‘Every record is a story of what’s going on with my inner demons’ – interview with Lord Ahriman

This festival is quite a small one, and it is not a usual thing to see Dark Funeral on a small festival. Why you decided to participate this one?

Now sometimes we do smaller festivals, so that’s not so strange… it’s cool. I like to mix, and the size of the festival is not really what we are looking for. If we get a decent deal, if it’s financially possible for us to come, if it works in good timing… a lot of things are more important. Sometimes you never know what to expect on the small festivals, except the crowd, they are always good, but sometimes the organization is kind of bad. But so far everything have been working really-really good here. Everybody has been really professional and we have a good feeling that it will be a good night. So I’m not gonna give any credit so far because still a couple hours left, but if the day continues like this, and all the people who work here keep on doing their job as good as they have done so far, I’m definitely gonna give them good credit. But as I said, let’s take it.

There is even a longer and longer gap between your albums: between the first and the second ones it took two years, later on they come out in each third year, and we had to wait seven years for the last one. What was the reason behind?

Life… life. You know, I’m not one of those guys who just write for the sake of writing, I write when I have something to say. When it’s not too much going on in my life, I need to have a clear mind and just sink into my own darkness. As you know, we are touring quite a lot, and I also take care much of the business, so I have a kind of busy life. And every time when I come to the point like ‘okay, now I really have the feeling to start writing’, then we just start taking this, and we start touring, and do some shows of course once in a while, but not those extensive touring and stuff like that, and then I can get into the right mood and stuff. But I have started writing, so it’s not from scratch, and I really have a lot of inspiration. I have lots of ideas but I want to keep working on, so I just need time. At the moment it’s too much stress in my life, and I don’t want to do… when I don’t feel I have time for it to sit down. So hopefully we’ll have two months break after: we’re going to have Wacken again, and then we’ll go to Australia and New Zealand, and I think October and November, so far, is empty from shows, so hopefully I can continue a little bit during that time. That’s the plan and what I really want to do.

Where your inspiration is coming from while composing?

When I write, as I said, every record is a story of what’s going on in my life at that time, what’s going on with my inner darkness, with my inner demons, what they want to bring out to the crowd, or what I feel I need to get out of the system. So it’s always different thing, you know, each album means… I am what I am, and I have a dark soul, that’s quite obvious I guess. So that always gonna be my style when I write music. But each record still have different meaning because they reflect a time of when it was written, what was going on in my life at that time. I always tried to mix… at least more and more for the last couple of records, and I still want to continue on the same path. I want to keep on bringing in my own personal input, offer a little bit more on what’s going on inside of me, but also mix it with my Satanic vision and ideas. It’s not easy to bring in more personality into the music, open up yourself in the form of the music that much as I think I do. I think it tells me through life better and I think it turns out better also song wise.

What’s the way, how you are creating songs, are you working together, or everything is arising in your mind?

Much comes from my guitar playing and ideas there. But, especially on the last record, me and Heljarmadr (Andreas Vingbäck) were working really close together. I always keep everybody in the loop, so everybody can come in with input, if they have some input.

Who is the main lyricist of Dark Funeral? I extremely like your lyrics as they are quite complex with a complex meaning, it’s not an easy thing.

Yeah, that was most of me, and on the last record, that was me and Heljarmadr working a lot together. On the last record, there was so much thing going on in my life, I had really a long dark period when I just had to clean out in the form of the new record. So I had a lot of stories that I really need to get out of my chest. I had a lot of discussions with him, especially for two songs, Temple of Ahriman and As I Ascend, they are two very important songs for me. I have written down some lyrics, ideas, what I wanted to… I really wanted the music and the lyrics to be more in symbiosis together this time. Back in the days, me and Blackmoon (David Parland) were working a lot together both on lyrics and music. Then I could also bring in a lot of my lyrical ideas but I don’t had any interest for that a long time… but this time, I really have so much more to say. I think that’s very important and also fit to the band and the music. Yeah, Heljarmadr was really good and understanding, and re-wrote much of the stuff that I have written and really understood what I wanted to reflect with the music, he nailed it so good, so he did a good job.

Playing your songs is not an easy job because those ones are quite fast and melodic. Have you ever learned playing guitar, or you are a native musician?

To be honest, I don’t even know what I’m doing myself on the guitar. I don’t know any theory or anything. Maybe one thing that comes as a surprise, 80% of the guitar melodies I write acoustic, and it’s always been like that since I started playing guitar. In the early years I was playing acoustic guitar, that’s how I wrote melodies and stuff. Then I had the chance to start playing electric guitar, but I still use the same concept: I play and I come up with ideas acoustic.

 

One question about Ravenna Strigoi Mortii. If I listen to the track, then I have the impression that you tremolo picking but on stage I think you are playing it half speed, is that correct?

As I said I really don’t know what I’m doing. I mean I’m doing my thing and it works… as I said, it doesn’t matter. People are so fucking fed up with things have to be done this or that way, then they get locked and stuck in their own development and evolution. I think I do my thing, I do it my way, I fuck the rest… it is the result that counts. If you don’t like it, I don’t care, it’s still what I do. The technical side of things are not so important for me, this is only the feeling of the music… and when I play, when I’m right in the music, it is just a big part of who I am. But also when I perform the songs, it is a great way to just get one with the music. So how do you do it…? As I said, it’s not really important.

What about the feeling playing in the front of ten thousands of people being a headliner of a festival?

I mean… it’s a gig. We played in Colombia for over 70000 people, they were just people as far as you could see…

…and they are watching only you!

…yeah, and the stage was super big, all your band mates are like ten meters away. You just… you feel kind of lonely there onstage, even there are so many people there… You are just in your own world, it is so big distance from everybody, so yes, it’s kind of weird feeling. But I think it’s good to be able to do those super big shows, but also smaller shows… smaller shows can get more energetic, you can exchange the energy in a whole different way with the crowd. Sometimes you can come to a venue like ‘fuck man, it’s going to be a suck big time’, because the stage is so small. But sometimes those shows are the most fucking fun, because you can get so close to the crowd, everybody fucking going wild, it is like… it’s just fucking awesome. So I really like those super small stuff. But of course, you need a certain size of stage and equipment to be able to give the crowd your job. As I said, sometimes it just goes to the punk version, and just goes crazy, and sometimes those shows are really… killer.

You just had a Facebook comment last year after the Barcelona attack. What do you think about this kind of new thing which arose in Europe, I mean about the migration?

I’m not really a political kind of guy. I mean I have friends from people from all over the world, and we travel all over the world. I don’t mind where people coming from, but when they bring in too much of they fucking stupid religion and try to get some kind of benefit from them and pushing things to go political then it’s when I get pissed off. But it also matters what kind of religion it is this… any kind of religion when it’s mixed with politics, I think is the most dangerous thing ever.

I think Dark Funeral is probably one of the most important black metal bands all over the globe. But at the end of the day, what’s the problem with Christianity, and what’s the problem with the church?

Well, I mean it’s kind of cliché to say it, but the church was founded to control people, to control the masses and it’s still the same. I mean it’s just hypocrisy by them to say they want that everybody should be friend and stuff, but still, if you look in it, religion divides people. It’s like I used to say, ‘religion divide, metal unite’, and that’s a kind of simple explanation. And of course you can go in depth below that, but I think those kind of simple words explain pretty much the whole thing. I can’t just see anything good with any type of religion, nothing positive about it at all.

In the past there was a quite strong black metal community both in Norway and in Sweden. How can you see the situation now, has it changed?

When we started, we were underground, and now it’s not underground. I mean we are kind of mainstream in a way, but we’re still the same guys, I’m still the same, and I’m still Lord Ahriman in my soul, but we are in different spot with a band. The band is bigger, it’s a cliché, but we are still the same guys. I mean when you talk about the newer generation of bands, they have a totally different aspect of what black metal is. There are different approaches for black metal in different generation, and I’m from my generation, where it has been started, and I’m really old school in that sense. I think the scene needs to survive and needs to becoming more and more important with new ideas. Maybe I’m not too impressed about most of the new stuff, about new incorporation in the scene, but I still think it’s vital for the scene to survive. You need to be able destroying and trying new things after, that’s how we started. There was no strict formula how we should do it, we found our own way, and then it became what it is. I think of course, something what the new generation also have to do is to bring something new to the table. But as I said, it doesn’t mean that I’m an old fart, and I don’t like it. But I still think they must be able to do and to try new things, that’s what black metal is about. It’s not being fucking stuck in a corner and doing things you had done for a million of times and being afraid of doing new things. If you are afraid of trying new things then black metal is definitely not your kind of thing.

What playing music and what black metal means to you?

It is my life. It is this hard to explain in words… this is just what I do. That’s where all my passion is, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. I’ve said it before, and I think many-many musicians would agree with me: this is a kind of ‘love-and-hate’ job. The traveling is boring, but playing this kind of music with the crowd and exchanging energy, the dark energy with the crowd, that’s something great for all, but it’s also draining time in-between. Still, it’s a tough job, but I wouldn’t like to change.

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