Ulver frontman Garm admits that their new album Blood Inside is a difficult and infinitely layered piece of work. Says Garm, "It's a difficult album, a difficult album for me as well. Maybe we should have released it a year ago when the material hadn't been reevaluated so many times." When asked if that's the direction they want to go in next, Garm isn't so sure. "In a way, but necessarily", he says. "It's where we are at now, or even a few months ago, it reflects some chaos, and it is what it is, but things change so fast in our world it might be different before you know it."
Read on for the complete article/interview by Sea of Tranquility's Murat Batmaz!
No wonder, considering how Ulver morphs from one release to another. They started out as a folky black metal band and explored this genre deeply on their trilogy. Then came a multitude of semi-rock, semi-electronic styled albums, followed by a series of film scores. Speaking of which, the Ulverian act is already busy writing pieces for an upcoming flick by noted director Lars von Trier, famous for the amazingly brooding movie Dancer in the Dark with Björk. "He [Lars von Trier] is the real deal as far as I am concerned, a real "cutting edge" director. I'm hoping for that to get in order.", notes Garm.
So how do soundtracks differ from the normal Ulver projects? Garm believes flicks give you more creative freedom. "Well, you're never free when you make music to be yourself. You have very strict guidelines, and have a lot of people bitching at you from behind the lines, especially when doing soundtrack material. But it's also a great learning process in regards to the technology you have to get the feel and adapting the music, so it's very educational. We need the freedom I think though."
Regarding one of Garm's many new projects, we also spoke a bit about Syndrome. Is he just going to sing or will the album contain some compositional input from him as well? "No, I'm just doing vocals for that. Really, it's just this Portuguese guy just wrote me a couple of emails and I decided to work with him, and it seems to be very straightforward music. He's a very talented musician, although taste wise he's very different from me, but that's good because I needed to be involved with something a little different, a little fun, and this is very commercial. I'm sure people will take it for what it is, or they might not get it at all."
Garm also mentions his involvements with Solefald. "I did one track for the new Solefald. Cornelius, who I met a few years ago, said he wanted me to be involved, so I did some vocals. I haven't heard the final results yet, and I recorded the vocals in three or four hours. I hope they haven't messed with them too much.", he says laughing. "But they are good guys so I am sure it will be fine."
Back to Blood Inside, Garm admits being heavily into British rock and 70's prog music when he wrote the album. "Chamber music too. We really like Univers Zero, who have been a real influence. My interest in purely electronic music has faded. It has a lot to do with lyrics, and things you read. Universe Zero to me was amazing when I was like 17 or 18, not that my interest in black metal, or metal in general has faded away, but over the years I've gotten into a lot of different stuff." When the question about doing another black metal inspired album presented itself, Garm took a long pause to think. "It's hard to say, you never say never. I think I have some other leads I'm going to follow. It's always there in the back of the mind." Now that should please the older Bergtatt and Nattens Madrigal fans of the band. We mention guitarist Mike Keneally who guested on Blood Inside. Garm laughs and says, "I was watching him in the studio, and my eyes were just rolling. He's a great player. Even though it was a really quick affair and we didn't use much of what he did, just a guitar solo, and I was proud to have him be a part of it, although commercially speaking I'm not sure how much his involvement will impact the album."
Ever since Opeth became one of the biggest forces in metal in the last couple of years, there have been several people who compared their earlier work to the Ulverian stuff. Garm doesn't agree with that. "I've actually never heard that. I remember hearing their first album and not liking it at all, but recently I've heard Blackwater Park and that's pretty tasty."
What about his departure from Arcturus? "It's really quite simple. I really had to cut down a little. That band was always a very lazy band. We went five years between records, and after the Sham Mirrors, we never really took advantage of it. Since then I have other projects, a family, and things that are more important, so I had to move on." Quite interesting comments, to say the least.
Finally we talk about any possible tours in the States. Garm is to the point, "Not this year."
Let's see what the future holds for this great act. Those who like them know they'll never be disappointed.