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The Norwegian Black Metal masters Dimmu Borgir are back, with a new album “In Sorte Diaboli”, followed by an extensive tour that will reach Europe in September. And this is not the only thing that keeps the band busy these days... You can read here what Singer Shagrat told STALKER about religion, interview marathons and his true personality.
How´s it going?
Ahm… very tired right now, cos we did a promotional trip and in Spain and Italy and Paris and stuff like that, so lots of interviews, some good parties also (laughs)…
On the new album, I especially liked the song “The Chosen Legacy”…
Yes, that´s probably my two favorite songs also on the album, “The Chosen Legacy” and “The Sacrilegious Scorn”, they just turned out to be really good. On this American tour we´ll also play “The Chosen Legacy” and “The Serpentine Offering”, the only two songs from the new album. When we´ll do a European tour, it´ll be at least 4 songs, because in the US the album won´t be out yet when we´ll go there.
Have you already heard some response to “In Sorte Diaboli”?
Only from the press so far, but it´s good, pretty positive critics and people seem to be getting into it, so… but on the internet some people didn´t like it at all, and some really liked it, but it´s always like this, that´s the way to be and I´m fine with that, really.
And it´s a concept album, right? How did you come to such an idea?
Yes, it is a concept, there´s a story, written by Silenoz, our guitar player, it´s back into the medieval times and it´s not differently written to what we´ve done before, it´s anti-religious and stuff like that, only now the lyrics are more linked to each other, if you can say so, but we did the music separately from the lyrics and I can only say a few words about the lyrics. The theme of the story focuses around this one fictional character, the Priest, and after a few years he spent in priesthood in search of God and then he goes through revelation, the awakening, and then discovers the incarnation of the anti-christ, you know, the opposite to what people believe God is. The lyrics are written as journals, like diaries, explaining the individual struggle to personal and spiritual victory and finally the ultimate rejection of the concept of god, and then he comes to Lucifer, to the angel who was different to all the other angels. It was also said that Lucifer was smarter, wiser and more beautiful than all the other angels, and the character in the story then resembles Lucifer´s form in a sense that he´s somehow supernatural and threatening.
This sounds like quite a complex scenario for a movie…
Yeah, that could be linked to a movie or a book even… We´ve made one video so far “The Serpentine Offering”, with the same producer we´ve worked with before, on the “Protagonist of the Great Apocalypse”
Was there anything special that inspired you into writing such album?
Well, I didn´t write the lyrics, it was Silenoz, so he could probably explain more about it and I took more part of creating the music, and I don´t take any inspiration, for other bands or anything like that, it just comes naturally, you know… the way we create riffs and put things together and it was mainly me, Silenoz and Galder who wrote most of the material this time. It took us 6 months to compose.
And was this a fresh idea or something you´ve thought of before and came to gradually?
Well, we´ve had a long break and we´ve had not been busy for 4 years almost, after 2004 we´ve decided to have a long break, but then Silenoz started with the concept for the lyrics, but we´ve been very lazy and the last 2 years we were concentrating to on other projects, other things, but finally we´re back on track and working hard on the music and basically 6 months before we´ve booked the studio to do the album. And it´s ok to be back…
With the new album your anti-Christian attitude became once again more open and obvious, whereas on the previous record it was more disguised. Can you explain the change?
Well, now it´s a more hidden, more intelligent way of writing lyrics, it´s always been there, beneath the surface of our music, our lyrics, very anti-religious things and it´s always been like this, not just the Christianity, but religion in general.
Can I ask what you follow, what do you believe in?
I don´t follow anything and that´s also part of the story, religion really sickens me, I really hate it. I think people should be able to stand up for themselves and find their own ways, instead of following some stupid rules you know. But what is sacred for me, it´s very personal and I don´t want to talk about it.
Are you superstitious, do you believe in signs and destiny and things like this?
Yes, a little bit. I don´t want to talk about that either, yes sometimes you can see signs for things and it´s kind of strange…. Yes, definitely.
Another song on the new album, “The Fallen Arise”, there are no lyrics, so what does this piece stand for?
Yes, there are no lyrics, it is just to get a break from the rest of the record, it´s a very extreme record and very basic and aggressive record, so it is to break the ice with a slower, more mid-paced song, it´s more mellow and it´s something different.
But does it also fit with the storyline of the album?
No, not really, there´s no lyrics so…
For the tour with the new album, will you also have some new costumes or makeup or something?
No, we´ll continue the way we´ve always done, very cool lightshow and then do something spectacular, like pyrotechnics and do something cool, but it´ll be a traditional Dimmu show, better than before and we´re more experienced also, so more professional.
A while back you´ve said that it´s difficult for your band to tour in the States, because this kind of music scene isn´t very well developed and so on, but now you´ve your own headlining tour, so what changed?
No, it´s just we did a tour in 2004 in the US and we´ve sold a lot of records in the US, so we got a lot of fans already, and we just need to be back there, to show our faces and sell more records. It´s the way it works, it´s a very tough market, it´s been more developed and now people are more interested in what we´re doing. We´ve established a good fan base so far, so it´s important we´ll go there.
Would you like to cooperate with Bam, from MTV, you know the Viva La Bam show?
I´ve met him before actually the last time we were there, and he´s a nice guy, so it´ll be cool. We don´t have any plans for that yet.
What are you doing before the tour starts?
Promotion and the interviews, we have over 250 interviews during this period…
250?! This must be very boring for you…
yes! (laughs) but it´s an important part of the job, so… it´s very tiring and it´s very boring, but it needs to be done, so… we also have been away for those 4 years, so now the people want to know more about the band…
What happened during those 4 years?
We´ve been concentrating on our side-projects and some of us have families and children, so we´ve been focusing on those things… I for example play in a rock´n´roll band on a side, I like this kind of music a lot. And I have a child.
How do you tolerate all those jokes and criticism towards Norwegian black metal scene?
Oh, we´re very annoyed with this kind of questions and we really don´t care what people think about it, they can categorize it as black metal or not, people can say we´re sell-out and we´ve never paid attention to what those people say, we don´t care about it. We go our own way, doing what we do best and we never paid attention to critics, even if it´s in the magazines or internet, we always follow our own way and that´s the most important thing.
Do you think it´s possible to create music with keeping the idea of business and money-making in mind?
Well, Norway is a very expensive country, so of course we make money from what we do, and I´m not ashamed of it. I´m very proud of that, I am actually very proud that I can live from doing the thing I love the most. We think it´s a gift, we just do our thing, create our music, do the shows, this is the thing we like to do most, and of course it´s nice to earn something with it too.
Are you still nervous and excited to play the concerts, go on stage or is it more like a regular job for you now?
It´s a regular daily job, it is, but sometimes I am very nervous to go on stage. Nothing special really.
What´s your first thought when you see a person in a Dimmu shirt?
It´s very cool, it´s very special when people go around with your shirt, it´s a special thing and you also get really used it, I´ve seen already so many people with Dimmu shirts, but it´s also highly appreciated.
Nice for you ego…
(laughs) right! Ego also, you can say that…
What makes your band unique?
What makes my band is that we don´t pay attention to any rules, we go our own way, we don´t pay attention to the critics, we´ve always done the thing we´ve thought was right, and compared to other bands, in Dimmu we are all different persons, and everyone contributes different things into the music, we combine trash, heavy, death metal elements, which make it very accessible and more interesting to listen to, we don´t just follow one thing, but we have different atmosphere in our music. We don´t analyze our music too much, we just go doing our thing, do the thing we like. There´s no proper message but we just want people to open their eyes and see everything around, not follow any kinds of religions, just be yourself, stand up for yourself and go your own way.
Do you actually have any degree or higher education in the music field or else?
No no, I just started playing when I was maybe 6 years old, so I´ve always been in this, in more extreme music styles.
What kind of crazy fan behavior have you had?
Oh, many-many times! We played a show in Mexico and people almost died, you know, diving from the second floor into the concrete and passed out, so a lot of crazy things, especially in South America. But all people do their things and it´s not up for us to take the responsibility.
But do you actually enjoy that, having all the attention and all the girls liking you, people recognizing on the street…
No, not really. I keep myself to myself, I don´t need all this attention, you know. I play in a big band, I´ve done some big things with this band, so now I´m more down-to-earth than I was before. I don´t need so much attention anymore, I don´t need to be in the spotlight anymore.
Are you shy then?
Not when I´m on stage, but I´m very shy person. Some people cannot believe it´s me, if they compare to me on stage and how I am in private life, I´m very stable and relaxed. I get all my aggression out when I play on stage, I am much more relaxed otherwise. The same with the rest of the band, also their stage image is a lot more aggressive than what they really are. We´re very different from one another, but it´s just the way it is.
What is your relationship to alcohol and other such things?
Yeah, I drink a little beer when on tour, I drink much more when I´m at home, on weekend, meeting friends, but I cannot have a hangover or be drunk when I do a show, because then it´ll be a bad show. When I drink, I become very talkative. Because you know, I´m a shy person normally, so after drinking, I talk a lot! (laughs)
I´ve read somewhere that you´ve played in a theatre before. So would you like to continue that someday?
I´ve never done that before, never! But would be cool to appear in a movie, I´d like that, yeah…
Any other dreams or ambitions?
To have a big family and still manage to combine that with music. To be rich and famous! But honestly, I´m quite happy with my life at the moment, because I can do whatever I want to, because at the beginning it was very hard, but now I´ve my freedom to express myself and it is already like a gift.