Interview with Sublife/The End Records Recording artist, Tchort of
Whether the metal world realizes it or not, it has a virtuoso in the person of Tchort of Green Carnation. His resume is quite impressive. Not only is he one of the founders of Green Carnation (which originally included members of In The Woods), but is also a founding and prominent member of Carpathian Forest and Blood Red Throne. He has played in Emperor and Satyricon appearing on In the Nightside Eclipse. His most recent musical endeavor, Green Carnation’s Acoustic Verses, shows his ability to play both extreme metal and acoustic music.
Criticaltom: When you started Green Carnation did you see it becoming a major undertaking, or did you think it would be a project? Did you know it would be this successful?
Tchort: No. The first time we were just a group of friends committed to playing together. Our goal was to record an album. Initially we had to learn how to play our instruments. We played cover songs, then started writing original songs. We later recorded a demo and got several recording offers. But we wound up going in different directions. So we split up. The Botteris went on to form In The Woods. I played six years in Emperor and Satyricon.
Later, when we were more established, we got back together. We decided we could record an album like we had originally planned on doing. That was Journey to the End of Night. After that album the Botteri brothers left—they also quit doing In The Woods and music altogether—and I gathered a new line-up.
Criticaltom: Why did you choose the name, Green Carnation?
Tchort: I have to think back for this one. It was when we were starting out—we were about 15 years old. We were looking through a dictionary for ideas (like a lot of people do). We came across something that suggested that “carnation” could be another way of saying “carnage.” (laughter). So we thought “green carnage” was kind of cool. We were playing death metal back then. Later, when we reformed, we obviously were not thinking about “carnage,” but thought “flower.”
Criticaltom: You don’t seem to be a controller like other band founders. Is Green Carnation a democratic type band? Has it always been this way or did it develop?
Tchort: I would say that when we reformed I was trying to be more passive and let the Botteris (Christ and X) do a lot of the composing. Chris had given me a tape with some noise and some guitar effects on it and asked me to write music for it. So the music for Journey to the End of Night was about 50 % Chris and 50% me. I wrote all the lyrics. After Journey to the End of Night I wrote all the music for Light of Day, Day of Darkness myself. After getting a new line-up for the band we became more “democratic”. Everyone asked me if they could write songs for the band.
Criticaltom: Is the Green Carnation sound something the new line-up had to adjust to, or is it something that they helped create?
Tchort: It is always changing. To me Green Carnation represents something new. I’ve been doing extreme metal since 1990 with Carpathian Forest and Blood Red Throne. I can’t really change or alter the sound with those two bands from album to album. So GC is something new for me in that rock is new to me, and for the other guys, metal is new for them.
Criticaltom: How has The Acoustic Verses been received, and how do you expect it to fare? Do you expect it to sell more due to its “softer” nature?
Tchort: I don’t think so. It’s on our own label in Europe and we don’t have the financing for a lot of marketing.
Criticaltom: Why did you decide to do an acoustic album?
Tchort: We wanted to do something special for our 15th anniversary. We had gotten some very positive feedback on the four acoustic tracks we included on our DVD. We were going to do an E.P., but we went in the studio and came out with a full-length.
Criticaltom: I wanted to ask you about “Sweat Leaf.” It is obviously not the Black Sabbath tune.
Tchort: No. For some reason it is banned in the U.S. I guess if it sounds like it may have a connection to drugs or something …
Criticaltom: But it isn’t about smoking pot, is it?
Tchort: No. [laughter] It is a metaphor. A parent to child/child to parent kind of dialogue. Tree to leaf …
Criticaltom: As in, the parent is the tree and the child is the “sweat leaf”?
Criticaltom: I noticed that parenting and other psychological issues figure very prominently in your music.
Tchort: Yes. Someone pointed this out to me not long ago. Journey to the End of Night was based on poems I wrote for my daughter I lost. Light of Day, Day of Darkness was inspired by the birth of my son, and he is pictured on the cover of Blessing in Disguise. The next album is called The Quiet Offspring, and then you have “Sweat Leaf” on Acoustic Verses. I don’t write good fiction, so for Green Carnation I have to write something that means a lot to me.
Criticaltom: I think that “The Burden is Mine Alone” by Stein Roger is also a very beautiful song.
Tchort: Yes it is. He told me that he wrote it during the Blessing in Disguise tour. It was a terrible tour. Our tour bus was not a Nightliner but a regular bus [I’m thinking school bus here]. We had a hard time sleeping because several of us have a sleeping disorder. For about three weeks we had to just be miserable until we like passed out in the floor. We had a joke that hell is just a bus tour away! Apparently he wrote it then. I’m not sure why he called it “The Burden is Mine Alone” since we all shared the burden [laughter]. The first day back from the tour he recorded it live and apparently forgot about it. His girlfriend—now wife—reminded him of it. He re-recorded the guitars but kept the original “live” vocals.
Criticaltom: Which do you find more challenging, writing extreme metal or music for Green Carnation?
Tchort: Right now Green Carnation. Like I said, I’ve been doing extreme metal for a long time. This is new to me.
Criticaltom: I know a lot of musicians don’t like to label their own music, but I like to give them a chance to describe it in their own words. How would you describe Green Carnation?
Tchort: Again, we change things a lot, but the essence is atmospheric/progressive rock/metal.
Criticaltom: Do you expect that with this consistent line-up that the Green Carnation sound will become more settled?
Tchort: I can tell you that I have already written the music for the next album and it will be very different.
Criticaltom: Great. I can’t wait.
Criticaltom: What can we expect from you and Green Carnation on 2006?
Tchort: There is a proposed tour in late February through early April, but I am not at liberty to say much about it. I will be busy recording for Carpathian Forest which will also be touring and doing festival appearances. And I have several releases for my label, Sublife Productions. So it will be a busy year all the way around. We also need to do a Blood Red Throne album.
Criticaltom: Will there be any line-up changes or fill-in musicians for the proposed GC tour?
Tchort: No. It will be the same touring line-up. All six.
Criticaltom: I understand you did a show of the full Light of Day, Day of Darkness album. Was it acoustic? Will it be released?
Tchort: It wasn’t acoustic, it was the full production. It may be released—I would like to release it—but I am not sure in what format (CD, DVD).
Criticaltom: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview?
Tchort: Please include my websites: www.sublifeproductions.com and www.greencarnation.no.