A fun interview with Apollyon (AURA NOIR , IMMORTAL , LAMENTED SOULS)
Hails Apollyon! It’s a great chance for me to have an interview with a black/thrash black/thrash metal genius! First of all, i want to start with asking your personal influences. Which bands were you following and what inspired you to be a metal musician?
Apollyon: Yeah,I’m a genious!Haha,anyway I was always interested in heavy music.As with most of the guys my age it started with collecting Kiss trading cards at the age of 4-5-6.
They came with a bag of assorted sweets,so this was the typical Saturday night treat your parents would give you back then.There were two options;the one with kiss cards in it or the one with Abba.So basically when I started school all the boys were kiss "fans"(only me and two other guys actually had heard the band),and the girls dug Abba.
After a couple of years though, I was alone in my school showing interest for heavier stuff.Now this was a time with 1 tv channel and 2 radio channels,all state-run,so you would be lucky to be exposed to any kind of metal at all.The breakthrough for me however, came around 85-86 when we got cable tv in Norway and also independent radio stations popped up around the cities and a couple of them would have weekly metal shows.The first thing that got me going ,was seeing Slayer on the Monsters of Rock show on Sky Channel(reaching out to you).
They used to broadcast this Hell Awaits live clip,the one that’s on the Combat -tour video.And seriously,I understood nothing of what was going on,I just knew that I had to get a hold of this music.I got a couple of other albums first though,cause it wasn’t extremely easy to get a hold of Hell awaits.Anywyay I collected all kinds of thrash/speed metal after that.
Luckily I had loads of back catalogue releases to catch up with because when I seriously started buying albums for my own hard earned newspaper boy-money in 87,the quality of thrash metal went just downhill.It was so obvious that the whole business was aiming for a more mainstream crowd.Everything from record labels to marketing,songwriting and lyrics was just pestered by this politically correct "save the planet"-bullshit,there were ballads on all releases,vocalists started to sing rather than scream,production was horrible,and there seemed to be a competition to be the most technically skilled band in the bay area.Everyone was concerned with everything else than making fucking awesome thrash metal with an attitude. and The heavy metal I heard around then didn’t do it for me at all.Bands like judas priests, iron maiden,accept,ozzy,wasp,twisted sister were of little interest to me(wasp still is,unless I feel like listening to bonnie tyler but there’s non available..twisted sister too eventhough I am aware that cool songs exist and that they are cool guys).
Anyway the bands I followed the most were Metallica,Slayer and Kreator in the beginning.I also had bay area stuff,like exodus,testament,forbidden that I was into,but not all the albums.I still love the first exodus,one of the greatest ever.I love the first testament too,but they lost me almost immediately afterwards.Was very into Coroner’s RIP album and Darkness descends,Autopsy’s first when it came out.Death,I caught from their second release Leprosy.Bathory of course.Wasn’t so into venom I must admit.I thought they looked awesome on the few old liveclips I’d seen but I thought the music sounded like a bad version of Motorhead.
Moving over to high school/collage at 16-17 helped a lot too because I met a couple of new metal people(not nu-metal) who had discovered different bands.The underground tapetrading scene was of course increasingly interesting and inspiring when i got more and more into that.As my thrash metal heroes continued NOT to deliver the kind of extreme music I craved for it was great to discover underground bands and zines.
Another extremely inspirational fact is that Darkthrone are from the same place as I am,so I saw them play live at the local cinema and stuff while they were still releasing demos.They were 1 to 3 years older than me and never went to the same school,so never approached them either.Not when I was 14-15 anyway.
You’re a multi-instrumentalist.I know you’re playing drums,guitar,bass and doing vocals. Which one was the first instrument you’ve started to play?
I actually played piano from age 7-11.Wish I had continued in a way.It’s a very good instrument to start with,cause it gives you the basics on all instruments.But I thought it was boring.The only thing i did was to learn my homework and play it as fast as I could,and I could never play what I wanted to.Never payed much attention to the notes,only as a reference..it was always by ear.I actually played much more complex stuff than what my teacher presented me as well,like pieces my father was playing,but I wasn’t allowed to by my teacher.I had to do the basics..boring little pieces that could only be made interesting by playing them extremely fast…and then she would bitch me for playing it too fast.Well,I should probably have listened more to her and she should have listened more to me,but I was too impatient and piano was not cool so I quit.Never played anything after that either.
Think i was about 15 when i got my first guitar.I sucked at it,We had classical guitar lessons at school,and I was horrible and uninterested and almost failing the class.But after I got my electric one I passed.Didn’t have anybody to play with though.Just played along with Metallica mostly(first riff I learned was Traitor by Motorhead).At school though,we played Tom Dooley and other utter dull songs on classical guitar.
My first bass I got in 2003 or 2004 in Buenos Aires.Never owned a drumkit 🙁
Which one is your favorite? Which one do you enjoy to practise more?
Drums!!!!!! And Drums!!! But I seldom get to. I also like to sing,but that doesn’t really count.
Bass is my absolute least favourite instrument to play.Guitar is ok and cool for making music on but it doesn’t get me all excited playing it by myself.
Do you have any insterest except music or an activity in Norway like camping,fishing or stuff that you do often? I know fishing is very popular in Norway,also very interesting forests for camping 🙂
I love our nature and walking around feeling small in it.We are lucky here to have so many seemingly untouched beautiful areas and in many of them you can walk around all day not seeing other people.I got a bit spoiled though.Last year I had to move away from my old house that was right in the middle of what I personally think is the greatest part of our country.One of the coldest,yet driest regions,where i had all the highest and coolest mountains within reach.Very few people live there.I lived there for 5-6 years having the time of my life.I walked for hours every day in the mountains/forests and seriously met nobody.Perfect for a rather misanthropic person like myself.
Not a fanatic fisherman ,but I admit that I got hooked up there.
Unfortunately I have many obligations around Oslo so I had to move back down again last year.Even if i’m way outside the city still ,I’m fucking depressed over not being able to walk out the door and directly into the wilderness, and there are no fucking mountains here.Even if I have vast areas of forest all around now as well(if I bother driving for 5 minutes),I’m still just sitting inside sobbing,missing my mountains and hating that I have neighbours.Haven’t touched the fishing rod either.2012 was the worst year ever.
Let’s talk about your discography. You have a very rich discography with bands,side projects and live shows. What was the first formal band you were associated with and how did it start?
Lamented Souls was my first band.Actually we were called Morax at first but decided to change names to something equally lame after the first arcturus 7" came out ("My angel",with "Morax "on the flip-side).
It began when I started collage also at Kolbotn, where I befriended Olav(Bestial tormentor from Infernö also Nekromantheon live guitarst).I had seen him around for years,noticing his thrash metal patches but he came from one of the other two high schools in the area,so I’d never talked to him before.
Either way he was playing guitar and him and another guy called Petor wanted to start a band and asked me to join as well.We all played guitar,so Petor ended up with the bass,but we still needed a drummer.The only one I knew of was a guy in my class who wasn’t really metal,more rock,though he looked like a punk rocker.He was into classic metal like maiden and black sabbath though and I knew he played drums among other things,so I asked him.This was Simen(ics vortex from arcturus,borknagar,ex dimmu and ten other bands).He played drums on our first demo,when we tried to play a mixture of slow death metal and black metal.Was pretty bad,but at least a start.However we soon found our style in doom/rock and then we let Simen sing and play guitar while I got to play drums.Then our bassist quit and I went back to playing guitar and we got another local guy,Einar (Infernö,Virus)to play drums.Well Ved buens Ende(Aggressor’s band)borrowed simen for two live shows..then arcturus wanted him.and we haven’t really seen him since.
You’ve formed Aura Noir in 1994 with Aggressor. How have you met and decided to create the band? What insprided you?
Basically we met out drinking.We had common friends and hung out.Also we both had a rehearsal room right in the center of Oslo.We’d drink and then go play,then back to drinking..we even slept in those rooms.Many bands would form like this..also aura noir.Me and Aggressor had our thrash metal thing that we played.Nobody else was doing that.Everyone was just copying mayhem,emperor and darkthrone,claiming death metal was shit and thrash metal too…which was true enough..but not the early thrash which was a huge inspiration for for example mayhem and darkthrone.We called it black metal,those first evil thrash metal releases..like slayer BEFORE reign in blood(even if it’s a good album,it is not satanic),Sodom BEFORE persecution mania,Kreator BEFORE terrible certainty,Hellhammer/first couple of celtic frost..bonded by blood of course.. Nobody had tried to recreate that kind of feeling,so that’s what we did.Tried to play black metal but in a vile thrash metal way.
We secretely had a band called Istroll(ice troll) that was just mocking all the new Norwegian bands that would come out.We hated the pompous Norwegian trend that was going on.But Istroll was just something nobody ever heard or was supposed to hear.Just another amusing way for us to mock silly beautiful black metal.It was hilarious though.We had one song called "Ravnen flyr over Galdhøpiggen,mens Odin dreper Gud på Galdhøpiggen"..btw Galdhøpiggen is the highest mountain in norway..so the translation would be "the raven flies over galdhøpiggen while Oden kills god on Galdhøpiggen".Extremely pompous,horribly written norwegian lyrics,just like the bands who kept popping up at the time and still do.Only difference was that Ice troll was just for me and him to laugh about in a sort of masochistic way,whilst the other bands were actually taken seriously.
You had a lot of releases with Aura Noir. How is it going with the band nowadays? Do you have any confirmed show or tour in the near future?
We have to make a new album now..That’s the plan.Peaceville just re-released all our old albums though.Just got dreams like deserts,the merciless and hades rise now.Pretty cool bonus stuff on there.B-side on dreams like deserts contains the "Deep tracts of Hell" ep that we never released..recorded between BTA and DTOH.Completely forgot about that one.And on Hades rise they’d included a Bulldozer song that we recorded..think all the re-releases contains bonus material that is actually interesting.At least for me who haven’t heard it in a long time and had no idea about it.Aggressor has fixed this I guess.
Anyway we have a pretty stable live line up now with Tank on drums.It’s possible that he’ll do the drums on the next album as well,even if I would like to do it myself.
And here is a typical question of the interviews! Which country was your best experience to play? Which one is your favorite?
Well one must be careful not to hurt anybody with these questions so I have to say :All countries are cool to play in and all countries are lovely!!!haha.
But seriously, even if it’s one of the most typical questions it’s obviously also a question that is impossible to answer.Everything depends on everything.You can have great shows and bad in the same country.Germany is a good example.They have nine thousand shows and festivals of different sizes and grades of "trueness". every year.Organisation there is usually very good,so as a touring musician it’s good because you know that they will give you what you need/have asked for in terms of equipment,catering and other fascilities.At the same time you can’t expect the crowd,who are so used to seeing their fave bands all the fucking time, to be as intense as for example a south american or even australian crowd.. then again,in south america you run a much bigger risk of getting fucked over and you kind of have to lower your standards when it comes to choice of equipment and you risk sounding shit,and destroying your voice cause u can’t hear yourself.Luckily people don’t care so much because they’re already overexcited about you coming but you know..It’s impossible to say.We just had two awesome shows in Oslo playing tiny clubs,packed.Did the same thing in London too.With like people falling over you on stage all the time.Total chaos.But that wouldn’t have happened if we’d played one of the bigger venues..where the sound and lights would make it a more "perfect" gig.
In a summer festival too it has much to say what time of day you play, if you play when it’s dark or in the middle of the sun…if it rains..
I could go on and on but i’m tired..haha.
Are you planning to play this year in a country which you haven’t been before? You have a lot of fans in Turkey. We would love to see you here!
Turkey would have been great.Never played or been there.Don’t think we have any gigs coming up in "new "countries at the moment.
Would you also like to tell us about the beginnings of Immortal. How have you met them and started to play in band?
I started playing with them in 2006.I think I only met Abbath briefly like once or twice,while they were still active.Bergen,where they are from,is far away from Oslo,where I have spent most of my years…and not just physically far.Anyway they have always been the only band I really liked from the Bergen scene.I was impressed from when i heard their 91 (?) 7" that came about before the first album.Kind of like they should have belonged here in Oslo,but still they have their completely own thing so they belong exactly where they do.In Blashyrk.
Anyway I was married to this girl years ago,that’s from the same place as Abbath a bit outside bergen.And whenever we visited her family I would "escape" by contacting him.And when Immortal decided to end their little break , he rang me and asked if I wanted to do the reunion shows in 2007.I’ve always adored watching them live and I also thought that I wouldn’t bring any shame on them on stage,so I accepted.
You’ve probably had a chance to met a lot of oldschool musicians so far. Do you have any ‘best memory’ ?
Hmmm,I don’t know.We play the same festivals as many of my old favourites,but I rarely approach anybody.However,especially the immortal guys are much more outgoing,so I meet loads of people that they come dragging along with.But you know,not all are worth meeting.Many have a typical rock star attitude that I find obnoxious or they’re drunk,and I am a bit allergic to most drunk people as I’ve worked in a bar for 7 years.So I want to be careful with who I meet so I don’t spoil the pleasure of listening to their albums later.Like if I had been a Megadeth fan,I don’t think I would have wanted to meet Dave Mustaine.
But yeah,first time I asked for a picture with somebody was when I met Chris Reifert from Autopsy at the ex Milwaukee metal fest.Autopsy are great, down to earth people and have never let me down musically like most of my old thrash metal gods did. Dan Lilker is a great guy.Gary holt is supercool.Cronos was in my hotelroom signing me and Aggressor’s vinyls last year.I’ve played football against team iron maiden twice.Pretty surreal actually if I start thinking about it.But I’m mellow you know.I’m not easily impressed.I just like down to earth people but I never walk up to anyone.I’ve been sitting in the same bar as Lemmy all night 3 times without even considering disturbing his gambling machine activities.
Maybe the strangest incident was not a very metal one but anyway,Nina Persson from the Cardigans turned up outside the venue we played in Manchester with Dødheimsgard back in 99.They played next door and she asked me if she could come see our show before theirs.And she did.I actually went to see them too.Was kind of a relief after having seen nothing but dimmu and dark funeral for 6 weeks straight.Cool of her to come see us anyway.
But yeah,I have met so many of my old favourites.Some are cool,and some are rock stars..
Are you also following the new black or thrash metal bands? What do you think of them?
Yeah,I am.We’re even lucky to have some of them from my hometown Kolbotn.Necromantheon and Condor+plus Obliteration of course(where our drummer Tank plays) even if it’s death metal.Deathhammer from Norway are also great.So is Black magic.But there are cool bands all over the world now,which is great.
I keep saying that there are more interesting bands nowadays than it has been for a long time..mid/early nineties maybe.However there are also extremely much more bands and not easy to get an overview.Not all are extremely original of course but what I like is the "trend" that is "soundbased".To get the acoustic authentic feeling on the recordings and create your own sound.That’s like my first criteria.If I hear triggered drums,I lose interest after 3 seconds.But it’s not important to me which genre it is.If it’s good it’s good.
Actually the most difficult genre to impress me with is black metal..and typical Norwegian 90’s black metal being the worst.I find it mostly incredibly embarrassing,boring and without taste.It doesn’t sound more true Norwegian than a portion of spaghetti boiled for 20 minutes with ketchup on top tastes true italian.There are exceptions of course.Of newer black metal bands I think for example Negative Plane have succeeded in creating their own eerie soundscape.
Do you have any other band in your mind which you would like to see live?
In general? I think I have seen most bands I want to see,and even more bands I never wanted to see/didn’t know I didn’t want to see.Anyway we play festivals all the time and so does other bands so there’s always a chance of catching whatever I find interesting.Looking forward to seeing zz top at hellfest this year.Never seen them before.They were very captured by the 80’s when I first got to know them through the eliminator/afterburner albums,but later discovered their 70’s stuff that’s way cooler.
I would actually like to see Whiplash again too.Saw them for the first time some years ago and they were surprisingly ripping.
Are you currently working on a new project or album?
Yeah with all 3 bands.No studio or nothing booked yet though.Let’s see who finishes first.Think it will be Immortal.
Thanks for sparing your time for the interview! Keep destroying! Hoping to see you in our country soon! Skål!
Allright,piss off!Don’t ever interview me again unless the questions are"what’s your favourite colour?"and what did u have for dinner?