So Metalion, at which point did you find interest in music and metal in particular? What did you find captivating in this music?
- I started to listen to what you would consider as hard rock back in the '70ies, why this music appealed to me is hard to say... It is always hard to explain why you like something.
Do you have older sisters or brothers who introduced you in the world of metal or did you discover it by yourself?
- In the beginning I was of course very influenced by what my older brother was listening to. He had a lot of classic hard rock from that era. Eventually I developed more and more my own taste and started to buy my own records. And especially with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal I got more and more into that and especially the more obscure stuff.
What about your nickname Metalion?
- Well, my real name is JON and I was into METAL so people started calling me METAL JON, so I changed that to METALION, that was back in '83 so I guess I'm stuck with it.
Were you always into the known, popular groups or were you rather into the underground scene? I mean, did you start immediately listening to thrash/speed, death etc. materials or…?
I was listening to a lot of mainstream stuff early on because that was the only stuff I could get hold. So in the '70ies it was the stuff you could find in the record stores. Like UFO, THIN LIZZY, CHEAP TRICK, JUDAS PRIEST, LED ZEPPELIN and so on. I got more and more into 'underground' bands like VENOM when time passed and you were able to buy those records. And it was a great time when Metal become more extreme in the '80ies.
What were the first records, bands what you started listening with?
- It was the more traditional stuff, and among my early faves was bands like mentioned above as well as VAN HALEN (1st LP), JUDAS PRIEST......
What were your first thoughts when you heard this style of music?
- I think it just clicked with me, I really can't remember any big Revelation or something, it was just perfect for me. A natural thing.....
What was the 1st metal concert you saw and what are some of your favorite concerts that you have seen over the years?
- I seen a lot of shows over the years and the first big gig I seen was IRON MAIDEN with ROCK GODDESS as support back in '83. That was really a great experience. It is always hard to say which was the best ones in retrospect, but I am happy to have seen SADISTIK EXEKUTION twice in '96, that would probably be my fave gigs. And also happy to have seen SODOM around 10-15 times, they always kill live.
How was the status of metal in Norway back then? Did you have a strong, healthy scene?
- Back then? I assume you mean like the early '80ies or even earlier? Back in the '70ies we had some good prog/heavy rock bands like HØST for instance but I didn't really know about them back then. But the biggest classic Metal band we had back then was TNT who released their first stuff in '82/'83. There wasn't even much of a Metal scene back then here..... It wasn't until the Black Metal scene exploded here things got really big.... But of course we had some good releases here and there before the Black Metal things. We had ARTCH and on the more heavy side we had EQUINOX and CADAVER for instance.
Was it so big and interesting, like in Germany, in England or in Sweden was? I mean, was in Norway a great underground buzz?
- Absolutely not, even Sweden was so much ahead of us when it come to Metal. I was and still am heavily into Swedish Metal like OVERDRIVE, AXE WITCH, MINDLESS SINNER, TORCH, SILVER MOUNTAIN..... It is obvious that those countries had a much bigger Metal culture than we had in Norway. Of course there has always been fans here but it took some time to develop a scene here. I guess Metal always was massive in Germany.
Was it hard or easy to get, to buy records and tapes in the stores in Norway those times? Were you into vinyls, into tapes or it was equal for you?
I mostly bought vinyl and the selection was not to good, they shops only took in one records of each so you had to be lucky to pick up the good stuff. But I started pretty early on to order records from Sweden. There was some good mail order companies there so it was easier to get stuff there. I remember I bought my first VENOM stuff from Sweden for instance. But of course being a youngster it is hard to buy everything you want.
At which point did you decide to begin a fanzine- do you think, that you influenced a lot of fanzine writers that started doing fanzines in the '80s and/or in the '90s?e with? Did you create a fanzine, because you wanted to declare your tribute to the underground scene?
- In '83 I joined a few of my Metal friends in school and we started a magazine called LIVE WIRE. We released 3 issues of that.... We mostly did reviews of albums from our own collection and made articles ourselves based on what we read in KERRANG! for instance. But I really liked it, so when the interest of the others died I decided to create something on my own so those thoughts were created in my mind since the summer of '84. Especially after I discovered METAL FORCES and started to write bands etc. I thought it was so great to be a part of something like this. Especially since I had no talent whatsoever to play any instruments this was was of course a great way to be a part of the Metal movement, so in this way SLAYER was born. I think that later some coming fanzine editors was inspired by SLAYER. Especially I could see that in the layout department in other 'zines. Either if it is true or not I really don't know but I always thought so.
Slayer was Norway's first fanzine, is that correct? Weren't any other fanzines in Norway back then?
- I think that SLAYER was the first extreme Metal 'zine that was born in Norway. We had LIVE WIRE as I told you about and there was also something called METAL EXPRESS which was kinda like LIVE WIRE but earlier, so that was a big influence on us. A bit later than SLAYER (if I remember correct..) there was two magazines called METAL STORM. One was more extreme and one was more mainstream. Of course later there was much more to come.
How did you end up naming the fanzine Slayer?
- I was going through a lot of ideas and some that were close was INSANE and METAL DAZE. Luckily I ended up with SLAYER. The name is more or less taken from the horror movie "THE SLAYER" which completely scared me back in the day! HAHA! But of course it was the band SLAYER which I totally loved, but it was mostly because of the movie. Also I liked the fact it was a short, brutal and somewhat catchy name.
Did the fanzines have any tradition in Norway? I mean, was it a well-known thing running fanzines?
- Long before me I'm sure there was a lot of punks doing DIY fanzines in the '70ies. I really didn't have any contact with that scene as I was much to young..... But later one I really liked reading all kinds of 'zines even if I wasn't too interested in the music. It was always interesting to see how other people put their magazines together.
Which fanzines have had the biggest influence, effect on you? Which papers did you know or like back then?
- One early fanzine I really liked was HEAVY METAL MASSACRE from Sweden. I started to write to one of the guys making it and he was a great help to me. His magazine was a big inspiration to me and he was one of the first guys I started to trade tapes with, his name was Lennart "Phantom" Larsson and he is now doing some sort of management things. It was also inspiring to read METAL FORCES (especially the demo section...), and a bit later it was especially a magazine called DEATHFUCK I really liked because that was more crazy.....
Was it clear for you right from the start dedicating the fanzine to the thrash, speed, black, death scene, with a word, to the underground scene?
- Well, I always liked the more heavy stuff but in LIVE WIRE for instance the focus was traditional Heavy Metal.... So when I got onto creating something on my own it was pretty obvious that the focus should be more on the extreme side. Still, there was commercial acts in SLAYER early on (because I didn't have enough stuff to just write about extreme acts....) But as my interest laid within the more extreme acts it was natural that I wrote more and more about that kind of music.
Did you start running it alone or was a staff behind the paper? How did you divide the tasks among each other?
- You must know I didn't really know how to run a magazine, and that was the beauty of it. It was like learning by doing. I didn't know what the fuck to do it....HAHAHA! When I started the magazine I didn't even own a typewriter. I had to 'rent' one from school which was completely fucked up......I did get someone to help me here and there but it wasn't something that was planned from my side.
The first issue of the fanzine was released in February 1985, what did you feel having the paper in your hands? Were you proud of it?
- Of course I was proud!!!!! For me this magazine was the best in the world!!!! I reached my goal and no matter how shitty SLAYER 1 was I reached my goal and I did everything myself! Even if it did not have any impact at all I knew this was the path I was going to follow - and so I did......
How did you do the issues of the fanzines and how much did take to do each issues?
- The first issues was pretty small so they were pretty easy to put together. I really did not understand the concept of the layout and that point, I just glued everything together in a way I thought looked good.
Did you do the issues with typewriter? What about the production of the fanzines as a whole?
-Yes, it was always done with a typewriter, then I shrinked everything through an old copy machine to fit in with the size of the papers. I completely made every issue ready to print.... I always enjoyed those parts the most. To put everything together. For sure I didn't know much about the layout stuff in the beginning but that was something that become more and more important as time passed. And his is still how I always done it. Eventually I changed into writing on a computer but the basic ideas were always the same. I never used any other programs than word.
Could you tell us detailed about each issues?
- Ohhhh, that would take far too much energy to describe every issue.... I decided to give you a certain timeline instead. The two first issues were pretty small a5 'zines, both in Norwegian photocopied. The 2nd edition also had a poster of SLAYER. The the issue 3/4 it was much bigger, it had our first proper interviews and was partly in English. This issue had a great poster of Quorthon in it too and it was reasonable populear. The next one was SLAYER 5 and the first in full size, this was proffesional printed and you can see that as a breakthrough issue. Not many people at that time printed their 'zines like that. Then you can look at issue 6, 7, 8 and 9 with similar eyes as it was more of the same concept. More of the traditional layout which become typical for SLAYER. Layout was for instance very inspired by the EVIL DEAD movie.....DEATH MENTAL UNDEGROUND! SLAYER 10 was the BIG BLACK METAL issue with all the important Black Metal bands of that time. This was also when SLAYER got a lot thicker, and this was the issue I sold the most of so far - 2500 copies I think...... After that it was a break again as I went to Australia..... Then I decided to do 11, skip 12 and went straight to 13, 14 and 15. All those were pretty big and similar in looks.... I released them through my record label as it was easier to finance them like that..... Then, I left the record label and did 16, 17, 18 and 19 on my own, those were of less pages. 16, 17, 18 and 19 were released pretty rapidly according to myself so I think that kinda led up to the overkill and my little break....
What were the early issues like and how were the responses to them? How many copies did you print and was it hard to get rid of them?
- The response was not overwhelming I must say haha! As I said I really didn't know what I was doing.... One thing was to make it, a completely different thing was to sell it! I think the two first copies had a print run of 2-300 so it wasn't that many. I did send away a lot for free to whoever I could afford. Then I sold a few locally at one record store. But nothing serious..... What really helped was the METAL FORCES magazine. They had a section for fanzines and they printed an advert for you when you gave them a fanzine. After I got mentioned there I got more sales and more people started to write me.
The first two issues were released Norwegian, issue #3 and 4 Norwegian and English, at which point did you decide continuing the fanzine in English? Why were the first two issue released in Norwegian?
- Because I didn't know any better, I thought that English would be more complicated for me to do...... So I thought that Norwegian would be the best. Around 3/4 there was more serious and more interviews were done in English and it was mostly foreigners that wrote me. So there really was no other option I think. But those two first issues were pretty shitty so you were not missing much. The first issue to be completely in English was SLAYER 5 and that was a big issue.
Were they xeroxed, printed or photocopied?
- SLAYER 5 was the first to be printed in a professional way, the earlier ones was just photocopied but in an OK way. I did have a job or whatever it was in '87 so I decided to invest almost all in the money in SLAYER 5, the rest of the money I had I gave to Euronymous as he needed money for the "Deathcrush" pressing. All the issues since then have been printed professional.
What do the issues cost back then? Did you also change, trade with other fanzine editors?
- I can't really remember how much the printing was, but I remember it was always TOO MUCH and it was always a big hassle to get all the money together.... always this big cash stress. I did send out a lot of free copies and of course I traded with other 'zine publishers around the world. But in the end I felt it was all worth it. All my money was spend related to the magazine one way or another.
On what did the contents of your fanzine demand? How did you pick up those bands, with whom you wanted doing interviews?
- Just my personal taste and whoever I would be in contact with. The normal way to do interviews back then was to send a list of questions to the bands. Some would give quick replies and some times you had to wait almost over a year. It was always a waiting game and always very exciting to inspect the mail. But it was easier to do interviews with a band that send you a demo first as the contact was already established.
Because those times weren't any Internet, I think you got in touch with the bands via snail mail, correct?
- Yes, everything was done by snail mail and that showed that you had to have a serious dedication to it. So many years spend by writing letters. You read about the bands in other 'zines and you eventually gained a international network of 'zines, bands, tape traders etc. It was really easy to live in this world and I guess it is the same way people live through Internet today. The letter writing thing become so huge, I spend hours and hours every day just writing. You could say it was an obsession, and the reward was to get mail back.
Were you aware of the newer bands via flyers or…?
- Of course for every new band or whoever wrote you you got flyers and you would always write to who seemed interesting. It was interesting to get letters especially from Bill Steer/CARCASS (who also did a great fanzine) and Mick/NAPALM DEATH. Those people had all information you could think of, and they send me tapes of different stuff. They always had good music.
Did you also try to get in touch with labels as well? Do you still remember what were the labels that you got in touch with?
- I mentioned METAL FORCES and I think a lot of record labels just read those fanzine sections and send promo stuff to whoever was published there as it was a genuine fanzine. I got stuff from a lot of labels, even bigger ones like NOISE, ROADRUNNER and METAL BLADE used to send me stuff. I wasn't really in personal contact with those labels so a lot of packages just arrived from them. I didn't actively try to contact that many labels...... It was just an bonus. A bit later I got in good contact with PEACEVILLE and EARACHE which was very supportive and then the contact was on a bit more personal level.
Did they start sending you promos? On what kind of format did you get the advance or promotional stuffs?
- A lot of those labels send promos here and there, and in the beginning it was just vinyl so that was great. Just imaging getting MORBID ANGEL, BOLT THROWER, TERRORIZER on vinyl when it was just released. I also got a lot of promo advances, but that was mostly tapes.... And also every once in a while something completely strange would appear. I can for instance mention I got a "Can I Play With Madness" one track promo tape from IRON MAIDEN. And even STRYPER send me albums. But you could always expect to get the strangest stuff.
Were the labels supportive for Slayer at all? In your opinion, which labels were the best back then respectively which labels did have the best releases?
- Of course EARACHE was the greatest label at that point. Of course there were other labels who put out great stuff. But I really wasn't much contact with the labels. But EARACHE, with all those great bands... ENTOMBED, CARCASS, TERRORIZER, MORBID ANGEL, BOLT THROWER, NAPALM DEATH..... And PEACEVILLE was great too, especially for bringing out AUTOPSY!
Were there bands, labels they never answered you?
- Hmmmmmmmm, probably there was a few but I can't really remember....I was more concerned about contacting the bands directly.
How did you distribute, spread the fanzines? Were you in connection with penbangers from all over the world?
- In the early days it was just me selling one and one copy in the mail..... spreading flyers and so on. Also there was a few friends here and there who sold for instance 10 copies to their friends. And yes there was a lot of penbangers around the world. It was really nice to have this network and doing everything ourselves. Of course in later years there was much bigger distros who took in a lot more copies.
What about promotion of Slayer back then? How and how much promotion did you make for Slayer?
- It was actually most word of mouth, a bit later flyers become very important too. I guess it is hard to understand today that those small sheets of paper actually meant something and it worked very well. Also, as I mentioned the occasional mention in METAL FORCES or other 'zines.
What about adds? Were the bands and labels intersting in buying adds in Slayer or...?
- I was never really interested in selling adds in the old days, I have some funny stories tho'.... I published a full size advert for SLAYER's "Hell Awaits" album because I thought it was so amazingly cool. I did it for free without even asking the label. I also had an advert for the 2nd WARLOCK album "Hellbound". The management contacted me and promptly paid 50 Deutche Mark in advance for an full size advert. When the printing got more expensive and the magazine got bigger I took in some adverts, that was never a problem and as far as I remember everyone paid promptly.....
Were each issues available in record stores? Did you send from the paper to those bands, which were interviewed in the fanzine?
- Some of the people who bought the magazines would put them in record stores where they lived, so the magazine was also in many stores I didn't know about because of this. So I'm sure you could find the magazine in the strangest places. Like, MODERN INVASION in Australia always bought A LOT of copies and they distributed it to other stores all over Australia and New Zealand. I always tried to send out copies of the magazines to bands that were interviewed because I always liked to get feedback from the bands. I tried to send the magazine to bands with just articles too but that was a bit more difficult because of the lack of money, but I tried my best. There was also several cases where the bands would also offer to pay for their own copies.
What were your plans considering publishing Slayer? I mean, did you want to an issue in every year or…?
- I never planned anything like that, it was just a thing that happened. The issues released later was a bit more frequent, but it was always taking so long to collect all the money to pay the printer up front, so that was a great part of the reason for it. And it was also good for me in a way... Because of this labels were not so much interested in advertisement for instance. So we were never a part of this being 'friendly' with labels in order to go to listening parties or whatever. I did the magazine always on my own terms. Eventually the labels would come to me to ask for ads but that was always on my conditions.
Did you have enough material for each issues?
- There was never a shortage of material after SLAYER 5. The problem in the later years was rather the opposite, there was simply too much stuff and simply it wasn't good enough for me. In the old days it was always fascinating to get big envelopes with exciting bands.
Would you say, that you developed issue by issue?
- I would like to say that it got better and better but it is pretty hard to say that when you are in the middle of it all. But I thought that things were getting better and better at a point. But if other people thought different that was of course OK, I must say I did everything the way I wanted and to please myself. What other people thought was not too interesting, but it was always flattering when people said they liked my work. I guess those who didn't like it didn't tell me either back then.
Did any people influence your writing style?
- Not really, I never considered me much of a writer. I was much more a fanatic of the music so the dedication to the music was bigger than the noble art of journalism. I tried for a while to create funny questions and tried to a certain degree to be original. I was more inspired by actual fanzines than writers. But one called DEATHFUCK I really liked.
Did you reach all of your goals what you wanted to achieve with Slayer?
- It was clear early on that SLAYER was never meant to live a normal life. I always wanted to have SLAYER independent, not relying on anything but myself. So I was never a part of the mainstream..... Whatever I achieved I'm happy with. Of course if SLAYER led a more commercial life I could have achieved other things. But I'm proud of staying independent. And featuring the bands I liked and not too concerned on what other thought.
As far as the fanzines, they are/were done with a DIY (do it yourself) approach, how was it by you? What do you think about DIY at all?
- That was the only way to do it when I started. It is a great thing to do everything yourself, and to have everything sold by people who think similar. It is great to not having anyone deciding for you what to do or not to do.
Would you say, that without the existence of the punk fanzines, wouldn't have came the metal fanzines into being?
- When I started I really had no idea of the punk fanzines so it is hard for me to say if Metal fanzines wouldn't exist without Punk fanzines. For me it was not important, but also I must say the first fanzine I was involved was much more in the mainstream when it come to the written content. I guess the punk movement were more aware and involved in the actual bands, So I pay much respect to whoever it was who created the DIY movement. Of course I respect the DIY spirit more now.....
Do you know something about the forming, developing of the fanzines, about their history? Did you know, that the very first fanzine was released in 1930?
- I guess I'm pretty ignorant when it come to the history of fanzines. I did think in the beginning it meant FAN *ZINE as a magazine written by a FAN. But it comes to the term FANTASY, right? Not completely sure about that....Maybe you can inform me?
Talking about the '80s, did you take part in the tape trading scene? Can you tell us more about it?
- Tape trading was a great part in spreading the music. Because not always was it possible to buy every demo, and certain bands it would be impossible to get hold. I remember for instance MASTER being so obscure and no one really know anything about them. But their demos were heavily traded. So people had this massive lists and it was also live recordings etc. etc. And many tapes we would record actual albums because of the financial matters. It was also hard to figure out what was what on tapes. Imaging having a tape with 90 minutes of music with muddy sound and trying to figure out which bands was which. But I think tape trading was important. I think bands like MORBID ANGEL could blame their success on the tape trading, at least to a certain degree.
Would you say, that in the '80s were broad casted more metal videos in the TV and were more metal radio programs than nowadays? Was Headbangers Ball a great support of metal?
- I think it is much more Metal in the media now than back then. Now we have several shows on the radio here which plays a lot of Metal and more extreme stuff, but I don't really listen much to radio anymore. I never really saw the point in listening to the radio to have someone else decide what I should listen to. I rather decide myself..... I remember HEADBANGERS BALL from back then and the TRIPLE THRASH TREAT for instance. The bands they used to show was usually a big on the brighter side for me..... Now especially here after the Black Metal explosion you can hear Metal everywhere. MAYHEM and SATYRICON in the normal top charts for instance, some thing I never expected over 20 years ago.
Both the tape trading scene and running fanzines were very popular in the '80s, they were at their peak those times, would say, that running fanzines was a chain reaction back then? I mean, the editors draw inspiration from each other or…?
- Yeah, I would very much say so. It was pretty common that people started with tape trading would eventually start a band or a fanzine for instance. And it was always interesting to check out 'zines and of course you got influenced by others even without admitting it. And there was so many who wanted to start 'zines and never got to issue 1.....And so many only made one issue. I guess a lot of people never really realized how much work it was and just gave up.
Was a competition between the fanzines editors or was a unity among them? With which fanzine editors were you in touch back then?
- I think there always was some sort of 'friendly competition' among the 'zine editors, like who got the last MORBID ANGEL reh. tape or who got the latest NECROVORE interview and things like that. I guess that competition was pretty healthy so we could outdo each other or whatever. I was in touch with so many people doing 'zines, I can mention DOD, BLACKTHORN, NOT, TO THE DEATH, DECAYING MAGGOT, PEARDROP, DEATHSCHYTE, ULTIMATUM and so many others, the list could be endless......People would be amazed by how much work it was to make a 'zine.
In my opinion legendary compilations, such as Metal Massacre, Raging Death, Beyond Metal Zone, Speed Metal Hell etc. helped introducing new bands for the fans, they played an important role in the underground, how do you view it?
- I would prefer albums as METAL MASSACRE and RAGING DEATH for instance who had mostly unreleased stuff on it. Also with SPEED METAL HELL who was the only place you could find NECROVORE and DEATHTASH on vinyl for instance. So since this was proper releases they reached a bit bigger audience than the die hard underground. I was never a big fan of the SPEED KILLS series for instance because they were mostly albums with racks from albums I already owned, so that was not so interesting
What have been your favorite interview so far to date and your most disappointing?
- I think the most disappointing one must have been with EXPLICIT HATE from Brazil as I never got a reply! HAHAHA! But some of those South American bands were pretty short and in shitty English so it could be quite a challenge to read them. Besides that, I wish I could have done another NECROVORE interview. I wish I could done a more serious one. Picking faves is always difficult, but I go for one of the early SADISTIK EXEKUTION interviews - so funny and senseless.
At which point did you establish your own label Head Not Found? Can you tell us more about the activities and about the releases of this label?
- That was the next natural step! After the fanzine this seemed quite natural, much inspired my friend Euronymous and his DEATHLIKE SILENCE label I went to it with full force. I was in touch with Masmiseim of the band SAMAEL and he introduced me to the band ALASTIS. A basic deal for 1000 vinyls was figured out and away I went..... I managed to borrow some money to fund this release so that was another great thing for me. You have to remember this was 1993 and vinyl was as dead as it could be, still I was pretty insistent on my first release should be on vinyl - so a big success it was not. The band remained the right to do the CD version so I am sure they made more money than I did. I think I broke even with it but not much more than that.