(Karina Noctum conducted this extensive interview with the prolific and multi-faceted drummer AntiChristian, touching upon many subjects, including the activities of three of the very different main bands he now plays in.)
AntiChristian is a Norwegian drummer known for playing in Tsjuder and Gothminister. He also plays in a less-known band called Beaten to Death that is getting increasingly more recognition both in Norway and elsewhere. This interview includes some in-depth questions about BtD since it is a pretty interesting and unique band that picked up my attention since the beginning. In addition to drum-talking, there is also some cool news when it comes to Tsjuder and Gothminister, which will most likely be topics for in-depth interviews in the future.
When did you start playing drums, and what motivated you in the beginning?
My father is a jazz musician, so I started to play drums pretty early when I was 7 years old. Music in general influenced me. I like all types of music. If I didn’t have music I wouldn’t be alive today.
Who are your favorite drummers and why?
Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa, Sting), Simon Phillips (Toto), Gene Hoglan (Testament, Dark Angel). I like them because they play all kinds of music and that’s pretty important for a drummer. One shouldn’t get lost in one track, and that’s a huge mistake lots of metal drummers make today. It’s all speed—that’s the most important, and no heart.
So you play in non-metal acts as well, which ones?
Since I started I’ve done about 40 full-length albums in all types of music. Rock, folk, easy kind of stuff. Country as well as Death Metal. A lot as a session drummer. Film scores as well. A couple of years ago I did the drums for a track for a Norwegian movie called Cave.
I played the drums for the soundtrack in the ending texts, it came on the cinema.
Who endorses you?
I’m endorsed by Paiste from Switzerland and ACD Unlimited from Austria and Scorpion percussion drumsticks from the US. I used to have lots of endorsements before, but all those companies do not exist in Norway anymore, so it is difficult to get the direct contact if you don’t play a lot, and I don’t. But it is good to get some endorsements because I get stuff I like for a reasonable price. I’m not the kind of drummer who gets stuff for free anyway.
How much do you practice?
3 or 4 times per week, usually with bands or even more, because I have to stay in shape to do extreme stuff like Beaten to Death and Tsjuder.
Is it just playing or do you do something else?
On the practice I have to just play with the bands, or I have an idea of what I have to do, or perhaps an album I have to practice to. But when it comes to live stuff I have this routine consisting of simple exercises to warm the muscles up, and it‘s important to eat a super dinner before I play as well. Not like lots of other drummers do. They take it way too far.
When it comes to feeling in drumming, how do you achieve this?
You know, today a lot of bands use the clicks when they play at home or record and you can’t hear a drummer’s personal time when they swing to that. The feeling of the approach to the click tracks compared to the music. Because it is impossible to groove on a click. When you groove you change tempos according to the sound.
What’s more demanding, Tsjuder or Beaten to Death?
Black Metal with Tsjuder is like a marathon and Beaten to Death is like 100-meter sprints. Tsjuder have much longer songs, but not that high tempo, while Beaten to Death is much more faster and much more technical.
Those are two different worlds: the Black Metal and the Grindcore scenes. Black Metal people are much more true to their stuff, but the Grindcore people are just a bunch of happy people, except, well, the really hardcore people.
How was it like to play Obscene Extreme with Beaten to Death? I was there…
That was fun, a pretty strange festival. I loved it. We played in the middle of the night. I think we got the crowd going after a while. We are new to the scene even though we are recording now our fifth album. Everything was pretty weird. It’s just a big-size punk festival with lots of weird costumes.
I went there mainly because of the Death and Goregrind bands, but yeah, it has an interesting mix of lots of genres. What advice would you give to aspiring drummers when it comes to reaching a higher level?
Practice the right techniques so you don’t get any injuries, especially those guys who play fast as hell. It’s important to embrace all kinds of music so you can get your own style and your own clock and beat, because if you only do one thing you actually get a bit boring to listen to and watch. Of course it’s impressive to see a drummer who plays fast for 5 minutes, but then it’s not fun anymore. You have to do something else, to have diversity in what you are doing in order to create your own style. Don’t be one of millions.
Yeah, that’s true. I like it when a drummer is playing pretty fast, then he suddenly slows down or stops, does something little, like something jazzy, and continues… that’s cool.
In Beaten to Death we do weird stuff because the whole reason the band exists is because we get to have fun. How we play and make music has to be fun, and if it’s not, then we won’t continue.
Beaten to Death seems like a mix of lots of stuff. It may sound a bit melodic at times and then it’s pretty brutal all of a sudden…
They call us Melodic Grindcore for some reason; some people have told us we have made a new style of music. It’s fun when people want to think outside the box.
How do you compose for BtD?
We make everything in the rehearsal room. We don’t allow riffs to be brought from home to the rehearsal studio. We do everything as a band. We maybe come up with an idea, but don’t play it until we get to the rehearsal room. When we are first in the mood, then things happen fast. We’ve been playing together so long, so we are in sync with each other. I think we started back in 2003, but our first record was made in 2010.
I was at the Beaten to Death gig in Trondheim, in 2013 I think…
In the basement place? It was noisy stuff. The backstage is a hallway.
You don’t see many Brutal acts here in Norway… It was pretty good.
Which album, out of those you have recorded, are you most satisfied with and why?
I’m pretty satisfied with the last Beaten to Death album Agronomicon, and of course Desert Northern Hell with Tsjuder because then we didn’t play with the click, just straight in, as you are supposed to do. Of course all the The Cumshots albums and the last one with Nattverd.
What are the current situations for the bands you are currently active in? I know you are recording with Beaten to Death apart from releasing an album with Nattverd…
We have recorded the album except the vocals. In x-mas and New Year’s Eve we did three days in the studio. All the band in a big room. We didn’t have any technicians or anything. We just sat there and recorded everything live, both guitars, bass, and drums at the same time. It wasn’t my best performance on the tracks, but it’s a collective best. We vote the best take afterwards. After one take we can have four thumbs up, two to the side. Or three thumbs up. It’s pretty strange. When we play live it’s much more personal, much more aggressive, and much more pretty…
Well it’s Scandinavian! It ends up being a bit pretty anyway. You guys are professional and pay lots of attention to details compared to other kinds of grind…
Well there is lots of muddy, ugly grind out there in subgenres like goregrind and other stuff I listen to…
Well, I don’t listen to much grind except for Napalm Death, and I like Misery Index too. There are so many strange styles in grind… and lots of screaming Japanese people.
Did you see the cockroach mosh from Viscera Infest at Obscene Extreme?
Yeah, what the fuck was that?
When it comes to Nattverd, how would you describe the sound for all of those who are not familiar with it yet?
It’s old school Black Metal and I’m really proud to be a part of it. I came to the studio and I hadn’t heard any of the songs. Finished recording in two days. When I work like that it feels more like playful drumming even though it is serious stuff.
How good is old school Black Metal supposed to be, according to you?
Listen to Motörhead… everything has to be rock n’ roll. If it’s not, then it’s boring. It has to swing and have an interesting approach to the music. I’m more into the music rather than the lyrics, I never listen to the lyrics anyway. For me the vocals are just an instrument or sound in the song. Of course you have the old Bathory, and that’s more heavy and speedy, which is pretty fun as well…
What’s ahead when it comes to Tsjuder and Gothminister?
With Tsjuder we are in the process of making the new album, and when it comes to Gothminister we are also working on a new album as well, but it takes time. I actually have one concert with Gothminister this year, a festival in Vestfold.
I actually listen to goth music as well, but the goth scene, that’s a pretty different scene…
The goth scene is hilarious. Their clothing style… when you are at this festival and it’s plus 30 degrees and see people wearing latex, leather, stuff like that. How do you manage to survive that? It must be so exhausting to live in a tent and put on your costume.
Yeah, I have seen weird things like people with full body suits—those who do not want to tan. I don’t know how they manage. Probably they do not take the suit off during the whole festival.
Yeah, they probably live in that suit for four days, can’t imagine… nasty. But I had lots of fun playing. Actually Gothminister is one of the bigger bands of those I play in. If you compare them on Spotify, Gothminister have many more plays than the other bands I play with.
But do you like goth music?
Yes, I have a finger in the writing sometimes. It’s lots of fun to play.
What do you like the most about playing live?
The energy from people and from the band, just to deliver a good concert.
I’m from South America and there is lots of energy there…
Yes we have played in South America, that was so funny and so cool, specially Colombia. There were like 800 to 1000 people there and that’s big for a Tsjuder gig. The whole Latin American tour was a total success and we had no trouble. I had people telling me that there was going to be so much trouble, but we had none. We are actually trying to get Beaten to Death to Colombia, by the way.
Sure, the Brutal/Grind scene is so big there and they have lots of festivals now. You play lots of genres, but what do you listen to at home?
It’s pretty difficult to answer. Right now I listen to the drummer Simon Phillips with a Japanese pianist. It’s extremely cool stuff.
What are your future plans?
We have a gig with Tsjuder I think in May. We are going to play in The Netherlands on Valentine’s Day with Beaten to Death at the pre-party of the Complexity Festival. Or else lots of music in the making. I hope we get more live shows because I get so bored when I don’t play live.
Anything you would like to add?
Listen to all types of music and have fun, don’t be so serious. Serious kills. Serious is dangerous.
I actually really enjoyed reading this interview, thanks! It is never the write-up itself, but often interviews tens to be samey. This dude has a broad range of (musical) interests, which is good, and it shows. Puts a different face on Tsjuder!
I had the same reaction — a very interesting and enjoyable discussion.