Of Black Waves And Peacocks Thrash
Story online since: 22.11.2008 / 01:48:04
Literaly coming back to life after tragedian near-death circumstances, Carl-Michael Eide, even more than before, shines through with a musical sheer passion of his own. I actually can't recall just about how many versions of this interview came to life throughout the passing twelve months of the year 2008. One thing is for sure, Aura Noir's Hades Rise can make us head gang bang until death, while the new Virus' Black Flux is without a doubt mastermind Czral's most mature effort up to date in the experimental fields of disharmonic, weirded-out dark heavy rock. I hope the conversations we shared will shed some light, or display some supplementary darkness upon this unique artist's imageries and soundscapes. Whatever the end, when the means have been heavy cool funky lands lollipoppy.
First of all, itís nice to meet you man! Howís the sun nowadays in Oslo? By the way, should I prefer to interview Aggressor or Czral? Both certainly would be nice enough.
Hey. Just call me Calle. Or Kardex, which I used to call myself while I was playing session drums for Dimmu Borgir on a tour in Ď97, cause I didnít wanna reveal my real name. While the others wore corpse-paint, I painted myself all green in the face, and insisted on being called Kardex (the name of an old filing system). I wasnít into their style of music, hence my anonymity, but I got to tour with Kreator so I took the job. I remember clearly when Shagrath introduced me "...our session drummer! Kaaaardexx!!!!Ē I laughed hard. All green in the face. No shit thrown though, theyíre very nice guys and I respect them very much, but I never was a fan of their music and they know that. Anyway, this time around, Czral would be more apt I think. Or Calle...... or Kardex.
As usual, the sun has the colors of the Swedish flag. And Iím up to playing cricket.
Together with Fenriz I guess! You seem to have always known the Darkthrone guys. I remember Fenriz loving the VBE demo... How did you guys meet back then?
Ehhhh, those years are kinda blurred... We just started hanging out at Elm street talking shit, I guess, and we used to have these "Thrash metal nightsĒ at my place, an Łber-shabby apartment in Oslo. We were like 5-10 guys, all playing air-drums to classic metal albums at the same time, well in to the mornings. The poor bastard living underneath me couldnít express himself cause of some kinda parkinsons or celebral parese or something, so he was never able to complain. Once a loud guy moved in and took his place later, I understood how easy sound leaked through the floor. Guess I had it coming. It was unbearable. The guy listened only to Pantera and Guns ín Roses extremely loud, and was dim-witted and dangerous. But I digress... We, the gang, the thrashers, did a lot of drinking. Thatís my point. Either at Elm-street, Fenrizí place, or at my place. Blurred years...
Were you also part of the psy-trance parties which were organized by Fenriz, or so I heard? Aldrahn was saying how he was introduced to Techno music through that, and how it changed his perception of music forever. Now tell me: were you a good dancer back then? (laughs)
(Laughs) I donít like techno... Itís like corpse-music, music people march along to. It sounds too monotonous in the wrong way in my ears. But then again, I never explored it too much. But it was very funny watching the guys "dancingĒ. It was a lot of gestures going on, and tripping. A series of very small jumps with raised arms. I remember the guys from Valhall being genuinely provoked, and leaving the place when they started playing that stuff. I used to listen to a lot of electronica, but these last years I havenít. I liked the really twisted stuff like Autechre, and pleasant ambient stuff like Boards of Canada, which has stuck with me. I still play Music has the right to children from time to time. Very beautiful.
Right after your accident, youíve not waited long before starting to compose new songs and new albums! Were you having a rush of split inspirations? Aura Noir, Virus... Thatís quite a lot of songs to arrange, I suppose.
Well yeah, Iíve only focused on playing guitar since, and it has been good to have this one instrument to deal with. Iím glad I donít play drums anymore. I got fed up with it in the end. Being a drummer started feeling like a responsibility rather than an instrument to me. Playing in Cadaver and especially DHG, felt like a job playing other peoples music. I had a great time in Cadaver, but after we got split up I wanted to stop playing drums for good. After I got too serious, practicing and playing along to a click-track and stuff, it stopped feeling natural to play drums. I lost my intuition when playing. I used to play drums intuitively, but after a while I focused on doing it correctly. And thatís when it started feeling wrong.
Yep, Iíve been kinda creative after what happened. Havenít had much else to do these last couple of years, alongside recuperating. Of course Iíve had a lot of material lying around since before my accident, but Iíve been spending time refining it. One of the riffs on The Black Flux is 15 years old, and one on the new Aura Noir album is 10 years old. Iíve been playing them all this time and making small changes along the way. But Iíve made a lot new of material too. And this past year, recording the new Virus album, Iíve learned a lot about practical stuff in the recording process. Working with BŚrd Ingebrigtsen, our producer, has been very cool. A very inspiring guy to work with. Heís been as dedicated to the album as we have.
After the accident, one of the first things I did after getting out of the hospital-bed and into a wheelchair, was to start playing the guitar. And now Iím up walking on crutches. I think everything would have been black if I werenít able to do music.
It is said that you finally found your "voiceĒ on The Black Flux, when it comes to the singing of it. Usually, how were the recording sessions for the vocal tracks?
I used a lot of time finding the right voice for the right song. Comparing the songs As virulent as you to Inward bound would be an example of that. It took some time nailing the vocals. Weíve understood that the vocals are the most important aspect of this music, so weíve been kinda anal about it this time around.
What about the lyrics, did you write them all? Back in 2006, you were talking about the coma stories you went through at the wakening up from your accident and that you wanted to use for Virus lyrics.
We wanted the album to sound like the end of the world. Not in an Armageddon sort of way, but in a more personal, or individual way. And we wanted it to be dark and disturbing, but not unpleasant. Right after my accident, I was accepting the severity of my situation, somehow. A very weird feeling. And I wanted to make music out of that.
Iíve written about half of the lyrics together with Khvost of Code/DHG, and Joe Henderson, a lost girl from Brighton who calls herself "Amniotic SacĒ. She has brought some fine feminine touches to the lyrics. A friend of mine, Priscila Morales has been slightly involved too. I like girls, theyíre more interesting.
And I suppose it was important to work again with Kim SÝlve...
Itís only natural to work with him. He understands the aesthetics of Virus very well. Though this time around, we had the front cover ready, and we basically told him what to do. But next time around, heíll have more artistic freedom. I love the Carheart cover. Thatís his creation exclusively. Next time, weíll give him that kind of freedom. Trine has done the new logo, which weíre very happy with. Cheers to her!
Having been so close to death, I suppose you have felt its "nearnessĒ more than most of us, avant death black thrash groupies: how would you describe the feeling of it? Near-death experiences are said to radically change oneís life Ė now how true is that?
I donít know how close to "near deathĒ I came, but I learned later that in the beginning, when I came in, they had to concentrate on keeping me alive. My point is that this whole ordeal has changed me. At first, when things were very uncertain, I accepted the situation. Maybe itís just human nature. But the feeling of accepting tragedy was new to me, and I wanted to bring it in to music. Anyway, now Iím, against all odds, up and walking again, so... I canít complain.
And yeah, the string of insanely weird dreams while being comatose was interesting.
I understand Petter Plenum did his bass lines home-alone, as far as I know into his own studio. For each of the songs, did you literally "discoverĒ what he had made of it bass-wise only after the recordings were completed?
Yes, he was supposed to do it by himself. But as time went by, it was evident that he struggled. I think it was very demoralizing for him to do it alone. He told me that he had crushed his computer (he recorded digitally) at one point. So I suggested weíd go into the studio, and I was present as a sort of "supportĒ. It took about a week, and by that time he had brought irrational 70ies four-track reggae- basslines, and jazz and disco-grooves to the music. Establishing the vital third element of Virus. Virus wouldnít be Virus without this kind of bass-playing.
It was very cool to be present while he worked with it. Heís a truly intuitive bass-player. He floats inside the music.
Can you remember the first time you played together with Petter? Wasn't it through Kim that you got to know him?
Yep, I got introduced to him via Kim. We jammed together for one of Kimís projects. I was blown away by Petterís bass playing, and it was after that jam-session back then that I got the idea of forming Virus. Blame it on Plenum!
Whatever happened to Skoll, how come youíve never collaborated with him again?
Heís quit playing. He has his motorcycle workshop that focus on Moto-Guzzi, that Italian bike. Heís always been 100% into doing mechanics. He always showed up with oil under his fingernails when we rehearsed with VBE.
What about partner in crime Einar Einz? I mean, Iíve always wondered if having previously been an active drummer sometimes pushes you to either suggest something to your drummer, or simply indicates how you want to build the songs, rhythmically speaking.
Einz has been very unselfish this time around. Heís mostly keeping a steady beat, not over-playing. Too "muchĒ drums wouldnít have suited this album. But on songs like Lost Peacocks and Strange Calm he lets himself loose, and thatís crucial for those songs. No-one could have come up with beats like the ones on Lost Peacocks, or for example Queen of the Hi-ace from our debut. Itís virtually impossible to copy. But apart from those beats, he has his own signature. Itís weird, I can immediately hear it if itís him playing, however simple the drums are being played. Heís kinda strict in his style, but at the same time very groovy.
He did this whole album in 9 hours, by the way. And that includes sound-checking... Usually one take on each song. So heís GOOD.
I often see you linking The Black Flux more with Ved Buens Ende than with Carheart. It's like Ved Buens Ende hadn't made its way well into the first Virus album, while out of the blue, the second Virus incarnation would be Ved Buens Ende "eaten back to life". Why is that impression perhaps at least realistic? You and Vicotnik, even though Supervillain Outcast is so juicy great, have gone under rather different avenues nowadays.
A lot of the material on The Black Flux was meant for VBE. And all in all, this album is way darker than Carheart was. On Carheart we fooled around with a lot of different atmospheres, it has humoristic aspects to it, as well as darker elements. That album was really absurd. To this day I have trouble figuring it out. Virus is not absurd anymore, but weíve kept that surreal feel in a darker form.
We started up VBE again for a brief period in 2006, but it didnít work out. Vicotnik and I have grown apart musically. We have developed our styles in different directions. Heís gone in a more classical direction, while Iíve gone in a more blues-based direction. It sounded wrong to me when we rehearsed for what was to become the new Ved Buens Ende album. I found the songs we composed together mediocre, and the songs we made each on our own too different. I want to cultivate my sound now. It might sound ego, but after what Iíve been through, Iíve become more ego, and I just havenít got the interest to work with other peopleís music, when it comes to the avant-garde or "art-musicĒ-stuff. How-ever, in Aura Noir itís no problem for me to work with those other guys. Weíre all a pack of bastards riding the same vibe.
What would you say is psychedelic about Virus, and what would you say isnít?
I donít like the word psychedelic. It reminds me of 60ies hippie stuff. Iíd like to say that the album is abstract and surreal. Not psychedelic. Virus has a surreal dark groove. All the way through.
Would you still link it to Black metal? I mean, in your mind, whatís Black metal anyway?
Nope. I donít wanna link it to black metal. Avant Garde Heavy Rock would be spot on.
And Iíve never felt a part of anything. I think a lot of the music from that time is over-rated, except for those obvious classic early releases. The first wave of black metal is whatís in my veins. Possessed's Beyond the Gates, thatís black metal. Hell awaits... You know, Iím old and thatís the music I grew up with. Nothing can beat whatís in the bloodstream.
We were different. VBE, for obvious reasons. And Aura Noir... In Aura Noir we always labelled ourselves as a thrash metal band. Other people have come up with the "Black ThrashĒ-moniker, Ďcause of that album...
Talking of that "differenceĒ... Listening to your Black Flux riffs made me wonder as to how you usually work them out. We often hear people say its disharmonic, atonal, dissonant, etc. But what is it to you?
I only make music when I feel like it, and when I do, these things just come out naturally. The best songs are the ones that are made during one evening. They usually have a genuine feel, since theyíre made so spontaneously. Anyway, usually I just make the riffs, and we arrange it together during rehearsals.
What was the specific role of BŚrd Ingebrigtsen in the shaping of The Black Flux?
BŚrd Ingebrigtsen is a man Iíve grown to respect to a great extent. Heís uniquely musical and by far the best technician/producer Iíve worked with. Heís vital to the sound and structure of the album.
Were you also working with him for Aura Noir?
On the new Aura Noir album weíve had the time to make changes along the way, Ďcause of unlimited time working in our own studio, weíve gone back and fourth re-recording and re-arranging songs. Baard mixed the Aura Noir album, but that was just another job for him. We mixed with Baard at amper tone studios, and mastered it at Orgone mastering in London.
Those bastard riffs... Weíve been known to steal old riffs. Yep, some of our riffs are just bastardized versions of old classic riffs. The most important thing for us back then was to get that old feeling when rehearsing, our rehearsals were important. A lot of energy going on, and if we played something sounding like old Sodom, it was rawer than anything we could come up with in our ears. That feeling was more important than being creative. Nowadays, thereís not much that can be traced directly, since weíve mellowed down with age, and work differently. But still, itís all rooted in the eighties.
In both Virus and Aura Noir (especially Deep Tracts of Hell & Hades Rise), I sometimes get to hear some of those "out thereĒ influences from VoÔvod. Was that an important band in your musical upbringing? And can they go on without Piggy?
Old Voivod (from í83 Ė í88) is my fundamental inspiration. Iím inspired by their two first releases, War and Pain and Rrroooaaarrr, when it comes to Aura Noir. And when it comes to VBE/Virus, thereís Killing Technology and Dimention HatrŲss going on. I see VoÔvod (and of course Celtic Frost's Into the Pandemonium) as the founders of Avant Garde metal, and we brought that thing further in VBE, and now Virus.
If they can go on without Piggy? No. Piggy WAS VoÔvod. But VoÔvod got lost on me after Angel Rat anyway. They had one release I liked after that album, and that was Phobos. We played a show with them in Oslo in í97, and that was a huge honor to me. VoÔvod was kinda like the "underdogsĒ among the big bands in the old thrash-scene, and when I first heard them, and got blown away, Iíve stayed true to them ever since. I remember Gylve once saying: "You are very VoÔvodĒ.
And how would you distinguish Aura Noir from InfernŲ, your other thrash metal band? Can we also expect another album from that band? I know your singer has been really busy with Ost & Kjex Ė but has he abandoned the whole Metal genre behind him? To be honest, I think he's really great at what he's doing there!
InfernŲ was more up-beat than Aura Noir. Aura Noir is darker, and more thrash and less punk than InfernŲ. Maybe weíll release an album sometime, but thatís far off in the future, when weíre not too busy with our main bands. Yeah, I love Ost&Kjex. Theyíre a very cool band. Catchy shit. Hazardous Pussy Desecrator has left the metal scene for good, yes. I see him once in a while. We play ludo and build tram-stations together. Dressed purely in papyrus.
On the visual sides of things, whatís so fascinating about AndreÔ Tarkovsky?
I love the atmosphere in his films. Heís a true master of imagery. I love slow and deep films. Fluent stuff. Itís art. Directors like Fellini and Greenaway. Greenawayís The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover is one of my favourite films of all time. Film-artists like that are people I really respect. We want to have some of the same mood in our music. Some day Iíd really like to make film-music. Thatíd be great. Lynch is a great inspiration too, needless to say.
Since you have such a wide range of musical tastes, would you ever want to go beyond the metal/rock monicker and give something else a try, whatever it might be?
Well, as I said, film-music would be nice. Something slightly cold, abstract and without beats and lead-vocals. Weird guitar-chords, maybe some brass-instruments (like trombone and horns), and a choir. Atonal, disharmonic and dark. Maybe Iíll release an album by myself some day.
Why not program the bass drums and then handle the rest of the percussions by yourself this time around? (laughs) For some people, it could be interesting to hear you groove once again!
Well. It can be done, actually. Weíll see what happens on the next Aura Noir album. Maybe Iíll step up and bash some drums. I think I can handle a song or two. But I think that Einz and Apollyon are way better drummers than I ever was, so Iíll leave it up to them.
Can you remember the recording sessions of Written in Water, when it comes to the drum playing?
Too eager! I was playing way over the top. Being all over the place.
(laughs) Yeah... and are you digging Origami Galaktika yourself? I was surprised to notice B9's presence in the Virus wagon. Why did you bring him in?
Yes, I love B9 and all his projects. We wanted someone to create the sound-scapes that ends the song Archives, and the intermission between the title-track and Inward Bound, and B9 was the obvious choice. Iíve known the guy for years. Einar distributes some of his stuff through his label. Check it out!
You let me know at some point that you already were working your way through some new Virus material. Now howís that?
For sure. This time around, Iím not spread out in a 1000 bands, and Iím focused on my own music. I think it wonít be more than a couple of years in between each album from now on. We have about 4 new songs now, plus weíre gonna do a cover-version of a Walker Brothers song called Shutout from their last album Nite Flights. Nice song. Check it out.
To wrap things up, Iíd like to ask you something. For some reason, most of us, I think, realized after your accident that we probably knew nothing about your real, personal life. Of course you just released two new amazing albums and for now, thatís all we really know. But would you say that nowadays, if we put music aside, you are on the road to self-accomplishment?
The demons will stay. Thatís one of the agonies of being complex. Itís how you tackle them thatís important. The release of these albums is a sign that things are back to normal for me. Making music is my life. I put the albums behind me after theyíre finished, and concentrate on new music.
Thank you so much for the interview, Czral! This was a very generous gesture. For now... whatís on your mind man?
Thank you for having me... Not much on my mind right now, Iím afraid. You should have asked me yesterday. A lot more was going on then. Donít remember what, though. (laughs) Sorry...