Q: You formed Absurd during your teenage years. Were the goals of the band in its origin purely musical or was there already a strong ideological bias at that time? With the maturation of the band and as a result of you as individuals, how did this ideological part evolve?
A: It is impossible to disregard the powerful ideological background of Black Metal during 1992 and 1994, because that is what compelled most, if not all, bands who started playing Black Metal back in the days. Absurd too, as a matter of course! Without the ideological zeal and ardor that burned in our hearts and eclipsed our minds, I don’t believe we’d likely considered playing Black Metal, of all the different genres of music available to us, to begin with. Darkthrone, Mayhem and Immortal, for instance, they have started as Thrash and Death Metal-bands but suddenly, they forsake their former style and started playing Black Metal instead, because of, as they said, the urgent need to express themselves in no other way anymore. Even though we were rehearsing songs prior to Absurd, the decision to play Black Metal was a conscious and deliberate one that was intimately linked to the events transpiring in Norway, Sweden, and Finland at that time. We have witnessed a movement growing and surging, something that is more than music, and we too wanted to be part of it and contribute to Black Metal with music, words, and deeds of our own. We have matured quite a bit since we were 16 years old, and so did the ideology we have expressed via music and lyrics. From juvenile devil worship and Satanism via Neo-Paganism and Germanic Heathenism to a somber appreciation of heroic nihilism (i.e. the affirmative fight for a lost cause), we have come quite a way but never went astray in our fundamental world view, I’d say.
Q: “IDEOLOGY”, since we mentioned that word, I think it’s pertinent to ask: Nowadays it is common for many bands to see Black Metal and even NSBM as a purely artistic expression, without the need for a relevant lyrical content or personal attitude of its members. In your opinion what is the importance of an ideological north within the style and why so many individuals of this younger generation are abandoning the “content” and caring only about the “packaging” if you know what I mean?
A: Well, let’s be totally honest: In our day and age, no one will receive the same initiation into Black Metal that we have experienced back in the analogue and pre-internet days. People who grow up with internet and social media learn very early in their life that style matters more than substance. You do something because it “looks good” on Instagram, not, because it has any deeper meaning to you. If that’s your attitude, then it’s perfectly possible for you to be into Black Metal for aesthetical reasons only. You love the looks and the sound, you feel excited by the image of bands and how it reflects on their fans too, and that’s what matters to you. Hence, Black Metal started to attract Hipsters and their ilk, and they have left their mark on genre and scene by devaluing the content, i.e. ideological and philosophical background, in favor of good-looking packaging and similar sales points. Unlike in the early 1990ties, when Black Metal attempted to insulate the scene by burning all bridges to the rest of the “Metal-community”, we now have a scene where many people listen to Black Metal just as one among many other styles and genres they like. However, genuine Black Metal is like the tip of an iceberg that signals a fundamental world view, and way of life, lying underneath. It’s extreme music for (and by) extremist minds. If Black Metal becomes detached / divorced from that ideological, spiritual and philosophical matrix, then it’s music void of meaning and “Black Metal” in nothing but name.
Q: Black Metal in its origin came to challenge the “status quo” and shock society. Absurd however manages to shock a portion of the Black Metal scene itself that is currently too much “politically correct”. In your opinion these people really understood the meaning and the concept “Black Metal”? Is the world so weak and sensitive these days or is Absurd’s message that strong?
A: The idea of making music for the sake of shocking and provoking mainstream society is quite a juvenile one, and we don’t bother with that anymore (it never was the motivation that started Absurd in the first place, come to think of it). If someone feels upset and offended by what we say and do, then we couldn’t care less. However, you are quite right that Black Metal is supposed to be a challenge to the status quo, because it’s a counter-culture that only exists in opposition to any self-proclaimed “moral values and virtues” upheld by mainstream society. That’s an opposition towards monotheistic creeds and their morality as much as an opposition towards secular humanist and philanthropic ethics. An opposition that draws strength from the firm belief in the true nature of man being twisted and torn by principles alien to who we are and what we need to become, the New Men of a New World that is. Political correctness, LGBTQ and “wokeness” deny our true nature, and attempt to socially engineer a human race that is feeble in spirit, body, and mind. If this pathetic drivel seeps into Black Metal too, then we need to weed it out with root and branch. There must be no room for any notion of so-called “humanity” in this genre and scene. If you want a picture of the future of Black Metal, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.
Q: In your opinion as the protagonist of your personal history, what was the importance and influence that Absurd had in the German Black Metal scene that has always been characterized by bands with an aggressive and striking posture. What is your opinion about the German scene and do you still follow what is happening today?
A: Well, there’s at least two different aspects to be considered in answer to your question; one is the ideological aspect and I am pretty sure that in this regard Absurd already started to have an impact and influence on other German Black Metal-bands in the 1990ties, but the other one is the musical aspect and in this regard the influence has very much manifested during the 2000ies, with the progressing musical maturity found on the Absurd records from “Totenlieder” onwards. On a sidenote, we were among the few bands who started to use German lyrics for our Black Metal in a time when other German bands still used English or even Norwegian names, titles and lyrics, and thus we coined the term “True German Black Metal” to show there’s a distinctive style of Black Metal played by German bands exclusively. I still follow the German scene, but I don’t pay close attention anymore; for once it’s a scene divided by political correctness and “wokeness” and then I must admit that musically too, I consider the local scene of other countries far superior.
Q: Absurd has always shown a lot of originality in its music. What was the musical background that led you to form the band? Do you think that the musical influences of your youth played an important role in making that the Black Metal performed by Absurd was always so different, for example, from Black Metal performed by Scandinavian or Greek bands? Trying to sound original was a conscious concern or something that came naturally and spontaneously?
A: To be honest, much of this originality came from the need to improvise when started with Absurd back in January 1992. Even though we found a rehearsal room soon, we were missing a lot of equipment that would have been needed to improve the quality of performance and recordings. For instance, we got a drum kit only many months later after I have started taking lessons at a local music school. The first time it came to use was for the recording of “Death from the Forest”. Something else, that has had an equally important impact on the sound of Absurd, is the way of DMD’s playing the guitar. He too did take music lessons, but there he never learned to play Metal-riffs on the electric guitar; what he learned was playing Blues Guitar and he just kept this style of play up when he used an electric guitar at last. Finally, even though the Scandinavian Black Metal-bands made a huge impact on us in terms of extremism and fanaticism, when it came to writing music and lyrics DMD himself was rather influenced by e.g. Venom, Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Manowar and Der Fluch. Also, you need to keep in mind that back in the days, there was no definition of how Black Metal ought to sound like. To be considered Black Metal by others in this scene, it was much more important that a band would swear allegiance to Satan and join the dark cult in words and deeds than to sound exactly like any other.
Q: Absurd’s repertoire is vast. If you were to choose a track that could present, in a more complete way, the sound and ideas that define the band to show someone who does not know which track it would be and why this specific composition?
A: Personally, I do like “Tod vor Sonnenaufgang“ very much. It has that punkish, straightforward sound I am digging, and the lyrics too are just magnificent. This song was recorded during the prime of DMD’s songwriting, and you need to understand German to really appreciate how the poetry of the lyrics blend in, and flow, with the composition of the music. Very well done; and in my opinion, this song is a grand manifestation of the lyrical and musical quintessence of Absurd.
Q: Absurd has several interesting tribute albums, did you hear any of these honorable homages to the band? Is there a version of an Absurd track that you liked in a special way?
A: Other than Burzum, there’s probably no band in Black Metal that received as many tribute songs as Absurd did. However, quantity never trumps quality and I have to say that the vast bulk of cover / tribute songs to Absurd range from mediocre to embarrassing. As a rule of thumb, I don’t think a cover song ought to sound exactly like the original song. There’s no point in doing a carbon copy of another song, but if you decide covering a song you need to do it in your own way. Hence, the cover songs that I like most of all are the unique ones sounding quite different to the original. There is a cover of “Germanien über Alles” by Ad Absurdum, featuring on the “Todesblei Salonfähig Gemacht”-compilation LP, that does that very well, for instance.
Q: These mentioned tributes show us that the band somehow inspires several individuals around the world, do you agree? In your opinion, would Absurd be the sum of all the individuals who have already passed and contributed to the band or did it become an icon in itself and transcend its members?
A: Yes, indeed: Absurd is an institution on its own. The band is more than the sum of individual members, because in Absurd manifests a higher ideal that transcends any individual input of one member or another. Even though there have been three different main songwriters in Absurd, from 1992 until today, the band has eventually appropriated a distinctive “corporate design” that’s unlike any other; one that keeps molding the music and lyrics of anyone who contributes to Absurd. Many people say that “Schwarze Bande” reminds them of “Blutgericht”, “Totenlieder”, and even older Absurd-records. It wasn’t our explicit intention to record a new album that would sound like any other, done by a different line-up hitherto, but come to think of it there was just no way that our songs could have sounded differently since they were written for Absurd and this band holds sway over the creative input by its respective members, obviously. When you write music and lyrics for Absurd, you know exactly how it must be done.
Q: You used the pseudonym Randall Flagg for a while. I must assume that you admire Stephen King’s work. Is that correct? I also saw you mention in an old interview that you liked science fiction. Could you mention some authors and works that you admire and what attracts you in these specific genres?
A: He was one of the first modern-day horror authors I have read when I was a teenager, and in particular “The Stand” and “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” impressed me quite a bit for their apocalyptic and otherworldly quality. However, I have lost any interest in his writings some 20 years ago and for all I know, he really ought to have called it quits around the same time. His “The Dark Tower”-linked novels declined from great to mediocre to awfully bad. “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” was the first novel he ever wrote, and it’s a book (in the original and not the revised edition, that is) that I still hold in high esteem. It’s well-written, picturing a bleak world with forlorn characters, and can easily stand the test of time. Yes, as a child I have been into science fiction very much, either the old classics of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells or the contemporary Eastbloc-authors like the Strugatsky-brothers, among others. “Roadside Picnic”, of which one of my all-time favorite movies “Stalker” was made, is a great example of Eastbloc-Science Fiction that, unlike many Sci-Fi-authors from the West, emphasized the mystery rather than the menace that we’d likely experience if coming face-to-face with non-terrestrial and non-human intelligence.
Q: In fact, i read in an interview that you used to be an avid reader, do you continue with this habit? What are you reading, or have read recently? Could you list us some books that somehow marked your life and why?
A: I wished I’d more time to read books nowadays, but I rarely find the opportunity to sit down with a book in my hands anymore. I’ve read the most during my childhood, and when I was behind bars. If I manage to read a book one of these days, it’s usually something about history that helps me in my own contemplations, for instance “The Axis: Berlin – Rom – Tokio. 1919 – 1946”. The last (short) novel that I have read is “Das Dämmern der Welt” (Twilight of the World) by Werner Herzog. It’s about the life of Hiroo Onoda, soldier of the Imperial Army of Japan, who kept fighting even decades after the Japanese’ surrender in the World War 2. He fought a futile war for a lost cause, why? Because that is what he once pledged to do, and he couldn’t stop doing it despite the overwhelming reality that pushed him so totally out of place and time.
Q: With the advent of the internet and social networks we have a world that in theory puts people closer together, the Earth has become smaller. It would be logical to assume that people’s intellectual productivity would increase, but we see so many absurdities in these same social networks that it sometimes seems that human intelligence is regressing. Do you agree? What is your opinion about current virtual social networks and its paradoxes? Did the internet and social networks bring more benefits or losses to humanity?
A: There’s much said about the decline of intelligence among the human population, despite the internet providing so much knowledge instantly and to anyone looking for it, but I am not so sure that people have really been so much smarter in the analogue age. It’s just that you would barely notice it, because there was no way for billions of people to voice their opinions on a public forum. Now they can do it, and you really see in many cases that man hasn’t come a long way after he emerged from the cave for the first time. The major difference, however, is that in the past the people who ruled us were intellectually abled, but nowadays they are outright dumb and delusional. Personally, I do believe that internet and social media are a double-edged sword that can either be useful or harmful to mankind, and it’s not the technology but the humans who use it making the difference. I wouldn’t want to return to the pre-digital era, though.
Q: You experienced the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany and, I suppose, you saw several truths considered “absolute” to be actually “relative” and in your personal life you experienced several events being distorted in the name of an unrealistic sensationalism that “sells” better than the truth itself. With all this in mind, I ask you, what credibility do the media really have and are it possible to have an impartial truth these days?
A: Yes, I have witnessed how one political system fell apart and was quickly replaced by a new one, and during this transition a lot of “empirical truths” were suddenly discarded as if they never mattered in the first place. However, they defined the reality I have used to live in! That – more than anything else – has proven to me, that “reality” is not the strictly binary concept of “either-or”, but instead a fluidly ambiguous concept of “what-if”. I have lived in a reality that later was said to be built on fallacies, but while it lasted it was no less true to me than the new reality I came to experience thereafter. You could turn the world upside down and install a new truth overnight, but did that imply that my life in that other, now defunct, reality was a lie and has never existed? Not at all, because reality is nothing that exists outside of your mind. It is your mind that makes the world real to you, and thus it is perfectly possible for you to live in your own reality that doesn’t necessarily resemble the reality of anyone else. There is no truth, except for what you believe to be true. The more people believe in the same truth, the more real it becomes. Hence, we have powerful machinations designed to influence and to ultimately determine the perception of many people, in a colossal effort to alter and to shape reality according to one agenda or another. Mass-media is part of this effort, as a matter of course. Every organized religion or political movement attempts no less but the manifestation of a New World for a New Man, because they know that it is perfectly possible to alter reality by a collective force of will, and thus, to manifest a new truth everyone must believe in if he lives in this brave new world. George Orwell has perfectly described this scenario in “1984”: To say that something is not real and can’t exist, “it presupposed that somewhere or other, outside oneself, there was a ‘real’ world where ‘real’ things happened. But how could there be such a world? What knowledge have we of anything, save through our own minds? All happenings are in the mind. Whatever happens in all minds, truly happens.”
Q: You were one of the founders of the “Deutsche Heidnische Front”, tell us a little more about this organization and what led to its inactivity?
A: The DHF was part of the Allgermanische Heidnische Front started by Varg Vikernes when he was still behind bars, in 1997. He introduced me to his idea of launching a movement that would espouse Odalism, his own brand of Pan-Germanic and Neo-Heathen creed / ideology, and I have agreed to help him by starting the German chapter “Deutsche Heidnische Front” after I was released from prison in 1998. When I went into exile, in December 1999, the DHF was carried on by my brother Wolf but not for long, because they started to disagree on which direction to take (either to be street activists or to be online scholars) and Wolf didn’t bother to mediate the divergences, at all. Quite to the contrary, he and others fanned the flames when on the name of his former girlfriend he registered the ”Wotansauge/Wotanseye”-symbol as a trademark, in Germany, and they told the remaining DHF that they must not use this symbol (which used to be the official insignia of the DHF, mind you) anymore. Around the same time, Totenburg printed merchandise showing “Fuck DHF”-slogans, and there was some more kindergarten going on unfortunately. It was quite an embarrassing circus, of which I was no part of, and thus the DHF fell apart not with a bang but with a whimper. O quam cito transit gloria mundi!
Q: I believe the release of “Schwarze Bande” the new album of Absurd took most of those who enjoy the band totally by surprise. How long has this album be prepared?
A: Well, it was supposed to come as a surprise out of the cold, because it hits you hardest when you don’t expect it in the least. Nowadays it’s the usual modus operandi, for many bands and labels, to communicate the impending release of a new record long time in advance, by sharing teasers and previews and what- have-you, but we have deliberately avoided doing any of that. We kept working on this new album since 2021, with writing music and lyrics and rehearsing the songs, and the recordings were finished during February 2022. Mixing and mastering started in March. In the meantime, the artworks were done, the design and layout prepared for print, and when everything was ready to go in April, we set the release date for May 8th, 2022. On the one hand we wanted to have every physical format available right away, and on the other hand May 8th is a very symbolic date for an album like this one. We wanted to turn a day of infamy into a day of glory, and thus it was done!
Q: One thing I realized is that even though “Schwarze Bande” is a very current album it brings with it some elements that refer directly to the classic “Asgardsrei”, was this connection with the roots consciously thought?
A: Other than writing lyrics and giving some conceptual input (most notably on “Der fünfzehnjährige Krieg” and “Weltenfeind”) I wasn’t involved in Absurd from 2001 until 2017, and the last recording prior to “Schwarze Bande” which I was part of is “Asgardsrei”, as a matter of course. Hence, it was easy for me and the band to pick up from where I have “left” the band, but we also wanted to build on the style – both for music and lyrics – that was prevalent in the 1990ties instead of emulating what Wolf and Unhold have been doing in Absurd in the meantime. “Schwarze Bande” harkens back to the first era of Absurd, indeed, but with a much-improved sound and style that bears witness to the 30 years of the band’s history as well as legacy.
Q: Some tracks like “Rachedämon”, “Kein letztes Geleit” and “In Blut geschrieben” have an extra dose of melancholy making “Schwarze Bande” an aggressive and violent album but somewhat sad. Do you agree?
A: I believe both triumph and tragedy have their place in Black Metal in general, and in Absurd in particular. That’s also the meaning behind the quote of Oswald Spengler on the back of the CD, that says it’s most of all the victories as well as the tragedies that define the stream of life.
Q: Talking a little bit about “Darker Than Black”. What would be the musical \ ideological background required in a band to be part of the label’s cast?
A: Well, it’s imperative that I like the band/project and what they deliver. I don’t ask for any oath of allegiance to my world view, but I wouldn’t work with someone who subscribes to an ideology that’s hostile to me, either. If you look at the roster and back catalogue of D.T.B. Records, then you see all sorts of bands and projects with a variety of styles and messages. Some people say that D.T.B. Records is a “NSBM”-record label exclusively, but that’s simply not true. With the label, I’d rather support the Black Metal-underground per se instead of any political movement. I have my opinions and principles, as a matter of course, and everyone who knows me also knows what I stand for. However, D.T.B. Records is supposed to be a home for artists from the underground music scene and was not designed to be the outlet for overtly political propaganda, for all I care.
Q: Still on “Darker Than Black” how is the label doing today? What’s the news and what can we expect in the near future?
A: The label is doing great, and we are getting close to 600 releases done under D.T.B. Records between 1994 and today. I have come to the point when I could stop signing any new bands and just keep re-pressing the back catalogue for what it’s worth, but it is my opinion that a record label ought to pro- actively seek and support new bands and help them to get exposure, acknowledgement and appreciation in the underground scene. However, I do rarely bother to check out any promo sent to me by email; not that I don’t care but I simply don’t have the time anymore! It’s either artists I am already working with, who tell me of a new project and ask me to listen to it, or it’s a random encounter on the internet that’s perking up my ears and makes me want to check out a band / project I wasn’t aware of hitherto.
Q: Personally, what attracts you in a band and in music in general these days? Any new discoveries that caught your attention to indicate us?
A: If I come across a new band or project, that’s what I am looking for: originality, creativity, authenticity, and integrity. I don’t care so much for musical craftmanship and production standards, considering how the early demo tapes of Absurd left much to be desired in this regard, but I need to feel impressed, and be convinced, by the creative vision and artistic expression more than anything else. When it comes to (not so) new discoveries, I’d like to point out Ruine from Québec, Coniferous Swamp from Finland, and Muzungu from Poland. Three different projects but equally brimming with raw energy, uncompromising attitude and fervent zeal. As soon as I heard their debut recordings, I knew I had to work with them, and release their upcoming records.
Q: Comparing the young JFN who formed Absurd almost thirty years ago with you today; what has changed the most in your way of understanding and facing life and the world around you? Is there still something that remains the same?
A: Yes, it’s the life experience and insight into human nature that set me apart from my former self. As I have already said, I have my opinions and principles and many remain to be the same that they were 30 years ago, but nowadays I have much less (well, zero actually) illusions and I just don’t think that during my own lifetime I will ever feel at home in the world and reality I am doomed to live in. As much as I can, I will not cease to strive for this vision but if it’s a lost cause, then so be it.