Interview with Yngve Andersen from Norway’s Blood Command
Norwegian metal band Blood Command are an artpunk/deathpop/hardcore from Norway. Hell of a musical description, right? Since Norwegian metal is primarily known for one thing, I wanted to get a bit of info on the group for my buddy Pete over at Nordic Spotlight, and all of you out there.
With 3 EP’s already under their belt, Blood Command is currently prepping a brand new full-length release, and should be a welcome addition to their catalogue. The record, titled Funeral Beach, is set to drop in November 2012, and will undoubtedly be followed by a large round of touring to support the endeavor. I only hope we can get them across the pond and into the states for a few of those shows, but we shall see. I got in touch with guitarist Yngve Andersen to discuss how the group came together, the upcoming album, and the current state of Norwegian hardcore and metal.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! I’ll admit, I’m not familiar with the band, but I’m intrigued by the musical description… Can you introduce the members in the group for us? Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
Y- Blood Command is Yngve Andersen on guitar, Silje Tombre on vocals, Sigurd Haakaas on drums, Sjalg Otto Unnison on guitar and Simon O. Økland on bass. We’re all from Bergen, Norway except Ziggy the drummer who is from Nesodden, right outside of Oslo.
G- Damn drummers always messing up the mix J. So how long has Blood Command been around, and when did you first get started? Do you remember the moment that you really felt the group “click?”
Y- The idea of Blood Command was born when Ziggy and I met in a studio in Bergen in 2008. Ziggy played drums in the band, and I was hired as a session bass player on the recording. After our work was over, we got together for some drinks and the damage was done… We liked the same bands and hated the same kind of people. A couple of days later, I called Silje Tombre, who I had worked briefly with in a studio some months earlier.
We’ve used live musicians from the start until now to fill in the bass and extra guitar parts live. In the studio we have always been only a trio. I’ve recorded the guitars and bass, Ziggy the drums, and of course Silje all the lead vocals. Simon and Sjalg have just been added to the Blood Command family tree.
G- Right on. So how did you guys come up with the name of the group, or is there any particular meaning or story behind the name?
The name came from our love for cheesy 80’s action movies like “Bloodsport” and “Commando”. We wanted a name that was as far away from the typical band names like TV On The Radio, I Wrestled A Bear Once, Bring Me The Horizon, The Devil Wears Prada, and all those kind of in-the-middle-of-a-random-sentence-fall-out-boy-ish-quasi “intelligent”-bullshit band names. Blood Command was the cheesiest and non-hip name we could think of. It makes you think of what a World Of Warcraft nerd would call his/hers hard rock band.
G- (laughing) That is amazing! I literally watched “Commando” last night… ‘Let out some steam!’
So, if you could, can you tell us a bit about Norway and the Norwegian metal scene? How is the scene in terms of activity and involvement, and how are the responses at your shows?
Y- The music scene in Norway is great! A lot of genuine good bands like Turbonegro, Kvelertak, Darkthrone, and Immortal that you probably already heard of. The metal scene is big, but I guess you’ve already done your homework about true Norwegian black metal. We listen to some Norwegian Black Metal and some parts in B.C. are inspired musically by the genre, but we all listen to a lot of genres. That’s what makes us able to create and play this music I believe. The response at our shows is always good, but we have to thank our loyal fans for that!
G- For sure… Fans are most important! And yea, Norwegian Black Metal is something I’ve always been intrigued by. “Until The Light Takes Us” was a great documentary about the rise of Black Metal, and I highly recommend watching.
Now, since you have a new record coming out pretty soon, can you tell us about the tracks and where you found the inspiration to write your new material?
Y- Funeral Beach is not only chronologically a follow up to 2010’s Ghostclocks, but also musically. The songwriting is two steps forward, and it’s a lot more punk n’ roll-vibe, but the notorious desperate B.C. frenetic energy is still highly present. Some of the songs are direct follow-ups from tracks on Ghostclocks, and I can’t wait to show the fans that.
The inspiration for the album comes from all kinds of music we listen to like punk, hardcore, pop, hip-hop, singer/songwriters. We want to mix all that’s good in our music, not following a specific genre. The lyrics are inspired by our own thoughts, meanings, movies, situations, hate, love, vengeance… What we hate, what we love, what we despise, what we can’t do without.
G- Heavy, man. That sounds like something we should all check out when it drops! So what is your writing process like, and who in the band typically comes up new music? Do you have a primary songwriter, or do you write music more organically through jamming during rehearsals?
Y- All the recordings we’ve ever done to this date, including Funeral Beach, have only been with Sigurd, Silje and myself, as I said earlier. The writing process of a song usually starts with me getting an idea of a vocal melody or a riff. I’ll sit down in my living room and start making a riff to support the vocal melody, or vocals to support the riff… It depends on what I come up with first.
The next step is Sigurd and I in the rehearsal room alone, jamming through the riffs and parts to settle an arrangement for the whole song. We decide how many repetitions each part should have, etc. When we’re done, we’ll go to the studio to record a skeleton of the song, only one guitar and drums, so we can start working on the vocals and the extra guitar details. We never practice the songs with the whole band before recording it.
When Silje records the vocals, it’s often one of the first times she’s ever heard the song, but it works perfectly this way. Silje also makes some lyrics and vocal-lines for B.C.’s music and has the rawest, coolest, catchiest voice I’ve ever heard to this day. And Ziggy may be one of Norway’s top 5 drummers of all time, just sayin! A lot of bands do recordings and songwriting this way. It’s very common, but very few people realize it.
G- Nice, man! I can’t say I’m too familiar with that writing technique, either, but it seems to be working out well for you guys, so keep it up!
So are you guys a party band, or generally pretty mellow? What kind of beers and booze do you want people bringing up to you onstage this time around?
Y- This pack definitely knows how to party, maybe even better than most of the other bands out there, but each of the members have their very own definition of it. Silje is a bartender in two bars in Oslo at the moment and probably has a strong opinion on what to drink and what not to drink, a good skill to have in the band when we want to get fancy on tours. Other times we drink whatever just to get fucked up. Our tours are always a long hard party, and we welcome all fans who wants to come drink with us. All honor to Comeback Kid from Canada for still partying hard after all these years on the road! A great inspiration to us.
G- Haha excellent! I’ll be ready with a case or 2 should you guys make it to NY in the future! Now what should your fans, both old and new, expect of the performances when you guys hit the road? I’m not trying to spoil any surprises, but can we expect any new material or special appearances, and what should some of the first time listeners expect to see when you take the stage?
Y- We’re gonna play 50/50 Ghostclocks and Funeral Beach songs, so if you want to get into the band and fully enjoy a live-set with the Bloods, you should listen to both albums. We want the whole crowd to have fun, if they’ve heard us before or not, so we always try to give maximum energy at our live sets, playing until our bodies bleed and the heat chokes us. We want it to feel like you were struck by lightning!
G- Excellent way of looking at a live show. I’m going to steal that line from you, so I hope you don’t mind. Can you give us a few examples of any bands or artists in particular that influence your style? Who do you typically like to listen to, and are there any acts you think we should know about?
Y- We have a lot of influences for our music, but the most notorious ones are Drive Like Jehu, At The Drive-In, Refused, Hot Snakes, Depeche Mode, New Order, Descendents, The Faint, Comeback Kid, The Cure and Sonic Youth to name a few. We all listen to a lot of music like punk rock, electro, indie, hip-hop, metal, pop, whatever. All of it is good music, and every genre has something good if you search for it.
An act you should check out is Devil In Me from Lisbon, Portugal. D-beat hardcore with melodic guitars and choruses. Right up our alley and with an amazing live energy.
G- Good point, and yea I’ll make sure to check out Devil In Me as well. Are there any bands or artists that you are hoping to share a bill with in the future, or any particular areas of the world that you want to hit in the near future?
Y- Of course, we want to get back to countries we’ve played before to meet our fans again and thank them for supporting, but we’ve never played outside of Europe, so we hope to play wherever possible in all parts of the world. Japan seems interesting from what I’ve heard from friends that have toured there. America would definitely be fun to try out. We’ll see where we’ll end up, but we’re hoping for the whole lot!
We’ve already shared bills with some of our favorite bands, but Trash Talk, Hot Snakes, At The Drive-In, or Deftones would be a sweet treat for us.
G- Awesome… I love all those bands, Deftones being a personal favorite for many, many years! Since you mentioned ‘lightning’ to describe your audience reaction earlier, what is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
Y- We played at a place called “Life” in the UK in the spring of 2011. It’s in Brighton, down by the city beach. The room was packed and warm as hell, but the show was as energetic as we’ve ever played before. Another show we did late 2011 in our hometown of Bergen in late 2011 was also wonderful, mostly because of all the lovely fans that had showed up to mosh.
G- Dude… We’ve gotta get you guys across the pond our way in the near… I want to see this live for myself! The last question I have for you is, as a band that is on the come up and trying to make it in this crazy industry yourself, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
Y- Play, play, play, play and play. Don’t try to be or sound like your favorite band. Don’t sit around at home and wait for the radio to call you or for a manager to pick you up. It requires work, work, work. There’s a lot of things you can do yourself, like getting your music out digitally. There’s a lot of services online that helps you with that. If no one wants to book you, then arrange your own shows in your living room or wherever. Play shows wherever, whenever and never give up. It’s important to remain friends and stay a strong unit. You vs. the world
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