Interview with Nuclear Holocausto
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: January 11, 2014
2013 marked 20 years since Finland's Black Metal horde Beherit released arguably the band's most well known album, Drawing Down the Moon, on Spinefarm Records. Drawing Down the Moon sounded much more advanced than Beherit's debut album, The Oath of Black Blood, originally released by the infamous rip-off label, Turbo Music, back in 1991. Everything on Drawing Down the Moon just seemed to click.
There is no denying Drawing Down the Moon's huge impact on the Scandinavian Black Metal movement or its influence on generations of Black Metal bands for years to come. The album stands up with albums like Under the Sign of the Black Mark by Bathory, De Mysteriis dom Satanas by Mayhem, A Blaze in the Northern Sky by Darkthrone, The Somberlain by Dissection and a few others. It has been bootlegged countless of times and no one knows how many different versions have surfaced in the past 20 years, but it remains an album worthy of celebration.
Drawing Down the Moon's mastermind and creator, Nuclear Holocausto himself, wanted to share his memories and thoughts about this raw, black piece of art with The Metal Crypt and started by apologizing that he cannot remember every single detail about the record anymore. In the same breath, Mr. N.H. reveals that he isn't the same person that he was in his twenties and has a hard time recognizing the being that he used to be back in 1993. He was able to conjure up some memories about Drawing Down the Moon and the studio where the recording of the album took place and he reminisces about his old housing estate in the town of Kuopio where he lived some 20 years ago. Finally, he wondered if he would even see his old Toyota Corolla out there on the road, with its original stereo system, when he travelled to Kuopio for Christmas. Read on...
Luxi: First off, congratulations on creating something remarkable, some twenty years ago, that had a huge influence not only in Scandinavia, but on the whole Black Metal scene worldwide. We are of course talking about Beherit's at least semi-legendary Drawing Down the Moon album.
Nuclear Holocausto: Yeah, sorry about the delay. This interview was sitting in my email inbox for a long time. It is quite difficult to go back in time. I just put this CD into the player. I have not listened to it for a long time, to be honest with you.
Luxi: When going back in time, especially 20 long years, it's naturally very hard to remember every single detail accurately but let's try anyway. Could you tell us what things motivated and inspired you to make your own brand of underground Metal music back in those days, when Black Metal really wasn't very popular as opposed to, say, Death Metal?
Nuclear Holocausto: I had just moved to another city and I did not know anyone. All communication took place by letter. I spent almost all my time with music and writing new songs. I spent much of my time alone and I focused on occult and pagan books. I drifted deeper and deeper into the dream world. I remembered that Beherit had previously played with the Death Metal band Coffin, which came from a neighboring town. I contacted them and asked if they were interested in joining the band.
Luxi: How much of the songwriting process for Drawing Down the Moon can you recall? Were any of the songs on the Drawing album created at the time of The Oath of Black Blood or were they created afterward? Was it easy to keep your focus on this release, despite pressure from outside due to the success of The Oath of Black Blood?
Nuclear Holocausto: The fact is, I liked The Oath of Black Blood as a bootleg copy of our demo tape and I have never wanted it to be published. Maybe this motivated me to compose the first real debut album. I did not think that The Oath was very popular at the time, at least not that I was aware of. You have to remember that was before the Internet. Information moved with weeks or months of delay. About half of the album's tracks had already been prepared and that made it easier to practice with the new members. We rehearsed a couple of times a week and every week I presented a new song.
Luxi: You recorded and mixed Drawing Down the Moon at Studio Sound in Kuopio, Finland, over 5-6 months, with Black Jesus and Necroperversor in the line-up. What can you remember from the recording of that record; although I am sure some of the details have surely vanished from your memory bank. Were there any compromises that you had to make due to lack of proper studio facilities, experience or the know-how to get everything recorded the way you originally wanted?
Nuclear Holocausto: Studio Sound was quite a professional place and we had all the necessary instruments and equipment. The main problem was lack of money. We had to put off recording and final mixing for months. It was wintertime and we were really sick with the flu all the time. I had to open a vodka bottle just so that I could open my voice.
Luxi: Did you ever, at one of those "low moments," consider recording somewhere else with a different, and possibly more experienced, studio producer?
Nuclear Holocausto: We had no problems with the studio or recording engineer. I knew exactly what kind of atmosphere I wanted and the sound engineer respected our views. Later in my career, I noticed that if the engineer is too skilled and familiar with the genre, he begins to fix mistakes and add his own views as to how it should be done. That is not a good thing because I want to save that raw edge of a live recording.
Luxi: How collective a record was Drawing? Did everyone participate in the creative process or would you say you just needed a drummer and a bassist to play on the record, as rude and harsh as that may sound?
Nuclear Holocausto: Because we were suffering from colds, we had a few days to play with other instruments in order to get ready for all the recordings. The drum technique was very different compared to the previous sessions I had with S. Slaughter.
Luxi: What made you decide on the cover artwork for this record and did you have other options available?
Nuclear Holocausto: I had not thought about the cover art at all and when I was handing over the master tape to Riku, at Spinefarm in Helsinki, he arranged about fifteen minutes of time in the Lehtikuva archives for me. Now, you have to remember that we lived in the time before the Internet or actual databases. As I recall, it was one of NASA's images and I've always been interested in space.
Luxi: Of all the official Beherit albums, I would imagine Drawing Down the Moon is dearest to you; the most coherent, the most "Beheritian"' and the kind of record that still gives you lots of pleasure thinking about what you created. Or am I completely mistaken here?
Nuclear Holocausto: I really like the atmosphere of the album and some of the songs. I think that the band would have definitely been different if that album had been our debut. Each Beherit album is very different and they reflect the current state of my time and thoughts.
Luxi: Drawing Down the Moon is undoubtedly one of the finest works in the history of Black Metal and is very often hailed as one of the albums that determined the way Scandinavian Black Metal was meant to sound for years to come. I am sure you are fully aware what kind of album you created 20 years ago. What do you feel is the album's true meaning for the worldwide (Black) Metal scene? You can hardly deny the fact it has influenced thousands of bands all around the world ever since it was released back in 1993...
Nuclear Holocausto: Yes, I am aware of this and continue to get email every day from people telling me that Beherit has been a major influence in the creation of their own bands. I feel a sense of pride about that, but I would hope that they would try to create even more of their own kind of music that would not sound the same.
Luxi: Just out of curiosity, do you still remember if Spinefarm Records was the only label, back in the day, that wanted to release Drawing or were there also some other labels that showed serious interest in releasing the album?
Nuclear Holocausto: There was one other label interested in releasing Drawing, a label located in Sweden. I'm having a hard time remembering the name, but what this other label offered did not seem very reasonable. It was an easy decision to make a deal with Spinefarm when they let me know about their willingness to work with Beherit and agreed to pay my liabilities from the studio expenses.
Luxi: Ever since Drawing was originally released, by Spinefarm Records in 1993, it has been reissued multiple times in several different formats, including several bootlegs. Has it bothered you that if you had gotten every cent from every copy of the Drawing album, you might be a millionaire? Others have undoubtedly made a good buck on this release with their illegal bootlegs that didn't earn you a dime. It's frustrating and sad, isn't it?
Nuclear Holocausto: I have not experienced any of that in recent years, so I do not sense the energy to be bitter. Of course, I would have been a teeny-weeny happier if people had acted honestly and with respect. But we aren't talking about large amounts of money. I've not even bothered to gather all of the different bootleg versions of Drawing for my own collection. It's enough for me to be aware of the fact that I made the music for this particular record which, in itself, is intangible.
Luxi: How pleased are you with all the official reissues of the Drawing album? Which one pleases you the most and why?
Nuclear Holocausto: I don't know. Probably Primitive Reaction's reissues because they contacted me personally. I had the opportunity to influence the outcome. Financial terms of these licenses served Spinefarm and Universal Music only; the band received nothing, or very little.
Luxi: Back in 1992-93, Beherit played a few gigs around Finland and, because Black Metal really wasn't popular at that time, Beherit was seen as an oddball amongst the Finnish bands you shared stages with, like Demigod, Sentenced, Demilich, etc., that played strictly Death Metal. Back then, some even laughed at you when Beherit went on stage, which was pretty rude and harsh, I think. What recollections do you have from those gigs?
Nuclear Holocausto: We were always really drunk. Touring with Metal bands has changed so much since then. These days, very rarely does anything surprising or dangerous happen. All the bands play nicely, in order.
Luxi: I heard, from a reliable source, that Swedish Black Metal heroes Watain will use Studio Sound in Kuopio, Finland, for recording the vocal parts for their next album. The reason for them doing so is that one of the guys in Watain thinks Beherit's Drawing is the best Scandinavian Black Metal album of all time. Have you heard anything about this?
Nuclear Holocausto: This is the first time I have heard about this (rumor). I have no idea at all... sorry.
Luxi: What's going on with Beherit these days, 20 years after the release of Drawing Down the Moon?
Nuclear Holocausto: The band has not rehearsed since the Engram recordings. I have written some songs and have different projects going on, but nothing to be announced officially yet. I am getting a lot of requests for Beherit to play at Metal festivals but, honestly, I've never liked that idea, even if the offered amount of money is starting to be really interesting. The next Beherit release will come, if it is meant to be. And it really is going to be different again, reflecting the current/future times.
Luxi: I think that is it, so I want to sincerely thank you for taking some time with my questions and I also want to wish you all the best with your future endeavors, with either Beherit or your other projects. Any closing comments, perhaps?
Nuclear Holocausto: Thank you for this interview, Luxi, and for all those years you have given your support to Beherit. Also, hails to every Beherit fan. Thank you.
|Other information about Beherit on this site|
|Review: Drawing Down The Moon|
|Review: The Oath Of Black Blood|
|Review: At the Devil's Studio 1990|
Copyright © 1999-2016, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.