They say the DEVIL is in the details. When it comes to this Norwegian band I am inclined to agree. Anders Ekdahl ©2017 – Interview – Battlehelm.com
When you look back at the demo days of the band does it feel like you are where you intended to be when the band came into creation? What was the main purpose for the creation of DEVIL?
-At the moment we are pretty much on schedule, I think. But inbetween it has been crazy. We had no idea that we’d hit that occult rock thingy, so playing Roadburn, Hammer of Doom, Hole in the Sky, etc, touring with Electric Wizard, doing interviews with the biggest magazines, etc, just after releasing a demo, was a bit ahead of schedule, haha. Now we’re back to what the intention was; Five friends having a band.
As I haven’t written anything but my own texts I notice how influenced I get by stuff that I read which makes me wonder how hard is it to come up with a sound that is all yours? What bits’n’pieces do you pick up from other stuff to make it your sound?
-Ooh, tough question. Many bands does NOT have their own sound, but still does a good job and make cool tunes. But I think Devil has accomplished, between the songs and production and ourselves, to come up with a somewhat unique sound. If you know Devil, you probably wouldn’t miss when hearing a new song from us. I don’t say we’re very original, but the blend we’ve produced is pretty unmistakable. If that’s a word, haha.
What kind of creative process you guys go through and how hard is it to record and release new songs? Does it ever feel like you are head butting a wall in your creative process, that you are out of new ideas?
-We do a lot of writing when apart, especially Thomas and Kai, and to a certain degree Ronny. So if one dries up, one of the others always has something laying on the desk. And especially Thomas is extremely productive. A writers block for him limits itself to 2-3 days without making music, I think. And we draw inspiration from a variety of things, both within and outside music, so we’ve been lucky regarding that. And we also been lucky with Soulseller Records allowing us to release whatever we want ever since we made the demo. So no sadface emoticons on our behalf there!
Today technology allows you to record at home and release your music digitally. But in doing so is there a risk that you release only single songs because that is what is demanded to stay atop and therefore you end up killing the album for example?
-Actually, and I get a lot of heat for this from time to time, I am not very negative towards that way of producing and consuming music. Not everyone knows it, but the term ALBUM actually comes from when they started to gather singles in one album. So releasing singles isn’t the modern way at all, it’s actually quite the opposite. But then again, it differs with what you want with your music. If you wanna do the next mega dancetrancehit that shakes the dancefloors and nothing more, or be an EDM monster like Kygo, why the fuck should the guy make 7, 9 or 11 more songs to justify it? But when it comes to, let’s say, prog rock, I think the album format is much more suitable. Or “adult” music. I don’t think Widespread Panic or Eric Clapton is chasing the next big number one hit. Different music, different approaches, I guess. The only thing that could kill music is…well, nothing. You can’t stop rock ‘n’ roll!
I for one feel that the change in how people listen to music today, by downloading it and expecting to get it for free, will kill music as we know it. What kind of future is there for music?
-I totally disagree. A lot of music was made for other reasons than making money. Say the delta blues, from which most of our music hail. Or the gospel. Or negro spirituals. Music with soul. These things comes from reason, from within, from feelings, not because Robert Johnson wanted to release a die hard vinyl and getting laid on festivals with Five Finger Death Punch. Just like everyone up, and ask who’s in it for the money and who’s not. Then let the parts work. My money is on the “no moneymaking” team to make the best of the two. And that being said, there will be other methods to earn money from your music. Merchandise, concerts, etc. Or beer, wine, other products that we see more and more of. And if you have to have an ordinary job besides playing music, so be it. Bleed a little for the art, god dammit. Don’t just sit there whining because people don’t throw their money at you. Prove you’re worth it, and everything pays off.
What kind of responses do you get to your music? What has been the thing that has gotten the most attention?
-Besides the band name, I think the mix of cheerfulness and horror is what catches people’s ear. We’re kind of a musical tale from the crypt. We’ll laugh all the way to hell. If we were given the death penalty our last supper would be pretzles to go with all the beer.
We live in a world where there are no real distances between people communicating anymore. What has been the most surprising contact so far?
-Your idols will always disappoint. That’s the nature of idolizing, putting people on a much higher shelf than they belong. When I se people I’ve been a fan of for 30 years going all emo on Facebook because of stuff, it used to disappoint me. I’m getting too old for that now, but it was a pain in the ass in the early days of social media. Also I see some people bring ther idolness to Facebook. Even if they don’t know it themselves, I see a lot of people that could say “Sabaton is more important than Black Sabbath”, and 200 people would jump in and say AMEN! And almost noone would disagree. That’s quite annoying, to be honest. But I try to shut up about it and let people just stray around. The most surprising one I don’t know, but I think it’s cool that I’m friends with Zal Cleminson from Sensational Alex Harvey Band on Facebook, haha. He also played on Nazareth’s Expect No Mercy and Malice in Wonderland. And I had Myspace contact with Sturgill Simpson long before he started to succeed. And he’s gonna be HUGE, I believe. One of the next country super stars.
Does playing in a band make you feel like you are a part of a greater community? What has music brought with it that you would have otherwise missed out on?
-I’ve always been terribly interested in music, and many of my friends have been musicians, record collectors, hi-fi freaks, etc all my life, so I’ve always felt like a part of a musical family, so to say. But playing in a band has given me the opportunity to see a lot more gigs, and meet a lot more friends than I would otherwise. I am really grateful for that.
What is the live scene like for you? Do you feel that playing live helps building a bigger following?
-Absolutely. Especially now when there’s a festival on every corner or bands have 2-3 supporting acts. It’s a nice way to present your music, and every now and then you turn a new someone into a fan of your music, and that’s always a great feeling. We don’t have the biggest following anyhow, but we like to think that we make everyone feel welcome in the Devil family. We love to chat with them on shows, to interact on the internet and such. We’re a very social bunch.
What plans do you have for the future?
-Death is certain, life is not. No clue. Hopefully travel a little, get drunk, meet new and old friends, record more albums. But we’re getting older. Touring for months is not an option for us. We’re not Metallica that can live of it, and we’re pretty laidback. So it will be small, but exiting steps. And since we’ve done three albums in the same vein now, I am hoping we maybe will do something different the next time. Not sure what, but maybe a huge concept piece, or combining the music with other art directions.