TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This interview with vocalist Kjetil Nordhus of Chain Collector was done by e-mail by Maud in February, 2006.
Supergroup, all-star band, call them what you will, but Chain Collector comprise an impressive assemblage of talent, featuring current and former members of some of Norway's best-known and most highly regarded bands: guitarist and composer Gøran Bomann (Carpathian Forest, Trail of Tears [to which he was added as a session musician in spring 2005], Opus Forgotten, Apostasy), vocalist Kjetil Nordhus (Green Carnation, Trail of Tears), Anders Kobro (In the Woods, Carpathian Forest, Green Carnation), guitarist Kjell Jacobsen (Neon God), and vocalist Svenn Aksel Henriksen (Apostasy, Dismal Euphony). With its powerful blend of raw, thrashy heaviness, cool melodies, and monster groove, Chain Collector's 2004 demo, the aptly named Forthcoming Addiction, created quite a stir amongst metal fans and critics, and garnered the band a contract with Sound Riot Records. In November 2005, their debut album, The Masquerade, was released on Sound Riot and on Massacre Records.
[Note: This interview was originally targeted towards Gøran Bomann but Kjetil Nordhus answered the questions in his place.]
Hello, and thanks very much for taking the time for this interview.
Thanx for taking contact! This is a new experiment for me, interactive interview!! Cool:)
The strength of your demo, Forthcoming Addiction, made The Masquerade was one of the most eagerly anticipated albums of 2005--it certainly was for me, anyway. Are you pleased with the reactions you've gotten to both the demo and the album?
It's been very good, actually! I know there were big expectations for the album, because many people thought about our demo as very promising. We did some changes for the debut-album, and I think that worked out really well, adding even more aggression to our sound, but still keeping the melodies! So I think we should be very happy both with the album and with the reaction from around the world!
The band bio states that the original goal for Chain Collector was to create "hard (heavy metal) but still melodic." That combination seems to be attractive to many different songwriters and comes in many varieties. What makes this blend such a potent one, and what are some of the special qualities of your particular mix of heaviness and melody?
Both heaviness and melody in music are very strong elements, and when you mix those elements in an effective way it can become very good. Some bands have problem with the heaviness, and some have problems with the melodies, and we did work quite hard to include both those elements so they should suit well together. For example, we brought in another singer in addition to me, because we needed that for the aggressive parts, you know.
For fans who know each of you from your work with other bands, what would be most surprising about the artistic sides of yourselves being displayed in Chain Collector?
Well, the combination isn't all new for me, because we are doing a same kind of combination also in Trail of Tears. But Chain Collector is very much its own band, and that makes it interesting to be in. So I wouldn't know if there is too many surprising artistic elements there, because I try to do my thing, if it's Green Carnation, Trail of Tears or Chain Collector, you know, what the music needs and so on.
In what ways is Chain Collector both a continuation of what you've done before and a departure into something new, like the links in a chain, as you've indicated the band's name implies.
It's in many ways a continuation of everything I've done before. I like new challenges in music, and that's why I accepted to join Chain Collector. It's a departure in something new because Chain Collector makes music that is different from my other bands, and that's also what made it a challenging band to join - the strong focus on melody AND aggression. Although we do the same with Trail of Tears, it's still very different. A bit difficult to explain, but both the creative processes and the end product is quite different from my other bands. There are obvious links between my band, but I don't know if the band name Chain Collector has too much to do with that.
What were the reasons for adding another vocalist after the demo was recorded?
I've touched into that. We felt that was needed on the aggressive parts of the album. Doing the demo was a big challenge for me, since I hadn't done too much aggressive vocals before, and although I thought it worked out well on the demo, we decided to go for Sven Aksel for a bit of new qualities and for variation.
Is it possible that Endre Kirkesola (who, in addition to engineering and co-producing the album, played bass and keyboards) will be come a full-time member of the band, or does his work as a producer, etc. make that unlikely?
Endre Kirkesola joining the band has never really been an issue. We have a new bass-player in the band now, and we're very happy with him. Endre did a good job on the album, but it would have been quite difficult to include him on live shows, since he's very busy in his studio.
Can you share some details about the experience of recording The Masquerade?
It was a very demanding process for myself. The Masquerade was my third studio-session that year, having done both Free Fall Into Fear (Trail of Tears) and The Quiet Offspring (Green Carnation) that year. And it was probably the hardest time I've ever had in the studio. But I managed in the end to gather up some creativity from somewhere within myself, and I'm very happy about that, because I thought it really worked out in the end.
Forthcoming Addiction was a great and very accurate name for your demo. The album's title is a little more cryptic. Some of the songs seem to contain references to masks. There's "Wicked Mask," of course, and in "Hierarchy of Murder - Code of Silence" there are the lines "You shall not know us / for we carry our faces inside." What does the word masquerade make you think of--subterfuge, deceptive surface appearances? How is the idea of a masquerade reflected in the songs on the album?
We simply thought of The Masquerade as being a good title for the album becuase it correctly was linked to several of the songs' lyrics on the album. After deciding on the title, we went for artwork that could color everything, and I think the cover-art for the record, the title and the lyrics stand very well together.
Although the lyrics were written by two different people, Johan Leonard and Mie Storbekken Lindstad, they have certain themes in common. References to religion, for example, occur in many of the songs, and the central figure on the cd's cover (kudos to Graal for the great artwork) is wearing what looks like a bishop's miter and holding a "false face." Is religion, or specifically, organized religion, a subject you wanted to be addressed in the songs? Do you regard religious "leaders" and institutions as some of the primary wearers of masks--i.e., deceivers--in our world?
I agree they have quite a lot in common, our lyricists on the album, but it's actually quite a coincidence, because they don't even know eachother, and we didn't give them too many limits before inviting them. Of course, we knew them both before asking them, so we knew their lyrics would suit our music. But when it comes to the underlaying meaning, and the references to religion and masks, we'd like to bring the theme to the surface, and for you people to decide what you think about it.
The majority of the lyrics were written by Johan Leonard, and you've said that he will most likely be the sole lyricist in future. What makes him the best choice?
I'm not sure what to say on this one, because we haven't talked too much about this within the band. But Gøran has been writing a lot of new material, and if he says Johan Leonard will suit, I am sure that's well thought of from his side.
I would be interested to hear about how the album's song-sequence was determined. Was "Hierarchy of Murder - Code of Silence" the choice as lead-off track from the beginning or were other possibilities considered? Since "Crucifixion" is perhaps the most unique-sounding song on the album, did you have a hard time deciding where to position it? What do you feel are the strengths of "Winter Princess" as a closing number?
That's also a difficult one to answer, because I wasn't really in that proccess. We had some discussions in the studio, I remember, about which song was going to be the first one, and "Hierarchy.." won in the end. It's a good starter with its energy, and especially the very cool opening theme. Generally, "Crucifixtion" was always seen on as kind of a "break" on the album, hence the position.
Two of the songs on The Masquerade also appear on compilations, "Neverwhere" in Metal Storm's online collection for November 2005 and "Hierarchy of Murder - Code of Silence" on your booking agency, Sublife's promo sampler. What makes these songs particularly good introductions to your music for potential fans and promoters?
Basically because they are two good songs. That has been decided together with the people around the band. It's always good to get some advice from the outside, because when you're in a band you tend to "listen yourselves deaf" on songs.
You were scheduled to perform your first official gig at the 2005 Southern Discomfort festival in September, but the entire event was ultimately cancelled. That must have been extremely disappointing, especially considering that it was to have been the release party for The Masquerade (although the album's release, which had been set for June, was delayed until autumn). Were you able to arrange some kind of smaller party/gig to celebrate The Masquerade's release in November?
No, our hometown Kristiansand is in a bad state when it comes to live-venues nowadays, and we decided to wait until there's a good place to play before playing. We were also so busy in that period that we didn't have the time to organize any kind of release-party for The Masquerade. And yeah - it was quite disappointing that the festival was cancelled, especially because it was only one week before it was going to happen. So - we still haven't played any gigs just yet.. but we'll wait for the right time.
What are your plans for future gigs? Green Carnation has a very heavy schedule for late February and March of this year (much to the delight of North American fans!) with plans for more touring later on, while Carpathian Forest and Trail of Tears are also slated to be on the road for much of 2006. When will it be Chain Collector's turn?
It will be Chain Collector's turn when we get the right kinds of offers. We're a debut band with not too much time, but we will prioritate Chain Collector when that suits the band and the other bands. We are very interested in playing live, and there's been a fair bit of interest in the band. So it's hard to say when it's Chain Collector's time, hopefully within not too long.
A video has been mentioned, originally projected to be recorded in Spring 2005; what is current timetable?
That's all down to economy, and right now it's no concrete plans about a video. The timing has to be right, the producers have to be right, and we need the budget to do it properly. But we are still hopeful of doing a video for our next album.
Are there new Chain Collector songs in the works? What directions do you imagine your music will take in the future?
Yeah - there's quite a lot of new songs made already. It's not going to be a drastic change, but we will be developing the strenghts within the band on our follow-up album. I am looking forward to working with the new songs, because although I am really happy about The Masquerade, there's still a lot of room for variation and improvement.
The members of Chain Collector have known each other for quite some time, in some cases most of your lives. During the course of forming the band and recording the demo and album, what new things have you discovered about each other as musicians and as people?
Firstly a versatility. For example, I didn't know much about the melodic side of Gøran (who writes our music) before Chain Collector, and I was quite surprised when I heard the demo songs the first time. This is quite a different style from what the guys are doing in their other bands, but it's very fresh, and a cool challenge to do something different with people you know from before.
Kristiansand seems to be a hotbed of musical talent, so many great bands emanating from there. What are your impressions of the metal scenes in your hometown and in Norway as a whole?
I agree with you on Kristiansand, it's really a creative bunch of headbangers down here:) What I also find very interesting is the new wave of bands from our area that are breaking through, which hopefully you'll hear about within not too long. Generally I think the metal scene in Norway is going through a cool change these days. You have a lot of fusion between older stuff and new influences now, that is creating a kind of a new wave, which for me is interesting. It's cool when people dare to experiment, and there's a lot of experimenting in Norway nowadays. Musically that is:)
Thank you again for doing this interview. Please feel free to add anything else you would like our readers to know about Chain Collector.
Must be something so standard as to check out our band. I think we have a lot to offer for metal-heads, and hopefully the live-interest in the band will lead us out on the road within not too long! Thanx for your support, and Cheers!!! Kjetil Nordhus
Links of interest:
Sound Riot Records