In Deep With the Deacons of the Dark Castle
CoC Chats with Shagrath and Silenoz from Dimmu Borgir
by: Paul Schwarz
Like Britain's Cradle of Filth, perhaps in some senses -because- of the Sussex sextet, Norway's Dimmu Borgir have received a lot of flak -- in the years since their 1997 _Enthrone Darkness Triumphant_ album was released -- for being sell-outs: a commercially-motivated metal band. In some circles, they even received flak when that album's predecessor (their second album, _Stormblast_) was released. _For All Tid_ thus remains, perhaps, DB's only album that is 'untouchable' from an 'underground' perspective. Of course, in more mainstream circles, Dimmu Borgir's reputation as a band worthy of serious attention has grown from album to album -following- _EDT_. To quote satirical television masterwork "Brass Eye": it's a strong feelings-kidney whichever way you slice it. Personally, until recently, I sliced off most of the band's career and only occasionally picked at what was left; that was, until I got _Death Cult Armageddon_. Though still very much a 'symphonic' (meaning pseudo-symphonic in actual musical terms) black metal album, Dimmu Borgir's latest is earthed magnificently by a grounded, thrash/death derived and powerfully guitar-led approach. It's the best album the band have done, to my mind. What follows is an edited transcript of one phone conversation, conducted last July, in which I talked to vocalist Shagrath and guitarist/lyricist Silenoz in turn.

[Note: I am, of course, aware that CoC has already published a recent interview with Dimmu Borgir. My reasons for submitting this very sparsely edited transcript in no way reflect a rejection of Jackie Smit's excellent interview with Silenoz, nor any sort of negative claim as to its quality; I wanted to submit this because on the one hand it -is- very long, and I like to think certain issues of the band's work are discussed here that are either not discussed, not discussed in such depth, or not discussed from the same perspective as they are elsewhere. I leave it up to you, the readers, to tell me whether I'm just kidding myself...]

[Note on punctuation: In this transcript -- as in, I think, all my submitted transcripts for CoC -- three dots (...) are used to represent a significant pause, and are not intended to indicate places where words have been edited out.]

CoC: Let's start off with the music. Since _Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia_ you've taken on the orchestra. Does _Death Cult Armageddon_ have the same fourteen pieces from the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, or are there more?

Shagrath: There are a lot more, actually.

CoC: How many is it this time?

Shagrath: Ummm, on _Puritanical..._ we had fourteen or fifteen, I think, and on the new one we have forty-seven.

CoC: Forty-seven... Wow!

Shagrath: Yeah. So it was a big step and also a new experience. <laughs>

CoC: What's interesting is that -with- that there's... not less use of the orchestra, but less obvious use of it. For example, the last album started off with that two-and-a-half minute piece of... orchestral music, basically. I personally didn't go for it -- it all sounded a bit "Last of the Mohicans" to me -- but irrespective of that, this album really incorporates the orchestra -wholly- rather than using it very -singly-.

Shagrath: Yeah. I mean, we have like maybe four songs which are just like total -overkill- with the orchestra, you know, but also we mixed that with other songs which have, just basically, typical guitar riffs.

CoC: You wouldn't say, though, that it's a more guitar album or a more keyboard album in particular?

Shagrath: I think it has the right balance, actually. For us as musicians it's kind of important to try to work with different elements, doing different things, and just try not to make each song sound too much like the other songs, you know. We just want to give the listeners something more varied to listen to, really.

CoC: I understand what you mean. But as far as the sound of the band goes, I think you're right: I think you have found a different balance, but I think what's interesting about that balance is how you achieve it. I mean, are you using -all- forty-seven pieces of the orchestra mostly at the same time? 'Cause I notice there's more -contrast- with the orchestral section this time. Sometimes you use just a few bits...

Shagrath: Yeah.

CoC: ...and then there are some bits where it uses, probably, all forty-seven at once.

Shagrath: Yes. It's also important to create different highlights in the music, you know. So maybe some parts it's just basically like a -background- thing; then maybe it harnesses more of a -lead- thing; and then maybe you have like a highlight where the whole thing is coming in, you know? It's basically also how we build up the songs, as before. Like having, for example, grim vocals; and then in the middle section maybe turning it into like a clean vocal part, or something else. It's basically how we build up the songs.

CoC: There's definitely a lot of variation in your work; and I intend to come onto that, in general, in a minute. One thing I was gonna ask beforehand: a few years ago you said that you'd always seen keyboards as being as important an instrument as guitars, in your work. Would you say that since using the orchestra on _PEM_, it has become yet another part of Dimmu Borgir, or do you think it's more of an experiment and a luxury that might die down a bit more on other albums and not be quite as -integral- a part of Dimmu Borgir?

Shagrath: It's hard to say; but it's keyboards, or the -atmosphere- that has always been a very essential thing in our music. I mean, if you listen to the first album, we're very keyboard-orientated; but the bigger the band has become, the more budget we've had to do better things and improve our music. So many black metal bands out there are using keyboards and it's basically stretching it to the limits, kind of, with the keyboards. So we decided that we wanted to have 'the real thing'. <laughs>

CoC: Sure. And it goes along with your work and the work of a lot of other bands; using keyboards to replicate orchestral sounds. Whereas the direction that less bands have gone -- or less bands have gone successfully -- is actually to go down the, literally, -synthesizer- path, where you're creating sounds and that sort of stuff -- more like Seventies funk or Herbie Hancock or something like that.

Shagrath: Also, we tried to experiment a little bit more with the samples, this time -- which we haven't really worked much with in the past. Now it's kind of a nightmare to mix a Dimmu Borgir album because you've got a full orchestra, you have the samples, and all these things are happening at the same time, so basically we have a nightmare to mix it and to be able to hear all that's going on at the same time. So when you listen, for example, to the new album, it's not really that sophisticated or complicated -music-, but you still have to listen to it a few times to figure out what is going on, you know; because always so many instruments are playing at the same time. So the more you listen the more you will always find new things.

CoC: When you talk about using samples, are you thinking mainly of audio samples like the voices and the marching that you hear on the album?

Shagrath: Yes, there are voices from different things, but also -effects-, strange effects that you... when you listen to an effect you're like: what kind of sound is this? You can't tell. We also tried a little bit to work with that.

CoC: How much is the album itself recorded -in- samples? For example, for Fear Factory's _Demanufacture_, every riff that repeats is, literally, repeated: they sampled the riffs.

Shagrath: You can't really compare it with that, obviously.

CoC: So when you record, do you find that the basic instruments like the guitars, keyboards etc., minus the orchestra, are recorded vaguely live, or is it recorded in bits?

Shagrath: It's recorded live. Some vocal parts are done like a cut-up thing. If there is a chorus going like two times, maybe we have repeated -that- in some places, but -basically- everything is live.

CoC: That's what I thought: I just wanted to check. 'Cause it really does sound very cohesive.

Shagrath: Yeah, you know, 'cause if you copied too much stuff, then you would be able to hear those things. It wouldn't feel right.

CoC: You'd lose that kind of -feeling- that someone is actually playing the music. It would sound stiff.

Shagrath: Definitely.

CoC: I think that's something that _DCA_ definitely avoids. In terms of actually writing the music and constructing the songs -- not trying to accuse you here, but speaking realistically -- how much would you say is the songwriting -tempered- by an appreciation of how much any particular track -- when you listen back to it -- would appeal to someone -outside- the band? 'Cause when you're making music to sell to a market and things like that, I think there is an aspect where, you know, you're giving music to other people, not giving it to yourselves.

Shagrath: That's true, but still we make music for ourselves. We don't, like, have that in the back of our mind at all: do you think the fans will like this? It doesn't work like that. It basically is built up on what -we- like; and -then- if people like it or not. But we must do something right, you know, because we are basically -selling- a lot more than many other bands in the black metal genre.

CoC: I don't know whether it's maybe a question of looking at yourself in abstract. You know, think about yourself; because you -were- (or -are-, possibly) a music fan, a music consumer. And so if -you- like the music, why shouldn't other people like it? I think that's part of it, and I can understand that.

Shagrath: It's... I mean, it's... I guess a lot of people ask me about this: is this like a pressure? Because, you know, the last album sold really well: do you have the pressure behind you when you make a new album? Well, it's... at least for this one, the new one, we didn't really feel that, 'cause we were just working every song in a home studio and then it worked so well and we totally relaxed and we didn't even -think- about what -people- would think about it, you know? We thought, basically, about what we like ourselves. <chuckles>

CoC: I find that interesting. 'Cause I would think... From my perspective -- if I was a musician and I could play guitar and the various instruments as well as you guys can, and play it in a band -- I'd find it surprising in some ways that I wouldn't do something a bit more challenging. Like if a song was twelve minutes long when you finished it, and you might like it 'cause you play the instruments, so you've got bored with writing the same... you know what I mean, the same sort of things...?

Shagrath: Yeah, sure.

CoC: And it's interesting 'cause my 'theory' is that Dimmu Borgir have sort of a feel for things that, at heart, are somewhat... not -simplistic-, but simple. Do you know what I mean? It isn't technical for the sake of it. It isn't a musicians' album. You know, there's some part of you that is still very much a music listener.

Shagrath: Yeeeaah, I guess so. <chuckles> I haven't really given it much of a thought.

CoC: It just seems interesting; because there is a lot of technicality involved in there, and it's surprising to me that it's still very accessible. Those two things are very hard to get together.

Shagrath: Yup.

CoC: Another thing I was gonna ask about was the idea of "black metal" -- which I'm sure you've been challenged with far too many times by now. Now, I said in a review of _PEM_ that I considered Dimmu Borgir to be a -metal- band, who happened to come out of the black metal scene, and I was reading an interview just the other day with one of you guys where you were talking about how you'd been in thrash metal bands, and death metal bands, and then in black metal bands; but at the core of it you just liked metal music or heavy rock music in general. Would you say that in a sense Dimmu Borgir are simply a -metal- band, and that the black metal thing is, to an extent, somewhat incidental, rather than intrinsic?

Shagrath: I think you can find metal -elements- in our music, but it's -still- black metal. It's like the music, you know. But for what we... I mean, Dimmu Borgir is more like a second-generation black metal band. But, I guess, all of us in the band, we don't really listen to the second generation of black metal bands. We are more inspired by all the Eighties heavy or maybe thrash metal, you know?

CoC: Have you guys ever thought about writing an 'arena song', as it were? I mean like a song that will have a chanting, anthemic quality to it; 'cause a lot of Dimmu Borgir's stuff is quite catchy; but there's nothing that really appeals to that particular part of the metal audience or crowd market, if you see what I mean. Like what Accept do, or what, say, Overkill can pull off nowadays.

Shagrath: For us it's... <pauses, seeming to grasp for words>

CoC: Or on the other hand, does that happen? Are there songs from Dimmu Borgir that are treated that way? Like when you play them people sing along and they know exactly what's gonna happen?

Shagrath: Yeah sure, almost every show we do there are people like that. Of course there are some songs which people know more about than the others. Yeah. I mean, you can see that all the time, especially on festivals. When we play, maybe, a slow song, a catchy song, the people get into it a bit more easier. And we just kind of follow, you know. <chuckles>

CoC: It's just something that I find interesting; because Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir are two of the biggest black metal bands of the last seven to eight years, and out of the two of you, you've really managed to build up an incredible following which at particular points has out-done CoF in sales; but yet Dimmu Borgir have never written quite as -close- to a 'single' song -- that has those kind of -radio- qualities -- as CoF have. It's interesting: in a sense you've sort of kept it more -metal- -- metal in the sort of thrash metal, death metal, black metal sort of sense. Would you say that was ever anything you wanted to branch into? You know, writing a song that people would remember you for the -song-, not just the album, or the name of the band, but this particular song?

Shagrath: Not really. I still think that on each album we have a couple of songs that maybe are different or more catchy or easier, acceptable; or for, like, general people or something; but we don't really sit down and think about that when we create the songs. It's more based on what we think sounds killer, you know?

CoC: I understand, actually.

Shagrath: It's not like, "Right, now we're gonna write the single!", or "hit", or something. That would never work with our music.

CoC: I know what you're saying; obviously I can't disagree because you're in the band and I'm not; but what's interesting is to see how many bands surprise you and do manage to make that conversion. Like Metallica: they started off as a thrash band and now they've got all these hit songs. It's interesting to see how bands have and haven't done that.

Shagrath: But for us -- if you compare that with Dimmu Borgir -- it's basically the opposite. 'Cause with us the bigger we get the more -extreme- we get. And OK, maybe other people think that because Dimmu Borgir sell a lot more albums now they're gonna be very soft and blah blah blah; and they use more orchestra now. And they probably get that impression: that we will become softer. But for us it's the opposite; because if you listen to the first Dimmu album it -is- very soft and melodic and we are getting more aggressive and more brutal -now-. More than it was before. So for us it's the opposite.

CoC: I would agree. I'd say especially -- although partially incidentally -- since Nick Barker joined the band. I'm not putting down Tjodalv, 'cause he was a very good drummer...

Shagrath: He's a very good drummer, yes.

CoC: ...but Nick really does have a very brutal, intense style of drumming, and I think that kind of work has really informed the last two albums. There's a lot of speed, a lot of use of blastbeats and that sort of thing.

Shagrath: Yeah, definitely. We are just able to do a bit more things like that than before. So that can also show in the albums.

CoC: OK, we're gonna go onto titles and album covers, briefly. Using the three-word string titles <Shagrath begins to chuckle> -- I'm sure you've been asked this before, but with the last album there was (and I don't know whether it was realised in the band) a certain incongruity with the way that the title ended up sounding, because of the word "puritanical". I think, by comparison, this time you've gone for a much more simply understandable title.

Shagrath: Which we did on purpose, because I mean, it's basically too hard for people to pronounce, read and understand the title for the previous one, so we thought it would be better to have a more primitive title this time -- not one that people don't understand.

CoC: I know what you're saying; but was it also prompted by the fact that the last album, ultimately, the title didn't quite make sense, as well?

Shagrath: It's basically opposites against each other, you know.

CoC: It did seem like a bit of a contradiction in terms, intentionally, 'cause "puritanical... misanthropia" is an interesting connection, if you see what I mean.

Shagrath: Yeah. <laughs>

CoC: Another thing, on the issue of the band developing: when you played live in London (it was April 2000, I believe) you did a strange thing. You started off playing old material at the very beginning of the set; then you took a break, almost like a band would for an encore -- but half an hour or so in, and with the intro from _PEM_ covering the near-three-minute gap; and then you came on to play the first track proper of _PEM_. Has there been any conscious division of the Dimmu Borgir material since _PEM_, because of the addition of the orchestra and things?

Shagrath: Well, basically, for the live thing, it's a good thing to start up with something old that people maybe have been listening to for ages, you know. So they can get into it more easily, rather than listening to a new album, and then you have a tour and it's so fresh that you might not even remember the songs. It's better to basically start off the tour with something old that the audience will recognise, then kick off with newer stuff later in the set. And then also, end the set again with a... -famous- song, you know? Or one of the most famous songs that people know: that's also a good thing because then it kind of becomes a good for the whole show.

CoC: Everyone goes out on a high note, kinda thing.

Shagrath: Yeah.

CoC: I know what you mean. The other thing I was gonna ask you about, about the London show, was -- and people disagreed in their opinions of this, but quite a few people actually did leave early; and to my mind at least, the response was a little bit muted. I was curious how you felt about that: the show in 2000 with Nevermore, Lacuna Coil and In Flames?

Shagrath: I think it was a good tour, but I can't say I remember that show specifically, so...

CoC: Fair enough.

Shagrath: I don't really remember any show we do, specifically: it's the same procedure every day, you know, so it kind of slips your mind, so to speak. But I think the tour -- if there was something completely wrong I would have remembered it, but I think it was pretty good, actually.

CoC: Fair enough.

Shagrath: As far as I can remember, anyway. <laughs>

CoC: I understand. The other thing I was gonna talk about briefly was the stage set-up for that show -- which I really didn't quite understand. You had a really big stage, and you had keyboards at the back on one side, and drums on the other, and the band at the front. I wondered whether the stage set-up in general was a big issue for the band, because it's become something, again, part of Cradle of Filth's work, but also part of other bands who've become bigger recently, in similar markets.

Shagrath: It's basically just a set-up, because we are six people and the keyboard riser is just as big as the drum riser, which means you can't have the drums in the middle, because there has to be some space for everybody, you know? For people to walk and also for both of the risers in the back, and also maybe other things you have on stage like lights and monitors and all that. So it's basically just because it's that set-up for us, you know. <chortles>

CoC: I know what you're saying, but have you ever thought of going into a more arranged stage set-up; 'cause it's something Dimmu Borgir could go into? Like adding aspects of circus or carnival so that, visually, it's more of a performance?

Shagrath: Well, the bigger the budget, the better it will be, you know. That's basically all I can say. It's all about the budget: what we are able to afford. But of course we want to give our fans as much as possible.

CoC: Absolutely.

Shagrath: So I mean, if we had a million bucks to spend on each show on visual effects then we would do that, you know?

CoC: Absolutely.

Shagrath: But I mean, it's hard when we tour with a lot of other bands 'cause they need their space on stage and it's very limited for, basically, what you can do on stage for our stage show. So it all comes down to that, you know.

CoC: It's something that divides Dimmu Borgir, though, from bands with a -brand- and a -trademark- -- you know, bands like KISS.

Shagrath: Yeah.

CoC: Where like every night you -know- that there's gonna be fire-breathing...

Shagrath: Yeah, exactly.

CoC: I think in that way it's kind of good though, 'cause it's less of a formula. I think that's perhaps one of the things the band have managed to avoid to a certain extent: a formula, if you see what I mean.

Shagrath: In one way it would be good, but I know what you mean.

[At this point, I remark to Shagrath that my next few questions are about lyrics: he suggests this would be a perfect opportunity for Silenoz, the band's primary lyricist, to take over.]

Silenoz: Hey, Silenoz here.

CoC: Hello, how're you doin'? I was just gonna ask you about lyrics, basically.

Silenoz: OK.

CoC: I was reading some old interviews with DB recently and there was one interview where you were saying that you hoped the words you write in DB albums, the lyrics, would "enlighten people" and "make them start to question things".

Silenoz: Yeah.

CoC: I'm just curious what you meant when you said that. I'm curious whether you actually think that people will read the lyrics, and -just- from the lyrics themselves, as they are...

Silenoz: Yeah, I mean for those who actually read the lyrics and take them into consideration that's a bonus, at least for me personally; maybe for the band too, you know. What I meant when I said like "people should question things": it seems that a lot of people, they just go with whatever's being said or what they see or hear, you know, without actually thinking about what's the case, and why is it like that. So, I mean, in a very... if you look upon religion and all that, that's just how I feel it is, you know. I personally grew up in a very religious neighbourhood. My family wasn't religious at all really, but the neighbourhood made me start to question: why are all these people doing this without actually having a specific reason to do it? There must be something else, something I don't get or whatever, but that's just how I grew up, from that. You know, even if I get told something, I always -- until I see it proven or stuff, I tend to ask questions about it, you know?

CoC: I see what you're saying in terms of being inquisitive...

Silenoz: Yeah, I try to be... it's something we say in Norway, "n√łktern", which means you keep your feet planted on the ground until you have to lift them, you know.

CoC: The other thing I was gonna ask you about was what you meant by this -- which I didn't quite understand in the interview, and wasn't followed up on: "...there are far too many soulless and superficial minded beings around that just go with whatever they hear and see without asking why. Not everyone is worthy the gift of life you know."

Silenoz: Yeah.

CoC: What do you mean by "not worthy of the gift of life"?

Silenoz: It's just that, umm... how should I say this in a proper manner? <he laughs and I chuckle> Errr, it's like, people don't really think about why they are here, you know, they just take a lot of things for granted. I grew up, I guess, from a kind of spoilt generation; but as it looks now, the generation after when I grew up are even more spoiled; and, you know, they just take a lot things for granted without even considering or thinking about it. So, in big words, that's basically what I meant with that quote. And it's probably kind of a harsh statement but still I stand behind it 100% because it's... I want people to talk about stuff, you know, and you don't get people to talk about stuff unless it's harsh words that you use.

CoC: I know what you mean: if you shock people, they sort of do a double take and actually think about things.

Silenoz: Yeah.

CoC: So in some respects would you say that applies to the lyrics as well? That there are certain things which are maybe not said as -precisely- as they could be because they're said in a way that tries to get people to sort of light-up; because when people object to something it's when they start thinking about it most?

Silenoz: Yeah, exactly, I think when you also read the lyrics on the new album you'll see that I've tried to write them in a more kind of open way. I still think they're more extreme than on the last album, but obviously I've used a lot of symbolism, metaphors and substitutions -- 'cause it's really easy to write it that way -- but still there's a lot of stuff that's straight to the point. I expect some people that are interested in reading the lyrics will take them into consideration. You know, if they feel connected to what I write then, well, that's really a bonus, you know? It's not like we write something to try and convince people; 'cause we have an opinion and we leave -preaching- to the religious people. They can -preach- to everyone, you know: that's not what we do. It's just an opinion, really.

CoC: I can understand that. Talking about record labels -- again, sorry for the perennial comparison, but it's notable that Cradle of Filth have recently moved to a major label, Sony. That's something I think Dimmu Borgir, sales-wise, have the potential to do. I'm curious whether you, the band, are happier making metal on a big -metal- label like Nuclear Blast, than you would be on a major label where you would be a smaller artist?

Silenoz: Well, you don't have any... guarantees on a major label. The way we are getting priority on Nuclear is so overwhelming, so there is no... we don't have any reason to even consider doing it with a different label, 'cause we have... I mean, Nuclear Blast has really good distribution and they know about metal in general. I mean Markus Staiger, he started his company from his bedroom in the late Eighties, and look where he's got now, you know?

CoC: Absolutely. They've really hit it.

Silenoz: So I mean, there's a good working relationship between us and Nuclear Blast. They give us a little bit between the fingers. You know we have a deadline for every album, right? But sometimes they see beyond that 'cause they know that if we get too much pressure on us... we have told them, like, if you pressure us with anything whatsoever then you can get the album but you -know- it's not gonna sound like we want it to sound. So they just give us, you know, free hands to deliver the album when we feel it's ready for it.

CoC: They know and trust you as a band, you think.

Silenoz: Yeah, exactly. That's what makes it so easy.

CoC: That's unusual.

Silenoz: Yeah, and we're really grateful for that because they don't do that with every album or with every band. We are really happy to have that relationship and they give us something and we give them something back, so it's like a fifty-fifty to make it work properly.

CoC: I think it's probably characteristic of the relationship you've had with them in that you've consistently made albums you wanted to, and that always worked, if you know what I mean.

Silenoz: Yeah, exactly.

CoC: That's not cynical as such, but pragmatically, for them, if you've made albums that work and sell, then they're smart if they don't fuck with that, you know?

Silenoz: Yeah. They know that if we can do things on our own, the way we want, then they know at least we have done our part of the deal and it's up to them to do their part of the deal. And so far it seems to be a really successful relationship.

CoC: The other thing I was gonna ask about which is somewhat more light-hearted: on the road, I've noticed a lot of bands are playing computer games, because they fit on buses and things like that.

Silenoz: Yeah.

CoC: I'm curious, 'cause I was reading another interview from a while back where someone was talking about what you guys did apart from playing music, and you said how little time you had. I was just curious what you guys did on tour buses, because clearly that's a large part of your life, having to travel. So I was curious, thereby, what you do with a lot of your time.

Silenoz: Well, I'm really interested in geography since I went to school. So I try to, you know, look as much around as possible, especially if there's a place we haven't been to before. Apart from that obviously there's a lot of partying going on -- as usual, you know -- maybe more with us than other bands, but <chuckles> that's how we are. I mean, the six of us work really well together, not only on a professional level but also on a personal level. You know, there's a real camaraderie between us and that's something that's really important when you're on tour for like three months straight. There's a lot of waiting around on tour, you know, but it's up to each individual what you get out of it so I try to keep myself occupied at least with geography and things 'cause I'm really interested in history and stuff too.

CoC: 'Cause you're travelling a lot, you find out about the place you're going and that sort of thing?

Silenoz: Yeah.

CoC: I can see why you do that. So you wouldn't say there's a lot of computer games playing and film watching?

Silenoz: Yeah, actually, I'm probably the one that plays -least- computer games. <chuckles> But obviously, you watch a movie and then you meet a lot of friends or acquaintances on tour when you play different places too. So you hang out a lot, you know, try to kill time as much as possible, really.

CoC: This, of course, you don't have to answer -- and I'm not looking for a -figure- -- but how much, in general terms, do Dimmu Borgir make money-wise? 'Cause one of the things I was gonna ask was whether anyone had had problems with substance abuse -- you know, the things that go along with bands who have rather -charmed- financial existences. But from what I've read, when you guys run out of money -- 'cause you don't have -quite- enough -- you have to go back to work for a little bit, or what have you, and things like that.

Silenoz: Well, that -was- the case a year or two ago. I even had to take a part-time job as a kindergarten uncle. Go figure! But it made me the extra money I needed to pay the bills and stuff. But -now- it seems that since the back-catalogue is -still- selling really good, that at least me and Shagrath won't have to concentrate on extra day jobs and stuff. 'Cause at the same time we don't the have time to do it, so we're really happy that this is some kind of card game that goes on the right side, so to speak. I'm sure there's a lot of people thinking that we are getting rich and shit, but that's not, errrr... I mean, we basically earn an average Norwegian salary -- maybe less than average, but still enough to survive, you know, and pay the bills. But it's like, when you're not touring or you're not recording an album -- like we have done now for the last one and a half years -- and you're kind of tight on money, sometimes you just have to borrow money from someone to keep yourself alive; but the other thing is that the tax rate in Norway is so fucking high, and everything else in Norway is so fucking expensive. So if we would have lived in -- not negatively speaking -- but if we would have lived in Poland, for instance, we would probably have a decent life, you know?

CoC: This is something I was thinking of, actually. If you live in Norway and you work a normal job in Norway, you are better off than you are working in Britain, because in Norway the wage-rates are adjusted to the money...

Silenoz: Yeah, that's true.

CoC: But you guys are making money through a German record company on an international, not a Norwegian, market.

Silenoz: Exactly.

CoC: So clearly your money is gonna be less valuable to you, if you see what I mean.

Silenoz: Yes.

CoC: I know you're not complaining about your status; I would hope and think that you're happy to be able live off the music at all.

Silenoz: Yeah. But it took us ten years, you know, and it was ten years of fucking hard work too. So it's like -really- good to know that everything you have invested -- not only money-wise but also like your fucking soul and time and everything -- is starting to pay back, you know, but with a good feeling: you don't feel like you ripped people off or anything like that because, you know, you feel that you own, rightfully, what you earn now. But still it's nothing errr... I mean, I don't even have my own car yet, you know?

CoC: It's a strange contrast.

Silenoz: It is, actually.

CoC: Because on the one hand I think, for your age, you're managing a pretty incredible achievement as an extreme -metal- band.

Silenoz: Yeah.

CoC: But on the other hand, for your age as a job or for your age as a -huge- rock band, or whatever, you know, -monetarily-, you're in a very different situation. It's a strange contrast there.

Silenoz: Exactly. It's a tricky situation. I mean, it was like one or two years ago when in-between rehearsals and stuff, you had to have a second job to just be able to have food on the table, so, you know...

CoC: That's pretty tough.

Silenoz: Yeah.

CoC: One last question before we finish. Do you have any opinion on the Tolkien connection with black metal?

Silenoz: Actually I am one of the people who hasn't had the patience to read the book, but obviously I've seen the movie. So I cannot say whether, you know -- I'm obviously really fascinated about the movie, but since I didn't read any of the books I don't have any -specific- relationship to it, as maybe other people have. But it's a quite fascinating history that Tolkien made, you know. I understand totally why people are so fascinated about it. I guess that's why a lot of black metal bands have taken inspiration from the stories: it has like a dark and a light side, and at the same time they're really close, they almost blended together from my point of view, you know.

CoC: There's no connection, personally, between you and Silenius who plays in Summoning, is there?

Silenoz: No, but I expect -- although I don't know him or anything -- that he has also taken his name from the same character I have taken mine from, which is from Greek mythology. A Silenoz is like... it's like the same as Satyrs but kind of a higher range, you know...

CoC: I vaguely remember them from first year classics, actually.

Silenoz: That's cool.

(article submitted 29/4/2004)

5/8/2007 J Smit Dimmu Borgir: Diabolical Masquerades
8/22/2003 J Smit Dimmu Borgir: The Death Cult Beckons
5/13/2001 A Bromley Dimmu Borgir: Majestic Visions, Triumphant Sounds
8/12/1997 S Hoeltzel Dimmu Borgir: Up From the Underground
11/18/1996 S Hoeltzel Dimmu Borgir: Storming the Black Castle
4/20/2007 K Sarampalis 8 Dimmu Borgir - In Sorte Diaboli
11/24/2005 J Smit 7 Dimmu Borgir - Stormblast (2005)
9/21/2003 J Smit 8.5 Dimmu Borgir - Death Cult Armageddon
3/26/2003 Q Kalis Dimmu Borgir - World Misanthropy
3/13/2001 C Flaaten 9 Dimmu Borgir - Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia
3/14/1999 P Schwarz 8 Dimmu Borgir - Spiritual Black Dimensions
11/19/1998 P Schwarz 5 Dimmu Borgir - Godless Savage Garden
7/14/1997 P Azevedo 9 Dimmu Borgir - Enthrone Darkness Triumphant
4/9/1997 S Hoeltzel 8 Dimmu Borgir - Devil's Path
8/12/1996 S Hoeltzel 8 Dimmu Borgir - Stormblast
10/20/2003 J Smit Dimmu Borgir / Hypocrisy / Norther One Step Closer to Armageddon
8/12/2001 C Flaaten Dimmu Borgir / Destruction / Susperia Puritanical Destructive Predominance
5/13/2001 M Noll Dimmu Borgir / In Flames / Nevermore Crimes in the Mourning Palace
5/19/1999 P Azevedo Dimmu Borgir / Dark Funeral / Dodheimsgard / Evenfall The Darkest Night of the Year
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