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THOMAS ERIKSEN Discusses MORK’s Forthcoming Album Dypet, Evolution Of The Band & More

Plus the creation of past albums.


In many respects, Mork’s Thomas Eriksen is the most important True Norwegian Black Metal artist of his generation. Eriksen is leading the movement into a new age. Sure, there are plenty of other talented young musicians, but Eriksen is in-your-face, unafraid, true to the spirit of the genre, and true to himself. Mork’s work is intensely meaningful, mature, and emotive. The lyrics are always exceptional. Mork has evolved in exciting ways, but Eriksen’s distinctive creative voice is still instantly recognizable. Mork’s work reflects total freedom while delivering the rawness and brutality that we elitists need.

Thomas Eriksen founded Mork in 2004 in his hometown of Halden. Mork began as Eriksen’s one-man project and currently functions as such in the studio. You might have noticed that many of the top BM albums released over the last 10 years have come from Mork: After the stellar 2007 demo Rota til ondskap, the band’s debut album, Isebakke, finally premiered in 2013. The same year, Eriksen began rehearsing with a live lineup, which has included many incredible musicians over the years. Mork’s first show occurred in January 2015, in Olsztyn, Poland. Since then, Mork has conquered the world with concerts, festivals, and livestreams.

Mork’s new album Dypet is about to unleash its fury on March 24. To celebrate this victory, we had the honor of sitting down with Mr. Eriksen to discuss his pure black art.

Congratulations on the upcoming release of Dypet! I really love the album. Is there anything that you’d like listeners to know in advance?

I appreciate that you like it, obviously. I hope more people will like it when it’s out. This is my sixth album, and each and every album seems to just be a time capsule of my life, I suppose, of the period it was created. I think I started work on this album perhaps in 2019/2020, somewhere around there. I think I worked simultaneously on this one as I was working on the last one, Katedralen, because all my albums overlap like that since I am the only musician and the artist within Mork. So, everything just happens on my personal time schedule. And obviously, as an artist, I’m always working. It’s something that keeps me alive. It’s good for both body and mind. Yeah, it’s a bit strange sitting talking to you now and just thinking about the release because this album has just been hanging over me now for several years.

“Tilbake til opprinnelsen” from Dypet.

Obviously, I really-really love Katedralen, which you just mentioned, as well. I still haven’t recovered from that album because it’s so magnificent and so powerful. How did you determine which songs went to Katedralen versus Dypetversus the EP Den svevende festning? There was some material that we haven’t heard before on the EP — that was one of MetalSucks’ top releases of 2022.

I suppose when I was working on Katedralen, I always knew which tracks would fit that particular album. When I’m writing an album and something comes up, I start riffing on something, a new idea, if you know what I mean. Then, all of a sudden, I don’t envision it on the album. It’s like… I have a bit of OCD, I think. It’s like I already know this is something different, so I will save it for later.

And the EP you’re talking about is basically two leftover tracks from Katedralen, a special mix of a different track, and there are three live tracks. So, it’s basically Katedralen stuff. “Den svevende festning” and “Ormtunge” — those are the leftover tracks. I love both those tracks. Don’t get me wrong. But usually, when I deliver an album to Peaceville, I get told, “It’s too long, Thomas! It’s way too long. We need to cut a few tracks.” And it’s like, “Kill your babies,” you know. It’s a hard thing to do. But hey, you just have to do it. I made too much. But like I was trying to say, the cool thing about working with Peaceville is that for a couple of years now we have actually done this fill in the gap EP release, which allows me to release all the material anyway. So, I do love the new album. I did make way too many songs, which I recorded and delivered. So, if everything goes the way I hope and Peaceville is still into the tradition now, I suppose there will be an EP after this one too.

“Arv” from Katedralen (2021).

That would be great! You’ve stated: “I put every single drop of myself into the process of shaping Mork’s music.” That’s obviously something we hear and really appreciate. It’s quite apparent in the lyrics as well. But I was surprised because you continued: “Perhaps even more so with this album.” All of your albums feel so personal to the maximum degree.

Yeah, they are obviously. I suppose it’s more that… As I said before too, I tend to follow fewer and fewer expectations and rules. And you know, this is black metal. Everyone has some expectations. And they try to decide what you are. But Mork has come so far now, I suppose, with the three last albums. Things have started to flow way more. It’s not this narrow path with black metal anymore. And that is a bit… It’s a good relief for me that I have come to this point where I can just pour all kinds of influences into my Mork music. It still sounds like black metal, of course. But to my mind anyway, it’s a bit more original when I tend to lose grip on the rules, if you know what I mean.

“Bortgang” from Dypet.

Yes, I really enjoy the mix within Mork. A bit of a different question: On your podcast, you said that you and Thomas Bergli usually share your work before it’s actually released. I was wondering if you had the chance to react to each other’s new albums because Dypet and Fandens kall are the two releases that I’m really excited about.

Yes, I already did hear this one. And you know, Thomas, is a huge talent. If I have my cards right, I do believe he makes the music for all of his bands and projects. He has Sarke, which I’m a big fan of. He has Tulus. And he has Khold. He seems to be an undrainable source of riffs. That impressed me very much. And he’s a good friend.

Hjelvik made a guest appearance on “Høye Murer” — fantastic song! You’ve recorded with a lot of other amazing guests over the years like Nocturno Culto on two occasions and Kampfar’s Dolk. Are there any artists that you would like to collaborate with in the future?

Erlend Hjelvik was actually a bit by coincidence this time around. I wasn’t really looking for any special guests or anything. This just popped into my head for fun one night. I do enjoy his voice. I think he has a cool rock kind of growly thing going on. You should check out his solo album that came out a few years ago, Welcome to Hel. It’s a quite cool Viking extreme metal. I don’t know in the future. There are, of course, people I would like to work with.

But it’s like I told you, it’s a bit more by coincidence. Because when I’m finished with my stuff, then I start asking or thinking about guest appearances. I never write anything in particular for anyone. That happens quite seldom. But there are a few names on my list that would be cool to ask if it fits, you know what I mean. Luckily, it’s a small scene and most of us know each other, and it’s not hard to get people to go along.

"Den lykkede porten," which features Freddy Holm on Hardanger fiddle. This track first appeared on the EP Fortid og fremtid (2015)

There were some clean vocals, though only a tiny bit, on Dypet. We’ve heard your clean vocals in the past, and you obviously have a really beautiful voice. I think it would be great if you maybe made an album of acoustic covers.

That’s a cool idea at least. I do tend to sit around with my acoustic Martin guitar every once in a while, and I even happen to make Mork riffs on the acoustic guitar too. One guy told me once many-many-many-many years ago that if a song sounds good on an acoustic guitar, then it’s a good song. That’s actually quite good advice for a songwriter. So, usually, I try to do some acoustic versions of Mork songs now after the fact too just by myself. I am actually playing around with the idea of doing maybe, not an album, but something where I do older Mork songs acoustically. I think that could work out.

I believe you started playing guitar at 13. In 1998, you co-founded a band called Pale Kids. Of course, you had success with that venture, and your work aired on TV. That was a really cool project that was obviously quite different from what you do now. Could you please tell me a little bit about your early performing adventures? And was difficult to let go of your journey with Pale Kids?

No, not at all. That just needed to end for my sake. In short, the story is that I grew up in a town where there were no metal musicians or metal kids that I could play in a band with. So, by default, we started playing punk rock and stuff like that. We kept that up for many-many years, playing punk rock. And on the side, I had already found black metal. I’m a bit more… I tend to be attracted to darker stuff, more atmospheric stuff. So, I was dabbling on the side.

As you know, I started Mork in 2004. I didn’t release anything officially until 2013. So, it’s been in the shadows for a long time. I just needed to focus fully on that. That is more what appeals to me and is basically what I am. But before Mork, I played the concerts, I recorded demos, I played a lot of genres actually. I have played some rock n’ roll; some metal; again, punk; I have even done some acoustic stuff. But I don’t know… If you are a musician at heart, I think you have to be open to do a lot of stuff. And if you’re not able to do a lot of stuff, then I’d say that you’re somewhat of a poser.

You’ll be at Inferno Fest, for example, this year. And Mork has clearly played a lot of awesome shows in the past as well. Mork made history by becoming the second black metal band to perform in İzmir, Turkey, after Mayhem. You told a story about how one boy came to the show all the way from Iran after being imprisoned for listening to black metal. So, I was wondering if there are any other concert experiences that you’d like to share.

Yeah, we’ve been blessed. We’ve been able to play… We have actually not toured a lot, but I think recently we rounded 100 concerts or something. That’s not a lot in soon to be 10 years. But we have played in many cool places and met many cool people. It’s a bit hard to pick favorites to be honest with you. I do have quite a bit of wanderlust now. I love to go to new countries.

We have this funny thing in Mork where we say we’re going to play every continent, and that is actually closing in on being true, which is really cool. We are working on dates in Asia now and Oceania — Australia, Japan, and stuff. Nothing is confirmed, but we are trying to make it happen. That would make my world. Just being around, you know. Recently, we went to South America. That was amazing. And what can I say?! They are really passionate people over there. That’s no bullshit when people say that. I saw that firsthand.

We played a few bigger concerts with a few hundred people over there. And we also played a few really small club shows where we were just up in the face with the fans, and that was intense. It was great! And, of course, the mighty Wacken festival was great for us. That was a goal for many years, and now we’ve finally achieved it. I think the audience gave us a good response as well.

“Hudbreiderens revir” from Den vandrende skygge (2016) performed with Nocturno Culto at Furustokk Festival in 2017.

As I kind of mentioned a bit earlier, you have what I would call the best podcast ever! Its my favorite. You’ve had so many legendary guests… Are any moments that stand out to you as being among the most memorable?

Wow, that was a fun journey actually.

Oh no. Please don’t say it’s over.

The truth is that it was a Covid project. You know, obviously, I couldn’t tour much, so I just decided to do the podcast during Covid. I have done a few episodes afterward, but it’s not as frequent as before. I don’t know if you are keeping up with it, but it’s only on YouTube now. It’s not on Spotify and stuff, and I don’t know… I was about to make an episode just a few weeks ago, but it just didn’t work out. So, it’s still on my mind, you know, but I’m not as eager as I used to be. I tend to use my time focusing on Mork now and music. I have another project too, which I cannot talk about yet, but it’s quite exciting for me. And, you know, I’m just one guy, and I only have so many hours during a week. So, the podcast happens when the planets are aligned, but I won’t tell you it’s over… But it’s not as frequent.

I hope that you keep going with it because you’re incredible at capturing these stories that haven’t been told properly for the most part. When you speak with someone, you get the best and most thorough interviews that Ive heard, whether it’s with Vicotnik or Snorre Ruch or whomever.

You know what, that actually has surprised me a lot, just sitting there and getting to extract these stories from these people. I don’t always expect that. That just happens, because I’m not a journalist at all. I’m a shy artist just like everyone else. But I just figured out this podcast platform… And the concept of a podcast is fascinating because it’s so relaxed and easy. So, when you’re sitting there with a beer or a coffee and just having a chat as friends, more stuff tends to come out. Luckily, none of my guests have come back around to tell me to take stuff down or anything. They are always happy with the complete one-, two-, or three-hour episodes and that’s a compliment, I would say.

Yeah, it really is. And, again, you are the perfect person to be doing this for a lot of reasons… I like the story you tell sometimes about how you visited where Darkthrone used to rehearse and record, and that inspired Isebakke. Since Isebakke is turning 10 years old this October, do you have any reflections looking back on that outstanding album?

Yeah, I do. Because I have come so far since then. From just stepping into the old Darkthrone rehearsal studio up in Trysil, Norway. And just… I remember that night too because a good friend of mine [Kjell ArneHudbreiderHubred] lives there, so obviously I can go there anytime. But back then, it was a bit special. I went down there and Nocturno Culto’s old guitar was there because my friend bought it off him several years ago. I was standing there with his guitar in the room. That was cool.

Back then, I was working on a bit more modern sounding black metal for Mork actually — a little bit more Dimmu Borgir meets Keep of Kalessin kind of extreme speed, a bit more technical stuff. But right there and then, I just understood that this is not me. I’m the AC/DC guy, you know. I’m the Black Sabbath guy. I’m the Darkthrone guy — the Burzum guy. So, I need it a bit more primitive and atmospheric. So, right there and then, it clicked. I went straight back home in my studio, and I wrote Isebakke and recorded that for the next couple of weeks.

I appreciate that that happened to me because that set the course for Mork as a whole thing. That is the reason why I got a record contract in the first place. I decided to put a band together. I decided to play concerts. It’s also funny now because if you listen to Isebakke and you listen to the new album now, it’s two completely different things. It’s still me. It’s the same voice and everything. And I suppose if you know me really well, you can notice the similarities in riffing too.

But I have allowed myself to bloom, not just follow that narrow path, as I told you. And I don’t know… It’s cool! Isebakke is 10 years old this year; you’re correct. We are actually thinking about having a 10-year anniversary and playing the entire album some way along this year. Let’s see when or if it happens. We are talking about having a concert here in Halden actually, our hometown, but I suppose that would be later in the year.

“Isebakke” from Isebakke (2013).

I really hope that happens! So, you’re definitely a torchbearer for black metal. You’re at the forefront of the movement now and have been responsible for keeping the genre alive. So, I’d like to ask: Do you have any thoughts on the future of black metal?

The cool thing about it is that you have everything to choose from, and black metal is so wide now. The term black metal is really broad, and I find it really funny because you have this little group of people who are sitting there and pointing fingers and saying, “This is true; this is not true,” and whatnot. And that is complete bullshit because as long as people, or artists, are able to just trust themselves and don’t give a fuck about what everyone else says or does, then I think you will have True Black Metal out there. It’s all about what happens inside your mind.

As long as it doesn’t get too polished. It needs to be a bit raw, I suppose. The atmosphere needs to be kept alive. But I don’t think that will be a problem. Black metal has been around since 1984 now, if you ask me, with the first Bathory album. And now, it’s 2023, and it seems like it’s getting bigger than ever. Being an artist, I am seeing all these different festivals popping up all throughout the world. I see the US is starting to have a bit of black metal stuff. I don’t see any end in sight.

At least not while Mork is still making music. Is there anything you’d like to cover that we didn’t touch upon?

Yeah, don’t listen to prejudice. Don’t listen to so-called true experts out there. I have now become quite aware that Mork is not a small band anymore, so more and more eyes are seeing what I’m doing. And obviously, if you get attention and many people see you, you will also get haters. I think it’s funny when people who don’t even know me are pointing fingers and saying that I’m this or that. That just tells me that I’m doing something right. And I will keep on doing what feels correct for me and living the life of a hermit and an only child as I have been doing for the last 10 years, you know, keeping the art alive.

“I sluket av myrav,” which first appeared on the EP by the same name in 2015.

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