Varg Vikernes - Exclusive Interview
By: Alon Miasnikov
With: Varg Vikernes(All Instruments), Burzum
A few facts about Varg Vikernes:
•He was born 1973 in Bergen Norway as Kristian Larsson Vikernes.
•He changed his name to Varg, a Wolf from the Norse Mythology
•He is the man behind Burzum, one of Black Metal's legendary musical endeavors.
•He was responsible for the arson of Churches in Norway in the early 90's, most notorious was the burning of Fantoft Stave Church.
•In 1994 Varg was convicted for the murder of Oystein Aarseth, guitarist and co-founder of Mayhem, his claim for self-defense was not accepted and he was sentenced to serve 21 years in prison.
•After his arrest 150 KG of explosives and 3,000 rounds of ammunition were found in his home.
•Last year he was released from prison
•This year he has released "Belus", his first album to make use of guitars since 1993's Filosofem.
•He was been described in the past as a Nazi sympathizer and a racist.
There were a lot of people asking us if this is an interview that should be published in an Israeli Metal publication. Some said Varg's opinions should not receive further publicity, specifically not through Israeli media, we chose otherwise.
Varg is certainly what would most call a racist, some would say anti-Jewish. But this interview displays the opinions of an intelligent individual, which holds extreme views that to a certain extent represent the state of mind of the current extreme-right in today's Europe, something which is important for us to hear, and understand.
Though he chooses to accept an article written in irony as proof about the Jewish people's attempts at world dominance, and refuses to accept existing proof of the holocaust, his opinions should definitely be heard, if not agreed upon.
So, in his own words, with no censor, this is what Varg, someone who has been described as "the most notorious Heavy Metal musician in history" has to say:
Hi Varg, I'd like to start with your new album – Belus, what is the meaning of the title and why was it chosen?
Hi Alon. The original working title was either «The Return of Belus» or «The Return of Baldur» (I don't remember which at this point), and just before I announced the release of the album I changed it to «The White God». This title was not well received. Instead of accociating it with the «deity of light», known in European mythology as «The White God», the music press assumed it was a «racist» release. Being only a working title it was not hard for me to change it, to «Belus» (meaning «shining white», by the way), and I did because I did not want the music press to spread lies.
I may add that it is perfeclty common to have working titles on projects, and changing the working title is part of the creative process. Sometimes it works, and you keep it. Other times it doesn't work, and you change it. As simple as that. I can also add that Belus, the deity, should not be confused with the Akkadian Bel/Baal («lord», «master»), a deity I (for some reason) assume you might be more familiar with.
What is the concept behind the album itself?
The concept is the death and return of Belus, a deity better know as Belenus (Celtic), Appollo (Greeco-Roman), Byelobog (Slavonic) or Baldur (Scandinavian). Belus is the Indo-European name for this deity, that is common to all the European cultures. He is the personified power of the Sun, and therefore he lives (Summer), dies (Aurumn), he travels through the underworld (Winter) and he returns (Spring) every year.
From what I could decipher, and it may be just my own take on things – it can also be construed as an allegory about your own personal life, with the motif of resurrection being your own release from imprisonment and return to freedom, is there truth in that?
Well. It could be, but it is not. This is the reason I changed the working title from «The Return of Belus/Baldur» to «The White God», by the way. I wanted to avoid such speculations. I am no deity... even though I might sound as if I think so myself, some times.
From the business side of things, you released the album through Byelobog Productions, with distribution through candlelight, is byelobog your own imprint, and why not go through the "regular" process of just releasing it through a well-known label?
Well-known labels received threats from other labels, distributors and music magazines even before I announced the release of a new album. Some individuals in the music industry told the labels that if they released Burzum they would face a massive boycott, or even assaults form left-wing extremists. The threats worked as intended, but it was no really a problem to me. I simply had to do things differently.
Now to more personal questions if you don't mind – I understand your last years of incarceration you were allowed to live partly outside of the prison walls, but how does it feel to be fully out of it? What do you think did that feeling being into the album itself?
I don't know. My mind was never incarcerated, so I never felt like I was ever released from prison. I was never really there, so to speak... It did not influence the album in any ways, I belive. My stay in prison is water under the bridge.
I do not have much knowledge of the Norwegian penal system, but it did seem that is was adamant in having you go through the full-term of your sentence, is there still a feeling of being inspected or hindered by the arms of the law?
Norway is a left-wing extremist country (to such a degreee that even a Swedish [as if they aren't pretty left-wing too] minister called it «the last Soviet state in Europe»), so they don't care too much about the rights of the citizens. Especially not if you show dissent. If you want to avoid punishment for some crime in Norway you should first and foremost join Arbeiderpartiet («The Worker's Party»), and then to make sure become a Freemason as well. Whether you follow the laws or not is not that important.
As you might know already, the «Norwegian» govermnet rabidly supports a number of Palestinian groups in the Middle East, and they only do because they too are left-wing extremists. «Birds of a feather flock together», you know. I don't fit their left-wing mold, so I have to walk uphill no matter what I do in Norway. I don't mind though. Gelobt sei was hart macht.
Did your time incarcerated, or your time now – outside, change in any way your perceptions of the nature of reality in Norway or the world in general? Do you feel part of the feelings you had, and philosophical conceptions – change with the changes in your own personal life? Does having a family, a child, soften these once extreme views and belifs?
Being isolated in a prison cell makes you more extreme than you otherwise would have been, even if your mind is free, so me being released did soften my views a bit. However, the years have taught me more than anything that I have been right all along. All my fears have been confirmed. Even most paranoid and eccentric ideas turned out to be sensible. Having a family softens you up in some ways, but it makes you harder in other ways. Now you have others to fight for too, that are not just friends or individuals who have something «not really that important» in common with you. With a family you have so much more to fight for.
One phenomenon that certainly grew to larger proportions while you were Incarcerated is the growth in the Muslim population in Norway, being the Largest minority in the country, while in other country's – such as Denmark, Muslims are now 9.9% of the population. As someone who has expressed Himself in the past regarding this, what is your take on the subject today?
Well, my first contact with Muslims was in 1979 when my family moved to Baghdad, to live there for a year. (Yeah, my father was one of those engineers working for Saddam Hussein.) Most of the Iraqis, or rather Sunnis, at the time were pretty secular, but they were still Muslims, and we also came into contact with a lot of (fanatic) Shiites. So I saw very early what a Muslim is, and because of that I have never been positive to Islam, in general, or to Muslim immigration anywhere. They have been – since they left their Arabian Peninsulae around anno 650 – a pest to mankind.
The French (Charlemagne) stopped the Arab-Berber Muslim invaders in the Pyreneés, the Germans stopped the Turkish Muslims outside Vienna, the Russians ended the Golden Horde Muslim terror in Kazan. They stand no chance against us in open battle, not then and especially not now, they know that, so now they try to «conquer by numbers» instead, but I am confident they will be stopped in Europe in the future as well. They should read the writing on the wall and get out before it is too late. I am sure this will not end well for the Muslims. Anger is growing, and Europe is not nice when angry.
In your writings you refer a lot the term "Slav", and refer the Nazis' treatment of them during World War II, just to be clear – what does the Slavic people mean to you, and why the specific references to them?
The specific reference to them came because I received many letters from German and US right wing extremists, and so many of them called the Russians «subhumans», «a brown race of scum», «a slave race», «a criminal race», and so forth. I find these views to be not only silly, but to be plain dumb and utterly ignorant. The Slavs are no less European than the Germans or anybody else native to Europe.
In your referral to people addressing you as Nazi, several points need to be taken into view. You quite adamantly declare that referring you as "Nazi" is wrong, but the reasons you list to display why you are not are seem to me as a cop-out.
Being socialistic or not has nothing do with it. The question was raised (certainly from Jewish, or just plain people objecting an Anti-Semitism) to get a definite statement regarding your views on the Nazis' "other" activities, namely the whole-sale massacre of Millions of civilians (among them 6 Million Jews), many of them women and children, and the other atrocities perpetrated by them, and certainly your view of Hitler – the brain behind this.
To surmise what turned out to be a pretty long question – what is your take on the Nazis from that perspective, and do you still think referring to yourself as one is acceptable?
First of all, regarding the «Anti-Semitism» point, this is somewhat complex. You should read «A Real Case against the Jews» by (the rabbi) Marcus Eli Ravage (You will better understand my view on Jews if you read this. In addition to that I can tell that I am anti-Jewish because I am anti-religion, and because Judaism is also a religion. (I am in any case not anti-Semitic, because being «Semitic» means simply that you are «a person who speaks a Semitic language». That would be a silly reason to dislike someone indeed...)
To me National Socialism is first and foremost National Socialism, so I definately don't call myself a «Nazi», but I understand that you don't care about that part of the story. When it comes to Hitler himself I don't know what to think or say. With all the propaganda we have been served about him since 1932 it is hard to like him. To me he is an historical figure in the same vein as Stalin, King Lionheart, Charlemagne, Barbarossa, et cetera. I really have no personal relationship to any of them.
Atrocities have been perpetrated by just about all peoples of the world, and by people with all kinds of ideologies. King Richard Lionheart of England, for example, a «good Christian», massacred Muslims (including women and children) en masse, and yet we don't seem to have a problem with him (in Europe anyway. They might view him differently in Egypt...). The Allies massacred several million of German civilians, including women and children, during WWII, in their terror bombing campaign. Then after the war they (along with the Soviet Union) ethnically cleansed parts of Europe for Germans, driving 15 million of them from their homes, and murdering 3 million of them in the process. In peacetime, I may add. Now, I could go on and on listing massacres of our world, more or less systematic, more or less intentional, from Antiquity to today, but I guess you see the point. There is no reason to pick one massacre and name it «the worst» and make it a fanatic world religion. «Believe in this or die!» They are all «the worst» from someone's perspective.
My problem with all these massacres is that I really don't know if they happened as described by the victors. Nor do I trust the descriptions of the victims, as they tend to at least exaggerate. I say this because I see how even my unimportant and (to most) uninteresting story has been presented by the Norwegian system. They actually teach children in school today that I am a devil-worshipping satanist who burned churches, and they use me to prove the existence of a satanic presence in our midst. Everything they teach them is a lie, and what they teach is even easily unveiled as nonsense. You don't even need any sources to figure this out. The whole story falls apart on its own due to a complete lack of logic. When it comes to the Holocaust I have the same problem. I don't trust the official story, because I have no reason to trust those who tell me this story.
Let's get to the basics of your views, most people would certainly regard you as nationalistic, and your referral and the importance you seem to put on race might probably paint you as racist, what do you feel about these terms and their applying or not to you?
Nationalism is foolish, unless your race is your nation. I have genetically speaking more in common with blonde and blue-eyed Russians, Italians, Englishmen, Ukrainians and so forth, than I do with dark haired and dark-eyed Norwegians. The latest science suggests, by the way, that the white (in a broad sense) peoples of our world actually descends mostly from the (highly intelligent) Neanderthals, and not from the (much less intelligent) Homo Sapiens from Africa. The blonde hair, fair skin and blue eyes are Neanderthal traits, and so is a high IQ.
Some people may argue that Race has no more importance in Today's world, that though Religion may the starting point for evil, racism has let to other numerous atrocities while not being grounded in reality as having any real importance in a world where every country is currently being a melting pot of races, what is it so important in Race in your view?
Racism has led to numerous atrocities, we can agree on that, but whether this is a bad thing or not is another question. Like everything else in nature, we need to evolve as a species in order to survive, thrive and prosper. If we for example let Africans (or the working class of any nation, for that sake...) mix too much with us we will eventually have our IQ lowered so much it will be hard to survive as an advanced technological civilisation. If we don't have an advanced technological civilisation we will at one point become extinct, because then we will never be able to leave our planet – and we will have to do that at one point whether we like it or not; when the Sun starts to die... The logic is then; to kill some to let the rest live is better than letting all live for some time only to see everyone get killed. And we do have the courage and brains to «cherry-pick».
I expect the future to be cruel and brutal, and expect race to play as much a major role in the future as it has hitherto. Race is our foundation, and our path to greatness. That's why «everyone» wants to have blonde and blue-eyed children, you know... whether they admit it or not.
Why did you reach the views that you do today regarding the importance of a Judeo-Christian free Norway? Why Neo-Paganism? One can claim that These old religions and beliefs have passed from this world as part of the natural order of things; the same that Christianity or any form of religion is destined to die out as mankind progress. Why do you feel that a return to pagan roots is so important?
The Pagan roots are important only in the sense that they are our root. Paganism actually survived in Christianity, because Saul and the other Jews responsible for Christinaizing the Romans and the rest of Europe failed to wipe out the European traditions. The Pagan traditions were rooted in the blood of the Europeans (i. e. in the race), and could not be removed unless the Europeans themselves were removed. And Saul, although I am sure he wanted to, were not able to do that. So the Pagan deities were given different names and were called «Saints» instead, and the Pagan traditions were all included in the new religion, some way or the other. Christianity became less Jewish than Saul and his lot intended.
The reformation removed much of the Paganism in Christianity, and because of that the Protestant peoples in Europe have a much more relaxed relationship to Christianity than the Catholics and the Orthodox peoples. Protestantism is less Pagan, less European and therefore less interesting to the European man. We – in Protestant countries – rarely even go to church and are almost all really just athetists who tend to marry in church only because we are used to doing so. You are of course right when you say that the old religions have passed from this world, and that they will for sure be followed by Christianity (and Judaism and Islam), but I don't care about the Pagan religion. I care about the Pagan ideals and morals. I care about our European values, rooted in our blood.
And mentioned religions who die as mankind progress. The Africans still believe in spirits, like we too did in the Stone Age. The Arabs still believe in «God», like we too did in the Middle Ages. The Europeans on the other hand are mostly atheist. Those who can progress will progress. Those who cannot progress due to racial limitations will not progress. That is progress seen from a racist point of view.... So I guess the religions will only die in intelligent populations.
No matter how hard you display a wish not to be pictured as part of White supremacist, racist organizations, can you understand why outer observers may view you as one of them because of the views you hold? Do you make a real effort to distant yourself from such groups?
I understand, and I don't really care what others think of me. I do find it ironic, though, that they seem to have no problem with devil worshipping morons, but the moment a person say that he is racist all Hell breaks lose. So, the love for you race is worse than cultivating pure «evil»? I guess the Holocaust guilt trip you sent Europe on has really messed her up...
There's another incident that I have heard about in the past that I would like you to clear up and shed light on. There's a story in Israel regarding local band Salem. The story goes that you send a letter to their vocalist, praising their music while marking on the holocaust-related themes in their lyrics that "Hitler should have finished the Job" Etc. after receiving a reply from them it was told that you sent what was marked as a "bomb-letter" to the band, which was intercepted by Israeli police, what is the exact story behind that incident if any?
Well, I don't remember much of this. I was 18 years at the time and was «at war with the world», so to speak. All I remember was that I sent an electronic detonator to a guy in Salem and wrote to him that «Here is the device you needed to blow up that government building», as if he had asked for it. Then I wrote «cassette tape» on the customs note, knowing perfectly well that it did not look as if the package contained a cassette tape. It was a rotten joke intended to end our communication. As far as I know he was interviewed by the police and that was it, and I expected nothing more than that. It did, by the way, very efficiently end our comunication, as intended. «Big surprise».
Can you understand why to a Black Metal fan here in Israel, you are considered the epitome of evil - even out rightly banned by some, as someone who has said and wrote the things you do, since approximately 50% of these people's families were murdered in the holocaust?
Sure, I can understand that, not least considering the fact that even most Norwegian metal fans share their views. but doesn't the bible (new or old testament) say somewhere that the deepest wells shall become the tallest towers, and vice versa? I guess my future looks very bright then.
Some people would argue that your ideas, and the ideologies they contain, would not reach the amount of people within and without the metal community as they did, had you not been convicted in the murder of Øystein Aarseth, what is your opinion on that?
First of all I don't think it matters. I was convicted for killing Øystein Aarseth, and we cannot know what would have happened if I hadn't been. Speculations might be fun for some, but they do us no good. Let those who wish to waste their time and efforts speculating. I will not, and instead I go on with my life.
Do you feel you were wrongly ostracized and marked by the Norwegian penal system because of your views and outspokenness and not just because of the murder you committed?
Well, I did not committ a murder. I killed a guy who tried to kill me. You are right that I was convicted for murder, though, but that's a different thing altogether. Anyway, the problems I faced in the penal system were all linked to me being outspoken, to use your words. Nobody cared about Øystein Aarseth. All they cared about was my dissent and their precious churches. The system gave me a heap load of shit, but what they did only gave me many friends in prison and it made me stronger and wiser.
Let's get down to the bare bones of it – I have read that your home was, what you have referred to as "Race-conscience", does that mean that your views can be originated to your parents, and that you have just took them in a more extreme and outspoken direction?
Nah. I grew up in a perfectly normal, well-educated family. All families are race-conscious, by the way, whether they like to admit it or not. We are, because we are living creatures. You tell all the messed up Freudians out there that they need to look elsewhere to find out why I am wise.
What is it about Norwegian Black metal that caused such a backlash in the early 90's and led you guys to burn churches, murder and convey extreme opinions of different sorts? Was the Black Metal the choice because of the extremity of your thoughts and actions, or vice-versa?
Well, the short explanation is that I entered the scene; and it was a pathetic scene filled up with sheep, pigs and loose dogs. They were going nowhere. Øystein Aarseth was their leader, so I gave him some direction, and the rest followed – like the flock animals they were. Deus ex machina.
If we cut-off the deep philosophical debate towards the end. There's a reason you started to play Black Metal. While Venom and Celtic Frost were the most expected influences, how deep where you into the more traditional heavy metal that was popular while growing up? Where you ever an Iron Maiden/Black Sabbath fan? Or did you always go for the more extreme and less melodic bands? What do you feel about the less extreme metallic genres today?
I know very little about any metal genres today, so I better not talk about that. When I was a kid I listened to classical music, mostly Tchaikovksy, and then I started listening to Iron Maiden around age 13-14. I did have a Celtic Frost album, and from 1989 onwards I started listening to more extreme metal as well, like Bathory and Destruction. I never listened to Venom. I wore a Venom shirt on a picture once, because it had the text «Black Metal» (and I had one in the first place because I sold such shirts in my home town, to make a living).
Looking at today's black metal scene, how do you compare it the one you were part of during the early 90s? Anything worthwhile? Any bands you appreciate more than others?
Sorry, but I cannot answer this question properly, because I don't listen to such music and I haven't done so since 1995 either. I don't even see Burzum as black metal, and I have no interest whatsoever in the black metal scene, or any other scene for that matter. If I listen to music I prefer bands such as The Cure, New Order, Future Sounds of London, classical music and folk music (like Balalaika).
One thing that shook the Black metal scene recently was the "coming out" of Gaahl, someone who's own distaste of Christianity is well known. What are your thoughts regarding this unheard-off move inside what is probably considered as the most "non-gay friendly" music genre outside of white-supremacist hardcore?
It's none of my business, and it doesn't concern me. Everyone has qualities, and faults. He is no different. Nor am I, for that sake.
Finally, now that you are a free-man, and a practicing musician once more, do you plan on going on a more "traditional" direction and perform live? Recruit session members perhaps?
Not really. My manager wants me to. My label wants me to. My distributor wants me to. And others too wants me to, and that is very nice and all that, but... my only motivation for doing such a thing right now is money, and I don't think that's a good motivation for doing anything. Even if you rob a bank, you do it as much for the action as for the money, but to me there is nothing else in playing live but money.
Well, on a most serious note, I can tell that I think Burzum is too private for live shows, and should be appreciated in a more private setting. It's me and you only. The music and the listener. That's something else... and you get that from your own PC, MP3 player or CD-player. Oh, and if I ever run out of money I am more likely to rob a bank than to play live, by the way....
Thanks to you, Alon, for the interest and questions.