Immortal’s Abbath Talks About Burzum’s Varg Vikernes
Norwegian black-metal legends Immortal conclude their four-date North American tour in support of their excellent new album, All Shall Fall (Nuclear Blast), tonight. This week and last week, we have been posting a lengthy interview Revolver did with frontman Abbath Doom Occulta about his career. For the final entry, he talks about Varg Vikernes (née Kristian Vikernes), the man behind the one-man black-metal group Burzum and one of the most controversial musicians in black-metal history. Vikernes was imprisoned for murdering Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth, the guitarist of the Oslo black-metal group Mayhem, as well as church burnings in the early ’90s. Prior to all of this, Vikernes played in the death-metal group Old Funeral with Abbath across the country from Mayhem in Bergen. Here, Abbath remembers Vikernes from the time before the controversy. Click 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 to read the previous parts of the interview.
REVOLVER Before you were in Immortal, you played in a band called Old Funeral. Burzum’s Varg Vikernes was also a member of that band. What do you remember about him then?
ABBATH Well Varg, or Kristian as we know him, before he changed his name to Varg, was very good guy. We never had problems with him. I remember I invited him into Old Funeral a short while before I left the band. One things for sure, Varg was not the reason I left Old Funeral. It was those two other guys. They didn’t develop in the same direction as me mentally, and I met with Demonaz and we clicked. Since then we have been brothers; we are fucking soul mates. But you know Varg, he wanted to be involved with me and Demonaz’s thing, but we couldn’t involve any others at that point, but he went on with his stuff. And he also got into contact with Oslo, and the rest is history. Now he’s out and I wish him well. I hope he lives a good life for his family for the rest of his life, you know what I mean? I mean he’s been in jail for many, many years, how many years, like 17, 16?
Yeah, I think, sure, he has many of the same ideas about things. But come on, I don’t think he wants to go back there, and he has family and kids. I wish him a good life. Actually he has served his time, and I hope he follows the right path for himself.
But it was a tragedy what happened. Euronymous was also a guy whom we got to know a lot. We had a lot of contact with him. We were not involved with his projects; he was not involved in our projects, but we had a certain kind of respect for each other. And we got to meet him. We came over there [to Oslo] sometimes; he came over here sometimes. But Varg. he got very, very involved with him and the scene over there and it all was out of our hands. And what happened was just very tragic, very tragic, I’m still very sad about it.
A lot of things happened back then and after a while, people even got killed or passed away. A lot of young people, like Erik, our old drummer [who commited suicide with a drug overdose in 1999]. He was out of the band, we had to fire him [in 1994]—not for his personality—he just didn’t improve. He had to move on and he had problems with depression and he was on medicine. His death happened years after, but I mean a lot of people died for the wrong reasons. Like Mayhem, Euronymous. If he focused more on Mayhem back in those days, Mayhem would be the greatest, biggest bad on the fuckin’ planet right now. Euronymous wanted to do everything himself. He didn’t want to involve anyone and then he got involved with Burzum. I mean we were up there [in Bergen, across the country] the whole time. We didn’t see everything.
I don’t think Varg will bother anyone anymore, and I don’t think he wants anyone to bother him either. You know what I mean?
I appreciate you being so candid about everything.
Well, usually I don’t talk about Varg, or that whole thing, so please be cautious with what you write.
Old Funeral LP featuring vintage pictures of Abbath (who went by his real first name, Olve) and Varg (miscredited as C. Vikernes)
By Kory Grow // Immortal photo by Peter Beste; Old Funeral image found on Cult Metal