Names Rumors Legends
Music and Image

The story of the early phony names and
how the names of the underworld were adopted

Comments on all the rumors controversies absurd
tales and assorted legends surrounding BATHORY

Personal thoughts and reflections on
the subjects of music image and imagery

          For whatever branch of art it is they're famous, no matter within which frame of expression they're active, artists seem always to have changed their birth name or adopted professional names. Patricia Andrzejewski, David Robert Hayward-Jones, Cherilyn Sarkisian, Decian Patrick McManus, Paul David Hewson, Reginald Kenneth Dwight and Brian Warner. Familiar names all of them, right?! Didn't think so.

Quorthon is a powerful name. And special. Not only because it is so very synonymous with something as legendary as BATHORY, but also because it has remained the name of the man that has been BATHORY's front man, song writer, vocalist, guitarist, some times bass player too, and the heart and brain of BATHORY for two decades.

It will nevertheless still happen that people spell the name wrong. Particularly in the US for some reason. Every version from Quarthon with an "a" to Quorton sans the "h" can still be found in both American articles and letters from American fans. So perhaps the name - at least to some - isn't all that powerful after all.

Nevertheless, where possibly could a name like Quorthon hail from originally? A list of demons and dark prince's has been mentioned as the source.

- It was during the winter of 1983/1984 - as I was reading this book on Satanic rituals and stuff - that I stumbled upon this list of weird names. It turned out the names belonged to "...sleeping demons..." you could call upon for whatever reason or something like that. Utterly stupid.

- There were also a bunch of names at the end of that list, names of dark prince's banished from Heaven and now in the service of Satan apparently. These guys were supposedly supreme princes of darkness and evil, destined to fight at Lord Satan's side in the final battle between the forces of light and dark or something like that.

- I just stopped at one name and felt instinctively that this was it. And that name was Quorthon. Although I am not one hundred per cent sure if that was also the only way it was spelled. I might be mistaking, but I am quite sure I saw the name one more time in that book, and for some reason I believe the name was spelled both with and without an "h" or with and without a "u" or something like that. I just picked the version of the name that both felt and looked right.

- Unfortunately I threw all that stuff away tons of years ago. It might have been nice to keep at least that one page with all those names just for my personal clip-book. Particularly as the names Vvornth and Kothaar originate from the very same list of demons/dark princes as Quorthon. I still wonder if those names were really the best on that list. I do recall virtually all of them as impossible to pronounce though.

When reading books on Satanism and the rituals of Black arts etc,
Quorthon stumbled upon a name he felt to be just right for him.

          Originally, the idea for picking any sort of phony names at all came from watching so many other Swedish metal bands at the time adopting Americanized names.

- We would all think it looked ridiculous. Not that we didn't respect their right to pick whatever names they wanted, but the names themselves being half-Swedish and half-American, sounded pretty goofy to us. The funny thing is, this was something we brought up the very first day we got together on March the 16th 1983. We actually ended our first rehearsal by talking about that and then tasting a lot of stupid names, sort of thinking "...which names would we pick should we decide to follow that Americanized-names trend?".

- Jonas and Freddan were very quick to pick their phony-names. Jonas was absolutely dead certain for him it had to be Vans (the sneakers) McBurger (for being an avid visitor to all the local McDonald's restaurants). Freddan would - though just as quick - only come up with Hanoi. And don't even for a moment think of even begging me to try and figure out where the hell that name came from and why he kept it. As for myself on the other hand, at the time I couldn't think of a phony-name and would let the issue be until a later stage.

- But that at least shows how much for-a-laugh the band really was to us right from day one. The level of humor was very high in BATHORY even in those days. The phony-names we picked up as a result of the goofy names other "serious" bands chose for themselves, is proof enough that we weren't dead serious or pretentious about anything in those days.

Quorthon in a shot from the second BATHORY photo session
down BATHORY's rehearsal place in February 1984.

          Though the name Quorthon is as synonymous with BATHORY as can be, it would nevertheless be a very different name that appeared next to a BATHORY song-title for the first time.

On the SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK compilation album, Ace Shot is listed as the composer of "Sacrifice" and "The Return of the Darkness and Evil". Not sounding exactly a name worthy a member of an extreme metal band - although of course the phrase extreme metal as a general term hadn't yet been invented - it nevertheless has an interesting story.

- I got the idea for the name from a true life story and two Motörhead tracks. Originally it started out as an in-joke though. I had not been able to come up with a phony-name for myself at that time. I then humped this girl I met at a club one night, and she said something like "'re a real "kanon skjut...", which translated to English would literally be mean "'re a real cannon shot...", meaning you're a good lay. In sexual terms and in English, "a cannon shot" of course do not sound as cool to a Stockholmer as "Kanon Skjut".

- Nevertheless, when I told the story to the other guy's before rehearsal one day, we all had a laugh as I was duly dubbed every silly military or cannon related name like the artillerist or captain caliber and names like that. And sensing I wasn't gonna get off the hook that easily and that I perhaps better act quickly in order to get the edge, I rapidly tried to standardize all that and turn it into my phony-name similar to the Vans McBurger and Hanoi phony-names the others had been very quick to pick for themselves.

- So here's where the two Motörhead tracks comes into the picture. I though of Kanon Skjut and/or Cannon Shot and so amalgamated the "Ace of Spades" and "Sharp Shooter" Motörhead song titles into the name Ace Shoot - which some time later became Ace Shot - as a tongue-in-cheek name relating to all the artillery, cannon and weapons joke names I had had to put up with until then.

- Being an old fan of Mr Space Ace Frehley, and getting bored with still having to comment on the Ace Shot name tons of years later, it was sometimes all too easy to just throw away a joke to check the reaction of people out by simply saying the name probably came from the home galaxy of the Space Ace or something like that. That rather than bringing up the old humping-this-girl and the telling-the-boys-about-her-comment stories. And so it has been thought for over a decade that the name was Ace Frehley-influenced. But it wasn't.

          And for at least a decade now, some individuals have been concentrating much effort and focus on the task of trying to present to the whole world Quorthon's birth name. To some, the music itself - it seems - will never be interesting enough...

- The one thing that still amuses me is the many different versions of my supposedly "real name" that I’ve read throughout these two decades. Journalists would - unsuspectingly - be used as guinea pigs to spread a pun planted every now a then. I have planted more than just a few pranks that way, just to check out the impact of the media or how people will react to something they see in print. It was sort of checking out how the rings-on-the-water process actually works, to educate myself and better understand how people relate to and sort through the usual crap printed in magazines.

- And just for the record, I have still after two decades never seen my real name in print. There’s been an awful lot of Johan, Richard, Stefan, Per, Thomas, Leif, Tommy, Erik and Peter. But, sorry, you’re all wrong. Not that it matters really. But it at least gives you a great indication of the number of media folks out there that really couldn't care less about the music. Some of them really shouldn't be in the metal-media at all but write about celebrities, royalties or fashion. Which - come to think of it - is exactly how they approach metal anyway...

- The past twenty years have taught at least me one big truth: 99% of all the things you can get to read in the press, need not to be accurate, correct, true or even remotely close to reality simply because it's in print. The things I have learned, the things I have experienced and the things I have seen and heard in these past two decades made me lose all respect for the media. Which is truly sad, because there are still tons of fanzines out there with more heart and soul behind each and every one of them, than what's behind the so-called "big metal press" collectively.

A face shot of Quorthon.
© Nichols

          There are some true gems to be told in the field of name planting. Some tales are just so amazingly funny they're almost hard to believe. Other stories are almost unbelievably laughable.

- There’s this one very famous story how I planted the name Peter Forsberg after an interview I made with a journalist from either Spain or Portugal, I can’t remember which any longer. He simply sort of casually asked me and I sensed a good spot for planting something nice. So I sort of had him let the answer "slip out of me" but made him "-...promise not to tell anybody...".

- Knowing very well how not only his tape recorder would still be on at the other end of the line but also how very little knowledge folks in the south of Europe will generally have of the wonderful sport of Ice hockey, I had a hard time keeping myself from laughing out loud as I planted the name Peter Forsberg.

- And he had a hard time hiding from me how happy he was with the answer and how gullible he thought I had been for giving him "my name". Of course he went on to print the name a couple of weeks later. And since it after all was a normal Swedish name, it has remained the most frequently quoted name in the press during the last ten years. But wrong nevertheless.

- Shortly after that, on another occasion but in a similar fashion, I planted the name Mats Sundin when talking to a journalist from another south European country, simply because I couldn’t believe how nobody seemed to react when the name of the famed number 21 had made it into print a few months previously.

- Even Sweden's biggest newspaper - when reviewing NORDLAND just recently - tried to expose somebody's secret by writing something along the lines "-...and here's Peter Forsberg's new album...". I guess it didn't help this particular self-made expert out a lot that he was not only Swedish but also very likely familiar with both Hockey and legendary player number 21. He stepped right in the shit just as well. For some reason he at least didn't buy the Mats Sundin rumor.

And sometimes the puns planted seem to have been able take almost absurd turns and doubled or even tripled in effect. If the punch line is elaborate enough, you don't even have to be a Swede to get this one...

- When the opportunity will arise to really pull the leg of some journalist big time, at least I’m not going to hold back. There's this truly gem of a story that begins with me on the phone with this German journalist some thirteen years ago. As we were wrapping things up I talked a bit about how I was booked to go to Germany the following week to do some promotion job for the new album.

- I can't remember how we came to the issue, but somehow he must have sensed an opportunity to pull the big one out of me, and he went on to claim there was this law in Germany proscribing how foreigners had to fax name and address in advance in order to be able to get a hotel room. This was just before the wall came down and border procedures were a bit more strict.

- Knowing very well that what he said was all bullshit, I nevertheless played the part as he went on to tell me how he would love to help me out with the details. So I made him promise dearly not to tell anybody and very carefully spelled "my name" out to him so there'd be no doubt he'd "-...get it right for the hotel...".

- A couple of weeks later I learned that he, despite his very dear promise, was happy to announce to the world "-...Quorthon’s real name...". And should anybody ever doubt him, and should I even dare to deny it all, he had "-...the tape of our phone conversation to prove it...".

- The only flaw in the story was he had forgotten to check with a Swedish person the authenticity of the name I had been so careful to spell out to him. Although it might have sounded very much like a perfectly normal Swedish name to him - and the words were indeed Swedish - Runka Snorkråka would nevertheless never ruin my cover for even a split second. Why!? Get yourself a more modern Swedish-English dictionary and find out for yourselves...

Another Quorthon shot from February 1984.

          Other bogus-names planted throughout the years include such gems as Fjärt Bengrot, Inge Roligt, Pelle Svanlös, Trauk Mons, Folke Ostkuksgrissla and Per Värs. But neither of these bogus-names would ever be spread around much. Some people - it must be presumed - apparently had learned from past experiences and did manage to find themselves a good Swedish-English dictionary or check with a Swedish source after all...

And it doesn't seem like you can trust the authenticity of a name "revealed" even when it is served in the form of a hardback that obviously must have taken years and a huge effort to put together.

- The only name that I’ve seen in print that I had nothing to do with or I didn't come up with - and I seriously have no idea who did plant that name initially, where they got it from or who decided to pull the leg of these authors - is also one of the best puns planted. The name was presented in this dictionary sort of a book that came out a few years ago entitled Lords of Chaos.

- The book was supposed to act as a History of the Occult Music kind of a thing or a Who's Who in the church-burning hood or something like that. And I am sure they've spent an awful amount of time trying to draw lines and make diagrams forever, listening to ton's of albums and taking notes in a very serious manor. But the name they came up with - and went on to reveal to the world as "Quorthon's real name" - turned out to be Pugh Rogerfeldt

- For a Swede the name Pugh Rogerfeldt would not need to be followed by any serious explanation. But for our international friends: Torbjörn "Pugh" Rogerfeldt is a fifty plus something Swedish folkrock singer - sort of our equivalent to Tom Petty - whose prime days may lie some thirty years back in time. I must have strained at least a handful of jaw muscles laughing myself silly when I heard that first time.

“…The driving force behind the group is Pugh Rogefeldt
who uses the more exciting stage name of Quorthon…..”
A quote of fabulous accuracy from a passage
on BATHORY in the book "Lords of Chaos"
by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind

- But then as soon as I realized one of the people behind being one Michael Moynihan, a guy who had sent me tons of letters for a number of years, usually including a new issue of his occult/heathen styled fanzine and even Midwinterblot greeting cards etc, it was all of a sudden just sad. He did have my address and so he could have just dropped me a letter or email while working on the BATHORY segment.

- There were plenty of details in that "biography" that could have been more accurate. There were hundreds of things they could have just asked me about but never did. I mean, if you're gonna spend all that time and effort writing such a supposedly complete piece of work, why not be thorough and get some info straight from the man himself.

- For Michael's part in that book, should the rest of it be as incorrect, I felt slightly sorry. I'd rather contribute with details and info than have people write pieces like that, stuff that's entirely build on personals assumptions and not too solid accuracy.

An out take from the BLOOD FIRE DEATH photo session.

          Two other official names in the BATHORY-family are Vvornth and Kothaar. Originating from the same list of demons and dark princes as Quorthon, these names were chosen primarily for that reason and for the phonetic "th" similar to the th in both Quorthon and BATHORY and - reportedly - were basically the only other pronounceable names on that list.

It's possible, though, these names originally were spelled slightly different. Nobody seems to remember anymore. But it is quite possible that this list of demon's and dark princes may have had these particular two names down as either "Kathaar", "Konthaar" or "Kuastar", and "Varnth", "Voranth" or "Voreth".

The intention was for these two names to be adopted by whoever was associated with BATHORY playing the drums or the bass. Or rather, the names were chosen for them while working for BATHORY.

- It was never anything that got any widespread use though, not even internally. The buddy of mine playing drums on UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK for instance, never liked the name and so we never brought it up ever again.

- And though the name Vvornth was sort of a staple name for the drummer role in BATHORY even back in 1986, we never really used it professionally and would seldom enclose any of these other two names when sending out biographies.

A shot sent in by Japanese BATHORY fans, too young to spell things right obviously,
yet proud enough to pose before their BATHORY flag on a school trip back in 1986.

- I remember how around UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK and BLOOD FIRE DEATH we were desperate to get a better deal in Japan and very excited about putting BATHORY albums out there officially. So we were talking to this Japanese company and would send them this one-off bio package with a picture of the three of us and the names etc. But I guess they either didn't like the outfits or couldn't pronounce the names, for the distribution talks fell through at some point.

It wouldn't be until the release of BLOOD FIRE DEATH in October 1988 that all three names, accompanying a gatefold group photo, first time would be distributed in print on a wider scale. But despite the BLOOD FIRE DEATH gatefold picture, the envious and malevolent gossip bitches tried their best to diminish BATHORY by brushing the photo off as "-...Quorthon and his drinking buddies...".

The line-up shot that - surprisingly - only created more myths and rumors.
It didn't help much that BATHORY was happy to be blessed
with a seemingly stable line-up for a change and wanted to share that
with its audience, even though the line-up was primarily on a hired-guns level.
Gossip bitches and malevolent assholes preferred to brush the shot off
and to expand on the already wide range of rumors and bullshit.

          Few acts can claim to have been surrounded by quite such an array of hard-to-believe stories, irrelevant crap, utterly stupid legends, unnecessary small shit talk and completely brainless rumors, as can BATHORY.

Whether this has been doing any good or just bad, we leave to anybody to decide for themselves. For undeniably, despite the innovative and bound breaking music, it must be said that the suspense and mystery surrounding BATHORY during the first handful of years helped a lot in making BATHORY an interesting and even household name. And this even though there really wasn't that much of suspense or mystery to begin with. Just not too many obtainable pictures, names or info, and that's a difference.

In order to find any one first thing to blame for a lot of the tales and rumors, a handful of years during the mid 80's does come in handy. Years when not very much info at all would come from the BATHORY camp in terms of names, pictures or much else. And despite the fact since then Quorthon has had the chance to answer to each and every one of these stories, all the rumors, all the lies and all the down and outright crap, sadly a lot of this bullshit still make up the only notion some people have of BATHORY.

- I am really having a hard time understanding why anybody would even want to insist there is still this shroud of mystery and suspense around BATHORY. In millions of interviews made during the past decade, I have been very frank about tons of things. I have laid down the facts about every piece of crap that makes up some peoples notion of BATHORY.

- But assumptions based on false stories and misinterpreted details first mentioned in fanzines back in the mid 80’s, are still being referred to as the truth no matter how many times I’ve laid down the facts about something.

- The no-shows thing for instance. All of that has been explained for in detail over and over again in tons of interviews. In short, metal was not a very big in Sweden back in 1983. There were no places in Stockholm for a band like BATHORY to perform.

- And even had there been such a place, given the quality or appearance of BATHORY in those days, there was not even a shot in hell that BATHORY would have been booked or allowed an inch of a stage anywhere in Stockholm.

- And by the time we did have the money and a long lasting hired guns type of line-up, we weren't interested in anything beyond the studio anyway.

- And regarding the line-up mystery. The names and faces of the musicians associated with BATHORY for usually only a very brief period in the years 1984-1986, would never be spread due to the simple fact they were no longer members of or associated with BATHORY when the album on which they played was released.

- When the debut album was about to be released there was no line-up. Us playing on that album were associated only through friendship. Out of necessity the three ex-members of a dead and gone Oi-punk outfit came together on my request, playing some material I had written for my band which hadn't had a line-up together for two months. There was no other way to make that debut album happen. That first album would otherwise never have been recorded.

- When THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL came out, I had told the bass player to take a hike and get straight. And the drummer playing on that album didn't want to make a career out of it. For him it was a laugh, a six-pack and helping a buddy out. The decision at that time not to release names or pictures of people no longer associated with BATHORY was an easy decision to make. Why have somebody's name and face out - a face and a name that nobody knew anyway - when the bloke wasn't even in the circle anymore?!

- And there were times when one could even have had every reason to doubt whether this somebody could even be regarded as a former member at all. This somebody might not have been contributing with any material, might have had no interest in wearing for a photo the sort of outfit I felt suited BATHORY, or was quite simply very suspicious right from day one about the lyrical theme or the breakneck speed noise we produced. Then why the hell even bother about remembering him years later or getting his name and picture out?

- And again on the no-shows note. I didn't know there was a law that proscribes how if you're an act you must also perform your material live before a paying audience. I've said it before and I'll say it again: BATHORY is not an act in that sense or hasn't been since 1989-1990, it's a studio project and has been ever since the HAMMERHEART or TWILIGHT OF THE GODS days.

- I think anti-BATHORY minds have been doing their very best for well over a decade now to keep as much of the bullshit surrounding BATHORY alive, simply because there's no other way they can get at BATHORY besides writing crap reviews and spreading the shit on through their articles.

- When I think back, there never was any rumors, suspense, mystery or whatever surrounding other contemporary first generation extreme metal acts such as Hellhammer, Sodom, Destruction or Slayer.

- And when you flick through the pages of metal fanzines and magazines or have a look at all the webzines out there, I've noticed other bands never get to answer to "-...details shrouded in secrecy..." or asked about rumors and legends to even near the extent that's reality to me. They're seldom - if ever - asked to comment about mystery and suspense. And they're usually the ones looking like the devil gave birth to all of them, whereas for the past fifteen years I've looked like the guy next door dressed in jeans and T-shirt with a baseball cap on backwards.

A shot showing not only a more low profile and less
of a theatrical Quorthon from the early 90's,
but also of a time when BATHORY was writing
the closure of the first 10 years.
© muller

          But to some, there nevertheless was enough of an absence of hard facts such as line-up details, group photos etc, to create a long lived shroud of mystery around BATHORY. This absence of hard facts, or gap of information to be filled in by anybody with just about anything, resulted in a climate wherein cult stories, rumors and weird tales would grow like mushrooms.

Quorthon admits to having planted a few puns during interviews and claim this procedure to have been an attempt to find out what people would actually believe in, what would actually go down in print and to check out how much relevance anything said by an artist in an interview would be credited with.

And while on the note: the infant eating, blood drinking, bat's cave legends - or other such stories - were never ever created or planted by Quorthon. The funny thing is that most of all the things that were planted would never live on to join the already existing stories or rumors that has proven so hard to kill or impossible to deflate.

- I believe the longevity of the rumors and tales surrounding BATHORY can be explained by the fact a lot of people feel a need for this type of suspense. It apparently suited some people and obviously fitted their notion of the BATHORY dimension, to believe in things like the albums being recorded in a bat’s cave and other such weird stuff.

- It didn’t matter much I'd tell the story again and again and again how the albums were really recorded in what essentially was a garage. How Heavenshore could develop into a bat’s cave in the minds of some, is really beyond my comprehension.

- The one-man-band thing lingers on still. And this despite the fact I’ve been very frank about the issue. I've been open about how for most of the 80’s there really wasn’t that much of a hunt for a line-up going on at all. And when there was, the result would always be very negative. Stockholm in the 80's was an appalling place for finding members to a band like BATHORY.

- There had always been some sort of a group situation up until shortly before TWILIGHT OF THE GODS. Though the people playing on most of those early albums would usually be friends of mine on a hired-guns level, friends with either no interest in a career whatsoever or possessing not enough of the qualities and enthusiasm one could usually ask of a full time band member.

- So when I spoke in interview using terms like "-...a temporary line-up..." or " longer associated with BATHORY..." that wasn't lying, that's what the situation was like. But in time people got tired of that sort of an answer and resorted to believe in - and to spread on further - the one-man-band rumor.

          Oddly enough, despite the fact BATHORY can hardly be accused of having placed image and charade on top of the list of priorities, both image, mystique and ghoulish appearance has become synonymous with the styles and sounds that BATHORY are considered to have created.

There were some shots taken between 1983 and 1988 that depicts Quorthon and BATHORY wearing the black leather outfit, studs, spikes, necklaces made from bones and an inverted crucifix, the sort of wear that would later become the staple Black Metal uniform. But it was never intended to make a fashion or set a rule of appearance to a certain wear.

These very early shots do depict such ingredients as a black cloth sporting a pentagram and a mouthful of pigs’ blood. But more than items figured too important to ignore for a shot, or an attempt to create a Black Metal fashion, these items were simply a method of trying to extend or make visual the evil theme of the lyrics and the dark atmosphere of the music. But very few of those shots were sent out. At least not enough many to have resulted in talks about image before music.

A shot showing Quorthon breathing fire in midst of a bitterly cold winter
blizzard while standing on the roof of the luxurious Sheraton Hotel in Stockholm.
Though the fire breathing practice resulted in great shots, it was nevertheless felt
that this gimmick threatened to become too much of the center piece
as people in the media began asking for and about the fire breathing
paraphernalia more often than they did the actual music itself.
Consequently the fire breathing routine was dropped in 1988.
© Ray Palmer

A view on image stuck in time and phase can create funny situations when some people are having apparent problems looking beyond the pigs' blood and plastic sculls. There is this funny story - often told to cheer up a dull moment - when Quorthon went out on a European promotion tour for both the first solo record ALBUM and the first two JUBILEUM volumes.

- I walked into the office of Europe's then biggest metal publication dressed in jeans and T-shirt, carrying with me some low-profile shots free of any preset image. We talked a bit about the solo album and the two JUBILEUM releases and everything was cool.

- At the end of the interview they asked me where my gear was. I had been asked just that question numerous times before, so I knew exactly what they meant by "gear". So I told them I wasn't bringing any leather, studs, spikes, blood or fire breathing paraphernalia with me, and went on to tell them how I was hoping that the music would be the focal point here.

- And so I presented the low-profile pictures that I had brought with me, just in case they wanted something new to illustrate the article with, rather than featuring shots that although they did sport "the gear" were also rather old. But this obviously interfered with their plans to quite such an extent the whole staff would bundle up a few meters away from me, intensely discussing the predicament in the local language.

- The whole scene ends with them showing me this room they had prepared for me. I had a peek inside and saw a huge black cloth nailed to the wall, a sort of platform draped in a similar black cloth adorned with a pentagram sprayed in white. Resting on the platform were a couple of tiny plastic sculls, some black candles, a chalice and I believe a plastic dagger. The entire scene was covered in theatre cobs web.

- The only thing missing to the scene was a bowl of lemonade and some children and we could all of us have had ourselves quite a hot Halloween kinder party going on. I just looked at them, nodded, smiled and said "-...wake up and smell the bullshit boyz... welcome to join the 90's...".

One of the low profile shots that Quorthon brought with him when traveling through Europe to
talk about both the two JUBILEUM VOLUME's and promoting his first solo release ALBUM.
The idea of a low profile photo didn't fit the idea one so-called leading metal
publication had for how they wanted to present Quorthon in their next issue.
On the other hand their Halloween kinder party photo session idea didn't really suit Quorthon.

          The more than readily exaggerated suspense and mystery, the everlasting rumors and the weird legends that began to surround BATHORY already at the end of the 80's, all created a climate that didn't feel at all comfortable once it got too far.

In the late 80's and early 90's people began to send in letters written in heaps of blood. These were frantic HIV hysteria days and it would sometimes be necessary to wear plastic gloves when reading the fan mail.

People that really shouldn't have access to pen and paper where they were locked away, began to write the band commenting on phrases in some lyrics that - to the apparent joy of these cannibals and molesters - coincided almost in detail with crimes they had committed earlier, crimes that had rendered them a triple life sentence.

The most bizarre photos would arrived, depicting everything from a young female fan dressed up as a nun masturbating with a crucifix, to a young male fan munching away on a dead rat. Fans would cut the band's name into their arms and happily snap a shot or two of themselves proudly displaying their arms spelling out the word BATHORY in fresh cuts, with heaps of blood splattered all over the floor.

A fan with BATHORY tattoo. Tattoos weren't the only thing
youngsters would cut into their arms back in the late 80's and early 90's.

Youngsters around the world absorbed the lyrics and the imagery of the few January 1984 shots that had been published, and would send in pictures of themselves dressed up in a similar way. The difference was their pictures would usually show them either cutting a pig's head to pieces or torturing a kitten for added spice.

Then there's always the old famous story with the plastic bag of dirt sent in by this girl in California back in 1987. Believing the dirt she had collected right next to this grave - where she had laid down to masturbate under the full moon one night - to contain unimaginable powers, she figured Quorthon might have some use for the dirt in his magic rituals...

One Swedish fan decided to get the band a present, but obviously didn't have the knowledge how to actually mail something, so he decided to leave the parcel by the door to the office building where the record company was then situated. And he couldn't think of anything more suitable to get the band than a decapitated kitten or whatever it now was. Luckily neither the band or the record company actually got the parcel. The mail staff thought it smelled funny and threw it away before it even got through to the office.

And these weird, amusing and/or charming stories were numerous during the late 80's and early 90's.

- Simultaneously, the image of myself as a person that people got from all the crap stories and bullshit rumors, created a weird situation. Peoples' incorrect notion of me as an individual began to attract a lot of truly sick minds. I had a letter from a guy locked away in a US prison for two hundred years or something like that for killing and eating somebody. This other guy would write me how he would catch and rip the wings and legs off insects and frogs while listening to BATHORY.

- A little later I got to hear how the Norwegian security police would sit down and read BATHORY lyrics to see if any tracks could have inspired Norwegian misfits to get the church-burning urge. I sat myself down reading all the old lyrics trying to find out for myself if there really was anything in the lyrics that advocated rape, murder, arson, torture or what have you. And all I found was a lot of painting with words to create a demonic dimension and horror stories that had no relevance to actual life at all.

- It was a madhouse. Nobody seemed to care enough about the music by then. It wasn't a band anymore. It was a magnet to all sorts of maniacs and psychos. People were using an already false image of myself and BATHORY for their own means. BATHORY became an excuse for misfits and psychos to expand their own miserable minds and make real their fantasies.

- Somehow the music and lyrics inspired individuals around the world with an already fucked up inside to transfer their hurt onto others, to take out their weird fantasies on animals and humans alike, to kill, to bleed themselves, to set buildings ablaze and to either eat shit or fuck dead animals. And I was made into the blood drinking and infant eating master and God that had inspired to all this behavior.

- Whatever gaps in the line of info there actually was, these were quickly filled in with all sorts of crap, turning the notion of me into a role model for psychopaths and sadists. The iconization of my person went from a peculiar oddity that I never had any part in creating or had the slightest control of, to something that was totally abstract and went beyond all sense.

- All BATHORY was trying to do was making interesting metal and paint with words. Each album was in part or in total clad in an atmosphere to facilitate stepping into the world, dimension or scenery of the lyrics as a form of entertainment and art.

- Entertainment - may it be music, art, movies or literature - should never be blamed for whatever effects the words or music may have on some individuals. Whereas art is mostly a reflection of real life, whatever art may inspire some people to do, the responsibility for whatever the action, deed or outrage is on the perpetrator, not the artist or the author. If otherwise, we can just close down that creative and artistic department of mankind.

- With BATHORY we weren't even always moving within the boundaries of reality. Nobody should have had any problems whatsoever realizing it was just metal lyrics. Sometimes I got a feeling of deja vu, thinking this is what it must have been like for The Beatles in the 60's when people began to read all sorts of things into their music and lyrics.

- In terms of giving orders and handing out ideals and what to do and how to behave etc, stuff that have inspired nut cases to murder and arson, you only need to flip through the pages of your average Gideons' bible. And that publication can be readily found in almost every hotel room in the US.

- When considering the mumbo jumbo spread by Christian radio stations - paid for by the use of public funds - or the pamphlets handed out by secular religious groups under the protection of freedom of religion, that stuff should be regarded as a threat to the open society, the education of the masses, freedom of the individual and artistic creativity etc.

A close up shot of Quorthon from 2001.
© CloseUp

          When conducting interviews or communicating with the fans via fan mail or emails in the 90's, Quorthon admitted to have very little or no interest in the metal scene in general. Claiming he never actually did read the metal magazines, not even the BATHORY related reviews and interviews unless a fan would send something in for a comment or if the record company wondered about the authenticity of a quote.

But being frank about the lack of interested on his behalf, only added to an already rather erroneous image of an eccentric and reclusive loner.

- When I told people that I actually didn't go to shows much or would rarely hang out with other musicians, and that I hardly ever bought any recent albums or followed the metal news flow, that was seen as a further attempt to make myself all the more eccentric. But that was never the case. Besides trying to distance myself from the industry and scene out of sheer necessity, I was busy enough thinking about BATHORY and communicating with our audience and both reading and answering fan mail. That contact with the scene was enough for me.

- When I formed BATHORY, I more or less stopped being a follower of any scene. Once BATHORY became my occupation and profession, I hardly ever bought any albums, I hardly went to shows and I had no interest in the metal media. In the days before BATHORY was placed behind glass in the hall of extreme metal fame, metal and music had been a hobby. After forming BATHORY, all that became part of my profession and that changed my relationship towards the scene, the media and the whole lot.

- And that's a freedom we all have, to lead our life the way we want to lead it. And we should all be able to go on doing just that without being labeled a weird psycho around which all these mysterious legends are continuously created. In this case, through my attempt to stay sane by turning my back on an increasingly insane climate surrounding BATHORY, I was only interpreted as being even more weird and eccentric.

A shot of Quorthon in the summer of 2001.
© CloseUp

          Simultaneous with a change in the way people perceived BATHORY - adding their own bits of assumptions to an already exaggerated Quorthon-myth among other things - the musical evolution of BATHORY had brought about a phase so very different from what had made up the early albums.

In under seven years BATHORY had gone from being a fun and primitive garage-type Black Metal outfit influenced by Oi-punk, one act among other similar young underground acts of the early 80's, to become either the masters of Black Metal or the gods of what would frequently be referred to as Viking Metal.

Already in the first year of the 90's, the musical evolution itself - though still fun and creative - would nevertheless raise a few warning fingers within the BATHORY camp itself.

- At the same time as all these weird incidents occurred in the early 90's, on a musical level I began to feel BATHORY had developed too much away from where it all began. We had originally started out as an innocent and primitive trio influenced by Oi-punk, Motörhead and Black Sabbath. But by the early 90's it had all become too serious, too pretentious, too arranged and too prestigious. It lacked the energy, fun, spontaneity and attitude of the early years. The albums had become all the more complex, bigger, heavier and introvert.

- So while at that precise moment I was being fed up with both the public image of myself and the musical direction we had taken in the last year or so, like a flash out of the blue the solo idea stumbled onto the scene. I had told the record company that I wanted to take a year off from music, and they responded by interesting me about the prospect of writing and recording a solo album. That sort of became a break point, a moment of fresh air, a light at the end of the tunnel. And a chance to do something that would effectively kill Quorthon the myth, a myth that was so far away from me or what I wanted, but very real to a lot of sick minds and psychos out there.

- I figured the real fans would get the point, but those already out of touch with reality would have a hard time accepting Quorthon as anything but a blood drinking and infant eating God. So I went off and did that first solo album with the sole intent to make something that would be as far away from BATHORY and the Quorthon-myth as possible.

- Try and walk a day in Quorthon's moccasins before judging whatever moves I have made throughout the years. Nobody can even try to understand what it felt like at times to be at the receiving end of all those weird letters, sick photo's, sad stories, unreal reviews, stupid articles and a plethora of legends, rumors, misquotes and lies.

A shot of Quorthon with a cigarette, dating this photo to before
TWILIGHT OF THE GODS since Quorthon gave up the ciggies at that time.

          One long-lived faulty notion about Quorthon - one that neither he or the record company could ever understand how the hell it could have sprung up in the first place - is the notion that made Quorthon out to be this renunciate character not very much interested in talking to anybody at all.

Countless fanzines, magazines and webzines throughout the years have expressed apparent surprise over the fact that a BATHORY interview apparently is perfectly ok. And again and again fanzines, magazines and webzines would email or call the record company just to get a definitive confirmation that the interview would actually be conducted with Quorthon personally.

- I am still being told by people whom I talk to over the phone, how they didn't think I was doing interviews or liked very much to talk to people at all. I can only shake my head in disbelief when hearing things like that.

- I must have done well over two thousand interviews for fanzines, magazines, webzines, radio stations and sometimes even TV stations. I must have done dozens of in-stores and both met up with and shook the hands of many hundreds of fans, signing several thousands of autographs, and both personally read and answered many thousands of letters and email throughout the years. And still to this day I get to hear how people thought I didn't like to talk at all.

- That only goes to show it doesn't seem to matter how much time you spend talking to the media, the hard-to-kill notion of Quorthon of BATHORY as a loner living in a bat's cave, possibly drinking blood and eating small babies, is such an overwhelmingly tenacious notion with even some journalists, they seem surprised that I am actually calling - and that on time - when an interview is on.

- The next obvious surprise to most of them is how nice, polite and easy talking I seem to be, and how I'm apparently as far away as you can possibly get from being full of myself or a victim to my own myth.

Though the two solo albums obviously were never intended to attract BATHORY fans in general - or an attempt to cash in on BATHORY's name and fame as several journalists would have it - there are still those that feel the solo albums should never have been allowed to happen at all. And for some, that goes for most of the albums done in the 90's as well.

- There are tons of bands out there with at least half of the line-up busy writing and recording for a project on the side. In other words, they have an outlet for their creativity, one or two spheres wherein which they can try things out that may not fit within the frame of their main band. And this is widely accepted, even thought of as a mastermind move that's being applauded by many as a sign of musical brilliance and geniality. With me, I only have BATHORY. Whatever moves I've made, whatever feelings I've had, whatever phases I've gone through, it's all there for your liking or despise.

- Some bands will split up after four or five albums. Sometimes without leaving enough proof of a evolution behind at all. Sometimes without ever showing enough variety to be deemed by the media as interesting enough to dissect yet loved by those who followed them despite the lack of coverage. Sometimes bands will dissolve without enough material in the bin to be either praised or ridiculed by posterity.

- With BATHORY, it's all there, on record. The brilliant moments and the not so brilliant moments. The stuff made legendary and the stuff ridiculed. I'd rather go down in history as a guy who had his moments of both brilliance and blunders over the coarse of a very long and creative career, rather than someone who only got to write two or three albums regarded as flawless no less, yet what the hell ever became of him?!

- Just because there's a BATHORY logo on the cover doesn't mean there's a law that says it must always sound exactly the same as last time around. Take any album for what it is, no matter what it sounds like, irregardless of the logo on the cover. Don't be an idiot when it comes to music. Music and art is too important to be treated like a Big Mac. Never let preconceived notions, expectations, rumors, fashion or prejudice shape your conscience about anything. The one thing we've at least tried to do with BATHORY - no matter what an album may have sounded like or whatever the theme - is to make sure that it at least feels like BATHORY in every way.

- In the span of two whole decades anybody will develop to a certain point when what your doing don't necessarily hit home with all of those who have been following you for a while. And those who have been following you will hopefully have developed and changed as well. Life isn't a stilleben, it's a constant movement.

- When I felt TWILIGHT OF THE GODS was too far away from where BATHORY had once started, and I wanted to pick if not my Oi-punk roots up again so at least something that was closer to where it all had started, and then blend that with more in-your-face hardcore and write socially aware contemporary lyrics, I was entitled to do so, to enjoy artistic freedom and to have a creative outlet like everybody else without having to answer to crap like "-...BATHORY ought to call it a day now..." or "-...the rot setting in...".

- Whether I go by the name of Quorthon or Mr. Dickhead, I have the same right as everybody else to peek left and right on my journey through life without having to put up with somebody making a living for himself as the self-made expert on which path is right for me.

- The solo albums were not the true side of me or a reflection of what I really want to do. Not even I had the slightest idea what that would come out as or sound like. I just wrote some material blending Sex Pistols, The Beatles, Kate Bush, Mountain and traditional garage rock and what have you, just to see what that would feel like doing. I would read the newspapers every morning to find ideas for lyrics, trying to land as far away from traditional BATHORY lyrics as possible.

- One British metal publication wrote about one of the solo albums " nice it is to see Quorthon finally finding a suitable forum to vent his drugproblems...". And I have never used a single drug in my whole life. I'm sure some people must have been wondering about the solo albums, like "-...what the hell is this?!". But what had they been expecting? "Equimanthorn" or "Shores in Flames"?!. It didn't say "BATHORY" on those covers. They weren't BATHORY albums.

- I wanted to do something completely different, and not use the BATHORY logo. And I wanted to kill some psycho's erroneous notion of myself by doing stuff the blood drinking and infant eating God of the bat cave never would. And I wanted to stir some shit. I think I was very successful in doing all of that with the solo records.

- Once I had done that first solo album - which was just what I needed in order to get a feel for some up-yours rough shit again - I quickly wrote REQUIEM to connect with very early BATHORY on one level. I didn't want to take the long and tedious road by walking backwards, picking up from where TWILIGHT OF THE GODS had ended, and then work my way back in time in order to end up where BATHORY had once been more intense. And I never wanted to get stuck in any single past phase. I wanted to walk the full circle once more, to begin from the beginning.

- If that was a decision out of sync with the rest of the world or just not in phase with a few sarcastic paid pens here and there, I couldn't have cared less. It was something I had to do at that time.

- The REQUIEM and OCTAGON albums - though filled with serious and socially aware contemporary lyrics and more modern themes - were both actually made in a very good and fun casual spirit. There's a typical sort of BATHORY humor that's never been obvious on any album really, with the exception for perhaps DESTROYER OF WORLDS and to a certain extent REQUIEM and OCTAGON. Neither of the other albums carried any of that good and fun casual spirit. REQUIEM and OCTAGON did and that's why they're special. That and because it was a re-start of something I felt had become boring and pretentious.

- It really did feel good at that time to take off that robe of seriousness and gloom and make those two albums. Writing and recording REQUIEM and OCTAGON just felt so good at that moment in time because neither of them contained any way near as much ambition or high strum pretentiousness as the albums of the late 80's and early 90's.

- So on an emotional level I hold both of them albums very dear. Even more so when they've been so thoroughly cut down by the knowing-all fashionable paid taste-mafia for not fulfilling their idea of an image and a style they can categorize and pin down into a corner. And I am of course happy about the fact both these albums are picking up these days when the taste-mafia's horrendous reviews do not have as much an impact on the audience as when these albums were first released.

Quorthon photographed in London 1990 while posing seated
a dustbin in front of a memorial sort of monument.

          Another rumor hard-to-kill and occasionally still even believed in, is the rumor that insists there is a blood relation between Quorthon and Black Mark president Boss. For anybody who have seen both of them at any one and the same time and realized the obvious difference in appearance, there can be no doubt about the level of crap in that rumor. And when one consider the age difference of twelve years between the two of them, the degree of bullshit in that long living piece of crap ought to be obvious to all.

- I know perfectly well where that crap stems from. And I know perfectly well the assholes that kept on spreading additional lies on that subject on various web sites. It's like a zillion rats finding a home on the web to spread their ignorance, to expose their lack of knowledge and to pass crap on.

- That's one of the down sides about the web. There are so many hemorrhoids active on the web, putting so much crap out there, and so many gullible information hungry souls believing in what they read on various sites, it's downright fucking awful. Some people even believe in all of those lies just because it says BATHORY on top of a page or the word BATHORY is included in the domain address.

- Other times people believe in and refer to what they trust to be accurate Quorthon quotes just because there are citation marks around what usually only I know to be utter bullshit. I've even seen big major European metal press present false Quorthon quotes in their articles and reviews. I've even emailed a couple of those journalists, asking about that. Needles to say, none of them ever dared to reply to my email.

- The whole thing about the web is like with all those crap rumors and complete lies altogether: the more times you tell a lie, in the end people will believe in it and it becomes the truth.

- That's one of the reasons why I finally succumbed and decided that an official BATHORY website was not only ok but dead necessary. Otherwise all the crap out there would harm the relationship between BATHORY and the BATHORY Hordes beyond repair.

- Here's the deal with that blood relation-crap: when I went on trips to various European countries back in 1986-1991 to promote a new album, talking to journalists and doing in-stores, of course Boss would occasionally come along on a lot of those trips. He was after all the owner of a small and independent Stockholm based record company, and quite naturally did nourish an interest in tying bonds with people in the industry, magazines, record shops, local distributors and what have you.

- For him it wasn't only that a member in one of the bands on his label got to travel to all these cities and talk to all these magazines, radio stations and television shows, or signing autographs during in-stores and pose for photographers on London bridge and on Times Square in New York wearing a Swedish flag and breathing fire etc, for him it was a good opportunity to present his label and all the other acts on the label as well, and to learn the metal business along with the rest of us.

- He wasn't metal to begin with, he was rock and FM stuff, and knew as little as me about what to do, what to expect and what have you. He did the SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK compilation album in January 1984 and had released three other Metal or Hardrock albums in the years 1980-1983, and he did have more than a decade of experience of the industry in general up his sleeve, but would need to learn about the extreme metal business and the chores just as much as I did. He learned that business alongside BATHORY and sort of became BATHORY's fourth member through all the effort he put into us.

- He was there for BATHORY at a time when nobody cared a shit for BATHORY. He'd even sacrifice weekends and a couple of weeks off his holiday schedule to sit in during the recording of half a dozen legendary BATHORY albums. And I had known the man since the day he gave me an opening to get my head off school at the age of 14 when he gave me that quarter-time job back in 1980. So there's no surprise if people thought we were able to communicate on a personal level and could crack a lot of in-jokes.

- But when we first heard that bullshit rumor back in the early 90's, we never did too much to still that crap, because of course we couldn't believe for a minute anybody would actually take it for real or that it would be spread on a wider scale or believed in to quite such an extent. To me it's just one more of those rumors that clearly show how people's hunger for nasty gossip crap - even if it's all fabricated bullshit - can sustain a lie indefinitely. And believe it or not, I am still to this day being asked "-... is it true...??" when making interviews.

- In the early 90's I was sent an anonymous letter posted in Norway but written by what was evidently a Swedish person. He basically said that he besides having been organized in Scandinavian underground Black Metal circuits for a number of years, had been a huge BATHORY fan since the early 80's, but had regrets about having spread a lot of self invented bullshit about BATHORY and utter lies about me as a person in what he described as fanzines and web forums. Among the lies being the blood relation thing once more.

- That was a nice move though, the regretting part. He came across as a guy who had serious problems mentally though. Had he only included his name or address I could have replied and said "-You're ok buddy!". But he never wrote me again, so I wonder what ever became of him.

- Boss was happy as a kid for every single fan mail addressed to BATHORY that came in. He shared our frustration in the studio when we didn't have enough space on that 8-track equipment to fit what essentially was a mega production usually. He always gave us free hands and a hundred per cent support at all times. And people express surprise every time there's a new BATHORY album out on Black Mark?! Waz that folks?! You simply do not abandon a guy or a label like that.

- I've talked to enough many musicians in both Swedish and foreign bands that signed with a foreign so-called "big" label, and all they ever got was a bag full of promises and ending up with sales figures that would never even cover the liberal advances handed out at an initial stage. They're all being conned, blinded by promises and the prospect of being tied to a label that's placing ads on every third page in every metal publication out there every month.

- What happens is you're bundled up together with such a huge ammount of crap released by these "big" label on a weekly basis, crap that will sell between 1 000 and 3 000 copies, and eventually you're stained by the crap yourself. Bands tend to confuse release rate and number of ad's with quality, honesty and dignity. Sorry mates. I've always refused to become a product number in a profile-less catalogue. I'd rather stay on a label that's part of BATHORY's history.

An unused shot from the BLOOD FIRE DEATH photo session.

          It seems the subject of rumors will never end. For as long as there are gossip hungry idiots out there, the battle to reclaim and correct your own history continues.

It also seems like the subject of image and imagery is as personal an issue as it is a reason for debate. For BATHORY, the imageries used during the 80's were quite simply extensions of lyrical topics and the atmosphere of those albums. The releases of the 90's are all usually filed under either the Hardcore of Nordic categories by those who need to file everything and everybody. But the force behind the music and lyrics is the same regardless.

And the music is there. On record. For all to praise or ridicule as they please. And the fact that BATHORY is equal parts unique, a pioneering force and a legendary entity, can not be erased or overlooked. No bullshit, lies, crap or rumor can ever change that.

May it be Viking, Satanic, Demonic, Hardcore, modern social stuff, a Nordic tale in two parts or atmospheric epic material: BATHORY is a force that's not easily pinned down in a corner. And a force owned by no one other than the amazing BATHORY Hordes...

That's how it's always been. And that's what it'll always be like...