On September 14th, Stig Börje “Boss” Forsberg, father to Quorthon (of Bathory fame) and label owner of Black Mark Productions, passed away from an unspecified but long-standing illness. While the announcement of Forsberg’s death is two weeks belated, we would like to extend our deepest and most metallic condolences to the Forsberg family. May Forsberg, better known as “Boss” (or Boss), find his son Quorthon (aka Tomas Börje Forsberg) waiting proudly at the Glasir before the mighty halls of Valhalla.
When Decibel heard of the elder Forsberg’s passing, we started combing the archives. What if we had interviewed “Boss” as part of a previous piece? What if we had a recent photo of the enigmatic label owner and black metal godfather? What did we have that we could remember “Boss” by?
Turns out, we had, in our possession, what might be the last-ever interview with “Boss”, conducted via email in 2013 as part of Bathory’s “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” appearance in our long-sold out Top 100 Black Metal Albums of All Time Special Issue (HERE). Re-reading our exchange with “Boss” and Black Mark handlers Nicke and Klaudia (last names omitted), Decibel was very lucky to have “Boss” even responding to our questions since, as it was conveyed, he had not spoken to anyone regarding Bathory for many years.
Read on faithful Decibel readers. May the words of “Boss” be eternally remembered.
Where did “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” fit in with the music of the day?
Stig Börje “Boss” Forsberg: It didn’t fit at all because it was hated but at same time it fit perfectly because it was loved!
Do you remember what Quorthon wanted to do on “Under the Sign of the Black Mark”? Different from “The Return……” and other music of the day, for example.
“Boss”: “The Return……” is probably the meanest and rudest [album] made. During “Under the Sign of the Black Mark,” Quorthon’s songwriting goes much development by reflection. The production was mostly created in the studio and is an honest, emotional, and uncompromising album that was groundbreaking in metal history. My personal favorite track ‘Enter the Eternal Fire’ opens the door to Quorthon’s innermost feelings and greatness of his performance. Last but not least “The Return……” made the next album “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” possible. And “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” made the albums “Blood Fire Death,” “Hammerheart,” and “Nordland” possible!
“Under the Sign of the Black Mark” was recorded as a two-piece. Do you remember much about how Quorthon worked with the drummer, Palle Lundburg?
“Boss”: Someone called Palle Lundburg we have never had in the studio. Quorthon played the drums himself on “Under the Sign of the Black Mark.”
What do you remember about the cover art?
“Boss”: The cover picture was taken at the Royal Opera in Stockholm during a break between the two acts of “Carmen.” Quorthon had seen a picture of this opera and the background stuck [with him]. We bribed the security so we could run in during the break in the performance to pose and shoot. It was more or less chaotic, but he got what he wanted, a picture that fits the album.
How was “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” received back in 1987?
“Boss”: For the most part, the press was very positive. Sales immediately raised and went very well the years after, and still today it’s going strong. It’s been a long time since Bathory passed the two million albums sold mark.
What do you think of “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” being used as the blueprint for contemporary black metal?
“Boss”: Pride and happiness because black metal is living on thanks to Bathory. [Quorthon] was a great source of inspiration for black metal’s music, lyrics, lifestyle, and image.
Do you think it’s strange we’ve listed “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” as the #1 black metal album of all time?
“Boss”: Strange? Not at all! “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” has been top voted as the best-ever metal album in many magazines over the years. It is exactly what the album deserves. So, thank you! Hail to the Hordes!