MADDER MORTEM

MADDER MORTEM is a band I was late in discovering but once I had done this Norwegian band got me hooked. Agnete answered my questions. Anders Ekdahl ©2017

8 years is long time for anybody but especially for a band. What have you been up to during your hiatus?
-We’ve been active as a band all along, rehearsing and writing new material, and doing the occasional one-off gig as well. “RITAC” was actually recorded a while ago, but line-up changes before and after the album as well as a label change set us back a lot. So it’s been a little weird – we’ve been just as much of a band as before, just really well hidden in the forests of Hedmark! But finally we’re out and about again, new album out, we just came back from touring Europe with Soen, and we’re checking out another touring option for this fall. We’ve also got lots of material, so we’re hoping to record the next album before too long, though we haven’t set a date yet – we’re actually going to be discussing that this weekend’s rehearsal.

You guys seemed to have everything going for you. You were signed to a big label, the press raved over your albums but you didn’t seem to get the same break as fellow Norwegian bands did. Was/is your music too off for the majority of metal listeners?
-Perhaps? I do think the trends and the time is much more right for us now. The new generation of listeners seem to be more open-minded and less stuck in a specific genre, which is good news for us, and there are a lot of “weird” or genre-defying bands out there doing very well, so there might be more opportunities for us now. I do actually think that our music is quite accessible to anyone who bothers to listen without preconceptions. It’s melodic and groovy, but the listener has to be ready to accept that it might not sound like anything else or behave the way it’s expected to – which in my book is a really good thing!

When you release a record of any sort what kind of expectations do you have on it? Do you set up goals for it?
-No, not at all, in the business, amount-of-records-sold sense. I think this is part of why we haven’t done better commercially. We’ve always been focussed entirely on the music, meaning that we’ve put an amazing amount of time and effort in to the creative and recording process, but not nearly enough into marketing and pr, which in hindsight is really stupid, if you want to sell records. But we’re learning to do a better job for our music, and we’re learning fast, because it’s a shame to make something we’re so proud of and love so much and then in effect keep it hidden from the world.

When you release an album and you go out and play live and people know your songs, how weird is that? That people know what you have written on your own?
-It can feel a little strange sometimes, but the prevalent feeling is gratitude and pride, I think. We’d probably make music anyhow, because I think that’s just something our personalities require of us, but it is a huge inspiration to see how much it means to some people out there. That’s part of what has been so great about getting out touring again, just seeing and meeting those people. We’ve had fans come and talk to us with our entire back catalogue in their hands, telling us how much of an influence and a companion our songs have been to them, and that is both humbling and very rewarding. And as a lyricist, I really love that other people find something meaningful to them in my words. It’s often an entirely different meaning than what I started with, but it is very interesting to me to explore other ways of interpreting what I’ve written – and sometimes those interpretations give me a whole new way of approaching the song, and lots and lots of ideas and inspiration for new lyrics and music.

Do you feel that you have to follow in the footsteps of the last album for a new when it comes to lyrics and art work so that those that bought the previous record will recognize your sound?
-Hehe, if you’ve listened to our albums chronologically, you’ll know the answer is a resounding “NO”!
We’ve never cared about that, the only thing that matters to us is to make what we want to make at the time we make it, and make every song as good as we can, according to what we feel the song needs. In the short term, I can see how that could be unwise in a commercial sense, but I do believe that in the long term, that is what makes us special. Take Faith No More, for instance, one of my all-time favourite bands – they reinvented themselves for every album, and I think that is why they’re still interesting. We’ll give you what we like and feel, honestly and without any other agenda than the music itself. And when we’ve done one kind of thing, our natural instinct is usually to look for something new and interesting to explore. That being said, I think we’ve ended up in a place where what we do is definitely recognisable as Madder Mortem, no matter how different it might be from the previous record.

Do you feel like you are a part of a greater community because you play in a band?
-Good question! Yes, I do – I think that is the strength of any kind of subculture. It is a little bit like an international, informal brotherhood, and when you tour, you are constantly reminded that even though the language might change, the emotions are the same, and people who love music are simply people who love music, no matter where they’re from.
Being in a band is an intensified version of that. When you meet other people who are in the same situation, who have experienced the torture and delight of creating something out of nothing and then fighting for it every step of the way until it’s out there and ready to be devoured by others, there is a definite sense of kinship. There are some parts of you that no one who has not been down that road can ever understand, and being with others who actually understand that it is EVERYTHING is a great relief sometimes. It’s all about having that one thing, that one identity that no one can ever take away from you. The last song on “RITAC”, “Underdogs”, is about just that sense of belonging. On the recent tour, we ended all our shows with that song, and it seemed to me that the feeling really carries out to the audience as well.

How hard/easy is it to come up with new songs that still are you but doesn’t sound like anything you’ve already written?
-It’s always hard to make new music, but we’ve never really worried about repeating ourselves. What we listen to changes, our playing style changes and evolves, our lives change, we change, and then the music changes. But it is kind of hard to say from inside the band, I think it’s easier to see from a listener’s perspective.

What influences/inspires you today? Where do you draw inspiration from? Is it important to have some sort of message?
-Anything and everything, really. It might be a book or a movie or a song, or it might be something a friend said in a passing moment, or the colour of the lake in the evening, or the way the trees move, or how you feel about someone, or a memory of something sweet or heartbreaking. More than anything, though, to me it is about the inspiration of the music itself, how the sounds feel in your throat, how exiting some notes are, the way pieces can be combined or the way the band sounds together, the excitement of a few random notes that suddenly take on shape and form. (I know, kinda pretentious, but that is how I feel … remember that I’m talking about my greatest love in life here, I think big words are in order, don’t you?) Then for lyrics, the inspiration is first and foremost the music, kind of what I think the songs are telling me on an emotional level.
I don’t know that I think it is important to have a message, but I do think it is important to try to be honest in what you are saying. If you’re faking it or just slapping something on top of the music, I think it shines through, eventually. That’s actually what scares me the most when I write lyrics; the idea that I have to say something that is true and naked enough that it will still be true to me in twenty years. But it doesn’t have to be eternal, it just has to come from an honest and true place. Most of my lyrics are quite personal, but some have a definite outgoing message, especially on this last album, because the world seems to be falling to pieces, mostly because we just can’t be bothered to care enough or move our arses, and that is endlessly provoking.

We hear about what state the record industry is in. Then we hear that cd sales are increasing. As a band that releases records do you notice the state the industry is in?
-Yes, indeed. Remember that we’ve been around since the 90s, so we’ve experienced the changes first-hand. Back in the day, tour support, for instance, was generally a given from most labels, because tours promoted cd sales. Now you make cds to promote tours, because the only sources of income for most bands are concert fees and merch sales. I think the industry is finally starting to get its bearings, but it might be too late. The big trouble is that as long as you are dealing with actual instruments, recording requires a lot of very expensive equipment and a suitable (and usually large) space, so you need some way of funding it to get anything out there. Luckily, BP is a sound engineer, and we’ve invested our budgets in gear, so we can do most of it on our own.

What is your opinion on digital verses physical?
-I’m oooooold, so I’m the kind of gal that still buys cds. I do love the accessibility of all kinds of music, and it’s great for listening to new stuff or checking something out, and it’s brilliant for playlists for parties – but I want the album format with the track listing and the artwork. To me, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

What lies in the future?
-Another tour, another album! We’re very hungry at the moment, and we’re working our arses off to get out there as much as we can. And then hopefully, we’ll keep repeating that without repeating ourselves creatively, until we’re too old and arthritic to play our own songs anymore.

MADDER MORTEM is a band I was late in discovering but once I had done this Norwegian band got me hooked. Anders Ekdahl ©2017

8 years is long time for anybody but especially for a band. What have you been up to during your hiatus?
-We’ve been active as a band all along, rehearsing and writing new material, and doing the occasional one-off gig as well. “RITAC” was actually recorded a while ago, but line-up changes before and after the album as well as a label change set us back a lot. So it’s been a little weird – we’ve been just as much of a band as before, just really well hidden in the forests of Hedmark! But finally we’re out and about again, new album out, we just came back from touring Europe with Soen, and we’re checking out another touring option for this fall. We’ve also got lots of material, so we’re hoping to record the next album before too long, though we haven’t set a date yet – we’re actually going to be discussing that this weekend’s rehearsal.

You guys seemed to have everything going for you. You were signed to a big label, the press raved over your albums but you didn’t seem to get the same break as fellow Norwegian bands did. Was/is your music too off for the majority of metal listeners?
-Perhaps? I do think the trends and the time is much more right for us now. The new generation of listeners seem to be more open-minded and less stuck in a specific genre, which is good news for us, and there are a lot of “weird” or genre-defying bands out there doing very well, so there might be more opportunities for us now. I do actually think that our music is quite accessible to anyone who bothers to listen without preconceptions. It’s melodic and groovy, but the listener has to be ready to accept that it might not sound like anything else or behave the way it’s expected to – which in my book is a really good thing!

When you release a record of any sort what kind of expectations do you have on it? Do you set up goals for it?
-No, not at all, in the business, amount-of-records-sold sense. I think this is part of why we haven’t done better commercially. We’ve always been focussed entirely on the music, meaning that we’ve put an amazing amount of time and effort in to the creative and recording process, but not nearly enough into marketing and pr, which in hindsight is really stupid, if you want to sell records. But we’re learning to do a better job for our music, and we’re learning fast, because it’s a shame to make something we’re so proud of and love so much and then in effect keep it hidden from the world.

When you release an album and you go out and play live and people know your songs, how weird is that? That people know what you have written on your own?
-It can feel a little strange sometimes, but the prevalent feeling is gratitude and pride, I think. We’d probably make music anyhow, because I think that’s just something our personalities require of us, but it is a huge inspiration to see how much it means to some people out there. That’s part of what has been so great about getting out touring again, just seeing and meeting those people. We’ve had fans come and talk to us with our entire back catalogue in their hands, telling us how much of an influence and a companion our songs have been to them, and that is both humbling and very rewarding. And as a lyricist, I really love that other people find something meaningful to them in my words. It’s often an entirely different meaning than what I started with, but it is very interesting to me to explore other ways of interpreting what I’ve written – and sometimes those interpretations give me a whole new way of approaching the song, and lots and lots of ideas and inspiration for new lyrics and music.

Do you feel that you have to follow in the footsteps of the last album for a new when it comes to lyrics and art work so that those that bought the previous record will recognize your sound?
-Hehe, if you’ve listened to our albums chronologically, you’ll know the answer is a resounding “NO”!
We’ve never cared about that, the only thing that matters to us is to make what we want to make at the time we make it, and make every song as good as we can, according to what we feel the song needs. In the short term, I can see how that could be unwise in a commercial sense, but I do believe that in the long term, that is what makes us special. Take Faith No More, for instance, one of my all-time favourite bands – they reinvented themselves for every album, and I think that is why they’re still interesting. We’ll give you what we like and feel, honestly and without any other agenda than the music itself. And when we’ve done one kind of thing, our natural instinct is usually to look for something new and interesting to explore. That being said, I think we’ve ended up in a place where what we do is definitely recognisable as Madder Mortem, no matter how different it might be from the previous record.

Do you feel like you are a part of a greater community because you play in a band?
-Good question! Yes, I do – I think that is the strength of any kind of subculture. It is a little bit like an international, informal brotherhood, and when you tour, you are constantly reminded that even though the language might change, the emotions are the same, and people who love music are simply people who love music, no matter where they’re from.
Being in a band is an intensified version of that. When you meet other people who are in the same situation, who have experienced the torture and delight of creating something out of nothing and then fighting for it every step of the way until it’s out there and ready to be devoured by others, there is a definite sense of kinship. There are some parts of you that no one who has not been down that road can ever understand, and being with others who actually understand that it is EVERYTHING is a great relief sometimes. It’s all about having that one thing, that one identity that no one can ever take away from you. The last song on “RITAC”, “Underdogs”, is about just that sense of belonging. On the recent tour, we ended all our shows with that song, and it seemed to me that the feeling really carries out to the audience as well.

How hard/easy is it to come up with new songs that still are you but doesn’t sound like anything you’ve already written?
-It’s always hard to make new music, but we’ve never really worried about repeating ourselves. What we listen to changes, our playing style changes and evolves, our lives change, we change, and then the music changes. But it is kind of hard to say from inside the band, I think it’s easier to see from a listener’s perspective.

What influences/inspires you today? Where do you draw inspiration from? Is it important to have some sort of message?
-Anything and everything, really. It might be a book or a movie or a song, or it might be something a friend said in a passing moment, or the colour of the lake in the evening, or the way the trees move, or how you feel about someone, or a memory of something sweet or heartbreaking. More than anything, though, to me it is about the inspiration of the music itself, how the sounds feel in your throat, how exiting some notes are, the way pieces can be combined or the way the band sounds together, the excitement of a few random notes that suddenly take on shape and form. (I know, kinda pretentious, but that is how I feel … remember that I’m talking about my greatest love in life here, I think big words are in order, don’t you?) Then for lyrics, the inspiration is first and foremost the music, kind of what I think the songs are telling me on an emotional level.
I don’t know that I think it is important to have a message, but I do think it is important to try to be honest in what you are saying. If you’re faking it or just slapping something on top of the music, I think it shines through, eventually. That’s actually what scares me the most when I write lyrics; the idea that I have to say something that is true and naked enough that it will still be true to me in twenty years. But it doesn’t have to be eternal, it just has to come from an honest and true place. Most of my lyrics are quite personal, but some have a definite outgoing message, especially on this last album, because the world seems to be falling to pieces, mostly because we just can’t be bothered to care enough or move our arses, and that is endlessly provoking.

We hear about what state the record industry is in. Then we hear that cd sales are increasing. As a band that releases records do you notice the state the industry is in?
-Yes, indeed. Remember that we’ve been around since the 90s, so we’ve experienced the changes first-hand. Back in the day, tour support, for instance, was generally a given from most labels, because tours promoted cd sales. Now you make cds to promote tours, because the only sources of income for most bands are concert fees and merch sales. I think the industry is finally starting to get its bearings, but it might be too late. The big trouble is that as long as you are dealing with actual instruments, recording requires a lot of very expensive equipment and a suitable (and usually large) space, so you need some way of funding it to get anything out there. Luckily, BP is a sound engineer, and we’ve invested our budgets in gear, so we can do most of it on our own.

What is your opinion on digital verses physical?
-I’m oooooold, so I’m the kind of gal that still buys cds. I do love the accessibility of all kinds of music, and it’s great for listening to new stuff or checking something out, and it’s brilliant for playlists for parties – but I want the album format with the track listing and the artwork. To me, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

What lies in the future?
-Another tour, another album! We’re very hungry at the moment, and we’re working our arses off to get out there as much as we can. And then hopefully, we’ll keep repeating that without repeating ourselves creatively, until we’re too old and arthritic to play our own songs anymore. 

MADDER MORTEM is a band I was late in discovering but once I had done this Norwegian band got me hooked. Anders Ekdahl ©2017

8 years is long time for anybody but especially for a band. What have you been up to during your hiatus?
-We’ve been active as a band all along, rehearsing and writing new material, and doing the occasional one-off gig as well. “RITAC” was actually recorded a while ago, but line-up changes before and after the album as well as a label change set us back a lot. So it’s been a little weird – we’ve been just as much of a band as before, just really well hidden in the forests of Hedmark! But finally we’re out and about again, new album out, we just came back from touring Europe with Soen, and we’re checking out another touring option for this fall. We’ve also got lots of material, so we’re hoping to record the next album before too long, though we haven’t set a date yet – we’re actually going to be discussing that this weekend’s rehearsal.

You guys seemed to have everything going for you. You were signed to a big label, the press raved over your albums but you didn’t seem to get the same break as fellow Norwegian bands did. Was/is your music too off for the majority of metal listeners?
-Perhaps? I do think the trends and the time is much more right for us now. The new generation of listeners seem to be more open-minded and less stuck in a specific genre, which is good news for us, and there are a lot of “weird” or genre-defying bands out there doing very well, so there might be more opportunities for us now. I do actually think that our music is quite accessible to anyone who bothers to listen without preconceptions. It’s melodic and groovy, but the listener has to be ready to accept that it might not sound like anything else or behave the way it’s expected to – which in my book is a really good thing!

When you release a record of any sort what kind of expectations do you have on it? Do you set up goals for it?
-No, not at all, in the business, amount-of-records-sold sense. I think this is part of why we haven’t done better commercially. We’ve always been focussed entirely on the music, meaning that we’ve put an amazing amount of time and effort in to the creative and recording process, but not nearly enough into marketing and pr, which in hindsight is really stupid, if you want to sell records. But we’re learning to do a better job for our music, and we’re learning fast, because it’s a shame to make something we’re so proud of and love so much and then in effect keep it hidden from the world.

When you release an album and you go out and play live and people know your songs, how weird is that? That people know what you have written on your own?
-It can feel a little strange sometimes, but the prevalent feeling is gratitude and pride, I think. We’d probably make music anyhow, because I think that’s just something our personalities require of us, but it is a huge inspiration to see how much it means to some people out there. That’s part of what has been so great about getting out touring again, just seeing and meeting those people. We’ve had fans come and talk to us with our entire back catalogue in their hands, telling us how much of an influence and a companion our songs have been to them, and that is both humbling and very rewarding. And as a lyricist, I really love that other people find something meaningful to them in my words. It’s often an entirely different meaning than what I started with, but it is very interesting to me to explore other ways of interpreting what I’ve written – and sometimes those interpretations give me a whole new way of approaching the song, and lots and lots of ideas and inspiration for new lyrics and music.

Do you feel that you have to follow in the footsteps of the last album for a new when it comes to lyrics and art work so that those that bought the previous record will recognize your sound?
-Hehe, if you’ve listened to our albums chronologically, you’ll know the answer is a resounding “NO”!
We’ve never cared about that, the only thing that matters to us is to make what we want to make at the time we make it, and make every song as good as we can, according to what we feel the song needs. In the short term, I can see how that could be unwise in a commercial sense, but I do believe that in the long term, that is what makes us special. Take Faith No More, for instance, one of my all-time favourite bands – they reinvented themselves for every album, and I think that is why they’re still interesting. We’ll give you what we like and feel, honestly and without any other agenda than the music itself. And when we’ve done one kind of thing, our natural instinct is usually to look for something new and interesting to explore. That being said, I think we’ve ended up in a place where what we do is definitely recognisable as Madder Mortem, no matter how different it might be from the previous record.

Do you feel like you are a part of a greater community because you play in a band?
-Good question! Yes, I do – I think that is the strength of any kind of subculture. It is a little bit like an international, informal brotherhood, and when you tour, you are constantly reminded that even though the language might change, the emotions are the same, and people who love music are simply people who love music, no matter where they’re from.
Being in a band is an intensified version of that. When you meet other people who are in the same situation, who have experienced the torture and delight of creating something out of nothing and then fighting for it every step of the way until it’s out there and ready to be devoured by others, there is a definite sense of kinship. There are some parts of you that no one who has not been down that road can ever understand, and being with others who actually understand that it is EVERYTHING is a great relief sometimes. It’s all about having that one thing, that one identity that no one can ever take away from you. The last song on “RITAC”, “Underdogs”, is about just that sense of belonging. On the recent tour, we ended all our shows with that song, and it seemed to me that the feeling really carries out to the audience as well.

How hard/easy is it to come up with new songs that still are you but doesn’t sound like anything you’ve already written?
-It’s always hard to make new music, but we’ve never really worried about repeating ourselves. What we listen to changes, our playing style changes and evolves, our lives change, we change, and then the music changes. But it is kind of hard to say from inside the band, I think it’s easier to see from a listener’s perspective.

What influences/inspires you today? Where do you draw inspiration from? Is it important to have some sort of message?
-Anything and everything, really. It might be a book or a movie or a song, or it might be something a friend said in a passing moment, or the colour of the lake in the evening, or the way the trees move, or how you feel about someone, or a memory of something sweet or heartbreaking. More than anything, though, to me it is about the inspiration of the music itself, how the sounds feel in your throat, how exiting some notes are, the way pieces can be combined or the way the band sounds together, the excitement of a few random notes that suddenly take on shape and form. (I know, kinda pretentious, but that is how I feel … remember that I’m talking about my greatest love in life here, I think big words are in order, don’t you?) Then for lyrics, the inspiration is first and foremost the music, kind of what I think the songs are telling me on an emotional level.
I don’t know that I think it is important to have a message, but I do think it is important to try to be honest in what you are saying. If you’re faking it or just slapping something on top of the music, I think it shines through, eventually. That’s actually what scares me the most when I write lyrics; the idea that I have to say something that is true and naked enough that it will still be true to me in twenty years. But it doesn’t have to be eternal, it just has to come from an honest and true place. Most of my lyrics are quite personal, but some have a definite outgoing message, especially on this last album, because the world seems to be falling to pieces, mostly because we just can’t be bothered to care enough or move our arses, and that is endlessly provoking.

We hear about what state the record industry is in. Then we hear that cd sales are increasing. As a band that releases records do you notice the state the industry is in?
-Yes, indeed. Remember that we’ve been around since the 90s, so we’ve experienced the changes first-hand. Back in the day, tour support, for instance, was generally a given from most labels, because tours promoted cd sales. Now you make cds to promote tours, because the only sources of income for most bands are concert fees and merch sales. I think the industry is finally starting to get its bearings, but it might be too late. The big trouble is that as long as you are dealing with actual instruments, recording requires a lot of very expensive equipment and a suitable (and usually large) space, so you need some way of funding it to get anything out there. Luckily, BP is a sound engineer, and we’ve invested our budgets in gear, so we can do most of it on our own.

What is your opinion on digital verses physical?
-I’m oooooold, so I’m the kind of gal that still buys cds. I do love the accessibility of all kinds of music, and it’s great for listening to new stuff or checking something out, and it’s brilliant for playlists for parties – but I want the album format with the track listing and the artwork. To me, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

What lies in the future?
-Another tour, another album! We’re very hungry at the moment, and we’re working our arses off to get out there as much as we can. And then hopefully, we’ll keep repeating that without repeating ourselves creatively, until we’re too old and arthritic to play our own songs anymore.

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