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Athera (Susperia)

Interview with Athera from Susperia
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 17 July 2009, 5:34 PM

While Athera was recovering from the recent surgery he found some time to answer to METAL TEMPLE's questions about his health adventure and he future come back. So, while Athera has already returned on-stage with SUSPERIA read what he had to say…

Interview with: Athera from SUSPERIA

 Greetings from the METAL TEMPLE webzine and many congrats on your new album.

Thank you very much! Glad to be talking to you!

 So, Athera how is your health? Have you completed recovered from the recent surgery?

My health is actually better than ever. I have been sick for many years without even knowing it, just feeling differently from day to day. I didn't give it much thought since no one could told me what was wrong with me, But one day it went bad and I was picked up by an ambulance, and the rest is history. But the surgery went perfect and my life was saved and the damaged arteries were replaced, so now I feel just like we all should feel! Though with a bit more respectful approach to things in life.

 How do you feel that you are about to return on-stage with SUSPERIA?

I feel very good about it! I did some rehearsals together with my replacement singer a while back as well, so I never really left the band, I just couldn't do the UK tour we had, coz of the healing of my chest-bones. We have a Norwegian tour coming up after the summer so looking forward to that. Playing all over my own country is nice. Playing with the guys is one of the best things I know, so of course I am happy that I can return!

 So, has this recent health trouble changed the way you look at your every day life?

Yes, very, very much. It's no secret I did a few drugs in the past, nothing over the top but enough to make me sick way before my time. Today after everything I wouldn't dare to touch anything ever again, I would be sure to drop dead if I even tasted something. I have realized how fragile the human body and life in general is, so have a totally new attitude towards things. Eating healthier, stopped smoking, drinking less and exercising. You wouldn't see me running around for hours in the forest before. Now I do it all the time. I lost my mother to the same illness just a month ago, so it all hit me again and made things even more intense. So you could say I am a changed person with new respect for life and everything.

 These are good news, but let's move on to your new album. First of I have to ask you about the two guest signers; how did you contact them and did you work together in the studio?

Well, it's not so hard to contact friends, you know. The idea of having Chuck Billy do something was conceived when we toured with TESTAMENT in 2005. We talked about it then but didn't get around to it until this album. I talked to him late last year and he was really interested in doing a song. So, our engineer sent him the tracks and he recorded in San Francisco around Christmas time, in between the hectic schedule he had with TESTAMENT. He was free to do what he wanted, and when we got the tracks back we heard it would work perfectly!! When it comes to Shagrath it was just like a jam really. We thought, if one guest, why not two? Shagrath is a childhood friend of Tjodalv of course and we all live nearby each other and are all good friends. I took Shagrath to the studio at the end of the sessions, and we worked the song for a couple of hours and there you go!

 You have changed your singing style from the first SUSPERIA album. Is this part of an evolution process or it is a matter of your choice?

I would say both. It's almost 10 years since I recorded Predominance, so I have become a grown man to start with and am not a kid anymore, he he. But you also evolve and learn stuff over the years. The more you do this the more experienced you get. And you get kind of more aware of things. How they should sound and what works best for you and your own voice. Plus the music also evolves and is experimented on through the years, so it's all a natural process and nothing I have done because I didn't like how I started out or anything. Black Metal just wasn't our cup of tea, so we went for a more extreme / Thrashy style once we got to know each other within the band.

 The production of the album is simply explosive. Did you have anything to do with the production during the work at the Fredman studios?

Yeah, we always write and produce all the material. And the mixing is just the final touch of the sound. We have worked hard to try different equipment and create the heaviest coolest sound possible. So, when the work in advance is thoroughly done, it makes for an easier mix. But using Fredman again was something we did with the intention of re-creating the same kind of explosive sound we had on Unlimited, which was the last album we did there. It worked out as planned. We were all present in Fredman while the album was mixed, to be a part of it, and give directions to what should be done.

 Have you heard your replacement? Can he manage your singing style?

He stayed at my house when he came up for rehearsals. He lives 6 hours away from us, and I live only 5 minutes from our rehearsal place. So, I got to know him and we talked a lot about the music. He is a trained classic rock singer, so he can probably reach higher notes than me. But then again he can't growl as deep as me, he he. But better to have an educated singer who can hit every note, instead of a standard growler who can't sing clean very well. Bernt was the man for the job, and he sounded different, but cool.

 How long did you work on the music in Attitude?

On and off since the last album actually. So, almost two years. Things come up and you have to do shows and have a lot of breaks from writing, but the point is it is not a last minute thing, we have done pre-production after pre-production and tested all the songs out in different ways until we are totally satisfied.

 Did you work as team or you just brought your ideas in the studio and then build the album?

We always work as a team. Even though Cyrus is the main song writer and I handle almost all the lyrics myself, we have a real democracy and everyone's opinion must be treated with respect and taken seriously. We can come up with a song and then everyone comes to Cyrus' house where he has his studio, and we spend hours and days arranging songs and hang out. It's a cool deal. The album is totally finished when we enter the studio, and then everyone knows exactly what to do respectively. Some ideas are born by accident in the studio and added to the music, but that always happens.

 Do you think that the success of Attitude will add additional pressure for the next release? Do you feel that you will have to compete yourselves?

We always compete with ourselves. We try to make better and better albums of course, or else it would appear strange… You always feel some pressure when starting work on a new album, no matter how successful the previous one was. Your band is your family as well, and when we try to make a new baby, to put it that way, we of course want it to be as close to perfect as possible, at least in our eyes. And we want to please our existing fans as well as gaining new ones! Without compromising the music, we won't sell out.

 I think that the band sounds more comfortable in the sound of Attitude; what is your opinion? Do you think that a band should change/evolve its sound or just stick to a winning recipe?

You gotta do what feels right for you and for the others in the band. You can't only try to please the crowds, you have to make music that pleases yourself, and then hope that the crowd likes it too! Not necessarily change your sound, but you can't bang your head against the wall either and do the same songs over and over again. You need to challenge yourself too, to get more inspired. But it's always kept within the frame or sound that we have created over the years, You can easily hear it is SUSPERIA, I think no matter what we do. But we feel comfortable about the last album yeah, it represents actually all the corners we have visited throughout all the albums, and sums up quite nicely the aspect of the band. A nice Metal cocktail.

 Now a general question; the Scandinavian countries are the cream of the crop in the Metal scene, can you think of a reason for this? Has something to do with the low temperatures, haha?

Maybe. Instead of going outside freezing we stay inside and make good music in front of the fireplace, ha ha. Nah, it's not always cold up here. This summer it has been 30 degrees Celsius everyday and too fucking hot, but the variety is nice. Maybe that's the key… We have all the four seasons and a lot of variety in the weather and also in the massive beautiful nature, so it could be that this is reflected in the way we write music up here, I don't really know. All I know is that we all love music and most of us take it really seriously and have a deep passion for it. We are small countries here in the North, but have some of the biggest metal bands in the world. We inspire each other I guess.

 What are your personal influences? What was the moment in your life that you decided to become a singer?

I grew up in the late 80's so like many I got into METALLICA and SLAYER and the big guys back then. It didn't take me long to know that this was the way I wanted to live my life. Good music, beer, and nice people. It's a good movement the metal community, never any violence, peaceful festivals and just general positive feelings all around, so I do not regret this life for a moment! I started to play drums in my first band in 1991. In 1992 I met Memnock for the first time and I joined his band where I did the vocals. Have played with him ever since, for 17 years… I knew back then that singing was my way to go. And I ruined my right arm playing drums anyway, ha ha.

 What effect has the economical crisis in the Metal scene? Can a new band make a stand?

I guess it gets harder and harder to create new bands and get somewhere now. Not just because of the financial difficulties, but also the drop in album sales in general, due to the sad downloading. People are fucking up for themselves by doing this. If you want bands you like to come and play in your country, the worst thing you can do is download their music. With no income there is no budget to go on tours. But for some strange reason people don't realize that. We are not that affected by the crisis, but USA is, and that makes it hard for us to go there this year. They can't afford flying us over or pay us, so that's a bitch.

 What are your touring plans? Are there any plans for a DVD shooting? If so what would be the best place to film it?

There's a lot of big and cool venues around Europe to shoot a DVD in, but I guess it would be cool to shoot it in your home country. The crowd here is awesome and Rockefeller in Oslo would be a good venue for a concert video. But the optimal would be to have one song from every city around or something, to show different atmospheres. There are no immediate plans for this anyway. It is very expensive to do this, so we'll have to see what the future brings. We have as I said earlier the Norwegian tour coming in September. I know we have festivals in England later this year, Hard Rock Hell is one of them. But some more shows will probably surface. But no European tour as of yet.

 Ok, Athera thank you very much for your time. I wish you a more powerful return on-stage and more successful albums in the future. Add anything you like.

Thank you so much!! It was a pleasure talking to you. Thank you for once again showing such interest in SUSPERIA - highly appreciated. We can't get enough help and support you know. Thanx to all for reading this and checking our shit out! Hope you all like our new album and we will as soon as possible start on the next one. We already have material for 15 new songs so, we have a lot to work on! We won't back down at all! We're back with a new one before you know it. Enjoy Attitude until then. And take it from someone who learned the hard way; take good care of yourselves and the people close to you.

Respect and hailz!!

Yours truly, Athera



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