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Interview von: arne mit John Robert, am: 10.01.2005 ]

Die norwegischen EXTOL melden sich mit ihrem mittlerweile vierten Longplayer ”Blueprint”eindrucksvoll zurück und wieder ist alles anders als zuvor. Das beginnt einmal mehr im Line Up, das den Wechsel beider (!!) Gitarristen zu verkraften hatte und setzt sich unweigerlich in der Musik fort. EXTOL anno 2005 präsentieren sich als gereifte, grenzenlos aufspielende Band, die weitaus flüssiger und zwingender als noch auf dem direkten Vorgänger “Synergie“ auftritt.


Musicscan: How big is the interest in Extol coming back with a new record? Do a lot of people asking for interviews?

Extol: Well, the album is due release in one and a half month from now, so things are certainly starting to heat up. There are new interviews almost every day now, which is good of course, so the interest for the new album is high, especially among our dedicated listeners who are mostly curious about which direction we have headed now.

Musicscan: What are your feelings seeing "Blueprint" being available in the stores soon?

Extol: I honestly can’t wait to see that happen, cause when you’re in a band you spend a certain time rehearsing the material, then recording it, and then another period waiting for the practical matters concerning the release to go through, so definitely I am looking forward to the release a lot. It gives a certain feeling of your work being finalized and materialized in a concrete object, made available to the public to go check out. And also, I’m positively anxious on the general response to our music.

Musicscan: Out of my view "Blueprint" is a perfecetly balanced record in all aspects. Has this been something you were heading for?

Extol: We had it in the back of our minds that we wanted to make many different kind of songs on this record, but still it became more varieted than we expected. When we entered the studio this time as opposed to earlier recordings, we were more open-minded and let creatitvity take control in a sense. I agree, the album is balanced in all ways, with slow, heavy, fast and aggressive songs, it even has a ballad on there, but it doesn’t divert itself from album even though it’s a soft tune. We are very satisfied with the sound this time, has more energy and tension I think, and it unifies the diverse song material.

Musicscan: Would you agree to say the new songs are more focused as well as being more controlled while still keeping a lot of room to grow for the plain music?

Extol: Yeah, in a way. Like I said, we made the basis for the songs before entering the studio, working a lot on an 8-track porta-studio and then just letting the music grow together in the studio. It was also our intention to make a more easy-listening record than our previous, Synergy, and rather stick to a straight-forwardness approach, and it worked I think.

Musicscan: About "Blueprint" i notized a more obviously hardcore-attitude as well as a stronger prog-edge. Why did you choose to go this direction musically? Do you understand what i mean?

Extol: Definitely, there’s a lot of hard core influence on there, but the progressive elements have always been in Extol’s music, but I guess you could say our display of the progressive has changed. The record is very energetic and straightforward. We tried to make it more catchy in rhythm and melody, and perhaps that is when you hear the progressiveness more easily, when we do something out of the ordinary. This influence may also come due to the fact that our two new guitarist and myself used to play in a hard-core oriented band called Ganglión, both progressive and technical in style.

Musicscan: Is it an intentionell drive to make the songs as varied musically as possible?

Extol: Both yes and no. We started out wanting to do something different, more interesting and creative, and the songs on the record are a result of this process. I guess it was a daring project, and we were even open to scratch some of the songs from the record if we had to, but fortunately it turned out well. We may be idealists deep down, but to write variated music in itself was never a purpose though.

Musicscan: Have there been certain issues you specifically wanted to address with "Blueprint"?

Extol: “The Blueprint Dives” is a title that refers to the songs on the record, so each individual song has its own meaning I guess. They are in themselves “dives” that lead their own life sort of to speak, you might even call them experiments. I think the lyrics for the album are individually different like the songs, but there is a red line there of course. We deal with personal issues among others, they are reflections of our emotion and experience, such as loneliness and deprivation but also more general themes like love, grace and freedom.

Musicscan: What was your main focus creating this new songs onto? Have there been any difficulies while you were working on the songs?

Extol: Musically speaking, we all have different perspectives on what is and is not good music, but the one thing we have in common I believe is the openness within the band. Like, when we are presenting and jamming on new material there’s always a sense of respect and freedom, and when deciding what to use and what not to use some of us are more or less critical than others, that’s but natural. However, in the studio our main problem and concern was trying to get things in tune. We could record, tune, intonate and record a guitar for hours and hours without finding the cause to why things sounded so out of tune, and after a while you actually become uncertain whether things sound too low or too high after all. When you try to listen “extra carefully” you just end up getting paranoid, and then when you listen to to the same song the day after, you finally understand it sounds either perfectly all right or just horribly wrong!

Musicscan: Your releases always cover a lot of bases - there's something for everyone within the heavy underground i would say. Were you going for a more inclusive approach right from the beginning or is it a result of your progression?

Extol: Yes, it was deliberate to some extent. We wanted to hit a larger audience, we always have, and this time we probably managed it, and I’m glad to say it’s not on the cost of our musical conscience. All of us in the band are 100% commited to the new material, in fact I personally feel this is the most exciting stuff I’ve ever been involved in so far, and I always have a tendency to undermine such things, so there you go!

Musicscan: Again there are lots of instrumental parts on the record, the music itself has room to grow and there is some kind of special mood around your tracks, but has it been your aim to create some kind of more positive feeling this time? I would say it's not as dark as your former releases have been....

Extol: We owe a lot to the guys helping us out in the studio with the sound, both engineers and people from the outside spicing the music with synthesizers, keyboards, standing-bass and Rhodes. I’m glad you noticed a positive feeling or mood on the record, it was very much our goal to make something people could actually draw good feelings towards. I agree that the older Extol albums have a more dark approach, but then they were more death and black metal. There is however exceptions on our new album as well that fit under the more gloomy category, but still I feel they are positive in their own way, if you see what I mean. We were more open to experiment on sounds and feedback even on the new album, in my opinion loosing it up, making it more natural and flowing.

Musicscan: With the new record you had a larger amount of time to spend on it, right? Did this make the whole process easier?

Extol: We actually only started rehearsing material together under the new line-up unit some 6 months before we entered the studio, so there was heavy pressure on us, but we managed to put together ideas that people had been working on for a long time and then make all new songs. Once in the studio, we had 3 weeks to our disposal and 1 week optional if things didn’t work out. We ended up using all four weeks, working 15 hour days, often by ourselves in the evenings and then another 5 days to mix and master the record. The recording itself was exhausting, but once you’re under that kind of time-pressure it forces you to produce and deliver your very best.

Musicscan: Do you feel that the new record is a pretty good representation of bands sounding as of right now?

Extol: Absolutely! If you have heard our cd and show up at a concert, this is how we will be sounding live as well. Still, I am no doubt sure we will develop our style furthermore when we start rehearsing on new material again, but in which direction is hard to say right now.

Musicscan: Again you had some line-up changes and were forced to integrate new members. What has been the reason for it? Is Extol a solid band these days?

Extol: There were certain priority-differances within the band that resulted in members leaving. This was not as dramatic as it may seem at first. The problem was that we felt Extol was ready to head one step forward now and invest more time and energy on the band than we’de done so far, so basically Ole and Christer felt they couldn’t commit themselves under those conditions. They left out of their own will in order to let the band move on, so it was their call, and we all understood and respected their decision. The main problem really was filling the place of the two guitarists, and fortunately the solution was found in ex-Extol member Tor magne and Ole Halvard from the rock band Ganglión, where also myself, Peter and David have played together at some time. So this was not an entirely new setting for us, but we wanted to make a clean sheet and start allover, and that is what I feel we’ve done with “The Blueprint Dives”. I feel the band as of right now is rock solid, we have a strong unit going 100% in the same direction. I know it’s probably a cliché to claim that a band is “stronger than ever” right after a large line-up change, but for me it’s just the way it is, time will have to prove it otherwise if so may be.

Musicscan: How did you came up with the title and the concept of the record "Blueprint"? There is a concept behind it, right?

Extol: Yes, that is exactly to the point. The Blueprint Dives is a description of the record as a whole, and it includes all the many different songs on the album. I’d say in my own words that each individual song is a “dive” into “blueprint”. The “dive” is our attempt to reflect what we experience, see, feel and believe in, where “blueprint” being our reality or the deep universal truth we constantly try to near. Something like that. I think the title sums up the album, and recollects it as a whole. It was Tor Magne in the band who first came up with the idea.

Musicscan: What is the massage Extol tries to get out to the scenes?

Extol: We try to spread positive energy when we make music and go out at concerts and play for people. We don’t particularly pretend to have a bad-ass attitude, we have a genuinly positive view on life and God for that matter. Our music may be extreme, but our message is of the good sort. We believe in truth, love and meaning in life. How about that!

Musicscan: I like to think Extol is in need of open minded listeners, because you play a well belanced mixture of different styles. Do you have problems to find your right crowd?

Extol: I sure hope that won’t be a problem, and if it becomes one we’ll just have to convert people in to our style of music!!! No, but seriously, I don’t think that would be that big of an issue, considering people are quite openminded nowadays. At least in The United States I’m under the impression that genres are more mixed together and so there won’t be that many eyebrows raised at a concert with different sounding bands. Of course, you’ll have the usual hard-core heavy metal crowds or whatever who won’t digest anything else but Iron Maiden for instance, but that’s just how it is.

Musicscan: At this point, what do you enjoy more, recording in the studio, or playing live?

Extol: Playing live, without a doubt! Recording is certainly exciting as well, but there’s so much more things that happen out there on the road, travelling new places and meeting new people all the time, people who’ve been waiting to see you for so and so long, or have driven for days just to reach that one concert. It’s very special.

Musicscan: Since music videos are the thing right now, what will a new video with Extol look like?

Extol: We actually just recently recorded our first video for the track “Pearl” off the new album. The song in itself is pretty easy-listening, so we wanted a contrast in images to the song, and what we ended up with was something looking like a zombie-movie! The film-crew we hired is called Helmet Productions in Norway, and they designed the idea for us. They rented a huge, dark, closed-down indutrial site, which gave the association to the film-set for either Terminator or Alien or something sci-fi inbetween, and they had us play zombies walking around with torn open clothes, dirt all over us and some nasty hair-dos! It was an extremely funny experience, but freezing cold, with snow blowing in on us all the time. I won’t spoil the plot of the story or tell you anything more, as we haven’t seen the end-result yet, so we are still very excited about how it will turn out.

Musicscan: What is the essence of Extol? What does it all come down to?

Extol: When you strip down all the music, all the lyrics, the concerts, the tattoos and everything else surrounding us, it all breaks down to one thing, and that is what we believe in and brings meaning to our lives, which is Jesus Christ. It’s as easy and difficult as that!

  Century Media
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