Interview with COMMUNIC

During their Waves of Pitch Black Decay tour together with Scar Symmetry, Communic from Norway played a gig in Aschaffenburg. MER was there to do a short interview with these Progressive Power Metal hopefuls. All three band members were present; the main interview was done with Oddleif Stensland (guitar and vocals), while Erik Mortensen (bass), and Tor Atle Andersen (drums) sat back and listened mostly, obviously enjoying the situation after their dinner, throwing in an occasional remark and joining in in the laughter during this very relaxed conversation, which was interrupted by lots of jokes and remarks that cannot accurately be repeated and had to be left out. 

First of all: Welcome To Germany. Glad you’re here.

Oddleif: Yes, we like it here!

What do you like most?

Oddleif: Well, the guys would say the beer! (laughter).

Now that a couple of months have gone by since the release of Waves Of Visual Decay, how do you like the album now?

Oddleif: Personally, I think it is still pretty strong. When we recorded the album, we did not choose any songs that we did not like, only things we knew we would enjoy in the end made it to the album. I still find myself listening to it quite a lot. I can’t say anything else than that I am really happy with the album. I actually think that our first album also is still strong, although we could have made it a bit heavier in expression, and that is what we tried to do with the new album. That is something I think was lacking in the first album -– not in the songs, but in the production. Because when we are at home, rehearsing with those songs, there is this huge energy in the room, when we have the amplifiers up to, uh …

… eleven?


Oddleif: Yeah, almost! And then you get this power in the music, and when you go into the studio, record it nicely and in a way that you can hear everything, it kind of gets too soft. That is what we tried with the new album, to catch some of the energy from the rehearsal room.

With only three musicians, how can you transport the complexity of your songs to the stage? Keyboards are samples, right?

Oddleif: No, we don’t use keyboards on this tour. Some details from the studio recordings are left aside. We don’t feel that it is necessary, ’cause those are only small details in the music. When you are on stage, there is a different kind of energy and people remember the songs by their highlights and won’t find details missing. Of course, I can’t play two guitars at the same time, but we worked hard on our live sound so that the guitar and bass sound melt together.

Have you ever thought about adding another musician to your touring band?

Erik: We tried once with another guitar player, but it did not work out. He would destroy the songs …

Oddleif: Well, he would not destroy them, but it was not okay with the dynamics of the music, ’cause our music is aggressive at one point, and mellow at another. So when we added another guitar player, everything was too crushed. So, it is more work for each of us on stage, but it works and nobody complained about it yet.

You began describing your music. What are your main influences?

Oddleif: That is also pretty difficult, because we are three totally different people. I can only speak for myself: My main influences are the Thrash Metal songs from the early 90s: early Megadeth, Testament, Metallica. Later I got into Progressive Music like Fates Warning, Psychotic Waltz, Queensryche, and stuff like that.

Erik: For me it was all kinds of Hard Rock Music: mainly Black Sabbath, Manowar, Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer …

You know, if nobody says Nevermore, I have to ask again …


Erik: Actually, I have not heard of them before we began and people compared us to them.

Oddleif: I have always liked Nevermore, and also Sanctuary, but I cannot say that they are our main influence, ’cause that is something that I discovered later. And Tor, I think, likes Nevermore a lot, but also more aggressive stuff like Pantera or even Death Metal. So it is kind of funny that people say, “Oh, they sound like Nevermore,” ’cause that is not what we were trying to do, but I understand why people say it, but I think that the music is not that similar. We take the comparison as a compliment, but I think that people will see it in the long run that Communic is Communic and not a clone of Nevermore.

One of you even mentions Marillion as a favorite band on your Web site. That’s surprising, because they are really mellow …

Oddleif: Yes, I am not a diehard fan, but I like the progressive, calm elements of that music. I like that in our music, too, even if some people call it Pink Floyd on Heavy Metal steroids or whatever, we are just progressive in the same progressive way.

And another one of you named Rush …

Erik: Yes, I love Rush up until Power Windows, I have not listened to much after that.

Oddleif: Then we have to get one of those Moog things … (laughter)

To play keyboards and samples with your feet?

Oddleif: We actually have talked about it, maybe if we would get some sponsering … (laughter) maybe by Moog! We would do it …

How did you come up with the name for the band?

Oddleif: When we started, we wanted to have something that was catchy, something that was heavy. What we had first was actually Communicate, and then we got to Communic Hate. There were a lot of problems in the other band I was playing in, Scariot, and I was really frustrated, and it felt like we were walking uphill all the time, so the name Communic Hate sounded like a good, aggressive name, but in the end it was shortened down to Communic, which doesn’t mean anything, but is taken out of the word communicate, and that is what we try to do with the music.

The artwork of your album covers is outstanding. How did you get to know the artists, and was the artwork already done or was it done just for your albums?

Oddleif: The artist of the first album was Mattias Noren, and the new album cover is made by Anthony Clarkson, who already made artwork for Blind Guardian, Rage, and a lot of other cool bands. He was suggested to us from the record company, Nuclear Blast. We sent him the lyrics, and when we were in the studio, we got the first sketches of what he saw in the lyrics. We did not think that it worked for the band, so we sent him some ideas that we had, fragments of what we liked to see in the artwork, or what it could be. Only three or four days later he came with the new artwork, which was totally different and blew me away. We are really happy with it! So sometimes it is really good to stand up and say that you are not happy with something, cause we thought that we could do something more with it.

How would you interpret the artwork of the first album?

Oddleif: Well, that could be done in different ways. For me, the little girl represents how we are as humans in this world today, surrounded by all these dangers. And, that is also one of the lyrical topics that goes throughout the album; how we are in this modern society.

But, was that already done, and not made specifically for you?

Oddleif: No, because we worked in a hurry on that album. We wanted Mattias to make it for us, and he sent us a lot of his sketches. Mattias works in Photoshop, everything was in layers, so we changed a few details on an already existing artwork and it fit perfectly to the album. For the second album, the artwork was done for us from scratch. We as a new band could take advantage of the connections that Nuclear Blast has.

Regarding Nuclear Blast: How long is your contract with them?

Oddleif:The contract is only one album, but with options. We have five options, so in total we may have to make six albums for them. As long as everything goes as it has gone now, really well, where we are totally happy with the record company, that is not something that we would want to change.

About the lyrics … you are writing the lyrics. Do you believe in those conspiracy theories that are spread on the internet like man was never on the moon, and such?

Oddleif: Actually, I don’t. But, the lyrics are inspired by a lot that is going on in the world, especially the way the media works where what people see on the news is what people believe. Everything we see goes through several layers of filtering and blocking out what they don’t want the people to see. And that is a conspiracy in some way.

Do you think that this information filtering is done purposely?

Oddleif: Yes, sure.

But, with the information available on the internet today, is there any possibility of holding back information?

Oddleif: You can’t believe anything on the internet, ’cause you don’t know who is putting it out there. The internet isn’t a reliable source, so it is pretty difficult to tell what is the truth. I think many people just forget to believe in themselves and what they are supposed to do in this world.

Are you still following the contemporary Metal scene? What are the last two albums you bought?

Oddleif: I bought the new Maiden album. I was a little bit disappointed with that one … and I bought the new Blind Guardian album too.

Erik: For me it was In Flames and Sepultura.

Tor: I bought the latest Pain album and Chimaira. I like the aggression.

Oddleif: I can understand why he likes it, ’cause he is the drummer, and the American way of Heavy Metal has a really punchy, aggressive style, and it is groovy at the same time.

You can’t live from your music today, you have to have day jobs. What day job do you have?

Oddleif: I have a small graphic design company, so I can take time off or work. I make catalogues, brochures, magazines, advertisements. I also made the layout for our albums.

Norway seems to have a political peculiarity … at least half of the members of the Council of State have to be members of the Church Of Norway.

Oddleif: When you are born in Norway, you are born into the Church of Norway, there is no choice whatsoever. When you get older you can say that this is not for you and you don’t want to be a member, but nobody actually bothers to do that because it is such a paper mess. It is really strange, but that goes way back into the age when Christianity came to Norway, and when you did not believe, you were killed, and that is how it actually worked in the beginning, and it is still hanging in the system.

Are you Christians?

Oddleif: No. But there is nothing we can do about it. I think Norway is becoming like every other country, where religions are mixed up. Personally, I believe that religion is the root of all evil, and that is also one of our songs, “Fooled By The Serpent,” which is about where all this evil comes from. If you see what is going on in the world today, all is rooted in religion. People have to believe in themselves, and not what people tell them to believe in.



  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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