The Psyke Project

author PP date 11/09/08

The Psyke Project is slowly but surely starting to become a Danish household name when it comes to the metallic music scene at least. With three excellent full lengths under their belt and a fourth one underway, the band are among the favorite Danish bands of this magazine, and one that we try to promote for the readers as often as humanly possible. They recently had some big news to announce, a new guitarist and a new studio album to be recorded in Sweden, so I figured it's about time we sit down with the guys for an in-depth interview about everything The Psyke Project. The interview took place in a tiny room behind the merch stand at Templet, Lyngby, on the evening of the first date of the band's looming tour of Denmark, and turned out really well. The band's vocalist Martin and drummer Rasmus went into great lengths of detail in many questions, so this is it for those who want to get to know this band a little bit better. Welcome to the interview! If you can start with just introducing yourself to the readers?
Rasmus: My name is Rasmus and I'm playing the drums in The Psyke Project.

Martin: My name is Martin and I'm the lead singer. Could you also just go over the history of the band to date?
Rasmus: Well, I can say that a few of the guys met in high school, started playing rock and pop music. And after three years of doing that we decided to play hard music, 'cause we've all been listening to hard music since we were small kids. And then we needed a singer, and my friend from way back when I was six years old, he has a gift of screaming, so we asked him, hey do you wanna join this project? And he said yes, and because we were playing in some other bands, we called it The Side Project, but we didn't think that Side Project sounded that cool so we changed it to The Psyke Project. That was back in 2001, in high school. So speaking of the name, you just mentioned how it came to life..but what does it actually mean?
Rasmus: We've actually asked a lot of UK people and American people, and I've actually one of my old English teachers. They all come up with different answers. Some people say that Psyke Project means like: you are going mental. It's just "before you're going mental" project. And some people say that it's some kind of a short version of Psychology Project, you know, what you do in school, and other people say that Psyke is actually pronounced Psyk-e. It means soul, so it's the soul project. So actually depending on who's asking us, we can always choose which meaning...

Martin: It has a good angle because I think it's.. the angle of being a soul project. It's something we have very close to our hearts, all of us. So that's the reason why we stuck with the name. It's a good idea to call it that. Did you guys then ever play your music to your English teachers, whom you asked about the name?

Martin: No I don't think so. I think we'd be kicked out of class if we did that. How would you say your sound has changed since your debut album "Samara" until now to "Apnea"?
Martin: It has been a long, long hard road. When we started back in 2001, we played nu-metal, we were inspired by koRn, Rage Against The Machine and all those bands. So we played some Silverchair and some Limp Bizkit cover songs when we started. And when we started making our own songs, we were of course inspired by that. So the first album was a demo, some rap metal and some singing, but still, a bit chaotic, because Mikkel (Guitarist, ed.) was pretty much a wild guy back in the old days. Before he turned 26, he was actually fucking crazy!

Rasmus: Yeah, he was very crazy!

Martin: And then it just developed into less rap and less singing and more screaming. And then we found the style of hardcore by Zao and all them, and were inspired by that. And then we started making hardcore, making only screaming vocals.

Rasmus: On the first demo we had singing, rapping and screaming, and our producers back then, from a city called Helsingor, they said to us: "Guys, we really like what you're doing, but you should definitely cut off the singing and the rapping, and just stay at screaming". And they actually took the demo we just made, and they gave us a version two, where they have just removed all the singing and rapping, so we only had the screaming on the demo. And I remember the guys just stood and said "I don't know about this.. this is one bad idea". Just one year after, in 2002, we made the demo "You're So Beautiful", which is only screaming vocals.

Martin: And then came "Samara", which is plain straight out hardcore, and then "Daikini"...there's a story for those three albums as well. We started making a bit skizo, thought as a crazy mathematical hardcore, like trying to be something that we actually weren't. We tried to make this chaotic hardcore, which I think on "Daikini", is much more us. It's more dark and there's much more soul and atmosphere in them.

Rasmus: But actually I don't agree on that, because we did mathematic music back then because we felt like it. We didn't feel like we had some kind of dark approach to it, but we couldn't do that kind of music, so we just chose to do mathematic. "Samara" was just a product of what kind of inspirations we had back then, and on "Daikini", we just wanted to do.. we just wanted to have another approach to the music, a more dark approach. Speaking of the album names, all three full length albums have just a one word title, and they're quite unconventional titles as well. I just wanted to ask you, how did you come up with these titles?
Martin: I think it was actually Rasmus who came up with the ideas to the titles.

Rasmus: Well, for the first one, "Samara", it was actually Mikkel. The "Samara" one was actually a kind of a virgin album, because we did a lot of rehearsing, and we didn't know what to expect, and we just called the album an EP. And suddenly we got the Roskilde Festival gig, and then we got to the Antfarm Studio. We had nine songs, which were very good, so suddenly we just had to get the title right away. And he had just seen the movie "The Ring".

Martin: And the girl in "The Ring" is called Samara. So that's a perfect idea what to call our album.. after a fucking evil girl.

Rasmus: Yeah, and then some guy who made the cover was one guy with crazy hair, so it was cool, "Samara". And then with "Daikini", we were hanging out at my place, checking out the movie called "Willow", and there's a scene where the midgets have a first encounter with the human being. And they say something like "Oh, don't trust them because they're Daikini", because they find the Daikini dangerous.

Martin: "Don't go near it, it's a Daikini"... then "Why dad, what's a Daikini?" and then he says "A Daikini is a giant living far far away" and that's just perfect, because the whole "Daikini" album is about the human race.

Rasmus: So what we needed to find back then was a word which could tell you something about the human kind seen from another perspective. That's why "Daikini". What about "Apnea"?

Martin: "Apnea" means you are out of breath. That you're almost... for example, when you're drowning, the last breath you'll have in your lungs.. almost dying, breathless. We found out that title before I started writing the songs, so we had the title of the album, and then I'm going to write the lyrics after that. So I've got the negative and positive sides of being breathless. For example, when you meet the love of your life, you can get breathless. But if you lose her again, you can get breathless. If I see my friend get hurt, I can get breathless. So there's good sides and bad sides of that, so that's how the album is built up lyrically. So does that mean that the next album will also just have a one word title. Have you decided on that yet?

Rasmus: That's a very good question. "Samara", "Daikini" and "Apnea" have to be seen like as a trilogy, and the next, the fourth album, we're going to record it in another studio in Sweden, we have a whole kind of new approach to it. The three albums we did actually like three months before we hit recording sessions, because we were very busy with touring and stuff. So the albums have been very intense. Now we have been keeping it low for touring, just to focus a lot on the album, so we have been working very intensely on this album for a long time. And this is going to be a new sound, a new album, so we don't want to continue the single word pattern. The album's title is probably going to be "The Great Telos". Telos means the most important actions you do in life, kind of. You mentioned you're recording in Sweden, so I was actually curious, how come you chose to go to Gothenburg instead of recording it here in Denmark?
Martin: Actually I think it was Mikkel who was listening to a CD by a band called Skitsystem (?) who have a very rotten, dirty sound. And we thought that'd be a beautiful input to our sound. So we'd like to record an album where it's a bit more rotten, dirty and raw to the bone, instead of Tue Madsen, which is Antfarm Studios, which is very good but it's a bit more metal - like a clean sound. And we'd like it a bit more dirty. "Dirty".. what would you say the record overall sounds like?
Rasmus: The new one? I would say that... if you see music in colors, you know, I do.. I see it in one straight color. Whereas if you take an album like "Apnea", there's a lot of different colors in my mind, if you get what I'm saying. It's more heavy, it's more dark, and it's also in someways more melodic, but in a very evil way, if you understand what I mean. It's not a mosh album, I think, but when we did "Daikini" it wasn't a mosh album back then, and it took about one year of touring before people started digging the album, and started moshing at the songs. We actually played the first show here at Templet after we just released "Daikini". And when we played all "Daikini" songs, people just didn't get it. When we played some "Samara" songs they were just going crazy. It'll probably be the same thing with this one. It is a mixture between "Daikini" and if you take the dark songs from "Apnea", and combine those two approaches to music, and just.. even better. So are we still talking about really long songs as many on "Apnea"?

Rasmus: Some of them... actually most of them are about six minutes. And we've also tried to keep a very big distance to the post-hardcore music scene. That's been very important to us, to try to compose songs which are six minutes long in another way, that isn't so typical post-hardcore. Why's that?

Rasmus: Because we're a bit tired of that traditional way of building a song up to the climax...

Martin: Some of the songs are long, but they're still going with the same flow, if you know what I mean. As if you're getting hypnotized, liked "gong gong gong gong gong gong" just all the way through the song, so we don't have these climaxes and all the breakdowns and all that cool stuff, just one good flow all the way through. Rasmus is making some incredible drums on this album, just wait for them, they'll be AWESOME. When you stand and listen to it, it's just like a machine walking through a city, and burning everything around. You mean like Meshuggah?

Martin: No no.. not at ALL like Meshuggah. If Jeppe was down here, the bassist, he'd say yeah I love Meshuggah [laughs].. not me. More like.. The Psyke Project!

Rasmus: It's definitely The Psyke Project. [laughs] You guys also just announced a new guitarist, Christian. You call him "Bono", so what's his function in the band and where did you find him?
Rasmus: Just looking good [laughs]. He's pretty young, he's just moving the average age down to a cool stage. Now I'm back at 23!

Martin: Yeah that's excellent! This is between me and you. The only reason why we got Bono in the band is because we're pretty old now. When you've got one under 21 in the band, you look younger! [laughs] I feel like 24! Nah, he's awesome. We've been trying a lot of guitarists and Bono has always just.. he played in some other bands called Harasser and Full Nelson, which is really good. And we thought.. actually it was Mikkel who thought about trying to ask him. It was a good suggestion.

Rasmus: The cool thing about Bono is that he has not been passive. He's been composing a lot of the things on the new material, he's been very hard working at getting all our old stuff ready for the tours, and he's also very friendly and a nice guy, he has a great sense of humour. So it actually just clicked right away. So he's actually been in the band for quite a while before the announcement?

Rasmus: Two months, since June!

Martin: That's the cool thing about Bono. He didn't come into the rehearsal room and just played what he should. He said "no man Mikkel, I think it would be much more cool if you did like this" and Mikkel was like "oh man, fuck yeah!". Already then, there was a bond between the guitar players. And that's really important in a band. The four of us could see right there that he's really good. Also in the news, you guys also announced that you're now signed to Lifeforce Records. So how did that come about?
Rasmus: In 2006, the president of Lifeforce Records flew out to Denmark to check us out at the Danish Metal Awards where we played a show. There were also label guys from Relapse and Century Media, and some guy from Roadrunner. They were all staying at hotels, and came to check us out because they knew we would need a label. But they also all knew each other, because they've been working together back and forth. So it was a very strange feeling that they came with the same interests but there was a big blur about it, and we just didn't know how to approach it. So we just hung out with them all, and went out and got drunk, and just started label shopping. And after one and a half years, Relapse just said, "yeah man, the European department really wanted us, but the US department didn't want us", so they turned us down, and Lifeforce told us six months later "Okay, we'll take you", because I think they were checking us out.

Martin: Yeah, seeing how we were touring and how much we were doing in the band. If we were passive or if we were actually working for this. And then they noticed we were good workers, "so we will take them into our home".

Rasmus: Yeah, back in the summer of 2007, our Scandinavian label, Copenhagen Sound, they broke down, and they actually left us the whole business. So we were actually our own record label for eight months. And I think that's why they decided to choose us, because they saw that we still have all the booking agencies, we still have all the distribution agencies, and we're taking care of business, we're composing, and playing live and stuff.. and it's a very cool label. Actually I couldn't imagine a better label for our kind of music. [sounds of Vira's guitars being tuned up on the background] Seems like Vira is about to start in a bit, so I'll just cut into the last two questions. First of all, who have been your main influences?
Martin: For the new album? Yeah, or the last couple of years.

Rasmus: That's a difficult question. All kind of music. When we're sitting backstage, we would listen to Veto, and we listen to hardstyle techno. Really?

Rasmus: Yeah...

Martin: For me as a vocalist, I think I must say there's a band called Zao, and in the newer time it must be Buried Inside from Canada. That's what I've been listening to. [Vira starting their set in the background] Okay they're starting. I'll just quickly ask the last question, hopefully you can still hear it on the recorder. What's your opinion on the Danish music scene at the moment?
Rasmus: Metal scene or music scene? Both. Or lets say music scene.

Rasmus: I think the Danish music scene has, for the last two years, been going through a very important development. I think we have a lot of bands now sounding quite interesting, like Veto, Duné and those bands, but we also have very talented bands in the underground. It's like that the Danish bands have now understood that if you want to have your music out, it requires hard work, and you just can't stay in the rehearsal room waiting for some record label to give you a record deal. You need to work hard, and you need to stay focused, and you definitely don't need to sound like the newest UK thing. For many years, we have just, after two years of the biggest UK band, all the Danish bands sounded like that. I think bands now have seen that one of the most important things is to have an edge to the music, to try something new. I really like a lot of Danish bands, both in the rap, rock and in the electronic music scene. I actually think that the metal scene is still lagging behind, if you should ask me. Thanks for the interview! Anything else you want to say to your fans and the readers before we close?
Martin: Just keep on rocking and keep on being fucking cool!

Rasmus: Yeah and do your sit ups!

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