Are you exited about recording a new Borknagar album?
– Well yes, I always have a full blown “musical erection” the months before we hit the studio – and certainly this time around. I have a very good gut-feeling when it comes to the material we have at hand, we have an “updated” line up and we’re all urging to create the best Bork album to date. May sound like the typical pre-studio cliché type of thing to say, but I have never before had so strong empirical reasons supporting my gut-feeling for saying just that.
How many songs will it be? Can you reveal any titles?
– Actually, we don’t have all the material on the table yet as some songs still are in the making. But it seems like we are closing in on about an hour of music or 10-11 songs all in all. But this includes all the rough material, so some songs might be thrown into the archives along the line or used as bonus material if it turns out good enough. From my experience, an album should not be much longer than 45 minutes, so according to my foresight we’ll probably end up with 9 songs on the actual album – without binding to it contractually. The album title is still in progress, but I have few song titles emerging as “Northern Nobility”, “In a Deeper World” and “The Winter Eclipse.” At this point these titles are still working titles, but it might give you a lead where things are heading in terms of lyrics. Nothing revolutionary within the Bork- lyrical- universe, but we’ll definitely add some new perspectives and ideas. As an example, the lyric to “In a Deeper World” will be heavily inspired by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss.
Are there any significant changes or can we expect you to continue where you left off with the last album, “Universal”?
– With “Universal” we were definitely on to something, and we will surely follow this up on the new album, so we’re definitely not going Euro pop or anything like that. My perspective on this album is very ambiguous and visionary in terms of the production. I have always had a very huge focus on the song writing – and I still have, but this time around we’ll also invest a lot of time and effort when it comes to the process of producing the songs. To be quite honest, I have written my portion of the music for this new album also implementing a producer’s perspective on the songs. At least that is how I have “installed” my current mindset. I am proud of each end every album we have done in the past but we still have some goals to reach in terms of production. From my perspective we have had so many great musical intentions and ideas throughout the years that have been compromised due to the production. I am not saying bad production, more production of its time and as an always evolving band (I hope!) we also need to get the production a notch further.
What kind of role will ICS Vortex have now that he’s back in the band? He’s obviously known for more than playing bass, so have you planned out if – and how much – he is going to sing on the next album?
– I certainly have some thoughts and I am really exited about how all this will turn out in terms of vocals. What I know right now is that we’re probably one of the most vocally potent bands around and we will for sure make the best of it. Andreas will most likely do the majority of the grim vocals, but when it comes to the clean vocals, choir and so forth we’ll just see where it ends. I have my thoughts and ideas but I’ll rather keep that within the band for the moment being. All I know for sure right now is that its going to be amazing to work out all the vocal arrangements…
Your new drummer, Dave Kinkade, has moved from USA to Oslo, Norway, in order to concentrate on Borknagar. Does this mean you’re going full force touring for the next album?
– Well, we already booked twice as many gigs for 2012 than we did for 2011, so there you go… Haha… Seriously speaking we are definitely planning some shows/tours next year. Personally I would like to do US, Europe and South America supporting the new album. But the extent of gigs/tours and the timeframe is still a bit out in the blue. But we are fooling around with some ideas and we’ll just see where it ends. But we will definitely be around next year.
There are rumours about recording the Inferno 2012 gig for a DVD. Any truth to that?
– The idea about making a DVD has been haunting us the last 10 years or so, but so far the circumstances haven’t really allowed us to do so. We don’t want to do a DVD just for the sake of doing it, we want such a release to be something special. As for the gig at Inferno 2012, that might stand forth as a golden chance as we are planning quite a special concert – without promising too much. Right now there are too much uncertain ideas/plans going back and forth, nothing really settled so the whole DVD thing is something we have to decide about at a later point.
You’ve always been into playing and writing your own music instead of learning and rehearsing other artists music. Thus, you apparently make a lot of music. I also know you trash whole songs and never (?) use any of the parts in other songs. How has your way of writing changed through the years – and how much have the members influenced you in that matter?
– For me the whole thing about making music has been a huge part of my life for the last 20 years. It has become a part of who I am, my daily routine and sitting down in my studio working on some riffs or whatever is just as natural as sitting down for a dump, without further correlations… So I have always worked continuously with music, whether we have an upcoming album or not. Doing that means that there obviously will be some left-over material in the end of the day. In my shelf I have hours with Bork material that never have been used, you may have heard some of it dude… Haha..
I never really trash any material, I still keep all material in my archives so to speak. There is not always just a question whether a song is bad or good, to me it is also a question if the song feels right for towards the current feel and mindset. “My Domain” was a prime example on this. I wrote that song back in 96-97, but we did not use it (for the album “the Archaic Course”) as it did not really settle in with the rest of the material back then, it didn’t feel right somehow.
To me a song is something more than a collection of riffs, so if I put aside a song I do it as a whole – not as a dissected cadaver. The main reason for that is that each and every riff for a song is written in coherence with each other and for me it would be almost physical painful to just rip out a riff and use it in another song – that would breach some of my mental schemes and principles when it comes to writing music. Of course I have ripped a couple of riffs throughout the years but in those cases I have changed the riff according to actual song. So it’s more like I find inspiration in some old riffs. Cubase and the whole computer revolution in terms of studio facilities, have made a decent studio environment available for everybody, which is a great thing in itself but from my perspective there is also a “dark side” to it. To me there seems to be a tendency that composers and bands nowadays write more and more fragmented songs, just stacking a pile of riffs without any deeper thoughts and meanings behind it. It’s almost like I can hear when a song is a bit too “Cubased”. Further on, the iPod-generation is making own play-lists etc, in a sense just eating the topping of the cake. Well, I am probably an old grumpy bastard but to me music has to be written or listened to in some sort of context and coherence – to absorb the intentional wholeness. Reading just chapter 9 in a book with 12 chapters does not really make sense. If just “cherry-picking” the sweetest fruits, some of the magic and mystery about a riff, song or album gets lost. Well that is just me, representing my strange world… Haha…
Because of my well established philosophy about how to write songs, I am probably not the easiest one to work with in a band when it comes to the song writing. But on the other hand I always play with open cards on this issue and am generally open for any idea or input from my band-mates on the songs I have written. For the new album all the member have access to the production files and can basically do whatever they want with the scratches I have made – change basic structure, arrangements and so on. But I expect a thought through and well conceived idea for a fundamental change in a song, not just a change for the sake of doing it. Throughout the years I have written the basic riffs and structures for a big portion of the songs, but one should not underestimate the final arrangements and producing of the songs where all the boys are equally involved. “Oceans Rise” would not be the song it is if not Mr. Vortex changed the basic structure of that song, “Reason” would not be song it is if not David re-arranged the drum patterns, “The Genuine Pulse” would not be the song it is without Vintersorg’s vocal arrangements, and the story goes on. To me this is by far the most interesting process and this is the part of the process where coal turns into diamonds.
Borknagar is back “home” with Century Media. Truth is you had a shitty deal before (wow, that was new in this business…), but I’ve heard you’re very satisfied with the new deal. Do you feel you’re a priority there, and what’s your expectations?
– Yeah, there is no secret that we previously had a really shitty deal with Century Media. But it was a deal of its time so to speak, everybody signing a deal with bigger label back in the nineties where pretty much in the same situation. I knew bands back then that was stuck with even worse deals than us. But I don’t dwell on this at all as I rather choose to see all the good things that came with the cooperation with Century Media during the previous contract period. We have talked this issue through with Century Media and this time they have really reached out a hand. They have offered us a good deal which also includes an improvement towards our back catalogue and so forth. Jens and I travelled down to their office in Dortmund upon signing the deal and the whole visit almost made me slightly emotional – in a good sense. There is such a cool, well-meaning and professional staff at Century Media these days and the whole Century Family slogan suddenly gave some real meaning. I can’t help it right now, but I almost feel sorry for all the bands not signed to CM… Haha…
As far as I know CM has a high priority tag on BORKNAGAR and I have no reasons to believe anything else. On the other hand they put in all their force on each and every release as it makes no sense to release an album half-hearted in the current, tough marked. But releasing an album and the potential success thereof ultimately stands or falls on the cooperation between the band and the label. Both parties have to put in a lot of effort into the project and both parties depend on each other to make the best of it. CM doesn’t have some sort of magic wand and that is something I admit having a deeper understanding for nowadays than I probably had before. I am very excited about the coop and I’m pretty sure we’ll do great things together with CM in the future.
I used to make the graphics for Borknagar when I was in the band, and frankly I’m glad I don’t have to do it anymore, haha! Marcelo Vasco did an awesome job designing the cover for “Universal”. Will he make the cover for the next album?
– Yeah, Marcelo did a great job with the design for ”Universal” and I cherish him for that. Definitely one of the best graphic designers around. He is one of those designers you just can send a couple of keywords and he returns visual awesomeness. To be quite honestly it’s a bit too early to reveal how we will go about the layout for the next album, we have some vague ideas but that is all there is at the moment.
Isn’t it great to have a new young drummer in the band instead of the old fart you used to have?
– Well, I usually prefer the fresh early summer breeze before an old fart, I have to admit. On the other hand we’re all a bunch of old farts by now so to get David into the fold certainly refresh things, which is a good thing… Haha….