Interviews : Dark Funeral
With Lord Ahriman
Uncompromising and relentless, Dark Funeral have garnered a loyal fanbase through their years of faster than shit, well-produced black metal. Lord Ahriman, the band's physically imposing (well over 6'2) lead guitarist and main songwriter, sat down to chat with me about organized religion, recent events, and fatherhood in the black metal community.
Now, looking over your lyrics, I must say I'm shocked. Someone could easily read these and think that you're a hateful, anti-christian band! Please tell me that's not true!
Ha! No! No way man. Orgainzed religion in general is all about repressing people, making people submit themselves. It's all based on a heirarchy, with the leaders and the sheep.
Don't let them think, take their money...
Yeah, it's all a big con. For the people that don't have strength.
Why do you think people keep falling for it?
People are weak. They have a low self esteem, or they're lonely or something. If you look at how they spread it, they go say things to people that are sick, or weak people, and they take them, They say "Oh, come join us!" It's a big con to these people.
What influences your music into being what it is today, as opposed to another type of black metal?
We always try to take off our own sound, and improve our sound. I don't try to follow any other bands' sound, and I guess that shows in our music. We just keep on doing our thing.
I can't really name a black metal band that's as fast as you guys...
Oh, there might be some. (laughs)
How much of the philosophy in your music is ingrained in your everyday life?
It's hard to say, since this is our life. It's easier for an outsider to tell than it is for me.
It's all old habits now?
I guess, maybe our life is this way, and it reflects in the songs. But you'd need to talk to an outsider, you know? Most of the things that I do in my life are normal to me. Maybe not so normal to the neighbor next door! (laughs)
How much has your mindset changed over the years, if at all?
It's life experience, that always changes people. I'm older now, I have more life experience, hopefully I got a little bit wiser (laughs), but of course I have children, which change your life. But I still feel that I have the same philosophy and it's maybe even truer of sorts. Maybe I've turned to a more mature way of looking at things, but still the foundation is the same.
I've had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Tagtgren, a man that you've worked with in the past. The fates conspired against you on this album, but do you have plans to work with him again?
I don't know. We talked to him, and he was busy with his band, and we have a good relationships with Daniel Bergstrand. I don't see us going back to him, but continuing with Daniel's studio.
What are the differences between the two?
You know, as producers they all have their own way of working; they're quite a bit different. We can set up the recording sessions somewhat different than we could with Peter. With Daniel, things were more professional and really in depth in everything of the record and the music, and the creative process of the record. It's more of a career for Daniel, you know what I mean? In the past it was more underground, we're still underground, but the way we work is more professional.
Daniel's worked with some big artists, like Soilwork...
Yeah, how does it feel to be associated with those bands?
Nothing really reflects on us, we're still Dark Funeral. (laughs) I know Daniel was really worried that people were going to hack him into pieces and that he was going to ruin Dark Funeral and have everything synthesized. But that was the point. He was the one that called us up and said "I want to record you guys," he was tired of doing the easier metal records, and he wanted to do some more aggressive stuff, and he said there's no better band than Dark Funeral. I guess in a way, as a producer he wanted to say "Oh, I can do other things than melodic death metal." And it worked for us all, it didn't really destroy us with the keyboards and everything...
So there are no plans for you to cover "The Final Countdown?"
Not yet! (laughter)
How goes the lawsuit against No Fashion Records?
I haven't heard any news yet, I can only say total victory is the only thing we'll accept. The only reason it's taking so much time is that the legal system makes it possible for someone with a lot of money to stall things. But time is shaping up, and that's where we're going to destroy them. When we win, we'll invite everybody to have a party outside of their office. Every metalhead in Stockholm. The whole problem is that there were no contracts done with them. They have the owners rights, director's rights, and everything, and obviously without the music rights, you have no power. It's all the label, they come to the composers and everything and say "Oh, we have the rights to this and that." And somehow their word is better than the fucking guy who comes along in a band and wants to get it recorded. That's the really fucked up thing about our case. There was no contract written, and the only way we'll be able to get paid is to go through the courts. It's total fucking bullshit. We're going to the supreme court next.
How much of a difference has adding Matte Modin made on drums?
It's made a big difference. He's more of a good drummer, and a more professional drummer. He understands the difference between this job and other jobs, it's total dedication to the drum part of the band.
How does that affect the writing process?
It all starts with me writing the guitar. I'll get some ideas, for like a drum solo, and I can tell him like, faster, or slower, and I can tell him things to improve, but he's the drummer, not me. I just gave him ideas from when I wrote the riff, and he worked from there.
How are you recovering from the incident in Peru?
We managed to get endorsements for pretty much everything, which was really amazing.
How did that come about?
Well word came back from Peru while we had this show confirmed, and other shows confirmed, and we were like "What the fuck are we going to do?" So we got to contacting companies, and trying to get it, and we got some from everybody. They were all like "Oh, Dark Funeral, fuck yeah! We definitely want to endorse you." But it's kinda weird, all over the years, I've been trying to get endorsements from the same people, and nobody replied, and suddenly everybody replied within the hour! "Oh yeah man! This is what we can offer you!" I was like "What's going on?"
It's all about the timing, they just wait until it's right.
Definitely, and without that this tour would not be taking place. We didn't have anything when we came back from that tour.
It's all sitting in some Peruvian police station right now?
No, it's the club owner that's holding it, we found out. The venue we played, it's all there. He's holding it for ransom.
What does he want?
He wants money. It's really fucked up. We got the Swedish consolate and the plan is to sue his fucking ass off.
That's a good plan!
The lawyers there are bigshot lawyers, and we explained it to one of them, and he said "Oh, this is a simple case. Give me a couple of hundred bucks and I'll fucking destroy this guy." So we needed to get some legal documents so that we could act over there, and we have to have time to get those documets prepared, but we're going to work on it. Everything is a big improvement from the stuff we lost though, the amplifier impressed me the most.
Does it go to 11?
(laughs) It goes to 12! Though we put it up to two, and that's more than enough. I tried to crank it up, and it didn't go halfway, and I think it was 300 volts. It really killed. The sound processor, who used to mix it all in the past, and from the first sound check he was like "Goddamnit! This rules!" so he couldn't be more happy either. This fucking kills.
So what "Spinal Tap" moments have you had on this tour?
Not really anything so far, but I'm sure we'll have something before the tour is over. This is only the fifth show, so we're barely into the tour. The first couple of days we're trying to get used to the new gear, basically.
What goes on in the Dark Funeral camp outside of music?
Not much, I work enough to get by. I have a family that I spend time with...
Play with the kids, do the fatherly thing?
Sure! Go to the graveyard...
Take 'em out, kick over some gravestones...
Yeah, the usual stuff. You gotta teach the kids to worship Satan!
Or at least not to worship the other guy...
There's only one way to do it, it's to raise a strong individual.
Definitely, any final words?
Yeah, it's fucking great to be here in the states, and check out the new album if you haven't yet!
So now all you kvlt-as-fuck black metal fans over in Europe know where to Find Lord Ahriman when he's not onstage playing for one of the most intense bands out there. You can thank me later.