Conspiracy of A Decaying Mind - Oddleif Stensland Speaks Out!!
Communic are one of the most promising metal acts to come out of Norway in the last few years. Communic have released 3 albums to date through Nuclear Blast Records from Germany. With the release of their debut album titled 'Conspiracy In Mind' which was released in 2005. The band received awesome reviews and moved on to a more promising release with their 2nd album titled 'Waves Of Visual Decay' which was released in 2006. Now the band have returned with their latest offering titled 'Payment Of Existence' in 2008. This 3 piece act features Oddleif Stensland (vocals/ guitar), Erik Mortensen (bass) and drummer Tor Atle Andersen. This guys are stopping at nothing and the new albums proves just that. I managed to have a chat with front man Oddleif about the formation of the band and of course the new album. Here is what he ahd to say to the following questions. In the meantime check them out live and also see them at Bloodstock UK festival in August 2008.
OK Oddleif, I'd like to start by thanking you for taking you're time out and for doing this interview. Lets start by asking you if your still working with Intromental Management?
"Actually were no longer working with them. In the beginning they did a great job for us and we had a lot of fun with them. In the end our contract had finished and we decided to go in a different direction. We are very grateful for what they did for us. I think they do a great job for newer bands who are looking for contracts and to build up a band."
Moving on, could you tell me when the band was formed band and by whom?
"Well the band was formed 2003 and before we formed Communic, Tor and myself were playing in another band together called 'Scaret' and we released an album in 2002/03. The vocals were pretty much the same as I sing in now in Communic, but the music was more Power Metal. The album was released on 'Face Front' Records from Norway and I think I have 1 of those songs on my personal Myspace site. We broke up because there was too many problems within the band and I was only the vocalist in that band. Before we had formed Communic we had done a lot of stuff in other underground bands. Tor & myself were the newcomers in that band so we stayed together when our old band broke up. After the release of our old bands album I decided that I wanted to do more guitar playing and I had some new ideas for songs and I wanted to ad these songs into my old band, but there were no more for my ideas so I decided to leave the band. Tor and myself left the old band to form Communic.
What other names did you have besides Communic for the band?
"Well we had some ideas and we wanted a name that people would remember us by. Most of the coolest band names are already taken and not easy to find a new name that is not too cheesy (laughing). We were looking for a name that had a metallic sound to it, and at that time of my career I was pretty much upset by the way I wasn't getting anywhere and been in the underground for 10yrs playing the music I am doing now. I was getting very frustrated and the 1st name I had for this band was 'Communicate'. I realized that name had to be changed and so I played with the name to get a name that people would remember. I feel that in the end I chose the right name for the band. We try to communicate with our music."
What about demos, how many did you record before you were finally signed up?
We decided to record a demo and I called up Erik and asked him if he wanted to play bass on the demo and he agreed to play on the demo. We booked a studio in Norway and recorded the demo. We printed about 100 copies of the demo for promotion. The demo contains songs from the debut album. After we had recorded the demo we sent it out to a few contacts that we had and it was mainly to send it out to the biggest magazines, and in Germany. It also got the demo of the month in Metal Hammer and Rock Hard and we also got 1 of our songs on a sampler with Rock Hard, which was pretty cool!! I guess a few labels got to hear about us through the magazines and it got good reviews from those magazines. We had about 4-5 record labels that were showing a lot of interest in us like Nuclear Blast. We ended up signing with them because they had the best offer and best marketing plan and how to promote us as well. I guess we are a very narrow band when it comes to reaching out to people as we are not mainstream music. So I don't think it is easy to sell this kind of music even though we do get good reviews and reaction from the fans and press."
Been a 3 piece it must be either hard to get the songs together or easy, which 1 is it for you?
"Well, we feel that it is a lot easier to get a tight and professional sound when there is only 3 of you in the band. You don't have to worry about another guitarist coming in and the sound becoming messy. With us, it's 1 guitar/ vocalist, bassist and drummer. It is also a lot easier to get the right sound in a mix of the record, 3 people concentrating on what they do best. We've also played together as band for so long that we feel very comfortable around 1 another. The moment you bring in another guitar player it becomes too much guitars and the whole recording just becomes a mess. I guess it's all about what is best for that band at that time.
So who are your influences as a band? I can certainly hear Nevermore, Psychotic Waltz, do you agree?
"Well, yes I do agree in 1 way or another, I can see your point of view Jason, I guess we do have elements of Nevermore and Psychotic Waltz in our music. When I was growing up I was listening to the early Thrash Metal stuff like Testament, Forbidden, Megadeth, Over Kill, and I guess and I am playing guitar and singing because Megadeth was 1 of my favourite bands back then. After the Thrash scene I got into bands like Fates Warning, Psychotic Waltz, and so on... Erik likes to listen too bands like Pink Floyd, Rush, and Soul Fly and old Sepultura, and Tor likes the new American modern metal like Pantera, and so on..."
So when did you record your debut album? Did it sell well?
"We recorded it back in 2005 and it was also released in 2005 and I think it sold pretty well for a debut album. I guess the metal scene wasn't expecting such an album to be released. I feel that we had something unique already back then and people compare us to Nevermore which is more of a complement for us. I have done interviews with other journalist who said Warrel from Nevemore has heard our music and was impressed with you style. I don't mean to sound like Warrel, its just the way I sound when I sing. I can't do much about it, I don't intend to sound like Warrel, its just the way it is. I guess there are not too many bands sounding like Nevermore, so we are very flattered to be compared to them."
How do you see the 2nd and the new album as a step forward for the band from that of your debut album?
"Well in the beginning we felt that we had established our own sound and we never sit around a table and try to figure out what to do next, we just follow our ideas that we have. We ended up with the same amount of songs as we did on our debut album, pretty long songs too!! We just throw the ideas about that we had and started to jam with the ideas to see what we came up with and this is what came up for the 2nd album. We weren't bothered how long the songs were, we just wanted to write good songs. I don't feel that it would be great if we changed our style for each album. We need to stick to what we do best and what is unique for us and see where it will take us. I feel that our new album has more diverse material than the previous 2 we have recorded. I feel that the new album is a lot more easier to get into, more straight forward, more vocal harmonies."
So where did you get the title for the new album? Did you have any other titles in mind?
"Well the title came from a more personal feels, it has more views from my personal life and there are a lot of sacrifices on this record. Also I became a father for the 1st time, so having the idea of bring our own flesh and blood into this world was kind of scary for me & at the same time it was also the most beautiful things that has happened to me. I wrote the songs and music for this new album in that waking period whilst waiting for that child to arrive. At the same time I also lost my grandfather, so that kind of made me wonder about the circle of life. It's like your born, you live your life and then you die and that kind of inspired me to write such songs like that. I guess most of the songs are about making sacrifices in order to be who you are, and stand out from the masses. I had no other titles for this album."
What about the art work for the album? Please explain why you had the woman in the chair?
"Well we had the woman in the chair in the waste dump with suitcases of money and in the end I can see that she has done everything in her power to get where is is now, with success and in the end she is stuck alone and money does not do her any good. That is why we chose the title 'Payment Of Existence'. I do feel that the title does reflect in the artwork for the album. Our artist got the title and the lyrics for the album and decided to come up with his own ideas just by the title and reading our lyrics."
Are the songs wrote as a team effort or do you write the lyrics and music on our own?
"The lyrics are wrote by myself and the other guys don't care about the lyrics. The lyrics are the last thing that I write once the music is done. I write the music too and the music comes a lot easier to me than the lyrics. This new album is not a concept album but it has this red tread going through all the songs."
What are the songs about on 'Payment Of Existence'?
"Well you have songs like 'On Ancient Ground', which is about making a sacrifice but it is but into a different prospective and it is about the ancient civilization have had to sacrifice to their gods in order to exist. It also deals with the way they did it and how they got better things like better harvests or a better life after death. Next is 'The Abandon one' which is based on a novel that a friend of mine has written. The book is not out yet but I have read some of it and it really does appeal to me. It's about growing up in a orphan home and been all alone. Next is 'Becoming Of Man', that is based on a scientific view of the future, where are we go?? It's also about the universe. Next is 'Payment Of Existence', that is about how we believe in modern gods, and how they twist heads into believing them and also where do we inherit from and where we are going. Next is Through The Labyrinth Of Years', is about my own life and the fact that I have my own flesh and blood now, my baby girl who has to start on the walk of life, the labyrinth of years!! Next is 'Ravens Cry', that is about a dream about the future. It's about a guy who whilst sleeping a raven comes to him and tells him about the story of the future. Next is 'Unpredictable Of Life' is about 2 brother who came from a rich family and how the steps and choice you take in life will effect you. It's about 1 brother who becomes successful in life and the other 1 does not, living on the streets It's about the small decisions that you take in life that totally changes the way your life is going to head."
Was the new album recorded by Jacob Hansen and how long did it take to record?
"Yes we recorded it at Jacob's studio but the drums where recorded in Norway, this was because of Tor's didn't have time off work to record the drum parts in Denmark. So he would go into the studio before and after work to record his parts for the album. He couldn't take time off work for the album recording. We recorded our stuff both Erik and myself in Denmark, so for Tor he would just take the files and sending over to Jacob to lay down the tracks in his studio. It took 1 week to record the drums and 20 days in Denmark for the rest of the album. bass, guitars and vocals, mixing and mastering."
Did you ever ask Jacob if he wanted to play or recording some vocals on your new album as he is the singer in Anubis Gate and also the guitarist in Beyond Twilight?
"Yes I did ask him if he wanted to be part of the recording, but no he wanted to concentrate on the recording side of the album."
So what are you're future plans? I know you are coming to the UK again soon to play the Bloodstock festival?
"Yes I am looking forward to playing the Bloodstock festival. We also have to play 2 more festivals, 1 called 'Monsters Of Rock, and I have no idea who is playing those festivals with us. After the summer festivals we plan on doing a support tour with a bigger band, hopefully Id like to play with Testament (laughing). We'd also like to play more shows in Norway, we have not really played that much here."
Well Oddleif, I'd like to thank you for taking you're time out and doing this interview, and Nuclear Blast for setting up with interview. Do you have anything to say before we finish?
"Yes thank you to our fans for their support, we hope you like the new album. I hope to see our UK fans again soon at Bloodstock!!"
Click on the logo to return to main interview page.