We’re here today with Lars Nedland to discuss about his new band, White Void, who released a few days ago their first album – “Anti”.
Hello Lars, how’s it going? Is everyone safe and sound?
Hello, I’m fine, thanks! It’s going good, you know, considering Pandemic and all. Staying mostly at home, being a good guy. [laughter]
So Lars, being well known to the audience from Borknagar and Solefald, I guess fans were anticipating for another black or progressive metal oriented album. Despite all expectations, I think White Void can be characterized more like a 70s hard n’ heavy band. Am I right? Would you like to give us some hints about this whole new project of yours?
Yeah, I mean of course people expect me to do something, you know, within the sort of black metal framework, but I’ve been listening to a lot of music my entire life and I just think it was the right timing for me to take some of those influences and channel them in a new musical way. So this project resembles much more to the rock of the 70’s, as well as the new wave of the 80’s and those English bands that came in the early 80’s. If somebody wasn’t aware of my previous work and just listens to a White Void’s song I guess he would noticed more that musical approach.
We are all familiar with Black Void, also known as Great Void, interpreted throughout the years as a natural end or start point of our entire existence. You chose White Void as band’s name instead. I’m sure there’s a triggering connection in between Black and White Void, would you like to share it with us?
Yeah, I mean, as you said it, Black Void is where we’re coming from and where you’re going to. We come from the Black Void, the non- existence point, and then we spring into existence, and we’re here for some years and then we go back into the Black Void. But White Void is the void is in between our existence.
Well from “Anti’s” structure and lyrics thematology I can tell that we’re dealing with a philosophical in a way concept album. Could you tell us from were derives this time your inspiration?
Actually Anti as an album is based in Albert Camu’s philosophy of absurdism. The starting point of absurdism theory is the distance between what we need as humans, when it comes to the sense of our direction in this life, and what the universe serves us. As humans we need a direction and universe gives us nothing but existence. So the distance between what we need and what we get, that’s the White Void. That’s what we try to bridge, you know, that gap. In absurdism there is no reason for us to be here. There is no purpose for us and there are also others who tried to tackle this inception, I mean as an issue. For example, there is Nietzsche’s nihilism theory, which acclaims that there is only the end. But then we have existentialism with Kierkegaard who claimed that yes existence is absurd, but at least we have the God, and he tries to fill this gap with religion. We have Jean-Paul Sartre who talks about this issue in a very interesting way, admitting that basically the only way to counter the burden of existence is suicide. However, I don’t think that’s a good solution [laughter]. I like the approach that Camu has because he states that there is no way around the fact that existence is absurd, that your life/existence is absurd, but you can handle that, you can counter that by just basically accepting it, by accepting the fact that you can escape the absurdism of existence and there is where you stop fighting it and you free yourself. So, this is the concept of the whole album that is exactly aiming to point that mental comprehension of the fact that existence is in its core absurd.
What does the album title – “Anti”- stands for?
Well, it’s connected to all of these. It’s like you said, when you hear about absurdism, and you cannot escape the fact that existence is absurd, that sounds very negative and Camu shows us that it does not have to be negative, you know, you can turn that around. Anti is an interesting word, actually a prefix not a word, and it doesn’t carry any proper meaning until it’s gathered together with a different word. You put something negative after Anti and it becomes positive, and vice versa. So it is connected to absurdism. I thought that was a good way of creating a gateway into the basic way of thinking, you know, conceptually. It was short of an easy way to prepare the listener for what’s about to except from the album.
Totally get it, Anti after all is a Greek origin prefix! It’s amazing how everything considering the album is connected to absurdism theory… The artwork is thought provoking too… What does the figure in the cover symbolizes? If not mistaken, you used it as well to your video of “This Apocalypse is For You”.
Yes that’s true! It’s an oil painting by a New Zealand artist called Geremy Geddes. Jeremy has this long series of different paintings with this Cosmonaut, as he calls it; he uses the Russian word for Astronaut. In all his paintings he puts his Cosmonauts in very absurd situations. Very often he puts them into an urban environment, places, and situations which are very weird, you always have a feeling that something is wrong in his images. The one that’s on our cover it’s a painting called the drift and it’s a very simple painting. He manages to capture that absurdity because he obviously denies cosmonaut’s gravity, by showing him flying; he’s actually pushing the air, so absurd you know… Actually it’s a painting that describes a non-fitting picture to your own life. That’s exactly what absurdism talks about. That is White Void. It’s that problematic disposition you have as a human being when you find out that everything is absurd and that there is no way to fix the gap between what you need and what you’ ll get. That’s why we chose that album cover; it’s an alternative version of what the lyrics are all about.
Well Lars, you being always fond of experiments, I guess that requires a really diverse musical background. Enlighten us a bit about your personal influences. What about the rest of the band? Do they come from the exact same background of yours?
Well, no, they come from very different backgrounds. You know musically when it comes to me as a performer; I did music mostly connected to the black metal or progressive black metal movement here in Norway. Some avant- garde stuff as well, but always connected to metal. My musical taste is pretty eclectic. I’ve been collecting music all my life, so I have about 3.000 vinyl albums, 6000 cds, music is everywhere at my place, tons of things you know. I also love jazz and even electronic music. I’m listening to a lot of world and folk music, always listen to metal as a parallel, but I grew up on rock bands – from the seventies – and progressive rock bands, like King Crimson (bands that prevailed in 60s, early 70s). I listen to pop too. Actually, all kind of music, I just love music. The other guys as performers they come from different places. Our guitarist comes from blues rock. He has a very bluesy way of handling his guitar.
Actually you can tell by the solos….
Yeah! Right? He’s got that amazing ear. He can bridge all the other musical parts, you know, with his one way of playing solos. Our drummer, Tobias, he comes from jazz and fusion. He can play black metal as well, but his techniques are not black metal at all. Our bass player actually comes from electronic music. He has an electronic project –Kubi- which is well established. Lots of listeners follow this minimalist electronic movement. So, they all have very different way of approaching instrumentation than all other musicians I’ve been usually working with. That obviously turned out to be a big plus for us in the process. In this album when I wrote the songs I was really preoccupied with this project not turning into a metal one. I wanted this one to be based in rock and not in metal so it was really helpful to have musicians that didn’t come from the same background.
Evidently, Anti is characterized by its complexity and diversity musically, that’s for sure… How was the songwriting and recording procedure this time? I mean should have been differences given the fact that we‘re talking about a new band, and a totally different musical approach. Also your producer this time is Øystein Brun, your band mate for over twenty years in Borknagar, how does this new era of collaboration works out?
It was amazing, well to talk about the writing process first; it was kind of organic, because the whole thing started with me writing a couple of songs that weren’t fitting into neither of my existing bands. And I found out that they had this same nominator, the 70’s rock riffs, and the new-wavish melodies. So that was the way this new project started. I wrote all the songs before I gathered the band to be completely honest. Actually, I didn’t have a proper plan when I actually started writing music; I just had this natural need you know. I just made demos were I played everything myself just to get an idea of how this was going to sound. When I ended up gathering a band, I didn’t want this to be a solo kind of thing; I wanted this to be formed as a proper band. And then I sat down to find musicians, and I was looking for ones with a different background than myself. So, when I found the guys and they came in. They all did translate in their one way all the songs that I’ve written. Especially the guitarist gave us a new perspective when he sat down and approached compositions from his own point of view. So that’s the way all songs came about.
Now… about the recording… it was recorded in a pretty hazard way, a little bit here and a little bit there, over a course of about a year I guess. Fortunately, we all have our home studios and that helped a lot. Some things we were recording them by ourselves, some others together. It was totally a fluent process.
Well, about Oyster Brun from Borknagar, a good friend and a band colleague for over twenty years, he built his own studio about three years ago and he’s producing a lot of music there, he’s really goon on this. So, we ended up in this collaboration at the beginning of 2020. We know each other so well and the dynamic of me and him its crazy. He has a very good understanding on the way I’m thinking, as well on how I would like the production to be. We were supposed to go on an American tour with Borknagar. It’s kind of funny cause Anti was released in March 12th , while this exact same date last year we were about to leave for the States and all the tour got cancelled due to the Pandemic. So I said instead of our five weeks tour we need to refocus and do something positive and creative. Why wouldn’t we dive into the production of the White Void album? So that’s exactly what happened. And before you knew it we had a full album almost ready to go! That was actually a positive aspect of Covid for White Void.
Do you distinguish any specific track from your new material? Kind of favorite I mean? If you had to pick one song in order to present band’s signature (style/sound), which one would that be and why?
It’s always hard to pick a favorite; it’s like distinguishing your children [laughter]. But I don’t know… the most representative … I guess is the first single “Do Not Sleep”. We chose it actually as a single cause it contains a little bit of everything. One of the songs that I’m closer to, at least right now, is “Where you go you bring nothing” cause its so far away of everything I’ve done before. It’s like exploring a new territory, both in composing and vocal level. Ballad parts for example, signing them was really alien to me.
Are there any thoughts for some live streaming shows or events? Or I don’t know … are you guys already working on new material for a second album maybe?
I’ve written the second album [laughter]. What was I supposed to do all this spare time? I was on the roll so I just wrote the second album too [laughter]. When it comes to live shows, we have signed with a really good agency and we have plans for both festivals and tours, but the way things look now, the probability of anything happening for next year is pretty slim. But I’m guessing that it will be at least a European tour and some festivals in the years to come. At least the booking agency is looking for that.
Don’t forget to put Greece on the map too!
Yeah, that’s another thing! I was supposed to come in Greece with Borknagar, in August 2020. We were supposed to play in Athens and Thessaloniki, but then of course plans changed due to Pandemic. So I actually owe you guys a visit. I really want to play there.
But have you ever been in Greece?
Oh yeah, many times, I love Greece, but I never had the chance to play there. I’ve been in Athens, Thessaloniki and in a few islands as well, but I’m more of a city guy so it’s Athens for me.
The floor is yours… any special message?
Oh I think we covered pretty much everything. Again, I’m really sad I didn’t come to Greece to play last year and I really want to come both with Borknagar and White Void and to play for you guys.
We’re looking forward!
So am I!
Thank you so much for your time and this interview, it was really a pleasure!
Thank you very much, I appreciate your time.