Seven Impale was started in 2010 by Vocalist and guitarist Stian Økland. Soon Fredrik Mekki Widerøe joined on guitar alongside some former members before he took his place behind the drum set. Soon Tormod Fosso (First only cello and eventually on bass) and Fredrik's younger brother Benjamin Mekki Widerøe joined on the saxophone. At the end of the summer of (No, not '69) 2010, Seven Impale was joined by Håkon Vinje on keys and Erlend Vottvik Olsen on guitar.
We agreed to meet up at Grieg Hall which is a 1500 seat concert hall in Bergen, Norway. It has been the home of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra since the hall's completion in 1978. It has also hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 1986. We hit the coffee shop, got ourselves a latte and a muffin and sat down to chat about Black Sabbath, Jessica Alba and the X-Men, here's how we got on....
Please introduce the band your music in one sentence....
Six eccentrics making madness in the form of music that they otherwise would enjoy (if they hadn’t made it themselves)
You’re called Seven Impale how did you come about choosing this name?
Stian found the name before the band even existed. It came about kind of randomly when he was thinking about what to call the next project, and thought it has a nice feel to it. Also the number seven is often associated with religion, and the word “impale” brings more of a dark or heavy feel. And we are all somewhat critical towards religion, so it fits quite nicely.
'Oh, my Gravity!’ starts the debut album off, why did you choose that track?
We thought it encapsulated the atmosphere of the rest of the album in a good way. Also, it has a nice and long intro to get people in that “listening mood”.
The bass in ‘Windshears’ is deep and powerful along with the sax....for anyone who wishes to start playing and instrument, can you describe how much practise and life learning to play took?
We’ve all loved to play our individual instruments as well as together in a band for a long time, so I guess the practicing comes naturally with that. Playing music has become a part of our daily routine, as well as listening to the bands that inspire us in various ways.
Being signed to Karisma Records how did this happen and how has social media aided your music?
It’s a long story, but we’ll try to keep it short. After we won a competition in Bergen we got to play a gig at Utkantfestivalen, which takes place a couple of hours north of Bergen. At that point, we had been playing as a band for about 1.5 years, and we had a lot more dreams than actual plans. We met the people who run the festival and they liked our music, and thought that we could come a lot farther. A little while later, we got accepted to play a showcase-gig at a conference for people in the music business on the west coast of Norway. It was after this gig we got approached by a man called Martin Kvam from Karisma Records, who was very impressed and wanted to talk about signing.
Social media has been a nice way for us to promote the band for free, and to stay in touch with fans abroad. Since we’re in kind of a “narrow” genre, we feel that it’s especially important to communicate with our fan base. Also, we love talking about music and answering any questions people might have.
Give me three words that best describe you as a band?
Eclectic, experimental, energetic.
From Beginning/Relive to ‘City of the Sun’, how do you feel Seven Impale has evolved?
A lot, to be honest. Even though it has only been a year since Beginning/Relieve was released, the material was made between when the band was formed, and when our current line-up had just been assembled. Wind shears, the second track on the album was actually composed around that time, but it’s been revisited and rearranged many times since then. But we like to think we’ve come a long way both as musicians and composers, in the four years we have been playing together.
In your opinion, what is the BEST album ever released and why?
In a band of six critical musicians, this is the worst question to answer. Some albums can’t simply be put above each other. But some very good candidates are Dark Side of the Moon, 10,000 Days by Tool, Deloused in the Comatorium by Mars Volta and What We Must by Jaga Jazzist. All for their individual reasons, but also because they’re all innovative in sound, production and composition as a whole album.
If you had a chance to put together your own ‘super group’, who would be in it? (only living members please)
Drums - Mark Guiliana
Guitar - Allan Holsworth
Saxophone - Marius Neset
Bass - Finn Guttormsen
Keys - Mats Öberg
Trumpet - Randy Brecker
Vocals - Mike Patton
Who designed the artwork for your debut album ‘City of the Sun’?
A friend of ours, named Erik Hølleland made the painting that mostly all of the artwork is based on. We and the graphic designer in Karisma Records have done the editing and another friend of ours Daniel Langeland has made the logo.
What classic song would you have liked to have recorded and why?
Inca Roads by Frank Zappa.
‘’Beginning/Relieve’ EP has the impressive ‘What Am I Sane For’ what was the process of making this and what inspired you?
This was just an accidental result of Erlend joining the band. After he had played with us for a little while, and started to know the songs we had written, he presented some riffs he had made at home. We mixed the new parts with some stuff Stian had made a few weeks earlier and arranged it all together, and we pretty much ended up with the song that is on the EP. This song has received a lot of praise, and we feel it’s kind of symbolic, as it is the first song that the current line-up made together.
You played the Oslo Jazz Festival (where I witnessed your performance) how did the experience help you and for someone who has yet to see you live, how would you describe a Seven Impale live show?
It is always fun to travel with the band and to play outside our own hometown. As a gig, the Oslo Jazz festival performance wasn’t the best we’ve done. But in general a Seven Impale live show is energetic and full of surprises and as so many prog bands before us some of the songs may be extended with more improvisation and variations.
First gig you ever went to?
The first big concert I (Fredrik) went to was Black Sabbath in Bergen, the summer of 2006.
‘God Left Us For a Dark Dressed Woman’ the final track of your debut, is full of twists, if this song was made in to a film, who would star in it?
Jack Nicholson and Edward Norton. And Jessica Alba as the woman. Directed by M. Nigh Shayamalan.
Where did you record your Album ‘City of the Sun’ and what made you choose that studio?
At the show where we were approached by Martin from Karisma, we talked to Ivar Bjørnson from Enslaved. He mentioned that he knew the right producer for our first album, and he called Iver Sandøy and we got in touch after this. Just as expected, working with Iver was really fun and he knew exactly what kind of sound we were looking for. We could never have imagined a better result than the album we have now.
Name three people (alive, dead or fictional) that you would like as dinner party guests?
Frank Zappa, Snoopzilla (formerly known as Snoop Dogg) and Stephen Hawking.
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
Our friends in Lint, a post rock-band from Bergen, Canvas Black, the metal band we share a rehearsal room with, and Det Skandaløse Orkester, Zappa-esque prog with Norwegian lyrics.
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
Mystique from the X-Men.
Do you think we can ever live in a world where a chicken can cross the road without having its motives questioned?
We got this question in an interview with Love Music Magazine last year and to follow up our answer back then; after the whole NSA-scandal, that’s a definite no!
What are your plans for what remains of 2014?
We have our release-gig in Bergen the 5th of September, and after that we hope the demand will start to grow in other cities like Oslo, Trondheim, Stavanger, London and Copenhagen. But nothing is planned/booked yet.
We were waiting for a free refill from the coffee shop staff, apparently this is not something that is done in Norway! Before digging deep to purchase additional caffeine fuelled beverages for the guys, we asked them a few quick fire questions....
Generic Quickfire questions....
Coffee or Tea?
Coke or Pepsi?
Drum machine or the real deal?
That depends on the “real deal”
Mac or PC?
PC! (Sorry, Stian)
Twitter or Facebook?
Lemmy (Motorhead) or Ozzy (Black Sabbath)?
CD or Vinyl?
Car or Motorbike?
Acoustic or Electric?
Shower or Bath?
Bath, if you got the time (and enough space for a tub)
Tattoos or Piercings?
A bit of both. Moderation is key.
Robert De Niro or Al Pacino?
God or Google?
Depends what you’re looking for. But for us, that would be Google.
We'd like to thank the guys for taking their time to answer our questions and wish them every success for the future and especially for September 5th for their release gig in Bergen, we'd be there if we could guys but unfortunately, we have already taken our annual vacations this year....next time I promise !!
Interview by Mark Wincott