"I Try To Be Diverse In Music and Would Be Bored If I Had To Listen To Necro Black Metal All Day" Metality.net Interviews Eddie Risdal

Eddie Risdal is a multi-talented Norwegian extreme metal icon, known for his mind-blowing harsh vocals, vintage songwriting and matchless guitar playing. Throughout his long musical career, he has been involved in a bunch of extreme Metal bands such as Misvita and Sykdom, but he's best known in the Metal scene for founding the very successful, trilogy-based, mind-crushing Industrial Death/Black Metal project V:28, aka “The voice of innovative deconstruction” alongside Kristoffer Oustad, and the 15-year old Gothic/Symphonic Black Metal band Ancestral Legacy. He's also a writer in the Norwegian webzine “Beat The Blizzard”.

2010 was a very busy year for Eddie, starting off with releasing Ancestral Legacy's sophomore full-length entitled “Nightmare Diaries”, moving along towards playing gigs and successfully touring Europe with Ancestral Legacy in promotion of the new album, contributing with PreEmptive Strike 0.1 on their latest album, and eventually ending up with the spawn of a new Symphonic Black Metal project called Legacy of Empitness featuring old Ancestral Legacy lineup. Recordings for the Legacy Of Emptiness debut took place in the time between July and November, 2010, while mixing and mastering were done by one of the most eminent and influential characters in the history of Metal music, the mastermind Dan Swanö, who also casts a guest appearance on the album contributing with some guitar parts.

Eddie allocated some of his time to tell Metality more about his new project and share some of his futuristic plans regarding Legacy Of Emptiness and Ancestral Legacy.

Karim Tarek: First of all, happy New Year, thanks for this pleasant opportunity and welcome to Metality.net. Hope you're doing well.

Eddie Risdal: Hi there Karim, all is well here, typical Norwegian (oldschool!) Winter, cold, at times VERY cold, and lots of snow. I happen to like that very much compared to how our winters were in the most of the 90's and early 2000, when it was more "global warming" style, some rain, some snow, lots of ice and everybody fell and broke something. Now it seems that the ice age is back, the perfect inspiration for writing cold Norwegian metal!

Karim Tarek: In terms of music, 2010 was a very successful and prolific year for you and Ancestral Legacy having finally released the long-awaited “Nightmare Diaries”. What took that album in particular so long?

Eddie Risdal: If not successful in terms of gained attention it was indeed a very satisfying year for me personally, as you said we finally got out that damn album! The thing is that we already in November 2005 decided which songs to record, after voting them from the pile of demo tracks we had back then. Just a few weeks later our drummer at the time decided to leave the band due to motivation problems, and that left us in a difficult situation. Being a relatively small band in a small town, with no nearby big towns or cities, made it hard to get him placed. There are many factors to fulfill, of course the most important is that you find someone who can PLAY, and also being a nice person we get along with, and who dig our songs. After some months without getting somewhere we tried a guy whom I'd played in a couple of bands with earlier. I didn't have high hopes, cause I knew him very well and he was never easy to "adjust", he had his favourite music in other styles than ours, and also when it came to him doing "homework", as to rehearse our songs by his own and stuff. Of course just that happened, so after wasting a few months with him we were back to scratch. Before this guy entered I had already asked a guy who I got to know from a common friend of ours, but he thought the task was too big as he hadn't been playing drums for long. I got back to him some time after our failed drummer had left, to hear if he had changed his mind, and this time he told us that he was willing to give it a try. And now he is well established in the band and we get along very well.

So, one year and a half after selecting the songs and the drummer issue, we started the recording with our own equipment. Since we had no deadline it took about half a year until we were finished, it was a considerable amount of music to be nailed, 14 songs, 80 minutes. The mixing and mastering went smooth and easy, we released the "leftovers" as a self- financed EP named "Trapped Within The Words", and sent the remaining tracks to a handful of labels in hope of a response. Basically nothing happened. It was very frustrating, having an album we thought was damn good just rejected all over. I had known a woman running a web forum particularly aimed at metal bands with female singers, and when she decided to start a label I didn't hesitate to "offer her to sign us", and she did, he he. Now the problem just was the cover art. A chick was supposed to have it finished around February/March 2009 (after the first "artist" I hired just fucked us up and went undercover), but she had a hard disc crash, of course NO backups and had to start all over again. Weeks and months went by and it wasn't delivered in full until the end of the year, almost 10 MONTHS after first promised. Although the cover art is stunning in my opinion, it really pissed me off that it took that amount of time. So, when it was all in place it was just to wait for the big day, and on February 26th 2010, more than two years after it was finished, we played the release gig in our hometown Arendal, Norway.

Karim Tarek: Ancestral Legacy toured Europe in promotion of the new album right after the release of “Nightmare Diaries”. Was that aforethought or it just came out of nothing?

Eddie Risdal: It's a result of the good old do-it-yourself style. We did a European tour with V:28 in 2008 and I got good connection with the band Veil Of Mist from France, in particular their band leader, Mr. Frichet, so we kept in touch ever since and talked about doing something similar with Ancestral Legacy. He basically fixed all the gigs, including one which was late minute cancelled, I also tried my best to get some, but with no result. Also the Swedish band Act III came along, and during three days we had very much fun down in central Europe. Absolutely NO luxury at all, and we carried 90% of the expenses ourselves. Think we grew as a band and friends though.

Karim Tarek: 2010 witnessed an important change in Ancestral Legacy's lineup having the longtime vocalist of the band Elin Anita Omholt (who recorded “Nightmare Diaries”) replaced with the new promising Mexican youngster Isadora Cortina. As one of the founders of the band how do you see that change in the lineup? Will it be accompanied by any parallel change in the music?

Eddie Risdal: She actually joined at a much earlier stage, and got a permanent member in November 2008. We had given Elin the time and quiet to get better after suffering some health problems, but in the end she told me that she couldn't give as much of herself as she wanted and the band deserved. For once we had some luck, I had found Isadora on Myspace some time earlier, got to become good friends and after she was introduced to our drummer and they got along very well she decided to come for a visit. And when they later became a couple, got married and she moved here, it was just perfect timing when Elin had to quit. They are very different as vocalists I think, Elin has much more power in her voice, strong and clear, while Isa is more warm and soft, and she has a very good ear for the music. As for new music we don't try to make new songs to suit her voice in particular, we already have a few new songs, and some older ideas reworked, rearranged and finished. Now she is working on putting things together by her own, to gain experience on the matter, we think that is the best way to just give her time and trust, so that she will find her own way to get satisfying results. When she presents her ideas then we all comment on what we think work and not, and finish it together. If there will be any musical changes it will be regardless of the vocalist change, more a result of our will to explore new terrains.

Karim Tarek: Touring with a band right after joining them is quite a tough job, I would say, especially if one's from another country. How did you and the guys manage to mingle quickly with Isadora and not make her feel any sense of expatriation/unfriendliness during the tour?

Eddie Risdal: Oh, I don't think any of us thought too much about that at all, it all just came very natural, in a way she was just "one of the boys", she and Christopher could have some private time when they had the chance, and in the end I think that was the biggest success of the tour. She learns Norwegian very quickly, so now we mostly communicate in Norwegian, sometime in English if needed. We never had an argument so far, she is focused on taking critics on her job and to do the best for the band, not what she think is best for her; it's a value that I appreciate very very much. Before the tour she had only done two gigs with us, and we saw the improvement on her stage appearance from day to day, it was great fun to witness.

Karim Tarek: What are your best memories from the tour? Also feel free to share any funny moments that took place during it.

Eddie Risdal: Wow, we were more than a week away from home, even if we only played three shows, and much of the time six persons were stuffed together in a small camper. It could have become nasty, but in retrospect, after forgetting how boring it is to drive 3500 kilometers, it was great fun. What I'm most pleased with is as already mentioned; all of us getting along well, that Isa did good (despite some light illness, a special thanks to the doctor, Mr. Frichet), that there were no bad episodes in traffic, nothing of importance broken, lost or stolen. There was also much laughing; one of the best moments was after the gig in Reims, France. We stood outside our camper, playing music on a small "ghettoblaster", drinking beer and get to know our tourmates in Act III. I had brought some Swedish "dirty music" which we played, while a couple of the Swedes were doing a very memorable "disco dance", a true Kodak moment!

Karim Tarek: You and your comrade from V:28, Kristoffer Oustad, made a guest appearance on PreEmptive Strike 0.1's latest album “The Kosmokrator”. How was that done, considering the fact that the guys are from Greece? Also, how do you find that experience?

Eddie Risdal: It's nothing extraordinary, rather quite common these days to collaborate "cyberspace-wise", so what happened was that was asked by the guys if we could do some guest appearance on their forthcoming album. We listened to the song, it is a bit far from what we usually deal with, but in the end decided to give it a try. So we recorded Kristoffer's guitars and my vocals at Kristoffer's home studio and sent them the files. The result was pretty good I think. They also had some other guests on the album, plus some remixes, so I suppose that's just the way they work. As I said this isn't my regular listening, still I find their album pretty enjoyable, so if you like some dark ebm stuff it could be worth checking out.

Karim Tarek: Drifting towards more personal aspects of yours as a musician, when did your passion for playing music start, what gave you the motive and stirred to you start, and when did you have your first instrument?

Eddie Risdal: It wasn't anything I decided I wanted to do when I was very young. I was rather shy and didn't like very much attention. My dad and many other in my family (uncles, aunts, cousins) played various instrument, so you could say I was born into it, but never pushed to start playing myself. So when I was around 14-15 I remember I borrowed my mom's Spanish guitar (the best stuff to start with as they are not too brutal on your fingers), got a book with some chords and tutorials and took it from there. From the start I also tried to figure out how to play songs by myself by listening to them and play along, and that is probably the most useful thing I've learnt over the years. It started very easy with stuff like Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Tom Petty and such, then later I got an electric guitar (think it maybe was around 1992) and could try my luck on W.A.S.P., Helloween, Metallica and AC/DC. And as I figured out more and more, my motivation increased. Sadly I've never been the kind to play solo parts over and over again for 4-5 hours a day, I was usually satisfied when I had learnt the chords and sometimes some straight guitar melodies. Having played guitar for more than 20 years I am probably impressively bad at my instrument, I really prefer band rehearsals over those repeatingly skill improving exercises.

Karim Tarek:
What are some of the bands that you grew up on and that had laid a great impact upon you?

Eddie Risdal: My first musical memories was standard Norwegian children's music and I didn't have any focused view on what music I liked, it was mostly what I heard on cassettes or on radio, and if I heard something particularly good I left it with that one song I heard and never bothered to check out more of that artist. It wasn't until around the time I started playing guitar (1988/89) that I got more directly into certain artists. During the early eighties there had been much standard pop and rock played on the radio, some of the first harder bands I listened to were AC/DC, Helloween, Maiden and Twisted Sister. My first big "musical crush" was Tom Petty and also Traveling Wilburys, none of them very metal at all, but I still love both even today. I can't say that you can hear much Tom Petty in my playing of course, I think the ones who helped define my own songwriting were stuff like W.A.S.P., Testament, early Metallica, Amorphis, Tiamat, the list could go on...

Karim Tarek: What non-musical factors that most inspire you as musician?

Eddie Risdal: Not much really. I never blend politics with music for instance, if anything it just has to be my mood right when I make some music. I dislike writing lyrics, as I feel that as I seldom have anything important to say, then I should rather keep my mouth shut. Writing music, songs, melodies, arrangements and the whole package, comes to me in different shapes. It's not a standard recipe on how to do it, but of course my general mood at the time of creation often would flavor the outcome, happy mood is happy music, darker mood and darker music. Lately I haven't been too creative, though if some of my bandmates come up with an idea I could suddenly have a whole arrangement in my head based upon that, he he. So I think I can't give you a better answer than that.

Karim Tarek: What are some of your favorite movies?

Eddie Risdal: Oh, I'm such a dork on movies... To me they are mostly plain entertainment there and then, and I watch fewer films than most other people I think. Very much the opposite than Kristoffer Oustad, who based much of his songwriting and band concept in V:28 from his inspiration from certain films. If I have to name something I'd be very standard and boring and say the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, other than that there isn't anything that pop into my head right now.

Karim Tarek: What bands have you been listening to a lot lately?

Eddie Risdal: Throes Of Dawn delivered last year's best album with "The Great Fleet Of Echoes", so that one gotta be mentioned. I try to be diverse in music and would be bored if I had to listen to necro black metal all day, he he. My latest discovery is Danish electronic folkrock band Valravn, recommended me by Mr. Frichet from the earlier mentioned band Veil Of Mist. Other stuff worth mentioning are South African hip-hop group Die Antwoord, Russian pop girl Glukoza, American country/folk/cabaret duo Evelyn Evelyn and I also "rediscovered" my old favorites New Model Army (rock/hardrock/punk) and Curve (fuzzpop). Very little metal here, but bands like Enslaved, Cradle Of Filth, Danzig and Soulgrind put up really good albums last year.

Karim Tarek: Lately you formed a new Symphonic Black Metal band called Legacy Of Emptiness. What started up the idea and how was it put into work?

Eddie Risdal: I've always been a bit sad that the old songs we had were so good, but were suffering from bad demo sound. Last Summer me and Kjell-Ivar (bass), who played with me in Ancestral Legacy from the formation up until 2002, talked and we agreed that it was about time to wipe off the dust of the best songs from the first years and finally give them the production they deserved. No matter how was going to happen with the release, as long as we had the songs in a top notch production for ourselves to enjoy, and no one else bothered, we would still be happy with it. What we also agreed upon at an early stage was to not announce this project. Thus we had the possibility to cancel it all off without disappointing a lot of people if we weren't satisfied with the outcome. But as you can hear now it sounds really killer! First we thought about recording 4-5 songs and make an EP/mini album, then Øyvind Rosseland (keyboards) had some ideas, and we arranged it together into the track Onward!, which in no way stand back for the old material. So with six long songs plus an outro it made an album's length in the end. We spent several months on the recording, due to different factors, firstly it's done home at my place, so there are no deadlines or costs renting a studio. And also we had this new song being arranged and finished along the way.

Karim Tarek: The debut album for Legacy Of Emptiness was mixed and mastered by the almighty Dan Swanö who also plays on the album as a guest musician. What do you say about that, and do you think having Dan Swanö's name on the album will make it more successful?

Eddie Risdal: First we thought about just mixing and finishing it off ourselves, that would cost us nothing. Then we thought, what the heck, we could always spend some money to get it as good as possibly. So one of the first names we thought of was Swanö, he has been involved in some of our favorite albums released in the last almost 20 years and also we dig his own bands. We checked his studio's homepage, sent him a request, and here we are! All communication was done via email, and it worked out smoothly, first it was the basics, how we wanted the sound and stuff, then after he had started his work he mailed us samples and we sent back feedback and correction notes. But it sounded really good already on the first mix, so the process was mostly just to approve his progress. That's also a big part of why we chose him, because we thought that he would "understand" our music and where we wanted to go with it, and indeed he did! Also his guitar work was splendid, he did two leadguitars on Onward!, one of them I tried to do myself, but I was stuck and really couldn't get a satisfying result, therefore we thought maybe he could come up with something, and again it was just what we had hoped for.

Karim Tarek: I heard the album teaser you released on youtube, and what drew my attention the most was the dark atmosphere surrounding the music. What can you tell the people about how Legacy Of Emptiness sounds like, and how does Legacy Of Emptiness' music differ from Ancestral Legacy's?

Eddie Risdal: Hmmm, to talk about the last thing first; Legacy Of Emptiness is simply how Ancestral Legacy sounded ten years ago! When we started the project we were very clear that we couldn't release this as AL, as both the style and line-up in 2010 is completely different than it was back then. So Legacy Of Emptiness sum it up in a great way we think, it keeps half the band name, and also give a reference to our second demo, called "Emptiness", where all tracks except the new song and the outro were taken from. I don't know about dark atmosphere... We are not at all a bunch of destructive, suicidal and isolated persons, rather some relatively normal guys with a healthy view upon the world today. Keyboardist Øyvind is usually the one who has the first idea for a song, and there might be a few hints of film score music or computer game stuff there, he's spending much time with both watching movies and playing games, so that probably influence his composing. In general our music is still very melodic and more or less all of it could be performed on piano and acoustic guitar, he he. As for the lyrics, they are pretty dark reading. Not much personal stuff, it's more to have something that fits with the genre, it doesn't fit well to sing about love, flowers and the sun when playing extreme metal. I really don't know how to explain the difference between LoE's and AL's music, the two main factors are of course that there are two different main composers in the band, and also they are usually composed on different instruments.

Karim Tarek: What's up with the agenda of 2011 for Legacy Of Emptiness? In other words, what are your plans? When are you going to release the debut album? Are you planning on playing live gigs or maybe touring? What do you want to achieve in 2011 for Legacy Of Emptiness?

Eddie Risdal: First we have to do the round with record labels. If the calendar showed 1997 I am sure we would have had several offers, now things are of course very different. There are more bands than ever, most of them can record their stuff by their own; thus there are much more albums being recorded as well, and last but not least, the "download problem". So we just have to cross our fingers and wait patiently, the quality of the music should beat at least 90% of other metal releases anyway, he he. So I have no idea on when the album will be out, if no labels are interested we have to make it a self financed release and then maybe try to get a distro deal somewhere. There will sadly be no live activities with LoE, there are two reasons for that. Firstly it's a matter of health of the band members, not all of us are fit for long travels and concerts every night, in particular our bassist has some neurological issues which are very unpredictable and can make him suddenly be forced to stay in bed or on the sofa for days. And also we would need to hire some additional musicians (drummer and additional guitarist) or else use playback, which we don't like the idea of. We just have to try and spread the name the best we can and hope the right people like what they hear. It started out as a very egoistic idea to simply please ourselves, so if not much happens then we won't be too disappointed I think, as long as I have the album in my own shelf I will still be happy.

Karim Tarek: I know you have a regular job - now that you're working on two musical projects (Ancestral Legacy and Legacy Of Emptiness) how do you manage to keep up with them both in addition to work, family…etc?

Eddie Risdal: LoE doesn't take up as much time as V:28 did, so setting off time for LoE and AL isn't any worse than it was when I had AL and V:28. As LoE don't rehearse and play live, the most time consuming part of it all, also helps a lot. And very much can be done from home, doing interviews, maintain homepages, making and recording music etc, so it isn't as bad as you may think. Also AL has been quite "dead" lately, it's not much use for us to be in the rehearsal room two days a week when there isn't any gig to prepare for. Right now we're in a songwriting mode with AL, and the best way to make music is usually at home, me and guitarist Tor Arvid come up with ideas and then once in a while meet to put things together and structure into whole songs. Then vocalist Isadora gets the songs and a bunch of lyrics and can take her time finishing off that part.

Karim Tarek: Metality.net is a Middle-East-based webzine, we do our best to link the middle eastern metal scene with that of the occident. Any experiences with middle eastern music? Something that you happen to like?

Eddie Risdal: I have to disappoint you there, I have no experience whatsoever with Middle Eastern music. The only band I can mention at all is the Turkish band Catafalque, and they have a very much western sound. There are of course many factors why, but many of those would involve political matters, and I don't want to share political thoughts as a musician, even if I have very strong meanings about how the world is being run today. To be more precise on WHY I am not familiar with your kind of music is probably the fact that is simply isn't very natural to me. You have different musical scales you follow, but when you are born into it, I suppose that is the "right" one in your ears, while we have our Norwegian folk music, which probably sound a bit awkward for middle eastern people. And I'm not discriminating here, much the same goes for music from the far east (Chinese, Japanese etc), African, or any other music that has, for me, an artificial note pattern. I like the "Egyptian metal" that Bolt Thrower play though, he he.

Karim Tarek:
Would you like to play live in the Middle East one day? Also, where else would you like to play for the first time?

Eddie Risdal: Hmmm, I have never really thought about this. As I'm already becoming quite old (36 years) for a person in the metal business, I have fever and fever dreams, and have become more and more a realist. So doing a world tour is something I don't consider to be much likely to happen. Then again I would be happy to play anywhere, if it's in Middle East or anywhere else. I have noticed that our kind of music (if you label AL femme metal, like most reviewers do) has a great fanbase in latin- and south America, so going there could be very fun. Then again, live gigs would be only for Ancestral Legacy, as Legacy Of Emptiness is merely a studio project.

Karim Tarek: As a veteran extreme Metal musician, what general pointers/advices would you like to give to rookies/youngster musicians?

Eddie Risdal: That would be easy; to do everything different than I have done! Ha ha, I will try to explain a bit more. Firstly I started playing my instrument relatively late, you learn faster and better the earlier you are. Secondly I have never been willing to improve my skills, I've usually settled with just being "just about good enough". I sometimes feel embarrassed when I see some youngsters racing their fingers across the fretboard, and I wonder if I even remember what I'm about to play myself. Also I was relatively old when I got into some serious bands, and when we started recording demos, we did that wrong too! We made 50 minute long crappy demos, nobody have time to listen to that! Spend a few money on a decent recording of two or three of your best songs if you don't have the knowledge or equipment to do it yourself. Get out and play concerts, that's also a thing that I've done too little. In particular now in the download days that is important, to meet people and make yourself known. It's also where the income possibilities are, the gig money (if you're that lucky), merch sales and it's often easier to sell a CD after a gig than from your webshop. Get to know people and bands. Concert bookers, managers, whatever. Who you know is always important. That's also a thing I've been very bad at, even if I'm a social guy, I always happen to get to know the wrong people, he he.

Karim Tarek: It's my pleasure to have conducted this interview with you. Thank you for your time, and feel free to share any final words with Metality readers.

Eddie Risdal: Thank you for this long and interesting interview Karim! Check out my bands, but most important; support the bands you love! In any way of course, but buying their releases and merch if you can afford it. If you have to sell your grandma, then it's not worth it. Still there is much you can do for free, it only takes the most valuable thing of all to do it; time. Recommend your favorite music to your friends, on internet forums, wherever. Tell people about concerts that will take place in your neighborhood, the possibilities are unlimited, the most important is that you do something, be involved! Sooner or later you will experience that it pays off, all bands that gains success will be eternal grateful to their followers, those who don't will not stay long in the business. So if you happen to like Legacy Of Emptiness or Ancestral Legacy, you know what to do! For a start I can tell you that we have a bunch of demo tracks for free download from www.ancestrallegacy.com And you probably find the rest of our releases as illegal downloads anywhere on the web. I can't tell you not to download those, only ask that you buy the real deal if you happen to love what you hear. Over and out!

Make sure to visit Eddie's bands for more information and for the latest updates concerning the new Legacy Of Emptiness album.

Legacy Of Emptiness on:
Myspace | Facebook

Ancestral Legacy on:
Official Site | Myspace | Facebook

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