Translation: Dope Fiend
Bjørn “Tiger” Mathisen – Guitar, Vocals
Thomas Andresen – Vocals
Jon Bakker – Bass
Jotho – Drums
We are pleased to talk with Tiger, historical member of the Norwegian metal scene and founder of Fester, an active act in the golden age of the extreme Scandinavian scene and recently reformed.
Welcome to Aristocrazia Webzine, what you feel when you get back on their bike after a long period of inactivity?
Getting back in the game, so to speak, feels good! It’s not that one has been total inaficient for seventeen years, but you know: one have to have something to give. I have never made music just to make music. The inspiration has to be there and these days I am really inspired and creative.
The induction step is linked to provide more information about the history of the band and about the members who have been involved in or are part of it now, so I leave you the word.
We started up back in ’89 as more of a thrash band with grim vocals. Used to be called Heroic COnduct, but changed that name in ’90 to Fester. We released our first demo in ’91 called ” The Introduction” and another demo called ” Winter Of Sin” in ’92. Those tracks where actually recorded in 91, but we thought it would be cool to release it the year after. Our first studio full-length where released through No Fashion Records in summer of ’92, and the followup, “Silence” through Lethal Records in the end of 93. We split up in 94-95, and where to get together in 2000, but our bassman died, so it all fell to pieces. Fester has always been Rolf Tommy on vocals and guitars, Jan Helge on drums, Jørgen on Bass, and myself on vocals and guitars. After Jørgens death we didnt want to get another member, and thats why there has been such a long silence. Jan Helge isn’t into metal anymore, and Rolf Tommy has been very ill for many, many years now, so a comeback now with the original members would be impossible. As one grows older the view on things are more reflected, and now other members has been joining, but we can take that later. Anyway, a compilation of our demowork where released last year through Kyrck, and both “Winter Of Sin” and “Silence” has just been re-issued on digi’s and vinyl (Abyss Records and Ironbonehead Prod ).
“Winter Of Sin” and “Silence” came out at a time when Norway was in full black metal boil, I have often heard to talk of your band from the biggest metalheads and when I finally got to listen the album, I realized that, as for your music you can not categorize as black, has a primordial feeling with this genre. The close contact that you describe in the booklet of the best of “The Commitments That Shattered 1991-1992” how and what do you think has influenced your sound?
Fester has never really bothered making music sounding this or that.We where teenagers who wanted to make heavy music with obscure and dark lyrics. When we released our first stuff, many bands in Norway wanted to make music sounding like the second wave, but we didnt. We where influenced by old Heavy Metal and thrash acts like Mötley Crue, Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, Pestilence, Celtic Frost, Kreator, Slayer, Pestilence etc, and I guess you still can pick up some of those references in our new stuff as well. We never sounded classical black, but I guess you can call us one of the pioneers in the landscape of black/death metal acts.
The remastering work done by Abyss for the two jobs has preserved the authenticity of the songs, how did you come in contact with them and with the Kyrck that produced the compilation of the demo?
Actually I have a lot to thank Mr Kyrck for. A friend of mine, Ravn in Strid, asked me to send some old demo stuff to Kyrck in 2009. Kyrck enjoyed it so much, he wanted to release it. When the ball started rolling I got my inspiration back, and my creativity, so I guess you can say that if it wasnt for him, no new Fester material would see the light of day.. As for both Abyss Rec and Ironbonehead Prod, those where labels I where in contact with distributing the compilation album. They both asked me if I was interested in releasing those albums again, since it was almost 20 years since they came out, I liked the idea, and the rest is history so to speak.
You have seen practically born one of the most controversial movements of the metal. You have debuted with an infant No Fashion, those were years when everything was possible? Is lost this kind of initiative that allows young people to create something that can be called reactionary and personal?
Your right that the time was a time when everything was possible. Being part of the scene back then was unique, and I cant see that the scene will ever be the same. Most of the things has been done, the scene is multiplied bigger, and the spirit as a whole is different. Back then the scene was very small, it was good old letter writing and so on. It’s hard to recieve a blood stenched mail, right? Anyway, I think there are still bands who release things that are personal, and sometimes even visionary, but I think there are to many bands nowadays who want to sound like this or that. Releasing something reactionary today would be quit difficult I think, but who knows what lurkes in some evil minds out there… ha ha.
When I listen “Winter Of Sin ” the first time I experienced the same feelings of albums like “Soulside Journey” and “Worship Him” as he was welcomed by critics and fans your work? “Silence” had the same response?
As you mentioned earlier the scene was flavoured by the rising of early second wave bands like Burzum, Enslaved, Emperor etc., and the classic Swedish death metal scene. Being something in the middle wasn’t very easy. That being said we recieved very good critics on both our albums, and recieved tons of mail from both fans, fanzines, tapetraders etc. I still think both albums has something unique by them, and I cant point my finger on any other band sounding quit simular, but yes first Samael and Darkthrone are good references.
Over the years of “pause” have you received certificates of appreciation and affection by those who could not wait for a return to the scene of the monicker Fester?
I think most people has seen on Fester as an ancient cult band that is long by burried and forgotten. The respons now is quit overwhelming, and it makes me happy that so many still remembers the band in a positive way. I wasnt part of the scene at all in the years between 1995-2002, and didnt answer any letters or anything, but now its just pleasent.
Who are today Fester? There is a final line-up?
As permanent members Thomas Andresen (Algol/Sincera/Deathseeker) has joined in on vocals. As session members Jontho (Ragnarok) is doing drums, Jon (Kampfar) handles the axe, and I have additional help from Guido of Ysengrin and Mr.Kyrck. I have handled all guitars on the recordings.
How do you compose a song at the time and how has it changed (if changed) the modus operandi now?
You might laugh now, but I always sit down with the guitar when I bade my son at night, and lots of riffs to this album has been created that way! Either that or the mainriffs comes by themselves when I pick up the guitar just jammin’ by myself. I always fint a “mainriff” in a song, and build riffs around the feel of that riff. Nothing has changed since the early days actually, exept back then both RT and I made music, and sometimes together in the rehearsing room as well. I make lyrics that suits the feel of the song, and I use alot of time arranging the vocals so fit the rest of the song. Jon has mainly done the basslines himself, but also on sertain themes, I have made it.
At what point is the work in progress of the new album? Under what label will be it released?
The new, untitled, album will be released on cd by Abyss Records and on cassette (very limited) on Total Holocaust Records. Abyss Recors might do the vinyl editions themselves, or we licence them out. Not quit sure yet. 95% of all guitarworks are done. 95% on all effects, violins, intros, outros etc, 90% of all bass, half the vocals, but we still havent had time to do any drums. So we have done most of the work, and things are really starting to take shape!
What do you think about the metal scene today? There are so many bands who engage in the old school sound, but supplying production at the limit with plastic at discs that, I don’t say that should play noisy, but at least natural, the fault is of digital and habit of the people who has complied to listen only mp3?
I have mentioned something about the scene earlier. When it comes to how one does regarding production, recording, etc., I suggest that everyone should do what they think is right. One of the problems is still people who doeas what they think others would like. I know bands now produce noisy because “true” people think this is the true way. People release albums with children drawed paintings of skulls, because that was the way it where twenty years ago etc. The scene will never be like it was back in the early 90’s, and I think bands should do what is right for them. On my guitarwork for the new album I have mostly recorded things digital. It’s an economic aspect, of course, but it also allows me to use ten different guitars, that I wouldnt have the possibility to get my hands on in “the real world”. It will surely sound different to every other metal release, but the main thing is that I will release something I am satisfied with. Regardless if it sounds old school, new school or no school. Of course it’s important that it doesnt sound plastic, and it has to have a feel, but you dont have to record your stuff in a carboard box to get that.
Many labels are passed to the promotion via digital platform, by the side I understand them, is more convenient, fast and because of some idiot fellow ripping discs placing them on the network was also losing money. On the other hand, the proliferation of this form made of 01010 is not denigrating those who want to give his art? How can you do, even in the review, to describe an album where often to read the texts I go blind, if it is a reprint I can not give useful details to entice the reader? Do not you think that going too far is penalizing the artistic side of music?
Using Myspace, Facebook, etc. is an easy, and cheap way, and I can understand that one does that. I know many “true” people means that bands on Myspace or similar, is a band that they wouldnt even listen to, but you know. I totally agree that making a review only after receiving a digital promo package is far from the real deal. The whole cd, booklet, etc. is important for the impression as a whole. As for the company aspect it wouldnt be possible to give away physical items to every Zine, Radio station, etc who wants it. Thats actually a shame, but then again: to many of them. I can only speak for myself, but if I where to give cd’s to every zine who has asked for it, I could have given away every personal item that we have got from the labels. Several times. But, as mentioned, I think it’s a shame, cause every bit of the release is a part of the art, though the music of course is the main thing.
What do you miss the past decades? What do you think they have lost of basic, that was present during the eighties/nineties (tape trading, gigs, paper fanzine, etc…)?
I miss all the mentioned. I miss being young and having time to spend my whole fucking life envolving the mentioned things… Ha ha!
You are working on another project, the Sincera, you tell us something? What’s news about it?
Yes, Sincera is a project of local metallers from Fester, Algol, Decipher and Wither who joined forces to make some infernal shit. Started up back in 2002, and is on and off so to speak. Some of the stuff are right there in the old Fester vain, some like old Dissection, Rotting Christ, some Kreator, some black metal. A mix of several genres you might say! The new Fester vocalist sings in this band too, and a demo/live recording will come out this summer! It’s entitled “Cursed and Proud” and has release in June through Abyss Records. If you wanna have a preview listen, go to the myspace page (www.myspace.com/sinceranorway). There will also be released a split 12″ with german Ungod on Ironbonehead Production late this year.
If you were to advise to a young man who wants to approach your music five albums that have meant that Fester become what they are, on what titles would fall the choice?
Ahhh, good one! I would say: Mercyful Fate – “Melissa”, Celtic Fros t- “Morbid Tales”, Kreator – “Endless Pai”n, Darkthrone – “Soulside Journey” and Obituary – “Cause Of Death”.
There are acts belonging to the Norwegian underground that you particularly like and have had little response perhaps because of some wrong deal?
Right now I think the best band in a long, long time is The Konsortium, debut this summer, fucking brilliant!! Hedning is also great, Strid’s new stuff kills and I enjoy classic black/thrash acts like Dead To This World and Blood Tsunami. Mentioning bands that could have been big with another label is to many to mention, ha ha.
Who is Tiger outside the band? How is your everyday life?
The world outside oneself gets bigger as one gets older. Outside my own dark head, I spend most of my time with my family and friends and of course work takes a whole lot of my time. I work at a psychic institution.
Thank you for your availability and the time granted us, is a pleasure to dig into the past to look to the future and I wish you the best for both situations you’re doing, I leave you the word to end the interview as you like.
Thanks a lot for your time, and interesting questions Gabriele and I would ask people to clash in our myspace zite for updated news and if those who havent heard us can check us out! www.myspace.com/festernorway