Is doing interviews and handling other media obligations that usually go hand in hand with promoting a new album something that you find tiresome at this point of your life and career? Do you do all those things only because you have to?
Anders Odden: Generally, I like to hear what people think about what I’m doing, I find it interesting. Especially if those people don’t belong to my generation, if they’re significantly younger. If you’re as old as me, you probably have different feelings about everything, because I’ve been into this kind of music since the very beginning. However, I still try to pay attention to what’s happening in the scene as much as I can, even though these days I listen to many more different styles of music than people might think.
What do you listen to the most these days?
Anders Odden: Well, the last couple of months I’ve been checking out all kinds of different very extreme and alternative hip-hop artists, while also listening to this black metal band Baader-Meinhof, whose sound is basically a mixture of everything. Nowadays, all the genres are available at the same time and, if you’re young today, you’re probably listening to much more different music than my generation used to back in the day. When I was young, we only had a few choices with regard to different styles of music, and when we ultimately discovered extreme metal, there were maybe ten great bands in the world. Today, every little town in the backarse of nowhere has more than ten bands.
Being not only a fan, but a performing artist as well, and having such a broad taste in music, how come that you never felt the desire to actually make some different kind of music yourself, besides extreme metal? This new Cadaver album, for example, is not only a pure metal album, it’s also very much a return to the roots album, that has much more in common with the band’s first two albums from the early ’90s than with anything else you recorded after that. So, considering that horizons of music are constantly expanding, and that your taste in music is constantly expanding, why then the music on this new album is kind of going back in time instead of moving forward?
Anders Odden: To be honest, I think the music on this new album is doing both at the same time. What I tried to do with this album was to figure out my place in the world of music, to understand why people like Cadaver and what Cadaver as a band represents, what makes it different from other bands. So, in order to find answers to all those questions, I actually learned again how to play all my old songs. You see, when I first wrote those old songs, back in the late ’80s, I knew precisely what I was inspired by while writing them, which is something I unfortunately can’t even remember anymore, after so many years. But the good thing is that now the whole experience of playing and listening to those songs allows me to approach them with a completely fresh mindset, as I can listen to them and get inspiration from my younger self, so to say. That was the whole point, to see if this new Cadaver can get inspired by the old Cadaver, and try to figure out how the old Cadaver would sound like some thirty years later. That said, if we had done this record back in the early ’90s, with this skill set, the drumming and everything, we would have probably been the biggest death metal band in the world, but that’s another story (laughs).
When you were starting back in 1988, which is when your first demo came out, thrash metal was still reigning supreme. Presuming that you were very much into thrash back in those days, do you remember the impact Peace Sells had on you after it came out in 1986?
Anders Odden: Yes, of course. That record was a big deal.
If someone told you back then that in thirty years time Cadaver would not only still be alive and in a good shape, but actually share a drummer with Megadeth, would you believe him?
Anders Odden: Definitely not!
Speaking of Dirk, to say that he’s in demand would be an understatement. Do you consider him a permanent band member or is he more of a hired gun?
Anders Odden: Dirk is committed to Cadaver and we both want to do this beyond the existence of any other band we’re in. He’s two years younger than me and my guess is that we could probably do this for twenty more years, hopefully. That said, I don’t think Megadeth would go on for another twenty years. Dave Mustaine being 80 years old and still wanting to play in Megadeth, I mean, I don’t see that happening, but who knows. Anyway, this is serious to us and we’re hoping to develop Cadaver into something we can do for a very long time.
Listening to your early albums today, and putting them in the context of what was happening in the scene back in the days they were released, it is obvious that there was something quite unique about your sound. Yes you were very young back then, and yes those first two albums were little rough around the edges, but it’s fair to say that Cadaver sounded like no other band from that period, you had your own thing going on. Do you remember how that sound came about, did you consciously try to mix up some particular influences to get it or did it turn out that way spontaneously?
Anders Odden: We really tried to be original, and being original was actually the only game in town back in those days, sounding unique was almost a mandatory thing, regardless of the metal subgenre a certain band was belonging to. For example, no matter how many black metal bands we had back in those days, they all sounded very original and completely different from each other. Emperor, Immortal, Mayhem, Satyricon, none of those bands sounded the same, not even close. And also, the whole notion that there was black metal standing alone in Norway on one side, and death metal and everything else standing on the other, that wasn’t the reality of how people did this back in the day. For example, I remember that all those people and bands I’ve just mentioned actually liked Cadaver very much, because they thought we were original and different, and were doing something off the beaten path so to say. Whenever we played our own shows, all those people would turn up at the shows and support us. The only thing that didn’t go well for us was the fact that our old drummer Ole hated to sing. If we had taken a little more time to think things through and if let’s say I had started doing vocals already then, everything would have been very different and Ole would have probably been less miserable about playing drums and singing at the same time. Probably not though, as he would have abandoned the whole thing at some point regardless, considering that he was already at the age of twenty back then, and kind of done with this kind of music. He literally started hating metal.
Never really understood how people can just start hating something they loved two days ago.
Anders Odden: Well, he’s one of those guys. Some people are like that, they just find other interests.
Sure, but why should pursuing new interests inevitably imply that a person must bury all its previous interests? Growing and expanding one’s personality and taste is certainly commendable, but what’s the point if every new stage in that personal development permanently erases all the previous ones? Have you ever recognized that bizarre urge in yourself, to close one door forever in order to open another, and to start hating something in order to start loving something else?
Anders Odden: Yes, I did, for a brief moment in time, when everything imploded in 1993 and Euronymous got killed. At that time, I thought I was done with metal, because everything became so negative, to the point that he needed to die because of it. I really felt that was the end of the journey for the underground metal in Norway. So, I didn’t pay attention to the metal scene until De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas was ready to be released and I got to listen to the album. I still think that’s by far the most important album from Norway anyway.
Did you know Euronymous personally?
Anders Odden: Yes, I did. He was my mentor for everything.
All the sensationalism and cheap media clutter aside, if you were to strip his personality down to the most basic human level, what kind of person would you say he was?
Anders Odden: I would say that he was a very interesting person. Very dedicated person, first of all, and very intense about his endeavors. Still, people often make mistake thinking that him alone was Mayhem, but the truth is that Mayhem was always more than him. Anyone that was in Mayhem is still kind of a part of Mayhem, if you know what I mean. All the ex-Mayhem members are still kind of Mayhem members, in the spiritual sense of the word at least. I have another band called Order, in which I play with the first Mayhem drummer Manheim and the first Mayhem singer Messiah, and we are currently making a new album that I feel will perfectly bridge the gap between the Deathcrush EP and De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, so keep an eye on that as well. I hope it will be out before the summer of 2021.
The sound of Cadaver changed quite a bit right around the turn of the millennium, with you introducing a completely new line-up and even a slightly different name. Cadaver became Cadaver Inc, Apollyon and Carl-Michael of Aura Noir joined for two albums, together with Lasse Johansen, and it felt that the band was looking to completely change its sound and identity. How significant was the contribution by those three new members in that regard, how much influence their individual sound had on the sound of the band as a whole?
Anders Odden: Czral’s contribution on the drums was the most important, obviously. His sound was very important for those two albums, he was very original and he also wrote a lot of riffs for the second album, Necrosis that is. He was my main partner on those two albums, really a crucial part of the whole process. Apollyon was playing with Gorgoroth and some other bands at the same time he was with us, and even though he was in the band and contributed wholeheartedly when he was there, he just didn’t want to do it after a while, he had other priorities. Lasse was a very old and dear friend, that I actually still keep in touch with. He had some riffs too, also on the second album.
Do you still keep in touch with Czral?
Anders Odden: Not so much these days, no.
Not long after Necrosis came out, he had that infamous accident where he fell off the 4th floor of some building. Was he still in the band at that point?
Anders Odden: Yes, he was, but after the last tour we did with Mayhem, they wanted to focus on the new Aura Noir album and I was tired of trying to keep things professional in Cadaver with people not showing up or showing up late for rehearsals and stuff. It was a really hard period for all of us, a lot of struggle. So, he was still in the band officially, but we were just about to go our separate ways.
Is there any truth to speculations that him falling off that building was actually a suicide attempt?
Anders Odden: No comment. It’s not my place to give my opinion on something so personal.
Is Norwegian black metal still one of the most important Norwegian cultural exports? When you take into account all the Norwegian metal bands, their selling figures and touring revenues, is there anything in Norwegian culture that can actually compete with those numbers?
Anders Odden: Well, the most popular Norwegian pop band A-ha are probably bigger, they are one of the very few ’80s acts with one billion streams on YouTube for one song. I mean, interestingly enough, even though I don’t know those guys well, I’ve only met them a few times, they really seem like very, very cool, down to earth people. They enjoy the fact that metal is big in Norway and they are really in support of the avantgarde stuff. You know that Norwegian jazz/metal band called Shining? A-ha put them as their support when they played the stadium show in Oslo some years back, even though the A-ha fans don’t like that kind of music, they didn’t have any idea what was going on on that stage.
Neddo, you seem to be somewhat of a renaissance man, as they say, a man of many traits, with some very interesting engagements that are only indirectly related to music. For example, is it true that the Norwegian government used to hire you to give lessons about Norwegian black metal to Norwegian diplomats?
Anders Odden: That is correct.
What was the reason for their interest in black metal in the first place?
Anders Odden: Well, Norway is a small country with almost no culture that is a matter of worldwide awareness, that people around the world know much about. And apparently, a lot of journalists around the world have been asking Norwegian diplomats questions about black metal and they had no idea what to say. It seems that this started happening quite regularly, as the Norwegian ministry of foreign affairs at some point decided that they need to have an official, educated response to those questions.
Were you giving them those lectures in some kind of formal, conference setting, where they would sit in front of you like students while you speak?
Anders Odden: Yes, something like that. The funniest thing about the that whole situation was that those pupils were some of the most educated people we have in Norway, many of them having multiple PhDs and very interesting views on various things.
Presuming that none of them knew anything about black metal before, were those lessons sufficient enough for them to gain some deeper understanding of the music and culture?
Anders Odden: Absolutely, they had very good questions, they were following what I was telling them very closely, it was a serious thing to them. They weren’t taking the whole thing lightly.
Did you actually try to play them some music and help them penetrate the sound of black metal instead of just telling them the story behind it?
Anders Odden: Of course, I played them a lot of very important songs and we actually even performed live once with Order, in our rehearsal room, with everyone from that class being in the rehearsal room with us, you know, doing it the old school way. They were really blown away by that and they really enjoyed it. It was a different kind of education to them, for sure.
Did any of them develop a genuine affinity for the music after they graduated?
Anders Odden: I highly doubt that was the case for many of them, but some of them definitely seemed more interested in music than others. Of course, one should never forget that these people are mainly into foreign politics, environmental stuff, education, etc. Maybe some of them felt compelled to revisit some of the albums I was telling them about, who knows?
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