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Cult Never Dies: You mentioned that it was 2014 when the band became a live act?

“Late 2014 I summoned the first edition of the Mork live band; Lucass, Alex and Kent. We rehearsed the rest of that year and Mork made its live debut late January 2015, in Olsztyn, Poland. It was an annual festival in memory of the passings of Vader and Decapitated members (if I remember correctly) and Mork played in front of about 300 people. Kent left shortly after that show and I invited Rob to join, who is here to this day. The rest of 2015 became a rather slow year on the live-front: In May we did a ‘battle of the bands’ thing in Oslo. A total fiasco – bad equipment, venue and overall a bad move. First and last time, ever [laughs]. We also played a private barbeque party in the summer, and that was basically it for live shows.”

“Behind the scenes it was a busy year though. I always work with the music and other stuff. HSP-Productions released the EP Fortid Og Fremtid on CD early to mid-2015 and I released I Sluket Av Myra digitally around Christmas. Fenriz actually chose the track for his ‘band of the week’ Facebook page and later he played another new track on his radio show. 2016 was to be the most active year as a live band. We kicked of with four shows alongside Norwegian band Order and the first of these shows was the release party for the new album. We then got booked for the Inferno festival and later the Tons Of Rock festival, with several shows in between. We felt things were happening. Both albums had been well received by fans and critics, so this felt like a good shot. In July we departed the country to embark on our very first tour and spent two weeks in Canada with the bands Morgue and Svaldbar. Good times.”

We’ve mentioned the members of Darkthrone a couple of times and Nocturno Culto himself appears on the second album. How did that come about and how was the experience?

“I got to know Ted through my friend Kjell (aka Hudbreider, Darkthrone-house/studio-owner). Me, Hudbreider and his brother Fjelldverg (Stein Åge) drove to Porsgrunn, Norway to participate as extras in a movie called Saga, which stars Ted (it premiered in October 2016 actually). Ted’s other band Sarke played an intimate show on set and I got to talk to him afterwards. After this we stayed in touch. I had this idea about making a tribute to my friend, Hudbreider, since his house was the reason that I made the debut and the fact that he introduced me to Ted. So I asked Ted if he would be interested in contributing vocals. He said yes, and later sent me a CD in the mail. It was a strange moment for me to play back that track knowing it was Nocturno Culto’s voice, recorded at their Necrohell studio. The song ended up way better then intended – I did not quite know what to do with it when I first recorded it. It was the very first track made after Isebakke, and it was a but off-putting. But it all fell in to place and I have gotten texts from Ted where he tells me how much he likes the album – that’s a great and surreal compliment. They have, after all, been a huge influence on Mork’s music, the biggest influence.”

As mentioned, Den Vandrende Skygge feels like a more individualistic work than the predecessor and I was interested by what seems to be some overtones of rock, punk, post-punk and post-black metal present within the Darkthrone/Burzum template? Is this perhaps related to the music you were playing prior to concentrating on Mork?

“It’s a bit hard for me to draw lines between this album and other things. Burzum and Darkthrone are strong influences obviously. I usually sit down in my studio and what comes out, comes out. I never intentionally write and record anything with a direct influence, other than ‘I Sluket Av Myra’ and ‘Enden Ligger Ved Berget’ which are both Burzum tributes, the latter with the main riff at least. The verses and main riff of ‘Ravnens Natterike Kaller’ was actually a deliberate try to make a similar but different ‘Inn I De Dype Skogers Favn’ (Darkthrone) vibe… but I failed [laughs]. The end riff of the last track ‘Invertert Korsfestelse’ is inspired by Mayhem’s ‘Illuminate Eliminate’, but I realised it after the fact. I know I did have Celtic Frost in the back of my mind sometimes, but can’t say it really sounds like it when listening to it now. That’s the magic of creativity, I guess, I never know where parts come from. Overall, all the music on this album is made to have an atmosphere. Actually I was recently in contact with a label who didn’t favour the production on the album. But without that precise sound and production, I would not have achieved that same atmosphere.”

What was the issue there? They liked your music but wanted you to use more ‘professional’ recording methods?

“There were no objections about me doing it my way and on my own, but they were wanting stuff to be more audible. They did not want anything to be ‘polished’, but a bit cleaner, I guess. But my point is that Den Vandrende Skygge needs to sound the way it does. My next record will sound a bit different. Each album has character. If you had cleaned up Den Vandrende Skygge or Isebakke you would have lost the feel and atmosphere, that’s my opinion. It does not have to be 1994 to make an album like that.”

I think sometimes people forget that the ideal production for a record is not necessarily the biggest or most technically impressive, but rather the one that best suits the songs. And although some people may see it as a cliché, it must be said that murky, unclear and somewhat mysterious sound is often perfect for complimenting the more mystical and obscure atmosphere within black metal.

“Yeah – you know it’s ‘True Norwegian Black Metal’ not ‘Fake Norwegian Black Metal’ [laughs]. But, hey, I do understand that more people will be able to swallow the product when it’s more commercial-sounding. ‘Commercial’ is not a negative word to me, but the type of song needs to fit that sound. I won’t go out and say that people don’t understand, but they don’t think ‘necro’ will sell. And I do agree. It probably won’t break a band out of the underground.”

“I’ll be honest; my next album will be a bit more audible. Not polished or sell out, but audible. If a band makes the same-sounding album time after time just because they must have a necro sound, that, to me, is fake. If I write songs that would fit a bit more audible sound, then that is progress and evolving. As long as the recording and sound has nerve, it is cool to me. But it must be said that it depends on the atmosphere. If I record a progressive and rocking song with distinctive riffs, it probably would sound crap with a reverb-filled necro sound.”

The rest of this interview is available in the full-length book Cult Never Dies: The Mega Zine, available from HERE

This is an excerpt from a much longer chapter in the book 'THE CULT NEVER DIES: INTO THE ABYSS', available to buy  HERE