Norwegian Noise rock institution Årabrot will need little introduction to Shamanites. Since their inception 2001 they’ve amassed one of the most adventurous and highly regarded discographies in contemporary heavy music. They’d just finished work on the follow up to 2018’s savage Who Do You Love LP when COVID-19 put most of the world into lockdown. Bandleader Kjetil Nernes was kind enough to answer a few questions about writing and recording in lockdown.
How are things in Norway at the moment?
Interesting times indeed. It’s a total lockdown here in Scandinavia, but we live far into the countryside and there is no real change around here. A good time for contemplation.
Årabrot played Chaos Theory in the UK just before everything went crazy, how does that gig seem in retrospect?
Yeah, it’s only about two months ago, but it feels like it was part of the old times. Funny how that works. I am, in general, quite positive to change and hopefully something good will come out of all this.
I believe you’re in the process of recording a new album? Has that been impacted at all?
We just finished recording the album before the lockdown – phew – so it is all mixed and mastered and ready for the printers! I don’t want to reveal too much about the new record other than I am very happy about the outcome. It’s for sure a special album.
What kind of recording setup do you have at home?
We are very privileged to live in a church with our own studio here at home. The studio is on the second floor overlooking the big church room. We have a bunch of pianos, mellotrons and organs including a church organ. The recording setup is more or less what you would find in a professional studio – all DAW though, two Apogee Ensembles hooked up to a Mac Pro. Some nice pre-amps and compressors too.
Has the COVID-19 situation changed your writing process as all?
Not too much, but the COVID-19 situation provides more time to write which is nice. I have been working on a substantial amount of music lately.
I think both sides of the band are equally important, but mixing the two can at times be quite a challenge. It demands a bit of fingerspitzengefühl…
If you were stuck in a hotel or small flat, what would you want for a minimal recording setup?
Something like a Apogee Duet with a pair of, say, AKG414s and a Macbook Pro would be more than sufficient.
I was reading this interview with you from Sonic Abuse, where you spoke about reconciling the rock and experimental sides of the band. Is it hard to maintain a good balance?
Yes, and the Chaos Theory show was a good example. Or shows to be more specific. We did an experimental show at day time and a rock show later at night. I think both sides of the band are equally important, but mixing the two can at times be quite a challenge. It demands a bit of fingerspitzengefühl [translates to ‘finger tips feeling’ meaning intuitive, flair or instinct to us none German speakers – Ed].
You’ve been posting an awesome series of mixes to your social media feeds so we know what music you’ve been listening to. What have you been watching and reading for inspiration during quarantine?
Thanks! The so-called retrospective playlists are fun to do. We always listen to a lot of music during the days here in the church. I spend much time in the kitchen and we have a nice setup there with a radio and also a record player.
I have also read several biographies lately, at least what they call biographies, Stringberg’s Inferno, J.G. Ballard’s Empire Of The Sun and Nietzche’s Ecce Homo. All great books. I’m also plowing through a big book about Aleister Crowley. I also have to mention Too Old To Die Young. I thought Neon Demon was a great film, but Winding Refn’s new series is incredible. Best I’ve seen since – and maybe even better than True Detective.
Thanks Kjetil for answering our questions and keep an eye on Årabrot’s social media for all their latest news.
Interviewed by: Neddal Ayad