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ProgPower USA XV Interviews: LEPROUS Talks New Album, Dream Journals, Emperor

Photo of Leprous

Band Photo: Leprous (?)

As of this day, the boys of the truly progressive act Leprous have finished their North American tour and will be moving on to Euroblast and a string of dates in the UK. Their set at ProgPower USA XV on September 12th was to be the first of the North American dates, the last of the tour dates to support their last album, “Coal.” Sitting down with the guys of Leprous after that show (vocalist Einar Solberg, guitarists Oystein Landsverk and Tor Suhrke), Metal Underground.com writer Frank Serafine was to find out that the band had already nearly completed the next album and is preparing to go into the studio to record it. Among talk about Solberg playing festivals with Emperor and other things, it was also discovered that the band’s previous songs are sometimes the stuff of dreams, written down shortly upon waking.

Einar Solberg: These days, I’m learning a new technique that is like giving the same intensity but it’s much lower in volume. Your vocals are really compressed. It doesn’t break my voice at all.

Frank Serafine (Progressivity_In_All): That’s good! You don’t want to have to have surgery on your throat.

Einar: I will have the new style by the rest of the tour, but I didn’t dare today. It was too much stress.

Frank: The last time we interviewed you guys was 2011 and you were performing with Ihsahn. I didn’t think that you guys were meant for an opening slot, like you played before. I thought that you should be playing the main days of ProgPower. Three years later, here you are! I was really thrilled to see you perform today. How does it feel to be playing the main festival days as Leprous?

Einar: It felt really really great to see all the people. We had a lot of technical difficulties, but when you see the response from the crowd… I think Leprous is a band meant for bigger stages because of the energy. Whenever we get a big crowd and big stage, we are really happy.

Frank: You guys traditionally jump off of things, move around, and I know you guys NEED a lot of space!

Oystein Landsverk: Yeah. It’s much more fun to play when you have a lot of room.

Frank: ‘Coal’ is only a year old now -- do you think you’ve toured enough for it? Are you by any chance working on new material?

Einar: We’re almost finished with the next album, actually. We will start recording drums in November.

Oystein: We’re ready!

Einar: The US and UK tour will be the last for ‘Coal.’ We wrote 13 sketches of songs, and we’ve been working 3-4 times as much from the previous albums just writing, writing, writing. At least, I’ve had that as a main priority for a very long time. We have a lot of things to choose between, and then we can start to narrow it down to start making it the perfect album and not have to settle, where we can perfect the album.

Tor Suhrke: We’d like to have a perfect album.

Einar: We’ve thrown away at least 15 songs, or just selected the best ones, and we’re working on them.

Frank: The difference between ‘Bilateral’ and ‘Coal’ involves more vocals. How would you say that your writing style has changed between ‘Coal’ and this next album?

Einar: I think you just have to be open to your influences but not cling to them. The problem is that too many people do things as routine and stop challenging themselves. They stop listening to their inspiration and just do what they think will please. We could have done that with ‘Bilateral,’ because we know how to write that kind of music if that’s what we wanted to do, but it would be a really fake expression. It wouldn’t have been true for us at that moment.

Oystein: I think that we’ve changed a lot more from ‘Bilateral’ to ‘Coal’ than from ‘Coal’ to what we do now.

Frank: Okay! I was also wondering about the lyrics to ‘Coal.’ Did you all write lyrics or was it mostly one person?

Einar: Mostly Tor, and I did one.

Frank: What were some of your inspirations behind them?

Tor: They don’t necessarily have a common thing behind them, as they’re mostly individual. Some of the lyrics came from this new approach of just writing down whatever you have dreamt when you wake up in the morning.

Frank: A dream journal.

Tor: You try to find some meaning out of what you have dreamt. For example, “The Valley” was a result of it. It was a really funny way to do it. Also, I have some others, for example… The title song, “Coal,” is kind of something I just thought about… Coal and diamonds are made of the same material, the same atoms. In a way, you can start out with the same ingredients, but however you place them together decides what you will end up with - coal or diamonds. It’s not the cards you’ve been dealt, but how you use your resources to do the best you can. It doesn’t matter if you had been lucky so far, you have to do something also to achieve something.

Also, something I’ve thought about afterwards didn’t have anything to do with the lyrics, but fits with the songwriting -- You can start out with having a lot of different ideas. You pick out the best ones and put them together in the best way, removing things (even if you think they are cool), to end up with a final product that is the optimal thing of what you started with. You can use that metaphor in many different ways, actually.

Frank: Awesome. So you used Ihsahn quite a bit on the record on two songs.

Einar: It was just supposed to be on “Contaminate Me.” That was planned. I knew “Okay, my screaming doesn’t work for that song. I already know it.” with my old technique, I couldn’t do long screams and I need the long screams for that long. But then we were just in the studio, and I was doing my scream parts and then Ihsahn was just supposed to be dubbing over my screaming. Then, suddenly, in the mix, Jens Bogren put it louder than my screaming. (laughs) I thought “Yeah, I think that’s cool!”

Frank: So do you see him being a part of future albums, as well?

Einar: Not the next one. We’re recording elsewhere, but that’s not official yet.

Tor: We don’t have any plans. We didn’t make a song thinking “okay, we need to have something that he can do vocals on.”

Frank: It was like as if you were picking from a box of colors to paint with and you needed a certain color, and Ihsahn just happened to be the right color to use in a part.

Oystein: Absolutely!

Einar: He is the best one, regarding screaming. I don’t know anyone who does it with as much passion.

Frank: You just got done performing with him as a part of Emperor at a few shows this summer. How was it performing with Emperor?

Einar: It was a very big opportunity. It was really cool. I managed to do a lot of back-and-forth with my hand as fast as I could and holding one finger on the keyboard.

(the whole band laughs)

Frank: It’s really old school!

Einar: It’s really old school -- the first album and before, the demos. We played the demos too. One of the demos was almost holding one note for the entire song! They were really nice guys to travel with. When we’re traveling with Emperor, it’s luxury. Leprous is all about saving money everywhere, but they can allow themselves some…

Tor: We’re all about saving money, and they’re about spending money! (laughs)

Einar: It was a nice experience. It’s not exactly my style at the moment. Early ‘90s black metal is not what I normally do these days. (laughs) But it was a lot of fun.

Frank: It was probably the most work on Bard [“Faust” Eithun], the drummer. He was in jail for, what… 9 years? And he had to relearn all of his parts?

Einar: Yeah! For him, this was huge. The rest of us have played a lot, but for him this was such a huge huge thing. So now, for me, it’s back to playing in shitty small bars in Oslo, so… (laughs, switches topic to ProgPower) The problem is that now, we’re completely over-tired. (laughs)

Tor: I’ve slept maybe 5 in the last 43 hours! (laughs)

Einar: We’re very diffuse in all of our answers and I didn’t realize it! (laughs)

Frank: That’s okay, I just have one more question! So you have a tour coming up, with a string of dates in the US.

Tor: It’s a good opportunity to finally see some more of the United States -- not only Atlanta! (laughs) It’s nice, of course, to play, but it’s also nice to travel around. We’ll get to see a very big part of it. I’m looking forward maybe to New York a lot. It’s cool, New York. I’ve never been there, so...

Frank: It IS a bit cool -- kind of cold!

Tor: (laughs) Not colder than Norway, I think! We just had the signing session and we met 10 people from New York who said, “Oh yeah, you’re playing there? I have to come out!”

Einar (looking at tour promoter Milton Mendonca, sarcastically): GREAT PROMOTION!

(band laughs)

Oystein: I don’t know who’s in charge, but…

(band laughs)

Frank: Well, alright, have an awesome tour!

Leprous will be touring the UK for the following dates:

Oct 02 Euroblast Festival Cologne, Germany
Oct 23 Garage London, United Kingdom
Oct 24 The Assembly Leamington Spa, Uk
Oct 26 The Fleece Bristol, United Kingdom
Oct 27 Robin2 Wolverhampton, United Kingdom
Oct 29 The Village Dublin, Ireland
Oct 30 O2 Academy 2 Liverpool, United Kingdom
Oct 31 Academy 3 Manchester, United Kingdom
Nov 01 THE LIQUID ROOM Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Nov 02 The Duchess York, United Kingdom

Progressivity_In_All's avatar

Frank Serafine is an avid writer, music producer, and musician, with five albums to his name. While completely enamored with metal, he appreciates a wide range of music. He also works full-time at the American-based performing rights organization, SESAC.

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