- First of all Anders I'd like to thank you for the chance of interviewing you, it is an honor for me interviewing Funeral, one of the earliest and most important funeral doom acts back then that evolved their sound with the passing of time, remaining great as well.
Thanks to you as well… I always support the underground.
- Would you mind telling us a few words concerning the history of the band? How it all began, the course you had throughout the years, the tragic loss of Einar and the will to keep the spirit of the band alive…
Oh, this demands a long answer... I'll try...
In 91 I started up a metal-oriented band, together with Thomas Angell and some other guys, called Batallion. I played guitar back then… It was a more death metal oriented style... After a while we played slower and heavier music, and we developed into what became the early Funeral sound. In 93 I recruited Einar Fredriksen from his old death/thrash band Anti-chord, and we recorded the "tristesse" demo in 93. In 94 we got Christian Loos on 2nd guitar, Einar took over the bass, and I moved permanently into playing drums.. We also recruited Our female singer Toril in 94, just before the recording of the "beyond all sunsets" demo. We got a "deal" with Arctic Serenades and released our 1st full-length "tragedies" in 95.In late 95 we kicked out Toril, and we didn't have any vocalist until 97. In 96 we met up with My Dying Bride in Norway, and got the chance to go to the famous Academy Studios where we recorded 10 instrumental tracks. 5 of these were released in 97 with the newly recruited Sara Eick on vocals. We didn't get any response from labels, and Sara decided to quit. Then we recruited Hanne Hukkelberg from her band Unspoken Names, and we recorded "demo 99", which ultimately led us to the "deal" with Nocturnal Music, and the release of "in fields of pestilent grief". Then Hanne decided to quit, to concentrate on her jass-carreer, and Thomas Angell quit... And of course the tragedy with Einar happened, which led the band on ice for a year and a half. Then I decided to pick it up again, and I recruited the line-up that is today: Frode Forsmo(also in the Norwegian prog-death-doom-jass band minas Tirith) Kjetil Ottersen (whom I played with in an industrial band with, when Funeral was dormant) Jon Borgerud on keys and Christian Loos and myself from the good old days…
We recorded an entirely new cd late 2004, which now has led us to a 3-cd deal with a well-renowned English label whom we these days are finalizing the deal with.
- Funeral; I think that this name is the most appropriate one in order to characterize your music, not only as a style for your earlier releases, but also as a feeling, atmosphere, picture. How did you conceive the whole musical concept behind Funeral and why did you choose this imposing and grieving name?
I chose this name because I found it to give the perfect image of the music I wanted to create. Sad and beautiful at the same time… I am still very proud of this name.
- You were formed around 1991 in Norway. During that period the whole black metal scene was rising there, how did you remain untouched by the whole black metal maelstrom and expressed yourselves in the most opposite way, playing mourning ultra slow music whereas the black metal bands were moving in more raging and evil-oriented musical soundscapes?
I have never been into any trends. We also hail from a small city, where there were no other metal bands around. I have always been into really heavy music, so I was absolutely not into the black metal (even though I joined Odium for a cd in 96, because it was fun playing drums in that band)
Of course we suffered from the black metal era, and got very little attention from the press, but it didn't really affect me.
- I'd like to continue this interview by starting from the earlier years of the band reaching slowly nowadays. Your first demo, "Tristesse" was released around 1993 and saw the light of day as an official release from Wild Rags a year after. Non-compromising ultra slow and lengthy music with grunting vocals and more obscure clear-seeming ones, with walls of sound surrounding the listener, lurking mourning guitar riffing and serene, really affected, classical guitar passages enriching your sound in the most appropriate way. How did you feel back then when "Tristesse" was released and what do you think of it? I consider it a hidden diamond in the world of doom metal, having its very own beauty and personality.
I was very satisfied with the demo back then. It was the first time in the studio for me, and we did as good as we could. Today it embarrasses me a bit, especially the drumming. I think some of the riffing is very good though… Of course the sound is pretty crap! We actually got finance to the demo from the state, around 600 USD. Remember I was 16 when I wrote the music, and 17 when we entered the studio..
- One year later the demo "Beyond All Sunsets" saw the light of day and it takes your sound a few steps further. The first tunes of "Heartache" echo and when you expect the grunting vocals to enter an ethereal female voice makes its appearance making the overall atmosphere even more wailing, harmonizing beautifully with some male grunting vocals at times. And the use of the violin is so heart-rending making the atmosphere more fragile, while someone can hear here and there many creative guitar passages. How did you manage back then to add female vocals in your music and make another innovative step forwards?
Well I was heavily into classical and melodic music at the time, so I figured a soprano singer would be perfect to the music, and making it even more sad and melodic. I also heard Paradise Lost using female vocals, so I guess that inspired me a bit too… Our singer knew a violin player, and she got him to improvise over one of the songs.
- If you ask me, "Beyond All Sunsets" could have been a full-length album on its own, judging that only "Moment In Black" and "When Nightfall Clasps" made it to your next release, "Tragedies". Why did it remain a demo? "Heartache", "Forlorn" and "Dying (Together As One)" are songs that deserved to be in an official full-length or mini-CD release. What's your point of view?
These songs will appear on the re-release! I also think those songs are quite good, even today. The production is clear and heavy… We thought back then that the newer songs, "taaren" amongst others were better songs. That's why those songs were cut away for the "tragedies" cd.
- During the same year, 1995, "Tragedies" gets released, your second full-length release and it shows a more mature face on both the emotional and compositional factor. Female vocals are almost the only vocals on "Tragedies", with some slight male brutal vocal references, and they paint the soundscape in the most beautiful, wailing and fragile way. I really cannot think how the album would have sounded without them. The classical guitar passages remain a trademark of the band and make the overall aesthetic more romantically mourning and dramatic. Unfold your thoughts on "Tragedies", an album that not everyone composes every day…
Around then I was very happy with our sound. I thought we had something special going on, and I became more and more tired of the death grunts. It gave me more challenge to write melodic vocals. I also love classical guitars, and think that fit very well into the funereal sound. This recording was self-financed, and the studio used was extremely crappy, so I think the sound we got from that was pretty intense at the time. Of course we had more studio-experience, I guess that is recognizable through the production.
- After "Tragedies" two demos came out, "To Mourn "Is A Virtue" and "The Passion Play". Some of them remained as demo songs, some others became part of "In Fields Of Pestilent Grief". What happened in the 1996-2002 period and you remained in demos and the audience of Funeral had to wait for about 6 years to receive a new full-length album?
One song from "the passion play" or demo 99 as it officially was called did not make it on to the "in fields.." album. I hope we get the chance to incorporate this track on the re-release… Its a good track, and today I cant see how it missed the cd. Back then we felt it wasn't good enough I guess… It's entitled "when ruin beckons"
- The latest release of Funeral is "In Fields Of Pestilent Grief" and it was released around 2002, would you mind telling us a few words about it? It is different from your previous funeral doom releases, but still, the Funeral essence is quite evident in it, keeping your personality alive through a different way of expression.
It saw us develop our sound even further, and the style got a bit more "radio friendly" I guess… Thomas Angell wrote most of the music then… it saw the natural development I guess… Of course I still had a hang for more extreme doom, and made Fallen happen because of this somewhat "change" of style… But I agree that it still had the true funeral feeling to it, no doubt.
- The use of the piano and the keyboards, whenever they make their appearance in the album, make the overall atmosphere more beautifully melancholic. Should we expect more keyboards in the future?
There are lots of keyboards on new material! I use it though as classical instrumentation. The new tracks have lots of flutes, strings, piano and so on... It takes the funeral sound even closer to the classical music I guess...
- The female vocals on this album are the most beautiful, affected and expressive you ever had. From what I noticed Hanne is no longer a member of the band. What happened? What should we expect vocally from Funeral in the future? Are the male vocals on "Vile Are The Pains" a sign of the future vocals of Funeral?
Hanne decided to concentrate on her jass-singing(she is educated in jass). She has released 2 cds as a solo artist (have a look at www.hannehukkelberg.com)
She never was much of a metal-person, really. I actually forced her to sing soprano, which she hated doing…
We now have male vocals only, done by the fantastic Frode Forsmo(www.minastirith.no). Øystein the singer on "vile.." actually has sung over the 10 songs that we recorded in academy in 96. Its pretty cool. I don't know if this will be released, though, as Frode also have sung on 4 of those tracks…
- Have you found a new bass player to fill the empty space that Einar left?
Frode Forsmo now does the bass..
- Any news on a forth-coming album and any tips of how it will sound? Any possible information would be very appreciated!
Its finished recorded, and sees Funeral developing even further from the "in fields…" era… The songs are around 10 minutes each, and have as mentioned lots of synth in it. The production is absolutely KILLER! The working title is "from these wounds". We have recorded 9 songs, 8 will probably be released on the album, and one as a bonus track… We also have death grunts on one of the songs…
- What I noticed in your website is that you're discussing on re-releasing "Tragedies" and "Tristesse", do you know, maybe, when they will be in the stores? It is really difficult for your fans to find them at the moment and I think it would be a really good move!
We are in the process of signing with Firebox Rec. for a re-release of the first two albums "tristesse" and "tragedies" including unreleased bonus tracks. This will be a double cd, and will be released in the midst of 2006.
- What should someone expect from Funeral on stage? I have always been curious on how you sound live!
Well, we played a show off gig recently, and got very good reviews… It's heavy shit. The show was video recorded, so I guess it will be released sometimes… We will also make a new "updated" version of "taarene", more in our new vein...
- Are you a part of a label at the moment? If so, are you satisfied? If not, are you searching for one to release your works in the future?
I am very satisfied with the labels. We are in the process of getting really good deals now. Finally!!
- Concerning Fallen, a doom musical project you had formed during the second half of the 90s, as far as I am concerned you released your debut album the previous year. I never had the chance to listen to this project of yours, so, I'd appreciate any information on this.
You can order the album directly from me. I think it's sold out from the label now (aftermath-music). It contains the 2 songs from our demo and 4 new ones (incl. 2 instrumentals). It's of course very extreme, and we use synth and very deep melodic male vocals done by Kjetil Ottersen (Funeral-guitarist). I have 7 new songs ready for an upcoming release. This will have guest-appearances by Damon of MournfulCongregation as well as Sechtadamon and Destructhor from Zyklon / Myrkskog… It's extremely heavy and has an overall CRUSHING production done by Kjetil Ottersen in his magnificent digital studio (where also the new Funeral album is recorded)
- How do you find the doom metal scene nowadays? Any bands that caught your attention and you'd like to mention?
I am really not into any doom bands except some old ones like Mournful Congregation, Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus..I mostly listen to neo-folk music like Dead Can Dance, Arcana and so forth...
- Thanks a lot for your time and this interview! I wish all the best for Funeral in the future and may we hear something new from you soon! End the interview in any way you wish…
Thanks to you for spreading my message. Keep up the good work. May DOOM be with you!
Posted on 07.11.2005 by
"It is myself I have never met, whose face is pasted on the underside of my mind."