FUNERAL is surely better known because of the musicians who played with them
rather than for its music. People quite often don't find this band so
interesting, but I would disagree with them... Listen carefully to the first
demo "Abduction Of Limbs", and you'll hear that it's far better than
some actual Death Metal stuff. Moreover, Tore Bratseth, the guitarist is nothing
but a pure beast whose soul is totally dedicated to the god Rock'n'Roll, and he
still has the flame burning after all these years... Enjoy and always say:
Hey Tore!!!! How are you my friend? I hope
that you are listening to some MOTÖRHEAD while answering this interview!!! Are
you ready for the attack? Allright, let's go!!!!!!!
"Allright! I feel
fucking great! Motörhead is always with
me, but right now I am listening to Black
Sabbath. Hit me you bastard!"
I'd like first to hear a bit about how the
young Tore Bratseth looked like back in his childhood. It seems that, thanks to
your father, you get poisoned by the virus of Rock'n'Roll really early. Please
tell us how you got into this music, and if your father is still involved into
my life was
already ruined before I could speak. My father had all the LPs that will make
your upbringing a rocking one. I can recall he had all the first Black
Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, MC 5, Motörhead, Hawkwind, Sex Pistols etc. stuff. He was
playing these records quite a lot, and of course it grew on me. He is still
buying records and going to concerts yes."
You told me that you went to school with
Olve (Abbath) since you were 8 years old. How were these days? Were you the only
children who were so crazy about MOTÖRHEAD, BLACK SABBATH, THE BEATLES? Did you
use to fuck things up, or were you quite quiet boys?
"He he, these days
were quite wild. Especially Olve got quite a lot of bad remarks from the teacher
in his books. I actually have a tape from 1984 when we are 11 years old from a
history class and we take the total piss out of the teacher. He had to go and
get the principal because we were making so much noise. Also on the same tape
there is a part where me and Olve and another guy is singing 'Shoot ‘Em Down' by
Twisted Sister. Fucking brutal shit
he he. No, you can’t have the
tape. Some things are meant to stay very underground. Olve along with Padden were
my best friends (and still are) from childhood years."
When did you first
learn to play the
guitar? It must have been quite early since you were something like 17 years
old when you started OLD FUNERAL. Have you played in other acts before OLD
FUNERAL? What were the first songs you tried to cover on guitar?
"I bought my first
guitar when I was 15, but I was rehearsing a lot. Up to 10 hours a day in the
early days. I was 15 when starting OLD FUNERAL, not 17. When we started up,
nobody could play at all. The first songs we tried were 'Louie Louie'
, 'Sepulchural Voice' and 'Procreation Of The Wicked'. I have
the very first rehearsal from May 17, 1988 on video. Luckily nobody
else has it, because I have not copied to anybody. It is bloody hilarious!!"
also in the same school than you and Olve? You told me that he bought "Hell
Awaits" and "Morbid Tales" around 1986. How did you react when
hearing such a music? What pushed you to dig it more, and later to get involved
into tape trading?
"Padden was at the
same school as us yes, but not in the same class, because he was 2 years older
than us. He was the first one of my friends to buy extreme records. I remember
me and Olve looked at each other when we listened to “Hell Awaits” for the
first time. It was a feeling of aggression, laughter and awe. We just laughed
for minutes because we didn’t think it was possible to make such brutal music.
I remember this record was listened to by maybe 6-7 people in our little
village called Lysekloster. We all thought that this was the music that fitted
our personalities and we started to seek more information about this kind of
music. Then Padden, who was the only one with some money, bought Celtic Frost
Morbid Tales” and Possessed “ Seven Churches”, then came “Reign In
Blood” and it was no way back."
When exactly did you
start OLD FUNERAL?
Did you play covers in the beginning or just tried to come along with your own
stuff? Was it also the first band for Olve and Padden? Did you know many other
bands that played such an extreme music in Bergen at the time? Were you aware of
the existence of MAYHEM in 86 / 87?
"We started on the
17th of May 1988 rehearsing in my parents basement. This is the
constitution day of Norway. Old Funeral was the first band of all of us, and
nobody had played any instrument before this date. The only other band that
played Metal in Bergen at the time was a Thrash Metal band called EMPTOR. Erik
Brødreskift (R.I.P), who played drums with Immortal on “Pure Holocaust” and
with Gorgoroth also, played in this band. I became aware of
Mayhem around 1986 / 87, because I read about them in
a magazine. I then bought
“Deathcrush” original pressing for NKR
49.50 (approximately 6 dollars) he he. This seemed to be a good investment. Yeah,
we only played covers the first half year, but started making our own songs in
the end of 88. The first song we made with Old Funeral
is called 'Aphis'. Olve made that.
to me a video clip of a Norwegian band called SORCERY, that was heavily inspired
by HELLHAMMMER and VENOM, in 1986, and that could easily be considered as a kind
of DARKTHRONE (from the "A Blaze In The Northern Sky" period) 5 years
before. Were you a lot in touch with this band from Bergen at the time, or did
you discover it later?
"I discovered it
later. As late as 1997!! It was Pez, who now plays drums in our Motörhead
tribute band Bombers who one day said he had a tape I should listen to. He put
the rehearsal on and I was blown away! It turned out that he had played with
this band in 1986. This is probably the most obscure band from Norway. Pez told
me he even had forgotten for years that he played with this band. It exists
only a rehearsal and a home made video clip. It was only a duo with Pez and just
one other guy, who nobody ever sees. He just lives far from other people and
doesn’t like to speak to anybody. This band never played a gig. What a great
You told me
that OLD FUNERAL was the first Metal band which recorded at
did it happen? Had you already a little bit of experience in recording music?
Was it Pytten who recorded and mixed it? Did you rehearse a lot since the
beginning of OLD FUNERAL until you got the opportunity to record the
"Abduction Of Limbs" demo in March 1990?
"Allright! Yes, we
were the first. I asked my father if he knew anybody who had recording
opportunities. Then it turned out that he went to school with Pytten in the old
days and we called him up. He said he’d never done Metal before, but was
willing to take us in the studio.
It was Pytten who recorded it and mixed it together with us. The result was
“Abduction Of Limbs”. We had to rehearse a lot yes. Almost every hour we had
Did you often get the opportunity to play
gigs in the beginning of the band ? I saw in old fanzines that you played with
bands like THOU SHALT SUFFER, which was coming from Oslo. How was your
relationship with the bands from Bergen like PHOBIA (pre-ENSLAVED), AMPUTATION
(with Harald "Demonaz"), and the Norwegian underground in general? What did
you think of the Norwegian Death Metal with bands like BALVAZ, the true MAYHEM,
MOLESTED, CADAVER, THOU SHALT SUFFER, DARKTHRONE in their prime times, and so
on, and how do you consider it nowadays?
"We played around
25-30 gigs altogether with Old Funeral.
It was a really exciting scene back
then.The one you mentioned with Thou Shalt Suffer
was at a festival at Notodden
in 1990. Other bands then were Balvaz,
Buttocks, Thy Abhorrent and Disgrace from
Finland. The festival was called “The Graveyard Gig”. Our relationship was
very good with the other bands. You mentioned AMPUTATION and Harald (Demonaz).
Not very many people know that he was a member in Old Funeral in the very
beginning (1988) for 3 months. Padden from Old Funeral played drums in
Amputation, so it was like one big family really.The bands you mention were
interesting back then, but today I think only Darkthrone has kept the spirit
alive. Mayhem today is definitely not the same as what it was originally. I
don’t like modern Black Metal very much except a few bands like Darkthrone,
Immortal, some Gorgoroth and other totally dedicated bands. I need to get the
grim and aggressive feeling to get me going and the above mentioned bands still
do it for me.
I know that the actual Norwegian people
aren’t that much into Black Metal, but rather into traditional Hardrock and Heavy
Metal. How was the situation towards Death Metal from the audience at the
time when you played with OLD FUNERAL?
"The ones who
understood it, liked it very well. Normal “hobby” Metal fans didn’t know
what to think when they saw us. A few got turned into it, but most just looked
upon it as noise which was fine with me. It’s either love us or hate us you
know. We don’t care.
In fact, Olve
"Captain Abbath" left OLD
FUNERAL in order to form IMMORTAL, as everybody knows. How did you react when he
announced his intention to quit the band? Were you already in touch with
Christian Vikernes and Thorlak before Olve’s departure?
"Yes, we already
knew both Thorlak and Varg before his departure. Olve was still in the band when
Varg joined you know. We were of course a bit upshaken when he decided to leave,
but we solved the problem by letting Padden handle the vocals which turned out
just excellent. Olves last gig was The Graveyard gig I mentioned before."
How strong was the influence of the new
members on the way to compose songs for the "Devoured Carcass" demo? While
listening to this one, we can feel that OLD FUNERAL opted for more technical
tunes this time. Were MORBID ANGEL, CARCASS and AUTOPSY big influences on you?
"Varg was a very
good musician, so he participated a lot in the songwriting. Thorlak was more the
lazy guy, but he was good to have in the band as well. Yes, Morbid Angel was
maybe our fave band at the time, so obviously we got influenced by them."
Did you go again
to Grieghallen to
record this demo? How was the collaboration between the members? How did you
decide that Padden would take the microphone from Olve’s departure until the
end of the band? How did it happen on stage with a drummer singer?
"We went to
Grieghallen to record again, but not to do a demo, but a 7” vinyl EP. Thorlak
does not play on this EP as he became a member too late to learn the songs, even
though he is pictured on the cover. Both, me and Padden, did the bass lines for
it. Padden had been training his voice in the forest a long time for this EP. He
went out in the forest just to scream and growl every day for many weeks. One
time he scared the hell out of some blueberry pickers he he. They thought a
total maniac was loose he he. Then the word was out in Lysekloster that him and his band were a bunch of lunatics
On some pictures of the
Norway" bootleg LP, one may see that you wore corpsepaint in 1991!!!! Was it a
CELTIC FROST influence, or rather because you are a KISS maniac? Ha!!!
"First of all this
is not a bootleg, but an official release. It may look and sound like a bootleg
but it was done that way to make it appear total underground. At that time I was
very much into splatter movies, and I had this idea that I wanted to look like a
rotten zombie more than traditional corpsepaint. I just wanted to look as
horrible as possible basically. Fuck nice people! ARRGH!
You told me that you slept one night at
Euronymous’ shop ("Helvete"). Were you in regular touch with the guy? How
did you consider him at the time? How do you see his cult status nowadays? Did
he support the bands from Bergen and eventually yours?
"Yeah, we were in
touch with the guy, because he helped selling our demo, t-shirt and 7” EP in
his shop. He was without a doubt very dedicated to the Metal way of life and was
always interested in new bands and supported everybody he considered true to the
spirit. I have nothing bad to say about him at all. He was also a record
collector like me, so we had much to talk about. Mayhem also borrowed our
rehearsal place before the recorded “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” so I’m
glad I got to see the true Mayhem
live with Varg on bass!!! I don’t care if he is cult or not. What I care about
is that Mayhem made some really fucking good
Metal in the beginning. 'The
Freezing Moon' is forever one of my fave Black Metal songs. It doesn’t get
much darker than that."
You told me that the OLD FUNERAL demos
sold quite well and quickly when they were out. Have you had some labels
interested in releasing an eventual full length with you? Don’t you feel that nowadays some people tend to collect the OLD
FUNERAL and AMPUTATION stuff, just because these bands featured some future
IMMORTAL members, and not really because of the quality of the music?
"The Older Ones" is
as you know a full length LP released by Hammerheart. But other labels were
interested also at the time like Deaf Records, Witch Hunt Records, Thrash Records, Wild Rags
etc. It’s true that many people maybe collect for the
reason you mention, but it doesn’t deny the fact that we sold over 1000 demos
in 2-3 months and the 1100 copies of the EP was sold out immediately. However I
don’t blame them for collecting just because Abbath or Varg were in the band. I
am a collector myself of for example Motörhead. Lemmy was in a band in 1966
called Rocking Vickers and I had never heard them, but I knew that they had a
7” single out. I had to pay 550 NKR (about 65 dollars) for it on the second
hand market, but I don’t care ‘cause I need it. Although the music is 60s rock instead of the hard rocking
Motörhead I find it an extremely
interesting item from a historical point of view.
On your last demo with OLD FUNERAL,
Vikernes is gone to form BURZUM, and Jørn joined to take the second guitar
duty. It was 1992, and OLD FUNERAL sounded then much more like a Norwegian Black
Metal act. How did this evolution come? Had
you a good relationship with DARKTHRONE and BURZUM at this time?
"We all knew
and Varg of course, but the first time I talked to anybody from darkthrone was
in 1995 I think. I guess things just got much more serious and darker in our
minds. Instead of making songs at home or in the rehearsal room, we went out in
the forest to make them (the lyrics and sometimes riffs), and I reckon that put
a rather grim feel to it all."
You told me
something that I really appreciate when you said that only the 2 first BURZUM
albums are good, and that the rest is crap. Don’t you think that too much
people are praising BURZUM and MAYHEM only because of the tragic events that
happened in 1993, and because of the involvement of Vikernes into the Nazi
thing? After Vikernes will be set free, how do you think your relationship could
be with him? When is the last time you talked to him? How do you find his
behaviour toward the Metal music now?
"Silly kids will of
course continue praising the bands for what happened back then and not the
music. These are not Metalheads or music lovers or what you wanna call them, but
usually people who want to be in a scene for all the wrong reasons. To me music
always came first. People may think what they want for my sake. To be quite
honest I don’t think Vikernes wants to have anything to do with us when he
gets out. I guess (but I don’t know) he looks upon us as weak stupid people.
If he thinks that it’s fine with me, because I know myself and I know that I
am me, and don’t need anybody’s approval. However I do not look upon him as
stupid. I think it was not necessary to kill Eronymous, but that was his
choice. He is a highly intelligent man who just happens to have other views than
most people. Last time I spoke to him was in July or August 1993. If I meet him
on the street I will say. “How’s it going?” and we’ll take it from
there. He may think about Metal in whatever way he wants, but I think it’s sad
that he doesn’t make good music (in my ears) anymore. The 2 first Burzum
LP’s are just excellent pieces of work. Bloody original vocals and killer
riffs and evil feeling and intelligent lyrics.
Please tell us about the reasons that lead
OLD FUNERAL to stop. Don’t you think that you could have become bigger? I mean
you produced a quite good quality Death / Black Metal, and you had an identity.
"It was a chemical
reaction. We would have been big."
Why are you most proud of the first OLD
FUNERAL demo? How come that you decided to reform the original OLD FUNERAL line
up for your birthday party, on October 15, last year? How were the emotions you had while being on stage playing
your old shit? Why did you choose to cover 'Procreation Of The Wicked' of CELTIC
FROST and to play the song 'Skin And Bones' from your "Abduction Of Limbs" demo? Which memories do you keep of this evening? Why are you so
fucking Rock'n'Roll dude??? Hahahahahaha!!!!
“Abduction Of Limbs” demo we were young and fucking hungry. It has good
songs and is bloody original if you put it in time spectre. My birthday party
was the 15th of February, not October. You were there. Were you that
drunk he he?? (he he he, yeah, I was totally pissed off, but I think it’s
just a silly joke from my mind that made me write “October”... Of corpse I
remember that it was in February. Sorry dude! But hey, it is not so easy to be
drunk with such a fucking bad and expensive beer! Hahahaa!!! – Nathaniel) I
decided that I wanted to do the reunion because it was a perfect opportunity to
do it. All of us are still into Metal and I wanted to do something special since I was turning 30. I wanted to sum up my life so far and
Old Funeral took
4 years of my life. The emotions on stage were just “strong” to put it that
way. It was aggression, legendary, raw, cool, good, evil, fun, fuck off,
intense, allright and everything at one time. IMMENSE! We played 'Procreation...' because it was one of the first songs we ever learned to play, and it has a place in our hearts and sometimes what you have in your heart has
to come out blasting!! I am Rock‘n'Roll because I am possessed by it and I
wouldn’t have it any other way!
Then you stopped to play music until 96
when you decided to start a MOTÖRHEAD cover band called BOMBERS with Olve. How
was it to play again with your best friend who became to be known at that time
"It was great as
fuck! Olve has always been my friend through thick and thin, and he wanted to have a band just for fun besides
Immortal and I wanted
to play something again. So we got Pez on drums and started rocking! Although he
is not in Bombers anymore, he quite often does guest appearances on
'Ace Of Spades' when we play live.
In 1997, you played with BOMBERS at
Garage, the rock pub in Bergen, in front of an audience in which a certain Lemmy was
drinking some alcohol. How was it to play MOTÖRHEAD covers before the god of
"He he. It was some
of the same feeling as the first time I played live in 1988 with Old
legs were shaking, but then I thought “ALL RIGHT! “ and rocked the fucking
place apart! A great gig it was!
often did you meet Lemmy? How did
the last time you meet him in Oslo happen? Do you think he’s got still
enough strength to survive during a decade???
"I’ve met Lemmy 3
times. Truly a great human being! I met him in Oslo because I had an album by
Captain Lockheed and The Starfighters he was looking for. This is an album he
played on in 1974, but he had not heard it in years so I had to give it to him.
The only reason why he is still alive is that no disease can survive in his
If I am not wrong, you started a new band
that lasted just for a month, or something like that, and that was called
DESEKRATOR. To be honest with you, I never saw one good review of this band in
any magazine!!! How come? Don't you think it's because people were awaiting
something more serious as the DESEKRATOR's members were known to play in more
serious bands like OLD FUNERAL, GORGOROTH, ENSLAVED, HADES ALMIGHTY?
"Ha ha. Desekrator
was great fun. I don’t care if we got no good reviews. If you got a sense of
humour you will like it, but it didn’t seem like anybody had it. I saw one
magazine that didn’t know whether to give it the best or the worst points. I
have met some die hard Desekrator fans in Italy,
Portugal and Holland. Two guys
from Holland even do a cover song with their band (I can’t remember what they
As stated before, DESEKRATOR lasted only
for a short period of time: how come that you immediately got signed by Hammerheart
Records and that you got some singles pressed on 10" picture
discs? How did it sell at the time? Have you still echoes of this band from
people getting in touch with you recently? Have you ever met a die hard fan of
Hammerheart only signed us because of the members and not for the music. We
released a set of 3 7” picture
discs which was pressed in 500 copies and all sold out. The CD sold 3000 copies.
Hammerheart said we desecrated their recordlabel ha ha. 'Bergen Belzen
Svinepelsen' is sometimes played at parties here in Norway because it is a
great drinking song."
Talking about your musical carrer, it
seems that at the time when IMMORTAL looked for a bassist, before "At The Heart
Of Winter", you were asked to take this duty. Could you explain why you were
asked to play the bass, as you are originally a guitarist, and that Olve always
had the bass duty. Why did he decide to take the guitar then? What do you think
of the choice of Stian "Iscariah"? Were there many people in sight at the
time to fill the free place in IMMORTAL?
"I was asked to
take this job because Abbath needed a Metal veteran. I can’t remember why
Abbath had shifted to guitar. I did not work out on the bass because in 1995 I
had a motorcycle accident where I flew 10 metres and broke some fingers and my
wrist. I have no troubles on guitar, but the bass was to heavy for me as it
started to hurt in my bones after 30 minutes. Iscariah was a good choice at the
time. He is a great man with his head in order. He now plays with Necrophagia
and Wurdulak. It was not many in sight at the time no. Bergen is a small town.
You went on tour with IMMORTAL as a
roadie, selling merchandising and stuff: how did it happen? How do you see the
evolution of the IMMORTAL fan base since their beginning? Have you had the time
to visit a bit the different places where the band played, or was it just the
tour bus area you learnt to know by heart?
"They asked me to
sell their stuff and I said yes. That’s how it happened. The Immortal fanbase
is growing and growing. No doubt they deserve every fan. This band has worked
fucking hard to get where they are and will survive because they are not a part
of the latest trend. Just like Motörhead. I got to see lots of places. Almost
all of Europe. I’ve been around!"
Back in Bergen, there's
a Heavy Metal
fest every year. And there you sung some TWISTED SISTER covers. How come that
you are such a die hard Sick Mother Fucker? For how long do you worship Dee
Snider? When did you get your TWISTED SISTER tattoo? How much time have you seen
TWISTED SISTER on stage, and met Dee Snider? Do you know people who are more
dedicated than you towards TWISTED SISTER's music?
"I dig Twisted
Sister because they are a Rock'n'Roll band with a sense of humour, have great
catchy songs and great lyrics (some of them) and Dee Snider is one of the best
frontmen I have ever seen. He knows how to fuck up an audience! Twisted Sister
was also the first band I started collecting when I was 11 years old. I have met
Dee Snider 2 times and seen the original Twisted Sister once in Norway in
got my tattoo in 2000. But Dee’s other
band Sick Mother Fuckers I have seen 4 times. But I will go to Sweden Rock
Festival in June to see both the original re-united
and Motörhead! It’s
gonna be soooooooooo great! All Right! All Right All Right!"
sometimes regret that nowadays a lot of Metal fans are getting into this music
with some so called extreme bands, and don't pay attention anymore to the
origins like HELLHAMMER, VENOM, JUDAS PRIEST, SLAUGHTER, MANOWAR… and the
likes? What do you
think about the Metal scene (underground and mainstream) after
1994 / 1995?
"I don’t like new
bands. Bands that come up today have no personalities in my opinion. People must
learn their history lesson, see what made the greats great. I don’t mean to
copy them, but get inspired. It’s not many good records that have been put out
after 1995 I think. I always buy Motörhead, AC/DC,
Immortal and Darkthrone
because I know they are good. May these bands live forever. It seems like I have
to start up a new band again to get some good music to listen to he he.
A lot of people are praising bands like EMPEROR, DIMMU
BORGIR and the new MAYHEM and SATYRICON, but it seems that these bands are nowadays really far from the "true" Black Metal spirit which has always meant aggression,
rawness, harshness and unpolished sound, like BATHORY, VENOM, HELLHAMMER, TORMENTOR and DARKTHRONE did. What do you think of this clean and commercialized wave of Black Metal? (Tough question isn't it? He he he!)
"I hate the
commercial wave of Black Metal. Some bands are so fucking far from what they
were (I won’t mention names) that I don’t even consider them anymore. Fuck
progression. Stay to the formula you know best. People only change because they
think they have to and that it’s expected from them. I wish some musicians
could stop a minute and think to themselves: ”What made me start this band
in the first place?” and then stick to the answer to that question.
You were heavily involved
underground and the tape trading back in the beginning of the 90's. How much
are you involved into these things nowadays? I know that you are still a regular
reader of the almighty SLAYER mag, but are there any other zines that capture
your attention nowadays? What do you think the Metalheads should do to keep
their beloved music still interesting, and not stagnate by copying what's been
done years before or trying to be original for the sake of originality? You
have seen many bands come and pass by, but which of them deserve your eternal
dedication from the beginning to the end of their carreer?
"I do not do much
tape trading anymore, but I collect vinyl quite intensely. Yeah, Slayer Mag has
my total respect. Metalion is a great man! I also read Imhotep, Scream Magazine,
Classic Rock, Terrorizer and sometimes Metal Hammer and Kerrang if I don’t
have to buy them. What should Metalheads do? Don’t cut your hair, and don’t
do as your mother tells you. Get a personality and put some balls into it. Bands
I always respected from the beginning to the end (or bands that are still
going): Motörhead, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Ramones,
The Beatles, The Rolling
Stones, Darkthrone, Sex Pistols, Immortal, Ozzy Osbourne, Slaughter (Canada), Twisted Sister, Possessed, Hellhammer,
Sodom, Destruction, Venom etc. A lot
of bands had great early careers like Celtic Frost, Black Sabbath, Slayer,
Metallica, Mayhem, Burzum, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin etc."
Alright my dear Tore, let's ask some
cooler stuff now. If Metal was a beer, which one would it be according to you?
Please don't say Hansa or Ringnes, cause they are fucking tasteless, ha!
Please give your definition of Death,
Black, Thrash and Heavy Metal!
"If Metal was beer
it would have been “Konjøl”. It’s a beer made by goat farmers in Sogn Og
Fjordane county in Norway. Fucking strong shit! Death Metal:
Morbid Angel - “Altars Of Madness”
, Thrash Metal:
Kreator - “Pleasure To Kill”, Heavy Metal:
Judas Priest - “British Steel”."
Ok, would you like to ask me a question?
"No. It’s not
necessary because I know everything.
Now you can drink the beer you deserved
after having answered this fucking long interview, and spit your last words in
order that our readers may feel the fire that burns inside your veins! Thanks
Tore. ALRIGHT, ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ALL RIGHT! ALL RIGHT! ALL RIGHT! ALL RIGHT!!"
Interview and all live pics: Nathaniel Colas