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Atrox: Resurrection of nineties Norwegian avant-garde act!

Interview with Rune Sorgard and Tor Arne Helgesen of Atrox after ProgPower 2008 by Vera

Live pics by Vera at ProgPower 2008

When I went to ProgPower this month I remembered Atrox as an extraordinary, special Norwegian band from the nineties. The renewed encounter in a live situation was a very positive experience! The day after their gig we started talking with each other. They appeared to have a new record out recently called ‘Binocular’. ProgPower happened to be their first gig outside Scandinavia but they have more touring in the pipeline for the near future. Because that tour also visites the Netherlands again, we decided to do an e-mail interview after our trip back home; so that all you guys won’t miss this innovative live experience! My questions were answered by guitarist and program wizard Rune Sorgard and drummer Tor Arne Helgesen.

ProgPower 2008 was your first live experience abroad, so I guess it must have been an impressive trip for you. Can you tell a bit more about this experience?
ProgPower was a blast! The songs on ‘Binocular’ have stiffened in our blood since we have been playing them frequently the last year and a half, but of course since this was our first trip abroad (besides Scandinavia) it was kind of special. The arrangement was great, the castle we lived in likewise! The fact that most of the bands stayed on the same place as the public was also very cool. I’m sure it was quite special for them as well since the communication became quite direct! Extra special for me was that Cynic played at the same festival. Meeting those guys was a dream come true! For me it was a great honour to share the stage with Cynic! After all, it’s my all time favourite band; period!!

But there is more to come on the live front! Soon you will embark on a European tour. Any details on this so people can visit the gigs and what are your expectations?
Absolutely. We are going on a European tour together with fellow Norwegian bands Helheim and Vulture Industries. It will be fun marketing ourselves in Europe! I can definitely promise a tight “in your face” show with a lot of fun! We give it all! Atrox have become a live-band for sure, and I think the audience will discover new details from the album hearing and observing us live. For more info about the tour go to:

The tour occludes in the Netherlands. Coincidence hehe?
He he. Actually it is ”accidental”! Bjørnar E. Nilsen from Vulture Industries has been the main driving force behind this tour, so the fact that Atrox are playing the last show in Roermond is random. The fun thing though is that Roermond is not that far from Baarlo where the ProgPower-festival was arranged, so those who saw us there have the possibility to see us twice in a short period of time! Rene, the main man behind ProgPower has promised to try his best to be there, he he.

Now let us go a bit into more details about Atrox itself. You released four full length albums between 1997 and 2003. The music was innovative and avant-gardish just like your recent work ‘Binocular’, but featured female vocals. Can you give us a brief overview of that time and how you look back at it now?
Atrox feels much more like a band now for sure, back then we didn’t play live, only rehearsed and recorded albums. If you ask me there is a big part missing when you don’t perform your material live. But, time has made us stronger and better. Atrox has existed for twenty years this year, but has suffered from a lot of line-up changes over the years. We feel that the latest album is our most popish album, mostly because of the vocals I guess. But again, on the other side I think we have kept the Atrox-feeling in our music. Still crazy after all this years, he he.

What happened with the band between 2003 and 2008? I see there were some occasionally gigs…
Monika left the band right after the release of ‘Orgasm’, so a lot of time was spent on trying to find out what path the band would travel further. Should we find another female vocalist or go for a male vocalist. We decided quite quickly that we would try a male vocalist. To replace Monika with another female would be difficult since Monika had such a distinctive voice. That person would constantly be measured up against what Monika had done, and nothing good would come out of that. After a while we found our replacement in Rune Folgerø. He jumped in the fire and had his first performance with us on our release concert for ‘Orgasm’. He did excellent and quickly adapted to his role in the band. Shortly after we made some tunes and recorded a promo with Rune Folgerø on vocals. But the aftermath after Monika’s departure was quite present. To get a record deal proved to be difficult. Also our guitarist on ‘Orgasm’, Ole Larmerud left Atrox to concentrate on his main band Manifest. That was in early 2004. Them came Rune Sørgård back from the Swedish woods. He played guitar on Atrox’s three first records (Mesmerized, Contentum and Terrestrials). He was pretty eager to play with his friends again, so he packed his computer and came to Trondheim! By then we had talked about the potentiality to incorporate electronics in our music. From then on we spent a lot of time learning of mistakes and make songs. And in April 2008 came our new baby ‘Binocular’! In between we recorded a promo that resulted in a record-deal with Season Of Mist.

When did you decide to start anew and this time with a male vocalist?
As earlier mentioned we took some time off to figure out what would be best for and the next move for Atrox. We wanted to find the right line-up to create the right chemistry and balance within the band. In that whole process we went for a male vocalist. It felt like a new start and gave us new energy to go further into the Atroxsphere!

How did you get in contact with Rune, the new singer? What is his background and what were the qualities that made you realize he’s the man to front the band?
Eivind (guitar) had heard Folgerø many times live and liked what he heard. I had never met him before his first rehearsal with us, but my first impression was fantastic! He could diversify his voice plenty along with our songs and therefore fitted like a glove!

But there are still people in the band from the beginning. Who is the core of the band?
Eivind is the only remaining original member. He’s been there since 1990 when Atrox changed the name from Suffocation. Rune Sørgård became a member the first time in 1994, so I guess you could say that they are the main core.

‘Binocular’ was released in Spring 2008. Can you tell a bit more about this record?
‘Binocular’ is a multilayered and complex album, but still hits home on the first spin. The Sound is quite retro-futuristic: an exiting journey through time and space, where old meets new, and mechanic meets organic. We have mixed instruments such as Hammond, moogs and strings to face hard mechanical samples. All the layers on the record could be used as standalone tracks. But mixed together you get ATROX, which I will describe as MASSIVE!

How would you describe your music to our readers?
Regarding how to label Atrox I must say that I am not a fan of labelling music, but I see the need for trying to label music. It is not a bad thing, it is just that it very often fails to be correct. But again, people have different references and listen to different kinds of music, and very often this results in a vast variety in labels being put on Atrox. Avant-garde is a good label, melodic suits Atrox as well since most of the time we have multiple melodies supporting the main melody. Goth is not a specially fitting label though, I know some people who put the goth label on us in the early days, especially with the ‘Mesmerised’ album (Head Not Found/1997) Back then the label gothic could be used with some success, but nowadays I don’t think there is much of the gothic references left in Atrox. Industrial could be applied if you refer to the usage of samples and electronics on ‘Binocular’. But still, industrial is not a very good and well describing label to put on Atrox. If I had to put a label on Atrox it would be “schizo metal”, or just Metal... he he

Who are the main composers in the band? How do you write songs?
On the earlier albums from ‘Mesmerized’ to ‘Orgasm’ I would say it was quite a collaborative thing. But since Rune Sørgård is such a wizard on the computer and has been making music with his PC since Ron Jeremy made his presence in the porn industry with his big pecker in the mid seventies, he is the composer on ‘Binocular’. The process of getting a song from his head on to an album involves at least four stages. First he works very long with a new song before he presents it to the rest of us. Secondly comes the rehearsal stage, here we collectively arrange and adjust the song to get a more perfected sound for the song. Very often this is the part of production where vocals will be applied. After rehearsing comes pre-production. Rune records all the instruments and goes back to his computer to start mixing the mechanic and organic sounds together. Finally comes the recording and mix in studio. Since we already have set all the details for sound and constructed the song in forehand, the recording phase in studio is done quickly. As always, the mixing and producing of the album is what takes most time in the studio. As you can see, getting an Atrox-song ready is a long and hard road to walk down. But of course it rewarding in the end and a lot of fun during the process.

Is any of you involved in other bands or projects?
Rune Sørgård had a project with the Edvardsen-sisters, Monika (Atrox) and Ann-Mari (Third and the Mortal) called Tactile Gemma. Rune also contributed on some Manes stuff. Eivind is one of the main members in the band Manes where he plays guitar. Me (Tor Arne) have also played some gigs with them live and played the drums on their latest release ‘How The World Came To An End’. Eivind has also something going on with his own project called Drontheim, where Rune S also is involved. Erik Paulsen (bass) plays in some progressive bands such as Jørgenson, Paul & Helmer and Arabs In Aspic II .Rune Folgerø is a painter/photographer and spends a hell of a lot of time with that.

What are the plans for the near future?
We are in the process of preproduction for the next album at the moment. It’s working out really good and we are narrowing in on an even better sound and material for the new album. Atrox have not been seen so much out on the road playing live in the past, but now we have been and will continue to do that with ’Binocular’. We are ready to conquer the world with this album. The material really kicks ass when we play it live, so we want to go on tour and play live as much as possible in the future.

And to occlude: what can people expect when they attend an Atrox gig?
A kick-ass show, full of energy and massive sound.

So go and see the born again ATROX!

15/11 Azijnfabriek, Roermond (NL)

This interview was published on as well

Geplaatst door Vera op maandag 03 november 2008 - 16:07:41
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