Thursday, May 31, 2012

Interview: Ihsahn

With Emperor being one of my favorite bands, you can imagine how honored to have Ihsahn on the other line to talk about his new solo "Eremita".

Wil- It's an honor to get a chance to talk with you like this so let's start with the new album, the first of your solo albums outside of the trilogy , So writing these songs was there as sense of freedom or did it feel like a new start?

Ihsahn-In the sense the first three albums were designed for me to develop myself as a solo artist outside of Emperor, so I had some space and ended up writing with more confidence. I felt the need to distance myself from the whole emperor phenomenon felt a return in my awareness , with life on it’s own with nostalgia, I was more at ease to connect to my past. To create some of my blackest work on this album by digging deeper. But more of an attitude.

Wil-What was it like to work with Jeff Loomis and Devin Townsend ?

It was a compliment for them to have asked me to guest on their albums, with Devon
“Deconstruction” and then of Jeff’s full length, so that made asking them easier. Recording “ Eremita” there was a solo section and I imagined his playing would be great on and put to shame anything I would have done as he is one ofthe greatest guitarist out there There was also a section that needed these vocals that were more powerful than what I had done so Devon came to mind.

Wil-The guitar sound on the new album is much warmer and organic and I noticed you are now endorsed by blackstar amplification,so is that the reason for the change?

Ihsahn-Yes though, I have been doing more producing. I wanted a organic yet gritty sound. The focus of my writing is normally for guitar.Record on computer and play back to the piano to allow more focus on the compositional layers as well. A dynamic drummer recorded to a click sound captured the rhythmic nature. I wanted it to have a very loud live sound. I used other amps as well but blended the BlackStar 200 head which I use live to get the metal grit with the 412 to get the clarity in the attack, where you can hear the instruments strings rather than being lost in the distortion.

Wil-The sax is back on the new album, when i heard it on “After” it brought to mind King Crimson to mind. How much of an influence has classic progressive rock been on the more recent solo material?

Ihsahn-Bands like Rush and King Crimson,I am familiar with their music but I can’t say much of an influence as I have always seen the sax as a lonely instrument and had finally found a scenario in which I could use it . Jorgen Munkeby of Shining is a super talented and plays the instrument so expressively , that it interacts with the rest of the music so well. We are also good friends.

Wil-Lyrically the theme of the new album as a more transcendent feel to it rather than the very confrontational feel of your first two solo albums and earlier Emperor, did this just feel like the most natural direction ?

Ihsahn-The method of how I approach lyrics, was to be an adversary rather than just blah blah blah. Alot of metal has words with no meaning . Metal by nature attracts the outsider mentality, but this is very conscious a reflection of something I had to say. it’s about escaping. As a solo artist it’s not like the band dynamic where you pitch ideas back an forth. So i wanted creative focus rather to the point and cohesive rather than a collection of ten song that happened to be recorded at the same point in time. With this album some of the themes are almost like a madman, a protagonist who wonders did he or didn’t he commit murder.

Wil-How would you say your spiritual growth has influenced what you create? Their seems to be more maturity in that as well than from Emperor which was more of an romantic exploration of the occult.

Ihsahn -As a teenage it was romanticized. Influenced by the music of soundtracks, vampire scenarios and delusions of grandeur. Much more pragmatic these days. Metal is larger than life , from the extreme vocal to the imagery.My prespective on thye subjest is to dig deeper. The playful exponents of youth, to see things as a reason being impassioned. An undefined deep point to drive me forward with music as the driving force.

Wil-So what are the plans as far as touring to promote Eremita?

Ihsahn-Well I am doing some festival dates in june and then Candlelight is talking the possibility of getting some U.S dates in the fall.

Wil-When you said candle light I at first thought you said Kamelot and meant the power-metal band and though you would have to stock up on pirate shirts to tour with those guys.

Wil-I did do the Prog-power festival, and it was refreshing as they did not know where I came from, even though I have an established audience for the past past 20 years. I think in some ways a crowd like that is better for what I am doing now than a typical black metal audience.

Wil-Well hope you can come through the states.

Ihsahn-I do to. I would like to but there’s alot to consider if bringing a band over from Europe is financially feasible

Wil-Particularly in the current american economy.

Ihsahn-yes,it’s a very challenging time for music. but I have managment, to let them woory and work that out and just focus on making the best music I can.

Wil- Well you've continued to succeed in that department.

Ihsahn- Thank you, I appreciate it.

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