Interview with Bard Faust of Blood Tsunami 2013

By Bradley Smith

 

Your new album For Faen is out and wreaking havoc in the ears of journalists and fans worldwide!  How do you feel it stands compared to the previous albums?  After several listenings I detect a rougher sound and Swedish melodies appear to be gone.  Would you say that is accurate?  Why did Blood Tsunami move in that direction?

 

Faust: Well, truth be told, it is out on the 8th of March, some 4 days till. But a lot of people have heard it by now and reviews are starting to come in so where are sort of in limbo; just between not released and released. Anyway, compared to the older albums, I think I can say that this is where we want to be, both musically, production-wise and aesthetically. Our debut, Thrash Metal, suffers from a weak production and some of the songs are in all honesty not fast enough. We are doing two songs from this album live though. Anyway, we roughed it up quite a bit on Grand Feast For Vultures; the songs were faster, the production was heavier and we were going in the right direction. I am proud of that album because I feel we did what not so many other bands were doing; including a lot of melodic solos and long instrumental parts in our music. For example, what other metal bands did two instrumentals on their first and second album, clocking in to respectively 10 and 12 minutes - and get away with it?  Still, we didn`t really settle down for this either. Ah yeah, the Swedish melodies as you say...to be honest, I never liked the Swedish melo-death. Actually I hate it, haha!  I always preferred Grotesque over At the Gates.  And I don`t think that many of our songs were that influenced by Swedish melo-death. Songs like Castle of Skulls and the title track from Grand Feast has a lot of Slayer whereas a song like Personal Exorcism is more like Entombed on the Morning Star-era. Still, I understand what you mean though. I think something happened when we were doing Mongo Ninja. All of a sudden we discovered the absolutely coolness of making songs we could just as good transfer to a live setting. For me it was actually starting to be a problem; not being able to perform the songs we recorded in a live setting. A song like the already mentioned Personal Exorcism is in reality 8 minutes of insane bass drumming. I really had to have a great day in order to have a minimal chance to do the material justice. Paradoxically, on For Faen! I do some of the fastest bass drumming ever in Blood Tsunami but it is stripped down to a minimum and under the belief that less is more, it is actually more effective than earlier I think when it comes to creating a certain brutality during gigs or on album. Now I can give 100% for 45 minutes whereas earlier I would burn all the energy in the first two songs. So, as you see, it was not a conscious move, rather a series of events and experiences that led us to the album we will release on Friday the 8th.

 

The title For Faen! Has a dual meaning if I read the bio-sheet correctly.  But in your own words can you explain what it means and why Blood Tsunami chose it?  How does it tie into the aesthetics of the band as a whole?

 

Faust: Well, for me it is pretty simple. In English it translates to For Fuck`s Sake and if you read it on the back of the CD it says Blood Tsunami For Fuck`s Sake so both our band name and the title put together makes a statement; we are back! I am surprised a band like Aura Noir didn`t already use it because it is a killer title. I think Indie was slightly worried about in the beginning but after explaining our thoughts about it they saw the point, so to speak. It ties well into the aesthetics. Actually we paid more attention to the aesthetic side this time. Our previous albums and merch suffer a bit from the photoshop syndrome. This time we actually wanted to go for black and white and we used money on specifically getting merch-designs. Something we never did before, then we just transferred the album artwork directly over to a t-shirt, haha! Not very visionary. Now it all looks very intriguing and tempting in my eyes. This is actually the kind of CD I would check out if I ever saw it in a shop.

 

Blood Tsunami recently did a video for the track, Metal Fang.  Why did you choose that song and what was the concept behind the video?  How does it represent what Blood Tsunami is all about? 

 

Faust: As anything we do it was low budget, or actually no budget at all, but then again, if we go back to the less is more-theory it still kicks ass I think, much thanks to Kjell Ivar Lund, a photographer, who did it for free. Again we went for black and white and shadowy imagery and Pete looks absolutely insane in this video. Metal Fang is probably the wildest and most wicked song Blood Tsunami ever did. It has got tons of energy and attitude and for me it is definitely a live favourite. We thought it would work well as a video song.

 

As a family man, do you have a lot of band meetings with the baby?  Heh heh, but seriously, how do you manage to balance family life and performing as a musician.  How do you draw a line to separate those two lifestyles or do they constantly blend into each other?  And are you raising your children to be musically involved? 

 

Faust: Last thing first; no, I am not consciously raising my kids to be musically involved. Liam, my oldest son who`s gonna be six this summer, has a good notion of me doing music and he labeled it "daddy`s music" a long time ago, as opposed to "mummy`s music"! Anyway, as long as he doesn`t really want to explore music I am not gonna push him, I will let him find his interests himself. If he one day wants to buy a instrument and start learning, then fine, but other than that I am not gonna push him in any direction. Balancing doing a band on a quite serious level between family and a job is extremely demanding. Blood Tsunami doesn`t really tour as such but hey, even the smallest gig in a city near you almost takes at least 24 hours including all the hassle around it. Sometimes I question all the demanding work a band takes, especially if you put it up against your family and including the fact that at most parts you have to pay for doing a band. I still don`t think Blood Tsunami ever made it break even. Anyway, I also know that if I quit playing, I will become a very grumpy old man who is gonna use the next 30-40 years waiting to die. Sure, family and a steady job is ok, but life needs to have something more once in a while. I always used music to get out frustration and aggression and it is the way I get out steam, I couldn`t picture a life without it.

 

Can you weigh in on the importance of fan opinion versus the words of the press when it comes to Blood Tsunami?  Which one carries more value to you?  Or do you think they are basically the same because most journalists are fans in their own way?  I guess, I should go back and ask whether or not fan opinions are even important to you as an artist.

 

Faust: As you say, most journalists are fans anyway so it is hard to differ between the two. Actually I know no journalists who are into this nichè for professional issues only. But what I can differ between is unserious slagging and shit-talking by some troll on the internet and the words from an experienced music journalist who have been in the business quite some time and are able to see your band in a bigger context. But what really affects me is all the mails I get from far-off places; Sibir, Kazakhstan, China, Venezuela, Iran, Egypt, Bolivia - I even received a mail from Denmark once - saying how much our music means to them. That people who suffer a totally different everyday life than the ones of us here in Western Europe, actually takes their time digging up any of the bands I play in means alot. So, yes, fan opinions are important - to the extent it goes further than internet trolling.

 

Norway is undergoing a thrash explosion within the underground scene.  What is your opinion about why thrash is so popular in Norway these days and where do you think Blood Tsunami fits in?  What bands do you consider to be the leaders in the Norwegian thrash scene and what are a couple new bands to keep your eyes on?

 

Faust: Well, the thrash revival has been going on for some years now globally. But in Norway and around the Oslo-area especially there has been a strong movement hailing the old school type of thrash metal and its aesthetics. A lot of this is courtesy of Fenriz from Darkthrone and his ability to push bands that he likes, especially via his "Band of the Week" internet site. He is sort of a father figure for some of the younger bands and he is almost educative in his way of showing people the roots and birth of thrash metal. The unholy trinity of Norwegian thrash right now is definitely Aura Noir, Nekromantheon and Deathhammer, three rock solid bands all hailing from the Oslo/Kolbotn scene I cited above. Then there are a bunch of less profiled, but still fucking great, bands lurking in the shadows; Audiopain (one of my faves), Infernô, Nocturnal Breed, Whip, Dead To This World, Vesen, Battalion and probably more. Other bands again have a somewhat more modern approach like Imbalance and Exeloume but fit well under the thrash metal umbrella. Probably THE thrash metal band in Norway ever is Equinox who released an absolutely stunning album in 1989 called Auf Widersehen. For me I like the diversity of the bands residing under this genre. I have a pragmatic approach to music and the music does not need to have followed a certain school or paradigm for me to like it. Where Blood Tsunami fits in? I don`t know. Somewhere between all the ones mentioned above I reckon. But I don`t care; I am not into this for networking, for using the right shirts or for browsing the internet on what`s hot and what`s not right now. Being a metal fan since the mid 80s I feel I have my musical credibility intact and I am tired of hipstermaniacs trying to push stuff down people`s throats. Old and grumpy? Perhaps, yes, but still...this is underground metal and there is room for everyone. And oh, probably the band to look up for is Condor...from Kolbotn obviously. And Cockroach Agenda. 

 

You and Tore of The Batallion/Old Funeral collaborated on an old school street metal band called Studfaust.  Tell me about how the project came together and the 7”.  What does the future hold for Studfaust?  I think Tore said it was a one-off, but I hope you guys reunite for some more METAL!

 

Faust: Alright! I have known Tore since 1989 and I was one of perhaps three people who actually paid for the first Old Funeral-demo. In `89 I used to do interviews for his local metal-radio show where I would pretend to be Bruce Dickinson and all kind of stuff. Anyway, during some drunken nights we talked about putting forces together, especially since he told me he had some material that wouldn`t fit well in with Battalion, material that was actually leaning more towards the rock `n roll-side of music. Anyway, we borrowed Blood Tsunami`s rehearsal-place, did like 6 sessions and then went into Caliban Studios for 6 hours and recorded what would become the 7 inch. It was originally meant to be a one-off yes, but truth of the matter is that we are actually rehearsing new material now so we will see where this ends.

 

Seeing what has recently occurred with Slayer and Dave Lombardo, as a drummer do you think that drummers in general are underrated?  I certainly don’t see near as many “famous” drummers as compared to guitarists and singers.   Why do you think that is and what drummers do you think should be getting more attention than they are?  Any drummers getting too much attention?

 

Faust: Well, there is a reason there is a saying going "just a drummer", haha! But well, in cases where you have a drummer that were there from the beginning and putting his signature drumming in a band`s initial years, like Bill Ward or Dave Lombardo, you will expect the hardcore fans to have a direct relationship with this drummer and strong opinions if someone wants to replace him with a hired gun. The reason why drummers are sometimes easily replaced is because in most cases they don`t write music or lyrics and in that manner don`t "own" the music. These days, you have hired guns with all the technical skills who can step in all over the world. For me it is senseless. As said, I am old and grumpy and I want to see a band in its original form. A while back Anthrax performed a gig somewhere WITHOUT Scott Ian and Charlie Benante. Who the hell wants to see Anthrax without these two personalities? Unfortunately kids today don`t seem to care as long as they can hear the classic songs. It is not a matter of who deserves attention or not but it is a matter of giving credit where credit is due. I think it is safe to say that Lombardo was a part of shaping Slayer`s initial years.

 

You are also involved with the punk metal band, Mongo Ninja.  How do you feel this is a separate creative outlet for you versus Blood Tsunami?  What is different about your approach to your drumming for the two bands?

 

Faust: Well, Mongo Ninja is laid to rest. It was fun for a while but we realized it was time to call it the quits. As said earlier, Mongo laid the foundation on what would later become the resurrected Blood Tsunami. All the live experience Mongo gave us made us wanna transfer it to Blood Tsunami. My approach on drumming was the same for the two bands. In fact, my approach to drumming is always the same, no matter what band; desperately trying to get through the fucking song and at the same time batter the shit out of the drums. Not very nuanced and academic but it works.

 

So what are the upcoming plans for Blood Tsunami?  Any special activities related to the release of For Faen?  What other musical endeavors do you have doing on? 

 

Faust: Yeah, we are gonna throw a release party at the legendary pub Last Train in Oslo. Jolly lads as we are it is free entrance of course. Then we are set to play Inferno during easter in Oslo and the Øyafestival, also in Oslo, in August. In May there will probably be a few more Norwegian dates but nothing is official as of yet. As for me I am still doing Aborym. New album comes during spring or summer. Also the allready mentioned Studfaust. Pete and Dor are doing Pete`s old band Hellride and even one cunning little band called Firesnake. Dor is also doing Arab-inspired blues-band The Ass whereas Carl, our new bassplayer is doing action-rock in The Retardos and punk the Speedergarben. Midlife-crisis anyone?

 

I know you are still buried in the snows of winter up there in the north, but can you unfreeze yourself long enough to leave us with any meaningful tips on thrashing in the pit?  How do we prevent neck injuries from banging our heads so hard!  Thanks again for the interview, Bard. 

 

Faust: Well, the trick is not to give a fuck. Today I am too old to endure in a mosh-pit or headbanging mania but earlier it was a different story. Remember I used to see Darkthrone playing live in front of 20-30 people every second week at the Bootleg club in Oslo. My main activity there was to stage dive - and forget right before every dive that the crowd consisted of one row only - and then elegant jumping across all the people and smashing to the floor. And stupid like a dog that runs into the same mirror time and time again I could do this several times a night. At the time I was 16, shitdrunk and an obnoxious little black metal-kid so that is why I never got any serious damages. Hell hath no fury. No rest for the dickhead. Hasta La Vista Bradley, see you in Norway soon I hope. THRASH METAL.