Our collegue Leo from Promofabrik caught up with the lads from Industrial rock band Zeromancer to talk about their latest album and plans for 2009.
L] Hi guys, it’s very nice that you take your time to do an Interview with Promofabrik. Though most of the listeners/readers know you, can you shortly introduce yourself again?
Kim] Hi, I’m Kim bassplayer and songwriter of Zeromancer.
Alex] Hi I’m Alex, lead singer in Zeromancer.
L] You are now on the eve to your new album Sinners International – have you got any feedback from your fans yet?
Kim] It’s been absolutely amazing up until now. I have just gotten fantastic feedback from our devoted fans. I mean, they have been waiting an eternity for this one, something that has created huge expectations. So to just get this kind of response, must mean that we have been doing a lot things right with Sinners International. And to be honest it would hurt a lot more to see a fan really disappointed than to read a bad review. In the end it’s the fans that really knows you and what your work is all about.
L] It has been a long while ago, in 2003, when you had released your last album Zzyzx – what has been the reason for that long break?
Alex] We did plan to have a little break, but we didn’t expect it to take five years. We toured a lot after the release of ZZYZX and thought it was the perfect time to take a little break. Kim wanted to do his side/solo project Ljungblut and the rest of us had a lot of plans, including me building my studio. But the main reason was the reunion of our old band Seigmen. The reunion was such a success, so we did spend at least two years just doing that. We also wanted to finish Sinners International completely before we went looking for a new record deal. All of this took a lot more time than we actually expected, but the whole thing was such an inspiring process and the future for Zeromancer looks really good.
L] Sinners International as title track is dealing with religion and cults. But also the playing with words like uniting all sinners from all over the world. What ist he meaning behind that?
Kim] Sinners International was a title I came up with several years ago when trying to find a name for the album. It’s influenced by my fascination for religious cults that actually started with another band called Swans and their album, Children of God released in 1987. This particular cult changed their name to Family International to avoid suspicion of sexual, abuse, adultry and inzest. It’s cults like this one, FLDS, Heaven’s gate and People’s temple that has created my interest. With their manipulative and intellectual leaders claming they are either sons of God or prophets they tend to build an utopia for their followers. I find this very scary and entertaining at the same time. With the uniting part, I sort of mean that it’s the sins and not love connecting us all. It’s something we all share.
L] What do you reckon to be sin? Thoughts or deeds? And why?
Kim] To me, I believe that whatever makes you feel guilty, that’s the sin. When you are doing something that in your mind is wrong and you get your creepy feeling. It’s the excitement in it that triggers you doing over and over again. I think humans are programmed to make a lot of bad choices.
L] Doppelgänger I love you aims on the split into a better and a worse half. Do you think that everybody has his secret alter ego hidden somewhere?
Kim] Definitely. We need to have an alter ego to keep ourselves from going insane I think. Our personality needs it too. We are lying sons of bitches who keep piling up our secrets, stacking ‘em up. And I think a lot of times we do it without thinking about it. We are organized to keep much of what we know to ourselves. We do it to survive. And we do it for our relationships to survive.
L] And which half of you can we see on stage in the near future?
Kim] When I’m on stage I feel honest and at home. I feel comfortable up there. I can let myself get aggressive, emotional or happy. You can play it all out during a show. And then you connect with the fans and you connect with the band. I see it as a really fine experience. I just wish I didn’t get so damned tired rocking out on stage.
L] Talking about live-performances, Zeromancer has always been a very powerful act on stage. Can you disclose something about your new shows – do you plan anything special for your fans?
Alex] We already made some decisions regarding the shows, but we are still talking about the production as we speak. We need to figure out what works the best and it needs to be practical too. All this is going to be tried out during rehearsals and the pre-production period.
L] ‘It sounds like love (but it looks like sex)’ has been written seven years ago – why did you hide the song so long and why did you feel it’s the right moment now to release it?
Kim] A lot of times when you write a song you can finish it off. You just lack some vital part that will make the track stand out. The choruses for It sounds like love were already there around the ZZYZX period. But the verse and the bridge didn’t give the song the right vibe. It needed more attitude to go along with the chorus. And sometimes you have to wait a long time for it to show up. Or to feel right. I have a lot of parts for songs just laying around waiting for a better destiny. It’s a lot of fun to arrange it that way. Cause you end up having lots of nice surprises.
L] It is unusual – compared to other bands – that the singer is not writing the lyrics for the band. Zeromancer’s lyrics are always very emotional and straight-forward. Is it very demanding to perform them if not written by yourself, Alex? What is your approach towards a new song and new lyrics?
Alex] The secret to singing somebody else’s lyrics, is to pretend they are your own. I have to make myself believe that I actually wrote the lyrics. I need to believe what I’m singing and the story I’m telling. Otherwise everything just falls apart for me. Sometimes we don’t even talk about the lyrics, cause that makes it harder for me to make them my own. I think it’s been pretty hard for Kim sometimes, when I’m singing his lyrics. It’s personal you know, but now we wouldn’t have it any other way.
L] Where do you get the inspiration for the songs – like the mentioned It sounds like love…?
Kim] I get inspirations from everywhere. From watching people, from reading magazines, books, seeing a movie, listening to music, going away on trips, going away on tour, coming back, checking out a great show. It can also be digging back to a certain creepy experience to search for special vibe. Or trying to look into other people’s head imagining what they are thinking. Or having your own dirty fantasy go crazy. There are cult references in It sounds like love as well. Plus some other personal stuff. I usually throw in a lot of different things into one song to make it more exciting and bizarre. Then it kind of last longer to me.
L] Do you like to walk around observing people with your Ipod listening to your music like in a silent movie as you describe in ‘Fictional’? What enlightment did you gain by it you might want to share?
Kim] Yeah that’s one of my favourite sports. Walking around in your own world watching other people. I often put on ambient music for those situations. Like old Brian Eno and Harold Budd albums. This is the perfect backdrop for some hours of pure observation. I think a lot of people feel the same way when they have music in their head. It’s a form for escape. I’m not sure it’s healthy though and it’s nothing I do every day. But it’s great to have the ability to isolate when you need it.
L] Who had the idea to fill a Pringles can with dead bugs and record this as a shaker? And do you often use such unconventional instruments and recording technique reminding me a bit of Einstürzende Neubauten?
Kim] That’s a good story actually. It took place during a crazy demo session during a summer. We had small set up in an old barn and there were all these insects coming into the room. It was really creepy. We killed them constantly and put them into this box of Pringles. The idea of using it as a shaker came from Rico or Ted I think. Two guys we have worked with before. Great guys who used to be in Apoptygma Berzerk. We have a lot of fun during recordings and try out a lot of funny stuff and weird stuff. We especially like to run a lot of organic sounds through the filters of our old keyboards. We promise a lot more of this next time.
L] ‘Imaginary Friends’ makes me feel a bit depressed about the interaction between human beings – is this meant as a reflection towards man?
Kim] It doesn’t feel right to me writing about subjects over my own head. What I’m thinking about is gigantic world agendas or politics. It’s just nothing I can relate to as an individual artist. Yeah I don’t want to sound pretentious but it’s just the way I feel. Though I use a lot of pompous and powerful words. I only use them to describe small and passionate matters. It’s the way I like to go at it you know.
I can tell you a little bit about how the process start off when writing a new song. I always start with the title of a song. It just gives me a hint or a clue of what it should sounds like and what the song should be about. That’s how I always do it and it feels really natural to me. Then we record some really cheap demos. Dan on guitar and me using it for presentation to the rest of the guys. Then we hit the rehearsal studio and have a lot of fun with the material. We try out a million things before we’re happy and then we enter the studio for real recording of the final versions.
L] Talking about inspirations – the new album is far more rock-electronic orientated than it’s predecessor. Do you know what you want to sound like when you start a new song or album, or is it just like a journey with an open end?
Alex] We always have a plan before recording a new album. First we make demos of all the songs and try to organize as much as possible before we start recording in the studio. But the final result never turns out exactly the way we thought it would be, cause you always change bits during the recording session. This time we had a idea to sum up the tree previous albums.
L] You have changed the label from a Major to Trisol – what has changed for you personally by it? Do you think it is a step ahead or backwards?
Alex] Signing with Trisol was definitely a step in the right direction. I’m not saying being on a major label is a bad thing, but you have to sell lots of albums and have to hit the charts. If not you’re going to be kicked from the label. That pressure can be horrible to deal with. With Trisol we feel like a huge family and the irony going from a major to a indie label is that “Sinners International” is released in more countries than before and we’ve done twice as much press. On a major you got bigger budgets, but with Trisol you get more creative and it really works.
L] Kim, you have lived in the USA for a while – what experience did you make there and did this have any influence in your music, because I feel Zeromancer more in line with the great American Industrial acts than with European bands?
Kim] Yeah, well Zeromancer was actually formed in the US in 1999. When Seigmen split up earlier that same year we decided we need to get out of Norway to start all over again. We needed a different environment and we knew Los Angeles from previous recording sessions there. I have travelled some around the country for personal reasons. Plus the fact that Zeromancer also done one extensive tour and several single shows. I agree that ZMR has a lot more in common with the US scene than the European. Our vision of the genre is to blend the organic with the mechanical. And in that order. Whereas the European feel is to program most of it and then throw some guitars on top of it, we feel the programming is there to support the actual band, creating a powerful combination.
L] Speaking about your history, when and why did you decide to start the band Zeromancer?
Alex] We decided to start Zeromancer in 1999. We moved to Los Angeles cause we wanted to get out of Norway for a period. In LA we made a bedroom demo….(serious…I was singing in the closet). Sent it to Germany and with that demo we got signed to Warner. It actually happened that fast. The only problem was….we had three songs and had suddenly a deadline for a whole album.
L] If you could turn back time, which song would you erase from your releases never to be heard? Why?
Alex] I wouldn’t erase a thing. I’m not saying that everything we’ve recorded is perfect, but you shouldn’t be 100% satisfied with everything you create. The best way to be creative is to learn from your own mistakes. Today everyone have the opportunity to rerecord everything if you’re not happy with the result cause of the modern technology. I’m not saying that as something negative. I know it is kind of ironic for me saying that when we spent quite some time making “Sinners International”, but what we did was to hold on to the basic ideas from the demos. That was really important for us. If you start changing everything you can more or less start record a different album. We got four different sounding records and they all represent different phases for Zeromancer. I see that as a good thing. It’s good that we as a band try to develop and dare to be different form record to record. Some songs in the past tuned out differently than we expected, but that doesn’t mean that I would have changed it if I could turn back time.
L] What song is your favourite on the new album and why?
Alex] When I first heard Kim’s demo of ‘My Little Tragedy’ I really hated it, but I loved the lyrics. It was just something about the vibe and the way instruments were playing that I didn’t like. Instead of being negative I decided to work really hard on that song….to make it work. Now, it’s one of my favorite songs on the album. That’s why it’s so fucking cool to be in this band…..we never give up.
L] Okay, back to the future – are you working on new material again or what are your plans for the time beyond the tour?
Kim] What’s for certain is that there is not gonna be a similar break this time. It was torture you know. We all missed it a lot when we were out doing other stuff. I have already written some new tracks and recorded parts for new songs. And I have a pretty clear vision of what the next album should be about. It’s such a great vibe within the band right now and I think we’ll float on it for a long time. We are so psyched getting back on tour and hopefully Sinners International will help exploring new territories for Zeromancer.
L] Some spontanuous words now – I just want your first reply from the top of you head:
Kim] Religion – Good and bad. Music – Necessity. Cigarettes – Stinks. Fjords – Norway. MP3 – Good and bad. Sinner – Myself. Biogenetics – High tech. Crosswords – Grandmother. America – Good and bad. Sacrifice – Sucks. Nature – Get out more often. Major Labels – Old times.
L] Thanks for taking your time to do the interview. Maybe you can share one sentence with our audience that you think sums up your own life?
Kim] It’s gotta be migraines and music I think.
For more information visit the band’s Myspace and website.
The video for ‘Doppleganger I Love You’ is below: