The Gauntlet: Alright, I know it's been a rather short tour so far, but how has it been going?
Lord Ahriman: It's been going really good. The turnout has been more than I expected, and the response has been better than I expected.
The Gauntlet: Now, this isn't the first time you've been to the states?
Lord Ahriman: No, we've been to the states. The first time was in '95. So we've been quite a few times over here.
Gauntlet: Have you seen the response changing, or growing?
Ahriman: It's been growing. Last time, we did a show in LA, were headlining a festival in 2004 I believe. And before that we did a tour with Cannibal Corpse, which was really good. But I didn't know how we were going to do, more on our own. I guess the combination of us and Enslaved has been very good, so.
Gauntlet: It seems like an interesting change, from co-headlining with Cannibal Corpse to Enslaved.
Ahriman: Oh, yeah. We were doing really good with Cannibal Corpse, we are really good friends with them. We've talked about touring together again, but it just hasn't worked out so far. But the shows we did with Cannibal weren't bigger than the ones we are doing now, so it's not a big difference that way.
Gauntlet: How did you meet the guys from Cannibal?
Ahriman: We met them the first time I think over in Europe. Ten years ago, maybe. So we've toured a couple times over in Europe together, and one time here in the states.
Gauntlet: Alright. Onto the music. It seems like so much of it is just packed with aggression and displeasure, I was just curious as to where that came from.
Ahriman: The new album?
Gauntlet: Any, really.
Ahriman: Gosh, I don't know.
Gauntlet: Or the new one, if that's easier.
Ahriman: Well, there are a lot of things that piss me off (chuckles). Sure I can laugh and have a good time. But I guess I've got some sadness hidden inside me that I bring out through the guitar. Yeah, I guess the world sucks. People are stupid. People piss me off. You know. (Laughs) And I guess, with the new record, most of the hatred is definitely pointed towards our former record label. It's been a nightmare the past couple of years. We just want to do the band, and they've been fucking trying to destroy every step we take for many years, so of course we get pissed off. I think that really fueled a lot of my hatred for the new record, when I was writing it. There was a while when I was pretty much paralyzed by hate. I couldn't do anything, I was just pissed off. But I managed to turn that into what I was writing.
Gauntlet: What really caused that? From what I've read, it just seemed like this huge mess of confusion and problems?
Ahriman: Well, there are so many things they�ve done that are just so fucked up. For one: they stole the album rights. They�ve stolen the song rights, the publishing rights, we don�t get any money. They do everything just to destroy us. There was no contract signed whatsoever, and apparently the law, or whatever, or the way the music business works, is that the record label�s word�
Gauntlet: Carries more weight?
Ahriman: Yeah, than the composer. And I mean, here�s the deal: what fucking band would accept a label who just go and steals your song rights, and then cash in on it? And of course, I want to make a big fucking thing out of it, because it�s so fucked up. It should be so fucking simple to solve in court, too. The judge just would have to ask. If I say, �Those rights are ours, my songs,� if they want to prove me wrong, show the court the contract.
Instead, it�s possible for them to just steal it, keep on lying. And of course, we get really pissed off at the system, and you�ve got to make people realize that it�s fucked up. Things need to change. I know a lot of bands who�ve been fucked as bad as us by No Fashion records, but they were afraid to fight back. They support us with our letting the label know, but they say, �Well, they�re going to fuck us even more��, they�re afraid of the label. �We�re just a band!� What the fuck�you�re a band! It�s your band, don�t let the fucking label fuck with you. Stand up.
Gauntlet: You should have the rights, yeah. So, are you going to take them to court?
Ahriman: Oh, we already�the next step is the supreme court. But it fucking takes forever, and it�s so fucked up. I can�t believe that the system is so fucked up that a label can just get away with saying, �Yeah, it�s our right, whatever�, without a contract.
Gauntlet: And the label�s based in�
Ahriman: In Sweden.
Gauntlet: Alright. I don�t know about Scandinavian law, but from what I know of the business law here, it seems like that shouldn�t fly, at all.
Ahriman: No, but it�s possible to steal it, year by year. And that�s so fucked up. But to me, it�s a simple case. There�s no contract, and everybody knows that the songs we put out are our fucking songs. So, we just have to wait for the fucking courts and our lawyers have done their work, just give them the time that they need. And I�m going to destroy this piece of shit company once and for all. And I�m definitely going to cash in on their lives.
Gauntlet: Good. I�ll look for the news. And that would make sense, that was another one of my questions. Reading past lyrics, �Satan� was a word that appeared constantly, and on the new record I didn�t� see it once. Is that because �Attera�� is directed towards the record label as opposed to other things?
Ahriman: Well, we felt it was time for a change, and I think we went more personal with this record than before, both with Caligula and his lyrics, and me with the songwriting. So, every band needs to change a little bit, we decided to do it this way.
Gauntlet: As far as other things I picked up on, preparing for this: it seems you do a lot of your work in the studio, the creation process, as opposed to writing it beforehand, then going in to record it and just leave?
Ahriman: Well, we did it in the past. But on the new record, and a little bit on the �Diabolis��, we wrote a little bit of �Diabolis�� when were recorded� but the new one, I had been writing on and off in my home studio, recorded, got a few parts, songs, and lots of riffs, but no arrangements. So I just burned everything onto CD-R�s, brought it with me to the studio, started going through things, started trying out different arrangements, just feeling everything first. Thought about creating one song, then went to the next, and then went back, listened, added things, changed things, you know, until we were really satisfied.
I think the difference was that we had a little bit bigger budget this time. Before we didn�t really have money. It was just, make sure you have everything ready, get in, record everything as soon as possible, you know, before the budget runs out. This time we had more money to work, properly and more professionally in the studio. And I think it was really nice to work this way, really.
Gauntlet: And you got a new producer for this record, correct?
Gauntlet: It seems like he really pushed you guys�
Ahriman: He was the one who contacted us and said, �I�ve been doing these melodic bands for many years now, I want to show the world that I can also produce some more aggressive stuff, and I really want to do it. And what better band than Dark Funeral to record for that purpose? And you know, I was a little skeptical in the beginning, with the previous records he had been producing, we weren�t sure if he was really right for us. But we had some meetings, and I got a good feeling, even from the first meeting that it was going to work out really good.
Gauntlet: Yeah, I like how it�s got that distinctive sound to it.
Ahriman: It�s just more powerful than anything. We had more time to work on everything, this time.
Gauntlet: Which would make sense, it seems like it�s a more layered album.
Ahriman: Yeah, we worked a little more on that, yeah.
Gauntlet: And were the drums really untriggered?
Ahriman: Oh, yeah.
Gauntlet: That�s incredible. Hard to find an album without triggers.
Ahriman: Daniel was like, �That�s against my law. That�s not going to happen.� He was totally against it. I told him, I said, �You know, on the previous record we put enough just to get the edge on the kicks. A mix, maybe 20% triggered, 80% acoustic, just to get the edge on the kick. And it works, it doesn�t sound synthetic. But he said, �No fucking way, you guys are going to play for real and that�s it.�
Gauntlet: Has that new technique changed how you sound when you play live?
Ahriman: Live we use triggers. With mixing and all, it�s more than just to get the edge. You have to do it to not get too blurry a sound. Doesn�t mean Matte can�t do it without triggers, it just makes a better sound live, obviously.
Gauntlet: Right. And back to the album�one of my favorite parts was in the song �King Antichrist�, there�s that layered melody that comes in towards the chorus. That for me was something I really hadn�t expected to hear from you guys. Do you think that�s a direction you guys will pursue?
Ahriman: Oh, yes. I already have some other things that might be a little bit different from before that didn�t end up on the last album. Just didn�t fit in. But as I was writing in the studio, I also learned a lot of new things. So I�ve got some new angles that I want to bring in for the band. We tried lots of new stuff on the last record, and we�re going to continue to work on those to bring in more of that stuff, maybe, in the future. The plan was, actually, me and Matte had decided that �Attera�� was going to be a slower album than �Diabolis Interium�, but it turned out to be�way faster.
Now with the next one, maybe try to do more heavier stuff. But I�m not sure that�s going to happen. It�s always like, �Ah, this is too boring, this is too slow!� and then� (makes blastbeat noises)
Ahriman: It�s always stuff like that when we work on songs. But I like to get this flying feeling in the songs. That�s something I really like with the music we create. You have the drums just give you this feeling that everything is flying�
Ahriman: Yeah. That�s just one of the main ingredients in our songs, I guess.
Gauntlet: As far as what your style is�do you still see yourselves as a Satanic group?
Ahriman: Oh, yeah. I wouldn�t�wouldn�t see it another way.
Gauntlet: What sort of groups do you listen to, that gave you that inspiration to do what you do?
Ahriman: I never feel inspired by any band when I write my music. I go by my own feelings, nothing else. You know, there are bands I respect and like, of course, but I never feel like I want do something to imitate this or that band. I just never had that in mind.
Gauntlet: Would make sense. You�ve always had that consistent identifiable sound�
Gauntlet: You know who you�re listening to when you put on one of your records.
Ahriman: I think some people don�t like it, some people do like it. I think it�s just up to the band to define your own identity, instead of putting out a record where you�ve got ten fucking music styles�in one song, even. I think that�s bullshit. If you find a sound for your band, just stick to it. Of course try to improve, but don�t fucking loose your roots. If you want to try something different, try a side project. That�s what I think, you know.
Gauntlet: Yeah. And with bringing in new members, has that been an issue with keeping your identifiable sound, or do you just do all the songwriting?
Ahriman: I pretty much do everything, the songwriting, and I let Caligula take care of the lyrics. So, the two of us have been in the band since �95�the lineup changes haven�t really meant anything to us in that sense. But of course, bringing Matte into the band, made us improve with the drums, and the new guitarist [Chaq Mol] also is more dedicated to the band, and a really good guitarist. So, all the line-up changes have been necessary to build the band, to become more professional. Many of the previous band members saw it as more of a hobby, instead of, �This is your life�. And this is my life. And I don�t want to have people in the band who aren�t fully dedicated.
Gauntlet: Is Dark Funeral how you make your living?
Ahriman: In between times, you know. Sometimes I work, of course.
Gauntlet: And you�re signed to Regain Records, now?
Gauntlet: I imagine it has been easier to focus on just writing your music, then.
Ahriman: Oh yeah. But we still have the fucking old label chasing us, since we�re still in court. Our previous records aren�t available any more. And they�re trying to do everything they can to destroy us. Until the case is close, we won�t be able to focus as much as we�d like to on the band. Because we still have to have meetings with lawyers, and it fucking takes so much of our energy to work on that shit. I had to learn about music, music laws and stuff, when we got into this. I�ve been reading tons of shit about music laws just to know what�s right and wrong, and what kind of rights we have. That�s why I find it so fucking weird that they can keep stalling, because I haven�t found anything that would allow that.
Gauntlet: And did you say you hadn�t signed a contract?
Ahriman: Yeah, there�s no contract signed.
Gauntlet: Then, yeah, the rights should be yours�
Ahriman: Yep. And I know it�s easier to break down someone financially here in the states than it is in Sweden, but I found an interesting thing. If someone steals your song rights, with all this talk about people downloading from the internet, you know, that�s one thing, but if you download and sell it, put out bootlegs or whatever, make a profit one way or another on the stuff you�re downloading � movies, programs, music, whatever�then, the law really makes it possible to break you down. And this is pretty similar to what [No Fashion] did, stealing our song rights and cashing in on it. So we�re thinking it�s possible to really fucking destroy this company. I would love that. So we�ll see. But if found lots of interesting things I told our lawyers about, and they�re going to try to twist and turn, I think. I said, �All I want is to destroy them as much as possible�, and then I will be a happy guy again. (laughs)
Gauntlet: Hah. So�if a random metal fan were to go out and buy one of your albums, before �Attera��, would you see any royalties from that, at all?
Ahriman: No. the mechanical [royalties] are frozen. You know, you�ve got Harry Fox here in the states, we�ve got STIM in Sweden. So all the mechanicals are locked there until the court is settled.
Gauntlet: How long have you been in court?
Ahriman: Five years.
Gauntlet: Five�? Wow.
Gauntlet: I didn�t know it was that long. No wonder you�re upset.
Ahriman: Yeah, it just never ends. It�s just fucking bullshit.
Gauntlet: And then on top of that, I read about what happened in South America, with all of your equipment (confiscated by the Peruvian government after a show was cancelled due to Caligula�s health).
Ahriman: Oh, yeah. We�re not a band with a lot of luck. But we still fight back and try to survive as much as best we can. We�re not the kind of guys that you break easily.
Gauntlet: And so you guys got sponsorship deals for all the new instruments?
Ahriman: Oh, yeah.
Gauntlet: Well, at least that�s lucky.
Ahriman: Yeah, really. Without them we wouldn�t be on this tour, for sure. That helped a lot: everyone at B.C Rich, Randall, Seymour Duncan, Sennheiser�everybody was so fucking supportive.
Gauntlet: It�s got to be nice to see companies who actually have souls, after the experience with those who just tried to take everything away.
Ahriman: And it�s weird. I�ve been trying to apply for endorsements to all these companies for fucking ages, and never got a reply. And then I just sent one letter and said, �Yeah, man, we�re really fucked right now, we need endorsements.� And then I got instant replies from everybody. �Yeah, what you need?� So, that was really fucking cool. The Randall people were supposed to show up tonight, but I got a text message saying they couldn�t come, so whatever. But I�d love to meet them and shake their hand.
Gauntlet: Have you had any issues with the new equipment, trying to work it out as quickly as you�ve had to get used to it?
Ahriman: Ah, no, it�s been pretty easy. The first show was a bit chaotic, but now we�re totally into it, the amps and the guitars and everything. You know I was worried, (laughs), I was like, �Goddamnit, I don�t know how this amp is going to sound, I don�t� know the guitars�� But it was easier than expected, so, that was good.
Gauntlet: As far as when we might be able to expect new material�any ideas?
Ahriman: My personal plan has been for quite some time to enter the studio sometime next spring, in like April, May or something. Around that time period. We�ll see if we�re done by that time with the �Attera�� tour.
Gauntlet: It seems like the Scandinavian governments have been very supportive over the years of musicians.
Ahriman: Yes, until just recently. We�ve had a right-wing government since a couple of months ago. And I just read in the newspaper, I�m not sure that it�s going to happen, but I read that that they�re going to stop supporting this sector, that kind of stuff.
Gauntlet: A shame
Ahriman: Indeed, because that�s been one of the great things in Scandinavia. I don�t know what they�re thinking. All these people are doing this; without [the government�s] support, they won�t be able to do it. It�s just going to be a bigger fucking problem for everybody, but I guess this government doesn�t have to be very smart.
Gauntlet: And Swedes already pay a lot of their income to taxes, so where�s this extra money going to go?
Ahriman: Into their own pockets.
The Gauntlet: Oh, great. And I thought America was the one with the conniving politicians.
Ahriman: Well, with our new government, they�re taking everything from the people, basically. I�m not a politically oriented guy, but I think they stand for some really cool things. Like, you�ve got to take care of yourself instead of just benefiting from others. But then they do these fucking stupid things, and I�m like, �What the fuck were you thinking?� (laughs) It doesn�t make any sense. But, you know, everybody in the new government are the really rich people, they live in the fancy houses, they don�t see, they don�t know any �normal� people, so they don�t know how �normal� life is. Especially if you are unemployed. They most definitely don�t know anybody who is unemployed, they have no fucking knowledge how it is.
Gauntlet: Is unemployment an issue in Sweden?
Ahriman: Yeah, right now it is. It�s been getting better and better, but I know that the last time this government was in power, the whole country fucking collapsed, so�
Gauntlet: You�d think people would learn from their mistakes.
Ahriman: Probably not. And the worst part is that they brought together four parties, and one of them is really fucking Christian, and they want to bring the Christian values into Swedish society. Go back to the 1930�s, where the wife is supposed to stand in the kitchen cooking, stuff like that. And these people are in power. And that�s fucked up. But they�re going to get their four year turn and then, they�re out.
The Gauntlet: Oh, so it goes by that four year cycle? Well, good luck with that. And the tour, really.