Abbath: Not good. I was eating dinner last night and chipped part of my tooth. I am in a little bit of pain right now.
The Gauntlet: That's not good.
Abbath: Yeah, I am working on new music and some new Immortal songs right now actually. I have some good blueprints for the songs right.
The Gauntlet: I keep hearing about your new band 'I' being referred to as a project. Is it just a side project now that Immortal is going to get back together or was it planned on being a project?
Abbath: Well...pretty much a side project I think. We will start touring with Immortal next year and hopefully that will work out. But 'I' is my solo project. I am also working on new 'I' songs. We aren't planning big tours for 'I', but we are planning some shows. I am going to have both, but it is not like I am only going to focus on 'I'.
The Gauntlet: Will 'I' ever open for Immortal?
Abbath: [laughs] That will be an undertaking.
The Gauntlet: I love the new album, I am just afraid I won't see 'I' live in the states.
Abbath: Well, never say never. We will see. First we are going to focus on the Immortal shows and then take it from there. Maybe we will come over to the US in the Fall with 'I'. We are just taking it one step at a time and not making many big plans yet.
The Gauntlet: How was 'I' put together? It looks like you were trying to reform Immortal or capture what Immortal once was.
Abbath: After putting Immortal on ice, I continued working on new material that was left over. I also had some new riffs and stuff that didn't fit into Immortal. Stuff that wasn't in that Immortal darkness. I took those riffs and experimented with them. I made it more old school after movies. After a while, I talked to Ice Dale and he helped me make some pre-production on his home computer. At the time I wasn't into making a new band. I just wanted to make music. I had this opportunity to make a production there with computer drums. I am not into computers and stuff, but he helped me do that. When we had three or four songs, I bumped into Armageddon, the original Immortal drummer. He was really into it. He is an old school rock n roll drummer. He isn't into the fast blast beats and stuff. I thought he would be perfect for this project. We started to rehearse after a while, just the three of us in this barn he has. We started rehearsing and it was really cool. The King came into the picture shortly after that. It really sounded good. I am very lucky to have these guys around and am lucky they wanted to participate. I could have done everything myself on the album, but I wanted dedicated good musicians that could put their signature on the stuff.
The Gauntlet: So this lineup just really fell into place?
Abbath: Yeah, yeah. There weren't any big plans there. I just continued making music like I always did. This time I felt more open to other kinds of stuff. We didn't rush anything. I have been working on it in periods over the last three years. I don't work on music if I don't feel inspired. It can take all the time in the world. This could have taken five years though, no rush. This isn't a trend for me, it's my life.
The Gauntlet: Immortal has always been pushing the boundaries of the black thrash genre. Will 'I' do the same?
Abbath: No. 'I' is kind of...I don't know how to say it. Having 'I' on the side makes it so I don't have to distance myself from the music like with Immortal. You can hear that it is me. Also there are links in 'I' to Immortal. When we focus on an Immortal album, it is different. We are on different mindsets. With 'I', it loosens up; it creates a balance. I'm not good at explaining this, especially with my toothache. I have never felt that having a side-project to anything, but Immortal needed a break and out of that came 'I' which is just the medicine I needed. It also set things on a different perspective and it helped bring me back and find me the hunger and strength to continue with Immortal. I am actually working on four new Immortal songs right now. Demonaz is already writing the lyrics for three of the songs. We are going more back in time. It won't be like the last three Immortal albums. It will be more like "Blizzard Beasts." It is going to be ten times as brutal. It is very interesting. We couldn't continue after "Sons of Northern Darkness" and in that direction. "Hearts of Winter," "Sons of Northern Darkness," and "Damned In Black" are like a trilogy so we have to go back and find a new direction. It is very interesting working on all this. When I work on new material for Immortal and when I focus on riffs, things pop up. At times things I come up with go better with 'I' than Immortal. It is helping to strengthen me. It is not enough for me to have one thing going on, I need both.
The Gauntlet: You mentioned that 'I' was your medicine to get Immortal going again. Does that mean without 'I', there would be no Immortal?
Abbath: That is a very good question. To be honest, I don't know. That is impossible for me to, I just don't know. It is like me going back to the guys in Bombers again and playing Motorhead tributes again. That also helped me. My voice is a mix between Abbath, Lemmy and Quorthon. Playing with Bombers was very helpful. I started Bombers with two of my close friends and we all had a close passion for Motorhead and we started the band in 1996. The last years, I wasn't involved with Bombers as I was so focused with Immortal. Things became very strange. The whole Immortal history was very strange. It was me and Demonaz. It was always the two of us. We always had problems with drummer. Then Demonaz had problems with his arms. He got tendinitis in both arms and had to put down his guitar. It was a different situation after Blizzrd Beasts. We decided that I take over guitar and me and Horgh would play the music and we would continue in a different direction. Demonaz has been there helping with the lyrics, but he hasn't been there mentally or on the tours. He hasn't been around like we were before. But now we are back totally. We go to our cabin in the mountains like in the old days and work on the songs. Horgh is extremely important to Immortal and we don't want any other drummer. He is the Immortal drummer, period. Demonaz and I have a very special thing and we work like a unit. We have a great dialogue all the way. Demonaz comes up with these riff ideas that are crazy. It is very interesting. We are taking the old feeling in a different direction. It is us though, but in a different direction. We aren't following some trend though.
The Gauntlet: I have never thought of Immortal as followers. Immortal has always set the trends that other bands followed.
Abbath: When Demonaz and I decided in 1991. We didn't feel like jumping on the death metal wagon. The death metal wagon wasn't the same. We weren't into the direction that death metal was taking. It was getting too clean if you know what I mean. We didn't feel like getting on stage, looking like Nirvana and playing death metal. We wanted to take our music more into the depths of hell and create a darker journey. We got were into Bathory and Mayhem. Demonaz was into death metal like Morbid Angel and Slayer. I was into Bathory. I wanted to get into the more demonic side of it. Together we work perfectly as a unit. That was how it started. Together with Mayhem and Emperor we started this new kind of scene and we decided to call it black metal. There wasn't a black metal scene or anything. Black Metal was the name of a Venom track from 1982. Euronymous was the biggest Venom fan around. We couldn't call the music anything other than black metal. Before that, Bathory and all those bands were just called death metal. Black metal was just a Venom album and Venom played black metal. But there wasn't any black metal scene or inner circle. Later on, we had an inner circle of black metal bands and we didn't follow any trends. Nowadays, when people say stuff like Immortal is a sell out and blah blah blah...you can't point your fucking fingers at Immortal.
The Gauntlet: One band I always thought was an influence on Immortal but I haven't heard you mention is Celtic Frost. Was it an influence on Immortal?
Abbath: Enormously. Celtic Frost has been a very big influence. 'Morbid Tales' and 'To Mega Therion' were an enormous influence on us.
The Gauntlet: So the 'Cold Lake' album wasn't influential to Immortal?
Abbath: [laughs] No! I got to meet the guys from Celtic Frost at a festival we played with them in Bergen in September. It was really cool. I didn't talk much to Tom 'Warrior', but they said they were big Immortal fans. It was really cool. These were guys I really looked up to for so long, and to have them say 'we really like Immortal' was really cool. They had some time before the plane and we were sitting around talking with Martin. It was really cool hearing his old stories from when he was touring in the US in the 80's. He was a really cool guy; one of the coolest guys I have ever met. I really got a great impression of Martin. Tom 'Warrior' is like a nice guy, but he doesn't socialize that much. I can understand that. I don't socialize much either. If people come to visit me without asking to come over in advance, I don't like it. I like to be on my own. If I want to go out and socialize, I go out. Tom just stayed at the hotel. You can't blame people for not coming out. Not everybody likes to hang around all the time. I have respect for that. It is the same when you are on tour. Not everyday do you feel like going out and talking to people. But Martin had so much on his mind and heart. It was really cool to talk to him. I talked to him about how we have developed through the years where there was no Celtic Frost. The just recently came back, but there was a long time where they weren't part of anything. He found it interesting to listen to my stories too. I love the new Celtic Frost album. There are some great songs on that album. I was at Demonaz's place and he put it on without my knowing. I was listening and thinking that it sounded really cool. I couldn't figure out who it was though. Then when Tom slowed down a little and I could hear it was him, I got goose bumps all over me. I was like "FUCKING HELL!!! They're back!" They didn't play the songs that fast at the show. I told Martin that. I don't know about the tour in the States, but I think they played a little slow. I told Martin what really inspired Demonaz and I was from 1985. They did a Swiss TV program and played live. Destruction played one song, then Celtic Frost played another. Fucking crazy performances and it really inspired me. Martin told me that was his very first performance. It was unbelievable. The performance was so unbelievably awesome. It was a different time you know?
The Gauntlet: What do you feel you have left to accomplish in bringing Immortal back?
Abbath: There is so much more to come. I feel now when I am working that the new ideas and direction is going to be great. We are working more old school and taking the older three albums and going in that direction. It is very, very interesting. There is a brave new world out there. Maybe that was the wrong thing to say. We definitely have opened a new gate and door and we are seeing a new side to ourselves. I think you know what I mean. This is a very interesting time for us. We are really finding ourselves back with the old spirits. We have the old collaboration that we had before. Demonaz is also a lot more involved with my blueprints. We have put a bad period behind us. Doing the 'I' album was necessary.
The Gauntlet: Is it hard to go back to something you left behind?
Abbath: I could not have done it on my own. I needed Demonaz there. To go in that direction, I needed Demonaz, not only to write lyrics, but to be a part of the whole process. Even though he doesn't play guitar, he doesn't need to. He just needs to be there and be a part of it all. He is like totally back now. Time changes you know. It doesn't have to change to the bad though. It is a very positive thing. We feel strong spiritually. We are more back to the old years.
The Gauntlet: Will the war paint still be used?
Abbath: Of course. It is never Immortal without. We did 'I' without it, but never Immortal without it. It is not Immortal without our paint.
The Gauntlet: It's not KISS without face paint, but they have done albums and tours without it.
Abbath: I know, I know. They have been an influence of course. I was six years old when I wanted to be Gene Simmons. All my friends wanted to be policemen or pilots. But Abbath and Gene Simmons are two very different characters. They are two different demons from different worlds or whatever. KISS was a very important part of my life when I was growing up. But now I don't care what Gene Simmons has become. I don't care if he is a zillionaire. You can hear in his music he isn't focused anymore. His solo album is just crap. There is one song that is good called 'Black Tongue.' I heard the new Paul Stanley album. It is a natural album and you can hear he puts a lot more effort into his music. I don't dig it though, but I have much more respect for him. There are some parts on the new 'I' album that were inspired by KISS. The o-pening to 'The Storm I Ride' is actually inspired by 'Ladies In Waiting' from the 1975 Dressed to Kill album. The album Hotter Than Hell is a masterpiece, so was Destroyer.
The Gauntlet: Far Beyond the Quiet on the 'I' album was a tribute to Quorthon of Bathory.
Abbath: I didn't have making a tribute in mind. Demonaz came to me with this song and said it really sounded like a Bathory song and that it would be a great tribute. I wrote the lyrics in the Bathory spirit and thought it was a great idea. You can hear it in it. I think it is a song that Quorthon would like. We didn't copy Bathory, we just stylized it that way. I think you understand what I mean. Actually the first riff on there, I was flirting with jamming with the 'Bark at the Moon' riff from Ozzy Osbourne. That is how I came up with that riff, but it came out totally different. It is weird how things are going and you get inspired. The riff just made itself, I wasn't thinking too much. It just came out that way. Some songs are more planned than others. Some songs I have just one riff and I know how the entire song will sound. Others you have to go on the journey to hear what they will sound like. That's one of the fun things about making music, you just take a ride.
The Gauntlet: Is there any chance in adding more than two dates to the US for Immortal?
Abbath: We will see. We aren't going to stress. We might add some more dates, but we might just head into the studio and get to work on the new Immortal album. We'll see. We aren't doing any long tours though. At Wacken festival, we are going to record it for a live DVD. We are just going to enjoy every show and every minute. You won't see Immortal on stage on autopilot. We are going to be 100%. There will be no routine, every show will be special and unique. It will be seven days of hell.