The recent participation of Keep of Kalessin has caused a major uproar in the underground extreme metal scene. With the band participating and eventually winning third in the contest, we talk to Thebon (vocals) to learn more about what made them decide to do it, and what they have to say to people who have written them off.
HMT: Greetings Thebon! Thank you for taking the time off for this interview. Keep of Kalessin has just finished a tour supporting Norwegian black metal legends, Gorgoroth recently. What was the experience like? Did you manage to catch up with Infernus during the tour?
Hello, yes it was a great tour with Gorgoroth and Gravdal, not often we have the pleasure of touring with only norwegian bands. It was a good experience for us, we just wish we could have visited more countries.
Let’s talk a bit about the new album. With the album title being “Reptilian” and with song titles like “Dragon Iconography” and “The Dragon Tower”, it seems that there is an ongoing concept about dragons in this album. What are some of the concepts behind this new album?
It has a lot of tales of the ressurection of the dragon and stories evovling that, as we have had before on the previous albums.But this is more dedicated to the dragon yes, the lyrics can be read as separate stories or a whole one, and its written pretty open, so that people can get their own version of the storyline and what everything means.
How has the reception for the new album been?
People seem to really like the new album, the response has been very good so far, and we love plying the new songs live to, they work really well in a live setting.
The album art features a dragon and it gives a nice touch to the music on this album. Perhaps you want to talk a bit more about the artist behind this piece of art?
We wanted a more “in your face” coverart for this album, and chose the dragonhead that looks you straight in the eye. We chose to use Marcelo E Cissa, since he had done work for us and others that we really liked.
Like the previous album, Kolossus, Reptilian was recorded at your own studio. What was it that made the band decide to record the album yourselves instead of going to an external studio? What were some of the difficulties faced?
Recording in our own studio means we can use all the time we need to get every track the way we want it, we write a lot of the stuff while recording, so it takes a lot of time. If we were to pay for another studio for all those hours spendt recording it would cost too much.
For this album, the band managed to hook up Daniel Bergastrand (In Flames, Meshuggah, Behemoth). How did this come about?
We wanted someone that we knew could get the sound we wanted for this album,and Daniel was the right man for the job, and we are really pleased with the sound of the album!
What was the working experience with him like?
I did not work with him at all, he just did the mix, but Obsidian and Vyl worked with him, and they seemed to have a good time.
Obsidian C is the only remaining original member of the band. After the release of Agnen – A Journey Through the Dark, he put the band on hiatus and only brought it back to live in 2003, when you were recruited into the band. Perhaps you could talk more about the process of joining the band back then?
Well I was playing in a band with Vyl at the time, and when Keep of Kalessin got booked for a festivalshow in 2005 , they needed a singer after Atilla rejoined with Mayhem. So they asked me if i wanted to do the show with them, and i did,it was great for me since i liked their music. After that I started to test vocals for the Armada- album, and since then i’ve been with the band.
This year, Keep of Kalessin shocked the metal world by joining the popular music contest, Eurovision, winning the third prize overall (congratulations!). What was it that made the band decide to take part in it?
We just thought it would be a cool thing to do, and it really was. It got us up a few levels in Norway I guess, and we learned a lot from it.
What were the judges and audiences’ responses to the band’s entry into the competition? After all, Keep of Kalessin has to be the first extreme metal act to join this competition.
Most people were suprised that this “noisy” music was actually good, people that never really listened to metal before started to listen to it, so I think we recruited quite a few new metalheads this year. And by being so different from what people usually see and hear we got lots of attention, but the good kind.
Did being on Eurovision help in the promotion of Keep of Kalessin’s music and extreme metal in Europe in general?
In Europe its no big difference, but in Norway there is a huge difference, A lot more press and TV, and lots of more requests for shows. So it has only been a positive experience for us .
To all the haters that claim that Keep of Kalessin has sold out to the mainstream, what do you have to say to them?
There is always someone that dislikes it when bands become too popular to fit in their ”underground”, “true” whatever little world. I dont really see the problem with bands that are gaining popularity, it usually means that they made some good music and more and more people like it as the word spreads about the band. We haven’t changed the music, we made our heaviest album ever. But all in all we dont care that much about what people think, if you like the music thats great, if you dont, you probably like something else.
With an upcoming tour in North America alongside Nile, Ex Deo, Psycroptic and Pathology, along with the band’s participation in Eurovision, this certain has been and will be a busy year for the band?
Its going to be a busy year for us yes, but I think last year was a lot busier, with more tours and the recording of the album in between. But we are really looking forward to the US tour, have been waiting a long time to go back to the US, and i think its gonna be a great tour.
On to some personal questions. Besides playing in Keep of Kalessin, what do you and the rest of the band do during your free time?
I dont really have any free time, always working on something with Keep of Kalessin or with other bands. But when we get some time off we like to play computer games and watch sci-fi series to relax and get inspiration.
With the release of this album and the upcoming tour, will fans get to see any new releases soon? Perhaps a live DVD?
We have been recording some shows lately, and hope to release a DVD one day, but it needs to be good, and we havent really had time to focus on it yet. But looking forward to the day we can release one of the shows on DVD.
Last question: any parting words to fans and musicians out there?
Thanks for all your support and hope to see you all on tour someday!
Thank you once again and we wish you all the best in your upcoming tour!
|Keep of Kalessin 2010|