Interview by Jason Guest
Jason: Hi Pete. Thanks for taking time out for this interview. For Faen! is the band’s first album in almost exactly four years. How does it compare to your earlier albums? Does For Faen! mark a significant progression for Blood Tsunami?
Pete: We went back to our roots… The kind of music we listened to back in the 80’s, and we had to find the devilish punk vibe that our two other albums lacked. That’s the significant difference. Weird, but we had to go back in time to come up with something new. The two previous albums were a lot more polished. We’re not very happy with our debut album. Too nice and tidy and the songs and lyrics wasn’t really good enough. I like three, maybe four songs of that album. The rest should have been tossed in the garbage can. We’re much more satisfied with our second album Grand Feast For Vultures. That one turned out the way we wanted; hard, vicious and complex with an epic touch. For Faen! is much harder and faster than anything we ever did before. For Faen! is thrash played by punks!
Jason: This is the first release from Blood Tsunami since 2009’s Grand Feast For Vultures. Why did it take four years to write and record another album?
Pete: We were all sick and tired of working hard for no reward. We were exhausted. No matter what we did we felt like we were hitting a wall… During the summer of 2009, I started up a project with a friend of mine. Of all stupid names, we called the band Mongo Ninja, and decided that we should play whatever we wanted and only focus on having a good time. Faust and Dor from Blood Tsunami also joined this band, so basically we were the same band, only with a different singer and another bassplayer. I wrote most of the music in Mongo Ninja as well and I was happy and busy. Blood Tsunami was laid to rest for a while… Mongo Ninja was only meant to be some sort of “holiday fun” but it kinda took off in Norway and we released three albums in 12 months and toured relentlessly in Norway for three years.
Jason: For Faen! is different from your earlier works in that it has more of an old school Thrash feel and the death and black elements appear to have all but been removed. Why did you choose to take this approach for the album?
Pete: It was a natural development. Some of the punk and rock elements that we had in Mongo Ninja, stuff I also used to do in my band from the 90’s, Hellride, was incorporated in Blood Tsunami. We figured, why not bring the “we don’t give a shit” philosophy of Mongo Ninja into Blood Tsunami? Of course not to such an extent of idiocy as Mongo Ninja did, but still… Why not suddenly throw in a punk tune or a blast beat or a rock ‘n roll riff here and there? It gives the metal some spark and edge. I also went back to singing with my natural voice. Of course it’s still aggressive and hard, but the pig squealing and screaming is gone. We all grew tired of that shit. Something weird happens when you scream like that. It makes almost every screaming vocalist sound the same. It removes all trademarks and identity from your voice. I can’t really recognize my own voice on the two first albums. Fuck that! We also agreed upon that my natural voice added more aggression and depth to the music. The ordinary Death Metal growling disappeared when our former bassplayer, Bosse, left back in 2009. That was his thing… Actually that’s also something I don’t like about our two first albums. Haha. There’s a lot of complaining going on here now, but, well, the growling gave us a very modern vibe and, hell, if there is one thing we’re not… It’s modern!
Jason: Can you tell us about the album title, what it means, and how it relates to the music and lyrics of the album?
Pete: ‘Faen’ is the most used swearing word in Norway. We use it like you guys use “Fuck”. You know… fuck this, fuck that and fuck you! But, it is important to mention that we don’t use it to describe the act of sexual intercourse, to that we say “knulle” or “pule”… Another big difference between “fuck” and “faen” is that “Faen” also can be translated into “Devil”, so “For Faen” can mean two thing: “For Fuck’s Sake!” and “For The Devil”. So, there you go! A little lesson in Norwegian. The title is not related to the lyrical content of the album. It’s more like a statement: Blood Tsunami For Fuck’s Sake!
Jason: How does Blood Tsunami work to create the songs? Is it a collaborative effort or do you write individually? Do you discuss ideas about what you want of each track or is it an evolutionary process?
Pete: So far I have written all riffs and lyrics for Blood Tsunami. I usually make the stuff at home and bring it to the rehearsal space when I feel it’s ready for the band. Then we toss some ideas back and forth and the other guys colour the songs with their playing techniques and ideas. Usually I first rehearse a new song with Faust. It’s easier to get the drums down when we’re just two… Then we bring in the other guys and bring the whole song to life.
Jason: How long have you been working on the material for the album? Are there riffs or tracks on it that have been around since the last album or is it all new material?
Pete: It’s all new material. The first songs were ‘Metal Fang’ and ‘The Rape of Nanking’. They were ready in 2011. We recorded a demo in early 2012. Both those songs were included there along with ‘In The Dungeon of The Rats’ and two others that didn’t make it on the album. We started recording For Faen! during the summer of 2012. It took quite some time as we had to record a little now and then. I also had to undergo surgery to remove some scar tissue on my vocal chords. That was a drawback and we had a boring two months break in the middle of the recording session. The whole album was ready in December 2012, but wasn’t released until March this year.
Jason: The members of Blood Tsunami work with a number of other bands. Has working with other musicians in between albums had an impact on Blood Tsunami and the writing of For Faen!?
Pete: Mongo Ninja is dead so Blood Tsunami is our main priority now. Faust and myself also play in a band called Studfaust. Faust even play drums for the Italian industrial Black Metal band Aborym, but that’s not very time consuming. He goes to Rome every second year or so and record the drums and that’s it. Dor play in a band called The Ass and him and me also kick life in Hellride every now and then. Our new bassplayer, Calle, also plays in two other bands, The Retardos and Speedergarben. Anyway, none of this gets in the way for Blood Tsunami.
Jason: How do you all balance your creativity across all of the bands that you work with?
Pete: When in Mongo Ninja I threw in all the stuff I wanted to play; metal, punk, boogie and rock. Blood Tsunami goes for harder and faster stuff, but now with ‘For Faen’ the gap between Mongo Ninja and Blood Tsunami is much smaller than it used to be. As for Hellride, we haven’t released anything for a decade, but we are actually planning to record some stuff soon. Hellride is much more rock than metal and have more in common with for example Rose Tattoo and Motörhead than Slayer and Sodom… If you know what I mean?
Jason: For you, what is it about old school 80s thrash that keeps bands returning to it for inspiration? And how far do you think that a band working within the genre can go?
Pete: We, well at least me and Faust, grew up with thrash metal when it first came around in the 80’s. It will forever be a big part of our lives and it has shaped our personalities. I think many turn to Thrash for inspiration because Thrash can include elements from almost all the other metal related genres. It’s a mix of NWOBHM and punk and can also contain references to plain Hard Rock and classic Heavy Metal. You have a huge variety of “allowed” vocal styles and playing techniques. Just listen to the big difference between the vocals of Russ Anderson of Forbidden and Mille Petrozza of Kreator. Also hear the difference between the riffs of for example Slayer and Anthrax. No matter what, they are all thrash. Of course the genre has a lot of trademarks and mandatory ingredients like the speed, the palm-muted tremolo picking and so on, but still, compared to for example Death Metal, thrash has less “rules” to follow.
Jason: Violence, hate, and death have always been common subjects for metal. Is there a relationship between the music and the subject that goes deeper than the shock value largely associated with it?
Pete: Yes, it’s a relationship. Well, aggressive music usually, and naturally, comes with aggressive lyrics. The music itself expresses anger and violence. It would have been strange to, for example, play the riffs of ‘A Lesson in Violence’ by Exodus together with the lyrics of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ by The Beatles. Originally thrash metal and punk was created by angry teens. The music is designed to express your anger and frustration towards basically anything and everything that pisses you off. Aggressive music is an effective way to blow off steam, and of course it’s a lot smarter to write about your anger and scream it out over some thrash riffs than it is to embark on a bloody killing spree.
Jason: Blood Tsunami’s lyrics are centred on violence, hate, serial killers, etc. These were all once considered to be “dangerous” and controversial subjects but have since lost their impact. Why do you think this is? Has western culture become desensitised to such topics?
Pete: Yes, people get used to anything… If we are exposed to brutal shit on a daily basis we will soon accept it as normal. I mean, if a live execution was to happen in Oslo today we would all freak out, but if it happened every day over a long period of time we would eventually get used to it. A live execution would become just as normal as having a cup of coffee… Haha, well, maybe not, but you know what I mean… Anyway, back in the day you had thrash bands, like Nuclear Assault and Sacred Reich, who wrote about political stuff. Bands like Sodom usually got lyrics about war. Early stuff by Slayer and Onslaught had the whole “Satan-package” but they developed. Jeff Hanneman, may he rest in peace, did something new when he wrote the lyrics for ‘Angel of Death’. The fact that the grotesque torture and horrendous acts of cruelty was real and not childish rubbish gave the song a much bigger impact than any of the other songs on ‘Reign in Blood’. The fact that they are true is also why the lyrics of ‘Angel of Death’ is much more brutal than for example Cannibal Corpse lyrics about fucking women in the cunt with a knife or pulverizing someone’s face with a hammer. Reality is always more shocking and scary than someone’s twisted fantasy. When fantasy becomes reality, well… Then you can scare the shit out of people.
This “True Crime” approach is something I started doing too. The first Blood Tsunami album had the fictional stuff. Crap about Satan, hell and all that stupid shit. On the second album I explored myself and wrote about my inner demons, depressions and problems with alcohol abuse. During the Mongo Ninja years I began writing lyrics about stuff and persons I read about or heard about. Mongo Ninja focused on unfortunate and unlucky guys like Ota Benga, Konerak Sintasomophone and James Vance. I found this kind of storytelling to be quite refreshing and I could include all the aggression and violence I wanted to without having to twist my mind into thinking about cruel and evil shit.
Where Mongo Ninja had a lot of dark humor and spite, Blood Tsunami tells dry and informative stories about some of the world’s most vicious serial killers, war crimes and ancient torture methods. I want the lyrics to have a brutal and often violent content, coz that’s what I want the music to express, but why create fiction? There’s so much shit in this world. Just stick your head out of the window and you will probably immediately see some fucked up guy or situation who is worth a lyric.
Jason: Why do you think there is a fascination with death and violence in western culture? Do you think that this fascination is the product of a culture that doesn’t know how to deal with an aspect of the human psyche that is so volatile?
Pete: I don’t necessarily think this is a western thing. I think it’s a human thing. Humanity has always been fascinated by death and violence. Ancient cultures were also fascinated by this. Death cults and violent entertainment has been around since the dawn of humanity. Just look at the Romans! They didn’t have movies to show them blood and death so they killed people as entertainment in their Circus. Violence is a part of human nature. No other species kill each other like we do. In fact humans kill every living thing; for money, for fun… and because we’re plain stupid. The human mind is very creative when it comes to develop methods and weapons made for one purpose only… And that is simply to kill as many of our own kind as possibly.
Jason: Can you tell us about the artwork for the album? It’s very different in style to the two previous albums. Why is this? Who’s the artist? Why did you choose to work with him/her? And how much direction did you give him/her in its creation?
Pete: Yes, we had the glossy, bloody and colourful artwork on our two first albums. Those were made by an Italian artist named Alex Horley. This time we wanted to go in a different direction. I knew what I wanted… Something dark and dirty in black and white that would fit well with the new logo and the rest of the booklet that I already had designed. The actual skull and daggers are drawn by an American artist named Christian Sloan Hall. Christian is a really talented guy and has made stuff for a bunch of bands. I got in touch with him and we discussed a little back and forth. I wanted something that looked like a ‘Coat of Arms’ sort of thing. Christian arranged the illustration around the new logo. The bullet belts on each side was already made and they are on each side throughout the booklet. I think it’s a cool, simple and striking cover. We wanted something that was just as wicked, hard and sharp as the music.
Jason: Will you be touring in support of For Faen!? If so, will we be seeing you in the UK?
Pete: We will play as much as possible. Hopefully we will get some confirmed UK dates after summer. We’re planning that.
Jason: Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Pete: Thanks for getting in touch and thanks to all your readers who read thru’ this interview and who support Blood Tsunami in one way or another! We really appreciate it. Hope to see you around at some venue sometime soon! Cheers!
And you can read Jason’s review of For Faen! here