2013 is already shaping up to be Blood Command’s year, but it remains to be seen whether the band can keep a lid on the deeply embedded secrets of second album, ‘Funeral Beach’.
Not before time five souls take to the stage and suddenly everything is transformed. After nearly two excruciatingly painful hours of waiting and watching leaving us close to the point of tears due to the pre-match entertainment served up before the main event this evening, FLW had one foot over the threshold clearly stating ‘EXIT’. The events which led to our interest being turned at the first sign of guitar connecting with amp were the visual sighting of post-hardcore unit Blood Command, which literally screamed: ‘Genuine proper band alert’. The rest, of course, is history as FLW was beaten into a blissfully happy submission of crunching guitars, white noise and vocals providing the hairdryer treatment. In other words, FLW was privileged to witness a band on the verge of greatness and ‘most likely to’ when it comes to the ubiquitous end of year polls of next breakthrough artist.
Fast forward to 2013 and Blood Command seem to be the band on the lips of all who genuinely gives a hoot about music. Such evidence is clear when the likes of Scottish hard rockers Biffy Clyro invite you as support for their forthcoming tour, and British metal bibles such as Kerrang! and Metal Hammer provides glowing reviews that are normally hard to come by. Therefore, it is no wonder that FLW finds Norway’s Blood Command in upbeat mood after a succession of highly successful gigs and rave reviews.
Despite such plaudits raining down from all corners of the music world, it comes as something of a surprise to find that some paranoia exists within camp Blood Command as recent recruit Sjalg Otto Unnison Hansen attests.
“He’s 27 years old now, so he’s going to die pretty soon,” referring to drummer Sigurd Haakaas and, in particular, that ominous age concerning rock stars. “So that’s why I’m taking the train today [to Bergen] because he’s driving!”
Luckily, such paranoia has not spread wholesale through the Blood Command ranks, quite the opposite in fact, as they remain steadfast to their pursuit of writing and creating music that not only they believe in but one which is built on a strong work ethic however late this came to the band.
“Silje, Sigurd and I started the band four years ago as a joke really, and here we are today!” comments guitarist Yngve Andersen laughing loudly in recognition of the incredible pace the band’s upward trajectory is currently taking. “There is a lot of hard work, but we haven’t been so good at it during the first few years. However, this last year has really seen a difference as we have really worked hard.”
“We’re learning as we work!” interjects lead vocalist Silje Tombre laughing. “But of course we’re trying to do our best.”
“We’re a pretty hardworking band now, as this guy [Sigurd] always picks up our equipment by himself, and doesn’t tell us about it, and then he does the driving for hours between gigs. So it’s [now] five working horses!” continues Yngve in recognition of the band’s improved work ethic.
Despite the modesty on display, Blood Command is certainly taking their work responsibilities even more seriously as a notion of perfectionism has slowly, but steadily, crept into their working practices. Such attention to detail is unmissable with latest album ‘Funeral Beach’ as both musically and lyrically it’s a dense affair full of vitriol against the norms and conformities of society and, in particular, those daring to look down upon this Bergen five piece. Quite simply though, would you even dare! For some, however, the songs lining the walls of ‘Funeral Beach’ has left little impact in terms of deterring such individuals from liking the music on offer even when the song in question actually concerns a specific individual. The person in question is perhaps unaware of its contempt due to the cryptic nature of the lyrics as Blood Command’s ‘Pissed Off and Slightly Offended’ hails down on its subject matter in a brutal assault of guitars and vocals. Why oh why though, would you even entertain going to see a band perform live if you know that you’re under the interrogative spotlight without even a hint of irony?
“I think she knows the song is about her, she has to because the word’s title was her name!” states Silje. “But now she knows what we’ve said about her, I don’t think she’s offended by it.”
But are you talking about Norwegian celebrities or people in general when it comes to songs such as ‘Pissed Off and Slightly Offended’?
“No, people generally,” replies Silje.
“People equal shit, you know?” adds Ingve before taking a sip of his nearby beverage.
‘March of the Swan Elite’ being a prime example of such an attitude then?
“‘March of the Swan Elite’ refers to successful people in the world who look down on less successful people. So yeah, f***em!” continues Ingve with enough contempt in his voice to sink a battleship.
FLW was unaware that such attitudes were prevalent in Norway due to such opinions holding a very British mentality because of the British class system.
“No, it’s not as bad in Norway but you have it everywhere in the world, as it’s not always the working class but you always have classes and it’s always divided into classes no matter where in the world you’re from,” explains Ingve regarding Norwegian attitudes in relation to a class system. “Maybe it’s lesser systems, as we talked about [prior to this interview] with the smaller systems such as families and the workplace and stuff. You always arrange people from low to high, so this song is about…”
“Wanting to make yourself feel better,” interjects Silje. “Some people do at least; they need to have someone lower than themselves to feel better and successful or more successful.”
“A lot of the songs are like vengeance fantasies, you know?” comments Ingve looking for FLWs’ understanding of such thoughts.
Are your lyrics, therefore, autobiographical?
“A large part of the lyrics are about my life and things I have experienced or feel,” says Ingve, “and I guess it’s the same for Silje, as the lyrics are divided between us.”
“Yeah, I think we both write a lot about regrets and towards systems and norms and how you’re supposed to act and what’s expected of you in terms of how the community [system] works and how you have to fit in to it because of people expecting you to be like that,” responds Silje after some initial reflection.
“The lyrics are a kind of f***all attitude – us versus them, you know?” says Ingve before trailing off.
When you say us versus them are you referring to anyone specifically such as the government and/or the police?
“Yes, but much more than that,” comes the immediate reply.
“Such as the institution of the family, despite this being only a small issue for some people,” adds Silje.
“F****** all systems!” continues Ingve in full flow now. “All systems trying to make you into something that you are not, and trying to force you into things that you don’t want to do such as the whole world does with workplaces, families, schools and f****** everything. For example, if you’re a normal person you’re supposed to have an education and a house and get married and have a car. Whereas you’re not normal if you’re not successful as some people have this view of others whereby if you don’t have an apartment you’re not successful. I mean, what the f***!” he finishes rather angrily.
Such notions remain deeply embedded in the contents of ‘Funeral Beach’ due to the aforementioned cryptic nature of the lyrics, and rightly so, as there is an intellectual quality at work here which marks out Blood Command from being simply a band full of superficial noise and throaty histrionics. In fact, the title of the album refers to secrets being buried in the sand only to be washed up with the encroaching tide; something of which Blood Command is not particularly willing to divulge easily due to offering only: “Your old mistakes are gonna haunt you some day, so it’s about burying your secrets.”
One thing that is clear is that the band is still in the throes of learning their trade as ‘Funeral Beach’ reveals glimpses of possible future directions, with the slightly more melodic latter half of this long player, without going the full distance. In fact, Ingve reveals, post interview, that the band have ideas for introducing hip-hop elements to their music, but for now ‘Funeral Beach’ remains Blood Command’s most consistent work to date, and one they can certainly be proud of.
“’Funeral Beach’ is the first record that was possible for us to write and record in one session, and we’ve never done that before, as it feels so much more like an album from start to finish,” comments Silje regarding the recording process for the band’s current album.
“The first album was recorded in many different studios as it wasn’t supposed to be an album but several EPs and singles. Our record label wanted us to release all these songs as an album, which we didn’t really want to do, but I’m glad that we did!” says Ingve laughing in recognition of the band’s ascending popularity.
Coming from the rain-soaked streets of Bergen where it seems to conjure up the same atmospheric gloom of cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, due to suffering the very same aforementioned meteorological elements, may explain the sometimes aloof attitude of Blood Command as clearly there are secrets hidden within. However, such reticence serves Blood Command well because songs such as ‘True North’ remain true to form in terms of its ambiguous nature as Ingve explains merely with brief words: “In terms of the Nordic Compass, there is one true north and it’s the compass north. So the song is about f*****up love and it’s personal. I’m no expert when it comes to doing the right and wrong things and justifying them for yourself, as that’s not a good thing to do.”
As the remnants of last night’s celebratory performance begin to show, Blood Command steadily gather their luggage in preparation for the long drive to Bergen, all barring one member of course! Before the band depart, however, Ingve offers one final inkling regarding the meaning behind ‘True North’, due to FLWs’ persistent nagging regarding this belter of a song which seems to reveal a selfish core, only to shift emphasis, once more, to the album’s songs in general.
“Yeah, kind of, as a lot of my lyrics are about selfish emotions. The songs are not really about big politics, or the country’s politics, but about smaller politics – everyday politics. We write a lot of the lyrics in the studio, and some of the melody ideas were formed long before then. I always have one line or something that I really want to have in a song and then I write the song after that, with the main bulk of the words at the end.”
With an increasing thirst for Blood Command’s signature, especially in the UK, it goes without saying that this Bergen five piece are truly creating something special. Catch them live while they’re on their ascendency or otherwise you may live to regret it.
(A review of Blood Command’s ‘Funeral Beach’ can be found in our Reviews section)
The songs are not really about big politics, or the country’s politics, but about smaller politics – everyday politics."
FLW - From the Tapes
Blood Command relay an incident to FLW concerning a gig in Norway which seemed to attract a rather unusual following.
“I think the weirdest concert was when we released ‘Ghost Clocks’, and there were ten girls in high heels, tube tops and dresses in front of the stage headbanging and crushing glasses before eventually climbing up on the stage bleeding and completely bruised!” reflects Silje looking a mixture of bemusement and horror regarding this experience during one of Blood Command’s gigs.
“You know, really nice girls and what the…” adds Ingve before trailing off shaking his head in utter disbelief at the memory of this incident.