DIVIDED MULTITUDE – Feeding Progressive Metal Hunger
It’s exciting to witness the progression of a band from debut album to current offering like Norway’s Divided Multitude. This progressive metal act released "Inner Self", their first album in 1999, a discovery for me on Sensory Records due to my annual attendance at the Powermad festival where the label owner Ken Golden would regularly set up shop with his mail order company.
Since then many other releases on different labels have taken place, and here we are in 2013 with their latest album "Feed on Your Misery". The new album is gaining rave reviews from major metal magazines and webzines across the world, as well it should as it seems to encompass a lot of what is making Scandinavian progressive metal vibrant while not forsaking the history and integrity of the genre.
Firing off a series of questions to guitarist Christer Haroy, you’ll learn more about the history of the band and his love of the genre in general. Enjoy and feel free to track down more of this band’s discography.
Can you give us your own personal musical background- what your early memories of music were like growing up, what influenced you to start playing an instrument and what were some of your early albums/ bands that motivated you to improve and want to play even more?
"I come from a family, where my father’s been playing in a cover band since the sixties, and we always had a lot of music back home.
I remember my father playing The Beatles and Rolling Stones for me as a kid, but I think it was Deep Purple’s "Child In Time" from "Live In Japan" that made the biggest impression.
Then came Kiss "Killers" and I really fell in love with that one, and "1984" from Van Halen. And then I just checked out music like crazy and bands like Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Ozzy, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Saxon, Accept. Then I discovered Thrash-metal with bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Testament, Flotsam and Jetsam, Exodus and Anthrax."
Tell us about some of the early bands you played in prior to Divided Multitude- were they original acts or did you start with cover material?
"The first band I played in was called Cemetery, and we were basically a cover band, playing Judas Priest, Twisted Sister, Accept, Nuclear Assault, Anthrax etc. Over time we turned into a more mainstream hard-rock band, playing music from bands like Mr. Big, Extreme, Stage Dolls. Besides playing cover tunes, we also wrote our own material. I think we recorded 3 or 4 demos.
I have also played in different cover bands, playing all from Neil Sedaka to Rammstein."
Divided Multitude began in 1995- how did the original lineup come together and how quickly did you start writing material that would form the basis of your 1996 demo "Stranded"? What were your memories surrounding the recording sessions and performances on these 4 songs?
"The start in 1995 started as an idea of being a cover band, playing songs from Sanctuary, Ozzy, and so on. So it was me, Eskild and Rayner planning to start the band. Then we asked our first drummer, Dag Erik Oksvold, to join the band. Our first rehearsal was some kind of jam, where Rayner and myself had some riffs we tried out; a song that ended up to be "Scream In Silence". In the process Sindre came in as a singer and guitar-player. I guess he was like 16 then. And, voila, we had a band. So we never rehearsed any covers.
Now we wrote pretty fast, in something that ended up in our first demo "Stranded". The track "Scream In Silence" also ended up on a CD that was released with Frontiers Magazine (UK)."
A year later your second demo "Tale of Tomorrow" was released. What differences (if any) can you note about this release? Were you able to push this release better in terms of media coverage, and did this lead to the interest in your first record deal with Ken Golden at Laser’s Edge/ Sensory?
"Well, I don’t think that there are any differences in the musical style of the two demos, since they were written in the same period. And we didn’t push it really much, since the track on the Frontiers Magazine-cd, and the release of the second demo led to the interest from Sensory and Ken Golden. Really lucky, really, since we didn’t know much on pushing demos…..he, he, he."
Your debut album "Inner Self" came out in 1999- one of the first releases on Sensory, a metal sub-division of Laser’s Edge. 4 new songs appear on the record outside of the 6 songs that previously came out on your two demos. Did you re-arrange or spice up any of these older songs for the album- and how do you think things turned out in the end? Did you feel like you were establishing more of an international presence with your brand of progressive metal?
"The recording of the first album was really cool, though it was a long affair. The tracks from the demos were re-recorded, and we added more background vocals, and guitars to it, as I can remember. The new tracks were in the same alley, so I believe we made an album that had a thread through it.
But you can hear that "Inner Self" is a debut-album, recorded in a studio by non-metal producers."
In 2001-2002 you released two more albums: a self-titled effort independently as well as "Falling to Pieces" for the Italian label Elevate. Where do you see these recordings in the Divided Multitude discography, and what would you consider the highlights and lowlights of each recording?
"Actually, the self-titled album, isn’t a album. It is just 4 demo-track and 4 tracks from "Inner Self" that I was sending around, shopping labels.
But, "Falling To Pieces" is the most progressive album we’ve made. And we were also thinking very progressive in the making of the music for the album. We wanted to be really unpredictable, but still keep the melodies in it. As for a highlight, it maybe has to be the track "Falling To Pieces", with some really odd patterns, and a load of different themes. But there are also some other cool songs on that release I think.
If I was to name a high-light from the self-titled album, it has to be the track "Dreamin’". Actually the same recording as on the "Falling To Pieces"-album, but it has a bit more background vocals in the mix."
There was an 8 year break between albums for Divided Multitude- and from 2004-2006 you played and recorded with the power/progressive metal unit Triosphere. What was exactly going on with the band at the time- was it personal issues or the music business that slowed things down? Why did you end up leaving Triosphere?
"It was a mix of many things that led to me working with Triosphere. I had played a gig with Marius Bergesen as a stand-in guitarist in Griffin, so when he founded Triosphere with Ida, he asked me to work with them, which was really cool and exciting times. Divided Multitude was up and running in a way, parallel to Triosphere; though with a low activity. Playing like 2 gigs a year, and writing very little new material at the time.
And our drummer at the time, Olav, wanted to do a totally different thing musically, and left the band in 2007.
Enter Anders Vinje on drums, and we could start working harder than ever. This led to the recording of "Guardian Angel" in 2008. It was mixed in 2009, and released in 2010.
I left Triosphere in 2006 for different reasons. I live outside Trondheim, and it took me like 4 hours to drive to and from rehearsals every time, and the cost of travelling together with the time of travelling made it difficult to go rehearse twice a week. I also wanted to be more involved in the writing of the material.
But no drama in the break, and we’re good friends."
"Guradian Angel" your fourth album hit the streets in 2010 on Silverwolf Productions. Did you have a lot of material ready in the archives considering the 8 year gap between records? What do you think about this release in comparison to your previous recordings?
""Guardian Angel" is a more direct release, still with a Divided Multitude-sound. I think it has more metal than prog to it. And we had Jacob Hansen to do the final mix on it. Jacob is our God J"
"Feed On Your Misery" is the newest Divided Multitude album. Can you explain the separate deals you have for Europe and North America with this release, and how the recording/ writing process went for this album?
"After the release of "Guardian Angel", we toured Norway and the Europe, and coming back from the European tour, me and Rayner were involved in the writing and recording of the Teodor Tuff album "Soliloquy". It was done in the summer of 2011, and then we started to write new material for "Feed On Your Misery". We wrote loads of riffs and ideas, and we spent rehearsals to arrange the songs. We recorded the album in two rounds. The first 4 tracks in 2012, then the final 7 tracks late 2012, and early 2013. And as usual we were arranging the material up to the recording of the album……hehehe- a very intense and constructive period. The European release is handled by Fireball Records, where I am the c.e.o. with distribution through Indie Distribution. In the US the album is released on Nightmare Records."
The new album to my ears seems to move away from conventional Dream Theater style progressive metal into some more power territories, a la Nevermore and Symphony X, along with chorus work in line with Pagan’s Mind or more AOR/melodic rock associated acts. Do you think this is a fair assessment of the advancement of the band, the songwriting, and the performances in general?
"I am a really big Nevemore-fan and Symphony X fan. And also bands like In Flames and Pantera are really big influences for me. And Eskild is a Slayer-fan, so that may be some of the explanation. But at the same time we all love melodious music. So what we come up with is like a mix of all the music we like.
Still we don’t try to be or sound like any of the bands, we just wanna sound like Divided Multitude."
What can you tell us about the cover concept and some of the lyrical topics covered on the new album? Is it difficult for you to write coherent lyrics in English- what type of research do you conduct to make sure that everything flows smoothly?
"Lyrically, the album is linked up to the media, seen from different angles. The title- track is based on the News of the World scandal in the UK, showing how far the media is willing to go to get their headlines.
This scandal was all over the news, so the research was pretty easy on this one. Otherwise we try to comment on different sides of the society, and history. For instance is "Scars" a track about the ultimate treason, written with the Molotov-Riebbentrop-agreement as an example; the non-attack-agreement between Germany and Russia during the 2nd World War."
How do you feel about the burgeoning Norwegian progressive metal scene- there seems to be a lot of attention given internationally to bands like Pagan’s Mind, Circus Maximus, and Leprous to name a few? Do you maintain good relationships with many of these acts- and are there key aspects that separate bands from Norway from the rest of the world?
"We are lucky to be friends with all these bands. Actually we’re playing with Leprous again the 6th of September in Trondheim. We’ve also shared stage with Pagan’s Mind and Circus Maximus several times, and they’re all really cool guys.
Why the Norwegian Progressive metal-scene gets so much attention……..hmmmmm, I think it’s a long story starting in the 90’s, where Conception, Pagan’s Mind, Jorn, Ark and so on set the standard, and bands like Circus Maximus and Leprous just came up with their extreme talents. All great bands J!"
What is your opinion of the metal scene these days? Is it frustrating that bands have to spend more time on the road versus earning money from their physical/ digital sales? How does Divided Multitude try to separate themselves from the tens of thousands of bands competing for attention in the social media world?
"I think the musical scene has changed very much the latest years. Music is available for free everywhere, and people are expecting to pay nothing for music as well, so it pushes all bands to tour more frequently.
We don’t have a special strategy to separate ourselves, except being hillbillies trying to look decent, playing good metal….hehehe."
How would you describe the relationships within the band? Does each member have a particular talent that adds to the cohesion and output- either on a performance angle or for business sensibilities?
"I don’t know really. I think we’re just a bunch of good friends, playing well together, and enjoying playing together. None of us being extremely talented, by that I mean, I’m not Mattias IA Eklundh, but I still know how to play guitar…… hehehehehe.
As for now I’m running the management-part of the band."
What are your top 5 albums of all time (any genre metal or otherwise), and what was your favorite concert/ festival you’ve personally witnessed as a fan in the audience?
"Wow……this one is hard……I will try with these ones:
Metallica-Master Of Puppets, Pantera-Cowboys From Hell, Fates Warning-Parallells, Dream Theater -Images and words, Iron Maiden-Powerslave."
Where do you hope to see the band going in the next 3-5 years?
"I hope we have the chance to tour a lot the coming years, and it would have been cool to do gigs in Asia, the US and South America. We’re working on a European Tour for this fall, and we just have to work hard, and we’ll see what happens."
How do you feel about the world we live in today, and where do you think the leaders need to put the most focus to ensure a healthier society for future generations to enjoy?
"I think we’ve come a long way in several issues, bringing parts of the world closer together in some ways. Still there are some gaps increasing, like economically. We should all be aware on environmental issues as well, if not there will be nothing to inherit."