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Inspired by the up-coming re-release of Funeral’s 'To Mourn Is A Virtue' by Solitude Productions, doom-metal decided to have an in-depth converstation with Anders Eek, the band’s drummer and main songwriter.

Interview with Funeral.
Greetings Anders! And thanks for the positive answer concerning this interview, how are you?

A.E.: Everything goes to hell as usual! No, really I am very fine, thank you. Got married, bought myself a villa, and the band and new line-up is working out great! What more can one hope for, really?

1) First of all, as far as I know, you were playing at Dutch Doom Day festival one of the previous days. Tell me everything! How was the live show, the overall atmosphere, the audience, your expectations? Anything you find worth mentioning from this fresh experience!

A.E.: Firstly I wish to thanx Felix for booking us(again.also played there in 2008),and believing in the band. As mentioned we have new members both on bass(Rune Gandrud) and vocals(Sindre Nedland),and I must say its by far the most perfect line-up to date in the Funeral history. Really exceptional musicians,and its really inspiring playing with the guys.Regarding the show it had its flaws,being a festival, and not giving the band a proper soundcheck,made the sound not too good,especially on stage,which lead to me hearing almost nothing but my own drums,which again lead to some minor fuck-ups(hopefully not too visible for the audience).But after a couple of songs it got better ,and the gig in itself was a good one afterall.Its also the first time ever playing a gig with the new members(but as experienced as they are,there were really no trouble after the soundguys tried doing their job properly.) It was awesome seeing that many people showing up as well. As for the atmosphere I felt it great! We also included songs never before played live,and it worked out really good I think(one new song,and “when light will dawn”). We were to play “taarene” ,but the time schedule didn’t allow us. So sorry for that, folks.

2) So, ‘Funeral’ is the name of the band; no offence, but doesn’t it sound almost bitterly ironic considering it today after having lost two band mates from the starting line-up - and friends at the same time?

A.E.: Absolutely! This particular thought has come to mind a lot, and I was at a point not sure wether or not to continue as a band after these tragedies..But I also know both Christian and Einar would want me too,and I really cant stop playing doom-metal!I also believe we as a band has a lot more to offer the fans,so I must say I am glad we decided to continue. And I try not to focus on the negative aspects,which really can make you somber and depressed.

3) How came the idea of forming a band that would play so slowly when most of the Norwegian acts were into the whole Black Metal rising phase? Which bands influenced the sound of your early days?

A.E.: I have as long as I can remember had a joy in slow heavy music,ever since being a KISS fan,I always seemed to like their darker and slower songs,and I discovered bands like Metallica,Iron Maiden,Black Sabbath,Paradise Lost,My dying bride, and especially the first Cathedral album really made a huge impact on me,and made me realize I wanted to play this kind of music just to satisfy myself,really. I must however mention that I also am a big fan of other genres, like black metal,death metal, thrash metal, classical music and so forth.So in the end,all funeral music is really inspired by all things above.

4) ‘Tristesse’ was your first demo back in 1993, how easy or difficult was it to re-release it one year later under Wild Rag Records?

A.E.: In those days as a band you really had to push a demo-cassette and making your own flyers etc to get any attention. And eventually wild rags offered us a “deal” for the release of that demo on cd.Of course the “deal”really sucked,but being young,naïve and keen on getting our music out we signed and faxed the contract,and that was that.. I never saw the cd before hooking up with Richard C`s daughter many years later,and she actually gave me something like 20 cds from the original print. So basically a financially suicide, but in the end,giving us a name in the underground,and sort of defining us a band in the begininning.

5) Although it was stepping upon the primary Doom/Death Metal developing standards you were not afraid to slow down the pace even more, something that would be known later as Funeral Doom. Did you ever consider the band as one of the contributors to the aforementioned scene with Thergothon and/or Skepticism having set the basics?

A.E.: You know,those bands were unknown to me in the early days,and I must admit I have never been a fan either after listening to some of it.My inspiration for slowing down was just the pure joy in playing slow and melancholic music, and listening a lot to 'Forest of Equilibrium' and Black Sabbath, amongst loads of other more extreme bands of various genres. How people want to categorize our music, I really don’t care. I know however that people regard us as one of the founding fathers of the sub genre “FUNERAL-DOOM”, and I take that as a compliment,allright. We were definetly one of the very first bands starting playing that particular style, both tempo-wise and lyrically.

6) Apart from the slower tempo, one can easily notice some kind of chanting male vocals that strengthen a lot the atmosphere, along with some classic guitar creative passages. To my ears, you had quite a distinctive sound in the scene, what, in your opinion, kept you back then from gaining more fame and remaining instead a well-kept secret that would please everyone discovering it?

A.E.: Back then all promotion was through selfmade flyers,inties in zines, words of mouth and tapetrading. NO label support. And of course the distribution was horrible to say at least. We also sold demo-cassettes on concerts(which was very common those days,just pushing demos to concert-goers. All the Norwegian bands did that,and that’s why I still have loads of early demos from big acts like Satyricon, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Emperor and so forth). And of course black metal was the dish of the day for many years. Noone cared about doom-metal, except ourselves it seemed. As a digression I can mention that Steffen Lundemo(the composer and perfomer of these classical guitar-pieces,will actually contribute on our new album with classical pieces in the same vein as in the very early days. And the pieces sound even more somber and dark.

7) ‘Tragedies’ is a mature collaboration of ‘Tristesse’ and ‘Beyond All Sunsets’, still down-tuned, yet with a slow touch of melody, mourning with ethereal female vocals and some male grunts, something like a whole lot more Doom version of ‘Sorrow’ EP/’Tears Laid In Earth’ by The 3rd And The Mortal that were released a year ago, would you consider your fellow-countrymates’ work influencial on you, even to a slight extent or it was just the natural continuation of your first two demos?

A.E.: As mentioned I also was quite heavily into classical music as well as metal(and still am),so I really had an idea of blending the different genres.I also loved the way P.L. did it on ’Gothic’, so you might say I was influenced by these two factors. I must say though that the 3rd and the mortal really made an impact on me, but that was way later on,after we recruited a female singer.

8) I noticed that ‘To Mourn Is A Virtue’ will be released by Solitude Productions, would you mind giving us a few information concerning its track-list? It will contain the songs that were to be released back then or more? With the sound you had back then or the modern one? Any information will be welcome along with what went wrong and kept in the shadows!

A.E.: Well, I`ll try to answer this rather short… In 1996 we entered the Academy studios,and recorded 10 instrumental tracks (because we were without a singer a the time). Then a year later we recruited Sarah on vocals and picked out 5 of those 10 tracks for the demo 97, also referred to as ’To Mourn Is A Virtue’. Then she quit the band,and we experimented a bit more with the tracks. A coupple of years later we got Øystein (the sound engineer and a great musician helping us recordning the ’In Fields..’ album).. He was given a shot doing vocals,but we really didn’t think it fitted what we wanted at that time.. Later on Frode did the same,and really did it as an audition to join the band a bit later.
Over the years a lot of people have been asking about these recordings,so finally we leant an ear to these different recordnings,and found out it was actually sounding very good,so we ended up deciding to release it with the various singers. We also included some orchestration, as well as songs we never used from the Academy recording. So what you get is one original song performed by Sarah (from the 97-demo) and 8 other songs that has never seen the light of day, but sound infinitly better than the performance of Sarah. The instrumental recording itself is the original from the 96-Academy session,just added vocals and some orchestration. Of course back in 96-97 getting a record-deal playing doom-metal was very difficult.If it was for our poor quality demo, or the fact that black metal was the trend shall be unsaid.

9) During the years 2000 we saw a change with the sound of the band: more lyrical, more structured compositions and of course a better production and much better female vocals. I personally haven’t been able to find ‘In Fields Of Pestilent Grief’ anywhere! Is there a plan on re-releasing it like you did with Tragedies/Tristesse/Beyond All Sunsets?

A.E.: Lots of people have asked about the same.. we also have been contacted by different labels concerning this, and I am aware that the album is out of print years ago, and the label dissolved.But we will re-release it without a doubt sooner or later. There are however issues with former members that has to be solved and so forth. We also recorded more material during the ’In Fields…’ session that hopefully will see the light of day with a re-release.

10) And now that I mentioned the re-releases, it was a kind gesture from the band towards their fans. It was even tough finding ‘Tragedies’ and then, all of a sudden, a triple combo in 2CD format came on board through Firebox Records! Would you mind telling us a few things on this collaboration?

A.E.: As all our old albums were out of print years ago, and people constantly asking to get hold of them, I absolutely thought it was about time making them obtainable again. So Firebox did it for us.

11) The 00s were at the same time more productive for the band but also a bad joke of Fate as stated above on a human level. What helped you keep the band against all odds and strengthened your will to keep Funeral alive?

A.E.: As mentioned above, I struggled a lot for this band to proceed, thus it was on ice for about 2 years. But I couldn’t help but wanting to play again,so I was lucky getting new dedicated members. And what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,right?

12) 2006 found you once again wounded, but ‘From These Wounds’ came to the surface, the natural successor of ‘In Fields Of Pestilent Grief’ in terms of sound, with male vocals this time by Frode Forsmo of Minas Tirith though. A vast change since female vocals have been some kind of trademark for the band, how did you take this decision?

A.E.: I was a big fan of Minas Tirith for many years,and Frode and me had a mutual friend,so we hooked up through him. Eventually he gave 4 tracks from the Academy recording a shot,and it sounded so immensely good that I heard instantly he would fit within our sound.I absolutely love his singing-style. And earlier over the years members in the band had been discussing recruiting a male singer, and finally he turned up. But as far as diva-issues with the girls earlier,it unfortunately didn’t change recruiting a man.

13) 2008 arrived and ‘As The Light Does The Shadow’ was born, your most complex release to date, and dare I say, the most mature, showing some vibes from the more orchestral work you’ve done with Fallen (I’ll come back to them in a while), but in a more soothing and at the same time heavier edge and a kind of more traditional Doom vibe at times. If I could say, you revisited your ‘Tristesse’ days as far as the chanting male vocals are concerned. Do you think I’m touching with this statement even a slight part of truth?

A.E.: You are probably the first to reckognise this! Yes,its absolutely true. The writing process differed a bit, as well as recruiting Roger Bjørge for orchestration. It’s still an album I enjoy listening to. I also think it reflects my endless love for both classical music and classic metal,as well as touching slightly onto our backcatalogue. It’s by far my personal favorite album,allright.

14) In the song ‘The Fathoms Of Wit And Reason’, you worked with Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeternus and Candlemass fame, from what I know he’s a quite down-to-earth person, how did it feel working with him and how did you manage to bring this collaboration to life?

A.E.: Having him on the album is definetly a dream come true, as I have been a fan of Solitude Aeturnus since 1990, as well as being a dedicated Candlemass-fan. The story is this: I hooked up with the Candlemass guys in Stockholm, during the 20th anniversary gig, was invited to their afterparty, and got to know the guys. It turned out they really loved ’From these Wounds’, and we were in touch via the net later on, and hooked up occasionally when they playd in Norway.Then I wrote this track, that I really thought would fit Robs vocals perfectly, and asked him if he wanted the job. He said yes without a doubt, and I just sent him the lyrics and the track and he did everything in Dallas, booked studio, and there it was! Crystal clear vocals from one of metals finest singers!! I must say I am very proud of this participation.

15) What can we expect from Funeral for the near or far future? Any plans concerning a new album? As far as I know Sindre Nedland is taking care of the vocals now.

A.E.: We have pre-produced 17 new songs.10 of which are about 90% finished with vocals,orchestration, guitars and drums. It’s just the bass that’s missing. This time around our new bassplayer Rune Gandrud will record with an electric double bass. Yes, Sindre is our permanent singer now,and is really just a dream working with. I believe 8 or 9 songs will be put out on our next album,as several of the tracks are 12-13 minutes long. I also have to add that we have tried to take Funeral to new heights with this one.Its contains much more and massive orchestration,much more varied vocals (even some growling/aggro parts)and some songs are also much slower and longer than in years….I have also used a couple of songs intended for Fallen.. So its gonna be a very varied and dooomy effort this time,allright!And everyone that’s heard Sindre,knows that he is also contributing with massive choirs on songs. Our new tracks really sound immense to say the least, and definetly crushes everything Sindre and Funeral has ever done before!

16) Are you part of a label’s roster? If not, any plans or ideas that were put on the table?

A.E.: We are currently in negotiations with a couple of serious acts in the record industry, so we are really just waiting.

17) What should anyone expect from Funeral on stage?

A.E.: We are now a very experienced and professional band, and try to deliver what you hear on the album as close as possible in a live environment. We have 3 talented guys singing, so you will hear a lot of the choirs on album live as well. I always try to visualize a real funeral,were its both sad and beautiful at the same time.

18) A more personal request: Any plans on Funeral coming to Greece for a live show some time?

A.E.: No plans,but just go ahead inviting us.We will come!

19) If you were to describe the course of the band with 5 words, which would they be?

A.E.: Success, gigs, fun, album, dooom.

20) About Fallen, ’A Tragedy’s Bitter End’ was a masterpiece of orchestral funereal Doom/Death metal, but after that silence came. Quite different from your works with Funeral, which were the reasons to form another band? Need for expression probably?

A.E.: Thanx for your kind words. In the 90s when Funeral became to somewhat speeding up a bit,I was a bit stuck in the really slooow doom.so I continued writing songs that then really didn’t fit into our sound at the time. So I formed Fallen. This way I had the chance to channel these expressions.

21) What should we expect from Fallen in the future? It’s been some time since 2004, is there an album on the making?

A.E.: well, I did record 90 minutes of music after the ’A Tagedy`s..’ album. But because of disagreements with the singer ,this recording was never finalized. It will however be re-recorded and released during 2011. Maybe as a 2CD. And as mentioned,2 songs originally written with Fallen in mind, will be released on the next Funeral album.

22) Any plans or ideas on any other project?

A.E.: I am about to start a Black Sabbath cover band,with myself on vocals this time.Gonna be a blast,and a just for fun thing,really.

23) I bet you’re aware of Paradigma, a band in which Einar was involved and Mare Veris came out slightly before the whole atmospheric gothic/doom metal thing incorporating male grunts and female vocals would burst, are you aware of what they’re doing? Or any thoughts on the band would be welcome as well.

A.E.: No,I am sorry I cant help you out on this, as I have no real contact with those guys.. I know that their guitarist Tom has been playing black metal for years now, in Dødheimsgard I believe. He is (or was) also a well known mastering studio-engineer at Strype Audio, working together with Garm from Ulver. I hope Paradigma some day will release their final album,though, featuring Einar Fredriksen on bass and vocals. Sounds really good!!

24) How do you see the Doom Metal scene nowadays? Any bands that you’d consider worth-mentioning as hopes or steady value?

A.E.: I very rarely pick up new bands,so I can name just someone established acts I like a lot. like Mournful Congregation and Shape of Despair. I really don’t know that Doom Metal can be considered a scene, at least in Norway its not,and has never been any. And speaking for myself I really never have been a part of any scene.

25) How do you see the Finnish scene with bands such as Tyranny, Skepticism, Shape Of Despair, Wormphlegm, Dolorian, Unholy etc?

A.E.: I am a friend of Jarno from SOD,and I love what those guys do! Its also very likely he will participate on orchestration on upcoming Fallen album.Other than that I am not really into any other bands from Finland, except old Amorphis.

26) Any bands from your Norway that you think should become more well-known? Lamented Souls come to mind.

A.E.: Everyone should check out the 3-4 first Beyond Dawn albums. Very good ones! Lamented Souls are definetly worth a shot, allright! Apart from these bands, I have to mention Myrkgrav. Really good folk/black metal band, also featuring our singer, not to forget In Vain of course, and the mighty Cor Scorpii (featuring Funeral’s guitarist Erlend.

27) Well Anders, this was some kind of a big interview, but I hope you did enjoy it as much I enjoy your music and the chance of interviewing you, all the best!

A.E.: Thanx a lot for you support,and an interesting interview. -Eek

Visit the Funeral bandpage.

Interviewed on 2010-11-17 by Konstantinos Vertzizis.
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