FURZE: "The Dark Side of the FURZE"

By Dr. Abner Mality

In a Norwegian forest dwells a hermit. A man apart. Woe J. Reaper is his name or at least the name he chooses to share with us. Like many hermits of the past, he thinks strange, potent thoughts and he also makes strange, potent music.  He is very much in the tradition of the lonesome eccentric genius. His solitary efforts have produced a musical project which he calls "FURZE".

Furze has been labeled as black metal, probably because Reaper is from Norway and well, what else could he be? Black metal is a paltry description of the odd extremity produced by Furze. It ranges from the absolute mind-shredding guitar speed of the "UTD" album to the Sabbath-inspired muck of "Reaper Subconscious Guide" and the unpredictable mayhem of "Necromanzee Cogent". Now Reaper returns with "Psych Minus Space Control", a mostly instrumental voyage through realms dense and bizarre. To describe it any more would be doing it a disservice. If you are an adventurous music listener, you should sample Furze to experience it.

So it was that I talked to the man called Reaper, speaking from his cabin in the Norwegian woods, speaking about the mental processes that produce a work like "Psych Minus Space Control", one of 2012's most haunting albums. Take heed of the hermit and learn his lore...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings, Mr. Reaper! Your latest effort "Psych Minus Space Control" is said to contain songs dating back to 1992! Is there a reason you waited so long to record these older tunes?

WOE J. REAPER: No, there are certain riffs that date back to ’92 and so forth after that but none of the complete arrangements on this album are that old. Most riffs on this album are new…well, "REAPER SUNCONSCIOUS GUIDE" was having the EXACT arrangement sRIFFWISE since 2004 (it was actually rehearsed for recording during UTD sessions but was skipped in the last moments)…."WHEN ALWAYS READY" has some riffs from 92/94 and onwards…"PSYCH MOOZ" was recorded during the "NECROMANZEE COGENT" sessions 11+ years ago. That one had violins/solo/effect guitars added later, but both the lone-guitar  intro part, the two main comp guitars and bass and drums were recorded back then on the same equipment as  the NC album. The "OCCULT SOUL" + "TRIAD OF LUCIFER" trax have some stuff from the last 10 years too but  use moslty new riffs The slow mid part of  theTRIAD-track was actually recorded in 2006 in a song called "666 UNDERSTOOD" that was never completed. But it was used for the better now… As always with Furze, things are released/recorded when the feeling is correct…

WC: How do Furze songs shape themselves over time? Do they "write themselves", in a way, or are they done to a strict formula?

WJR: Writing songs happens both fast and slow. Some songs are stored away, not because they are worse than current songs at a certain time, but because they don’t fit in. For instance, even if the  "REAPER SUBCONSCIOUS GUIDE" song and the "PSYCH MOOZ"  song  COULD be released many years ago, they didn’t fit in on "NECROMANZEE COGENT" and "UTD" which were the current albums the last time they respectively were up in the air/ You know, I always talk about the opposites within the Triad, or the INTERVALS of the Triad…well, that is the way NATURAL inspiration/cosmology works for Furze, it's not a strict formula which binds me -  it’s a strict formula naturally happening. It’s a way to express the pure at heart. “It’s the power” (refering to the track “IT LEADS…”). Reaper makes Satanism possible, so to say…

WC: Do drugs or dreams play a strong part in the creation of your music? A lot of it sounds like it comes from a dream...or a nightmare?

WJR: No, not really…

WC: On "Reaper Subconscious Guide" you began to explore the slower, doomier side of your music and "Psych Minus Space Control" is a further exploration of this?
What attracts you to the slower, more psychedelic sounds?

WJR: Well, here we go again. "Electric Funeral" is a Black Sabbath song we covered on the 2nd demo "ZAREDOO" in Spring 1998 before even hearing retro bands like Electric Wizard. And there was also THE first Furze song ever recorded in a studio, in January 1998, namely "FOR THE LUST OF DARKNESS",  Pure Sabbath/Hellhammer inspired music.  Most of the "NECROMANZEE COGENT" album was soaked in Black Sabbath inspiration. So, me being an old doom/psychdelia/black metal/thrash metal/death metal/experimental/etc Merchant – I can't really relate to this question. Having said this – I am currently more into experimental/slow music now than I've been in a while - but I'm totally dedicated to brutal music as well, as ever.  I THOUGHT I would return to a brutal album after "REAPER SUBCONSCIOUS GUIDE", in the same way I went from a mostly doomy recording (ZAREDOO) to a brutal one (TRIDENT BLACK METAL FEAST/TRIDENT AUTOCRAT) to the next doomy  effort (NECROMANZEE COGENT) and then another return to even more brutal fields (the UTD album)…and then slower than ever  (RSG) so there you go….that's the intervals of the Triad of  FURZE making physical results in the music as well, not only in the lyrics.  BUT THIS TIME my soul demanded even more slow hell after "RSG" so I followed that call.

People don’t really know me…when I tried to get MEMBERS in the 90s for WOE J REAPER (pre FURZE band name)/FURZE I hung up sheets (yes, before internet!) seeking “ people into Black/Speed/Death and “tuppa-tuppa” (it’s a Norwegian saying for a kinda mid paced drum beat) Thrash  meets psychedelia  meets Ozzy’sa Black Sabbath days” hehe. I still have that shitty sheet I went around hanging up somewhere  in my archives, I think I will scan it and use it as inlay in the 2nd HIDDEN HITS VOL 2 box for the fans to get a visual glimpse of the old WJR/FURZE days….

What attracts me ? It’s a state of mind….but it has got to have a real hook-quality to it. That’s why Black Sabbath ALWAYS was my fave within this genre. (every good band should have its own style anyway)   – cause they are 4 magicians. They have all 4 together made magic in their own sabbathical way, on the 6 first albums...moments,  that I will never grow away from. It's something that touches so deep…even if one argues that their lyrics represent a different view than mine – it doesn’t matter. I see and get different things from them than they did, or others do(of course…)…plus add the fact that they were revolting in the late 60s and so forth. They were the VENOM of their time , you know…AT LEAST !

WC: Your record "UTD" featured some of the fastest, wildest guitar playing ever heard. Will you ever return to this style or did "UTD" take it as far as it can go?

WJR: Thanx for the compliment.  I thought I could never again make anything more intense than “Beneath the Wings of the Black Vomit Above” or “A Life About My Sabbath” or “Djerve Djevel”…but fuck, it should be possible! I must admit I had to be very fucking focused in order  to do some of those things on the guitar. 
UTD was a challenge to both listener and composer!

WC: Do you still consider yourself a black metal band and do you think black metal is still a potent form of music or has it run its course?

WJR: Yes, with Furze as creative as it can get, and with the future upfront, I’ll make Black Metal run MY course. I know I have something unique to come up with. I always rely on my pure feelings whilst creating. I get superhuman powers when I do Furze. I can work a normal full  job, then do other private shit, and then when the evening has long started; go and rehearse for hours. That's, when the normal fellow would have had enough of the day already. That is called Dedication. Dedication without earning money. That is PURE devotion. Like Witchfinder General said;  “I  love Music”….

WC:  What are some of the psychedelic influences on "Psych Minus Space Control"? I hear some definite Hawkwind influence. Are there more obscure refferences?

WJR: Basically my mind and soul is put into the music. I can't think of a specific band or tune that made me use this or that idea. It came up from the deep within – that’s psychedelic…

 I can't deny the love for FINDING stuff I didn’t find already, from the old days….ART is an example, their "SUPER NATURAL FAIRYTALE" album has got some magic that no other band possessed in the year 1967, I'm sure….they later became SPOOKY TOOTH, but that is just WASTE, there the magic is ALL gone, They fell into a trap called “we can make it”…the (dirty) soul vibrations of the SNF album are all gone…..

WC:  The music on the new album is simple and rather repetitive on the surface. Was this your intention from the start?

WJR: Well, it's not so repetitive ,I think….sometimes I think I could have repeated and thus built up certain riffs even longer…the aim is the soul, remember, not the psyche itself.  Psyche is initially used as a decision-maker, to shut it all out, and trance deep into the soul. It’s a really meditative title really...not a space trip at all. It’s INTROVERTED,  by all means. It falls under the No1 of the Triad….

WC: I also detect some influence from what's called "krautrock" of the early 70's. Is this something that's inspired you?

WJR: I bought some kraut in the 90s…FAUST…AMON DUUL 2…and some more.  Some moments here and there are to be found, definitely.  I find moments in most genres of music, but rock/metal is the best for me.

WC: The cover art for "Psych Minus Space Control" is very striking and controversial. I understand you control the look of each Furze album. What was the creative process behind the art here?

WJR: It's called "RAT AND CHEESE SALAD". I explained the complete idea to Sami, as he’d been in touch with Agonia Recordscause he wanted to review the RSG album for a Finnish zine or whatever. He contacted me and we spent 8 months...Jan 2011 – August 2011, before the result was there. It’s the first time he makes  cover art with details on demand, but since he had such great respect for Furze  he said it was just an honour for him to do it. Very nice!  

OK I view it as the cheese being Jesus, (it could have been Mohammad but that would be rocket science-in-private hehe)  and the rats/mice….it's basically THE OPPOSITE of what the album is all about. The cover illustrates the salad (or the games of the masses in order to get the “cheese” in the beyond and on Earth) your mind has to EXCLUDE. Inside the coversleeve  there is communication (bats) within your self, between the psyche and  the dark soul…..I guess the front cover also illustrates that they end up in their own pot of wasted use of energy, like a rat and cheese salad…nowhere. (In 14 years of Wormwood, this is one of the strangest answers I've ever had)

WC:  Most of "Psych Minus Space Control" is instrumental. What made you decide to leave vocals out of most of the music this time around?

WJR: There is a log book following the die hard version of the LP. It sends the signal that, you, the listeners, are taking this journey, inwards….

WC: What are the advantages and disadvantages to being an "outsider" in the music world? Furze seems to be in its own separate universe.

WJR: I haven't tried the other way around. The thing is, I get to do as I want. The reason is not that we are SO weird musically , I think. It's because the production is very anti commercial and also the fact that we havent played ONE gig ever. Records are not so special any longer, it seems. 

WC: How do you see the Furze sound evolving in the future?

WJR: Right now I'm in the middle of nowhere, I can't rehearse, I can't do anything! I don’t have access to my instruments or anything but I will start it all up in the autumn again. The next thing is veeeery ancient…September 2012 sees the release of the "HIDDEN HITS OF THE OFFICAL REAPER VOL 1" on Agonia….then there is a 50% new / 50% old material release in form of "VOL 2" next Spring. This will be a lot more interesting than the VOL 1, in my opinion. The sound on the new songs ?   I guess you just have to wait and hear…

WC:  Will Furze play live or is it strictly a recording project?

WJR: I am  burning with the desire to play a couple of gigs soon ! It somehow feels correct now. That is the next important thing for Furze – the next challenge I would say. It will be promoted when the time has come,  be sure of that!

WC:  What was the last CD or release you picked up just because you wanted to hear it?

WJR: HELL’s "Human Remains" and GRAVEYARD’s "Hisingen Blues" .

WC: What was the last live show you caught, just because you wanted to see the band?

WJR: I was supposed to get the trip + pass as birthday present from my wife - to the only Black Sabbath gig with the original line up in the World…BUT Bill wasn't there and I think Ozzy just does what the hell is needed in order to get the cash. There is no point in the Ozzy + Friends tour!!!!!!!! That was a BLACK SABBATH reunion tour, that is what we all wanted. Then Tony got fucked, then Bill dropped out, so what's left ? Only disillusion. I rejected it all,

I live on with the 1998 reunion-gig memory from Oslo…"Into the Void" was the last bonus. Ah, what delight it was!..But, also without Bill……(he was on the 2001 and 2005 tours but I couldnt go to any of them unfortunately)….

The last gig I went to was a historical one too…it was VULCANO in Oslo April 28th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Seeing them and meeting my old penpal Zhema was really, historical to me . I even FORGOT to show him my ancient VULCANO tattoo! Hell, what a night !

WC: What's the one message you'd want a listener to take away from hearing your music? 

WJR: With "PSYCH MINUS SPACE CONTROL", I just want the listener to feel darkly pragmatic inside…