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Queens of the Stone Age Live Review

Monday, 13 August 2018 14:10 Published in Underground News

Queens of the Stone Age

w/ Eagles of Death Metal

Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC

August 4, 2018


By Lawrence Denvir


Let’s face it, scalpers are fucking scum. Sure at times they can show usefulness in that odd time you choose to hit a show at the last minute, but mostly they create an artificial demand that inflates ticket prices – sometimes out of reach of true fans.


Step in Aurora with their Illumination concert series – a celebration of music, arts, legalization, and culture in all its diversity. It’s a chance for a handful of verified fans to see their favourite bands for free. And yes, due to the limited availability there will be those left outside the venue disappointed; however, those lucky enough to get inside will have a memorable night.


Case in point, Queens of the Stone Age with the Eagles of Death Metal at the Commodore Ballroom. With a capacity of just under a thousand people, the venue allowed fans to be treated to a pretty intimate experience with one of today’s biggest rock bands. Keep in mind this is the same band that, just back in January, packed Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum (capacity of 17,500).


The band blasted through a seventeen song set included a healthy mix from their extensive album catalogue. Josh Homme, frontman for Queens of the Stone Age, towered over the crowd with his imposing height. But regardless of his physically intimidating stature, fans felt welcome to dance around by his friendly demeanour and songs like “Feet Don’t Fail Me” and “The Way You Used To Do” – both off their latest album “Villains”.


The crowd bounced around while wristbands provided to them by Aurora were synchronized with the light show. Attendees were clearly energized by “No One Knows”, the song from QOTSA’s album “Songs for the Deaf” which brought mainstream attention to the band.


Personal highlights included the underrated “Turnin’ on the Screw” and the cowbell-infused “Little Sister” – the latter apparently a request a fan made earlier that day.


The opening act, Eagles of Death Metal warmed the crowd up with a high-energy set.


“I’m playing with my best friend in the whole world tonight,” quipped EODM frontman Jesse Hughes referring to Josh Homme. “I’m the luckiest motherfucker in this town tonight.” I’d say there were about a thousand fans who would disagree with you on that one, Jesse.


Aurora Cannabis is a community minded, Canadian owned and operated company. For more information on their products, services and the Illumination concert series, check out their social media platforms:






Queens of the Stone Age set list:

1.       A Song for the Deaf

2.       Do it Again

3.       Feet Don't Fail Me

4.       The Way You Used to Do

5.       If I Had a Tail

6.       Misfit Love

7.       The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret

8.       No One Knows

9.       The Evil Has Landed

10.   In the Fade

11.   My God Is the Sun

12.   Turnin' on the Screw

13.   Domesticated Animals

14.   Hangin' Tree

15.   Smooth Sailing

16.   Little Sister

17.   A Song for the Dead



AU Vol. 14–5 Issue 83

Wednesday, 01 August 2018 00:00 Published in Volume 14

Absolute Underground # 83 featuring an interview with Twisted Sister's Dee Snider discussing his latest solo release For The Love of Metal. We also catch up with wrestling legend Mick Foley.

Also in this issue:

The Damned interview with Captain Sensible
Kobra and the Lotus
KEN mode
Tristan Risk
Dragonlord interview with Eric Peterson
Social Distortion

Uriah Heep Live Review

Saturday, 16 June 2018 14:57 Published in Underground News



by William Liira


They played three shows in Vancouver in the same year (1972); they played a co-headlining concert with Def Leppard at the Pacific Colesium in 1983; they have a singer from Victoria B.C. who joined them right before they made history as the first hard rock band from the west to ever play in Russia in 1987; they’ve even been referenced on an episode of the Simpsons; but despite all of this, Uriah Heep seem to be a band that many people – including avid music fans of rock bands from that era – in metro Vancouver know little to nothing about. Could this have something to do with the fact that the last Uriah Heep concert to take place anywhere in British Columbia was on August 4, 2001 at a club in Burnaby that no longer exists? I have a very strong feeling that it does. As someone who discovered the band long after this Burnaby gig happened, I was struck with an unusually strong combination of surprise and excitement when they announced early this year that they would finally be returning to perform at the Vogue Theatre on April 28.


Almost as soon as that rush on anticipation had started to slowly die down, I was already starting to worry about how many people would actually buy tickets for this event. Coming onstage only to be meet by a sparse crowd would probably make them question if it was even worth their time and money to venture back to Vancouver. Having seen and heard several live recordings of these more recent incarnations of the band, I hated to think how a lukewarm reception would make this upcoming concert the first and last show I would get to see in this area. As me and a friend walked towards the Vogue on Saturday evening, we were both surprised to see a long line of ticket holders that started in front of the venue, extended around the corner onto Smithe street and finished not far from Seymour. I knew that all of those concerns were going to disappear about as quickly as our money would when we finally got inside and started buying beer and merchandise.


Before the long awaited return of Uriah Heep was to begin, local heavy metal group Uncle Sid was scheduled to kick off the night. I was completely unfamiliar with them, but I was reassured by my brother in law that they would be worth watching. He was absolutely right. It only took about a song or two for me to realize that I would now have to become a fan. For thirty minutes, all four members of the band gave it their all and seemed to be having the same effect on many of those around us. I also have to give front woman Emerald Green extra credit for her strong and energetic stage presence. This is something that can make or break a performance for any band, especially an opener. In order to really slam your sound down into the eardrums and memories of the audience, you need to have a strong lead to keep their attention and make sure that indifference doesn’t begin to set in. Uncle Sid opened up a very loud and effective line of communication that did three things; 1) They gave those who were already fans even more reason to keep supporting them (2) They made everyone else who hadn’t heard them before realize they had been missing out and needed to start doing the same, and (3) insured that the overall level of excitement would remain high after they left the stage. At this point, it was up to Uriah Heep to match and exceed it to prove that they were still influential rock legends who deserved respect.


After making our way onto the floor and up to the front, we settled in at the right hand side of the stage. We were doing our part by maintaining all of that anticipation that had been building up for seventeen years. As the lights went down and the members began to appear, I was glad that I had decided not to go online and look up their setlist from previous shows on this tour. I was still guessing about how they would start things off, and as they began playing the intro to “Gypsy,” a huge grin grew on my face. This powerful epic rocker was originally the first track on their debut album, and here they are once again using this personal favourite of mine to introduce their own special brand of rock to anyone listening. They kept it going with more classic numbers like “Look At Yourself” and “Shadows Of Grief,” an excellent deep album track and a nice surprise that seemed to suggest that the setlist wouldn’t be too predictable. They had just absolutely crushed it with three classics, and as front man Bernie Shaw finally took the opportunity to have a brief chat with us, he acknowledged how long it had been and how many songs they were going to play to make up for it. They kept their classic 70’s sounds coming with “Stealin,” a popular single that had everybody breaking out into an enthusiastic sing along. After that, the band took another quick breather as Shaw told us what I had suspected would happen – they would be playing a lot of those 70’s classics, but they were also going to play a few new songs to give us an idea of what Uriah Heep was all about in 2018. “The Law” from their most recent album “Outsider,” made it clear that they were still all about making good new music and it fit right in with the more familiar repertoire.


The crowd was loving the performance, and that love was obviously having an effect on the band. Their execution of every song was flawless and brimming with the sort of energy that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a band that plays as many shows as they do. They continued to show their technical prowess and musical depth with “Sunrise.” Then it was time for a lesson in music history. Mr Shaw introduced the subject of how music started to change in 1972. Bands like Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson began to experiment musically and prog rock was born. The length of tracks doubled, and certain substances that may or may not have aided in the process were now going to become legal in Canada. He then dedicated their next number “The Magicians Birthday” to an audience member who was celebrating her birthday, and told us to get comfortable because “this next song will take a while.” They had no problem demonstrating why their own contribution to that musically adventurous movement known as prog should be recognized as much as those three aforementioned bands. There are still people who are eager to attach a lot of negativity towards this kind of music. Based on what I saw, none of those people were in attendance. Longer ten minute songs were more than welcomed by the crowd.


Shortly after they finished that long form lesson, they calmly started into “The Wizard.” It was this very track that introduced me to Uriah Heep and made me realize there was something unique about this band. Even though guitarist Mick Box is the only member who was involved in the original writing and recording of this song, the sonic potion that they produced was still as potent when put in the hands of the new Uriah Heep in 2018. Now it was time for two more diversions into the more recent back catalogue. “One Minute,” another track from “Outsider” also sounded great alongside the classics. “Between Two Worlds,” from their 1998 album Sonic Origami, was as Shaw put it, “dusted off from the archives and played around with in soundcheck” before they decided to play it. I admire their decision to take chances and pick songs from an era that many people may not be as familiar with. They played it every bit as well as all the other songs and gave everybody more reason to go back and take another look at what they did during that decade.


And then it was time to shoot right back to the past and finish off the night with three fan favourites. “July Morning” is an iconic number that become incredibly popular in countries that were at one time closed off from the west. Not even the iron curtain could hold back the power of “July Morning” and it somehow managed to slip through and find its way to the ears of the Russian people in the 80’s. They didn’t care that this song was first written in the early 70’s; good music is timeless. As for the rest of us at the Vogue Theatre - Uriah Heep continued to remind us why we should keep believing this too as they performed it with as much passion as they always have. “Lady In Black” was our final opportunity to sing along to one of their most loved ballads, and we didn’t let them down. Before the final song, Shaw took a bit of time to give a shout out to all the fans from Victoria and said that BC Ferries had to add an extra sailing to accommodate all the fans who came over from the island. He also confirmed that they had finished recording their new album “Living The Dream” and that it would be released in September. Last but not least was “Easy Livin,” which I consider to be their “Smoke On The Water.” They’ll always play it live, and it’s always the one song that the local FM stations will play when they actually get around to playing Uriah Heep, which is not very often. After 97 minutes, they left the stage having proven that they were still worthy of being held in such high regard. They took a chance and came back to Vancouver; all the Heep fans came out in good numbers and showed there are still enough of us out here who love their music. Now I can only hope that’ll give them enough reason to come back for at least one more show.


AU Vol. 14–4 Issue 82

Friday, 01 June 2018 00:00 Published in Volume 14

Absolute Underground # 82 - Punk Rock Bowling issue featuring Suicidal Tendencies, Zero Boys, Agnostic Front, Angelic Upstarts, Steve Ignorant of Crass, Old Firm Casuals, Grindline, The Faction, and GBH. We also feature an in-depth Slayer retrospective.


Also in this issue:


  • Euthanized
  • Roadrash
  • Vile Insignia
  • Return of the Leech
  • Chernobyl Wolves
  • Godfathers of Hardcore Movie
  • Anthrax
  • The Stiffs 1978

AU Vol. 14–3 Issue 81

Sunday, 01 April 2018 00:00 Published in Volume 14

Absolute Underground #81 - 420 Issue featuring interviews with Hashteroid, Brant Bjork, Dopethrone and Sasquatch. We also talk to The Dwarves, Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, Ross “The Boss” Friedman, Burn The Priest, and Bret “The Hitman” Hart.

Also in this issue:

  • Rival Gang
  • Widow’s Peak
  • Shallow End
  • Bloodshot Dawn
  • Kvelertak
  • Heron
  • Titty Titty Bong Bong Burlesque
  • The Penske File
  • Urn
  • Vendetta
  • Exits


Return of the Leech

Sunday, 08 April 2018 17:47 Published in Underground News

Dirkschneider - Live In Vancouver - March 18, 2018

Saturday, 24 March 2018 13:57 Published in Underground News



Accept what we do

This message to you

Is rock forever and ever

We’ve still got the feel

The music is real

And we’ll rock ‘n’ roll forever, forever”


These lyrics that make up the chorus of the song “Feelings,” originally written by Accept for their 1981 album “Breaker,” so perfectly represents what true Heavy Metal is all about. The challenge of building up and running a band like this amongst all the pressure to conform to trends; the financial difficulties brought about by bad record contracts and sleazy managers; and the risks of stiff competition created by a business model that only allows a small few to rise to the top – all of these things have made life hard for the musician for as long as there has been a music business. Listening to Udo Dirkschneider sing these lyrics in a way only he can really takes these same old themes and amplifies them to the maximum. Any genre that insists on being so loud and proud will often have to face these difficulties in equal measure, and Accept were more than up to the task of cutting through that bullshit to keep going. Dirkschneiders gruff vocal delivery was a very important component of this musical onslaught, and when it was announced that he and his solo group – also called Dirkschneider - would be coming to Vancouver to play a show made up entirely of those classic Udo era Accept tracks for the very last time, I knew that I had to go.

Tickets were bought quickly, and when the morning of January 19, 2017 came around, I was already playing those classic tracks as a way to stoke my excitement for the show. Then I got the bad news via text from my brother-in-law around noon – the show was cancelled! The band had been trapped on a highway in Oregon by a sudden snow storm and there was no way they would be able to get out in time to make it to Vancouver that evening. It was starting to look like we wouldn’t get to see the original voice of Accept sing those classic songs after all. As great as Accept had been when they first played at the Rickshaw Theatre with their new singer Mark Tornillo in 2012, it still wasn’t the same without Udo Dirkschneider behind the mic. Thankfully they announced that there would be a second leg of their North American tour in 2018, called “Back To The Roots Tour Part 2” and a Vancouver date was scheduled for March 18. The morning of March 18 began just like January 19, 2017 did, with one major difference - there was no bad news of cancellations to interrupt me as I cranked those same classic songs.

The first opening band scheduled to play was Rebel Priest, a local hard working band that was about to premiere a few brand new songs they had been working on. Doing this at a high profile gig was the kind of ballsy move that showed how ready they were to take the necessary risks that any serious band has to take in order to stand out. The three new songs, “Really Heavy” “Release The Fire,” and “Space Hookers,” did have a different sound to them, somewhat bluesier and heavier would be a good general description, but the rest of the crowd still seemed to enjoy them as much as I did. This new sound blended in quite well with “Blade Runner” “Giants Of Texas” “Blood and Sands” and “London Soho” which have became familiar staples of their live shows. It’s unfortunate that their set was only about thirty minutes, and it would’ve been nice to have seen more people there to watch it, but that’s how it goes for opening bands who come on first. Still a very worthwhile performance that gave the audience a good idea of what’s ahead for Rebel Priest, who are currently working on a new album.

Next up was Elm Street, an Australian band who was making their Vancouver debut. Before I go any further, I want to say that there was a lot to like about their performance. Very energetic with great musicianship. There were more people in the audience for their set, and from what I could see, the reception was very positive. With that out of the way, I have to be honest about why I wasn’t as enthusiastic about it; they sound a lot like Children Of Bodom. I’m a pretty big fan of early Bodom, which by my definition ranges from “Something Wild” through “Are You Dead Yet,” and there were a few too many times where they would play something that sounded a little too much like the songs from those first five studio albums. At least they didn’t have a keyboardist; that would have been too much. I suppose I have to give them credit for picking the best era of COB to use as a musical guideline to follow. The highlight of their set for me was the well executed cover of “Metal Health” by Quiet Riot.

As the sound crew was finishing their soundcheck, the Rickshaw Theatre was full of fans anticipating the show they had been waiting over a year to see. Then the lights went down and “Fire” by The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown played over the PA as a sort of warning to prepare us for what was to come. Just as the song was ending, members of the band emerged on stage. Now it was time. The musical assault began with “The Beast Inside,” a surprising but still very fitting choice to set the tone for the evening. Dirkschneider had been saying that this second leg of the tour would feature a few changes in the setlist which would include some songs from the 90’s. As good as those three reunion era albums were, the musical landscape in North America had changed, and like many other previously popular Heavy Metal bands from the 80’s, they found their work being meet with much less reception than before. I have to give him credit for not ignoring this time period. “The Beast Inside” “Bulletproof” “Amamos La Vida” and “Objection Overruled” sounded every bit as good along side 80’s classics like “Midnight Mover,” “Fight It Back,” “London Leatherboys,” “Breaker,” and “Love Child.”

The band was laying down a tight performance and Udo was in good voice, propelling them forward and locking in the crowd with several more choice cuts like “Aiming High” “Living For Tonite” “Another Second To Be” “Can’t Stand The Night” (one of my favourite Accept ballads) “Up To The Limit” “Screaming For A Love Bite” and “Russian Roulette.” Both guitarists had a few occasions to show off with solos that didn’t carry on too long or diminish the excitement of the crowd. As they left the stage to take a breather before the encore, there wasn’t any doubt what songs they were saving for last. Up to this point, everybody in the audience, from those on the floor to those in the seated section in the back had not only heard but also literally felt the well organized rebellious noise that Dirkschneider had been pumping out into the venue. As they came back out and finished off with “Princess Of The Dawn” “Metal Heart” “Fast As A Shark” and “Balls To The Wall,” they somehow managed to increase the intensity of this experience just a little bit more. Audience participation is pretty much mandatory when any anthemic numbers are played, and he gave us plenty of opportunities to join in. It felt like he may have got us to sing along a few more times than usual, which was probably done to reinforce the significance of what he would be leaving behind after this show was over.

The band members who joined Udo Dirkschneider on stage may have been different this time around, but that feel of real Heavy Metal music that Accept had first written about in 1981 was still present to everyone of us in 2018. Now that I’ve seen what he can deliver live, I’m even more excited at the possibility to see him perform a show made up exclusively of U.D.O. songs. I can only hope that he and his band aren’t prevented from doing so by any freak storms or accidents when that time comes.

- William Liira


AU Vol. 14–2 Issue 80

Thursday, 01 February 2018 00:00 Published in Volume 14

Absolute Underground #80 - Featuring interviews with Mac Sabbath and Galactic Empire. We also talk to Black Wizard, The Vibrators, Cory Bowles, and Danielle Harris.

Also in this issue:

  • Crom/Dam
  • Empress
  • Trev Kill 
  • The Von Rebels
  • Royal Thunder
  • SNFU
  • Nailbomb
  • Dreadnoughts
  • Awkward AC
  • Just Cause 
  • Art Godoy

AU Vol. 14–1 Issue 79

Friday, 01 December 2017 00:00 Published in Volume 14

Absolute Underground #79 - Punk Rock XXX-Mas Issue! featuring Angry Snowmans, Figgy and the Scrooges, The Adicts, and Dead Kennedys. We also check in with Deaner from FUBAR.

Also in this issue:

No Heart
Dead Asylum
The Smugglers
Rebel Priest


Monday, 11 December 2017 21:19 Published in Underground News

ENSLAVED = Ivar Bjørnson // guitarist
Norway, Bergen

AU: Greetings, can you set the scene? Where are you now? And what are you drinking?
IB: It looks similar to the Pacific Northwest, where I am. In Bergen, Norway. Famous for rain here.
And on that note the last thing I had was a glass of water.

AU: Given you are in late October, are you getting sun still?
IB: It gets dark at around 1900hrs, until 0830hrs in the morning. Dark all the time! When you are done
with rehearsals and practice, always dark. Pretty metal actually.

AU: What is going with the band right now, are you getting to tour and promote the album?
IB: We released the new album two weeks ago and have done three shows so far in Norway and
Sweden. It's a warm up for the European tour which starts next week. This is the “pre-tour mode” with
planning and rehearsals, and trying to hang out with kids and family before leaving for a month. And
promotion for the new album. It's quite exciting.

AU: Do you find there is a good way to prepare for tour, a week out? Is there a ritual to get set and
IB: It becomes a habit with all the touring. You keep a suitcase, you never unpack it. You refill some
clothes and that's it. For me, it is important to get some good books. Some “analog books” with paper.
And some more on the Kindle. Download a few movies and films. And also some music as well, it is
important to have some for the headphones if you do not enjoy the music in the venue lounge. Boxer
shorts and shirts – you can buy anywhere. Special books, you must bring them.

AU: Could you share a book you read recently you really enjoyed?
IB: Neil Gaiman, enjoying his books. Sandman writer. And now “Norse Mythology”. It is so good,
because it is a book of fiction, but also a good one to study for mythology because it is trying to make it
a linear, and more easy presentation of the stories rather than original texts such as the Prose Edda. It's
like reading a Dostoevsky novel, jumping around times. His take is more refined and adapted to how
we are used to reading now. “Homosapiens: A Brief History of Mankind”, by Yuval Noah Harari. A
history of how we came to be where we are. Not so much the evolution from ameobas to humans,
rather how was society invented, how were gods invented as a human activity. How the earliest
societies 10, 20 thousand years back came to form. How these civilizations came about from a practical

AU: We maybe overlook the older historical factors on why our cultures value what they do. Our
technology has usurped our social programming.
IB: Exactly! Drawing the line on why people say things online, but it has its logical history. It's

AU: Can I quote a great prophet of our times?
IB: Yes, of course.
AU: The great prophet, Ronnie James Dio, said: “If you listen to fools, the mob rules!” we must remember that everyday.
IB: We must! If I was to play, in this case, God's Advocate, it would have to say in Dio's lyrics, “the moon is just a sun in the night”. So you have the take him with a pinch of salt, for observations.

AU: As you are gearing up for tour, your new keyboard player Håkon Vinje is joining up. Is this the
first tour cycle with him?
IB: We have done about 12-15 shows with him, festival and clubs. We know him well. Socially, we are
totally there. It has been an intense three quarters of a year since he has joined the band. I'm happy we
had this time to join the band, record and play festivals. To go straight to tour might have been rough
for all parties. Tour is not the right place to get to know each other. There are so many external stress
factors. I guess, more time to give each other space than to spend it in fights. We have had that process
already. Learned to know each other and most importantly, played together and learned to trust each
other. It has really raised the bar on the live performance. It has also helped he is 25 years old; the next
guy is 40, and then all the way up until 50. He sets the bar for endurance! He is always full of new

AU: In listening to the new album, there were hints of exploring duality. The song “Storm Son” speaks to losing touch with nature and man becoming more confident he is above or superior to nature. Do you think this is taking place? How do you reconnect with nature and stay balanced in today's increasingly electronic urban world?
IB: It's a huge theme in this record, and being around the block with many albums and themes, and
lyrics, and explored many things. That is the big question: what is our own nature? We are always
talking about human potential and improvement. A few people in the category of “slacker” or “nihilist”
doesn't seem to be preoccupied with that. Most others seem to be. Then the question is... why? What is
the point of that? That is just one thing that living creatures have in common. That's what moves it, I
guess. Of else, it is would be in a vegetative state. I guess it fulfils some kind of evolutionary goal,
because we want to move around, change things, reproduce. We also seem to want to leave a memory
after we are gone, in the form of monuments, art, music, buildings – whatever we do to immortalize
ourselves. It is interesting that modern man is having that discussion with himself, like if he is above
nature. And can contain it. It is a loss of perspective, because we are also nature and can't really do that
to ourselves. That's where the cognitive dissonance hits. That's where we deem nature to be primitive
and nasty, uncivilized. It's basically putting those same terms on ourselves! That leads to discontent and
alienation. People are not feeling they belong, they cannot find their own nature. We are trying to sever
ties with something that is not possible to get rid of. We are as much nature as the forest or an animal,
the stream, or whatever. We have fooled ourselves into thinking, with concrete buildings and cars and
computers, between us and what we call nature. That we are two separate things.
With electricity, I try and stay away from nuclear radiation and dangerous levels of electricity. To avoid
mutation! Other than that, I think it is useful. Electricity is a like an expression of flames in different
times. One of my favourite album covers is Pure, by Godflesh. They really delved into that, within the
music it was one person as singer, drummer, guitars. And they have this picture from a microscope, and
the human cells are trying to grow on a computer chip. They recognize them as human cells when they
are electrified. Electricity is not so different, it is nature still. It is metals, conductive metals which are
imitating processes in nature. Think of trees; with sending signals. The branches are sending signals back. The tree knows when it is hurt, to send out certain liquids to fix something if there is a breach of the bark. So we are doing with art is imitation of nature, and I feel at home whether in New York City or Vancouver, the big city. This is also an expression of human nature. You can't do just the one thing, you need to have both, to have a balance in today's world.

AU: A challenge on how to find that balance. We use, substances, music, culture, other people.
IB: Absolutely! It is a misconception that you have to get away from the city. Okay great, you can
make some fire from trees and shoot little bears and eat them for weeks and weeks. I think you can still
be in touch with nature in the inner city. You can get that input from wherever. Having a little collection
of bonzai trees in the back garden, is the recognition of the concept to make small adjustments in
thought and choices to find that.

AU: To speak to “Sacred Horse”, the bond previously humans had with horses. As transportation, as a food source with their blood and also aiding humans with hunting. A twinned relationship which still persists in some areas of the world with camels, and horses. What do you think is perhaps, today's “horse”?
IB: A good question. It could be in a hundred years that people come back and answer that question
more appropriately. It is tempting, as we have talked about computers and electricity, to point to that I
guess. But the difference, is that it is not sentient on its own. I'm not sure we have a “new horse”, to be
honest. What we discovered from the horse, was healthy dependance in relationships. And this
transferred to inter-human relationships, not like a weird BDSM thing with people dressed as horses -

AU: Phew, that's far out -
IB: Yes, I just realized people do that. One of our trips we were told of a place where we could see
people dressed as horses in a barn room with hay, and could relax and pet them. Oh okay, well people
should do that if they like that. But, lets speak to interdependence. Before that, when “survival” is the
one road, you don't really have that thing where, things are kept and relationships are maintained and
serviced, outside of the instant need – if you know what I mean? I think it developed from “horse runs
fast, we can use this”. But then, “horse needs food, needs water” and they also discover if you provide
affection and some kind of caring outside of “horse did good job, it gets food and affection” but also
next day “horse hurts foot, cannot work, but I still will take care of it”, I think that was also something
that was developed from this relationship. Where man not only took from the horse as a resource, but
became a provider and carer for something... without wanting to exploit it directly, if you see what I
AU: Yes, you're providing unconditional care and love for your horse.
IB: Yes, exactly, that is the point. That is when it went from “useful horse” to “sacred horse”. And then
these religious thoughts of “where did horse come from” became. We have these people today, we call
them “new age people” who would claim to know what the horse is talking about, what we might call
“horse whisperers” today. They were the first of their kind. This formed some mystical foundations in
medieval traditions.

AU: Certainly Odin in Norse mythology had an eight legged horse Sleipner, who was looked upon fondly as a fast horse.
IB: Absolutely, they are looked upon fondly and centrally in the mythology. Much attention which is given to horses, in many myths. Wolves are given attention too, horses are more central.

AU: In discussion so far, you seen to be open to learning and progression. What did you learn from the creation of this album in particular?
IB: The main thing we learned, or re-learned, was the value of band dynamics in the studio. Since 2008
basically, since the first start of the band in the early 90s, we have been going where the band is
comprised of five musicians who record parts separately in the studio and we have moved more and
more to the collective effort, and recording together. From this effort, we learned, we were right to aim
for that. Because, we spent more and more time for being “a band” in the studio, rather that focus on
individual practice, we have re-learned “being a band”. We might not excel, as musicians, I mean, we
have a lead guitar player who would excel in competitions, but a good drummer and bass player, and
rhythm guitar player – where we really excel though, is when we play as a band.

AU: You have familiarity with teamwork in your band, and that is beautiful. Being from Norway you
must have some familiarity with ice hockey. A Canadian saying is that “you couldn't have a team of Wayne Gretzkys and hope for success” you need to have a variety – you need a goalie, wingers, some enforcers. It's not a guarantee of a good team. You need everybody for team success.
IB: Yes! Certainly!

AU: It is exciting when a band says “our lead single is over three minutes!” and for this album it is ten minutes. Do you think as time goes on, metal fans are becoming more open to progression and saying, for example, “let's break out of a 3 minute format, lets hear a 10 minute single”. Do you feel metal fans are becoming more progressive as time goes on?
IB: Absolutely! I think the way that the digital providers, Spotify and others, they are trying to force
everything into the same format, so that it is easier to control playlists. For us, the model is rigged, it
even makes it monetarily unfortunate to have long songs. I know many musical organizations are
looking to correct this, we pretty much stop earning after three minutes when someone streams our
song. Let's say we have fifty minutes on our album, with six songs. If another band has fifty minutes
and twelve songs – they make double the money we do. And you might say “who cares? It is
essentially double of nothing” yet it is the principle. Those things will be corrected in the long run. I
think, in having this extreme focus on the format of music, they are doing themselves a disfavour. With
bands out there, there is a subconscious understanding that someone is trying to change them. And we
are seeing this, with this album, which we did hear from the streaming services – we should do shorter
songs, because that would help us with our digital commerce. To which we answered politely “fuck
off!” and there would not be point to that. We do unnecessarily long songs! What happened is, this
album has the longest songs we have ever done, and the increasing improvement in digital numbers. So
people, instead of disowning it, are instead appreciating that it is something different. That is what
today's music listener is all about. They want the choice. They can't be sort of pooled into doing what
they did before like the 80's or 90's with a good marketing campaign to sell them anything. That is not
the case today. And that is great. That gives bands like us, which are outside the norm, a fighting

AU: That's fantastic you're able to find success within today's market place. It's always somewhat surreal to read of a band winning Grammy awards and being tapped for great projects, which you have, and wonder “how are they making it, economically?” and then you contrast with a band, who by anyone's math, is not a culturally progressive band, will be making millions off a simplistic song. This is the game.
IB: Yes!

AU: In doing some reading, you and Einar Selvik of Wardruna, were tapped by the Norwegian
government, in a project called SKUGGSJÁ, to create a musical piece to commemorate the 200 year
anniversary of the Norwegian constitution. Wow! Norway has embraced you, and certainly metal.
What was the experience like to do a song for Norway's constitution? And how Norway's culture is
progressing, or fading? What did it mean to you?
IB: It was an interesting thing to be doing. It was a concert, a full hour, we wrote. It was performed on
an outer stage by the constitution, which was written now, 203 years ago. And what they wanted to do,
they had two specific themes for the celebration of the constitution: women's rights and freedom of
speech. And that is what led them to us. We were a bit in between, you have some of the Norwegian
black metal bands which are extreme, yet not really commenting on, or applying much to what is going
on in society. They are very biblical, or you could say, cosmologic – or even, anti-cosmologic. It's hard
to for the government to value people's right to be satanic, or nihilistic. So I guess they went for us,
because we have some direct comment on our history. In specific, the Christening of Norway. The
transition from polytheistic to monotheistic society at around the year one thousand. At one point, they
wanted us to look at the transition from that, from the constitution in 1814, to today and bring our
comments. We said, “we would love to do that, but with free reign in criticizing” and they said, “of
course”. So we wrote a concept exploring the contrast of the common way of thinking of going from a
circular way of viewing life, in the pre-Christian times where even the Apocalypse was the end of one
cycle and the beginning of another. Compared to today, where everyone is looking at the skies and
throwing threats at one another, you know. The Day of Reckoning is coming. It's quite interesting how
these dynamics affect politics in society. We are surrounded by religious maniacs who spend money
and weapons and lives, on how they interpret religious texts. Also, we were looking at Norway's
history and how people are deemed to be founding figures, and were really horrible people. Today they
would be classified as warlords and psychopaths, on par with Assad in Syria. They used the same
techniques to introduce Christianity in Norway. To try and defend that position of turning our backs to
the old ways, and introducing Christianity, these people were deemed saints and history was rewritten.
We discovered that history was not written in a sequence, that the surprising thing was these things are
openly known in historical circles – and that we have chosen to disregard it. We have medals in their
names, like Saint Olaf, for introducing Christianity. But it is widely known he used torture, kidnapping,
murder, sexualized violence to achieve this, to force the change, to make people Christians. But we
decided to leave this out. People are rewarded for this kind of civil service with medals in his name – it
would be like being rewarded for the Hitler Medal.

AU: To reflect your comment, Alfred Nobel invented dynamite which is widely used in artillery shells for killing people, yet you can win a peace prize in his name in Sweden.
IB: It's all the same. Totally. We are still working together, me and Einar, and it was a very interesting

AU: I'm so happy that first, Norway decided to choose you. Second, that you had free reign. Third, the product you created and that it has taken hold and found enjoyment in the people of Norway. Kudos to you.
IB: It's cool!

AU: To change gears, what is your most useful piece of guitar equipment?
IB: I mostly have one piece with me, the Fractal AX8, which is where I run everything through. After I
starting using that, it changed everything. Not having to bring a million pedals and patch cables, and
when the sound is displaced, it can be any one of them and it is always the last one you check. So, that
is my most cherished possession besides the guitar itself. It's a good recommendation if you are not one
of those people who does not make a big effort of doing A/V checks on their vinyl and are concerned
of hearing differences in the gear, with digital and analog. If you are like me and can still enjoy a CD of
a band you like, this will be good.

AU: You had some guest players in, which is daring territory for metal bands, and you had Daniel
Mage come in, and play some flute on the track “Feathers of Ioth”. How does one get a guest flute
IB: (laughs) this is good luck on our behalf. He is with a prog band from an island near Bergan where
we live now. We just became aware of them a few years back, they did some gigs at a pub we like to
hang out at and we saw them live. Some friends of ours have a label which has them, and it became
known that their main singer happens to be a brilliant flute player as well. He can do any Jethro Tull
song! So we were rehearsing the song, and our singer Grutle, said “this part should have a flute lead!”
and we knew right away to contact Daniel. We set up a home recording studio and invited him to come
and have a few beers and play. He said “I'm not used to playing metal!” and we said “That's the whole
point!”. This is a point, it doesn't have to be metal. And after 30 minutes, he relaxed and started to play,
and it really suited the piece.

AU: Last words to Canadian metalheads across this frosty land?
IB: It's been a fantastic journey through these years, and Canada was one of the first countries we
played in outside Norway. We played the summer in Montreal, and we have been a lot since then, playing in Quebec, Toronto, Vancouver. Its a really great place of nature, and also the mentality. Right now Canada is a place we are doing very well with our record sales and we want to honour that. We look forward to seeing people in Canada again in February and March.


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