Interview with: Christer Espevoll (guitarist)
Dates: September 9th to September 15th 2000
Where: This is a message-board interview.
Other Bandmembers: Tor Magne (bass-player), Peter Espevoll (vocalist), Ole BÝrud (guitarist & clean vocals), David Husvik (drummer).
Band's Geographical Home: Oslo, Norway
Discography: Burial (1998), Mesmerized (1999), Undeceived (2000)
Official Website: Extol
Interview by (in order of appearance): mpomusic, Rogoth, Tribal_S, Eirik, Johannes and Simehiri.
On the Art For The Ears Extreme Metal Message-Board I (mpomusic) organized a nice meeting with Christer Espevoll, guitarist for the Norwegian metalband Extol. This was an online interview with him and others could join to ask questions. There were five threads in which people could ask questions: The Albums, The Touring, The Band, The Person/Musician and Everything Else. Here are parts of this online interview:
mpomusic: You have just released the new album Undeceived. Rumors go that you are about to sign a major deal. Some say it's with Century Media. Are there plans to work out such a deal?
Chrizter:Yes it is true that we are in negotiations with another label. However I can not reveal which one. We will inform you through our website though if we decide to sign a deal.
mpomusic: What strikes me about the new album is that it's printed in black and silver only, so it just looks a bit like the AFTE site with its black background and silver-colored fonts. Why such a sober look for the CD? Is there some kind of reason behind it or was it just chosen for the dark look of it?
Chrizter: We had really colorful covers on our two first albums, so it was time for a really cold cover. To honest with you I love it. I think it fits the music really well.
mpomusic: There's a song on the new album called Time Stands Still that's both lyrically as musically from your hand. The lyrics seem to deal with a personal struggle of yours. Is that correct? And if so, is it to deal with it yourself or even to communicate about this with your public. In other words, what is the idea behind writing that lyric?
Chrizter: Those lyrics deal with a struggle that I've had. The song is about sinning the same sin over and over, about coming to a point where you're actually addicted to a sin. I just wrote down my feelings on the subject one time when I was really frustrated, and I know that a lot of people can relate to it, and hopefully it'll help them get past that problem.
Rogoth: hey that's cool to say. I think a lot of people will read things into it. from what I perceive it's about something sexually. masturbation perhaps?
mpomusic: Rogoth speaks from his own experiences! He must have thought you were writing about him!
Chrizter: To me this is very personal, so I am not going to let you know what my problem was, but you can apply the lyrics to any sin that one have fallen in to. Sin is unclean whether it's a sexual sin or any other kind. By the way I don't believe masturbation in it self is a sin. But thinking unclean thoughts or watching porn definitely is.
mpomusic: How are the reviews going?
Chrizter: Great, I haven't seen a bad one yet : -)
mpomusic: On the last US Tour you did your release-party for Undeceived along with the release-parties of King Diamond and Sanctus. At least, that was scheduled. Can you tell us something about the whole thing?
Chrizter: The King Diamond release show was a CD release show for his new CD. So the King wasn't there himself... Extol, Sanctus and one other band played though, in a theater in Ventura, California.
Rogoth: Hey, man, how was it like, this CD-releaseparty? Was it a cool thing to do?
Chrizter: It was cool, but it would have been
cooler if more people showed up.
mpomusic: What kind of memories do you cherish from the US Tour?
Chrizter: Cornerstone is always fun. Playing in front of 2000 people of course, but also meeting new people and friends. Our favorite show on the tour was club 412 in Ft.Worth Texas. The people there know how to ROCK!!!! Also touring with Gnashing of Teeth was really nice.
Rogoth: What I've been wondering about is if the band is trying to do a European tour. You've been to the USA so many times that you can dream the place. You're gonna do Christmas Rocknight in Germany. But besides that, are there plans to rock this part of the world?
Chrizter: We'd love to do a European, tour, but so far we haven't had much of a distribution in Europe, so people simply don't know we exist. Now that we're in negotiations with a label for distribution in Europe, hopefully we'll be able to do a European tour some time soon.
mpomusic: The band plays an extreme metal style but there are all kinds of influences like black metal, thrash and some other styles. The basis is still death metal I think. How would you like to describe the band's musical direction?
Chrizter: My definition of our music is "experimental death/black metal". It's quite a wide description, and that's the point, 'cause people hear different things in our music. I've heard a lot of different labels on our music from different people...
mpomusic: What kind of labels? Some people think of Extol being a black metal band but I can't agree with that. So, what do people say about Extol's style?
Chrizter: Well, we hear a lot (from Americans) that we are Hardcore or Metalcore. Some people say we're a prog-metal band, some say power metal, and one labeled us Jazz-metal : -)
mpomusic: Those are some weird labels! I guess they forgot what metal is in the US.... Another question. Svein Sander from Antestor once told me that Extol has its rehearsal room in their church. I don't know if this is still the case but how does your church think about the band considering its extreme style?
Chrizter: We're just getting another place to rehearse now, but we've been rehearsing in the church for as long as the band has existed. The Pastor and elders have no problem with that at all. They are very supportive to Extol.
Tribal_S: I was wondering if all of you guys grew up in Christian homes or if you guys became Christians later in life?
Chrizter: Yes, all of us grew up in Christian homes
mpomusic: You're known as the guitarist for Extol. How did you interest in music start?
Chrizter: That's a good one. Well, I've always liked music I guess. When I was about 12-13 I started listening to bands like Petra and Whitecross, and from there the bands just got harder and harder. Also, my mom is good at singing and my father used to play lots of different instruments.
Rogoth: Petra? Come on, man! You must be joking! How is it possible that you turned out as a guitarist for Extol?
Chrizter: Hey, I said I was 12-13! I bet you didn't start listening to Vengeance Rising when you were 5.. : -) That's where it started: Petra, Barren Cross, Stryper and Whitecross.
Rogoth: Okay man, just kidding.....:-)) Did you check out secular bands too? I mean, at the time you were 12 Guns 'n Roses was big and some other bands. Perhaps you listened to Metallica.
Chrizter: Actually I didn't start listening to secular music until a few years back..
Eirik: Hey christer. what bands do you listen to and get inspiration from?
Chrizter: Lately I've been listening to Spiral Architect (Sceptic's Universe), King's X (the new one) Galactic Cowboys (the new one), Cynic and Spastic Inc.
Johannes: What are your ideas of Christian people listening to "evil" and perhaps satanic bands like Slayer, Cannibal Corpse or Danzig?
Chrizter: I think it's an individual thing. I think for some people it is not good to get into secular music at all. Personally I enjoy listening to some bands who are not Christians, but who don't have anti-Christian attitudes. I enjoy the music. When it comes to blasphemous lyrics, I don't listen to that at all, no matter how good the music is.
mpomusic: How did music become a part of your life. I mean, when did you decide to learn play an instrument and why? Was that an early desire, maybe to start a band later on? Or was it a family thing as your brother is also active in music plus your parents being into music?
Chrizter: I started playing guitar when I was 15, but I think that both Peter and I have inherited our musical understanding from our parents and grandparents. The reason I started to play guitar was that I wanted (and David wanted me) to start playing with him. He had been playing for 4 years and wanted someone to play with.
Rogoth: Man, who are your influences as a guitarist then? I'm sure not Bob Hartman from Petra. Which guitarist do you look up to and why?
Chrizter: Actually I've never had any major influences from guitarists in bands that I like. The two guitarists that have influenced me the most is Emil Nikolaisen and Ole BÝrud...
Rogoth: Ah, the guys you have been playing with in Extol! I play guitar too and I was wondering what kinda gear you use.
Chrizter: I use an Ibanez RG770 on Marshall jmp1 pre-amp and Marshall 9200 Power amp with Marshall 4x12
Tribal_S: I have a strumming technic question for you. Since you play in an extreme death metal band I hear a lot of chugs and gallops. Now the band I am in is a very heavy band and we use chugs constantly but I find myself downstroking a lot. My question is, how can I make my wrist more relax so I can down and up stroke to get the chugs I need? Do you know of any good exercises?
Chrizter: I don't know, you'll just have to practice so that you can get faster I guess. That way you'll relax more when playing the chugs.
Simehiri: Being a musician in a experimental/tech
band... do you ever
Chrizter: I don't over-analyze when I write music, but when I listen to music, sometimes I find it hard not to analyze. Sometimes it's good, but sometimes I just want to enjoy the music for what it is without having to analyze.
Rogoth: There's something else I've been wondering about. On Burial you thank in the credits "the girlfriend I don't have (you better find me soon.....I'm tired of waiting)". On the new album there's the same sort of phrase. Are you desperate or is this just an open invitation to all the girls to send in photos along with perfumed letters? :-))
Chrizter: On Burial I was kind of desperate, but then God thaught me how to be patient, and wait for the right timing. So, as you can see on Undeceived ("It's ok, I'll wait") I'm not at all desperate. I lay the whole matter in the hands of God.
Rogoth: Yeah, indeed. Man, that was just what I wanted to ask. Because the change is so obvious. I heard you like one of the girls in the band Umbrella....but on the other hand you're so occupied with being in the band. Does that hinder you? Your time is limited perhaps and I guess people (and also girls) look up to you.
Simehiri: No, no, no, Rogoth. I was merely busting Christer's chops about Henriette (drummer of Umbrella). I found out about Umbrella from the Shofar page and my Norwegian friend who is really into them. Um, but Christer, I'm sure God has a girl for you, just keep in His will, man.
Chrizter: Rogoth, where the heck do you get that from? (about Umbrella?) Yes, I am very occupied, but when I get a girl I'll just have to cut down on some other things...
mpomusic: There's an official website for the band. But to my idea it looks a bit label dominated with few updates and hardly interactions possibilities between the band and their fans. It's as if it's the label's bandpage, instead of the real official site, if you know what I mean. How do you look upon the official site yourself? Are you happy with it or do you miss certain things?
Chrizter: Our webmaster works for Endtime, so you are correct. I like the site a lot, and both the band and the label want to make it look as professional as possible. I do agree though that it should be updated waaay more often. By the way, there's going to be major updates on our site within next week.
mpomusic: The looks of the site is good of course. But how much do you have to say about it, as a band? Take for instance the links-page. That seems to be dictated by the company rather than the band's favorite links or whatever. Or am I looking a bit negatively upon it? Take for instance a site of the band Tourniquet. They have all kinds of feats that will attract people all the time. They have boards to hang out with other fans, they have a page referring to all kinds of interviews with the band on the internet, they have a lot of MP3's and other cool things that makes you want to come back all the time.
Chrizter: I understand what you're saying, but the thing is that none of us in the band is abled to run a website (I'm working on it though), so Endtime does it for us. And Samuel (webmaster) is a very busy man, so he can't spend all his time making all kinds of special features for the site.
Simehiri: Yeah, updates would be greatly appreciated. I actually missed your show in Colorado because the date was a day off at your official page. I was bummed, but it's a simple mistake. I'll just have to check out Solid State's tour date for concert confirmation next time.
Chrizter: I'm so sorry about that (you missing the show) That never should have happened.
mpomusic: I would like to see a personal touch of the band to make it a real official site. The reason I bring this up is because I wonder about your idea of artistic freedom. To me the website suggests your not entirely free to make it the band's site. What are your ideas about artistic freedom and how far can one go? Take for instance some of the T-shirts of Cradle Of Filth or Marduk. What do you think of that and is there some kind of limit you can describe, if there's. one?
Chrizter: About the website, e-mail Samuel at Endtime (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have suggestions. We want him to do the site. By the way we're getting playlists for every member on there soon (they will change every month). To be honest I haven't put much thought into the artistic freedom thing. To me, Cradle of Filth is just silly. The reason is that it's all just image, it's all about the money
mpomusic: I just had one other question in mind about the artistic freedom thing. I can agree that Cradle Of Filth is a money machine. But what about Marduk. I'm sure you know them and saw their shirts like the F*** Me Jesus shirt. What are your ideas about artistic freedom then. Is it unlimited or where do you put the limit?
Chrizter: Actually I know very little about Marduk, and I haven't seen
the t-shirt that you are mentioning. I guess people have the right to say whatever they
want, or mean whatever they want, but I think most of the bands who have such a
blasphemous, anti-Christian views are tired of religion. The man-made thing. You know, all
the outer things. They are against Christians (=human beings), but not against God or
Jesus, because if they had experienced God they'd never say anything like that (on the
Simehiri: How did the U.S. tour go with Tor and John of Lengsel? Is Lengsel on hold for the time being? Oh, and bring Crimson Moonlight with you to Cornerstone next year!! Heh heh...
Chrizter: The tour went really well. Lengsel is not on hold. Right now they are rehearsing and making new stuff for their new recording that will start around February/March.