Spirits of the Dead – Interview

SOTDArtWe caught up with Norway’s Spirits Of The Dead to find out more about the band and discuss their new album Rumours Of A Presence. 

To get us started, who are Spirits of the Dead and where do you come from?

We are a psychedelic hard-rock band from Oslo, Norway. We are just about to release the albumRumours Of A Presence.

How long have you been together and where did you meet?

We have know each other for almost 20 years now, back in the days in our hometown Haugesund we used to play in different bands. We teamed up 6 years ago in Oslo. We met our bass-player Kristian Hultgren in Oslo.

You recorded Rumours Of A Presence in remote Norway, how remote were you when recording and what was the reason for choosing that location over a more central place?

We recorded the album on the small island of Giske, where this eccentric ex-furniture-factory-owner has built a great studio with the money he got when he sold his business. The studio is great, and it is good to get away from distractions to focus on the recording process. Our music has a certain rural character and the location certainly helped us in putting this to tape. It is hard to say how remote we were, but we were pretty far out, that is for sure….

Rumours Of A Presence is your 3rd album, what have you learned from making your first 2 albums that has crossed over into this one?  

Out of certain circumstances, our first two albums have been quite complex in terms of orchestration. This has made it difficult to present a fair version of the songs in a live-setting. On this album, however, we have aimed for music that we could play live, even with our four-piece.

Talk us through the music-making process in a bit of detail, how was the studio set up for recording?

We always record as much as we can on 2-inch tape. Our first album was purely analogue, the second less so, and on this album we transferred the basic recording into Pro-Tools. We record the drums and bass in the same take, with a support guitar which will be kind of a mix of all the guitar-parts. Then it is layers and layers of guitar and keyboard parts, vocals and all kinds of drones, sounds and psychedelic mishmash.

I’ve never recorded an album, but even putting a playlist together causes me stress. How easy was it to agree on what the track-list should look like?

We had some discussions over the track-list this time, but it is usually quite easy. There are so few songs on our albums, ha ha!

How do you go about writing your songs, and how long do you spend writing? At what stage do you think “Yeah, that’s a Spirits Of The Dead song now”?

The first two albums has been strictly Øvstedal/Vikse, with me writing the songs and Ragnar doing the lyrics, roughly. This time we were happy to include several great riffs from the other guys. We have a common feeling on what is a SOTD-song. It is really intuitive. We never play a song someone in the band isn`t totally happy with.

Some bands spend months demoing tracks, others like to be in the studio environment as a unit – how do you prefer to work as a band when putting material together?

This time we worked really hard together as a band in the rehearsal-room, writing songs together. The main recording took two weeks, and then we had another week for vocals and overdubs.

How would you describe your sound to our readers who have not yet heard you?

We are really classic-rock sounding as a band. Punchy drums, warm bass etc. We have tons of vintage gear that we mainly use, we have 10 tube-echoes and counting. What makes us different from many other bands is all kinds of production-details. We also try to be really complex and 3-D in both sound and playing, but at the same time make it sound simple.

How much has the sound of the band evolved since your first album and has playing live changed your approach to song-writing?

We really try to make things so simple we could play them live these days.

What is the one stand out track everyone should hear from ‘Rumours…’?

Song of Many Reefs.

I really enjoyed the Black Sabbath, early Brit-Metal vibe of Wheels Of The World and the chilled out build up in your title track; who are the biggest influences on the sound of the band?

Led Zeppelin, Blue Oyster Cult(Secret Treaties-era) and the first King Crimson album.

What is it about Spirits Of The Dead which will make people stand up and take notice?

Based on the reviews we get, people seem to think we add a different flavour than many of the great bands pushing out Sabbath-esque riffs these days.

What is the best gig you’ve played so far?

South By South West 2012, the Redroom with Hull.

What can fans expect from the live show?

Some great drumming and bass-playing, an amazing front-man and hopefully some inspired rock-solos.

Do you have a favourite venue (and why)?

Revolver in Oslo is kind of our living room.

After hearing your new album, we’ll definitely be coming along to see you live. Do you have any plans for a Scottish date in the future?

We would love to come to Scotland, maybe next year.

If there was one band from any era you could play with who would it be?

Blue Oyster Cult in 1975.

Some bands throw in a cover version when playing live and some go out their way not to play popular tracks in order to keep things fresh and show off their catalogue. How do you keep things fresh when touring and playing the set-list live every night?

We have three albums to choose from, but we tend to play the songs that works best live. Fortunately there is some room for jamming in most of the songs, and that keep them fresh.

What are the biggest challenges of being in the band and how do you overcome them?

Being in a band is like being in a relationship with three guys instead of one woman. It is hard, but as long as you accept that there will be trouble and that trouble is no reason to freak out, things work out fine.

What advice would you give to a new band just starting out?

Realise that it is going to be hard work for the rest of your life. You have to live the dream and understand that nothing comes for free in the music-business.

How important do you think an online presence is for bands today?

It’s essential.

Finally, where can people keep in touch and follow your movements?

On our Facebook-page: https://www.facebook.com/spiritsofthedeadnorway?fref=ts

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