Hi, Niklas! Congratulations for the crushing “8 ½ – Feberdrömmar I Vaket Tillstånd”! How did you arrive at this album?
Thank you. 8 ½ is in no way a new album. About ten years ago, the original pre-recordings for III were bootlegged by a German company, however, they used very plain versions made as demos for Hellhammer before entering the studio. I have been annoyed that these fuckers have managed to cash in on my lifework, and more so, extremely pissed that these versions have been as widely spread as they have. So, since we had some time to spare, we recorded bass and keys on top of the already existing tracks and finally teamed up with Dark Essence Records to release them in a way that was more genuine and more interesting.
How did you choose the guest-vocalists who take part in five of the songs?
In 2008 we had actually planned to re-record our debut album and have six different vocalists making their own interpretations of the songs. However, this did not happen as we recorded the sixth and seventh album instead during that session. Back when that idea was being toyed around with, all six were already on board on the project. Now, a few years later one of them had to be replaced as we have somewhat come to disagree on certain things over the years. And the sixth one, Trondr Nefas, unfortunately died, so instead I chose to include the “Through Corridors Of Oppression” track we recorded during the III session and which never was released in a proper way, apart from on a split 7” with Finnish Dolorian.
Attila Csihar and Maniac bring quite a “Mayhem” sound to the songs in which they participate…Was the contribution of famous vocalists a major motive, or rather a colourful addition?
I have known all these people with the exception of Famine for a very long time and have worked with these individuals on other projects throughout the years, and obviously they are fantastic artists, thus, the choices were not based on if they are “famous” or not, but rather whether they are good or not. The reason I combined the old idea of the re-recording of the debut with these songs was simply to make something completely different this time around. Although, I do not sense that much Mayhemic spirit just because of Maniac and Attila, and for the latter I would draw parallels to Plasma Pool and Tormentor rather than Mayhem.
Was there a curious story you can think of during the recordings?
Not really. It was more than a decade ago I recorded the original guitars and drums so the passage of time has, in a way, shed some darkness over the whole process. And as for the vocalist’s own separate recordings, I choose not to be present, because my opinion would have interfered with their respective work.
Once the album is out, do you plan to shoot a video for some of the songs?
If there will be such a video, do you plan to invite some of the album’s guest-vocalists?
If we were to record a video, which we won’t, obviously the vocalist performing would have to be there. Are you conceiving tours?! Concerts?
Shining have gone through a lot of negativity recently, and so have I, on a personal level, so till now we have only performed six or seven festivals gigs during 2013. However, we did agree to a smaller club-tour throughout Europe in November. It will be interesting definitely having the new line-up tearing the world apart non-stop for a couple of weeks.
I had the chance to see you live (2009 in Germany with Satyricon), and I can note your shocking (for some) behaviour on stage. Is this you in real life, or is it a scenic act?
Of course it is me. I am not interested in playing a role merely to give a few idiots something to talk about. If I had been doing this for 17 years based on nothing but shock-value the band would have died a long time ago, which we can see happening to bands who do just that. See, as an artist, you have to ”give” something genuine, otherwise your true colours would eventually be revealed. Yet, I do not really see what you, or someone else for that matter, would consider shocking with our shows.
What about the passionate kiss mouth-to-mouth with your bassist? In fact, a contributor to our webzine also saw you in London, same tour, and had a chance to ask you the same… She recalls you maintaining your hetero-sexuality (while mentiong your then-bassist was gay), but also hinting to a few spicy details about sexual fetishes… If this isn’t too intrusive or off-limits, we’d be curious to hear whatever you care to share on sexuality…
Your contributor, did I fuck her?
(No, but I offered you strap-on play. – the contributor)
No, seriously, the bassist you are referring to, Andreas Larsen, who is bi-sexual and a fucking maggot who should be raped for the shit he pulled in the end. Unfortunately, this is a story whose details I cannot share out of respect to another member. But, those kisses happened but have nothing to do with my own sexual identity. I did those rather to strengthen the presence of discomfort and hatred within the band on stage. It worked for me at least. As for my sexual preferences that seemed to intrigue your colleague, I believe these are more or less known the past 5-6 years. Nothing special, just that I love women’s feet and legs clothed in nylon stockings and six inch heels. Occasionally drinking from the female vaults too… If you are truly interested to know more about these things I suggest you check out the coming issue of SKIN MAGAZINE where I am revealing possibly too much on the subject. However, as you get older, this interest somewhat decreases. Hopefully in the end one reaches the point where carnal pleasures are totally out of the question.
Do you find today’s black metal scene as free/exciting as it should be, or claims to be, in this respect or any other? What are your thoughts on being “true” to your stage persona, or the relation of life and art?
My art is my life, my religion and my needs all tied together, for both good and bad. I do not give the slightest fuck about any scene though, as I have myself and a few brothers and sisters in my life, which honestly, is more than enough. And I have never been either interested in, nor felt any need to “belong” to any community or whatever floats other idiots boats.
Also in 2009, you had announced a date in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, but the show was cancelled. Can you recall what happened then?
I have no idea, might have been bogus. I do know we cancelled a tour somewhere back then, but no single gigs.
Do you have any current offers from promoters to visit our country?
Unfortunately not. If anyone had come up with a good enough offer we would definitely consider it. Bulgaria, and that particular part of Europe, has always intrigued me. And to go back to your previous question about my preferred sexual fetishes, I would say that this part of the world, without a single moment of doubt, has the most beautiful women I have ever seen. There’s something about these Eastern European girls that makes me want to move there one day.
Let’s go back to “8 ½ – Feberdrömmar I Vaket Tillstånd” – what is your message there?
Message? It’s an album between two other albums and, as it hits the streets, a solid statement that we have not given up nor have any thought of ever doing that either. However, if I had my will, I would love to see the album getting our listeners to actually experience fever-dreams while awake. That would be wonderful.
If I read correctly, you re-recorded the songs in search of more authentic sound?What was different in re-recording these songs, compared to the versions included in previous releases? To elaborate on the same question, may we involve you in indirect polemics with Frost of SATYRICON (and many others for that matter), expressing a general opinion on re-recording – what would you comment on this, with regard to your new album? Was not having the technical means back then a motive?
Would you re-record a whole album; and do you think the ‘authentic spirit’ is property of the given moment back in the day, or can it be actualized?
“I think that it’s all a bit dubious whenever bands choose to re-record old material, because an album isn’t only about the tracks that are there but it’s something about the sound and the spirit of the time when it was recorded, and the spirit of the band at that point in time. I sometimes hear bands that do splendid live renderings of old songs, and they do it tighter and even more convincing than the old days; but as a more general view I think that there must be very very specific reasons to re-record whole albums. Sometimes you feel like you have good songs, but it just didn’t turn out that well because you didn’t have the proper means to record them properly or whatever. Still it feels strange if it should be for whole albums, not for just single songs.”
That is totally wrong, these takes were already recorded as demos BEFORE we recorded the real album, so in essence, they are the original recordings, or at least the base of these. I do agree with Frost on this, however, but as I said, the circumstances surrounding these very recordings are totally different. Yet, yes, of course one should avoid re-recording a whole album in general. Because, as he says, and I totally agree, there is no way to recreate the magic that fuelled the original sessions.
At the end of 2012, you issued a book: “When Prozac No Longer Helps” – how was it accepted by the audience?
Strangely enough, the book sold out in a matter of weeks. That is also why we are publishing a second edition next month. Same thing as last time, but with a different cover and some additional lyrics. More importantly, we’re only selling the book through www.shininglegions.com to avoid leaches getting their filthy hands on copies and then putting them up for insane prices on eBay and such. Pre-sales are looking good, so who knows, might be a third edition someday too. Completely depends on the demand of course.
To what extent do you think psychological deviance is a factor in extreme metal?
I don’t really know what extreme metal is, but as for Black Metal the answer is obviously yes. I cannot for the love of Lucifer understand how someone can even dare to touch the darkness without sincerity within their hearts. Luckily though, the ones who try usually get burnt quickly, and leave their futile attempts behind while carrying the wounds inflicted upon them till death and beyond!
Do you envision further books?
I don’t really consider what I have already released to be a real book to be honest. It’s a collection of lyrics. I did however write a book a while back, maybe 4-5 years ago but decided not to publish once Martin Strandberg came up with the idea of the movie instead.
What are your general plans for the future?
To rebuild what many have tried to destroy the past year. Signing with a new record-label and other collaborators before entering the studio to record number nine. Then of course some touring and playing as many festivals we can to secure our place on Tellus as the band your parents warned you about.
Do you have a message to your fans in Bulgaria?
Pray that we will get there soon so that you’ll experience our horror-ridden ceremony in person! And if you are female, do remember the dress code.
Everything can be solved with violence, and if you still are unsuccessful, you just haven’t used enough violence.
Interview by: Mrazek & Beyond The Black