Oliver: First of all, congratulations to the release of The Blueprint Dives! Even though its a very diverse album I think it sounds really homogenous and unique.
Extol: Thanks a lot! We worked really hard to accomplish just that, so that´s nice to hear. We knew at an early stage of the songwriting that the material for the album was going to be very diverse, yet it was important to us to somehow manage to bind them together in a way. I must admit that I was really anxious about this sometimes during the process, but we´re all very pleased about the result, and it´s a great feeling that it´s finally hitting the streets now.
I guess your last album Synergy was quite a surprise for many of your fans, since you moved further away from your Death Metal roots towards a progressive Thrash Metal sound. And its probably the same with your new album, since the step from Synergy to The Blueprint Dives is just as big as the one from Undeceived to Synergy was. Do you agree with that?
Yeah, i´d say at least as big. Even though you can definitely still hear it´s Extol, it is indeed different. There are elements on "the Blueprint Dives" that you can´t find on any of the previous releases, while there are elements that you find on all the other recordings that you won´t find on this one. When we started this process, everyone in the band felt the need to take steps never taken before and push ourselves into musical landscapes never visited before. It´s important to our motivation to work this way - to dare not to play it safe, to dare loosing control from time to time and challenge ourselves without knowing what the result will be like. It might be exhausting from time to time, but even more satisfying when we feel the result is good.
Maybe you can describe the sound and main influences of the album with your own words?
This is always a very hard question to answer, since I guess a lot of these influences in our case remains at the subconscious level. It´s not like we hear a song from another band that we love and then want to make something like it, even though you´re always influences by something. Another thing that makes it hard to answer is the extremely wide range of musical preferences within the band. I could always name some of the bands and artists we listen to, but it still might not be right to say that these had an actual influence on the album. We did inspire each other a lot though - with the new line-up and all, it was like a fresh start or something, since we started working on the new material from the moment we started rehearsing together. About the sound, we definitely wanted to make it heavier than on Synergy - the new material required it. A less static sound was also required, so we experimented a lot with different sounds on the guitars, and also brought in a couple of guest musicians to have even greater ability to create a vital vibe to the overall sound.
Are you afraid of peoples reactions a bit? Or are you confident that your fans are just as open-minded as you guys ?
Well, what I am pretty confident about, is that some of the old Extol-fans will hate the album. Some of the diehard-metallers will probably start crying in disappointment when hearing some of the softer songs, like for instance "Pearl". However, I´m afraid we can´t think of that when we´re making music. We need to do what we feel like, no matter what others might say, be it Extol-fans or hip-hopers. I would guess that some people will start screaming sellout when hearing the song mentioned, but they´re wrong. Sellout for us would be to make Undeceived, part II, which we know a lot of people would want us to. So no, we´re not afraid. We´ve made an album that we´re really proud of, that´s the most important on this matter. Of course, it matters to us personally (and to our future plans) if noone but ourselves like the album, it wouldn´t be honest to deny that, but we´re confident that some will like it - just hoping these some will ever hear it, hehe...
Has the change in musical style anything to do with the returning of Tor Magne Glidje and the adding of Ole Halvard Sveen to the line-up? Or were they merely two more pieces in the puzzle, adding just their share to the diversity?
During the time between Ole and Christer left and Ole Halvard and Tor Magne joined, it was obvious that a change of style would take place. The former guitarists were after all the main songwriters of the band, and it wouldn´t feel right trying to "copy" their way of writing and expression. At the same time, the remaining members had a strong desire to do something new. So a change of style was inevitable. The direction this change took, was however strongly influenced by our two new members. They both took a great part in the songwriting-process, and I would assume that their personal, musical signatures on the album is rather easily recognized by people familiar with their former bands Lengsel and Ganglion.
Do you feel like having found something as the sound of Extol with The Blueprint Dives, without thinking of it as a static thing, or do you expect your next album to be another surprise ?
I guess you could say that we found Extol´s new "musical platform" or something with the Blueprint Dives. And from now on, we will evolve from there.
I did an interview with an Indie band from Sweden, which is probably as big as Extol regarding sales etc., a while ago. And they told me that they were able to live off music if the played enough shows a year. I wonder if you guys are full-time musicians yet, or if you are trying to achieve that goal with your newest release?
To the last part of the question: yes. We´ve just quitted our jobs and studies to focus on the band. For how long we will survive like this, only time (or maybe God) can tell, but we´re willing to take this risk. At least we´ll be able to look back on this when we´re fifty, stuck with jobs at the supermarket, knowing that we tried, we dared.
You come from a Christian background. Your lyrics never seemed to have a ministering character though, which is something I really appreciate. What are you trying to bring across lyrically?
We´re simply trying to express what´s important to us in our everyday lives, what we care for, our struggles, our thoughts on certain issues, etc... We still want to point at things that are of worth to us, things that we think other people also my find strengthening, encouraging or uplifting. Even when describing feelings and situations that is not positive (like personal struggles, depression or whatever), our goal is that our listeners might get something positive out of it anyway, like if a listener experiencing a hard time would find comfort in a song about loss by recognizing the feelings described. We don´t want to use our lyrics just as a trashcan for our own psychological problems, if you know what I mean. We´ve got something on our hearts, that we have a deep desire to share - hopefully someone gets something good out of it. And we believe someone might - if we didn´t, we´d probably sing about fast cars and easy women like so many else (or in the metal scene: imaginary killing of christians and oh, I´m so f***in´ angry I can hardly speak, since everyone else is so stupid and don´t understand me).
I heard that there is a lyrical concept behind The Blueprint Dives. Maybe you can tell a bit about that as well?
Well actually, I wouldn´t say it is. The different issues found in the lyrics are, however, summarized in the title of the album in a way. Like I said before - all lyrics are attempts to express things present in our lives, our surroundings, and the title of the album simply recognizes the fact that they only are just attempts. We interpret our surroundings in order to make sense out of reality, but we can´t get the whole picture, we aren´t able to describe or express these things in a fully sufficient way, like they really are. Opposite to great parts of contemporary philosophy, we actually believe in absolute truths. We just don´t put the same faith in our own abilities to seize these truths in an absolute way. That doesn´t mean we´ll ever give up the project of a deeper understanding though. Now we look like in a mirror, like a riddle... This is what binds the lyrics together, a bit too vague to call it a concept in my opinion.
Did you ever read or hear of the book Lords of Chaos? Even though its kinda interesting, it couldnt answer me the question why some of the people involved in Black Metal became so extreme and started to burn churches, commit homicides etc. And all that in a prosperous country like Norway. Do you have some kind of an explanation?
It´s dangerous to give confident explanations on such huge, obviously complicated matters like this one, but I´ll give you three humble suggestions on elements that might have been involved: the need to show off for other tough guys, psychological problems (that in some cases unfortunately might have been related to or combined with bad experiences with christian people or institutions) and simply an unhealthy fascination for the dark sides of human nature.
Did Extol or its members ever get fronted by Black Metal fans for being a Christian band or something like that?
Yeah, but in a very little sense. Nothing more serious than a little beer throwing, some bad language and funny attempts on "giving us the bad eye". Some people don´t like us because we´re christians, but that´s their choice - not our problem (the funniest thing is when some of these people are explaining this choice with the statement that all christians are judging and close-minded).
Whats up with the metal scene around your hometown (Oslo?) and in Norway in general at the moment? Any upcoming bands we should look out for?
Benea Reach is definitely a band to look out for - really heavy and groovy metalcore (or something). Kambodsja is another - three crazy, young guys playing some kind of Dillinger Escape Plan-inspired metal. Can´t really say much more about this - not very updated at the scene nowadays - have got my hands full with Extol the last nine moths. Seems like it´s the old bands, like Mayhem, Satyricon and Darkthrone, who still rule the streets here. The metal festivals are definitely getting bigger though - like Inferno and Southern Discomfort - more metal to the people...
I know theres also quite a few Christian artists like Antestor etc. around in Scandinavia. Are those bands part of the normal metal scene, or do they have a separate thing going on?
Antestor haven´t played very much live for the last ten years, so it´s hard to tell what kind of scene they actually are a part of (don´t know who´s bying their records). Drottnar have had some "normal" gigs, for instance on the Inferno-festival. Don´t know about the swedes...There are a couple of metal - festivals arranged by christians here that are pretty good, but I guess most bands don´t want to be associated strictly with the "christian-holy-unblack-crushsatansheadunderyourfeetallthetime" - genre.
I guess you cant wait to play the new material live. Is there a bigger (European and/or US) tour planned, and are you going to play any festivals?
You´re right - we just can´t wait! So we´re headed for Europe in a few days now, to do 19 gigs together with Mastodon and Dozer. After that, we´re doing eight gigs in the UK with God Forbid, before we´re heading overseas to spend three months on the road in american rental cars. Check out www.extolweb.com for tour-dates.
Thanks for taking the time! Any last comments?
Come to our shows - we´re really looking forward to meet our fans on tour, and we promise to give all we´ve got on stage (and off stage, if we don´t have to drive immediately after the show). We´ve got something on our hearts, and wants to share it with as many as possible, giving you great musical experiences focused on things of worth. Take care.