Monday, May 16, 2011
Interview - Vulture Industries' Bjørnar Erevik Nilsen
I don't know how many of you are fans like I am, but it's about time that I post this interview with Bjørnar Erevik Nilsen. For those of you that have looked at my end of 2010 albums list, you'll know that Vulture Industries latest album, "The Malefactor's Bloody Register," was one of the best I'd heard all year.
Ian: How are you feeling now that "The Malefactor's Bloody Register" has been released?
Bjørnar: Happy with the outcome and reviews. Fairly accomplished and ready to tour more and perform the songs on stage. Also eager and inspired to finish writing the material for our third album and hit the studio again as soon to record it.
Ian: Would you mind explaining the concept of the new album?
Bjørnar: Humanity seen through the justice system. It’s about who we are and how we treat each other. It was’nt intended to be a concept album, but the lyrics are closely tied together through the common theme.
Ian: You had stated in an interview that you planned to make this album more progressive than your debut, do you believe you accomplished that? How do you think that "The Malefactor's Bloody Register" differs from "The Dystopia Journals?"
Bjørnar: Did I?.. he he... Our intention was basically to make a new album. We didn’t want to make the same album again. Therefore we spent some time feeling our way around new ideas and seeing what we felt worked.
Personally I think "The Malefactor’s Bloody Register" is more complex. On the top of being more complex the production also leaves room for more detail in plain view. Therefore there is more information to process instantly. On "The Dystopia Journals" the main melody lines and driving element lay more apparent while the details were obscured and only visible to the acute listener. "The Malefactor’s Bloody Register" also turned out more metal than "The Dystopia Journals," with TDJ often tending more towards hard rock.
Ian: I know you've stated in the past that you wrote the bulk of "The Dystopia Journals," how much did you write on the new album? How much did other members contribute? How do you think you're writing style differs from theirs?
Bjørnar: It was more or less the same story with this album. I wrote 6 of the 8 tracks. The Bolted Door was sketched by Øyvind and we completed the song together, while This Cursed Flesh was mostly written by him and I just contributed the lyrics and vocal melodies. I haven’t given much thought to how our styles differ, but I guess we think a bit different from each other when it comes to chord choices and structuring.
Ian: You recorded the new album yourself, how do you approach production?
Bjørnar: That’s a wide enough question to write a book about I guess. He he! I guess the most technical bits is not so interesting for the general reader, so we’ll leave that out at least.
Well.... Firstly we do demos of the songs while making them. The demos are usually quite rough arrangement vise, so that we leave some room for spontaneity for the final studio recordings. Then the basic set up of the songs are rehearsed and worked through at a medium detailed level. For the final studio recording we start with the drums played to click tracks and guitars. We experiment a bit with drum patterns and tempos at this point to get every part to feel right. After this we do the bass, then guitars and finally vocals. After this we ad extra instrumentation, keyboards, dog howls, vocal harmonies and whatever else we feel the songs require. The other guys are all quite involved at this stage because all have strong opinions on how each instrument should sound as well as the total. Finally everything is mixed, approved by everybody in the band and sent of to mastering. Then my work is done.
Ian: It seemed to me that you utilized a much more aggressive vocals on this album, screaming and growling, a lot more than on the debut, was this a conscious decision?
Bjørnar: It just turned out that way because the songs demanded it. I originally expected to do less extreme vocals on this album, but I quickly realized that was not going to happen as the songs started taking shape.
Ian: Your voice is very dramatic, and you appear to be very passionate about your lyrics from the footage I've seen of you live, you always look like your giving it your all. How did you develop your voice? How would you cite as some of your influences?
Bjørnar: I guess the dramatics comes both from me being a fan of dramatic music. Music that conveys both stories, images and atmosphere. Alongside this I had a short career as an actor when I was younger which I think probably enforced the dramatic aspect in my character.
When it comes to developing my voice, I never really did much except starting to sing with the voice I have and experiment my way around a bit to find what ways it was possible to use my vocal chords.
Ian: I know you used viola and cello on the debut album, as well as using a saxophone on the new one, what do you think these instruments add to your sound?
Bjørnar: Depth and dynamics. I’ve always been a fan of classical instruments, and using the real thing beats the hell out of a keyboard any day.
Ian: The track I Hung My Heart On Harrow Square really sticks out on the album, and has an almost ballad kind of vibe to it. How did this song come together and how does it fit into the concept?
Bjørnar: It was a song that started out as a couple of riffs that lay dormant for many months. Eivind asked me what was happening to the riffs as he really liked the sad and eerie feel of it. I then gave them a new look and suddenly the remaining parts materialized within a couple of hours.
It’s a murder ballad about a hangman who falls desperately in love with the woman he is about to hang.
Ian: Your choice for cover artwork is very striking and very different from other metal groups, how did the cover art of the new album come together?
Bjørnar: We wanted something that reflected the lyrics and the feel of the album. I came up with the idea of the hangman with the noose and the law book posing as a scale. We had already worked with the same actor Helge Jordal for the cover of "The Dystopia Journals" and felt that he would be perfect, so we asked him again and everything worked out nicely. I knew that it would turn out good, but I actually was blown away by how nice it turned out in the end. We owe a great thanks to Maja Markegård for the layout.
Ian: Are there any plans to film a video for the new album?
Bjørnar: We had some ideas, but they didn’t amount to any realistic plans. At the moment we are planing for a kind of live video. More info will follow as soon as things get confirmed. We may do a video for the next album. The knack is that given the sound and soul of the band we can’t just do a video of the band performing a song and call it a music video. There has to be more! Lots more!
Ian: For "The Dystopia Journals" the band wore suits, and from the footage I've seen of you from this year you appear to be wearing more worker's attire from the last decade. Is it conscious for the band to have a sort of image?
Bjørnar: Yes. Given the dramatics of the music and our performance we feel it is crucial to also reflect this in outfit.
Ian: Have you gotten sick of the Arcturus comparisons yet? Do you believe that this new album distances you from their sound?
Bjørnar: Yes, quite.
Ian: You participated on the new Transcending Bizarre? album, "The Misanthrope's Fable," how did that collaboration come about?
Bjørnar: I don’t know the guys from before, but I like a challenge. It’s fun to try my vocals on other peoples music. Anyway.... One of the guys mailed me and sent me the song they had in mind. I liked the part, tested a couple of approaches and voila!
Ian: When can we expect a full-length album from Black Hole Generator?
Bjørnar: I’m finishing it these days. Some mixes are already finished, so sometime next year I think. Don’t hold your breath though. We started recording it in 2007!
Ian: Could you comment on the following words:
Abominable but morbidly fascinating
Ian: What are you currently listening to?
Bjørnar: November (the old Swedish one) – 6 November, Magma – Udu Wudu , Metallica – Kill Em All
Ian: That all the questions I have, thank you for answering them, the last words are yours.
Bjørnar: Don’t count on it
I have to thank Bjørnar for answering my questions, and as I've told him, Vulture Industries is one of my favorite newer groups. If you're looking for a modern avant-garde metal group with a sound like no one else, they are a must, definitely check them out or you will be sorely missing out.