“Bands don’t influence us. We are influenced by nature (working out in forests and farms gives you a real respect for nature.) Sure, we love certain bands, but they give us inspiration. Not influence.”
– Frog, Norse
Interview by Jason Guest
Jason: Hi Frog. Thanks for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on All Is Mist and Fog (reviewed here). For you, how does it differ from 2006’s The Unrelenting EP and 2012 your album Hellstorm? Does it mark a development in the band’s sound?
Frog: If you listen to our releases back-to-back, you can hear a very big progression through our music. We started out with an EP that was based on simple thrashy songs, ventured into Hellstorm that incorporated more extreme elements, and finally progressed into All Is Mist And Fog, which is an exercise in extremely complex, avant garde-ish Blackmetal. The changes in the band’s sound contribute directly to the creative input of various members over the years. Norse has seen a lot of members come and go and our sound has been influenced by a lot of them.
However, the latest release is exactly what I’ve been striving towards for years. When you have a vision in your head but lacking the skills to execute it, it can be frustrating, but it was finally achieved with All Is Mist And Fog.
Jason: Can you tell us about the artwork and how it relates to the music?
Frog: What I don’t like about a lot of today’s extreme music is that you can basically judge a band’s sound/genre by the cover. Busy, frantic music MUST mean you need pictures of chaos and destruction. With our album we wanted to have an empty, dark, and void album cover so you could stare at it peacefully while listening to a mass of chaotic noise that the album delivers. We thought this would be a great contrast.
Jason: Who is responsible for the artwork? And how much freedom did you give him/her in its design?
Frog: All the ideas were constructed by the band, and most of the pictures were taken by us as well. Our bass player Marcus Bastiaanse did a great job taking all our ideas and solidifying them into a cohesive design.
Jason: How did you approach writing for the album? Do you work separately and bring complete tracks to the band or do you collaborate?
Frog: We decided to work differently on this album as opposed to previous releases. With earlier material it was all jammed-out in the rehearsal room; not the greatest way to work as a lot of the finer points get lost in a wall of noise.
With All is Mist and Fog, we created a tiny soundproofed studio out in the forests where I live, and sat down with just a guitar and a click track. It was a highly concentrated environment where everything was under the microscope.
Jason: Do you discuss how you want the songs and your albums to sound or do they take shape as they are being developed?
Frog: During the writing and recording stages of the album. Treelo and I both worked on the same farm in the highlands which gave us hours and hours to discuss every point in detail. Looking back, it was a great chance to really make sure we were on the same page and agreed on everything. There were no last minute surprises when it came to tracking, mixing or mastering.
Jason: Is there a philosophy or an ideology that drives Norse’s material, both musically and lyrically? And how does it manifest itself in your compositions?
Frog: Not a strong philosophy or ideology really. We both hold the same views of contempt and disgust at the excesses of the western world, which was fuel for a lot of the creativity.
Jason: What are the lyrical themes? Is there a conceptual link across the album?
Frog: Our lyrics have been described as misanthropic escape-ism, and for once I kinda agree on someone else’s interpretation!
Jason: Who are the band’s main influences? Are there any bands that have had a significant impact on the band’s sound?
Frog: Bands don’t influence us. We are influenced by nature (working out in forests and farms gives you a real respect for nature.) Sure, we love certain bands, but they give us inspiration. Not influence.
Jason: Guitarist/vocalist Treelo has recently left Norse. What prompted his departure?
Frog: Losing Treelo was a great shame, as his live presence is unmatched, and his open-minded creativity meant that any crazy ideas I threw at him, he was able to turn into something useable and always improved on my initial concept. We had been in bands together since our early teens, but the time came for him to move on and pursue other interests.
Jason: Will he be replaced? Do you have someone in mind or will you continue as a three piece?
Frog: Well, Norse was actually a duo consisting of Treelo and myself. Once he left, the idea of finding a replacement singer/guitarist of his caliber was pretty much impossible, so I have split up his roles and now have a new full-time vocalist, and a new session guitarist.
Jason: What does the future hold for Norse? Is there more music in the works? Any plans for live performances?
Frog: A new EP titled Pest is in the works. All instruments are tracked, and we are currently working on vocals. This new material is a continuation on from the last album. Taking the craziest elements of All Is Mist And Fog and skewing and stretching them to the extreme has really created some un heard of results! Cannot wait to release this abomination early 2014!
Jason: Because of music being readily available in digital formats, what’s your opinion of the digital era?
Frog: Like many things, it has its pros and cons. It’s great that our music is easily available to anyone in the world, and easy to promote internationally through social media sites and forums etc. All within a tiny budget as opposed to the old school street teams, poster runs, radio play etc.
Piracy has changed the game for the professional musician however. The only way to see any income is to tour relentlessly, (6 to 9 months of the year for a smaller band) and that’s not an ideal lifestyle for most. Sure some people thrive off it, but it is an unrealistic way to live and has many negative side effects.
Fans also expect to get stuff for free now, and a lot of bands have given in to these demands, instantly working at a loss, which is a sad situation. If a fan enjoys the creative efforts of a band, then the least they can do is show some support.
Jason: What’s your opinion of the internet and its impact on the music scene? Do you think that because of the ease of making music available, the internet has affected the quality of music?
Frog: Yes I think it has reduced the quality of a lot of music. It doesn’t cost a lot to set up your own home studio and release your own sub-par demo or EP which rips off your favorite bands. The market is flooded with this. No real creative thought goes into it. You just hit record and bash out some half-arsed Slayer riffs and then whack some drums-from-hell samples over the top and hey presto! You’ve created another stale, weak sounding piece of crap. There are definitely amazing people doing great, unique things in their home studios, but there’s a lot of garbage to sift through. And that is very off putting for a lot of metal fans I think.
Jason: Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Frog: Thanks for the interview! You can check out Norse here: