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GREEN CARNATION: In The Spotlights Again

Interview with vocalist Kjetil Nordhus in December 2018 by Vera

Last August the amazing DVD ’Last Day Of Darkness’ was released by Prophecy Productions, including a concert registration of the magnum opus ‘Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness’, a documentary, interviews and extensive information in a 12-pages booklet. At that time we put up an (email) interview, but Kjetil as well as Tchort were extremely busy. We were still waiting for the answers when I attended the Darken The Moon X festival early December. Thus… why not a conversation with vocalist Kjetil Nordhus at this place? So much more debonair. We talked to him many times before on behalf of several bands he is involved in. And right away he invited me to go down to the backstage… A silent room was preserved for us.

Hello Kjetil. I hope you have had a smooth journey and a good flight….
Yes, we flew in yesterday, to Amsterdam from Kristiansand. There is a direct flight. We have brought some of the wives, so we had a kind of pre Christmas party yesterday. That was fun. Yes, we enjoyed it a lot. We did not see so much from the city, but we went down for something to eat and then we stayed there for the rest of the evening. We just wanted to be together, because it has been extremely busy for a year or two, so it was a kind of bonus to ourselves, to be able to have our next gathering, which was nice. All the guys from the band were there, two wives and then our sound engineer, he flew down this morning, because he has children too.

How did you get in contact with the other guys from Green Carnation again and decided to do something?
It was not the biggest surprise that we wanted to do something together again, but we actually needed a special occasion, like an extra motivation. So when the possibility came up to us to do ‘Under The Dam’ again in 2014, we decided to try and look at the possibilities and see if we liked it or not. Of course we were the first band who played a big concert under the dam in 2006, so that’s hard to top. And then we heard the news that the dam was going to be torn down. So we were going to do the last show under the dam and they asked us to finish the circle. That was like an extra motivation for us, somehow try to recreate some of the magic, but still try to do something different. So we had a mixed set of some acoustic songs and some songs with full instrumentation and I think we played an edit of ‘Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness’, about twenty minutes, as an encore. We enjoyed that a lot and then we figured out that in just two years from that, there was going to be a fifteen year anniversary for ‘Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness’. So we decided kind of already in 2014 that we were going to do that in 2016. So everything was quite well planned.

So it was not a rollercoaster, but step by step you started again…with the next concerts in 2016 when you played the full version of ‘Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness’…
Yes, it was because of the success of the concert under the dam part two, but then again we had to think twice and three times, all the band members. We needed to demand a lot from ourselves. It was not only a matter of playing through the song, we needed to give it justice. We worked hard on it, we rehearsed a lot to do some new arrangements and stuff like that. So it took us a few months and then we decided to do that. Expectations to ourselves were higher than ever. Obviously we were fifteen years older than when we recorded the track. That means a few things. We all changes as persons and as musicians. Most of us have been quite active, the last fifteen years. We also wanted to bring new life into the song, making it 100% effective. And that was not easy, because we know how much that song means to ourselves and to many people around the world. There have been some changes, for instance, our presence at social media wasn’t there at all. So we kind of built up everything from zero. Although there was a lot of interest from many promoters, it was an expensive production to have on the road, because we were nine people travelling, we needed this height on the stage, we needed possibilities for video projecting and we needed a lot of stuff. I think we had to refuse quite many gigs which we wanted to do, but we needed to be uncompromising, because in bad circumstances it would not turn out in the show we had in mind. We did not want 90% but 100%.

That graces you. Wasn’t it hard for Tchort to perform this again, because this composition was his baby, created in hard times?
Yes, of course. There is a lot of… I would say… mixed emotions in that song, of course especially for him, because it is his story. For the first time he was really telling the story behind everything. Obviously, we did interviews back then, but now we had to do it for ourselves and for the press. We did not had a long press on ‘Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness’, it is many years from now. The whole story hasn’t really been told like we did it now. Obviously it is also for him now almost twenty years since those things happened. Obviously everything is not as close anymore, but he wanted to do this, so we decided to go for it all the way. Normally, the idea for a DVD comes rather quick, few days before the show in Kristiansand, we should decide to do it. Not in this case. We planned everything in advance and worked with money experts and did a crowd-funding campaign. The last show for us that year was at home, in Kristiansand. So we wanted a few shows before, to kind of build up things and tell the people of Kristiansand it was not just a local band playing there, but an exceptional event for a DVD. We refused to play at small stages, we needed a grandiose performance. Also all the photos from those gigs are extraordinary good. Wow!

I remember when you entered Green Carnation, you entered the studio to record ‘Light Of Day’ as first challenge and that you improvised a lot…
Oh yes, a lot of things were made in the studio. For a lot of things we had some vague ideas, some ideas were improvised, but of course some parts were planned as well. In the studio we were working from part to part. We did not start from the first minute and sing everything. We worked with different parts and then we mixed everything together.

I think at that time, it helped to build up a trusty connection with Tchort I guess, singing this when it is so fresh written…
Absolutely. Of course. And also. When you are a singer and you sing lyrics from another person, you need to make the lyrics your own as well. So I was working a lot with the lyrics and try to relate them to my life, which was not impossible, because, although ‘Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness’ is quite specific, it is also not specific. It could be about different things. Obviously we know what it is about, but still some of the parts could be related to my own life as well. Of course it is a long time ago. I just jumped into the deep, seeing it as singing on a project. I don’t know if I would dare to do it now, if I knew the big challenge, because after all these years it still has an impact, while we considered it as commercial suicide. One piece of sixty minutes, you know… we just wanted to be uncompromising.

You transformed the composition into a piece of art that could be played in a live situation. For instance the mid section includes fine improvisation now (with Krumins on bouzouki and so on). Please tell us a bit more about this transformation of the song, at least parts of it...
The main task for us when preparing it, was creating something which was possible to do live. Both when it came to sounds and visuals, we wanted to create one concept, so we had to go back to the original concept and kind of transform it into live setting. The visual aspect was quite important for us, when it came to the whole bunch of ‘Light Of Day’ shows in 2016. I think, even when you listen to the audio only and close your eyes, you have a lot of visuals in your mind. So we wanted to kind of strengthen that part. Not just play the song with a nice lightshow, but we wanted to have a theme with a video backdrop and everything. It was not a very complicated thing, but it was just a challenge. Many of the parts of the song were quite easily transformed into live settings, but then again, as you said, there’s some few parts that needed some extra work. For example mid parts. Of course it could be an option for us to bring a saxophone player and a soprano, but I am sure we could not have done the gigs all around the world if we had two more people, needing them to fly in everywhere. So we were thinking maybe we could use the suggestion of a promoter in Atlanta and just invite musicians and improvise. Which could be interesting as well, but then again we were afraid to lose the control over everything. You have to trust them while meeting them two days before the show for instance. With someone as talented as Michael Krumins in the band, it would be a little bit stupid not to use that. That’s why we decided to improvise, but within the safe environment of our band members. Also when it comes to the vocoder parts. We brought a vocoder to all the gigs, even though I am only playing fifteen seconds on the vocoder, because we needed that, because that is an important tiny aspect of that song and if I were to sing that with my regular voice, it would not do the original justice. So that was the level we operated on. No compromises and I am really happy that we did that. Again, I am 43 years old and in the music business for 20+ years and I learned a lot from that ‘project’, because I think I learned the difference between doing something 95% and 100% and the difference is huge.

How long did you practice on it?
Approximately one year. Not daily of course.

Are you working on new songs?
Yes, we are. Tonight we are going to play one. It is not something we have decided for 100%, but we enjoy playing together again and we have a great time together in 2016 and we soon decided to continue doing some more shows, like this one for instance, and see how it goes. It is not decided yet. It needs to be good enough and also we have to be able to commit ourselves enough hours. We are going together for three days, up in the mountains in Norway to work on new songs, so we can fully concentrate on it. We have ideas even and themes from the days of ‘Days Of Light’, we have ideas that we did not really finish for ‘Blessing In Disguise’ We have hours of music from 2000 till 2018 we haven’t used yet. We decided to give it three more days up there and see if we can make more demos. Then maybe we will heading towards a new label. We are going to work now with quite a well-known manager in our genre, maybe the best guy. He is not our manager, we are going to cooperate with him on the bookings and he is also shopping for a label for us and we are also talking to two or three labels. Obviously Prophecy Productions, because we have a long time relationship with them and they have released ‘Last Day Of Darkness’, so we are talking to them. We are talking to Norwegian labels, a French label, to a lot of labels. It seems that people are interested in us and that’s nice to hear. We don’t have the possibility of constant touring, because of our jobs and families, but what we can do is to put the level high for ourselves and do something that we want to do. Record an album that is really good. If we cannot give this enough time, we will probably don’t release an album. It must be ace. It also has to do with respecting the band owns history actually. Because if we should do something mediocre, that would kind of ruin something in the legacy of the band that lives on. So we are going to do it our way.

In that respect, I remember in the past, there were plans for a second part of LOD, DOD’, or even a third part. Will that ever be realized?
That’s not what we are working on now. That can be another that. We discussed that and that would take even more if it comes to mental preparation and stuff like that. It is not a question of how to do it, but we are not ready to do it yet. If we are going to release a new album anytime soon, that will not be a part of the trilogy.

It will be more a continuation of the later albums…
Yes, or maybe it will take everything we have done before into a new compressed thing. Because we have a lot of music from the early 2000’s, in that style. We have a lot from 2004/2005. You will hear a new song today and it is pretty much heavier than anything we released after ‘Light Of Day’, there are some thrashy parts. There is something old and something new in it.

I let myself be surprised!

Geplaatst door Vera op donderdag 10 januari 2019 - 11:29:01
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