Dimmu Borgir – Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia – Interview

Dimmu Borgir

Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia (Nuclear Blast)
An interview with the guitarist Silenoz
by Scott Hefflon

Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia actually came out in March 2001, but I missed interviewing you, and then 9/11 cancelled your last U.S. tour, but you’re playing in the States in February and March, right?
Until the end of March.

Who’s that going to be with?
There’s talk of Napalm Death and Hypocrisy and Krisiun… [Turns out to be Cryptopsy, Krisiun and Diabolic.]

Is this your second or third time in the States?
Third. The first time we toured with Samael and Monstrosity. The second was with Cannibal Corpse and The Haunted and Lamb of God. That was great.

There’s a song on Puritanical… [“Puritania,” the same one that’s on the mp3 CD accompanying this issue] that was on Beauty in Darkness 5 that’s got some Skinny Puppy elements to it.
We have one foot firmly planted in the traditional Norwegian black metal sound, but we’re kicking the ball with the other foot, you know? We’ve started working on the new album, and there’s some stuff like “Puritania,” but a lot of it is very brutal, so it will be varied next time around too. I think it’s very important to keep a balance between the ugliness and the beauty.

And between the experimental and the traditional…
Right. Open-minded, but not taking it too far. It’s got to be metal, no matter how you look upon it.

Being from the same neck of the woods and playing the same genre of music (to “them,” at least), you must know Emperor.
We don’t know them all that well, but I toured with Emperor when I was in Nocturnal Breed, back in ’97. But Emperor and Dimmu Borgir have never toured together. We’ve played the same festivals, but that’s about it.

Dimmu Borgir’s (almost) always had immaculate production – using Peter Tägtgren on a couple and Fredrik Nordström for the latest.
We need to. With all the guitars and keyboards and sounds and two types of vocals, you need to have a clear sound. Fredrik was very helpful and open-minded. He came to Norway before we went into the studio and we went through every song with him. We said we wanted an orchestra, and he contacted the Gothenburg Opera Orchestra. We always used keyboards to achieve the symphonic elements, but the with the orchestra, it sounds more alive. Proper strings make it sound so much more real. That’s something we’re definitely going to do in the future.

Which of these songs will be added to your live set?
I’d like to add more of the old stuff, but I don’t know if Shagrath wants to sing in Norwegian again (laughs). We haven’t really thought about it much. We had the live set ready for the tour that got cancelled…

What did you do with the time?
We worked on new stuff. We work slowly, but we write a lot, so when it comes to arrangements, we have so much material that it takes 10 days to go through one song.

Do you guys live close enough to get together to rehearse?
Yeah. I live in the countryside, so I have an hour’s drive each way, and that drains my time and energy. The band rehearses just south of Oslo, and I live North of Oslo, so I have to drive through town… But you do whatever you have to do to play metal. (laughs)

Do you enjoy living in the country?
Yeah. I cannot imagine living in the city with all that noise. I live close to the forest, so whenever I feel like it, I can walk 50 meters and be far away from people. That suits me very well.

Did you ever live in the city?
No. I live in the same place I was born. I live on a huge farm – not that we have animals, we just have land – and I pretty much have the house to myself, which is quite a relief when you play loud music.

So no neighbors complain, huh?
They wouldn’t dare anyway. (chuckles)

Does the band rehearse in a cramped place in the city?
Yes. We get a cheap price on it, but it’s like a bomb shelter.

Tell me about “life on the farm.” Basically, the instinct for isolation and the attraction to it.
People might expect me to be narrow-minded or a redneck, but I feel healthy, and I like the open air. When I come home from tour, it’s very good to breathe the fresh air and get away from other people.

How does it affect the music?
It’s hard for me to have an objective point of view, but black metal bands have always been drawn to mysticism and nature.

And people always think of nature as pretty, but it can be very violent and bloody.
In the animal kingdom, if you’re not strong enough, that’s just too bad.

Do you know Christofer from Therion? I think he does some amazing work, blending power metal and opera and classical in a very respectful yet progressive way.
I have respect for what he does. He’s gives people the finger and just does his thing, and that’s the way to reach far. He’s created something new. And that’s cool. (pauses) Even if he is a Swede.

What are some other bands you like?
Susperia, (former drummer) Tjodalv’s new band (thank The Forces That Be for the bio to spell that one). We toured with them last Spring. They are kind of like brothers. We have the same sense of humor. On the DVD we’re releasing this Winter, we have all sorts of sick clips from the tour.

Do have any fun goofy stuff, out in the woods in full metal gear, setting shit on fire and howling at dark, brooding skies with big broadswords’n’shit?
No, we don’t really need to dress up to look goofy or act goofy. (laughs)

Oh, so you walk around it whiteface and big boots all the time anyway?
Ohhhh, not really…

What about spiked armbands? The ones with big fuckin’ nails…
Oh yeah, I’ve played with them on before, many years ago when we played our first gigs. I got the feeling that someone should carry me onto stage because I could barely walk with all the spikes on. The first shows we did, I think we had too many spikes on for our own good.
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