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1349 Bassist Seidemann Discusses New Album, "The Infernal Pathway," The History Of The Band And Primal Instincts

Over the course of metal history, certain places have become synonymous with particular sub-genres. One immediately thinks of thrash metal when the Bay Area is mentioned, or Florida whenever the topic of death metal comes up and there can be no doubting that when it comes to black metal, Norway is the spiritual home of the genre.

Though mostly known for its earlier bands such as Mayhem, Darkthrone, Emperor etc., the country continued to produce high quality black metal bands throughout the nineties and probably still to do this day, with one of the most revered latter decade bands being born under the name 1349. Over twenty years since their genesis, 1349 are still releasing intense and challenging music with a live show to match. It was at one of these performances, where they shared the stage with fellow Norwegian black metal kingpin Abbath, that I caught up with the band's bass player Tor Risdal "Seidemann" Stavenes, to discuss the group's latest album, "The Infernal Pathway," their early days and more. You watch the interview in full below.

Diamond Oz: Straight into it you're on tour right now with Abbath, as well as Vltimas and Nuclear. How did this lineup come about?

Seidemann: Well, to be honest we were asked to join as part of a package so the lineup was more or less set up by the time we actually joined. It's Abbath, which is great and there's Vltimas, who are "up and coming" kind of new but kind of not, they're all experienced doing great stuff and then of course there's 1349 and we're also experienced doing great stuff, if I say so myself! There's also Nuclear who are also experienced dudes doing great, South American proper metal, so it's a fantastic package and it goes really well together. It's a bit, for everyone. Not just pure black or pure death metal. It's good to have that variation.

Oz: Yeah, it's an exciting time to see 1349 as well because obviously you've just released, "The Infernal Pathway," which is a really strong album. I've seen a lot of people say it's the best one since "Hellfire."

Seidemann: The thing is, when you're in a band for a while you realise that you've always got to do better than what you've done before. "Hellfire" was fantastic but I love all our albums, but we always moved on and tried to top whatever we did before. We have to top it otherwise why? Even Motorhead, they did the same album consistently and it was good because it was Motorhead, but we can't do that, we have to move on and push on and we have to grow as people and musicians and get better. You have to know that what you're going to do next is going to top what you've already done otherwise what's the point? If you've peaked then maybe that's it, maybe you shouldn't do anything and that's why it takes a bit of time for us to do records now apart from all the real life bullshit.

Oz: I think people appreciate that though. 1349 has always been a band led by instinct and emotion. Very primal. So you know when a 1349 record is coming out, it's not because of label obligations. It's coming out because it's good.

Seidemann: Thanks for that. It's coming out because we want it to. 1349 is four different individuals doing something because we feel like we're "on a mission." That sounds horribly pretentious but I'm going to say it anyway. We're on a mission. When we started out, we weren't happy about where a lot of the black metal was going back then and instead of sitting around on the internet being pissy about it, we thought, "No, if we don't like how it is, we're going to do better ourselves." We've kept on doing that and as long as we feel the need and we do, obviously, we're going to keep on doing that, keep on playing black metal the way we want it to be.

Oz: I was going to ask you a little bit about when the band was starting out because I think it was 1997 when 1349 came about...

Seidemann: Yeah, about 97/98. It's a bit hazy. But it was Olav ("Ravn") the vocalist, me and him grew up together in some small fucking village, we moved to the capital and we started 1349 with some other guys who aren't in the band anymore. But 1349 has always been a pretty stable lineup, we got Archaon the guitarist in 1999, then we got Frost in on drums in 2000 and apart from the founding guitarist Tjalve quitting in 2006, we've been the same guys since the first release basically.

Oz: At that time, black metal's international notoriety or infamy had kind of died down a little bit so where there any detractors trying to tell you not to bother with this music?

Seidemann: People were probably telling us all kinds of stuff but we were not listening because that's what you do when you're twenty. To a certain degree we still don't listen to that. If I was thinking about making money from music then why the fuck would I play black metal? If I could instead just press a space bar and pump my fist for a hundred thousand pounds a show then sure, I would much rather do that if it was all about the money but it's not. It's about this need within me, to do this music that I love. This music that resonates so deep inside me and I chose that twenty something years ago and I can't unchoose it because it's so much a part of me.

Oz: Fast forwarding to today, how do you see black metal in its current form? Obviously now there's black metal bands signed to big labels and there was the travesty of a film (Lords Of Chaos) that came out last year...

Seidemann: I saw that thing on Netflix and I had just watched The Dirt the same day and to me it was the same. These things have nothing to do with the subject matter really, it's just very light entertainment for people. It doesn't have anything to do with Mayhem, it doesn't have anything to do with black metal, it's just entertainment so kids can go, "Haha, look at those crazy guys from Norway!" whatever, it doesn't matter.

But black metal today, I'm of course the wrong person to ask because let's be honest, around 97/98 I thought, "I don't like where this is going" so it's kind of sad to say that I didn't pay attention to a very large degree. I don't know any new metal bands. It's kind of sad because back in the day I really enjoyed tape trading and really paid attention in this kind of scene and it was interesting. Now everything's like litter, it's too much. At a certain point, say around 1994, you could go into a shop and say, "Oh, this is black metal, I'm going to buy it and I'm going to listen to it" and it would most likely turn out to be really good. Of course, a couple of times it wasn't but in general, there was so much good black metal. Norway had a lot of good bands and Finland and I'm sure they still do, it's just that there's all this stuff out there and I have no idea how to penetrate through to the really good stuff.

Oz: Just finally, I was wondering, since as we said 1349 is very primal and driven by instinct and desire, does the show ever detract from the primal feel?

Seidemann: No, not really because... A lot of places we can't do the fire breathing because of safety rules, but when you do black metal and you do this whole primal thing like we do, a lot of people don't really get the whole corpse paint but when you're dealing with extremities, and look at me I look like every other metal fan, I'm human unfortunately. I don't look particularly brutal or scary, but when you get ready to go on stage, you put on the paint, the hood, preparing mentally to unleash the beast so to speak, then you need all this ritual so you can refine that primal being within you and push it through on stage. So then I'm not Tor, I'm Seidemann, that's why I have this persona that is there. It's great. It's such a liberation.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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