Interviewing Bathory was a treat. Sure it has to do with
the fact that this (practically) one-man act from Sweden is one of the
three bands from the early to mid-80s that are credited with influencing
the second, and most important, wave of black metal in Scandinavia. But
it also has a lot to do with the enigma of Quorthon, Bathory's sole recognized
I had been warned that Quorthon is a walking contradiction.
There may be some truth to that, as he denies things in this interview
that he said in previous, reliable ones. He even contradicts himself in
a couple minor ways within this very interview itself. How much is hot
air? How much is this mysterious man (of whom I could only find one recent
picture) trying to uphold this image that both he and his legions of fans
have set up for him? Quothon goes into some detail about this very point:
having to live up to what has become an institution.
And Quorthon's institution is one of mystery; awkward, gratuitous
sexual references out of the blue; and a sort of martyr/ god duality.
"I'm a slave to Bathory," he laments, implying that he has no
control over his art and, if he could, would probably be rid of the whole
bloated scene that speculates on his every move. To sum it up most bluntly,
Quorthon is a big dork, but one that gives priceless quote after priceless
quote, is intelligent, sharp, astute, and an excellent conversationalist.
And in his supreme art of being a dorky mastermind, I respect Quorthon
a great deal. - Roberto
Maelstrom: Black Mark seems to primarily be the Bathory
vehicle, and then you put out a few things here and there also.
It's for Bathory and for the diehards. We don't brown nose the mainstream
by saying, "hey, we just put out a set of condoms, can we just put
a full page in your magazine about that." We'll talk to the press
when there's an album out, and some press we'll say no to. For instance
there's a whole bunch of European, big, big metal magazines we will not
Maelstrom: Why is that?
Quorthon: Because they've been hanging around with first
of all, very jealous Bathory clones; second of all because they felt they
couldn't control us - what do you call it? Lion tamer? Ring leader? -
they couldn't paint Bathory in a corner. Every time they hailed us as
the original Vikings, we come out with something that's completely different,
and they don't like that. And they come out in reviews sounding very personal;
and it's not about music. Anyway, I'm used to it. With Nordland,
we've been receiving top grades in all media over the past couple of weeks.
This is a very awkward situation when people say this is the best we've
ever done - you just wait for the big bang, because we're used to crap
reviews, and all of a sudden people say that "this is the best you've
Maelstrom: What I think is remarkable is that Bathory had been quiet
and then you put out two albums in two years.
Quorthon: I have some private videos if you…(sustained laugh) Everything
from my house, people can have tons of it if they want it. With an album,
you have to wait. You can't release an album every six months.
Maelstrom: Destroyer of Worlds has the hockey song
("Sudden Death"). I have to talk to you about that.
Quorthon: Oh, that's great.
You must have got all sorts of horrible feedback about it.
Quorthon: …no, not horrible.
Quorthon: You don't have to be a 14 year-old dork to enjoy hockey. No,
that's great. People got the whole point.
Maelstrom: Ok, what's the whole point?
Quorthon: The point was for people who ask me if it's true
I eat babies and drink blood and live in a cave in the north of Sweden
- if they're sincerely asking me that, they don't see the humor in anything.
They're feeding from the image and the legend and they believe in it.
Do you really want those kind of people to listen to your album and then
write you a letter saying: "Hey, you're my god"? What kind of
personal relationship can you have with a person who becomes kind of a
slave to the Bathory legend? I put out two solo albums full of crap that
was as far away from Bathory as you could possibly get. I was trying to
chase away all those nutcases, like people sending me bags of dirt from
Maelstrom: Did you really get a bag of dirt from a graveyard?
Quorthon: Yeah, there was a girl in Los Angeles. This was way back in
'89. She'd send me a lot of letters - very strange letters, sometimes
written in blood. And one day she sent me a plastic bag with earth. And
I said, "what the hell is this?" So I wrote her back and she
said, "one night I went to the graveyard and lay down on the grave
and masturbated under the full moon. I thought the earth would be full
of magic powers for your black magic ceremonies." And I said, "you've
been reading the lyrics too carefully." I've had dead cats sent in
the mail; people send porn pictures of their girlfriends dressed up as
nuns with crucifixes up their you-know-whats; sometimes you ask yourself,
how many of these people will be potential church burners, or murderers?
Sometimes you have a responsibility.
Maelstrom: So your responsibility was to make a song about hockey? Is
that what you're getting at? Is it sort of a joke?
Quorthon: As a joke, yes. The thing was, during the late
90s, the debate was about what the true and false sound of Bathory was.
I said I didn't want to suck the cock of Odin and I didn't want to brownnose
Satan all my life. Allow me to develop and evolve a little bit; the way
I was allowed to during the 80s. Back then, everything was new; during
the 90s, it was more a case of picking up something from the past and
just doing that to please one half of your audience. And so I said, "allow
me to pick some other topics." One of my friends said, "you
ride a Harley, why not write a Harley song?" Yeah, I guess we could
do that. We'd been singing about incest, the nuclear war, and the environment
on Bathory albums. Also, I was making an interview with a Canadian magazine
in those days and they said, "hey, you're a big hockey fan. When
are you going to make a hockey song?" And I thought, "that's
a good idea." (laugh)
Maelstrom: So when you were talking about "suck the cock of Vikings
and brownnose Satan," but now you've gone back to a full-on, Viking
concept album. I'm sure it's going to make a lot of people happy - I love
it. But it's kind of in contrast to what you were talking about.
Quorthon: No, it's not going back. I see Bathory as a twin-headed
beast doing parallel things. If I even mentioned the word Satan in one
lyric, it wouldn't be a return to something; it would be just a continuation
of either side of your brain. I mean, you don't have a Big Mac everyday,
and all girls have three holes. So I mean there are plenty of alternatives.
With Bathory, it's not about doing "Cats" every week. It's about
seeing other shows; not just watching Arnold Swarzenegger movies, but
maybe reading a classic book. That was what the whole identity crisis
during the 1990s was all about.
Maelstrom: Are you talking about your identity crisis?
Quorthon: Well, it seemed like an identity crisis
because in the 80s the whole debate regarding style and topics was in
the form of fan mail, and that's very private. But with internet and all
the fans growing up and becoming part of magazines and fanzines and having
these internet sites, the debate was in the open - which is of course
not a negative thing - but it became something completely different. And
so it became an enormous item: "Is Bathory dead?" was one; two,
"is Bathory recycling old crap to suck the last few bucks out of
a corpse?"; three, "what's the true and genuine side of Bathory?
When they do something that is not that, is it prostitution?" When
you're on the receiving end of all of those opinions (and opinions are
like assholes - everyone's got one), that makes you ask the question,
"why the hell am I doing this?" Because no one seems to be actually
appreciating what you are doing. You're in the studio recording realizing
that no matter what this album sounds like, 50 percent of your audience
is going to be disappointed.
Maelstrom: So why are you doing it?
Quorthon: I feel I have this sort of obligation, first and
foremost. I used to be the ringleader of Bathory; now Bathory's my master.
It's like an actor doing "Hamlet." Instead of Hamlet writing
something, which was [Bathory's] case in the 80s, I'm just the actor or
the civil servant of the monster Bathory. Whenever I write something,
it has to sound like Bathory. It must be a little bit underground. It
can't have that Y2K kind of sound. It's a role I play; at the same time,
I'm proud of my past. When I pick up one of these so-called Nordic, Viking
metal records, if people consider me to be a pioneer of that, why not
[continue to] do it?
Maelstrom: So you've become an institution.
Quorthon: It has sort of become like an institution. If
Santa all of a sudden would say, "so, fuck Christmas!" it would
disappoint a lot of people!
Maelstrom: Hahahahaha! So, you see it as your duty?
Quorthon: It is. And it has a life of its own. There's this
Nordland shit out right now. It's not necessarily what I'd like
to do forever, but it's also not what Bathory's been about for the past
Maelstrom: How is it different? How is it different from
what Twilight of the Gods or Hammerheart is?
Quorthon: About 14 years, that's how different it is. People
have these ideas about bundling records up in twos or threes. This is
the same thing like saying we have to compare everything Slayer will ever
do to Reign in Blood. Do you do that and bundle up Slayer albums?
No. I mean, Slayer has a very unique sound and they've stayed true to
the sound and they changed very little from one album to another, at least
the stuff that I've heard. The last thing I heard was actually Reign
in Blood, so…. No, I've heard one song from Slayer every three
or four years.
Maelstrom: How much do you keep up with what's going on in metal today?
Quorthon: Well, I don't. you can be an active part or an inactive part
of something, and I don't even think I'm an inactive part. I will sometimes
come down to the office and there will be metal magazines. I'll flip through
the pages and sometimes wonder if it's a kid's Halloween party or if it's
a sex show. When a tree grows and you just stand there, nothing's going
to happen. But if you come back one year later, a lot of things have happened.
So when I do occasionally hear something - because each one of those magazines
will have CDs - and it all sounds the same, but it sounds very different
from six to eight months before. It used to be a lot of girl singing and
violins and flutes and you go, "wow, things really have changed."
Maelstrom: The reason I brought this up was I wanted to know if you had
an opinion on Enslaved, who are largely considered the best Viking metal
Quorthon: I will not even be able to read a lot of those new bands' logos.
I did an interview with a Swedish magazine and he asked a lot of questions
about Swedish extreme metal bands; I didn't even know all of them were
Maelstrom: Well, you can tell from your sound: like, if you
listen to Nordland I, it has a very old heavy metal sound - it's
a proper heavy metal album. There are so few heavy metal albums anymore
- it's like "it's a black metal album; it's a death metal album,
it's a power metal album," but this really sounds like a heavy metal
sound to it; this theme running through it.
Quorthon: I came down to the studio once to talk to an engineer. He was
working with another band in the studio - one of these extreme metal bands.
I saw the guitar player: he looked like he had an aircraft carrier in
front of him - with all these boxes and things - and he was playing a
guitar with two million strings on it, and it didn't even sound like a
guitar. During the break I asked him, "hey, sometimes don't you want
your instrument to sound like a guitar? With no effects and a plain Marshall
amplifier?" And he looked at me and said, "it's the sound."
Yeah, but the sound is in the guitar and how you play and write your songs,
not in all those technicalities. I don't even use a distortion box in
the studio. It's fashion, of course. Everybody records their guitars and
drums in exactly the same way.
Maelstrom: The drums sound real on the new record. Is it
a drum machine or a mix like before (like on Twilight of the Gods)?
Quorthon: Twilight… is entirely drum machine;
Requiem is entirely real. For most of the 90s, except for…god,
I can't even remember.
Maelstrom: That's ok, how about the new one?
Quorthon: For Nordland, there are these small,
stupid microphones called condensed microphones. You kind of scotch tape
them onto the drum skin. You can use any shit kit you want - you just
record the impact - the signal. You feed the signal through a computer.
You can use a soundbank, like with 600 different snare drum sounds. So
essentially you just beat a phone book, or snap your fingers. But you
need a live playing feel, so you record on a shit drum kit with these
Maelstrom: Was it you playing drums?
Quorthon: No, it was a friend of mine.
Maelstrom: I'm asking these questions because I couldn't find any credits
on the album for drums. It just says, "all music and lyrics by Quorthon."
Quorthon: Even in the days when I had punk friends of mine playing on
the first couple of albums, we didn't put any names in the credits.
Maelstrom: So it's just you and this guy on drums.
Quorthon: Yeah, it's the same situation as on Hammerheart.
Maelstrom: Has it always been the same guy?
Quorthon: No, he's been involved on Twilight…,
Octagon, Destroyer… and Nordland.
Maelstrom: Is it someone we might know?
Quorthon: I don't think his mother even…. No, he's the kind of
guy who doesn't have anything to do with metal at all. He will occasionally
listen to Johnny Thunder or something like that. He doesn't even look
like he's into metal; he looks like Dudley Moore. (sustained, building,
kind of maniacal laugh) Don't tell him I told you that.
Maelstrom: I wouldn't even know who he was. If I saw a guy who looked
like Dudley Moore, I'd have to ask him, "hey, do you know Quorthon?"
Quorthon: Yeah, exactly. Haha.
Maelstrom: Quorthon, have you ever, ever played live? Not with Bathory,
but with any band?
Quorthon: Yeah, sure. I had an oi punk band prior to Bathory. If you
translate the name it would be "Battle Dick."
Maelstrom: What's that in Swedish?
Quorthon: Stridskuk. The battle dick is what each batallion in the sort
of ranger, marine corps here in Sweden has. If you fail a course, they
will engrave your name in the battle dick. (sort of creepy, muffled, sniffing
Maelstrom: So what is it? Is it like a piece of wood, or something?
Quorthon: Yeah, it's just a wooden pole. (sniffing laughter) Yeah, it's
one of those stupid things. The drummer in one of my punk bands had been
in the military. I wasn't allowed to do the military service because of
my long hair.
Maelstrom: Really? They wouldn't just grab you and cut your hair?
Quorthon: No, they cannot do that in Sweden.
Maelstrom: They can't?
Maelstrom: Then why wouldn't everyone just grow their hair out, then?
Quorthon: ….uh….yeah, well, that's a good question. Is it
a voluntary thing in the United States?
Maelstrom: It's still a voluntary thing, yeah.
Quorthon: In Sweden it's not. But if you're born in a certain year or
belong to a certain generation or class - for example there was a very
good year (wheezing, happy laughter) where there was a surplus of 25,000
kids joining up in the kids, they will have to say no to 25 percent of
people. Don't ask me why we have to do military service because we don't
have military power anymore. In five years we've cancelled 50 percent
of the military force. I think we're just going to tax the enemy to death.
Maelstrom: I've heard a lot about how everything is taxed in Sweden.
Quorthon: Oh, yeah. If you buy a book in Sweden, 40 percent is added
to the price. If you buy a CD in the shops, it will cost you 25 bucks.
On the other hand, we get very high salaries. The average Swedish salary
per month is $1800-2000.
Maelstrom: That's not that high. Not for San Francisco.
Quorthon: Well, it's a very stupid system. If you buy something and you
need it, you can deduct it from your declaration.
Maelstrom: But you can't deduct metal CDs, obviously.
Quorthon: If you're a journalist, or you have a fanzine, you can, because
that's your job. I'm a professional musician, so whenever I buy strings
or anything, I save the receipt. So I get 50 percent back. So it's a stupid
situation: you pay twice as much for anything, but you get half back later
Maelstrom: Do you like to listen to music, Quorthon?
Quorthon: Sure. I listen to everything. I can listen to The Beatles and
Glen Miller, Motorhead and Sabbath, Purple, Zeppelin…
Maelstrom: So you gravitate more to the stuff from your time, when you
were growing up.
Quorthon: Yeah, that's sort of what shapes your personality. I don't
think you change very much past 20. Having said that, though, the music
that my older friends, who're into Blue Oyster Cult and David Bowie -
I didn't listen to that - but nowadays I'm beginning to pick those records
up; you know, Frank Zappa and things like that.
Maelstrom: So, this is Nordland I. How many Nordlands
do you think you'll put out?
Now you've turned a light bulb on. No, there's just one more. What happened
is that when we came down to the studio someone said we had two hours
worth of material. We couldn't put that on a double album 'cause the distribution
network doesn't really like double albums - they have their standard boxes:
25 CDs in a box. Also, the record stores aren't very interested in ordering
double albums because 1) they think they'll have to pay more and 2) they
think they'll sell less. So we decided to put them out as separate releases.
But they're identical in every way except the logo being in silver and
gold, and blablabla….and of course the music. (laugh).
Maelstrom: You know, black metal is so funny. It has this mystique about
loving things that are old. I think that's a huge reason why you'll always
be successful because as long as you're attached to black metal, people
will love you - because you're "old." You're from the old days;
you're largely credited with two other bands as having started the whole
second wave of black metal, as they call it. On Ebay - there's this auction
site called Ebay…
Quorthon: Yeah, the parasite site. They sell illegal stuff always.
Maelstrom: Yeah. There's this one band from France (Vlad Tepes) that
is so cult. They have these limited edition CDRs - CDRs, right - in the
world, and they sell for like, $300 if they go on. And people will lose
their mind. But if it were something else, like death metal or some other
kind of metal, it's not as collectible, 'cause there's not this fixation
with "ancient" things. That's what black metal is all about:
cult, dirty, screwed up sound.
Quorthon: But isn't it strange? You have the black metal boom right now,
and you can be on the cover of People (almost, if you're in a black metal
band), and you're perceived as being in something that's underground.
Maelstrom: I know, but I think that's entirely different. I understand
what you're saying, like with bands like Cradle of Filth. But things like
that aren't "cult."
Quorthon: One of the members emailed me and asked me if he could join
Bathory. He wrote me his real name, because I didn't know the name. When
I checked his email address, it turned out to be Cradle of Filth. So I
logged on to their homepage, and I saw his picture there! Hahahaha.
Maelstrom: And he was all done up, I'm sure.
Quorthon: What I wrote him was, "I'm sure there are some people
in your neighborhood that play and you can form a band sometime."
Maelstrom: Which guy was it?
Quorthon: I promised I wouldn't tell.
Maelstrom: So what do you think of the whole look of black metal nowadays?
"Nowadays"… Shit, for the past 12 years?
Quorthon: Ultimately, the people that get the most out of a very diverse
scene is the audience. You can wear any shit you want, you can play any
way you want. If you are crap, you are crap, but who's to decide what's
correct and what's not? You can sell shit in glass jars, a buck a jar,
if your advertising is good. If you just kill people with enough heavy
advertising, they will succumb sooner or later. Most of Bathory stuff
was recorded on 8-track in a garage 20 years ago, and we still have to
press 5,000 every three months. So I don't think it's all about advertising,
or having two million spikes in your leather underwear. But things have
to change. If acts would look like me or Cronos of Venom forever, it wouldn't
develop. So all these young acts - I consider them my kids sometimes when
I talk to them - I think they're great. It's great in the sense that they're
picking up the torch, but with a different life.
Maelstrom: You mentioned you have two hours worth of material.
Is Nordland II already recorded?
Quorthon: Well, everything was recorded in July. So we put one half of
the material aside and figured we'd add all the extra stuff later on so
we'd have more time to complete the stuff for part two.
Maelstrom: So when is the next one coming out? (Chuckle)
Well, let's talk about when it's coming out in Europe because as you said
before, Nordland I isn't coming out for a little while in the
Quorthon: The record company definitely want to have Nordland
I out by late winter, 2003. However, we have the 20th anniversary
to think about. We're occupied these days with putting out all the old
Bathory albums on vinyl. Now, they're all remastered and everything. Since
we're putting out so much stuff, we decided to put it out sometime in
Maelstrom: Black metal is the least tolerant of metal styles. You have
to adhere to these strict (image and compositional) rules to be "true."
The latest flavor of extremism is racism. I don't know if you were aware
Quorthon: It's probably in the United States. I had never heard of it
before. Metal Maniacs asked me about it a couple of days ago. They asked
if I knew that my albums were a big influence on the skinhead scene in
Maelstrom: It's funny. I was interviewing Barney Greenway from Napalm
Death and he was saying that some skinhead bands have taken Manowar in
a similar context in their true, Aryan pride. But, no, a lot of the bands
are from Poland or France or Germany.
Well, I think that it's great that they're playing music and getting to
some kind of disciplined activity rather than just hanging around kicking
people in the head. But if we try to look at it in a race (negative) point
of view, why not include hip hop? That's Black Panther, "I'm gonna
shoot you, you White motherfucker," all over again. People are not
talking about hip hop because we're white and we're guilty because of
slavery and the Holocaust. If it's White racism, it's bad, but if it's
racism from any other color, it's "how can we serve you?" So,
I don't see the problem. I disconnected all that kind of discussion when
we put out an album called Hammerheart. We had a sunwheel on
the back of the album, and people - especially in Germany, 'cause they're
the most paranoid people in the world, anyway - got very upset about it
'cause they thought we had serious Nazi connections.
Maelstrom: We did an interview with Skyforger, this Latvian band, and
they were talking about how they play up the Pagan angle, and how on the
back of their albums they have sunwheels - swatztikas. They were saying
how in Latvia that symbol is a very important cultural one, so it's not
banned as people understand it's not necessarily a Nazi thing.
Quorthon: Well, in Asia it's a happy symbol.
Maelstrom: Yeah, it means 10,000 years (forever in East Asian cultures).
Quorthon: The sunwheel has been carved into mountainsides for 3,000 years
in Sweden. We're talking about a little historical period that was 12
years in Germany. If we should judge cultures and symbols from all over
the world because of a 12-year intermission in German history, then something
is wrong here. You can't chase ghosts in a white linen shop.
Maelstrom: I thought it was interesting about what you were talking about
concerning selective racism. I think I may have the same views as you…
I don't approve of White power groups' views, but if rappers can be racist
against groups of people, then….
Quorthon: Well, it's fashion. It's White, Christian, fat society putting
a lot of gangsters from the 'hood on stage and thinking, "oh, this
is kid's culture." A couple years back you had Tipper Gore putting
labels on metal records, getting upset about something she couldn't understand.
You have all these Christian nutcases playing Madonna records backwards
instead of chasing bands like Dimmu Borgir. But acts of the extreme metal
scene will not attract the same kind of attention, so they will not go
for those guys. The mainstream, western, Christian, fat, capitalist person
wouldn't understand or know anything about Dimmu Borgir or Bathory anyways.
They will go for anything that will give them a big forum for their opinions.
I've seen a talk show with a Neo-Nazi and a big, fat Negro saying, "the
Bible is the true book," and they refer to the same phrases in the
same fucking book. So, we shouldn't look at symbols as something evil;
symbols in themselves are innocent. People have different colors and cultures
and languages. It's the same thing as "true" black metal and
"false" black metal: a lot of people with too much spare time
and too few ideas of their own.
Maelstrom: But your music is a part of this whole scene.
Quorthon: During interrogation of church burning suspects by the Norwegian
national police, Bathory lyrics were mentioned several times. So the police
got a hold of these lyrics and read them. When I heard that I had to read
my own lyrics, which, incidentally, I couldn't remember, but I didn't
mention anywhere about killing homosexuals or burning down churches.
Maelstrom: How did that make you feel when you heard about that?
Quorthon: Well, being Swedish and knowing Norway, I know that Norway
is a very conservative, Christian country. If you chase a rat into a corner,
it's going to bite even the biggest lion at the throat. Sweden is a very,
very liberal country; if you live in a place like Norway, where they still
sell porno magazines in brown paper bags, where all they have is cod and
oil… and good looking girls….but, basically…
Maelstrom: I don't know…I think Swedish women are way better looking.
Quorthon: Well, looks come from inside. Look at a person like Pamela
Anderson. Would you say that she's a good looking lady?
Maelstrom: Well, I think she's a good looking woman, yeah. I don't know
anything about her, though: I don't buy her pictures or watch her TV show.
Quorthon: She's obviously lousy in bed, she's half plastic, she can't
take care of her kids, she's doing drugs. I mean, it's superficial culture
that we're looking at. I think that people also look at black metal and
church burning and racism and everything in our society in a very superficial
way. But going back to Norway, if you release the pressure a little bit,
one of those days, one of those people is going to explode. Having lived
in a sub-culture for a long time, we didn't have in Sweden like they did
in Norway those sub-culture, black metal cults. If you tell people to
sleep with their hands on the blanket instead of under the blanket, when
they grow up, they're going to be in their own society, so to speak. You
have some cultures in every generation, Teddy boys, punk rockers, hippies…
People would put safety pins in their cheek or have green hair; you wouldn't
make any kind of revolution or statement for having that.
Maelstrom: I think hearing you talk is most interesting in
terms of coming from a Scandinavian perspective. A lot of the perception
of Norway and the scene has been mythicized and made to be a semi-fantastic
notion, so to have a more practical view of how it developed is nice.
Quorthon: I think people treat things they hear from exotic places like
Sweden and Norway with the same kind of mythology as when sailors would
come back to English ports talking about sea monsters and mermaids.
Maelstrom: Hey, I read once that you drove a cab.
Quorthon: Where did you read that?
Maelstrom: I read an interview you did with this guy (Jeff Wagner in
Worm Gear #9) in '95.
Quorthon: No, and I'll tell you why I've never driven a cab: I don't
have a driver's license. That's why I asked you which fucking magazine.
Maelstrom: (laugh) There was another thing about you used to box?
Quorthon: Oh, my God…
Maelstrom: That's not true, either?
No, it's not true. You want to know the greatest rumor I ever heard about
Bathory? That I died in 1991. You know the very best part of it? A guy
who wanted to know - after having spoken with me for 15 minutes - not,
"so, I heard this rumor," but, "so, is it true you died
in 1991?" He didn't even hear what he was saying. The rumors meant
so much to him: the mysteriousness and the whole thing that was created
(not by us, incidentally). It was an accident, and I played along with
it when we realized, in the mid-80s, that people were drawn to the band
because of the mystery. We were together for 10-12 months, but we didn't
release any pictures, because they would have noticed that we were three
spotty, shit kids from Stockholm. Now, Bathory has developed into this
three-headed demon, Satanic, Neo-Nazi, fighting beast. Well, if a Neo-Nazi
in Poland is picking up a Bathory album because of that, great. Maybe
he will change his opinions and get into some serious music and understand
the arrangements and listen to Beethoven, or whatever.
Maelstrom: Well, I really liked that interview. He was also talking about
the rumor of Boss (the Bathory producer) being your father.
Quorthon: Yeah, I've been asked that question…
Maelstrom: I'm not going to ask you.
Quorthon: No, but it's like when people ask you the one
man band thing, or all the other shit things; it doesn't matter how many
times you answer the question. Sometimes you lose respect for the whole
media thing and people in general. They just don't seem to actually pay
attention to what you're saying. Boss is 52, I'm 37. Add that up yourself.
All these stories surrounding Bathory are crazy. Terrorizer once wrote
a review of my second solo album as, "it's nice that Quorthon has
found a forum to discuss his former drug problems." And I didn't
even smoke cigarettes.
Maelstrom: It sounds like Terrorizer could have a law suit on their hands.
Quorthon: Well, if I had been an American and Terrorizer were an American
Maelstrom: You could have sued them for libel.
Quorthon: I heard that USA stands for "united suing of America."
Maelstrom: (laugh) No, libel is a really serious thing.
Quorthon: Well, I'm not gonna sue everybody each and every time that
shit gets brought up. It saddens me to see how people can use so much
space in a magazine discussing stuff that I killed 10 or 15 or 20 years
Maelstrom: Hey, speaking of suing. Recently I read this interview with
Marduk. They were talking about a Bathory tribute that they were on. There
was something about this guy trying to release this album and how you
tried to sue him.
Maelstrom: That's not true?
Quorthon: The thing was, he came to us.
Maelstrom: Ok, please clear the record up, here.
Quorthon: Ok. A former member of Necrophobic (which used
to be on Black Mark) is one of Sweden's biggest Bathory fans, and he wanted
to put together a tribute album with Bathory. He contacted us and we said,
sure, great, and if he needed help with lyrics. He would work years on
that project. Each and every time he would say, "at the end of the
year. There's a new band coming up with a new version…" He
sent us a photocopy of the cover that had the band logo and the goat.
We told him we were very sorry, but those were trademarks of Bathory and
that they were copyrighted and protected. If I produced jeans in my basement,
I couldn't call them Levi's. I could call them Dickhead Pants, or whatever.
So we said he had to change that and asked when the album was going to
come out. He said, "oh, in about a year and a half." Ok, so
he had plenty of time to change that. The next idea he came out with was
almost identical. It had a photo by a photographer I know. I asked him
if he had gotten permission to use his picture. He said, "no, I'm
gonna steal the picture, as the project is almost complete. I want to
get this album out." I said, "yeah, but you have to realize
you're going to step on a lot of feet. This is a commercial product."
We didn't hear from him for another six months until I went downtown and
I saw an advertisement on a subway, and there it was, In Conspiracy
with Satan. I told Black Mark he put the album out anyway with the
original cover and everything. I went to the record shop and I looked
at it. They had the logo, the goat and the English photographer's picture.
We called the authorities and it turned out that the tribute album hadn't
been reported, royalty-wise. So it was no longer our case, it was the
Swedish authorities. They said, "you're not allowed to put something
on the market if it contains somebody else's work." So he had to
withdraw the whole first batch. We said, "ok, now you have a golden
opportunity to re-manufacture the album cover so you will not step on
our feet." Six months later he puts the whole album out again, not
having changed anything.
Maelstrom: Wow, that's very strange.
Quorthon: And very stupid, yes. So we said that really he
wasn't giving us much of a choice. So we went to the Swedish court and
asked for help. We explained it was a tribute and explained the whole
thing with tributes, how it's ok to use other group's songs. It's very
difficult to sit down and talk to a 55-year old gran how the whole metal
scene works. When she had been assured it wasn't a theft of song material,
it was just, "please help us out so we can get the album on the market
without infringing on any copyright laws." So she sent him a letter
to which he had to reply to in 90 days, and he didn't. So he was called
to the court, where the product was deemed illegal, meaning they weren't
allowed to sell or re-press it. And yet here we are 5 or 6 years later
and they're still re-pressing it.
Maelstrom: Were you just really personally opposed to having the goat
and the Bathory logo on it? They are your songs, even though it's not
you playing them.
Quorthon: If I take a leak in a bottle and call it Coca Cola and sell
it, what do you think that would do in terms of copyrights and things
Maelstrom: But you don't have anything to do with Coca Cola.
Quorthon: No, but Coca Cola's attorneys do. Ok, we were
talking about how the US is a suing nation; well, in Sweden we have those
laws, too. I wouldn't mind if you're going to make this tribute album
in an underground fashion, but these are professional acts. I would never,
ever put a Marduk logo on a Bathory album, or any album and record their
music and sell it and make money from it. If you look at it from a neutral
point of view, all they had to do was just change the album cover. The
whole point wasn't the money - Bathory's sold 1.3 million albums; I haven't
had to have a job for 20 years (and I'm not driving a cab) - the whole
point was an infringement of copyright laws, and those are international.
There was nothing we could do about it. Once it ended up in the Swedish
courts, it was not our case, it was the courts'. Because the guys who
were responsible for the album fucked up. We helped them out for 18 MONTHS,
and he didn't pay attention to any advice we gave him. I mean, there are
tons of tributes out there: I just received one from Greece, and it's
all perfect. Everything's reported, the don't use the logo, great
cover versions, interesting Greek accents…(laugh) I mean, you can
be an asshole and do asshole things, or you can do it the right way.
Maelstrom: Hey, Quorthon, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
Quorthon: Look out for [Nordland] Part II. The
guy who died in part I is alive in part II, so don't get mixed up.
Maelstrom: Cool. I won't believe anything I hear.
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