LUNARIS

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TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE

This interview with the keyboard player Ray from the Norwegian progressive black metal band Lunaris was done through e-mail in July 2002.

Hello, how are you doing?
Hey, I am doing fine. The holiday season is nearing it`s end, and it is time to get back to some serious work. The promotional work for our album is 1st priority at the moment, and we are doing our best to make all our commitments in time.

Your debut album "...The Infinite" will soon be released, did it turn out as you expected?
Yes, pretty much. We went through a relatively long process where we decided which songs to record, and which ones to let out. From then on in it was a matter of getting the music on tape. As this is a pretty old recording (it was done in february 2001), we`ve had lots of time to mix and master the album, and I think we`ve ended up with a result that we can be relatively happy with.

The kind of music you play shows plenty of influences from both black metal and progressive music, who do you think it will appeal to?
“… the infinite” should be able to appeal to a very wide range of metal fans. The album is a very varied one, with elements from black metal, thrash, death metal, heavy metal etc… From the start on, we never wanted to be a one-genre band. We have always wanted to do our thing, incorporating many different elements into our music.

When you formed the band back in 1998 was it intended as a real band from the very beginning or just a project thing?
When M and Balfori started Lunaris, it was a band as good as any other. Balfori was then in 1349, who he left shortly afterwards. M was a fresh addition to the extreme metal scene, with no limitations from previous extreme metal bands. When I and the other members joined not long after, it was very clear that Lunaris was a full-time band, with full dedication from everyone involved.

I think Tjodalv was meant to be part of Lunaris in the early days, did he ever play with the band?
No, he was never actually involved in the music. M was in contact with him, and he did some work with samples and intros for Suspiria`s first album. As Asgeir had left the band at the time, it was only natural for us to ask whether Tjodalv would be interested in playing the drums for our album. He expressed an immediate interest, but due to the fact that we met Janos through a friend of mine, nothing more happened.

You have had several members coming and going, including Kjetil Hektoen and Martin Rafoss of Enthral, do you think you have found the perfect lineup now?
Musically, we are now where we wanted to be from the beginning. We spent a lot of time searching and trying out different musicians after Asgeir and Erik left very early on. Kjetil and Martin rehearsed with us a few times, but for some reason nothing solid ever materialized out of it. When we did the demo “Creative Destruction”, our good friend Maztema was in the studio with us. We asked him to contribute on one of the songs, “Soulcrush”, and the result was very good. When he also sat down with guitarist Azarak to write some bass-lines for “A Final Journey”, we knew that we had found who we were looking for. Janos was basically in our plans all the time, but we tested a couple of other drummers when he was in Italy, just to see who was available, and what they could do. But, we ended up with Janos, as we think he is the most talented drummer around who is not in a gazillion other bands.

Many bands on the Norwegian black metal scene are becoming more progressive these days, do you think this is the new trend? What do you think about the Norwegian black metal scene of today?
It certainly seems to be the trend of today, but that does not mean that this is the way everyone will play extreme metal in the years to come. Personally, I really like most of the progressive stuff made by Norwegian bands today, except maybe for the most presumptious ones. Emperor, Satyricon, Mayhem, Arcturus and Ulver have all exelled in their own ways, making music no-one could even think of a few years ago. As long as bands continue to evolve in a direction which suits them, I am sure that the musical result will be as good as it has been for the last couple of years.

Some of the band members are or have been members of well-known bands like 1349 and Spiral Architect but what about M and Ray, have they been involved with any other bands before Lunaris?
Me and M have always had Lunaris as our first priority, and have not been in any of the established bands in the scene. We have a couple of projects on our own, but Lunaris is, and will be for at least the forseeable future, our musical haven.

Is your drummer Janos Di Croce really Italian? He seems to have been moving back and forth between Norway and Italy...
Yes, he is from Torino. He first moved here back in the summer of 2000, when he got a Norwegian girlfriend. He then moved back to Italy to complete school, but came back to Oslo about a year ago.

How do you compose music for Lunaris? Are there usually a lot of different opinions about how the songs should sound?
M basically does all the composing. He sends us audio-files for us to rehearse after, and then we all meet to make additions to the music; to shape it into everyone`s liking and musical intentions. This way of composing works very well for us, and even though the rest of us very well might contribute more to the next albums, M will always be the essential source of music in Lunaris.

You have signed with Elitist Records, a label that will bring some fresh new sounds to a stagnant Earache Records, do you know Lee Barrett since before? Do you know any of the other bands on the label?
I didn`t know Lee before we made contact regarding the Lunaris deal. From the moment we hooked up though, we made a very good contact with them, and are very happy to be on a label headed by such a dedicated metal-fan. As for the other bands on the label, I`ve listened to their music, but don`t know any of them personally. On a whole, I think that Lee have signed a lot of exciting bands which will make their mark on the extreme metal scene in the very near future.

Were there any other companies who struggled to win you over?
We were in contact with several labels, and were negotiating with one of the major leaguers of the extreme metal-scene for a long time. But, things went very slow, and when I got in touch with Lee, I instantly knew where “…the infinite” would be released.

What does a normal day in your life look like?
As I am self-employed, I have a lot of time on my hands. I run a little company in the advertising-industry, and also have a management company. I spend a lot of time on the phone and on the net, doing research and making deals. Besides this, I spend a lot of time on Elm Street, socializing with friends and colleagues in the business.

What kind of music do you listen to these days? Do you have any favorite bands?
Death has for many years been my primal source for musical inspiration. The death of Chuck was a major loss to us all, and I for one hate the fact that there never will be another Death album. As for other bands, the last 3-4 Testament albums are excellent. Norwegian classics Emperor, Satyricon, Arcturus, Burzum and Mayhem are obviously all great influences for me too. Lyrical wise, Roger Waters is an intriguing artist, who never stop to amaze me with his spot-on lyrics. At the moment I`ve been listening to bands like Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates, Emperor, Ulver, Vinterland, Bolt Thrower and fellow Elitist-band Ephel Duath. Music is a very important aspect of my life, and I try to listen to as much of it as I can.

Now to my very own 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.
Right, I`d do it in a second.

b) To burn down a church because it's "evil".
Evil is only a concept, an established truth which stems from a failed concept of a common human morality. To do something only because it is reckoned as “evil”, is a sign of mental immaturity, which I never would waste my time doing.

c) To burn down a church because it represents oppression.
Better than the above, but still nothing I would do, simply because I don`t want to risk losing several years of my life to make a statement which I can do better other ways.

d) Sado-masochism.
As long as the act is between two consulting adults, it is no problem at all. Matters of sexual behaviour are not an area where people should make moral claims against one another.

e) Death penalty.
As long as we have such an imperfect legal-system as we have now, it is very wrong. If and when we get to a point where we have a bullet-proof legal-system, then go ahead and execute!

f) To lie if it will be of benefit to yourself.
Hmm, good one… In principal, wrong, but practically, yes, sometimes.

g) Censorship.
Very wrong.

h) Religion.
An ancient flaw in mankind, that makes us search for answers where there really are none to be found. To be an atheist is a cruel fate, realizing that there are nothing more than the space and time you are allowed between the moment of birth and death. To make up for this harsh reality, people invented religion to ease their own existence.

i) Communism.
Very, very, very wrong – the notion of communism states that every individual is basically the same, and has all common goals and interest. The diversity of for example the metal scene today should alone be enough to falsify those notions.

What plans and goals do you have for the nearest future?
Our plans at the moment are to promote “…the infinite” as good as we can, and then concentrate on the next album. We already have lots of new material which need to make ready for our next recording. We are also planning to do some live-shows in the near future, but we will have to wait for some deals to be made first.

Any final words of wisdom for the fans?
Stay true to yourself, and reject any established truth which you cannot yourself comprehend to be accurate. And, of course, stay metal!


Links of interest:

Lunaris
Elitist Records
Earache Records