I have to admit that I haven’t really cared to check out Norwegian SAHG until now. No, it has nothing to do with the Union. I’ve just been lazy. Replies by Olav Iversen, singer & guitarist. Anders Ekdahl ©2016
When the band came into creation what was the main purpose for it?
-We just wanted to play the music we had always wanted to play. The guys in the band had been into everything from jazz, to pop, to rock, to black metal over many years, but never really dived into the kind of music that had been the biggest influence on us ever since childhood. It was something the four of us had in common, that every one had a desire to make reality. To finally make full use of the influences that were so heavily rooted in our souls and in our blood. So it was time to eventually release the mass of inspiration that had been building up over the years. It was time to unleash the beast, and that beast was Sahg.
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?
-The band’s sound was there from day one. It really was. Every member knew very clearly before we ever played a note what this band was intended to be, and we were completely in sync about what Sahg was going to sound like. I guess what came out was a mash-up of everything we loved to listen to since we were kids, the stuff that had made us pick up an instrument and awoken the dream of playing in a band in the first place. Fine tuning and thorough planning and trying and failing had absolutely nothing to do with it. The building blocks were all there in our blood stream and in the back of our minds. All we had to do, was to build the castle, and the sound came out 100 percent naturally. It was like nothing we had experienced before. It just worked, and was meant to be.
I have no idea what kind of creative process you guys go through but how hard is it to record and release new songs?
-When it comes to writing new music, we have never had anything close to a creative block in the band’s 12 years of existence. There have been intentional passive periods, but once we have gotten our heads around it and tapped into writing mode again, ideas have started flying out. I think one of the reasons for that, is our constant focus on evolving, and not getting stuck in one place musically. It’s a matter of staying close and true to your core, and at the same time daring to step out of your musical comfort zone, in order to keep making challenging and interesting music. We have experienced and worked a lot on finding that balance, and we have always been very self-critical about what we write. Only the few best ideas make it through the eye of the needle. But once they do, it is never hard to create a common understanding within the band of how a song is supposed to sound or be played. Even after many line-up changes over the years, no one ever went: “Man, I don’t understand where you are going with this, I don’t understand how to play it.” It seems like we are dealing with something very basic, that is very principal to everyone who has a passion for and experience with heavy music. Even though Sahg has evolved over the years and sounds differently now than we did ten years ago, we are still heavily rooted in the most primal source of influence to every type of metal and heavy music that has sprung out since the seventies. Maybe that is why we reach out to such a wide range of fans, and why so many metal musicians seem to understand what we are doing.
Today technology allows you to record at home and release your music digitally. But in doing so is there a risk that you release songs too soon, before they are fully ready to be launched at an audience?
-If you are not self-critical enough, I guess you can easily burst out with something that rather shouldn’t see the light of day, or something pre-mature. But looking back at history, there has always been a lot of shit being released anyway, even with the record labels’ “quality control”. So I don’t really think the new way of putting out music makes much of a difference in that matter.
I for one feel that the change of 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 recorded music?
-I have no idea how, but the status of good music needs to be rebuilt somehow, and make people understand and appreciate the value of it. A lot of music isn’t worth paying money for anyway, so they can just go on and give that away for free, for all I care. But I hope that somehow, music of real quality and artistic value can reach the status where people will find it worth paying for it again. If not, the basis of existence to a lot of good artists will be gone, and many of them will never get the chance to share their full potential. And that would be a tremendous loss to the world of music and art.
What kind of responses have you had to your recorded music? What has been the thing that has gotten the most attention?
-We have had a lot of good reviews and positive response to our records ever since the first album, Sahg I. But even to this day, many seem surprised that we are a Norwegian metal band which has little to do with black metal musically Especially on our first album, when we had two black metal musicians in the band, Einar Selvik (aka. Kvitrafn, ex-Gorgoroth, now Wardruna) and Tom Cato Visnes (aka. King, ex-Gorgoroth, now Abbath), I think many expected something very different than what they got. Fortunately, it seemed to be a positive surprise rather than a disappointment to most people.
We live in a world where there are no real distances between people communicating anymore. What has been the most surprising contact so far?
-We get approached by fans from all corners of the world, from South America to the far East. But I think the most surprising contact happened around the release of our second album, Sahg II, when we were contacted by a promoter for a festival in India called Great Indian Rock, who wanted to book us for five or six huge outdoor arena shows all over India. This happened at a pretty early stage for the band, and it’s safe to say, we didn’t see that one coming. But the tour happened, we flew down and travelled around India for a while and played for thousands of people every night.
Do you feel like you are a part of a greater community playing in a band?
-Most of the time we don’t, because we work isolated in our band cave, writing or rehearsing new songs. But once we get out of our “solitary confinement” to release a new album, and go on tour and play festivals, we sometimes get that feeling. When you pop out of your bubble and team up with other bands or hang out at a festival and get some response to the stuff you have been working on in obscurity for a long time, that’s when you get some sense of being part of a greater community. We haven’t been very good at it so far, but collaborating with other bands and artists is something we would like to do more of in the future.
Do you notice that there is a certain buzsz about the band because you are Norwegians or because people actually are waiting for a new SAHG album?
-Yes, we really get that now. It seems there is a lot of interest and anticipation around the new album. There has been a few great album reviews already, so it seems very promising. We always were the “odd band out” in Norwegian metal, since we never were neither black metal nor viking metal, so it is always interesting to see how a new album is received and put into context.
What plans do you have for the future?
-After the album comes out, touring is the big thing on the plan for this year and the next. We start the tour at home, in Bergen, Norway, on the day of the album release, September 23rd. Then we will do a few more shows in Norway, before we head out to play around Europe in October-November. We are working on more shows and festivals, so there is a lot more to come. Once we get going, ideas for new songs usually start to circulate. So once this album is out of the bag, we start to brew on the next one. It goes on and on. You can’t stop rock’n’roll.