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The future sound of Norwegian black metal [2002-05-13]

An interview with Red Harvest couldn't stay out for long, since the band is among the best Norway has to offer in the metal genre. After seven excellent releases "Sick Transit Gloria Mundi" was brought upon mankind, and its supremacy offers a very good reason to interrogate Kjetil ("K"), known as TurboNatas (guitars) and Thomas ("T"), who plays the bass guitar. So here's an conversation done by e-mail with Red Harvest:

m[m]: "Sick Transit Gloria Mundi" has just been released, and I was totally blown away again by this new work. What is your opinion upon the final result? Did it turn out as expected or even better?

K: I am happy of course. I might say something else in three years time, but right now, I am really happy with it. I knew (after the preproduction) that the songs were really strong this time, so when we ended up with such a great sound too, I think the result is way cool.

T: Yup I'm really satisfied with the end result. I think it turned out killer.

m[m]: It seems that "Sick Transit Gloria Mundi" is build around the concept of hate towards humanity from a futuristic view… Why did you choose this concept? Is it just natural for you or are you actually really social guys outside the band?

K: "Sick Transit Gloria Mundi" is a very personal album in many ways, but it's also about how all things must pass, that nothing lasts forever and that human beings plays a great part in this self-termination project. Ofu Kahn who mostly writes the lyrics, is really interested in sci-fi and death cults like Heaven's Gate and The Supreme Truth. I am not hateful, but I some times get really pissed, bored and life-tired. But I think that if you meet us over a beer, we would have a pretty good time.

T: Well it's pretty damn hard being optimistic about the future while watching the television or reading the newspapers these days that’s fore sure.

m[m]: You've worked with producer Neil Kernon this time, while you've mostly produced your work yourselves. How did you produce before (e.g. did anyone in the band have any production skills)? What was it like working with a professional producer and Neil himself? How did you get in contact with him?

K: LRZ, our keyboard and sample dude, knows a bit about producing, so he has usually done things with the rest of the guys in the band. When it comes to Neil, he had sent me an e-mail two days after we had finished "Cold Dark Matter" and asked us if we wanted to work with him. We had just finished a new album, so I told him that he had to wait until we had a new one coming.

T: Well what can I say about working with Neil Kernon. I mean the guy is some sort of legend in rock business, so that was awesome. I was rather shaky when I picked him up at the airport, but he soon turned out to be a nice cool guy. I think he gave us a much more open and distinct sound compared to Cold Dark Matter.How did we get in contact with him? The drummer in Spiral Architect is an old friend of mine and when they went over to the States to record their album with Neil Kernon, he brought along a copy of our mini-CD "New Rage World Music" and gave it to him. And the rest is history.

m[m]: You got some money from the Norwegian government, from a funds for musicians and artists. How do you look upon this? In most countries it is very unusual that such an extreme band gets support from the government… Why is it that the people in the government choose to give R.H. some money?

K: Actually, I think Ulver and Arcturus have got money too. And Mayhem got money for touring last year. But you're right, it's not very common. It probably has something to do with how you put the words when you apply, and the fact that some of the music made up here in the North is good and deserves more attention. Extreme or not.

m[m]: The new album has received some raving feedback already. It is obvious that you get far more attention in the press after you got signed with Nocturnal Art Productions How is it like working with that label and do you have hard feelings towards your old labels?

K: Yeah, the feedback has been fucking awesome. Even here in Norway. The big newspapers have ignored us so many years, but they have been writing a lot about us the last weeks. And I think I have done interviews every day the last month, so the media recognition has been great compared to what we have been used to. The US release in Relapse will be in a few weeks now, so I guess there are still some interviews left. NAP is great, and it's an honor to work and deal with Samoth. A very professional and great guy. I have felt SO angry about our old label, that I think I'm not able to angry with them anymore. I'm done being angry with them, he-he. Seriously: You're not getting anywhere complaining. If you work hard and stay true to what you believe in, things will happen sooner or later.

m[m]: Your music is rich with techno, electronic and industrial influences. Do the band members actually listen to these kinds of music or is it only metal? What is the songwriting process like?

K: I like to think about us as a five headed monster, because we are all listening to different stuff, and therefore we all contribute in a great way when creating the Red Harvest music. But we have the love for hard and extreme music and our musical roots in common.

T: We did a full preproduction on hard disk recording and it is the same way composing the songs. If one has an idea for a riff he can sit down in LRZ's home studio and create a basic structure of a song before presenting it to the rest of the band at rehearsal. Then it's back and forth between LRZ's studio / rehearsal adding different ideas to the song.

m[m]: The band has moved towards a more violent, harder and aggressive style since the beginning. Do you think this evolution is natural or is it something you did deliberately?

K: It's natural. Not planned.

m[m]: You've also made a video for the track "AEP", all by yourselves. How came this idea into being and can you tell something more about the video clip?

K: We have some kind of history making videos. And it felt right. Technology has also made it easier to make videos now. It's cheaper and you can do a lot yourself. The video is chaotic, like the track.

T: There is a new video in planning with a bit bigger budget but we haven’t decided which song yet.

m[m]: When the new album was released, you got to play at the release party in Oslo, and you also headlined the Southern Discomfort Metal Festival. How did those gigs turn out? What can we expect from the upcoming (?) European and U.S. tour?

K: I love to play live, and the gigs were great. Hopefully we will play Europe and the US during the fall and winter, but nothing is confirmed yet.

m[m]: Are you happy with the status Red Harvest has now or do you want to evolve further? Do you think you've reached the audience you are aiming for or do you feel the band can get bigger? Or do you want to stay "underground"?

K: Bigger means more money, and more money means freedom to create better music. So I wouldn't mind selling a few CDs. But, it's important for us the we can stay creative and continue to create interesting and entertaining music.

T: I rather stay underground than a sellout motherfucker! But of course the more you sell the easier it gets to tour properly and reach out to new countries and people. Which is important for any band urging to reach a higher level of existence.

m[m]: What can we expect from Red Harvest in the future? Ever thought of doing something besides Red Harvest, like a techno act or something?

K: For me Red Harvest is a full time occupation. The cool thing with Red Harvest is that we actually can do techno stuff if we want to, but I prefer to give things like that away to people who like to do remixes. Another thing is that the roots of Red Harvest is metal, and guitar based music.

T: Every member of Red Harvest is free to do other things as long as Red Harvest is first priority.

Read a review of "Sick Transit Gloria Mundi".
Read a review of "New World Rage Music".
Visit the Red Harvest webpage www.redharvest.com.

Justin Faase
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