(In this post Evita Hofmane of the Latvian e-zine P3LICAN interviewed members of the Norwegian black metal band Dominanz, whose new album Noxious can be streamed at the end of the interview.)
Dominanz is a modern and a hellishly powerful band hailing from Norway, a land with a tradition of extremity in its music styles. Therefore, this band could be no exception, but Dominanz have enriched their sound even more. The band members basically come from the Black Metal scene (Hades Almighty, Immortal, Taake, Thy Grief).
In late 2010 Dominanz presented “The End of All There Is”. “The End Of All There Is” was the title track of Dominanz ‘s first single, released on October 25, 2010. On August 2011 Dominanz debuted with their critically acclaimed first album As I Shine.
Their second album Noxious was recorded in Conclave & Earshot Studios (Bergen, Norway), produced by Bjørnar Nilsen, Roy Mathisen, and Herbrand Larsen (Enslaved), mixed by Herbrand Larsen, and mastered in Fascination Street Studios by Jens Bogren. It’s even darker and definitely stronger. The contributions of guest vocalists – Abbath (Immortal), Olav Iversen (Sahg), and Doro Korsvold (Fairy) – make the music even more eclectic and varied. The atmosphere has become creepier, more aggressive, and blackish. It’s gloomy and destructive, but the catchiness of the tunes of Dominanz is still there.
I got a chance to catch up with Dominanz’s drummer Frode and now ex-guitarist Jørn in their hometown of Bergen. Band leader Roy chose a bit more modern way and answered via internet.
We welcome you all to explore the dark path of Dominanz!
Tell us about creating Dominanz! What is your message to this world?
Roy: Dominanz was established to play and perform the music that’s closest to me, with some of my best friends. We have known each other for several years, and been friends for ages. On a holiday to Poland late 2008 I asked Frode and Jørn to join forces with me, and Dominanz saw the light of day a few months later! What we have tried to achieve with Dominanz is to create dark and dismal music, but, at the same time, be catchy. We hope it will get on the nerves and emotions to the listeners, but also those in the mood for a good party!
Your first full-length “As I Shine” was released in 2011. How was it met by critics and listeners?
R: The reviews were quite good overall.
You’ve just released your second album. What are you telling to your listeners on your new album? How does the sound differ this time?
Jørn: The album is obviously darker. The first album was mainly made by Roy and…
Frode: I just did some session stuff. When I started in Dominanz, the album was almost ready. In this album all three of us contributed equally and it has influences of all three of us. We all are into different music styles, so it only naturally became a darker album. We have been working more with this album as well, and the result is more like fully packed or something. The first album was more like we tried to find a way, but this material is more ready.
J.: It is more suitable for all three of us.
F.: I think it is a way better album as well.
J.: Mainly because I and Frode contributed. (Laughs)
F.: Yeah, of course. (Laughs)
J.: And it is way better produced. We spent more time on it. Every song is not an accident.
Lets talk a little bit about your guest musicians. Who are those well–known figures?
R.: We have been so lucky that Abbath from Immortal did vocals on the title cut “Noxious”, and the front man of the band Sahg sung also on one song. The listeners can also hear Doro Korsvold from the band Fairy on the song “Salvation”.
You name a literature as a source of inspiration. How important is literature in your life?
R.: I have periods when I read some novels, but otherwise I read some history and specialized literature. I also watch a good number of documentaries and find inspiration for lyrics in it.
J.: I like to read some biographies, about serial killers. I think it’s very interesting, some psychological thrillers and some historical books, too.
What is common to read in Norway?
J.: I don’t know. I don’t think there’s anything special in what we read in Norway compared to other countries. Maybe some popular literature, criminals or stuff like that, historical books about old ages… I think it’s the same books which are popular in the rest of Europe and Scandinavia.
F.: Especially for Scandinavia I think people are reading the same thing.
A lot of modern black (etc.) metal bands take their lyrics pretty serious. I believe, you’re not an exception.
R.: I, for sure, take my lyrics seriously. The main theme of the lyrics on this album is about suppression and exercise of power. I have been inspired of my visit to Auschwitz, Birkenau, and the KGB headquarters, among others. The lyrics are not specifically about what happened in those places, but it is fiction that deals with oppression, torture, and abuse of individuals and people.
F.: I think, the lyrics are in a perfect package with the music. Mostly the lyrics are written by Roy, some also by our friend V’Gandr (Helheim) and, I think, they have kind of similar way of thinking about lyrics and mood. I think it is important that lyrics suit the music and I think they do.
J.: I think the lyrics moved a little bit from the first album. Music-wise, the first album is more like a demo tape, for me personally. This album is more related to me than the first album, as well as the lyrics. On the last album the lyrics are darker and I’m more into the dark lyrics. I don’t stand behind the lyrics, I wouldn’t have been written the same lyrics, but I understand them and I like them. As always, the Norwegian people have this strange kind of humour that many other people don’t really see as humour.
Can you tell a little bit more about it?
J.: Well, we can have fun and joke about everything. The darker and more extreme the subject is, the more funny it is. So, some elements of the lyrics are funny. If they were really true, it would really be like – you’re fucking extreme.
F.: There was also meant to be irony.
J.: Dark humour.
F.: Dark humour with a taste of seriousness, it’s like on the edge.
J.: Spiced with sarcasm that makes it more enjoyable.
Many of your songs deal with themes about life and death. What is life for you and how would you describe it?
J.: What is life? I live to satisfy myself and not only in a sexual way. To be happy with what I do, follow my dreams, taking a lot of chances, risks, and maybe, not becoming a wiser person, but a more satisfied person.
F.: I think it is about experience as much as possible. That actually for me is the main goal – to do the things you want to do and try to experience as much as possible.
J.: It’s a big topic, you know.
Sure. Is there a meaning of life?
J.: If you base it on evolution, there’s no meaning of life. That’s kind of a sad story for most people. Most people are afraid of truth. Like pushing away the fact that we all gonna die, so basically many people are afraid of dying instead of embracing life, and they are kind of sitting and awaiting their death.
F.: Definitely. I’m not a philosophical guy and I don’t think much about these big themes at all, but there’s no deep meaning of life. I think for most people it is career, children, and stuff like that which makes their life meaningful. For me, it is what I do and what I experience in music. I don’t think that there is deep meaning, I’m not religious or anything. It’s not a big deal. We are born and try to make most out of it.
J.: And then you die.
We are going smoothly to the next theme. What is death? Is it an end or just a transformation into another form? And if you could choose, which version you would prefer?
J: It’s hard to say.
F.: I think, when you die, it’s over. You have been a small piece in a big world and when you die, there is nothing.
There is no afterlife?
F.: I don’t think so.
J.: I don’t know. And I don’t have a strong feeling that I hope there is. But many people are already dead when they live, you know.
I have noticed that.
J.: Especially in this town. The ordinary family… They are living like everyone else: Get up in the morning, get the kids to the kindergarten, go to work, make dinner, watch TV, go to bed, and the next day repeating themselves. Sometimes they gather and go on a little trip, but all in all, to be honest, it’s fucking boring. So it depends on what you do in life. Many people want to be remembered, like writing book or making music, but all in all we basically come to the world alone and leave it alone. So it is all what you make out of it.
What happens after can be fucking big or not. It depends on if you are religious or not religious. If you believe in whatever is the afterlife, if you don’t believe… We can turn around the question and say – what if you knew there is the afterlife? Would you continue living the life you have now or would you take it away? Or if you know there is no afterlife, you just die, rot in your grave, and go back to nature, would you still live the life you live now? It is a philosophical question. But, I have to say, there definitely is something more in this globe, there is something else in the Universe. And that’s one of those things what makes it cool. Makes you think. Who died and made the Gods of us?
Dominanz is a good live band. I wonder why don’t you play gigs much more often?
F.: That is a mix of many things. It is hard to book concerts these days unless you want to pay a lot of money to travel around.
J.: Or if you are already rich.
F.: I think it’s one of the reasons. Of course, it is a long time since we’ve recorded anything. Now the album is out and hopefully we will play more. We are all working full-time jobs and that’s why it is difficult, but I think we will play more in the future, because we have something to promote. We are trying now to get out and play more.
J.: It is a question how to get the shows and not to lose money. If you take a weekend in Riga, you are not guaranteed that your salary will cover it, you know. And then, we have to be honest, not everyone can afford taking vacation every time.
F.: And we are a small band. Not many people have heard about us, that it is not a point of doing it. That’s why for us it is more interesting to book festivals or maybe small shows with other bands, maybe weekend shows with another band. So when we have this opportunity, we, of course, grab it, but we can’t afford go on a long tour and I don’t think there is any point in doing it yet. We want to attract enough people to make it interesting, actually.
J.: I think, if Dominanz is going on a three-week tour, they have to be paid a lot of money, like a good band, which could attract a lot of people. It will cost a lot of money and then we have to pay from our own pocket. We have to take time off from work and when we come home, we have a big pile of bills to pay.
F.: Of course, you always spend the money for your band, playing and stuff, but then you have to kind of balance what is good for your band, what more to do to achieve your goal, and what is just throwing away the money. You have to make the right choices.
J.: And all in the band have to have the same priorities. That’s important too. You know, when you are 18 years old and you have a job, and if you are living at home or renting an apartment, you don’t fucking care if you lose it. But if you do that now, when you own your apartment, have loans, etc., we can’t afford do that. All people involved, we have to be able to pay.
F.: I think, when you are asking it like that, it’s true, we haven’t been playing much at all, and of course we could arrange more playing. Hopefully we will play more, that’s for sure.
J.: I think, if Dominanz gets the right opportunity, in my opinion they can go far. Especially after I’m off. (Laughs)
F.: I’m not sure about that. (Laughs)
J.: The album speaks for itself. It is for sure the best Dominanz album so far.
What is the main conclusion you have learned during these years about life and music being two inseparable things?
J: Don’t play metal if you wanna be qualified to normal people.
Is it still a problem nowadays? Especially, here in Norway?
J.: It’s still two different worlds. In the ’80s – ’90s many people looked at this as a problem, but that made you even surer that you were doing the right thing. Now, it is like metal is for everyone. Metal is not what it was.
What went wrong with the metal?
J.: It went popular to the wrong people.
F.: I don’t agree. I don’t think it is a negative thing. It is positive, actually. What went wrong is a difficult question. I think, one of the things what went wrong is that people are making really easy solutions now and making music more like industry, writing songs, have it really well-produced, and are doing it all the time. Earlier people were working more with the music.
J.: I think that the problem is – metal went mainstream. No metal is really personal. Now it is like – you are a band, you promote it very well, you play a lot, you earn money from it, and the more money you get, the less personal it becomes.
F.: Yes. I totally agree.
J.: It’s like, if we release one album in March, we go on tour, play festivals in the summer, and forward and forward, and then we spend a winter recording a new album, and it is like a work. The art has left the building.
F.: Yeah, that is kind of the same thing I was trying to say. I think the mainstream part doesn’t have to be a problem, but, of course, if you are thinking more and more about money, you are losing the art. It’s more like if you need to get your album ready for next year, you make fast solutions actually.
J.: Metal was underground, you know, everything from heavy metal to black, death metal, grindcore, whatever, even punk. We had the different bands in the different genres that were big. And then they lost their personality. Good example – Mötley Crüe and WASP. Even though I really like both of the bands, they’ve lost their personality. They got too much money. And there is no mystery about those bands. Now you know everything you want to know about the band, you can find it on the Internet.
Thanks for the interview! Takk!
Next live performance:
Wednesday – Feb 11 2015, Riga, Latvia with Inquisition (USA) and Voltumna (ITA)