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LUNARIS, founded in fall 1998, released their debut album "... The Infinite" in 2002, after 2 demos, "Demo 2000" and "Creative Destruction". After many spins of the Lunaris debut, one of my favourite albums of the year, it was time to get an interview with M. It was a pleasure talking to him:
Let's start with band history, who founded Lunaris, when and how did you meet?
Lunaris was started by Balfori and myself in the fall of 1998. We had known each other for quite a while, and knew that we shared the same taste in music. I had some songs lying around, and Balfori was looking for a more permanent band, as things weren't working out with him and 1349. Early in 1999 I started working as an engineer in a recording studio in Oslo, and it was here that I first met Azarak. He really liked the first demo that Balfori and I had made, and he joined the band. Through him we also got to know the rest of the guys in Spiral Architect. Asgeir joined later in the spring along with Erik Aadland on bass. Asgeir introduced us to Ray who joined shortly after. That was pretty much our first full line-up.
You already had a line-up change before the "...The Infinite" got released....
Asgeir wasn't a member of Lunaris when he recorded the drums for "…The Infinite", he stepped in as a session drummer to help us out. Janos was still in Italy at the time we recorded the album. We had auditioned Janos as early as the summer of 2000, and he was still our prime candidate when he returned to Norway in August of 2001, so I wouldn't really consider it a line-up change
How long was Erik in Lunaris? Wasn't he a member either? I noticed he wrote the lyrics for "Mother Of Storm"...
Erik was a member of Lunaris for about the same time as Asgeir. This was basically just a few months. We realized quickly we had different goals and ideas for the music, and decided it would be better to pursue those ideas in separate bands. There was no bad blood between us at all, we just did what was best for the band.
How does the progress of song writing incl. lyrics work in Lunaris?
I start by writing a - pretty much - finished song in my home studio. Then I present it to the band, and we start taking it apart. Each member puts his unique characteristic to the song to give it the Lunaris sound. We all write lyrics, and we usually go through them and see which lyric fits best to which song. We rarely write lyrics to go with specific songs.
Is there a concept behind "...The Infinite"?
Not really. There is a certain theme to most of the lyrics on the album, but I wouldn't go as far as to say there is a concept. My only intention with the music was to write something that I myself as a listener would enjoy listening to. Pretty obvious I know, but that was really my only goal.
How did you get the idea for the intro of "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum"?
It was by pure chance actually. I felt the song need an intro, so I scoured the net for cool samples. I came upon a page with lots of WWII samples, and that one just jumped out at me. It fit quite well with the theme of the song as well.
How would you describe your music, same as Elitist/Earache did?
I personally don't understand the whole "intricate astral metal" deal. Those are Earache's words. It's very hard for me to label our music… I find it hard to label music past like/dislike in general though. There are obviously black metal elements in our music, but I wouldn't call Lunaris a black metal band. For the same reason I can't call it death metal, progressive rock or any other genre I get a lot of my inspiration from. We're, simply put, a combination of all of them. Extreme metal is perhaps a vague enough term to fit our music, but I would prefer to leave it up to the listener to label us… if they must.
Any band influences?
Yeah, pretty much every band I've ever listened to. But a few stand out (and I'm probably forgetting a whole bunch here): Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Yes, Kansas, Motley Crue, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Testament, Emperor, Ancient, Spiral Architect, Immortal, and so many, many more.
What equipment were you using?
Asgeir used a combination of two Pearl kits with V-Drum bass drum triggers. The bass was recorded using a Yamaha 5 string through a Sans-Amp pre-amplifier straight into Pro Tools. Azarak used a PRS guitar through a Line 6 Pod straight into Pro Tools. I used a Ibanez RG 7620 7 string guitar through a Line 6 Pod, several compressors, and then straight into Pro Tools. The keyboards were a combination of various Korg and Yamaha products.
Can you tell us a bit about the cover artwork?
All the artwork on the album, except for the logo was done by our singer Balfori. As we didn't have a specific theme, he set out to make something that would match the music visually, and we feel achieved exactly what we were looking for.
You produced and mixed the album yourself, will you continue with the sound engineering on the following albums?
My only job when we record the next album will be as a guitarist. On the next one, I want to concentrate completely on my part as the musician. Not that it wasn't an interesting experience to produce and mix my own album, but it was done mostly out of necessity. We were on a very tight budget, and since I've worked with sound engineering and production for several years, it was an obvious choice to do it myself. All the engineering and recording work was done by our good friend Rune Minde. He owns the studio we did most of the recording in, and we would never had a chance to record the album with our tiny budget if it wasn't for him.
You are working on the second album already, will it be in the vein of "...The Infinite"?
The similarity will be the Lunaris "sound". The music has progressed a bit since "…The Infinite", which was in fact recorded almost two years ago. There will be more of everything people might expect after "…The Infinite". It will be faster, slower, more melodic, more technical, etc. I feel that we may lean more on a death metal foundation on the next one as opposed to the black metal on "…The Infinite". There will still be lots of black metal in the music, but I just feel that my style of writing has been influenced more by bands like Death in the last couple of years.
Signed on Elitist records, how did you get in touch with Lee?
We were in contact with one of the "major" labels for a long time, and by the end of 2001 we were just sick of the whole thing, so we broke off the negotiations. Soon after we sent out some tracks from the album to several smaller labels, and Lee was one of the first to reply. Right off the bat he showed a genuine interest in our music, and it didn't take long before we knew that Elitist/Earache was the company we wanted to work with.
Are you satisfied with the media & fan response?
We're very pleased. It has been better than we could have hoped for actually. We hoped that since our music contains elements from many different genres, that it would appeal to a broad group of listeners. And it seems that this is exactly what has happened. We knew the "supergroup" label would come, and although we would have preferred if some members of the press would concentrate more on the music than who is actually playing it, the reviews have been outstanding. The response from the fans has also been very reassuring.
Fans would love to see you live, how does it come you have not toured yet?
After we recorded the album, we spent all our time and effort trying to get a deal. I was also writing a lot of new stuff, and touring just wasn't in the plans at the moment. After the album came out we were actually set on touring in early 2003, but we quickly realized that this wouldn't work. First of all, we don't have enough songs ready to put together a decent live set. Secondly, we are determined to release our next album early next fall, and that means we'll have to start recording before the summer. We didn't want to jeopardize this by using several months preparing and then touring. We need all the time we can get to prepare and perfect the new material. After the next album, we have a 6 month period that will be exclusively dedicated to touring.
Most of the band members play in other bands as well, does this affect Lunaris?
It affects us, but not in a negative way I feel. Obviously it can be tricky to arrange a touring or recording schedule, but not impossible. The advantage is that we pick up inspiration from working with the other bands, and this obviously benefits all the bands. The practice of playing in several bands is very common in the metal scene here in Norway, so we don't really see any problem with it at all.
It seems to be common to be in more than one band, how about yourself?
Keeping with the spirit of the Norwegian metal scene, I obviously have my things on the side. I have a solo project which is extreme old school black metal, though I doubt it will ever see the light of day as I have only managed to write 2 songs in almost 5 years. Then I have another band, Full Motor Circle, which is a bit more ambitious. We play a sort of stoner/groove rock. I guess you can call it a cross between Monster Magnet, Queens of the Stone Age, and Black Sabbath. There might be an album next year.
What's the metal scene in Norway like?
I feel the metal scene is more creative and productive now than ever. There are a lot of people who cling to the old school black metal mentality of the early 90's, and they obviously don't like what's happening with the Norwegian scene. For the rest of us it's very positive. People aren't afraid of trying new things; combining new and old styles. The important this is that we don't stagnate and become copies of ourselves, and I don't see that happening anytime soon.
Instead of giving you the last word, I'd like to give you some keywords and you just tell me what comes in your mind.
-Beer: warm summer day with Danish beer
-Earache party: Berzerker walking around in full gear /damn good time
-H.R. Giger: disturbingly amazing mind
-Internet: total communication
-Mp3: heaven and hell
-Your forum: cool people
Thank you very much for taking time to do this interview... we wish Lunaris a successful New Year.
Thank you very much.
submitted by Silkie 30.12.2002