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A Interview With Madder Mortem Guitarist BP M. Kirkevaag

Since the early 90’s, Norway’s Madder Mortem has been delivering atmospheric metal with a progressive touch. They have been labeled a gothic metal band for years, but with the lack of cheesy lyrics and awful make-up, that seems like an unfair branding. The band has been chugging along for a while under the radar, maintaining a small but dedicated fan base both overseas and in the states. While they have yet to do a full-scale tour of the states, the band’s latest album, “Eight Ways,” left an impression on many in the U.S. In a recent interview with Metal Underground, guitarist BP M. Kirkevaag talked about the band’s latest EP for single “Where Dream & Day Collide,” future plans, and the status of new material.

Heavytothebone2: A year after the release of “Eight Ways,” how do you feel about the album?

Very satisfied. I think we achieved a lot of the things we were aiming for and to point out our musical direction and make the songs more to-the-point. Also with the production, kind of highlighting stuff so people can latch onto it easier.

Heavytothebone2: What are the advantages and disadvantages of the band self-producing the album?

It’s a real advantage having the time to experiment and trying out all the insane stuff we want to try out. It’s a disadvantage to the mental psyche of one’s self (laughs) because it’s a lot of responsibility and you want to sound the best. It’s a bit brutal in that way, but it’s a nice way to achieve what you want. There’s nobody that knows our sound and what we should sound like better than ourselves.

Heavytothebone2: What is one thing that makes “Eight Ways” significant from the rest of the band’s albums?

It’s more of a band effort than the previous albums and I think you can really hear that in the way things are arranged with how the drums interplay with the guitars.

Heavytothebone2: When did the idea come in to have it more of a band effort? Was it your intention going into the studio to have it that way or did it evolve into that?

Yeah, it kind of evolved from the “Desiderata” album. The previous album was a band effort, but the new members at that time were kind of fresh, so they came into songs that were already finished, so to speak. With “Eight Ways,” they were there from the beginning and had a chance to come up with ideas from scratch.

Heavytothebone2: Is there one song from the album you wish you had more time to work on?

No, actually not. Every song was given the time it needed and I feel they are as good as they can be at the moment and I’m pretty satisfied with them.

Heavytothebone2: As a guitarist, where there any challenges during the recording of "Eight Ways"?

Yeah sure, there were lots of them (laughs) because one of the goals with the sound was to bring out the dynamics of the clean guitars in a better way by using different guitars and different amps. Also, some technical, difficult stuff to play, of course (laughs). I also purchased a mandolin in the Czech Republic that I used for the album that I had to learn, so it was quite a few challenges.

Heavytothebone2: What was the hardest song for you to record on the guitar?

The most brutal one was the last song, “The Eighth Wave.” It’s eight, nine minutes long, and there is lots of difficult stuff on that.

Heavytothebone2: As a guitarist, do you enjoy the heavier stuff or the lighter material of the band?

Playing-wise, I would say I prefer the heavy stuff because it’s releasing everything. As a listener, I would say maybe I prefer the light stuff.

Heavytothebone2: Which one is more of a challenge for you to play?

The lighter stuff, definitely, because I come from such a metal background with the guitar playing; Metallica, Pantera, all that. So the clean guitars are more (about) discovering new elements of the instrument.

Heavytothebone2: The band recently released an EP for single “Where Dream & Day Collide,” featuring three new songs. Could you explain about how these songs came together?

Two songs, “Jitterheart” and “The Purest Strain,” were tracks we were working on for our next album to come after “Eight Ways,” but we thought they were strayed too far from what we normally do. The song “Quietude” we kind of pulled out all the different aspects of that song ("Where Dream & Day Collide").

Heavytothebone2: It’s interesting you say that “Jitterheart” and “The Purest Strain” were supposed to be on the new album, but they were too off-center from what the band usually does. Do you see a lot of the new material heading in that direction, something different from previous albums?

No, not really so much. There is an element of that, but maybe not as obvious as those songs.

Heavytothebone2: Did you enjoy doing “Jitterheart” and “The Purest Strain”? Was that something a little more exciting for the band?

Yeah, absolutely. It was really cool and we tried different approach with the recording, putting away the click tracks and me playing along with Mads (Solås, drummer) and getting the groove more as a band, not as computerized. A lot of experimenting…two of the most fun songs we’ve ever recorded, I think.

Heavytothebone2: How’s the rest of the new material coming along?

It’s coming along real nicely. We got like three, four finished songs now and the direction is taking the “Eight Ways” sound a bit further and maybe even more aggressive again.

Heavytothebone2: Going back to the EP, why did the band decide to have “Where Dream & Day Collide” be the single from “Eight Ways”?

That’s due to when Christian (Ruud), who is also responsible for the cover art, wanted to make a video and that was the song that was most suited for the lyrics and everything to make into a video.

Heavytothebone2: There is both the single version and original version of the song on the EP. Which one do you prefer?

I won’t lie; I prefer the album version because I think that’s the way the song was written. I think we also managed to make an edit version that we can live with and that sums the song up in a good way.

Heavytothebone2: Were you worried that the single version would take the impact away from the original version?

Yeah, sure. There was a lot of thinking about that when choosing that song for the EP and video. Since I have all the files and such, I tried to make different edit versions and worked hard on it and I was pretty sure it would turn out good.

Heavytothebone2: Are there any other songs on “Eight Ways” that you think would be single material?

Yeah, I think there are songs that are more like single material if you think like commercial appeal. I would say “Armour” and “The Little Things” were both songs we were thinking about.

Heavytothebone2: Why do you think that the band hasn’t hit their commercial peak, especially in the states? You guys have a lot of songs that could be deemed commercially appealing.

That’s hard to say really. Who knows? From the beginning, we were kind of getting known more as a Gothic band…but we haven’t found our audience yet, I think.

Heavytothebone2: Do you think the band is unfairly labeled as a Gothic metal band?

Yeah, I really think so. When you listen to us, I don’t think we sound like a Gothic metal band. We come from a totally different place in the metal world than the Gothic scene. We never wanted to don vampire hats or that stuff (laughs).

Heavytothebone2: Does the band have any live shows coming up?

Yeah, there’s one festival in Czech Republic in August; Brutal Assault festival, which will be really cool. Other than that, it’s nothing confirmed as of now.

Heavytothebone2: Is the band planning to do more shows in 2010?

Yeah, we really want to go on tour again. One of our biggest goals and dreams is to get over to the United States and perhaps do a little tour sometime or at least get to do some shows.

Heavytothebone2: Is there any other place you guys really want to hit other than the U.S. during this touring cycle?

Yeah, I think South America and Latin America would be really cool to get to play there. Other than that, it’s mostly the European places.

Heavytothebone2: If you could tour with one band, past or present, who would it be and why?

I would have to say Metallica because they are my all-time favorite band.

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