IN THE WOODS
IN THE WOODS…, o trupa pe care am iubit-o de la prima auditie, acum reactivata, dupa mai bine de 14 ani de liniste. Exista mult interes pentru viitorul trupei, de aceea l-am rugat pe Anders Kobro sa-mi raspunda la cateva intrebari despre aceasta trupa si nu numai.
Hello Anders. How is autumn like in Kristiansand? Have you had some snowing time this year, maybe? Father’s day was a few days ago… Did you fulfill your children’s expectations?
Hello Doru, thank you for this interview. Autumn here in K-town is very autumn so to say, November is usually dark and gloomy, with lots of rain. It is the perfect time for us to sit down together and be creative, and of course good times for indoor activities. My sons were here on Father’s day, but I or them didn’t put anything into that anyhow. It was just a normal day.
Let’s speak about ITW… Why so silent in the last 14 years? Or what was the reason you decided to continue with ITW…? This project has been put on ice 15 years ago…Why?
Why is, sorry to say, too complicated and too personal for the people involved to talk about publicly. Let’s just say that it was a decision we took then and, as I see it, we did the right thing. The 14 years of silence you’re mentioning here are very relative in such a manner that we (the founding core members) have not been lazy all these years. We have all been busy doing other bands, projects and work in the music industry in general. I have, for example, been doing Green Carnation, Carpathian Forest, Chain Collector, Scariot and many more. Carpathian Forest has been the band I have been most busy with by far, touring intensively from 2000-2009 more or less. Green Carnation also did tours and festivals etc. The Botteri bros has been doing their own solo projects (the Green Carnation debut album was released when In The Woods... was still active, back then). The decision to start up ITW... again was not a spontaneous or impulsive one, I have been wanting to do it for many years already, knowing that we had so much more music in us, and the feeling of leaving things undone. Now was the correct timing for us in every possible way and it feels really good to be back now. We do know now that this is something that is meant to be.
Tchort was the first person who had the idea of ITW…, right? He started Green Carnation back in the 90’s with you, Richart and Botteri brothers. What happened then? You released only one demo with Green Carnation and the next year you moved into ITW… but without Tchort and Richart.
Firstly, Tchort (Terje) has never or never will have anything to do with ITW... at all!!! He wasn’t even the one who started Green Carnation. That was a mutual thing done by him, me and the Botteri bros. He actually never quit that band either, he was literally kicked out by the Botteris after we did this demo tape recording. The Botteri bros and I then went on to become ITW...
The ITW… nucleus was you, Botteri brothers, Oddvar and Jan Kenneth, in the late ‘91. What are your memories from that period, now, after 23 years? You were only 16 back then, heh…
They’re fond memories, we were a bunch of very dedicated kids, to put it mildly. We were going in this with all we had. My life back then was basically: school, dinner, rehearsing (a lot!) and bed, every day for many years.
Does ITW… have some kind of a bandleader? Maybe Chris Botteri? Who created the music, who has had the first idea of creating, composing a track, a solo, a concept?
ITW... has always been a democratic band and we all have equal rights to be heard. If there’s anything as a bandleader, I guess that would be me, I am the one who has to make most of the decisions (the captain, engine and the Chris-catalyst so to speak), but it’s us three that is for all the arrangement and song-structures. The core ideas always come from Chris (X. Botteri) but after getting filtered and worked on together. With me and his brother, In The Woods... music will happen. We have never forced anything out of ourselves, it all just transforms into our music naturally and careful attention to details and so on...
Did you keep in contact with Oddvar after ITW… split? Was it a suicide, in the end?
Oddvar was a good person, a good friend and our brother. I do not want to talk so much about his tragedy, I’m still sad about it, he didn’t deserve this. The best for us to do now is to make sure his sons grow up with fond memories about their dad, something they can be proud of at least.
Christian X. Botteri is a very secretive person. I only know he collaborated with Green Carnation, Emancer, Naervaer and that he releases tracks under X. Botteri pseudonym. Is he more involved in music that I know of?
Chris is probably the most productive person I’ve ever known of, he is basically a music making factory, haha. Ever since ITW... was put on hold he and his brother have done their solo project stuff with different people, releasing demos and albums themselves. They never had any label or distributions on these things, so it’s all done by themselves with a little help from their older brother. They also (as you probably already know) wrote and played on the debut album with Green Carnation.
Do you like the bands that Jan Kenneth promotes through his Karmakosmix Records?
To be honest, no... Nothing that he has on his label is anything that I consider interesting. That label has nothing to do with ITW... At all. This is Jan’s thing alone, even he stated in the beginning that the label was started to continue the ITW... members’ future projects etc., which is not the truth at all.
Btw, what about Synne? Is she still playing in some other band, maybe?
Synne has lived in Oslo (about 3 hour drive from Kr. Sand) busy with her studies and such and being a mom to young children, I guess that takes most of her time :) . I do not know myself of any band she has been involved in after ITW... besides, a few guest appearances with Green Carnation. But Synne will be involved in ITW... future releases as well.
I remember you have also played with Bjørn and Christer. What about them? Are you still in contact with them?
Bjørn and I meet occasionally, he is a civil engineer now, working most of his time abroad (China). I certainly hope Bjørn will pay us a visit when recording our next efforts and lay down some slide-guitars and a couple of solos. I do not have any contact with Christer, at all.
What memories do you still keep in mind from Caledonian Hall? What was the atmosphere like? Wasn’t it a bit weird to know that you were to play the last gig with ITW…?
It’s a fond memory for sure. We did a 3 hour plus concert and on my behalf a perfectly executed performance. It was a special night for everyone that was there I guess. We did something extra compared to a regular gig. We used lots of high-end light equipment and got the whole thing to be both a visual and audio experience for the audience. They won’t forget it I guess. It was an emotional night for us for sure, the last song of the night made some of us shed a tear or two, I believe haha...
Who had the idea of releasing a Double CD with this concert? Why not a video recording?
I decided that we should record the show live in a professional way because when done correctly it can be a very good way to record regardless. It was also meant to be released as DVD too, but there were two things that prevented us from doing that. The main thing is that the whole thing was captured by 3 cameras, 2 on and in front of the stage and one camera from higher up above the FOH mixer. One of the cameras broke down after just 2-3 songs in the set, and a second camera called it the night half-way through (Murphy`s Law in effect), but most important was that Synne did not want any DVD release at all, and we had to respect that. It wasn’t a pro-camera team doing it either, so we can’t be upset about it at all. Either way, the sounds are out there on the Live album.
You and both Botteri have already created songs for 2 other albums. I have no idea yet what the musical direction will be, but I believe the songs will be more Metal, somewhere between Heart Of The Ages and Omnio, am I right? Strange in Stereo was a too experimental and Prog album for a lot of fans…
True, we had more or less 2 more albums at its core ready back in 1999. 2 of those tunes are on the Live album “Beer” and “I don’t care”. A title that is on Jan’s behalf. The songs didn’t have any lyrics or vocal arrangements then, so we agreed on that they just improvised something.
When it comes to 2014 and our efforts now, let me tell you this: When the Botteri brothers and I do music it becomes In The Woods... even if we try not to. It is just how we sound together, it’s a little hilarious now actually but we are more ITW... now than ever. The idea of our next release is to do an album with a dark side of the moon vibe to it, not necessarily a concept but when we do music we create albums that have a natural flow, everything needs to fit together without fillers etc.. Every song or composition on an album we make is there for a reason. And rest assured, we are still 100% ITW…, and it’s not going to change anytime soon. It is pointless for me to say it’s going to be like this or like that, because we never look back we look ahead.
The 4th person in the band is Tommy. Do you like MANES? Or ATROX? I know he played in a lot of other bands, such as GRIFFIN, WATTAMEZZ, even in GODSEND. What expectations will you have from the new singer? What will be the differences between Jan Kenneth and Tommy in the new ITW… sound?
I have seen Tommy live with MANES a few times, and I really like his stage presence and energy. He is a very nice person which is alpha omega and the fact that he also knew ITW… from before is an important factor here. We have absolute confidence in Tommy that he will do his own thing, not try to copy someone else and he has absolute artistic freedom when it comes to lyrics and vocal arrangement etc. That he has a large spectre as a singer is just a bonus. We have talked a lot about this and for him it’s most important to dare to do things he normally wouldn’t do with any of his other bands/projects.
Tommy is from Trondheim. I know that ITW… only had artists from Kristiansand, right? What will be the IK Start soccer fans’ reactions when they will see that ITW… will be playing on the Kristiansand stadium with a Trondheim singer, hehe?
Let’s deal with this problem when that time comes, haha... But who knows, maybe more RBK FC fans will show up than IK Start? ;)
Your 3 official albums were released at Misanthropy Records. How did you get in contact with Tiziana Stupia? Was it a correct deal for both parts? I remember I have received your debut in the same envelope with Burzum’s promo from Misanthropy. Have you met Varg in the past, maybe? BURZUM or old MAYHEM with Euronymous? What is your opinion regarding these bands?
Maybe I met him here and there, nothing special about that. It’s not a thing I consider important, not the person or who I meet. Norway has a population about cca. 5 million people, so the Metal/Black Metal scene here from those days is mostly people on our same age etc. So, yes I know most of the people involved... The question you’re asking is about a guy that I don’t want to hang out with and the other one has been dead 20 years now, so we can leave it like that...
You have already signed with Debemur Morti productions. I understood you had a lot of other options, but you decided for this label. Why? A big label can offer more promotion, more visibility and good distribution.
I choose to go with Debumur Morti Productions because of the people there work for the love and art of the music, a very rare thing in today’s music market, where most labels don’t care about the artists unless they generate shitloads of $. On the promotional side of things, today is a different era when it comes to those things. I know a few things in this business that I’ve learned during a lifetime in it with various bands etc. For ITW… sake, I certainly do not believe it is the record label’s logo on the album cover that sells our music, it is what’s on the album that does. That being said, I approve and encourage everyone out there too feel free to download our music for free as much as he wants to. We have never done this for the sake of the small pocket change we receive from physical sales anyways. And I hope and believe our past is a good promotional platform on its own I might add...
I have a lot of respect for Debemur Morti productions and I love few of their bands and releases. Do you like any bands from their rosters?
I have not heard them all personally, but their roster is all good artists and bands with high credibility in the metal/music scene of today.
So, the new ITW… album will be launched next year. Sounds amazing. I saw you already invited another guitarist for live experiences, a good friend of yours, Stein Roger Sordal. Will he not be involved in the creating process of the songs?
As I explained earlier here, the music is coming from 3 guys. That being said, it doesn’t mean we are not open for others ideas or suggestions if it will make things better. I rely on that in many ways, but those things will be more significant in the recording process. Right now I am the one that does the 2 guitar parts, since we are able to record everything in our rehearsal studio. Pre-productions is a very good way to do this. And today it’s a lot easier with all the digital recording software available. We have invested in some decent recording equipment and microphones etc.
What other musicians are you searching for the new ITW… sound? A female vocalist too, maybe?
Synne will always be the female voice for ITW… that also is the case today. When things shape up and we are going in studio for the final approach we will need external help on certain things for sure. I want to use Hammon B3 organ (John Lord style) and whatever else we might find suitable in various places.
When do you consider we can see ITW… playing live? Or when will you be ready for the first appearance? Or for the first tour? Do you have in mind some special place for a live show?
For the year of 2015 yes, one place comes to mind for us, and I know you know where and what I’m talking about. For us now our focus is on creating new material, getting this released and all those things. This means that for us it will be much more actual to do live shows (festivals maybe touring) in 2016 when the new album is out. We are in no hurry at all.
I saw some YouTube links with your gigs in Rome, Caledonian Hall, even in Los Angeles. What were the big differences between ITW… live and in studio?
We always had this rule about that ITW… should always be better live than on albums, that is my law and rule, anything else would be pointless.
Who is Tim Odom and why is him the one who’s making the artwork for ITW…?
Tim is a nice fellow from US that I had some contact with on Social Media and he offered himself to do some art-work and Logo for us. We had a dialogue on these matters and I wanted a steady Logo to use from here on, and also an emblem/symbol that will be associated with us. What he came up with was exactly the things I wanted and the rest of the band loves it too! Art-work on the next album will be that logo with emblem… One thing is certain, I do not reveal anything in public that is being used on coming releases before the time is right (except our new Logo).
Anders, you played in more than 50 albums, with a lot of bands: Carpahian Forest, Neon God, Blood Red Throne, Arvas, Den Saakaldte, Scariot, Chain Collector… Why only Metal bands?
I have done non-Metal things too, (several)!! But I am what I eat, meaning I am a metal man that is what I grew up with and where I come from and something I’m not embarrassed about. However I enjoy all kinds of music when it’s good. I consider myself as an adaptable musician that is able to fit in and do the right stuff in any styles or bands. Being open minded and being able to be a musician that is not only capable of one type of style is extremely important to me.
What kind of music are you listening to today?
Today, hmmmm. Vulture Industries, The Tower, old Motorhead and maybe some of our latest pre-productions to work out some guitar on it.
What do you think about music industry? Is there Black metal a business for musicians? Is this the true spirit of Black Metal?
I do music, so thinking of the industry in general is just pointless for me. Of course, I have my opinions because I’ve been in the industry for so many years. However, I am an artist, not a business man to say it honestly. True spirit of Black Metal is not an industry, it’s not even something I consider real, important or whatever. It’s good shit and it’s bad shit and nothing more to it. In the old days we approached the whole thing in an opposite way than today. We strived to be something unique, all the bands back then had to have something that was unique to even be accepted. I do not know about more conservative people than metalheads. It’s really kind of funny when observing it, as if it’s illegal to think outside the box and move forward instead of backwards.
BTW, you used make-up when you were playing with Capathian Forest. Why?
I don’t use make-up anymore. A handful of times maybe some black lines here and there, but no I do not consider using make-up significant at all for myself. Then again, back to the conservatism said above.
After 25 years of playing Metal music with a lot of bands, I can consider you a Senior! What is your point of view regarding the best drummers from the Metal stage? Can you name a few?
Scott Travis, Cozy Powell, John Bonham, Ringo Starr, Ginger Baker, Mikkey Dee are a few significant names every drummer should notice and admire.
“Money can buy happiness”, but at the same time money can manipulate and get one into ugly compromises. What is your point of view regarding compromises in music?
Not an option for me!!
How is a normal day for you? And how would a perfect day be like for you? Norway is not in the EU. Are you happy with this?
EU or not makes very little difference for us living here. It’s on a higher level in the politics it would have an impact, import/export etc... A perfect day is a day spent with my sons doing stuff we enjoy and have the opportunity to just relax and disconnect from the everyday issues...
What about conflicts in Ukraine, Crimeea? Do you think we need to prepare for a new World War?
No, I don’t think we need to prepare for that. On the other hand there are far bigger threats out there that are way more likely to happen. And it’s gonna happen, that is certain, we just don’t know when.
Live today, worry less and make the best out of the short time we all have been granted in this universe.
What do you know about Romania? How about Metal scene? Do you have fans here (except me, heh)?
I’m sorry to say I have little knowledge about the Romanian scene, heard of a few bands of course but can’t say I’m familiar with it. And I don’t think we have any fans there at all… But have played Romania several times though with happy crowds afterwards. I really don’t like the word fan at all. To me it sounds very patronizing, kind of a class system word in a way. I want to call people who enjoy our music friends of the band....
Dear Anders, thank you for the chat. One final question: your elder son is almost 14 years old, the same age as you were 25 years ago, when you met Botteri brothers. Does he intend to start a band with other young friends of his, maybe?
I do not interfere in his decisions when it comes to things like this, I can’t choose that for him or anyone for that matter, which is something they/him must do themselves. It all comes down to interest, social situation, friends etc. Everyone is different, and that is the beauty of it all. It would be an extremely dull and boring world if it wasn’t. Thank you very much for this in depth interview, I hope I managed to shed some more info on certain things (not important things for sure). We from the woods... thank everybody for all support and dedication all these years, you are the best! We owe you all a beer or two. See you soon on a stage somewhere!! Kobro.