Dimmu Borgir

author AP date 05/11/10

In connection with the band's headlining concert in Copenhagen, I sat down with Dimmu Borgir's lead guitarist Galder to probe him about the new album and his views on the black metal genre. He isn't easy to recognise without the theatrical, cement-colored garments and dead foxes he wears on stage, and his easygoing attitude and calm insights belie the extreme nature of his band, responding to each question with thoughtful answers and taking the time to ask about our webzine and if I would kindly send him the links once the gig review and interview have been posted. Galder is a cool, down-to-earth person to chat with, but on stage he becomes possessed. Read on to hear what he had to say.

RF.net: Let's start by talking about the meaning behind the artwork, title and lyrical content of the new album, "Abrahadabra".
Galder: Well, there's a lot of lyrics that deal with Aleister Crowley and his work, as Silenoz was doing some research about him. We wanted a title that had something to do with him, and we also wanted to go away from the three words approach that we've always used. We wanted a single word on this title, because for us it represents a new beginning, and also the fact that we had some lyrics that dealt with problems lead us to figure that that was the best way to go.

RF.net: Can you describe the album a little; how it compares with the previous albums?

Galder: I think it's hard to describe it because it's very mixed. We were doing a lot of experimenting on this album, doing stuff we've never done before - like we had a huge choir, which we've never had before - and experimenting a lot with samples and different sounds. It's a bit different than what we've done before, but the essence of Dimmu Borgir is still there. I think it's the most varied album we've ever done because there are so many metal elements on it - it's not just black metal, it has elements of heavy metal and other kinds of metal on it too.

RF.net: You mentioned that the title had a concept associated with it, but from what I understand this album as such is not a concept album like some of the earlier albums?

Galder: No, I don't think it's concept album, but as I said it has a lot to do with Aleister Crowley. But it's also a lot about the band itself - like it has a song called "Dimmu Borgir" on it. It's a very personal album and it deals a lot with the band as well, but it's definitely not a concept album.

RF.net: You also mentioned already that you worked with a choir and there was also an orchestra involved, so you had about 100 contributing musicians on this album. Was it hard to co-ordinate all these people?

Galder: No, not really. We made all the stuff at home and all the keyboard parts we just gave to the orchestral producer [ed. Gaute Storaas], and he transformed those ideas for the orchestra, telling everyone which what to play, which violins play this and that and so on. We also had meetings with him regularly: he was at the rehearsal space once a month to discuss it with us. But then the whole album has been recorded in different studios as well: the drums and vocals in Sweden, the guitars in Norway, and we mixed with Andy Sneap. It was a long process but it actually went pretty smooth I think. It's not an easy job to mix all this, but I think Andy Sneap did a pretty good job.

RF.net: How did the classical musicians respond to your music?

Galder: Well, we were talking to them during the breaks and they were very happy about it and thought it sounded really good. They seemed very positive. Of course there were a lot of older people in their 60s, so they probably hadn't heard the band before. But I think even they were all very interested and it was also fun for them to play something different - rather than just playing the normal happy flower sounding orchestral music they got to play some dark stuff and I think they really liked it.

RF.net: Recently you split with two members, ICS Vortex and Mustis. What effect did it have on the writing process to have just three members, especially as you've created a much more layered and developed sound in recent years?
Galder: I mean, the three of us have always been the main writers anyway. Of course every contributed a little bit. But it hasn't really affected anything. This is some of the best work we've ever done, we worked very well together. People are always expecting that there's not going to be any keyboards now, you know, because we don't have a keyboard player, but this album has a lot more keyboards and stuff than the previous album. I think we showed some people that we can still use keyboards even in spite of them. We tried different session vocalists as well instead of having just Shagrath. So it hasn't really affected the process at all.

RF.net: Was there some ill will or drama associated with the split?

Galder: No, not really. Shit happens in a band after many years and I don't think we're the only band in history that has changed members. It's like a marriage - you get divorced sometimes.

RF.net: So who's doing the live session music for the band right now?

Galder: Well, we have Daray [ed. Vader, etc.] on drums and Cyrus from Susperia is doing the bass, and Geir is doing the keyboards, but he also worked with Shagrath on the keyboards for the album.

RF.net: Are there any plans of recruiting any full time members in the future?

Galder: Of course, but I mean we can't just take a guy in the band and make him a full time member because we've been burnt so many times. We kind of want to take it easy with that. But if members prove themselves worthy so to speak, then of course we will have them permanently in the band. But they need to be in the band for a few years to prove themselves. You can't just jump in the band and think you're a full time member after one year.

RF.net: Moving onto black metal as a genre. Obviously it's a genre that's enveloped in a lot of infamy and controversy. Is Dimmu Borgir for you simply a means of creative expression or is it beyond that?
Galder: Of course it's more than that, it's more than just a band. When you've played in a band for many, many years it becomes the soul of you, your life. It's a lot more than just music, it's our life and our life philosophy to play in a band. Every musician thinks their band is more than just a band, it's your family, so it's a lot deeper than that. At the end of the day it's just about having a good time playing music, but one needs to remember that it's also a lot more than that.

RF.net: Do you consider yourselves as part of this trve or kvlt Norwegian black metal scene?

Galder: No. I mean, Dimmu Borgir has never been a true old school black metal band anyway. We do our own thing and we don't follow a certain style. If people don't like it, then that's fine with us. If people like it, that's cool, but we don't follow any trends.

RF.net: Do you have any involvement in that scene? What is your stance on the murders, suicides church burnings and all these negative things that people have come to associate with the genre for example?

Galder: Of course that would help the black metal scene back in the day, to shape it into what it is today, and it also affected us in a way. It was what made black metal commercial because it was on the news all the time. We really didn't do anything to make it commercial, it was all the stuff that happened that made people interested in the music. That made black metal what it is today. Of course we haven't killed anybody or burned any churches, we're not really a part of that.

RF.net:Some people, some very old school fans of black metal, accuse Dimmu Borgir of selling out. What is your stance on people like that? Is it right of them to say that your music is becoming too mainstream to even deserve the black metal label?

Galder: Dimmu has always been mainstream since the first album. People were complaining then as well, they always complain, but we don't care, we just do what we want to do, you know?

RF.net: Some might argue that the white-washed imagery on the new video for "Gateways" is some kind of reaction to the uncompromising and retrospective attitude of some of those bands. But what is the video actually supposed to reflect?
Galder: We just wanted to have a look that fitted with our clothes, so we wanted to have a white video. Sometimes you have to do different stuff to get anywhere. We are always taking chances and risks - sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But we're always at the forefront of doing stuff first, so I guess in a few years we will see a lot of other bands wearing white stuff. But with the video, we had a director with whom we shared some ideas, and we wanted to have this cool location, so we recorded it in a cement factory in Germany - a really cool place. We didn't have any more ideas than that, we just wanted to make it look cold.

RF.net: What is the role of the theatrics that you use in the music, particularly in a live setting?
Galder: For Dimmu Borgir it has always been very important to not just have the music, but also have the visual aspect and make it go hand-in-hand. Bands do different stuff, like Kiss, they also have this image, and if they remove the image then some things will disappear. That's also very important for Dimmu to have that whole package. When we make an album we always want to give a good impression. When you open the booklet and read it, we want you think of it as a story and not just the music. So image is very important for Dimmu, but we don't always use pyro and stuff like that.

RF.net: Have you ever considered bringing a symphony orchestra or choir with you on tour?
Galder: Yeah, of course. We would really love that, but it's very expensive and we'd need like five tour buses and stuff like that. We have one concert that will happen in Norway that's going to have a full orchestra, which we will film for a future DVD release. That's the plan, but we can't do that on tour, so on tours we have to use a lot of playback and stuff.

RF.net: That was the last question we had for you, so I'll give the last words to you if there's anything you want to share with your fans or our readers.
Galder: Yeah, check out the album. I hope you like it, it's a bit different than what we've done before, but as I said we wanted to experiment, and I hope people will appreciate it.

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