Contrary to popular belief, Nagash (ahem, I mean Lex Icon) was a really cool guy on the phone. I guess he's gotten a bad reputation for being a pompous asshole, but he was really cool with me...
How do you feel about your new album, "Animatronic"?
Very positive. It’s pretty risky for us, considering the scene we come from, changing so drastically in style.
Yeah, to me it sounds very industrial and not so much black metal like the older material…
Yeah, it’s more electronic. It’s not industrial like Nine Inch Nails for example. It’s more electronic like the old electro German bands.
Why did so many members of the band leave after "Nexus Polaris" came out?
We fired them, basically(laughs)!
Oh really? Why was that?
Well, Sara [Jezebel Deva] from Cradle Of Filth [who handled the female vocals] wasn’t really a member, and she didn’t get along with us on a personal level, so she’s back in Cradle Of Filth where she belongs. Um, [keyboardist] Sverd from Arcurus, he just didn’t really care about the band anymore and just stopped showing up. He was actually the only person that we actually had to fire, because he was never there. He actually stopped playing music altogether, and no-one has really heard from him. Last I heard, he was a plane mechanic on Coke(Ed. Note: I’m assuming that Lex Icon is referring to the drug Cocaine. I may be wrong.), so…
An airplane mechanic? Wow, that’s pretty different…
Has it been harder to operate as a three-piece?
No. We’ve basically always been a three-piece. Actually, just a two-piece: Myself and [guitarist] Psy Coma. The steady core of Kovenant has always been us and Von Blomberg, also known as Hellhammer of Mayhem.
Who did the keyboards on the new album then?
Me and Psy Coma. We had some help from our producer as well, since this was the first time we actually used a producer.
Are you worried that your older fans who know you from being in Dimmu Borgir, and those who know Hellhammer’s role in Mayhem, do you think it will be hard for them to accept "Animatronic" as not being a black metal album?
No, I don’t basically think so. The Kovenant sound is more intelligent and open-minded, really. I mean, the only ones who can’t cope with it are the [black metal] musicians, you know? They are the ones who have the problem because they want to be "number 1", and then here comes this "other" band who’s trying to be something else. It’s the whole soap opera thing. It’s pretty tragic(laughs).
Yeah, I know. Why did you all change your names? For example, you used to be known as Nagash, and now go by the name Lex Icon. What was it exactly that brought on this change?
Well, with this new album, we had to change our band name and everything, and we felt restrained by our old names, like we couldn’t go as far as we wanted to go. We felt that people would relate the new album and the old names with things that we really don’t agree with anymore.
Did the Swedish techno band Covenant, who shared the same name as you in the past, did they threaten to sue you at all for having the same name?
Yeah, they actually did. They dragged us to court, and in the end we had 15 minutes to come up with our new name. By the way, that band is GAY(laughs)! We have outsold them ten times over, and we were the ones who had to change the name and everything.
Do you think that is why they got all pissed off and had you guys change your band name?
Yeah, it was probably jealousy or something. I mean, they have only sold about 10,000 records worldwide, and we’ve sold 100,000 in Europe alone, so…you know? It was really annoying to us because we have accomplished so many things with Covenant…we even got the Grammy award in Norway…
You won a Grammy?
Yeah, we actually won it(laughs)! It was for the best artist in the Hard Rock category. We were the first extreme metal band to ever win it in Norway. It’s a pretty interesting fact to go into the record books(laughs).
Yeah, no kidding. Anyway, do you think you will ever play with Dimmu Borgir again?
No, I don’t think so.
Did you have a falling out with the band or are you just going into a different musical direction from what they are, so to speak?
Well, I just had to choose from the two bands. They were just getting to be so much and I didn’t have the time to do both, so in the end I just had to choose.
But there’s no hard feeling’s between you or any members of the band though?
No. That’s the official story, anyway(laughs).
(Laughs) What about the Carpe Tenebrum project you were doing with Astennu of Dimmu Borgir? Do you think you will work with him again on that project?
I don’t know. Astennu will probably keep doing that project. I never had any creative input into that project. He just needed vocals and wanted me to do them so I did. I think Maniac from Mayhem will be doing the vocals on his next Carpe Tenebrum album, actually.
What about the other project you were involved with called Troll? Any plans with that?
Yeah, there will be a new album coming out next year, I think…either January or February. This new album has been delayed for two years, but I think it will finally be put out. This new album will be like old-school black metal, like Bathory and bands like that.
Yeah, I’ve heard some Troll material and from what I’ve heard it was pretty good. Coming back to "Animatronic", you guys changed your image a lot too. Your image in-particular looks a lot like how Marilyn Manson looked for his "Antichrist Superstar" album…
Yeah, with the make-up and stuff…
Right. Is that the look that you were going for?
No, those were just the pictures that ended up getting picked out. We took pictures for about $15,000 or something. We took a lot of different pictures with strange make-up and what-not, and those were just some of them. I mean, we’ve always had the same look, you know, the whole spacy, insane space clown thing. We’ve only recently started to wear the paint again because most of the other metal bands have been taking theirs off, so…but yeah, when Manson came out with his newer album and that new look, it freaked us out! You know, with that whole space cowboy look and everything. I mean, he stole his look from us(laughs)!
(Laughs) Do you prefer being in Kovenant than being in Dimmu Borgir?
Well yeah. That’s obviously why I am doing Kovenant. It’s really hard to categorize because they both bring something different to my life, you know? I mean, with Dimmu Borgir, we created history in so many ways but other than that, Kovenant is my little baby.
Rumor has it that you guys will be touring the US in the year 2000. Is there any truth to that?
Yes. We signed a deal with an American management company called World Management, who do Morbid Angel, The Genitorturers, Bloodhound Gang, bands like that. But yeah, we have major plans to destroy America(laughs)! World Management has plans to bring us over to play with major bands in the States because if this is going to be our first trip over there, we want to play with a band that is a little larger than us.
Would you just come over as an opening act then?
No, we would co-headline. We have been talking about going on tour with The Genitorturers though, so we’ll see what happens with that deal.
Ah, I see. Hopefully no tours with The Bloodhound Gang, though!
Oh, no no no no(laughs)! Of course not!
Ok man, that’s about all I’ve got for ya. Is there anything else that you want to say as we bring this interview to a close?
There is always so much, but never enough time(laughs).