Ved Buens Ende interview from Qvadrivivm #5 (2008)

Fairytale Bass Lines, Etc.

Interview: Kuronen

Remember. One of the most thankful aspects of persistent compulsiveness concerning music is rediscovery. You know, a drip-drop calmness of yesterday unwittingly becoming the storm of today. For 1980s metal inspectors, Voïvod may bend time much in the same sense Ved Buens Ende does for 1990s connoisseurs. They ought to be last week’s news but aren’t.

Much as Written in Waters should by all means be lauded as a then-pioneering gem by fearless Norwegian black metal youngsters testing their strength at jazzy crookedness, it wasn’t quite the jelly. Unlike the studio album, 1994’s Those Who Caress the Pale demo felt from the very first listen like the appropriate crux to perfectly unite black metal and eloquent avant-garde music. It has the verve, the style, the rawness. Plus some of the most fiercely gloomy riffage in “A Mask in the Mirror”. A third-generation dubbed copy lay in the cassette hell untouched for years, simply for the reason that I felt like no one to intrude upon its feverish excellence. When, eventually, it was time to upgrade to CD, Kyrck Productions from Hellas offered a pleasant opportunity to peak at some of the material in progress. The Kyrck re-release of Those Who Caress the Pale included the 1993 Pro-Gnosis-Diabolis vignettes by Manes—not to be confused with the more famous Manes from Trondheim—as a bonus. There came the revelation of the sluggish, crouching early rendition of “Remembrance of Things Past” as a ditty called “His Masters Voice”. The bulk of the Manes material sounds Mysticum-esque in its aloofness, but the Thorns influence is there with venomous, spiralling melodies aplenty. A worthwhile addition for the relic hunters.

Ved Buens Ende was a total collaboration of and on chance, as was proven by the band’s waddling, haphazard existence from 1994 to 1997 and 2006 to 2007. Their songs, ephemeral creations that came out of their makers’ minds in what was apparently an effortless and magical manner, also stand as testament to this unpredictable nature. One gets the feeling it’s the people, instead of their capability of pulling out ravishing musical trickery, that stand in the way of more Ved Buens Ende diamonds.

“After Written in Waters, we made some new tracks,” Hugh Steven James Mingay, known as Skoll the bass artiste in VBE, recalls modestly. “We put together five to six tracks but started working in a different way—we started making the tracks together. I didn’t have so much say in making the guitar riffs. It turned out different in a way. It turned out a lot less inspiring to all of us in respect. We suddenly had different interests. Vicotnik wanted to go a bit more metal in a way, I wanted to go a bit less metal. It all turned out very avant-garde and different just to be different, without me quite managing to find the sort of fairytale bass lines. All of a sudden, we felt unable to express ourselves in the way we had. Due to lack of inspiration we just called it quits.

“Ved Buens Ende never turned into anything very popular; it didn’t get any big fan base that I know of. Very few people actually know the band but when I meet someone who knows of the band now, to my interest and surprise they are very enthusiastic about it. ‘Oh that was about the coolest shit fucking ever’, haha. That’s a bit how I felt about it myself, heh. We’ve had this one guy on our backs about it; ‘you are fucking going to restart that band’. But it’s basically lack of time and I suppose other things that have been at least as interesting to me. We just haven’t got round to it. You’re probably aware of the fact that Carl (Michael Eide, the founder of the band) was very badly injured during Easter. I don’t know how he’s doing right now but this I’m afraid makes it not possible for Ved Buens Ende to get together for another couple of years anyway. We’ve been toying with the thought for years and years, though.

“That demo totally explains what I was telling you a little earlier about the bass lines already being there. I just joined the band at the perfect time. They presented the tracks to me and it all fell in place. You get the guitar tracks ready and I’ll just do the bass lines just like that. I really wish that situation could come back. That was ultimately cool.”

The crock of shit at the end of the rainbow was, of course, their irredeemable difficulties in putting so much of it in effect. Anyone known to have a copy of the July 2006 rehearsal recording is strongly encouraged to drop a line.

Fortunately, there is Virus.


Eyes of Ligeia interview from Qvadrivivm #4 (2001)

The Despairing Motifs

Interview: Kuronen

“Winter. Thergothon. Sorrow. My Dying Bride. Anathema. These names conjure up images and sounds of an era of doom/death that is no longer being done in its purer form. Enter Eyes of Ligeia from Atlanta, GA, USA.”

So begins the press release explaining the goals and background of the U.S. band Eyes of Ligeia. By no means is it an ordinary press release, as you may figure from the quoted introductory words. Somewhere along the lines of leading his life, musical sovereignty and so-called ideological firmness have entered Eyes of Ligeia leader Toby Chappell’s mind, in a manner that can only exhilarate the outsider. Here at the helm of this publication, this is of course most warmly welcomed. Hence it was a sure-footed decision to throw some questions Mr Chappell’s way. Since, aside showcasing a heap of strong opinions, Eyes of Ligeia is, mildly said, quite a potential act of tenacious and tangible doom music in the league of depression, despondency and isolation. More than one hundred thousand metres away from all things giddy and snazzy and spiffy.

Eyes of Ligeia’s musical dominion creates images of grey and pale skies under which people with drawn and weary faces tread on paths that are without destination and function. Eyes of Ligeia’s music is a kind of an understatement, and understatement is always a most elevating thing. The album A Dirge for the Most Lovely Dead, released by Unsung Heroes Records in the summer of 1999, was the first word on which the new order, The Night’s Plutonian Shore (demo version 2000; album version 2001), continues. All of these works are meritorious for the wicked style in which dissonance and lucid and beautiful melodies are entwined in them. The tracks are long as they should, the instrumentation is all done by one Toby Chappell, and every non-musical aspect is handled with all the care and affection that one could hope for. In other words, Eyes of Ligeia is onto a good start on a trail that should hold many a successful year ahead.

Instead of starting off with mundane things such as inquiries about the origin of the band moniker or the history of the band, I might as well pose the source of all and nothing by myself. As it is conveyed perceptibly by Toby himself, the concept ‘Eyes of Ligeia’ derives from the Edgar Allan Poe piece Ligeia: “The expression of the eyes of Ligeia! How for long hours have I pondered it! How have I, through the whole of a midsummer night, struggled to fathom it! What was it -- that something more profound than the well of Democritus -- which lay far within the pupils of my beloved? What was it? I was possessed with a passion to discover. Those eyes! Those large, those shining, those divine orbs! They became to me twin stars of Leda, and I to them the devoutest of astrologers. Not for a moment was the unfathomable meaning of their glance, by day or by night, absent from my soul.” …But then, I am curious to know how much of Eyes of Ligeia, at a strictly spiritual level, is comprised in these few thoughts and ideas of the good old Poe? I have heard that there might not be much of a connection there…

“The name Eyes of Ligeia was my tribute to the inspiration of Edgar Allan Poe’s fiction,” voices Toby, having just returned from a trip made to Toronto, where he spent time hanging out with our old friend ChorazaiM of Megiddo, for example. “Poe is just one of my many influences, one who is often overlooked in today’s underground scene in favor of Tolkien, Lovecraft, etc. The parts of Poe’s fiction that really connected with me are his wonderful understanding of the inherent beauty of the night, and the ways he faces and resolves his own fears of Death in his writing.”

In earlier interviews, you have given credit to Lovecraft and Crowley as some of your favourite authors, so I take it that the occult and the ‘dark side’ in general interest you considerably? Where would you reckon that this interest has risen from and how does it affect you today? In and of itself, does indulging in these themes have any relation to what you are currently doing with Eyes of Ligeia?

“I look at music as an extension of myself. As such, the influences of what I am experiencing and learning will always manifest themselves in my music. I have dismissed most of Crowley as the Right Hand Path drivel that it is, although some of his techniques do still hold some use for a Left Hand Path practitioner such as myself. My fascination with Lovecraft still holds, particularly the ways in which he tackles his fears through dreams, and his descriptions of other-worldly architecture and music are very inspiring. Eyes of Ligeia exists both as a mirror to look inside myself, and a window through which to manifest the very essence of myself in the World, and as such will always reflect the various influences in all parts of my life.”

To get back on the music, Eyes of Ligeia is not exactly the archetype of the metal that the U.S. offers, what with all the equal nu-metal, death metal and crossover garbage lashed from that country. How do you comply with this personally - that in terms of selling figures and general knowledge you are probably bound to remain incognito for ever - is it perhaps a relief?

“I make music primarily for myself. The fact that at the moment people are actually interested in listening to what I have to say is encouraging, but is not necessary. If no one cared, I would still write music for my own amusement and wonderment. I also write quite a bit of ambient music, some of which will never be publicly released. The name Without a Shadow is the moniker I use for that type of music that is released; the unreleased music is primarily used in my various occult interests.

“If the right label came along, i.e. one that gave me complete freedom, I would not be opposed to working with them. Given that I have my own studio, essentially the only needs I would have of a label would be for distribution and promotion. I am not interested in excessive promotion, since word of mouth is often the best way of letting my music be known. I am using mp3.com for distribution, so I have already taken care of both needs myself.”

A befitting side of the Eyes of Ligeia creation is the relative absence of romanticism and overstated sentiments. Was this something innate or did you consciously aim at a more ‘objective’, for lack of a better word, impression, to create, so to say, a closer symbiosis with the music?

“You’ll notice that the songs typically have very few lyrics; I prefer to concentrate on the musical exploration, and only include as many vocals and lyrics as are needed to enhance the songs. In fact, I have strongly considered abandoning vocals entirely on my future music. Of course, that means the music will have to be even better to be able to stand on its own. Only time will tell…”

There was, and is, certain vagueness to the whole ‘project Plutonian’, if I may call it so. At first it was intended to be entitled Amphigory but for some reason that title never made it through, and in addition this three-song demo version is not even the final version, which will include seven tracks.

Toby explains: “The title change happened early on in the recording process for what became The Night’s Plutonian Shore. As the songs began to come together, a logical ordering of them presented itself: the cycle of songs naturally forms an account of someone’s last night, from dusk till dawn. At that point, a new title was needed, and the Poe reference was perfect.”

Yet Toby avoids calling it a concept album and says that the songs ‘were not written to go together’. Since the songs, however, revolve around dusk, night, midnight, etc., he sees the final ordering making perfect sense.

For the reasons of this unorthodox practice, he states the following: “I released the demo versions because the recording process was not going as fast as I had hoped. When I record, I typically have very rough arrangements of the songs when I begin, and the songs are fleshed out and arranged - and often times partially or wholly re-written - as they are recorded; this makes the recording process be quite time consuming. Since it had been so long already since I had released anything, I wanted to release what I had so far as sort of a prelude to what was to come. The songs on the demo were completely re-recorded for the final version of the CD as I was not happy with the sound on the demo, particularly the drum sound.”

Yes, I had certain discomfort toward the drums as well. The idea of synthetic drums in general just does not seem to work with almost anyone. Is this something that Toby will be getting rid of in the future? Megiddo, the Canadian band that used to be a one-man project just as Eyes of Ligeia, expanded to a ‘real’ band formation not so long ago. Would this be totally unthinkable to Toby, would it correlate with the Eyes of Ligeia doctrine?

“I think that everyone will be pleasantly surprised at how good the drums sound on the final version of The Night’s Plutonian Shore. I am certainly not opposed to using a real drummer, but so far using programmed drums fulfils my needs. Since the drums are actually programmed to play patterns and fills like what a real drummer would play, the missing element has been getting the right sound, and this has hopefully now been accomplished.”

While reading the defining notations of the press release and simultaneously listening to The Night’s Plutonian Shore, I kept wondering why a certain Bethlehem was not given due somewhere in there. Both of the releases clearly have a large share of similarities with early Bethlehem (I am primarily thinking of Dark Metal here), so are you just trying to cover up the traces there or what…? Do you have anything else to say about your apparently vast field of influences and kindred spirits?

“The only Bethlehem I have ever heard is Dictius Te Necare, which I did not particularly care for. It wasn’t just the vocals, which I suppose are the most common complaint about that CD, but the music to me just did not seem that interesting. I have been told by several people that I might find their Dark Metal CD more to my liking, but I’ve not had an opportunity to listen to that yet.

“Just to give an idea of some of my current influences, the CDs I have in my car at the moment are: Opeth Still Life, Mordor Odes, Anekdoten Vermod, Ved Buens Ende Written in Waters, Skepticism Ethere, Univers Zero Heresie.”

To continue on the subject, Toby is a man of variant taste in music.

“I too,” he says when I bring up King Crimson, Jethro Tull and Genesis as possible sources of inspiration, “am an avid listener of those bands, in addition to other more obscure progressive bands, both past and present, such as Univers Zero, Shub Niggurath (Fra), Present, Anekdoten, and so forth. I listen to all varieties of progressive, ambient, metal, and classical. Each song that I compose includes more of these influences, as well as more of my own original style. This to me is the essence of progressive music.”

At the same time Toby admits that he - unlike many of those who used to favour Thergothon - also enjoys the successor ensemble of that band, at once proving that his tolerant words of newer Anathema and My Dying Bride are not without backing.

“I did very much like This Empty Flow’s Magenta Skycode. That CD was a good example of how to get the same feeling that comes from quality doom/death in a completely different context. To me, the feeling is what counts; the medium I am using currently is my own twisted variant of doom/death metal, but the same feeling is certainly possible with many other types of music. Other good examples of this that I listen to quite a bit are Dream into Dust and Univers Zero.”

The press release that I have already referred to earlier in this interview concludes in a statement of sorts. Three remarks are given, those being: 1) A band’s top priority should be creating musical art, 2) Unless the music reflects the true nature of one’s soul, there is no point in making it, and 3) Too many bands and individuals have been drawn to a particular style or a particular aesthetic with commercial intentions and pretentions instead of pursuing art for art’s sake. The two first I have no problem with, but what good actually comes out of ‘pursuing art for art’s sake’? Would art philosophy or art theory aid one in elaborating this matter, do you think?

“I am not at all familiar with art philosophy and art theory,” Toby tells. “I think at the point where you start over-analyzing art - musical, visual, poetic, etc. - you lessen your true appreciation of it; while understanding it at an intellectual level can be important, most of art is more deeply and completely understood at an emotional level.”

Clearly Toby, as an artist, has few other perspectives to look at it. I would claim partly otherwise, and would probably do so for no other reason than having acquainted myself with the analysis side of things. At any rate, we all have our individual ‘knacks’, as it were, and although one may find many positive sides in incorporating the rational within the aesthetic, no one can certainly question the power of emotion.

“When I refer to ‘pursuing art for art’s sake’,” Toby continues, “I mean to let it reflect some part of your true self, rather than bending to a given aesthetic or sound for commercial or popularity reasons.”

Apart from that, you also urge people to ‘take a stand against commercially driven music’. An admirable stance for sure, ensued by which you also make all of Eyes of Ligeia’s music freely downloadable on the Internet and sell the CD’s always at the lowest price possible. How would you depict the reasons behind this ethic; is there a manifesto there, perhaps?

“No manifesto, just a feeling that too much of the metal music being released today is more concerned with commercial appeal than with making honest, heartfelt music.”

What will the future have in store for Eyes of Ligeia?

“I certainly intend to continue progressing. I am constantly finding new influences, both musical and non-musical, and these will always be integrated into the music I make. One of my goals is to continue moving even further away from typical song structures; the first two Opeth CDs, and some of the aforementioned progressive rock, are great examples to learn from. If it’s adventurous, I’ll at least give it a listen.”


Beyond Dawn interview from Qvadrivivm #5 (2008)

Sing the Body Electric

Interview: Kuronen

among the likes of “Nutshell”, “Passing Bird”, “Sua pukee kauneus” and some elderly Entombed ditties, Beyond Dawn’s “On the Subject of Turning Insane” sits firmly in the very slim and totally subjective category of the best lyrics ever, period. Whenever I hear this song, the prospect of leading a life of solitude and repose in a faraway place, at a marked distance from society and other human animals, is rejuvenated. It is one of abstemious grace, this vision.

The article begins with this entry of personal information because it is essential in connecting the different joints and sinews in this ‘ere lad’s appreciation of the Norwegian lot. I think the world of Beyond Dawn because of the lyrics, and I think the world of Beyond Dawn because of the music. I also love them because they are Beyond Dawn. None other like them round, really.

norway’s best and least selling act’ (that’s a straight quote from their web site—love the modesty, dearests) are here today in the ethereal form and shape of vocalist Espen ‘Weltschmerz’ Ingierd and drummer Einar ‘Clubshoes’ Sjursø. Espen is catching a cold; I’m having one. Winter is coming and wreaking mayhem from afar. At the same time, the moment, nay, the sensation of hearing Beyond Dawn’s latest studio full-length effort Frysh for the first time wanders further away.

Ah, those lush days of late June. It’s not only because of the totalitarian blizzards and steel-hearted frost attacks which constitute Scandinavian winter that the mind travels back to those verdant times of bloom. It is also about wanting to hear Frysh for the maidenly time again, to get unwittingly devastated by its erupting inventiveness. A diverse excursion to premises of protean electronic pop, dark wave undertow and post rock sublimation, Frysh is so laden with detailed coatings and microscopic technical bravado that sometimes it feels that I actually do hear it for the first time again. Beckoning one to ride the electro lightning, there are innumerable levels of digital hell and analogue heaven to discover within its realm. No wonder it took the cross-dressing scene pariahs four years to deliver this fickly behaving child.

“It wasn’t originally our intention to take that long to get this album out,” Einar starts things up. “However, it was time well spent as we built our own studio and sort of learned how to use it too, recording Frysh. Now we have a fully operational studio that we, or at least 50 percent of us, have full control over, so making new albums will be a walk in the park from now on. Hopefully.”

Take this with a pinch of salt.

“Also, we’ve been a bit lazy I think,” Espen deems, laughing. “We were having problems getting together. We’ve been doing different things. Half of the band has been doing some electronic projects. I actually made an album with a band called Wrongside, which is a more guitar-based album. It might be released. We’re looking for a company to release it.”

When contrasting Frysh with the foregoing BD album, 1999’s somewhat rough and pointed, yet excellent Electric Sulking Machine, it’s crystal-clear there has been some change of perspective within the band towards their music. Again.

“I think the perspectives have changed a lot,” Espen says. “But it has been doing that all the time I think, constantly developing in our minds. It’s nothing revolutionary, it just comes slowly with the kind of music we listen to.”

“We originally wrote the music as a band, then recorded it, then completely disassembled it on the hard disk and finally put it together in whole new ways,” Einar elaborates on the process of making Frysh. “A lot of it is very different from the songs we originally wrote, but I guess they are now more interesting production-wise. There’s a lot more going on and I think that makes the album richer, and gives it more longevity.”

“It comes out something new with just the original melodies I had, or the same chords that I had somewhere but kind of camouflaged or with the guitar parts being changed to an organ or synthesizer—anything,” Espen reflects.

Einar sums it up, “So I guess the perspectives changed from ‘we try to do anything we like’ to ‘we can do anything we like’.”

Accordingly, this artistic facelift is noticeable not only in the music itself but in the stance Beyond Dawn take towards it. At least this is the impression one gets from comparing the band’s current sure-fire confidence to the lamentations they sung a few years back about Beyond Dawn having yet to do anything important for their career.

“Well for our career, hmmm…” Einar contemplates. “Beyond Dawn has never been about having a career I think. If it did it would have been the least successful career ever! But for the development as a band, I guess every album has had some sort of significance. Frysh has been important in the sense that we recorded it totally by ourselves in our own studio and thus accomplished an album we’re more satisfied with than any other album we’ve done. Time is the key factor I guess, and needless to say this is the first time we’ve spent the time necessary to make the album as good as possible. How Frysh stands the test of time remains to be seen, but I have a feeling it will fare better than our previous works.”

“I don’t think we are settled really with anything,” Espen believes. “I think this is the first album I still feel comfortable with when a year has passed. The songs are kind of old now but the result this time was more refreshing. It doesn’t sound like other things I’m listening to, like new rock bands. I feel so different when I listen to it these days. I think it hits you more; it’s more honest perhaps. It’s music you cannot really be totally indifferent to. You can hate it or like it. It’s much more vulnerable as well.”

“The ‘new’ sound is definitely mainly the result of Petter and Tore’s studio efforts. They are truly the robots,” Einar says.

Espen specifies, “When we’re recording, Petter is the boss in front of the mixing desk, and his influences are also coming into the music. We quarrel a lot and then we just come up with great stuff in the end, after all.”

With their ever-constant introspection, I wonder if the old admonitory tale about Beyond Dawn losing many of their old fans as a result of all the stylistic re-routings they take in their music could be raised again. It is an aged story, true enough, but one that seems to acquire fresh characteristics by every album Beyond Dawn unleash unto the world.

“I don’t know,” Einar responds. “I think we always lose some fans when we put something out, but we also gain more new ones. As long as we have our hearts in what we do, it is not important who likes our music. We’re a bit surprised though that so many metal heads still turn onto it.”

“I listened to the first mini CD here one day and I think it sounds kind of great,” Espen notifies. “We’re actually planning to make perhaps a little more noise with an EP or something, perhaps early next year. But we’re not quite back to our roots or anything. I kind of like listening to the old things we’ve made as well, I’m not ashamed of them at all.”

What is it in particular that drives Beyond Dawn to explore and experiment so much with their music?

“Other music,” says Einar. “We have always sought inspiration in what we listen to at any given time while at the same time made a very conscious effort not to copy anything. We set higher standards for ourselves in terms or writing, arranging, performing and producing the music all the time, and when we’re done, we seldom find it good for much longer than a few months. Stagnation and lasting satisfaction is the enemy.”

“I’m kind of optimistic for the future,” Espen relates. “I’m still improving as a songwriter. I just started working on some new Beyond Dawn material, because we will not use four years this time, so I think we will start recording a new album before Christmas. I’m in the process of writing new lyrics. The vocals will be much better for next time, heh. I don’t know what drives us to experiment so much, I have asked the same question myself! We are four very different individuals and I don’t know how we have managed to stay together for this long. We have never been into any particular scene here in Norway or anything; we have always been outside the rock scene in Oslo as well, except in the early days when all our friends were playing death metal.”

“At the end of the day it’s just as much to do with songwriting as having the technology enabling us to shape the music as we want to,” Einar reckons. “You can have the coolest effect in the world, but it won’t do you much good if you don’t have the song. As far as songwriting imagination goes, I guess the only limit is the ability to listen to and find new inspiration in other music. Us being the total music junkies we are, this is not a problem just yet.”

“Yeah, we could go anywhere actually. It feels like it. And I think we’re comfortable being in that position,” Espen says.

“It’s more a matter of just doing whatever one feels like, paying little attention to boundaries,” Einar states after doing a bout of reconsidering. “If one needs to make music for the sake of breaking rules alone, anything good rarely comes out of it. Being at the top of your creativity doesn’t automatically challenge boundaries either, as I don’t think you can measure creativity. Either you’re creative or you aren’t. It’s like Seinfeld says—there’s no degree to wetness. When you’re wet, you’re wet.”

as said, the music on Frysh is quite diverse and has elements from a wide array of genres. It eludes characterisation even in the heads of its makers. While Espen considers it ‘some kind of pop music’ which ‘sounds strange, kind of eccentric’, Einar rejects the question of definition outright, opting for the cut-price “that’s your job, isn’t it?” journalism card.

“I think it’s hard to label music which I like,” Espen reckons, drawing the universal truth upon us like a lithe curtain of clouds.

Have people liked Frysh, then? Espen and Einar tell it has been getting a lot of good reviews. The usual, and then some. “It’s the most attention we’ve ever got I think. I even saw the record on the shelf in one of the larger shops in town,” Espen quips and lets out a nervous chuckle.

“The open-minded music-loving people lap it up while genre-addicts tend to find it ‘too weird’ or something. We can’t all have the same taste, I guess,” Einar muses.

“It’s hard to get out of the typical metal circles when you’re on Peaceville Records and everything,” says Espen. “But I think they’re doing better to promote us. Not just only with the usual metal media. But I don’t actually know how far we reach or how much we sell—we don’t know that yet at all.

“I guess we would be better off with another label some time, just to reach a wider audience. But I’m not unhappy with Peaceville. It’s kind of strange that we are on Peaceville but I think they’re doing a great job for us anyway. It’s very cool that they want us there. I think we will release another album on Peaceville but I can’t say what will happen in the future. We should be better off on another label.”

Later, when asked to enquire into the state of the Norwegian electronic music scene, Espen is not so sure if he would want Beyond Dawn to be in the roster of some label exclusively releasing electronic music (Tèlle Records is mentioned here as an example). Neither is he so convinced of the state of the Norwegian electronic music scene.

“Uh, there are some good things, yeah, but there are also a lot of things that I find kind of boring,” the vocalist says. “Especially the things that became very popular, like Röyksopp and things like that. I think it sounds like boring English house music. But there are some weird people in the underground in Oslo who are creating very cool electronic music. That kind of scene has been really big the last couple of years. I think they’re kind of slowing down a little now.”

Einar, in spite of his position as the head of Duplicate Records, anchors himself and Beyond Dawn far outside this mode of scene-oriented thinking.

“I don’t think we belong anywhere actually. I don’t really delve that deep into any sort of scene, mostly due to time restraints. I trust my friends to push good music on me.”

“Am I that far from showbiz?” is the sarcastic question “Far from Showbiz”, the opening track of Frysh, poses. Beyond Dawn have always seemed to suffer from the idiosyncratic, oddball nature they have been associated with. Even though their music has fared quite well among critics, it’s never been enjoying great success among larger populace. Albeit Espen and Einar both, quite naturally, take pleasure in Beyond Dawn’s autonomy of making their own selective rounds and waves in smaller ponds, their views are heterogeneous to some small degree when it comes to accepting the band’s lack of triumph.

“It has of course been the subject of much frustration, especially considering the amount of time and effort put into the band,” Einar states. “Nowadays we take things a bit more easy. We don’t have any illusions of becoming rock stars or anything. As long as we enjoy making the music we will continue doing it I guess, but on a level that doesn’t interfere with earning a living in other ways than touring our asses off and living off trash.”

“I just think that we’ve always had this independent kind of attitude towards things that we are doing,” reasons Espen. “I’ve never been depressed about not selling records or anything. I think it’s great just to be able to release music. Of course, I want as many as possible to listen to it but it doesn’t change how much I want to make it and how much I like creating music.”

since their inception as a coarse death metal outfit at the end of the 1980s, Beyond Dawn have eaten up quite a bit of thoroughfare dust. Their journeyings, however long and arduous, have not made them overlook the heredity once passed on to them by their early influences. This is, appropriately, underscored by the title of the new full-length opus, Frysh, which refers to a secret organisation operating in Beyond Dawn’s days as a young and struggling band.

Another suitable tribute to the past on Frysh is the appearance of “Severed Survival”, an electronic reworking of the genre-refining death metal classic originally bludgeoned onto reel by every mother-in-law’s favourite dirty death head fiends, Autopsy.

“Autopsy are true heroes, and will always be,” Einar declares. “They managed to take a lot of influences and make a sound of their own that is yet to be surpassed. Listen to albums like Severed Survival and Mental Funeral and you’re immediately struck by how brilliant they were. I could start listening to country exclusively and yet I will always worship Autopsy. Hails! The reason we covered it, apart from the obvious homage, is that we thought it would be nice to do a pop song with those kind of lyrics. I guess the words eventually had some sort of influence because the song turned out quite dark in the end.”

“I think that was the first track for the album that we did,” recalls Espen. “It’s always nice to start with a cover song. We did a lot of versions of it and then just came up with this at the end. It sounds different, haha!”

When we’re speaking of musical heroes outside Autopsy, what bands and artists do you look up to?

“At this point? They are many,” Espen sighs. “Right now I’m listening a lot to the Beach Boys. I’ve been listening to them all summer as well. Captain Beefheart we’re listening to… I’m listening to a lot of old things, and perhaps some hip hop music, and a lot of electronic music. I have no particular one special thing I like at this moment. The heroes change all the time. The Swans was definitely one period. Earlier, The Cure and Joy Division and The Clash and even The Smiths. Early U2 I like. And there was a period when I listened to a lot of metal.”

Einar downplays the presence of idolatry in the band’s artistry. “We used to look up to and idolise a lot of artists earlier, but we sort of grew out of that ‘worship’ mode. Naturally, we respect and admire a lot of people, but their output doesn’t necessarily have a lot in common with ours.”

Then, if not other artists, what is it that gets them going ie. what are the essential ambitions of Beyond Dawn?

“I’m not sure, actually,” Espen responds. “Just to create something perhaps. Something that we could be really satisfied with. It has to be something like that because I think we have given up on the idea of being rich and famous, heh! I’m not sure really.”

“Ultimately, some sort of recognition would be cool, but it’s not like we die if we don’t get the attention we think we deserve,” Einar considers. “There’s probably hundreds of other bands like us who have a small but dedicated following that never amount to nothing. Not that I care, making good albums is the main incentive I guess.”

in the past few years I have tended to have qualms with myself on whether Beyond Dawn are urban and modern or not. With Frysh, many of the arguments for the non-urbanism seem to have dissolved. Einar’s stance on the modernity of Beyond Dawn is unambiguous.

“We certainly don’t aim to be urban or whatever. It’s just a result of what we listen to, and that is both modern and vintage music. But while a lot of bands choose to have a retro sound, we try to go both ways at the same time and make something new instead of just rewriting old ideas.”

“It’s very hard to be modern, actually,” Espen relates. “But we don’t like to play retro music like so many are doing these days. We never consider that we are experimenting but we listen to a lot of strange music. Perhaps we’re not that modern but we have some new equipment and we don’t like to play things that we have heard before. So perhaps we are as modern as you can be.”

One thing is certain, though: there’s no going back to the gothic romanticism Beyond Dawn nailed down on Pity Love and works prior.

“Absolutely, we have done our share of the cry-baby stuff in the past, that’s for sure,” Einar sniggers. “But that doesn’t immediately make our music ‘happy’ sounding. There will always be a certain nerve that’s deeply rooted in our whole way of thinking and writing music.”

“When you grow older the emotions are perhaps getting much harder to really grip without falling into real kind of depression, not like the romantic ones I used to have when I was younger,” Espen speculates.

Espen’s singing on Beyond Dawn’s records often has a relatively cynical tendency to it, suggesting that there might be some shortage of emotion at play. Is this deliberate or something innate for Espen?

“I don’t know because I don’t think I’m a cynical person at all,” he responds. “I try not to be. But also, when I write I try to see clearly, I don’t like to be too subjective. I like to see myself from the outside as well and see things without trying to…” Suddenly, there is a lapse in the vocalist’s flow of words. “Ah, I think I fell out of what I was trying to explain, heh,” he utters. “I’m terrible at talking through a phone, sorry.”

Finally, we approach the part which got this feature started: the lyrics. I confide to Espen that I consider his lyrics (and those of the other Beyond Dawn lyricists) some of the most alluring and heartfelt verse the sphere of popular music has ever put ‘up for grabs’. While oftentimes sombrely narrating instances of sorrow, melancholy and indifference, the lyrics to me are first and foremost a magnificent deification of reality, with some salt of cynicism and irony pinched amid. The objectivism and levels of analysis deployed are other attributes hoarding approval in them.

Looking at his lyric writing from a linguistic point of view, Espen tells he tries to find sentences with a rhythmic figure that is good to listen to. When the thematic is concerned, he tells, “It’s mostly about me and based upon my life. But it’s not that straightforward. I perhaps write one verse and then write about something completely different. Then I just put them in the same song even though they aren’t perhaps about the same thing. I don’t write the lyrics just one song at a time. I have a lot of writings everywhere and then I just try to put them together. But they all circle around the same theme. It’s just about thoughts I have. They’re hard to explain. I try to avoid clichés. I try to make a different picture. But I don’t consider myself a poet or anything. I’m not sure if the lyrics are good or bad.”

A Drip Down the Memory Vein—A Beyond Dawn History

Up Through the Linear Shades 7”EP (1994):

Einar: “The engineer had a mullet, drove a big motorbike and ate a lot of hotdogs.”

Longing for Scarlet Days MCD (1994):

Einar: “The studio was located at my local mall. The credits were extremely pretentious: ‘spawned forth’ and so on, hahaha!”

Pity Love CD (1995):

Einar: “First time in a big studio. Fairly chaotic recording and an impossible label to work with. We still had no clue about how to get a decent sound and the mastering was catastrophic. Still, a lot of people were turned on by it and we gained a lot of goth fans.”

Espen: “We recorded the whole album at night because we worked at daytime. We could only book a studio that was kind of expensive and had to do the album at night time, so I remember I was always very tired. It was very exhausting to do it. It had a big, huge sound. It’s the album I still sometimes have some trouble listening to, haha. The lyrics are kind of very pompous.”

Revelry CD (1998):

Espen: “With Revelry we practiced a lot, played live, started to use a drum machine and got the hang of it. There are some great songs on it. Of course, the sound is very compressed but there are some nice things on it.”

Einar: “This could have turned out so much better if we had dared adding some space and life to the sound. Now it’s basically a lot of very good, yet sadly under produced songs. This one was the first one we partly did in Liverpool too.”

In Reverie MCD (1999):

Espen: “It took a long time to release it.”

Einar: “The one that was meant to come out after Pity Love. The saddest record ever? Actually I find it very nice although the other guys cringe when they hear it. They need to get in touch with their inner feelings!”

Electric Sulking Machine CD (1999):

Espen: “With Electric Sulking Machine, every time that I try to listen to it I think, ‘oh, we could have done it so much better’. It doesn’t sound like one album. I don’t think the songs suit each other all the time. Many of the songs are quite complex and they grow on you as you listen to them. They will get better. This album was also made over a long period so a lot of things changed during the making.”

Einar: “Second Liverpool album. Me and Espen went to Liverpool to sit in on the mix, but ended up down the pub instead, which you may or may not hear. The result is pretty, erm… diverse. Still, lots of cool songs with a production that could have been better but wasn’t. Cool photo session in the rain amongst burnt cars.”

Frysh CD (2003):

Einar: “Nice new album. Buy!”

Espen: “The songs on Frysh started out as some guitar-based pop or rock songs and we just masticated it all during the recording session, haha! It was kind of hard to do it as well because we had to do a lot of compromises all the time, with lots of discussions about things. But when I listen to it today I think it sounds very good. I think I would like to develop that thing a little bit further.”