The multi-instrumentist Thomas Eriksen is the mastermind behind Mork, one of the most prominent bands in the current Norwegian Black Metal scene. “Det Svarte Juv” is the name of the fourth full-length studio album released this year by Peaceville Records. We conducted an interview with Eriksen to discuss the new album, the old school Black Metal sound, the story behind the name, his hometown Halden and more!
RISE!: – You have released your fourth studio album “Det Svarte Juv” this year again via Peaceville Records, what do you think is the best of working with the label?
Thomas Eriksen: Yes, we had everything planned out correctly to have it out during the Inferno Festival in Oslo, where Mork also had a show-spot. So everything went along very well, with listening-sessions, signing-sessions, Mork beer-launch, the show and the release itself. Before signing with Peaceville, I was in dealings with other big labels as well. However Peaceville turned out to be the better for my needs at the time. Today all four albums are out via them and the co-operations work out well and I am allowed a lot of freedom. I guess they have noticed that I am somewhat in control of what I am doing and that I am a hard dedicated worker for my art.
R!: – What was your main source of inspiration when writing “Det Svarte Juv”?
TE: The title itself is actually about ten years old. It was back then planned out to be a concept EP depicting the faces of depression and downfall. However the idea was shelved. Move ahead about a decade and I am faced with my own personal dark times. With the passings of several family members, break-up and illness, all within one single year really colored my world. So the title popped out again and felt like a fitting one for this current album. It’s a varied album with themes from depression all the way to strong self-belief and self esteem. Musically I have been letting loose more and more for each album, by not sticking too much to the firm frames of classic primitive black metal. I have of course gained more confidence throughout my Mork career, which also helped letting me open up my creativity influences even outside the genre.
R!: – The cover art has been made by the amazing French artist David Thiérrée. How was the process? Did you have the idea or did you send him the music and he came up with the artwork?
TE: I had the vision and idea which I explained to David. We had a brief back and forth with sketches and off he went. Since being an only-child, making all the music in solitude and so on I have gained the ability to see the full picture pretty early in the process. I saw David’s work during and really liked his way and talent.
R!: – Mork lyrics have always been written in Norwegian, is there any particular reason for that despite being your native language?
TE: Well, it all comes down to when I discovered Black Metal and heard the Norwegian-language works of the early bands. The atmosphere, feeling and mystique was totally different for me experiencing the Norwegian tracks contrary to the English ones. So it’s all about my own preference and taste, I suppose. «Inn I De Dype Skogers Favn» and «En Ring Til Å Herske» will always to me be «True Norwegian Black Metal». It also gives it all that exotic wrapping, which I do enjoy.
R!: – You’re a multi-instrumentist and record everything by yourself on your albums, but what’s your main instrument? What was the first instrument you learned and the one you love the most?
TE: First time picking up an instrument was the flute back in school, but that never went anywhere. At the age of 13 I was exposed to the electric guitar and that has stuck with me ever since. As I am a song-writer I guess the guitar has to be instrument number one, naturally.
R!: – Mork has been working as a one-man band since the beginning and it’s been like that for many years now. What are in your opinion the advantages and disadvantages of working this way?
TE: The advantage is that I get to have full control and do not have to limit any contributions or ideas. I feel that I, no, I know that I am able to create a complete product by myself. The disadvantage is that I haven’t got any one else to blame if the music sucks or any stupid decisions are made.
R!: – You’re also a producer for your own material and you make sure your albums have that traditional raw Black Metal sound. How important do you think is to preserve this old school sound?
TE: To me that old vibe is the only thing that is «true» about it. I think you will lose all the feel and atmosphere once you rob it of that sound. I tend to get little to no atmosphere from over-produced and polished music. However, some may hit upon something close.
R!: – How did you come up with the name Mork? What’s the meaning/concept behind the name?
TE: When getting into Black Metal with its aesthetics and atmosphere I made up my mind about what it meant to me. I kind of wrapped it all up in a one picture in my head, which was nature and nekro. You know, forests, rotten, dead, decay, roots and so on. The logo resembles hanging roots and the name is taken from the norwegian word “morken”, which means “decayed”.
R!: – You come from Halden which is located in Østfold county, what can you tell us about the town for people who don’t know anything about it? Any other bands from there you would like to recommend?
TE: Well, it is the last city before the Swedish border and closest neighbor to the Swedish city, Strömstad, where Dissection is from. Just a fun fact. It is also really close to Sarpsborg, which has a bit of Black Metal history as well. Halden lies under a huge majestic fortress, Fredriksten Festning, that should be seen by most. At that very fortress the Swedish king Karl 12th was shot dead in battle back in the day. Lots of history. However, the city has never really had any Metal scene at all. It has been and is most Punk Rock, Rock and Country music that spills out of Halden, so Mork really sticks out in the scheme of it all. We do get a lot of cred and support from our local community, though, which is great. Recent years the Tons Of Rock festival was held at the fortress until it moved to Oslo, last year. This year was the first year of the Imperium Festival which is an all Black Metal fest, also within the fortress walls.
R!: – Since less albums are being sold these days, bands have to play a lot more and sell different merchandising items. What about Mork? What’s the merchandise item you sell the most? And when it comes to the music, what’s the format you sell the most? CD or Vinyl?
TE: I have been printing T-shirts, mostly, so we have sold a lot of those. There’s also patches, stickers and buttons. I am considering to make my first hoodies and such, so we’ll see. Out of the music formats, vinyl is the winner for sure. Mork moves a lot of vinyl, which is awesome. Rock and especially Metal fans are dedicated to the vinyl format, which keeps it alive and well.
R!: – You have a full lineup with you for Mork concerts, how much time do you spend getting ready for a concert when it comes to rehearsals with the other members, etc.?
TE: We usually rehearse once every week. We are quite serious about keeping all the nuts and bolts tight and fastened. We are always a well prepared unit. However, there are instances when a member isn’t able to make an already planned show, then we have to pull in a step-in, and that can of course be a gamble. But, as they say; the show must go on.
R!: – You’ve been touring in the US some time ago, how would you sum up the experience? Any other places you’re looking forward to playing live?
TE: To be able to go to the US with Mork was truly awesome. It has been a boyhood dream to have my music pay the way to Los Angeles and California, and to have it realized is nothing short of surreal. We made sure to have plenty of free-time around the shows to explore and experience the place. The shows went great as well. We debuted in America in front of 2000 plus eager people in Las Vegas. We couldn’t ask for anything more. We played Vegas, San Diego and Los Angeles. Upcoming shows and trips we look forward to is our debuts in Italy, Germany and Bulgaria. We play wherever we are invited and enjoy performing to people and see new places.
R!: – Thanks a lot for the interview! You can leave a message to the readers of RISE!
TE: Thanks a lot for the attention. If you choose to check out the music of Mork, it is appreciated. Hope to see a lot of you at a show sometime! Keep the black flame burning and STAY RISEN!
Isebakke – 2013
Fortid og Fremtid EP – 2015
I Sluket av Myra EP – 2015
Den Vandrende Skygge – 2016
Eremittens Dal – 2017
Det Svarte Juv – 2019
“I Sluket Av Myra” (2016):
“I Hornenes Bilde” (2017):
I Flammens Favn (2019):