got the opportunity to interview
(lead singer, keyboardist and guitarist) of the band
- an incredible up and coming extreme metal act from
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
The lyrics in
your album, "Intervening Coma-celebration", appear to deal
quite a bit with internal conflicts and sub-conscious mental
struggles...you 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' ?
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
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?
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.
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.
Riot got in touch with us through mp3.com, 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
[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
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.
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
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).
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?
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.
I really think
the band's web site http://www.grandalchemist.com
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
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 http://r-thoen.home.online.no
you begun writing any new material yet for the next album?
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?
have no [specific] plans of touring in the USA at this moment.
I don't think there is
for such touring right now, but I truly hope that we will
get the possibility to play for American audiences soon. That's
anything else that you wanted to bring up or mention to the
readers? Please feel free to comment on anything you'd like.
hope that people will check out "Intervening Coma-Celebration"
and we're all very pleased for the good feedback we have received.
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
Sigurd - vocals, guitars, synthesizers
Terje - guitars
- bass, backing vocals
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!