by Jeff Brinn
This years Ozzfest has been said to be one of its most heavy metal geared line ups since its incarnation. Mixing the likes of such bands as Black Sabbath, Slayer, Slipknot, Lamb Of God and the mighty return of Judas Priest might lead one to believe they have died and gone to metal heaven (or hell). Joining the ranks of this year’s venomous lineup is the Norwegian black metal export Dimmu Borgir. We here at Schwegweb.com couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get a chance to sit down with lead vocalists Shagrath to get the inside scoop on one of extreme music’s most prestigious acts.
Thanks go out to Hannah at Nuclear Blast America as well as Shagrath for making the time to make this happen.
First of all how is the mighty Ozzfest treating Dimmu Borgir?
Shagrath: Very good I would say. We’re very happy with this tour.
Do you feel being a black metal band that Dimmu Borgir is hard to swallow for most Ozzfest fans?
“I guess it’s totally new for most ticket buyers watching the shows because it’s more heavy metal based on the main stage but for us it seems the thing to do so people can discover our music and figure out what we are about.”
I would have to say compared to the second stage bands Dimmu Borgir is way more metal, most acts tend to all sound the same, do you like any of the second stage bands?
“Yea, (laughter).I would have to say the same, exactly. No I am not into the other bands, Slipknots ok.”
With the release of the new Ozzfest edition of Death Cult Armageddon you guys have a blistering cover of a Bathory song, was Quarthon (the late lead singer of the classic black metal band Bathory) a huge influence on Dimmu Borgir?
“Not directly influenced but we are fans of Bathory, we have always been into Bathory, at least most of the band. We did a cover song to pay our tribute to Bathory of course but we never directly took inspiration from Bathory. We have always been a band that even if we have favorite bands we don’t try to copy our favorite bands. We always go our own direction. So many people make mistakes when they start a band, they try to sound like or try to copy their favorite bands and that is not the right way to go. That’s all the reason for our success is basically because we have always been a band that doesn’t listen to what people say, we don’t give a fuck; we do our own thing. Like it or hate it, either way we don’t care.”
Was Ozzfest your first choice for the summer or was this something that was brought to you?
“We had some other choices for the summer to do other tours in the states but Ozzfest was our first choice.”
Have your off date shows during this tour been much more satisfying?
“The headlining shows the people go crazier because they know our music; at Ozzfest there are a lot of people that just stand there and wonder what the fuck is this. Were used to it now but the first couple of shows it was kinda strange. It’s not what we’re used to but you get use to it after awhile.”
Do you think your genera of music has gotten as big as it will get in the states or is there a lot of potentional still to be a larger force in metal?
“There’s a lot of potentional still. The difference between us and a lot of other black metal bands from Europe is that I don’t think so many bands want to come to the states because you have to work so hard. You have to start from scratch playing some of the worst clubs ever, no showers, no food, nothing, driving around in vans. It’s very hard for bands to come over. We did it, we worked our way up and that is what you have to do to sell records in the states. I think a lot of bands in Europe are happy where they are, I don’t think they concentrate on the American market so much. Our music has potential but black metal is more of a European thing and I don’t think it is easy for Americans to understand. It’s hard to explain but it is such a big difference from Europe and America in black metal. Black metal is a very serious thing in Europe, in America people are into different styles of music like Hatebreed. Jumping up and down on stage and saying fuck you is not the right way to go when you play metal in my opinion.”
Does Dimmu Borgir try to incorporate their orchestral sounds live or are you limited on that part of your music?
“No, it’s keyboard basically. It sounds rougher that way. We do use samples from the album also so it works out great. It is impossible to have a full orchestra on tour any ways. It still works.”
Dimmu Borgir have always seemed to explore outside the traditional black metal sound, is this something you try to convey on each album?
“We always do that and that is the direction we want to go. Every album we want to work in new territories improving our selves sound wise. When you buy an Iron Maiden album you know what to expect, we don’t want to be a band like that. Our first album compared to our new one we totally sound like a different band but I think that is a good thing. I’m sure on our next album we will sound different then our last. It will still have all the typical Dimmu ingredients in our music but we will still work with new things and see where it takes us.”
Do you feel that there is some what of a competitive edge between Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth?
“A lot of people say that and feel that but it’s just not the case. I think the reason that is said is because we are one of the only bands doing what we do on a more professional level; we tour a lot and spend a lot of time working with our music compared to other bands. Sound, concept and lyrical wise we are two different bands, it’s like night and day so you can’t really compare our music to Cradle of Filth.”
What are your views on the crimes that have been associated with black metal and do you think these things hold back bands such as yours from gaining more popularity?
“We never took part in the criminal aspects of black metal. In Norway we had a burning church almost every fucking week but not now. For us it is about music and getting our aggression out. We don’t want to spend our lives in jail for doing a stupid thing, we’re not that stupid. There is a limit to how many albums we can sell because we are not commercial music. It is extreme music with extreme attitude and you just can’t sell a million albums for such a musical genera like ours. I’m sure we can sell more albums but it won’t be like Judas Priest.”
Do you think having Dimmu Borgir on Ozzfest will help open the doors wider for black metal in the states?
“Maybe, I hope we can sell more albums and become more known; that’s why we did this tour.”
What have you been doing in your spare time during Ozzfest?
“Yea there’s a lot of spare time. Watch movies, getting drunk, mingle with people and staring at the wall; shit like that.”