This week, fans of Death metal the world over celebrate 20 years of the hardest, darkest, most satanic music ever written. They celebrate the songwriting duo who have given the genre such classics as “Let it bleed”, “Satan claims the earth” and the seminal “Hellbound”.
With over two decades of hits behind them they’ve finally decided to call it a day and hang up their horns. In this exclusive interview we talk to the masters, Ethel and Norman Bates.
Metal Magazine: Ethel, Norman we’re very excited to be interviewing you today, the undisputed masters of metal. How did you start in the business?
Ethel Bates: Well I was always into Jazz, ever since the early days but when I first heard Morbid Angel’s “Bleed for the devil” in the 80’s I thought, now that’s different..Norman Bates: It certainly was. I remember the lyrics as if it was yesterday… (uses darker croakier voice) “Fill the air with the smell of death / Grace us with your magic / Fill the night with the stench of evil / I summon forth the beast“. (Both laugh and smile fondly at each other)
MM: So what was it that drew you to songwriting?
EB: Definitely the raw power. There’s nothing like writing a reference to the dark lord that rhymes. Take for example the first song we wrote together, Raise the bloodlines of the Dark One. I still remember the line: With blood-stained eyes I tear out your heart/ Behold Satan with his dark art.” NB (laughs): Aah yes, lovely line there. I agree with Ethel, you certainly get a buzz particularly when a song has incited mindless violence, called upon the demon realm and defiled the virgins (both giggle).
MM: You’ve certainly worked with the greats of the genre: Satyricon, Angel Curse, Darkwoods, & Mercenary. All have deep respect for your talents. Gorgoth, from Death eaters, in particular has said, ” Ethel and Norman are the fucken darkest motherfuckers on this earth!”. What do you think about these compliments?
NB: Gorgoth? Isn’t he the one who does stuff with bats? (Ethel nods). It’s lovely to hear that of course, but the biggest pleasure we get is watching from backstage and looking down on a writhing, sweaty black mass of fans thrashing to a song you’ve written. To see all that angst and pain finally released on everyone around them. Lovely. EB: Sometimes it gets me going so much that I would throw myself into the moshpit and get caught up in it all. Of course since the hip replacement and the walking frame that’s a little harder ..(both laugh)
MM: So what’s the secret of your success?
NB: When you’ve worked so closely together as we have for so many years you really need to get on. EB: That’s right. NB:We start each morning at 5, after my first bowel movement with a nice cup of tea in the kitchen. Over the tea we talk about some themes we’d like to write about. You know, things like, open graves, daemonic wolf packs, blood on the streets, anarchy and so on.. EB: just to get the juices flowing..NB: That’s right, to get us in the mood. While Ethel goes and puts her teeth in I make my way to the study and get the blankets ready for our comfortable chairs where we then sit and write for the rest of the day until we’re finished..EB (laughing): or if one of us needs to empty our bladders!! Actually, I find painful constipation inspires me. Some of my best songs were written on the toilet you know.
MM: Ethel, Norman, on that note, I want to thank you for your time today and for your extensive contribution to the genre of death metal music. Hail Satan!
EB & NB(both making devil signs with their hands): Hail Satan!