Lord Ahriman - Dark Funeral

January 20, 2006

You guys put out an album called Attera Totus Sanctus. With the new record, how does it differ from the stuff you've done in the past?

It feels like for every album, for once the music is becoming more important for us individually. We now really focus more on the songwriting process than before. There's more of everything these days. I think the new album, we've worked a lot with the drums for example. Even though it's mainly fast throughout the whole album there are still more drum beats than we've ever used before and there are also lots of new things on the guitar that we haven't even been close to doing before. Lots of different rhythms. I think personally it's a big step ahead. Our foundation of the music remains pretty much intact.

How long did it take you guys to put the record together and was it a pretty smooth process?

It was kind of rough but I've been writing on and off for a couple of years of course. We were not together on our songs until we came to the studio so the whole album was put together in the studio and we spent nine weeks total writing and arranging the songs and recorded and mixed.

That's a pretty long time for a band to be in the studio these days.

Yeah, but considering the fact that we put together the songs in the studio, nine weeks isn't much. Personally I worked for five weeks in a row and I didn't sleep more than a couple of hours a night. I was pretty damaged after five weeks. Then we had finally put together all the songs and then you had to start all over again. We're going to record the songs for real. During the five weeks we wrote and arranged the songs so it was a rough schedule but we had a great time. Lots of inspiration.

You guys were walking zombies after a while.

Oh yeah, the last couple of days me and ÷rjan, I think we were working 20 hours a day the last four days I believe. And after every night we went to bed around five in the morning and eight and nine. For every day we worked like that, we thought okay this has to be the last night. We had to add a couple of days then work like this again another day. But then we had so much inspiration to work on the songs so we just couldn't stop. We just kept on working through the night. After the fourth day when I hadn't slept more than maybe six hours in four days I was like I'm fucking going to die. My body can't take this anymore. At that time I remember me and Matte our drummer had a talk that last day after a 10 minute break. I told him one more day and you're going to have to drive me to the hospital.

That's a pretty rigorous schedule there dude.

It was but still when Iím totally getting into something I really want to do, for this album when we finally got the thing rolling in the studio, I got so much inspiration I was like I donít want to stop working. As I was sitting up by myself, working on songs and writing new riffs and stuff, I just wanted to concentrate until I had that all completed.

Sleep, who needs sleep damn it.

It was great working like this. I'm going to push for trying to put up some earlier sessions the next time. Maybe make sure that it's not as stressed a situation as it was this time. I guess we all work pretty good under some kind of stress.

It was well worth the effort. You guys charted at what, number three with that?

Yeah, on the chart. Yeah, shortly we came out as number three and we even came out on the Top 40 album chart which included all categories.

How does it feel to find black metal actually being on the same chart with other different genres of music?

What can I say? The first time we came on an album chart was actually in Australia. Our first album called The Secrets Of The Black Arts. This was already in '96 and I was like this can't be real. Now on the Swedish album charts, I don't know what to say about it. This kind of music shouldn't really be on that kind of list but obviously we have an amazing fan base in Sweden.

You are heralded as being the biggest and most famous black metal band in Sweden. I guess at some point that's going to come to the mainstream's attention in some form or fashion.

Yeah, well after all Sweden is a pretty small country too.

You guys have a really huge music scene there.

Yeah, there are so many bands in all categories. The music scene is great. That just makes it even more weird for a band like us to receive this kind of a response.

I can imagine. Black metal is gaining a lot of popularity. Do you feel that there's a chance of it becoming commercialized and oversaturated and big business like other music genres are?

Well, I think it is already. It can't really get worse than what it is right now. I see it as from our own experience and it's just like I told Matte earlier today, I was watching this Metallica documentary, Some Kind Of Monster. Matte bought that DVD and ÷rjan said "you've got to see this one. You're going to fucking laugh." Everybody said it's very inspirational so I borrowed a copy from him and we talked about it today and I told him that's all it is. The bigger you get, the more problems you get into. Business problems. The more people that are going to rip you off. It's just getting worse and worse. The bigger a band we become, the dodgier the business gets. I really fucking hate that. Sometimes I wish we were just recording for ourselves and our friends.

The more money people make the more unhappier they seem to get.

The problem for us in that sense with the money aspect is that we don't make any money at all. Our former label was stealing everything from us.

Yeah, I read about that.

Yeah, fuck we get nothing. That's why we're taking them to court right now. The money isn't even the big issue. We even told them "you respect our fucking rights to the album and we don't give a fuck about the money." You know their response? They were like "okay, give us $300,000 and we can let you go."

Say what?

We're like "but you're the ones who are stealing all the fucking profits we make. All the royalties that should go the artists, you're taking into your own pockets. Or the publishing money, you take it into your own fucking pockets too. Why should we pay you for something that you're stealing from us?" It's just insane.

We're fucking stealing money from you so pay us for that please.

Exactly. But that's the way it is. It's so ridiculous. It's sick. That's why I hate this business more than ever. We've come to a point that we know how things work nowadays. When we sign up new contracts we always make sure that every new company that we start to work with, we let them know "fuck with us and the rest of your life is going to be a nightmare."

Fuck with us and we're going to fuck with you.

We're not taking it one more time. Next time it's going to be real ugly. As I said, we're bringing our former label to court and I hope it's going to fucking hurt them massively.

A lot of times the best way to hurt people is definitely with the bank account. That seems to be the only language some people understand.

Exactly, that's true. That's why we're making it very loud. Let people know that this is a big fucking rip off company. We also save other bands that get into the same trap. It's not a trap. We knew everything, what's been going on all the time. They just closed the door on us so you have to solve the situation when you reach a closed door. We didn't really want to go through the courts but that's the only option we have because I'm not fucking giving away my song rights. This is our music. These are our albums. I'm not going to let anybody steal it from me. That's just not going to happen.

I don't understand this. These people want you to sign a contract with them and they want you to produce all this art for them. Then they get real proprietary over it. It wasn't theirs to begin with it. It came out of your head, your mind, your hands. It's yours.

No, of course. But it's weird. I think the record business should need some adjustments. The artists should definitely need to get more power because the situation as it is right now is total bullshit. If you as a label refuse to follow the contract, there's nothing anybody can do about it. The only thing you can do is the artist brings them to court but if the artist would break a contract to a label, the label can really fucking destroy the band very easily without going the legal way. It's like the artist has no fucking rights whatsoever but the labels, they can just do whatever they want.

I think music has gotten so totally corporate just like everything else. Corporations can do whatever the fuck they want and the people are either going to like it or tough shit. It's no different from anything else really.

No, but the difference is when it comes to music and to record companies, and I'm not saying that all the record companies are as corporated as MNW and No Fashion. That's probably the worst fucking kind you will see. Anyway, the problem is that when it comes to music and record companies, nobody cares. If it would be whatever kind of other job or company, a normal business company, it would become a riot. Only because it's music, I don't know how to say it in English but people see through the fingers. They just let it go. They say "oh well, it's a record company." They just let them get away with whatever. As I said, if it would be any kind of other company, it would get in serious problems.

I don't know about Sweden but here in the U.S. it's come to such a point where people do what they want to and everyone sits on their asses and does nothing about it.

Yeah, but it's pretty much like that over here too. We came to a point when the situation was so fucking bad, we fucking had to do something about it. I can't see someone trying to destroy something we've built up for 10 years. Why should I accept that? There is no fucking way.

Absolutely. You guys aren't trying to become multimillionaires like Metallica but you do have families and bills. You hope you make enough money to pay for that sort of stuff.

That's not really the point. Not for me. Not for us. The point is right should be right. If somebody steals from you, you can't just fucking accept it.

It's the principle of the thing.

Exactly. If somebody goes out and steals your car, will you just say "oh, I'll go and buy another one next week." Somebody steals the rights from a song, there's no way I'm just going to say "well, I can write another song next week."

That was something you created yourself.

Exactly. Of course I'm not going to let anyone steal it from me. You don't just fucking do that. Especially not to Dark Funeral.

I read that you guys are going to come out with a gatefold LP.

Yeah, of course.

Why did you guys decide to do that? Is that primarily for people who love to collect vinyl?

In the first place, it's for ourselves. When we press an album of course I myself want to have it on vinyl of course. Gatefold is always really cool. We asked Regain if they wanted to do a gatefold vinyl for the new album and they said of course. It's just going to be a limited edition.

Do you feel that when they went from vinyl to CD, that something got lost as far as artwork is concerned? With vinyl you could have more artwork. With CDs you're kind of limited.

Oh yeah, vinyl is bigger. The artwork and everything is so much better on vinyl compared to a small CD box. On the other hand, there is also a difference in the sound. The CD can only fit a certain amount of material. So many megabytes or whatever. You have to compress the sound on a CD. On vinyl you don't have to compress the sound as much as you had to do on the CD. The sound gets a little bit wider on vinyl if you know what I mean.

Oh yeah, I'm old enough to have actually grown up with vinyl.

I tell you, for me it took many years until I bought a CD player. I think it was somewhere in the mid-90s the first time I bought a CD. I had received lots of free CDs before that but I didn't have a CD player. I didn't begin to buy CD players until in the mid-90s.

I think it was 1985 when I was in the Air Force that I bought a CD and a CD player. Before that it was totally cassette tapes and vinyl.

For me I was a vinyl collector. The vinyl is special. I'm just happy now that Regain wanted to do a limited edition with vinyl of the music we created. That's really cool.

I remember when I was 16 years old, I got a vinyl copy of Motley Crue's Shout At The Devil with the original cover of the pentagram.

I got it myself.

I still have that. It's one of my proudest possessions. You guys have had a few lineup changes like a lot of other bands and you're one of the remaining or the only original remaining member. What keeps Dark Funeral going?

I don't know. I've seen lots of magazines make a big mess out of it that. There's been lots of internal fights and stuff but it's never been like that. The magazines' pictures of the situation is not even close to reality. Most of the time when I change the members it's been like that guy wanted to do something else musically and probably growing away from black metal or whatever. I don't know. They've lost their spirit for black metal and instead of being around in a band like Dark Funeral where me and Caligula take things very serious, they respect it. I respect their decisions to move on and do something else musically but sometimes they've been fed up with touring and all the hard work that lies behind doing it on this level. I had no hard feelings for example when Dominion our old guitarist told me "I'm sorry but I feel like I can't put 100 percent into the band anymore. This touring life and all that kind of stuff, it's not for me." We're still very good friends.

Yeah, that's a pretty rigorous lifestyle for sure.

Oh yeah, you've got to be stupid if you do this. No, we're born for it and as soon as someone loses their dedication to the band, they can still part ways as friends. That's the way it's been most of the time when it comes to our lineup changes. It's just part of the game.

I think it's always better to part as friends. I always think it's sad when people get so totally pissed off at each other that they won't talk to each for 20 years.

Especially when we're touring quite a lot and we live on a charter on a tour bus and a fucking hotel room or in a small van. If you're not on the same level, it's just not going to work. It's a lot of pressure to live like that. It's very important that everybody in the band has the same goal and the same spirit. It makes everything so much easier.

It's been said before that being in a band is kind of like being married.

Oh yeah, there are fights of course. We know each other so well nowadays. If somebody fucked up one night we know that's part of the game.

Absolutely. Kind of boils down to being human doesn't it?

Yeah, you just try to not do the same mistake again. We always try to be supportive to each other because that's important.

I was reading some old interviews that you did and in one interview you mentioned that you had a wife and kids. How do you balance your position in a band, especially a black metal band, with having a family?

I don't know. To me I'm just the way I am. I make things work out as best as possible. Of course when having a family, it requires lots of planning and stuff to make both the family and the band work together.

Are your kids and wife interested in black metal as well? Do they have other interests?

Yeah, they're kind of tired of what I'm doing. They're very supportive.

You guys also released a live album. Why did you guys decide to release a live album of the tour you did in Chile in 2003?

I would say it was two reasons. One is that since we're a touring band, it's just natural. We're both a studio band and a live band. We already have several studio albums out and since we're a live band, it's cool for the fans and especially for those who never get the chance to see us live to at least experience it on a CD. The second reason is basically that we wanted to have it as a stop and a past. From there put it there as a break point and start a new chapter.

What I really liked about the album because it was actually my first introduction to your music and I thought it was a really wonderful way to be introduced to your band. It has a really good selection of songs.

Thanks. It's hard especially when we have been planning the set list for our coming tours. Now we have even eight more songs to choose from. It's kind of satisfying especially to us and the fans. We always try to have a decent mix from all the albums.

Something else I was reading about, your stage shows are pretty wild with pigs' heads and blood. I thought that was kind of cool. Do you feel that in the general music scene that the one thing that is missing from people's show is a theatrical performance?

I think it depends on what kind of music you play. The main thing for me is whatever kind of music it is, you've got to put on a show that fits to the music. That visualizes the music you're performing. Since you're playing extreme music, of course the live show gets extreme but it's got to go hand in hand. That's what I expect when I go to a concert. I don't want to go to a concert and see my favorite band and they're just standing there like fucking nerds on the stage playing their instruments. I want to see some action otherwise I could just sit at home, drink a beer, and listen to a CD. When you bring the music live you've got to make something special of course. Otherwise I see no point in doing it. That's basically what we're trying to do even though we don't have any fucking budget to do everything we want to do. It's also a way for us to satisfy our wicked lusts. We have lots of weird and crazy ideas. We get some kind of pleasure out of being crazy on stage. I think the main point is to give the audience something special and put on a live show that fits the music you're playing.

I was reading an interview you did last month and what interested me was the person had asked you about the black metal situation in Malaysia. That's been in the news quite a bit. How do you feel about countries that are run as theocracies where people's lives are basically dictated by religion?

It's so much bullshit. The few of us who can see through this bullshit, what religions are doing to people, forcing them to submit themselves. Living by strict rules and lots of censorship. What has censorship really done so far? Has it proven to be successful in the purpose I guess they're trying to achieve which is no violence? You don't see much violence connected to violent movies or violent music. You see it, the violence we see in the world is connected to religion. Ninety percent at least.

You read these reports that people do what they do because they listen to this type of music or watch that type of movie. How do you explain the violence that occurred before radio and television?

The biggest hypocrites are the pluralists. These people are promoting tolerance and as soon as they see something which goes against their wishes, as soon as they something thatís opposite their views, or doesnít fit into their way of thinking, then they call for censorship. Thatís so much bullshit. Itís just hypocrisy.

After having read one report after another about that situation, I came away with the opinion that there was this large group of people at this black metal show and a handful of them did some stupid shit and got in trouble for it. They made it sound like ďoh my God, see what all these people are doing?Ē It was only a few people.

Yeah, but the bullshit about it is that they connect it to the music. How many black metal people are in jail right now? How many people are into normal rock and roll and are in jail right now? Thereís a big difference. The whole thing that they connected. Of course you have tempers within the black metal community. You have tempers in a lot of music communities but don't connect it to the music because it doesn't have anything to do with the actual music. You should fucking forbid all kinds of music. Every fucking music category.

It reminds me of here in the U.S. when Dimebag Darrell got shot in the face and people were like "oh see what these heavy metal people do?" I was like yeah and heavy metal has been around for 30 years and this is the first time anyone got shot on stage.

Of course shit happens in all music categories because that's life and that's how humankind is. To me I don't see any connection to the music that these people are doing this because they listen to a certain type of music. That's what I'm against.

I think it all boils down to the human condition. I read where you said that your band has actually been banned in Malaysia?

I haven't toured there in quite some time but I don't think we're invited there. I know that our first album or even the first two albums were released on a license in Malaysia and at that time I had received shitloads of mail. We have a good fan base in Malaysia and I was in touch with lots of Malaysian bands and people. Suddenly this new government that's run by very strict Muslim people just closed down all the record shops. Everybody that was wearing black clothing on the streets were thrown in jail for a couple of nights and it was just insane. Now it's just escalated and gotten even worse for the Muslim people who are there. It's so much bullshit.

Some people in black metal bands are kind of into Satanism. How do you feel Satanism differs from other religious beliefs?

To me Satanism has always been an anti-religion. I've never seen it as a religion because to me it's nothing that I submit myself into. There are no rules or boundaries that I submit myself under. I put out my own rules as it is. That's a part of the way I see Satanism. But mainly to answer your question I see it as an anti-religion rather than a religion in itself.

Why do you feel that people feel they need to restrict themselves and bow down to something? That's my opinion of religion.

Bad self-confidence. It's just a lot of bad self-confidence. That you have to submit yourself or you let yourself be submitted to some strict rules that's promoted by a Christian pastor or something. If you're a strong individual you don't let yourself be ruled by someone else in a religious way.

That's my take on religion. That people feel that they have to live this really restrictive lifestyle and they have to bow down to this angry deity.

They waste their entire lives fucking making prayers that not even the fucking clouds above you listen to.

Christians and Muslims and people like that spend their entire lives preparing to die when they should be spending their lives living.

Yeah, it's like you say. Let's say this Christian organization, they know they can never win over a strong individual to support their needs or whatever. What they're doing is they go to hospitals. They go to sick people. People who are already living as wrecks with really bad self-esteem and of course they're usually the targets to an order. They're even dangerous to the community so to speak because they force the weak so to say to submit themselves to their needs basically.

It's like okay, live this restrictive lifestyle. Bow down to this deity. You just might maybe get some big pie in the sky. Of course I wonder how it feels to know that when you die that's it. You become wormfood.

On the other side, I'm not sure if all these people would buy that nonsense. People who are weak have nothing to do in my world. Stand on your own feet and you get my respect.

You guys are going to be embarking on a tour next month. When are you leaving and where are you going?

Pretty much all over Europe. We leave on February 20th and it's going to be premiering Finland in Helsinki. I think weíre doing 37 shows in a row.

That rigorous tour thing going. When are you going to visit us in the U.S.?

As soon as we get an offer. A good tour offer and weíd come. Itís got to be realistically possible for us if weíre going to afford to go on tour. We canít accept any kind of deals.

Iíve had a lot of bands tell me touring the U.S. is pretty expensive.

You donít make any money by touring the U.S. in this type of music but at the same time weíre not made of money. We can barely pay our fucking bills at all. How should we afford to pay on an entire tour from our own pockets? And itís some local promoter getting rich every night. Needless to say, give us a serious offer and we will come. Weíre not asking for much but itís got to be realistic and itís got to make it possible for us to financially be able to do it.

While you guys live on the dark side, you still have to eat.

Of course. I wouldnít be able to get out of the house without food on the table. Weíre talking to some agencies and there have been some offers. It has to be financially possible for us to do it in the first place. Thatís priority one. The second is we need to find good bands that we want to tour with.

Sometimes itís really difficult to get a good package together.

Usually it's not too hard when we decide to do a tour. We know so many bands already so itís easy for us to call around and enough bands that should we do this tour together, as long as itís possible to sit down and face the schedules and try to get it together and hit the road together.

This is a question I really havenít seen anybody ask yet. What kind of requirements do you have as far as getting bands to go out on the road with you?

If itís not bands we like or wish to support, thereís no way weíre going to bring them on tour with us. We were a small band when we started out. There were bigger bands who brought us on tour so now weíre in a situation and can help bands get attention and take them on tour with us. Show people that hereís a band you have to check out. Of course itís very important that we like the bands that weíre touring with.

A lot of bands that go out on the road have these riders. They always ask for really weird stuff. Are your riders pretty normal or do you ever ask for things that people might find a bit bizarre?

Iíve never asked for anything weird. Of course there are some pig heads and blood on the riders. Some people have problems with that. We have a really fucking long rider. Weíve been touring so much. We donít ask for much I promise you but weíre still human beings. Just to make an example which of course you canít accept. We played I canít remember what country it was we were playing. We were going to do this festival and this other festival is very close to the airport. At first we flew in to one city. Then we had to sit fucking eight hours in a small van. We had to sit on a charter in a small fucking van for eight hours to get to the festival. We came to the festival and we were running late. No sound check or whatever. Okay. We just went on stage as well as we could. Then we had already been up for 20 hours so we said ďokay, please take us to the hotel.Ē They take us to a fucking camping area and they put us in this small wooden house without water. Without electricity. Without heat in the middle of the fucking winter. We were like ďare you fucking kidding?Ē I have a really fucking funny photo from there. I had to take my photos. People would laugh to see that but those kind of things make us of course put in things in the rider to avoid it for the next time. Thereís a lot of bullshit going on in the touring business so to say. For every time we go out and play, every time we come home, there are new things weíve put into the contract. Now weíve started working with our new booking agency, I sent them over the contract and rider. This is very good. It covers basically everything that needs to be covered without going over the line. These are basic things but if itís not in the contract, youíre going to get hit and nobody is going to give a shit about it. When we go out to play, weíre trying to avoid as many problems as possible because weíre going out to play for a crowd who are paying a lot of money so of course we want to be able to put on a good show. To put us in a fucking wooden little cabin without fucking heat for one night in the middle of the winter and then we have to be at a show the next day.

Itís like people work for weird ways to do shit to you.

Yeah, but we raised hell so they put us in a fucking five star hotel two hours later. We didnít ask for that but they said they just wanted for us to get decent sleep and that was the only available hotel in the town. We were like right on. Have some fucking decency.

I guess they thought you guys could tough it out.

I donít know what they were thinking. I have no fucking idea. It was not only us. There was another foreign band who came with us that night to go camping.

Were you supposed to share the house with them?

No, but they had three smaller I donít know what to call it. If you would see the photos I have from there, you wouldnít believe your fucking eyes Iím telling you. So you know, thatís the reason. To avoid similar things to happen in the future we have a fucking massive contract. As I said, itís nothing thatís really too much to ask for. Anybody who would go off on holiday of course they want to be able to take a shower. They want to be able to sleep in a bed in a room where itís warm. Heat the room and those kind of basic things. As I said, if itís not in the contract, youíre going to get fucked. Other than that, itís very complete. Itís nothing thatís too much to ask for.

Any other thoughts or comments?

Check out the new album and weíre looking forward to touring the States as soon as possible.

Dark Funeral