Some Music Was Not Meant For Humans; The
The label had to go on after the release of the Suffering and the GROMS albums. I had planned a Rush tribute/covers album. Paradigma, Sagittarius, Vinterland and some other bands signed up. Paradigma later released their contribution Witch Hunt on their Mare Veris MCD.
According to the editor of Scream magazine Frode Øien, I had also planned a Norwegian Prog sampler or something like that. I have no recollection of this. But I am sure he is right. Frode Øien later took this idea and released it through his own label Facefront Records. It therefore must have been a pretty decent idea because he set up this successful record label on the back of this project.
And then Funeral arrived. I had given Funeral’s Tristesse demo a good review in Rock Furore back in 1993. The band was interested in signing on Arctic Serenades for their Tragedies album. I got a tape of it and realised that this was a superb album. A masterpiece, no less. That is still my opinion about this album. We did a deal. A much more traditional deal, this time. I paid for the manufacturing. The problem is; I had no money at all. It took me some months to get the mastering done. The band did the cover artwork themselves.
Due to defaulted payments on the CD re-pressings off the Suffering and GROMS CDs, we were persona non grata at our CD pressing plants in Norway. Effigy Records had some similar problems too. I went to another CD pressing plant. But they wanted to be paid for one pressing upfront and then could offer me credits. I had no money. Not even to pay for my own food. But we had heard about two demo bands who wanted to release their demo CDs on their own respective labels. I did a deal with them. They agreed. Problem solved !! These two bands paid upfront for their pressing and I did 1000 x of the Funeral Tragedies CD on a 60 days credit deal. I did it with great hope to be able to pay this bill. But this too was a daydream. Anyway; this masterpiece was released in October 1995. Again; without that kind of success I needed for survival.
The Funeral "Tragedies" CD was the best album ever released on Arctic Serenades and it gave me a lot of pride when Terrorizer Magazine included this album in their Top Ten list of the best ever Doom/Goth Metal albums.
Besides of the Funeral album; the rest of that year was spent on distribution, desperate attempts to survive and self destruction. Both as a person and with the business. I have to admit that my memories from that year is a bit blurry.
I also had some problems with my pretty pissed off landlord. I do fully understand my landlord’s anger. I broke every rule I could and I am surprised it lasted as long as it did. My disregard for other people’s feeling and lives is something I am really ashamed off. My treatment of other persons can compared with the treatment a drug user gives other people. It was a mad scramble for money, money and even more money to feed my “habit”. My “habit” was the label and to get food on my table. And the food was junk food and utter junk food. Not the cheapest food around. New science has discovered that a steady diet on this type of food leads to depression, paranoia and mental problems. Thank you science and laboratory rats, but I discovered this myself back in 1995.
During the June/July of 1995, I had a fourteen days long cycling tour in Scotland and the Cumbria area of England. In reality, it was ten days on the bike and four days in a hospital during extreme dehydration. It was during the now famous heat-wave of 1995 and I got some bad burns over my upper body. But what I saw of Scotland, strongly influenced me to relocate the year after. I got a life long love relationship with Scotland.
Throughout all this; I had these mental problems. I did not attend the treatment required, but I was still classified as unfit for work. But I was off course fit enough to run this record label, do some distribution, rip people off and destroy other people’s lives. I still believed that success was just around the corner. I was hungry and living a daydream. I was unfit to work and I was totally unfit to run a business. I screwed up and I am even today, paying the price for not attending medical treatment. I do regret that I did not go into care at a mental hospital for a while. I surely required it. My dogged determination to work for “the big break” in 1995 has almost cost me my life. I am very lucky to be alive and reasonable healthy. But to be brutally honest: If there was any justice in this world; I should had been dead by now.
After the release of the Funeral album and after defaulting on the CD pressing bills; I was looking for a new CD pressing plant. The CD pressing plant, who did the Suffering and the GROMS CDs, was also looking for me and they found me. They had had a management buyout and new owners wanted a chat with me and John Erik over the unpaid bills. Not a good situation for me. I did not like people who wanted money from me. But the management were in the business of getting payment for the unpaid bills and to get some new business from us. So I agreed that we paid them double fees upfront for their job until the old bills was paid off. In effect; the pressing plant became the sleeping partner of both Arctic Serenades and Effigy Records. A perfect solution for us and in particular myself. All remaining Arctic Serenades releases + three Effigy Records releases was done under this deal.
Anders Eek and Fredriksen from Funeral had a Death Metal side project called The Flesh together with two other guys. Their demo Icecold Macabre Lust was, and still is, a very good demo. They wanted to release a split CD on Arctic Serenades together with the Black Metal band Odium. This band was another Anders Eek side project. Odium also included Secthdamon (Myrkskog, Zyklon and Emperor) and Gortheon (Myrkskog). The contract was signed with both bands.
Due to some threats from the Black Metal scene in Norway, Odium jumped ship. In 1998, they released a full album on Nocturnal Art Productions called "The Sad Realm of the Stars".
I still went ahead with the MCD though and it was released in 1996 in 500 copies. A very good MCD, it was.
In the middle of this; the Mayhem bootleg with this rather grotesque picture of Dead with his brain shot off started to circulate in the market. To the anger of Mayhem themselves. Through the metal dungeon at the Hot Records record store, we were in regular touch with the record store owner Sture. He thought it was a good idea to get in on the act and clean up the sound and then release it again under the control of Hot Records.
I ordered a mastering session at Strype Audio. The owner, Audun Strype, followed the letter of the law (which was the right thing to do) and contacted the record label where Mayhem at that time was signed. Deathlike Silence c/o Voices Of Wonder. Again; Ketil Sveen dialled Planet Loony. He was not happy – again. Neither was Hellhammer from Mayhem who also dialled Planet Loony. I blamed “an associate of me” when later confronted by Audun Strype. Which was a lie he probably did not buy. That was the end of this matter.
Sture at Hot Records was quite a colourful person who liked a bit of fun.... and money. His metal dungeon was run by both John Erik from Effigy and (I believe) Shagrath from Dimmu Borgir. The latter one did not like me. That was a mutual feeling. At that time; I was not into Dimmu Borgir. Today; I think they are brilliant.
At that time; personal feelings and experiences interfered with my views on music. I was not really into Black Metal as I am today. The difference is that today; I have got distance from the events and the bands. I enjoy music for the sake of music. My favourite Black Metal bands today are the ones that in 1995 wanted me dead.
If you really appreciate music; do not start a record label.
A band that really was something special, was Desecration from Wales. Olly, their mainman, was working at a mortuary at that time, if my memories serves me right. I have always wondered how much his work influenced Desecration’s lyrics. Maybe this is a question better not answered. Desecration had gone into studio to record their first album, which they were trying to release on their own label. The CD pressing plants did not like the very graphic art work and called in the police. Desecration was charged and convicted under the obscenity act (law). I refer to the picture of the charge sheet on page 1. Their album “Gore And Perversion” was deemed illegal.
I got in touch without having any knowledge about this because I wanted to buy some of the records for distro in Norway. Because it was banned and not printed at all; I could not do this. I then offered them a contract to release this album from Norway, far away from the courts of Wales and United Kingdom. Desecration agreed.
They only had a tape version of the album. I got it and mastered it at Strype Audio. I tried to release the record with the original artwork. But also my CD pressing plant in Norway refused to print it. Which I found hilarious. The artwork was gross and well over the top so I agreed to put a black piece of paper over the front of the cover. Only then; the CD pressing plant relented and manufactured the album. I cannot remember if it was in 500 x or 1000 x in the summer of 1996. The album sold out, but the collapse of Arctic Serenades prevented any more work on this album.
Desecration toured UK and later went on to release their MCD Murder In Mind on Copro Records two years later. Arctic Serenades was meant to release this MCD. But I went to ground and did not answer their ultimatum letter. I got a “death to Torodd Fuglesteg & all other rip offs” message in this booklet. The contract with Desecration was a net contract and I did not owe them a penny. I was not happy about this message. But in hindsight; I do understand it and I have to accept it as their views at that time. The message was fair enough and deserved. I have no contact with the band due to my new life. But I was very happy when Desecration re-recorded “Gore & Perversion” and re-released it through Copro as “Gore & Perversion 2”. The new version too got some problems with the art-work. I really like this album (both new and the original version) and it get regular airplay in my flat. It is a very good Death Metal album.
Their 2005 album “Process Of Decay” got rave reviews and Desecration is rightly regarded as the best Death Metal band in the United Kingdom at the moment. I am proud to have worked with this project, although the quality of my work leave a lot to be desired. But I have good memories from this project.
I got a demo from the Turkish band My Garden. Both me and John Erik chased them to sign on our label. I won, unfortunate. They demanded money upfront and they got $ 170 from me. I then got the mastertape and promises of a full album, touring and active marketing of the band and the label in their territory. It was a good deal for both parties. I kept all my promises. I did a pressing of 500 MCDs.
My Garden didn’t keep a single promise. Without my knowledge; they split and I was left to deal with an individual called Serhat Bektas who is by far the biggest asshole I have ever met in my life. He also had some unsavoury personal preferences which he later tried to impose on my company through blackmail. More about this later. As stated above; the band wanted payment of royalties after only fourteen days of the release of the MCD. The contract was a net contract with royalties payable after the costs was covered. Payment every quarter, four times a year. Which was very clearly stated in the contract. But the band wanted payment straight away………. When I referred to the contract; the band, who at that time was Serhat Bektas and only him, demanded hundreds of flyers to send out to their friends. Which I sent Serhat. As a “thank you” for me sticking to the contract; he added the words “rip off” to the label logo. Implying that Arctic Serenades had ripped off My Garden. Which was a lie. They send out all the flyers, and I got a lot of grief from the distributors. The sales of the My Garden MCD took a nosedive because of the bad publicity My Garden/Serhat Bektas created. And then My Garden wanted more flyers and wanted me to work harder to sell the MCD. I refused to send them more flyers. Then Serhat Bektas presented to me his unsavoury personal desires and a “business proposal” which was pure blackmail. If I did not agree, I would get hell. And this was the only promise Serhat Bektas ever kept. I sacked the band and cancelled an order for 1000 more MCDs. Serhat Bektas then kept his promise and gave me abuse on a regular basis through mail, fax and e-mail between 1996 and as late as 2001. I then gave an interview to the Aftermath Records webzine, later reprinted by other magazines, where I for the first time told the truth about Serhat Bektas. After that; the abuse ended.
The truth about this “rip off” Serhat Bektas claims is that Arctic Serenades, under the terms of the contract My Garden signed, did not owe My Garden a single penny. Arctic Serenades took considerable losses on this MCD. This in addition to the $ 170 I sent them. Serhat Bektas never had a clue what he was talking about. He was just after two things; money from me and his unsavoury interests. I hope I never ever encounter this kind of shit again in my life.
I also signed another band from Turkey that year. I cannot remember the name. But my experiences with Serhat Bektas did not make me want to work with any other Turkish band again so they were silently forgotten, ignored and dropped.
In the summer of 1995, I also got in touch with (Mariuz Kmiolek ?) the manager of Vader. Their debut album The Ultimate Incantation was very much one of my favourite Death Metal albums at that time.
Vader had released their live album Darkest Age through Baron Records. I wanted to distribute it. They had none left. I then wanted a licence. I got a deal. I liked Vader, but I also knew it was good for my bank balance to release the album. Somehow, Vader signed for that live album. I do not remember the details here, eleven years after. But I do remember that we used eight hours in the mastering studio to re-master the shitty Baron Records version we got from Vader into a reasonable good album.
Baron Records had also released a good Doom Metal album named Prayer To.. by the unknown Polish band Mordor. I also got this album on the same deal. Both albums was released in early 1996 in 500 copies each before I relocated to Scotland.
Vader went public and said that I had ripped them off and this record was a bootleg. Well, it was a net contract and I also lost money on both the Vader and the Mordor record. I do not owe Vader a single penny. But with no communication from me whatsoever in this matter or any else matters; I very much understand their position.
Vader later wanted to re-release this live album through System Shock, Germany. I got a solicitor to send them an angry letter and this is the last thing I ever heard about this record. This is an action I now regret. Darkest Age Live is a good live album.
Through the Inferno Distribution activities, I got in touch with a record store in Larvik, Norway. A small town, 150 km south-west of Oslo. Me and the owner became reasonable good friends. A friendship he needed as much as bullet through his head. Which he some months later discovered that this friendship actually was… Another one of these nice guys from Norway, the flowers of Norway, my insane naive daydreams destroyed. Which today makes me cringe in shame and disgust.
I managed to sell this shop some records and everything was at that time rosy. This guy mentioned that he had a band called Bugs B Gone. I had a record label called Arctic Serenades. I was not immediate sold on the band, though. I did not like the name. Too modern and hip-hop for my liking.
The band also included a graphic designer. The art works costs was killing my business at that time. £ 500 a piece for an eight page booklet in the costs of graphic layouts and films was a really killer. I also needed a graphic designer for flyers and other promo material. To say that I was in the market for a cheap, preferable free, solution is a massive understatement. I was desperate. OK, my brother in law was a graphic designer. But I was not willing to sacrifice my family at that point. But some months later; that is exactly what I did.
I was at that point invited down from Oslo to Larvik on a visit. I had never visited Larvik before and I love being on a train. There was a railway to Larvik and I was off like a shot. I met the guys, got a tour of Larvik, got a good dinner from this friendly record store owner and his wife and met up with the graphic designer and the band. The band had a private showcase for me and I was sold. Not totally in love, but still sold. Bugs B Gone did old style commercial Death/Thrash Metal in the vein of Sepultura and Slayer ten years before it became acceptable again. Bugs B Gone was hardcore Sepultura fans and Andreas Kisser of the same band has been observed on a gig, wearing the Bugs B Gone t-shirt.
I returned to Oslo with a good deal for graphic designs and printing of promo material. A very useful day in the countryside, indeed. To keep this deal warm, I then offered Bugs B Gone a record contract. It later dawned on me that they really deserved the contract based on the music alone. After some negotiations, the contract was signed and everyone was happy. I got the artwork for some other albums sorted out and I returned to Larvik two weeks later with these and sorted out some other details I have now forgotten. These two visits to Larvik and Bugs B Gone are almost entirely erased from my memory, eleven years later. I only remember the nice guys in Bugs B Gone and the shame I to this day feel for my bastardly betrayal of them. I left this graphic designer and his employer with a huge unpaid bill. How low can a person sink ? I know. I have been to that place. But I still chasing the big break through when everyone else knew I had hit the iceberg and was as doomed as Titanic.
Bugs B Gone went into studio at a time when I and Arctic Serenades was in freefall as a person due to various problems I will discuss later in the next chapter. The emerged with a great recording, later to be made in to the Act Of Rage MCD. Unfortunate; I let them do the artwork and that was to be my downfall. I still got 50 unsold Bugs B Gone MCDs under my bed. But if re-released again today; their MCD would be a major seller. With a total different artwork, that is.
Bugs B Gone was good friends with one of the most important men in the Norwegian music scene. His name was Svein Bjørge. He ran the Norwegian division of the Swedish distribution company MNW. A massive company those days. Svein Bjørge wanted to distribute Bugs B Gone in Scandinavia, but wanted as little to do with me as possible because he regarded me as an insane piece of shit. Today, I do not disagree with this assessment. But at that time and for many years afterwards; his attitude really offended me and we had a huge argument over several years. He was telling the truth and I did not accept the truth due to an over-inflated bruised ego. My attitude, my words and my actions in this argument was just stupidity of highest order.
I wish I had listened to what Svein had to say instead of arguing with him. I am sure he had a lot to teach me. Not in the music business, where I was finished anyway, but on a personal level. It was a huge mistake from me and I can only hold my hands up and apologise to Svein – and myself.
The Bugs B Gone MCD got a very good distribution through MNW. Again; pity about the cover, but MNW and Svein did an absolute fantastic job with this distribution. This despite of the very bad reputation I and Arctic Serenades had in the Norwegian music industry at that time. Because of me; many people blankly refused to touch this release.
1996 is my personal Annus Horribilis. A year that still gives me nightmares and cold shivers down my spine. 1996 was a total disaster………with one small exception.
During the end off 1995; John Erik saw the light of the tunnel and that was not the same type of light I saw. He saw the future and that was to give up Effigy Records and move home to his parents in Arendal.
John Erik was also a victim of the fact that it is impossible to run a small record label fulltime. His bands, Molested and Obtained Enslavement, was really unhappy with him. John Erik endured a lot of suffering and his flat in Oslo was not fit for humans.
He tried to run Effigy Records from his parents house in Arendal. But that too was impossible. So I took over and I did in fact release the Algol and the Judgement Day CDs. Both was manufactured in 500 copies and no promotion whatsoever was done. It was a shameful joke. At the same time; I also kept the four other releases; the two Molested releases, the Obtained Release and the strange three band split cd Effigy Of The Possessed alive. With no particular results.
I will not really go into the Effigy Records business here. I think this story is best told by John Erik Aslaksen himself. I have not heard a single word from him since 1996. My treatment of John Erik is another shameful episode of my life. I dragged him through hell many, many times. I made him persona non grata in the Norwegian Black Metal scene. John Erik was a nice man. He deserved a lot better than me and my business. I sincerely wish him all the best. I really hope he now has found happiness.
John Erik also signed over the Ashes You Leave contract to Arctic Serenades. The Doom Metal band from Croatia had recorded an insane strong album called The Passage Back to Life and Effigy Record signed them. But the record was never to see the light on Arctic Serenades. It was meant to be released at the end of 1996. I even mastered it and sorted out the artwork and films. But the collapse of Arctic Serenades put a stop to this album. Morbid Records then moved in and took over the films and master tape. They released it and the next four albums by this band. Ashes You Leave is still going strong. A superb band.
I now had two labels and one distribution company. Which included thousands of unsold CDs and some pretty angry bands and labels who wanted money from me. Could things be worse ? Oh yes...........
My stay in Otto Blehrs Vei ended when the daughter of the landlord required the flat. I was on a very thin ice with my landlord so nobody was surprised. I got a two months notice to quit, but in my insanity, I only started hunting for a new flat the week before I was to be evicted. I found a letting agency and paid a rip off fee to get access to their properties. I much later discovered that they actually were rip offs due to their owner being taken to court and jailed for some months. Their book consisted of only one flat and I got that flat. The flat was outside Oslo, in another county.
The day I moved, there was the only act of violence in Otto Blehrs Vei. And against all odds; I was not involved. Well, I did call the police, which may explain why three police cars were there within minutes, fully expecting (and hoping for) a new tragedy in the Black Metal scene. They were disappointed when they found and had to arrest the knife wielding ex-husband of my landlord’s daughter who demanded to see his own children. The irony, the sweet irony………
Baksteplassen in Rykkinn was my next stay. I moved to this big apartment to be a flat mate with a middle-aged lady (the landlord) who was attending a boarding school in a small town south of Oslo. I was having the flat on my own Monday-Friday and we were going to share it some weekends. I was hired to take care of her cat. A cat with no fondness of insane label managers. Which he demonstrated a couple of times with his razor sharp claws.
This arrangement did not work out at all due to my landlord becoming very sick and unable to attend here school for some time. We were very uncomfortable with each other (entirely my fault) and I was served with a notice to quit. After one more week, I finally broke down in tears and ran away, back my parents house. The day after; the phone company cut the phone due to some unpaid bills I had worked out and my landlord wanted to kill me. My minor mental breakdown was therefore a blessing in disguise. I paid the phone bill within days. But I was out of Baksteplasssen and all my earthly possessions was put in storage and then lost in my personal bankruptcy which then followed two years later.
I took my clothes and moved back to my parents. Moved is not the right word. Invasion is the most correct word. I invaded my parents house with my record label and my overpowering mental problems. My brother was also staying there. The following six months was the worst months of my life. Due to being a loner and insane; I did not get on well with my parents after my mental problems took over my life. Now; these mental problems also took over my parents life. The result was sheer horror which nearly totally destroyed the Fuglesteg family.
I also left my parents with a massive phone bill and a printing bill for the fanzine.
My mother tried to move me on to a new flat. I had a look at some, but I was unwilling due to the record label work. We were constant arguing. I was taking over the house with my computer and fax machine. My parents was praying to God for release and crying their eyes out over this situation. It was hell. Utter hell. But due to blood being thicker than water; my parents accepted me and the situation. They are truly fantastic people.
I have no words for the disgust I feel today when I remember these six months. My beloved parents brought me to this world. They have always supported me. They have always loved me without any reservations. What they got was a son with very big mental problems and his record label who released the type of music they have always detested. No words can describe my shame over these six months. I cannot forgive myself for what I did to them.
I was approached by a Norwegian fanzine who at that time was in conflict with the Moonfog guys and felt that I had been mistreated by them. So they wanted my version on the events. I called the female fanzine editor and arranged an interview. The female editor obviously asked others about me and got a strong “hands off” warning from the likes of Jacob Holm from the Hybris Magazine (now White Willow). So the interview was off.
I strongly felt that my side should be heard. So I started a fanzine called News From The Infested Graveyard. It was a crude printed black and white 32 pages A4 fanzine. I believe it was printed in 200 copies. Half of the pages were the Inferno Distribution mail-order. The rest was an interview with myself, conducted by myself. I have not had or seen a copy of it for over ten years, but I guess it was the normal pompous self deluded shit I was telling everyone at that time.
I did continue the fanzine three years later as a webzine. See the link at the bottom of this feature.
The release my parents asked for entered the picture in the summer of 1996. Deviation Records was run by a guitarist from the legendary UK band Malediction called Mark. He had released two tapes by the bands Serenade and the band Harmony (who later released some CDs under the name of Maze Of Torment) . To this day, I have no clue why I offered to release these two pretty bad tapes as a split CD. It was a bloody insane thing to do. OK, the Serenade part of the split CD is pretty decent Doom Metal. But Harmony……… horrible, horrible Thrash Metal. I cannot bring myself to listen to this split CD even today. I hate it. Absolute hate it. The artwork, the music, the sound………. A total waste of time and money. I do not blame anyone but myself for this. Although I have fallen out with Mark and not spoken to him for ten years (again, this is entirely my fault), he was a nice guy.
I also signed Malediction and everything was ready for the release of their debut album on my label. But I had no funding whatsoever. I also fell out with Mark when I moved to Scotland and the album died together with the label. I did transfer the films and the mastertape to the band so if Malediction want to release this pretty good Death Metal album; they should do it. It is one of these great unrealised albums.
Two months before I moved to Scotland; I got in touch with the Norwegian Black Metal band Forgotten Woods. They had released two official albums on No Colors Records and one unofficial album (to the disgust of the band) on a metal label in Poland. They were a good band. Due to reasons I do not understand (and neither did Metalion of Head Not Found in a letter he sent the band); they wanted to sign on Arctic Serenades. At that time; I was totally spaced out on my mental problems and I gladly signed them. I was also stupid enough to promise them that the astronomic studio bill should be covered by Arctic Serenades + that the band got an insane high royalties percentage. The band was satisfied. So satisfied that they then told me that they had changed their name to Joyless and all ties to the Forgotten Woods name would be cut. In reality; I had signed an unknown debut band. I was not pleased. Then I received a tape of their recording. To say that I was shocked, is an understatement. Even in my insanity; I reckoned that the music was very uncommercial and did not fit into the label’s very broad profile whatsoever. It was a mix of pop from the 1960s and metal, if my memories serves me right. I moved to Scotland and I silently dropped this record, which was later released through No Colours Records. No doubt with some choice words about me in the booklet. Their music is not my cup of tea so I could not care less.
I have only vague memories about how I signed Cryptal Darkness. I vaguely remember that I got in touch with them for distribution and ended up with signing them for a MCD and a full album. Both of them featured in the Ten Nightmarish Vision advert (placed in various magazines) and flyer. Their music was pretty standard Death Metal. I do not have any copies myself and I have not listened to them for over ten years. The band changed into a Doom Metal band and that is the last I heard about them.
During the final two weeks of my stay in Norway; I also did the mastering of an Arctic Serenades compilation CD. It was meant to include re-masters of some old tracks (including a superb The Flesh track) and some tracks from upcoming albums. I remember the half a minute long intro from the compilation CD (SERE 010) which contained the noises from a polar bear, happily eating Kari Rueslaatten. God, my head was really f**** at that time !! The compilation was never released. I still may have the master CD somewhere in my house.
I also signed the Scottish Death Metal/Grind band Confusion Corporation based on a tape I got from them. I then moved within ten kilometres from them in Scotland. Their music was OK, but I have to admit that the signing was more based on romantic feelings about Scotland than the quality of their music. But the band was great. They released the album later on their own and that got critical acclaims. The problems with the album is that is was too commercial for a small label like Arctic Serenades. Not enough underground, in other words.
Deviation Records was a Scottish label. I still remembered my cycling tour in Scotland with great pleasure. I then added two + two together and came up with my best decision ever. I wanted to relocate to Scotland. So I went over for a week, looking for a place to stay and relocate Arctic Serenades to.
Mark and his now late father hosted my week long stay when me and Mark were looking for a flat. We found a nice flat for me at Loch Lomond outside Glasgow. One month later; the 15. October 1996, I finally moved to Scotland.
I moved to Scotland under the impression that I was going to get some grants and loans from the local Scottish Enterprise Association (or something like that). I was in a meeting with them when I was over looking for a flat. What I thought was commitment from this association for help, turned out to be wishful thinking. After four days in Scotland; I figured out that I was in deep trouble. I had an expensive flat, some records to release and no income whatsoever. I had a contract with Nuclear Blast. But they were not selling many of our records. They also wanted to return all stock to me and end the distribution of Arctic Serenades. Some harsh words was exchanged. I was struggling like mad to pay my rent on the far too expensive flat. I could not afford food. Several times; did not eat any food for ten days at a time. It was desperate times. I also tried to release the Confusion Corporation and the Ashes You Leave albums. I had already given up the Desecration Mini CD (Murder In Mind) + Joyless, the Malediction and the compilation albums. I finally had to give up on the Ashes You Leave album and then on the Confusion Corporation album. The end was near.
I then became involved in a desperate attempt to keep the label afloat. That also cost me my freedom for a short while (a matter I am legally unable to discuss here). I also became homeless and lived on the streets for six weeks. I got a roof over my head in May 1997 and I still tried to salvage the label through distribution and so forth. But a judge in a court room put me and the world out of my miserable self delusions and ended the life of Arctic Serenades. On the 31. December 1997 at midnight; Arctic Serenades was legally dead.
Some months later; an auction over all mine and the Arctic Serenades earthly possessions was held in Stavanger, Norway. I was personally bankrupt and all my possessions was sold to cover some of my debt to a removal and storage company. Unsuccessfully; it has to be said. I lost everything I had, except from the clothes I was wearing when I moved to Scotland.
I was down and out. But not dead. I fully understood that the door to music was closed for good. I slowly started to rebuild my life in Scotland. Slowly but surely.
I did some small distribution under an assumed name (due to legal reasons) and re-started News From The Infested Graveyard too under an assumed name and a different address. Running the ‘zine was good fun while I was taking some further education and working. Slowly; life returned.
During this time; I went into total anonymity. Nobody knew my previous life. I had friends back then who still does not know. Actually; most of my friends today does not know. This feature may come as a shock to them.
I was ashamed of myself. I wanted to hide. I was still hurting inside. Very badly. It was like an open wound who did not want to heal itself. It dawned on me that I needed to do something to get closure and healing.
I did an interview with the Aftermath webzine. I agree with most of what I said in that interview even today, although I deeply regret slagging off Faust (Emperor). What I said about him was pure lies and nothing but lies. I am deeply sorry about that.
This interview gave me a kind of closure. But not enough closure.
Some months later, the death of Einar Fredriksen (Funeral, The Flesh and Paradigma) really shocked me. I always regarded Einar as one of the best humans involved in the metal scene in Norway. The guy was pure quality and one of the best of us. I felt and still feel some guilt here due to my very bad treatment of Funeral. I felt that I could not live in silence any longer and I needed a release for my pain. The recent death of Christian Loos; the guitarist in Funeral has not dulled my sense of guilt. Far from it. I will not dedicate this feature to these guys memory because that might be regarded as being insulting. But they have been in my mind and in my thoughts over the last month and during the writing of this feature. I will leave it like this and you, the reader, may draw your own conclusions.
I was and still am a big fan of the Norwegian fanzine Heavy Metal. I highly respect Yngve, the editor of this magazine. We got in touch somehow and he vividly remembered me from the sad GROMS situation where he tried to help the band. His impression of me was probably not the best. But we started to talk. I wanted to put out my story. For over ten years; I had been denied this opportunity and I therefore grabbed Yngve’s offer with both hands. The feature (written in Norwegian) I gave him, was an honest account of what happened.
The release of the story over two nights was meant to be the end of the matter and a full closure of the Arctic Serenades era of my life. But I had far more aggression, frustration and anger than I thought I had. Yngve posted the news about the feature in the Scream Magazine forum. Which off course was totally OK for me.
Metalion from Head Not Found and Slayer Magazine answered with the reply along the lines of “this guy (me) is a total idiot”. I then totally lost my head and went fully out to get Metalion (who had been a thorn in my side for many years) verbally beaten up. Which turned out to be a huge miscalculation from my side. What I wrote in the following discussion with him and everyone else, was stupidity and utter stupidity. I acted like a complete loony. There and then; I concluded that the treatment I had started on after a complete mental breakdown the year before, was not completed and some more work was required.
My plans to translate the feature from Norwegian to English was therefore put on hold. I then got a new job, a new passion (golf) and a new life. I got my mental problems under reasonable control. I am not entirely OK yet. I doubt I ever will be. The damage done cannot be healed, I suspect. Fourteen days ago; I was reading through the Heavy Metal feature again and felt peace. Enough peace to do this feature. The record has been set straight. Closure. A new life.
You have now read this feature and made up your own mind about who I am. I leave to you do judge me.
I am not seeking justice or looking for sympathy. Please leave your sympathy for those I destroyed and those I ripped off. I have no sympathy for myself. On the other hand; I need to live and I therefore have to move on. I cannot hate myself. I did what I did.
Neither am I looking for publicity, fame and attention. I do feel this story need to be told. It is a small part of our history. Besides of my need to get closure and give my side of the story; this is my third reason to write and publicise the Arctic Serenades story.
I hope you have enjoyed the read.
(please feel free to submit any relevant links)
News From The Infested Graveyard webzine
The Aftermath 'zine interview
The Heavy Metal 'zine feature, part 1 (Norwegian)
The Heavy Metal 'zine feature, part 2 (Norwegian)
The outdated Effigy Records homepage from 1998
A rip off theme page from 1998
Promo CDs I want to get rid off
Where you can get the Funeral Tragedies re-release
The new Funeral album
Maze Of Torment homepage (ex- Harmony)
Ashes You Leave
Heavy Metal 'zine
Scream Magazine forums
Metal Norge 'zine