I bet no one would dare to say that ANCIENT is a young band, although, in the same time, there’re not too much of us who are familiar with your biography… So, please, say few words in regards to the past days of ANCIENT…
- Well, ANCIENT was originally a solo-project formed by me in 1992. But after a while, I decided to work with other musicians and it grew more into a real band. We have released 3 CDs and 1 MCD so far, the last 2 for Metal Blade Records. I am the only remaining member from the start in 1992.
Once you used to call your stuff as ‘evil fiend metal’… Could you explain what did you mean choosing this defintion? Perhaps, you just didn’t want to be labelled as a ‘black metal’ band…?
- It was basically just a name we found to use so people wouldn't label us black metal, we felt we were different from the majority of B.M. bands. I don't care about labelling my music anyways, to me it's just names, it means nothing, but I see the importance in it of course, I just don't have much interest in putting a certain name for the kind of music we play, it's for the fans and magazines to decide I think.
“Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends” is two years old now… so I believe the time has come to talk about the forthcoming CD, don’t you think so?
- Well, yes, we have just finished work on our next album "The Halls Of Eternity", we have been extremely busy these last months, that's why it took me so fucking long to answer this interview! Many days we were in the studio from 9 in the morning to midnight, and I couldn't get much band-related work done in that period you can imagine. The new album is very good, it means a lot to me as it's the first album with me as vocalist, and with a whole new line-up in the band. It has 11 tracks, 62 minutes and I'm very satisfied with the sound as well, it's not perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than the last one for sure. The music is pretty much in the typical ANCIENT vein, a few people has listened to the advance tape and they all say it's very good, and it's more back to the old style of ANCIENT. There are also many new elements, we keep progressing, but this album is still very much an album that will please all our fans from the past. The album is varied and has a lot of interesting elements.
Would I be wrong supposing that “The Cainian Chronicle” is a kinda conceptual album, at least when it comes to songs like “The Curse”, “Lilith Embrace”, “Disciples Of Caine” and “Zillah And The Crone”? Would you mind telling us more concerning this lyrical odyssey?
- Yes, you are right, those first tracks on the album are part of the same story, the story about Cain and Abel. It's based on the story from the bible actually but this story is taken from a book called "The Book Of Nod". It's a kind of vampiric story, telling about the birth of vampires etc. It's quite interesting and we thought it was a good concept for lyrics and decided to base the album around this theme, although "The Cainian Chronicle" is not an entire concept album. It's just these songs you mentioned that are part of the story.
“Svartalvheim” and “The Cainian Chronicle” really differ a lot, no doubts… While the first one features rather typical Norse black metal with the lyrics composed in your own language, the second CD brings more improved stuff, with better sound and also completely different when it comes to lyrics and the language they’re written in… Also, should I say that the labels like Listenable Records and Metal Blade can’t be even compared to each other when it comes to promotion and distribution…??? I’m wondering what caused such changes which, in fact, gave birth to another ANCIENT?
- The "changes" you talk about is what I would prefer to call "progressions", they came natural for me. For me it wouldn't make any sense to make 2 albums that sounds the same. If I tried to re-create “Svartalvheim”, it wouldn't have the same quality as the original and for that reason I don't do it, although you can find many songs in "Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends" and "The Halls Of Eternity" that has clear similarities to the old days of ANCIENT. I just make the music I feel like making, it's the same for most musicians. You see, when you have been working on a set of songs for, say, one year or so, and you have played them hundreds of times, and listened to yet a few hundred times in the studio, you get a bit tired of them in a way and you want to do something different, you know, I still love the songs on “Svartalvheim” and we will always play them live in our concerts, but I want to create different kinds of music as well, not always the same, it would be too boring and I would lose my interest in the band as a whole. Metal Blade is a much bigger label than Listenable of course, and the distribution and promotion etc. is a lot better, that's why I signed to Metal Blade. Of course it's also comfortable that I am now able to live off the music and I can dedicate a lot more time to ANCIENT than if I had a job besides this.
We’ve talked enough regarding your second full-length output, therefore now let’s better discuss “Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends”. First of all, what is the main idea behind the cover? I hardly believe that this photo was chosen just because you didn’t have the appropriate cover…
- The idea for the cover was actually from our photographer, he had taken a picture earlier with him sitting by the table at the cemetery and having some kind of meal. I thought the picture was great and wanted to do something similar with the band. I think the cover is really good, but at the time I didn't consider that CRADLE OF FILTH had a picture that was very similar to this one, and that was a mistake, cause a lot of people was saying we copied Cradle and I hated that, not because I don't like C.O.F., I do, but I hate it when people think that we "copy" other bands, I find it very insulting actually, cause we really are not like that, we make our own way.
Secondly, this CD has two songs composed before ANCIENT was born, or at least before you made your debut with “Svartalvheim” – I’m talking about MERCYFUL FATE’s “Black Funeral” and “Sleeping Princess Of The Arges”, originally brought to life by GRAND BELIAL’S KEY, the former band of Kaiaphas. Whose suggested to include those ‘covers’ into “Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends”? Besides, why did you decide to cover “Sleeping Princess Of The Arges”? Was is Kaiaphas’ idea?
- The idea of "Black Funeral" came from me, I think, I actually recorded this cover with Grimm as well, when we made the "Trolltaar" album. But we never released it as it wasn't good enough, mainly because Grimm sang it in a black metal style, and it just wasn't right. Then, when Kaiaphas came into the band,we played this song live with him and it sounded great, so we thought we should put it on record as well, it's also like a tribute to the old MERCYFUL FATE from us, and a way to let our younger fans hear some of this great band. "Sleeping Princess Of The Arges" though is not really a cover, it's just the lyrics that were taken from the song with the same title in GRAND BELIAL’S KEY. I think Kaiaphas just liked them so much that he wanted to use them again for a new song. If you listen to the song with this name from GRAND BELIAL’S KEY, you hear it's completely different than our song.
There’re also two more things which differ “Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends” from the other efforts by ANCIENT: a) lyrics mostly dealing with vampirism (Kaiaphas again??) and b) some psychedelic moves, obviously inspired by old hard rock acts, like KING CRIMSON and PINK FLOYD… Was it done on purpose or else it was something natural?
- Yeah, the vampire theme was always basically the idea of Kaiaphas, I was into it as well, of course, but not nearly as much as him, I also found it irritating that it was too similar to what CRADLE OF FILTH was doing and we had some disagreements about this stuff. "Psychedelic moves", well, Kaiaphas was always into this kind of stuff, I don't think he was a great fan of KING CRIMSON or PINK FLOYD but a lot of other weird stuff, also "psychedelic" stuff of different kinds. In a way I can dig it, but it's just not what ANCIENT is about I think. Everything we ever did was natural, of course, I don't see any other way. It's just that we're different and had different ideas for the band.
ANCIENT seems to be a kind of the band enduring the permanent metamorphosis when it comes to it’s lineup… Can you tell me the reasons why you fired Grimm, Lord Kaiaphas and Kimberly? Also, what is the current lineup for ANCIENT?
the main reason for most of the line-up changes has been because I was
moving around so much and usually the people I was working with didn't
want to follow me, or I had other plans. Grimm left because he got tired
of the whole black metal thing and got into other kinds of music… Kimberly…
we just couldn't work with mostly for personal reasons, we couldn't get
along with her after a while. And now that I moved out of USA, and to Italy,
the line-up is new again. But I like this line-up very much, because the
people I work with are very good and they are a lot more motivated and
inspired than most of the people I worked with in the past. Most of the
people in USA was always too lazy and just did as little as possible and
afterwards complained about things in the band was going not so good etc.
I really got sick of that whole mentality. Here in Europe the clocks just
run a lot faster if you know what I mean, I also think people are more
intelligent over here, and has a different mentality towards most things
in life. Of course, I have found many people in the US that are great,
but the majority of the American people are very lazy, and I had a big
problem with that after a while.
The current line up in ANCIENT is:
DEADLY KRISTIN: female vocals
(new member) bass
JESUS CHRIST!: keyboards
As you see, we have a new bassist (from Italy) and Jesus Christ is still with us, although he's hardly to be considered a full time member anymore, as he only comes over to Europe for tours and recording albums. Krigse is the new drummer, also from Italy, and my girlfriend Deadly Kristin is doing female vocals and many other nice things.
Are you still in contact with Kaiaphas? What is view on his band, THOKK and it’s “Rape And Vampirism” CD?
- I have been in touch with Kaiaphas since we parted ways, via e-mail, but now it's been a while since I've heard from him. I think he's working on some new projects etc. but I don't think we will see anything for a while. He's a person that likes to take his time and have everything is a relaxed envireonment, and I can understand that, but I am really not the same kind of person and I think in a professional band you just can't lay on your back all day long and do practically nothing. The THOKK CD is fucking great I think. I heard this one in '95 when I first became friends with him, when I went over to USA, and actually, after having heard this album I was interested in him as a singer. I was really impressed by his abilities. I think it is a great album, it just sucks that it was released so late, cause it would have gotten a lot more attention a few years earlier, not now that the scene is full of black metal bands.
Kenneth of MOLESTED once was an ANCIENT’s bassist… I’m wondering what has happened to this band? Are they still alive or we should bid our farewell to them?
- Damn, I think you must be the most informed interviewer I have ever talked to! That's great, though. Yeah, Kenneth played bass for us twice in '93 on some shows we had in Bergen, Norway, he was just like a session bassist. MOLESTED released 2 CDs I think, the singer in the band (Oystein) is now the guitarist in BORKNAGAR, as you probably know. MOLESTED split up, I guess. I think the drummer is still active with something though, I met him a year ago and he told me he was offered to play in IMMORTAL, but wasn't interested... I don't know much more actually.
Now, when both, Grimm and Kaiaphas, don’t take their part in ANCIENT, who is responsible for lyrical side of things? Is it you who writes verses nowadays? If yes, may I wonder what are they dealing with?
- Yes, in the new album I have written most of the lyrics, but also Jesus Christ and Deadly Kristin and Krigse has contributed. It's a lot of different stuff, but all dealing with the darker sides of life as usual, fantasies etc. I enjoyed writing lyrics a lot this time, I haven't written much before but I found it rather easy when I first got started. Mainly I write about weird, dark fantasies, personal power and about a lot of sick stuff I have inside my mind. I don't write political lyrics, it's just not my thing, I don't have anything against it, I just think other people can do it a lot better than I can.
Honestly speaking, I was almost shocked when I’ve heard that ANCIENT became a half-Norwegian / half-American band! Why did you choose Kaiaphas as a singer for your band? Couldn’t you find the skillful singer and musician in your nativeland? Or it happened simply because you was forced to move to USA due to some ‘criminal’ past you had in Norway? If the latter conjecture is correct, please enlighten us in regards to the problems you had with law over there, in Scandinavia.
- That one with being "forced" to move to USA because of a criminal past, was new to me! You can be sure that I never would have been able to move to USA if my record wasn't clean. The immigration system there is strict as fuck, I always hated that, but now I have a visa so I could actually move there permanently if I wanted to. I think you got the rumour wrong. I had some problems with the law in the US for a while, that's probably what you heard. Anyways, you see, Grimm left ANCIENT in august '95, a while after "Trolltaar" was recorded. When he told me he was leaving, I didn't hesitate a second to call up Kaiaphas and offer him to take over for Grimm. He was very interested and I went over to USA a few weeks later. I didn't mind moving over cause I was tired and bored of staying in Norway anyways and wanted to get out and be somewhere else.
What are your impressions of the days you’ve spent in United States? Does American nation and it’s lifestyle differ a lot from Norwegians and their way of life?
- Yes, the American lifestyle is quite different from the Norwegian one. In Norway, people are more cold and introverted than americans. People in USA are very open and have a totally different attitude than most Norwegians… In one way I liked it, in another - I hated it. You can find really a lot of stupid, superficial people in the USA. The food in USA is terrible though, very bad low quality food practically everywhere. In Norway you find maybe the best food in the world, really. This I hated. It's a lot of fast food in USA, just look at all the fat people over there, it's disgusting. When you see movies on TV etc. from the USA people look nice, but if you go there, you will see that the reality is quite different! There's also a lot of beggars in the streets if you go to the big cities, the police in USA are nothing but a bunch of arrogant assholes who only care about their ego, not doing their job. The only god in USA is the dollar, you find a lot of people that have no morals whatsoever, they just care about money, and how to make as much as possible without giving a damn about if someone gets ripped off or so. There are good sides to USA also though, the service is good, you can pretty much buy what you want when you want, prices are cheap (a liter of gas cost about $ 0,30 compared to Norway where it's $ 1,2 or so!) and so on. The nature is only nice on the west, north-west part of the country. San Francisco is beautiful, in fact I want to move there one day when I get older, but the rest is not very appealing to me.
Any worthy acts in US you’d like to recall? What about NIGHT CONQUERS DAY? Mikael told me that you had really good time back then, when you lived at his homeplace…
- There are a few bands here and there that are worth checking out, I know, but don't ask me for names, I'm not that much into the american scene actually. Now that black metal has become more popular over there, a lot of new bands have formed, many of them are ridiculous, but there are some good ones as well. I always liked the projects of Mike, he has a lot of good ideas and is a talented musician I think. I guess you should just ask him about the US scene. USA used to be very good for death metal, but for black metal… I don't know, maybe the last year a lot of good bands popped up, but I honestly think you will have a hard time finding good black metal bands in the US, it's just not the right place for this kind of music.
What happened to such tunes as “Winter Child” and “The Eye In The Sky” which were planned to be released among others on “The Cainian Chronicle” CD? Also, originally this album’s title was “Ponderous Moonlightning”, right? What roused you to change the name?
- I could barely remember the titles when I read them again. If I remember right, "Winter Child" later turned into "Homage To Pan" which you find on "The Cainian Chronicle", we started making this song when Grimm was still playing with me. I can't remember what song was originally titled "The Eye In The Sky", I remember the title though... I'm sure it was another one from "The Cainian..." There are no songs of ANCIENT ever made that was not put on CD, really, all the songs I ever made was used for the band. Yeah, I wanted to call the album "Ponderous Moonlighting" but then we changed when the lyrics were done, "The Cainian Chronicle" was a better fitting title for the album as well.
Are there any plans to re-release “Trolltaar” MCD? It strikes as hard-accessible item nowadays…
- As a matter of fact, Hammerheart Records re-released it few months ago, with a few bonus tracks, and called it "Det Glemte Riket", a bit stupid to use this title if you ask me, they did it without even telling me. I have had a lot of problems with Hammerheart Records though. They are very unprofessional in what they do and they haven't even sent me a copy of the album!
After ANCIENT has signed a deal with Metal Blade, lots of ‘true’ black metallers started to blaim you in becoming commercial, claiming that ANCIENT betrayed the ideals of true black metal… What is your opinion concerning suchlike statements? I know, it’s pure nonsense, but… what makes people act this way? There’s a lot of BM bands signed to ‘major’ labels, however they still contrive to produce outstanding music (like BORKNAGAR, OLD MAN’S CHILD or GOD DETHRONED, for example)! Maybe, it’s just banal envy?
- Envy is some of the reasons clearly, yes, but also many people can't stand to see that bands they don't like get success, just because they feel they don't deserve it or so. I don't give a fuck personally. People shouldn't bother with bands they don't like. Going around and complaining is just pathetic I think. Lately I've seen many changes though, people more and more agree that it is not a negative thing to get paid for what you're doing etc. it's good. I think people are just becoming more intelligent, really, and the fools just make themselves look stupid.
Huge thanks goes to you for answering this interview, Aphazel! I hope, ANCIENT will follow on creating unique CDs in future… Probably, there’s something you’d like to wish me and our readers?
- Yeah, I
took more importance in this interview as I know you've been very persistent
with me in getting it. I wanna thank all our fans for the endless support,
it's great. Everybody should see our official web-page:
RAPE THE CHILDREN OF ABEL !