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Snowy Shaw must go on!


While we were wandering about backstage at the Hellfest on a sunday morning, we stumbled on Snowy Shaw slouching like a lazy king in the most coveted couch of the place. Naturally, we went meet him to see what was the singer/musician’s mood.

Finally, we were pleasantly surprised to meet an humorous character, way more loquacious than we expected. Thinking about it, it’s not that surprising considering his very busy career: Mercyful Fate, Notre Dame, Memento Mori, Therion, Dimmu Borgir, XXX, Dream Evil, etc. Such a background means a lot to tell!

Snowy talks about his feelings about being in Dimmu Borgir, his ambitious solo project, and mostly the surprising origin of the “idiot!” tattooed on his arm.

Here is the retranscription of this discussion without any fuss, but nonetheless interesting.

Radio Metal : Are you relaxing ?

Snowy Shaw Yeah, I’m just sitting and waiting for my friend Gus (Gus G – Firewind/Ozzy Osbourne) to show up. He’s going drop of some stuff in his dressing room and we are going to hang out a little bit. This is like always, backstage areas at festivals… That’s the only way to meet your friends, even if you live in same cities (laughs).

So are you ready for the show?

Yeah, I guess so. (laughs) It’s in a bunch of hours I guess, we’re going to play after Judas Priest and before Ozzy Osbourne on main stage 2. We’re filling the gaps between those bands. It’s a long time until then, at least ten hours. I will get in shape before the show I guess.

There’s a massage room area, for free.

Oh yeah, there is? Maybe I should take use of that. Is it like with a happy ending? A massage with a happy ending? (big laughs)

You know, the massage guy just told us stories about… let’s say, internal massage with girls! So I guess, yeah, there might be some massage with happy ending. (laughs)

Ok! (laughs)

I see you have a tattoo, it’s written « idiot », can you tell me the story about this tattoo?

I did it the day I quit Dimmu Borgir. And people said: « Yeah it’s a good way of finishing that. You’re leaving the band and the day after you write ‘idiot’ on your arm”. But it has nothing to do with it. For a year, I was working in my band called XXX, one of my many bands, and you know I usually don’t think so much, I just act. So I’m a little impulsive. That was like a reminder. Like I’d write everyday « idiot » on my arm when I am negotiating with record labels and distribution companies, stuff like that. Maybe I should just spell it all out, I should think ahead before I speak. Like I’m doing now, I never think, I just speak (laughs). So that is like a remind: « Idiot, think for god sake ». Don’t just take actions, think about what you do before you do it. So I decided in the end to have a tattoo. It will be there permanently.

« You know I usually don’t think so much, I just act. So I’m a little impulsive. That was like a reminder. […] Maybe I should just spell it all out, I should think ahead before I speak. Like I’m doing now, I never think, I just speak (laughs). So that is like a remind: « Idiot, think for god sake ». Don’t just take actions, think about what you do before you do it. So I decided in the end to have a tattoo. It will be there permanently. »

So did you ever regret something you did or something you said?

No. I never lie. I just speak my mind and do what I feel like doing I guess. I’m not saying that I’m totally retarded or anything. Actually I don’t regret what I’m doing.

So you’re getting all those tattoos without even thinking of it?

No I didn’t’ get this tattoo without thinking but I wrote it on my arm to think. Before, I didn’t necessarily think to what I was going to say. I say what I think but I don’t think what I say. So it comes out a little bit stupid sometimes. Like now (laughs).

What happened with Dimmu Borgir? It was strange because you were announced to join the band and then you left.

Yeah… Officially I was in the band for one day but of course it wasn’t that…

You recorded the album ?

Yeah, of course. I was in the band for like six or seven mouths, something like that. During that time period we did a lot of things. We recorded the album, did bass and vocal, rehearsed, photo sessions and video shoots, etc. I have nothing against the guys at all. I mean, there was a lack of communication and… What can I say is that I don’t like being treated as a puppet. And that is something that I found out sort of gradually. So I didn’t really like my position. I have nothing bad to say about the guys at all… but to other people. (laughs) Anyway.

Are you proud of what you did with Dimmu Borgir?

Yeah! But I mean… If you look at that this way, if you have high expectations then you can be highly disappointed. If you don’t give a shit, you don’t give a shit. What I did give a lot of shit. I mean I was really happy to be in that band, finally I thought: « Ok I found my band, I’m going to stay here until the day I die » but I didn’t plan on dying quite that soon (laughs). That was a perfect band, we share a lot of ideas, visions, you know images. We come from the same sort of source. We grew up with the same kind of things, being inspired by Kiss and so on. So I really liked that but somehow, things got ugly pretty soon. Too bad. I’m sad about that. But shit happens, life goes on.

Then you came back in Therion. It is the band that satisfies you the most?

Yeah, I guess so for the moment (laughs). But yeah I’m happy in this band, we’re a bunch of good friends and we’re having good time but… I just started up my own things, my own songs. So that is what I intend to do now, split my work load between touring with Therion and doing my own things.

Are you going to do a new album with Notre Dame?

No, not Notre Dame. The new project that I started is a solo project. It is just called « Snowy Shaw » and I’m doing all my favorite songs from all my former bands. The debut show, it was a show case actually, it was filmed by Revolver Film Company to maybe release a live DVD from that. Or just use it as a show reel to shop this around, because it’s a brand new project and not everybody understands the concept. The thing is that I’m playing songs of Dream Evil, Notre Dame, Memento Mori, King Diamond, XXX, Mercyful Fate… Even Dimmu Borgir. So I play all the songs with all the bands that I’ve been with or connected to, which is very good I think because I probably wrote at least half of the material that I perform this time. And the other stuff are things that I’ve been touring with, recording drums, guitars, vocals or whatever. So this is a perfect thing, I guess, because it’s a really cool live show if you like one of those bands. For example, I’m tired of people saying: « You should reform, go back and put Notre Dame back together » or « Maybe you should go back to Memento Mori or King Diamond » but I don’t want to go backwards in life. I want to take on new challenges and try something new. This is a solo project with a completely new concept and as far as I know, nobody has done that before. It is also cool because I can start playing « Black Funeral » with Mercyful Fate and then play « The Book of Heavy Metal » with Dream Evil. It’s a bunch of good songs, classics and hit songs. So that’s the solo project on which I am working right now.

About his solo project : « I don’t want to go backwards in life. I want to take on new challenges and try something new. This is a solo project with a completely new concept and as far as I know, nobody has done that before. It is also cool because I can start playing « Black Funeral » with Mercyful Fate and then play « The Book of Heavy Metal » with Dream Evil. It’s a bunch of good songs, classics and hit songs. »

Who are the musicians in this project?

I have Kristian Niemann from Therion, I also have Mannekin who was playing drums in Notre Dame and then for this show I had a girl because I wanted a female bass player who could also do female vocals. Her vocals was ok but she couldn’t play bass that well. So I’ll probably have some other guy like Sharlee d’Angelo (Arch Enemy) or Hal Patino (King Diamond) maybe or someone else. We’ll think about that for the future. For this show we had a lot of guest stars like Andy LaRocque, Hal Patino, Mike Wead and also Mats (Levén) and Thomas (Vikström) from Therion, tons of people. Maybe in the future I can have King Diamond doing a guest performance or Messiah Marcolins, we’ll see, but that is not the focus. The focus is that it is a solo project. That’s my band with all of the stuff I’ve done before. Then I would just add new songs to that, I will even record a new album of that stuff, my solo album. That’s what I intend to do. It’s going to be a hell of a show I can tell you. It is very interesting.

So you definitely abandoned the idea of reforming Notre Dame?

Argh… Honestly, when people get back together with their old band it’s mostly because they run out of money or stuff like that or they get nostalgic. It’s all for the wrong reasons. I don’t know why. And it tends to be a sort of hype to get back together « Woo they got back together » and then it takes like six months and then they don’t want it anymore. A lot of people seem to think: « Ok, now we get a second shot. It didn’t work in 1987, so maybe it works now that we’re all old and fat ». But it usually doesn’t (laughs). I’m not such a big fan of reunions. I was in Mercyful Fate when they got back together and that was cool when we did the first tour but then… I don’t know, I wanted to do something else.

Have you had some news about King Diamond recently?

No, I haven’t but I know that he’s recovering real well and that he feels a lot better. But, I shouldn’t tell it, but he’s going to take some time off to really get well and get the situation stable before he can starts anymore tours.

You are one the oldest member in Therion. How do you compare the new Therion and the former Therion?

Right now I’m the only member who was on the previous records. Next to Christopher I’m the oldest member in the band, not just by age but also being in the band. Yeah but this is a very interesting band, I mean, I think because it is in constant change, it keeps developing. That’s what makes it so interesting. You may not like all the changes or whatever it is and that you change members. But that’s inevitable I guess. People grow tired or they need to do something else. Like Katarina, the singer who just quit. She wanted to stay home. She’s a teacher, she met a new guy and they are probably going to get married. You got different priorities in life. But I’m still hanging in here. It keeps changing and change is good, I think.

Can we take a picture of the « idiot » tattoo?

Is that the best one? It’s also international: idiot! It works everywhere! It’s the same in French and Swedish!

Interview directed face to face on June, 19th 2011.
Transcription : Lucas
Therion’s official website: www.megatherion.com



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