Hi Tony, thanks for taking your time to answer some questions - while you and 1349 are supporting CELTIC FROST on their tour (which means about 24 shows in 3 different countries in 31 days...?) So - how was the tour so far? Do you guys all get along well?
Hi, Genia. The tour is going great so far. We’re playing some cool cities and venues, and all the bands get along well. Celtic Frost and their crew have been excellent to us, going so far as to letting us use their backline at the Winnipeg show because the stage was quite small. It is extremely rare that headlining bands allow that, and the fact that they offered to do that for us says a lot about their character. And besides, it’s Celtic Frost. How could it possibly not be cool to tour with Celtic Frost?
1.You know, I have to ask you that..who´s the greatest drummer ever?
Well, that’s relative, and it depends on who you ask. I acknowledge and admire all sorts of great drummers, but I am more influenced by metal drummers. My two favorites are Gene Hoglan and Dave Lombardo. I like many others, but they have made the biggest impact on my playing.
2.Tony, you have been playing drums for more than 15 years now and you have been touring for more than 9 years with bands such as DIMMU BORGIR, MALEVOLENT CREATION, NILE, ACHERON and ANGELCORPSE among others. Then you took a break...what made you come back to touring in 2005?
Nothing in particular, really. Basically after so many years of constant touring, I started getting burned out, and it was getting to the point that leaving on tour was becoming a chore, and that’s not a good thing. So I took some time off, and it’s exactly what I needed. It was pretty much a rejuvinating process.
3.You are considered to be one of the best drummers in extreme metal scene. Does that afflict you in some way?
Not at all. I’m aware of the benefits that it can bring, it does help me get better gigs, so that can be seen as a plus, but I also see how it could be easy to get swallowed up in hype like that. Ultimately, I consider it a compliment, but it doesn’t make me approach my playing any different.
4.During your carreer you have recorded several albums with different bands. Would you like to tell me which ones, and what your personal favourite albums are?
Whew. Okay, let’s see, I did „Of Hell“ with Naphobia in 1994, then in 1996 I recorded the first Aurora Borealis Mini CD „Mansions of Eternity“, in 1997 I recorded „Those Who Have Risen“ with Acheron, in 1999 I did „The Inexorable“with Angelcorpse, then in 2000 it was „Ravenous“ with God Dethroned, in 2001 „The Book of Lambs“ with Internecine, in 2002 I recorded „In Their Darkened Shrines“ with Nile, in 2003 I recorded a live album with Malevolent Creation called „Conquering South America“, and in 2005 I did the new Aurora Borealis entitled „Relinquish“. That year, Dimmu Borgir released their re-recording of „Stormblast“ which also features a live DVD that was recorded in 2004 during my first tour with them. I’m also waiting to record the debut CD’s for death metal band Insidious Disease, and for System: Obscure, which is more black metal. There are also some demos and compilation tracks I recorded over the years, but to list that as well would take too much time.
As far as favorites, it’s usually the newer stuff I’ve done, although I am quite happy with the Angelcorpse and Nile records as a whole.
5.The latest 1349 album „Hellfire“ has earned some great response from the press and fans. From your perspective, how has the overall response from the public on this tour been so far?
I think the band is doing very well on this tour. Even as a session member, I feel that collectively we are putting on the best show possible every night, and the reviews and comments I have read online back this up. This is a great tour for 1349 to be on, and we are making the absolute best of the opportunity.
6.You have recently finished the work on new record of AURORA BOREALIS. May I ask you how the recording process was?
That went quite well. It was recorded at the guitarist/vocalist’s own studio, so we were able to take some time to try out a few different ideas. This worked out great, because we live quite a long distance from each other, and while we did work on some of the material over the internet, it was really good to be able to try a few different things, and find out what worked best. Also, since it was his place, the rest of the recording and mixing could be done at it’s own pace, which meant more time for details, and that resulted in a record we were both very happy with, both as far as the material and the sound.
7.Let´s talk a bit about touring...after about 9 years of tour life, is there any country you´d like to go still? Or any place you enjoy the gigs most?
Well, I love to travel, so even though I have been to about 35 or so different countries, there’s still a whole lot of world for me to see. I’m willing to play pretty much anywhere if I am able to see something new. As far as the best gigs? Hmm, well, I can’t really point to one or two countries, but in a general term, eastern Europe has very ravenous crowds. South America is always fun too. It’s hard to say, as there are good and not so good shows just about everywhere.
8.Are there still some bands you´d like to work with?
Sure, I’m always wanting to work with different things musically. As a band example, last year I wanted to play with Opeth when Martin Lopez was unable to continue touring. I like the band, and musically it would have been something different for me to do, but by the time I heard about it, they already had a swedish drummer lined up, which of course makes more sense for them anyway. But I would really like to do something which doesn’t call for fast, technical drumming. However, that doesn’t mean I’m looking to stop playing my current style, it’s just that I want to diversify while playing music I like.
9.Is there anything you take with you on every tour?
My trusty memory foam neck pillow (for accessible sleep anywhere, anytime), my CD player (although I’ll be switching to an Ipod soon, less stuff to carry), and a backpack. And my musical gear, of course.
10.What do you like /hate most about touring?
What I like most is playing live, seeing cool different places, and hanging out with good people. What I hate most about it is probably the commuting. For example, after the performance at the Hellflame Festival in Osnabruck, we had to catch a van from our hotel at 5 in the morning, and then we had to travel for almost 3 hours to the Hamburg airport, wait there a few hours for our flight to Oslo. Then after flying to Oslo, we had a 4 and a half hour layover before we had to get on another plane for a few hours to go to Ireland. By the time we got to a hotel in Dublin, we had been traveling for 17 hours. That’s the not so fun part about touring.
11.Let´s go back to the NILE – times for a change: The album „In Their Darkest Shrines“ was really good. I think many people are wondering if there´s any reason you´re not playing with them anymore?
I was very unhappy being in that band. I liked the music well enough, but internally, it wasn’t going well, and I could no longer take it, so I left. I know a lot of people want me to go into detail, but that doesn’t serve any point. It’s old news, and I’m not bothered by it, so I don’t see any reason to elaborate.
12. How about playing with DIMMU BORGIR – were there any musical differences?
Not at all, but I was never a member of Dimmu Borgir, I was only a session drummer, and that has been the extent of my relationship with them. I’m friends with all of the Dimmu guys, and if they need me again, I will help them if I can.
13.Is there any band you would like to work with again in future?
I’ve had good times playing with Brujeria, Dimmu Borgir, 1349 and Malevolent Creation, so if any of them ask me again, I would be hard pressed to hesitate.
14.You were actually supposed to record a new album with your friends of MALEVOLENT CREATION. May I know what actually the reason for you was to stop taking part in the recording process of „Doomsday X“ ?
Basically, due to my schedule with Brujeria and 1349, I needed to do my drum tracks for the record by no later than early July. The plan was actually to record in early June, but I could have waited up until early July. Unfortunately, they did not have the music for the album ready, so my next opportunity to record would have been in the middle of October, and that was going to be too late for them, so the only solution was to get someone else to do it. I really wanted to do it, because I have done many tours with them, and I had never done a studio album with them, and the line up is very strong, but unfortunetly, it couldn’t happen.
15.You have been working with black and death metal bands for many years. Is there any other musical direction you are interested in?
Well, I’m also interested in something with more progressive playing, but I’m also a fan of bands like Motorhead, The Misfits, and more groove-oriented stuff like that, so to do something like that would be fun too.
16.What do you think about the contemporary extreme metal scene?
I don’t really have much of an opinion on this. I like some of the newer bands, but I’m more of an old school fellow, so what’s going on in extreme metal today is not something I spend a lot of time thinking about. I do think that a lot of bands sound the same, but there are also some out there that are trying to carve their own niche, so that is good.
17.What do you think about the recent suicides in Blackmetal scene such as Jon Nöstveid´s (DISSECTION), Niclas Kvarforth´s (SHINING) ?
Not much, really. If life was that bad, or if they did it for some ideology, oh well. I really have nothing to say about it.
18. What are your future plans? More albums, more touring? Anything you´d like specifically to concentrate on?
After this tour? Rest. I’ve only had a small break since mid-July, so I’m ready for some downtime. After that, hopefully some recording before I head back to Europe in January for the 1349 tour in 2007. At some point I want to start gathering musicians for this mad scientist project I’m cooking up. I have some music for it already, but I’m going to need help recording, maybe it can be ready towards the end of next year.
19.Due to your website bio, you ´ve started playing the drums at the age of 18, after having bought yourself a bass guitar. Besides the instrument you are known for, which other instruments can you play?
I can play a bit of guitar, bass, and keys. Mostly for composing purposes, though. It’s not like I could grab a guitar and go play live with somebody. I could maybe do it with a bass, but I would have to do some serious homework before that happened.
20.The first concert you ever attended was...?
Hmmm, I believe it was a Metallica show in 86 or 87.
21.Your current playlist?
New Gorgoroth, new Harkonin, Kyuss „And The Circus Leaves Town“, Craft „Fuck The Universe“
22.Do you have any plans to settle down and lead a „normal“ life one day? Or even pick a „proper“ job, maybe?
Not at this time.
23.What is the worst record in your collection? (Of course only if you have such)?
Oh, I’m sure I have some bad ones in there (come on, who doesn’t?), but since I haven’t seen my record collection in so long now, I can’t really recall.
24.If you could name some members (dead or living) for a band you´d like to play in , whom were they? Name some musicians that really should be getting more attention.
Don’t know what kind of band it would be, but how about Lemmy, James Hetfield, and John Christ? Actually, it would probably be pretty cool. I could mention all these other dream musicians for some uber-technical wank fest, but this sounds much cooler. As for musicians that need more recognition, I would say finnish drummer Kai Hato (Wintersun/ex-Rotten Sound). That guy is a monster that should get more attention.
25.Tony, thank you very much for the interview. Anything you´d like to tell our readers?
Yes. Power metal ist krieg and life’s a schlampe. And I apologize in advance if I just butchered the german language. Thank you for the interview, and see you fine people in January/February.