Recently, I had the extreme pleasure of reviewing NORSE and their phenomenally bleak and twisted new record “The Divine Light of a New Sun” Below, group founder Forge and I discuss inspiration, the “scene” and how creating such disturbing music keeps Forge sane.
S.B: Greetings FORGE. First off I’d like to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.
FORGE: Thanks for the opportunity!
S.B: I recently had the extreme pleasuring of reviewing “The Divine Light of a New Sun“ To say I was blown away would be an understatement. Congratulations.
FORGE: cheers! I appreciate you taking the time to check it out. Compared to earlier albums, this one came together quite quick, which was a nice change. ADR and I set a few deadlines for this release, and having clear ideas of where we wanted to take this album helped make it smooth sailing.
S.B: This is album number three for NORSE. How has the group’s and especially your attitude changed since the early days?
FORGE: Hmm, quite significantly I’d say. When we started 10+ years ago, Norse was a ball of energy, with no real focus, taking a hundred ideas and throwing them together and hoping for the best. Over the years as members have come and gone, the band has distilled down from 5 to just 2 creative contributors, both with a definite vision and goal for the band. Our intent is to push the bleakest of boundaries (to the point of alienating of nearly all of the bands original fan-base.)
S.B: What’s your song writing process? Do you write individually or as a group?
FORGE: Never as a group any more. Writing as a group means compromise or tolerance of others input that waters down the original intent. It just doesn’t work. Unless you are lucky enough to meet 5 people with EXACTLY the same goal in mind, there’s always going to be some straying from the path. That and i just don’t have the patience to put up with bullshit politics any more! If I don’t like something, I don’t need to carefully word my thoughts or suggest another idea. It just gets deleted.
…That being said, I did extend the olive branch and got some bassists in to write bass for this album and I really wanted to get a bit of a different approach to some parts of the songs. The people i chose were highly talented and complemented what I had written.
With this new album i wrote all of the guitars first, and arranged the songs with guitars only. I figure if I can make a song flow and be exciting with just guitars, it can only be improved with other instruments.
I was getting up at 2 am every morning and writing until 7, then off to work for 8 hours. Once home and kids were in bed I’d go back to the studio to write drum parts till 10. Repeat that for 3 months and it wears you out! But it was the only way i could find time to get it all done.
S.B: Something that struck me while listening to the new record was the atmosphere. A sense of claustrophobic madness seems to permeate the entire album. What inspired you to create such an ominous and foreboding record? Is there an overall theme or concept weaving “The Divine Light of a New Sun” together?
FORGE: Yes, that is always my goal to strive for. I just love the idea of bleak, dark music that creates an atmosphere of suppression. It seems to be my outlet for frustrations in life. Which in turn allows me to be a highly positive person day to day!
S.B: The video you made for “Cyclic” is almost like a trailer for a horror movie and indeed works as a teaser for the album. Does horror, be it film or literature, inspire you?
FORGE: I am a fan of certain antique horror and fantasy authors, but the video clip was mainly inspired by the music. It was just a really simple idea I came up with while in the final mixing stages of our last release PEST, but we never got around to completing it for that release, so I kept the idea for the song ‘cyclic’.
It’s the first real video clip Norse has done, and it took all of 2 hours to shoot. All in one take. No CG or digital touch-ups, raw and dark to suit the album production.
S.B: You hail from the Southern Highlands of New South Wales – a far cry from sunny beaches and the Sydney Opera House – When I look at photographs of the band I can’t help but think the remoteness and isolation of the Australian countryside has influenced you not just musically but also visually?
FORGE: Totally 100% everyone thinks of Australia and thinks sunny beaches or desert. I’ve never even seen the desert! I live in the highlands where we get snow, rain, minus 0 degree temperatures as well as scorching heat in summer. It’s a country of extremes.
I’ve also worked for many years in isolation on farms and in pine forest plantations. I could go weeks at a time and only see the same 3 people. Only ever going into big cities to play shows. The isolation is a big part in my inspiration.
S.B: Expanding on my previous question. Why do you think Australia is producing such extreme and avant-garde metal these days?
FORGE: We are so far away from every other scene in the world; we are not influenced by current trends and movements. We make music that resonates with us on a personal level and don’t try and shamelessly copy every other band.
That being said, there are TONNES of terrible bands in Australia hopelessly copying everyone else and destined for nothing. Just the same as anywhere…
S.B: Is there a sense of camaraderie amongst today’s Australian groups? Also, could you tell us a little about the “scene” down under?
FORGE: I know a few people and a few bands that I love and get along with, but other than that I couldn’t tell you. I write music, record it, perform it and then disappear back into my own world. I’m just not a social person and being part of a ‘scene’ doesn’t interest me.
S.B: Do you have much experience playing outside of Australia? Might there be plans for upcoming Europe/US tour dates?
FORGE: I personally do a tonne of session work and have played all over the globe, but never with Norse. Norse is my band. I take it out and play with it for a while, and then when it starts being stressful or expensive or a pain, it goes back on the shelf. Unless we get invited to play some overseas festivals where the $30k expenses are covered, there’s not a hope in hell that I’ll bother to take Norse on the international stage.
S.B: Well Forge, I just have to say it’s been a joy to speak with you and I will leave the final words to you,
FORGE: Many thanks for your support and great questions!
“The Divine Light of a New Sun” is available now through Transcending Obscurity Records