Is There a Bottom Deep? Oddleif Stensland Speaks Out.
Norwegian metal act 'Communic' first signed to Nuclear Blast back in 2005 with their debut album 'Conspiracy in Mind', which was a really strong positive album indeed and had lots of potential for its release mixing the sounds of Power, Progressive Metal with Speed and Thrash Metal all rolled into one which really worked well for this power trio. Formed back in 2003 the band were soon picked up by Nuclear Blast to were the band still remain happily signed too and with the bands current new forthcoming album 'The Bottom Deep' singer and guitarist Oddleif speaks out about the new dark album. Of course the album has the sound and elements of Communic but with a twist, so hit back crack open a beer and read on...
It's been a long time since we last did an interview Oddleif, it was for the last album 'Payment Of Existence' so I'd like to start by asking you just how well the album sold for the band?
"Yeah it has been a long time, it's good to see your still doing the website. For the opening question, I really don't know how well the album sold, we don't really talk about the sales of the albums to be honest. As long as the record company are happy then we are happy. I don't think we failed with that album because with the sales but we didn't get a tour after the release of the album and we were looking for a tour and we didn't find anything that suited our music. So we decided to wait for the tour. I also had some personal issues in my life which I needed to take a step back form the band so that is why it has taken so long for the new album to be released. We did however get a lot of great reviews and feedback and the album sold rather well compared to our 1st 2 albums so everything looks ok until I had to step back for a while. Our label Nuclear Blast has always been happy with us and they have always graced our budget for the next album and everybody is happy so we are still here."
Which songs from the last album 'Payment Of Existence' do you like and why?
"I think one of my favorites from that album is the song 'Ravens Cry', it is just a song that touched me as it has this big feeling that I like to do and this album has a big sound with fast and slow parts of the song with aggressive parts and juggling all these emotions. I also like the song 'Unpredictable'."
How would you describe your music to people who have not heard the music before?
"That is a difficult question, it is a mix of a lot of Power, Progressive, Doom, Thrash and all this mixed together gets the Communic sound and I don't think you can hear many bands that sound like us. (Ed: you remind me of 2 bands actually, Psychotic Waltz and Nevermore, do you agree?) Yes I do agree, I love Psychotic Waltz, and the 1st bands I got into were the American wave of Thrash Metal like early Megadeth, Metallica, Over Kill, Testament, and even Slayer ad later on I got more into the Progressive stuff like Queensryche, Fates Warning, Psychotic Waltz who I would love to support them one day. We also hear a lot of people saying we sound like Nevermore or Sanctuary and I think that is down to my vocals sounding like Warrel Dane but listening to our music I think we are quite different but it depends on what you listen too at that time. I think if was to sing like James from Metallica people would of compared us to Metallica. I find it rather flattering to hear people say I sound like Warrel than annoying."
You seem to have a very strong chemistry between Erik, Tor and yourself how does it work for the band?
"I think the main thing is that we don't hang around together when we are not in rehearsals, or on tour. We have our own separate life's and we do what we need to do when we are not together as a band. We are not the closets of friends, we may meet up at parties or concerts but we don't go drinking together but Erik and myself have been friends for about 15yrs now and we have so different personalities but we do like I said go to concerts or parties & hang out there together. If we call one another it is because of the band or planning a show, tour etc...and when we are on tour we are all very close like an old marriage. I know that some bands hang out when they are not touring 24/7 hrs a day and I think we would snap at each other if it was us. At the end of the day we are friends but we don't hang out that much together, that is what keeps the bands spirit on a high."
Moving on how is the Heavy Metal scene at the moment in Norway? Has things changed over the last decade?
"I think the scene over here is strong, the Black Metal scene has always been strong and there are some cool Thrash Metal bands coming out of Norway and some Progressive bands like Pagans Mind, and older bands like Conception and TNT. I would say that Dimmu Bogir are the biggest export to come out of Norway."
So lets talk about the new album, so why the title 'The Bottom Deep', were there any other titles for this album?
"Well the title is actually came from the state of mind I had at that time, I was going through some personal stuff which effected me emotionally and psychically and writing this album was like seen a shrink and I see this as a concept album and it is not easy for me to talk about. It is an album about death and it deals with a lot of questions that I had because somebody close to me passed away way too soon and I actually put the guitar away for about 7 months and I did not produce anything or write any songs at all. I was actually at the bottom deep and I was ready to give up and I was sitting there with all different thoughts feeling about death and we all have to have a relationship with death, either our parents, brothers or sisters or grandparents will experience this one way or another and that is how nature works. Will we all experience this at some point in our life's. So I was sitting there and when I did actually found the energy to write music again I had all the thoughts wrote down in a dairy every day and collected my thoughts this way and it all came together for what you can hear on the new album. For me this is a very personal album and I never actually dreamt about this or would ever thought of writing this album and if this had not of happened we would of wrote an album that would of sounded totally different and the subject would of been about something else. For me it was about keeping the memory alive and I am not looking for sympathy or anything, but I am now doing fine and for me this is a big thing and looking at the big picture in the world of other things happening this is nothing really. I don't have the answers but I have a lot of questions which I needed to get out of my system and releasing this album had a mix feeling of fear and excitement. We had no other titles for this album. It is a dark and heavy album and it is not a happy album."
What did the rest of the band think about your ideas for the album when you told them? Did you write all the music and lyrics yourself?
(Laughing) "I didn't tell them about the ideas for the album, but they did know what was going on in my life, and at one point I told them I needed to take a break and I wasn't sure if I could carry on anymore with the band. They were totally supportive and they told me to take my time, and they could of done other projects or left the band to form new bands but they waited for me and that was something I am very happy about. I also told the guys from Nuclear Blast that there may not be another album in the works or when I could do the next album and they also were very supportive and they told me to take my time. We have a contract that states we just have another album in 2 and half yrs. They told me to take care of myself and get better before doing the next album. For me that was a cool way to handle the situation as they are people there who care and are not machines just interested in money, its more of a family. It feels good to have a label that is totally supportive towards me and the band. So later on I called the label and told them I was working on new ideas for the next album and I told them it should be done by a certain time and they just asked me when the artwork would be ready."
How long did it actually take to record the new album?
"Well the album took 21 days to record in a local studio here in Norway and that it was me usually do here and it took about 3wks on all the albums we have recorded. We are trying to get the album prepared as quickly as possible before we go into the studio. We spend about 1 week on the drums, 2 days with the guitars and 2 days on the bass and 4-5 days on the vocals and the rest is mixing the album. I actually produced the new album by self, this was due to personal matters because I didn't want to let anybody else and I had a really clear picture in my head on how I wanted it to be done with the sound. This time I had to trust my own instincts and ear because when you hire a skilled producer to do the album you don't complain about the guitar sound etc... and you do what the guy is telling you. So this time I needed to take control myself and trust myself. We did not do this to save money and today you can buy stuff to make your own studio really cheaply these days at home. We actually booked a studio here for a 24/7 and we stayed there for as long as we needed too. The overall sound is nature, not over produced, triggered or over laid just a pure sounding album."
So which songs from the new album do you like and why?
"Well it is very difficult for me to answer that, they all play a roll here and there are 9 songs on the album. I do like the title track 'The Bottom Deep', which is a very special song for me which only last 2 and half minutes and in way it is the whole complete album just shrunken down to that short space of time with just an acoustic guitar and my singing. I also like 'Away Ward Soul' which really means something to me but I don't think I could of left any of these songs out and every song was meant to be there. We actually recorded 3 bonus tracks and this is something we have never done before and these are cover songs, one which will be the Over Kill song 'In Union We Stand', but Bobby did not sing on the song with us which was a shame. I think we did a good version of the song and people say it doesn't sound like Over Kill but it does sound like Communic, this song will be on the 1st pressing of the album. The 2nd pressing with feature a Nine Inch Nails song 'Her' which is a cool song and that song was also done by Johnny Cash and the other song is a Twisted Sister song 'The Fire Still Burns'. The 2nd and 3rd song will appear on either a Japanese pressing and ITunes."
Lets move on now, who did the artwork for the new album? Who else has he worked with?
"Well the artwork was done by Eliran Kantor who has worked with Testament, Sodom, who lives in Berlin (Germany) which has a dark cover as the album is a very dark release. I really like the artwork for this album, I only sent him the lyrics and the names of the songs and left the rest in his hands to do the artwork for the album. It is a picture of an old man who is reflecting back on his life thinking about his memories and if you look closely you can see the vulture which is like the Grim Reaper just waiting for his last moments and eat his flesh and bones."
What sort of album reviews has the new album been getting from the press so far?
"Well I actually haven't seen too many so far. The local Norwegian magazine 'Scream' gave it 6/6 which is really good. We will have to see how it turns out world-wide in the next month or so."
Moving on, will the band be releasing a promo video and if so for which song? Do you have any ideas for the video?
"Yes we will be doing a promo video for the album, we are looking at some places were we can record the video and to find the perfect location. The song we will choose the song 'Facing Tomorrow' and we have a lot of ideas (laughing) and I think it will be shot at the beginning of August."
Do you have any plans to tour this summer or winter? If so who with and where?
"Yes we are touring in August with 'Forbidden' in Europe for 3 wks but no UK dates with 'Demonica' which is Craig's other band from Forbidden and they will open up for the tour. (Ed: NO UK dates then?) No not this time around, but we did play ProgPower UK and Bloodstock in the past. When we out this new tour together had 1 show at London's 'Underworld' but for some reason it was removed and I don't know why?"
Well Oddleif, thanks for taking your time out and doing the interview, best of luck with the album and tour. I hope you're feeling more positive now and I hope we meet again soon. Do you have anything to say too your fans?
"Yes thank you to our fans for their support and for waiting for the new album, I hope they like it as it is a different album to the rest, but it is still Communic. Thanx for the interview and I hope we meet again soon too."
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