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James Fogarty: “It is an album written from a place of darkness, but hoping for a brighter future. This is a very important thought process to have. We are not melancholic by choice, we would love to be happy and contented people! But we are not. And if we were, we probably would not be artists. ”

Noorwegen heeft tal van exceptionele artiesten en bands in de extreme metal scene. In The Woods is zelfs tussen dat bont gezelschap een opvallende band. Ontstaan uit de tweede golf van black metal, gingen zij een avontuurlijk, progressief muzikaal pad bewandelen. En dat doen ze nu terug sinds het comebackalbum ‘Pure’ dat in 2018 een opvolger kreeg met ‘Cease The Day’. Nieuwste lid en Engelsman James Fogarty licht een tip van de sluier op over de huidige activiteiten.

Door: Vera Matthijssens – 30 maart 2019

Hello guys! Congratulations with the mighty new album ‘Cease The Day’! As follower since the beginning I truly love it. How are you doing?
Hi, all is good with In The Woods. We are rehearsing for gigs in 2019 and will start writing new material later in the year. We keep pushing forwards toward the grave.

Since we did a lengthy interview when ‘Pure’ came out in 2016, let us pick up the thread about two years ago. How do you look back at the reception of ‘Pure’ as rejuvenated constellation?
The reception to ‘Pure’ was very positive, and it is great that we have people who are still interested in what we are creating. We write and record for ourselves and anything other is a bonus. The scene has changed a lot since the nineties. It is all very commercial these days, everyone concentrating on sales and getting in magazines. That is really not what we are about.

At some point in time, it seems that clouds gathered above this constellation. What happened and when and why did the founding members, both Botteri brothers, leave the band?
The Botteri brothers are very complex personalities, so it is very hard to say exactly why they decided to leave, but there are life-long personal health issues involved. This was also the reason why there was a lot of breaks in the nineties. It is a shame.

Then Anders Kobro as only original member and you, important ‘new’ force Mr. Fog, were left. I can understand there was a hard time of doubts. What did you feel at that moment and how did you get over this impasse?
We are at the wrong side of 35 now, and we cannot let all this effort and work go to waste, so we continue looking forwards. Once we decided that we were going forwards, it was a really positive step. The music came naturally and quickly and in retrospect it was definitely the right decision!

Yet I remember from the previous interview that the core of the next album after ‘Pure’ was already written in 2016. What happened with that material?
There were three songs that we had written demos for, however, when the twins left, we decided that we would leave these unfinished. They were more in the style of ‘Pure’, which is a little more simplistic than ‘Cease The Day’. It is unlikely that these will ever be heard.

So, can you tell a bit more about the true writing process for ‘Cease The Day’?
Apart from ‘Transcending Yesterdays’ (which was written and recorded by Anders and James in a rehearsal room in early 2017) and ‘Cease The Day’ (written and recorded by James), the riffs were written 50/50 between James and Bernt. They exchanged ideas via email, and then Bernt travelled to Brighton (UK) to arrange the songs alongside James in about two days. It was probably the most fluid writing process of any In The Woods album, considering they live 1000 miles from each other, that is quite a feat.

When did Bernt Sorensen come in sight? How did you know him (already a long time it seems) and can you tell something about his background and his input on ‘Cease The Day’?
Bernt is from the same town as In The Woods, he has been in the same circle of friends since the early nineties. His background is from thrash and death metal, so we really did not know how it would mix with In The Woods, but he adapted his style significantly to fit in with the sound of ITW and also with James his style. It works very well!

The info sheet mentions the name of Kare Sletteberg as well. What is his role in the band and/or contribution to the album?
Kare is the ‘live’ lead guitarist, and he did not contribute to writing any music for In The Woods. He did however record the acoustic guitars for ‘Cease The Day’.

Lyrically the album tells the story of the band and what happened during those recent years, but even though dark moments reign, there is also a glimpse of hope and a yearning for positive things in life, is it not? Please tell us about this ‘light & shade’ balance.
It is an album written from a place of darkness, but hoping for a brighter future. This is a very important thought process to have. We are not melancholic by choice, we would love to be happy and contented people! But we are not. And if we were, we probably would not be artists. However, we certainly aren not one of these ‘suicidal’ bands. That is just sad.

Actually it seems quite a cheerful title for an In The Woods album.

The title comes from the English translation of the Latin idiom ‘Carpe Diem’: ‘Seize the day!’. This is to take advantage of the moment, and make the best of any opportunity. However, I made it ‘Cease The Day’. In some respects that is very depressive and defeatist, but as sure as the sun sets on one day, it will rise again on a new morning!

With the beginning and occlusion of the album you make a strong statement and it nearly has a folk-like tinge in vocals. How did this idea come into being?
I wrote this keyboard piece at home. I did not know what to use it for, it could have been used for Ewigkeit or Old Forest. It turns out that I fitted it into the theme of ‘Cease The Day’. What inspired the lyrics? It was to sum up the album. It was the last to be recorded, but it is both the first and last that you hear. It is the dark of morning, and the dark of evening, but it is not the night.

I applaud the return of more harsh vocals (screams) in contrast with the serene clean vocals, but what are your thoughts on this decision as creators?
We knew that as soon as we decided to begin writing a new album that we wanted to add more extreme elements. We did this because we wanted to bring some energy to songs, so that they will be entertaining for both us and the audience when we play live. We play with a lot of extreme metal bands at festivals.

’Still Yearning’ includes a hint to the first song on your debut album. Can you tell a bit more about that and how it developed?
This is both accidental and deliberate in intent. We wanted to say that what we felt when writing the first song on the first album is how we feel now. And also we wanted the listener to remember that energy also. We are still on the journey to attaining full contentment, there is a very long way to go!

Just like ‘Pure’, the album was recorded partly in Norway and partly in England. Did you finally gather in one room to finalize the songs?
James and Bernt only worked on the demos in Brighton at James Council Flat of Mass Destruction.  The final recordings were done in Norway and Brighton respectively, and assembled by James.

How did you get in contact with (again a French guy) Frederic Gervais for mix and mastering?
James has been working with Frederic for a few Ewigkeit releases already and had a good working relationship with him. As James was assembling all the parts for production, it makes sense that he is in close contact with the guy doing the mix. It works very well,so much quicker and cheaper than going into a studio etc.

What are the best memories on playing live gigs since the comeback?
In all honesty, the most exciting memories are playing songs from the debut, because that style has real energy which is lacking on ‘Omnio’ and non-existent on ‘Strange In Stereo’. We have deliberately taped into that energy with our new material on ‘Cease The Day’ and cannot wait to take this material live!

I remember that you did a beautiful video clip for ‘Blue Oceans Rise (Like A War)’. Are there plans for video clip(s) of new songs?
We wanted to make a video, but unfortunately there was no budget to pay for me to travel to Norway. I was going to film, direct and edit it himself like last time. It is a bit late for that now, as the album is out. So, it is unlikely that we will make a video now.

Can you tell something about the artwork and its symbolism? I think it was done by the same guy who did ‘Pure’, is it not?
The artwork for ‘Cease The Day’ represents the old spirit from the ‘Woods’ venturing into the modern world. It is the resurrection of the life-force of the band in a time of desolation. We do not really like the modern world. James came up with the concept, and we originally wanted the guy who does the artwork for Katatonia to work on it, but he was not really interested. So we asked Max Winter to execute the work instead.

Well, it is obvious that In The Woods is ready for another round. What are the plans for the near future? Will you play live? Selected gigs or even tours? Any other plans you might have in mind?
We will be doing a small European tour in October 2019 together with Isole, Ereb Altor and Shores Of Null, with two gigs scheduled for Holland and Belgium!

If you would like to add something, please feel free to do it here.
Many thanks for reading this interview, go check out a track or two from ‘Cease The Day’ and we hope to see you on the road!

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