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WEBCounter by GOWEB    


M © Asgeir Mickelson M
March 2004

Norwegian progressive black/death metallers Lunaris have just released their second album entitled "Cyclic". Time for us to once again get in touch with guitarist M who was prepared to answer a couple of questions. Read on to learn how the band evolved since the debut "...The Infinite", about live activities and a few others things.

Hi there, how are things in Norway? Are you busy doing promotion?

Things are pretty good. Yeah, we're pretty much in the thick of it now, and the response is good.

Before we're going deeper into the happenings around Lunaris, let's talk about the band itself. You've already had so many line-up changes in the past that you even offer a "family-tree" on your website. People interested in the whole thing can check that one out, but still I'm wondering why it's so difficult to find a stable line-up for Lunaris? Are you guys so quarrelsome that you constantly have to part ways with people or what? ;)

I don't think we're difficult to work with as people, but, as you may know, our music is a little off the beaten path, and probably not the easiest to approach for a new member. I wouldn't say we've had that many full time member changes, but there have been quite a few we have tried out that haven't really worked out.

There's also been some major confusion when guitarist Azarak left the band last year and you were looking for a replacement. I have no idea at which point the new guys joined the band, all I know is that you ended up recording all the guitars yourself. Who are the new people in the line-up?

HP (guitar) and Dr.Dream (bass/clean vocals) first came into the picture when we needed session musicians for a gig last December. We first recruited them in early November, so they had nothing to do with recording the album. Since everything worked so well with them, we took them up as full time members earlier this year.

Did you already know them for a longer time and asked them if they wanted to join the band or how did you get in touch with them?

I have known Dr.Dream for about 8 years, and we have played and recorded together on several occasions. I knew he was one of the few who could pull the bass/clean vocals off, so we just had to try it out even though he wasn't located in Oslo at the time. HP was introduced to the band through Janos. I had never met him before, but he quickly fit right into the group.

Lunaris © Asgeir Mickelson Now that we've already been dropping so many names...what is it about all the pseudonyms you are using? Is it only a Norwegian black metal tradition? ;)

That may be part of the reason, but really there is no real explanation for it. People tend to read way too much into stuff like that. I'm sure that for some bands their names/stage names have a very specific meaning or significance integral to band, but for us they are just names... no more no less.

Let's take a brief look back on your debut album "...The Infinite" before we carry on with new the new one. Are you happy with the result and how the album was received by the metal world?

When that album came out, it was already 1 1/2 years old for us, so it probably had lost some of it's "sparkle" for us I guess you could say. So, it was extremely satisfying for us, when it finally did come out, that it was received as well as it was. The overall response was extremely good, and although we didn't really know what to expect, as it was our debut, we were truly blown away by the praise it was getting.

Do you think it helped to have a well-known musician like Asgeir Mickelson playing on the album?

It helped having Asgeir on the album because he is an incredible drummer, not because he is a famous drummer. He has been an invaluable asset to Lunaris through the entire history of Lunaris... and continues to be so.

You mean generally as a friend of the Lunaris "family"? Or do already have in mind to have him as a guest musician on the following Lunaris albums as well?

He has always been involved in one sense or another, so if he does end up on a future recording it wouldn't surprise me.

OK, on to newer things. "Cyclic" will be released shortly, so you cannot say too much about the metal community's opinion yet. But how have been the reactions from the media so far?

The few reactions we have gotten so far are very reminiscent of the first ones we got for "...The Infinite", so that bodes well for "Cyclic". But the old cliché stands, we're very happy with and proud of "Cyclic" so any good review is just a bonus for us.

I must say that I like "Cyclic" much more myself. "...The Infinite" was a little too much black metal for me, while on "Cyclic" you broadened your musical spectrum. I hear less black metal and much more prog and death metal and the overall outcome seems more melodic to me. How do you see your progression yourself?

Lunaris © Asgeir Mickelson I can agree with those reflections to a large extent, and although I still feel our foundation lies in Black Metal, I can fully appreciate the fact that I let my extremely broad range of influences shine more through on "Cyclic". There's no denying that I have been listening a lot to more technical death metal the last few years, and that combined with my everlasting love for 70's progressive rock is maybe even more apparent in this release. We made a promise after the debut that the next album would basically be more of everything, and I feel we have kept that promise.

Absolutely. But why such a promise? That sounds as if you had not been as happy with "…The Infinite" as you stated you were.

Well, I wasn't perhaps being that literal, but what I sort of meant with more of everything was that a natural progression for us as a band would be to just stretch the sound even further. We would never be able to just copy more of everything, hehe :)

Have you changed anything in regards of the song writing process that lead to a different result in the music?

The initial approach was quite similar, with me writing most of the material. The difference this time was that we didn't just take that material and go straight in the studio to record it. This time around, we spent about 7 months in pre-production and 4 months on the production itself. This made a huge difference, as the result was much more a collaboration between all the members involved. This album is 100% Lunaris as opposed to "...The Infinite" which was probably much more me.

I also think that the sound of "Cyclic" is richer than the sound of "...The Infinite". The production and mix was again done by yourself so I must assume you simply gathered more experience since the last recording? Or where lies the difference between the two recordings/productions?

On "...The Infinite" all recording and engineering was done by someone else, and by the time I got the raw material to re-mix the album I really didn't have anything good to work with. This time I did it all myself, and although we didn't exactly have a top of the line studio or equipment I felt I had much more control this time around. I've worked on and off in the recording industry for quite a few years, so production and engineering is not new to me. The biggest differences were in the control issues I mentioned, and the fact that we spent 4 months in production this time around. There was very little pressure in the sense of deadlines and such, so it was quite comfortable.

I remember some "celebrity" producer has once been in the talks but that didn't work out. I guess you cannot give away that producer's name?

Well, Eric Peterson was the producer we had in mind, and we were extremely close to pulling it off, but at the last second we didn't get the budget increase we needed. The plan is far from dead though, and we hope to try again.

So that's how his name somehow ended up on all the promo copies of "Cyclic", hehe. Anyway, you got some "celebrity" guest appearances on "Cyclic" instead. For one, Asgeir returned to play drums on one track. The other musician is legendary bass player Steve DiGiorgio. How did this happen? I believe he was in Oslo to record bass for Vintersorg's latest album?

Lunaris © Asgeir Mickelson Having Asgeir play on the album is the most natural thing in the world for us. He has been a part of the Lunaris family since day one basically, and the track "When It Ends" really had his drumming written all over it. So we were honoured to once again have him on the album. I got to know Steve through Eric and Asgeir basically, and when we heard he really liked the preproduction demo we did of "I.A.D." the wheels started rolling, and when he happened to be in Oslo during our production we seized the opportunity. We are really proud and honoured to have both of these amazing musicians involved.

At the end of "Cyclic" - after a while of silence - there's some hidden acoustic outro. What was the reason to do this?

No reason what so ever hehe :)

Hm, and I was hoping for some mysterious reason but no such luck ;) On to the subject of lyrics then. First off, how important do you think lyrics generally are?

The lyrics are important to us as individuals, but not important to Lunaris as a whole or to the product we release. We have never had an intention to preach or express our thoughts as any kind of absolute truth. The lyrics are just thoughts to go with the music. The listener can take whatever he/she wants out of it.

You also used the Norwegian language for the lyrics of two songs. How did you get the idea to do that?

Again, there really was no premeditation for the choice of using Norwegian lyrics. The songs just lent themselves better to the Norwegian language for content and aesthetical purposes. The first one, "Altruismens Gravøl" starts with a speech from a famous Norwegian doomsday preacher in Norwegian, and it only seemed natural to counter the contents of that speech in the same language. "Mot Natt" has a very old school Norwegian pagan/black metal inspiration, and again, just felt more right to do in Norwegian.

I don't have the lyrics yet and don't really know what they are about. Any lyrics that you are particularly proud of and want to tell a little more about?

Well, I'm happy with all the lyrics, but I guess "Mendacities of a Corporate Messiah" has the most significance to me. It deals with my pretty apparent views on the Scientology movement.

Have you had any special experience with Scientology or did this just came through general media reports on Scientology?

I had always heard about it, but never really found out what it was all about before I found a site called and read a few books. I'm not really going to go into detail about the gripes I have with them, I just urge people to check out the site. I think a lot of people will be surprised.

Do you have a favourite track on the album yourself? If so, which song would that be and why?

It changes from day to day, so it's sort of hard to pick just one. I think maybe I'm leaning most toward the opening track, "Mendacities of a Corporate Messiah", though. But I think that at one point or another every track on the album has held that position for me.

Cyclic The artwork appears to be in the vein of the last album and thus looks recognizeable. Was it done by Balfori again?

Yeah, Balfori made this one too. He has an incredible eye for putting the right imagery to the music, and we are extremely pleased with the artwork he has produced this time as well.

While we're at visual subjects: A little while ago you've spread rumours that there might be a video for one of the new songs. Any details on that?

I don't know if I spread any rumors, but I stated that we were looking into the possibilities for a video. This is still relevant, and we're getting close to making one. We have chosen a director, and are discussing concepts. We just have to iron out some wrinkles in regards to time and financial issues. Hopefully we'll have something done soon.

In the past it's been always the question whether videos by metal bands get airplay at all. Nowadays they are often spread over the internet but it seems as if a few tv formats are coming back that will at least screen a few selected videos. Do you see that a Lunaris video would get some airplay? Do you have metal shows on tv in Norway?

That's not really something we have thought that much about. We know we have a few opportunities to get airplay here in Norway, but what it can do on the international market is hard to say. We are first and foremost doing it because it seams like a fun thing to do.

Another important thing for you should be live gigs. You got quite some recognition with your debut album but I believe you could have reached more if you had been playing live occasionally. You haven't been playing live in support of "...The Infnite" at all. In fact, you just had your live debut at the end of last year. How was that show?

We didn't play live simply because all the elements weren't present for putting together a good live "package". We won't play live just because people want us to. If we don't feel that we don't have the line-up and freedom to do our music justice, then we just won't play. But now, finally, we feel we have accomplished this with the line-up we have now, and we did, as you mentioned, our first official live show in December last year. The show was very well received from what we could gather, and it has certainly given us a push to get out there and do more shows.

About time. And I know you now want to do gigs and tours for "Cyclic". Lunaris © Asgeir MickelsonAre there any plans you can already talk about?

We are in discussions for tours and shows, but nothing that we can announce yet. We promise that we will be out on the road this year though.

Is there a question you have never been asked but that you wished someone finally would?

I've always wanted a question along the lines of "would you like to get paid for this interview? If yes, how much and what is your bank account number". That would be nice.

Hehe, I'll try to keep that in mind for next time then ;) Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, famous last words?

No problem at all! Well, as I'm not really famous and I certainly don't plan on dying any time soon, I think I will just hold on to my last words for the moment.

LOL! That must have been the best answer to this "famous last words"-thingy I ever got! :)

submitted by Cora 29.03.2004









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