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Anders Eek: “It is absolutely a follow up to ‘Oratorium’, even though we go in different and new ways. I did not want to repeat the previous album. We tried to upper the orchestration and the song writing and of course top the previous album.

Een nieuw Funeral album is steeds een weloverwogen zaak, zodat de Noorse doom metal band onder leiding van Anders Eek eerder mikt op kwaliteit dan op kwantiteit. Voeg daar nog een aantal hindernissen bij die genomen moesten worden en zo kan het gebeuren dat er maar liefst negen jaar verstreken zijn sinds voorganger ‘Oratorium’ op de wereld werd losgelaten. Maar het nieuwe album ‘Praesentialis In Aeternum’ bezorgt ons weer uren luisterplezier, vandaar dat er ook een gezellige chat met Anders gepland was. Dit is het resultaat!
Vera Matthijssens Ι 6 januari 2022

In 2012 ‘Oratorium’ came out, nine years ago. Did you actually tour for that album?
Yes, we did a couple of gigs in Oslo and actually did a small Norwegian tour through the West and we did some shows abroad with both Clouds and Shape Of Despair. We went to Romania and Belgium, we did quite some concerts. We did a festival in Bergen, Blastfest in 2016 or something.

I remember that lots of new material was already written – at least the backbone of it – when ‘Oratorium’ came out. How come it took so long?
It was a line of different stuff happening. We had to get a new line-up: a new guitar player, a new guy writing orchestration. We had to get a new record deal. A couple of guys moved across the country, as far as family concerns, a couple of guys got several kids. One of the members got a serious illness. Then the pandemic hit. So a lot of different stuff happened. The backbone of the new album was partly finished written five years ago. We should have released it in 2020 I think, if it wasn’t for the pandemic. Season of Mist wanted to wait and then there were some troubles with the graphic design, different stuff. So it was very unfortunate. If it was up to me, it would have been released at least three years ago. Well, I am an active musician, it really doesn’t matter to me personally. I always write new music anyhow. I may have material for maybe three albums finished, so if we are lucky we can release our next album maybe already in 2022. I believe that is very doable and about six tracks are totally finished with orchestration. We can definitely release an album next year (in 2022).

That would be amazing. Let us now focus on this one ‘Praesentialis In Aeternum’. There is a lot to discover on the album and I think you continued the path you have chosen on ‘Oratorium’ with even more orchestration and kind of progressive influences in the doom-like compositions. Do you see this album as a next step after ‘Oratorium’?
It is absolutely a follow up to ‘Oratorium’, even though we go in different and new ways. I did not want to repeat the previous album. We tried to upper the orchestration and the song writing and of course top the previous album. That is always the goal. I would say we managed to do that.

You have an important guest on the first song ‘Ánd’ which means ‘Spirit’. Lars Nedland (Borknagar, Solefald) is family relative of your singer Sindre, so that makes sense, but can you tell a bit more about this cooperation?
I was very keen on having an established artist as a singer very early in the process. So actually the first track ‘Ånd’ was the last track we wrote for the album. It was a very obvious choice to get a guest singer to do that, because it was the last song that Sindre wrote the vocal lines for. It came very natural. I must admit that I had a couple of other guys in mind. I won’t mention the names, but very famous Norwegian singers, but they charged way too much you know. Money-wise Lars did not charge anything. It suddenly came to my mind: ‘why didn’t I ask him earlier?’ I mean, he is Sindre’s brother, so it would be really cool to do a duet together. So we just asked him and he said yes right away. We gave him totally artistic freedom to do whatever he wanted to do. Of course he got the lyrics, but apart from that he just did his thing. In the end we had too much vocals, so we had to delete a part, but he was very okay with that. In the future we will release some bonus material and maybe include that song with those parts included.

Ah you have two versions of that song now?
Yes. Oh we have a lot of versions. About ten versions I think.

Wow isn’t it hard to decide which one you put on the record?
Yes, it is a huge process to really get satisfied with the song. We have a lot of versions and then we sort of rewrite it and you know, hopefully get it better. That is not always the case though, because I can listen to some older pre-productions and think: ‘why the hell did I do that?’, because the preproduction sounds much better than the finished product. You need to find a balance. The orchestration is also a big part of that. We had too much of it. We write a lot of orchestration along the way, I think we have ten versions of only that song.

For the lyrics you can tell a special story I think, because it was coincidence that you met a new lyricist and the lyrics are in Norwegian language this time…
He is my best friend, so it is not coincidence that I met him, but I asked him. I don’t remember why we started to talk and decide about that. Oh yes, probably because: about five years ago I thought the preproduction was ready and I played a lot of those songs at parties and stuff and they really liked the material. It was always the same: when we hooked up I had to play those preproduction songs again. Then it just occurred to me that I know him very well. He is a really great writer. He knows a lot about psychology and philosophy. I asked it to him and he said yes. It took a year to do it though, so it was a really long process, but it worked out really well. His lyrics are more or less his view on philosopher Emmanuel Kant’s work. I am very happy that it did work on the album.

If it worked out so well, you can repeat that on the next album and let him write the lyrics again…
We have actually talked about that, doing an English version so to speak, but then we had to rewrite the entire piece. It is not just translating it, he has to rewrite it. We haven’t really settled on anything right now, because the lyrics are not finished for the new material. I don’t have an answer what we are going to do, but it is definitely going to be an English one this time around.

Since the lyrics are in Norwegian language, what can you tell about them, except the fact that they are inspired by psychology and philosophy?
I am not sure if you have read the text on the album itself? That sort of tries to explain it in English. We got the writer to write a small explanation for foreign fans. That explains the content and what he tries to achieve. Basically it’s lyrics that are based on Emmanuel Kant’s philosophy, then sort of transcribed into a personal history and it is linked on the history of mankind. It is a lot of different layers here. It starts on a personal level and takes on an entire civilisation, whole mankind in a way. It is a huge project. I really cannot tell too much about the lyrics, but there is this explanation on the physical album that tries to explain pieces of it. Of course I won’t say too much either, because it is really up to the listener. If you are a fan, you will probably find out what we are trying to say. So I don’t want to ruin the mystery in a way.

Concerning making video clips you did a lot of DIY work. What about this experience? Was it fun to do?
Yeah sure. Sindre, our singer, he works in a production company as an editor and he is really talented in photography as well. So we basically did this in our spare time and our bass guitar player Rune is also a very experienced photographer, so we have all the resources within the band. So we did not have to pay other people to do this. Of course we went through a lot thinking in which way we should do this, what kind of shots we wanted to present that explain the content of the songs. It was a big project, but I think the result is quite okay. It was a zero budget video actually.

There are four songs extra, but I think we can only purchase them digital…
Yes and on vinyl. I think it was more or less our own decision. We had way too much material. We had to make a choice. The album would be ninety minutes and Season of Mist never presented us releasing a double CD. So it was not a question of that. So we really had to make a choice. So it was really up to Season Of Mist. If it was up to me I would have released it as a bonus CD as well. Unfortunately that was not up to me, but the vinyl choice was up to me though.

What can you tell about the song ‘Erindring’, because it has two parts and seems quite important to me…
Yes, it has two parts. The music itself is not really related. It is a poetic story about the concept that I told you about earlier. The lyrics itself was too much for one song. It really did not fit into one song, so we had to divide it into two parts really. That is basically the explanation of it. We created more music around that text.

Next year you will do a 30 years anniversary concert…
It is in a church in Oslo in April. Actually I just got the confirmation that one of our previous singers is going to join us. I won’t say the name yet, because it is not 100%, but it is very promising. From way back. We are going to announce it when it is 100% confirmed of course.

How did you get involved into Clouds, you played drums live for them I think?
Yes, I was the drummer in Clouds for a couple of years. I think it worked out well. I wouldn’t do it again though, it is a massive amount of work, rehearsing for two bands and share the stage at the same night. I won’t do that again. It was very tedious, but it was an interesting experience though.

I enjoyed it very well. That was actually a very beautiful place, that church in Antwerp…
Yes it was absolutely perfect.

Seven musicians in the band now, that will be hard to travel…
I know yes, but it is going to be a drag I take. It is going to be hard even for rehearse. We are rehearsing parts of the band, not everybody at the same time. And thanks to internet via zoom sometimes.

Did you play guitar and sing on the album too?
Not on the album. It is written by me, but I don’t play the guitars on the album.

Are there coming more clips?
No, no plans anymore, but we are planning on recording the gig in April in Oslo, both with cameras and sound recording. It will be quite cool for recording I think. It is going to be a great set list, both old and new material. We can put it out on blu-ray or something. And nowadays we work really hard on totally new material for the next albums. I am very occupied with that. Thanks a lot for your interest, I remembered your name, because you have quite a Norwegian name, Vera.