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In The Woods…'s Kåre André Sletteberg:"… we have just gone through a pandemic, and now we have a war in Europe, it's not looking very good at the moment, but even in the darkest times, you can still find hope"

Interview with Kåre André Sletteberg from In The Woods…
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 20 November 2022, 9:52 PM

Being different, making a difference in being different than earlier, channeling something new to the world in order to show change. Whether it is for the better or worse, that is for every listener to decide and reflect upon. It appears that the ego element dropped when the Norwegian In The Woods… is concerned. A changing of the guard can actually do that. With the release of their new album, “Diversum”, there are a lot of emotions bursting, enough to empty from a darkened soul. Steinmetal was able to chat with guitarist Kåre André Sletteberg about the new record and the experience.   

Hello Kåre, it is a pleasure to have you for this talk with Metal Temple online Magazine, how are things on your end sir?

I've tried to get Anders Kobro to answer these questions, so you just have to bear me. Hope that is fine.

With everything that has been going on in the world in the last couple of years, whether the pandemic, which has left us but only for a limited period of time until the next thing in line, and of course the war in the East, there is a need for an escape. I wonder, how did you make it mentally through these last challenging years?

These times were supposed to be like pre-Covid times, but that did not happen unfortunately. I think everyone is in need of an escape right now, and hopefully music can provide that for those who needs it. We worked hard, when it was possible, and created this album. It took long time, but during the circumstances we found ourselves very lucky to be able to get it done. Correctly this time.

After the release of “Cease The Day”, things happened surrounding the In The Woods… camp, with the lineup taking a new shape, retaining a new personality. I think the foremost change was with the arrival of your new voice, Bernt Fjellestad (ex-Suspiria / ex-Guardians Of Time). After being with you since the “Pure” days, James Fogarty departed from the band. What caused this severed tie with In The Woods…?

I think the pandemic played an important role in this. James felt cut off from the rest of the band, and couldn’t make travels to Norway to be a part of the band. He also fell out with myself and Nils Drivdal, and in the end would want to involve us in the making of new music… He asked an ultimatum and in the end, Nils and myself are still here, delivering an album we, the whole band, are proud of.

Fjellestad entered the shoes of Fogarty, presenting new echoes in the voice that leads In The Woods…, how did you know that Mr. Fjellestad was the rightful decision, the vocalist that would be the voice of the band, hopefully for the years to come?

I met him for the first time, when we invited him to have a little chat about the position in the band. The others have known him for over 25 years, and they were certain that he could be the correct replacement for James. He is such a talented musician, a great man and friend.

After being signed for years with the French label, Debemur Morti Productions, you went northwards and signed with the Dutch Soulseller Records for your next endeavors. Was it time to kick things into gear by signing with the latter? How do you find this signing and what are your expectations going forward?

Yes, it was time to make some changes, to get something fresh and different for the band. We are doing this record, and after that, who knows? Soulseller really cares about the fans of its bands, and that really shines through when you see the pre-orders, the details put into everything.

The new album “Diversum” opened a new chapter in the history of In The Woods…, as mentioned, with new beginnings. From what I could conjure, the meaning of the title has something to do with being articulate and diverse, hence “Diversum”. What is your version of what it is all about? How does it express the band’s image in your view?

It roughly translates as «different», and it describes this record pretty well in my honest opinion. It's also a very typical In The Woods album, with the difference in music compared to Cease The Day. I found this title to be a perfect name for an In The Woods… album.

I found “Diversum”, in terms of a philosophical entity, to be rather mystical, at times talking in codes. What can you share about the overall themes that lead the album? Are there connections to our very own reality?

Definitely, we are humans making music, so the real world will always be a big part of our art. I think it's hard to share the overall themes, as each listener will take the lyrics, the music and connect it with their personal feelings and longings. But we have just gone through a pandemic, and now we have a war in Europe, it's not looking very good at the moment, but even in the darkest times, you can still find hope.

The artwork of the album, created by Dr. Winter, continuing his work for you, and he has for several years now, is quite the looker, an enigmatic piece of art. I tried to put things together but it was a bit difficult. What can you tell about the vision that led Winter to come up with this picture?

Thank you. Yes, he was given the duties of creating the artwork for the third album in a row. He did something different this time, and we really appreciate his work. The painting has different emotions to it, but the most important for me, is that if you manage to look away from the big picture, there will always be some bright moments to enhance your day, your life.

I believe that with “Diversum”, In The Woods… perfected the fusion between being atmospheric, progressive and without forgetting its deep rooted extremity. There are enough musical directions to go around for every listener of both Metal and Rock. In my book, the music on this record is one of your illuminating works to date. How do you find this notion?

We do not write music for it to belong to one genre. We don’t put those boundaries on ourselves. We simply try to create the music we want to create, and whatever the outcome is, we are happy if it can get the attention of fans of all genres.

As the music of the record, which seems the band as developed, the songwriting of “Diversum” provides insight of uniqueness, the ability to transform extremity into a kind of beauty that not many can. What can you tell about the songwriting process that made “Diversum” for what it is?

First of all, what differs this record to the previous one, is that the band is working as a unit. There’s is no I, only us. Having in mind, that we trust each other's decision making 100%, it is the perfect environment for making music, and this record is a solid proof of just that. What you hear on this record, if you stream it, play the CD or listen to it on vinyl in a dark and empty room, it will be the same you see on a stage at a festival or your local concert house. It is us. The player you see on stage playing that part, recorded that part.

The coming of Mr. Fjellestad, and being integrated with the music, brought in additional layers of vocal types to the band. Other than being a master in growls, his melodic vocals, ranging from cold driven, and in the same breath, emotively into the Blues, you garnered yourself a frontman that is a keeper. How do you find Fjellestad’s contribution to the songwriting on “Diversum”?

He came in and gave the songs a new life. Every single song turned out to be a little bit different than first though. That's an obvious part of changing vocalist. He has a great understanding of melodies, of phrasing and he simply changed the whole environment within the band to be more positive. We could not be happier for the outcome, and all the work he put down in doing this.

One of the toughest challenges in songs is to understand, better said comprehend, how to find the cohesion between the lyrics and music. How were you able to channel the lyrics within the music, or the other way around? What was that edge that you found, and how were you able to accomplish it to your satisfaction?

Bernt came in at a late time, when the songs where 90% finished, so the lyrics and melodies were built around what was already there. When it comes to the lyrics, it's about the emotion of the moment. What has happened that day, what happened in the world that day, and other major and minor things. The music sets the mood, for the stories to keep flowing.

Frédéric Gervais once again engineered your music, and came up with an even stronger output than “Cease The Day”. With “Diversum”, In The Woods… sounds more fluent, coherent and strong with its emotional expression. How do you find the sound of the band in 2022, and on the record in particular?

With this record we worked as a band should work together, and that is clearly in the result. On Cease The Day, unfortunately there was too much ego, and that sets it colors on an album. Like I’ve mentioned before, on this record we trust each other and we make the music we want to make. It's not a record that's made for anyone but ourselves. If its welcomed in the scene, that's just a powerful bonus.

A song that captured my attention with a selection of powerful moments, is what I grasped as personal, “A Wonderful Crisis”. A true game word, a true music in progression, creating a wonderful atmosphere, this number cannot be put to rest and had me thinking quite a lot. What can you tell about the track’s creation and the gathering of ideas and influences surrounding it?

It has a lot of emotions, and it's a doozy song, with its powerful tops. The influence of this song, as for the album, is what’s happening in the world right now. It's too much to comprehend. Music is strong win that way it's a channel to express yourselves, and the emits that was taking place at the exact moment of that recording. And fans of music listening to it, creates their own emotions as the track and album goes along.

The immense electric atmosphere of the closing track, “Your Dark”, was as if listening to a darkened Pink Floyd, but with an addition of intense drama. This song is one of the hooking ones, also can be referred as an easy on the ear, enchanting with its clarity. How do you find this song?

It is one of my personal favorites, because of the paths that it took. It's clearly a very dark song, yet easy to listen to. It was not meant to be the closing track, but when it was finished, it was the only logical thing to do.

Last year it was the 30th anniversary of In The Woods…. With the pandemic ruining any chance to an actual celebration, is there a planning for celebrations for this special occasion or perhaps a future compilation or unreleased songs that should see the light of day?

Nothing planned for the bands 30th anniversary at all, and there was really nothing special happening. SoulSeller records put out some reissues of the two first albums. I'm sure something bigger will happen in 2025, but that's still many years into the future, so for that we will have to see what’s going to happen.

Other than the 30th anniversary, what does your schedule look like for the support of “Diversum” for the remainder of 2022?

Due to the pandemic, it's not a good time for us to travel and support the record in 2022. There are so many bands out on tour, and we have to think about our fans. The way of the world right now, is making everyday life so expensive, and people cannot attend even concert that's announced, so our timing has to be perfect. We are planning a tour in Europe in late winter 2023. I'm sure some details regarding that will soon pop up…

Kåre, it was an honor to have you for this interview, and I would like to thank you very much for your time and patience for this one. I can’t wait for another album, as this one is one hell of an experience. Cheers

Sorry for not having Anders answering your questions. He is a busy man, and we share the workload as much as possible. One thing I can promise you, is that we are already in the works of the next album.


 



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