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Netherbird's Pontus Andersson: " It is almost feels like I carve the dark tissue out of my body and use it to create something bigger then myself – I think a lot of artists, musicians and devoted fans can relate to that."

Interview with Pontus Andersson from Netherbird
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 30 August 2019, 10:42 PM

To think, feel, look, experience. That is mostly what we do when listen to music in general, yet there are albums that are there for release, and there are those that are deeper, thicker than mud. The Swedish melodic extreme team of Netherbird returned to haunt, enchant and make one sit back and listen to the sounds echoing the in the touching night's wind. “Into The Vast Uncharted” is the title, and under a new label. Steinmetal had a chance to talk to co-founder Pontus Andersson about the new album, concept, musical development, Metal in general and more…

Hello Pontus, much appreciated for your time to make it for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. How have you been sir?

No worries, my pleasure. Everything’s great – I just moved to the UK so I’m kind of sorting out a new studio setup here and getting ready to sharpen my tools for the upcoming release.

Netherbird returns to the scene with the mystifying burnt offering of “Into The Vast Uncharted”, signed to a new label, Eisenwald. How do you feel about this release? Did it turn out as you envisioned it to be?

I feel good about the release but it will probably take me a couple of years before I can view the album, it is somewhat holistic – when you are in the middle of creating and releasing an album you tend to be a bit too close to the songs and your own creativity to truly see their potential or value. With that said – I do believe it is our strongest release to date and I’m proud of everyone who’s been involved.

The title “Into The Vast Uncharted” makes me think of a horizon that has yet to be discovered, conquered, like a goal that can be seen from afar, yet hasn’t been reached yet. Am I on the right direction here, or is the meaning nailed on myths and legends?

I think for me, and I believe I speak for Nephente as well who is the co-founder, singer and lyricist of Netherbird, this album has been very much about the inner journey. There has been a lot of focus on the inner journey in the last years, and in order to create something this dark and painful, you need to visit places that might be out of yours and most people's comfort zone. We spent a lot of time together in that wasteland writing “Into the vast uncharted” so the title describes that horizon – at least for me.

In my opinion, signing with Eisenwald was a good decision, as I believe that the label fits bands such as yourselves musically, also many greats of the same direction of music passed through it onwards. What is your standpoint regarding the new signing? What happened with the local Black Lodge Records? Loss of interest or something?

We had and still have a great relationship with Black Lodge and they did offer to release the album among a few others labels– however we felt that Eisenwald was the perfect match for us and where we are heading. It’s a great label with a really dedicated crew and they share our visions and ideas regarding where we’ like to go. You can nothing but respect a label that signs bands for their music and rather than figures or clicks. They have proven themselves with a really solid roster of quality releases so we feel proud to be a part of their lineup. It’s been a great feeling from the start and we have nothing but good things to say about them.

It is really hard not to be caught in the web of “Into The Vast Uncharted” enchanted melodic infusion into the extremity, which has been proven to be in great quality in your case. The soloing for instance is pure classic Metal driven, enticing with powerful moments of true glory. Do you believe that Netherbird, from album to album, is even more melodic and harmonious than previously? Is there anywhere to go as far as melody goes in Netherbird?

Both me and Nephente look at Netherbird as an extreme expression but it is very much based in heavy metal and rock. As far as melody goes – I guess most of it springs out of our pedigree of Swedish dark folk music combined with the 90’s death/black scene that exploded in Scandinavia. We tend not to analyze to much these days – whatever feels right for us is what is going to stick. If this album is more melodic than our previous it is not an active choice but rather what felt right in the moment. As long as we feel true and honest about it we know will stand the test of time.

Other than the melodic pattern, what would you say are the prime differences, or evolutionary state, of “Into The Vast Uncharted”, in comparison of your previous works?

We actually wrote another album in between our last album “The Grander Voyage” and “Into the vast uncharted” but we felt it cut to close to "The Grander Voyage" so we scrapped it. It was a good album but you know – we felt like it had already been said, so burnt it. Sometimes you need to write one song to reach the next one and I think we are constantly moving forward both lyrically and musically – it might be subtle sometimes but we carry a different kind of confidence these days that allows us to write and perform closer to our native selves so every release and song peels of another layer… eventually there might be nothing but void left but I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey.

The featured artwork of “Into The Vast Uncharted” can easily be categorized as normal for the genre, especially your Black Metal side. However, I find peace in it, instead of a constant struggle. What can you tell about it? Why this particular painting was selected? Were there other paintings as candidates?

We have a process where Nephente presents his visions and ideas for the cover art and then we bounce the ideas back and forth until we both feel that it is something that we both can stand behind – it can take months sometimes but for us the cover art needs to reflect something deeper than just a great image or cool cover. If it doesn’t speak to us on a deeper level it won’t carry our banner. There were a few other options but when this one was presented -we knew it was the right one. If the cover is peaceful to you then that’s what it is – a great cover art makes you feel and think different things just like a great poem or lyrics. For me it represents a window into the soul.

In what lyrical concept does “Into The Vast Uncharted” deal with? What kind of message does it deliver?

For me this album is very much about the inner journey and facing the abyss within – we spent a lot of time dealing with our own demons while making this album and I think It can be felt it both the music and lyrics. In order to make great art you always need to sacrifice something into the fire and we both left something on this album.

Songwriting processes can change from album to album, especially when a band wishes to improve itself, therefore various other methods are tested. What can you tell about the songwriting process that underwent for “Into The Vast Uncharted”?  Would you say that it was a solo effort, only to be executed as band, or rather a joint effort?

All songs are written by me and Nephente, but everyone involved in the album helps making it into what it is. As far as the writing goes the songs tends to carry us – we start of with a few musical pieces and then Nephente puts a title to them that he feels speaks to him and from there we let the songs grow. Nephente writes a massive amount of lyrics – almost like a dark poetry diary one might say and once we find a page that fits with the mood of the music we start to fit it to the canvas. I think it goes easier for each album but it has taken us a few years to trust each other in the process and maybe even more so to let the songs carry us.

What would you say is the newfound powerful peak point that Netherbird made in the new album? A quality that would be taken into account on the next releases onwards

Sometimes you need to scrap a good album in order to make one that is great.

 “Into The Vast Uncharted” represents, for the first time, your new drummer, ex-Amon Amarth’s Fredrik Andresson. What is your appreciation of Mr. Andersson? Did he have an influence on the songwriting of the new album?

Yes, I believe every member brings their own flavor to the album – Fredrik Andersson is an amazing drummer and he is very dedicated to his art. He pays a lot of attention to details and he truly cares about making the outcome the best possible. His long service in the Scandinavian metal scene has made him into a very sharp blade. We don’t always agree on all musical arangements but no great art comes without a struggle – it is the result that counts and we are very proud of his drumming on this album.

Working with such a team as Hiili Hiilesmaa and Dan Swano has to be a treat, and probably with unforgettable moments. What is your opinion on their work on “Into The Vast Uncharted”? Do you believe that this team helped you ascertain the true sound of Netherbird?

I think that Netherbird is a hard band to produce to begin with. We are very strong minded and have a very clear idea of how Netherbird sounds and operates so it is not easy to be “the new kid in class”. We were looking for someone to help us keeping the album together sonically and I think he did a great job but when it comes to the creative decisions we tend to steer the ship ourselves. Hiili was great in the sense that he understood that and respected our creative freedom. Swanö is nothing but a legend and he has been involved in almost every record I grow up listening to so it was a great honor having him onboard. There is no one I trust more than him when it comes to how this music should sound so the instance we received the masters from him we knew he had hit the sweet spot. He was born with it – period. I also want to give props to Sverker at Wing Studios for doing a great job on working with the drums together with Fredrik.

Looking at the tracklist, each of the songs has its own identity and overall feel generated, however, I assume that there must be that one track that you feel better connected to? Perhaps to its lyrics rather than its music or vise versa. Please elaborate on your pick

I personally would like to highlight “Eventide Evagnel” – I think the lyrics are haunting and captures the essence of the album and I like the musical dynamics. I even made a cover of this song with clean vocals on Nephente's wedding as a tribute to his lyrics and it felt like the song carried me. When you have a song that both Nick Cave and Emperor can perform you know you got a good track. Another strong song is “Lunar Pendulum”. I like the simplicity in the chord arrangements and the rock strain that runs through the song – it packs a good punch.

An off topic question for you, it has been found by various researchers that Heavy Metal music is actually a calm to the nerves, makes the person better in the society. Does it sound to you far-fetched or there is actually something logical about that notion?

It certainly helps me to manage and harness a lot of anger and anxiety. It is almost feels like I carve the dark tissue out of my body and use it to create something bigger then myself – I think a lot of artists, musicians and devoted fans can relate to that.

How do you intend to support “Into The Vast Uncharted” in the later stage of 2019 and what about 2020?

I am hoping we can do some shows next year to support the release and we are already having a dialog with a couple of festivals so I am sure it will pan out. Right now I am located in the UK and the rest of the band in Sweden so we will probably not hit the roads until 2020 – however if the right opportunity appears we might re-surface earlier.

Pontus, I wish to thank you again for spending time for this interview. Netherbird really outdid itself on the new album, I personally enjoyed it and already waiting for more, make haste for the next one please. All the best!

Cheers, we really appreciate the work you guys put in at Metal Temple! Onwards!



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