Interview with Englemaker 2013

By Bradley Smith

Since Englemaker is a new entity, can you give a little history of the band?  How did you guys come together, what are your musical goals and influences?  What does Englemaker mean and why did you choose that as your moniker? 

 

S: Well, me and our singer St. met February last year at an event. I was some sort of juror and he was there to present his vinyl pressing plant. We came into discussion very easily about the 7inches he brought along. Within minutes we started talking about our past bands and private stuff. I donít know exactly how it all evolved from there but we stayed in touch and one day St. (he was in Eskatol at that time) suggested we should try and have a jam together. He suggested to have Smeden from Summon the Crows as a drummer Ė which I was and still am a huge fan of! I was stoked on having those two guys jamming with me. I felt very honored.

So on a dusty night in Oslo, me, St. and Smeden met and decided to give it a try. Just jam and see what happens. That was the intention at least.

I had some songs written, total punk/crust style, so I sent them over to them and in June last year we started jamming out some of tunes. It took until end of September to find a true warrior on bass with Ultimatum. He was also a friend of St. and Smeden. That is the line up of Englemaker.

Since End of Sept. 2012 it has been growing into more than a jam. We all felt it was a proper band with something to say and some cool songs. It felt right to all of us and also the 4 of us are coming from the same background helped. We felt like a unit. Its not only about music, as you know.

 

There is no plan behind the band. We just do whatever we feel like. No barriers, no conventions. We all obviously like the same kind of bands though, so we feel good with each other giving input and coming up with stuff. Bands like Rorschach, Discharge, Poison Idea, Converge, His hero is gone and the likes is what we all love most. I try to stay away from influences when I write songs. I have different approach to this nowadays.

 

Englemaker means literally Angelmaker. The name is based on Norwegian history. This is up to Stian to explain deeper. He is the man of words and wisdom here.

 

ST: I think S sums up the band pretty well, so I guess I can just add some info about the bandname. Englemaker is a term for a person who accepted to raise kids for money and often neglected them so badly that they died. Some were even just killed. The worst historical example is from England where a nurse were responsible for 400 victims. S is wrong about one thing, though. The English word for Englemaker isnít Angelmaker, but is traditionally called Baby farming. For me the term Englemaker can be used as a metaphor for so many fucked up things around us, but thatís a completely different story, I think.

 

Your new MLP smashed my face off with some abrasive hardcore(ish) music.  Can you tell me about this EP?  How do you feel it represents Englemaker musically and as a band?  Why so many different colors for the vinyl?

 

S: Thank you very much for the compliment. Glad you dig it. And I like the term abrasive hardcore actually he he. Well, this EP was originally planned as a demo for us to see how we sound like and what we are up to. We soon realized that this has come out better than we all thought. And since we are all vinyl nerds and St. works at a printing plant we figured, we can get away with some really fancy great vinyl. So we did. As you mentioned we will have a one-sided 10inch in 4 different colors, limited to 250. That's it. It is specially silkscreened in a picture disc sleeve with splatter vinyl. Looks amazing!

 

When it comes to what these recordings represent I feel itís a good start with pointers in what direction it will evolve. I am not a fan of stagnation; so all our future stuff will for sure not sound the same. I feel we found a little bit our own sound with it already. We played for nearly 8 month, changed the songs around etc., before we went to record. That was important to us and I think it shows.

 

You have already progressed musically beyond your debut EP and are hard at work already on its follow up.  What advancements in your style have you made and how will the new recordings be different.  When can we expect them to see the light of day?

 

S: True! The new songs should be even more varied but also more aggressive. I feel the new stuff is more to the point and way tighter. Also some slower and heavier songs. I think those songs are stronger than the ones from the 10inch and will rip peoples faces off. Main thing, it needs to satisfy us and be fun to play. Otherwise, we scrap it.

 

The plan is to release them on a split 7inch by the end of the year and the LP next summer. So, a little patience is necessary. 1st people need to dig the 10inch/demo. I hope quite some people do. So far reactions have been great. I donít care if itís a good or bad reaction, main thing, people talk about it and voice their opinion.

 

Aesthetics seem to be an important part of Englemaker.  You definitely put a lot of effort into your logo and the design for the MLP.  How important are aesthetics to you and do you think too many bands neglect the non-musical aspects of their bands?

 

S: Yes, it is. DIY and having a certain style is important to all of us. It is the cloth we transport our music in. Luckily we all have a common sense on what we feel is cool and fits us. This makes this band strong.

We put a lot of effort into it, yes. I, myself drew the logo. Over several months I developed it. I wanted something different: my own font, different looking with an edge and a little old school.

The EM logo with the knives also took about 3 months to finally have it there. We all knew that knives are our thing but it took a while to find the right constellation together with the logo. Marcelo Vasco helped us on it. He is just a fantastic dude and designer.

 

Also the design of the 10inch was something that took months, only getting the idea ready to be actually become reality took weeks. St. was developing this over weeks.

 

Aesthetics are very important to all of us. It's not only the music, itís the passion and heart that is in there. Doesnít matter if its in the music, the art you create to the music or the merchandise. As said this is way more than music to all of us.

 

I donít know actually about other bands and if they neglect it. I donít think so. On a personal level I donít really give much what others do in that regard. I love when art is creative and unique and fits what they do. Of course, there is lots of bands that have good aesthetics out there but not a lot that really nail it. That is very tough.

And there is tons out there who just donít give a damn and put some music out, thatís it. Not my cup of tea but its everyoneís own choice how to present their art and what they want to consume.

 

Simon, you have played in tons of other bands.  Can you list all the significant ones, your impression of their sound/style and which one was your favorite?  Why? 

 

S: Actually I donít like to do that. Who defines significant anyway? Since I have to I mention the ones that are very important to me Ė here we go: Armicide, 2nd band I had. What made it special is that we were able to tour Europe and the US. Our buddies in Rorschach helped us a lot with that. To this day I am still friends with them. Means a lot to me. The band after that was Mine. This is particularly important to me as it was artistically a little bit different, if not groundbreaking, from all the rest out there around 95/96. Also the fact that Yannick (now in Tragedy, former His hero is gone, he was in Union of Uranus at that point) put out the full length on his label Great American Steak religion in 96 was something I would have never dreamed of before. I owe this guy a lot. Another significant step for me was signing to Metal Blade with Cataract in 2003. That was a huge step to a big label and taught me quite a lot of things, good and bad. In retrospect I am not fond of the music anymore but at that time it seemed right. Armicide and Mine still seem right to me. So the most important were Armicide & Mine on a personal level. When you look at business it was Cataract.

I had some other bands in between on and off but those moments in time I remember always like yesterday. They brought me the best memories of my live. Having played Rorschachīs 100 show or ABC No Rio for example you will never forget. Also touring with Amon Amarth or playing Wacken as well as touring the US again and playing hellfest in 2001. This is what makes this music so special. You find friends and memories for life. As I said, its way more than music for all of us.

 

I know you have been working at Indie Recordings in Norway for some time now.  How does it feel to be both in a band and working at a label?  Were you ever tempted to approach Indie to see about releasing some Englemaker material?  If not why?  Do you try to keep those two worlds separate and is it ever hard?

 

S: Yes, I do. I feel very very blessed I can work my dream job 1st of all. I made my hobby my job. It wasnít always like this. Until 2006 I always had to do a job aside from my musical endeavors to keep going. Sometimes I had to have 3 jobs by having a band, regular job and started out my own label for example. When I had the chance to start working for a big label for 100% I took it and donít regret a thing. Having a band besides being in the industry is cool, you just need to be a little bit more cautious and aware. It has its advantages and disadvantages. I rather stay a little anonymous to be honest. I want people to like and feature the band for what it is, or hate it for what it is. Its about the music, not who is in the band. That felt always wrong to me.

 

No, I was never tempted to put it out on Indie. We donít fit Indie and I had the experience by working my own stuff several times. I wanted to approach this different. Its like keeping your relationship out of your workplace. Same thing basically. I want to work and I want to do the band, not a mix of both. It can be unhealthy to your mind.

It is impossible to keep both worlds 100% separated.

 

You are originally from Switzerland, but throughout your life you have done a lot of travelling which got me wondering, what were some of your favorite places to live and why?  And which cultures do you think have a distorted international view?  I mean for instance, when I was in Germany I had a German individual who was in my training class and he stated that the public impressions of Americans was completely incorrect regarding American behavior.  So I was wondering what cultures you have experienced were completely off from your preconceived notion of them?

 

S: Yes, I traveled a lot. Its part of my life. I want to experience different cultures and countries. It was always part of my band live too. I love it.

Tricky question though since there is so many great places on this planet. I love where I am now, Norway. Great people, country and all. I love Switzerland Ė now even more that I only visit not live there anymore. It's true, you appreciate things more if you donít have it for a whileÖ Also Asia is great. I am a big fan of Thailand. I like America and its scenery, South America too. There is so many great places on this planet!

I think you cant generalize it with the word ďculturesĒ. I think itís a personal thing. The less experience you have the more pre-judgmental you are. Life experience is the essence of understanding, of a healthy mind and body. Be the change you want to see in this world, a wise man once said. I totally agree with this. With this said, I have experienced a lot of people that were preconceived about other countries but I cant say it is a nation overall that is preconceived.

 

You have been in the hardcore and metal scene for a looooong time.  I was wondering your thoughts on the changes you have seen in hardcore.  How do you think the scene has developed and grown?  What are your opinions on the inclusion of so much metal into hardcore?  Or do you think it is sort of moot since a lot of metal stems from early punk and hardcore? 

 

S: Yeah, I have seen a lot J. That is a book in itself to answer this ha ha. Whatever music scene you take it is always changing. Progress is part of artistic outlets. If there is no progress there is no invention, no analyzing possibilities, no grounds for journalists or bands, no movements, nothing. All those who claim to stick to the roots have already changed by saying that, compared to what they want to be. You cant be the root if you are claiming to follow the roots. So there is no absolute in art. Thatís what makes it interesting, beside it being totally subjective. Every opinion has a value, a purpose.

So, I donít mind musical genres changing and evolving, mixing musical style with each other but I pick my own music to listen to, I donít need to like everything. That counts for everyone.

I feel that original hardcore as it started out late 70ies/beginning of the 80ies, died around 84. From then on it evolved into punk/hardcore/metalcore/straight edge core, whatever. You name it. Actually looking at the already diverse music scene before 84, with bands like The Abused, Negative Approach or Bad Brains for example, the diversification started even before 84 but minimal compared to afterwards. It has always been a scene with tons of different opinions and attitudes. That makes this so great. Same for metal. I would not play what I do and how I play today if it wasnít for that fact. Like so many other bands out there nowadays.

A scene grows when there is a so called hype or a bigger interest in a band from fans. I donít like the word hype but lets just name it like that. If something is really cool and more and more people like it, it becomes popular/a hype. When its not healthy for that particular scene, the scene regulates itself. Every movement has its countermovement. Itís a healthy cleansing process. So speaking about development it always has it s root in changes.

Metal has its roots partly in Punk. Look at Slayer or Bolt Thrower for example. Hardcore nowadays has a lot taken from Metal, even the diehard hardcore bands like Terror for example. Hardcore was always influenced by metal. Look at Suicidal Tendencies or Excel. Its dependent on the musicians abilities mostly also.

 

I am not a purist and I think that has no place anymore in our world 2013. So claiming that is an illusion. I stick to reality.

 

For me, being hardcore or metal or whatever is a state of mind. Its not something musical, its what is in you and what you carry in your heart and mind. Its your passion and conviction. That defines what you listen to and what scene you want to belong to.

 

One very interesting task you have taken on recently was coaching new and upcoming bands on the trials and tribulations on being a band and making their way in the world.  Can you expound on what coaching a band entails and how you got involved with that?  What are some key mistakes you see a lot of young bands make and what do you think is the most important piece of advice you can give a new band?

 

S: Yes, I do. Sounds somehow weird now that you mention it, ha ha. I do that for many, many years now to be honest. One of my principals is ďpass it forwardĒ. I share all my knowledge with whomever and with everyone that is interested in sharing experiences. I like to learn too and I am never ever finished learning.

With having quite some experience in all fields in the music industry, be it as a label man, band member, manager or fan, I can give people input on things they would not think of. I am an outsider to their issues and can value it differently with expertise they mostely donít have. I can give them an idea on how people see it for whatever topic they want to have my opinion on.

I started out years ago when a band approach me and said ďhey, we donít want to hire a manager, its just not economical for us but we would like to get help from youÖĒ. So I came up with a model that gives them exactly what they ask for at that point in time they need it with a calculated risk when it comes to money involvement. Both parties win, but mostly the band if it takes off and thatís what I love about it. I have no monetary interest in it really, its pure passion. I have a different driver in this model than lets say a manger.

Also I can't allow myself some slack. I have to be on top of my game on all questions I am hired for. This also means I have to educate myself all the time. I have found a lot of friends through this and I have seen quite bands succeed. That is a great feeling.

 

The key problem I see to day is, that the music industry forgot to educate the next generation. The music industry people mostly are not good at sharing or explaining. Its rather like people keep stuff to themselves in fear of losing something. Rather keep everything a secret or in a grey cloud so to say. So how should young bands know about how a band functions if you donít get told? So blaming bands for making mistakes is only part of the problem, and the smallest one.

Also the values and successes a lot of bands the young bands get to see all the time is lala land, made up reality. If real bands have success, its either those bands have worked their asses off before or they were lucky. Being lucky happens to like 1 out of 10.000 artists.

Let me tell you one thing that is for sure: success only comes through hard work. Whatever job you do, it is hard work that brings success. Its not different to being in a band. The most important advice I can give is: donít take anything for granted, work hard and be humble. Anyone you meet, you meet a least twice in life.

 

What are some of your near-term plans for Englemaker?  I know your record release party is on 2 July 2013.  Any other significant shows on the horizon?  When can we expect a tour in Hawaii?  Heh heh.

 

S: Its actually on July 6. Can't wait for that! Small squat in the middle of Oslo.  Then we will play with Negative Approach. Another dream that comes true for me.

We are also in the final stages of confirming further shows in Norway, Sweden and we will play Portugal in December. We just do what the fuck we want to. Feels great.

 

We are also working on a new split 7inch for the end of the year with our friends in Besta. Great, great band! Beside that we have some songs written for a full length that should be out summer next year.

 

So our schedule is full but in a good way.  Luckily people seem to like what we do.

 

Hells again, Simon, it has been great conversing all this time and thanks again for doing an interview.  Iíll leave you this space to reflect upon youíre your journey through music and give us a bit of nostalgic glance at your favorite musical period and what made it so ďcrucialĒ to you. 

 

S: Thank YOU, Brad. You do a great zine and help a lot of people in the scene. That is very important and appreciated.

Well, I always come back to the same event: I was lucky to play Rorschach's 100th show in Bad Durckheim in 92 with my old band and it was the craziest show I have been ever. There is some video out there, you should check it out! That will always be the moment in my musical career. There is tons more I am really thankful for but that memory just makes me smile Ė always.