Is Like My Little Whore I Go To
Whenever I Need Some Exclusive Pleasure!"
Have you heard about Mr. Blackheim lately? He is said to have become a sort of pompous, bloated, puffy, narcissistic «star». Wanna add something? May be «pretentious»? Or you like «hoity-toity» better? It looks like his main band KATATONIA will instead play on the same stage with ROXETTE. He has also quitted BEWITCHED, probably because the word «thrash» sounds like «trash» for him now. He still has his extreme project DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE left, but he, too, knows that sympho-black is popular today. So, may be it’s all for money? Well, folks, Mr. Blackheim is here to dot «i’s» and cross «t’s».
Actually, before we start talking about DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE, could you tell our readers about the project's background? Why did you decide to create a solo project? What music did you want to develop in DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE?
The idea to create DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE hit my mind somewhere back in 1993, but the plans remained on an imaginary level until about late 1994 when I sincerely started focusing on the project plus giving it the attention it deserved. The project was formed and basically still exists for the single reason that the stuff I perform isn’t suitable for my main band KATATONIA. I realized I was ending up throwing away plenty of good ideas just because they didn’t fit the concept of KATATONIA. So, to explore the other shades of darkness, I decided to brainstorm with DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE in order to cover a wider spectrum of music. I was filled with this great hunger to perform twisted and aggressive music and the only way to still that hunger was to form a side project. It’s like my little whore I go to whenever I need some exclusive pleasure!!!
You have recorded all your albums with a well-known personality in the underground - Dan Swano. How could you characterize him? Was it difficult for the two famous persons to work together? Did you argue a lot?
Hardly any arguments, just a few fights! No, just kidding... Well, it’s been pretty easy working with Swano, but occasionally he can be hard to deal with too if his mind is off somewhere else. He’s pretty much in a constant change of attitude and that can of itself become a problem. He’s also very very melodic/logical minded and can have problems accepting some disharmonies. However, he’s a genius and I owe a lot to him after all the work down there. I first met Swano when we recorded our first KATATONIA demo back in 1992 and since we grew experienced in that studio working with him as a producer/engineer we just kept on holding the tradition live. Honestly, I think it would be uncomfortable for DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE to break up this collaboration and go somewhere else with other producers/engineers and I’m very grateful, as a an outsider, to have recorded the new album at The Sanctuary as Unisound is officially closed down for good. Speaking of that, it was a nice surprise to experience that The Sanctuary worked and sounded better than Unisound ever did! I mean, you can easily hear that «Nightwork» got the best productions. Isn’t that pretty ironic considering Unisound was opened for business and The Sanctuary is only functioning as a home studio courtesy of Dan Swano?!? Anyway, it’s been a pleasure teaming up with Swano for these albums.
In general, whom did you invite as session musicians to record your latest album?
Well, as it’s a fact there are instruments I don’t master, instruments I really wanted featured on the albums in order to color the end result, so I invited a couple of session musicians already on the «The Phantom Lodge» album. Two of them also graced the new album some of their skills. My last drummer, Sean Bates, whom I used on the last album, was a very creative and professional musician and when he said he wouldn’t be able to participate on «Nightwork» I figured out DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE would be suffering a big loss since he’d be hard to match. A new drummer would be hard to find and I really didn’t want to return using a drum-machine and then all suddenly the problem was solved in a second as Dan Swano himself offered to give it a try, mind you, his main instrument has always been drums. I totally hooked on the idea and was convinced pretty much right away. The bottom line is that as long as something will improve for the better and I’m incapable of doing it myself, I’ll gladly invite a session musician for a helping hand.
As far as I know, the first two albums were released by the French label... I guess the label was not enough honest with you, am I right? Could you elaborate on the question and tell us your opinion on the underground labels in general: pros and cons.
The thing with the former label is that I don’t have and never had any good relation to them, which has got to do with their behavior. At a particularly early stage it seemed that they were about to do a fine work for DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE, but now with the facts at hand, it’s totally clear to me that I made a mistake signing to Adipocere. They’ve been running this collaboration very unprofessionally! They seem to have problems with being a label, which naturally means you’re obligated to be more than just a fucking CD factory! Being signed to a label that disconnects all communication makes anyone sick and tired. I still have to be at their backs though because they still owe me my royalties. The only positive aspect in this collaboration would be that DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE got established through these two releases, but it could just as well been by the help from another label. I urge people to stay away from these people. The music industry SUCKS! You can’t trust many beings in this world...
Why did you decide to switch to Avantgarde? Were they good enough to be trusted?
It was the right thing. I’ve known Roberto since the early days when we started KATATONIA and some years ago he offered us a slot on some European tour he was planning back in 1994. And since we were without a contract at the time we agreed that we’d promote KATATONIA through a new EP called «For Funerals To Come» on his label, but then tour got canceled and Roberto really wanted to release the EP anyway and from that point KATATONIA established a good deal and a long collaboration. Moving over to Avantgarde Music with DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE was therefor the easiest choice I’ve ever made. Basically, the deal with Adipocere expired and Roberto expressed his interest and the deal was done.
From the present point of view, how could you comment on your albums? A few words about each album, pointing out some good and bad (if there are any) sides...
Regarding «Ravendusk In My Heart». At that time I just wanted to make an extreme, but atmospheric album in the vein of EMPEROR, old BATHORY and early KATATONIA. It’s significantly the most black metallic album of the three. I still like it, but if I could I would have exchanged the drum-machine for a real drummer. It tends to get a little bit stiff after a while. The song «Under the Banner of the Sentinel» was a pure heavy metal song and was a bit odd to appear on such an album at its time. As for «The Phantom Lodge» I’m extremely satisfied with this piece. It’s a very nice listening! Actually, one of the albums I personally like listen to. It’s like a continuity of the debut, but with a step further in every aspect. It has an improved production, even more varied material with both thrash/heavy metal and folk music elements alongside the black stuff. Everything is just a bit better on this one. I wouldn’t like to change anything on it. The drums are killer! Moving over to «Nightwork». Finally, I felt it was my task to create a «metal soundtrack» to the concept of horror and I’m pleased to see that people are appreciating it. In difference to my past material, I felt my ideas didn’t come across good enough in faster paces. It didn’t do the music any justice and I decided to drop the blast beats on through the whole album. Instead, I set focus on more mid-paced oriented material and discovered how the riffs instantly flew out like bullets! On top of that, I think that the keyboard-work finally became a strong ingredient in the music as it boosts the eerie concept to the maximum. Also, I’ve juxtaposed a lot more diverse mood changes on this one. I figured out it would create variety, attract the listeners and capture their attention. I like to surprise people with unexpected things, sort of like a roller coaster ride; People should not expect what’s behind the next corner! On the other hand, I also value stuff being catchy, stuff with a lot of groove and swing. Stuff that makes you hooked! If an album lack these things it will soon turn into a very mediocre listening and isn’t that some of the worst things that could ever happen to a record? I think this album has a balance of both the catchy stuff and the unpredictable moments and thus makes it a very delicate piece of music. With the «Nightwork» concept I feel I’ve escaped the risk of repeating myself and right now I’m excited to venture deeper into it. Picking out one song, I’d say «The Eerie Obzidian Cirkuz» is probably the most freaked-out track on the album. At least it got some true frenzy and insane moments! The story of the song (just as the others) is an eerie and wicked little thing. Well, there is this traveling circus, seen from the outside as a jolly happy company. As the circus comes to town, they blind the eyes of children with devious visions and plant temptations in their minds. But we all know there’s always another side of a coin and in reality the circus is nothing but a false front for the devil man and his faceless beggars. The message of the song is that once you enter you’ll never return. You’re damned to watch the most petrifying show you could ever imagine...and the best part is that the show never ends...(ha ha!) How’s that? Concerning the album titles. Well, as a sign that something is not what it should be... I decided to convert the letters because I figured the titles spelled the wrong way made them look a bit more closer to an "alien tongue", but I probably just made them look Mexican or something, ha ha! Anyway, I «guezz» it turned out «zikk» and «thuz» I like it!
Ouh, yezz! I gott da i-dear! I guess all your albums comprise a sort of a conceptual trilogy... Am I right? Do these albums have anything in common?
Actually the truth is, that by «Nightwork» I’ve severed the connection to the lyrical concept I kept on the two previous albums. On those I based everything on myself as the main character, of course on a fantasy level. Considering everything was about myself and done by myself, it convinced me I was doing a solo-project, an expression for my alter-ego. The place and time for the stories also took part strictly in medieval periods as adventures filled with castles, knights, Vikings, swords and magic and so on. As you can see, stuff entirely built upon fiction and fueled by the darker corners of my mind. While doing «The Phantom Lodge», I felt I was more drawn to real «hammer horror» stuff and started mixing that up with the medieval adventures and tried to avoid all the «Blackheim titles» featured on the debut as it got too repetitive. After that album I really had enough of the old concept and wanted to give room entirely for the horror concept and that resulted in «Nightwork». Just as in the past, each song is like a little tale on it’s own and all together they become separate «works of the night» and thus the album title. I guess the inspiration for the change of concept has been coming from all the horror movies/soundtracks I collect here.
Considering the titles of your albums and songs, one can assume that ghosts and «dark» creatures really interest you. Is it correct?
I’m into the darkside...Honestly, I’m not really into it by desire, I’m more like haunted by it! I believe the darkside is right here in this room, but in another dimension and sometimes our dimensions attach and connect for a few seconds. «The Spirits», which is the most accurate form of description, have been present several times during nocturnal hours also in the studio. This serves as a fuel for DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE and personal terror/fascination.
What is your attitude towards Christianity? What do you think of religions as a whole?
I’m not a monger of Christianity nor religions. I loathe the entirety of it and I can’t bother to motivate it more than that because I can’t see what’s interesting in me preaching about the negative sides of Christianity. There are so many other people who like to expand their views upon the subject, I chose not to. It’s too far out!
DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE - one might believe you wanted to point out that you are a Satanist...
Is that so? Well, DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE, as the name it is, can be interpreted in more ways than one. If you think about it, you turn and twist it’s meaning into almost whatever you like. As for an presumable satanic aspect of it, well I believe the whole impression is more on the Anti-Christian side in that case and so, obviously, the things I do comes out in such a way, but it’s not something I put to much effort into or strive to express. Nothing to point out at all. It has no values to me. It’s just there by natural causes.
You happened to play with BEWITCHED for some time. What sort of musical activity was that cooperation for you? Why did you decide not to work with this band any longer?
Because of the two reasons mainly. The first being that this whole ‘80s retro-wave has already become fucking hackneyed! Retro-bands are popping up from everywhere, so I’m pretty fed up with it all. Well, BEWITCHED was great fun, but I guess it all got to point where I lost the passion. You see, BEWITCHED quickly gained popularity and grew bigger than expected and thus it started to interfere with KATATONIA’s activities. I didn’t wanna roam the European lands with a side project only and that’s the reason number two. The point with BEWITCHED was basically to do a one-off studio visit in the way of killing time and have some great fun, but it got more serious than that and well...I think the other guys will rock on fine even though I’m no longer involved. They know how to do it.
Do you make enough money playing music or you work part time somewhere?
I don’t have a job and I don’t get enough money through the music. I’m living like a retired old man to make it work, ha ha!
I hear you have created your own label... What have you already released? Why did you decide to create a label?
I created a label to be able to release my own stuff if that’s what I desire. I haven’t put out anything yet, but have some plans....Time shall tell.
As a matter of fact, you have never toured with DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE. How could you comment on that fact? Is it your personal point not to tour a lot?
I’m of course thrilled by the idea of performing a few concerts with DIABOLICAL MASQUERADE since I’m sure this wicked and eerie music would be a Blast on stage! I’m positive, the material would come across excellent in case I got a full line-up backing me up on all the featured instruments, so in any case I absolutely have to get hold of some session people for that. Who knows? Perhaps someday I will play live. If this project is the only one left alive in next years I might just make it into my main band with a stable line-up, but for now I treat it as an exclusive studio project, active about one time per year, nothing more, but maybe less.
Looking through the latest extreme music magazines, it's plain to see all the articles expose the same old picture of you. «Tongue's out» as we call it. When did you make the shoot? Were you teasing anybody or was is a medical examination?
It was a shoot from the BEWITCHED tour back in 1996 during one of the countless drunk moments on the tour bus. I just had to pick something for the press really. «Tongue’s out» you say, ha ha???
The latest KATATONIA album turned out to be a big shock for many fans... Would you like to say anything about such dramatic changes? Were you really tired with the heavy and brutal stuff? HOW DID IT HAPPEN?
Well, we felt this turned out to be the natural direction to proceed into. I mean, we’ve now come so far in our own musical journey that we’ve ended up finding enough inspiration in ourselves to get going. We’ve come to a new point. When we started out, we took a lot of direct influence from our favorite bands at the time, but the situation today is totally different. If you take a closer look at our new album, you’ll see that the entire piece is related to our own beings. «Discouraged Ones» is an expression of what we’ve been through the last couple of years. We managed to channel our misery into creativity and did an album upon that. This is how our personalities sound like...This is us! With «Discouraged Ones» we did not compromise! We’ve always put down our very souls into what we do and obviously this album speaks the language of ourselves in our current position and mental state. Regarding the vocal change. Well, we’ve been using "harsh" vocals for over seven years now and we felt that they couldn’t keep up with the pace our music evolved. Nothing new has really been happening on the vocal front while we’ve gone through some real musical changes from release to release and we felt this was it. We could no longer accept this repeating itself as the new songs definitely needed something beyond growls so, we started experimenting with clean, harmonic vocals and discovered it would bring a new edge to our sound. We decided to go full circle and it turned out be a perfect move which helped us from stagnating in ourselves. I still love the old style, but it’s something we have completed and passed, through progression.
Sorry for telling you, but lately we heard a lot of rumors suggesting that you have become a sort of «trend guy», you prefer to follow trends neglecting real roots of extreme music. Some even say you have become a «star». What do you personally think of these facts?
Facts, ha ha??? Well, isn’t it time for a documentary on the subject then? All these damn people never cease to surprise you. The next rumors are more amusing than the last...
OK! There is more coming... Take that: there are rumors that you have a king-size bed and you listen to music lying on it. Would you care to comment?
Well, considering how you put the question, I assume I ought to be lying on the floor??? King-size bed? King-size dick? Is there really anyone who gives a shit?!?!?!?
I guess there are some who would like to... Concerning «king-size dick»... Well, may be Playboy magazine asked you the question, not me!.. What is you life credo?
Avoid you freaks....
Oh no! We have got some more questions to ask you before you get rid of us, ha ha! Do you have any hobbies aside from music? How do you spend your leisure?
I spend it on the king-size bed, ha ha!
Are you married?
Is there a place for drugs and alcohol in your life?
Yeah yeah, of course...
What is your greatest fear?
To see the ideals of life break apart.
A lot of young musicians would like to know how well should they play their instruments to be able to create their own band?
Well, to just form a band a person can be bad as hell, because it’s by jamming with a band you progress and grow as a musician and learn and gather experience. I’d say the question should be, how well should a young musician play his instrument to be able to release an album. Well, it’s a fact that many albums released today should have been demos back in ?91. Too many labels give bands the opportunity to do something they’re not ready for and with too many immature albums by new-started bands the essence or the dignity of releasing an album is terminated. Releasing an album is something that should be looked upon as something very special. Releasing your very own album used to be and should be a dream, not a substitute for a fucking demo. For that is truly reality, the yesterday's demo-scene has become today’s CD-scene.
What would you like to say to all your numerous fans in Russia?
Well, listen up Demons! Meanwhile I’m preparing something new here inside the MASQUERADE I suggest you lay your hands on "Nightwork" for now and pray, it’ll perhaps plunge you into the darkside....