Belated happy birthday! Two months ago you had your 30th birthday – how is life now with a 3 in your age?
Thanks a lot! I honestly don’t feel any difference so far. Things are going better than ever, both on in the personal life and professionally. I can’t complain!
I’d like to congratulate you to „The Congregation„! We gave you 8 of 10 points for it, other magazines were maybe also enthusiastic, but how do you feel about it? With which adjectives would you describe this album and why?
Again, thank you! In general we’ve received amazing feedback on the album, and we’re very grateful and happy about it! Personally I’m very satisfied and proud of the album. I think it’s the most mature but also most emotional and even most catchy so far. We dare to do what we want, but also without spoiling the taste with too many layers. It has been an extremely challenging album to write, and after countless of hours with hard work it feels so relieving to be done with this. I’m very happy about the result, and this is the album of our career that I’m the most proud of. There were moments during the composition and recording process when I felt completely tired and fed up with the album, and not motivated at all. So then it was especially nice when we finally could deliver the album for mixing.
Does the new album follow the concept of older releases or is „The Congregation“ something really new? What are the main differences between the new album and „Coal“?
We do not follow up on a particular concept, and lyrically “The Congregation” is more political/ socially critical than our previous albums. The word „Congregation“ is mostly used in a religious context, where you have the congregation of the church etc. But it can also be seen as a group of people who in my opinion follow blindly the words and expectations of others without any reflection on the subject. In today’s society we encounter many situations where one is expected to follow certain patterns, which most people actually do follow either due to lack of reflection or the fear of being disregarded or outcasts. Especially when these patterns are of the destructive kind, it’s especially important to raise questions and debate about it. The lyrics of the album enlightens several of these phenomenons, either if it is about mass production, „use and throw“-mentality or problems of a more personal matter. The point is not to moralize, but as mentioned to raise questions and debate. Everything is written in a rather subtle way, which opens up for personal interpretations.
Even though LEPROUS is naturally evolving as a band without deliberately changing our sound for the sake of it, I feel every album has it’s own touch. Where „Coal“ was slow, dark, atmospheric but also impulsive, „The Congregation“ is calculated, technical, focused, melancholic but also emotional and catchy. When we made „Coal“, the whole process was less structured and shorter, so we left a lot of the creativity to the studio. In the beginning of the recording process, we had no idea how the album would turn out and we were rather nervous. So when the album turned out to be very good, we were very relieved and almost surprised.
With „The Congregation“ however, the process was very different. It was a completely new way of thinking. I started out setting deadlines for myself to write 2 sketches for songs per week until we had 30, and then we voted for those in which we saw the biggest potential. And then countless of hours of listening, evaluating and planning where to go with the sketches. So this album is very much a „brainy“ album, written on the computer, if you compare it to the previous ones. On this album we’ve seen the importance of hard work, because this album is really a result of countless of hours of structured work, where as especially our previous album was much more impulsive. So when we entered the studio to record „The Congregation“, we were all much more confident than we’d ever been.
Since „Coal“ your artworks got more and more a gloomy atmosphere. Do you also think so? Is this a intended development or how did it happen? Are there any special reasons for the choice of the cover, perhaps with view on the lyrics?
When we started looking for references for the cover, I ended up on the website of the French artist Nihil (nihil.fr). There was one of his earlier works that I instantly fell in love with, and thought it would be a perfect fit for our concept. We sent it to the artist we had planned using as a reference, but we soon realized it would be better to ask Nihil himself if we he wanted to make something out of it. He was interested, and quite shortly after we had the cover. The artwork represents the „deformation“ and „destruction“ that is slowly happening with our short term and „self-comforting“ way of living, which is a general theme on the album. It’s a quite disturbing cover, but it catches the attention of the audience, which is our intention.
LEPROUS publish a new record every two years. Do your earn your money with your music and therefore you can focus on doing it or what do you and the other members usually do, when you haven’t an instrument in your hands?
So far I haven’t earned a single penny on my work with LEPROUS, but that is finally changing now. It has taken so many years, because we’re still in debt for those years when we invested money in support tours etc. This year that debt will finally be paid, and we will start earning. So yeah, everyone except the drummer has a job. I work with autistic people and I’m actually there on a nightshift right now. But it’s a very flexible job where I can work when it suits me, and also during nightshifts I can work with LEPROUS. I wrote several of the songs for “The Congregation” here. (laughs) Tor Oddmund works as a physical therapist, and Øystein works in an IT company.
Your style of singing, in which you combine tender and punchy sounds, is almost unique. When did you realize your talent? And when did you start to sing regularly, did you ever get lessons in it? And did you ever sing in norwegian?
Thank you! I think I realized that I might have a talent for singing when I was around 15 years old. And yes, I took singing lessons from my mother who’s a singing teacher, and piano lessons from another teacher. I never used instructional videos or books very much, but I had teachers and experimented a lot on my own. It was really important in the early stages of developing my technique and expression, and I would recommend it to everyone to have some good teachers in the early stages, who can guide you. I have been singing in Norwegian, but for some reasons it feels more awkward. (laughs) I will stick to English in LEPROUS at least. (laughs)
My all time favorite of your songs is „Coal“, because of your highly melodic voice, which catches me every single time I listen to it. What is your all time fave of LEPROUS and why? And which song you wish you hadn’t record and spread to the world?
Ah, that’s cool. It’s so interesting to hear that most people have completely different favorites! I think my favorites at the moment are „Slave“ and „Rewind“ from the latest album. Regarding songs I would have liked to skip, there are so many. (laughs) I’m not a big fan anymore of any of the first three albums, but I respect them very much as an important part of the evolution to what we have become.
„The Congregation“ is the premiere of your new permanent drummer Baard Kolstad. Do you see a huge difference between his play and Tobias Ørnes Andersen? How was the influence of Kolstad while recording the album? Did his play give LEPROUS a refreshing note and if yes, in which case?
Baard has been a wonderful breath of fresh air in LEPROUS. Both him and Tobias are fantastic drummers. Tobias is a bit more loose and jazzy in the style, while Baard is maybe even more technical and hard hitting. Hard to say. Baard has so much positive energy, and he brings it all into the band. Also to mention that he’s a perfectionist, which is a very welcome skill for any LEPROUS member.
At the end of this year LEPROUS will start a tour through Europe, are you already excited about that? In which country you like to play the most and why? Do you prefer smaller clubs or big halls?
I honestly can’t wait to get out there and perform songs from “The Congregation” for our audience. Excited would be an understatement. (laughs) I love touring! I think France is our favorite country to play in, because of the amount of audience we pull there, the food, and the loudness of the crowd! I prefer bigger venues to be honest, but smaller clubs can also be charming. And I guess that’s what we’re mostly playing in this fall. (laughs) Well, I’m not a huge fan of very very big halls, as I don’t think the sound is often really good there. But from 600 – 2000 in capacity is wonderful.
I would like to end the interview with the traditional Metal1.info-brainstorming. What comes to your mind first while reading the following terms:
Your current government: Status quo.
Non-musical highlight of the year so far: Meeting my wife.
Dream job as child: Glassblower.
LEPROUS in 10 years: Hopefully big enough to survive.
Musician of the millennium: Michael Jackson.
Takk for intervjuet! Lykke til for LEPROUS og ha det bra! If you would like to add something the last words shall be yours!
Tusen takk for det!
Hope to see you on the road on our following German shows:
03.10.15 – Euroblast Festival, Cologne
17.10.15 – Substage, Karlsruhe
18.10.15 – Bagstage, Munchen
21.11.15 – Generation Prog Festival, Nürnberg