Interview With Fornost Arnor

Categories: Interviews
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Published on: July 21, 2011

Some time ago a friend from the UK recommended me to give the new Fornost Arnor album a couple of spins. Their specific take on dark progressive metal is fresh and innovative and it should appeal to fans of Opeth, Paradise Lost, Anathema and Katatonia. Guitarist/vocalist Greg Chivers was kind enough to give his insights on the band’s new album, the writing and creative proces within the band and the rise of social media.

Congrats on releasing such a powerful and convincing as The Death Of A Rose. Are you happy the way it turned out and the feedback it’s getting?

Thank you. Yeah it’s been great so far, 90% positive so far so hopefully that will continue. I am very happy with everything about how the album sounds though to the superb artwork. It all of a sudden just feels really real and that we might actually be getting somewhere.

The Death Of A Rose seems to be a concept album of sorts. Can you shed some light on this?

Yeah it has an underlining concept. A lot of the people in England at the moment seem to be quite quick to slag of the country and are unhappy with life here. I wish people would take a drive into the country and see how beautiful it is and all the history we have. It won’t change but it is something i am passionate about. The death of a Rose is about wiping out something that is beautiful.

Your new album seems to be influenced by bands like Opeth, Katatonia and Paradise Lost, yet you’ve managed to give it quite an innovative spin. What did you manage to achieve that and how important is it to have your own sound?

I am of course influenced by those types of bands but I broaden my musical influences as much as I can. Most metal fans would be horrified if they saw my I tunes. As an artist I have to keep trying new things or the music will sound the same. The other great thing is between the 4 of us in the band we have such different tastes in metal. After I write the songs it’s up to each member to add their own influences and it can be whatever they want. We have complete trust in each other’s ability for the end result to sound great.

What I really about the album is that you’ve managed to find the right balance between technicality, atmosphere and memorable songs. How important it is to find such a balance in your song material?

Very, a song has to be memorable even if its 10mins long. I try to blend guitar hooks, Sing along vocal parts and superb technical musicianship into every song. Not every listener is a guitarist or drummer. People should be able to feel the music and it shouldn’t be just aimed at other musicians and how technical the band it.

How does the writing process work within Fornost Arnor and how did things go for your latest album?

I write all the music on an acoustic guitar first. I then lay the parts down rough on the computer give them to the other guys with where the vocals will be and tell them to do what the hell they want with it. I don’t know anybody else that works in this way. As I said before I completely trust Will, James and Sam to make it amazing.

The Death Of A Rose is released on the band’s own imprint, called Witch-King Records. Who’s the big Lords Of The Rings fan in Fornost Arnor and why did you decide to release your album independently?

Ha, that’s me. It’s hard doing the music we do and convincing a label that it’s going to be big. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of money in the industry for new bands unless you’re very generic. I would rather be in a position where I have control of what we release at the moment. I live in the real world which means I have a normal job and I pay to do the music from what I earn. Too many people think they have made it just because they are on a label. Even though they all seem to have to pay the label to be on it…I don’t understand what that’s all about. We will build up a reputation over the next few years and see if something big comes along.

What are the pros and cons of releasing your music independently?

It’s hard work. Trying to build contacts is the hardest thing to do. The pro is that we get all the profit back. We distribute ourselves so we know how much we have sold. Paying for it isn’t the best, not liking that too much but hopefully I will break even. That’s all I want from it.

After years of stagnation, the UK metal scene seems to teeming with new and innovative bands, like Tesseract, Visions, Falloch and yourselves. What set it off and what are the bands you like and admire?

I have no idea what set it off to be honest, I’m not involved with scene or know any of the bands. I just write music that I like. When I first started the band in 2005 we were a Black Metal band with a different line up. I have chilled out in the last few years and started to put more feeling into what I write and that’s what’s made me write what I do. There a band called Talanas who are great. They are working in the same way as we are but are further ahead than us with popularity. I hope to do something with them in the near future.

Internet turns out to be both a blessing and a curse for bands nowadays. What’s your take on the current situation?

I don’t really care too much. It’s more a good thing then bad. The exposure band can get fantastic. You don’t have to drive around playing gigs where no one turns up just to get heard nowadays. People moan about illegal downloading but that doesn’t bother me. I’m not doing it for money, I do it so I don’t feel like I have wasted my life working 45 hour weeks and ending up with only liver cancer to show for after 40 years. If people are interested in it I want them to listen to it. From experience most people will buy the album if they have downloaded it and really like it. Id rather people see us live when we get that side going.

Do you guys have any plans to tour the continent? If so, when can we expect you guys here in the Netherlands?

I’d love to, so anyone reading this and would like to put us on e-mail and we will sort something out

Time for the final question. Who’s your favourite character in Blackadder and why?

That’s difficult; series 1 is awful so I’ll rule that out. I’ll do it this way instead, Series 2 Percy for making pure green, series 3 George for not knowing why his socks are missing and series 4 for Baldric making cappuccino.

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