1349 Interview

1349 Interview




Autumn of 2019 saw the release of "The Infernal Pathway", a new album by the Norwegian Black Metallers 1349 and a while later we had a chance to have a chat with the band’s bass player, Seidemann, going from questions about this latest release to live shows, pyro efects and income made from playing black metal today. Below is a transcription of the dialogue we had


Me: Two months since you released "The Infernal Pathway". How does it feel to be done with it and have it out there for the world to listen to it?
S: It’s always a bit of a challenge whenever you release something new. For 1349 it’s always that you have to top what you’ve done before. There’s no point in making a new album unless you know it’s gonna be better than what you’ve done before. For us it’s a matter of evolving as musicians. The things is that even though we might feel this way, it doesn’t mean that the audience feels the same, so there’s always this kind of excitement about what will other people think. We are convinced that this is the best we’ve done so far, but do these expectations match reality.

Me: What’s the weirdest comments you heard about the album so far
S: I heard some really weird shit, but most people say it’s a great continuation of the previous album and I was like ‘really?’, it’s maybe a more heavy metal album than the previous album, but sure. Then someone says this a spiritual successor of ‘Demonoir’ and I’m like "No". That’s probably the weirdest one. Of course you have the "Tunnel of Set", but Demonoir was this really dark weird, technical death-metal’ish album, while this is straight forward heavy metal/black metal album
Me: So there’s nothing weird on this album?

S: Weird is a relative term. Some people might think that the last song, "Stand Tall in Fire" is a bit weird, compared to what we normally do. But I don’t think it’s a weird album.


1349 live at Inferno festival 2019
Photo by Silje Storm Drabitius/Storm D -Live Photography

Me: I know that for a musician, by the time the album is out, it’s already old news cause you’ve been working on it since like forever. Do you still feel the excitement of the fans at the point that "today is the release date". Is there any excitement left or you’re so tired by the time the album is out?
S: By the time is released, you’ve been pondering over the mix for a long long time, you’ve been weighing up and down on what it’s gonna be like. It takes me about a year before I can actually start listening to the album again, unless I have to learn something for playing live. But it takes a while that I can hear it from the outside again. I am not sure if I can really ever hear anything I have made from the outside though. It takes a while though, you need some distance, you live with it for so long in the studio and the process is rough.

Me: Have you ever heard 1349 covers?
S: I’ve seen some stuff online, but I haven’t really heard a full blown cover, no. I’ve seen people online playing the riffs and I’ve wondered how can they play it so wrong. I think we do pretty straight forward stuff and then they’re like ‘You have to tune down like this’ or so, and I’m wondering "What, why, we play it rather standard, why do you have to make it so fucking complicated’. But I’ve never heard a cover and I think that would be weird to me.

I guess now after twenty something years, we might have gotten to that state that people might actually cover us. That’s one of the weirdest things when you’re out traveling. We toured the US recently and I met people coming to me "Yeah, I heard Hellfire where I was in highschool" and I’m like "What…yeah, that’s right, it’s been a while already".
Me: It feels like yesterday?

S: Yes, it does.

Me: Let’s go back to the album from yesterday. What is its strongest track in your opinion and why?
S: Now we’re back to the fact that I haven’t listened to it since it came out. I think "Stand Tall in Fire", the last track, there’s a quality to that track. I think the whole album has this vibe of the Abyss. When I read the lyrics and I get that this is all about the Abyss, this is very dark and very deep stuff. But there’s something about the last song like some sort of catharsis from the whole album, kinda goes deep, deep and there’s this catharsis at the end of it when you get reinvigorated and cleansed by the flames. And you are ready to listen to the whole thing again.


1349 live at Inferno festival 2019
Photo by Silje Storm Drabitius/Storm D -Live Photography


Me: Do you make a profit from black metal?
S: (laughter). That would be great. It would be fantastic, I would love to make a profit from black metal. But how can I say it in a nice way. When we do long tours and we play like thirty shows in thirty days I make so money so that when I come home I can pay my bills. I still make less money than if I would stay home and went to work instead. But if I wanted money, I would not be playing black metal.
Me: I should have thought about that. I heard it before, still hard to believe. Did you learn anything new in making this album, based on the fact that you’ve been in the music industry, does a new album in 2019 bring any novelties to you as a musician?

S: We were lucky that, in the same manner as with "Massive Cauldron of Chaos", we brought over our live sound engineer from the US, Jarrett Pritchard. He was with us on this album as well, he’s also a musician and a fantastic sound guy. Everytime you work with him you learn something new and you get a very different perspective. He is an American death metal guitarist, while we are a bunch of Norwegian black metal people and there are certain differences that are highlighted particularly in the studio
Me: Interesting. Can I get an examples

S: I like to quote him on one thing that he says a lot in the studio. He says "Goddamn Norwegians, just because you burn churches you think you can get away with everything"
Me: What about your equipment? Are you guys investing into anything new lately, or you are playing with the same old instruments that you’ve always had?

S: Our guitarists, he keeps on getting new guitars, but he’s a guitarist. They accumulate. I play the same bass that I’ve been playing for eleven years now, using the same pedals that I’ve been using since I toured with Celtic Frost in 2006, so that would be thirteen years. We’re at the point where we’ve been playing live for a long time and we know what we want to sound like and the equipment we need to get to that point. The only new thing this time was that we had a Kemper amp for the guitars and these are quite interesting because those are like a computer that can emulate other amps. That was an interesting new tool to play with. In the studio you can experiment with a lot of different things, but we are nerds and we like to sit with our old amps and get the best sound possible from the equipment that we have available.


1349 live at Inferno festival 2019
Photo by Silje Storm Drabitius/Storm D -Live Photography


Me: Speaking of playing live, when you put together an album, do you ever consider at that point how the songs have to be rearranged when playing live?
S: That’s usually the frantic scrambling thing that happens before you go touring on the new album and you realize "how the fuck are we gonna do this live?" We usually spend a lot of time in the rehearsal room before we start playing the new songs live, arranging them. 1349 is one guitar, bass, drums and vocals. We have to move things around for them to work live. I do a lot of what we used to call the power trio stuff. The bass plays parts of the rhythm guitar live. I use distortion and I play power chords and I fill out the room left by the lack of one guitar. Also in 1349 people have to remember that between the drumming of Frost and the guitar playing of Archaon there isn’t much sonic room left. Bass playing in 1349 is kind of exercise in restraint.

Me: When you put together an album, you have so many people helping you like a producer, or a sound guy and so on. Do you get any help when you consider the rearrangements for the live shows or that’s just between you guys at the rehearsal room?
S: It’s just us. It’s the same with the songs for the album. We produce ourselves, we don’t have an external producer. We did two albums with Tom G. Warrior and that was fucking fantastic, but before and after that we produced ourselves because it’s easier to do.

Me: How do you chose the songs for playing live. You have quite exhausting songs I think, and all of you are so tight and the rhythms are insane, how do you decide you’re gonna pull off one or one and a half hour of this madness?
S: That’s the thing, a 1349 concert should be like being run over by a steamroller for one hour. You should feel like there’s no relief, you should be pummeled for about one hour and then lean back and be overwhelmed by whatever the fuck just happened to you. There’s always certain songs that people will want to hear, the "hits", and then you wanna play as much new stuff as possible. So you have to kinda juggle the songs around and find something that gives you this experience of being pummeled by a steamroller for one hour.
Me: Do you guys get to rehearse a lot? You live quite far away

S: The rest of the guys live in Oslo and I live like three hours outside. We don’t rehearse together frequently, but we rehearse before something big happens. In the time leading up to the actual recording of the album, we rehearse like once a week for about a month. But with Internet today you can send song sketches and ideas while sitting at home in your own studio, and recording the bass lines from there. It’s a lot easier to send stuff back and forth like that.

Me: Are you at the point, after so many years of playing music, that new songs don’t require as much rehearsing as they used to?
S: I wished. But you know, it still needs a lot of rehearsing. I think it’s good for a musician to always rehearse. Once you get to a milestone, there’s a new milestone waiting. And once you know all the old songs, there’s new ones waiting for you. And after five hundred shows, when your fingers know those songs very well, there’s a new album. The work is never over and you have to always practise. I think it’s very good both for the mind and the musicianship that you pratcise as much as you can. I have an instrument in my hands at multiple points in the day, no matter what day it is or what the purpose it.

Me: Do you look at any videos, new stuff, old stuff, still try to copy somebody or is it just your music now?
S: When I was a kid, like ten eleven years old, I wanted to be Cliff Burton. Everybody wanted that. And the guy from Primus. I spent a lot of time getting to play all Primus stuff and such. At a certain point I was like ‘Now I know all this shit, but it doesn’t sound like me, it sounds like those people. I don’t wanna be those people, I wanna be me’. So I always kinda avoided doing cover songs and getting too much into other people’s shit, because I wanna do my own stuff. Of course, it’s good to be inspired by others, but copying has never really been my thing.

Me: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 1349 show in the past many years without pyro effects. How does it work when you are on tour? Is there a lot of paperwork and negotiations with the venues?
S: In the US there’s no pyros. We just don’t do it over there. It’s too much hassle and too much paperwork and safety and it’s just no point. Festival gigs, yeah, that’s where we can do a lot of it. But on touring, not so much. There’s the occasional firebreathing before the show starts, but that’s about it.
Me: I guess I’ve only seen the Oslo shows then

S: We like the hellfire in our hometown, so to speak.
Me: The reason I am asking is because I watched your show at Vulkan, some years ago. Where you had a LOT of firebreathing

S: That was the Hellfire show actually
Me: The irony made it that when I was in the bus home – I am from Romania originally – and I saw all these messages about the accident that took place in a club in Bucharest, where people burned inside. And I still can’t stop thinking about the fact that I was also indoors the same evening, with way more fire on stage…Are you guys being careful before shows, checking the venues, following all security measures?

S: Particularly in Norway, there’s a lot of paperwork and official stuff that needs to be in place before you do anything. And it goes for almost anywhere in the world and we are very thorough with it, you don’t wanna get sued, you don’t wanna hurt anyone nor yourself. For example, this year at Inferno I had no hair left on my hands.
Me: Seriously?

S: For the first song we had like fire in front of me, fire behind me, and I’m like ok ‘my hair is burning’. But it looked cool on all the photos and videos afterwards 

Me: You have this other projects, Mortem and Svart Lotus. And at least Mortem has a new release for which you have a gig in about a week from now. How do you keep up with those and divide your time between them, learning songs, preparing for tour, being on tour.
S: First of all, because I am old grumpy man, I don’t like the term project. That sounds like I’m not dedicated. Svart Lotus is not a project, it is my band. Mortem is also my band, but technically with Mortem, being a comeback and as I was asked to play the bass, but anyway. It’s always a bit of a problem juggling the time. I’ve been away for one month with 1349, we did a show in Italy a week after that. So I have to do a lot of work at home. I have to rehearse a lot. Also for Svart Lotus it’s me who writes and makes everything. That process never stops. We are finishing now the single for release in January, there will be a new album next year, so the writing process is continuous in my head.

With Mortem, which is more Steinar’s band, he writes and does stuff and I just come in and lay down the bass and do the shows whenever I can. If there’s a crash, I can’t do Mortem shows if I am on tour with 1349 so they must have a session guy. Svart Lotus cannot do anything while I am away
Me: You can’t replace yourself
S: I don’t think so. I would love to see that, but well, Death is touring without Chuck so who knows.

Me: Thank you. Have a great tour next year with Abbath, if I remember correctly.