This interview was conducted with Gaahl from the Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth shortly after an incident with the Polish authorities. The interview was done over telephone 13-02-2004. TW = The Welkin, GA = Gaahl.
TW> First of all I’d like to thank you for doing the interview today.
GA> Yeah, no problem.
TW> I guess you’ve had quite a few interviews lately [chuckles].
GA> I let the others do the interviews yesterday so this is actually the first one for today.
TW> OK. Well let’s just get to the questions then…There has obviously been a lot of commotion around your band lately. Could you just tell us a little bit about what happened when you were on tour in Poland? Was it dramatic when the police confiscated your tapes?
GA> It actually went quite well. There were first of all good guys to work with who did what they were told to. I guess I didn’t expect such a big fuss around the whole thing. So there wasn’t really anything special.
TW> So you weren’t really prepared for this kind of a response at all [police taking the tapes]?…Seeing as Poland is a pretty Christian country and Krakow is the hometown of the Pope?
GA> We weren’t really prepared for it, no. But it was obviously a metal crowd we were playing to, so there wasn’t much “white christ” going through their minds at the time. [laughs]
TW> So it wasn’t anyone in the audience who warned the police..?
GA> No, it was a guy working with the television crew. And we didn’t notice anything until we came to the airport the next day, where I was almost held back by the authorities.
TW> So it wasn’t during or when you came out of the concert at all that it happened?
GA> No, it was a totally normal concert, beyond the special things we had set up for the DVD that we were taping for that night. It was only on the way home that we noticed that anything was wrong at all.
TW> What do you think will happen now? Will the Norwegian authorities pursue it, the Polish police, or is it just a “show for the masses” so to speak?
GA> I’m not sure anyone’s going to bother here in Norway. What would they do? It’s a form for artistic expression. What could they nail us on really?
TW> It’s not really a violation of the law…?
GA> Only the blasphemy paragraph as far as I could see, but it was done for a closed crowd, not for the general public or the media. It was a DVD obviously, but it was only to be available to those who wanted to buy it. I don’t really see a problem here at all. It was only coincidental that the authorities saw it this way.
TW> That DVD that you’re producing…?
GA> We’re working on it as planned and hoping that we’ll get the material back from the recording company. From what we hear from Metal Mind, interrogations with their staff are taking place from the police. The boss in Metal Mind is actually risking at least 2 years in jail, because he knew that everything was going to happen.
TW> Because Metal Mind knew that the show was going to happen, didn’t they? They knew what would happen?
GA> They knew everything, they had bought everything for us [sheep’s blood etc.].
TW> Well, otherwise, what’s going on with Gorgoroth? Are you taking a break now or is all going ahead as planned?
GA> No, we’re heading down to South America and maybe Italy in the next month to play some shows, so that’s the nearest plans. And we’ll have to see how my court trial here in Norway goes as well.
TW> Yeah, what’s the status there?
GA> There’s a new date set for April, and we’ll just have to see how that goes. The prosecution is coming with a new charge then, but I doubt anything will happen. There’s no potential danger, I think. Although I suppose you never know what the Norwegian authorities are going to think of next [chuckles].
TW> More generally with your music. Obviously it’s hostile to Christianity as a religion. How did it come to be this way? Was it something from your childhood, a bad experience with the religion? Is there just too much rain in Bergen making you depressed and grim?
GA> I think it’s a phenomena that stretches beyond the immediate surroundings of Bergen. I think it’s just the individual that perceives things. Christianity is not exactly built around the idea of the individual. So, any individual will see that Christianity, or indeed other religions like Islam and Judaism are not good. The reason that Christianity is being attacked by many Norwegians is that Christianity has, and has had for a good time now, a strong position here. It’s a real, concrete danger.
TW> It doesn’t exactly look good for Christianity here either? Things are turning more secular, maybe with a split between the State and the Church.
GA> Yes, but the problem is that Christianity has come and brought with it diseases like democracy and socialism. These won’t disappear if you “secularize” because if these stay, the mentality of Christianity will remain regardless. Particularly in the idea of Human-Ethics. It’s Christianity in practice, just without God, if you see what I mean.
TW> Yeah…A bit of a funny question: How do you go about explaining all the fuss about your music to, say, your grandmother or your mother? Is it difficult to have normal relations with your family and still combine it with being controversial or is that not really an issue…?
GA> I have a family which has a very great respect for what I do. They know that what I do is true, but I can’t answer for the rest of the band obviously.
TW> If you think about metal in the rest of the world for a moment. Are you dismayed with how everything is going, or are there any particular bands we need to look out for?
GA> It’s hard to say really. The scene has changed very quickly. It’s not nearly as good as a few years back. There are disadvantages and advantages, but we as a band chiefly have to focus on our own thing. Do what’s right for us, not get caught up in the others. We can’t have a flock mentality. Black metal can’t be an organisation.
TW> So you see yourselves as indivudals set apart from the rest of the “scene”?
GA> Satanism is individualism so …. We feel no commitment, but of course there are bands we respect.
TW> What’s happening in Bergen with black metal?
GA> Nothing really. Most of the bands have dissolved or are on their way out. It’s mostly Gorgoroth left, holding the fort. Enslaved is moving in different directions, Immortal has obviuosly split up and Taake is still around. But mostly I think not too much is going on around here.
TW> Why do you think black metal is so popular in the rest of the world, outside of Norway? How can we explain this phenomenon?
GA> I think we can explain it with its trueness, that it’s genuine. I suppose it appeals to lots of people. People are saturated with most of everything, and are continuously being bombarded with much of the same. I suppose they find something else, a meaning, in black metal. It speaks to people who don’t follow the crowd.
TW> Well, that’s about all we had time for actually. Thanks for giving us a call.
GA> Yeah, I have some more interviews too. Thank you.