What does one expect to hear from a band named Frantic Bleep? Probably not the progressive metal that is pouring from your speakers the minute you press play. These Norwegians have a natural ability to construct intricate structures without losing the listener in a sea of confusion. And to have the concept of the album revolve completely around the artwork is something rather unheard of, yet intriguing in the end. Metal Update had a talk with guitarist turned bassist Oyvind Sundstrøm about the band's debut Sense Apparatus, the mind-boggling lyrics and the musical chairs situation within the line-up.
Interview with Oyvind Sundstrøm of Frantic Bleep on 1-15-05.
METAL UPDATE: Since Frantic Bleep are still fairly new to the metal world, please give me a brief introduction.
OYVIND SUNDSTRØM: OK. We started the band in November of 2001. We knew each other from other bands and stuff like that. One year later in late 2002, we released our first and only demo, called Fluctuadmission. We sent that out to a bunch of labels, friends and stuff like that. In the spring of 2003, we got a record deal with The End Records. And that is pretty much it.
MU: Where did the name Frantic Bleep come from?
OS: We pretty much wanted a name that stood out from the crowd. Instead of just choosing something evil or gory, we wanted something a bit more out there.
MU: I was sitting here this morning, hungover, evaluating your album once again, just looking at the artwork like, "what the fuck is going on?" (laughter) You guys are so crazy. What the hell.
OS: It's an attention grabber, you know? It gets your attention.
MU: From the name I was almost expecting something more electronic, like the Kovenant or something, but I was pretty much pleased nonetheless.
OS: The music is very metal. It sounds very metal. The cover or the name doesn't sound metal or look metal, but it's definitely metal.
MU: What were your intentions from the start?
OS: The most important thing is the songs, basically. And of course to stand out and do something different. But that is something that comes natural. It's not that we think to create this bizarre, original riff or something that. We just listen to a lot of different music, and whatever comes out comes out. If it's good we use it. We arrange songs together at the rehearsal and make recordings, and we pretty much write songs like 99% of every other rock/metal bands.
MU: Do you think it was a good idea to bring in session members, for vocalists especially?
OS: We had many plans that didn't work out during the recording. Our original plan was to use Paul, who sings the vocals on the album. Later on, during the recording we wanted to find another vocalist, because he was only a session. But that didn't really work out like we wanted to so he came in and saved the album basically.
MU: Why did he decide to only be a session member?
OS: Basically because he didn't want to be something different. He's got studies and stuff like that.
MU: Do you see yourselves as a side project?
OS: No. The band is the main band to all the members. We do have other projects, but that's only on the demo stage. Frantic Bleep is the first project that got us signed and yeah, it's the main thing. Everything else will be a side project.
MU: What other projects are you guys involved with?
OS: It's nothing famous, but Paul, the session vocalist on the album, he used to play bass in Madder Mortem. It's mostly demo bands that no one has ever heard of.
MU: Are you guys tightly knit with Madder Mortem?
OS: Yeah, we are associated. We are pretty good friends, actually. We know them pretty well.
MU: You guys used Christian Ruud for the artwork. Is he also a friend?
OS: He's a friend of ours, yeah.
MU: Who came up with the concept for the art and explain the concept if you could?
OS: The artwork idea was Christian's all along. He just came to us. We had no idea what to do. He just came to us with that idea and we liked it. We didn't have much to do with the cover art at all. He just presented it to us, and if there was something that we didn't like or wanted him to change, he changed it. The title is taken from the cover, and we didn't present the title to him. He presented the concept, the cover to us and we pretty much wrote the whole album around his concept.
MU: Between that and the Madder Mortem, I think those are 2 of most amazing covers I've seen on albums. That guy's really crazy, so good deal.
MU: How are the songs assembled on The Sense Apparatus?
OS: We're pretty much a guitar-based band, like all metal bands. It's pretty much the guitar players, who bring the riff ideas in. It's pretty much our other guitarist, Patrick who writes most of the guitar material. Someone will bring something in, and we'll arrange it at rehearsal pretty much, and make recordings and listen to it, and take it from there. We do what comes natural to us all along. If an idea doesn't work out, we throw it away. We want to make the songs as strong, well written and powerful as possible.
MU: What is the lyrical direction on this album? I was trying to make sense of it and . . . (laughter)
OS: The lyrics are quite figurative. They present a more thoughtful view on the human senses. They're tricky to understand. There's a lot of metaphors in there. You'll have to ask Paul if you want to get the details.
MU: It's almost like you're not supposed to understand. Kind of like a confusing movie that's confusing and good at the same time.
OS: The foundation of the concept is basically how the human senses respond or work in our daily life, how you react in different situations and how the inside of you works with the outside and stuff like that.
MU: The recording process took one year. Why is that?
OS: We did have a few problems, especially with no vocals and stuff like that. We had plans that didn't work out so we had to bring Paul back to do the session work to get it over with. There was a lot of other stuff that didn't really work out as well. We wanted the freedom to use the time we needed to record the album we wanted. We're quite lucky because Patrick is a very talented engineer.
MU: Oh right, does he have his own studio?
OS: He used his own equipment when we recorded and we basically used the budget to upgrade it to a more professional level. If we would have used a more professional studio, we wouldn't have had as much time to record it. We wanted the freedom to do it without thinking money, studio time and shit like that. We wanted a powerful production, and most Norwegian studios don't really produce sounds that we want. So we took the whole thing into our own hands.
MU: Sounds awesome. Now what bands are you guys influenced by?
OS: No one.
MU: That's a good answer.
OS: When we grew up we used to listen to bands like Metallica, Testament, Morbid Angel; riff based, more thrashy bands. We learned a lot from those bands back in the day.
MU: What do you listen to nowadays?
OS: Everything. Everything from Radiohead to Bjork to everything. If it's good we listen to it.
MU: Are any of you professionally trained musicians?
OS: No. We're pretty much self-taught. All of us, at least most of us have some kind of music education. But not at college level or anything like that. Local music schools, high school and stuff like that.
MU: Is music very important in the culture of Norway?
OS: To most people?
MU: I just didn't know if it was incorporated or recommended to the younger generation, to be involved in music and stuff like that.
OS: A lot of people are involved in music, but I think that the younger generation, younger than us, they don't have the patience to do it. They have to have the patience to get to a certain level, and you don't just quit after a while.
MU: I was surprised. You guys are all pretty young for what you are doing musically.
OS: Yeah, we're pretty much in our early 20's.
MU: Are there 2 different spellings to your name?
OS: It's mostly because foreigners can't say Scandinavian names for their lives, basically. So I made an alternate spelling that's 95% correct.
MU: Which is on the CD.
OS: That's not my real name. That's the alternate version to make it easier for you to pronounce it. Eywin, that's not my real name. That's the way you would pronounce it.
MU: When you are not doing music, what do you like to do?
OS: Work or . . .
MU: Anything, or recreational.
OS: We're into other art forms as well I guess. Movies, books and stuff like that. None of us are working actually. We come from a very small place so there's not a lot of possibilities for people.
MU: Get out there and tour!
OS: Yeah. I want to base my existence around just that. We all want to. We want to get somewhere. We are very ambitious people. We want to get somewhere with our music and if that's what it takes, we'll do it.
MU: What are some future plans for the band?
OS: We are currently writing new songs for the second album and we have a totally new line-up right now.
OS: So we hopefully get to do some touring and something later on. We're playing a festival here in Norway later this year. But we hope to finish the songs and start recording the second album.
MU: What changed in the lineup?
MU: Really? Wow.
OS: (laughter) The guy who sings on the song "Curtainraiser," he's our new vocalist. And then we have a new drummer. Actually, our drummer left 2 days ago.
MU: You already have a new one?
OS: We got a new one right away. No problem. That and we couldn't find a bass player. I played bass and stuff in bands before so I pretty much stepped in and said, "OK, I'll play bass and we'll get another guitar player."
MU: So you got another guitar player too?
MU: Wow. Big changes.
OS: The new songs, can I say something about that?
OS: The new songs are more intense, more thrashy and much more brutal. And that is like a train coming at you at 1,000 mph. The most crazy thing you ever heard.
MU: I'm ready.
OS: We'll kick your ass, man.
OS: You've heard nothing yet.
MU: I can't imagine.
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