Having just re-released the re-recorded version of 'Stormblast' and having 'Death Cult Armageddon' Soundscan excess of 100,000 albums, The Gauntlet felt it was time to talk to Dimmu Borgir.
The Gauntlet: What has the band been up to?
Silenoz: We have been working on the new material. There is also the side projects we've been working on. We've been keeping busy. It's all good.
The Gauntlet: The band seems to always be going through lineup changes. As of today, what is the lineup?
Silenoz: [laughs] The current lineup is Shaggy on vocals, Galder and myself on guitars, Vortex on bass, Mustis on keyboards and for the next album Hellhammer will do the drums as a session drummer. He will also probably be on tour with us.
The Gauntlet: So Reno Killerich is out?
Silenoz: Yeah, he's a killer drummer but we've chosen to use Hellhammer.
The Gauntlet: What was the reason for Nick Barker's sudden ousting?
Silenoz: Well, actually it was something we were forced to do. It was either that we make him leave the band, or it would have broken up the band. It was very serious, but I can't go into details on that. It is what we had to do to save the band. I just hope he's happy with what he's doing. He is probably the best drummer I know. He is probably the most talented drummer in extreme music and hopefully will be hitting the skins in another band.
The Gauntlet: The band recently re-recorded Stormblast. How come that album was chosen?
Silenoz: Well it was basically because ever since that album came out it's been bugging us because the sound and production didn't sound anything like we wanted. Ever since it came out we were waiting for the contract to expire so we could re-record and release it through our current label to get better distribution for it. Also the original didn't generate any royalties. The only money it generated went to the label. So it's better we take control of it ourselves than someone else as it is rightfully ours.
The Gauntlet: Do you think you'll ever re-record any of the other albums, pull a Megadeth and just re-record and release everything again?
Silenoz: The first album also has really bad sound, but atleast we were able to master that one before we gave it to Nuclear Blast. I think this is the only one that we will re-record.
The Gauntlet: You guys have those purist fans that are going to criticize anything you do. Re-recording has gotta really piss those guys off who just like that underground unfinished sound.
Silenoz: It's been mostly positive actually. I knew that there would be those fans who see it as "don't mess with something that's not broken". But basically we had to do this for ourselves. I don't expect every fan to go out and buy this. For us it was basically just a formality to do this and I'm surprised that the label is pushing it as hard as they are. It's just great. We will always have those people that criticize us for whatever we do. It doesn't matter.
The Gauntlet: They just want you to make that same first album over and over again.
Silenoz: That would be safing it. So for us it's great to know that whatever album we do it's real and comes from the heart. It's something we do because we love it, not because we have to.
The Gauntlet: It's not like you guys added on a Britney Spears track at the end.
Silenoz: [laughs] The metal fans are very conservative compared to other fans. The way I understand that, some people can get offended. I'd like to see some self-irony from the metal fans. They take things way to seriously. I guess that's the point from Children of Bodom, just do it to piss some people off. We like to do that as well. Nothing works better to get the true elitist black metal fan pissed off, and I love to do that stuff.
The Gauntlet: 'Death Cult Armageddon' just sound scanned over 100,000.
Silenoz: It's amazing; I can't even picture 100,000 of our cd's. Of course we are grateful. It doesn't make a difference for anything we do; it's just a huge bonus.
The Gauntlet: To what do you attribute your success in the US?
Silenoz: We haven't played out here as much as we probably should in the States as there are always new markets to conquer. We could probably sell a lot more cd's if we toured more. We aren't the biggest live band; we can't remain on tour as for eight months at a time like other bands as we'd probably kill each other. We have to do 3 week tours, and then remain off for 2 weeks. It's not the best solution when it comes to making money, but to keep the band intact, inspired and motivated it's what we have to do.
The Gauntlet: Back in October, you were offered the support slot on the Korn tour and turned it down. Was there ever any real consideration on the bands part to go out on that tour?
Silenoz: We consider every serious offer. But I think the timing wasn't right. It was just going to be a matter of a few shows, which for us to bring our production over for a few shows we'd spend too much money. There are a lot of factors that determine stuff like this. We don't have a lot of comparisons to Korn. We always look to play different shows, that's why you'll never see us play on a full black metal package. We play with bands like Nevermore and Hypocrisy, still extreme, but different.
The Gauntlet: Did the safety of the Korn fans ever enter into your mind? Your fans would absolutely kill them.
Silenoz: [laughs] We'd just do it to piss our fans off.
The Gauntlet: How is the new album progressing?
Silenoz: It's going pretty well actually. It's going a little slow, but we like to take our time and not stress about things. We make songs differently than we used to. A totally different way of doing things. It feels pretty good at the moment, we are really excited about the few songs we have so far. It's still in pre-production mode so it's too early to say how everything is going to sound in the end. We are pretty confident about it. All I can say is it's going to sound like us.
The Gauntlet: Will the new album have any songs with the orchestra?
Silenoz: At this point it stands at no, the feeling with the band right now is that I think we need tone down that orchestra sound and try to do most of it on our own. It depends on what each song requires and the atmosphere and stuff like that. I think that generally speaking we are going to try to make it on our own with keyboards and something.
The Gauntlet: A lot of the older stuff seemed to be written to be more keyboard heavy and atmospheric. As the band progressed, we hear less of the keyboard and hear more of a guitar heavy style from the band. Will the band continue with this progression?
Silenoz: I think that right now I have a feeling that this album will be a bit more guitar oriented. You'll still see a lot of the keyboards. I feel we'll spend a lot of time on the guitar parts and not just because I play guitar, but that's just the general vibe in the band at this time.
The Gauntlet: Have any tracks been laid down yet?
Silenoz: yeah, we have two or three songs and tons and tons of material. The challenge at the time is to arrange the songs. We have no problem coming up with the songs. The challenge we have is arranging everything.
The Gauntlet: When asked about the album in the past, you mentioned this will be a concept album. Is this still how it's shaping up?
Silenoz: Yeah, I guess early on I was using the word 'concept', I would rather now say lyric wise it's based on a story which I'm writing the lyrics from and the lyrics for the album are pretty much done. It's different from previous albums were we have the songs done and then work on the lyrics. It's been challenging working on the musical parts to fit the lyrics we already have.
The Gauntlet: Are there any album titles the band has been discussing?
Silenoz: No, that's usually the last thing that comes to the table. That of course can change with this album, but it is usually the last thing we do.
The Gauntlet: How does the band compose the songs? Do they originate with with Muistis writing the music arrangements on the keyboard, and then substituting in guitar and bass parts?
Silenoz: No, actually it all depends but like for the last album we had four or five songs before we had the first keyboard riffs. So far for the next album we have the guitar and bass and no keyboards yet. I'm sure Mustsi will come on board with some ideas. We all bring ideas to the table and then we arrange things as a unit.
The Gauntlet: The band played Ozzfest a couple years ago. If asked again, would you drop writing the album and head out for the tour?
Silenoz: I think this year we are just going to work on the album. We are going to do a few festival appearances this summer, but after that it will be just writing the album. Maybe Ozzfest next year we will be into if we get the offer.
The Gauntlet: Did Ozzfest accomplish what the band hoped for in opening up a whole new audience for the band?
Silenoz: I think so, I would like to think so. Sales wise, we quadrupled the sales after Ozzfest so that had some kind of Ozzfest. It got us in front of a lot of people that didn't know we even existed.
The Gauntlet: So no tour for the Stormblast re-release?
Silenoz: There won't be any particular tour for the Stormblast release. I'm sure when we finally get out on a world tour we will incorporate a lot more songs from Stormblast as it's a lot easier to play songs for the fans now that they can buy the album.
The Gauntlet: How do you go about choosing songs to play on tour?
Silenoz: It's hard. We have to play all the songs the audience expects us to play. We also play the songs we like that sound cool. It's very difficult to figure out a live set. Usually at festivals we play 50 minutes to 70 minutes. We like to have a setlist so we can play really tight. A lot of times at festivals we don't get a soundcheck and that is crucial for a band like us. It sometimes takes 5 songs before the sound is optimal and that's not good.
The Gauntlet: What are the various side-projects that everyone is involved with?
Silenoz: Galder is in Old Man's Child, our former drummer is with Susperia. He seems really happy with that. It's really good for him of course. Vortex is singing with Arcturus. Shagrath has a rock n roll inspired band called Chrome Division. It sounds pretty cool because it's straight out rock n roll. I have a band together with the older guitar player from Old Man's Child. We used to play together in a band 15 years ago. It has taken us this long to get down to making songs together. We have material together for an album. We are just waiting to get the demos done and hopefully Nuclear Blast will release it before the year is over. We are planning to go into the studio this spring and we are pretty much ready.
The Gauntlet: What band is that?
Silenoz: It is a band called Insidious Disease. It's hard to summate what it sounds like. It's brutal and heavy but we try to concentrate mostly on the groove aspect. There is a lot of old school death metal and a little newer death metal sounds. I have to wait until I hear what people think of it before we put it in a certain category.
The Gauntlet: You actually have a death metal background from before Dimmu Borgir right?
Silenoz: Yeah, that's the band I played in with the old guitarist from Old Man's Child and we are now in Insidious Disease. We have always been friends. We'd get together and go drinking and just talk about doing something all these years�15 years later we are finally doing something.
The Gauntlet: What do you think about being banned in Malaysia?
Silenoz: It's weird. We actually got offered to tour in Malaysia on our last world tour. For some reason it fell through. We don't mind playing in obscure countries. We know there are fans in all kinds of places. It just shows that the religious forces in some countries are showing oppressions that keep people from having a good time. And that's something we are working against. We aren't for any censorship. It's too bad, it's the people and fans that suffer from it.
The Gauntlet: There is a new video also?
Silenoz: Yeah, it should be going out to all the stations soon.