Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Infernus of Gorgoroth

(This is the first appearance of a new feature in which we invite local artists to conduct interviews with other artists, sort of as a tribute to Interview Magazine. Today's not-as-unlikely-as-you-might-think installment features Fight Bite's Leanne Macomber interviewing Infernus of Gorgoroth.)

Being from Texas is a lot like being from Norway, in one respect: If you take guitar lessons as a kid in either place, there is a 99% chance that you will learn Slayer before you have time to figure out who Kurt Cobain was. Having Viking or cowboy blood, you might also ceremonially burn Yngwie Malmsteen (Swedish Chivalry Metalist) instructional videos in your back yard (after hurling your guitar out of your bedroom window).

Safe to say that by the time your instructor teaches you about the tritone interval (the precise moment he starts offering you shoulder rubs and complimenting you on your developing figure), you will well be aware that Norway = Black Metal.

I don't think I need to explain what Black Metal sounds, looks, or thinks like, but I'll say that it makes even the most threatening and ominous gangster rap sound like a two-month old being baptized in a mega church. For anyone who's interested in spikes, inverted pentagrams, cathedral torching, and corpse-paint, Gorgoroth is a musically rich introduction and is certainly a defining example of the genre.

Gorgoroth was formed by guitarist, vocalist, and composer Infernus in the year 1992. Their first release, 'A Sorcery Written in Blood,' was bad ass, and was followed by more bad ass-ness. If you don't like the concept of 'Sexual Bloodgargling,' I don't think we should have to live on the same planet.

Gorgoroth has seen more than a half a dozen line-up changes, but Infernus has been there every step of the way. Semi-recently, former singer Ghaal and bassist King ov Hell tried to kick Infernus out of the band and keep the hard-earned name. Thankfully, Infernus had Satan on his side, along with a copyright lawyer or two.

So this is when I was invited to do a telephone interview. I'm guessing the folks at We Shot JR might have thought it would be funny for a pansy like me to converse with a man who looks like he sharpens his teeth with the bones of orphans and moisturizes with afterbirth.

Long story short: We exchanged many an "Alo?" and he sounded very nice, but the technical difficulties were too many. We ended up having to finish through e-mail. I didn't get to ask him if I could come house sit next time he goes on tour... but i do have 96 minutes remaining on my phone card...

Thank you for taking my questions.

No problem. Sorry for the bad connection. Was driving from Oslo to Bergen passing an area with loads of tunnels. But enough about such excuses. I am honestly a bit more fond of doing e-mailers. So it is no problem for me. Thank you.

Growing up what sparked your interest in music? What were some of your early attempts like?

Mh, not much to talk about, honestly. Before I started Gorgoroth back in 1992, I could barely even play guitar. It is difficult to point out some specific things which sparked my interest in music. That has been there for as long as I can remember.

Of all the places you've been and all that you've seen, what were some of your most memorable experiences?

That's not such an easy question either. I am generally fond of traveling and seeing new places, so I try to get a lot of that done when I have the time to do other things than directly metal music related work. Thus I have seen a lot of places, but I find it difficult to decide which is the most memorable of them. In terms of touring with a bunch of drunks on a bus, desecrating not only the places we have visited but also more or less our own self-esteem and reputation, I have for sure seen some memorable stuff as well. But tour stories belong where they should be: on the bus together with companions, not in the media.

What unexpected influences do you have? Sounds or concepts that don't directly manifest themselves in your music?

Hehe, are you giving me the chance to fall into the trap of a thousand other black metal musicians, who use and abuse every opportunity to build a set of hopeless myths around themselves as soon as they get to hear the word "radio" or "tv?" My influences should be apparent to some, and to others they are not. The ones who don't get connected with it directly, go listen to something else. I don't need you.

Were you at all surprised when you learned that King and Ghaal were trying to force you out of the band that you created?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I was. I mean, I knew there was something going on, and I knew for quite some while that the cooperation could not continue much longer. But that they would try to do what they did - no, it caught me a bit by surprise, I must admit. Then again, there are methods for dealing with such. And I applied them. Nice try, though!

I'm sure you were relieved when the verdict came, ruling in your favor. Do you have a renewed sense of energy? A new direction?

Energy levels are more or less high all the time. And this did not in fact affect me a lot. It meant a whole load of work and some attorney bills that had to be dealt with. Strictly speaking, that should not have been necessary. But some people now and then have to learn it the hard way, it seems. Me including. Now, I am of course relieved. I am happy, though not surprised to have it confirmed that I was right, and I was right all the time. This is a victory of reason and it is a victory for the music business as well, as it creates some sort of predictability in the market, making it clear that some 7th generation bass-player cannot come and claim the name and logo of a band he did not start. No matter what legitimizations he might come up with and present to the public. As for in what direction it will now continue: it will be coming down the same road I intended it to, when I first started the band, years before those two ex-members were invited into the band in the first place. We are going to continue writing, producing and performing Satan's music and we are going to do that for another 17 years or more.

How did you decide Gorgoroth's new line up? You've enlisted some familiar faces. Is it all coming together as you had planned?

Taking the mess back in 2007 into consideration, more or less everything has gone according to the plans since then. It gave me the chance to do a certain clean-up operation simultaneously as the legal proceedings went on. Most people I trusted and worked with until then, passed the test. But some others did not. Perhaps, I should recommend other bands to put this to practice as well? Seriously, it gave me the chance to get to work with some rather splendid guys that I had really wanted to work with for years. And as I already knew the co-operation with the two ex-members was on its way to hell, in retrospect the only thing I could have done without was actually their petty attempt to run off with the name and the logo.

When you set out on a new record do you always have a finial vision in mind or is it ever a visceral experience?

It is a bit of both. On the upcoming album I had all the music ready. And I spent some months with the drummer/co-producer, Tomas Asklund, arranging it. But nevertheless, the rest of the guys will undoubtedly put their mark on the product as well, in a way which only they are able to. There was a reason why I chose to work with exactly those guys. So this is in no way a solo-project or some weird black metal dictatorship of a band co-operation, and the last amount of work hasn't been done yet. As far as our schedules say, we will be done with the mix on June 26th, and by then it will be clear whether everything comes along according to a final vision or not.

Of all the diverse groups and musicians you've worked with over the years, which has been your favorite collaboration?

Difficult to say. I have been touring with a lot of different musicians and bands, both bigger and smaller acts. I can at least say I am very happy with the collaboration we had with 1349 on the European tours of 2004 and 2005. We have also been touring with bands such as Krisiun and Dissection as well, which were also very good and professional experiences for me.

You're 2004 Krakow show has become legendary. Where did the visual ideas come from?

From somewhere inside my head, perhaps?

The physical form of Satan has been described in many texts and has been represented in all sorts of extremes throughout graphic art and film; are there particular descriptions or images that satisfy your idea of Satan's form?


You have described yourself as a Gnostic Satanist. Can you elaborate a bit?

Indeed I can. I regard myself as a man of God. I live in a universe where humanism and so-called atheism in all their forms appear as meaningless and void. I do believe in God, a demiurge, and a vehicle to fulfill and take me to where I belong. And that is Satan. He represents to me a striving towards complete goodness and truth. He is my direct line and my yes and my no.

I have a band with no name. Would you do us the honor of making up a name for us?

No, but I can give you good advice on the road: as soon as you make that up yourself, be sure to tell future members whose creation it is, in case they later on should fail to understand that. Remember that, and you will be a fool for a day, max.

Thank you for your time. You are such a celebrated musician and figure!

Thank you as well. And again, sorry for the bad connection on the phone that other day. Best regards!



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