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The smashing self-titled debut CD release by
Power Play Records recently got the opportunity to interview Sigurd, (lead singer, keyboardist and guitarist) of the band GRAND ALCHEMIST - an incredible up and coming extreme metal act from Europe.

Their brand of aggressive, intelligent metal, is clearly being noticed by the music community and their latest release, 'INTERVENING COMA-CELEBRATION' is garnering a lot of world-wide attention.

Let's take a deeper look inside the minds that have created… GRAND ALCHEMIST… and see if their power of transmutation can continue to carry them to higher levels of the music world.

[POWER PLAY RECORDS (PPR)]: GRAND ALCHEMIST is a relatively new aggressive European metal band. For those who are unfamiliar with the band could you take a moment to tell us where the band is from and give us a brief history.

[GRAND ALCHEMIST]: Well, Stoelan and I, actually formed the band back in '95, and it was known back then as Morrheim. We recorded our first demo "The Midwinter Frost" in '96. Kim joined the band on guitar shortly. Our second demo "Forever Night Infinity" was recorded during the spring of '97. We changed the name to Grand Alchemist in early '98. The new songs for the third recording were completed, but for some reason, no demo came out, and almost all of the material was erased. The next year was used to work on new songs that gave Grand Alchemist a more complex and unique sound than before, and at the end of 1999, Grand Alchemist had come through with six new songs (all can be found in re-recorded versions on I.C.C.) in "Studio Elg", Holmestrand (Norway). Kim left the band in 2001 Terje replaced him on guitar, and with his guitar-skills he contributed in developing the sound even more. Roland joined the band on bass shortly after Terje.

[PPR]: 'Grand Alchemist' is a very catchy and creative band name…Who takes credit for coming up with the name of the band and what made you decide on "grand alchemist"? Is it just a name/title you liked…or does it have a deeper meaning?

[GRAND ALCHEMIST]: The music became more important than earlier, so we decided to change the name to something that could better describe the process of making music and songs feelings and visions.

[PPR]: The lyrics in your album, "Intervening Coma-celebration", appear to deal quite a bit with internal conflicts and sub-conscious mental sing more about 'depressive thoughts and raging emotions' rather than say, actual 'physical places and things'. Are the lyrics reflective of your own personal struggles that you've gone through or possibly those of the band? …or did you just say 'hey, this would be an interesting topic to write a song about' ?

[GRAND ALCHEMIST]: I don't think I can choose different topics to write about, just in order to sound interesting to other people. That would be totally wrong. The topics have to be important to me. Some of the themes I write about are self-experienced. The lyrics on this album are like a metaphorical descriptions of different states of mind, where the themes usually are a contrast between illusion/reality, life/death and sanity/insanity. I don't want to go too deep into directly describing my position in these issues.

[PPR]: I think that the songs on the album are very unique. On the one hand you have these very moody and atmospheric melodies (the keyboard/synth and instrumental portions) and on the other hand (the vocal parts) you come across as very aggressive and brutal. When you guys started the band, did you have a plan and a goal to try to be totally unique (like a VOIVOD sort of band)? Did you intentionally set out to write music with this kind of 'polar opposites' feel, or did things just happen to develop naturally and fall into place this way over time and in the recording studio?

[GRAND ALCHEMIST]: When we started up I had a clear vision of where I wanted the band, musically. The great thing about Grand Alchemist has always been that all of the members have totally different taste of music, which contributes to give the band that unique and complex sound, I think Grand Alchemist has got. But the plan was never to be unique, we just make music that we like and in this case it seems to work out pretty good.

[PPR]: SOUND RIOT is a really fantastic emerging record label for extreme metal bands. How did GRAND ALCHEMIST hook up with and get signed to the SOUND RIOT record label? It must be pretty exciting to be on a label with so many other great up and coming extreme metal bands.

[GRAND ALCHEMIST]:  Sound Riot got in touch with us through, and asked if we were interested in doing a full length release with them, and after a short time the deal was ready. The time Grand Alchemist has been on Sound Riot, they have grown enormous as a label. They have signed a lot of good bands, got a lot of new good distribution deals and their releases have got good reviews, so it's pretty exciting now yes.

[PPR]: I have a hard time comparing and categorizing extreme metal bands, especially a band like yours that has such a diverse style. Would you consider yourselves as being a 'black metal' band? When someone asks you what style of music do you play, how do you answer? I suppose if I had to make a comparison I would say that GRAND ALCHEMIST is somewhat similar to DIMMU BORGIR or maybe CRADLE OF FILTH. Do you think this might be a fair comparison? Is your band compared a lot to any specific bands?

[GRAND ALCHEMIST]:  We do all have different opinions of what kind of music we do play, actually. The most usually has been to say "symphonic black-metal" , because the grim vocal does generally refers to the black metal audience, but I don't want to call Grand Alchemist a pure black metal band. The are a lot of other elements in the music. Even though, how we label the music is not a big issue to us, the quality of it is.

[PPR]: Many fans probably haven't had a chance to see GRAND ALCHEMIST play live. Are you guys on the road a lot touring? What kind of show can we expect to see when we see GRAND ALCHEMIST live? Have you been getting good audience responses at your live shows?

[GRAND ALCHEMIST]: Actually we haven't been playing live after the CD-release. We are going to play live at the Inferno-Festival 2003 and another show in our hometown, Holmestrand at the end of March (no date confirmed yet).

I noticed that a few of the songs on the album, like 'Down Again' and 'Under My Shallow Skin' have really cool intricate keyboard/synth intros that stand out quite a bit. I really enjoy the mood and emotion created by the keyboards - you can really hear how much they add to the music. (Sigurd) How long have you been playing keyboard? You certainly sound classically trained and I must say your playing is very impressive (as is the rest of the band). Do most of the band members have formal music training or are some of you self-taught?

[GRAND ALCHEMIST]: I've been playing the piano since I was a kid. I'm very fond of classical music and the structure of that kind of music. I took some piano-lessons when I started, but since then all of the knowledge are self-taught, such as the others in the band, but we all have been playing for several years.

[PPR]: I really think the band's web site is very intense, metal fans should definitely check it out. Who created your site ? (Here's a good opportunity to plug your web master! J ) Did you guys have a lot to do with the layout and look of the site? …very cool intro too - with the thunder (sound) and lightning effect!

[GRAND ALCHEMIST]:  Rune Thoen has created our site. Actually he is also the producer of "Intervening Coma-Celebration" and besides that a killer on the guitar, so he is a multi-artist, sure thing. I worked together with Rune on the layout and the logo, but most of the site is created only by him, such as the great flash. He is working on his own site now

[PPR]: Have you begun writing any new material yet for the next album?

[GRAND ALCHEMIST]:  The writing of the new album has begun and hopefully we're entering the studio this summer.

[PPR]: What are your plans for 2003 and the near future? Do you have any plans for touring in the USA?

[GRAND ALCHEMIST]: We have no [specific] plans of touring in the USA at this moment. I don't think there is enough money for such touring right now, but I truly hope that we will get the possibility to play for American audiences soon. That's for sure.

[PPR]: Is there anything else that you wanted to bring up or mention to the readers? Please feel free to comment on anything you'd like.

[GRAND ALCHEMIST]: I hope that people will check out "Intervening Coma-Celebration" and we're all very pleased for the good feedback we have received.

[PPR]: Well guys, it's been great having you as our featured interview for this week. Thanks for all of the terrific comments! I hope you'll get a chance to visit POWER PLAY RECORDS again in the near future…


Sigurd - vocals, guitars, synthesizers

Stoelan - drums

Terje - guitars

Roland - bass, backing vocals

Power Play Records would like to thank Sigurd for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer all of our interview questions (thanks as well goes to the rest of the members of GRAND ALCHEMIST). Keep up the great work guys and drop us a line from time to time to let us know what GRAND ALCHEMIST is up to!

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