Questions and Queries with Quorthon
by: Adrian Bromley
"When we started, there were no forerunners. We had to invent everything ourselves." -- Quorthon, guitarist/vocalist

In the midst of mixing and putting the finishing touches on Bathory's future collection of material, titled _Blood On Ice_ (a project of old material six years in the making), one of metal's "true pioneers," lead singer/guitarist Quorthon, is actually pleased to get away from the studio for a while to chat with Chronicles of Chaos.

About _Blood On Ice_ (to be released in January) he begins, "Some of the stuff has been recorded since 1988. It is funny how the circumstances were very primitive when we recorded some of the first albums. The stuff here was recorded in the same circumstances so we have to catch up a bit with a new bass line or drum roll here and there. Also some songs needed new vocals. This is a souvenir album for all of the Bathory fans. It isn't a new album, it has been around for sometime and all our fans know it as legend," he explains.

Twelve years since their entrance into the world of metal in 1983, Bathory has shapeshifted itself many times over, and in the process gained and lost many fans. From the beginning and first effort, _Bathory_ in 1984 onto _Hammerheart_ (1987) or present albums like _Requiem_ (1994) or 1991's _Twilight Of The Gods_, the rollercoaster ride of the band's music has been cataloged quite openly. Quorthon sees the changes brought on by the band and its music as an important element to the survival of the band.

"People have no clue to what we are to sound like on the next album," he says, "because we changed every second album. Now we have touched upon black metal, death metal, viking epic shit - whatever. There are really no stages that we didn't go through."

Noting the lack of originality in some of today's music, Quorthon tells us, "There are no patterns that you have to follow to be successful. As long as bands are original and they have the urge to experiment, it is good. We did that in the 80's and we took a lot of shit because people didn't understand it but we also attracted a lot of other fans. As long as there are young crossover bands it is great. Fresh blood and fresh sound. You can't always go the New Wave Of British Metal way forever."

With the band's latest effort and eigth album, _Octagon_, a follow-up to last year's _Requiem_ and _The Jubileum Volumes_ (1993) a few years back, the band returns with a very much straightforward, raw sound that refuses to be seen as anything polished or perfect. There is a reasoning; "What we are doing now is stripping ourselves, going into the studio and scream for half an hour and have fun doing it. We went into the studio to have fun, sweat and excercise. We went in there to blast off. It is fun now that we don't have to fit a certain formula with our music. These two last albums have been far away from what Bathory was in the beginning."

Along with the few releases of this decade, Quorthon also took time out from fronting Bathory to release his first solo recording, _Album_. Was the record some form of cleansing process for him, and if so, does he plan to make another solo project? "We had finished with the last Bathory album and I had some material, and wanted to try making a solo record." He played, sang, wrote, recorded, and produced the album by himself. "It was something I wanted to do." About future solo stuff he says, "I have twenty songs already written for the next solo album, but with _Octagon_ being released and the importance of the _Blood On Ice_ session, I put off the other solo project for awhile. After the _Blood On Ice_ session people may see the next Bathory album or next solo album. It is all up in the air right now."

How does Quorthon feel about the band still being seen as a major influential factor for a lot of new and older bands? Will the band still aim to keep up with a sound and style that will continue to entice many young metalheads to just go crazy? "If I would sit down and look at Bathory albums being influential on other bands, I wouldn't look at new Bathory albums because they are too young. The albums they would refer to would be the older ones. I mean who gives a shit what we sound like now? We sell just as good as we have always sold. We don't tour, make videos or do a lot of interviews, and we are still around. I think that is a great sign of survival."

And about being seen as a musical pioneer? "If somebody had told me in 1983 or 1984 that we would be around in 1995, I would have told them to fuck off. It takes a certain kind of stamina to be around for twelve years, especially with no tours and being a very narrow band that changes once in awhile. If we had come out right now and had not wanted to make videos or tour, we would have not survived." Quorthon adds, "When we recorded the first songs on a compilation in 1984 and the first album, we were so proud. This was it. We had a record in record stores. Jerk off, jerk off."

In regards to the band's longevity in this industry and their survival he says, "The only great old bands that are around right now are Slayer and Bathory. Also Metallica - but they are in a league of their own both musically and commercially. I don't see a lot of bands put into that kind of legend status and inspiration. Everything takes time to last and to be perfected. Our first albums were shit. Shit. And if you were to put them up against albums that are being released nowadays, they are pretty bad." He laughs and says, "You have to have a sense of humor when listening to old material, and put it into its own place."

Quorthon is first to admit the bad reviews and press the band has been receiving ever since the band progressed into the 1990's. Musically ancient in many people's opinions, Quorthon is confident that press is press and bad reviews mean nothing to what will become of the band or what they will do. Like it has and will continue to do, Bathory stands the test of time regardless of what shit is thrown at them. "Throughout the 80's, we were ridiculed as being seen as a Venom clone, and it wasn't until we were deep down in that viking shit that no one could ever say that we weren't original," reveals Quorthon. "We had a great problem washing away the Venom-type thing that we were experiencing. The only thing that was around in Europe when we began was Venom, and it was a touchy thing to always be reminded of." He tries to put it in simple terms: "If you go to the moon, you will always remember that the first guys on the moon were Americans. Or if you open a hamburger store, you are trying to copy McDonald's. We were always trying to be Bathory, and never intended to try to copy any band."

His take on bad reviews? "We have very bad reviews in Europe with the two last albums and people are confused with what Bathory is doing. People write to me saying that our sound is bad and 'why don't you sound check?' And I respond to them saying that if they are talking about bad sound, they should listen to the first two or three albums. If the first albums by Bathory, Slayer, Venom, or Celtic Frost were released today, no one would care. Time goes on and you have to change. I don't know if it is a good sign with people complaining that these two new albums are too brutal. Maybe it is a good sign showing that other people's musical horizons are bordering up a little."

"The best review that a band like Bathory or Slayer could have is a shit review. If I was 14 or 15 today, I would never go off and buy an album like Metallica's last one. I would buy the record that they would say, 'Don't buy this record. It will brainwash you and make you kill someone.' Those are the albums I would want to buy," says Quorthon, chuckling. I interject, 'And the albums Bathory want to make, right?' The laughter continues and he finishes, "Yes, that's about right."

Long live Bathory.

(article submitted 8/11/1995)

7/16/2004 M Noll Bathory: KICKING*ASS in '85 - Quorthon RIP
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5/29/2003 Q Kalis 6 Bathory - Nordland I
1/14/2002 V Eldefors 7.5 Bathory - Destroyer of Worlds
6/9/1996 A Wasylyk 9 Bathory - Blood on Ice
10/1/1995 G Filicetti 8 Bathory - Octagon
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