DARKTHRONE have a new album out, called "The Cult Is Alive"… and we finally managed to track down Nocturno Culto for a fresh interview… Hey, introductions are boring as fuck and as there’s nothing more to add anyway just read on and enjoy it goddammit!
Greetings Nocturno, hope you’re doing well… I was actually quite surprised that you agreed so quickly on doing this interview… So, has your opinion on interviews in general changed over the years or do you just select very carefully nowadays which ones you do and which you don’t?
"Since we don’t do concerts, it’s a good idea to do interviews. Just signalizing that we’re still here. This does not mean that I just LOVE to talk. You see, I’m so grumpy about so many things, and usually I try to keep it for myself. I don’t always succeed with that. "
After all the years creating music and releasing albums, what keeps you going? Is it just the routine, doing what you have done the last nearly 20 years; is it the fun to play or is there something like a deeper craving inside which forces you to express the things inside yourself, which keeps you restless?
"For me, the actual playing is just ace. To play guitar is what I live for (besides fishing), so our rehearsals is precious. We have a DEEP interest in music, and Metal is what keeps us going, so the flame inside will not die before the end-day has come for us."
I guess you agree if I assume that DARKTHRONE’s music is on the emotional / feeling side of music not on the brain constructed / composed side, so if you encountered the situation that, let’s say, a cello (organic of course) transported exactly the feeling you wanted to express with a certain part, would you use it? Or would you rather "beat the shit out of your guitar(-equipment)" to get this feeling expressed?
"I would beat my guitar in any situation when it comes to Darkthrone. We are strict about our Metal, and don’t see the need of trying to be "special“. "
Fenriz always stated that there is no development within DARKTHRONE, but I heavily disagree with him. There has always been development from an album to the next. Of course there has always been a particular basis which has not been changed, but that which grew from that basis again and again has always had some development in my opinion, or am I completely wrong here? I mean if you develop as persons by growing older and by the experiences you gain, do you agree that the perception one has of this particular basis changes always a little bit with one’s personal development? Just like looking at the same thing, but always from a different point of view.
"In that case, I also disagree with him in one way. I see our albums as a journey, my life-project, and we have maybe CHANGED rather than developed. Next year, Darkthrone has existed for 20 years, and one can’t expect or hope that we would sound like we did in our early days. But we have kept the initial plan, that is playing Metal, the dark way."
Certain camps in the underground scene accuse you again and again since the release of "Panzerfaust" with every new DARKTHRONE album that you have developed into the wrong direction, sounding less extreme, being not really Black Metal anymore etc. Of course there have not only been highlight releases, but especially "The Cult Is Alive" I find really close to "Under A Funeral Moon", but even now the voices appear again. So do you sometimes wonder what these people hear when listening to a new DARKTHRONE album (assumed they have put the right album into the player)? Do you think people have perceived DARKTHRONE in a wrong way back then (the beginning of the 90s) already when you still showed up with painted faces?
"There will always be people moaning. People like to moan, and especially about things like this. But who the fuck cares? Not us. I’m actually very fed up with this so-called Black Metal "scene". The "scene" mostly contains moaning people. Darkthrone will always make albums that suits us in the band. We play Metal of some kind, black I would say, but we are so damn free and make riffs that pleases US, not them… we have other bands for that…"
What exactly lead to the drastic change of style between "Soulside Journey" and "A Blaze In The Northern Sky"? Were you just bored of the whole underground scene at the time or what was the reason to go for something different? What kind of music / bands were you exactly listening to back then and did it have an effect on this change of direction?
"As a young band, everybody wants to play the best they can, to show off a bit etc. Darkthrone was about Punk and early Death Metal in the beginning, so that was the thing we all connected the band with. And when I say Death Metal, I mean the early Death Metal, not the "good" sounding bermuda-shorts kind of Death, but more like Autopsy, first Death album, Dream Death and so on. We in the band have always had a very strong musical interest of many kinds, and early Black Metal and other kinds of early Metal is what defines Metal for us. We listened to Black Metal all the time when our first album came out, and suddenly we asked the big question: why are we still playing this technical Death Metal? We knew we had to follow our hearts. A lot of bands have benefitted from that transition we did, because in the later years, some bands would claim that they were the inventors of Black, and the pathetic discussion of how early suddenly everybody started with Black… funny really, but a bit sad as well. So the Black Metal "scene" has been pathetic for a long, LONG time. The worst thing I feared would happen to this type of music, has already happen long time ago. Now everybody do all they can to be heard, they prostitute themselves, scream loud in the media, somebody even act like popstars and do all they can to please the pop-kids. They sell lots of records, but to who? Hehe losers. "
When thinking about the SIOUXIE AND THE BANSHEES cover on your EP, do you consider it as important to bother with / listen to stuff apart from Metal to refresh your ears and point view again (both as a musician and as a fan) to Metal from time to time?
"Oh hell yeah, there is a lot of music out there that has nothing to do with Metal, but are a lot meaner than most of the Black Metal "community“. But this is probably not considered as being "true“. Ok, I won’t sound so grumpy for the rest of the interview, there is actually a lot of good things going on in Metal. We have all kinds of bands everywhere, and we must not forget the importance of the underground. "
As far as I know you already turned down offers when it came to a DARKTHRONE contribution in tribute albums and that Fenriz pretty much hates covertunes in general. So what changed your mind when it came to the SIOUXIE AND THE BANSHEES cover?
"I think we can blame our very own studio NECROHELL 2 for that. It’s the most easy way to answer this question. We would NEVER record coversongs of bands like Celtic Frost, Venom, Bathory, Slaughter, Bulldozer or things like that. Because they are the masters, and we can’t, and won’t copy them with a coversong. We or anyone else can’t ever come close to the originals. "
What actually is the most wimpy album you have in your collection? I remember that Fenriz once mentioned that he owns (or used to own) TNT’s "Knights Of The New Thunder", so how about you?
"Yeah, same here. I have that TNT album on vinyl. But remember that this album came out in ’84, and I was only 12 years old. Back then, I thought this album was ok. Especially two of the songs. And their guitarist was ace, and the fact that they were from Norway was fascinating. I know I have this vinyl still, and this is WIMPY stuff… still ."
It’s no secret that you rather listen to Punk music than (let’s say) some modern Death or Black Metal release… So, what exactly fascinates you in Punk? Is it the just the raw energy or also the whole (political) attitude of the bands?
"It’s hard not to hear the political content of some Punk music some times, I don’t like politics mixed with music in any form, but I listen to the riffs, and the actual playing. Not every Punk band has a bonehard political message, it can also be about beer… and that, I like. "
The sound you came up with on "A Blaze In The Northern Sky" pretty much became the blueprint for almost every necro Black Metal release ever since… Did you actually go for that on purpose or was it more like you weren’t really sure how to achieve a proper production for your raw musical creations at the time?
"We knew exactly what to do with the sound. Especially the guitar sound. That was maybe the first time we really knew what we went into. The later years, that is since 96 or something, we always have our thoughts, but leave pretty much up to coincidences in the studio. In my opinion, Metal is supposed to be a bit out of control and spontanious. Many bands like to be surgeons, but we will always fight with swords. "
Talking about studio matters, are there plans or visions to produce also other bands in Necrohell, maybe working as sound engineers in the future, or do you say "Fuck this, Necrohell is just for DARKTHRONE"?
"Well, basically I would say fuck off, the studio is only for us. But hey, we have friends you see, and I would like to work with them in Necrohell… I’ve already said yes to a band."
When looking at all the DARKTHRONE bootlegs around, are you pissed seeing other people gaining attention with your work and your name or do you see this like "where nothing is stolen, nothing is bought, too"? Are those people at least so kind to send a free copy of those bootlegs to you?
"It’s hard to have an opinion on this. Guess I see it as some kind of promotion, and it tells me that people appreciate what we do. "
There’s already a lot of them around featuring your early demos… most of them probably with totally shitty quality, so have you never considered to re-release them officially on your own?
You stated in an earlier interview that back around the "Under A Funeral Moon" time, you and Zephyrous have been very busy to ruin your own lives? What happened and made you change your path then (luckily, otherwise we’d have missed some great music)?
"Life is all about coincidences, and one thing leads to another and so on… now I’m glad I did not ruin my life completely. But each day reduce your life with… yeah, one day. "
Is it true that your old bass player Dag Nilson plays in a Jazz band nowadays? Have you ever thought about how DARKTHRONE would sound now if he would still be a member?
"No, I have not thought about that at all, because that would not happen. "
What about Zephyrous, did he quit the music business for good? Do you keep him as kind of a spiritual member in DARKTHRONE (he still gets mentioned in the booklets), do you still meet him?
"I rarely meet him, but speak with him now and then. Yeah, well he’s a kind of spiritual member. "
Is there actually truth to the rumour that Zephyrous would have recorded parts of the new album if he had not accidentelly injured his hands while working?
"It could be something in it, yes. I really want him join us on a couple of songs. "
Concerning your return to Peaceville, did Moonfog accept your change of mind so easily, especially after that highly promoted "life-time deal" they did with you? Or has your label change become an inevitable fact, because Moonfog seems not be very active since over a year?
"There is of course very good reasons for us to switch label, otherwise we would not do it. We had a good time with Darkthrone on Moonfog. I mean, we’ve always been lucky with our labels who always were serious and gave us priority. So thanks to Moonfog. And hails to Snapper and Peaceville. The "life-time“ deal with Moonfog is my mistake. I can take all the blame for that… well… no, anyways, bygones."
What actually lead to those videos that got included on the Peaceville re-issues of your albums? Who’s idea was it to do them and what kind of response did you get on ’em in general?
"I don’t know about responses, but Fenriz and I had a good time doing it. It’s like once and for all get finished with those early albums. "
Fenriz once said that he hates long albums and that their playing time should be kept under 40 minutes… Do you agree with that? Or would you also release a 70 minutes album if the whole material would be totally convincing?
"Metal albums should not be that long. Around 40 minutes is near perfect. Symphonic and melodic Metal, that is trendy today, can fill all the CD to maximum, because bands and fans of that genre want to provoke tender feelings, and tender feelings is probably much more interesting to hold on to than brutal stuff. "
On the early albums writing music and writing lyrics were somehow two different processes, at least I had the impression. Has this changed in any way over the years? Do you write lyrics for a particular song, or do you just write and see where the words fit afterwards?
"It’s mostly the same thing today, but recently, Fenriz has adapted the lyric specially for some of the songs. Whatever works for me. "
Staying at the lyrics, I got the impression that those developed into a bit more personal direction from album to album. So I wonder if a certain theme has… let’s say to "pass your innerself, your emotional world" before being cast in lyrics?
"It’s nearly impossible for me to comment the lyrics. But I worship them anyway. Fenriz’ lyrics is one of my main inspiration to make riffs for Darkthrone. "
What really stands out in my opinion is the fact that the lyrics on the albums always fitted the music on the respective album 100%ly. It comes along like a perfect union, feelingwise. Is this something you set high value on, maybe even more than on the early albums?
"His lyrics has grown on me in all these years, and they keep surprising me each year. When we record an album, it’s with the attitiude that it should be a strong package. "
DARKTHRONE’s "A Blaze In The Northern Sky" was the first widely available Norwegian Black Metal full-length album… In 2006, from the very early bands like IMMORTAL, EMPEROR, BURZUM or MAYHEM, only DARKTHRONE is still going and still Black Metal, while all the others have ceased to exist or try to cash in on festival reunions. Does the fact that only you are left has any meaning to you?
"It makes sense to me. I always knew that the flame within Darkthrone is strong. We don’t compromise our music to gain anything. But hey, I’ve witnessed a lot of changes through all these years. We still hail the 80s sound. Fenriz and I will continue to deliver albums. When the circus is over elsewhere, we’ll still be there. Think of the lyric from "Hate Them“… let’s see who stand when the smoke clears. "
Fenriz appeared on a DVD in Germany’s biggest magazine Rock Hard and – to put it politely – did not make the best impression, or to put it more drastic, he most likely destroyed the picture many people had of DARKTHRONE for the last 12-15 years within four minutes. What is your opinion on those DVD-appearances (as you did an interview with Gunnar from Hammer as well)? Do you really think they are necessary? And was there any intention behind Fenriz making a fool of himself for a magazine that has ignored DARKTHRONE for more than 10 years?
"Hmmm, I don’t really see a problem with some fooling around. Thing is Sir, that I’m fucking fed up with all this charade within the Black Metal "scene“. We are two people that have hearts totally on fire for Metal, and we don’t give a fuck what people think is "proper“ behaviour."
Both of you have regular jobs; so do you consider it as vitally necessary for a / your band to be completely independent financially? Furthermore you got your own studio and also the Tyrant Syndicate label-department at Peacevile, so is it important for you to have full control over your artistic activities? Are you maybe a bit proud having managed to get this far?
"Yeah, I’m proud. I mean, this has not come for free. Next year, Darkthrone turns 20 years in Metal, and we have delivered something like 12 albums. It’s a real pleasure to have control. We have always had ordinary jobs, I can’t imagine a life without that. If we should survive only on Darkthrone income, we had to do something drastic with the music I guess. Other bands have changed as well, nothing wrong with that really, but it’s HOW you do it. Some band has obviously become slaves of the record company and press, to achieve a status with the pop kids, other bands have changed in a more healthy way, developed themselves with maturity. It’s like this in every part of society, also for the Black Metal "community“, there are total dickheads that think they’re more important than anyone else, and there is cool people. I don’t feel like a part of a "community“. That’s why I moved away from my hometown Oslo late in ’91. "
What actually was the reason to come up with a single prior to the new album and a video to go along with it? I always thought that you weren’t into these kinds of things…
"We did that only because we wanted to really mark the changes that happened to us: own studio, coming back to Peaceville… etc. And why should we leave all space to the commercial acts out there. Our video "doesn’t really look like a video“ (a Canadian journalist told me), and the music is in the same vein as ever, so we want to spread some good old vibes. "
Ok, I guess that’s about it for now… But before we close I’d really like to hear your very own version of when and why the spelling of the band’s name actually developed from DARK THRONE to DARKTHRONE… Thanx for taking the time. All the best!
"The logo says Dark Throne, but it has always been written and said DARKTHRONE. On our demos, it says DARKTHRONE. Have good Metal year."
Interview by: Andi Bauer, Nhashi & Frank Stöver