Roar Jakobsen: “We wanted a name that people would not instantly be able to label as rock, jazz, disco, latin, metal or whatever genre.”
Soms wordt een interview met een goede band je in de schoot geworpen. Ik werd via Messenger benaderd door Roar Jakobsen van de band Cold Night For Alligators of ik een interview wilde doen. Zij hebben dit jaar opgetreden op Complexity Fest in het Patronaat en het was volgens henzelf een geweldige ervaring. Helaas kon ik er dit jaar niet bij zijn, maar ik had de band al wel gehoord via andere kanalen en dus maakte ik graag gebruik van de gelegenheid om deze talentvolle Deense band wat vragen te stellen. Het enthousiasme spat er van af bij deze jongens en terecht, want hun laatste album ‘Fervor’, alhoewel al daterend uit 2018, is een must voor iedere liefhebber van technische progressieve metal. Natuurlijk heb ik ook even gevraagd of er al nieuw werk onderweg is.
Berto Ι 23 april 2020
First of all the obvious question: how did you come up with the name of the band?
Roar: He he, yeah, we always get that question 🙂 We wanted a name that people would not instantly be able to label as rock, jazz, disco, latin, metal or whatever genre. A name people would remember after only hearing our songs once. Then one day, one of us saw the words online ‘cold night for alligators’, and we decided that was it!
How did you all meet and how long did it take from the start of the band to the release of your first album?
Roar: Kristoffer and I are founding members (2008) who first heard of singer Johan, when he was in another band, Trusted Few. CNFA needed a new singer since the former left, which sort of happened around the same time Trusted Few split up. We then asked Johan who keen to join us. Sometime down the road our drummer left, because he could no longer combine work and family life with playing music. We knew Nikolaj from the band 100 Knives Inside and after attending their final show, we asked him if he wanted to join CNFA. As mentioned we started the band in 2008 and released our first EP ‘Ulterior Motives’ in 2010. We did one more EP in 2012 ‘Singular Patterns’, and the released our first full length ‘Course of Events’ in 2015.
What was your plan when you started the band ? Was there a sort of masterplan ? What did you want to achieve with your music?
Roar: Yeah, there was, but it was pretty simple and probably looked like everyone else’s: Do as many shows as possible, go on tour abroad, record and release our own music. That was basically it 🙂 So, a plan, yes, but a detailed master plan, not really. All of it has happened, but of course our plans and dreams have evolved since.
On Instagram I have read in your bio the following: Angry Music For Sad Nerds? Do you really consider yourselves nerds ? Is this still an accurate description of your music?
Nikolaj: Haha, I came up with that at one point when we were discussing the direction of our sound on “Fervor”. We sort of progressed with that record from a quite techy sound to something with progressive elements, but which was a bit more straightforward with kind of an emo vibe. I just thought it was a funnier way to describe our sound than a more generic sounding genre description. I think we’re all kind of nerds when it comes to music, though it’s not something we’ve spent a lot of time conceptualizing, haha. I would say the description fits rather well, since the new material we’re working is both proggy and melancholic. We have a ton of fun as a band, but take the musical and artistic expression of what we do very seriously, and I guess that’s just the way it turns out. Maybe we really are sad, angry nerds deep down.
What would you say are your main influences musically speaking? What metal bands made you want to play an instrument yourself?
Roar: Some of them include: Katatonia, Code Orange, If These Trees Could Talk, Arnór Dan, Exivious, The Contortionist, Leprous and Psycroptic. That was a good mix of what we as individuals listen to. Well, regarding the second question I can only speak for myself; the bands that inspired me to pick up the guitar were bands like: Nirvana, Beatles and Staind. Later, what made me want to play metal were bands like Killswitch Engage, Mudvayne, Trivium and All That Remains.
Nikolaj: My favorite band since I was fifteen have been The Haunted with Peter Dolving on vocals and Per M Jensen on drums. Other bands which have been huge for me are Tool, Meshuggah and The Dillinger Escape Plan. But I could probably give you five different bands each week.
Are there any non-metal bands that you like or that are even an influence on your own music?
Nikolaj: A few. I’m really into a lot of melodic punk rock like Pennywise, Alkaline Trio, NOFX and Blink 182 at the moment. I also really enjoy The 1975, Thrice and Audioslave. And I feel like I listen to a lot of metal compared to some of the other guys, so we probably have more non-metal influences in total, which might be why we’re slowly going soft.
How do you look back on your first release, ‘Ulterior Motive’ I believe?
Roar: With pride and with a smile. At that time CNFA was very much into many of the bands from Sumerian Records. You know, After The Burial, Veil of Maya, Born of Osiris and The Faceless, which rubbed off, but not always positively. I still love the songs we wrote, but back then it was important for us not to re-use song parts in a song that had already been presented once. Therefore the song structures were always: New part, new part, new part and so on for the entire song. On the song ‘Tempus Fugit’ we actually succeeded quite well in making a ‘whole’ song, but some of the other songs suffered a bit because of it, and never fully ended up as ‘whole’ songs but more like four-five minutes of individual great parts. Nowadays, we focus a lot more on a good melody and making every song cohesive and ‘whole’.
Where do you get inspiration for the lyrics?
Nikolaj: For “Fervor”, our singer wanted to go a bit more personal on the lyrical front, so he chose to write about a lot of rough experiences from his own life or people he’s known. We discussed them a bit as a group and agreed that we wanted to take a lot of sad subjects and try to put a hopeful spin on them, so each song sort of has the feeling that you can get past whatever you might be going through.
Is music purely for entertainment or can you use it to express political or social opinions?
Nikolaj: The neat thing about music is that there are no rules, so sure, you can be political and outspoken. We’ve done that, and I like a lot of bands with a strong political message myself. Though I honestly don’t really believe that art itself has the power to change much. Music is kind of a tribal phenomenon, so I see political or opinionated music as more of an expression of what’s going on rather than something which drives change in opinions in itself. That’s not to be too cynical about it, I just don’t put it on that particular pedestal.
What would you say is the biggest difference between your first release and your latest one ? How did you grow as a band ?
Roar: Hmm.. good question. I think it has a lot to do with what I stated earlier regarding the question about our first release. On our first release it was all about writing cool riffs, playing fast and heavy and shredding away. On our latest, Fervor, we took a very different approach. On Fervor it was a lot more about creating melodies and writing songs that actually sounded like songs and not just like a line of parts that do not necessarily fit that well together while still sounding like ourselves. An approach we taken even further on our third album, which will be recording during the summer and autumn of 2020.
Nikolaj: Something also changed with the drums, though I’m not sure if that was good or bad…
How do songs get written? Is it someone coming up with a riff or is it during jamming sessions?
Roar: Usually, either Kristoffer, Nikolaj or I bring an idea to the table. For us guitarists it is normally an idea consisting of two or three parts with basic instruments, or if it is Nikolaj, then a drum part. Then everyone gives feedback and the song evolves from there. We are not really a jam band 🙂
Nikolaj: I would say it’s still quite collaborative, we spend a lot of time demoing stuff and discussing details, song structure and so on. I would say there’s not a part on “Fervor” or the newer stuff which all of us hasn’t had an opinion about.
Is there some new work coming out in the near future? ‘Fervor’ came out in 2018 so you must have written some new music now I guess?
Nikolaj: We have most of a new album written, but we’re taking our time with the details and won’t promise when it’s released yet. Still, we can’t wait to share it with anyone who’s interested – we’re really proud of our progression and think we’re doing some quite cool, interesting and catchy stuff.
Don’t you ever have the urge to write a more ‘simple’ song, more straight forward?
I think you will hear aspects of that in our new songs. We’re really trying to push ourselves as song-writers. Sometimes that means more adventurous structures and weird decisions, sometimes it’s just letting the hook do the work. I also think a lot of the songs off of “Fervor” are quite straight-forward, though within our genre you might lose a bit of perspective on that. But expect both heavy, catchy and proggy stuff from us that you can still hum along to!
And how would you convince the pope to listen to your music ?
Nikolaj: Well, we have a catholic in the band, so I guess that would count for something? Though I guess there are a lot of Catholics, so he probably won’t listen to all of their bands. I’m also a pretty committed Satanist, so that would probably even it out again. I don’t think we have much a chance here, to be honest.
Is there anything else you want to tell our readers, something that they absolutely have to know about Cold Night For Alligators ?
Nikolaj: We really care about this band, and so should you! In earnestness, thanks to anyone who takes the time to check this out. Please give us a follow on our social media, we’re really psyched to share new stuff when we can and get back on the road. We also have new shows booked this year in countries we haven’t played before, so who knows, we might announce a show near you! Because we really loved playing in the Netherlands, and we are currently working on being back next year! Fingers crossed!
Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions, looking forward to new music!
Roar and Nikolaj: Likewise, thanks a lot for doing
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