MORK was created by Thomas Eriksen near the dark Norwegian forrests in 2004. The band functions as a one-man-project much like many other Norwegian Black Metal acts do. The music is in the Norwegian spirit and can be compared to the magic of early Burzum and Darkthrone. This Is Black Metal Webzine met Thomas Eriksen and had a talk about his new release “Det svarte juv”, the story behind this project, Norwegian Black Metal and his future plans.
This Is Black Metal: Thomas, firstly, congratulations on the 2019 release of Mork’s 4th full-length album; Det Svarte Juv. How successful has this album been so far? And how do you gauge this success?
Thomas Eriksen: It’s my fourth album and second on Peaceville Records. The album has made a big impact it seems, which have opened the gates to the previous albums as well. Black Metal fans are getting into Mork and check out the entire catalogue. Most people mention the two last albums, though. But, there’s actually a whole lot of non-Black Metal people in the mix here, who seem to get into Mork. I guess this is all down to me not making a blindcopy of whatever is expected of this genre. But, rather make songs thats a bit more varied. It’s not mainstream, but the impact has grown alot.
TIBM: Compared to the blast beast, speed tempo and nicely distorted sounds of album Eremittens Dal, Det Svarte Juv, while still heavy feels much colder and darkened with more rhythmic and obscure drum tracks, still atmospheric yet with a slight black’N’roll sound. Is this progression natural/unintentional for a band who has been in the industry for 15 years, or was this a conscious decision to evolve?
Thomas Eriksen: The coldness and darkness of this album derives from the fact that I went trough a really hard time around the time of writing and recording. The music is created spontaneously without any direct guidelines or goals. That’s what works best for me. The rock’n’roll elements all fall into the pot quite naturally, considering my musical life does not consist of black metal only. I enjoy variation.
TIBM: While Det Svarte Juv feels more progressive than previous work by Mork, you have still managed to keep this fairly pure to the sub-genre. How do you manage to do this while including experimental elements?
Thomas Eriksen: You know what, I can’t really say. On the first two albums I was in a mindset that forced me to create a but more traditional Black Metal. Nowadays I’m not scared to experiment or include inspirational flow from elsewhere then straight Black Metal. It all falls into place natural for me. Which is a great relief.
TIBM: Artists tend to never be completely happy with one’s work, in saying this, how do you feel about the outcome of Det Svarte Juv? Did this album turn out as you had envisaged it?
Thomas Eriksen: I am happy and proud of all my albums. They all represent what they are in their own way. Artwork and music go hand in hand and the overall product consistent in my viewing.
I don’t care what others think, I make my music for myself first and foremost. However, positive feedback is of course humbling and can be gasoline for the fire.
Mork – I Flammens Favn (with Det Svarte Juv)
TIBM: Mork originally started as a one-man black metal band. 2014 saw Mork circulating the live gig scene with a lineup. What adjustments did you have to make personally to become custom to having band members? Was this an easy or hard adjustment for you?
Thomas Eriksen: We started rehearsing in late 2014, if I remember correctly, and did the very first show in early 2015, in Poland. Becoming a live band did not intervene with Mork creatively at all. Mork has and will always function as a one-man effort. It was however a bit challenging to get used to performing the tracks that had only previously been recorded and never been played through in their entirety. But that’s what rehearsals are for.
TIBM: True Norwegian Black Metal. A phrase and music style that is still heavily used and created, yet Black Metal has evolved so much since the second wave, with the introduction of DSBM, NSBM, Avant-Garde, etc. How do you feel about these variances to this sub-genre?
Thomas Eriksen: I think it’s obvious that any genre evolves and branches out into new territory of sound and feels. However I’m not a supporter of political or racial-difference charged music. I am all about the sound and feel of the actual music. To me Black Metal works best in a primitive and “nekro” fashion. But that is all down to taste and personal preferences.
MORK – I Sluket Av Myra (official video)
TIBM: Is this creative expression of different styles (as mentioned above) important to the survival of this extreme sub-genre or its undoing? And why?
Thomas Eriksen: A short answer for this one. As long as humans are able to have dark feelings, Black Metal will prevail. It is something that connects to peoples souls in a very unique way.
TIBM: Norwegian Black Metal is often inspired by the preservation of Scandinavian culture and mythology, anti-Christianity, the long cold isolated winters, and dark forests. What inspires Mork to create the sounds of despair, solitude, and darkness? What process do you go through to conjure your creative vision for lyrics and music?
Thomas Eriksen: All of the above has part in it to some extent. But everything I create is inspired by myself and feelings I have at the time if writing. So there is no formula or focused theme or plot.
TIBM: What are your thoughts on Political Correctness (PC) creeping into a sub-genre (Black Metal) that was designed to be nasty and shocking? Has PC ever prevented Mork from being true to the art? And if so, how?
Thomas Eriksen: As mentioned, my music is about the atmosphere and feel. I don’t push any specific political agendas or things like that. If there are undertones of such things, I don’t think that it would be very noticeable.
TIBM: Do you have any advice for new artists creating Black Metal in regards to PC? And if so, what would that advice be?
Thomas Eriksen: The only way to create something true and of quality is to follow your heart. Don’t bother with outside expectations or so called rules. Do your own thing and if not success follows, at least you are true to yourself.
Mork – I Hornenes Bilde (from Eremittens Dal)
TIBM: Can you please explain to us what the lyrical themes of Det Svarte Juv are? What is the story or album mantra so to speak?
Thomas Eriksen: I decided early on not to explain or talk much about my lyrics and lyrical themes. I can as much as the new album was written in a period when I lost my father and other family members on top of other misfortunes. So I guess that explains some of the darkness on there. But there are “positive” sides if the album, as well. «På Tvers Av Tidene» is a quite uplifting and proud track about a strong belief in the self.
TIBM: Your record label Peaceville Records has Black Metal legendary giants such as Darkthrone and 1349 signed. This truly is a huge achievement and well-deserved recognition for Mork to be signed with this prestigious label. A true sign of success. What is your relationship like with Peaceville Records? Has the relationship seen Mork move up the black metal hierarchy?
Thomas Eriksen: Since I was a kid and started playing and creating music my dreams was to get signed and to be an artist. But I can’t really say it was a goal, so to speak. As it seemed impossible and like something one could not achieve. The high climb that Mork has achieved has really been unexpected. I am grateful, of course. When I started noticing that this was something that was compelling to people I thought; “how far can I make it?”. So I just continued as one do, to make music, play shows and everything has happened in a nice up-bent curve up to this moment. As of this writing I am in a van in the middle of the Nevada desert headed towards San Diego to play a show, after playing a packed show in Las Vegas, last night. I never could have imagined ever getting to say that back when burning the first 100 cd-r’s if the first demo.
The signing to Peaceville was a milestone for me and my personal goals. To be on a proper big label is a part of the dream, you know. This has helped Mork‘s visibility in the scheme of things and the exposure has been great for the band.
Mork – Fortid og Fremtid (Full EP)
TIBM: How do you feel about bands creating trve kvlt Black Metal from countries outside of Norway, countries such as Australia, Brazil, Thailand, etc? Is there something in the Norwegian history or ambient elements that can only truly really preserve this unique form of extreme metal? Or are Norwegians happy their Black Metal legacy is being created throughout the world?
Thomas Eriksen: All humans have feelings, so everyone is able to dig deep and create dark music. Black Metal is a genre which reaches across the globe. However, a band from Thailand can’t call themselves “True Norwegian Black Metal”.
TIBM: Growing up, was it always Black Metal for you? What was the pinnacle moment that made you decide to create Mork?
Thomas Eriksen: My first passion and what made me pick up the guitar was 70’s British punk-rock. And then I discovered classic rock and metal over my teenage years. Black Metal came into my life between 2001 and 2004, after seeing Mayhem live and digging around exploring this dark, dangerous and mystical genre.
TIBM: After so many years of being a solo artist without performing your music live, how well did you adapt to the stage and crowds? Was this an easy step for you to take? Or were there fears and challenges you had to overcome?
Thomas Eriksen: I have been an performing artist since I was 13, so I have always been used to the stage. However, I have never been as confident and in control on stage as I become in Mork. There is something that clicked 100% when joining Mork the lone artist with Mork the live entity. We belong on stage, for sure. We all enjoy playing live to such an extent that I could not imagine not doing it anymore. Being the live band that we have become has gifted us the opportunity to see the world and I wouldn’t trade it for nothing.
TIBM: With the release of Det Svarte Juv this year, can Mork fans expect an album tour? And if so, what countries do you plan to tour and when? Australia maybe? (I can hope).
Thomas Eriksen: We have never toured as such, we make separate appearances and one-offs. So, we don’t call our present shows as “Det Svarte Juv Tour” or anything like that. They are all “Mork” shows. When we have new material, it will be included in the sets, obviously. We play where ever we are wanted. But we need to get an invitation and get booked. Up til now the count of countries visited has risen each year. Right now we are on our very first American trip with shows in Las Vegas, San Diego and Los Angeles. Next shows that been confirmed are in England, Norway, Germany and Bulgaria. Australia would be nice. So, wake up Aussies, and bring the band over! Mork is ready.
TIBM: Thanks Thomas for your time.
MORK – På Tvers Av Tidene (from Det Svarte Juv)