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Interview - Kim Olesen / Henrik Fevre / Michael Bodin / Morten Sorenson (Anubis Gate)

Interview with Kim Olesen / Henrik Fevre / Michael Bodin / Morten Sorenson from Anubis Gate
by Daniel Fox at 11 March 2014, 5:48 PM

ANUBIS GATE has developed quite a name for themselves in the world of Progressive Power Metal. Eventually they even caught the eye of Lance King that signed them to Nightmare Records. In celebration of their recent “Sheep” EP and their upcoming “Horizons” album, Daniel Fox talked shop with the band’s members regarding the EP, new album, music and more…

First off, a warm thank you for agreeing to this interview, and also for recording "Horizons"; a stellar contribution to making 2014 a very metallic and musical year. How are things with the band right now? Counting the days until release?

Kim: You bet. Having a new album is always so exciting. And a little bit anxiety provoking. Will people like it etc etc… At the moment we are preparing for some live gigs and that is really fun too.

Henrik: We hope the free EP ”Sheep” helped fans getting though the winter without the expected autumn 2013 album release. If you haven't got it yet, please go to Anubis Gate "Free EP" - MP3 to get it. We're rehearsing for livegigs. Rock Harvest III is coming up in October '14 in Baltimore, USA, so we're working to get the show up and running. Otherwise we're writing the seventh album and doing a few interviews like this.

I'm going to have to agree that it is ANUBIS GATE's most mature release to date. I noticed a number of elements from "Andromeda Unchained" and "The Detached" present in this album that I don't believe I heard on the self-titled (which in and of itself made that album special also). Do you believe that the Hansen albums were an important influence on Horizons?

Kim: The others might feel otherwise but personally for me; not really. I do understand how this album can be seen as a bit of a return to that style, but really we never think about what direction we will go on an album We just write and suddenly we have an album's worth of material. We learned early on that if you write anything else than what you feel like doing (or try to write what you think is expected of you) it turns out bad. So if people hear it as an album that sounds like the Hansen era that was not by plan but by accident. And I do agree that this album is very different to the s/t. It’s more dark and not so easily taken in.

Henrik: I agree; we're not going backwards. I think ”Horizons” is a natural move forward from the s/t. Although two new members have joined since then I believe it still sounds very much like Anubis Gate, some of it very familiar, and some breaking new grounds, as always.

Henrik, I feel like the inward transition from the Hansen era is what makes the band unique; each of the band's "chapters" are excellent for different reasons. One of these, on the self-titled and the new album, is the lead vocal performance you have brought to the table. You have also proven on your solo work that you are very versatile, and quite frankly, I cannot compare any other singer I know to your style; most definitely a good thing, and a needed quality amongst melodic metal. Who are your biggest influences as a vocalist?

Henrik: Thank you for your kind words. I do not listen to a lot of different metal vocalists these days, which is probably the main reason why you have a hard time placing me among the others. In fact I get much more inspiration from listening to other genres of music. When I was a teenager I was crazy about Geoff Tate and Queensrÿche. Then I took a long vacation from metal, almost 20 year of celibacy where I explored other musical directions and was educated in singing. (Yes, I'm not really the bass player who suddenly took up singing and was lucky to get away with it. I was always a singer, who fortunately ended up in a Metal band playing bass). But in 2005, when I stepped in and replaced Torben at a few gigs, I had no identity as a metal singer and I didn't really know how to sound ”metal”. So I kind of emulated the dramatic and somehow nasal sound of Torben, and I must have pulled it off all right, 'cause some people were actually surprised that I wasn't the singer on the albums. Later came Jacob Hansen, who was very different from Torben. Making close harmonies behind Jacob's pure and high-pitched voice took me in another direction. You could say that on top of my own voice came layers of inspiration from both our previous singers that shaped me into what I am today and prepared me for the role of lead singer in Anubis Gate that I probably wasn't ready to fulfill until Jacob left.

Secondly, do you feel that you taking the helm as lead vocalist has had a significant influence on this, or was it more so an overall product of cumulative changes in line-up and the band's creative pool?

Henrik: The voice is significant to a band's sound, but maybe to a lesser degree in metal than in pop. Could we ever imagine The Rolling Stones without Mick Jagger? Or U2 without Bono? I guess we're lucky that we've survived several lead singer changes. It can be the death of a band. Genesis survived and became even more successful after Peter Gabriel, possibly due to the fact that Phil Collins was already in the band. But he couldn't be replaced, and maybe we only managed it the second time around 'cause I was already there. I don't know. But I'm grateful for being accepted as the ”new man”. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty: I believe the songwriting is really everything here. When I look back upon my early teenage years of listening to metal; it wasn't the fastest guitarist or whoever had more bass drums that I was after. It was all about the songs. Anubis Gate was always about songwriting, and since we've always been a band of songwriters, an Anubis Gate album is very much a product of the people who are in it at the time of its creation. Michael Bodin came into the band at a time when a lot of stuff was already written for ”Horizons”, but he somehow managed to squeeze himself into the writing process quite a bit, which gave new blood to this album. So the creative pool of ”Horizons” was a mixture of inputs from the s/t line-up  and the current. The pool will be different next time around, 'cause then both Morten Gade and Michael will be present from the start.

Michael, The solo you performed on the "Broken Wings" cover on the EP stood out to me in terms of playing style; I can't say I've heard guitar playing similar. Which guitarists are most important to you? Is there a particular style or 'school' of playing that you adhere to, genre-wise or other?

Michael: I don't know which style my playing is, but it is influenced by many guitarists through the years from hard rock to death metal and also from genres out of metal as flamenco, rock and pop. I've always tried to create my own style of playing, both in the way I play solos and in the way I write music, but of course there has been a lot of different guitarists that have inspired me. One of my first great inspirations was Michael Denner and Hank Shermann of Mercyful Fate, later John Petrucci came along, and he is for me one of the best prog metal guitarists, but also Per Nielson (Scar Symmetry) is a favourite of mine, I love Mathias Ekhlund's unique style but also Greg Howe and Al di Meola have been a great inspiration and of course a lot of other great musicians too.

Morten, I recognize your name from multiple other reputable bands. I can imagine, with drummers being very popular people in the metal, that you must be very busy; how do you balance these things, with playing on what is quite frankly a new opus for ANUBIS GATE?

Morten: There is a funny thing about Danish drummers with the same name. Somehow we are (at least) three named Morten Sørensen all playing metal. When Anubis Gate announced replacing Morten Sørensen with Morten Gade Sørensen we had a laugh about the confusion that might have caused. Musically I really feel at home in Anubis Gate – the signature sound landscape and progressions of Kim, Henrik and Michaels creations really suit my style of playing. It all balances musically with my other band Pyramaze and with my family and daytime job as a Network Engineer. This is also due to the fact that neither Anubis Gate nor Pyramaze are touring bands. This might change with a few concerts here and there – who knows what the future will bring.

Jacob Hansen has been involved with the band for a long time as a producer, and was as also the previous vocalist. Other bands I listen to have ex-members that, although they are no longer part of the band, still have a significant influence  on later albums. Aside from his touches in the mixing and mastering, would you say he has had a similar kind of impact on the new album?

Kim: Apart from his absolutely fantastic mixing I think it would be fair to say that this is the album he had the least to do with since the Torben era albums. Explanation: On the 3 previous albums Jacob was a part of the writing and production team right from the start. The only reason that he didn’t sing on the s/t album was that he left the band (due to his career as a producer sky rocketing) when the album was almost finished. So apart from the vocals the s/t album could be counted as somewhat of a Hansen era album too. On ”Horizons” his first involvement was when Morten recorded the drums and at that point the album had been completely written and much of it already recorded. That being said he and I always put our combined finishing touches to the material once it gets to the mixing stage. And his input in this respect (and while tracking drums too) is of course a part of the finished products. And one we would not want to be without. He is stellar at what he does. He and I sometimes make quite significant changes to things in the last minute. Probably not as much on this album as on the ones before. The ending of ”Revolution Come Undone” was Jacobs idea. It didn’t end “huge” originally. That was an idea he got while we were mixing.

I feel that the less focus on live appearances (for reasons that I wish more people would understand instead of complaining) is a contributing factor to the band's marvelous studio work and somewhat adds to the band's nostalgia. How do you feel about this? Is the band more likely to play smatterings of festival and local shows, or might touring be in the works at some point?

Kim: That is true. We are kind of our own bubble, constantly writing and creating. Even before ”Horizons” is released we have begun writing the next. The thing with touring is that it’s too expensive. Support bands are expected to pay something like 500 dollars to play. So you can calculate what a 20 gig tour would cost. And add to that we are all “old men” with children and house loans to pay off. Imagine taking a month off work (meaning: no income) and paying 10.000 dollars to play the support spot…..…. We can’t afford to tour. Festivals etc we are happy to do.

Lastly, I have heard that the band is already starting work on yet another album; can this see a similar musical direction as the S/T and "Horizons", or are you yet to create something, equally as wonderful, but another case of branching off from the present ‘muse'?

Michael: We are 3 composers in A.G. and all with different influences. We all write with our hearts and one day it is a very heavy complex riff one of us comes up with and the next day it is some very soft melodic rock, so you never know what the next album is going to sound like, but I think it will be as diverse as Horizons.

Kim: Right now, and this might change as we get more material written, the next one seems to be a very heavy album.

Again, thank you very much for this interview opportunity. Admittedly it is an honor to be talking to a favorite band about their work; a melodic and intellectual gem amidst an ocean of progressive bands. Any additional comments you wish to make?

Kim: Thanks for the nice words and thanks for featuring us. Additional words should be the obvious shameless self-promotion: Get ”Horizons”. It’s out on April 15. If you buy the cd version there is a nice extra included in form of a ZIP file with a 2005 live set. That will be exclusive to this cd issue. You can of course already preorder Horizons on www.nightmarerecords.com



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Edited 25 October 2020
 

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