ASHES TO ASHES

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TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE

This interview with Michael Stenberg from the Norwegian metal band Ashes To Ashes was done through e-mail in June 2002.

Hello, how are you doing?
MS: I'm doing great, thanks.

Ashes To Ashes is still not very known, could you please give us a short history of the band?
MS: Well, Ashes to Ashes has existed since 1992 but the first years was more of getting the bandchemistry right, experimenting with music and arrangements and of course learning to play our instruments. Bjorn and I had just been noodling around on bass and guitar for a couple of years before we decided to form a band.

In 1998 we felt that we had songs that really captured the sound we wanted. Then we went on to plan and later record our debut album, Shapes of Spirits, in '99. This album was intended as a promo only for the press, record companies etc. But we started selling it as a regular release after a while 'cause we received a lot of e-mails and letters from all the over the world who wanted to buy the CD.

Maybe I should advice your readers to head over to www.atoa.net and read the biography there.

Would you mind introducing the band members and telling us a little about their past musical experiences?
Kenneth Brastad (voc), Bjorn Luna (bass), Ronny Kaasa (drums) and myself has no past musical history worth mentioning really. We've recently (and finally) found a permanent keyboardplayer/backing singer. Zilla has been a member of Paradigma and Hagalaz Runedance who some might have heard of.

Your second album "Cardinal VII" has just been released by the Dutch DVS Records, are you happy with the result?
MS: Yes, we are satisfied. There will always be things that you want to change and so on, but we worked hard and I'm damn proud of it.

What does the album title mean? What are the lyrics about?
MS: Lyrically, the album is based around the seven deadly sins.

You (or possibly the label) have chosen to call your unique sound "Gregorian metal", what does this mean to you?
MS: Nothing :) But I do understand that people might like to know what kind of music this bands play when they haven't heard it. We do have a gregorian feel in some of our music and the way we've used choirs and so on, so the tag is not out of context. You say we have a unique sound and it's not easy to put us into any genre of metal.

You have recorded one album prior to this one called "Shape Of Spirit", did you release that one on your own?
MS: We released it on our own and that was a nice experience too.

Are you happy with the support from your label so far?
MS: Can you ask me in 6 months ? :) The album has just hit the streets in some countries and we are still waiting to sort out distribution in others so... It's a little early for me to answer this but so far things look OK.

Are you at all familiar with the other bands on the label?
MS: I've heard Into Eternity which is good. I haven't heard so much of the other bands.

What do you think of the current state of the Norwegian metal scene, do you feel that it has been all about black metal for too long?
MS: The record companies and the media has pushed Norway as the black metal country # 1. If people want BM then let them have it. There are only a handful of good BM bands and a handful from other genres so...

What are your top five albums ever?
MS: Impossible to answer. I can't limit it down to five. The '70s and the '80s were the prime decades but the last 10 years hasn't offered much of interest for me, except Dream Theater (first 2 albums), Shadow Gallery, Symphony X and a few others.

What made you play metal in the first place and not any other type of music?
MS: Because metal and hardrock always contained a lot of everything. It's an all-inclusive genre and the most heartfelt one (I like to think of it as such anyway..) besides classical music. I've always been a metal head so I wanted to make the ultimate metal music.

What plans or goals do you have for the nearest future?
MS: We are going to get more live experience and we'll play wherever people wants us. We always have tried to put up visual show to go with the music in the past. That's something we will still try to do but it's something that's easier when it comes to one-off gigs financally, than a tour.

We also talk about recording a video, most likely for "Behind closed eyes". But we are not going to release som crappy stuff that a lot of bands are doing now. Quality or nothing.

There's a lot of things going on and a lot in the air but the main thing for us right now is to spread the word about the band where ever we can.

Now to my own and brand new right or wrong section. You are just going to tell us whether you think the following acts would be right or wrong:

a) If someone killed Hitler prior to his mass murder campaigns.
WRONG

b) To burn down a church because it's "evil".
WRONG

c) To burn down a church because it represents oppression.
WRONG

d) Sado-masochism.
Eh... (W)RIGHT ? :-)

e) Death penalty.
RIGHT

f) To lie if it will be of benefit to yourself.
RIGHT

g) Censorship.
RIGHT

h) Religion.
RIGHT

i) Communism.
WRONG

Any final words for the readers to enjoy?
MS: Check us out at www.atoa.net and keep supporting honest music.


Links of interest:

Ashes To Ashes
DVS Records