Questions to Bartsch of Bethlehem
By Yury Arkadin

Bethlehem: unstable deviates with manic-depression or misunderstood fine chaps?

Read on...

1) I'll start by asking a question that I'm sure is lingering on the minds of many people who have been following Bethlehem all through the years, namely, why the unexpected expatriation from the comfy rocking chair of Red Stream? After all, they've supported the band for so many years. Some alarmingly large shit must have hit the fan, right?

No. The Red Stream deal was the very best thing ever happened with Bethlehem and ever will be. Patrick McCahan is a grateful person and there really was/is friendship instead of just usual partnership. Hope Pat and us will stay friends forever! What this guy did for Bethlehem will never be forgotten and we still are quite proud working some years together with such a great record label. The decision to change the label was quite hard for all of us but honestly don't wanna talk 'bout the reasons which should stay a personal thing between Mr. McCahan and us.

2) You've promulgated elsewhere, in two separate occasions, your unwillingness to contribute to the Y2K mania. Speaking candidly, do you really see any problems in this future situation? Excluding all of the supernaturalist mumbo-jumbo, I can't help but feel that some religious fanatic is going to delight himself in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prove his imbued teachings are correct in some kind of catastrophic way. Any pangs of doubt?

Surely there will be some religious fanatics who gonna prove their apocalyptic teachings and stuff, but who cares? We don't. Personally, the 2000-thing gives me the possibility to work some hours in a pub and get paid very well for this. After I gonna have a good fuck, good smoke, good pills, good whatever, like always. So what?

3) I've had the misfortune of talking to several people that claim that the internet is a tool of "diabolical dissemination." Pious and ill-humored people are especially fond of focusing on a single unit of a larger picture and exaggerating it until their aims are recognized and met, I've noticed personally. Many liberals, on the other hand, are overjoyed at the wealth of information, although there are a fair amount of dumb and ignorant assholes in that camp as well. What are your opinions on the internet? Satanic, divine, or "Beyond Good and Evil"?

The internet just means a functional thing for us. It gives us the possibility to send cheap mails and sometimes have some fun with the different Bethlehem web pages. This is cool. People who wanna tell us that they luv or hate us can do under: Of course, there always will be people who have to bore others to death with their pro/anti attitudes 'bout the internet or whatever else. This is soooo stupid really... use it or don't but please don't discuss on ev'rything like some lame, nostalgic hippie idiots who instead of just enjoying life have to comment on ev'ry useless bullshit. We don't really give a damn.

4) I remember my days in high school, where I would wear an upside down cross to class each day. Several people were outraged, but most people generally thought very little of it. I had no other intention but to cause some kind of scandal, uproar and to make very clear to my fellow human beings that I loathe their creation: organized religion. I also loved it, and still do to this day, because it symbolizes my passion for underground music. But it's become a fucking cliche over the years, as I suppose it was destined to become, and lost much of it's shock appeal. Do you agree?

Yeah. In 1991 and 1992 some of us wore these things too. But one day we came to the conclusion that, e.g., the upside-down cross in our band logo, should fulfil peoples' metal-cliches. These christian symbols ever were part of the metal cliche and ever will be. Kinda uniform of just another sub-culture. Therefore, Bethlehem must be a cliche too, although be better gonna shock people with our unlimited words and music. This is the better -anti- instead of the self-chosen drawer some years ago. This was nice in the very beginning of our band but got boring when we recognized that words/tones can say lots more than some stupid christian cliches which maybe help to sell records but nuthin' else.

5) I notice that as bands lose their self-esteem and imagination over time they turn to creating pop music, or a music that borrows heavily from it. The metal scene is rife with such examples, like Dimmu Borgir, Amorphis, pretty much the whole Century Media roster with several exceptions - what do you say for these clowns? Is resigning to cliches the last step in musical maturity?

I dunno. But really, can't imagine that e.g. Dimmu Borgir should be pop music??? Maybe they follow some pop rules or entertainment rules, but, honestly, although I, besides their first 7" and first record on vinyl, never bought any records of 'em, their new stuff more sounds like professionally played fast cliche black metal compared with epic keyboards to me. This music won't give me anything but, heck, shall this be 'pop music'? (I think it's safe to say that Dimmu Borgir borrows from pop music in their approach to music, and their attitude, first and foremost. Even though so many people in the scene can't tolerate them, which is usually a good thing taking in mind the opinion of your usual metalhead, can any self-respecting person finance an artist that admits of having a plainly monetary motive? - Yury) Sorry, but I can't follow your imagination. 'Specially 'coz compared to the international success of bands like e.g. Oasis, Suede, or whoever, Dimmu Borgir won't mean more than just some dirt under your finger nails. And 'bout the ol' spirit fairy tale, e.g. black metal has to stay 'underground' forever... hahahahaha... better believe in Santa Claus. This should be more secure. The complete 90's are destined of resigning to cliches. Therefore, ja, who knows? Maybe this is the last step in musical maturity? Personally, I won't spend time on such thoughts 'coz there ever will be some music I like and surely some other I won't. If I won't like Amorphis I won't buy their records and that's basically it. Why should I spend time on music I don't like 'coz I probably think this might be pop music instead of metal? Isn't this the thing what hippies do? (I don't know, they smell too much like shit - I'm afraid to approach and ask! - Yury)

6) I've written a poem some time ago that I'm particularly attracted to. I feel it conveys something very deep, yet light and facile at the same time. It is called "Translation" and follows:

The walrus sleeps gently with open eyes
Anxiously awaiting the downfall of man
Fretfully, like the forlorn heel of clitoris

This is the perfect chance for you to appease all of the psychoanalysts everywhere that are enthused with the art of Bethlehem: what kind of feelings, what kind of images, does my poem inspire in you?

I feel like a young girl strolling in the park, brushing her nails and filing her hair.

7) Is Cathrin Campen in any kind of relationship? Is she attracted to Russian journalists by any chance?

There's no relationship with her. This was her own choice and after all the coming and going in Bethlehem we don't care a lot. Of course, she got losta Russian luv letters but unfortunately never understood 'coz of the irritating danger signs written down there.

8) I've heard rumors that in Germany the people are much more boisterous and rowdy than they are in America. For instance, bar patrons bite their fingers off and then dip them into ketchup and eat them. Angry patriots whip out their dicks at the sight of any passing tourist and proceed to piss on them as they pass by. Public masturbation is permitted and encouraged. Nuns at catholic schools punish the school children by sitting on the faces of the students. Is there any validity to these strange stories?

We heard a lot, we saw a lot, sometimes we cared a bit, but yeah... these stories sound familiar to us. I once watched some guy cut off all fingers of his right hand 'coz he was hungry, as he said later. He offered one to me but I'm no friend of fresh few meat around a bone. I more prefer raw fish and stuff. Therefore, he ate 'em all alone and told me a lot 'bout the delicious taste. I dunno. I never would cut my fingers off for just the taste of whatever. Guess things like that are quite normal over here... myself once masturbated in a shopping center and nobody cared. This is quite okay I guess, though surely this will happen worldwide.

9) What do you think about bands like Aeturnus also calling themselves "Dark Metal"? (Or is it a moniker that the advertiser constructed? Hmmm...)

There are lotsa European bands around with the Dark Metal drawer. Last I read a Tiamat interview where this skinhead stated that their music is called -Dark Metal-, too. What can we say? That we were the first using this description and wish 'em all hell? Never listened to Aeturnus so please tell me, is this a dark metal band or what? Don't think Tiamat's new stuff is but maybe I'm wrong?

10) Bartsch on birth control: Important for yerks, not so important for the Rolling Stone.

11) Bartsch on racism: Human.

12) Bartsch on nationalism: I luv Germany.

13) Bartsch on drugs: Alcohol's not 'nuff. Why not follow the Dutch direction? I always burst out laughing if e.g. German politics try to explain the huge danger of e.g. weed!! Why can't anybody stop the boredom?

14) Meine lieben Franzosen, wo kann ich gehen, meine Katze zu rasieren?

Du musst gehen zu Hennes. Der dich nehmen auf die Hoerner zwar selten, aber tut besorgen er dir es ansonsten ganz gut und es dir machen in der Regel immer recht fein.

15) Thanks for your time. Proceed to finish the interview in any way in which you see fit.

Whatever happens to all the black metal bands and fanatics if thy mighty contract can't be fulfilled next time? Whatever happens if no rough beast, it's hour come round at last, won't slouch towards Bethlehem to be born? Is God really a DJ?

On that profound note, I bid you all farewell, as all of this talk has inspired me to once again pop out the ol' noose for another exciting session of suicidal dark metal! My deepest appreciation to Bartsch for giving us his time and attention to answer my questions. Let your lives be prosperous indeed, my friends...