Comprising four aficionados of the extreme metal scene – The Konsortium/Mayhem guitarist Teloch, Nuclear Assault/Brutal Truth bassist Dan Lilker, seasoned vocalist Espen Tørressen Hangård, and The Black/Vinterland's Andreas Jonsson on drums – born out of a heavy night's drinking and named after a computer folder, NunFuckRitual's debut In Bondage To The Serpent was unleashed in October 2011 to much appraisal. Here, Teloch talks to Jason Guest about the writing, recording and production of In Bondage To The Serpent, working around the individual member's schedules and their physical distance, the theme across the album, and the overall aesthetic.
SoT: Hi Teloch. Thanks for taking time out for this interview. My review of In Bondage to the Serpent is here.
Teloch: No worries, nice review brother.
SoT: As you're involved in a number of bands, how do you balance your time to ensure that each one gets your undivided attention?
Teloch: It's not really that difficult, as none of my bands are active at the same time, more or less. But with a little planning, it's not a problem. The cool things is also that everyone involved in the bands I play in, know how things are and are willing to be flexible. Right now I put Mayhem first, then we plan my other projects around it.
SoT: Given that the other members are all involved in their own bands and spread across Europe and Dan Lilker is in the USA, how did you work around each other's' schedules to create In Bondage to the Serpent?
Teloch: It was no stress at all, as soon as I recorded drums and guitar, I sent it to Danny, he did his thing very fast. The songs themselves are not that hard to get onto, and when one is as skilled as Danny it's a piece of cake.
SoT: What was the inspiration for forming NFR?
Teloch: I woke up one morning after drinking heavily and found a folder on my computer named NunFuckRitual. I liked what I heard, and I tried to make some more of the same stuff. The whole idea was to make something slow and atmospheric. Normally I make fast riffs all the time, but was kinda sick of that at the time. Guess I needed to slow down some before going full speed again!
SoT: Given the physical distance between members, how did you collaborate in the writing process? What role did technology play in production?
Teloch: I had the job of writing the songs, and then Espen helped out with adding things on them. We used Internet all the time for this, although we could easily meet up and do things together we didn't. We both live in Oslo, but found sending files back and forth suited us better.
SoT: That the album was produced without the band playing together, are you happy with the outcome of In Bondage to the Serpent? Did you capture the sound that you had in mind when you first envisioned the album?
Teloch: Yeah, it turned out pretty much as foreseen. And we are happy with the end result. We nailed what we wanted in the pre-production and we stuck to the idea during the whole process.
SoT: How much of the album was completed in pre-production?
Teloch: Pretty much the whole thing was nailed. But of course during the recording of the album Dan and Andreas flavoured the songs with their style of playing, we also did some things in the mixing that changed the songs some. But all in all I think we kept true to the pre-production.
SoT: The album is more atmospheric than song-based. What were the main influences for the album's sound?
Teloch: Nothing special other than Espen and me shared the same vision more or less sound wise, and we tried our best to explain it to the sound engineer who mixed it.
SoT: The album feels like more of an immersion experience than a black metal album. Was that your intention?
Teloch: The only intention was to not make fast metal, guess we succeeded with that. There was no talk whatsoever during the making of this about this being black metal or not. For us that is not important at all. Actually none of the bands I play in is really eager to get the black metal stamp, for us its more about playing some quality music, fuck black metal.
SoT: Why did you choose the theme of asexual production? It's very different to the usual themes across black metal. Is it a reference to the virgin birth?
Teloch: You can draw parallels to the band name with this theme. And yes its about asexual reproduction. Once again, the black metal thing is not important to us. If we stuck with making black metal that would only constrain us, so why would we do that, we want to be free people.
SoT: In a recent online interview, you said that the titles and lyrics serve as pointers. What's the intention of the lyrics? How do they serve the album experience?
Teloch: Not sure, that's not my department. I don't think lyrics are important at all on this one; it's more about feeling than understand what we are singing about. The lyrics on this album make no sense to you if you read them; Espen is putting words on what he is feeling on the riffs when he made the vocals. For you and me those words probably won't mean shit. So those lyrics will never be shared.
SoT: Any plans for live performances of In Bondage to the Serpent? If so, is it likely to be a tour or the occasional one-off performance?
Teloch: As of now we are talking about doing it live, but nothing is planned yet, guess we have to see next year what we do. We want to play live, but not in a shitty basement with bad sound and no lighting, this project is very visual, so it must be performed good, in all aspects.
SoT: Because the album is very atmospheric, it lends itself to visual imagery. Do you have any plans for a video? Or would you prefer that the listener's imagination is given free reign?
Teloch: If there was money for it, we would record a video for sure.
SoT: As for the future of NFR, do you have any plans for a second album? And if so, will it be the same line-up?
Teloch: The second album is already in the works, I made the sketches for it a couple of months ago. Espen and me is starting in January to put the whole thing together. The line-up will be the same. yes.
SoT: Hypothetically speaking, if for some reason any of the members are unavailable to contribute in future, will NFR continue? Is there anyone else you would consider for NFR?
Teloch: Haven't really thought of it yet, as long as I am the main man behind it I can always find someone new if someone falls out. But I don't want that, I want to continue with the line-up we have now. We all have a different approach to the music making, and that's important for me.
SoT: You're a very prolific writer and are involved with a lot of other bands. What role does technology play in your music? Do you find that technology enables you to satisfy your musical goals?
Teloch: If by tech you mean a computer, hell yeah. Everything is so easy now with computers. Of course I could go back to the 4-track Portastudio again, but right now it's just way too easy for me to work on computers rather than do it difficult.
SoT: Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Teloch: Stop sitting on the internet, go hiking in the woods or read a book. Stop listening to black metal, begin doing drugs and destroy yourself.
SoT: Thanks again Teloch. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
Teloch: Thanks for the support brother!!
(Click here to read our review of In Bondage to the Serpent)