Kaaoszinen “Historian siipien havinaa” – osiossa julkaistaan legendaarisia haastatteluja vanhoista pienlehdistä, ajoilta jolloin miehet olivat vielä rautaa ja lehdet paperia. Haastattelut on kopioitu sivustolle täysin kirjaimesta kirjaimeen, joten Kaaoszine ei ota vastuuta mahdollisista kielioppi- tai kirjoitusvirheistä.
Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do to make your dreams come true. Bearing this in mind, it is with sheer pleasure I introduce you Bård G. Eithun, the former percussionist of a groundbreaking Norwegian Black Metal band Emperor. Faust, as he was infamously named in the past, has done time over half a decade now in Ullersmo Landsfengsel, the largest prison of Norway, for “Satanic crimes”.
How has the imprisonment affected Bård? How is he relating to the matters he burns for nowadays? Was it all worth it? Does that fire still burn inside of him? The very fire that previously led to human wreckages, burned down churches and desecrated graves. I travelled to Ullersmo to find out and here is an exclusive and conclusive interview with Bård, straight from the slammer.
I was very much looking forward to meet Bård ever since I got my visiting permission from the prison authorities of Ullersmo Landsfengsel. Thoughts and visions were running through my mind with an enormous speed when the dawn of the scheduled day broke open. My plane had just landed at Fornebu airport on that clouded Saturday morning and I was in a bit of a hurry finding my way to the hotel and, right after, taking a local train to Klofta where the notorious Ullersmo is residing. Luckily I managed to make it in time and the sooner I thought I was already making my entrance through a massive prison wall. Two guards came up welcoming me with a metal detector and relatively poor English. I was shown immediately to the visiting room where Bård was already waiting for my appearance. “Are you okay?” he conveniently started. Bård looks exactly the way I had thought. He has an utterly long hair and a sturdily built up body – the latter can be explained by the fact he has been pumping up iron with a devastating conviction throughout the years inside. No room for weakness here, literally. He is doing time in isolation at the time of the visit because of a certain incident.
Everyone have their values. It can be anything from normally accepted social norms to deep convictions based on lifestyle. Mine would be that I view the world as a jungle and you can use all necessary means in order to survive. Survival is after all quite important, both physically and psychically. My value is to stay alive, in a somewhat proper condition.
Would you say then your life has been constant development physically as well as psychically?
I tend to have a very pessimistic way of looking at life. Sometimes I think my life has been one step forward and two steps back. I have my own ability to get stuck in shit, so to say. But of course my life has been constant development, both physically as well as psychically. If I realized something else would be the case, something had gone wrong. Anyway, since my imprisonment I have opened my mind and started to look at other things in my life. I was too narrow-minded and ignorant when I was outside. Just a stupid little kid who thought he knew things about life. Anyway, everyone has a past.
It seems like if the prison sentence has changed you as a person to a rather high extent. Am I right?
Yeah, it has certainly changed me a lot. I have learned a lesson or two about life and it has made me rethink many of my previous views and attitudes. Everyone would benefit from a year or so in prison, I really mean it. Anyway, I still have the same old “fuck off and die” mentality that I have always had, but now it’s more of a cognitive and knowledge-related “fuck off and die” mentality.
There are always things I rethink over and give a lot of thoughts, but as a principle I never regret anything I have done. Sure there are some things that would be best undone, but what the hell, who hasn’t felt this from time to time?
Black Metal as a movement has been infected for several years now by an unserious bunch of pathetic loosers. Now, thinking back some years, I remember you saying: “The Black Metal scene is the only thing I’ve got left, my life is totally dedicated to the cause”. How do you feel about the whole thing now?
In the beginning – after my arrest – I was still very hooked up on the Black Metal movement and back then it was obvious for me that Black Metal was the last thing I had left, but I have of course somewhat changed my views in the recent years. Today, there isn’t really any “movement” or anything. I mean, it’s totally fucked up, but then again, it’s a cliché to talk about how much better everything were before…
Anyway, I feel no need to be compared to many of today’s people involved with the music. The point is gone and it serves no purpose, really. Nonetheless, I still respect some people & bands around – usually those I have known for some years – but there also appear some new people & bands that I respect, although not often.
Well, even if Black Metal doesn’t really strike your fancy anymore, when you look right back into the past glory, what would you say was the best aspect of the whole movement in Norway?
The best aspect was probably that we created something new and we created shockwaves in the politically correct, conformity-oriented established world of music, not only nationally but internationally. The world had never seen anything like that before and it did not only affect musical milieus, but also other parts of the remaining society. Creating a wave, that somewhat is still rolling.
Yes, the wave of heathendom is still rolling rather efficiently in Norway. There are numerous Anti-Christian bands constantly releasing strong albums and as I have gathered, even churches are still burning. Do you think there is an end to this?
Well, I’m not sure if it’s the wave of heathendom or if it’s the wave of “profitdom” that sweeps over Norway, but I really don’t think that most of the new bands emerging from Norway serve any purpose. I guess they are only in it for “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll” or whatever. Well, seriously, the burnings have decreased very much now, as good as no burnings have occurred the last year 1997. Oh, I don’t really care about it anymore. The symbolic value was lost after the arrest in 1993 an now it’s only a parody on something that once was. For my own concern, the burnings might just as well stop because as long as there aren’t any true ideologies or convictions behind the actions, there’s not really any point in doing them.
Still thinking back, what comes up in your mind as the best and worst memories of your life?
A very difficult question to answer really, perhaps because my best memories include my worst memories and vice versa. I have a lot of bad memories from the early times of my arrest of course like the custody, the trouble of accepting my situation and such, but there are also a lot of good memories from that, too. Some of my best memories are from my time with Emperor, what we achieved when I was in the band, the records and such.
Emperor were always looked upon as a bunch of extremists caught up in the primitive ways of Satanism. Today the band have risen to be one of the leading metal acts of this decade. What would you say about Emperor’s life and existence throughout the years?
If I view Emperor’s development from the “Wrath of the Tyrant” demo up until the last album “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk” I would say the development has been just incredible. The band started out playing primitive and straight-to-the-core Black Metal. From the beginning it was clear that no compromises would be made. On the “Emperor” MLP the style was developed a little, although still maintaining the rawness and primitivity. With “In the Nightside Eclipse” LP we probably created what is regarded as the Black Metal album ever, and it set new standards for which direction Emperor planned to take in the future. Just about all reviews and feedbacks on the album were highly positive, which, of course, pleased me very much as this was the last release I would appear on with Emperor because I was arrested about a month after the recordings was finished. The music remained more or less the same on both, the “Reverence” MLP and the “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk” LP, although a little developed and faster, which, indeed, is only natural. Some people say today that Emperor have sold out and become rockstars and all that shit. Well, if high record-sales are synonymous with selling out and being rockstars, then so be it, I don’t care. People are basically stupid, and trying to explain something for the common man is a waste of time. Just hang your head against the wall and you will achieve better results. Anyway, you don’t sell out by selling lots of records, but if you change your music according to the trend in order to make money, then you can start talking about selling out. Emperor have always played what they wanted and that’s what they are gonna continue doing. End of story.
Just out of pure curiosity, is there any particular Emperor track that means the most to you and brings up the old gloriful memories alive again?
“Inno a Satana” is the best Emperor track ever. It’s my all-time favourite. It’s so epic with a song-structure that is just filled with emotions. Man, I totally love that song. Too bad there never were time, money or possibility for a video of that song. It would have been beautiful, really.
How about occultism and Satanism? Once there was a time you were, may I say, possessed by these themes. Does either one play a role in your life anymore?
They did once, or probably, I thought they did. There was a time when I was kinda into all that, although I might have felt it as an obligation as well, and I was reading everything I could about it. I still have interest for the dark side – especially those of man – but Satanism and occultism as thesis, ideologies or ways of life are not really on my daily agenda. Today I read more about man and what motivates him to do what he does. You know, I’m a little bit psychological. Furthermore I prefer reading a lot of history and I study the history of religions at school, which indeed, includes a lot of occultism – especially from the history of Christendom and Middle Eastern mythology. Also science and paranormal activity, and especially the link between those, interest me. So as you can see, I was too narrow-minded before, trying to concentrate only on what was regarded as “evil” in the Christian concept and from there on trying to build a platform and a worldview.
There are many both, great and pathetic, people throughout the world history. I view history only as a reaction and a consequence of the development of societies, culture, religions, states etc. History is a dialectic relationship between man and the surroundings around him. Pointing out the greatest people and the failures would be impossible. They are just actors and small pieces in the big picture anyway. Just tools.
Well, even if Satanism is no longer on your daily agenda, do you still have your once so strong hate against Christians?
Yeah, well, I dislike all kinds of organized religions, especially the big established ones like Christianity, Islam and Judaism. But as for Norway in which Christendom is the state church, they are no threat to anyone I would say. They are basically harmless. Christendom had much more might before – especially in the Middle Ages – but nowadays this religion serves only as a tradition that guarantees social cohesion for a certain amount of people and which basic rules – the ten commandments – are used as “elementary basic rules for behavior”. I mean, Christians don’t offend anyone here in Norway, and neither in your Finland I would guess. In the USA the situation is another where there exist strong paramilitary extremist groups that are willing to sacrifice themselves and others as well to serve the Cause of God. But as for here in Norway, they are no threat to anyone. A bigger threat – in my eyes – is this big income of Muslims to Norway. The Muslim religion is the fastest growing religious denomination in the country and it’s probably – in my eyes once again – the most arrogant and intolerant as well. Integration of Muslims, among others, within the Norwegian society has proven not to be successful and it’s only question of time before we face serious conflicts with this religious denomination. The Norwegian-born population is decreasing while the Muslim religion is the fastest growing religious denomination. What happens the day these two denominations are equal to each other?
Would you personally ever become a refugee no matter what, like these Muslims you just mentioned?
It’s difficult to say, really. You never know what’s gonna happen and where. Anyway, I couldn’t imagine myself as a refugee, really. I’m a little bit too obstinate for that.
I think it’s all a tragic comedy or a parody, really. I mean, sure, Saddam Hussein is a semi-nigger with an attitude problem. Then we have this guy in Washington, Bill Clinton, that had some blow-jobs and desperately tries to draw the attention from his affairs to the alleged problems in Iraq. Then there is a drunk in Moscow, Boris Jeltsin, who doesn’t know which part of the world to blow up. I mean, our destiny is in the hands of these psychopaths. No wonder everything is going straight to hell. I just hope to get out from prison before all hell breaks loose.
To change subject, many of those within Norwegian Black Metal milieu have recently settled down by getting married and having children. This seems rather strange when considering the relatively young age and the misanthropic image of those involved. How about you? Do you think this business with commitment has something to do with the strong conservative traditions you Norwegians seem to cling on to?
Well, in Norway it is usual the couples get married in their early or mid twenties, so I don’t think it is revolutionarily early, really. But anyhow, yes, Norway has a strong tradition of marriage. It is not synonymous with being a Christian though. Christian weddings are only an aspect of the tradition itself. For me, something like that would be out of question at the moment as the circumstances don’t allow it. I was quite hooked up a while ago, but I mean marrying inside prison is difficult, both emotionally and legally.
Sure there is always place for unconditional love in Faust’s heart as well, but I prefer to take one day at the time.
What about Norse mythology? Many Norwegians seem to be recently taking up the old strong gods again as well.
I acknowledge Norse mythology as a part of my past and my people’s past. It’s my cultural heritage and it’s every Norseman’s responsibility to carry it on. It’s simple as that. The history is not objective, because remember, the history is written by history’s “spokesmen” – the people who throughout the history have had the most power. This has so far been Christendom and it’s a fact that during the Middle Ages several books written by Norwegians and Icelandics between the 11th & 13th century were systematically destroyed by Christians in order to “hide and forget Scandinavian’s heathen past”. Therefore it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep our past alive. I admire all persons, organizations, bands, magazines etc. that are trying to keep the Norse past alive end enlighten the modern man.
Speaking of the modern man, what do you see when you look at one?
I just see the usual stuff, ignorance, conformity. Just a lot of bullshit, really. “I killed one of you”.
What would you see as the best qualities and characteristics a human being can have?
Difficult to say, really. It could vary. It could be all and everything. I look for qualities in other people that I strive to have myself.
I think everyone more or less strive for perfection in their life, in one context or another. Admitting something else would be stupid.
But if everyone is striving for perfection, why are people in general content with their standard and average way of living in the society? They have no ambition or self-respect for developing themselves into a higher level of existence.
You know, society today is very superficial, very much related around earthly materialism, with the result that everything that is different or new is looked upon as dangerous and scary. It’s just a natural consequence.
What is the relevance of nature to you?
Most people I know praise nature and its scenes very highly, but having grown up and living most of my life in a place that has widely mountains, forests and preserved animals, it’s not an obsession for me. Sure, dwelling in the loneliness and solitude you find in a mountain area – totally free of other people – is great from time to time, but only as a contrast to the normal life.
What do you think of the things man has done to nature?
The increasing contamination, the destruction of rainforests and rivers, the reduction of the ozone layer, the extension of deserts and the global heatening are just another examples of man’s capability of doing nothing but exterminating himself. Quite a deed really, just managing to remove himself as well as every other living creature from the planet. And man thought he was the highlight of the ladder of evolution?
This modern society of ours is founded by Christians and it shows, really. They locked you up because it says in their ridiculous lawbooks that killing is “wrong”, eventhough we all know it’s one of the most natural instincts there is. Every animal kills when needed, and so does humans. How do you feel about this?
Christianity is build upon weakness and pityness, and so is the modern day society. I can just observe and play along.
No, not really, there wouldn’t be any point. In the long run it would only hurt myself further.
You don’t think it’s possible to raise some serious war against this Christian society?
No, honestly no.
But you already had a fine situation going in 1992 and 1993.
The situation in Norway back in 1992 and 1993 was just the result of a very few people who played with fire. Some churches burned down, two people dead and when thinking of the fact that one of those was one of ourselves, it was not an unexpected ending. Sure, some economical and emotional damage was created, but a true “war” needs more than 6-8 young people with a can of gasoline, a knife and a lousy organization, if any organization at all. No, it was just a period when everything took off, but it ended as quickly as it started. We were brought downground fast.
When I interviewed you in 1994, you still were utterly determinated to fulfill Eronymous’ mission in life. Eventhough this matter is thoroughly worn-out, outdated and to some extend awkward, I still would be curious to know how are you reacting to the very subject today?
Well, I was very bitter and full of hate & lust for revenge after Euronymous was killed, and therefore I thought it would be my destiny to fulfill his mission. But, well, what was Euronymous’ mission, really? Trying to continue his wish of keeping Death and Black Metal underground would be impossible today, and even if he loosened it up a bit towards the end. I guess my definition of his “mission” was a little but unprecise and not really clear because I really don’t know what I could have fulfilled.
If Euronymous and others served as your soulmates earlier, would you say you have any true soulmates, now?
I don’t know, probably a few, but a very few.
Well, it’s said to be a very tiny, sharp little edge between being a genius or a madman. I don’t know, but if I was a free man I would most likely be an artist, in a sense that I performed music. Well, it doesn’t really matter, we are all puppets anyway. The Grand Master is only fooling around with us, playing out every little trick he knows.
Music has definitely played a big part in your life. Does it frustrate you that you are now unable to perform music?
It doesn’t frustrate me as much now as it did some years ago. I have accepted that I can’t play for the time being, but I eventually hope to pick it up again someday. Music is very important to me, extremely important. Music is life, music is death, music is a beautiful sunset, music is violence and romanticism, music is God vs. Satan. For me music is totally pantheistic.
Now that we are on artistic themes, could you go ahead and describe the landscapes of your soul?
Oh, it’s very complex. Sometimes it can be a peaceful, rather quiet night with moonshine while some times it can be a raging sea with thunder and blizzard. My soul is a variety of rage, peace, night and day.
Eventhough your eventual release is still pretty much in the distant future, what kind of visions you have concerning your upcoming freedom right now?
I never think of it, I consciously put in in the darkest corners of my brain. I don’t know why, probably because it’s so far away in the future and also because I don’t know what awaits me. In that way prison is a nice place to be. It’s safe, you never have to worry about apartment, rent, food and such. It’s all there, fixed for you. You have no responsibility at all and that’s good, I don’t like responsibility. It makes me sick.
Yeah, I have been out on 4 leaves and life outside seemed very exhausting and very… complex. During my first leave – two days – in October 1997 I lost one kilo of weight, so the change from being locked up most part of the day to being outside is really taking most of my energy. Anyway, I won’t be having more leaves at the time being because of an incident here, so I don’t need to worry about losing more weight, really.
When will we all be free?
When hell freezes to ice, because we will never be free. It’s a fake illusion, we are bound to suffer. Humans will never be free, we will be slaves whatsoever.
Are there still things in life you would wish to accomplish? There must be something that keeps you going in the dungeons of Ullersmo.
Sure there is. But what I wish to accomplish is what people outside take for granted. For example, I long for the day when I have my own apartment, because I have spent my last 5 years living together with other people. It gets exhausting after a while. I also wait for the time when I can start traveling around the world, because there is really much I want to see. You could say that what keeps me going is my hope that one day I am out of this system and be able to make my own decisions again. It would really be something…
You have sometimes called yourself an agnostic when it comes to death. Even if speculating about what comes after death is rather pointless, maybe you still have a vision?
I have no vision. I think about it from time to time, but after having heard hundreds of different versions connected to various religious convictions and personal experiences, I have decided to wait and see for myself. It will be the last thrill before I leave. It will really be exciting. What is the worst that could happen anyway?
Okay, to wrap things up, if you had to put the whole life and existence of Bård G. Eithun into a one single sentence, what would it be?
By whom am I not told that life is hard and then you die?
The guard knocks on the door. “Time’s up”, Bård says to me. I shake his hand and promise to come back as soon as possible. The feeling is empty. It’s tragic. While sitting on a lonely bench at the Klofta station waiting for the train to take me back to Oslo, I am accompanied by a beautiful golden fullmoon. Some kids are drinking and playing good old Kiss tracks on the other side of the rails nearby. A minute by minute I see less of the moon as the thick clouds and fog are draping it up intensively. And so it disappears after awhile beyond the light of a new day above the Planet Ullersmo. Was it a sign? I don’t know, but all this made me wonder how much more sick this Christian society can get when it locks up individuals like Bård behind bars. Just think about it.