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Sibiir

Sibiir gooide in januari erg hoge ogen met hun self-titled debuut. De band mixt op megastrakke wijze hardcore en post-hardcore met black metal en doen hun afkomst daarmee eer aan. We konden niet wachten om gitarist Tobias Gausemel Backe aan de tand te voelen over hoe deze aparte samenkomst van genres tot stand is gekomen.

Door: Job | Archiveer onder different metal

Hey guys! Loved your debut self-titled record, however I imagine there’s way too many of our readers that haven’t heard of you, yet. Before we start, how have you been?
Thank you, we've been good! It's been really rewarding to read all the great feedback on our debut album, and we can't wait to take it out on the road.

Would you mind introducing the band to our readers and tell them a bit about what SIBIIR is?
Sure. SIBIIR is a relatively new band from Oslo, Norway. We're five guys: a drummer, two guitarists, a bassist and a guy who screams his lungs out. We started playing together a little over two years ago, and released our first two tracks a little over a year ago. We've been playing a lot of club shows here in Norway and a couple of bigger festivals as well. This December we released our debut album on Norwegian cred-label Fysisk Format, ten tracks with a sort of blend of hardcore and metal. Some call it metal, some call it blackened hardcore, and I guess both are OK with us.

What immediately grabs you by the throat when you hear your music is that seamless mixing of hardcore/punk and black metal. The painfully dissonant progressions and the pounding drums mesh very well. How did this sound come to be?
I don't know, really. We had all been playing in different bands before we started SIBIIR, all more or less hardcore/punk/rock kinda bands. We had been talking about starting a metal band together for a while, and suddenly the timing was right. We started out just jamming and trying to find out what our band should sound like, and somewhere along the way we found the sound we have now. I guess it was sort of a process of seeing how hard we could push our own musical boundaries and at the same time keeping melodies and groove as an important part of our musical landscape. I think the song Guillotines was one of the first songs we made where we all thought that this was what we wanted to sound like. And then we just went on from there. I think we have a pretty clear idea of what works for us and what doesn't, but its kind of hard to describe in words. It's more about a feeling, I guess.

Would you say that your Norse roots have influenced your sound in any way, seeing as how it’s the home of black metal as we know it?
It's hard to say. None of us were really into black metal growing up, worshiping Satan or running around burning churches or whatever. At least that I know of, haha. But if you'd take a look at our vinyl collections, I guess you'd find your fair share of Norwegian black metal as well. Bands like Mayhem, Darkthrone, Burzum and Satyricon. It has probably influenced our sound in one way or another, or inspired a riff here or there, but we've never sat down and said “now we're going to make a song that sounds like this or that black metal band”. Because there really isn't that much black metal in our music, is there? We make music that we like ourselves, and it's hard to say what influenced it or not. I think we're more inspired by energy and attitude than certain styles or bands.

I’d like to go in-depth on a couple of songs that really stood out to me, starting with opener ‘Bekmörke’, which translates to “earth darkness” if I’m not mistaken. What made you go with this song as the opener of the record?
Bekmörke actually means pitch black. Or total fucking darkness, like when it's darker than dark. We worked a lot with the sequencing. We tried different openers and closers, but I guess it was important for us that the record opened with a track we felt was really strong, a song that kind of signifies us as a band and sets the mood for the rest of the album. So we landed on Bekmörke.

’These Rats We Deny’ has a very memorable main riff. Would you say that catchiness in your music is important, or do you not tend to focus on how memorable a song is when you write it?
Both yes and no, I guess. There's nothing wrong with a good melody or a hook that sticks, but it's probably first and foremost about finding the right balance between chaos and structure. Energy and aggression. I don't think we've thrown away an idea because it's not catchy enough or memorable or anything like that, but at the same time – if you don't remember the riff you made last week, it's probably not good enough anyway.

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’Silence the Seagulls’ has some interesting lyrical themes. What can you tell me about the overall themes on the album?
The lyrics that Jimmy writes are mostly about how fucked up everything is. It's about darkness, both personal and general. About wondering what's wrong with yourself, and what's wrong with everybody else. We're not a very political band, but seeing how much shit that's going on in the world right now, so much hate and xenophobia, so much frustration and anger. I guess you can say that's an inspiration for both Jimmy's lyrics and our music.

’Guillotines’ is another prime example of how you mix black metal with punk in a way that isn’t intrusive or harmful in any way to either of the genres. Are there any bands you would say that influenced you in writing this music?
I think Guillotines is probably the most black metal inspired track on the album, at least if you listen to the main riff. It's kind of hard to pinpoint a band or two, because suddenly the song jumps to a more hardcore punk type of riff, and then there this third part which is...well, I don't know what to call it. We are five guys with a lot of different influences when it comes to the harder genres, and I think it's hard to hear influences in your own music that might be obvious to others. It's been really interesting to read all the reviews of the record and to see what kind of bands the different reviewers compare us to. So far, from the top of my head, I've seen bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon, Kvelertak, Deafheaven, Satyricon, Converge, Taake, Anaal Nathrakh, Lamb of God and Teethgrinder mentioned. That's a whole bunch of really good, but also really different sounding bands. Some have even mentioned bands none of us have heard about before, which is really cool because then we get to discover new music!

’Beat Them to Death’ was the lead single some time ago and really grabs the listener by the throat. What can you tell me about the video you shot for it?
The video was made by some friends of ours, who are in film school. The whole story for the video was their idea, and we thought it sounded cool. The video is built up by two parts. One part is us playing the song, which was shot at our rehearsal space here in Oslo. The other part, the three guys just getting drunk, watching the video / listening to the song, was shot at one of the guys' apartment. It switches between those two parts, and in that sense it show both our heavy and aggressive side, and our humorous and playful side.

’White Noise’ is probably my favorite off the album, with its disgustingly dissonant main riff and instant “headbang” vibe. Do you have any favorites on the album, or is that like asking to pick a favorite child to a mother of four?
Thank you! I like White Noise a lot too. But, haha, I think you would get five different answers from the five of us. And if you ask again tomorrow, we would probably answer something different than today. Some of the songs also get a different life when you start playing them live as well. And then there are some song that one of us love to play live, but is really difficult for one of the others. And the other way around. We're really happy with the whole album, and it's cool to hear that different people pick different favorites from the album. I think that's a positive thing.

What can you tell me about the gear used on the album and the recording process?
We recorded the album in Caliban Studios here in Oslo. It's a really cool studio, full of cool gear. Especially cool guitar gear and guitars. For the guitars, Steffen and I mostly used our own amps A Vox AC30 and an Orange OD. But we also added an old Hiwatt stack for some extra punch. I guess we don't use like typical metal gear or whatever. A lot of my guitar playing on the record is actually with a Fender Telecaster '63, and even a Rickenbacker 330. I got the LTD BW-1 and put in the EMG 57/66 set just before we started recording the album, so I ended using that quite a lot too. I mostly use an old Pro Co Rat for distortion, and some old hand made delay pedals and stuff like that. Steffen did most of his stuff on his SG and Explorer, I think. I'm not really a gear freak, so I can't tell you much about the mixer or outboard effects, or the different mics we used or whatever, it's basically a really good studio and Andreas Westhagen did a great job recording the album with us. I guess the most unusual thing we did on the album was actually that I play accordion on two songs, and that I'd never played an accordion before trying it in the studio.

You have a few shows planned this year already, with Tons of Rock in June being a big one, I imagine. Any plans of doing a full tour through Europe any time soon? I bet tons of us would love to see you perform in Holland!
We'd love to come to Holland! We have some festivals here in Norway this summer, but we're working on doing some shows abroad as well. Hopefully we can make it happen.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us! Is there anything you would like to say to end the interview?
Anytime! Thanks for the questions. Well, I hope you all check out our album. Spread the word if you like what you hear. And hopefully we'll come to Holland soon.

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