Sunday 14 October 2012

Interview with NORSKA

Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing Jim Lowder vocalist and guitarist from the brilliant Sludge/Doom Metal Band – NORSKA. I reviewed their brilliant S/T debut album last year and rated it very highly.

If you didn't know but NORSKA features Aaron Rieseberg who also plays in Doom Metal Legends – YOB. Well NORSKA have re-released their stunning S/T debut album on ace record label – Brutal Panda Records.

They have kindly agreed to do an interview with me. Now lets get down to business.

1. Hi Jim, Thanks for doing this. How’s Things? We are massive fans of Norska at Sludgelord

You’re too kind. Thanks very much for having us.

Things are good. We’re riding the momentum of the short mid-west/southern/west coast tour we just finished and are very much looking forward to putting the next record together. Our energy is high right now, so we’re bouncing a lot of creativity off of one another and building up to take the plunge on our next batch of material.

2. For people not in the know, can you give a brief overview of how Norska came about?

Dustin and Aaron (the Rieseberg brothers) were driven to put a project together that reflected their interest in the heavy. I think their intention was to crush themselves and the audience with the music. At the time (2003/2004), I (Jim) had recently moved back to Oregon from Seattle, where I’d played and tried it out with a few bands but really couldn’t find anything that spoke to me. 

My friend Joe and I went out to see a show in Portland and I bumped into Dustin after not seeing him for a few years. We got to talking and he mentioned that he and Aaron were working on something and if I was interested, I could come hear some of their stuff and try putting vocals to it, so I did. I’d known these guys since they were kids and had heard/seen them play their guts out in other projects, so I was very interested to hear what they had going on. We met up a few times and things clicked. 

We figured we had something, so we put a set together and started playing everywhere and as often as we could. The material from those days never saw a formal release. I think there are a handful of copies on cassette and CD floating around. We’d had a hard time settling on what to call the band until Dustin’s friend, Ryan, told him about a commercial fishing boat he’d worked on which was named after a legendary Viking ghost ship that had risen from the depths to lead their ships to victory while defending against an invasion. That’s how we took the name Norska. After trying a few line-up changes which included our current drummer, Jason, joining up and really solidifying the band (he and Aaron had been playing together for many years prior), it grew into what it is now.

3. How do you classify your bands sound? - Stoner, Doom, Sludge, Hard Rock.

I’ve had a few people tell me that we’re a Sludge band. Some say Doom. More recently I was informed that we are “Post-Metal”… okay. I suppose comparison and classification is in the ear of the beholder. We’re just playing what we want to hear.

4. Which bands had a great influence on your music. 

I hope I can do this question justice in the absence of my band mates, but to name a few; Led Zeppelin, Barrett era Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Sabbath, Queen, Scott era AC/DC, Hendrix, Black Flag, Tears for Fears, Big Country, Bad Brains, early Metallica, King Crimson, Judas Priest… I could go on.

5. When you started Norska, what were your original aims and objectives for the band. And have they been met?

We wanted to write music and play it. So yes, I’d say we’ve done alright by our original intent. It’s grown into a means of release and experimentation/exploration for us, though. We push each other and the music accordingly, so the objective is fairly infinite now.

6. Is music your full time job or do you have an extra job to help pay the bills? 

We all work for a living along with playing in the band(s). Some of us have kids, so playing full time doesn’t quite cut it…yet. 

7. Your S/T album has been acclaimed across the board as it’s a great album. Are you and the rest of the band happy with the reception that it has got? 

Sure. We poured a lot of ourselves into these songs, so when it went out, we were proud to see so many folks enjoy it as much as we enjoyed doing it.

8. You originally released this album yourselves. And now it is being released on Brutal Panda Records. How did that come about? 

Dustin was handing CDs out at a show, as we tend to do, and one of the guys from Brutal Panda got his hands on one. They came to us about a vinyl release and we went for it. It happened quickly before we left for a tour, so we were able to get them out around the states. It’s been great for us.

9. I bought the limited edition two-colour vinyl. And very nice it is too. Love the new album cover. Very hard hitting and powerful at the same time. How did those designs come about? 

Our friend Mike Fairchild designed the logo for us. Dustin and I are complete horror film nerds, so his design, having that sort of tone, was a go at first sight. The artwork for the cover was done by Tim Wenzel, an artist friend of Aaron’s. I’d seen that image before, growing up, at churches and in relative’s homes. Tim’s take on the image was powerful and we all went for it immediately.

10. Do you have get a lot of gigs in your home town or do you have to travel around a lot. I know Aaron does with YOB. But what about the rest of the band?

We don’t play as many local shows as we try to get out a bit more. We spread our shows out. We like to get around the Northwest when we can, but there will be more touring on a larger scale in the near future.

11. What have been your fave ever gigs that you been involved. Or bands that you have toured with?

Every show is great. We feel honored to be able to do this and have people show up to see it. Once in a while, we’ll book our own local show just so we can invite bands to come out and play it, so we can see them all in one place. It has selfish motivations, but everyone wins.

Our recent tour with Yob was a great experience. We’ve all been friends in our circles between bands for many years, some dating back to school days, so getting together for something like that was great.

12. Are there any plans for the band to tour abroad? As you guys would go down a storm on the European Circuit.

Nothing is solid yet, but we’ve had to pass on previous opportunities due to prior engagements and the like, so we know we’re overdue to come over. It’s something we all want to do, so it will happen, eventually.

13. Are your family and friends supportive of your music?

Our family and friends are incredibly supportive. We all grew up in musical families and are surrounded by people who love music of all sorts. The amount of support and kindness we see is humbling.

14. What have been your personal highs and lows with the band so far? 

For me, every moment with this band is a high. Sometimes I step back and think about where I am, the type of people and talent I’m surrounded by, and I feel very fortunate. That feeling drives me to throw myself into this.

As far as lows… all of our low points have come from external influences; our gear being stolen, people being bad humans, that sort of thing. We’re capable of brushing off the lows at a record pace around here.

15. Has the blogging community been a great help to your band in promoting your music compared with mainstream press. Which one do you prefer dealing with the most?

Communicating with the blogging community seems to be easier and more personal, which I imagine anyone would be partial to. We’ve had great experiences with both types of media, so it’s hard to say. As hard to reach as we are, I’m surprised either will give us the time of day. I think there’s a purity and a sort of passion that goes with blogging about a subject. It’s not easy and there isn’t much to gain aside from connecting with people and really getting things out there, so I’m giving it to you noble folks.

16. Do you have any exciting projects/releases coming up in the future?

We are writing a record. When it’s ready, we’ll tour to support it. Spirits are high.

17 What advice or words of wisdom would you give to upcoming bands and musicians who are about to start a Sludge/Doom/Stoner Rock Band? 

Don’t smoke acid.

18. Finally, last question .Do you have anything to say to your fans? 

Thank you so much for your support. It allows us to do this thing that we live for.

Well Guys thanks for answering these questions. Thanks. Steve.

Thanks to Bob of Brutal Panda Records for setting this interview up form me. Much appreciated dude.