Lars Are Nedland: “Where White Void was based on Albert Camus and absurdism, Black Void is based on nihilism and Nietzsche. White Void and Black Void are contrasts and that also goes for the basic philosophies of the band and the lyrics.”
Net nu het promowerk voor Black Void losbarst, is Borknagar op tournee in de VS. Eindelijk vind plaats wat in 2020 gepland was en kan Borknagar wat meer toeren. Daar is voor Lars Are Nedland geen ontkomen aan en dus selecteert hij bijna elke dag enkele uurtjes om te praten met de pers over zijn nieuw album ‘Antithesis’ van Black Void. Dat is het spiegelbeeld van White Void, het project dat in 2021 op de proppen kwam met het progressieve, melodieuze ‘Anti’. Lars wou nog vlug het volgende met ons delen vooraleer de soundcheck voor Borknagar in de VS van start ging.
Vera Matthijssens Ι 7 juni 2022
You are in a tour bus crossing Canada and the US with Borknagar?
Finally! Finally back on the road again, after so many years of covid-19! We were in Manchester yesterday, Canada was two days ago and tonight we are in New York. We are in Brooklyn now.
How is the tour going so far?
It is going really well. We will play two sold out shows today, yesterday was also sold out, so it is going very well.
The previous time we talked was about White Void last year. Now we have Black Void. What happened?
What happened was: when I was writing the White Void album, I started to feel a need to have a contrast with White Void, which is very melodic and soft. I needed to get some aggression out of my system, so I started writing lots of punk/black metal riffs. And I found out pretty quickly that I wanted to make an album of those kinds of songs as a contrast to White Void. So when I was negotiating the contract for White Void with Nuclear Blast, I have these lines in the contract, saying that you cannot have a band with a direct link to the band you just signed for on a different label. So since I had Black Void and it had a very clear affinity with White Void, I told them I needed an exception clause, so that I can release this somewhere. They said: ‘well, why don’t you send us a few demos, so we can hear this first?’ So I did and they said: ‘well we will release this as well.’ So White Void and Black Void were signed at the same time actually. We decided to release White Void first and then Black Void comes one year later, as a sort of surprise, as a contrast to White Void. That was how that whole setup came about, so to speak.
Indeed it was a surprise and also a huge contrast. White Void was progressive and calm, Black Void is punky and blackish…
Yes, it is and also we had a little bit of fun with re-branding the social media, just going from White Void to Black Void. So we created a lot of confusion first. Is White Void turning into Black Void now? Is White Void over? People were wondering about that. And of course it is not. White Void and Black Void are two different bands, but we thought it would be a fun thing to play a bit with that confusion first, before making a statement and telling everybody that White Void is not over. We are in the studio recording the second White Void’s album these days. We already did the drums and most of the things for that one, so there will be another White Void album, but for now we do the switch. We did one White Void album and then we do a Black Void album and then we go back to White Void again.
That is a relief. Which bands or genres can you mention as inspiration for Black Void?
Black Void is mainly inspired by punk and by black metal. I mean, in the punk scene I would say bands like Black Flag, The Stooges, early MC5 and just all of that low energy punk from the late seventies or the early eighties. When it comes to black metal, the early first wave bands like Bathory or Hellhammer or Celtic Frost, these kind of bands, but also more modern black-‘n-rollish black metal bands. I did drums on the ‘Black Shining Leather’ album of Carpathian Forest in the late nineties. So I had my stroke in that camp before and I like that sort of rock-‘n-roll drive within sort of black metal framework I guess. I got inspiration from that as well, but the main inspiration is old black metal and old punk.
You are the protagonist and we have Tobias Solbakk on drums, but for the rest you gathered different people around you for Black Void.
Yes, because they are different bands. I play the bass in Black Void and we also have a fantastic guitar player in Jostein Thomassen with which I also play in Borknagar. He is the guitarist of Black Void, just doing an amazing job on the album. So… Black Void is a power trio. It is me on bass and vocals, it is Jostein as guitarist and Tobias on drums and we have some really nice guest vocalists on the album as well.
Indeed, let us shine a light on the guest appearance of Sakis from Rotting Christ…
Well, Rotting Christ are one of the godfathers of the genre. They have been around since the late eighties. When I set up this album, I wanted to have one or two guest vocalists. One of the first ones I thought of was Sakis, also because of the connection between my other band Borknagar and Rotting Christ. They have been around forever, both of them, and we have this connection from way back in the days. So I sent the demos to Sakis and he really liked it. He agreed to do vocals on ‘Dadaist Disgust’ and I am really happy with the way that turned out. Also I am very happy that I could return a favour and sing on the latest Rotting Christ single ‘The Holy Mountain’. And of course now we are touring together as well. One can say there is a strong connection between the two bands. The other guest vocalist is Hoest from Taake which is a friend. I have known him since 1997 and I always loved the fact that he doesn’t make any compromises. He is always driving his expression to the extreme, what he wants to do, there is no binding to fashion in any kind of form. I just contacted him and asked him if he would be interested in just hearing a song and maybe he could contribute if he felt like doing that. To my luck he really liked the music, so he went into the studio and laid down the vocals. It is an awesome result I think and I really like his vocals. It has got that intensity that I really love.
With White Void you had deep-draught lyrics and I am pretty sure for this one as well, although it is a different genre. In other words, can you go deeper into the lyrics?
Where White Void was based on Albert Camus and absurdism, Black Void is based on nihilism and Nietzsche. White Void and Black Void are contrasts and that also goes for the basic philosophies of the band and the lyrics. Black Void is based on the writings of Nietzsche and phases of nihilism and his ideas. For instance the idea of knowledge, you cannot have any kind of proper knowledge because there is no anchor-point for knowledge, which sort of takes away the whole concept of knowing anything. That also takes away the concept of morality. It is about moral issues. So the lyrics of Black Void are exploring the philosophical direction, what happens when you take this nihilistic approach to the extreme? You take away the knowledge, you take away the morality and what you end with is you have to tear down everything that we built society on and we have to rebuild it, from the ground up. That is the basis from it. That is the contrast with White Void, although it has parallels with the absurdism on White Void’s album, because that also talks about discrepancies between what we need as humans when it comes to sense and direction in life and what the universe gives us, which is nothing. Absurdism takes a different approach in how to handle that. That is the difference between Black Void and White Void.
I would say that Black Void is a lot darker…
Yes of course. Nihilism is a much darker philosophy than absurdism. That is true.
I read that the recordings took place between 2019 and 2021. But I guess you strictly divided them from the White Void Sessions?
Most of the recordings were done in our own studios, in the same vein as White Void was made. We recorded it mostly in our own home studios and then it was mixed and mastered by Öystein from Borknagar. We did White Void first and then we went straight into the studio after that with Black Void. Within that same time period we did both of those albums in succession.
Although it covers different feels, the approach of Black and White Void reminded me a little bit of the two related Solefald albums about Iceland…
Yes, ‘Red For Fire’ in 2005 and ‘Black For Death’ in 2006. I guess there are some of the similarities in the approach that we had, in the idea that we had of making sort of contrasting albums, but I think with Black Void and White Void it is much more pronounced. It is much more built as a band than as contrasting entities. From the song-writing, to the production, to the lyrical concept. So I think Black Void and White Void are much more deeply contrasted than those albums back in the 2000’s were.
Can we say that those two albums reflect the opposites of life?
In a way, but I still have the same starting point, so I guess you could rather say that they represent different aspects of views upon the same life. You have the same starting point, but you go in different directions with Black Void and White Void and you look upon the same life from different angles. One is darker and the other one is lighter of course. I think that is a better way of seeing it. The life is the same, but the angle from which you see it is different.
What can you tell about the two video clips so far? Are there other ones planned?
The first video was directed by me in the studio, because I work with film. I always make my own videos. That one was shot in the studio during one very long night (chuckles) and edited after that. The second video is an animated video, made by really talented people. They are the same people who made the ‘This Apocalypse Is For You’ video for White Void, which was also fully animated. Amazing guys. There will be another animated video coming out, when the album is released, on the 27th of May, that will be the third and last video for this session or recording.
On another level of art we have the artwork. Did you choose this from your collection again?
No, this was a commission. I contacted the artist. I just ordered a full painting from my ideas of how it should be depicted. We had long discussions about what it should contain and what the style should be like and I guess he used about three months to make it. And I think it came out pretty spectacular. It is a Russian artist, called Artem Grigoryev. An awesome artist.
What are the plans for the near future? Imagine you could play live with both bands, what can we expect?
Well, we are playing live with White Void as soon as this tour is over. We have a festival job in England. There are no immediate plans to do Black Void on stage as for now, but who knows, maybe in future. Maybe we can do a double feature, you know, White Void and Black Void in the same night, that would be fun.
And Borknagar is finally coming to Europe too I think this year?
We are. We are having a European tour this fall, in September/October, together with My Dying Bride and Moonspell.
I am really looking forward to that…