Just a few days before In The Woods… destroy Thessaloniki and Athens for the very first time, I had the chance to exchange a few words with the band. It’s one of those times when you feel butterflies in your stomach. Aah, life is good sometimes! Want to find out what we talked about? Then keep on reading!
Hello, this is Elpida and I welcome you to Metal Invader! I’m pretty excited for this interview and of course your upcoming shows in Greece! First things first, we are people so, is everybody fine? Are you doing well? What have you been up to these days?
Hi – we are very happy to be coming to Greece. We have been playing over the past year with a new live line-up and it is sounding really cool. As you probably know, we released an album in 2016 – we have just completed a brand NEW album which will be coming later in 2018. Maybe the heaviest since the debut album…
You will be visiting Greece for the very first time and I think you already know about your crazy fans here. It really was a big pleasant surprise for all of us here. How did this date booking come and how does it feel to visit our lands? Are you as excited as us?
Yes – it is going to be really great to visit Hellas. Looking forwards to going somewhere with nice weather for a change.
What have you prepared for your shows in Greece? Will you elaborate more on your latest release or will you offer us a potpourri of your earlier releases as well?
The set is a mixture of old and new – we wanted to be able to add a few more, but there simply wasn’t the time to get these ready – perhaps next time…
Diving a bit into the past, In The Woods disbanded around 2000. Why? Did you feel you had reached stagnation of some sort or did you just lose interest? Care to give us an insight?
Some people in the band had changed their tastes in music too far from where we started, and I think in a way we had drifted too far from our musical roots.
ITW were reformed – thankfully – in 2014. Whose idea was it and how did you manage to resuscitate the beast?
The idea for ITW to reforming came from James. He suggested this to Anders as he was a big fan of ITW. Originally, he just wanted to add keys, but it turned out that Jan K had decided he did not want to be a part of this, so James ended up doing the vocals too. And then also the guitars…
You started out as a death metal band called Green Carnation. What made you take a turn?
Green Carnation was ITW with the addition of Tchort (Terje). He left to join Emperor for their album ‘In The Nightside Eclipse’, we carried on under the name In The Woods…
Throughout your releases, ITW have respectively shown a different side of their character. “Heart of Ages” was primitively raw, “Omnio” was more experimental, “Strange In Stereo” was more enigmatic… What’s up with In The Woods now, with “Pure” being your latest release?
‘Pure’ was a mix of what we like ; metal and 70s rock. The NEW album we have just finished recording is a lot more extreme than Pure, but also quite experimental and definitely has the ‘Woods’ sound. Stylistically, it would lie between “HoA” and “Omnio”..
Talking about your latest release “Pure”, what would you consider to be the main difference between this one and your earliest releases? What’s new for ITW apart from Mr James Fogarty joining the band?
The intention was simply to create some music that we wanted to play, and also to celebrate our past music also. Playing some gigs was also something that became important for ITW, and now we have played MORE gigs than we played in the entire 1990s! ITW is a changed beast in some ways; more engaging when playing live, and also more enjoyable.
It seems to me that “Pure” is like a puzzle of ideas and emotions coming from each one of you. Like each one offered a part of himself in the album. Is that actually the case? Care to walk us through the process?
Yes – the Twins wrote the basic chords and bass, Anders arranged the songs and James iced the cake with Vocals / keys / lead riffs. It is an equal amount of input from everyone. Christian also wrote the lyrics for 2 of the songs.
How come James Fogarty joined the band? Was it mutual ‘attraction’?
James and Anders had been in contact for a few years and James had suggested that ITW reform and he was happy to help make this happen in whatever way was needed. Then, unfortunately, former guitarist Oddvar died. His funeral was the first time that the rest of ITW had been together for many years. Anders talked about the idea to reform and that’s what happened.
How hard or how easy was it to compose new music for In The Woods after all these years?
The composing for ITW has always flowed naturally. We aren’t interested in trying to write complex music – it is music from the heart. Emotion is the primary concern of ITW.
What has changed and what has remained the same, comparing 1992 and 2018, concerning you as individuals, music industry, etc?
In 1992, everything was buzzing in the Norwegian scene. Labels were looking for the next Norwegian Black Metal band. ITW lipped in under the radar as our debut was stylistically similar to a lot of the Black Metal bands, but as soon as this was released we began to develop as artists, rather than stagnate like many of the BM bands. Now in 2018, everyone and their mum is in a metal band, progressive metal is very trendy, there is no money in selling music, and paying for ‘likes’ for your band page on Facebook seems more important to many than the actual quality of the music. We don’t care about these new developments – we continue doing things the way we want to.
Many consider In The Woods as one of the very first bands in Avant-Garde Metal to come out of your scene. Do you agree with this notion?
Well – there were a few of us doing this ; In The Woods, Ved Buens Ende and 3rd and the Mortal. I think from these bands, ITW had the biggest impact and also the biggest influence.
Why Avant-Garde in the first place? How did this musical expression emerge and what were your initial goals back then? What were the messages you wanted to convey, if there were any?
Like we said, stylistically we were similar to Black Metal, but that scene was a bit retarded for us. We didn’t like the negativity and image of Black Metal (trying to be “evil” and all that). So we grew away from that quite quickly. However, we still have extreme vocals in our new material (something which was missing from Omnio and SiS) – we are definitely a Metal band (maybe more than ever these days) but we don’t really fit into any category; hence Avant Garde. We embrace ambience, extremity, serenity, philosophy all whilst having a great time being creative.
A commonly agreed-upon statement is that In The Woods managed to influence numerous bands and be mentioned by many as their main well of ideas. Does this make you feel happy or proud? It does have a ring to it…
Proud? Yes of course! Egotistical? No way. This is not what we are about. It is obvious to anyone who listens to the first 2 albums that we were a big influence on pushing the boundaries of metal and influenced many bands who went on to be more commercially successful than us. That’s ok – it’s cool. They can take the money, we’ll take the credibility !
Any chance for new material to be released soon? Will there be any new tracks added to your setlist for Greece?
Yes – a new album is coming in the Autumn. Some is heavy as ‘HoA’, some more mellow than ‘Omnio’. If you like ITW, you will certainly like what we have prepared…
I guess that’s all from me for now… Thank you for taking the time to answer everything; much obliged. More to come in Thessaloniki, haha! The last words are yours! Any messages for all the Metal Invaders out there?
Many thanks for the questions – please come to the shows and have a beer with us 😉