THUNDRA – In the Hall of Flames
Following my review of the excellent new album by Thundra, the one entitled «Angstens Salt», I decided to mail a bunch of questions to this Norwegian horde as there were quite a few things about them that I was curious about. Thundra started out all the way back in the late 90ies and have kept going ever since, releasing a string of good and solid albums rooted in epic and melancholic viking-esque metal. Bass player Stein Sund offers some insight into the workings of the force known as THUNDRA!
First of all I want to say thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Tell us a bit about the early days of Thundra, how and why you started out playing extreme metal, and how you got into metal music in the first place.
Well, me (Stein) and Harald have always played together, but we took different routes when starting to play with Einherjer and Enslaved. But in the end we came back togeter to start THUNDRA. We started THUNDRA with other drinking buddies and friends. The cool thing about THUNDRA is that NO one likes the same music, but we have this unique feel to create something together, bringing in all the different styles.
When it comes to when and how we came into metal music, I can only speak for myself, as I have ALWAYS been into metal. I think I was 4 years old when I fell in love with KISS, in 1979…hehehe.
You guys have released full-length albums rather regularly, usually with 3-4 years between releases. How often do you meet up and rehearse, and how do you go about composing and arranging songs for Thundra? Who are in charge of composing the music?
The strangest thing about us is that we don’t practice for about half a year and then do rehearsals 2 times a week, with new and old music. And when we start working on new material, we tend to just make the "framework" for the songs and then enter the studio to make the rest there. Everyone comes with input on new things, but it is our guitarist, Rune, and I who make the "framework".
How do you look back on earlier releases, namely Blood of Your Soul, Worshipped by Chaos, and Ignored by Fear? Do you feel haunted by your own sense of perfection when listening to your past outputs?
I wouldn’t be without any of the releases, but you can clearly hear that we were searching for an identity on that album (I presume Stein is referring to "Blood of the Soul" ed. note). But we grew, and "Worhipped By Chaos" showed us which path to take. On "Ignored By Fear" we started to try other different things to that path. I don’t really feel that "Blood…" shows what we wanted to do and we would do it differently now, but it’s part of our history, and it is what it is.
Tell us a bit about the other members of Thundra. Where did you all meet? Do you hang out in your spare time away from Thundra or is the band pretty much where you meet and what you all have in common?
Well, we have always been friends and drinking buddies, so we pretty much hang out whenever we can. Of course not so much now as we have all gotten families and so on. But whenever we meet up is when we drink or go to concerts together.
Thematically Thundra seems to be rooted in darkness, solitude, longing, nature, and melancholy. Could you elaborate a little on the importance of the lyrics and what they mean to you on a personal level?
The lyrics is our drummer Harald’s thing. He writes lyrics that fit our music perfectly, and I know that he writes on a personal level. But when I read the lyrics, I read something completely different than what he read into it. That’s the beauty of his lyrics; everyone can relate and create his own universe when reading the lyrics.
How do you feel about performing live and how does that contrast to working and playing in the studio or in the rehearsal space?
We all love playing live! And we all get this dark energy on a stage that we won’t get in the rehearsal place or studio. And that reflects us on stage. And I honestly think our songs come out a bit darker live than on an album.
Are you involved in any other bands and projects, and if so, could you tell us a bit about them?
Well, me Harald and Ruben also play in EVIG NATT, which is more a dark but straight forward music. I also play bass in VESEN, which is a thrash metal band. And Rune plays in PICTURES OF PAIN, which is in the realm of metal/speed/death. They are currently in the studio recording their new album.
I really liked your Angstens Salt release, which you guys released via your own label, Black Dimension Records. I am a bit curious as to the title of the album and what it signifies and/or symbolizes.
Thanks. The title Angstens Salt is about a person dying, and it’s about how his soul sheds tears for this person’s life….if that made any sense…hehehe.
Your past albums were released by different labels such as Spikefarm and Black Lotus, and I can imagine that there must be positive and negative experiences to working with pretty much any label out there, but what was the reason for starting up Black Dimension Records and what are the long-term plans for that label in terms of future releases and so on? Is it a means to retain more control of your own work and the distribution of your music?
Yeah, we were pretty much fed up with labels not getting back in touch with us, labels going bankrupt etc. So we just wanted to try something new….why not, we have nothing to lose doing it this way. Yes, it is a lot of work distributing the music and promoting the band yourself, but we have now tried that, and as we speak we have inked a distributing deal with Einheit Production to handle promotion and distribution.
How do you feel about digital releases and streaming and so on? Are you a vinyl enthusiast?
Well, streaming services are a two-edged sword. I’s great for getting the music out there, but almost no band/artist earns any money for their creativity. We all should just ditch mp3s/CDs and just go over to vinyl….hehehe.
What are you guys currently up to in terms of band activities? Are you composing and writing new material these days or rehearsing for future live activities?
Right now we are having a little summer break, but after the summer we’ll get together and start writing new material and rehearsing new and old songs.
What are your thoughts on the current Norwegian scene? Are there any bands in particular that you follow?
The Norwegian scene has always been strong I think, especially the last 15 years has been good to the scene. Many new interesting bands popping up. I personally don’t follow any Norwegian bands, but if I had to choose, it would be Emperor.
Could you list some of your all-time favorite albums and what they mean or once meant to you?
Wow there are too many…hehehe.
But for me, old KISS, Iron maiden, Emperor "Anthems…", Arcturus "La masquerade…", Fates Warning "Awaken the Guardian". As you can see, there is a diversity of music that really has moved me throughout the years.
Thanks once again for doing this interview and best of luck to you guys in the future. Any final words or insults?
Thanks and thank YOU for doing the interview with us. Hopefully someone will check out THUNDRA "Angstens Salt" and "get" us…hehehe.