Guitarist/lyricist/co-founder of Leprous, Tor Oddmund Suhrke answers our questions as the band have just released their new album ‘Coal’ on Inside Out...
1. What are you currently up to?
This summer we’re playing a lot of festival shows worldwide both with Leprous and Ihsahn, and right now we’re on our way to Slovenia to play at “Metal Days Festival”. In the fall we’ll be heading out for a headliner tour of 40 shows in Europe, with a small tour of Japan squeezed in the middle. After this we’ll probably be starting to make some new material for our next album, but we haven’t started with that yet.
2. Could you take us through the excellent new album ‘Coal’ e.g. recording process, ideas behind the songs
Well, thank you for your positive feedback! The process behind making Coal was a bit different than our previous recordings. First of all, we always try to evolve as a band, meaning that we want to take some steps away from our previous releases when it comes to songwriting. This comes very natural as well, since there’s always a couple of years in between the releases, and we’ve all changed somewhat during that period. One of the biggest differences this time around was that we made all the material during a period of 6 months in the first half of 2012. Previously we’ve made the material during maybe a couple of years, so we’re used to being able to perfect all the songs many times before actually recording them. This time, though, we had a bigger time pressure something I think had only positive effects on the somgwriting. We decided to emphasize more on developing songs from fewer ideas, rather than throwing all our crazy ideas together as we’ve often done before. This way the songs has ended up being more connected in its own theme. Since we haven’t had the time to o so many alterations either, I think that the songs have become somewhat more honest since they are more like what we first thought of while making them.
3. The new album has varying musical styles on it, including some similar to Devin Townsend. When you were making music for this new album do you take many new musical influences into the recording process or do you try to sound as unique as possible?
We always try to avoid sounding like any other band, but of course it’s impossible not to have some similarities to other bands. Still we realize that one is always somehow, either conciously og subconciously, influenced by music that we listen to, but then we try to use those inevitable influences we have in a new way so that it still sounds original.
4. This is your second album with Inside Out. Were you pleased at how ‘Bilateral’ was received and promoted?
I think we did a big step forward as a band with the release of Bilateral and also the following European tours we did, meaning that we gained a substancial audience and it has given the opportunity to play even more than before, something we are very pleased with. When it comes to the reception it got from the media and fans I guess you can’t be dissapointed since it has almost only been really great feedback. Many would probably think that the great feedback we got would give us a big pressure to perform on our next album, but actually it gave us more of a feeling that we would like to show everybody that we’re able to develope our sound further and to new directions.
5. Has touring with and supporting artists like Ihsahn and Therion helped gain you more exposure than other bands would maybe get?
Our cooperation with Ihsahn and Therion is very different, but of course all exposure is good exposure. If you just hang about in waiting for your band to be so big that you earn fortunes playing, I don’t think you’ll ever get anywhere. We’ve done a lot of economical investments and work in supporting and playing with other bands and we’re finally seing that it’s paying of. Many would think taht we’re a young band that has gotten to where we are today in a hurry, but the fact is that we’ve actually been playing since 2001 (when I was 15 years old), and we’re still in the negative balance economically. We want to show though that if you just believe in what you do and are stubborn enough, you will get where you want eventually.
6. Does making videos for songs like ‘The Cloak’ and having them on YouTube etc. help gain more sales/interest in the band? Has YouTube become the MTV of the modern music fan?
In an ideal market it should be sufficient to have interesting music to get big and popular as a band, but that fact is that to be able to get your music out there I think absolutely that having a strong precence online helps a lot these days. The biggest difference from MTV I guess is the fact that there were only bands that already were well known that got profiled there, while today every band, both big and small, is doing the same things on all possible social networks making it very difficult to seperate yourself from the rest. That’s why it’s a good idea to do different things, for example music videos, blogs, studio diaries and other updates, interactions and video clips.
7. How did the Sweden Rocks show go? You have affair few summer festivals lined-up. How does the band adapt their set list to cater for the wider audience you get at festivals?
The Sweden Rock show went very well and the audience was really great, even though we played at 12 in the afternoon. We also played very early at Hellfest (France) and Tuska (Finland), and all those places the feedback was very good and there was a lot of people even though we feared it might be few people that early. When it comes to adapting our set list to different kinds of audience, we try not to do that very much. We want to present Leprous as the band it is, and that is a variation between both hard, soft, catcy, strange, emotional and crazy. Then again we sometime maybe choose some more mellow songs if we’re playing a short set on a prog festival, and a harder and more brutal set if we’re playing at a death metal festival. That’s the great thing about not sticking to any specific genre; we can play at most festivals!
8. What have been the live highlights for you and why?
Personally I think the biggest thing we’ve done so far when it comes to live shows is our first headliner tour last year. First of all that gave us the opportunity to finally give our fans across Europe the complete show that we haven’t been able to do on our support tours. It also showed us that we’re actually able to play and draw decent crowds across all of Europe (without loosing money on it). That means that we’ve come to a level which many other bands don’t reach before they give up.
9. How important is social media like Facebook, Twitter etc for the band in getting your music out there and communicating with your fans?
As I mentioned regarding releasing music videos etc, I think having a strong presence online is a good addition to making good music. There’s a line though to what’s too much and it’s important not to overflow the web with things all the time, but rather interact a bit with the fans and giving them interesting thoughts and information. We see that this is appreciated by our existing fans and it makes them remember you between your releases. I also think that it’s a nice way to present your band to new potential fans.
10. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?
I work as a physical therapist and enjoy that. At home I like to be with my fiancè and friends, and I always enjoy learning new things, especially untraditional things that I have no knowledge about to begin with.
Anything else to add and a message for your fans…
Thank you for spending you time reading what I have to say, and I hope to see as many of you as possible on one or more of our upcoming shows. Check out our facebook page, because there’s almost certainly an upcoming show somewhere nearby where you live! ;)
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