Immortal bassist Apollyon took time out from organizing festivals (sorry to mention Aura Noir again), touring, teaching kids music, and playing in six or seven different bands (he's lost count) to come to London and meet me for an interview. Here's some of what we talked about over a few beers (and a lot of Pantera) in The Hobgoblin in Camden last week. By the way, did you know that he played bass for Gorgoroth at the now infamous Krakow show? Well, now you do.
Apollyon: For us it was still black metal back then. Everyone wanted to sound like Emperor or Darkthrone, but the point of the whole second wave starting was a backlash to everything sounding the same, being recorded at either Morrisound or Sunlight. And that was too mainstream for us, stuff like that. Everyone still liked thrash metal – all the black metal people – but they were all doing the second-wave black metal thing and it didn't occur to them that it was possible to be "black metal" and play thrash. It was natural for us because we grew up with thrash metal and we knew we could make it sound good, not like the "save the environment" thrash metal that came in the 90s. You're from Kolbotn. Did you know Fenriz and Nocturno growing up?
I knew of them, but they were a few years older than me and went to different schools as me. I don't think they made it to college. I saw their show in Kolbotn cinema in '88. I got to know them in time though.
Were you around the scene in the early 90s?
It was pretty extreme. It was strange, we were young. I dunno, it was very important to shake those death metal guys off our backs, they were destroying the scene. In the beginning you could walk around and nobody would notice but then this Grishnackh guy [Burzum's Varg Vikernes] started talking to the papers. He was so interested in having all the media attention drawn to him, making it seem like he was the "king of black metal" or something like that. That was just very annoying because it was all over the papers and you couldn't go anywhere without people and calling you Count Grishnackh. Basically, people wouldn't leave us alone. Because before that nobody cared, but after he went to the papers, it was all – argghhh! – believe me, he was not the guy you wanted to be called. Of course it attracted a lot of new people to the scene, people who shouldn't have been there – lots of Nazis. People who just didn't fit in anywhere else were like, "Let's try black metal," and learned nothing. In the beginning, it was people who were generally interested in music and it changed.
How's touring with Immortal?
You always been a fan?
Yes, from the first demo I think. I always bought their albums. They're from Bergen so I never had much contact with them really. I always said hello to Abbath when I saw him, so it was a bit surprising to get a call asking me to join them. I always thought they were the best live band of the extreme metal bands, because of Abbath mainly. He's very entertaining.
Judging by the amount of PR for the next record [there's even an iPhone application!], it could be huge. You might find yourself becoming a celebrity.
No, I don't think so.
You don't think the record will be big?
Yeah sure, but not because of me.
No that's not what I meant, but hey, you might get girls coming up to get their titties signed or something.
We had that once, in Australia. It was really strange, this one girl came up in a school uniform, she wanted to have her breast signed. We thought it was a bit strange because she didn't look metal at all. Then we found out later it was that Kriss Hades guy from Sadistik Exekution. He came to say hi to us but he didn't have anything to sign so he just picked up this girl on the street and told her to get in line.
Immortal's highly anticipated All Shall Fall album is released in the US on October 6. Appollyon played me some unfinished cuts on his phone and it sounded pretty decent, so don't forget to pick it up. Here's my favorite Immortal track, from their debut Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism. To Blashyrkh and beyond!
Immortal - "Unholy Forces of Evil"