Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?
Quite a lot is happening with Frail Grounds as we speak; on one hand we are busy promoting our album “The Fields of Trauma” as it approaches its official UK release, by working on getting some gigs booked over there, doing interviews and generally making some buzz. And on the other hand we are rehearsing and have started crafting songs for our next album. Its an exciting period!
For those that have yet to hear the music, how would you describe your musical sound?
Our music is a quite complex machinery of heavy metal spiced up with melodies, multiple layers of detail, progressive songs that seldom follow a linear path and a brutal edge with elements from extreme metal. I myself have always been fond of “more is more” when it comes to spicing up the music with details in the sound, making it possible to discover new elements in the music with each listen. At the same time it was Iron Maiden which introduced me to metal; the guitar harmonies and solos, soaring vocals and epic songs, so that is definitely something which has made its way into our sound. When it comes to the progressive part, it is more reflected in the way the songs are not bound by intro/verse/chorus etc, but has a more dynamic arrangement and taking new turns just when you think you know whats coming next. We are not that focused on implementing odd time rythms and such everywhere. Lastly, the extreme metal elements can be heard in the occational blastbeats and growling vocals that appear at times. Should I sum up our music in one sentence, it would be “a musical journey through heavy, progressive and extreme metal”.
The last recording was a concept album, can you tell us a little bit more about the lyrics and concept of that recording?
I have always been interested in Siberia and the tunguska incident, maybe partly due to The X-files series with its mythology and mysteries surrounding the tunguska area. For me, each song must tell a story and I need to have a larger picture in mind when writing lyrics. “Origin” was the first song I wrote for the album, and when writing the lyrics it wasn’t my intention to write a fully fledged story, but as more songs were written ideas came to me. However ambitious it may be going for a concept album as a debut, I really think we pulled it off. The story is somewhat inspired by Faust and also draws something of Lovecraft(read Mountains of Madness), but at the heart of it is how the protagonist is trying to escape the personal aftermath of a failed relationship. He joins an expedition into siberia in a desperate attempt to forget and move on, and this is where the story starts. I wont reveal the whole plot here, but the songs and lyrics follow the expeditions journey into the vast and frozen reaches of siberia, reflecting the main protagonists thoughts and experiences. As things grow worse and colder, entities are apparently revealed to him, and he has to make a choice of how far he will go to achieve a sense of resolution and peace. The story has two sides, the physical expedition on the outside, and what is happening with our protagonist on the inside. The most important for me when writing is to always have a twist on something that may seem familiar, so don’t expect this to be a typical heartache story! As quoted in Hamlet: “..There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. .“
The band started out as Deus Ex Machina, what was the decision behind the name change and also what is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Frail Grounds'?
I really thought Deus Ex Machine had a cool ring to it, and also the actual meaning of the phrase reflected something I knew I would be incorporating in lyrics. For those not knowing, Deus Ex Machine was what the greek called the situation in theatres when the hero was in an impossible and hopeless situation, and a supernatural force stepped in saving the hero. Also called “The God in the machine”. Sadly, I did some research after a short while and discovered several other bands globally which used the same name. I think its totally stupid choosing a band name which is already taken, so I decided to make a change quite early. At that time it was only me and the first drummer, so the name change was no big deal. The name Frail Grounds just came to me one day, I cannot recall why or when, but it is 100% unique and also a metaphor could be that life itself, everything around us can break apart and smoulder up any moment, we are all living on frail grounds. And that is something which always is a fundamental part of our songs and theme: life.
What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
We played many shows 2007 – 2009, but took a break from concerts from 2010 and until 2012 due to changes in the lineup and writing songs and recording “The Fields of Trauma”. From that first era the coolest show was September 2009 playing at John Dee in Oslo, as support for Susperia. We only played four songs since we got 30 minutes and we have quite long songs, hehe, but it was a blast, the sound was great and the staff really professional. From the last two years I think the coolest gig was our release concert September 2012, first concert in three years with a new lineup, but it was full house and a great atmosphere. We got the venue to make drinks named after some of the songs, which was a total success! Talking to people afterwards with blue tongues, we knew they had gotten a sip of ‘Siberian Nights’ hehe. We are constantly working on our performance on stage, but we focus on the music and presenting the songs with energy. I am moving a lot around on stage, interacting with both the crowd and also my bandmates, and occationally stealing the water from the others as I tend to get quite thirsty onstage. Thomas (bass) is also moving around quite a lot, not too surprising considering he is a great Iron Maiden fan also.
Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
Following the UK release of our debut album “The Fields of Trauma” 3rd March we are trying to book some gigs in the UK and travel over, perhaps doing a weekend trip and play in some different cities with a local metal band. Other than that we have a gig in Oslo in April and a festival appearance in August in Jevnaker, The Untouchables Hard Rock Festival, but hopefully more shows will be added and we are aiming at Europe,trying to get on a tour as supportband for a well established band.
Recently Hostile Media re-issued your album from 2012, what are your thoughts on the final product?
Being a debut album we are very satisfied with the record; the music and lyrics tell the story I intended to tell, and I hope that other listeners will find the same excitement as me when listening to the album from start to finish. The artwork done by former synthist Sigbjørn Galåen reflects the feeling and theme of the album in a great way. Of course, one of the great things in life is that you always learn new things, and we have learnt much from the whole process which we will bring into our next album, both recording and songwriting. Yet, “The Fields of Trauma” is a firm statement of who Frail Grounds are as of now, and what we proudly want to present.
On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of extreme and melodic metal?
The feedback has been great, the majority of listeners and reviewers really enjoy the progressive touch we have on heavy metal, mixed with some brutality and the professional quality on both the the music and the whole cd package. There are always those who don’t like the music that much, mostly regarding us mixing too many different styles. They are of course entitled to their opinion, but the mix of genres is something most listeners dig us for, and we will continue on our heavy progressive path.
Are any of the band members involved with any other musical projects these days?
It is mostly our drummer, Magnus Nødset, who have several session projects aside Frail Grounds, it be recording drums for some project or going on shorter tours as session drummer. I think it’s a drummer thing, they usually grow restless very fast, hehe. I have some vocal projects at times, and have written songs which isnt Frail Grounds material, we will see in the future what will become of it. At the current time Frail Grounds gets the most of my “free music time”.
When can we expect a new album and also what direction will the band be heading into the future music wise?
As mentioned we are in the process of writing new songs for the followup album, as we speak we have around 5 songs we are working on, of which we are playing one live, but I assume the next album can be expected hopefully first or second quarter of 2015. We shall see, we will keep you all updated on www.frailgrounds.com and our www.facebook.com/frailgrounds. For us it is most important that we have strong enough songs for the best record possible, and something worthy of presenting as a followup to “The Fields of Trauma”. So if it takes longer time to achieve the quality we want, then so be it. Another aspect is that while I wrote most of the songs on “The Fields of Trauma”, we are now working much more together as a band, and it is fun but also challenging. One thing is certain, our next album will be a reflection of everyone in the band, as opposed to primarily me.
Direction-wise, it is hard to tell as we only have five songs in the workings, and in the end it is not certain that all of them will make it to the album. But we are incorporating more clean guitar parts, experimenting more with effects on vocals and instruments, and letting each player contribute more with their own style. One factor which some may miss, and some wont, is that I have dropped the growling vocals, and will be focusing on the clean vocals. With the addition of Gunnar Gudmundsen on synth and backing vocals, we have even more potential for vocal harmonies live and I think that will show on the news songs as well.
What are some bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Iron Maiden and Kamelot has meant a lot to me vocalwise. The power of Bruce Dickinson, and the feeling and sincereity in the voice of Roy Khan is something which I draw lot of inspiration from. When it comes to writing music, the main inspirations naturally change through periods in life. What has always stuck with me is Iron Maiden, but I am also very inspired by Fields of The Nephilim, with their melancholic soundscapes and feeling in the music, and also their occult and mysterious theme. Within metal I often end up listening to bands rooted in heavy and progressive metal, so I guess theres just something with that combination that hits a nerve. I would also like to mention a german band called Disillusion. If I must compare “The Fields of Trauma” to something in every aspect, it would be their debut album “Through Times of Splendour”. It is a fantastic album, filled with great melodies and variety. A concept album too, by incident.
I also get much inspiration from soundtracks to movies and especially computer games I have good experience with, and sometimes try to incorporate the same vibe into music I make. For instance, most of the soundtrack to final fantasy 7 could be adapted to an awesome metal album! Would be great to hear!
Do you have any non musical interests?
Way too many, haha! My recent interest is pinball actually, we have a awesome pub in Oslo with lots of different beer, and lots of pinball and arcade machines. I got hooked on pinball just before christmas, so that is what I am quite focused on now when I have free time. Else I love computer games, especially the Mass Effect series. Programming is also a hobby, but since I work as a developer I kinda get my daily dose during those 8 hours hehe. Also I am interested in flight simulation, but unfortuantely I don’t have the time to maintain that interested for the moment.
Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Thanks for the questions and the opportunity to chat about music and “The Fields of Trauma”. I hope as many as possible of you readers will give us a listen, either check out some songs through youtube, soundcloud etc, and if you either love what you hear, or hate what you hear: Tell your friend about us! And we hope you will buy the album to get the full experience of the story!
And whatever you think of it, we would be real happy to hear your feedback, whatever it is! J