Some Music Was Not Meant For Humans; The
This is the story of the most shameful, bitter years of my life. The years when I failed and betrayed myself and some other persons in a quest for the meaning of life. The quest for everyone’s recognition. The quest for being famous and not just die as a nobody. To that end; I destroyed the lives of other persons.
This is the story of Arctic Serenades.
I closed down Arctic Serenades back in December 1997 after four hard years. In effect, it was closed down one and a half year earlier when the last record was released and I moved to Scotland.
Where did this story start ? Probably with my birth. Probably with this feeling of being better than anyone else. I thought I was going to be “great” and achieve great things. I thought the world was going to be at my feet, admiring this great Torodd Fuglesteg. Yes, narcissism has always been a part of my life.
When my fellow narcissists became dictators and murdered millions of human beings; I started a record label.
Why a record label ? I am genuine into music. I listen a lot to it, although my knowledge about music is very limited. I still do not know the difference between a tone and half tone. But I was a music collector. In particular cassettes (tapes) and CDs. I had 600 CDs at the time when I started Arctic Serenades. I ended up with over 2000 CDs. Now; I have only 20 CDs and 100 promo CDs (for sale).
Although I am a prog rock fan (proghead) at heart, I also ventured into metal. Iron Maiden’s Powerslave was a massive influence on me and it still is. I have just re-discovered this album and I really enjoy it. I also have a massive textile poster of Powerslave on my wall. I think you get my drift…….
The album that got me into extreme metal (Death/Black) was the superb “History Of A Time To Come” by Sabbat (UK) and “Beneath The Remains” by Sepultura. These two albums are still among my favourites. I also followed the Norwegian scene with interest. I got the Street Fighter fanzine and the first copies of the Scream Magazine. I also spotted the “Deathcrush” LP by Mayhem when I was in London and that made my proud. I was heavy into the likes of Artch, Death Mission, Red Harvest, Equinox and Decadence. I was a hanging around the metal scene in Norway when I was living with my parents outside Oslo, during a year in the frozen North of Norway during one year in the army and later from my flat in the Sogn Studentby (a student dormitory where I had 12 square meters of joy). I was also visiting on a regular basis the Hot Records, Voices Of Wonder and the Tordendskrall (later Sound Of Noise) records shops. I am not sure if anyone remembers me from then. I was most definite not a part of the scene. Just a strange guy with bad breath, using money on cassettes and CDs. A type of guy who always hangs outside a movement/scene. You find us hangers on everywhere. Not a part of the scene, but close to the scene. Loners like myself.
Due to doing a fanzine with a friend (John Arne Arnesen) from Sogn Studentby, who later became a journalist in the Norwegian magazine Faro Journalen, I was asked to become the metal writer for Rock Furore magazine. I was taking over from Satyr in Satyricon who was dumped. Something which is a badge of honour because this magazine was anti-metal and Satyr was probably far too clever for the two editors. Enter my services. I was sent to interview Enslaved (during the release of Vikingr Veldr) and told that this was a training mission because this band was not big enough for the magazine. Which was bollocks because this band was even at that time far bigger than most of the featured bands in that magazine. The band was nice and I have always great respect for Enslaved.
I also did some reviews of some records I have forgotten. I did a review of a Funeral demo. More about this band later. I did a gig review of the Carcass and NoPlaceToHide gig and some stuff on Sagittarius. ....And then I screwed up due to some very loony actions. An interview with Nick Holmes for Paradise Lost lasted two minutes due to me being totally unprepared (sorry, Nick !!). My ideas for the magazine was totally loony and I lost touch with reality. The final two editions of the magazine featured nil contributions from me before the magazine went out of business.
During that time; I also visited the legendary Helvete record shop where the legendary Øystein from Mayhem ruled the roost in the Norwegian Black Metal scene. I met both him and Faust. The latter was already a murderer at that time, although nobody knew. He was pretty normal. No problems with him or Øystein. Both of them were normal people. Øystein did not make a huge impression on me. Fourteen years after I met him; I have problems remembering what he said and how he looked. After he was murdered; he was made into a saint and a great man. The myth is far bigger than the man. As Frank Zappa once said; Death is a great career move.
I do remember Helvete though. It looked and in particular smelled like the infernal hell it was set to portrait. Most definite a very special record shop with some esoteric shop assistants who were just staring at me. Either stoned out or just wanting to keep up the image. I have no problems believing the portraits painted of the place in various serious newspapers and books.
My experiences in Rock Furore made me believe I had a career in music. I spotted a niche in the market for underground metal. Well, I thought I had spotted my own place in the market.
I met up with Jacob Holm (later White Willow) and Trond Gjellum (later Panzerpappa) from a prog rock fanzine called Hybris and suggested that we should do some distribution together. They agreed, but later withdrew due to, I guess, personal differences. I went ahead anyway.
I called my company for Arctic Distribution and started some distribution of some demo CDs.
I got in touch with a band called Sagittarius and their manager Olav Eira. I took their debut album on distribution and sold nil records. I took the Carpathian Full Moon ‘7 on distro and sold nil records.
I took Shiver Records on distribution and sold very few of these albums. I also did the first Napalm Records albums and sold very few of them.
I had no plans of setting up a record label at that stage. Just to run a distribution company and get a life after wasting too much time at the university. But Olav Eira told me about a CD pressing plant up in the north of Sweden who did the job of pressing 1000 CDs for £ 500. So I told him to go for that. Arctic Serenades was born. Why this name ? It was meant to be a company within the Arctic Distribution family and Arctic Serenades was a nice wordplay, derived from the mother company. Then I discovered/thought I discovered a fishing trawler company with the name of Arctic Distribution and I quit that name.
One of my neighbours at Sogn Studentby was a member of Suffering. At that time, this band did not even have a demo out. It was totally unknown to this world. I had not heard a single tone of their music. I only knew they were doing Black Metal. So I signed them. As simple as that.
Having no money at all; I came up with a brilliant idea: The band pays for the studio – and the manufacturing costs. I do the label manager shit and act like I am the biggest thing ever entering this planet. I am brilliant with words. In my world; I could turn water into wine and stones into gold dust.
I set up a budget where their investment of 500 CDs would make a very good profit. It was not fraud from my side; it was just plain stupidity because I had no clue whatsoever. In my budget; all printed CDs would be sold to a market price in Norway. No CDs would be used as promo CDs. There would be 500 persons in Norway who gladly, GLADLY would have a Suffering CD. No problem at all (in my deranged world).
So we split the gross income into 75 % to the band and 25 % to Arctic Serenades. I would pay for the second pressing.
Faced with this sure income; Suffering agreed. The album was recorded and I got a listen to their music for the very first time in my life. Did I like it ? I was too deranged to notice the music. I was just a label manager and it gave me licence to talk crap all day long. Which I did. I honestly thought this project was going to make me money and that the world, that is Norway, would come to me and buy 500 Suffering CDs without having any knowledge about this band whatsoever. It think this is called sheer madness, my attitude. Sheer madness.
We had this magic CD plant up in north of Sweden. Olav Eira could not deliver on this promise. I later discovered that this CD plant did not exist. One of Olav Eira’s flying pigs, that too. There was some more of them around, I later discovered.
Through Rock Furore, I had some contacts with the manager of Voices Of Wonder; Ketil Sveen. I and Olav Eira went to him with the Arctic Serenades concept and he signed up to my idea and a cooperation. Voices Of Wonder did the CD pressing and the mastering. Suffering paid them upfront, off course.
Voices Of Wonder also did some of the distribution.
Another indie label at that time, doing things in the proper way, was Effigy Records. This label had released an ‘7 with the Dutch Grind/Death Metal band Midian back in 1993. Without too much success, it has to be said. The owner of the label was John Erik Aslaksen. A nice, rather silent and modest young man.
Effigy Records was about to release the Molested debut album “Blod Draum”. I got in touch with him. We met up. I sold him the Voices Of Wonder concept. He signed up to my visions and then we were two. Arctic Serenades and Effigy Records started an unofficial cooperation. A very clever idea on paper. One of my few good business decisions. Voices Of Wonder also accepted Effigy Records and everything was great.
During the months between August - October 1994, I also met up with Minas Tirith and offered them a contract. They were interested, but refused. Which was a good choice from them. This is a good band though. I also met up with Trivial Act and offered them a contract. They too refused. So did NoPlaceToHide which later released their very good album on their own label. I also offered Paradigma a record deal, but they signed on Head Not Found instead. I signed Sagittarius though through their manager Olav Eira and his own band Vinterland. I also talked to some other bands whose names I have forgotten, twelve years later.
Through the Minas Tirith’s manager, I also met up with the guys of the still going strong radio programme High Voltage. Very nice guys who lives, drink and eat metal. I misused their radio programme to talk crap and big about my plans. Their listeners was sold the idea that Arctic Serenades was going to be the big thing. So was Scream Magazine and other stations too. I talked and talked. Most crap, though.
Through a friend; I was sent into the direction of a Christian metal band called GROMS. I met up with their grossly overweight, and slightly deranged manager on a café on a train station. I presented my case, which was the same as the one I sold Suffering. I was going to be the over inflated ego and talk crap all day long as the label manager of the project; GROMS would pay for the privilege.
This demo CD now became a “proper release” through Arctic Serenades. The problem was that this band was a Christian White Metal act. Suffering was a Satanic Black Metal act. And here is something for the history books: Arctic Serenades did release a very Satanic album and a very Christian album on the same day. It was the debut albums of the label, no less. In a strange way; this is so typical for me as a person. I was a total mess.
I cannot blame this for what happened, but I had just had a nasty cycling accident which I due to wearing a cycling helmet survived. I also moved from Sogn Studentby to a proper flat in Oslo; the Otto Blehrs Vei 3 flat where most of the events would take place. I did this in on the 15. August 1994. To get this flat; I needed to declare myself unfit for work. Two sessions with a brain shrink and I was duly declared unfit for work. I was declared barking mad and I needed some regular sessions. I did not attend any of these sessions. Today and in light of all the problems I have had for the last ten years; I deeply regret my cowardly attitude to my sickness. Although I am declared sane today; I have wasted at least ten years of my life on this sickness. Worst of all: I have wasted and destroyed my family, friends and other people unfortunate enough to meet me during this ten years long period.
Suffering was not happy at all with the signing of GROMS and with good reasons. Signing GROMS was a disaster for me personally and Suffering. The guys in Suffering bankrolled my crap from day one and they knew that their investment would be in jeopardy due to the signing of GROMS. They were right. At that time; everything Christian was hated by the Norwegian scene. Churches was still burning. With the signing of GROMS, the scene got a new hate-object. Me. But I was not on this planet. I had no contact with the scene. I just thought that I could release these two albums and sell 500 x CDs at full price as easy as nothing. How wrong I was !
I was also in touch with Antestor at that time and I sent them into studio to do their Martyrium album. This album was later released through another label. I regarded, and still regard, Antestor as much darker than GROMS, which was a happy-smiles band.
As a person, I was and still am, a dark person with a highly influential dark side of my soul. A dark side which largely runs my life. I am not sure if that can be called satanic. But I am not comfortable around happy, smiling people with a happy message. I am more attracted towards the puritan part of Christianity than GROMS version of Christianity. I soon found out that me and GROMS/their overpowering manager had very different views on life and how to run things. I did not like their attitude and I did not like their whitewashed-Pantera influenced brand of metal. It was not dark enough for me. I felt that Suffering, although very much inferior to GROMS music wise, was much more down my alley.
I liked Antestor and I disliked GROMS. In particular; their manager which views on life was really pissing me off and made me turn against Christianity. This manager was totally overpowering and I felt that I lost control over my label to this Christian soldier. He also set up a distribution company who distributed nothing and used a lot of words on his daydreams. In many respect; he was a mirror image of myself. No wonder he annoyed me.
Out of the blue, Nuclear Blast sent me a contract on distribution of our stuff in the Germany, Switzerland and Austria area (the so called G/A/S area). I had always admired this label and that contract was a massive boost to my ego.
The terms of this contract was very bad though. I had to pay all the costs. The shipping to Nuclear Blast and even the return of the goods from Nuclear Blast to me. I also had to pay for advertising and I had to take all risks. Nuclear Blast commited themselves to do more or less nothing.
I was given 10 DM for each CD and they then sold it for 27 DM again. This was before the Euros came into force, but I guess anyone can make out the profit margins here. Even drug dealers has less profit margins than Nuclear Blast.
The Nuclear Blast contract arrived out of the blue. I wonder why. It was not due to Suffering. The owner of Nuclear Blast was a commited Christian and he was pushing everything with that religious agenda through Nuclear Blast. Mortification and Horde was pushed like mad by Nuclear Blast when other labels was pushing pure satanic stuff. GROMS was a part of his agenda to win today’s youth of Jesus Christ. They signed on Arctic Serenades and that is why this distribution contract arrived at my door....... I believe.
November and December 1994 was mad, mad and even madder than the contents of an asylum.
We did the mastering of the CDs + the Molested CD, paid Voices Of Wonder the CD pressing bills and the release dates was set.
My personal use of money was spiralling out of control and stayed out of control for as long as the label existed (and up to this day, I regret to say). Money who should had been spent on the label, was spent on buying CDs for myself. I ended up with over 2000 personal CDs. I also spent too much money and time on computer games. I was too distracted and did not focus my energy on the label. I was too busy posing and acting like a big man with a big business. The dirty, nitty-gritty part of the label was something I hardly ever did. Most of it was left to the bands and to the distributors. I still thought if I continued to talk big, which for me was just normal speaking, I would do my job. So I talked and talked. The albums were released, but not fast enough in my view. I cannot remember what exactly happened, when I write these lines twelve years later. But there was something and I blamed Voices Of Wonder. There was, quite rightly too, some unhappiness from Voices Of Wonder that I spent far too much time at their
office. I was not physically wanted there. They were right and I cringe when I recall these memories. Stupid me. Stupid me. Stupid idiot.
There were also some problems with removal of a track from the Suffering CD which had to be removed due to the lyrical contents. I believe it was called “Let Them Die” and it contained something about letting starving children in Africa just die without any mercy. Voices Of Wonder did not like these Darwinist lyrics. Voices Of Wonder was always morally split between the profitable politically incorrect Black Metal scene and their background from the rather less profitable left-wing roots. This was the same distributor which refused to distribute the “Transilvanian Hunger” album by Darkthrone unless some modifications was made to the cover. The Suffering track had to go and the band paid for a new master.
Anyway; I went to a solicitor and made the solicitor send Voices Of Wonder a letter where I announced that the cooperation was over. That also included Effigy Records, who agreed with me. Ketil Sveen & Voices Of Wonder agreed and answered that I was impossible to work with. In hindsight; he was spot on.
We then got some invoices from Voices Of Wonder with figures which was a bit inflated. Maybe not inflated, but they were not explained by Voices Of Wonder. We got some invoices directly from the CD pressing plants and these figures did not add up. I still believe this was a mistake from Voices Of Wonder, not to take ten minutes of their time to explain what these figures meant. Me and John Erik (Effigy Records) believed we were being ripped off by Voices Of Wonder and with very good reasons. So a war of words started. I accused Ketil Sveen (the Voices Of Wonder manager) for ripping us off. He was not happy and started to carry out his own war against me and John Erik. Regrettable; death threats against Ketil Sveen was issued and I was banned from the Voices Of Wonder record store and from anything to do with Voices Of Wonder. At that time; I was furious. But I now fully respect these actions from Voices Of Wonder. They were both just and correct. I later, too many years later, offered Ketil Sveen my apologies in a letter. I am really ashamed of these death threats, although they were issued in mad frustration.
In the middle of this, there was this Norwegian Sami band Sagittarius. I have no clue of why they thought they could go into one of Oslo’s best studios (Panser Studio) and record an album which I was going to pay for. This band was managed by Olav Eira and I guess this was another one of his flying pigs. Out of the blue, Olav Eira called me and told me that the band had just started recording of an album and I was going to pick up the bill. Could I please forward £ 5000, please ? Ehhhh……… ? I had their first album on distribution and I had sold two copies of it of one hundred of fifty received albums. Not exactly promising. Again, this was due to my belief that the world would come running to me and not the opposite.
So I went up to Panser Studio some km. from my flat and met Sagittarius the same day. John Erik tagged along. A bizarre situation because I had no clue they were there and I was going to pay for the whole recording. I listen to their stuff and said hello. They, Olav Eira and the studio owners believed I was going to pay and treated me with respect. The studio was in the middle of a forest, the snow was falling and I was flat broke. I was also under pressure from Olav Eira and close to total panic. The recording went ahead and I was soon asked to come up with the £ 5000. Which I could not do.
Somehow; there was a decision to have a Sagittarius gig with the band Trivial Act opening for them at a venue in Oslo. The gig was arranged by Jacob Holm and Trond Gjellum and advertised through High Voltage…… and only there. No other promo for the gig was done. Basically because I had no clue about promoting gigs. The gig was set for a Friday night.
A feminist, extreme leftist radio station in Oslo called Radio Orakel also asked for a radio interview with GROMS and we arranged that the same weekend. The manager and the guitarist of GROMS came up with train from their hometown Kristiandsand for the interview and the gig, which turned out to be an Arctic Serenades happening/fiasco.
The interview with Radio Orakel turned out to be a feminist attack on all Christian crimes during the last two thousand years and the guitarist in GROMS was held personally responsible for everything the Pope had done, Martin Luther’s teaching and the Holocaust. GROMS, the album and the music was not even mentioned in the interview. It is to my eternal regret that we did not walk out of that “interview” or stopped it. It was a shamble and I let down the poor guy, the GROMS guitarist, who Radio Orakel grilled on everything not connected to GROMS. I have later put these lessons from this shamble to good use when dealing with media. But at that time, the damage was done.
The following interview with High Voltage was a proper interview, conducted by professional people.
The evening went ahead. There were me there, the High Voltage guys, the GROMS manager and guitarist, Olav Eira, the gig promoter Jacob Holm and Trond Gjellum and some other guys. A guy from Voices Of Wonder also showed up and I gave him some verbal abuse. More about that later……
The evening was……. I am not sure if it was a success or a failure. I was spaced out on my own talk about conquering the world and make every human being into a disciple of Arctic Serenades.
Both bands played and played well. The GROMS manager even managed to piss off everyone with crap talking and I there and then decided that he had to go and the GROMS with him.
The Sagittarius issue was a burning problem which needed a solution. So Ketil Sveen donned an angel costume with some nice, white feathers and came to my rescue. He wanted to sign the band for Voices Of Wonder. Me and Ketil was in the middle of a bitter argument at that time and I guess that was his only motivation to sign Sagittarius. So I decided to fight for Sagittarius. I had no money though. After some weeks, I therefore lost the battle. Which was a big blessing in disguise. Voices Of Wonder took the bill and later released the Sanity Of Madness album. I was pissed off when my name was not even mentioned in the thank you list in the album. I understand why. But at that time; I was furious at the band. But I should have been jubilant. Voices Of Wonder saved my skin. The album sold almost nothing, I have heard. I maybe wrong here, but this belief has given me considerable pleasure.
In the middle of this; the manager of The Third And The Mortal thought it was a good idea to sign his band on Arctic Serenades. There were some minor problems between them and their label Voices Of Wonder at that time. It is my eternal belief that if their brilliant masterpiece Tears Laid In Rest (released two months before their manager contacted me) had been released on another record label (not Arctic Serenades !); it would had sold far more than it did. It would also got the masterpiece status it does not have today. I rate it among the five best albums ever released by a Norwegian band. I regard The Third And The Mortal as a wasted opportunity for the Norwegian metal scene to really make it big, world wide.
Anyway; this manager called me and offered me this band. We made a verbal agreement about signing the band over to Arctic Serenades. The manager had not asked the band though and they did not agree.
In particular; Kari Rueslaatten did not want to sign on Arctic Serenades. She was involved in the Storm project and I had voiced my disgust about this project due to reasons I today totally disagree with.
Anyway; the band withdrew. If my memories serves me right; the band then sacked their manager. I got tonnes of grief from Voices Of Wonder in this matter. The manager told them that it was me who approached them and I broke all the rules. Let me set the record straight: This manager approached me out of the blue. I had no wishes to sign The Third And The Mortal until the minute this manager offered me them. But off course; I got all the blame. Off course.
I have mentioned this Storm project. A Moonfog Records project. I was dead against it. At that time, Olav Eira was even more against it. I cannot remember why, but we put our noses into a matter where we had no business whatsoever. At that time; I was far more leftist than I am now. What I did was stupidity of the highest order. I regret this stupidity now. This album was marketed as a national-romantic project……… and Kari Rueslaatten had both her feet into this national-romantic thing during this project. She told me that on the phone. She gave me the details of this project and she was my main news source in this matter. To my disgust and astonishment, she later went to the press and told them that she was innocent in this matter and she did not know. That’s a lie. She blamed the other two members of Storm, Fenriz (Darkthrone) and Satyr (Satyricon and Moonfog Records) for dragging her into this project. That’s a lie too. Kari was in the project with open eyes and both feet. Kari lied to the press to save her own career. An action I deplore. But it gave me a good laugh.
During that period; I confused being national-romantic with nationalist thugs like skinheads. I have listen to the album tonight and I cannot see any reason why I was so angry. This (pretty bad) album is in the same vein as Skyclad and Forefather. Bands I like. In hindsight; I was very, very, very stupid in this matter.
Anyway; I created a stink. During a phone call with Radio Orakel, planning the GROMS interview some days later, I let loose my frustration over Storm, Kari and Third And The Mortal. I told the Radio Orakel lady that Kari Rueslaatten had joined a nazi radio station called NiteRocket which at that time operated in Oslo and that she was one of “them”. I used approx ten words on this matter. I have used ten years to regret these words and I still get reminders about this insane action. Even Terrrorizer Magazine reported this matter in an interview with The Third And The Mortal. Their views on me was brutally wrong.
To put the record straight: What I told Radio Orakel about Kari Rueslaatten was a lie and nothing but a lie. I have no reasons to believe she has ever been into anything remotely called nationalism or nazi.
Hell broke loose ten minutes after I had spoken to the Radio Orakel woman. Kari was on the phone and called me everything under the sun. Not nice compliments and rosy words, I have to add. So I sent her some flowers and an apology. Twelve years later; I am not sure if she accepted it. But that does not matter now.
Tormod in Tatra Records, at that time the owner of the Moonfog Records, also called me hours later. He too was not complimentary. Somehow, Olav Eira got his full wrath. I cannot remember why. So I was off the hook here. He was followed by an annoyed Ketil Sveen with the same set of “compliments”.
Then somebody knocked on my door. It was Satyr and Frost from Satyricon and Moonfog + the editor of Nordic Visions magazine (another one of my then hate objects. A mutual hatred). They too was not complimentary. I was given the ultimatum: Do not spread rumours or I would get some very nasty personal injuries. Or as the police believed; I would get killed. And let me add; I never ever told the police about this meeting whatsoever. They got their information from someone else not connected to me whatsoever.
The myth about this me vs. Kari thing is that I was spreading rumours about Kari being a nazi. Let me again set the record straight: Due to the warning from Satyr and his crew at this meeting, I never ever spread any rumours. I did value my health so much that my mouth was shut. I have no fear for Satyr or anyone else now so my only motive is to set the record straight. The rumours in this matter was either spread by Kari herself, Ketil Sveen or the Tatra/Moonfog guys. Or even the Radio Orakel woman. OK then, maybe that is the source for these rumours. I did call this woman some minutes after I had spoken to a furious Kari and withdrawn my lies so there was no reasons she should spread this withdrawn lie to anybody else.
Let me add that I do not hold any grudges whatsoever against Satyr in this matter. I would had done the same as him if I was in his situation. I would actually say that Satyr’s action in this matter was just and correct.
Everything happened in a matter of 24 hours. The worst day in my life to that point. I was in despair. Was this the day Arctic Serenades died ? Maybe, yes.
The business relation with Olav Eira ended soon after. He had too many flying pigs around and I felt I could no longer trust him. Or maybe he split with me because he found me a total joke. I do not remember. To this day; he owe me money and he finally let me down with a payment he promised me when I had left for Scotland. But that’s in the past and best forgotten. Olav Eira was an idiot. But I was an idiot too so we really deserved each other. Olav Eira also took with him Vinterland and returned to his daydreams up in the north of Norway. Nothing has been heard about Vinterland, besides of two tracks on a sampler released by Facefront Records.
At this time; Moonfog Records and in particular Satyr’s power grew stronger by the week. He and his friend Fenriz from Darkthrone established themselves as the powerbase of the Norwegian Black Metal movement. The were supported by the Ulver guys and Frost from Satyricon. It was sheer hatred from their side towards me.
I heard some time later from a police officer that the police regarded me as the next murder victim in the metal scene. The police used my perceived weak position to call me in for interviews early whenever they saw fit. They still had some unresolved issues with the Black Metal scene. I did not have a clue about anything so I had nothing to say. Eventually; the police also sussed that out and let me alone. But they were keeping my flat in Otto Blehrs Vei under surveillance in case the metal scene carried out their death threats.
I have heard some wild stories about axes being thrown through my window. To a certain degree; I lived in fear for my health and life. But there was no physical violence carried out and no damage carried out on the flat where I lived and ran the label. I only got one death threat in the mail. The sender was the founder of Myrkskog (much later to become one of my favourite Norwegian bands). If my memories serves me right, I reported this threat to the police. I later withdrew the allegations and this arsonist (he burnt down the Aamot chapel back in 1994) was released. There was some nasty flyers around and some choice words said in the fanzines. And that was all. I did not show my face too much in the town due to the advice given by others. Which probably saved me from being severely beaten up. My self imposed exile was not a great sacrifice due to my preferred life as a loner. I chose the forest instead of the bright lights of the city.
The Suffering and the GROMS CDs sold reasonable well. But not well enough. Altogether 1500 x CDs altogether were printed of each album. The time for paying out the royalties approached. GROMS had borrowed £ 2000 from one of the band member’s mother and they had problems paying her. They wanted royalties from me. I needed a payment from Nuclear Blast. In my incompetence, I believed Nuclear Blast was going to pay for all the shipped CDs in one payment. I was wrong. It was a sales on consignment deal. I had done a terrible mistake (by not reading the contract…… lesson learnt !) and GROMS manager was very angry. I got the Nuclear Blast money and I did not pay GROMS. I defaulted.
I cannot remember why and how, but I guess my deranged mind was a huge part of it. Yes, I ripped off GROMS. I guess due to stupidity and in order to get food on my table.
Let me here go straight to the issue of rip off.
There was not a chance in hell that I was ever going to be able to honour the contracts with GROMS and Suffering. I was running Arctic Serenades full time and with no extra income other than some sickness payments due to my mental illness. It cost a small fortune to run the label. Postage, packing, travels, phone, fax, computer and other things cost a fortune. So did food and clothes. Too much money went on private CDs. I used far too much money on junk food. A bad habit that I am now slowly turning around.
When the bills was paid and I got to the bottom line; I was always facing financial ruin. Even with the most sparse use of money; an underground label run as the main income has no chance whatsoever to pay out royalties. Only those underground labels who are run as hobby and financed by a decent income, has any chance to pay out royalties.
Arctic Serenades was a rip off label. Not by choice, but by default.
Unfortunate; I was not smart enough to see this myself. I was always looking for ways to earn enough money to feed myself and pay my bills, including the royalties.
Was Arctic Serenades the only rip-off label on this planet ? No. Most of the underground labels from that time, with the notably exception of the likes of Nuclear Blast (whose deals with their distributed labels maybe considered as rip-off), was unable to pay royalties. This by the same reasons as mine.
Norway is also a high cost country where it cost a lot of money to record and produce CDs. The prices I got from my distributors world wide was quite low and a created next to no profits. The only way to create profits and have any chance to pay royalties was to sell our CDs in Norway. This is why I and John Erik created a fellow distribution company called Inferno Distribution.
During this company, we tried to distribute CDs we got through trading. For example the Lacrimosa album “Inferno” which also gave the name to this distribution company. Nuclear Blast gave us this record because we convinced them that we could do a lot better job than Voices Of Wonder on this job. Ketil Sveen was probably convinced that we would screw up………… and he was right. A full page adverts at our own cost (Nuclear Blast should had paid for it, but we never asked them) was taken out in Scream Magazine and plenty of radio promotion work was done. This excellent album then sold next to nothing.
Maybe because we did not have any structure in place to distribute it properly. We eventually put together a catalogue and distributed it to fifty records stores around Norway. Almost none replied. No sales follow up was made from us. It was a joke.
The album we did was the ones none else would touch too. We got some really shitty albums from Invasion Records as a trade against the very good Molested debut album from Effigy Records. These Invasion Records albums sold next to nothing. The same goes for the Nosferatu Records albums we got.
They were crap and utter crap. Nosferatu also ripped us off for £ 8000 (Molon Lave Records ripped us off for £ 1500). We were stupid enough to send this Sicilian label some hundred CDs on a sales on commission deal. This rip off label then wanted us to send him some ridiculous low cost proforma invoices so did not have to pay any toll customs on these CDs. He got them and that was the last we ever heard from this thief. I have later heard that Displeased Records tried to organise a court case against this label due to money owed them.
Then again; we (mostly myself) also ripped off other labels due to having no means to pay them by. The likes of Avant Garde and Displeased Records. We had 2000 unsold CDs stored in one storage room. The owner of that storage room then evicted us due to lack of payment and I had to take these CDs into my flat. I then sold some of the CDs far too cheap through the radio programme High Voltage.
Due to the unwanted problems my activities created for my own private landlord, they were not happy at all with the additional two thousand CDs in my flat. I got a final warning from them. This distribution was a very substantial drain on my resources. Again; I screwed up big time due to gross incompetence. Inferno Distribution was the Fawlty Towers of the music industry. On reflection; everything I did was total Fawlty Towers. I was absolute Basil in every respect. The Inferno Distribution opened in the beginning of 1995 and closed down one year after.
GROMS managed to pay of their main creditor. But they wanted royalties. And quite rightly so. We had a contract. I had not honoured it. An agreement is an agreement. A contract is a contract.
The situation with GROMS needed a solution and it got a solution. In a manner I did not like. But it was a blessing in disguise. GROMS claimed, right or wrong, that they had tried to speak to me for weeks, but I did not answer their calls. I did not have any mobile phone or even an answering machine. But I guess they are right. As a result; they paid me a personal visit on their way from Kristiandsand to a gospel festival in Sweden. The visit was not a pleasant one and I felt uncomfortable. But I do understand GROMS position in this matter and their action. My landlord also went mad and almost called in the police. GROMS removed (actually stole. But I did not mind...) every GROMS CD from my flat and gave me an ultimatum. Pay or else……. With no money; I had no option than to go for the “….or else” option. That was some minor legal proceedings. Which was water on a duck’s back.
I had my disagreements with the band. I did not like their religious views. Their manager had some inflated views on himself. I was glad to see the back of them. But I had no problems with them as persons. Nice, very decent blokes. I am honestly sorry that I ripped them off.
GROMS later re-released the Ascension CD on a German label. I hope their experience was better than their experience with me and Arctic Serenades.
After I had finished the GROMS business; Suffering was also pressing for their money. I managed to keep them at bay, though. I later paid them £ 1000 after receiving a lot of money from a distributor. Suffering later split from Arctic Serenades and released a demo CD. I have just learnt about the excistence of this demo and I have no informations about it (but I am happy to get informations for inclusion in these pages). The guys in Suffering was really good guys. I am very sorry and ashamed about what happend to them. They deserved better. Much better.
Click on the link below for the final part of the Arctic Serenades story and some links