Hey! First off, congratulations on releasing ‘Memento Collider’ a few weeks ago! It took me by surprise and I ended up loving the album. Before we start though, how have you been?
We’ve been great! It’s been a surprise to us as well, how great the feedback on the album has been. So, we’re enjoying that, yes, and rehearsing on live-sets and working cautiously on some new material.
It’s been a couple of weeks since you released ‘Memento Collider’ onto the world. How has it been received so far and is it meeting your expectations?
I’ve been working on music for many many years now, but I’ve never experienced such massive feedback on any album I’ve ever participated on. It seems we’ve cought on to something, maybe a mood the world is in, or something. It seems it was the right time to release the album.
You’ve been at it for quite some time already and many might know you from your efforts with Aura Noir and Ved Buens Ende. Do you feel that Virus is a different kind of musical outlet compared to what you were able to do with those bands in the past?
Yes, definitely. When we started our first rehearsals, around the Carheart-era, I immediately realized we were on to something special. We are a weird constellation of musicians, the three of us, and nothing sounds quite like us. It’s not because we are particularly good or great at what we do, but we have very distinct styles that works very well together as a unit.
I had a very hard time pinpointing some influences and I could only get so far as Voivod meets Ulver meets King Crimons meets Shining. If you had to name three bands that influenced the sound of Virus we hear on ‘Memento Collider’, what would those be?
When you’re a young band you need influences as a means to find your sound. We’ve been around for awhile, we don’t need influences anymore, we need inspiration. Inspiration can come from anywhere, out of thin air or in a good movie or book or through an experience. Even boredom can bring about inspiration. Inspiration is the key to maintaining a band in the long run. You’re right about Voivod. They’re a part of our core influences. But you forgot to mention The Residents, (early) Venom and Grace Jones.
Like I said, you’ve been writing, touring and releasing steadily since 2003’s ‘Carheart’. What can you tell me about the writing process for the new ‘Memento Collider’ and how did it differ from your previous EP ‘Oblivion Clock’?
'Oblivion Clock' was a rarities-release. We had some obscure excess material from different recording sessions that we wanted to share with our fans. And we put them together on this EP along with an ambient piece by Einz. But Memento Collider, on the other hand, was to be a proper LP, and it had to be a worthy successor to every thing else we’ve done. A daunting task, actually, we couldn’t allow it to be any less of a record than any of the other ones. That wouldn’t be fair. So this one had to be done properly. We didn’t want to enter the studio until the material had matured. We even tried out most of the songs live before studio, and we re-wrote the lyrics, arrangements and even the song-titles until just before recording. I dare say that this is our most proper album so far.
I’d like to go in-depth with ‘Memento Collider’ if you don’t mind. Starting with shift in sound: your previous material sounded somewhat heavier in terms of production and tone. This time around, you seemed to have opted for dialing back on the gain and it results in a much darker sound I think. What made you decide on the tone for the album?
Well, I think it’s a natural development of our sound but also we’ve evolved as people, so we’ve become more competent to define ourselves, or rather doing what we do without clinging on to any genre. We could have done the same thing on previous releases, loosening up the sound, but we weren’t ready for it somehow. It took us some to understand that we’re not a metal-band perse. We have roots in metal, yes, but we have a sound that’s more independent. It’s up to us how it should sound, and not up to the defining parameters of a specific genre. Virus is very open, and we decide everything ourselves.
The lead single ‘Rogue Fossil’ is probably the song that grabbed me first. It’s accessible enough to lure you in with hooks but is deep and layered once you get into it for some more spins. What made you decide on it being the single?
The length of it, first and foremost. Most of the songs on the album are quite long, and you can’t expect people to sit through a ten-minute epic when having their first glimpse into a record, or a band. Also, as you say, it has some hooks, and that’s a good thing when introducing new work.
’Gravity Seeker’ also instantly stuck with me because of the “surf” vibe and the catchy groove. There’s also a remarkable solo on there; not a staple of your sound but a feature I greatly enjoyed. What can you tell me about the writing process for ‘Gravity Seeker’?
One of those songs that was easy to write. Like Rogue Fossil, this one kinda wrote itself. Sometimes, once you start making music, the music takes over and writes itself. The music gets its own will and power, and takes control. Also there was room for a solo on this one. I met Dan Mongrain when we opened for Voivod in Oslo in 2012. He came up on stage after we’d finished, with a Virus-shirt on and it became apparent that he is one of our biggest fans. I hooked up with him on Facebook and asked him if he wanted to do the solo, and he was all stoked about it.
What can you tell me about the gear used on the album?
I use Fender guitars, a Jaguar and a Jazzmaster. Plenum uses Rickenbacker, and Einz uses whatever is at hand really. I think we used a Gretch-set in the studio. I also use a Gretch-baritone guitar on strategic places on the album. Apart from that we use harps, piano, bells, wooden percussion of different sorts, orchestras, and people.
You guys are a tough act to follow in terms of shows, and I was hoping to find some tour announcements online. Any plans to hit the road to support ‘Memento Collider’ anytime soon?
We chose a difficult time of year to release a new album. The summer is always difficult, you miss all the festivals and stuff. But we have a back-up plan. We’re gonna release a brand new 7inch single and a video during autumn (two leftover songs taken from the 'Memento Collider'-sessions), to remind people of the album. We also don’t have a booking agent as of now, so gigs are a bit thin on the ground. We wish to play more often. Though we have a few gigs ahead. One in Transilvania(!) and two in Greece.
I bet there’s loads of fellow Dutchmen that would love to experience you live, seeing as how you destroyed Roadburn last year. I hope to hear lots more from you and would like to thank you so much for your time! Is there anything you’d like to add to the interview in closing?
Thank you! We’d love to play Roadburn again of course. That’s a proper festival. Thanx for having us here on your wonderful web-zine!