(We’ve been the beneficiary of many interviews conducted by Norway-based writer Karina Noctum at this year’s Inferno Festival in Oslo, and this is one more — a lively conversation with drummer Daniel Tveit and vocalist/guitarist Andreas Fosse Salbu, who performed with their band Sepulcher at Inferno but are also members of Reptilian and Inculter.)
In my series of interviews conducted at this year’s Inferno Festival I wanted to include an up-and-coming underground band because my heart is always with the underground. And besides, I really like the Old School Death/Thrash/Heavy style that is coming out of Norway. Out of the bands available I chose Sepulcher. I find their sound heartfelt, true to the beloved roots we all cherish. and raw!
They come from a small town on the western coast of Norway called Fusa. This interview deals with particulars about the emerging scene they come from; a conversation about their sound, recording, and producing; and it also deals with how they try to stay as faithful as possible to the sound that characterizes them.
Introduce your band — how long have you been playing?
Andreas: We are Sepulcher from Fusa in western Norway. We play thrash, death, and well. we actually mix a lot of genres. We have been a band since 2008. It’s very punk, thrashy, and Death Metal. We started out as band called Cockroach Agenda and then we had that name for some years, but we decided to change the name to Sepulcher.
Daniel: We wanted to get more in touch, more necro, more dirty. We wanted to mix everything we love from other bands and make a nice stew of riffs.
Andreas: We put everything from Death, Thrash, and Punks, actually Doom too, and kind of make it our own.
Can you give our readers an overview of the underground scene in the western coast of Norway?
D: The western scene… I don’t think it’s so big anymore. There are some thrash bands left. You have Inculter and Reptilian, but that’s in Fusa. And then in Bergen you have Psychopath. We just played with them. In Haugesund you have Shakma, an amazing thrash band. Also we have Töxik Death.
So what about Black Metal?
D: We don’t know. We never followed it that much. But there must be some really good bands in Bergen that we don’t know about because we are in the Death/Thrash scene. Maybe there are some really good Black Metal bands in Norway…
A: There are some in Trondheim. One Tail One Head was the coolest Black Metal band in Norway.
You got Whoredom Rife as well…
A: But One Tail, One Head is no more
D: What has been may never die!
A and D: Tortorum! Black Metal from Bergen.
D: To give you an all-encompassing answer: if you find a band on Edged Circle Productions then it’s going to be good.
D: That’s the center of Fusa’s brutality. It’s the spirit of Fusa. It’s all centered around Edged Circle Productions.
A: In the Fusa scene Inculter is filling the void of in-your-face thrash metal, so we are trying to make the complete scene. It’s like you need only the three bands from Fusa. Sepulcher fits naturally. You know in Fusa we have a mountain and it’s 666 mt. high. So we are bound to play thrash.
D: I think that you need to go to Iceland to find the new Black Metal bands.
A: Poland! I’m not so into Behemoth. But I’d say Cultes Des Ghoules are the coolest band.
There are not many. Bergen has the reputation for being the metal capital of Norway, but it’s really Oslo. Oslo has all the good bone-crushing bands, all the interesting stuff is happening on the eastern part of Norway now. In fact Bergen is nothing without Fusa. They are all like winter Black Metal. They sing about how cold it is and weather stuff. Even the new ones, they sing about how cold it is outside. Meanwhile we in Fusa are all about Death!
The Black Metal bands are a bit like Christmas Eve. I mean we know it’s cold outside, but do you have the riffs? So what we are trying is to bring back are the riffs. I don’t know if we have achieved it yet, but at least that’s our goal. It’s all about the riffs for us and we are just trying to find those riffs.
You have played some shows already here in Oslo? How has that experience been and what were your expectations when it comes to the Inferno show?
D: When it comes to Sepulcher I think this gig was pretty satisfying for ourselves. It was a good venue and a good sound-lady. Just pretty good vibes. Not too much stress.
A: We went out yesterday and then we were really hungover today, but I think the show went great today. Our last show was at By:larm and it wasn’t good because we couldn’t drink beer backstage. But it’s always fun to play at Revolver. The scene is great for a small band.
D: It’s an intimate scene and the sound is coming organically to the audience. It’s the garage sound that fits perfectly. The drums are coming out organically as well as the amps. You don’t really need to have it perfectly clean.
I like the old school sound you guys have. It has become a Norwegian style now but it is not necessarily easy to compose and be original, so have you given that dilemma a thought? How to be old school and create a sound that is your own?
D: We are inspired by other bands, but we are not trying to copy them.
A: We listen to lots of bands. I think it’s the mixture that is our own.
D: We do not mix it like 80% thrash, 10% death, 10% punk. No we just do what comes out. We are like an exhaust pipe in a pretty old car. It’s like you put in some petrol and it spits out a lot of pollution and gases. We are a dirty mix. We do what feels natural! We are a continuation of our own musical tastes.
A: We don’t have any limits. If it’s cool, it’s cool. We are not like saying that we are not going to use one part because it is not thrash enough. If we make a good riff, we are going to use it.
D: Doesn’t matter what it is.
A: As long as it is not blastbeats. We are not going to do blastbeats.
You are like in the three bands Inculter, Reptilian, and Sepulcher. Where do you draw the lines between the bands when it comes to composing?
A: It’s like when we sit down and you make music for any of the bands you kind of feel it. You feel which riff fits more into each of the bands.
D: It’s nothing conscious. It just happens. We know when something fits. It’s not a problem to separate riffs and ideas.
A: Yeah but it’s like the first song you wrote for Panoptic Horror (Sepulcher’s first album) was much more of a Reptilian song and I was pretty much against it. I wouldn’t have it on the record. So they had to convince me to play that one in Sepulcher.
D: But it worked out in the end and we got really good feedback. So in the end it all feels pretty natural.
What do you do to preserve the old school sound when you are recording and playing live?
A: We are doing it ourselves. But we have tried going to a studio with a producer and all, but we hated it. It was a crisis. So after that, even though we didn’t know much, we started doing it ourselves. We want to preserve the rawness because for us it’s the most important. We record live always. No one would click track or anything. We rehearse a lot and then play it live. That’s maybe the best for us because you can feel the tension in the room.
D: Yeah because when we record an album, it will often be a lot better live. Because when we are recording we are just going to catch the feel. It’s not going to be perfect and we don’t want it to be perfect. It has to be a good representation of what we are trying to be at that moment. So when we record the album we are kind of perfecting it live.
A: We don’t want it to be perfect; we don’t want to sound like those bands on Nuclear Blast because every band is the same there. We record the album in the basement with crappy equipment, and this is what you get. You don’t really think about it. It’s metal, it’s dirty, and it feels right.
D: Of course our guitarist, Cato, he is pretty dedicated and he has been the sound guy in the recording sessions. It has been really fun to work with him because he has experience in the studio and the skills. So we combine that with our music. So it’s a special situation, but we do want every album to be better and try to improve and learn.
A: You learn, you know. The first album we ever recorded was made in a garage. The sound was leaking everywhere. My guitar sound was in his drum’s mics. All the Inculter, Sepulcher, and Reptilian first albums were recorded by us, and you learn and get better for every new album.
D: It’s mainly us band members who are involved in the recording process. Except for the mastering, and in one occasion the Reptilian album was mixed by another person. Because if you are playing in the band and you are also the producer then you really want it to fit your sound and you really want it to be your own, as good as possible.
Your single “Abyssal Horror” premiered with Decibel Magazine. That’s really cool for any underground band, how did it come to happen?
A: It’s all Stian’s doing. He has some connections so it was good to get them to premiere it. I mean for them to recognize us as equals.
D: It’s just pretty good promotion and I’m thankful we have the help of a label. We just make music, but we do not know how the business works. So it’s a joint operation with the label. We are pretty hopeless ourselves. You see, musicians are not stable people. They’re not the sort of people you would like to have fixing stuff for you. We make music and that’s it.
Are you working on any new material?
A: We are working on writing new stuff for all the bands except Inculter, who just released an album. Reptilian are currently making a new album and Sepulcher is in the stage of planning what we want to record. We have some ideas, but I would like to move forward because the first album was really Death Metal. But the latest album is more like Nuclear Assault meets Autopsy, so it is more crossover.
D: We are still in the process of finding our own sound, but I don’t think we will ever find our own sound because you should never find you own sound.
A: The songs we are making are pretty different than those from Panoptic Horror. You still have the rawness and the brutality, but you are still trying to find your own thing.
D: You never know what will happen.
A: It will be what it will be and you have to live with it.
What are your ambitions when it comes to the future for your bands?
A: Hopefully we can do this a lot more often. We want to record, play, and travel. Of course we love our music and our bands and want to do it all the time. The ambitions should not be, I want to play that stage or I want to sell this much, but your ambitions should be that you want to create the best possible music for yourself. Of course you want people to like it, but we can’t ever compromise and make something that doesn’t fit our own tastes in music and be of the quality we want. That should be the top priority, to make the best record according to our own tastes.
How does it feel to be a part of Inferno?
A: It’s cool. Even though we played outside the festival stages, it felt like having a foot inside the festival. I had never been at this festival before and it’s cool to meet all the international people. It’s a different experience than a Norwegian festival where you always see the same faces. We love to be here.
Anything else you would like to add?
A: Check Panoptic Horror, which came out last year, and also the latest Inculter album called Fatal Visions.
D: You want to keep an eye on Fusa because we are gonna shake things up, for better or worse.