Archive for the Interview Category

Interview with Jimmy Bergman of Through The Cracks

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , on 4th August 2014 by Pieni

There’s a brand new soulful rock project blossoming in Stockholm, courtesy of Jimmy Bergman and Tillie Grundel. The duo has just released their first single, the beautiful “Breathless”, and as I went to Gothenburg to see Jimmy’s other band, The End Of Grace, I arranged a little meeting with the talented musician. He was tired from the show on the previous night, and had an almost-five-hour roadtrip back to Stockholm ahead of him – from where he would drive to Berlin the following day – meaning he really needed to rest. But still he took his time to talk to me about Through The Cracks, always with a smile on his face.

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RL: You’re a very creative person and I know you’re writing stuff all the time, not always for The End Of Grace, not always metal. What made you get serious with this project in particular?

JB: I’ve always thought of making another project, something rock or more acoustic… a different music style for me to play. I had some ideas, been thinking about them for a while, and then I met Tillie. I showed her my stuff and she really liked it, so I told her “hey, put some vocals on it!”. From there we created Through The Cracks and… yeah, it got serious.

RL: Tillie isn’t here, so tell me a bit about her!

JB: She’s studied music for a while and she’s a really talented girl. And that’s the thing between Tillie and me – Tillie has studied a lot in music and I’ve never done any of that. So I think we’re a cool match! It sounds so good what we’re doing together! We have so many ideas and Tillie’s a great singer, really great singer, she was a stand-in in… (tries to remember the name)

RL: Karmic Link. I was surprised to see that it’s a symphonic/gothic metal band! I thought of her more like a jazz/soul kind of girl.

JB: Yeah, but she can do everything with her vocals. She has a great soul voice and it’s the perfect match for the sound we have. I think it’s kind of unique, really interesting. People really love her voice. I have a lot of fans and friends saying they don’t like female vocals but they love Tillie’s voice.

RL: Like me! Nowadays talking of “female vocals” is associated precisely with symphonic, high-pitched vocal ranges, which I’m tired of. But her voice is sweet and strong at the same time!

JB: Exactly. I really love her voice. It’s so fucking good I don’t even have the words for it. And she’s a great girl.

RL: And how did you feel when you heard “Breathless” for the first time with her vocals on it and the lyrics she wrote?

JB: We were at my little home studio, ready to record everything, and before starting the recording she just sang it to me. I was, “what the fuck? This is really good!” She asked if I wanted to change something and I said “Noooo! Just do what you want!” (laughs) We did some producing stuff and yeah, she’s really amazing, like I said before. I was in love with her vocals and her work.

RL: What about the name? I love how it sounds, Through The Cracks. How hard was it to choose?

JB: (Laughs) It was really hard! I think me and Tilllie spent three weeks, maybe four, thinking about the name.  We were working with the song at the same time, so I went through Spotify and I got some ideas, looking for song names. Through The Cracks came up, I showed it to Tillie, she liked it… we still thought about it for a while more, we had a lot of choices, but we went with Through The Cracks. I think it’s easy to say! People love it! When I played with The End Of Grace yesterday people came up to me and asked “what the fuck is Through The Cracks?”. “It’s my other project”. “It sounds really good!” “I know.” (laughs) So people know Through The Cracks already, it’s an easy name. It’s like The End Of Grace – it’s easy to say, easy to remember.

RL: One thing I’ve been wanting to ask you for a while is about your writing process. Do you wake up in the morning and think “today is a good day to write (insert musical style here)” or you just let your creativity run free?

 photo _DSC0002copy_zpsf876199e.jpgJB: I’m playing every day. I pick up the guitar and just play. And if it’s a great metalcore riff, then it’s for The End Of Grace. If it’s not so The End Of Grace style, like Through The Cracks, then it’s for Through The Cracks. I never focus on one band, I just let it flow.

RL: And sometimes you come up with totally different things, like punk rock songs…

JB: Yeah, it’s really crazy. I even made some “Turkish stuff” too. (laughs) I’m doing a lot of music, actually. I’m doing it with my friends – like that punk rock song you’ve just talked about. It’s just fun! I’m playing music every day, I love it. This is why I’m doing this.

RL: And do you look at someone or something for inspiration?

JB: No. I think it’s just my passion for music.  I’m working and listening to music, and then I come home and I start playing music. I don’t have just one band or one artist that inspires me so… I think I’m my own inspiration. (smiles)

RL: And what do you do when you’re not inspired at all?

JB: Hmm… hang around with friends… (pauses, thinking)

RL: Pick up girls…

JB: Pick up girls (laughs), have some fun… I don’t know. I’m doing stuff all the time, I’m never at one place. That’s why I’m going to Germany tomorrow – to clear my head. And then I come back and go into the studio and do stuff for Through The Cracks and The End Of Grace.

RL: You’re in charge of all instruments here but you’re a guitar player. How old were you when you discovered this passion for the guitar? When did you start dreaming of becoming a rockstar?

JB: I’ve always been dreaming of being a rockstar, since I was a kid (smiles). I think I played some guitars when I was 12 but I was so bad that it wasn’t fun anymore and I stopped playing. I started again when I was about 15, maybe, ‘cause my uncle is a guitar player and I was a lot with him, playing with his guitars all the time. I really wanted to be cool, really wanted to be a rock star, and more than that, I wanted people to like my songs. And to be on stage. Stage is the main thing, I love to be up there. It’s  a child dream and now it’s something that’s going forward. (smiles)

RL: And you want to play live with Through The Cracks. How will that happen – session musicians or you want this to become a full band?  photo 10580125_656118814483566_906789451208994489_n_zps7ee631d3.jpg

JB: Me and Tillie were talking about having stand-in players. I have some guys I’d like to have in Through The Cracks but I can’t tell anything about it right now ‘cause nothing is official yet. But if we were to have a show now we would get stand-ins for the drums and the bass, maybe another guitarist, and maybe also some female backing vocals… Then we have backtracks, of course, for the keys. We were thinking of having a guy doing that too, but it would be too much. Yeah, we will play live…

RL: I will be there!

JB: I am sure you will. (smiles). We have some new songs on the way, we’re going to release an EP. We have another product for Through The Cracks, but I can’t tell anything about that, but we’re working on it now and we’ll see what happens. I think the EP will be out maybe in November.

RL: You produced “Breathless” but now you’re working with someone else…

JB: Yes, he’s a great guy, a friend of mine, Niklas Aggemyr, and a really good musician. We were drinking some beers, I showed him Through The Cracks and he really liked it. So I showed him the new song too, told him what I wanted to do and he was really stoked, really wanted to help producing it. So we’re in his studio in Södertälje Sweden, called Musikaffär’n, and he’s helping me making the song sound really really good. It’s just one song we’re doing, so we’ll see what happens with that.

RL: I was going to ask what are the plans for the near future, but I guess you’ve answered that already – EP in November?

JB: November – yeah, I hope so. We just need to get it done, that’s the first thing. I really want to release it but things go really slow sometimes… But we have some songs in our minds and I think we’ll make something good. Then release it and play some shows, some kind of release party, maybe… I don’t know. Actually Sticky Fingers wanted to book us… yesterday! But we have just one song done, so… But it’s a possibility for when the EP is out. We’re a new band, everything takes time – write and practice the songs, get shows… it’s a lot of work. And I need to do The End Of Grace work too. But it will be done.

RL: Of course it will! Wish you all the luck with that. Have fun in Berlin!

JB: Thanks!

Through The Cracks Official Facebook

Interview by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Interview with Tuomas Seppälä of Amberian Dawn

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , on 23rd July 2014 by Mickelrath

With Amberian Dawn’s new Release, Magic Forest, out now,  Mick talked with their keyboard/guitar player Tuomas Seppälä about the writing and production of Amberian Dawn’s music, as well as his musical taste. Capri stepped up to say a few words on the lyrical themes of the new album. This is how it went:

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Mick: Firstly, I’d like to say what a good job you have done with Magic Forest, I personally have been enjoying it. So this your third record in 3 years, having Circus Black (2012) and Re-Evolution (2013). Where do all these ideas for songs come from?
Tuomas: Before those albums, we also released End of Eden (2010), The Clouds of Northland Thunder (2009) and River of Tuoni (2008).  I don’t have any specific way to compose music.  Sometimes I just start to improvise with guitar or keyboard and sometimes I hear a tune or an idea inside my head. Usually,  I will make a demo of all songs in my home studio. At that point, I use computer to play/programme the drum and bass parts. The keyboards and guitars I’ll play live in the studio. For the vocals, the first ideas are played on guitar.  As for the solo slots, I either play a demo solo with the guitar/keyboard, or, I’ll just leave the solo parts as an instrumental background track and that’s how the chosen solo player (Emppu, Kimmo, me or some guesting solo player like Jens Johansson for example) has more freedom to work with his solo part.  On Magic Forest, Capri took part in making the final adjustments on the vocal lines, just like our co-producer Mikko P. Mustonen. So this was the first time when we had an actual “team” working on final vocal parts. Both Mikko & Capri helped me a lot with final vocal arrangements.

Mick: Listening to Magic Forest was my first experience of hearing Amberian Dawn. I was taken off guard with just how different your sound is to a lot of other bands within the same genre, this album just felt softer in tone and all the layers of the production felt smooth and easy to listen to. Whereas most band keep a gritty harsh guitar tone. Is this how you wanted this album, and your music as a whole, to sound? photo Tuomas-NET-2_zps2a1fd253.jpg
Tuomas: Our new sound didn’t happen by accident. We made a decision with our production team that we’ll try a new, more keyboard driven sound and also will give more room for the vocals too. Before, we had a more metal kind of tone on rhythm guitars. Our music has changed a lot after our debut album and it’s just not the songs alone, as much as compositions, arrangements etc. are made differently now.  We also have a different kind of singer which is one of the key elements of our bands new sound. The general sounding of an album is always a result of dozens minor factors and decisions that go into it.  It’s important that an album’s production has a strong producer(s), otherwise the ideas, hopes & dreams of different musicians might be very hard to put together.  It’s not just about compromising. It’s always better to have a producer who has a clear understanding of what sound needs to be achieved.

Mick: Typically speaking of the genre of symphonic metal and female fronted metal. I’m a big fan of the music that is produced and I’m seeing the genre grow all the time. With festivals like Metal Female Voices (in Belgium) and Dames of Darkness (in UK) just as examples. Have you noticed the increase in interest for this type of music?
Tuomas: No I haven’t.  Melodic metal is kind of ”marginal genre” nowadays, at least according to what I’ve seen/heard. Most of the new metal bands are death metal or black metal and most of the metal labels are signing bands just from that genre. Also most of the metal festivals are having either death & black metal or some nostalgic old bands. There’s less and less room for melodic metal bands nowadays in my opinion.

Mick: So, do you take the time to listen to any new bands coming up through the woodwork?
Tuomas: I don’t listen to music so much nowadays. Often I still have radio on when I’m driving my car.  Recently I’ve been having stuff like old Black Sabbath albums spinning in my CD-player. I also listen to Rammstein, although I don’t have any of their albums, Rammstein is often on air on Finnish radio stations (the ones which are playing metal & rock anyway).

Mick: Personally my favourite track off the new album is “Warning”, It just has so much energy and the lyrics are so well written. What is your favourite tune from this new record? photo Capri-NET1_zps4d2c4eac.jpg
Tuomas: Warning is one of my favourites too. When I was doing the first demos of that song at my home studio, the song sounded like videogame music when it was just the instrumental version.  It was funny.  I also find the opening track “Cherish The Memory” one of the best songs on the album. I still like them all naturally, otherwise I wouldn’t have included those all on album at all.
Capri: When I wrote Warning’s lyrics, the first version of text was much longer.  We needed to make those lyrics shorter otherwise the song would have lasted 20 minutes.  I find Green-Eyed most emotional to me.  The feeling that I have when I sing it is incredible.  I really loved the song right away when I heard it, the melody was perfect and I think I heard someone said “I’m sorry”. So it had to be the last line of the song.

Mick: Which tunes are most likely to hear from this new album live in concert?
Tuomas: I’m sure that the title track will be in there somewhere. Otherwise, we haven’t thought so much about our setlist for gigs yet.  Probably we’ll pick most of the songs from 2 of our previous albums, Magic Forest and Re-Evolution because we have already tested those with Capri on vocals.

Mick: I love all of the brilliantly composed melodies that went in to this record, Do you feel like mad scientists sometimes? Throwing all these wonderful sounds together and experimenting, or, is writing music to you more regimented?
Tuomas: Composing and playing music is very natural for me, since I started to play classical piano at the age of 4 and learned to read notes before I learned to read text.  I can’t imagine myself in a situation that I wouldn’t have music in my life at all.  Music is something that’s been in me since my childhood and I’ve grown up while playing and composing music.

Magic Forest is out now on Napalm Records.

Mick Birchall

Interview with Martijn Westerholt [Delain]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , on 25th April 2014 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Valkyrian Music editor Nico Davidson catches up with Delain’s founding member and main man Martijn Westerholt in Manchester before the band’s first UK show of 2014 with Within Temptation.

Special thanks to April Mccaffrey for filming the interview.

Delain online:

http://delain.nl
http://facebook.com/delainmusic

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Interview with Liv Kristine [Leaves’ Eyes]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , on 20th February 2014 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

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Valkyrian Music editor Nico catches up Leaves’ Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine for a fourth interview, where the two talk about the new Leaves’ Eyes album Symphonies of the Night as well as Liv’s recent collaboration with Savn and keeping to the tradition, a discussion about Game of Thrones as well.

Nico: It’s nice to meet you again Liv, how are you doing?

Liv: Nice to meet you. I’m very good, how are you?

Nico: I’m pretty good, thanks.

Liv: That’s good to hear.

Nico: First question is a bit of a generic, obvious one: how has the tour gone so far?

Liv: Absolutely amazing. We played in Nottingham last night. It was our first time in Nottingham and we had a fully packed venue. It was such a warm welcoming. And Cardiff was great as well. Really really nice. So this was such a nice beginning of 2014. 2013 was so busy, really busy. So being back in the UK is just lovely.

Nico: Good to hear. The new album Symphonies of the Night focuses on female figures from both history and literature. How did this concept come about? Because it’s not a concept that is usually found in the metal scene.

Liv: Well that is probably due to the fact that I’m writing all the lyrics. I’ve always been interested in languages, literature and Viking mythology as we talked about last time in the last interview. But this time I thought that Symphonies of the Night has a very strong and delicate side to it. “The Beauty and the Beast” concept is very very strong on this album. Eileen’s Ardency and Saint Cecelia were the first two songs composed for this album and there you go: you have two female characters already. And I thought “all right, this is a very good starting point!” I told my band members and they were like: “yes, lovely! We’ll go for that!

Nico: It’s an interesting concept. It’s somewhat fresh and new for the metal scene as well, which is good because today there are a lot more females who are becoming fans of metal, whereas back in the ’80 it was more male-oriented.

Liv: Yes, definitely!

Nico: Obviously now you’ve got more bands with female vocalists showing up on the scene. Obviously you guys in Leaves’ Eyes, Epica, Nightwish et cetera as well as lesser known bands like Aonia, Hell City from Belgium, Azylya from Belgium, Ex Libris from Holland et cetera. While we are on the topic of the new album, how’s the reception been from both the media and the fans?

Liv: It’s been fantastic. It feels very comfortable to stand where I’m standing with my band right now, and also last year we had our 10 year anniversary. Before starting to compose new songs, in 2012, we all sat down and talked about what to do and what concept, musical direction and all that. And I just said ok, we have a 10 year anniversary so feel free everybody to let in any influence you would like into music. And that’s what happened: we just went with the creative flow. We’ve been very open minded about this production and I think that was a healthy and sound way to do it. So it feels great and the feedback from both press and fans, friends all over the world has just been fantastic. It sums up all the good things about Leaves’ Eyes. Some journalist said, and to me as well, that it’s the perfect beginning of another 10 years of Leaves’ Eyes.

Nico: Personally I enjoyed the new album. It’s something different, compared to previous Leaves’ Eyes albums.

Liv: It is!

Nico: Like Vinland Saga and Njord being more Viking influenced and Symphonies of the Night focuses on something completely different to many people. Folk would be possible, I don’t know if that’s the correct term to use.

Liv: Yes I know what you mean. Me and my band members, we saw how the creative process went on and how the album came together. We saw that there was a new direction to it, with many new elements in our music. A new concept, new lyrics and all that. But still, it’s Leaves’ Eyes! That’s the good thing about it! We don’t have to invent ourselves again because I’ve been around for 20 years and the members even longer. Everything is based on experience and love towards music. That’s it.

Nico: That’s the way to go. Speaking of Leaves’ Eyes, Leaves’ Eyes and Atrocity have been touring together recently. How did this idea occur?

Liv: I think it’s a nice idea, it’s a good idea. Although it’s tough to do double time every night. It’s a lot of work, a lot of sweat. Atrocity’s latest album Okkult is a pure death metal album and I think that’s a very nice contrast in the live program. I enjoy that more than Atrocity playing Work 80 because I don’t think that would fit so well with Leaves’ Eyes.

Nico: You’ll be playing the 70,000 tons of Metal festival soon. Are you looking forward to that?

Liv: Very much! I’ll be travelling with my whole family so I’m really looking forward to that.

Nico: The last two interviews have always ended up with something regarding Game of Thrones, so to stick to tradition: what’s your favourite moment in Game of Thrones?

Liv: Oh I can tell you what was not my favourite moment! That was the final scene of the last season: The Red Wedding. I was shocked!

Nico: When I read it in the books I was picturing so many different ways that they could do it in the television series and they just completely shocked me. They did it so brilliantly.

Liv: Yeah, absolutely. It’s brilliantly done but I didn’t want it to be that way! *laughs*

Nico: Rob Stark is young, a bit arrogant and stuff but they could’ve at least spared him for a little bit longer.

Liv: Exactly. My favourite moment… Hmm… There are just too many of them. I really love the series. But still, I was shocked after the final scene of the latest season. I couldn’t sleep! *laughs*

Nico: Just for the fun of it, another Game of Thrones question: if you could write a song about any event in the Game of Thrones universe, which one would it be and why?

Liv: Oh I would love to write a songs about the wolf pack. The boy seeing through the eyes of the wolf.

Nico: I think that would be pretty cool actually. On to the last question. You are appearing on Savn’s debut album, which is making it the first ever collaboration with a band with your sister Carmen. Are you looking forward to it?

Liv: I’m really looking forward to it. Carmen had the idea to do a project next to Midnattsol and she gathered some very good musicians: some of them are from Sins of Thy Beloved. They came to Germany to Mastersound studio to record the first album and Carmen joined me for Eileen’s Ardency. I said in return I will join you on a song of your choice. That was a very nice thing. I’m looking forward to the album. It will remind you of the early Theatre of Tragedy days.

Nico: Sounds good.

Liv: Yes, very good.

Nico: I think I speak for a lot of fans of Liv Kristine when I say that we are looking forward to it.

Liv: Thank you very much.

Nico: You’re welcome. Thank you for your time and I hope you have a good show tonight.

Liv: I hope you will enjoy it too! Although it’s pretty cold out tonight, I think we will be sweating since we have a full house. I’m really looking forward to it. Thank you so much for being here.

Leaves’ Eyes online:

http://leaveseyes.de
http://facebook.com/leaveseyesofficial

 

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Interview with Alexander Krull [Atrocity]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , on 29th January 2014 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

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Nico got settled down in Manchester earlier this month for a chat with Alexander Krull, the voice of Germany’s death metal powerhouse Atrocity.

Nico: Nice to meet you Alex, how are you doing?

Alex: Nice to meet you. I’m fine. Fantastic tour in the UK. We’re happy to be back.

Nico: It’s been a while since Atrocity last played the UK. Has the Atrocity fanbase changed since you last were here or is it pretty much still the same?

Alex: The people we met before appeared at the show, so they are pretty much the same. I think they all liked the new album, the Okkult album. We got some really good feedbacks so we are happy that we were able to do this tour. On the other side we have been touring through many countries with both bands, Atrocity and Leaves’ Eyes, like 40 countries or more. It’s a little bit of a pity if you have a circle consisting of studio, album, touring. But maybe one tour is not happening and you go on tour with the next album, so there can be a long time in between.

Nico: If you were booked to play a festival and you get to play only one Atrocity album, which one would it be and why?

Alex: At the moment, the Okkult album. Obviously because it’s the brand new album and the songs are doing very well, so that would be the choice of the moment.

Nico: Speaking of festivals, does Atrocity have any festival plans for this year?

Alex: Yeah, it’s still in the making, but bring us back to the UK if possible!

Nico: I’m sure something can be arranged, maybe Bloodstock?

Alex: Yeah that would be awesome! We’ve played there with Leaves’ Eyes, it was amazing, it was really good. Yes maybe somebody wants to bring us back with Leaves’ Eyes or Atrocity, I don’t care!

Nico: Let’s hope so.

Alex: I mean, there are festivals coming up but I can’t tell which ones. Two new ones are coming up soon on Facebook or the page, you will see.

Nico: Okkult was released last year like you said, and it’s the first part of a trilogy. Have you started on the second part of the trilogy?

Alex: Yes, actually we recorded one song before we left for the UK. But it will take a while. I mean, we will play after this tour in North America and Puerto Rico for four weeks. That’s the situation we are in now : we are touring and playing festivals. After North America we are going back to Europe so there will be time to write and record songs. But it’s also cool to grab the energy from the shows, the experiences that we have, to write new songs.

Nico: I imagine it’s still a bit early to be talking about the second part of the trilogy, but what can fans expect from the second part?

Alex: I think you ask this question is because we have had a lot of changes within the bands history and diversity in music. But the Okkult concept is based on this epic backstory let’s say, like we have on the first album. I think we are going to keep that style which is already quite diverse. I’ve heard from some press people that they were a little bit afraid that people would not understand everything on the album. They were a little bit like ‘what?’. It’s up to the fans and I think it’s good to have a diverse album. So we are going to follow in the footsteps of the first one and develop the style. There will probably be some changes, we don’t want to be a boring band. We’re always looking for new challenges.

Nico: Are there any releases by other bands that you are looking forward to this year?

Alex: Let me think..there are a few but the thing is, I’m not sure if they are going to release next year or this year. Who’s releasing something?

Nico: There are a few bands, it’s hard to keep track of it all to be honest.

Alex: You know, who announced they were going on tour with a new record.. Was it Live or whoever? Not a metal band but I would love to see a new album of them too.

Nico: From previous interviews with Liv, I understand that you are a Game of Thrones fan. If you could be any character from the Game of Thrones universe, who would it be and why?

Alex: Wow. Okay, I think the character is dead already! Ned Stark.

Nico: Good choice! Apart from the fact he’s dead…

Alex: I didn’t read the books but yeah, that was not like in other movies… [makes chopping movement with hand] over-out!

Nico: That was one of the most impressive moments for me in the Game of Thrones universe, apart from the Red Wedding.

Alex: Yeah, the Red Wedding, I saw some reactions to that on the internet.., It was quite heavy.

Nico: It was brilliant how they did it on TV especially if you read the books as well. Because I knew it was coming so I was like “no no, not this season, not this episode! Do it another time! Please for the love of God!”

Alex: [laughs] Yeah it was quite interesting to see some reactions when they cursed the directors: “ how can they do that, the characters die!”. It’s written in the books, so..

Nico: Some fans take it a bit overboard so..,

Alex: Yeah I’m looking forward to watch the new season. I think it starts in april? Yesi *two thumbs up*

Nico: Thanks for you time Alex, I hope you have a good show tonight.

Alex: Thank you!

Nico: You’re welcome.

Alex: See you guys!

Atrocity online:

http://facebook.com/AtrocityOfficial
http://twitter.com/atrocitypage

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Interview with Phil Cross [Continents]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , on 18th November 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Phil Cross - Continents

Nico catches up with Continents frontman Phil in Bridlington, on the band’s UK tour, to discuss the new album, Idle Hands, touring, the music scene in Wales and Phil’s porn star name.

Continents online:

http://continentsband.com
http://facebook.com/continentsband

 

Interview with The End Of Grace

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , on 13th November 2013 by Pieni

You’ve probably seen some of our posts about a Swedish new band called The End Of Grace. With roughly a year of existence, an extraordinary EP was released last month and this weekend they finally had their live debut. Perfect time for Renata to meet up with some of the boys and have a little chat with them.

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Renata: Hello boys. Thanks for taking some time to talk to me. My first question is something I’ve been wanting to ask you since the band was formed… Why is The End Of Grace a Gothenburg band when the majority of the band lives in the Stockholm area? What’s so special about that city?

Jimmy (Bergman, guitars): Gothenburg scene is bigger than Stockholm’s…
Johan (Hagman, clean vocals/bass): I don’t agree with that. It used to be bigger. The metal scene in Gothenburg used to be “the shit”, the “Gothenburg sound”. There was In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates… But five years ago or so, the underground bands from Västerås, Eskilstuna… they started to pop up and the underground scene got bigger around here. Adept is one of them, coming from Trosa, near Södertälje, near Stockholm. So I don’t agree ‘cause Gothenburg has a lot of great bands but I’m not sure if the scene is better than in the rest of the country.

Renata: So now you’re going to change your location?

Jimmy: Yeah, I think we’re changing it to Stockholm/Gothenburg.
Johan: Anyways, who the fuck cares where we’re from? I don’t give a fuck. (laughs)
Thomas (Manell, drums): I say Småland. (more laughs)

Renata: Yes, it doesn’t matter, but I was curious because until recently, only Kriss (Panic, vocals) lived there and yet your Facebook page says you’re from Gothenburg.

Johan: I guess it had something to do with them travelling to Gothenburg when they started out, as Jimmie Strimmel (former singer) lived there.
Jimmy: Yes, we were going there when we made the page so we adopted Gothenburg.
Johan: And people around the world know the Gothenburg sound, so when you say “Sweden, Gothenburg” it means that okay, this is a great sounding band… (laughs)

Renata: you’re a metalcore band, but you have your own special “genre”… how did “deathcore popcorn” come up?

Johan : Ha ha ha!
Thomas: Oh Lord…
Jimmy (smiling): Yeah, that was me again.
Thomas: It’s always you!
Jimmy:  We have a thing like a pop band…
Johan: It came up during the recordings, while Jimmy was playing around. Since Kriss has a deathcore background and… I didn’t do the choruses in the first four songs but for “Lost In Transition” it was me who wrote the chorus on the spot, in the studio room, and i made it really poppy.
Thomas: Along with me!
Johan: Yes, but you did the uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhh and I did the chorus. It doesn’t matter. It’s all great.
Thomas: It’s all gay!
Johan: In our old band (Johan and Jimmy played together before, in Road To Repent) we’ve always said that we wanted poppy choruses. Not because we want people to like it but because WE like it. It gives the music another dynamic. And that’s why it’s hardcore / deathcore / pop…
Jimmy: CORN!
Johan: Yeah, deathcore popcorn!

Renata: Thomas, you joined TEoG by the end of March, replacing Marcus Rosell, but I know that you were Sulan (Von Zoomlander, guitar) and Jimmy’s first choice. They’ve asked you a few times but you refused. What made you change your mind?

Thomas: That’s a really good question.
Johan: He likes the tail! Ha ha ha!
Thomas: What can I say? I really wanted to give it a try, you know? This is a genre that I’ve never played before and I’m all about developing as a musician. To me that’s what music is all about. So if I can become a better metalcore drummer, that’s all good. And the fact that Jimmy buttered everything up and said that “hey, we’re going to play this stadium and this stadium and you’re going to get laid like every hour…” so I was like yeah, okay, shit, I’ll be there!  photo _DSC0713_zps8e7d3250.jpg
Johan: I’ve heard that before! He said the same thing to me.
Thomas: But seriously, I love working with Jimmy. He’s a great guy and he writes good music. And I’m really happy that I met Johan and Kriss and Sulan… and now Robert (Åkerlund, live musician temporarily replacing Sulan), as well… it’s a great group. I’m really happy to be working with these guys. ‘Cause that’s what music is – a team effort.

Renata: And you, Johan. You’ve joined on bass but you’ve never played bass before, right?

Johan: Me, Jimmy and Robert used to play in Road To Repent and there I was just a singer. We did a lot of shit together for about three, four years. I used to play guitar in the older bands but I haven’t played an instrument for a few years. And then Jimmy called me because their bass player had stepped down. And he just asked me if I wanted to be in the band. I said, “dude, I can’t play bass. I’ve never played bass!”. And he said, “first thing, I need someone I can trust”. Okay, no problem. “I need someone that can sing”. Yeah, no problem. “And then the bass… yeah, that, well… whatever”. And I said, yeah, I can do that! As long as the bass is “whatever”! So it’s kind of a leap of faith because I have to trust in my musical talent to understand how I’m supposed to play bass. But when I look at other bass players… oooooh shit! I say I’m only here for the beer and play the bass as good as I can. And singing. It’s different, because I used to be the frontman. I don’t give a fuck about being a frontman or not, I just want to sing. That’s the baseline.
Thomas: I just want to say that when we rehearse without Kriss, Johan steps up with the microphone and the bass and he does a great job. I really enjoy watching it, as he hasn’t a bass school background, and he still plays his instrument well and is able to sing the way he sings.
Johan: You have to remember that I’ve been playing bass for 3 months
Thomas: So this is a music guy from deep down in his bones!
Johan: Thank you Queen!

Renata: Even before “Lost In Transition” was released, you were already working on your upcoming debut album. How’s that going so far? Is everyone more involved now?

Jimmy: We are working on the album right now. We have 8 or 9 songs, actually. And yes, we’re doing it as a band.
Thomas: There are a couple of songs that I’ve listened to two years ago, old songs that Jimmy played for me when we got to know each other for the first time. And that’s coming to light now. It’s really funny, really sweet to know that I’ve listened to these songs, I really felt that this was good at the time, and now he wants to bring them into The End Of Grace.
Jimmy: Also Johan is including a more hardcore feeling into the sound.
Johan: And that’s a problem! I only love hardcore and metalcore. I like metal but what I love is hardcore / metalcore. And I’m afraid I’ll ruin the sound of The End Of Grace. That’s the thing when I work with Jimmy. We went out to his family house and we sat down for a whole day working on a song. i wrote the song on the bus there and we started recording it and he was like “fuck this, fuck this, this is shit, this is hardcore shit” all the time. And then he got to write a breakdown.  photo _DSC0900_zpsd0cc01d8.jpgThat’s the only thing he was really passionate about. He wrote other stuff but he was really passionate about this breakdown and four hours later… “dude, this is a fucking good song”. (Jimmy laughs). “Yeah, I’ve been telling you!”. But that’s the problem! They wrote four or five or whatever songs two years ago, they had a song in mind and then I get in and mix it up with hardcore sounds and I’m just afraid of ruining the sound. Hopefully I won’t ‘cause Jimmy’s always there spoiling my shit. (Thomas and Jimmy laugh) So I think we’ll find something halfway.

Renata: You’re adding a new element; I don’t think you’re ruining the sound, you’re making it richer, more unique.

Johan: We keep focused on that. As far as we know, there’s no real band in Sweden right now using the deathcore vocals and then doing the really really REALLY poppy choruses. Because you have Betraying The Martyrs and some things like it from other countries but in Sweden I haven’t heard any band that sounds like we do. Because we have this kind of happy riffing, this kind of happy breakdowns… I can’t explain it. But yeah, we’ve got some shit. A lot of shit. (laughs)
Jimmy: I have to say that it’s a lot more fun to write it all with these two guys and not just alone or with Sulan.
Johan: it’s more fun when we’re all on top of it. we can send our stuff to Sulan, because he’s living in Hindås now, instead of them doing it together. It’s more fun getting  the input of everyone. Even if he (points at Thomas) hates my punk intros. Fuck you! (everybody laugh)
Thomas: Since Johan joined the band Jimmy’s like a little kid on Christmas Eve when it comes to writing and creating. Everything is exciting and I think these two are a great combo and they’re bringing it to the group. Jimmy has a lot of drum ideas for the songs but I try to make them some sort of my own. But since I’m not a metalcore drummer, I try to maintain whatever ideas he has and just make a twist or something with what I’ve got.

Renata: I’ve noticed it in the EP, in comparison to the first recordings with Marcus. (Read review here)

Thomas: Yes, like the end of “Betrayer”. I’m more of a groovy drummer. I’m not that typical metalcore drummer that just keeps on hammering. I want to keep the beat. I really think the working combination between Jimmy and Johan is going to make The End Of Grace come to a whole new level. In a good way.
Johan: Hopefully… Well, the thing about him being “like a kid on Christmas” is about trust. He knows he can trust me. I will tell him when it’s fucking shit. And I will say when I see something that’s good and he will tell me… well, no, he will not tell me. He will be like this (crosses his arms and looks sideways). And I know him, ‘cause we’ve been playing for years, along with Robert. We know each other that well. I can tell when he doesn’t like something.
Jimmy: I stay quiet.
Johan: Yeah, he will shut up, that’s how he reacts.
Thomas: One thing I can say about Robert filling in for Sulan is you can really tell that they’ve played together before. It’s a thing of magic. It’s like kindergarten all over.
Johan: you have to keep in mind that we’ve played for so long and didn’t have a gig for one year and a half. In Road To Repent we were taking a step back, considering our sound. We wanted to go more metalcore, more like The End Of Grace but not The End Of Grace and so we didn’t have a gig for a year and a half or so in that band. So when we got together last night, it wasn’t just the first gig of The End Of Grace but also the first gig that Robert does in all this time. Last night was insane because it was like old times for us. For now it’s three parts of Road To Repent in this band. it feels weird but good. And we really appreciate that he could step in. We can’t wait for Sulan to get back , but we know that Robert’s a great guitar player and he can feel the rhythm like Sulan does.
Thomas: We miss Sulan in the group because of what he always brings but Robert does a really great job for the moment. That’s the thing with The End Of Grace – we always get by. The music comes first.

Renata: You’ve been talking about a video for ages. Is the idea still on? And I’ve heard that maybe it wouldn’t be for “Metal Mulisha” after all…

Jimmy: We’ve been thinking of maybe doing “Fist Face Bleed” if Martin (Westerstrand, from Lillasyster, guest vocalist on this track) can join us. If not,“Lost In Transition”.
Johan: It’s all a matter of budget. We were talking to Robert from Adept and discussing their videos and our videos and he told us it’s fucking expensive. I’m not sure that’s a number we can talk about, really. We’ll do it when we can do it good. We don’t want to put up shit on YouTube. It’s better to just post videos of us because poorly made videos… nah, not good enough.

Renata: You’ve played Rockbitch Boat yesterday, you have another gig in  Göta Källare next Saturday… Can the fans expect a tour or you’ll continue to play random shows for now?

Jimmy: We are working on something but it’s not 100% confirmed, nothing we can discuss at the moment.
Johan: Of course we want to get out there, so stay tuned.

Renata: The gig yesterday was The End Of Grace’s first ever. What did you think of it? Did it meet your expectations?

Jimmy: It was amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing!  photo _DSC0823_zps1a5d4734.jpg
Johan: It was awesome to see people we don’t know down there. That’s what I care about. That was kind of a warm up for us. It was the first time we were together, the five of us.
Jimmy: We’ve never practiced all together before that.
Johan: Never. That was our first practice yesterday. We were expecting less. That’s what warms our hearts. There were kids there that none of us knows. The first thing when I got off stage was that I was stopped by two kids that no one in the band has ever seen and go “dude, that was fucking sick!”. And then I went five steps and I met another dude, “dude, that was fucking sick! I’ll see you in the next gig”. So it was above all our expectations.

Renata: And Sebastian from BatAAr, who got on stage to sing “Fist Face Bleed”? How did that come about?

Jimmy: That’s a Kriss question.
Thomas: Kriss knows a lot of people and he played a couple of artists for us to choose from. We chose Sebastian because he resembled Martin and could maintain the tone and energy that Martin brings to the song. Sebastian is the best choice, definitely. And I’ve never met the guy, so after having him up on stage was like “okay, I officially love this guy!”. He was just all over the place, Then we met him after the show, had a couple of beers and get along very well. So I think it’s a thing we will maintain.
Johan: He’s an awesome dude. And BatAAr, his band, has been around the Swedish scene for a long time. They are a big band, especially in Japan, so it’s kind of an honor to have him jumping in and he being so psyched about it. It was really cool.

Renata: And still speaking of Rockbitch Boat, they used precisely “Fist Face Bleed” for the trailer of the event. Is there anything else where you’d like to see your music as soundtrack?

Jimmy: Fäbodjäntan! (famous Swedish porn movie)
Johan: Because I’m a gamer, I would love to have our music in a game but I don’t know if it works… Maybe in a Battlefield-ish story, a game of intense action. I would love that, but I’m not sure. I don’t think it fits in a movie either, but if it would, cool. If they did another “Die Hard” with a young John McClane
Thomas: “Married… with Children Reunion”! That would be fucking awesome! (starts singing the chorus of “Lost In Transition”)

Renata: The last verse of “Metal Mulisha” is “world domination”. Is that the goal for your music?

Jimmy: Yes, yes, YES!
Johan: I think that’s how you should think. When you dream about being a rock star when you’re a kid, you dream about being in a stadium tour. Being a rock star isn’t going around in a fucking small Toyota through Sweden, spending more than you earn. That’s not what you dream about, that’s not what we have in mind. Well, we have the music in mind, of course, but playing in stadiums, that’s world domination.

Renata: And I really hope you achieve it. Thank you once again and keep up the good work!

TEoG online:
Official Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Youtube

Interview with Þráinn Árni Baldvinsson and Jón Geir Jóhannsson [Skálmöld]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 23rd October 2013 by vmteam

Shuffling over to the other side of the greenroom, Jon tiptoed in amidst laptops, assorted wires and beer cans to sit next to Þráinn Árni Baldvinsson (pronounced ‘throw-an’), lead guitarist for Skálmöld, and drummer/vocalist Jón Geir Jóhannsson. The majority of Skálmöld are vocalists themselves, and their sound is an atmospheric blend of death metal with traditional Icelandic melodies and time signatures, featuring epic lyrical sagas about the Norse gods and historical wars. For fans of Tyr, Skálmöld is a perfect opener, and throughout the tour this relatively unheard of band has impressed the European masses.

Jon: Have you been to England before? I swear I’ve seen you once before here.

Þráinn: Yes! We played here once before in 2011 on the… Heidenfest tour I think it was. In the HMV Forum. Absolutely awesome- probably one of my favourite shows ever.

Jon: How do you find fans in England, are we crazy?

Jón: Oh yes, they were crazy then!

Þráinn: At that concert they were absolutely amazing, yeah- and the Forum has a lot of history as well. All of the bands play there, so personally we were really excited to get to play there as well. Before the show we got together and just said ‘let’s do this just for us’. Our intro started, and the whole place erupted – we were like ‘What?’ Nobody knew who we were. The crowd was amazing. Probably one of my favourite gigs ever, and I mean that.

Jon: I know a lot of bands say places like Mexico or Japan are awesome, but no one ever says England.

Jón: Well, we’ve never played Mexico or Japan before! We have a fanclub in Mexico, though. But, uh, we can actually tell you that in Italy, Hungary and Romania, the fans are pretty awesome – the bassist from Týr is coming into our interview!

Gunnar: Hi!

Jon: You’ve already said your piece about the new album and now Týr don’t have a singer because of it!

Þráinn: Did you talk about our new album?

Gunnar: Of course we did! You’re so rude!

Þráinn: So as we said, yes in Italy, Hungary and Romania, fans are really crazy – Italy have the greatest fans ever, man. But that particular show back at the Forum was great.

Jon: Now you use Icelandic poetic structure in your songs. Is this hard to stick to or do you prefer to structure your lyrics like that?

Jón: We prefer to use it. Our bass player who writes all the lyrics is a bit of a poetic nerd in a way. In some ways it’s more like mathematical problems, because you have to put certain letters at certain places and have rhymes at certain places, so it’s kinda like a linguistic Rubik cube that you have to solve. So it’s a challenge. And because of those rules, it’s more rhythmical. You say sounds at similar intervals, it’s easier to sing, and for people who don’t speak Icelandic, it’s like listening to an instrument. When we signed to Napalm Records, some people asked ‘are you going to sing in English?’ And we said ‘no way!’ Of course we were going to stick to our native language. In our songs we have an English story which you can follow as you listen to the lyrics.

Jon: Your latest album Börn Loka

Þráinn: Yes, Children of Loki!

Jon: Why did you choose to write about this concept?

Þráinn: Basically we had an idea

Jon: Because he’s cool? [Editor’s note: Loki is not cool – Vidar is though]

Þráinn: Yes but don’t connect this with the Marvel thing! Basically we had three ideas, all the ideas were about two children travelling, and in the end our bass player had the idea of naming them after two of our kids…

Jón: We think the Children of Loki are really cool characters, and they are part of our Icelandic heritage, part of the old Nordic religion – mainly they’re just really cool characters. Especially the three famous ones: Hel, Fenrir and Miðgarðsormur. So, it’s a fictional story but we take parts of the old mythology and sagas and squeeze them in, but with different main characters.

Þráinn: We grew up with this; this is normal stuff when you’re growing up.

Jón: You learn about it in school, in kindergarten. It’s something children are taught as a part of their cultural history – you learn about where you’re from and as part of what your ancestors believed – not, like, ‘you have to believe in Odin’, but as cool stories.

Þráinn: But we didn’t have to make this cool, because ninety percent of everyone back home respects their history and thinks it’s quite cool anyway. We actually have kids wearing our t-shirts with our logos on, singing our songs in kindergartens.

Jon: That’s amazing!

Þráinn: Yeah, but I would have thought that kids in the UK would listen to Iron Maiden songs in kindergarten…

Jon: If only!

Þráinn: I thought you would be singing about Alexander the Great or Invaders or something!

Jon: If only we did! I think that should definitely be on the curriculum. I know you started off as Týr did, using folk music blended in with metal – do you still use that concept now?

Jón: When we started the band, the original idea was to have it a bit more folky than it turned out. In the first rehearsals, Baldur our guitar played flutes and mandolins and stuff, and then it kinda didn’t sound right, so he began to play the electric guitar as well. Today, we’re just playing heavy metal.

Þráinn: We don’t really think that we have to be ‘this type’ of metal, like folk metal. It just happens. For me, we’re just another Iron Maiden cover band!

Jon: I’m really interested in Norse mythology, but I’m really lazy and I don’t read at all. Could you recommend any reading that fans of Nordic metal can pick up to learn more about the history?

Þráinn: You have to read from the Völuspá and the Eddas, the beginning of the universe according to Nordic mythology. And then I think you should go into the old Icelandic sagas and the stories of the settlers. That’s awesome and brutal.

Jón: A bunch of people killing each other all the time.

Þráinn: Everyone who is alive today in the Western world is a pussy compared to the guys who were originally Icelandic settlers.

Jon: One day I promise you I’ll read the Eddas.

Jón: Do it! That’s basically where it all comes from.

Jon: Obviously I was interviewing Týr over there, and I asked them to teach me something in Faroese. Could you teach me something nice in Icelandic? Because Terji taught me some words that I couldn’t really say to anyone.

Þráinn: If you wanted to say something nice, to a beautiful girl or something, then you can say ‘falleg’, which means beautiful. You can also say ‘þú ert falleg’- you are beautiful.

Jon: What’s next for the band? Börn Loka was released last October, so have you started any further work?

Þráinn: We have started to write… It will be the best album ever! Our next task after we finish his tour is to do a couple of gigs with the Icelandic symphonic orchestra- we’re doing both of our albums and three shows that are sold out in a huge auditorium – 1800 seats!

Jón: So that’s going to be a lot of work, and hopefully we’re going to release that as a DVD. Hopefully it will be released just before Christmas; we’re doing the gigs in November.

Þráinn: And then we have theatre work!

Jón: We basically have December, January and February off, and then we’re going to start rehearsing to make our first album into a live theatre production: there’ll be actors and re-enactments on the stage of the stories in between the songs, and hopefully we’ll record an album next summer!

Jon: I love everything you’re doing- so many bands get stuck in a rut of recording an album and then going out on tour, and it seems like you’re really creatively branching out. Thanks – I think that’s everything!

Jón: They better bloody well start teaching Iron Maiden songs in kindergarten!

Skálmöld online:

http://www.skalmold.is
http://facebook.com/skalmold

Interview with Týr

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , on 23rd October 2013 by vmteam

Perhaps one of the greatest folkish/Nordic/younameit line-ups aside from the European spectacle of Heidenfest graced The Garage this past Saturday evening: behemoths Finntroll were joined by Metal Blade’s Týr, who are touring their latest album, and were supported by Iceland’s Skálmöld for an evening of sweltering debauchery and a raucous good time.

A long time fan of Týr himself, Jon caught up with Týr before the gig as the crowds started to swell up Holloway Road.

Absent for most of Týr’s interview was lyrical mastermind and mythology nerd Heri Joensen, who popped in his head for a few questions before ducking out, but Jon sat down with bassist (and comedian) Gunnar Thomsen, lead guitarist Terji Skibenaes, and new recruit drummer Amon Djurhuus.

Jon: Ok, introductory question: tell us something interesting about yourself!

Gunnar: I’m a plumber?

Jon: Everyone knows you’re a plumber!

Gunnar: And a diver!

Terji: Only perverted things come into my mind… I hate driving cars!

Amon: I can actually play the harmonica! 

Jon: Is the harmonica going to be on any Týr records then?

Amon: No way! Never ever! 

Jon: Gunnar, I saw you wearing a Trollfest t-shirt the other day; they’ve covered Toxic by Britney Spears. Aside from the new covers of Iron Maiden and Pantera on Valkyrja, out of any genre, what would you cover?

Gunnar: I would probably cover a Deep Purple song – I would never go so low as to do Britney Spears!

Terji: Pop song? I thought about it the other day! Chicago, It’s Hard to Say I’m Sorry – it will just be me in a one man show.

Jon: You went for a quite a power metal vibe in Valkyrja; Liv Kristine, singer from Leaves’ Eyes, joined you in ballad Lay of Our Love – have you thought about collaborating with any other musicians?

Terji: No, I don’t think we’re going to do that. 

Jon: I know you don’t align yourself with the folk metal scene, but a lot of bands use unconventional instruments- maybe not harmonicas, but accordions, violins…

Gunnar: Yeah, that’s never gonna happen – an orchestra, maybe… that could be something!

Terji: No violins though… 

Jon: I know Valkyrja has just been released, but have you started doing work on the new album?

Terji: Only demos so far.

Gunnar: They sound amazing, absolutely brilliant! 

Jon: Do you have a concept that it might focus on?

Terji: No, we don’t know yet…

Gunnar: We’ll do a cover track by The Bee Gees maybe… we’ll put a nail in our balls and- (quiet, high-pitched wails) 

Jon: That could be your stage performance next tour… Now – you cover modern issues; for example, your anti-racism song Shadow of the Swastika. Do you think any cultural values from Norse mythology are still relevant today?

Gunnar: That’s what Heri does with lyrics – he takes old situations and compares them to new situations because they’re quite similar. So it kinda draws a line between the two.

Jon: Do you like singing about modern issues or would you prefer to stick to singing only about mythology?

Gunnar: If it was up to me, we’d sing songs about cars and planes!

Terji: Sex, drugs and rock and roll! 

Jon: I think Shadow of the Swastika was a good response to the criticism you faced from people under the misconception you were a right-wing band.

Gunnar: Yeah, that whole thing came totally behind our backs. 

Jon: So from the new album, what’s your personal favourite – you know my favourite is Lady of the Slain, which I believe you wrote, Terji!

Terji: Yes I did! Mine is Another Fallen Brother.

Gunnar: It’s difficult to say, Valkyrja is my favourite- maybe because I wrote that! No, it’s difficult to say. I like the whole album.

Terji: Mare of My Night!

Gunnar: Mare of My Night is my favourite, yeah! 

Jon: That was so embarrassing to listen to… just listening to the lyrics…

Terji: Did you blush?

Jon: I did! Listening to it on my own I thought ‘you can’t say that, Heri!

Gunnar: Good! I think that’s where we should go! Getting brutally honest!

Amon: I think Mare of My Night is my favourite, too. I love playing it live- it’s a pretty cool live song. 

Jon: (Mathias from Finntroll is lounging on the sofa in the background behind Terji) What’s your favourite song, Mathias

Mathias: What favourite? No, I do know the songs! I listen to it every day! Uh, probably Mare of My Night, too.

Jon: Are there any songs you recorded but couldn’t use for Valkyrja?

Gunnar: This was what we had. We never actually record more songs than needed.

Jon: So Amon, have you ever been on tour before?

Amon: Yep, I’ve been on tour with Týr two times before – this is my third – and with Heljareyga (Heri Joensen’s side-project) also. It’s going good.

Gunnar: We bully him a bit – we’ve tried to break him in (whip crack sound)

Terji: Gunnar thinks we bully him, but we actually bully Gunnar!

Gunnar: I’m used to it!

Jon: I know a lot of fans were upset Kári (Streymoy, previous drummer) left, but the fans that have met you have said you’re cool, Amon – you’ve got our support! Can you teach us to say something in Faroese?

Terji: Spina. Spin-hora. Sperm whore. 

Jon: Would that help me to pick up a guy at a bar?

Gunnar: That would probably work on me!

Jon: Wow – next question! I’ve been listening to you since I was fifteen – so five years now. And I have to Admit that when I first started listening to you, I hated you!

Terji: Usually people do!

Jon: And now I run the UK fanpage on Facebook- funny how things change. When did you first realise you were getting noticed? I know Valkyrja is having great success in the charts and with critics alike.

Terji: Probably since after By the Light of the Northern Star was released. 

Jon: I know a lot of places in South America are crazy about anything Nordic-themed, do you find you have a good reception there as well?

Terji: Yeah, a lot! (Gunnar says ‘No’) Gunnar’s never on Facebook; he doesn’t know!

(Heri Joensen wanders over from the corner) 

Jon: Do you want to tell us about any lyrics you’re working on?

Heri: Uh, well Terji and I have talked about some stuff, and that’s all that’s happened so far. I don’t think we should mention it yet…

Terji: No, not yet.

Heri: Turn the microphone off!

Terji: Our manager will kill us…

Gunnar: No, it’s about big elephants in Africa, and the situation with the pelican that flies off and mates with the flamingos. It’s very disturbing.

Jon: I think you’re going to have to write that now! (Heri tries to run away; Jon pull him back) Stay here – there’s another one! I know a lot of my friends are starting to form bands and write lyrics about their English heritage. Do you encourage that, and how can people who are interested in that best go about interacting with, or writing about, something personal to them

Heri: I think that in the Faroes at least we have a very direct connection with our heritage, so when I started to write lyrics I didn’t have to dig very deep to find anything, and there was no artificial angle to it. I can imagine if you grew up in England that

Jon: It would be more about learning what you know from history lessons

Heri: Yeah exactly. You have to be into that sort of thing to know anything about it, but still I would encourage anyone to do it. I like it when music sounds like where it comes from and also has mythological subjects related to a band’s heritage, if you’re into that kind of thing. So when everything isn’t so internationalised.

Jon: I must say though I love the new African animal direction you’re taking, and Terji was also telling me about wanting to cover musical theatre…

Heri: I’m now officially out of the band!

Amon: Elephants in Chicago!

Terji: That’s the new album title!

Jon: Recently, fanclubs have grown amazingly for Týr. After your gig in York, I started the UK fanpage from a computer in my hostel. Now I’ve seen the Italian fanclub, the Polish fanclub, and of course the US fanclub getting lots of likes on their pages… What can fans do to help you guys?

Terji: I think talk to the local promoters… When they see more people asking for us, then it will most likely happen

Gunnar: And spread the word!

Terji: And hello to Týr Fans in the UK! Thank you for everything!

Gunnar: Rock on!

Amon: Thanks – come to our show!

Týr online:

http://www.tyr.fo
http://facebook.com/tyrband

 

Interview with Liv Kristine [Leaves’ Eyes]

Posted in Featured, Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 17th October 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Liv Kristine is best known for her work as the vocalist for Leaves’ Eyes and former singer for Theatre of Tragedy. As well as fronting one of the most iconic symphonic metal bands on the scene, Liv is also a solo artist and has collaborated with a number of different bands including Cradle Of FilthAtrocityDelain and most recently she appeared on the track The Lay Of Our Love, which is featured on Tyr‘s new album Valkyrja.

With the release of Symphonies Of The Night just around the corner and a UK tour confirmed for January 2014, Nico catches up Liv Kristine to discuss all things Leaves’ Eyes as well as popular TV series Game Of Thrones, her solo project and rumours about Leaves’ Eyes appearing at the next Dames of Darkness Festival…

Nico: Hi Liv, how are you doing?

Liv: I’m good thank you. It’s been a busy day, but in a positive way, you know. Lots of interviews and we’re rehearsing because we’ll be playing the Metal Female Voices Festival in Belgium in a couple of days. I’ll be there with my solo band on Friday and with Leaves’ Eyes on Saturday so yes, we’re busy!

Nico: Sounds like you’ll be having fun though. Is there a meaning behind the title of the new album Symphonies of the Night?

Liv: Um, a meaning or the concept in general?

Nico: A bit of both really.

Liv: Okay, well we came up with the title pretty late in the recording process. I actually had a song called Carmilla from Sheridan Le Fanu’s horror novel from 1871. So the song, which came to be titled Symphony of the Night, was originally titled Carmilla. But we were discussing the title within the band and we weren’t really sure. What happened was pure luck: I was typing an interview and the journalist was asking me about my influences and I mentioned Tchaikovsky, who wrote the Symphony of the Swan Lake and I thought that’s it! This is an album of eleven symphonies of the night, so there we go! So Carmilla is still the main character in the title song, but the title got changed. Things happen, we are a very creative band.

Nico: I was listening to the previews of Symphonies of the Night that Napalm uploaded to YouTube earlier. There is a definite evolution in the band’s sound, changing direction compared to previous Leaves’ Eyes albums. Is this what you were aiming for with this album, and will this be a future direction you will be taking for future releases?

Liv: Well, I’d rather put it this way: Leaves’ Eyes isn’t a planned thing when we start composing. We throw everything into pre-production and what was already there, were two songs: Eileens Ardency and Saint Cecilia. They just didn’t fit on the Meredead [released in 2011] album when it comes to atmosphere. So they weren’t leftovers but they were on no album after the release of Mededead,  so we decided to start working on them. And then we realised that this was a good point to start from. You know, this year we have the anniversary of 10 years of Leaves’ Eyes so we have experienced a lot of being on the road, and all these albums we released and we’ve gathered a lot of experiences. For most of the band members Leaves’ Eyes is twenty, twenty five years of experience. Everything is there on this album, you won’t miss anything. It’s a very powerful album, I agree on that.

Nico: On previous Leaves’ Eyes albums the use of different languages made an appearance on the tracks. Will this be the same with Symphonies of the Night?

Liv: On Symphonies of the Night we’ll have modern English of course, Shakespearean English, some Norwegian, a little bit of French and a little bit of Irish. That’s five languages, I think on the Njord album we had eight languages and on Meredead six languages. I just love languages and I studied linguistics for years so it’s something I really like doing.

Nico: What would you say is the track that stands out on the new album?

Liv: Well that’s the most tricky question you could’ve asked me. Right, um.. This morning in my car I was listening to Ophelia, which is the final track of the album. Of course it’s Shakespeare’s Ophelia, the daughter of Polonius, in Hamlet. That’s my main character, and Ophelia is a quite straightforward and rocky song. It might sound like it doesn’t have a complicated structure like for example Saint Cecilia or Nightshade but Ophelia was the second to last song we recorded. We needed quite a lot of time for Ophelia to finish it in the way we wanted it. All of us: Alex, my husband, our producer, Thorsten my red-haired guitar player and myself are perfectionists. It’s great to have our own studio because then we can keep working until the three of us are satisfied. Ophelia was a tough one but I think it turned out great and at the moment it’s my favourite, if I’m allowed to have one.

Nico: You recently featured on The Lay of Our Love which is on Týr’s latest album Valkyrja. What was it like, recording that track with Týr?

Liv: Actually, I recorded my vocals here in our studio in Germany. But every time I think about doing a duet it’s always the music itself which decides. If I like the song I’ll do it. Heri from Týr helped me out in Wacken last year when Leaves’ Eyes headlined Wacken Open Air. He helped me out on Solemn Sea, one of our tracks. So when Heri asked me ‘Liv would you mind? I have a duet and you would fit very well on it’. I just loved the song and I have good news because we’ll be shooting a video clip for that track in a month! I’m really looking forward to that, it will be in Belgrade.

Nico: Ooh, excellent! I’m looking forward to that. With the recent collarboration with Týr, do you think it will help expose Leaves’ Eyes to Týr fans and Týr fans to Leaves’ Eyes?

Liv: I hope so, I really hope so! If Heri wouldn’t mind, we should tour together some day cause I think we have a potential common fanbase. The thing is, Leaves’ Eyes hasn’t toured a lot in Scandinavia. We should to that very soon, especially in my homeland. Týr is very well known in Scandinavia so that would be an absolutely amazing package.

Nico: I completely agree. A Leaves’ Eyes/Tyr tour would be amazing.

Liv: Thank you. We now have told the universe.

Nico: Speaking of touring, Leaves’ Eyes is scheduled to return to the UK next year in January with Atrocity and Pythia. Are you looking forward to the tour? Which cities are you excited about?

Liv: Absolutely! We toured the UK and Northern Ireland last year with Firewind and that was absolutely amazing. We played at places where Leaves’ Eyes had never played before and for Firewind as well it was absolutely amazing. I remember Cardiff very well because I spent a couple of months there when I was an exchange student. So Cardiff is pretty well-known to me. But of course Manchester is always packed, London is always packed. We will play in some of the venues we played with Firewind as well. We’re building up a fanbase in those places so I’m really looking forward to be back over there in the UK. We have an amazing fanbase in the UK and Northern Ireland. I was really surprised to see that there are so many fans who know about our music in the UK, and many journalists as well. I’ve had quite a few UK interviews this week so that’s good.

Nico: Last time I interviewed you, which was in Manchester last year, when Leaves’ Eyes was there with Firewind, you mentioned that you were a fan of Game of Thrones. So, if you could be any character from the Game of Thrones universe, who would you be and why?

Liv: That’s an even trickier question than the one you asked me before! Oh dear, oh dear… I’m not really sure. It must be Daenerys. Well okay, she’s blonde so it should be her.

Nico: She’s a good, strong character.

Liv: She’s great, she’s amazing yes.

Nico: Going back to touring, are there any future plans for you to tour your solo project around the UK?

Liv: I hope and pray that there will be next year because it’s certainly time to play some solo shows in the UK as well. The only shows I have this year for Liv Kristine, for my solo project, is Nagold in Germany and Pratteln in Switzerland. So those are the two gigs, but they are exclusive gigs. Leaves’ Eyes and Atrocity will be touring most of the rest of the year so we will be very busy. China, Taiwan, Thailand, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, Belgium. Lot of things happening! The end of December is the right time for exclusive solo shows but the UK, 2014..let’s cross our fingers.

Nico: That’s what I’m hoping for.

Liv: Me too.

Nico: Speaking of shows. I’ve heard a few whipserings around the internet from associates of mine that Leaves’ Eyes might be playing the Dames of Darkness festival in the UK next year. I was wondering if there is any truth to this?

Liv: Wauw, I mean that would be absolutely killer! It would be fantastic. Well you know, bookers know things before the rest of the band does so..let’s make it happen.

Nico: I hope it does happen because Dames of Darkness this year was phenomenal and it would be so much better if Leaves’ Eyes was playing it.

Liv: Thank you, thank you very much! I’d love to be there.

Nico: Last question. This is a fan question, asked by April Mccaffrey: if you could have a superpower, which one would it be and why?

Liv: A superpower… Okay, you took me by surprise there! When I was a kid I always thought it would be fantastic to be able to look into the future, to know what is going to happen. But I’m not sure if I need that anymore. It’s a very good question actually. Sometimes I wish I could change things for the better of it. Sometimes, especially when it comes to children and children suffering on this planet, it feels like we are just sitting here being comfortable and warm while on the other side of the planet children are dying because of hunger. That’s when I think I would just like to be able to beam myself to that place and do something. Maybe that’s a project for the future. If I ever get tired of playing gigs and singing that would be something I would like to do, to be part of helping projects concerning children who are suffering on the other side of the world.

Nico: I wasn’t expecting that answer. You’re certainly a kind and caring individual. Thank you for your time Liv, I hope you have a good night.

Liv: Thank you very much, it was a pleasure talking to you again. Take good care and hope to see you in Manchester in January.

Nico: You too, Liv! Have a good night!

Leaves’ Eyes online:

http://leaveseyes.com
http://facebook.com/leaveseyesofficial

Breed 77 Interview- Bloodstock 2013

Posted in Interview on 7th September 2013 by Hannah

Bloodstock Festival, 11th August 2013, Catton Hall

Hannah caught up with Danny Felice and Andre Joyzi of Breed 77 on the Sunday of Bloodstock, 2013.

 

Hannah: Thanks guys so much for talking to me today, I really appreciate it! So obviously, this is your first time playing Bloodstock?

Danny: Second.

Hannah: Second!

Danny: Yeah, we played donkey’s years ago with Sebastian Bach. It was a tiny festival, we did the early ones, yeah.

Hannah: Okay, so this is your first time playing since it exploded into this.

Danny: Yeah, yeah.

Andre: Bloodstock’s done great, and it’s growing.

Hannah: It’s got a good vibe I think, Bloodstock.

Danny: It’s amazing, I think it’s the greatest metal festival in England! Cos Download’s a bit commercialised nowadays, I’m not talking badly about Download you know, or anything, but you got like lesser… you got like 30 Seconds to Mars, you got like the Prodigy, you know, that’s not metal.

Hannah: It’s not metal!

Andre: It’s more a mainstream festival.

Danny: It’s more mainstream than this other one, yeah.

Hannah: Yeah, I mean I think there’s really good things about a mainstream festival, because then, at Download, you do occasionally get…

Danny: Yeah, exactly.

Hannah:… and like even here, I mean last year I’m sure you know there was a big thing about Lamb of God playing yesterday, and last year people really made a fuss about Machine Head.

Andre: The whole point is that Bloodstock is still growing and you need bigger bands to grow.

Hannah: Exactly, and then you need the people to come in.

Danny: I tell you, one day, in three or four years’ time, this will be as big as Download.

Hannah: Yeah, definitely.

Andre: The UK needs festivals like this.

Hannah: It does.

Danny: We have the privilege and we were invited to play here, and apart from the like… this is getting a really good name abroad, you know.

Andre: Yeah!

Danny: We just came actually from Germany, and we like would do these cities, and people would be like ‘Oh, where are you playing?’ ‘Oh, we’re playing Bloodstock’ and they’d be like ‘really!?’ you know?

Hannah: Yeah!

Danny: This is Germany, and other towns outside England, so the word is spreading, and yeah, it’s amazing.

Hannah: And I guess its really good playing something like the SOPHIE tent.

Danny: Yeah.

Hannah: For you guys, it means that people can walk past and think ‘ooh, what is that,’ go in, and see, ‘cos you’ve been around for ages now, you guys!

Danny: I mean, you know the beginning of the Earth? Jesus Christ was born and that shit? Before that.

Hannah: You were there at the Crucifixion, playing along as he died.

Danny: Man, did you see me on the side there in the Bible?

Andre: Actually, the story in the Bible’s a bit changed, cos it wasn’t Adam: it was Breed 77 who ate the apple! It was this motherfucker (points to Danny) who ate the apple!

Danny: Wasn’t Jesus from Gibraltar?

Hannah: We could talk about Gibraltar, actually, mention the politics of the situation. How has that affected you guys with the music and the scene over there?

Danny: Obviously, the Spanish oppressors, those motherfuckers, man? Oh my God. No, I mean, we’re here and for me, and for us, and for other people… politics is for the politicians. But when they tighten the screw? People are going to retaliate man. You cannot like, just take it.

Hannah: I mean, I was on a family holiday in Spain about a month ago, and we found just randomly an English bar where they were having a death metal night. And so, we were in Benidorm, the place where all the English people go.

Danny: That’s near Valencia? Yeah.

Hannah: Yeah! And there was a band from Bilbao…

Danny: It’s a vast country.

Hannah: And the people of that sort of area love their heavy, extreme music.

Danny: Metallers, people are people. They’re not politicians!

Andre: People don’t care as much. When you go to a gig, you don’t care, you know, what’s going on. Whereas when you’re in a band… I’ll tell you what, I’m Portuguese, Pedro is Spanish and the three of them are all Gibraltarian, and we all eel… we’re all on Gibraltar’s side, because it’s very wrong what Spain is doing. But we’ve just had the honour of being invited to play Gibraltar’s National Day.

Hannah: That’s brilliant!

Danny: We’re headlining, playing for 10,000 people.

Hannah: Is there any kind of scene in Gibraltar? Because it is quite a little bit… little!

Danny: Yeah, it’s very small.

Hannah: Just a big rock, really!

Danny: (puts on sunglasses) Funky glasses!

Hannah: Ready for the party.

Andre: We’re DJing in the VIP area later, Danny and I.

Hannah: I know! If I wasn’t ill and taking medicine I would be drinking!

Andre: Yeah, me too! I’m on antibiotics man. I had surgery to my armpit yesterday… I’m the drummer! So I’ve been playing in lots of pain!

Hannah: I can imagine!

Andre: Yeah, you don’t want to see… Actually, if you do want to see, I made a video of when I was changing the thing… It’s like an open hole underneath my armpit.

Hannah: I had surgery like that a couple of years ago. Anyway, so yeah, you’ve played Download, loads of other festivals in the UK, I mean, you released ‘The Evil Inside’ earlier this year. I don’t know, everyone always seems to be really receptive, really good to you, but still, you haven’t quite broken through.

Andre: Broken through, yeah.

Danny: The only way you have to break through is to go to America and sign for Warner Brothers or something with lots of money.

Andre: For us, the attitude is that we’ll keep doing what we’re doing, you know we love it, and we see people loving I, the reception you saw today! It’s usually like this, we get very well received.

Danny: I mean, though, if you want to invest money, you’re welcome to…!

Hannah: If I had any, I would!

Andre: It’s only a matter of luck, you get the right people pushing you.

Hannah: I guess that’s the right attitude to have, though.

Danny: When have you heard a band from Gibraltar being famous? Never.

Hannah: That’s true!

Danny: We have what we have and for me, already, it’s big. Already what we’ve done… we achieved a lot. I mean, we’re not like Metallica, but how many bands are like that?

Hannah: Well, I saw you –it must have been 6 or 7 years ago now- at the London Guitar Show, when you did an acoustic set.

Danny: Yeah, we did an acoustic set!

Hannah: I think I was at the back of your set in the SOPHIE tent, and it was like back then: People were walking past, coming in, having a mosh, and then moving on, I think that still says a lot that they’re coming in and listening.

Andre: Last year at Download we played an acoustic set right before Skindred: it was impressive the amount of people that came to see us.

Danny: Today was pretty good!

Andre: It was massive, that’s what makes us want to keep going.

Danny: I mean, what do you want me to do? Cut my hair and get an office job?

Hannah: Exactly. And there is an underground Breed 77 support network!

Danny: I’m happy with that.

Hannah: I have two questions that I have to ask you because my brother is a big fan and he was like ‘Ask them this!’ so first: what is your writing process? Let’s get very technical and boring!

Danny: The main songs are like… I get a bunch, the other guitarists get a bunch, and bring into the room, and we vote on what we like, and then we jam with them, and then it grows from there.

Hannah: So it’s very democratic and organic.

Danny: Some I do the lyrics for… I’m very political, there’s like ‘Motionless,’ there’s ‘Fear,’ my lyrics are dark. I don’t know, maybe I’m an evil motherfucker!

Hannah: You’ve got this whole flamenco metal thing, this real hybridity of cultural influences, of language…

Danny: We’ve got the Portuguese fado, we’ve got flamenco… You know?

Hannah: Yeah! So, this is another of my brother’s questions: would you say you have any major influences? If you had to name an artist or a band?
Danny: Individually?

Andre: That’s an individual question, you can’t ask the band. I mean for my case? Machine Head, I grew up listening to Metallica, and then later it was Slipknot, Machine Head… and then now more heavy rock. You’re always learning, you know?

Danny: In my case? I love new stuff, but it’s more retro, like, Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Dio, more like old school.

Andre: The mix works well.

Danny: Nobody has one influence. But you know, rock, metal? Unites people. There’s a brotherhood, there’s common ground.

Hannah: Definitely. So, final thing: What’s next for Breed 77? The world?

Danny: Well, we’re going to play and play our arses off! We’ve got lots of things now, and we’ve got a few UK dates in September, and then we’re going to rock and roll again and again and again and again, until we drop and die or something.

Hannah: And long may you reign!

Danny: And for your thing earlier, ‘are you big?’ What’s big? I enjoy music, we enjoy what we do.

Hannah: And that’s all that matters! Thanks so much for talking to me today, guys, and best of luck with the rest of your tour!

 

 

Interview conducted and written: Hannah O’Flanagan, 2013.

Interview with Autopsy

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , on 4th September 2013 by Contra Mundi

Autopsy have been the Godfathers of Gore since their formation in 1987, and despite a lengthy reprieve from the extreme metal scene that lasted fifteen years, have continually inspired generation after generation with their visceral and chilling mash of death and doom metal. With the release of the tremendous Macabre Eternal in 2011 and the imminent release of The Headless Ritual this year, I was given the privilege to do an e-mail interview with the band to see what lurks beyond Autopsy’s legendary status and what goes on in the minds of such sadistic geniuses.

Alex: There was a considerable length of time between recording Shitfun and Macabre Eternal, and now you’re planning to release The Headless Ritual. How does it feel to be back recording Autopsy material after such a long period of time?

Autopsy: It’s all a big blur to me, like much of my life… We’re fired up, freaked out and juiced… Just the way it should be… Brace yourself, because we’re going to assault the holes in your head mercilessly!

Alex: What is the feel of the new album? Is it picking up from where Macabre Eternal left off, or are you looking to achieve something different?

Autopsy: It’s an Autopsy record so you may know what to expect to some extent… It’s noise, filth, brutality, etc… A bit of mindfuckery at play… Just crank it up and take the ride, that’s what I say… Uunghh!

Alex: How would you describe your song writing process and has it changed over the years?

Autopsy:  We write, therefore we bleed.

Alex: What inspires your subject matter and how do you keep it fresh and unique when so many other bands use similar ideas?

Autopsy: The Bay City Rollers are our chief source of inspiration, obviously! No, you don’t buy that? Maybe there’s just something wrong with us… Well, that’s certainly true, but otherwise we know how to tap into the bubbling mass of weirdness that lies inside our minds and souls… That’s it… No secret formula, just embracing the ever present sickness… Don’t try this at home, kiddies! Oops, I mean do!

Alex: There are a lot of bands in the British metal scene that list bands such as Entombed, Possessed and Autopsy as their main influences. Why do you think that is?

Autopsy: Good taste, perhaps? Haha! Fuck, I dunno… Good metal is good metal no matter where you’re from… There are tons of British bands who have influenced bands from other places as well… It all goes in circles ultimately… Jump in and take a spin!

Alex: How do you feel about the extreme metal scene today?

Autopsy: I’m on top of the moon shitting rainbows of course!

Alex: There will be fans still following Autopsy from when you first formed, but since the release of Macabre Eternal, there will be a younger generation that are maybe hearing you for the first time. Have you noticed a change in your fan base?

Autopsy: I have noticed the younger generation rearing their ugly little heads indeed and I think that’s fucking great… It would suck if all the old farts died off and there was no one left to enjoy this stuff, ya know? Plenty of these young crazies are right up front at our gigs going apeshit, which rules… It’s great because they seem to know all the lyrics and everything, so I can look at them if I get lost and get a cue… Convenient, huh?

Alex: Are you planning on doing a UK tour or playing any of the UK metal festivals in the near future?

Autopsy: No touring as usual… Haven’t done that since ’93, although we’ve haunted places all over the world with select events that left destruction and insanity in their wake… At this point we’re not booked for any overseas gigs, but keep your eyes, ears and skin peeled because you never know what’s going to happen.

Alex: What bands do you enjoy listening to at the moment, and are there any that you would particularly like to perform with?

Autopsy: I listen to way too much stuff to list here… It’s crazy… I will say the bands we’ve played with this year so far have all been fucking bat shit amazing… That means Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Noothgrush, Black Breath, Bone Sickness, and Scolex… All total winners, heavy hitters and all around cool people… I consider us lucky to have shared the stage with these nut cases.

Alex: Is there a song of yours that you think defines Autopsy completely?

Autopsy: The one in the middle of course!

Alex: What are your all-time favourite albums?

AutopsySevered Survival, Mental Funeral, Acts of the Unspeakable, Shitfun, Macabre Eternal, All Tomorrow’s Funerals and The Headless Ritual… Shameless self plugging, anyone?

Alex: If you could replace the soundtrack to any film, which one would it be and why?

Autopsy: How about Fantasia. Can you imagine Mickey Mouse conjuring magical madness to any of our tunes? Haha! Waiting on that call from Disney any minute now.

Alex: Is there any advice that you would give to a band just starting out?

Autopsy: Turn back before it’s too late! Still here? Good, you’ve passed the first test… Now, just keep showing up… That’s the main thing… Show up and let the chaos fly… Oh yeah, don’t listen to the likes of me or anyone else… Carve your own path and stick to it… Put your heart, soul, blood, guts and nightmares into it… And stay away from those goddamn drum triggers or anything else that makes your music sound like plastic.

The Headless Ritual is now available for purchase. You can read my review of it at this location.

Autopsy online:

http://autposydeathmetal.com

Interview with Gunnar H Thomsen [Týr]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , on 22nd August 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Týr hail from the ancient Faroe Islands, which are steeped in Viking mythology and history – The kind of stuff that makes up the lyrical basis for Týr‘s music. With the release of the band’s seventh studio album, Valkyrja just around the corner, Nico has a chat with Týr bassist Gunnar Thomsen.

Nico: Valkyrja is Týr‘s seventh studio album. How will it differ from previous releases?

Gunnar: It’s not that different from the others. Just much better, and more up beat tempo and dedicated to women.

Nico: The concept of Valkyrja is loosely based around an unnamed warrior attempting to impress a Valkyrie so he gain entry to either Folkvang (Freya‘s hall) or Valhalla (Odin‘s hall). What inspired you to write the story around this?

Gunnar: Usually whatever is on Heri‘s mind at the time, so in this case, life and women. He has had this concept for sometime now.

Nico: Obviously the Valkyries will be playing a role in the story concept that will be running through Valkyrja, will any other figures from Norse mythology be making an appearance in the lyrics/story line?

GunnarHeri always likes to put the Norse mythology into the lyrics, so there is other figures to in the story line. He also likes to use mythology with current themes today, as in the case of the previous album, The Lay of Thrym. This time it is about woman.

Nico: Aside from the aforementioned story concept, are there any other lyrical themes that will be appearing throughout the new album?

Gunnar: No themes as such but every song on the album has its own tale to present.

Nico: You collaborated with Leaves’ Eyes vocalist Liv Kristine on the track The Lay Of Our Love. How did this collaboration come about and do you feel it will open up Týr‘s music to fans of Leaves’ Eyes who may have not listened to Týr yet?

GunnarHeri suggested the idea to present her on one of the songs, course she has a wonderful voice and originally we intended to have more guest appearance on the album, but we decided that one was enough. Of course we hope to get more listeners, for Týr, but this is not why we asked Liv Kristine. Mainly just admiration for music.

Nico: Describe the new album in five words or less.

Gunnar: Fucking awesome!

Nico: Kári left Týr before the recording process for Valkyrja began. How has this affected Týr‘s overall sound and the sound of the new album?

Gunnar: Of course this affected the drum sound a lot but it also created a new and interesting atmosphere in the music. We will always miss Kári, and best wishes for his health.

Nico: Speaking of the recording process for Valkyrja, you enlisted George Kollias as drummer for the recording process. What was it like to work with one of metal’s most accomplished drummers?

Gunnar: He was absolutely astonishing to work with and he has a exceptional ear for music, and a lot of great ideas for how to put it together. He has a great personality.

Nico: Týr are set to return to the UK in October as support to Finntroll. Will this run of UK dates be in support of the new album or will you be returning to the UK later to support the new album?

Gunnar: This will be to support the new album but we hope to get more tours in England and plans are already being discussed for 2014.

Nico: While we’re on the topic of touring, following Týr‘s sold-out headline show in York last year at the Jorvik Viking Festival, are looking forward to playing the UK again?

Gunnar: YES! We are always looking forward to play in UK. We don’t do it as often as we would like and we love you Brits.

Nico: If could you meet any figure from the Viking Age, who would it be and why?

Gunnar: Of course Týr, the god of war. “Who else”?

Nico: If you were trapped on an island and could only listen to only one album until you were rescued, which one would it be and why?

GunnarPeace of Mind by Iron Maiden. And why? its the best album in this world.

Nico: Do you have anything you’d like to say to our readers?

Gunnar: Looking forward to see you all on the UK dates. We are looking forward to present the new album. Thank you for your support. we hail you Brits. Hail to the hammer!

Týr online:

http://facebook.com/tyrband

Interview with Hiran Deraniyagala [Battlecross]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 21st August 2013 by hammersmashedlauren

Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, the boys of Battlecross have hit major success with the release of their albums Push Pull Destory, Pursuit of Honor, and their newest release War of Will. Playing with major metal acts and being a part of massive tours such as the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival and Orion Music Fest, it’s no wonder that they’re well known and loved by many. They’ve taken influences of upbeat thrash, death and southern metal to create a sound that’s punishing but is also is refreshing for fans of metal.  I got the chance to catch up with Battlecross guitarist; Hiran Deraniyagala for a word or two about the new album; War Of Will as well as his musical inspirations and movies.

 

Lauren: How did you come up with the name Battlecross?

Hiran: Tony came up with it. I remember coming out of one of my classes in college and getting a text from Tony saying “What about Battlecross, as a band name?” I remember it just hit me really well. I loved it but like with all band names we always check the internet to see if anyone already had the name we came up with. No one had the name from what we could find so we both agreed it was an awesome name. It took some convincing to get the other band members to agree with it but eventually they just went with it. “Battlecross” to me represents something powerful, epic and aggressive which I think represents the music. I like the fact that our name can give people different expectations about how we sound versus a typical band name. People have assumed we’re a “Power Metal” band and obviously got something different from what they expected.

Lauren: Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

Hiran: In general I would say that we draw a common influence from Pantera, Metallica and Slayer but we each have our own musical influences that we draw influence from. Personally, I draw influence from various metal bands like Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus, Circle Of Dead Children, Pig Destroyer, Woe Of Tyrants, Goatwhore, Emperor, Meshuggah, Morbid Angel, Mastodon, Black Sabbath, Down, and local metal bands from Michigan like, Enkephalin, Summer Dying and GutRot. I’ve always been intrigued by the technicality and aggressiveness of extreme metal bands but also the groove of doom metal.

Lauren: How would you say your newest album, War of Will, differs from your previous releases?

Hiran: Yes definitely. War of Will is a much more focused and mature album for us. We grew as a band, from touring  and also mentally, from being in a different position as a full time touring band on a label. There are expectations that not only come from ourselves but from fans and the industry. We were under pressure to complete the album and had roughly a month or two to finish writing followed by a tour and then right into the studio. We didn’t let the pressure stop or deter us from what we had to do. We knew we had to kick it up a notch to top what we did on the first album but at the same time not lose who we are as a band. I think each song on this record has more of a dynamic. We didn’t want every song to sound the same or just play fast all the time. There’s more melody but still brutality on this record. With tracks like “Flesh and Bone” and “Wage a War” which have a lot of melody to them, then you have “Beast” and “The Will To Overcome” which reflect the brutality of the band and then songs like “Ghost Alive” and “Force Fed Lies” that are thrash style songs.

Lauren: How has touring been this last year?

Hiran: Touring has been great! We’ve had so many great opportunities that we had the pleasure of being a part of. From Trespass America with Five Finger Death Punch and Killswitch Engage, opening for In Flames, then Orion fest with Metallica and of course, Mayhem Festival with Rob Zombie, Mastodon, Amon Amarth, Children of Bodom, Machine Head and Huntress. All these tours have given us a chance to play in front of large crowds and have really helped us gain a quickly growing fan base. There a lot of bands that never get a chance to do these types of tours so we’re really thankful we’ve had the chance to be a part of these. Touring is hard work and a lot of dedication but when you bust ass and do tours like these it really makes the work all worthwhile. We’ve always been a hard working band and we know that this just the beginning to more opportunities. We don’t let these opportunities get to our head and we know that we’re still a young band that has more to prove but we’re ready.

Lauren: Have there been any memorable shows for you this last year?

Hiran: I would say most memorable show for us was Orion Music and More with Metallica. Playing a show with Metallica is a dream come true and we got to play with them in our hometown of Detroit! Not only did we play on the same bill with them but we got to be part of a press conference with the band! Out of all the great bands on the bill we were selected to do this! It was unreal and as a matter of fact I barely said a word at the press conference because I was so nervous! Never thought I would be sitting next to Metallica! To top it all off, James Hetfield and Robert Trujillo, came out on stage before we went on and introduced us! They pumped up the crowd and us! We went up there on fire and just burnt the place down with our energy and excitement. Truly a memorable and career highlight for us!

Lauren: If you could replace the soundtrack to any movie with your own music, which one would it be and why?

Hiran: I’m honestly more of a fan of scores when it comes to movies versus putting songs in a movie soundtrack. I really wouldn’t want to change the soundtrack of any particular movie I like because I feel like the music is already fitting for it but if I could I make my own movie with our music I would make an action movie. It’d be like the Expendables battling against the cast of all those dumb reality TV shows.

Lauren: Where would you like to see Battlecross in 5 years?

Hiran: My hope that our career is still thriving and that we will be touring all over the world. That’s all I really want from this band is a solid career and be playing anywhere and everywhere we can.

Lauren: Are there any plans for any upcoming tours or a new album?

Hiran: Definitely upcoming tours, we have a tour with Hatebreed, Shadows Fall and Acacia Strain this fall followed by a tour with Death Angel, 3 Inches Of Blood, Revocation and Diamond Plate! After that not sure what else is in store other than more touring and hopefully heading overseas! Can’t wait to play in Europe, South America, Japan and every where else on the globe! As far as a new album we’re not really focused on that yet other than working on some ideas on our own here and there.

Battlecross online:

http://www.facebook.com/battlecrossmetal
http://youtube.com/battlecrossmetal

Interview with Magnus Klavborn (TRIA)

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 15th July 2013 by Pieni

Three talented musicians with different musical backgrounds joined forces and TRIA was born. Pieni asked one of them – singer Magnus Klavborn – a few questions, so we can get to know the band a little better.

 photo pressbildlowres_zps312ef2e4.jpgphoto by Lars Lindén

Pieni: Hi Magnus! Thank you so much for talking to us.
So, for what I understood, TRIA started out as one of J. Bergman’s (MAN.MACHINE.INDUSTRY) projects. Do you and Ronnie (Nyman, ALWAYS WAR) now contribute to the music more than just with your voices? Are you now involved with the writing process as well?

Magnus: Me and Ronnie are doing all things vocal and we are very involved with the producing side of it all as well. We treat Bergman’s songs as templates, you can say, and then the three of us work out the rest to make it sound as we want it.

P.: You describe yourselves as “a more violent version of AC/DC and Danko Jones, so one could think that you’re a harder kind of hard rock… ?

M.: The guitars and the sound of it all are kind of rock more than metal and the more violent part is on top of the rock pieces.

P.: “Now it’s time for me to rise, to make a change and make it now”. Do you want to tell us a little more about those changes, about what “Stand My Ground” is about?

M.: It’s about not backing down on what you believe in. Easy as that 😉

 photo 1005589_153168844868838_2032958410_n_zps2ff46b1b.jpg

P.: TRIA… the name comes from the fact of the band consisting in three frontmen with somewhat distinct musical backgrounds, or is there any other reason behind it?

M.: You are right there, it started with me having an name idea based on “three” and then I think it was Bergman who came up with the name TRIA.

P.: Both Ronnie and Bergman have other bands, which I believe are their priorities. What about you? Are you working on anything else or TRIA is your main focus at the moment?

M.: TRIA is my main focus in music right now but at the same time it suits me, at the moment, that it’s a “second priority”. It gives me more time to do other things I need to take care of for now.

P.: The single “Stand My Ground” was out on June 28th. Are you already working on an album, or at least an EP? How’s that going?

M.: We are working on a six track EP and not much left until it’s done!

P.: I see CJ Sillén is listed as studio AND live session drummer. Are there any plans of hitting the stage in the near future? What ARE your near future plans?

M.: CJ did a good job on those two songs for the single but on the EP it’s going to be Thomas Ohlsson (APOSTASY, ex-PROJECT HATE) and after the EP nothing is set in stone. TRIA is Ronnie, J.B. and me. Live musicians will be additional when it comes to doing shows in the future.

 photo tria-bandphoto-bylarslinden_zps497edec2.jpg

P.: And speaking of CJ… Where did you find him?

M.: That was Bergman and Ronnie so I don’t know the whole story on how he came to be playing on the single. But I’m glad he did though.

P.: What about a bass player? I know Bergman plays it, but on stage he can’t do both… Are you still looking for someone or you’re considering skip the bass parts when playing live?

M.: We don’t need to look 😉 We have already got plenty of them lining up.

P.: I’m curious about something I’ve read on your Facebook page:TRIA aims to fit many without becoming a commercial circus act”. This “commercial circus”, is that how you see the metal scene of today? A bunch of sell-outs?

M.: The whole industry is fucked and most (not all) people working in the industry are fucked up greedy bastards who try to take as much as possible from the people in bands doing the ground work.

P.: Once again thank you so much for this “chat” and I wish you and TRIA all the best.

M.: Thank you. Stay true and listen to TRIA.

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Reverbnation
Record / management label

Interview conducted by Renata “Pieni” Lino

Interview with Erik Grawsiö (Månegarm)

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 4th July 2013 by izaforestspirit

 photo group2-scaled_zps2190a9fe.jpg

The Swedish Viking black metal group Månegarm is one of the most unique and diverse bands in the scene. Iza caught up with their singer Erik Grawsiö to discuss the new album Legions of the North, Viking mythology, line-up changes and movie soundtracks.

Iza: Hi Erik!

Erik Grawsiö: Hello!

I: I’ve read that Månegarm refers to a wolf in Norse mythology that swallows the moon at Ragnarok. Could you explain why you chose that particular name and what it means to you as a band?

E: Yes, that’s right! We had another name when we first started up the band but after only 1-2 months we changed to Månegarm. Jonas was the one who found it and we all thought that it was a better name for the band (than the earlier name) especially since we sang in Swedish about the Norse mythology. The wolf for me is a powerful animal that stands for strength, pride and wisdom. “ It’s better to live one day as a WOLF (originally: lion) than a thousand years as a lamb”.

I: Your music is an interesting mix of styles ranging from black metal, Viking metal with some folk and pagan influences. Which of these styles would you say represents Månegarm‘s music the best?

E: I don’t know really… When people ask I usually just say that we play “metal” or Rock n’ roll. We’re definitely more of a metal band than a folk band but I think that Månegarm‘s music is represented by all of these styles that you mentioned. The diversity and mixture is the strength of Månegarm I think.


I
: What are your thoughts on the tag ‘Viking metal’? Does the genre exist in your opinion? Should it exist?

E: We don’t care much for tags and labels at all. When we started playing this kind of “metal” there were no Viking or pagan or Viking/folk metal; it was just us and a couple of other bands that played the kind of music that we enjoyed playing. This is no problem for us though and if these tags/labels help people get a better picture of a band or categorizing bands, then it is fine by me. The problem nowadays is maybe that there are like thousands of sub-genres/labels and that just makes it all confusing. Let’s put it this way; people can call our music what the f**k they want as long as they like it!!

I: Are there any bands in the Swedish metal scene that interest you? If so, which ones and why?

E: No.

I: Let’s talk a bit about the new album Legions of The North. Was there any specific inspiration for this album or any particular themes that you wanted to portray?

E: No, there is no stated concept or theme that runs through the album but if I remember correctly we first had the idea of a theme which was pretty much “death” from different points of view. Even if we didn’t follow that path totally it maybe stayed in our minds on a both conscious and an unconscious level, because almost all songs came to deal with war and death in different ways, influenced by the Nordic mythology. photo Erik_zpse9c17607.jpg

I: Some of the instrumental tracks on there such as Vigverk sound like old folk songs? What are they based on?

E: Vigverk is a short instrumental piece that can be seen as an intro to the following song Sons of War. The name Vigverk comes from Eddan and can be translated into something like “great deeds” or “great achievement” in English. It is no traditional old folk song; it’s just a song that I wrote since I wanted to have some shorter acoustic tracks on the album.

I: Legions of the North is your 7th album. How do you think it compares to its predecessors, particularly the last one Nattväsen?

E: I think it sort of continues on the same path as Nattväsen but we have worked more on the arrangements and the structure of the songs and especially we have put a lot of effort on the refrains on this album. On the earlier albums (like the first 1-2 albums) our “composing strategy” was to sit down with the guitars, put a bunch of riffs together in a descent way and yep… We had a song!! That’s maybe quite charming and cool in a way but today I think that we “think” music in a better and more serious way and we try to compose “real” songs!

I: Your violin player Janne Liljekvist left the band last year before the album was completed. Has this had any effect on the recording process or the way the album turned out?

E: The biggest effect on the recording process was that the new violin player (Martin Björklund who is a friend of Jakob‘s) only needed 1.5 days in the studio to get all violin parts done instead of Janne who often needed 3-4 days… Janne didn’t write any songs in Månegarm; it’s Jonas and I who write the songs and it’s usually me that writes the melodies for guitar and violin, so him leaving didn’t have any effect on the final result I think.

I: If Månegarm could play a show anywhere in the world without any restrictions, where would you choose and why?

E: I would like our own festival; “Månegarm Open Air” or something like that. It would be cool to start off in a small scale and then turn it into the greatest festival ever!! That’s quite a dream uhh… but you said without any restrictions.

I: If you could replace the sound track to any movie with your music, which one would it be and why?

E: I know it’s a long shot but maybe some of our songs from our acoustic album Urminnes Hävd – The Forest Sessions could serve as a nice soundtrack to a scene in The Lord of the Rings. I don’t know which song would be best and I don’t know for which scene, but when I listen to that album and seeing these films I get sort of the same feelings and emotions…epic freedom, mysticism, grief, joy and emotions like that. I better call Peter Jackson right away!!

I: Do you have any final words for our readers and your fans?

E: Keep your eyes and ears open for our new album Legions of the North! You just can’t miss it, it’s a killer!!! See you all on the road!!

Månegarm online:

http://www.facebook.com/Manegarmsweden/
http://www.deaf-dumb.com/manegarm
http://www.manegarmsweden.com
http://www.myspace.com/manegarm
http://www.youtube.com/Manegarmofficial

 

Interview with Andrew WK

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , on 19th June 2013 by skiessetablaze

For those of you who don’t know who or what Andrew WK is… What the hell is wrong with you and what planet do you live on? I mean really… A week or so ago, Andrew WK played a solo gig at a place called Kingdom in Richmond VA and it was the most epic show I had been to in quite some time. It was a full on party.

Andrew WK online:

http://www.andrewwk.com/
https://www.facebook.com/andrewwk

Interview with Derek Boyer [Suffocation]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 21st May 2013 by Contra Mundi

Suffocation are pioneers of extreme metal and are still going strong after 25 years; bringing their fierce brand of metal to generation after generation. We sat down with their Bass player Derek Boyer to talk to him about their new album Pinnacle of Bedlam and how he has become one of the most influential musicians in extreme metal’s history.

Alex: What does the album title Pinnacle of Bedlam mean to you?

Derek: Pinnacle of Bedlam is one of Terrence’s (Hobbs – Guitar) concepts, and you know we all kind of bat the ideas around until one of us really comes up with something solid. And basically you know for Terrence what we had all kind of gathered was bedlam being chaos and a pinnacle being like the highest moment, you know when it’s at its finest little tip and it has nowhere else to go but down. So it’s like the turning point when chaos is going to explode and there’s no escaping it.

Alex: So, what are the main themes of the album ?

Derek: It’s a lot of like transfer of energy. Like when you die, we don’t think that you go to Heaven or Hell; we think that your energy goes into other living entities and stuff like that or creates some new life. So, it’s kind of taken from some of the Tibetan book of the dead stuff to where we believe that life is just about preparing for death. Being that we play Death metal we’re not just going to talk about broken bones and the Devil and all that stuff. So, we wanted to try to do something a little more original and try to be intelligent and try to learn and try to portray something that we learned to the rest of the world.

Alex: Is it difficult to get fresh inspiration for subject matter?

Derek: Yeah, I mean that’s why you kind of have to go to some books and you know, what with the use of the internet now it’s like you would think people would have more knowledge but they’re actually getting stupider because they just want to be on Facebook or something stupid.  So, you know, looking into books and looking back at your own life and trying to take inspiration from yourself and others around you and books and knowledge that we have access to and the internet. If you’re using it for the right reasons it’s great. So yeah, it’s hard, but somehow with all the creative minds we’re very fortunate. If it’s just one guy, he’d run out of steam unless he’s really driven, but with all of us, we like to bounce the ideas and one of us will go ‘whoa, that’s great’ and it inspires us to do something else. So, I think the group effort is one of the biggest inspirations.

Alex: The album is really impressive, with musicianship and everything, it’s very technical. Is it a challenge for you to write and record that sort of material?

Derek: I hate to say it, like at the position in our careers that we’re at, but you just do it.  You know, we’ve worked our abilities up to a certain level and not to say that you should ever get comfortable and plateau with your abilities, but we’re at a point with our abilities so we know that Dave (Culcross – Drums) is going to grind his face off and be comfortable doing it. And we’ve got the same thing of being pretty comfortable under pretty difficult circumstances, but not to say if the wind doesn’t blow, we could all just fall over like real easily too. So it is a challenge, but again having worked as long as we have with our instruments, it’s kind of comfortable in the difficult zone.

Alex: Where do you think the new album ranks in terms of Suffocation’s previous releases?

Derek: In my opinion it’s the best album since the band reformed. We had the five year hiatus from 1998 to 2003, you know the whole industry liked Suffocation and was trying to carry the torch. So when Suffocation reformed, that’s when I joined and every album in my opinion was kind of getting better and it’s definitely at the pinnacle right now of the four that we’ve written. I believe this is my favourite and the best.

Alex: Why do you think Suffocation have lasted so long and become such an influential band to people all over the world?

Derek: I think it’s just perseverance. At the end of the day, you can say, ‘well you know what? We can hang this up any time, we had a really good run, it was fun, blah blah blah, respect and pride.’ but having that perseverance and wanting to continue it and wanting to continue to write good records and to wanting to continue to bring the show to the people, it’s kind of a big deal to us. We get a lot of pride out of it, so it’s just a personal thing I think.

Alex: It does get quite difficult doesn’t it to want to carry on when things are going a bit wrong for you?

Derek: It certainly does, and a lot of the time you just get so undermined. You know, they put you in these clubs and you’re like ‘Wow, twenty years ago I was playing more professional venues than this, what the fuck? And now we’re getting undermined’. And sometimes it’s disheartening, and you go ‘well, fuck it, the people love it. The fucking asshole that put us in this club needs a fucking talking to.’ But, at the same time there’s a lot of kids doing the jobs now, a lot of kid promoters and you can’t really tell them that you want to come and strangle them, but it’s really disrespectful to us to like work your way up and then just some kid goes ‘oh yeah, I can book Suffocation.’ And the next thing you know you’re playing some little fucking closet, I’m sorry, I get upset. I mean the last two shows, I couldn’t believe it, I was like ‘let’s cancel’ and then we can’t though because of the people. We’re kind of caught in the middle like ‘this guy needs to be taught a lesson’, but the bands, they shouldn’t suffer, so we end up eating shit. So it’s a little disheartening, and yeah, it happens, but you know. Certain territories, I guess we have to say ‘wait, we have contracts, we want all the details before we accept these terms.’ Then they’re like ‘Oh yeah, we’ve got everything you need.’ And you get there and half the shit is broken, and you know, enough about that stuff! Sorry.

Alex: No, that’s fair enough. I completely agree with you. It’s unusual for a band to have such a vast spectrum of ages in their fan base. Do you think different generations take different things from your music?

Derek: I think so; the older fans like it for the thrash aspect of it, the newer fans like it for the slam aspect of it. So yeah, definitely. I think every generation is going to look at Suffocation from a different perspective, you know because the old fans were surrounded by thrash metal bands, so they like the thrashy elements of it. The newer kids, I don’t even know what their music is. It’s really complex and it’s really heavy and it’s got a lot of new stuff, so I’m not sure if their fans understand what we’re doing, but there’s definitely some similarities between the new bands and what we’re doing because they took certain elements from Suffocation, but they’re adding new stuff to it and the new fans don’t know that they took their heavy sound. It’s tricky. Definitely all the different generations are viewing it from a different perspective.

Alex:  Most young musicians now are drawn to the guitar or vocals when starting out. Bass is almost seen as an instrument that’s a bit boring, or in the background. What made you pick up a bass and learn to play?

Derek: For that very reason. There were no good bass players and I was like ‘I’m going to fucking do it!’ I want to play really good and you know try to have fun and be an element in the band that’s not just the thing that’s hiding. I always want to be heard and if I ever turn down, that would just be because I was too loud for the most part. I’m always trying to stay in the mix. I’m trying to make a connection between the drummer and the guitar players and create that foundation. Whereas with  a lot of young bands the bass player just ends up being the friend of the band that wasn’t playing drums or guitar: ‘Oh hey! Let’s put him on the bass.’ Unless he really takes inspiration from some of the guys who care about bass, then their career would be short unfortunately and it would be boring. I would be bored too, but you know, they kept telling me to turn down. I didn’t take the pride to learn how to get a good sound and to maintain my instrument and stuff like that. Like a lot of these bass players never change their strings once, you know, I change my strings every night.

Alex: I think bass makes all the difference though. You miss it if it isn’t there.

Derek: Yeah, if it’s not there or it’s just dumdumdum. I’m trying to be a staccato player and have the bottom be felt but also have the connection with the punchy bass drum, you know, the punchy bass guitar. There are two sides to it, you get the bottom of the bass drum and the attack of the bass drum and a lot of bass players are forgetting that they should be the same. If your bass drum just goes ‘poof’ but it doesn’t go ‘snap’, you know, there has to be the combination. So a lot of these bass players they don’t put a lot of the snap into their sound and they get swept into the mix. It’s just a rumble, so you’ve got to have both.

Alex: Is it really hard then to get a sound?

Derek: A lot of years of experimenting with different equipment. You know what electronic s are going to work, what scales and what woods have different tonal qualities and then, there’s so many different amplifier companies out there, and it’s really just a learning experience.

Alex: You never really think there’s so much involved in getting a sound, do you?

Derek: No, there’s a lot going on. You’re supposed to forget about it once you’ve figured it out, you go ‘Oh, ok. That’s just my sound.’ There’s a lot that goes into it and it wasn’t like the first time that you plugged in, you’re like ‘Wow, I have my sound!’ You had to experiment and you learn what works and what doesn’t work and you just get it as close as you can. Then it’s up to you.

Alex: How would you sell the bass guitar to people that are considering learning to play?

Derek: Look at the band. You know, if you’ve got a really good drummer, a good guitar player and a good frontman and all the bass players suck, you know, and you kind of just want to make that band complete. It is a special feeling because there aren’t a lot of good bass players around, so it gives you more opportunity to shine, whereas like every drummer is so good right now, so that’s a hard race. How are you going to outdo these guys? They’re amazing! With the bass player, I don’t know there are only a couple of handfuls of guys that are like ‘Whoa!’ you know? So, there’s a lot of room to get in there and prove yourself. If you’re doing it right, bass can be really fun and challenging and rewarding, but then again if you’re just hiding out as friend of the band, just the low rumble, have fun, but you know, if you really want to go somewhere with it, there’s a lot more room to be the best. I mean, there are a billion good guitar players, and a billion good drummers and there’s only a few good bass players so get out there and add to it! Bass players union!

Alex: Was it difficult to develop a technique for playing your music? I imagine there weren’t many people you could learn from when you were growing up.

Derek: Exactly. My father was a classically trained pianist and he had a metronome and when you’d be working on your chops, this little thing would just be in the background keeping time for you. When I first switched to the bass, I would sit with the metronome and just work out all of the values, you know quarter notes, eighth notes, eighth note triplets, sixteenth notes, sixteenth note triplets and really build the muscle memory and bend on the right knuckles and try to keep a good ergonomic position. If you sit wrong, your wrists and your elbows are going to hate you! But if you can sit in a position, it’s like martial arts you want to have explosive energy with little effort. So if you’re sitting there with your wrists up and everything is like ‘Yikes!’ and there’s a lot of tension, it’s going to be difficult. It’s all about sitting with good form and standing with good form and just building the muscle memory and getting it to where it’s like second nature and then you can start to see the improvement.

Dan: So, who did you look up to when you were learning?

Derek: There weren’t a lot of guys. There was Alex Webster from Cannibal Corpse who was doing it really well and Steve DiGiorgio (Death, Autopsy) is an animal. I mean some of the same guys that we’re talking about today were the ONLY few back then, now there’s a few more, but for the most part it was just a couple of guys. Also, taking inspiration from other instruments and saying ‘Wow! That guy is really effortless and really comfortable on his guitar, piano or drums.’ So using other individuals, not necessarily bass players, but looking and thinking ‘Wow, that guy’s really smooth, or that guy’s really explosive and looks like he’s not putting any effort into it.’ So, it wasn’t necessarily a bass player thing to inspire me as much as musicians. It helped because there weren’t a lot of bass players to be inspired by.

Alex: Do you think metal musicians are given the recognition they deserve for their skills?

Derek: Not really, but what can you say? We’re singing about pretty crazy stuff and so, it’s not very common. If you took the vocals away, I think a lot of industry people might accept it and push it a little bit further, but nowadays tattoos and long hair are more acceptable, so hey, maybe we’re singing about some pretty crazy stuff, but maybe that’s a bit more acceptable these days. Like right now, there are bass playing magazines doing features on me and we don’t talk about the lyrical content, we just talk about techniques and they’re like ‘wow, that’s fun. We didn’t know Death Metal guys actually gave a shit.’ It’s fun to get a little bit of recognition and then you wonder if it’s going to continue, you know, the companies are supporting us; the endorsements, the string companies, the electronic companies, instrument companies and amplifiers. They’re all really on board. Suffocation is a twenty five year operation, and the companies do believe in us individually. We maybe can’t go out and advertise Suffocation because it’s kind of evil, not that we’re an evil band, but it’s not happy love songs.

Alex: It’s more to do with showcasing talent then?

Derek: Exactly, the showcase the individual’s talent more so than the whole thing, which is fine.

Alex: How does it feel having John Gallagher from Dying Fetus doing vocals for Suffocation on tour?

Derek: John is a dear friend of ours. I used to play in Dying Fetus, which was twelve years ago. So, John and I have worked together in the past and he’s just been a really good friend. He knows the deal and he loves Brutal Death Metal. Take his guitar away from him, it’s a little awkward but you know, he’s a good friend and when we said ‘Hey John, do you want to go out and have some fun and would you consider helping us out?’ he was like ‘Fuck yeah!’ So, he came and stayed with me and we did a lot of figuring out, kind of like under-lining the syllable that’s on the downbeat and looking at the lyrics and trying to figure out what the fuck was going on! So, as I wrote a lot of the lyrical stuff that was on the new album it was easy for me to explain to a musician, because he understood down beats and lead-ins and stuff like that. If you’re just a vocalist, you may not understand all the technical talk, but being that John is a guitar player, it was super easy to convey the information to him and a pleasure working with him as far as getting him up to speed. It’s been a pleasure having him onstage. He did a week’s worth of shows in America on our last tour last month and then this one will be thirty shows or whatever. And yeah, he’s doing great and we’re happy to have him and he seems to be having fun too.

Alex: I know a lot of people were really happy that it was him as it made you like a super-group.

Derek: Yeah, well that’s fun too because we’d have people come up to us in the states and they’d go ‘Is Gallagher singing?’ and we’re like ‘No, it’s Frank.’ And they’re disappointed, you know, because it would be fun and something unique for them to see. It would be like your favourite baseball team or football team and this guy was really good from this other team and you saw him with your team. It’s a fun thing. If you like Suffocation, you probably like Dying Fetus, so to see the combination of it is great. We’re fucking with him and calling him Frank Gallagher and John Mullen, which is just funny. We’re having fun with it.

Alex: How has the UK tour gone for you so far?

Derek: So far, it’s on strike two. The venues have just been really poor. This (NQ Live, Manchester) is professional. It’s a little bit low, but at least it’s nice whereas the last two have just been like ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ The people are great. The people deserve to see the band and the people react great, but you’ve really got to dig deep to get past the disrespect. If you’re fourteen years old, you would probably be like ‘Wow! This venue is great!’ but you know, being that we’ve done thousands of shows, you think ‘Wow, this guy really just said fuck Suffocation, we’re going to put them in a fucking dungeon!’ And it’s so disrespectful, but what can you do? Do you want to cancel? Well, you’ve still got to pay your crew, still got to pay for your bus, so now, it’s pay out of your pocket all of a sudden, so you don’t want to cancel; primarily for the fans, but also on a financial level. If you pull a show, the whole budget changes, so you just get kicked in the shin and get on with it and hope that the next day is better.

Alex: If you could play anywhere is the world where would it be?

Derek: I don’t know what’s left! I mean, there are some territories I know we haven’t gone to. I feel like everywhere that we’ve wanted to go to we’ve gone to a few times. I guess it would be to do some interesting part of Asia. We’ve done a lot of that, but Asia is such a large continent there are a lot of people we haven’t been able to reach over there. Not that I really want to be there as much as maybe Australia or somewhere really nice to be, but making sure we touch base with all the fans.

Alex: Are there any bands that you’re particularly interested in at the moment?

Derek: There’s a couple of really talented bands out there that I’ve been getting into, like the Spawn of Possession stuff that’s really impressive; Surruption is really impressive also. I love my Decrepit Birth stuff; those guys are really talented as well. There are so many bands. I love the brutal bands like Severe Torture and Disgorge and Archaic. There are so many heavy and up and coming bands, it’s a tough game. It’s hard not to mention the older stuff like Gore Guts and Morbid Angel. A lot of the young kids don’t really think about early Deicide, or Obituary or Malevolent Creation and all the bands that were around back then. You know, some of them are still doing it, but you get a lot of the younger bands like Black Dahlia Murder that are really hitting the pavement hard. It’s a tough game and you know, you like what you like from the old school, but they’re not out actually hitting as hard as the new bands. So I think the fans are sort of losing sight of what we liked, because there’s an influx of so many new bands, so it’s tricky. It’s a hard one. Probably if I got to my CD collection, I could name a lot, but off the top of my head, it’s the Spawn of Possession stuff and Surruption and Decrepit Birth and Archaic. There are so many good ones, it’s so hard.

Alex: It’s interesting what you say that about the new bands not listening to older stuff.

Derek: I think, say like The Black Dahlia Murder scene for example, they definitely know Suffocation but the fans of Black Dahlia Murder that are making their own bands, they look at Black Dahlia Murder as the one that has the inspiration. Black Dahlia Murder took their inspiration from let’s say early Suffocation and this is all awesome, you’re really excited when you see the generations take what they like from a particular band and recycle it, but I think actually if you go a couple of times down the line, they don’t know where the thing came from. Not that we made up heavy music, but I mean without Black Sabbath and without some of those early thrash bands, you know Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and all that stuff, you wouldn’t have even had anything to draw inspiration from. It’s always going down a line.

Alex: Do you have any advice for bands just starting out?

Derek: Definitely the perseverance and making sure that you’re doing it because you love it. A lot of people that we’ve crossed paths with over the years have said ‘how’s the money?’ and we say, if you love what you’re doing, the money is great. If you’re doing it for the money, you’re definitely not making enough money because there’s so many hardships and you’re risking your life travelling all over the world and leaving loved ones behind. Again, if you love it, it’s worth every minute of it. If you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, don’t quit your day job. Keep a level head, do it for fun and have fun doing it because as soon as it’s not fun anymore, it’s not worth it. It’s really not worth it. There’s disrespect and the money won’t always be there; there’ll be a cancellation and it will ruin everything. We’ve seen bands cancel tours because a show or two got cancelled and they couldn’t literally make it to the next show, and it’s so hard and it happens. It’s a tough game, but again if you love it, it’s not that hard.

Alex: Finally, do you have anything to say to your fans?

Derek: We’re really happy that people continue to support Suffocation and we’re really proud of the new record Pinnacle of Bedlam. We want to thank the record label, the management team and all of the booking agencies and the promoters who get involved and believe in Suffocation. Without that belief, we’re just another band stuck in New York. So, yeah, we just want to thank everybody for being involved and people like you who want to promote us as well.

Suffocation’s new album Pinnacle of Bedlam is out now via Nuclear Blast Records. You can order the album at this location.

Suffocation online:

http://www.facebook.com/suffocation
http://www.twitter.com/suffocation
http://www.twitter.com/GMarchais
http://www.youtube.com/suffocation
http://www.myspace.com/suffocation
http://www.mocospace.com/suffocation
http://jsrdirect.com/bands/suffocation

Interview with Martijn Westerholt [Delain]

Posted in Featured, Interview with tags , , , , , , , on 17th May 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Delain recently headlined the Dames of Darkness Festival in Bilston, near Wolverhampton and Nico was able to grab hold of the band’s founding member, main songwriter and keyboardist, Martijn, for a chat about all things Delain, the band’s recent move to Napalm Records and other things.

Nico: Hi Martijn, it’s nice to finally meet you. How are you doing?

Martijn: I’m fine, I’m great thanks.

N: Good to hear. Our first question actually comes from a fan: which albums have inspired you to become a musician?

M: That’s a good one..Well I don’t know if albums triggered me to become a musician, but my first albums I bought were We Can’t Dance, by Genesis, an album from The Police I think. And slowly the music became a little bit harder and noisier. So it just evolved like that.

N: In your opinion, what are the best and worst parts about being in a band?

M: The best parts are that you meet a lot of people from a lot of cultures. You come in a lot of places. It’s not like people think, that you do a lot of sightseeing, because most of the time you don’t have time for that. But in general of course you do see a lot of places and that’s very nice. Perhaps the best thing about being a musician is that if you write music, it ends up on your album and you see an album being born. That’s terrific, that’s magic. And that’s one of the best parts I think. The worst is that its hard work and you have to be creative with financial means. It’s a lot of pressure. People always have an opinion about you or about your music so you have to deal with that otherwise you shouldn’t be a musician. I think that’s the bad thing.

N: Delain’s most recent two albums, We Are The Others and Interlude have a more accessible sound than the previous two albums. Do you think this is the sort of sound Delain is going to be going for in the future?

M: To be very honest, it’s not that we do something like that deliberately; like ‘okay let’s make a softer album now’. For example with Interlude we had a lot of material which we didn’t use yet and we had a lot of requests from fans asking for releasing a DVD, releasing special material and that’s what we did. Coincidence had it that this was more of the softer material. And with our last full album We Are The Others, we just went with the flow and it can be open to use grunts again in the next album for example. I just don’t know, it’s about what comes out of your mind and then we go with the flow and see what happens.

N: Earlier this year Delain signed to Napalm Records. What were the reasons behind moving from Roadrunner Records to Napalm?

M: Well, Roadrunner was bought by Warner, like the big label who people also know from movies for example. Their music department is Warner Music and they bought Roadrunner. They fired a lot of people and I actually saw this label going down, which was a shame. They originated in Holland actually, they were a really big label, a really good label. But when we released We Are The Others there was a transition going on and for us it was really, really bad. It were really hard times and fortunately at a certain point we were free to go. And then we talked to a lot of other labels and we ended up with Napalm because Napalm thought the same about what direction we wanted to go. It was the best deal and I think this label fits us really well. We are also as of yet still very satisfied to work with them and from what I understand also the other way around. So it’s good that we changed.

N: Recently you [Delain] released Interlude and just last year you released We are the Others. Have Delain started writing any new material for the next album?

M: Absolutely, we’re very busy with that right now because we would like to release a new album beginning 2014. Then we’re going to play with Within Temptation. It would be very nice if we can release around that time. On the other hand you can never control a creative process. You can stimulate and guide it to a specific direction and the more time you have to write the faster it will go of course. But it’s going to be a challenge to get it done but we’re working on it. So we’re writing new material as we speak.

N: Will there be any main concepts within the new material, like with We Are The Others it was celebrating being different and not being part of what society classifies as the norm.

M: In general we do aim to have a general theme in an album, but we’re not there yet. So for now I don’t know, I just don’t know.

N: Obviously big things have been happening for Delain this year: signing to Napalm Records and being announced being to tour with Within Temptation early next year. What does it feel like to suddenly have a huge buzz around you since the release of We Are The Others?

M: That’s of course very good, it’s always good for a band to have a big buzz going on. Actually, last year was very difficult for us when we were still at Roadrunner. I even thought about quitting completely because what we wanted with that album didn’t happen. People who we worked with for a very long time were going and now it’s completely turned around, flipped over to a very positive vibe and it can go very fast. I’m very happy about that and it supports the band members as well of course, having this buzz going on. I’m really happy with that.

N: When it comes to writing new material, where do you draw your inspiration from?

M: It can be a lot of things. It can be a song I heard, a movie I’ve seen. Most of the time it’s just feeling like writing and then things come out. There’s not really a concrete thing which makes me write. It’s just a general urge to make some music. Most of the time we’re together: me, Charlotte and our current writer Guus. We work together on it and it just happens.

N: Which band, excluding your own band Delain, would you say is your favourite on the symphonic metal scene at the moment?

M: That’s a good one! I’ve always been a fan of Nightwish. I’ve been a fan of the writing of Tuomas, so I would say Nightwish.

N: Are there any other plans for Delain this year besides playing at Dames of Darkness and playing the Metal Female Voices Fest in Belgium in October?

M: We’re doing a really special show, it’s actually our last show, in November in Holland. That’s going to be a really special one with special effects, guests etc. And we’re going to do the support tour of Kamelot for the US in September. And then it’s writing and recording new material.

N: Out of the two current tours that you’ve got coming up, which one would you say is the one you are looking forward to the most?

M: That’s a good one..I think our special show is one I’m looking forward to. I’m looking forward to all of them actually. And I’m looking forward to the tour for the US because I like the country a lot. And I’m looking forward to seeing new places so I look forward to that as well.

N: If you could replace the soundtrack to any film with your own music, which one would it be and why?

M: The soundtrack? That’s a good one…That’s a difficult one…I think We Are The Others would fit a movie very well. So I would take We Are The Others but if I have to choose one movie now… Perhaps a Marvel movie, like The Avengers or something like that, or Iron Man. I would like that very much.

N: Sounds like good choices. Do you have anything you would like to say to our readers before we finish up?

M: I hope that they like our latest release very much. I hope they can enjoy it and I hope to see them soon at a show. That would be nice.

N: Thank you for your time Martijn, have a good show tonight.

M: Thanks a lot!

 

Delain online:

http://www.delain.nl
https://www.facebook.com/delainmusic/
https://twitter.com/delainmusic

 

Interview with Mario Plank and Maxi Nil [Visions of Atlantis]

Posted in Interview with tags , , , , , , on 13th May 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Nico gets a chance to sit down with Maxi Nil and Mario Plank, vocalists for Austrian symphonic metal titans, Visions of Atlantis for a short about the band’s new album, the Dames of Darkness Festival and more.

Visions of Atlantis online:

https://www.facebook.com/visionsofatlantisofficial
http://www.myspace.com/visionsofatlantisofficial
http://www.youtube.com/VoASymphonicmetal