After having released two albums and excessive touring, Dunderbeist from Norway can surely say that they´ve seen a couple of countries, cities and rocked many stages. I took the chance to chat with Ronny Flissundet (guitar) and singer Torgrim Torve about the band, their appearance and touring via e-mail.
How was your day so far, how are you doing, anything special that happened or is worth mentioning?
Torgrim: Hello! Well, not really much worth mentioning. I slept for long today, since I was up all night watching “the Walking Dead”. So I have just been enjoying my coffee and checking out new music all day.
You said in another interview that that during the first “incarnation” of the band, you just wanted to try crazy stuff and be yourself – has anything of this attitude changed by now?
Torgrim: Well, we still like to try all kinds of stuff, be it crazy or sane. But in our early days, we wanted to be more reactionary in some way. We all came from more traditional rock and metal bands, and wanted to do something completely different wit Dunderbeist. So we tried all kinds of weird mixtures, trying to break the rules in metal and have a lot of fun during the process. We had a lot of fun indeed, and we recorded an album or two of various quality. We learned in this process what works, but more about what doesn’t really work that well. So consider it a fun learning process. But we still love to do some experimenting, but we have grown from our mistakes, and today we are left with all this knowledge of what we are really not too capable of managing to mix, and write new music with that in mind.
I read that the album was influenced by Crowley´s thought on Thelema– how come that you chose exactly this spiritual philosophy / religion as influence and what kind of “connection” do you have to the whole, besides having things in common with the life as a musician?
Ronny: Yes, you are absolutely right! And props to you for mention it. You are the first in a gazillion interviews we have done who actually has noticed that, which is amazing in my opinion. ´Cause it is bleeding obvious! There are references both in the visual part and of course in the lyrics. The thoughts on Thelema are directly transferable to the life of being someone who creates something, because you believe that this thing is important to do. And when you are in a band with all our logos, artwork, stage props and everything visual, you need to be aware of what you expose the audience to. Symbols have power on a subconscious level, especially combined with music with a message. There are too few people out there that have given this an extra thought and just re-use the imagery from their favorite band just because they think that it is cool. All we do has a reason to be just the way it is and we have made a decision to use this in our favor. And in that regard Thelema has some really good thoughts that need to be brought up into the daylight. There are many things to be said about this, but I´ll end my rant here.
The paint, the uniform like outfit that marks the band as an overall entity – that´s the one side of you, when you are on stage. So how necessary is it for you to actually make this differentiation between the person on stage and the everyday person?
Torgrim: Actually, this is how we appear in our everyday life as well. That is like the traditional Norwegian outfit. No it ain’t.
The whole theatrical outfit thing is a matter of entertainment. When we put on our make up and enter our suits, we step into character. We have strict rituals before shows, and these have been with us since day one, and I can’t really tell any more how it all began. But the live shows and the whole visual aspects of the band (not only on stage but also on pictures, in videos etc) have been important all the way. It is part of describing the moods we are communicating, and it is also part of making the band look like one unit. Dunderbeist is not about the single characters, but the group as one.
Having read that visual aspects play quite a role during your gigs – what do you think about the growing need for the visualization of music in e.g. music videos? More and more it is needed in order to actually get listeners interested into one´s music…
Torgrim: Well, it might function as a gate into the music. We drown in all kinds of music and bands, and it is hard to stick one’s head out in these ginormous masses of artists these days, so the whole part of having a visual image is important. Eventually, the quality of the music speaks for itself, so there are a lot of bands falling through. But we are trying to communicate a whole package. The Dunderbeist universe and the music there within it, each part being equally important.
After having toured already quite a bit, what would you consider to be the biggest differences between the crowds of different countries? Do you see differences in the whole “cult” that comes with the music?
Torgrim: Most metal heads around the world seem to have a lot of the same to them (without calling anyone stereotype, of course). But when recently touring all over most of Europe in a couple of weeks, we noticed some differences from country to country, although they are not too easy to pinpoint (or is it just the fear of insulting someone?)
Countries that really surprised us in a positive way were Portugal and France. Those were the two countries on our tour that I thought would have the most difficult crowds, but they proved us wrong. Denmark and Germany were also great, with very enthusiastic crowds, that actually also bought shirts and CDs after the gigs. Spain was a bit different, although they were also very enthusiastic, they seemed a lot more punk rock than for instance the Germans or the Swiss, which seemed to have the most all over hardcore metal types.
In Norway we are all over more cold on the outside, especially during gigs in weekdays. But give the audience enough to drink, and they melt like snow in the spring!
I realized lately that there is an increasing number of Norwegian bands doing the step to go international – how tough, or maybe exciting, was the step for you? What were your expectations?
Torgrim: For us, not tough at all. This is what we wanted to do all the time. We have concentrated on Norway the first years, building up as a live band. Then we finally got a decent record deal, with Indie Recordings, and our shields were all aligned, and we had the right backup and live background to be unleashed upon the rest of Europe. And we will keep coming back. That’s a promise!
Our expectations were not too high. We were not at all sure how we would be accepted abroad. But the feedback from both press and fans on our two 2012 releases has been great! So we’re a bunch of happy campers nowadays, planning the future and world domination…
Other northern countries have much support when it comes to music from the governmental side (e.g. cheap or free music lessons) – how does it look like in Norway?
Torgrim: We are not very accustomed to cheap or free music lessons. Those are usually expensive in Norway, both private and public music schools.
But we have a lot of good funding from our government, helping out Norwegian artists and bands with the finances for both recordings and tours, especially when it comes to music export – like bands touring abroad. Norwegians tend to get proud when other Norwegians make it internationally. Somehow that feeds our egos up here in the frosty north.
Let´s switch over to a different part of the interview, and let´s drop the music talk. If someone would lock you up in an elevator, who would be the person you wanted to be stuck in there the least and why?
Torgrim: Cool question! Hmm. The person I the least would want to be locked up in an elevator with would be someone wanting to do nonstop pointless annoying small talk with me. I am really bad at those situations, so I‘d probably would wind up punching him/her in the face in lack of knowing how to react to that situation normally. And then feeling really awkward and sorry for the rest of the wait, with then too many embarrassing silences and eye glimpses full of regret (from my side) and full of despise from the other person’s..
I would really not be comfortable being stuck in an elevator at all ( all though I once have been, but that is another story) , but if I happened to be so unlucky, I would prefer being left there alone, preferably with a working phone and a pack of cigarettes…
You are chosen to play in a re-make of a horror-movie. Which one would you choose and which role would you like to play and why?
Torgrim: I would like to play Wendy Torrance (originally played by Shelley Duvall) in a remake of “the Shining”. That movie because it is one of my favourite horror movies, or movies at all, ever. And that role, because she looks so puny and frightened all the time. She has the best horrified-face in the history of moviemaking, and if I should ever becoming an actor, it had to be a challenge worthwhile. Like managing to top that role. Yes, I know she’s a woman! Even a bigger challenge then…
Since the start of your career, you surely have been asked a lot of questions already from journalists. Which question would you still like to be asked, since no one did ask this question yet? And what would be the answer to this question?
Torgrim: No one has ever asked me about my favourite colour. Which is a really important question, I think, this world fading from all kinds of nuances and everything.
So I would simply answer that one by “grey”…
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions!
Torgrim: Thank YOU and your readers!