DR: How young were you when you started this band? What were the circumstances, and what were your intentions at the time? Are any of the original members still in
the band besides you?
The Wolfen Howl of Norway
Garm: We formed in '92; I must have been 15 at the time. Since the recording of our debut album, "Bergtatt", we've basically been the same people involved. Sadly, our
long time companion Erik Lancelot (drummer and flutist) decided to leave after the Blake record, and one year prior to that we also parted with our rhythm guitarist
Torbjørn Pedersen (aka Aismal). This sums up to Håvard, Hugh and myself being left of the initial pack.
Intentions are often very prosaic when so young; you want some kind of strong identity, to adhere to some other creeds. As I was into metal music at the time, the most
extreme form of it —black metal— became the solution. It initiated me to the darkside for sure.
DR: Where did you get your excellent command of the English language? Does everyone in Norway speak as well as you? Why do you speak English in most of your
songs? Is it to make it more accessible to people in other countries?
Garm: Thank you. My early childhood years were spent in Portugal where I went to English primary and secondary school. Since I communicated mostly in English at
such an early stage in my life, things may have been made easier for me later. My grammar sucks, however. Most Norwegians know the English language pretty well
since it is obligatory at school, but there are a lot of broken dialects out there. When seeing Norwegian political correspondents or journalist types out there in foreign
affairs, I sometimes laugh myself near to death.
Ahem, back to the latter part of your question: When we were portraying the ambiences of old Norway we used to write in our own native language, or more specifically
17th century Danish/Norwegian tongue. We felt that such archaism was more fitting to convey these atmospheres, as they are intrinsically connected to the Baroque
period and the "metaphysical" heritage from the National-Romantic school of thought. We were inspired by eminent writers from this school, like Welhaven and
Wergeland, but also shit that came before them, like the psalm writings of Thomas Kingo and the philosophy of Ludvig Holberg. Some time later we had all of our
writings transcribed into archaic English, thinking it would be cool to make our ideas comprehensible also to non-Scandinavians—who after all do constitute a large part
of our audience.
We are now 'opening the doors of perception' further—taking in ambiences of a more cosmopolitan, or at least Western, nature. Among our current obsessions are
cyber-culture, fashion, decadence and post-humanism. We believe that we now stand at the threshold of a new aeon now and that this form of civilisation has reached its
peak. I guess we've become more apocalyptic in a sense. Whereas we earlier mainly focused on making musical portraits of bygone times and traditions, we would now
apply any historical, literary or mythical interests we might have to more modernistic forms. To some extent the Blake record exemplifies this, but I think those few lines
by Rimbaud on the EP felicitously encapsulates how I feel we are evolving. "We are moving towards the Spirit" indeed—the Anima Mundi. These ideas are of a more
universal nature, hence the decision to write in English.
DR: What other endeavours are you involved in besides music? What would you be doing now if you hadn't become a musician? Do you intend to pursue other things in
Garm: Well, I think we are in the process of extending the idea of what Ulver can and cannot be. Future interactions with other art forms is very plausible. Our next
record, Perdition City, will be the first step in this direction. Also, we are at the moment employed by Norway's biggest multimedia corporation in order to comply with
sound for their visual mediums.
If I hadn't become a musician I probably would have attended college to study some sort of anthropology, but as I mentioned earlier, music kind of sealed my fate.
Nonetheless, I've been thinking of purchasing some decent photo-equipment lately, as I'd really like to document my fascinations with different ambiences pictorially as
well. Furthermore, I enjoy occasional women and dancing. All this more or less fills my life, but I wouldn't have it any other way, and intend to pursue those wicked
beats and sounds for a while to come.
DR: In a previous interview with Nordic Vision you were referred to as "a famous TV person." What did the interviewer mean by that?
Garm: Ah, that is many years ago. He was referring to a program called "NRK samtid: Det Svarte Alvor", which was a documentary about black metal created in the
aftermath of all the church arsons, murders and desecrations committed by its adherents in the early 90's. At that time we were pretty much among those adherents and I
was asked to make some statements, which I subsequently did, along with Ihsahn from Emperor and some other people. Contrary to Ihsahn, who appeared only as a
silhouette, I decided to confront Norway in a more stalwart fashion: I just stood upright and said some rather nasty things about Christianity and how the country was
ripe for a pagan take-over, stuff like that. This was broadcasted on prime-time national television, and considering all the media-hysteria around these things back then, it
was probably seen by 1/3 of Norway's population. We did some TV interviews later as well, but I have declined offers to speak on behalf of these things years ago. Many
of our friends went to jail and w grew up. It's a done chapter. I still share some of these thoughts, but there is another dimension to the manner in which we project these
DR: What do your parents think of what you are doing? Are they proud of you, or just scared?
Garm: Why should they be scared? I remember my father thinking that appearing on TV was really great. He was letting any "worried" friend or family member know
just how totally cool he was about his 17 year old son advocating such attitudes. He probably found the whole thing rather childish, but in some way he got a kick out of
supporting me. What surprised me a bit was that my girlfriend's father actually had the same attitude. They don't harbour any strong feelings for Christianity.
My father no doubt sees value in much of that which I'm on about, but at the same time he's uttered some slight concerns about it not being the usual safe and sound way
of life. He's smart enough to see that some things are far more important than steady income though. Himself being a daring and relatively successful man, he has
motivated me to go my own way.
I guess my mother used to be a bit worried, especially when there were phone calls coming from police investigators and journalists at all hours, but she's also been
supportive and trusting all the way. I have not been given any reason to let them down yet.
DR: How popular would you say Ulver is in Norway? What kind of influence do you think you've had over the years? Do you notice other groups starting to copy you?
Garm: Not extremely popular, but we are slowly starting to get positive responses from a wide array of the cultural establishment here. We haven't sold more than
approx. 3000 units of the Blake record in Norway, whereas we've sold 16.000 abroad. Nonetheless, Norway is a small country and most people in the music business
seem to know who we are. The album is currently being nominated for the Norwegian Grammy awards, and I have also been contacted for an interview in a rather big
book-project on Norwegian fringe society, which of course is complimenting.
When we were still a metal band I reckon we exercised some influence on that scene. However, I don't think there are many of them who will want to follow us now. It
would be rather strange if metal-heads suddenly were to give up their insipid lifestyle to follow us where we are heading. If I may: I think we have surpassed their
perspectives by far. They're like: "What? You like the latest Marilyn Manson record better than Antichrist Superstar?" I just laugh a little. Yeah, "Metamorphosis" is
definitely thename of the game we're playing.
DR: What do you think about the current state of the Norwegian music underground? Do you think that it's getting more sophisticated or more interesting? Do you think
that your band has had something to do with that?
Garm: Well, if you're referring to the metal scene I wouldn't know, as I have very little interest in what's happening there. But there are apparently a few bands with the
same kind of background as ourselves who have taken big leaps lately, like for instance Dødheimsgard and their "666 International" album. They were probably a bit
inspired by our use of technology, but managed to create something of their own with it, which is cool. Apart from that there are many excellent Norwegian artists, like
When, Deathprod., Thule, Mental Overdrive, Biosphere, Palace of Pleasure, Euroboys, Monopot, Midnight Choir, as well as more highbrow stuff, like saxophonist Jan
Garbarek's beautiful jazzy soundscapes.
DR: What is your involvement with the band Arcturus? What is the history of this band, and why are they named as such?
Garm: Arcturus is a prolongation of a '86 death metal band called Mortem. The name was changed to Arcturus in '90, and a 7" of very eerie synth-based music was
released in '91, entitled "My Angel". I joined as their vocalist in '93 and became involved in producing and programming later on. We have since then recorded two
full-length albums, "Aspera Hiems Symfonia", "La Masquerade Infernale" and a dub/remix CD entitled "Disguised Masters". We will make one last album with Arcturus
next year, and it will probably be released through Music For Nations. I don't know why they picked the name Arcturus, but I must say I've grown quite fond of it. It's
got both mysterious connotations and clings well to the ear, this radiant star of the Northern hemisphere.
DR: What other music groups are you involved in, either as a member or as a producer?
Garm: Only Arcturus. However, I have made guest appearances on many records ranging from retro-rock to hip-hop. I get involved in many of these things
professionally, and don't feel that it is relevant to go into detail concerning this here. I used to sing for a band called Borknagar as well, but not anymore.
DR: In the past you have described yourself as a Satanist. What does that mean? What do you like about Satanism? What aspects of Satanic philosophy do you find
worthy of proliferation?
Garm: I see it as an imperative to a more cunning, clever and creative existence. I guess you could call it a romantic way of identifying with volatile and disruptive forces.
Anyway, I accepted the challenge to learn more about these forces some years ago and some sinister secrets were revealed to me. It's irrevocable, so I guess I'm down
with the Devil now.
In terms of philosophy I enjoy contemporary Satanism for its many sharp and witty contemplations on the state of society and the human kind, as well as the individual
striving to overcome any hindrances imposed upon by the aforementioned. I have little interest in being part of some black-clad group of bald people with goatees though.
It just seems too convulsive to me.
DR: Are drugs a major factor in what inspires you to make music?
Garm: No, I wouldn't say that, but it has enabled us to see life from perspectives not known to the sober mind. This has no doubt affected our attitudes towards art, and
maybe music in particular. You can definitely get some cathartic musical experiences when on drugs, and this may be used as an incentive later, but it's not like we take
acid every time we make music. I'm rather cautious with psychoactive drugs these days actually.
DR: Do you consider yourselves part of some type of new artistic or philosophical movement? If so, what kind?
Garm: I find that rather pretentious. We set ambition before pretension, perdition before convention, and instinct before all. I'd say we are pretty much loners, but of
course we try as best as we can to be interactive with the ones whom we respect and admire.
DR: Say, why the Hell do you call yourself "Garm"?
Garm: Well, Ulver means 'wolves' in Norwegian, and when we formed the band we decided to adapt these wolf names from the Norse mythology. Taking odd artist
names was not untypical for black metal bands at the time, and the lycanthropic shit sort of became our trademark. Whether Garm is a wolf or not is dubious though.
He's most commonly referred to as a hound guarding the gates to the Norse netherworld. However there is also mention of a ferocious wolf called Månegarm (i.e.
Moongarm), and I think these two creatures might have been the same. The legends are not unambiguous. According to the Ragnarok-myth Skoll is the one who's
supposed to swallow the Sun, but other places this is said to be Fenriz. Anyway, we were also thinking of using the names Jere and Freke, Odin's wolves, but in the end
it was only Hugh (aka Skoll) and myself who took such pseudonyms, while the others chose other names. Today I use my alias mostly out of old habit, and I play around
with the name, or at least the capital G, quite much. I migt add that I did take this name legally some years back, so it's actually my middle name. It's cool to have a Norse
name I think. It makes me feel like a Viking.