Leprous Interview – with Guitarist Øystein Landsverk

After their great gig in Tel Aviv on February 8th 2013, progressive metal’s LEPROUS band’s guitarist Øystein Landsverk gave an Israeli fan, Shachar Tal, a short interview about their gigs and recent COAL album.

1. First off, you’ve been to Israel earlier this year. How was your experience? Did you find anything that surprised you?

Israel was nice! First time ever in the Middle East and we were very excited about the whole thing of course.
Always fun to go play somewhere you’ve never even been before! We were driven around in a bus and had some time off to go see some nice places, and also spend some precious time on a beach 🙂 I guess we were a bit surprised in the sense that Israel wasn’t as different from Norway as we initially thought. All in all it was a great experience, and interesting to see a part of the world that was unknown to us thus far.

leprous-coal2. Listening to your albums, there is a very strong feeling of “going with the flow”. However, while watching you perform live, it seems that every movement and every step is very calculated. This “Flowing vs.
Calculated” is a very strong theme in your music. In your earlier work the distinction was clear (For example “Dare You”, which has a distinctly “Calculated” part, a “Flowing” middle part, and a “Calculated” ending), but
in “Coal” it seems that you’ve put a lot of effort to fuse between the two. Is it something you intentionally work on as a band, or is it unintentional and reflects your internal progress as artists?

There is actually very little we specifically aim for, but on ‘Coal’ we knew we wanted something different from the style of ‘Bilateral’. All our previous material is very playful and kind of all over the place. We wanted something more settled and focused this time around. To take our time to build a mood and character around each song, but still keep the listener at his toes. Listening to ‘Coal’ takes a little more effort because
you have to hone in on the details and really get into the music. That’s also why ‘Coal’ makes a lot of sense when listening through the entire album at once.
I guess what you’re talking about is the result of us experimenting just as much as before, but within the framework of the song. Maybe it’s that approach that makes those two elements seem more fused together than before. The differences are less apparent on ‘Coal’, but they are still very much there. So I guess you’re right with the fact that we put some work into that 🙂

3. You guys tour quite a bit. Care to share one or a couple of crazy “road” stories that happened to you?

Yes, we’ve had a few shows the last few years! It’s getting busy for sure. Leprous have a small curse when it comes to traveling, and things rarely go the way we planned. I can tell you one story from the last tour we had. It was our first headliner tour, in Europe, and the last show took place in the Netherlands. After finishing the show, we packed our stuff into a trailer and started heading home. We had been driving for 20 hours straight, and about 30­40 minutes from Oslo we were hit in the side by another car. Our car, along with the trailer, did a nice and big 360 right there on the highway, hugging the protective highway fence tightly. The car and trailer was totaled, but we and our equipment came out of it just fine. We ended up spending 5 hours during the events that followed, before we finally got to go to bed at 3 AM. That’s ONE story 🙂

4. Why don’t you do songs from “Aeolia” or “Silent Waters” on stage?
It’s because these songs, their sound and arrangements are vastly different from how we approach music nowadays. It would be very difficult to integrate material from those periods into a live show because of just that. The songs were made during a time of searching for a sound and exploring every idea we could come up with, and we think of them more like stepping stones rather than music we would stand for 100% today.
We have simply changed our expression a lot over the years 🙂

5. A question for the now-­dreadlock-­free Einar. I’m not going to ask you why you took them off, but rather: why they were on in the first place? 🙂
Since he’s not the one doing the interview I can’t really give you the perfect answer here, but he got it simply because he wanted to do something new with his hair 🙂

6. Back to the music. While “Bilateral” was an all­out mayhem, “Coal” shows a lot of restraint (my personal association when I listened to “Coal” for the first time was Norman Bates from “Psycho” at the Motel’s front desk: looks calm, but with an insane fire within). Why did you choose this musical direction? What is the most notable effect this “restraint” had on your music?
You’re right about ‘Bilateral’. It was something of a mood swinger and really all over the place. There is always a lot of stuff happening and the music is eager to move on to the next ‘big thing’. On ‘Coal’, we just sort of out­grew that approach and wanted something more settled. Not rushing ahead as much, but rather taking our time to delve into each song. Developing a clear and characteristic sound and direction for each
song became really important, instead of just throwing riffs around that didn’t make much sense. ‘Bilateral’ was much freer in that regard, but on ‘Coal’ we took that same approach only aiming to keep it within the existing framework of the song, and not ‘break out’ all the time. it can sort of ruin the listener’s experience, you know?

7. Please name at least 5 bands/artists which you think inspired you the most and without them, Leprous wouldn’t have sounded the way it does today.

It’s very difficult for me to pinpoint which artists I listened to who have had the most impact on Leprous’ sound. I think it’s like that because everything one listens to always has some degree of influence. But I know a few artists who have affected me and my playing quite a lot and I can name Iron Maiden, Paul Gilbert, Tommy Emmanuel, Wes Montgomery and Michael Jackson.

8. Do you already have ideas for your next album? Where do you see Leprous’ style progressing to?
Yes, we fool around with a lot of new ideas but just individually at this point. We generally don’t like to predict or aim for a specific sound prior to making a new album as we only find it to be a limitation.
Restrictions are not good for the creative process so we keep our minds very open, and only by playing together will we get a feel for where Leprous is heading in the future. But that’s the whole fun of it! To surprise yourself and develop as musicians along the way. That’s a large part of why I enjoy this band so much. It’s like we have the world at our feet when we create new music and we go wherever we want. It all ends up sounding like us anyway 🙂 At the moment we are heading out on a huge European tour and after
that we will surely get to work on some new stuff. But I’m bringing my laptop and audio interface on the road as well, so maybe sooner! 😀
Thanks!

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About mitkadem

Mitkadem.co.il is the Hebrew guide to progressive rock, focusing on Israeli readers.
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