Crister Olsson talks to eGigs

of both Isole and Ereb Altor, he speaks about being in both bands on Monday 13 May 2013

At their first show on British soil, Crister Olsson of both Isole and Ereb Altor sits down with eGigs to discuss the pros and cons of being in two bands that play live together and how he manages to strike the balance between Viking metal and doom metal.

How are you?
I am tired. We didn't really sleep too much. We drink a lot. It has its downsides – the early mornings.

How's the tour been so far?
It has been great. It's been fun all over. Some of the gigs are really cool.

Is this your first tour in the UK?
Yeah, this is the first tour in the UK. We have been to Ireland. I've been here on vacation but it was really cheap though. I flew with Ryanair.

You have a new bassist, Jimmy Mattson, who replaced Henrik Lindenmo.
Henrik had some personal reasons and he couldn't play with us.

Will he be involved in the creative process?
No, he won't be. He decided to quit completely. It was his decision. He couldn't go on tour. Before 'Born from Shadows' he was only recording with us and we were touring with another bassist but that was not Jimmy.

You haven't released anything since 2011 so are you planning on releasing a new album soon?
Yeah, we started writing a new album. It's not finished yet. It needs two songs more.

Is Jimmy contributing to that as well?
Not yet but I hope he will be on the two last tracks. It's mainly me and Daniel [Bryntse].

I heard Henrik was involved before?
In the lyrics yeah but he didn't want to put in a lot of effort seeing as he's not playing with us. He won't do anything.

What does the new material sound like?
I think it will be less doomier, more progressive. We're going to continue on that path.

Obviously you have two bands – Ereb Altor and Isole. How do you divide your time between them?
The last couple of years have been a lot of work with Ereb Altor. We already recorded a new album that will be released this year.

So you'll be releasing two albums this year?
I don't think the Isole album will be out this year. We have the promotion and stuff like that and the recording but the Ereb Altor album has already been recorded and is waiting to be released. It could be released quite soon.

So soon after 'Gastrike' last year!
Yep, a lot of inspiration.

Obviously Ereb Altor are less doom metal and more later era Bathory. What other influences are involved in Ereb Altor?
Bathory is an influence otherwise I think a lot of it comes from our inheritance, our folk music from Sweden. I played in a folk [band] back in the nineties so I know about it. Minor tunes in Swedish music are really nice. You just have to transform it into metal somehow.

Do you find that an easy task to do?
Yeah, but I don't really think much. I get melodies in my head and find a guitar and make something out of it.

Ereb Altor were formed in the early nineties but you released your first album in 2003.
I don't know where that comes from. It's not true. We were formed in 2003 but we made a demo, me and Daniel, but we used songs that we wrote in the early nineties on that demo but the project started in 2003. They were old Isole songs that did sound very much Bathory-like and it didn't fit with Isole so we didn't know quite what to do about it. We started a tribute band – Bathory's Honour – but now I think it's sounding a little less Bathory and it [has] got its own sound.

So you prefer the later Bathory albums to the earlier ones?
Yeah, 'Hammerheart' is my favourite. I think he lost a bit of soul after 'Requiem' and he never got back to this highlight but 'Nordland' is good and 'Blood on Ice'.

It's good to hear that opinion! 'Gastrike' came out last year. How did fans and critics react to that album?
Many people were surprised. Some old fans didn't like it but they didn't really understand. This is not how Ereb Altor will sound. It was a concept album lyrically and it's all ghost stories from Sweden that it's based on so I needed a dark atmosphere. Therefore, we took some early Bathory [laughs] in the music to get the darker atmosphere. The new album is going to be a mix with some black metal but it's going sound like 'Gastrike'.

When Ereb Altor and Isole play together, do you get very different reactions from the audience? Are they surprised it's the same guys playing different kinds of metal?
I think not everyone notices it's the same guys. Today, we're playing right after each other but we often have bands in between. We wear different clothes and painted faces so I don't know if everyone really notices. Of course, fans that know us before will know it's the same guys. But no one has told us in interviews but for me it's exhausting. I don't like it. I prefer to do just one band a night. It's hard to focus again. It's not that easy all the time.

Does playing together happen often?
It happens more often. All the promoters want both bands but we will only do one. I even said it before this tour but it was too good an offer. The tour manager told me that half of the shows were one band [laughs]! Nearly every night, we're doing two gigs.

You've probably noticed that doom metal has gotten a lot more popular. Have you noticed a surge in Isole's popularity?
The fanbase is growing every year so I think so. Doom metal is definitely more popular than when we started. There were very few bands back in the nineties and now it's everywhere and there are doom metal festivals. A huge difference now.

Do you take any influence from the newer doom bands?
Actually, I don't listen to that much to doom metal. Some bands I listen to but mostly the classic ones that I've been following for years. I'm not listening to many new doom metal bands but I know the scene is growing. I see doom metal acts on the bigger festivals now.

What kind of music do you listen to now?
I listen to all kinds of music, not even just metal but in recent years I've been listening [a lot] to Opeth and Mastodon. I really enjoy it.

Are you influenced by it?
Yeah, I think so.

Sweden has a great history of progressive metal and rock, both in the past and now. You have great bands like Beardfish and Paatos.
I really love Paatos and Beardfish are friends of mine. They're from the same city as me.

What are your future plans for both bands?
We're trying to get in to bigger festivals. That's focus number one right now because we've done a lot of club shows and smaller festivals but we've never actually played on the bigger ones – Sweden Rock, Wacken, Tuska. We’ll get on the small stages first but that's cool. We'll spread the name. Ereb Altor of course are releasing an album soon and we're going to release a video quite soon. Some promotional work of course. We parted ways with Napalm Records recently too. We signed with another label. It's Cyclone Empire from Germany.

Why did you leave Napalm Records?
They didn't put a lot of effort in small bands. We need a label that [works] with us.

Are Isole treated differently to Ereb Altor because they're bigger, even though it's the same members and record label?
Yeah, better of course. We are bound to them for a couple more records so we can't leave them. It's always like that with a major label; their priorities are always in the bigger acts, of course. [Ereb Altor] would be better with a small label, more dedication and promotion.

That's the end of my questions. Do you have any final words for the readers?
They should come to the show because we are a better live band than we are in the studio. I can promise you.

Thank you for the interview.
Thank you!

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article by: Elena Francis

published: 13/05/2013 12:58

more about Ereb Altor
more about Isole