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Interview: Motorpsycho

by Strahinja Rupnjak

As you know, progressive titans Motorpsycho will visit Belgrade this friday to promote their latest album ”The Tower”. In collaboration with Rock Svirke agency, we had a chance to talk to band’s frontman – Bent Sæther about tour habits, albums, creative inputs…

Since you will be visiting some countries for the first time on this tour, I was wondering, what do you like to explore in those situations (cuisine, museums…)?
Oh, museums definitly, but also record stores and guitar shops, as well as local specialities in every respect. Sometimes there isn’t enough time to see anything though, and that is always a bummer. We have a couple of really long drives on this tour so I’m afraid we won’t get to sightsee much…

What are the most interesting places you’ve played at considering the architecture/history of the venue?
Well, we’ve played the Nidaros cathedral in Trondheim, the Haakons hall in Bergen, various theaters and opera houses all over the place, on a hill overlooking the mediterranian on Sardinia and on a friend’s porch in his garden at Skotbu outside of Oslo, so we’ve been around a bit. Always fun to feel the music in different environs!

Do you prefer bigger or smaller stages? What agrees better with your music and what with you personally?
We like intimate stages better than huge ones and always set up as close to eachother as we can. We play better then! We’re not too fond of the big modern festival stages, and usually prefer indoors and dark to outdoors and sun, but we are not too particular – it’s more a matter of “getting into the bubble”and staying focused on the music. That is easier when it’s intimate and sweaty!

When you started playing, Norway was known for its black metal scene. Why didn’t you go down that path? Did it maybe influence some of your earlier work?
Not really. We were more into the late 80’s noise rock stuff and 70’s hard rock than 80’s metal, and didn’t really hang with that crowd. We grew up on metal though, and that influence, along with newer hardcore and noise you probably hear in our earlier stuff. It got old really fast when Nirvana broke though, and we drifted off into different stuff. Still love “a blaze in the northern sky” though!

Although your sound matures from record to record, I think that the biggest change was when you released ”Blissard”. How did your fans react to less dark, more experimental, mellow vibe that came out in 1995?
It was very either/or. A lot of people still to this day come up and call it their favourite album, so it worked really well for some, but a lot of metal people didn’t dig it and fell by the wayside. But it’s always like that: you win some and lose some every time you do something new!

What is the biggest challenge that you as a band had to overcome?
Losing band members is always both hard as well as refreshing, but the only time I though this was the end, was when Gebhardt left after 14 years back in 2004. That was scary, but we soldiered on and eventually grew from it. What doesn’t kill you…

Your music is considered progressive/psychedelic but it has a lot of experimenting making it to some of us avant-garde. Many bands have tried to combine different genres and instruments but with little success. How do you generate such sound without making it tasteless?
Well, thank you!
I dunno what to say about this…
We are at the bottom a very impatient band, and die if we have to follow a musical routine. That is the main reason we are always looking for new ways to express ourselves, incorporating different instruments and working with non-rock people. They have a different take on music that brings a fresh perspective to the MP thing. Outside of that, we are just genuinly interested in music of all kinds, and that rubs off and eventually comes out at the other end as “our thing” I guess. If it works in spite of its stylistic schizophrenia, we are thrilled!

Has the writing process become easier over the years?
Yes and no. Having written so much music it becomes more difficult not to repeat yourself, but you get better at your job when you do it long enough too, so… We never had any hits so we never had any big success to follow up, and thus are free to do whatever we want. That makes it all a lot easier!

For the end, I wanted to know how did you come into contact with Steve Albini? What was it like working with him?
We just sent Electrical Audio a mail and asked if he had time when we were over there. He had, so it worked out really well. He is probably the best engineer we have ever worked with, and he captured what we sounded like really well. He offers no opinions when he records though, so it is a purely technical thing with him. Great and funny guy, a pleasure to work with!

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