NEGATIVE PLANE – Total Darkness
- by Roy Kristensen
- Posted on 03-08-2011
A European tour. A concert at Hole in the Sky 2001. An amazing album named "Stained Glass Revelations". An interview with the band.
Probably not five years in the making since "Et In Saecula Saeculorum", but still five years have now left us behind since its release. And I have a feeling that you spent some time on the debut as well. So, what has been the main focus of the band Negative Plane since 2006 until now, 2011?
The main focus has been writing and recording music. It took years to write "Stained Glass Revelations" and once the album was written, it took a long time to get it recorded and get the artwork done. We would much rather have one great album every few years than release mediocre albums just for the sake of having something out every year.
I’m pondering, somehow I’m not so sure that you strive for development as musicians or even as a band, coming to Negative Plane. I feel, being uncertain of course, that you rather focus on the visions you have and then let those visions and perhaps even aims guide you into what become the final result. If we concentrate on recent times, how did you develop the early ideas into what is now "Stained Glass Revelations"?
Our aim isn’t to be technical and show off our playing abilities. We only use our musical abilities to create the darkest sound and feeling possible, and it doesn’t matter whether a riff is complex or simple, just as long as it works. The music for "Stained Glass Revelations" was a natural musical progression from our first album and it took over three years to write. I don’t know if there was much conscious development of ideas really. Certain parts needed bells and clean vocals to enhance the atmosphere so we added them, and everything turned out the way it did through a slow development.
What do delays do to your patience and how do you manage to avoid the "hmm, shouldn’t we do that instead of this" and other musician’s horror stories about not being 100 % content with the release? As in, when do you KNOW that you are satisfied (enough) to let it loose?
That is something that is very hard to figure out and the only way to know is by repeated listening of the album by all three band members in order to make sure nothing is missed. Of course, there’s always something we could have done better if we would’ve had more time and money, but even the flaws of album add to its character and as long as I can listen to our album without wanting to skip past parts I know that it’s good.
You’ve played live and you will also play in 2011, amongst others Hell’s Pleasure. I would definitely love to see you at Hole In The Sky. However, how do you sort out the live situation, being two in the band and a seesion bassist (perhaps a member now)? I mean, there’s a lot going on in your music, so I imagine that another session musician is needed to give the material full justice?
Our bass player D.G has been a full member since August 2008 and he played bass on "Stained Glass Revelations". He also has played five shows with us as well. Unfortunately, there are some difficulties with travelling outside the country for him, so when we go to Europe we have another person assisting us with the bass duties for the shows in Europe. Other than that, we’re perfectly capable of making a full sounding live version of the band with just the three of us.
Norway’s Hole In The Sky is my favourite festival, and this year we’ll be able to take in Negative Plane in August. Bergen is the place. What have you heard of this festival, since you agreed to perform there, far far away from USA? And, what can people expect in Norway when you come to collect our already doomed souls?
I’ve heard nothing but great things about this festival and it’s quite an honor, to say the least, to be invited to play in Norway on the same stage as a band like Virus. We’re, of course, all fans of the early Norwegian black metal bands and never thought that we would actually ever have a chance to play over there. Expect a full set of material from both albums to be played when we perform in Bergen.
How is the Negative Plane gigs for you in the band? I’ve read that you don’t wear jogging panties when you perform. What is it that you actually want with playing life, since 10 % are there for the band, 50 % because they had nothing better to do and 40 % because they just need a place to get drunk, and a concert is one of those areas where getting drunk is socially acceptable?
Yes, that sounds pretty accurate, however I don’t think that bands should avoid playing live due to not having a perfect audience. We do prefer to play in settings more suited to our music and prefer to play shows with at least one band whose music we enjoy. I enjoy playing live shows because it gives us an opportunity to showcase our music in a different setting besides a rehearsal room or a recording. Also live shows are an untainted medium of delivering music in a pure form without overdubs or reliance on fixing mistakes in a studio, and they are an experience that can’t be replicated any other way.
The sound of Negative Plane is, for trained ears, comfortably unkind. At times it borders on disharmony, and such an element as keyboards are somewhat hidden in the mix. But the music’s complexity demands some clear aspects, such as the leading guitar. Though very different, the use sometimes bring back thoughts to early Nocturnus. How did Negative Plane come up with the use of lead guitars, used in a way I cannot remember having heard before in a similar way ? These are melodic, yes, but at the same time we’re not speaking of nice jolly melodies…
I have no idea how the guitar playing turned out the way it did. I’ve been playing guitar for sixteen years and just picked up a few things along the way. I am a huge fan of the early Nocturnus and could safely name that as an influence on my playing, but I have so many other influences as well that it would hard to pin them down to only a few bands or guitar players."
To record something that is your own, knowing that people will have opinions… How does opinions influence and affect you when you create your next tune or song? On creating, how do you know when you’ve made something that makes you content?
While I respect the fact that others may not view music the way I do, the only opinions that actually influence me when writing music for Negative Plane are the opinions of the other two band members. Other than that, as long as I like the way a song sounds, it doesn’t matter if others dislike it. I know how cliché it is to say these things, but it really is true in our case. If I tried to make music that everyone liked, I would fail miserably so it’s much easier to make music that I would want to listen myself and not worry too much if others would want to listen to it. The best way to see if I’ve made something good is by listening to it over and over again, and seeing if I still like it after repeated listens. If I get bored or annoyed and want to skip past a part of a song, that means there’s still some work to do before the song is finished.
Let’s avoid to bore the readers with nonsense about a scene where everybody has their own opinion and nobody cares, and instead allow me to ask you about beauty. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, no doubt, and the first minute of "Angels Veiled Of Bone" is really beautiful. Now, having Negative Plane as a name in mind, would you in any sense consider Negative Plane’s music to be positive? Perhaps the good ol’ "me negative – you negative = us positive"… Then again, I have never had much to do with numerology…
The name ”Negative Plane” refers to the dark colours in the background of a painting, and doesn’t actually reference whether the music itself is considered positive or negative. When I listen to our music, it has an empowering effect on me, which you could say is positive. However, someone else listening to it may feel the opposite. I think it all depends on the listener to say whether it’s positive or negative.
"The Number Of The Word" is probably something for those who’re more into the occult than I am. But using this track as an example, it would be great if you could elaborate on a surface level how music and lyrics make an entity in Negative Planes word? I mean, could the words to "The One And The Many" do the same justice to the music of "The Number Of The Word", if you see what I’m pondering about?
The lyrics are written after the music and they are written specifically to match the music. The lyrics for ”The One And The Many” are tailored to match each riff, and would not work at all for ”The Number of the Word” since the riffs don’t match and the feeling of that song is different. This is something that I really hate about a lot of black and death metal, where bands just add lyrics haphazardly to music that sounds nothing like what the words are saying.
The 14+ min two part "Stained Glass Reflections & Stained Glass Revelations"! Ah, welcome to thy dark sabbath. But tell me, when you come up with such a marvellous track with such a marvellous opening melody ("…Revelations"), do you know that it is gold and that you must play the melody and basic riffs several times?
Yes, when something like that happens we are definitely aware of it. We don’t repeat riffs very often so when we actually do, we make sure that it is one of the best riffs ever in order for us to do so. When the opening to ”Stained Glass Revelations” was written, we knew it would have to return many times throughout the song. It was also the same thing for the chorus in ”The Number of the Word".
Reading the lyrics to "Lamentations & Ashes" makes me think about human kind. And why is Negative Plane dwelling more into the darker aspect of the vermin kind? What’s wrong with a good ol’ friendly hug?
The lyrics reference the plague which at the time, many saw as the end of the world. I didn’t really intend any sort of commentary on human kind when writing the lyrics, so it is interesting to see how the lyrics can be interpreted in many different ways.
More directly on the words to this great hymn "Lamentations & Ashes", which, the way I see it, is a kind of description of humans transformation from innocent babies into a pile of shit. I sincerely think this sentence "Water into wine and children into swine" is poetry.
Thank you for your compliment regarding the lyrics, and again it’s intriguing to see your own interpretation of the words.
You have now made two records and judging from the music, concept and time, I assume we’ll see a third demolition in 2015. What is it that you seek with Negative Plane, and how do you see the development of the band?
Hopefully, it doesn’t take until 2015 to make a new record, but we will always wait rather than rush to put something out if it is not up to our standards. We are already working on material for either a mini-LP or a third album, depending on how things turn out.
What type of bands have inspired Negative Plane to become what you are today? The reason I ask this is that I can’t really come up with one band that is similar to Negative Plane…
We do try to not sound exactly like anyone else but we definitely have been inspired by some great bands like Black Hole, Death SS (with Paul Chain only), Mercyful Fate, Martyrium ("L.V.X Occulta"), Morbid Angel and Ved Buens Ende. I’m sure some people can hear strong traces of these bands in our music, but we still don’t sound exactly like any one band.