Emperor – Trym Torson interview

INTERVIEW BY HEATHER WILLIAMS

Trym Torson (real name Kai Johnny Mosaker) is best known of his blast beats and double-bass drumming skills from such bands as Emperor, Zyklon and Enslaved. Steel Mill got the opportunity to have a chat with the drum master:

 

Describe the style of blast beat drumming and how it got started in your opinion. Where did you incorporate if from?

I don’t know who started with blast beats in metal. Blast beats have been around for a very long time, but not with the extreme speed we use in metal music. I think the first time I heard blast beats, was from Napalm death and Morbid Angel. So those two bands probably started my interest for extreme drumming.

 

One of my favorite shows is Metalocalypse. You once lent your voice to a character in Metalocalypse on the episode “Deathfashion”. How were you approached for that and what character did you lend your voice to?

I can’t remember what my characters name was, but they contacted our management when we where going to play in L.A in 2007, and asked if we would be interested in doing the voices for the show, and we said yes.

 

You were a member of Enslaved from 1991-1995. How did two young guys, aged 13 and 17 ( Ivar Bjornson and Grutle Kjellson), approach you about joining up with them to form the band and what made you decide to join ? Do you know why they named the band Enslaved?

I knew Ivar from he was maybe 10 years old, and have been playing with him for a while before we started Enslaved. Ivar played with Grutle in a band called Phobia, and when that band ended, he asked if I wanted to join them and start a new band, with a new direction of music. And I said yes.

 

You made two albums with them, ‘Viking Veldi’ (’94) and ‘Frost’ (’94).  ‘Viking Veldi’ was released on Deathlike Silence Productions in 1994, which is a label that was run by Euronymous (founder of black metal band Mayhem), who was killed in 1993 by Varg Vikerns (Burzum). Did you know Euronymous? Can you give us some insight into him? How did his death affect you, and did it affect the release of this album? I understand the album is dedicated to him.

We all knew Euronymous and he was very helpful with supporting us to make a more epic style of music, as most bands at that time where playing either more kind of hardcore or death metal, and we wanted to kind of separate us from that style, Not that we did not like it, but we kind of felt it was not a natural way forward to express the feelings we where aiming for in our music. The album was delayed when he was killed, and we had to make a new deal with Osmose to be able to release it, but Euronymous was the guy who initially gave us the opportunity to record our first album, and thats why the album was dedicated to him.

 

Your drumming on this album adds a powerful, heavy element to an amazing, epic, symphonic black metal production, with some old school metal influences mixed in. And all this coming from such young minds. Once I thought I heard some Judas Priest influence in there which was cool. I love the eerie guitar playing at the end of Midgards Eldar. Was this album an “experimental” album if you will? Two young guys coming out with their first debut album sort of experimenting with different sounds?

We were still experimenting on both the soundscape and the style of music we wanted to make with this album. The epic kind of landscape style was heavily influenced on this album, and of course all the heavy metal music we listen to while growing up, made the foundation to the style we where trying to achieve.

 

‘Frost’ was your last album with Enslaved before you decided to join Emperor. I found this album heavier and not as epic or dramatic as Viking Veldi. Fenris deviates from the typical black metal sound. I hear a lot of old school 80’s metal influence in that song and even more in Gylfaginning. Why the stark difference in sound between Viking Veldi and Frost, two albums recorded and released in the same year?

As we became better musicians, we could now explore different aspects of the music and styles, and at the same time, we did not want to do the same thing as what we did on the first album. So pushing boundaries became a bigger factor when we start to make the songs for this album

Euronymous was the guy who initially gave us the opportunity to record our first album, and thats why the album was dedicated to him.

 

Ivar Bjornson, the founder of Enslaved, was only 17 when the FROST album was recorded. What was it like working musically with someone so young?

As I had known Ivar for many years already, I knew he was capable of creating whatever we wanted to create and at the same time he was not behaving or thinking like most people at his age.

 

What were you doing before Enslaved?

Just playing with different people for fun, and like I said before, I had been playing with Ivar for a while before we started Enslaved.

 

Let’s talk about Emperor. Correct me if needed. The picture I’ve gotten is Samoth and Faust went to prison, and Ihsahn left as a result of that. When Samoth got out, he invited you to join Emperor because Faust was still in prison and of course Emperor needed a drummer. How did you know Samoth and how did he approach you about joining Emporer? Was my scenario on the right track? If so, why would you leave Enslaved?

I knew the guys from Emperor from before, as we had met several times, and also released a split album together on Candlelight records. When Faust went to prison, Ihsahn and Samoth kept going with Emperor, even though Samoth went to prison. They had already made a lot of the material to the next album when Samoth asked if I wanted to join them. He was still in prison when I joined them.

 

You were on three Emperor albums: Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk (1997), IX Equilibrium (1999), and Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire and Demise (2001). I found Prometheus to be the heaviest and darkest. Heavy and dark is always the best in my book. Which one of these works of yours are your favorite and why.

I like all those albums, but Anthems is my personal favourite. This was my first album with Emperor, and this was the album that really made Emperor stand out and become a band that wanted to make music with all the aspects of what black metal was becoming, and bringing it to the next level. Its may be hard to be objective on this, but I think this album is one of the best and important albums of black metal, and I feel honored to have been a part of it.

 

Did you perform with Emperor at the under-18 Motstoy Festival in Notodden? What is an under-18 show like compared to a 21+ show?

Its more or less the same, but at the same time you can see how young kids respond different to a live show like this, as they tend to get more engrossed in a live act than older people that have been going to shows for years.

 

Is the 2017 Emperor reunion for the 20th anniversary of Anthem to the Welkin at Dusk still going to happen? If so, where will it be held and how can fans prepare? Can tickets be bought in advance?

Yes, we will play a few shows in 2017, performing the full Anthems album. I’m not sure when the tickets will be sold, so you need to check with the festival you want to go to when the tickets will be sold. All the shows will be revealed shortly.

 

So what’s the final verdict? Are you now permanent drummer for Emperor or is Faust? If so, why not Faust?

I have been a permanent drummer in Emperor since I joined them. Faust only joined them last year for the anniversary of In the Nightside album, since he recorded the album, and never got to be a part of the success Emperor became.

 

You were also a member of Zyklon while still being in Emperor. You formed the band in 1998 with Samoth and produced three studio albums (World ov Worms, 2001; Aeon, 2003; Disintegrate, 2006; I like Aeon the best) and a split album with another band Red Harvest. How is a split album done and why did you do it?

Red harvest is a great band and also very good friends of us, so we wanted to release something together, and therefor we did the split album with them.

 

All of Zyklon’s lyrics are written by Faust. Why?

He writes great lyrics that fit the theme we wanted to use with Zuklon, so it was a natural choice.

 

Why did Zyklon split up in 2010?

We came to a point where all the work of both creating music, rehearsing and all the touring, became more of a strain than something positive, so we did not want to proceed down that road.

You also played drums on an album called In the Shadow of A Thousand Suns by American black metal band Abigail Williams. How did you come to record drums for an American band? Did you have to travel there to record the album?

I was contacted by Darren Toms from Candlelight records. He has helped me a lot with different things during all these years we have been working with Candlelight, and I felt I owed him this favor, so I said yes. I recorded the drums in Akkerhaugen studio where we also recorded the Emperor albums, and then sent the drum tracks to them afterwards.

 

How about a little trivia:

1. What bands do you particularly like and listen to?
I listen to all kinds of music these days. Everything from old 70s prog rock to classical, to ambient and of course more extreme music. Its hard to say just a couple of bands, as there are so many great bands worth mention…

2. Have you ever been in the basement of Euronymous’ record shop Helvete at Schweigaards Gate 56 in Oslo?
Yes I have, several times, even slept there.

3. Why did you gravitate towards black metal as opposed to death, thrash, or power metal?
It just felt more natural to play that kind of music with the history and the nature we have here in Norway. Our music is kind of a movie track to Norway, so death and trash metal just dont fit the landscapes the same way black metal does.

4. Any particular bass drum heads you would recommend?
Most of the bigger drum heads companies, ( Remo, Evans, Aquarian etc) make great drum heads. So its up to yourself to find what kind of sound you are looking for, and then see what kind of heads fit the sound you are looking for. Most extreme drummers nowadays use triggers on the kick drum anyway, so then it doesn’t matter what kind of head you use…

5. Are you currently giving drum lessons?
Every now and then, but not on a regular basis

 

What does 2017 and beyond hold for Trym Torson?

Who knows? I will be doing a couple of shows with Emperor in 2017, I also have some other projects going on, and what comes after that I dont know yet.

Thank you Trym for the amazing interview!

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