The Norwegian goblin king of dungeon synth embarks on a new reign of blackened mystical wonder as ReGen speaks with Mortiis about his new album, Spirit of Rebellion, and the circular path of his storied career.
An InterView with Håvard Ellefsen of Mortiis
By Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
For more than 26 years, Håvard Ellefsen – better known as Mortiis – has been one of the more unique acts to emerge from the Norwegian music scene. Often credited as the originator of the darkly electronic genre now referred to as “dungeon synth,” the masked goblin artist immersed listeners in a fantastical sonic world over the course of several albums, all recorded independently in a somewhat primitive fashion that perhaps did not do justice to the man’s ambitions. Nevertheless, each album marked a shift toward greater sophistication and structure, sending the listener through a journey that eventually culminated in a mythology of its own. However, things took a shift toward a less mystical and more aggressive industrial modes; starting with 2001’s The Smell of Rain, Mortiis grew into a full band, taking shape as an industrial/rock juggernaut that carried through to the release of The Great Deceiver in 2016.
Such drastic changes in the band’s sound and style meant that fans of the original “Era I” period were left hoping for a return to the foggy synth-laden dungeons of old. In 2017, Mortiis released newly remastered editions of the classic albums Keiser av en Dimensjon Ukjent and Ånden som Gjorde Opprør, followed the next year by a reissue of the appropriately titled The Song of a Long Forgotten Ghost demo; further remasters followed well into 2019, along with special performance events that finally resulted in tours of North America and Europe.
Now, with a release date of January 24, 2020, Mortiis presents a new chapter in his audiovisual saga with the album Spirit of Rebellion – a re-envisioning of Ånden som Gjorde Opprør, the artist has come full circle as he reenters the dungeon with a renewed focus and determination, inviting listeners into the dank and decrepit recesses of his blackened magical world. Here, ReGen Magazine speaks with Håvard Ellefsen about the new album and the unique trajectory of his career, revisiting the pitfalls and the tribulations that have led the artist down his darkly creative path.
When you first started making music as Mortiis and creating the Era-I ‘dungeon synth’ sound, it was right after your departure from Emperor and the more aggressive sounds of black metal. Now as you are returning to that sound, it comes after your wave in the more industrial rock and metal. Is there a connection in your coming to this more orchestral and ambient sound; what motivated you returning to the Era-I sound?
Mortiis: That’s interesting; the way that you present it now, it’s like, ‘Fuck, is there a pattern?’ I never thought about that, man. It almost seems like it’s my backup plan whenever a band fails, which is not true – it’s so coincidental. The first time obviously had to do with the fact that Emperor was sort of my third band, and in less than two years, that failed. It was just so frustrating and my mindset at the time was, ‘Fuck people, I’m just going to deal with this myself. I don’t want to leave music just because people can’t fucking get along, so I’m just going to go ahead and do this myself.’ I have a broad taste in music, and at the time, I was getting very interested in electronically made music, especially dark music, or what I perceived as dark music, and not just with the traditional setup of guitars and drums and stuff like that. That was the motivation the first time.
The second time is probably a bit more sad in a sense. We’d been doing the industrial/rock thing for a long time, and we were a really fucking good band, especially live. But unfortunately, the record industry is always the same – you get involved with the fucking wrong people, they fuck you over, year in and year out you’re broke as a motherfucker, you can’t provide for your family; you go on tour for a month and come back with dust in your pocket. A lot of people think you’re successful, and you’re just like, ‘Dude, we’re just getting fucked every time.’ So, the motivation towards the end was that it just kind of killed it.
We turned into a three-piece for the last couple of years of the existence of Mortiis as an industrial/rock band, which was fucking awesome because we got along really well. We pretty much got rid of anything that was rotten internally. It was me, Levi Gawron, and Tim Van Horn, and that was a good core, and we got along fucking great. But it was just a motivational factor of going out on tour, not getting paid enough, promotion was always shitty, and it was impossible to get a proper record deal, so we always did it ourselves. I’ve been through some horrible record deals; I don’t even think a gun to my head would make me sign a record deal like that again, because there’s no fucking future and you might as well kill me now. But motivationally speaking, we were done. In early 2017, we went out on our second U.K. tour in a year, and once again with a fucking awful agent, and we just knew that once the tour was over, we were over as well. That was sad, but it was the right thing to do because we would’ve killed each other if we’d continued. The friendship would’ve been down the drain, which would’ve been such a waste.
I sat there for a couple of months thinking, ‘What the fuck am I going to do,’ and I was kind of disillusioned with music. You know, you try and try and try to do some stuff that you’re proud of, and you just feel like everybody else is shitting on it. I’m not the only one who feels this way; I think everybody feels this way… except for the 0.1% that just blows up and everything’s great. (Laughter) But for everyone else, it’s rough shit. This is not an easy job. If you’re here to make money, it’s not an easy job.
What’s the famous line? ‘Welcome to the music business. You’re fucked.’
Mortiis: (Laughter) Yeah! Those two lines explains everything.
It’s such a shame to hear that, because I personally didn’t come into Mortiis until The Smell of Rain…
Mortiis: Yeah, a lot of people came along around that time too.
And then you released The Great Deceiver and the remix companion, The Great Corrupter, and all of the singles associated with those. You released The Unraveling Mind, and the Perfectly Defect and The Perfect Reject albums… it just seemed like there was this deluge of material coming out from this period.
Mortiis: There is a lot of stuff from this time. We worked so hard and for so long, and we kind of built up a really big vault of versions and snapshots and works in progress that we’ve just held onto. There’s actually more stuff coming out from this period; I have a lot of especially demos of some of these songs that were later finished up and put on either Perfectly Defect or The Great Deceiver, because those two records were pretty much made at the same time, so they really go hand-in-hand. They were just put out as two different albums, but the reality is that they were recorded at the same time, but some of the songs were turning out sort of artsy and strange and instrumental that I figured, ‘Fuck, there’s enough of this kind of weird shit going on that we could almost put out as a separate record.’ ‘Is The Great Deceiver turning into a triple album now or something? What the fuck are we doing?’ So, I don’t want to do that. I’m not Guns n’ fucking Roses. I can’t do that kind of stuff. ‘Well, my new album is going to cost you $40.’ Nobody’s going to buy it. So, The Great Deceiver was kind of the more approachable record, and then I put a bunch of stuff on this other record, which turned out to be Perfectly Defect. It was supposed to be put out way earlier; it just took us forever to get a deal, and we never really got a deal. We thought we were going to get one for a long time, and there were a lot of these hopeful moments that, of course, fell apart. ‘Welcome to the music industry. You’re fucked.’ ‘Abandon all hope ye who enter here.’ And forget about having dreams, because you’re idiots from now on. But there are a lot of stories; I could write a fucking book about the years making those two records.
Do you think you’ll ever go back to the industrial/rock sound?
Mortiis: I would love to return to it, and I hope to do it one day. I thought that we were getting the hang of it and turning into, for lack of a better expression, a good industrial/rock band. I guess in the beginning, I was kind of caught up in that term, but after a while, I just thought, ‘Fuck terms. I’m just going to make music that I like.’ I suppose it would still be, if you had to categorize it, under that term, but especially for live shows, I had a great fucking time doing shows with Levi and Tim. I thought we were turning into a good unit. We never said that we’re splitting up… I mean, among ourselves; we said, ‘We’ve got to do something. We can’t continue this.’ And that was kind of the last word, at least as far as my experience. Split ups are ‘We’re done and this is never going to happen.’ I don’t feel that way. So, in my mind, we’re not split up. We’ll have to see, but the short answer, obviously, is that yes, I would love to go back to it; now is not the right time, and I’m doing what I’m doing now. But I love that kind of music and I love performing it. It’s frustrating to make it, because it can be a lot more difficult than it sounds. Sometimes, you’re sitting there like, ‘I can’t make this sound the way I want. Fuck! I fucking hate my life!’ So, you know, you have a bad day, and then you try again. And suddenly, you break the code and continue, and then everything’s great again. But I have said many a time, ‘How can I make this kick drum not sound like shit?’ (Laughter)
I know that feeling very well.
Mortiis: Yeah, and especially with that kind of music, there are a lot of layers going on. That’s sort of the hidden or secret weapon with industrial music – there are always like 10 layers of snare drums instead of getting that one fucking kick ass snare drum.
That’s interesting, because while some might think the dungeon synth style to be simpler and less involved, I would think that the orchestral qualities of it would have the same problem. I recall writing in my ReViews of the Projekt Records reissues in 2007 some marginally flippant comparisons to The Lord of the Rings soundtracks. But after seeing and hearing you perform it in Baltimore, I had more flashes to Basil Poledouris’ scores to the Conan movies in the ’80s.
Mortiis: That was a big one for me back in those days. I mean, not in ’82, because I was seven-years-old at that time; but in the early ’90s when I discovered that soundtrack for Conan: The Barbarian, I was like, ‘Fuck me, this is the best thing I’ve heard in so long.’
All that layering though… yeah, it really can be sometimes. Other times, you do just manage to hit this combination where you just go, ‘Fuck man, this is the way to go.’ It’s a bit like winning the lottery. The way that I was going about it with Spirit of Rebellion, a lot of the percussive stuff was definitely something I brought with me from my industrial days, because those were ‘techniques’ that I adapted from when I was working on those industrial records. Back in the ’90s during the original Era-I, I wasn’t really that experienced with music. It was a lot more about playing some melodies and putting that together, and then you were kind of done… well, with the exception of The Stargate. I started to get a bit more into doing a little bit of layering work on that one, especially on a lot of those really hard percussive sounds. Those were the early beginnings of developing actual techniques… like, this is my way of getting things to sound a bit special. That really took shape in the early 2000s all the way up to going back to the Era-I style, so to speak, with Spirit of Rebellion.
The difference between the industrial music I was making and Spirit of Rebellion, speaking of layers, is that on Spirit of Rebellion, the layers are mostly melodic, melody and harmony lines, as opposed to just different types of noises and loops, which there were a lot of on The Great Deceiver; it’s a really dense record. It’s the same idea, just using music versus special effects. For something like Spirit of Rebellion where everything is so much about melodies and harmonies happening there, I couldn’t really put in a ton of special effects – it would drown stuff, and it would be confusing, misleading, and you wouldn’t focus on the harmonic content. I sound really pretentious now that I talk like this, because I’m not really that good. (Laughter)
It’s not pretentious at all, because what I’m hearing is that you’re focusing on the music. It’s true that industrial music in general does tend to place an overemphasis on the production and the mix, and those things are important, but…
Mortiis: Yeah, there’s a lot of it! ‘Hey, listen to all my cool little bleeps and blops,’ which is awesome, but I really hope that you’re a good mixer and a good producer, because if all that stuff is in a soup, it’s just going to be a mass of confusing shit.
Yes, but it’s true that it can lose sight of the music and the song.
Mortiis: That’s the way that I felt. I haven’t really talked about that for a long time, but now that you mention it… I’m not going to say that I was frustrated with it, because it was really my problem, but it was something that I brought up a few times and talked with people about, how industrial music would focus on this one thing, and that would be the whole song. But there wasn’t really a song in there. It wasn’t exactly ‘Bad Moon Rising,’ which is a fucking proper song. I know that industrial music doesn’t aspire to be fucking CCR, but at the same time, it’s always nice to get some good song content in there. I think that’s what made guys like Trent Reznor so fucking big, because he had good songs.
This was the first time you toured North American with the Era-I material, right?
Mortiis: In a sense. I actually did a tour for The Stargate in 1999.
Mortiis: Yes, I did! That’s so long ago that I don’t expect people to actually remember it. That was 20 fucking years ago now, wasn’t it? I was supporting Christian Death, and I don’t know what album they were touring… but it was me, Christian Death, and Godhead, who were somewhat happening at the time. They’d just signed with Manson’s label for like 15 minutes right after that; it looked like they were going places.
They had a few albums, and then Jason C. Miller went country, which is an interesting transition that has worked very well for him. I mean, talking about songwriting, that’s what he’s doing.
Anyway, as far as the logistics of Era-I, what did you find to be the major challenges in bringing that sound into a live setting, and how do you feel the audience received it?
Mortiis: Well, I felt the tour went really well; even better than I expected. I learned many years ago never to expect anything, so it was better than I hoped. That’s actually a better way to put it. I have hopes, but I never have expectations – you are just bound for disappointment. This sounds weird because I always have difficulties, but I thought that tour went pretty smoothly. I think it’s my fourth or fifth time to apply for work visas; I like to do things by the book when it comes to the States, because if you get called out, they won’t let you back in for like a decade or something. Every time you think it can’t be more difficult or crazy, it just gets fucking worse. So, I’m going behave very nicely between now and the next tour to make sure nothing happens, and I’ll delete half the photos on my fucking phone. (Laughter) No, there’s nothing weird there. I should be good. I can’t think of why they would stop me at the border and say, ‘Fuck you, go back home.’ I mean, my jaw would hit the fucking floor.
And your live setup included not only projections, but actual trees, which really sets the stage and puts the music in a physical environment. Is it true that you were collecting trees on the tour?
Mortiis: It is true. Should I bring those things on a plane? How would you explain that? ‘Oh, by the way, I also have these.’ And it’s half a fucking forest. (Laughter)
What we did was I communicated with… well, first of all, I had to do it twice on the tour. There were four or five shows, and then we had to get on the plane to fly out to Seattle; obviously, we had to ditch everything and do it all over again. So, for the first show, which was in Baltimore, we were in touch with one of the guys that worked there, and we said, ‘Hey, we’d like to arrive really early; it’s the first day of the tour, and there’s a lot of stuff to unpack and setup, and also, you have to take us out to a wooded area so we can chop down some trees.’ And he said, ‘Uh, okay.’ He was very helpful, and we did that; we just went to this dead forest, and just chopped down as much as we could and brought it back. We spent half the day figuring out how to fucking make it stand up – that was the most difficult part was getting those fucking trees not to fall over. And it was the first day, so we didn’t really have the handle of that yet. But a couple of shows in, it was pretty damn smooth.
But in Seattle, we had to do it all over again, and let’s just put it this way, the promoter there wasn’t quite as communicative as the one in Baltimore. We just said, ‘Fuck this,’ we went out and took the rental vehicle we had, drove around Seattle, and just looked for stuff ourselves. We found a park, which was in the middle of a pretty nice area – it looked like the houses were kind of expensive – and we just parked outside a fence, jumped the fence, and chopped down as much shit as we could in about 10 minutes. (Laughter) That was the one where we were thinking, ‘The cops are coming! I’m 44-years-old. What the fuck am I doing?’
Well, that’s innovation.
Mortiis: Or desperation… probably both.
But it really worked and created an atmosphere. I’d seen the video for ‘Visions of an Ancient Future,’ and my immediate thought was it was great that you didn’t just play the video in the background like so many do now.
Mortiis: Well, you might as well just direct link the fucking projector to YouTube if you’re just going to show fucking videos. That was on my mind for about two seconds when I was in the early stages of planning out what I’m going to do live and make this interesting. I’m one guy; there’s got to be more stuff up there. It doesn’t matter how cool the fucking mask is; I’m going to be onstage for an hour – if it’s just me, it’s going to get fucking boring. So, that’s when I started coming up with video projections, and that whole idea was a collaboration between me and David Thiérrée, who is the same guy that has done a lot of my record sleeves for the last couple of years for the reissues and Spirit of Rebellion. The whole idea is for that series of images to sort of tell a story – it’s like a journey into that whole Mortiis world. It’s not moving, but it’s not supposed to feel static either, and then you set that in the environment of the trees, and the lighting guy does his job… you know, I usually explain to them and I have five-million reference photos, and they set a pretty good mood with the smoke and the music and that fucking dude in the mask and the outfit, and you have a pretty good atmospheric experience going on.
It is a unique and very visceral show. With the music and the album artwork, you mentioned that there is a story going on.
Mortiis: I try to. I’m not sure if anybody really noticed, but when I reissued some of my records, I wanted to do the artwork over again, but at the same time, I wanted to keep the art concept fairly close to the originals. For example, on the Keiser av en Deimnsjon Ukjent album, you have this hooded person with his hand outstretched from a profile view, from the side, and on the reissue, I said, ‘Let’s do it from the front; let’s just change the angle.’ So, we changed the angles, and all of a sudden, you could see what was going on behind the guy, so we put more stuff there. We did that with several records. On the Ånden som Gjorde Opprør album, you have me standing by a lake and pointing with the face in the air, so to speak; with the redone artwork, you can also see what I was pointing at, which was this huge tower further back on the horizon. Just all these added details; that, to me, was really inspiring because I was like, ‘Oh shit, I can add all this cool stuff, all these ideas that I put in this book of mine and what Mortiis is all about.’ That was pretty creative, I thought, and I was pretty proud of that. We keep adding things in there and building the mythology.
Who did the new logo? Because my immediate thought was ‘Roger Dean.’
Mortiis: Who? (Laughter) Never heard of that guy. That was David Thiérrée also.
It’s so YES.
Mortiis: Yes, it does look like YES… but so does Venom. I always thought when I did the Fata Morgana logo ages and ages ago, I thought I was ripping off Venom. But then later on, as I got more familiar with the history of some things, I realized that Venom were just ripping off Roger Dean. And I’m a huge Venom fan, so I think I’m allowed. (Laughter)
What I told David when I decided that I want to make a new logo, and I’m doing Spirit of Rebellion… yes, it’s a return to an Era-I sound, but these are new times, so I want to mark that with a new logo and set the indicator for other things happening. It’s not just a rehash of what I was doing 20 years ago.
It’s a refinement.
Mortiis: Yeah! And I told David, ‘Hey, I want to do a really cool homage design/logo that is all about those old Virgin Records,’ and to put the Mortiis character in there, and put in the creepy trees and stuff.
And as Spirit of Rebellion is a refinement or reinterpretation of the music on Ånden som Gjorde Opprør, I was going to ask how the visuals of the new album relate to those of the original album? You mentioned the original character on the lake pointing to the tower, so is that the same character on the cover of Spirit of Rebellion?
Mortiis: You could say that. The concept behind the record sleeve is taken out of the Mortiis mythology, which kind of deals with, and this is going to sound a little bit tacky; you almost have to read the book that I put out, as that would make things more obvious, but there are hidden crypts and dungeons all around that horrible place that I invented, and this is one of those. It’s just a more detailed… this would be the inside of the tower that I was pointing to, where dark things are brewing. There’s this creation mythos where everything has descended from the stars, but not all of these things are good, and some of these things are very, very old. They manifest in what we look upon as dark wizards and stuff – it’s very Tolkien-esque. These are inventions that I came up with fucking 25 or 26 years ago, and I’m still building on them.
It’s also interesting that today, I probably would not be able to think them up. Some of it might seem a little tacky and simple, but on the other hand, it’s crazy for me – this intense 19- or 20-year-old black metal guy that is thinking of all these fucking weird things and putting them down as texts. That made it into the book, and I’m still drawing inspiration for it.
The Secrets of My Kingdom book has been reissued, so it’s easy to find. Cult Never Dies Productions is the U.K. publisher, and I don’t think anybody else is really properly putting out black metal or related books, with the exception of the odd publisher; it’s what he does fulltime, so it’s getting pretty popular. And he put that out for me, reissued and extended with way more artwork and interviews, page up and page down. It’s a really cool version.
Returning to the dungeon synth sound, what is different about your approach this time? Obviously, you were getting into electronics when you were younger, and it was a new thing for you. As you’ve gone through all these other styles of music and have learned some things along the way, what’s different this time around going back to that style?
Mortiis: Technically speaking, on the early Mortiis records, there was no programming or MIDI or sequencers or anything like that involved. It was me being very naïve going into it because the only way I knew how to record was the way that we recorded with Emperor, which was my only recording experience prior to that, and that was all about just playing stuff straight onto tape. That was the way those records were recorded, and obviously, that’s also the reason that some of them could’ve had at times better playing. Later on in my musical life, if I made a playing mistake, it was usually an easy fix with MIDI – you just move some of these events around and it’s basically okay, and move them in place to make them tighter; that’s how you program drums and synths and stuff like that. But I had no idea, so I made a whole lot of records for Mortiis and some side projects where everything was straight onto tape… literally, to tape. If I didn’t go into an actual proper studio, I had a little setup back home – like an eight-track or a smaller reel, and I would just record straight onto them. I had no fucking clue what I was doing then. I was recording through a really noisy mixing desk/ I could probably sell that mixer to Merzbow and he would use it as a special effect. (Laughter) But it was that noisy, man, and I had no clue.
All of that changed over the years, so those were things that became factors down the line when I later knew that mixer should’ve just been in the fucking trash. And there are things like EQs and compressors and all those things to help you out a little bit. All those basic things were tools that I had this time, and I’m just a better musician, I think. I think it takes awhile for your brain to cultivate and to instinctively start hearing things on top of other things. That didn’t happen back in the early days, because I just didn’t have the experience, and my brain wasn’t tuned into thinking that way. I’m not trying to make myself sound like fucking Mozart; that’s a whole other universe. I think all musicians have that period when their brains just get tuned musically into being more inventive and just being on that channel as a musician where you can hear one theme or a series of chords, and you immediately start hearing other things that you can put on top of it. It takes awhile to develop that, and for the most part, that truly happened for me when I was doing industrial music. You start kind of teaching yourself a little about what might be a cool drumbeat, and I was starting to do vocals for the first time, and then I started writing songs for the first time with The Smell of Rain. You get all that good creative luggage along the road, so I had all those tools and experiences when I worked on Spirit of Rebellion.
There is a distinct return to Era-1 sonically, but at the same time, I think it’s on a whole different level now.
I listened to Spirit of Rebellion back-to-back with the original version of Ånden som Gjorde Opprør to refamiliarize myself with the music and get a sense of the new version, and it’s a night-and-day difference; the new album just has a more sophisticated sense of structure and flow to the music.
Mortiis: At least I did something right in 25 years. (Laughter) There’s some stuff that I’m less proud of than other stuff, but that’s just how it is. Back in those days, like I said, when I was recording in my living room using my own equipment, I didn’t have other people there saying, ‘How about trying to record that one again?’ I was getting a little ahead of myself in the sense, ‘I’m going to put out four albums a year!’ Because I was almost at that fucking pace for a couple of years, and I was in a zone in a sense, but I was putting out a lot of stuff and I was making a lot of music, but I should’ve screened myself and the quality of what I was doing a little bit more. There’s a lot of stuff that I was surprised that I liked more than I thought I was going to, because I hadn’t heard it in a long time… and there were other sections of music where I was like, ‘Oh shit, what the fuck was I thinking here? Why didn’t I just re-record this here? Fucking hell, people like this?!’
Well, now you have the opportunity. You can do whatever you want.
Mortiis: Yeah! I guess I kind of did it with this one in the sense that it turned into a different record than I thought it was going to be, but in a good way.
As for the upcoming tour, I’m guessing that logistically, you’ll be extending what you did on the previous North American tour? Or will there be anything different?
Mortiis: I’m presuming that it’s going to be a whole different crowd and not the same people. The idea musically is to do pretty much the same set as last time in different cities that we didn’t play last time.
Spirit of Rebellion comes out on January 24, and that’s when the North American tour starts. What else have you got going on?
Mortiis: I have a million half-finished things, but I keep getting bogged down with stuff… I run the webstore, and I deal with all the marketing and all these people, photographers, and the odd live show, so I’m always saying, ‘Oh, I’ve got to do this, and do this, and holy shit, it’s 4:00 in the morning, I’ve got to go to bed because I have to get up in four fucking hours.’ That’s every fucking day! I have a family with kids, so that takes up a big chunk of time. I have a fulltime job, because unfortunately, Mortiis doesn’t bring in enough money for me to live off of – it’s a really nice side income, but it’s not the main income. Maybe one day, we’ll see. But that’s a limited amount of time, unfortunately.
We will be in Spirit of Rebellion mode until the end of the tour. We did just put out on Friday the 13th the second video for the album, and this is taken out of the ‘Dark Horizon’ song. It made sense to chop out some music from that song and turn that one into a video – same director, and I went up to Finland again to film it, froze my ass off! Winter had just arrived in Finland, and Finland for some reason gets really cold.
Colder than Norway?
Mortiis: I feel like it is, but then again, I live pretty far south in Norway. If you go further north, it’s a frozen hell. But it was outside of Helsinki, which I think geographically is more north than where I come from anyway, but it was way below zero, and snow had just come in. It was filmed in this really abandoned factory – you don’t really see that much of the factory environment in it, but that’s not the point; the point was just to have a creepy location that was a good ground for making an art piece. It was cold as a motherfucker! Concrete in the winter… just the idea is cold, and the outfit I had on… I’m half naked. (Laughter) And I don’t know if you’ve ever been on set for anything that’s supposed to be filmed; it’s just, ‘Hey, wait here for four hours until we call you.’
Oh yes, it’s a lot of hurry up and wait, and just sitting around waiting for something or probably nothing to happen.
Mortiis: Pretty much. All that stuff takes so long to setup – the lights and the camera, that’s what it’s all about, and those guys are never happy. That’s why it looks so good in the end, because those guys are never satisfied, and it takes forever to get the perfect shot with the perfect fucking light setting and the perfect everything… and you’re sitting there dying, thinking, ‘Yeah, I know, it’s worth it. I mean, I’ve got tuberculosis now, and I have to amputate four toes.’ (Laughter) No, I found out that I could handle cold very well. We went to Iceland a couple of weeks after that, and we had about five hours of shooting photos in the lava fields and stuff like that. I was in the same outfit, and I’ve never been so cold in my life! I was thinking, ‘I’m not waking up tomorrow.’ But I did get up the next day, and I had a show to play, and it was a combo thing – if you go to Iceland to play a show, you also go there to do some fucking photos. I brought a photographer with me; I paid her ticket, because it was fucking worth it. And they are fucking incredible! They’re the best ones I’ve done since The Smell of Rain.
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