Fenriz Dissects New Darkthrone Album "The Underground Resistance"
Band Photo: Darkthrone (?)
Fenriz and Nocturno Culto (AKA Ted) may be iconic superstars in the eyes of many fans of Norwegian metal, but they also epitomize the underground and reflect the lives of many of the scene's enthusiasts (they both still work day jobs and never tour).
The duo, also recently covered in our Sunday Old School column, now has a new full-length album out and ready to be devoured by the hungry metal masses, fittingly titled "The Underground Resistance."
The Darkthrone machine defies expectations pretty much whenever possible and doesn't concern itself much with sticking to a genre label, traveling from black metal to punk and even other styles. Following 2010's "Circle the Wagons" release, "The Underground Resistance" (reviewed here) offers everything from power metal to '80s era Celtic Frost influences.
Take a trek into the mind of an unassuming metal titan and find out everything there is to know about this latest genre defying opus - from inception to recording to art - in our interview with Fenriz below.
xFiruath: This is a very eclectic album covering a wide range of sounds – did you guys approach this one any differently than the others, and how did the writing process go?
Fenriz: No, we actually never discuss the music or the direction of it, since summer of ‘91 we have made songs on our own, and we do whatever we want. We continued where we left off, two of the songs on the album were already made and recorded before the previous album, “Circle The Wagons,” was out! And it’s hard to guess what those two songs are. Proving that the style didn’t change much, but coincidences led to the fact that on this album there are some Celtic Frost ‘85 and ‘84 style riffs again, less “metalpunk” (almost no one knows what that style means so it’s best to put it in quotes), more metal than ever and a very organic bass punch in the mastering – hopefully providing a freshness, but that’s up to the veterans of real metal to decide.
xFiruath: Tell me about the recording process – where did all the recording take place and who did you work with?
Fenriz: Well when we bought our own PORTABLE studio (Necrohell II) in 2005 we record ourselves and we record in sessions, meaning one song each, every time. And each time we travel to the house where we record and set up the portable studio (meaning we also engineer the albums ourselves). We know when we get there that we have one song each. Then we learn one of them and immediately go into RED (meaning we start the recordings if we get a good take at once). Then we repeat on the next song. Then additional guitars are laid down, but only bass on my songs as I need to do vocals later. When the vocals are done we party the rest of the evening and pack up the next day. Songwriting has been going on for maybe months before. Then Ted starts the work at his house, doing his bass on his songs and his vocals, and start mixing whenever he has time. It’s a long process for two and two songs, but then again they are getting their individual treatment, and I often wonder why more people ain’t doing it this way. We’ve recorded our five last albums in a house, secret location between Elverum and Trysil.
xFiruath: What sort of themes are you working with and what do the lyrics deal with?
Fenriz: Luckily Ted finally wrote all of his own lyrics for this album, he’s done it before, by the way on the 1996 “Total Death” album, and I think it is a stronger experience to hear vocalists singing their own words and thoughts, just like I write my own lyrics. This time all the lyrics seem to be, again coincidentally, about Judgment, sans “Valkyrie,” which is a song to my woman.
xFiruath: Who handled the artwork and how does it tie into the album?
Fenriz: After the artwork of our three last albums, Ted mentioned that he wanted something else for this, and Dylan Hughes found the image. Ted wanted it in brown and yes he could have that. Then we paid the artist $1000 to use it. The full true story about this is on the “Fist in the Face of God” blog, also it is easy to find on the Darkthrone MySpace and probably also on the Band of the Week Facebook.
xFiruath: Will we be seeing any visual accompaniments for these songs, such as a lyric clip or full music video?
Fenriz: There is talk of a music video but I have no time for any of that, I just simply wrote the ones involved/record company that “I just don’t want any modern stuff.”
xFiruath: How many times this week have you been asked if Darkthrone will tour, and what’s your favorite way to tell people to F.O.A.D. when they ask it?
Fenriz: I haven’t checked my email or done any interviews as I had a day off yesterday (Monday) and this is the first interview of the day (started 07:42) and near 72 in total this time round. But around every other person ask about the live thing, still. New approach this time ‘round, I say we will play live when we get Richard Clayderman to play bass and James Last as chief stage diver. In the USA we change the names to David Caruso and Richard Simmons, cuz they don’t know who Clayderman and Last are over there.
xFiruath: One of our readers wanted me to ask – how’s the gig as a school teacher going for Nocturno Culto, and what would a U.S. fan have to do to get his kids enrolled in your class?
Fenriz: I have had a job in the postal industry, currently coding letters and working small letter machines, for 25 years this coming October, but having had many different ones within that system. Now, Ted is a very different person than I am and since he moved away from Kolbotn/Oslo in 1992 - that’s TWENTY YEARS of having a very long distance between us - he’s been moving around from place to place, having an incredible number of odd jobs. He’s probably had a few since he was a teacher, he wasn’t teaching regular class I think and it wasn’t for very long. I don’t know much about him or the jobs, this is just a vague impression I’m left with.
xFiruath: What music are you listening to lately, and what’s coming out soon that you’re excited about?
Fenriz: Coming out soon must be the new 20 minutes of music, the rest are demo tracks, on the Black Magic album from Norway, out soon on High Roller Records. And the Purson album out immediately on Rise Above is good. The new Blood Tsunami is kicking ass. And the Obliteration album will be great, Condor too, I reckon. I don’t exactly have a list in front of me, so….it’s easy to forget all the stuff. It’s easier if you ask Kerry King and maybe he only heard some Slipknot, you know. I’ve got too much stuff going on. We got our bar now where I am, so far, musical dictator, I was headhunted for that, and we gotta go through a whole lotta 60s and 70s and 80s stuff there, OR new bands playing and sounding like those decades. That means a whole lotta music right there.
But what I listened to yesterday... I had a day off watching Back To The Future and so on, just chilling with my girl, but at least I got to listen to the Obnoxious Youth album I had transferred from vinyl to WAV files and then CD and then to my MP3 player a couple of times, former Band of the Week band and their album is better than expected. I listened to that while I went down to the post office to get a vinyl, it was from my fave band ever, as I am buying all on vinyl (had them all on CD always but CDs are extremely passé here in Scandinavia now), “Cosmic Thing” by B52s, then I put on a suit and listened to that and then went to meet my girl coming home from work and then I put on some Herb Alpert from the 60s while she was cooking. But the songs that are constantly in my mind right now, the week before and that I DJed at our bar and then later at a private party last weekend are:
The Revillos – Motorbike Beat
The Maggots – Lets Get Lets Get Tammy Wynette
The Spits – Dropout
Los Reactors – Dead in the Suburbs
The Haskels – Taking the City by Storm
The Marked Men – We Won’t Talk About It
The Dirtbombs – They Hate us in Scandinavia
Cockney Rejects – War on the Terraces
The Maids – Back to Bataan
The Nights of the New Crusade – Secret Sign
xFiruath: What’s happening in your local music scene in Norway these days?
Fenriz: Obliteration is making an album, we just released one, Magister Templi is coming out with album and Black Magic and Blood Tsunami and Condor too, if you try to look beyond all the normal “big” bands they have tried or are trying to sell you outta Norway we have a damn cool metal and heavy metal scene too. Just don’t believe the “big” names they always try to sell ya. You just gotta check the Band of the Week blog to keep updated, most of the awesome bands are there.
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