When you are having a chat with a band like Cadaver, you simply can’t just choose one. I tried and failed. I want to know everything and I can’t resist the opportunity to pick Anders’s brain. In a non-violent, non-mayhem way. So, I’ll start with the past, move into the present, and see if he can travel to the future with me. How cool would that be?
You grew up without TV and listened to your father’s collection of classical music. I find that fascinating and I want to know more about your childhood. How was life for a child in Norway back then and what kind of elements influenced the death metal artist that you are today?
Anders: I think basically two things shaped me the most. First of all, I used to live in the suburbs until I was ten years old. Just outside a small town. And then my grandfather died so my parents moved to a farm basically. And the farm was very primitive.
I didn’t like it because I missed my friends and I wasn’t used to living on a farm. All my friends were gone basically and I was trying to figure out what to do. So as a kid I found refuge in the music basically.
I started to play guitar and piano and. Mostly guitar, but you know then in the eighties there was no internet but there were radio stations. The farm was one mile away from Oslo, so not too far from the big city but far enough from the big city when you’re a kid you know… So these radio stations transmitted all the way out to where we lived so I could listen to the radio. On the weekdays all these new radio stations appeared on the FM radio and from midnight until the morning there were basically different kinds of metal programs.
One of these nights from twelve to two in the morning I was listening to a show and they had Mayhem as their guests.
And I was listening to this guy from Mayhem, talking about the fact that they were not too far from where I lived and that that they played extreme metal. And there were other bands, of course, playing this strange music I never heard before, so basically, these guys through this radio show introduced me to the whole underground scene at the time.
And then I convinced my father to drive me to the Mayhem rehearsal. When I was thirteen-fourteen years old. So my father drove me to the rehearsal place and you know I was hanging out there and listening to Mayhem rehearsing.
Then I was going to Necrobutcher’s home and seeing is metal collection… So all these happened when I was fourteen so I grew up getting to know Mayhem when they were like a little bit before the deathcrush album so they are basically my mentors and my influences. Without Mayhem, I don’t know what I would have done you know they pretty much shaped my whole life.
And now I’m here thirty-five years later almost, and I still know all those guys, they are part of my life, they are some of my closest friends still you know. That’s the short answer to why I am where I am today.
You worked as a consultant for music organizations in Norway, you are the founder of music business seminars and as a recording artist, you have signed with some of the biggest labels out there. So there’s entrepreneurship going on. That’s scary for a lot of musicians in the death metal scene as they are afraid they might lose their underground vibe and originality for the sake of consumerism. You are the perfect example of how that’s not necessarily true. How do you manage to combine it all and stay true to yourself?
I grew up with the whole thing coming together when I was growing up, so for me, it’s so different. When I was starting, Nuclear Blast was a mail order service you know.
So for me, all these people are people I’ve known since the very beginning. So it’s a very different scenario for me to begin to think like that. I still like the do it yourself concept you know, I still sell my own merch and stuff, you know people can order directly from me still today I write inside the envelopes and I write the address on and doing everything myself, but at the same time I signed a record deal with what is now the biggest metal label so to me there’s no conflict really because you know, most people I know who are passionate about music do it full time somehow and or try to do it full time. If it’s possible or not possible it’s up and down you know, but we try to spend as much time as we can to do this stuff I’m gonna do whatever it takes to survive. I’m not in it for the money but for the passion and to just be able to do what I love.
This is just how I see it, from my perspective.
Well it’s pretty healthy I mean you have to shake off the fear, you know the fear of becoming part of the system, and just do what’s natural to you.
Yeah because I know there is no system. The “system” is whatever you build around your own thing basically. So if you think the music business is something you want to get into, and then just leave it up to others to do it for you, you’re totally wrong. It’s all about what you do yourself. People just don’t realize how much work even the biggest artists in the world have to put into their careers to do this stuff.
You don’t become a rock star with this music you know, this is totally different, this is a way of life.
Your songs are expertly executed, and your death metal is highly inventive. How important do you think innovation is in the specific genre?
I think the genre thing is probably misleading somehow because I think the most important thing for musicians to find their own style in their own identity through their music and whatever it is that natural habitat is where they belong. For me, death metal is my playground that’s where I feel like I can accomplish something that I find truly original and sounds like me.
Anything else would sound like I’m imitating somebody else, so that’s the key you know to understand where you are. And sometimes you can’t choose your own genre, people think that they can choose, but sometimes the genre chooses you!
Let’s get to D.G.A.F “No plans are yours it’s all in your head” you say. It sounds like a predetermined sequence of events or outcomes to me. Do you think that every step we take, we as humans is not purposeful and everything is predestined?
It’s more like if you don’t dare to do anything in life which can result in a failure you will never dare to do anything interesting basically. And also if you think you can lead yourself to success through a logical series of events, that’s not how life works.
Most of the time you need to dare and maybe fail miserably sometimes to be successful.
Like right now for instance, with this extremely strange situation regarding the pandemic, lots of people lost their job jobs and their purpose. Two months ago, we could never foresee that scenario. For me as a creative person, I find these times to be the most interesting times of all, because this may be the time to do something completely different or new.
Turn something negative into something positive or interesting is always the key to move forward and humankind always managed to do that somehow, you know, even in the worst-case scenarios there is always somebody that sees things differently.
I think it’s really interesting as we are going through all this turmoil, and then we discover ourselves and reinvention is really important in all aspects of life. Especially now we realize how important music is.
It’s now that we really need to rethink our values and especially what comes next.
We now realized that the arts are probably more important to us than we realized.
D.G.A.F is a very comforting and freeing concept. But there must be something that you actually give a fuck or two about. What’s that?
It’s more like a liberation term for me. We should be more unpretentious that’s what I mean but they don’t give a fuck.
Because otherwise it’s like trying to impose an image of yourself to the world which is not true and everybody knows it’s not true, but you still try to, and this is what people do in social media today.
They want to portray themselves as a perfect human being, they take pictures of the perfect food they make, they take photos of perfect places they go to, and showing off how happy they are with their perfect friends.
But everybody knows it’s a lie, yet at the set time it’s very tempting to tell people that you’re perfect or at least you try to accomplish something which is towards perfect.
It’s a tough world out there and everything is brutal, but you know if you want to be real, it’s really hard to be real, that’s what I’m trying to say.
So, if I could take what you just said and distill the essence is you give a fuck about authenticity and being real.
Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m trying to say and that’s a really hard thing to actually get across today. Everything’s fake. As you know I had cancer this year. So lots of people are much worse than me because I actually survived and I’m on the other side of it, I’m cured. And maybe is this a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. If you’re going through something like this and you know you might die and you’re facing death for real, even though I was never afraid of dying you know. Then you know what’s important and what’s not, which is very liberating.
You like grotesque things and that’s reflected in the band’s artwork. If you think about it death has always been a big part of the history of art worldwide since ancient times. I mean just walk into any art museum or gallery and it is right there in your face, either glorified or degraded. What is it exactly that we like about these disturbing images? Are they cathartic in a way?
I think it tells us that we are guests in this world. The only thing we can do is make the most of it. We all find it disturbing but mostly it’s natural. We came from nothing we return to nothing.
OK! Last words and a trip to the future! Say it’s a couple of decades from today and you are thinking about this album. What kind of outcome would make you happy?
Well, first of all, it’s the artistic accomplishment of being able to find a brilliant drummer to fulfill my childhood idea of a perfect band and manage to write songs, front the band, sing and play, to be able to do what I love to do, and restart my own path with hopefully several new albums. I already have ideas about the next album even before this one came out, so this creative point is what I would like to look back to, and that’s what I’m looking forward to!
Until we meet again,