Born Again From The Merciless Mother
Story online since: 24.11.2009 / 20:22:59
May 30 2009 Ė LILLEHAMMER, NORWAY
As the dayís warmth faded out and the shallow-angle light cast a golden shine on what we all knew was going to be a special night, the fieldfares and chaffinches of Lillehammer hurried off to roost. Meanwhile, our favorite pack of wolves was preparing to emerge from the woods - for their first live performance in fifteen years. We, as fans, were nervous. This whole thing was never supposed to happen. Ulver was never going to perform live; we had accepted that as a fact and learned how to live with it years ago.
And when we heard this thing was actually going to take place, some of us panicked. We bought tickets. We had to be there. So in many strange corners of the world, we did what we had to do to come to see the boys. We came to see what the hell they would do.
Ulver took to the stage with a message for the crowd: "FORGIVE USĒ. Forgiven. Donít worry about it. Enlisting the assistance of some friends, they slipped into the music and poured it over us all. As members of the audience, we were immersed in the unique environment they created and weíll never be the same. With a set highlighting the last ten years or so of their existence, they succeeded in doing what many of us didnít think theyíd be able to do Ė they made their music come alive. Finally.
With powerful imagery to accompany the music, and with expanded and enhanced versions of their songs, they made it worth our while. It had bombast, fury, and moments of uneasiness - but there were also spaces for us to breathe, a sense of tenderness and beauty, and the ten-minute-plus closing number Not Saved gently lulled us into a childlike sense of serenity and innocence. We were left in absolute peace. Ah hell, what else can I say? You had to be there. You should have been there.
The following day I received a call in the afternoon inviting me to meet Ulver in ten minutes at a cafť down the street. Sweating and itching with nervousness, I waited underneath a tree for them to come to me. We ended up talking for quite a while, and below youíll find the entire length of our conversation to enjoy at your leisure.
The first few minutes here are just SRB (Seth Robert Beaudreault) and DOS (Daniel OíSullivan):
SRB: How long have you been involved in this performance?
DOS: Well itís been six months in planning. And I think it sort of came around because I have another project called ∆thenor which is an improvised project with Stephen from Sunn O))), and Kris is now involved, and we played some live shows and Kris came out with us, which is really pushing the boat out considering he hadnít played music on stage for 15 years and he throws himself into a free improvising situation.
SRB: How did that collaboration come about?
DOS: Well we were friends anyway and weíd discussed collaborating in some form or another and I invited him into ∆thenor and he invited me into Ulver and then we carried on from there.
SRB: And so you played with him at the Roadburn Festival?
DOS: ∆thenor? Yeah we played Roadburn. It was at the behest of David Tibet from Current 93, he was curating a day there.
SRB: What is he actually doing as a vocalist in ∆thenor, is he doing some vocalizations and then twisting them around with machines?
DOS: I mean to be honest with that first tour I think he was just finding his feet with it, it was a lot of voice and then post-voice manipulations, laptop manipulations and triggering sounds also. But nowadays heís just rocking the mic a bit more.
SRB: And will you guys continue to work in that group together?
DOS: Yeah weíve got show in a couple of weeks in the UK, the Equinox Festival, which is sort of an occult thing organized by some friends of mine in London, but yeah thereís lots of plans with that band, lots of recordings swimming around that weíve got to edit and assemble.
SRB: Youíve got an album out that has him on it right?
DOS: Betimes Black Cloudmasses, yeah.
SRB: And you can hear him on it, making sounds? Or does he actually sing any words?
DOS: No he just basically chewed the microphone for a few days and then edited it down. I think a lot of people were expecting an Ulver-like performance from him and certainly didnít get it, because in the context of ∆thenor that might work, but it didnít feel correct to do that at the time. I think we wanted to try and create a roomspace, albeit a kind of ectoplasmic one, and I think he was just being true to that initial reaction to the music. So itís much more buried peripheral sounds, and occasionally he surfaces. With acousmatic "voicesĒ youíre never quite sure where theyíre coming from or what the source is.
SRB: So youíve been a fan of his for a long time?
DOS: Yeah, probably not as long as some of the people who were there last night. I never approached Ulver from a black metal perspective, for example. I only became interested in them after all that. Having said that, the use of symbolism and ritual that has pervaded their work throughout the years is not restricted to any one type of dialogue or genre. Even as a black metal band, Ulver were more concerned with embracing the pantheon rather than solely focusing on satanic or pagan/viking ideologies. That appeals to me. We actually met on MySpace, one of those situations.
SRB: All kinds of people are connecting on there huh?
DOS: With the first wave of Myspace it was actually quite nice, I did find I was hooking up with people I actually wanted to communicate with.
SRB: Not Russian brides?
DOS: As opposed to Facebook, where I get so many anonymous people, I just donít know who these people are and Iím kind of accepting them but itís kind of spoiling the whole function of it.
SRB: Do they stop at just becoming your friend or do they end up sending you crazed messages?
DOS: Some send messages, Iíve not had anything too worrying, but itís more just the voyeuristic aspect of it, the fact that youíve got messages from your real friends there, and itís never anything too personal, itís Facebook you know, but there are photos on there and if someone tags you in an unfortunate stateÖyou knowÖ Drunk, bad hair day or whatever, it's annoying. Kris is the same in some respects, we got to talking about this the other day and about the need for silenceÖ
SRB: And thatís something theyíve always maintained a sense of, and itís only now that theyíre kind of coming out of the shadows a little bit.
DOS: And you know, why? Donít say anything unless you really have something to say, and I think that is the case with Ulver, the themes are becoming more human, more fundamental, and the symbols are being left behind. Itís more about plain speaking than anything else.
JHS (JÝrn H. Svśren) enters: I have to go to the toiletÖ
KGR (Kristoffer G. Rygg): Hey (enters with beers).
SRB: Thatís the ticket.
KGR: Itís video?
SRB: Wave of the future, dude. How are the Norwegian beers?
Everyone is seated now.
SRB: So my name is Seth Beaudreault and I was originally coming to this concert on my own accord, and I just started checking out avant-garde-metal.com and wrote them an email telling them I was going to be here and could write a review of the show, and maybe they could set up an interview, and I didnít think I'd even get a response, but here we are, and Iím excited and a little bit frightened. But itís an honor to be here. And as I said, Iím not a journalist. Iím a fish biologist and I study salmon in Alaska. So I hope this is an atypical experience for you as well.
DOS: Thatís good to hear! That immediately put us all at ease, I think.
KGR: That's a respectable line of work man. Iíd like to do what you do.
SRB: Well yeah we hire technicians once in a while so if youíre looking to get paid to go fishing and all you have to do is measure the fish and see how long it isÖ
KGR: Really, in Alaska?
DOS: That would be brilliant, Iíd love to do that.
KGR: Bye bye Ulver, bye bye stress! Seaward ho! Well, itís another form of stress I imagine.
SRB: Yeah well I know the past few months must have been incredibly stressful for you allÖ
KGR: The past couple of weeks at least. Itís never real until things are nigh, then it gets real.
DOS: Weíve done our best to block out the reality of the situation by taking two-hour breaks and then 15 mins of rehearsal, and then another two-hour break. Actually we have been quite intensive this last week.
SRB: Going through the entire set?
KGR: Iíve had band camp in my living room.
DOS: We rehearsed in Krisís house, which is up in the hills of Oslo.
SRB: It must take a long time to setup all your equipment, especially where you were (points to JHS), I donít know how much power you used from the city of Lillehammer last night, but do you have people helping you set that all up or do you each take care of your own stuff?
DOS: Tore is in control of the lab.
KGR: Yeah, kind of, but we also have a professional crew behind us. The crew and production is much bigger than what you would expect from any kind of debut concert, but you know, we have a reputation to defend (laughs). Thatís essentially what yesterday was though; a band playing their debut concert.
SRB: It was a crazy experience just as a fan to have no clue what you guys were going to do.
JHS: What did you expect?
SRB: Well in previous interview you guys have done, you made it seem like you didnít want to play shows because by the time youíre finished with an album youíre so sick of it that you didnít really want to play it over and over. And also the difficulty of actually pulling it off live, which is completely understandable. I was very surprised by the concert actually, because I didnít think you would play anything that you had previously released. I thought youíve always been about moving forward and not looking back, so it surprised me to see you play material dating back to 1998. A very pleasant surprise though, because hearing your music, which I have adored and admired for eleven years, at such a high volume that I could feel it throughout my body, was a truly amazing and powerful experience. And also, I had a feeling you would make it visually interesting as well, but the intensity and sheer moving power of what was put onto the screens shook my body just as much as the music Ė the images were perfect complements to the music, adding immensely to the entire experience. It was a well-rounded, well-planned, very intense thing for a serious fan of yours to experience, and Iím grateful for the hard work, honesty, and vulnerability that went into it. As always with Ulver, I wanted more.
JHS: Thank you.
KGR: Itís been hard to come up with excuses all the time, you know, to come with a good excuse for every interview you do, "why do you not play live?Ē
DOS: The main reason is because of fear.
KGR: Yeah, weíve always been immersed in fear.
DOS: Thereís always been a principal for why you choose not to do things, but normally itís rooted in something very human, which is like a fear of whatever, a fear ofÖ
KGR: A fear of failure.
JHS: Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Says Beckett. There's some comfort in that.
SRB: Up until it was happening, did you feel it might actually turn into a failure or did you feel fairly comfortable like "whatís gonna happen is gonna happen and itís worth a shotĒ?
KGR: We had aspects of the production to lean on, if you know what I mean. Some of the preparations that had been made were solid, we knew that. There were insecurities in terms of the actual performance, since weíre not used to playing live. We haven't rehearsed for ten years. But you know, we had awesome light and sound guys, the venue was nice...
DOS: And the films as well, the dedication thatís gone into that from JÝrn and Kristin has been unfathomable, so much work.
SRB: So you put those images together and Iím sure you all talked about ideas that you wanted to be up there and such?
JHS: We focused on different parts of the production, all of us.
KGR: Each to his own.
SRB: And all that footage was so powerful. Especially the final one, which was from Silencing the Singing Ė of the child sitting there Ė where did that come from?
JHS: Weíve been working with this visual artist, Kristin BÝyesen, sheís a friend of mine, and the child is in fact her nephew. It was filmed last week.
KGR: But the idea is the child. The kid realizing what kind of world he is inheriting.
SRB: And youíre a father, right?
KGR: I am.
SRB: And did becoming a father make you much more aware of what it is to create a life and send it out into this circus-world we live in?
KGR: It does sometimes make me feel guilty, but mostly just very vulnerable, if you know what I mean. Having children and loving them and nurturing them is the only thing you know you are here for in a sense. But this world is so full of horrors. I just read the other day in the papers about a father who beat his 8-year old step son to death. When they found the boy he had a big crack in his skull and paper stuffed up his nose and in his mouth and... I just can't deal with shit like that. I'd die if anything bad happened to my kids.
SRB: Do you other guys have children?
DOS: I have a whippet.
SRB: A what?!
KGR: All dog owners liken their dogs to real human animals.
DOS: Yeah, animals.
KGR: I always like a dog so long as he isn't spelled backward.
JHS: I have some stuffed animals. As substitute I suppose.
SRB: Something I was curious about is if you guys are travelers or not, have you been many places?
KGR: Here and there. Not Alaska though.
JHS: Iíd like to go there.
SRB: Iíd say that you should do a show there but you would lose thousands of dollars. Or maybe get shot.
KGR: Yeah, probably.
SRB: Last night I was afraid someone in the crowd was going to yell out "Play some black metal!Ē
DOS: I thought that would happen.
SRB: Actually I thought it was amazing that it didnít happen.
KGR: I didnít think that would happen, you have to give people some credit.
DOS: The only reason I thought it would happen, is because it was a really hot day in Lillehammer, and we were on at 9, and obviously people were arriving in the morning drinking all day, getting a bit rowdy. But I think the immediate context that they were presented with was so not that, even if they were intending to be quite pumped or whatever.
SRB: You kind of set the tone.
DOS: Itís an immersive environment.
SRB: Was there a surprise on your part when you saw what kinds of people made up the crowd? Could you even see the crowd?
DOS: I had a look.
SRB: And was it what you expected, or did you have any expectation?
DOS: I expected a cross-section, and thatís pretty much what I saw.
SRB: I was surprised that there were so many metal people. I know that thatís a huge part of your fanbase that has followed you from those days, but do you have an impression of how many new fans youíve gained along the way who are not from that scene at all?
KGR: I guess there are a few.
DOS: Me for one.
KGR to SRB: You donít look much like a headbanger.
DOS: No you donít.
KGR: There were some proper grown-ups there, which was nice to see.
DOS: It seems to be working on a few levels.
SRB: So the first question I was originally going to ask you guys was "Do you still listen to black metal?Ē
SRB: I was just kidding, actually. Everybody asks you that.
DOS: But we should answer that.
SRB: Is it the old school classic black metal that youíre still interested in, or are any of the new bands interesting you at all?
KGR: I suppose when I put on a metal album it's usually something from when I was young. Slayer or...
SRB: What about a band like Virus, who is definintely notÖ
KGR: Fucking awesome.
DOS: Not black metal?
SRB: Itís just Virus.
KGR: Carl-Michael, he was in the crowd last night.
SRB: He was the only one sensible enough to wear a suit, I noticed.
SRB: Virus and you guys, have been really amazing albums to listen to when Iím out on the rivers and stuff doing fish work or traveling in the mountains. My job is such that I work from April til December and then have three to four months off to get the hell out of Alaska during part of the winter and so I always go someplace strange, Laos or this year I went to Bolivia, had done some bird research in Venezuela and so Iím always moving from a strange landscape to an even stranger one, and your music and Virus and very few others, maybe Meshuggah, I always find a way to match it with the landscape.
KGR: Meshuggah, really?
SRB: Yeah what do you think of them?
KGR: I donít see it as very pastoral music.
DOS: Yeah that was the one thing that threw me. I could understand the others.
KGR: Good band, no doubt, but itís not really my thing.
DOS: I like it for like five minutes, "wow this is just the best thing everĒ and then Iím like "OK what else have you got?Ē
KGR: I was expecting youíd say Current 93 or something.
SRB: Meshuggah is just so fucking powerful I guess, fitting the ruggedness and perfection of the mountains for me. And Iíve been into you guys I guess since "ThemesĒ came out and at the time I was listening to mostly metal and looking for bands that were starting to get a little more interesting and Iíve been with you guys ever since.
KGR: Well thank you.
SRB: And I think the only thing I didnít like was "First Decade in the MachinesĒ
KGR: But thatís not really us, is it?
DOS: What is that?
KGR: (laughs) Itís a remix album. It has its moments, but you have to see it for what it is. Itís like... a commemoration.
DOS: I donít respond well to remix culture most of the time, unless itís a bit more involved.
KGR: It is what it is.
SRB: Yeah, and thatís why I say itís not your fault or anything.
KGR: Gee, thanks!
DOS: Youíre off the hook.
SRB: But I really respect everything you guys have done. Like other fans of yours, I am always waiting for the next short press release, which usually leaves us all drooling and wondering about what is to come. Youíre always leaving people wanting more.
KGR: Weíve always been kinda less is more when it comes to communiquť.
SRB: After the show were you able to listen to any of the recordings or see any footage?
SRB: How did you feel right before heading onto the stage?
DOS: Fucking nervous.
JHS: It was awful.
DOS: Nah, not sweating.
KGR: There was a little devil in me saying fuck it. It was worse earlier in the day. That last hour before we went on, some sort of serenity came over me and I was just like "fuck itĒ.
DOS: Maybe not nervous as in frightened, nervous as in excited, kind of elated, but also youíre standing at the foot of a mountain and you realize you have to get to the top.
SRB: And afterwards did you feel a sense of relief and success or were you self-critical of anything that had gone wrong?
DOS: For me it was just pure relief, the first one is done and dusted and it went relatively well.
KGR: Yeah, Iíd say thatís a good description of my feeling as well Ė relatively happy. But absolute contentment is a far cry.
DOS: Happiness is hard to find.
KGR: Nah, you're joking.
SRB: When you first signed up to do the show, was there anything about this event that finally made you say "OK, now weíre going to do it?Ē or was it just other people pushing on you until you caved in?
JHS: Actually we have been invited to do lots of stuff over the years, and we've had this principle to say no to everything and try to keep to ourselves. But at some point it was not possible to make music and life off it, you know, with all the difficulties going on in the music industry. So yeah we were waiting for the right opportunity and this was it, the Norwegian Festival of Literature being the biggest of its kind in Scandinavia, with proper budgets and all. They were able to give us what we needed to set aside the time and get people engaged. But yeah, of course, itís a necessary evil.
KGR: Money, you mean.
SRB: So youíre saying youíve wanted to do it for some time but you needed it to be the right condition for it to be possible?
JHS: I wouldn't say we wanted to do it, but we kind of recognized that we had to do it.
KGR: Ravenous wolves.
JHS: And at the same time I think it was a good place to start, I mean the concert hall and amphitheatre and all. It was an intimate setting, which suited the more introvert music.
SRB: And youíve got more shows on the books, and Iíve heard some talk about future shows in the states maybe.
KGR: Yeah, it would be downright silly to not try and consummate this thing. You know itís justÖ
DOS: Itís too much work, you invest too much in it to just do it once.
KGR: We have to play some concerts now that weíve got this thing rolling. Weíre gonna try and play select shows in contexts that weíre comfortable with, and hopefully build up a little reserve, you know. Then we can withdraw back into the studio again.
SRB: So the money aspect has become a necessary evil, and for future gigs youíve been able to negotiate larger deals than a normal band? Deals that can accommodate the presentation you want to put forth?
KGR: Money has always been a necessary evil. We're all the bank's bitches. But yeah, thatís the reward for having refrained from playing for fifteen years; people are actually willing to pay you to play. Of course you have to be realistic about stuff, but still, our guarantees are decent.
JHS: Weíve got to fill in for fifteen years of emptiness.
KGR: That has a nice double meaning (to JHS).
JHS: But then again this is a costly production, we rely on a lot of backline and such, much more than a conventional rock band. We need a digital mixer for example, because of the many channels, plus a large projector and so on. It is an expensive ball and we are not left with much.
SRB: Iím under the impression that what we saw last night, as far as who the performing group is comprised of, is pretty solid?
DOS: Pamelia, the girl who was playing theremin, she might not be able to make it all the time.
KGR: She came from Vienna for this. Sheís off to London next, playing with Yoko Ono.
SRB: She certainly added a lot to the performance, if she canít make it to some gigs, will you still play those songs that featured her, in her absence?
JHS: Yeah, Tore will fill it in.
SRB: When you were writing those songs that feature her on Shadows of the Sun, did you think it would be nice to have a theremin on certain parts and start looking forÖ
SRB: And had she ever heard of you before?
KGR: Yeah, I had exchanged a few emails with her. I think because she was on this record with Tuner, an Austrian band featuring Pat Mastelotto, King Crimson's drummer, and I had done a few vocal lines on that album, so...
DOS: I was talking with her earlier about how she was stringing you along yesterday because you were saying "You donít know how the theremin was invented??Ē And she was saying "No, no.Ē
KGR: I didnít say that.
DOS: Yeah, she was stringing you along, leading you on. Making you believe that she had no idea who invented the theremin.
KGR: Huh! I didnít have this conversation, so either Pamelia was fucking drunk or...
DOS: Or you both were.
KGR: I must have been, 'cause I honestly don't remember having this conversation.
DOS: She was saying (in highpitched American girly voice) "I was stringing him along tee hee hee I have no idea!Ē
KGR: Crazy bird.
SRB: When you guys first thought of what this performance was going to be, did you shoot for something more elaborate or less so than what the final result was? Did you have big ideas with having strings and horns and all kinds of stuff?
KGR: I think we aimed for something in the middle of peopleís expectations. Or what I imagined peopleís expectations to be like. I imagined some going "yeah, theyíre going to bring in a twenty-piece string ensembleĒ and others would probably think "theyíre going to be three guys with laptops and a candle on the SteinwayĒ, so yeah, we aimed in between.
DOS: There was an E-bow on the Steinway, and some plectrums. No candles.
SRB: If a situation arose where you guys could do a big concert with all that stuff, with a trumpet and sax Öwould that be too much?
DOS: I wouldnít mind.
KGR: I was about to say the same; the more the merrier.
JHS: Viva megalomania.
DOS: If the opportunity arose to arrange something like that it would just be a pleasure wouldnít it? Itís always nice to hear your music in it's most elaborate form.
KGR: When you put that much work into something it's like you can almost just sit down yourself and watch the whole thingÖ oversee the machine. Classical composers do it all the time.
JHS: We were talking the other night about just having somebody else playing the whole set, that would be nice. To hire stand-ins.
KGR: It would be in accordance with our attitude I think.
JHS: Franchising music.
KGR: No, not that, but in our mindframe it wouldn't necessarily be out of place to just assign public appearances over to someone else. Just be the brain and let someone else be the body.
DOS: You were saying this morning that you were uncomfortable with the front-person role.
KGR: Yeah, I always hated that. Thatís why I donít want to stand centre stage, I donít like it, I like being part of...
DOS: The machine.
KGR: Yeah, or organism is maybe a better word. Or better yet, family.
SRB: I enjoyed that part of it, just seeing you back there in the works. It was good to see you back in the guts of it. And it was obvious to anyone who saw it that it wasnít about you guys as people, it was a bunch of somewhat anonymous humans making this big thing happen. I appreciated that.
JHS: Yeah, we did of course make quite a few conscious decisions regarding the set up. The lights for example, they should not reach higher than up to here (points to his neck)...
DOS: What?!? Damnit.
KGR: Please forgive his vanity.
SRB to DOS: When you play with ∆thenor are you back in the shadows with them or are you up at the front with your foot on the amp?
DOS: Foot up on the Fender Rhodes. No, ∆thenorís a similar prospect really.
KGR: Although a very different expression.
DOS: Yeah, itís not composed for one, itís totally improvised. But it just feels more like a jazz group, the way we set up.
KGR: But you did that shit to me in ∆thenor as well, I was always sayingÖ
DOS: No, no, I was just saying that because you were so determined, unnecessarily, to be in the shadows at first...
KGR: Well, thatís where I like it.
DOS: Yeah, but itís more to do with inner-band interactions, itís not about you being the front-person or me forcing that role on you, itís more about you being available visually.
KGR: (in mock apology) "Oh, ok, okÖI seeĒ
SRB: There was only one song I didnít recognize last night, was there a new song in there?
KGR: Itís a cover song. A 60's tune, by The Byrds.
DOS: What did you think about that?
SRB: Well I had no idea, I thought "This must be a new Ulver song and they seem to be moving in a structured-song type of twisted pop direction"Ö I could hear lyrics about love, etc.
KGR: Itís a David Crosby song called "Everybodyís Been BurnedĒ. Just a song we like, basically.
SRB: Thatís cool. I know youíve released somewhat unexpected covers before Ė the Prince one, and you did Seal's "Kiss From A Rose" with Head Control System, and some other ones along the way that arenít on your actual albums, but on Shadows of the Sun you had "SolitudeĒ, the Black Sabbath tuneÖwhich for me was amazing because I grew up on Black Sabbath and to have you guys do your first cover on a real album be a Sabbath number, I felt a couple universes were aligning for me. I was curious, what kind of role does Black Sabbath have for you Ė is it significant that they were the first one that you covered on a real album of yours?
JHS: I was really into Sabbath in my youth, yeah.
DOS: I still am massively into Sabbath. I just love Black Sabbath.
KGR: Black Sabbath is a common denominator I think.
DOS: Kris and I were watching some footage the other day, something from Master of Reality, but they were playing this outdoor festival with this huge rainbow behind them and Ozzy is so on and when heís singing he is completely focused. His voice is just pristine and brilliant, but then when heís not singing heís just taking his shirt off and revving the crowd up.
SRB: With his fringe jacket.
DOS: Yeah, that went into the crowd.
KGR: Theyíre one of the giants, arenít they?
SRB: Yeah, they are. That was the California Jam 1974 I think.
DOS: Weíre talking to a connoisseur I see.
SRB: The first band I was ever in, playing guitar at age 14 or 15, it was called The Writ, and it was a Sabbath cover thing, and for our first performance I had never before even attempted or practiced singing or playing guitar and singing at the same time, it was a fucking disaster, so much worse than your first performance last night. Which of their albums did you feel really strongly about as a youngster?
JHS: I think probably their first.
KGR: Yeah, the first one is the first one I heard as well, but the one that I really started to listen more attentively to was Volume 4. Man, I listened a lot to that record.
DOS: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the one for me. Just because theyíre really beginning to expand their horizons on that one.
SRB: Yeah, getting the synth in there.
DOS: Getting Rick Wakeman in there.
SRB: Kris, would you say Ozzy is an influence or inspiration as a vocalist at all?
KGR: Not as anything other than a vocalist I dig. I just told the boys the other day, heís one of those guys that sometimes I just get this urge to listen to. It can be anything, it can be "Perry MasonĒ for all I care, I just have to hear Ozzy sing. So yeah, he's definitely something of an eminency in my book, but I donít think I have any vocal heroes per se. I just work with the pipe nature gave me, and what comes out is probably the sum of all the stuff I listen to or used to listen to; certain inclinations towards pop, I think... I have a pop way of harmonizing which has been there all along. I did a lot of sugary stuff on top of harsher backdrops back in the day as well. I think just being a kid in the 80ís listening to my parents' music or whatever has probably made a bigger impact on me than one might think.
DOS: Me too, in fact Iím returning to that love for my parentsí record collection.
SRB: What kind of stuff were your parents into?
DOS: They were punks / new wavers in England, but my father had some interesting records, actually my uncle had the metal box by PiL, I remember being fascinated by the metal box it came in, I loved looking at that, and Faust with the skeleton hand on it, the transparent sleeve, and also the real pop stuff, Japan, Tears For Fears, which is really what I listen to frequently these days.
SRB: I asked about Ozzy as an influence because there have been a couple times in your music , the one I always think of is in the song "It Is Not SoundĒ where you sing "A long time agooooo, YEAH!ĒÖ.I pictured Ozzy in that fringe jacket.
KGR: Yeah, those "YeahsĒÖ. (laughs) If I have to pinpoint where it comes from, it's probably James Hetfield from Metallica. So thatís where itís from. I know that now.
SRB: So next time it bubbles up.
DOS: You can acknowledge that now.
SRB: Kris, I still think Ozzy may come through you once in a while, like in the HCS tune "Masterpiece (of Art)": ĒHell yeeeeeeeaaaah!!Ē Ė you channeled a 1973 Ozzy Osbourne man. I donít think Hetfield can take credit for that one.
KGR: You can choose to believe that, that's fine. It probably looks better on paper than being influenced by Hetfield anyway.
SRB: Is the amount of equipment necessary to create your music these days getting ridiculous? Do you ever yearn back to days when it was made with more simplistic, acoustic instruments?
KGR: Well, the thing is that a lot of the sounds on our records are pretty large-scale, though we create them by simpler means in the studio, with sampling and sound banks, and... you know. So yeah, when trying to transfer all that into a functional live sound, it is fucking necessary to have chimes and gongs and all that because a simple five-piece drum kit and a guitar and a bass just wouldnít cut it. So there's another necessary evil for you. It looks nice though.
DOS: And itís not a rock band, either. Itís actually very keyboard orientated. A lot of emphasis on electronics too, so it would be closer to say "Arenít you just tempted to do it with laptops?Ē which probably would just be boring to watch, but it would be a lot easier.
KGR: But it would also be kinda fake wouldnít it?
DOS: Yeah, but what does that mean?
KGR: It means nothing. Itís all a fuckiní lie, innit? (in mock British)
DOS: Itís all an illusion.
SRB: The drum that you were playing during the performace, Kris, was that a timpani?
KGR: Itís a timpani, yes. But itís got a new skin so it sounded pretty "drummyĒ last night, not necessarily as intended.
SRB: Are those skins made of an animal skin or is it a synthetic thing?
KGR: Don't know.
KGR: What a bummer for the vegan drummer.
SRB: And did you have one of those that youíve messed around with before?
KGR: Yeah, itís our timpani. Weíve had it for years and have used it on several recordings, but with the old skin.
DOS: Now itís out with the old skin, in with the new.
KGR: New skin for the old ceremony.
DOS: Itís only skin.
KGR: Skin deep.
SRB: I thought it was awesome for you to be able to whack on something while you were up there.
KGR: Yeah, it's like when there are no vocals going on, what am I supposed to do?
SRB: Go check your email on the laptop.
KGR: Yeah, I got a couple of email interviews done during the set yesterday. That's the real challenge, you know, how much office work I can squeeze in between my lines.
SRB: On your albums youíve had some external sounds, Iím thinking of Perdition City Ė city sounds Ė are these field recordings that you made and then put in there?
KGR: Both yes and no, some we recorded, some we stole. When we made Perdition City we used to hang a couple mics out Toreís window. He lives quite high, on the 5th floor in the inner city where there are lots of things happening on the ground all the time, so most of those car horns, people chattering and all that, thatís our recordings. But we also took stuff off movies or whatever. We used to have a track that the television went through, the sound of the television, even though the screen wasnít actually on, weíd just take sounds we liked and I would sit years later and watch a movie and go "oh, so thatís where that came fromĒÖ kinda cheeky.
SRB: And you guys are obscure enough that no one comes looking for you, well I guess Prince came lookingÖ
KGR: Not for us.
DOS: For the guy who put that whole thing together.
KGR: How unappreciative can you be? Little prick.
DOS: Little purple prick. I shouldnít be saying that because Kerry is a huge Prince fan, my missus.
KGR: We have a somewhat dismissive statement in there, since heís not really familiar to us in any way, Prince, but we owed the guy who put the tribute together a favor, so we did it.
SRB: And how did the female vocalist get involved in that?
KGR: Siri, sheís been in the studio a few times, and she has a very soul-like style, which fitted the song. She's great.
SRB: Itís great hearing you sing with females, like your appearance on The Gatheringís album, the duet you did, "A Life All MineĒ.
DOS: That came up in an interview yesterday.
KGR: What? Me and the females?
DOS: No, that song.
KGR: Oh. (makes sad face)
SRB: When you did that one did you go over to Holland to record it?
KGR: No, I got a mail from their drummer, Hans, who contacted me and I knew them from before of course. I had their records, or at least some of them, as we used to be on the same label, Century Media. They have a similar story to ours Ė they left Century Media, formed their own label, and distanced themselves a bit from the stuff that made them popular in the first placeÖ And the girl, Anneke, sheís a fantastic singer.
SRB: Have you checked out her new group Agua de Annique?
KGR: Yeah, but not very thoroughly. I always enjoy hearing her sing though.
SRB: Theyíve played that song "A Life All MineĒ live a bunch of times Ė did they ever ask you to join them on stage anywhere for that?
KGR: They did ask me to come perform with them in Oslo and I donít remember what happened, but it all justÖ I was probably being difficult.
SRB: That leads me to a question I had. On your Facebook thingie, which a friend showed me last night, there are a couple picture of you from highschool with your class and everybody is kind of dressed the same way but youíre off in the corner with a scowl on your face and long hair and big boots and a puffy shirt and vest.
SRB: Youíve always kind of separated yourself Ė have you kind of softened a bit of the years?
DOS: Does he look like heís softened? No but he has, heís a mellow old geezer.
KGR: Iím not who I used to be, that's for sure. When youíre thirty-something and looking at yourself as you were when you were 17 or 18, who is?
SRB: How did your family perceive everything that was going on at that time, your involvement with that scene back then with the crazy shit, church burnings, people getting killed, did your family freak out and try to stop you from participating?
KGR: No, not really, but some of my other family members did. I remember my aunt pulling over my friends, or people I went to school with, on the street like "what the Hell is Kristoffer up to?Ē because I'd been on TV saying some derogatory shit about Christianity or whatever, but my mother she was almost like "Right on!Ē She detests Christianity because of her own pious upbringing. My father was his usual "itís very childish, but itís got some valid pointsĒ and that same night as this TV-thing aired Ė the documentary Ė my motherís mother, my grandmother called crying "What has he turned into? Don't you realize he is going to go to Hell?Ē basically being more ludicrous than me.
SRB: Was this the thing where they had also interview a few of the other black metal folks about this kind of stuff?
KGR: Yeah, Ihsahn was in it and the Immortal guys, and Hellhammer and a few others.
SRB: So, to those relatives did you ever have to try to explain what was going on?
KGR: I didnít want to Ė why should I? Actually, I remember quite well telling my mother that they might just as well apologize to me for creating all that unnecessary drama, and my mother agreed with that. My parents didn't seem too worried about it. There were a couple of times some investigators, or journalists would call us in the middle of the night... shit like that. They weren't too thrilled about that. And had I done something stupid of course theyíd react, but I think they trusted my instincts or my ability to distinguish between right and wrong, volatile as that may sound.
SRB: The folks who come in as guest musicians on the albums, do they write their own parts or do you just know we want a sax here and you hire someone you feel is going to write something appropriate, or is it different for each instance?
KGR: Different people, different methods. For the most part, we will dictate. Some people have strong opinions, you know, and others do as they're told. (laughs) But we will always control the outcome somehow. Itís in the very nature of how we make music that we might record someone, an hour of something and we'll end up using 30 seconds of it.
DOS: Itís also about selecting a musician whose playing style has a certain sensibility to what youíre doing. A sympathy for what youíre doing.
KGR: Exactly. It's never really been a problem.
SRB: Pamelia, from what she played, I got the impression that she had written that.
KGR: She hadnít. Sheís a pro. She walked on and sung along.
DOS: Sheís fucking great.
SRB: I guess I meant on the Shadows of the Sun album.
KGR: Oh, of course, but she didnít try to copy her album parts yesterday, she was kind of floating... the etherwaves.
SRB: In your early days you had a fairly obvious connection to nature in the lyrics, in the paintings.
KGR: I still do, thatís my biggest source of influence Ė nature.
SRB: But it seemed to go away for a while, with Themes, with a very urban...
KGR: In the most basic graphic sense maybe, but nature is more than trees and grass isnít it?
DOS: Tršd, Gršs och Stenar.
KGR to DOS: Good allusion stoner boy.
SRB: I guess I used the word Ďnatureí but I meant it in a more specific sense, as in Ďwild places and wild thingsí Ė the mountains, the rivers, the wolves, the forest, the peace and the silence out there. In your early music those things were present in the artwork, in the lyrics Ė and you moved onto other things with ĎThemesí and further into an urban environment with ĎPerdition CityíÖ
KGR: I know what you mean, and all I can answer to that is that it was becoming very restrictive to us back then. I mean, how many odes to nature can you make before it just becomes plain fucking dull?
SRB: Itís just a personal curiosity of mine since I spend three or four months of every year in remote parts of Alaska, miles from any settlements, wilderness is an enormous part of my life, probably a huge reason for why you said I seem "sereneĒ to you, so Iím just curious what role wild places and unspoiled nature have in your lives on a personal level. Is it important for you to have those places to go to?
JHS: I live close to the woods, I need that open line of retreat. And my family is from the west coast, you know the fjords and all, it is one of the most beautiful places I know.
KGR: Mine too. Our families actually come from the same area. You might appreciate knowing that my father and I used to walk in the mountains for a week or two, every year, but it's been a few years now without it. I really miss those trips, and I hope we can pick up that tradition again, maybe with my son next time. Imagine that, three generations of boys in hiking boots and backpacks. Man... nature is the mother.
SRB: On a personal note, I had your music in my head this Spring when I drove 350 miles North to the Arctic plain, skied 11 miles down a frozen river through a canyon to shoot a caribou for my yearís meat. I was alone out there, and a freak windstorm came, blasts of 120 mph, and kept me unable to leave my tent for 17 hours, the tent collapsing on top of me, the 6-inch steel nails holding it into the ice bending, and the entire thing with me in it lifting off the ground and straining against the nails, I have never been so sure I had finally gone too far. Ulver was almost the soundtrack to my death. Lucky, at least in that instance, I emerged from the wild healthy and alive once again, with a hundred pounds of meat to feed myself and friends for the year, and I listened to your music, and the Bee Gees, on the eight-hour drive back home. Exhausted, elated. The sun was far away.
KGR: A merciless mother then. You are quite possibly the most interesting interviewer I have ever talked to.
SRB: I think I have the swine flu, so I hope I donít give it to you guys.
KGR: Come on. I have, whatís it called, hay fever?
SRB: Like allergies?
KGR: Yeah, the dry coughing.
SRB: Itís not the cigarettes?
KGR: Well, could be, but Iíve been a bad boy with those bad boys for a long time. So itís weird that itís happening now when there's flower dust everywhere.
SRB: Maybe I could ask you a few quick questions that arenít specifically to do with Ulver. You said in an interview once that Arcturus had two good releases and one bad one. Was it the first one you thought was bad?
KGR: That must have been a moody day. I was probably referring to the first one, yes.
SRB: How do you feel now about La Masquerade Infernale?
KGR: Kinda self-conscious I suppose. It sounds very contrived to me now, but that was kind of the thing at the time, and in that ageówhen was that 96? óSo I was 20 or 21. A young boy with his mind set on grandeur.
JHS: Nothing's changed then.
KGR: Save the length of my life.
SRB: Your vocals have gone through quite a few different stages (someone sings/yells from outside the room).
KGR: Thatís my ghost voice right there.
SRB: I see youíve been studying ventriloquism. But with the Arcturus stuff, and on the Borknagar releases you were kind of going for this low-as-possible operatic dramatic thing, and now youíve gotten so complex with different layers and harmonies andÖ
KGR: You know you basically have three different singing styles. Bass, baritone and tenor, not counting growling or falsetto or whatever. And Iím guessing that mid-range, or baritone, is what I appreciate the timbre of most as of later years and later releases, and which I feel I do best. So...
DOS: Thatís your natural range.
KGR: Yeah, I think it is. You know, with Arcturus, La Masquerade, it was all very theatrical, deliberatly over-the-top, and I guess it kind of suits that stuff, but it would feel very awkward for me to go there today. You know, tastes change, and itís got more to do with how I prefer to hear my own voice in the music than that Iím not capable of screaming or growling anymore. I havenít done it in years simply because I donít like it very much anymore.
DOS: You scream and growl in ∆thenor.
KGR: Yeah, true, true. ∆thenorís become my black metal alibi.
SRB: So now youíre really comfortable with your own voice, is there more you think that could be done with it or are you finding an identity and planning on sticking with that?
KGR: I have to quit smoking, thatís for sure.
JHS: If I had a dime for every time you've said that.
SRB: Because it seems it hasnít changed as much in recent years.
KGR: I guess my puberty finally ended.
SRB: Iíd just like to talk a little bit about the cover art for Shadows of the Sun, which I thought perfectly fit the mood of it, and I wonder if you could just speak a little bit about how you found that image, and at what point in the process of that record did that image become known as the cover.
JHS: Good question.
KGR to JHS: Were you there when we found the cover?
JHS: No I wasnít, it was Tore.
KGR: Tore, yeah. He collects vintage stuff, and his father had given him a huge stack of Natural History magazines which he'd subscribed to in the 70's. And I was just sitting on the couch in the studio, which was also Tore's home at the time, flicking through these old magazines; and there, in an advertisement for the Natural History museum or something, was this picture, and it was just like reflex Ė thatís the cover, right there. The fucked-up thing is that weíd already kind of put another guy, David D'Andrea, on the job.
SRB: So this was after the music had already been created?
JHS: Towards the end.
DOS: Yeah because I remember you sent me a stream online of almost-finished songs and thatís when I saw the image for the first time.
KGR: Yeah, so we had to go to David who had already been sending us sketches and ideas and now we had this photo that just...
JHS: It just fit all the themes we had been working on with the lyrics and the general feel of it.
DOS: But he worked it into the vinyl design.
KGR: Yeah, he ended up doing the alternate cover for the vinyl version. David's an amazing artist, I really love his work, and I am glad he got some sort of compensation after that, since I felt really bad about it. Anyway, we tried to localize the photographer of the original photo. We mailed Natural History, but it was such a long time ago, no one could tell us anything of use, so thatís why thereís something like "We have tried to find you Mr. No NameĒ in the booklet Ė the photographer might be six feet under for all I know.
SRB: A friend of mine was in the Peace Corps in Malawi, East Africa and he told me itís this kind of long-horned domesticated cattle species common to that part of the world, and when I see it, possibly from my biology background, I see a prey animal - and the night is coming, and it knows that itís going to be hunted. Is that kind of the feeling you get from that photo?
DOS: Yeah, itís more the ominous nature of it, knowing whatís before and after the image, what itís implying, more than the image itself.
KGR: It's simple, but evocative. A lonely, dark shadow of an animal under the dying sun. It's how we see ourselves in a way.
SRB: Blood Inside was a pretty schizophrenic, almost like a mid-life crisis album, ambitious, taking on a lot of new stuff.
DOS: Fevered megalomania.
JHS: Rock baroque.
SRB: But Shadows of the Sun was very low and darkÖ
KGR: Actually, when we started to make Blood Inside our ambition was to make a very somber record, but we just weren't there. So with Blood Inside we just went with the chaos. We realized early on that we were failing in our original intent to make something consistent sounding. But yeah, with Shadows, I think we made it.
JHS: But now itís time to turn towards the light. We've been down in this hole for too long, it's getting on my nerves.
KGR: (sings Alice in Chains) "Down in a hole, losin' my soul...Ē
SRB: Yeah thatís what Iím wondering Ė how do you guys feel now? It can't get much darker than Shadows of the Sun.
KGR: JÝrn's right, it is time to turn towards the light, or it should be. Iíd like to put some hope into the mix, but at the same time Iíve kind of given up on it, thatís the thing.
JHS: A sad thing, but true.
DOS: But the next two records are sort of avoiding the issue, arenít they?
KGR: Yes, kind of.
SRB: So you have two more albums already done?
KGR: Well, one is more or less done, and another one is well into the process. One is a covers album, of sixties psyche music. A proper piece of curio. And the other is a collaborational thing we did with Sunn O))), which is more or less finished. We only need some additional input from the hooded lords, a mastering session, and it should be good to go.
SRB: This sixties stuff, did you get into that with Lars Pedersen a lot?
KGR: Yeah, I guess I first got interested in that stuff when I put out his Psychedelic Wunderbaum album about ten years ago. But the last five years I've really been getting heavily into it. And Lars is a total aficionado in that department, he's hooked me onto lots of great stuff.
DOS: Itís great because almost everyone in the band has a solid appreciation for sixties psychedelia, so itís a nice bondingÖ
KGR: But it still hasnít manifested in anything weíve done.
SRB: What are some bands from that scene? Iím not really familiar with it.
KGR: 13th Floor Elevators, for one.
DOS: Big time. Jefferson Airplane.
KGR: Electric Prunes.
DOS: Common People.
KGR: That's pretty obscure dude.
JHS: The Byrds.
KGR: Arthur Lee, absolutely.
SRB: A lot of reviews mentioned 70ís progressive rock influence being present on Blood Inside Ė and I listen to a lot of Yes and Genesis and King Crimson and that, and I didnít really think you took much influence from that sort of thing but it was mentioned in many reviews.
KGR: Well, I mean, I've listened a lot to King Crimson, and Magma, but I have not listened much to Yes, nor have I listened much to Genesis, as opposed to the gentleman to my right (nods to DOS). And, you know, a lot of the prog I used to listen to was from the Scandinavian prog revival in the early 90's, like the Norwegian Thule, so some of that stuff has probably seeped in, but not really that prog.
DOS: Thereís only one track on that album that really has those tendencies, (mimics part of "It is not SoundĒ) itís this total keyboard virtuoso thing and itís more of a Wendy Carlos vibe going on with that bit.
KGR: Right, that Bach coda is a very overt Wendy Carlos reference.
SRB: Who's Wendy Carlos?
KGR: She's a woman who used to be a man.
JHS: She made the music for A Clockwork Orange.
KGR: And she used to be a man.
DOS: Careful, she'll sue you.
KGR: Oops, forgot the transsexual sensitiveness.
SRB: So with King Crimson are you mainly into the old stuff, or after the 1980 shift?
KGR: Iíve basically been listening to the first five records.
DOS: Pre-Adrian Belew, although I like Discipline, I like some of the stuff he worked on.
SRB: Have you ever had a Mellotron on any of your recordings?
DOS: Fuckiní hell itís like a Guapo interview, hilarious.
KGR: No, we havenít.
SRB: Do you like the Mellotron?
KGR: I do.
DOS: I love the Mellotron.
SRB: Maybe you should have some joyous Mellotron on the next record.
KGR: Or maybe hunt down an original Chamberlin. That would be something.
SRB to DOS: So youíre into Genesis then?
DOS: In a big way.
SRB: Have you ever seen their reenactment group, The Musical Box?
DOS: Iíve seen footage of them. Iíve heard itís amazing but I canít quite believe it.
SRB: You gotta see it. It made me cry.
DOS: No way, wow, alright. Footnotes.
SRB: Your music these days is pretty exotic, far-reaching stuff. Is this band your outlet for exotic tastes? Do you write songs like "All the LoveĒ and then go home and eat hot dogs, potato chips and porkrinds?
DOS: I think I can answer that question.
KGR: Or perhaps you should shut your mouth. Nah, weíre white trash man. Ulver is just an alibi.
SRB: Itís gotta be a huge part of your life though.
KGR: Of course it is, but you know I told the guys yesterday, how I canít wait till Tuesday when Iíll go get my kids from kindergarten and ask them "what are we having for dinner today?Ē and Iíll serve them what they want - propably spaghetti - and Iíll ask "which fairytale to read tonight?Ē and itís such a necessary opposite to this kind of parade which can be a bit too much sometimes. I was in the foyer of this place for an hour yesterday, talking to people, taking pictures, signing autographs, and itís very flattering but itís also...
DOS: Itís just so weird.
KGR: It's not life as I live it. We go to the studio and we sit down and work and thatís what weíre used to; and all this playing live and facing the world is very new to us because weíve always kept it [the world] at bay.
SRB: Yeah itís a really huge shift.
SRB: JÝrn, it seems that no one really knows anything about you man, what were you doing before joining this group?
JHS: Uh... I remember meeting Kris at the turn of the eighties, at a Morbid Angel concert in Oslo. I had been a part of the black metal scene for some time, although off-centre. I did a show on a local radio station playing demos and stuff, plus I did some work with BŚrd G. Eithun on his Orcustus fanzine. I never played in a band, but I did write a few lyrics.
KGR: Didn't ōystein [Euronymous] ask you to write some lyrics for De Mysteriis?
JHS: Oh. Yeah. I don't remember why it didn't happen.
KGR: JÝrn's been in the shadows since the inception of the band. He even wrote half of the lyrics on our first demo. At some point it was natural to include JÝrn in the lineup because he was so involved in the ethos of things. Even though you didnít really sit with us in the studio every day you contributed in so many ways (to JHS). Now also physically.
DOS: Pivotal, I think.
KGR: JÝrn's the father figure. The rock.
SRB to JHS: So you had been working with music before all this and developed what stuff you like to work with?
JHS: I canít really play any instrument. Iím not a musician.
KGR: You work with books, thatís your thing.
DOS: JÝrn runs a publishing house, called H Press, based in Oslo.
JHS: I do. And another small press called England, which I use to publish my own stuff. Artist's books and such. I have also done a few translations, mostly French post-war poetry, and some exhibitions now and then. But yeah, I read and write, that's basically what I do.
SRB: So is it hard having Kris write all the lyrics?
DOS: He doesnít. They write them together.
JHS: We always did.
KGR: People just assume things. You know JÝrn and I would sit down and write lyrics and we'd discuss how to present things, and I'd have an idea, or he would... Sometimes Iíd do something and Iíd send it to JÝrn and ask him to see through it and heíll come back with suggestions, so itís always been a sparring game between us, and who does what, or how it gets done, is irrelevant. We appreciate that mystery ourselves in a way, but of course everyone in this band is imperative in their own right. It's not important for people to know that JÝrn has not been so much involved with the music in itself. He is part of Ulver, for various reasons. He is the editor, to use a fitting kind of metaphor. Now JÝrn is also in charge of the audiovisuals, so.
SRB: And the other guy, Tore, where did he come from?
KGR: I first met him when we were recording the string quartet for Arcturus' Masquerade album at the Endless Sound Studios in Oslo, with the sound man from last night actually, he recorded those strings. So I met Tore then, when was this 96? He was sitting in his own B-studio and he was part of this artist collective called Origami and he was a post-punk dude who was into industrial type music but also worked with analogue synthesizers and the Akai S1000, SP-12, that kind of gear. Stuff I was interested in incorporating into our sound basically. I donít remember the chronological way of things, but we hit it off and we ended up moving into that studio. So a lot of the guys who were here yesterday or are a part of this are kind of akin back to that studio environment, except you (to DOS) . So anyway, I started to work with Tore, and Iíd been learning a lot on my own Ė I was working as a mastering engineer at the time Ė about editing and programming sounds and beats and whatever, so we just met through a mutual appreciation for audio technology and processing, even though heís far better at all that than me.
DOS: Great piano player as well.
KGR: Yeah, Tore actually used to play in piano bars as a kid.
SRB: And is he the one who did some classical studying?
KGR: Not like a formal thing, but yeah. And thereís a reason why heís not here Ė he never wants to be part of this stuff. We can hardly get him to do photo sessions. Heís an engineer type Ė he likes sorting out the equipment when everyone else is partying.
DOS: Very technically minded.
KGR: When other aspects of being in a band are at hand he just slips out the back door.
DOS: But thereís something about Toreís playing, just him playing intuitively, he just always chooses these beautiful inversions and chord progressions and itís always like "thatís so UlverĒ.
KGR: As I said, everyone is imperative in their own right.
SRB: So now things are different with this live setup, but the three of you guys had been a core for a while now.
KGR: These are new times, we'll see how it goes. Dan here is kind of in obviously. But to which extent remains to be found out.
SRB: Well I think thatís all Iíve got, but I wanted to give you guys a little something. Itís the finger bone of a walrus.
JHS: A walrus?
SRB: I was out on St. Lawrence Island last week, which is closer to Russia than it is to Alaska, a Siberian Yupik village basically built on a pile of bones. There are these piles of bones from thousands of years of whale, walrus and seal hunting and you can find bones like this, anything from enormous bowhead whale jaw bones to these little things.
JHS: It's beautiful. Thank you. And have this stone in return, my wife gave it to me for good luck yesterday and I guess it turned out alright. So take it. You'll be home in one piece.
Photos by Seth Beaudreault & Kerry O'Sullivan