it goes."
Do you think your involvement with the band has helped it in anyway? Surely, starting a Black Metal band doesn’t really cause a stir any longer and a lot of bands would find it hard to gain any sort of credibility. What do you think sets 1349 apart from the majority of the bands?
"Oh, I tell you out there: just wait and hear. 1349 will for sure make its mark upon the world of Black Metal. Our music is genuine, black, grim, cold, filled with spirit and of the very highest quality. A rare combination indeed in the Black Metal scene of today! Those listeners being receptive to Black Metal with edge will notice our ability to seamlessly combine atmospheric and harmonic (but not “nice”) themes with relentless brutality and old school influenced parts. If my involvement in the band has helped? Perhaps, if so I’m only glad. It’s no big deal anyway."
You’re coming from Norway, a country considered as the main place for Black Metal acts, even if nowadays it seems a bit to corrode with a lot of bands’ new conceptual orientations… what’s your glance upon the actual situation of Black Metal in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe?
"Norway is without a single doubt the country of Black Metal, this must be perfectly clear! Nearly all the significant Black Metal bands are Norwegian (there’s a few exceptions), and tons of hopeless White Metal shit of Norwegian origin being spewed out under the disguise of being Black Metal can not change that fact. Neither can the fact that a lot of the good bands of the old days have changed their music style or disappeared from the scene. The important core of the scene is still stronger than ever, being kept strong and vital by acts like THORNS, DARKTHRONE, GORGOROTH, MAYHEM, SATYRICON, CARPATHIAN FOREST, 1349, AURA NOIR, KHOLD, IMMORTAL, FURZE etc. All of these are brilliant bands with unique identities. Which other scene than the Norwegian could produce bands like these? And I know that strong upcoming acts will soon emerge from the deep and put their mark upon the world as well. I do not waste much energy getting irritated by all the ridiculous "Black Metal" bands, and I think the Scandinavian, and in particular the Norwegian scene will still be healthy and strong when the wave has passed and only the honest and worthy are left. As for the rest of Europe… I know of perhaps a couple of good or promising bands, but is anything really happening down there?"
The general idea of a Norwegian band (when it comes to Black Metal) that foreigners have is that they easily get signed or distributed just because they are Norwegian… Maybe because most of the labels used this as a selling argument in Black Metal circles… Knowing the difficulties you met with your demo releases and the departure from Holycaust Records, tell us a bit more about this idea, considering the own case of 1349
"Regarding 1349, the problems seem to have come to an end. We are currently negotiating with Candlelight Records, and it looks promising (the band has been signed by Candlelight in the meantime! – Frank). Concerning that viewpoint on Norwegian bands: it seems to me that just being Norwegian isn’t really a selling point any longer, which is good. The quality of the music must speak for itself, and shit will not turn into gold only because it comes from a place where a lot of gold is to be found."
Considering your live performances I was only aware of your show at the Inferno Festival… How was it? Did you have a good response from the audience? Any other shows you played? Are there new dates planned (outside of Norway)?
"The Inferno show was highly successful in several ways, but technically it was a disaster. The intro never came on, one of my drumpedals broke, my hi-hat stand fell down while playing, as did one of the cymbal stands, my monitors did hardly work at all and the sound was so loud that a lot of feedback was produced frequently even in the middle of the songs. Apart from that the show was really good – we gave everything we had to compensate for the technical problems and played like wild beasts. There were flames and bombs on stage, an intense feeling of darkness and cold and a tremendous response from the audience. Tours will happen later, but I’m insecure as of when it will be. Perhaps there will be some more one off shows first."
How do you reckon your musical career will develop as the years passes on?
"Every single day is dedicated to improving my talents and abilities, and this should be reflected in how I develop as a musician. Apart from that, I can only say that I hope for success on the parts of SATYRICON and 1349, and I really think both bands will reach far. The main thing (on a personal level) must regardless of this be to get better and contribute to creating Black Metal with a strong impact and integrity. I do not plan anything for my musical career except this."
I’ll leave you now, letting you the privilege of the last words… Thanx a lot for your cooperation and may 1349 keep on walking the path of sorrow in eternity… hell on earth!
"Seeing what direction the music has taken since the recording of "Liberation", I can only express my enthusiasm over the power this band is able to conjure up. We are truly going to forcefully make a big room for ourselves in the Black Metal scene, and we shall carry that flame of the deepest red and shiniest gold all the way to the deepest tracts of hell. Those that dare go with us, what grim splendour will you not behold!"
This feature consists parts of two previously published interviews, courtesy of Bård Faust (SLAYER MAG) and Sonderkrig (BRUTAL ZONE / TRANSIT MAG), so all copyright goes out to them. This version was edited and compiled by Frank. Copyright for the first two live pics: Asgeir Bjorlo