After 8 years of silence, avant-garde metallers Asgaard return with their 6th full-length album “Stairs to Nowhere” and a totally new sound. Their new work was released in March 2012 by the new label Icaros Records and has already great feedback and recognition in their country Poland. Band’s singer Quazarre is willing to answer all questions about the band’s comeback.
- Hello. Your band has just released its new album “Stairs to Nowhere”. I suppose you must feel excited with this release. What are the reactions of your fans and the press so far?
(Hetzer): Hi, it is very pleasant to read really good reviews about our last album “Stairs to Nowhere”. Also our fans have rather good opinions about it, but we are waiting for reviews from the biggest metal media like Terrorizer, Metal Hammer or Mystic Art. Truly, now begins the promotion our last album.
- How would you describe this new album? You call your music Transgressive Post-Metal. What exactly does this term mean?
(Hetzer): Transgressive because we cross abroad in music styles and post metal because Asgaard actually isn’t a typical metal band. “Stairs to Nowhere” is full of jazz, prog rock, trip hop, classic influences, but our root comes from metal, therefore post metal.
- Can you give us some details about the composition and recording of this album? I see there are also some interesting guest appearances…
(Hetzer): We are preparing this album since 2008 and had began recording since 2010 in Flumen Studio (this studio’s owner is Flumen). After one year we recorded once again guitars, some parts of bass and vocals, because we were not satisfied; we were looking for really good and original sounds. So we cooperated with Ivy from Serpentia (bass), Hal from Vader (bass in last song “Within the Eyes of Angels”) and Icarnas from Devilish Impressions (ex-Hermh, ex-Christ Agony). After about 1000 hours of recording, mixing and mastering we have a new quality “Stairs to Nowhere”.
- Is this a concept album? What do the lyrics deal with?
(Quazarre): This time lyrics are based on pretty depressive themes. It’s like searching out for answers you’ll never get when alive… When I was a little kiddo I used to draw stairs leading to nowhere, suddenly broke or going far beyond the horizon, so you actually could not see their end… When working on the melodies of the new album I was reminding myself that particular period of my life’s time and I was like, “fuck, why not to try write something about it”. It’s just one of those perfect things to be considered not only by me, but by many people all over the world, who may have had similar way of thinking that can be wrapped up in such a symbolic picture.
- How will you promote this new album? Apart from gigs, what do you think Asgaard needs in order to reach larger audiences? Is it a matter of distribution?
(Hetzer): Asgaard A.D 2012 isn’t a typical band, Asgaard is rather music project. So we don’t play gigs, but probably in autumn this year we will play some concerts. In the past Asgaard had a good distribution on all over the world, but now Icaros Records slowly creates its position on the music market. We take care of internet (myspace, facebook, last.fm). I know, that Asgaard will not be popular, because we play really difficult music, not for everyone.
- Your new album is released by a new label Icaros Records. Can you tell us a few things about this cooperation? Can this label offer more to Asgaard than your previous label Metal Mind Records?
(Hetzer): Icaros Records is a small but very active label. In Metal Mind we were one of the bands who recorded albums, but never had intensive and good promotions. Icaros Records have different politics. They do big and intensive promotions in Poland. Asgaard is a priority band for Icaros. Icaros cooperate with Metal Mind Records in distributions too. So you can get our album into big shops like media markt, empik, saturn, metalopolis. Asgaard is everywhere!!!
- Asgaard was formed back in 1994. I know that Quazarre came later in the band. What are your first memories from the band? What do you think now of the debut album “When the Twilight Set in Again”? What do the other members tell about this era of the band?
(Quazarre): Yep, that’s right. I actually joined the band soon after the release of their debut full-length, yet had nothing to do with the style Asgaard presented back then. Frankly speaking, I don’t really like that stuff, it’s just out of my music preferences. We started working on its successor soon after and luckily enough it turned out totally different from what people may have heard on the band’s debut offering. I guess not only to me, but also to other band’s members Asgaard redefined its style on “Ad sidera, Ad infinitum”, with each further release being shaped up and developed right into the form these days known as “Stairs to Nowhere”.
- Your first album with Asgaard was “Ad Sidera, Ad Infinitum”. What are you memories from this release? The band re-oriented its sound…
(Quazarre): Oh yeah, and that’s what I was talking about… When I first heard “Ad Sidera…” pre-production version I knew there was something big going to happen in terms of the band’s music vibe changes. To me it was also the first experience at a professional recording studio. We did this album with Arkadiusz Malczewski, who later became Behemoth’s sound engineer. It was one of those old-school way of having the tracks laid down, so the album sounds very organic, very natural in comparison to many others being produced today, with all that super-advanced technology. Hmmm… You know what? After all these years I definitely need to give it a listen, will see if I’m able to check the stuff out, without actually judging it on how it was being recorded.
- Your next two albums “Ex Oriente Lux” in 2001 and “XIII Voltum Lunae” established Asgaard as one of the pioneers of avant-garde black metal in Poland. Can you share your feelings about these albums? How do you see these releases now?
(Flumen): Well, it was quite exciting time in our artist life. On the one hand we started a collaboration with a new label Metal Mind, and it looked promising, it looked very fine. We firmly believed, that we had new possibilities for our development: pretty large recording budget, full service in graphics, photos, etc. It was very comfortable for us. On the other hand, despite we recorded quite nice two albums earlier, we didn’t have a sufficient promotion at that time. When I try to analyze these aspects in some perspective of time, I think the fault was on both sides. But it was a problem of many interesting bands in Poland. Metal Mind signed many contracts with many bands, but in fact only few had an adequate promotion.
- In 2004, Asgaard released “EyeMDX-tasy”. It was your best produced album with some new elements in your music. How would you describe this album?
(Flumen): For me it was actually the most important album. It was the most, let’s say brutal in our discography. But on the other hand, in my opinion it was quite innovative. This music is full of typical synthetic sounds. You could also find many different mixed styles. Personally I was fascinated in trip hop, so you can find many of these music elements. This album is full of quite interesting motives, but in my opinion mixing and especially mastering weren’t perfect. Therefore, I decided to record and mix the next album by myself.
- After this amazing album Asgaard seemed ready to take the next step and become a bigger name in the scene. Instead, you put the band on ice for 8 years! What led you in this decision?
(Flumen): We used to call it the prose of life. The truth is that both me and Quazarre got a job in different places: Quazarre in London, me in Warsaw. Besides, Quazzare had his own band, Devilish Impressions and I work as a session musician in some Polish bands (Hermh, Luna ad Noctum, etc.). But for both of us, me and Hetzer, Asgaard was the most important band, where we like to play. So we really did a lot to reactivate Asgaard.
- As suddenly as you “paused” the band back in 2004, that suddenly you reactivated it in 2012. What was the driving force behind this “reunion”?
(Flumen): In fact it was a quite complicated process. We’ve been preparing our album about the last three or four years. Last two years we’ve been recording and mixing it. So the truth is, we really did our best to prepare the album as good as we wanted it to be. Maybe we didn’t have enough time to promote and advertise this album earlier, so it has come suddenly.
- With “Stairs to Nowhere” Asgaard redefined its music, removing all black metal elements and adding many “non-metal” influences in their music. What drove you in this decision? How difficult was for the band to merge all these different styles in a solid result?
(Flumen): To be honest, we didn’t have any mental boundaries. We firmly believe that it doesn’t matter if the album has many typical patterns or not. We’re looking for any interesting pattern, despite of many different music styles. In my opinion music can be only good or bad. It doesn’t matter if it’s soul, metal, rap or jazz. We love searching various musical areas, it’s very stimulating.
- Your vocals have also changed a lot, since you now sing in many different vocal styles. How difficult was this album for you? Are you satisfied with the final result?
(Quazarre): I was, right after having it done, hahaha… But it’s also natural that with time passing by, you could have done it differently, at least some of its parts. It was undoubtedly the most demanding stuff Asgaard ever composed, so to come up with certain vocal melodies to me was way more difficult than what it used to be in the past. I mean, we never did anything really simple, yet this time Hetzer and Flumen produced the stuff that went far beyond the boundaries of the genre and when I tried some types of vocals I did on earlier Asgaard’s records, they simply didn’t fit the style of the new songs. I then realized I must concentrate on finding on new sorts of expression and had to figure out how to sing, not to fuck up the tracks’ structures and their atmosphere.
- How far can “Stairs to Nowhere” drive Asgaard? What are your most crazy ambitions with this album?
(Flumen): I don’t want to disappoint you, but we haven’t any special ambitions with this album. To be honest, we are a typical amateur band. It’s just our more developed hobby. Everyone has his own life, own job, own way of living. What else can we expect? We create music, which is intended for a limited group of people. So, at the moment we’re going to promote our last album the best we can. But we don’t have any unreal expectations, because an old proverb says: “expect not to much, not to be disappointed”.
- What do you think about the metal scene in Poland? There are many bands from your country now. Do you watch any of them? Do you have any suggestions to make?
(Hetzer): Asgaard is the best and fuck of the rest he he. The most interesting metal bands from Poland: Eternal Deformity- this band is similar to Asgaard, Devilish Impressions- black metal fury and Lost Soul- death metal devastation.
- What else can we expect from Asgaard? Will the band continue changing its style? Will you compose new songs in a regular basis, or will you rest again? I hope your next album will take much less than 8 years
(Hetzer): Who knows the future Dimitris…, who knows…
- Are you satisfied with what Asgaard accomplished all these years? Do you feel your music has fully expressed yourselves, or do you still have new things to offer?
(Flumen): We feel we haven’t said a last word in our music yet. We still have many ideas, we still also have many plans for our musical future. For now, we’re quite satisfied with what Asgaard accomplished for many years. Sure we could get more, we could be better promoted. But we believe in future.
- Can you tell us about the live shows of the band? What should your fans expect from you on stage? Is there any tour planned?
(Flumen): After we’ve recorded “Stairs to Nowhere” we haven’t any plans to play live shows. Asgaard is not a typical band. Asgaard is now a three people’s project. But after we got so many questions about concerts from our fans, we will have to play some gigs. We plan to play some in October, but for now we haven’t arranged any details. Everyone who will come to our concert should expect the best quality, which we’d try to provide.
- Thank you very much for your time and your music! I wish you all the best with your bands. Last words are yours.
(Hetzer): Best wishes to you, best wishes to Greece. Support Asgaard and Icaros Record.