Leprous – The Benefits of Hard Work and DeadlinesWednesday, 20th May 2015
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel about being a major part of the progressive metal resurgence in Scandinavia, alongside acts like Pagan’s Mind and Circus Maximus, to inspire the new generation of fans?
Solberg: I would say that we are in a bit of a different layer than those bands. They are in kind of a Dream Theater-ish sound. I know these guys personally, and they are very nice guys all of them. But we haven’t had much connection. There is no true, living prog scene in Norway, I wouldn’t say so. There are some bands here and there but they don’t have much to do with each other necessarily. We have different inspirations all of us. It’s much more international these days. We are just much more inspired internationally, it doesn’t matter much whether it’s from Norway or not, that’s how I consider it.
Dead Rhetoric: The way that the term is thrown around, what does it truly mean to be progressive anymore?
Solberg: A very, very good question. Labeling in general, it starts to be more watered down. Not just prog, but all genres. Just as an example, I’m not going to name bands, but if a random black metal band with low quality sends me a demo and want me to listen to it, they describe themselves as “progressive, avant garde, folk, black metal, and this and that.” Then I listen to it and wonder why they needed to use so many names for what they just sent me. It seems like a way to make things appear more advanced than they are and seem more interesting. Progressive seems to be a very positive word for many people. To be progressive, you are “new thinking,” you are creating and experimenting, so I think people like to label themselves as that. I do not label us as a prog band, but I feel comfortable in that genre. It’s a genre with rather open-minded fans, so in a way, we can do whatever we want here. So it’s fine by me to be labeled progressive. But to be truly progressive is to be “new thinking” and not linger in the past, and not to be the new Dream Theater, which the majority of prog bands are these days, or the new Yes. That is not progressive. Those bands were progressive when they came. But it doesn’t matter that much to me with the labeling. I definitely am more happy to be labeled progressive than in thrash or black metal, because you tend to meet more narrow-minded fans.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve mentioned in interviews that progressive is more an attitude than a complexity. Could you elaborate?
Solberg: Exactly, it’s more of being independent and really daring to do your own thing. Some bands that do that have their own distinct sound, they aren’t called progressive at all because they are in a very different genre. It can be bands like Radiohead. You can love it or hate it, but they have a very distinct sound. No matter what genre you are in, that’s what is most important to me in being an artist and in a band – to have a sound that is easily recognizable as your sound. To me, there are three categories of music. Those that have their own sound that I really love, those that have their own sound that I don’t like but respect since they have their own sound, and then all the others that sound like things that I have heard, that I cannot distinguish one from the other. Writing for a magazine, you must hear a lot of that too, a lot of things where you can’t distinguish them from one another.
Dead Rhetoric: Yeah, it can be a challenge sometimes…
Solberg: But it can be very good. But as long as it doesn’t have that character, I’d rather have it be less good and have more character. That character is everything for me in music.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you find the best ideas develop from for Leprous’ songwriting? Particular moods, particular times of the day, or general stress and strife channeled through your instruments?
Solberg: Actually, that’s an interesting subject. What I found out is that I can never know. Which is exactly why I had to force myself into writing whenever I was completely uninspired or very inspired. I never know when the gold is showing up. It is very much like looking for gold. One day you are very inspired and you find nothing. But then another day you don’t imagine you’ll find anything and then, “hey there’s the gold.” I think it’s a good metaphor for how it works for me with songwriting. I never know. I can feel horribly uninspired, and I can write something and think that it’s nothing. But that really bad idea can trigger something, and then it can become one of the best songs on the album. This happened on The Congregation. One of the songs, I was truly embarrassed to send it to the others. I sat down at my computer and I didn’t want to write anything and I was at a night shift at work. I was tired and grumpy and had nothing in me. But the rule was that I had to send it to the others, so we met at the rehearsal space and everyone had a smile on their face because it was kind of ridiculous. But we started playing, there was one section that showed up and when we came to it, it sounded very massive and very cool with the rhythm section.
My point is that there is no particular mood. It’s really the quantity that is key at first [before recording]. You can then listen to the potential and select and put together the best possible album. Then you can work towards something more planned and structured. The new album is a result of very hard work. No tricks or altering the conscious into being more creative, just hard work.
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