How long does EXTOL exist how would You describe the music of EXTOL? EXTOL has been around for just about ten years now, but it wasn`t really until the debut BURIAL was released in 1998 that the band gained considerable attention and became a part of the music scene. Back then the music was in the melodic and technical death-metal vein, but throughout the years Extols music has developed alot, ranging from black-metal harmonies to the more old-school thrash-metal and progressive beats of the 70s and 80s. Today we lean most towards the latter category.
In my 'Synergy'-review I mentionned that some tracks remind me to kind of 80ies stuff from Gearman MEKONG DELTA or CORONER from Switzerland. Is there a relationship to ancient so called Techno Thrash legends ? Yeah, sure! I mean, we are very much influenced by music we have listened to in the past, but I dare say that the music of Eric Zann wasn`t our strongest inspiration on this record, at least not intentionally, he-he. It would be more bands like Kreator and Slayer, and 90s` Pestilence, Believer, etc.
I also mentionned that listening to 'Synergy' supposes that some EXTOL members MUST have heard progessive 70ies stuff like KING CRIMSON, early GENESIS or GENTLE GIANT. Is this true ? Very true! We simply love the music that was made back then. King Crimson`s Red is just legendary, and some old Genesis is also cool, but our main source of inspiration would have to be Rush when it comes to progressive elements. On the song CONFESSION OF INADEQUACY on our new record there is a small part with clean guitars that clearly sounds 70s and has a very strong YES vibe to it, you must have noticed. And as a matter of fact, while I`m answering this interview, I have Led Zeppelin`s Physical Graffiti spinning in the background on the stereo, so there you are!
Meantime there are a couple of bands (SOLEFALD !!!) in Norway playing kind of complexe music, even more progressive, but still metal. Is this a new trend or just another facette in the strong Norwegian metal scene ? No, Solefald has been around for many years now, so they are no trend, maybe trendsetters you could say. I remember buying their first demotape, just when black-metal was becoming popular, and it was interesting to listen how creative they where that early on, and so they were just doing their own thing, and has evolved ever since. The same goes for a band such as Sigh, who`s at an early point done things out of the ordinary and gone outside modern, traditional trends.
What are the influences of Your music; are there influences besides music - books, films and so on ? We listen to so many different styles of music, not only metal, but since it is metal we are playing, you should think that this is where we get our ideas, but that isn`t necessarily the case. In fact, there aren`t that many metal acts that today are so extraordinary and original that it`s worth listening to I`m afraid. When it comes to metal, we take inspiration from the 80s and 90s as I mentioned earlier on, if not we get it elsewhere. Inspiration isn`t always that deliberate, so sometimes it`s hard to pinpoint where the stuff has come from. Maybe it`s easier for the listener to say `this sounds like...` or whatever.
What do You think about putting music into categories like Death Metal, Black Metal, Viking Metal or Power Metal ? Would You put EXTOL's music into a drawer like this ? Categories are useful in describing music, but very often they float into eachother so that they in the end become misleading. If you want to label EXTOL, I`d say it was technical thrash metal with progressive elements, but if people want to call it something else, we probably wouldn`t mind.
Can You tell me something about the name EXTOL and the cover painting of 'SYNERGY' ? EXTOL means to give praise or lift something up, so it`s actually a positive name considering we`re a metalband! The cover-painting was done by none other than the legendary Hugh Syme, who has done Maiden, Megadeth, Rush, Fates Warning etc. If you remember the Aerosmith album depicting a cow`s breast with a piercing through it, that was him! SYNERGY however illustrates the synergy effect of elements working together and thus gaining strength beyond what the effect would be if all the elements would be working seperately. The painting shows a monk on a swing with a creature that looks like it could be mr Death himself, so the immediate response to the image is usually quite hilarious! The painting has a greyish overall which gives it a gloomy, almost apocalyptic feel to it which is filled with details of all sorts, so it evidently has a lot of work put into it.
Can You tell me something about the songs on 'Synergy'? The songs are put together within a limited period in time, which results in a very pure and consistent style. One exception perhaps is the song BLOOD RED COVER which is the oldest song on the record, and more death-metal groovy than the other more fast, thrashy tunes represented on the record. The songs where usually created in our rehearsing room with everyone in the band together, but based on a melody or riff someone brought with them. This interaction proved very fruitful, and also reflects the SYNERGY effect we wish to display with the record title.
You really are playing music on a very high level. Is there genius in the band is every band member involved in song writing and so on ? Everyone is involved, but usually one of the guitarists comes up with an idea for a tune, which provides a backbone, then drums and bass are added, and finally lyrics are fitted into the music. This process is long, but very creative, and it allows us to change hamonies, groove, etc as we work. EXTOL has been playing together for some time now, so naturally the band interacts very well.
Is actually anyone from EXTOL playing in another band ? Yeah, David our drummer plays in a band without a name, which is more of the progressive kind and technically more advanced and intricate than EXTOL, and also Ole our guitarist plays and sings in many different different settings all the time, he is a true musician. And then Peter our singer and myself play in a truly brilliant rock/hardcore band called GANGLIÒN which has just released a debut EP. We have all of us also played in several other settings which has allowed for musical outlets.
Which tapes/CDs did you publish and is all the stuff still available? So far EXTOL has released BURIAL (1998), MESMERIZED EP (1999), UNDECEIVED (2000) and PARALYSIS EP (2001) on Swedish Endtime Productions, and now SYNERGY on Century Media. Today the BURIAL cd is only available in the US through distributor Solid State. Furthermore Undeceived was re-released by CM in Europe last year.
Do You have a beloved place in Norway or somewhere else in the world ? We all live in Oslo, and personally I enjoy the place, although the city itself isn`t that spectacular or pretty. The scenery outside however is incredible, as you all know. I love to travel and see new places and learn from new cultures, and so I could practically go anywhere in the world and be captivated. Japan lies high up on my priority list of future imaginary journeys.
Is doing EXTOL Your main business or is there something else ? EXTOL is main priority artistically, but financially we all have separate jobs to make the wheels go round. Music is very important for us.
How about the future ? Will You keep Your label Century Media ? Yes, so far CM has showed nothing but goodwill and optimism.
Are there any plannings or yet finished tracks for the next album ? No, not yet. We`ll have to take one step at a time, and right now we are focusing and preparing for our US summer tour. What happens after that is hard to say, so things lie pretty much in the open and will depend on circumstances then.
Is there a chance for touring across Europe may be this summer ? There is small-talk of doing a 1-2 week tour through Germany in the Autumn/Winter sometime, but so far nothing concrete has been scheduled. We would love to come down, as the German audience is quite outstanding.
Can You please tell me Your five (or even more) favourite all-time recordings ? At the moment:
A-ha: Scoundrel Days
Anathema: Silent Enigma
The Cure: Disintegration
Cardigans: Long Gone Before Daylight
Angelo Badalamenti: soundtracks
Anja Garbarek: Balloon Mood
Do You have some last words for Your fans ? If you like our new record, be sure to come to one of our concert if you have the possibility, for EXTOL has always been a live-band.
Thank You for this interview and I hope to see You in Germany this
summer, autumn or even winter !!! Me too. Thanks!