Just yesterday Denmark's number one hardcore act (in my opinion) The Psyke Project officially unleashed their latest album "Guillotine" upon the world. Having followed them since the early years and seen them live more times than any other band, I was of course interested to hear their own thoughts on the album, life as a band anno 2013, and future plans. Read on to find out what their drummer Rasmus Sejersen had to say about it all.
RF.net: You describe your role in the band as the "man with the plan". Could you elaborate a bit on that?
Rasmus: I am the kind of guy that always has some kind of twisted lists of projects, plans and ideas that I want to carry out. Some of my plans are awesome, and some of them suck! But they keep me getting things done and keep my projects evolving one way or another. For my part, being in a band is 80% about sitting in front of a computer and 20% sitting behind the drum kit. It has more or less been like this since I booked our first gig many years ago. I enjoy this role most of the time, but I am also aware of the fact that if I chose to lay down my efforts, the band would most likely suffer from it, and in the worst case, die. Either way, I guess most bands need a guy with some kind of a plan and drive if they want to experience more than just their own rehearsal room.
RF.net: You pursue a concurrent career in video production as well. How did you end up doing that? How, if at all, does this career choice contribute to your involvement with The Psyke Project?
Rasmus: When I was younger, I enjoyed shooting hardcore, metal and punk shows with my old school DV tape camera, mostly while touring with The Psyke Project. I became good at it, and in the summer of 2011 I decided to start my own production company. I immediately became the in-house video dude at Sony Music Denmark and produced a lot of work for them in the following year; and my expertise began to spread out to the clubbing and commercial area. I am very passionate about this, and love every second of it. To be creative while getting food on the table is something I consider a great gift.
RF.net: Given that you have this day job, I'm going to assume that playing with The Psyke Project does not produce sufficient financial rewards to pursue is as a full-time endeavor. What motivates you to put so much passion and effort into the project?
All the income the band gets is put into the band company. I've never earned a penny for al lthe work I've put into The Psyke Project. In some periods it's like having a full-time job. But it's fine by me, and something I've decided for myself. Many years ago, the band offered me a percentage of the income for my extra time, but I refused because of the fact that financial issues and band-mate-friendship usually aren't a good blend. Plus I've never been in this for personal financial gain. I'm in this for the adventures and passion for the music only, and want to keep it like this; which has meant that I have had jobs on the side, plus a cand.comm. (ed. Master of Science
) in Communication and Marketing that I needed to deal with. And now I have my video company, which I put a great deal of work into.
Many people outside the band often consider me as the band boss... for better or worse; and I will most likely be the guy to blame if something goes wrong. And it's OK - I can handle it, and I am aware of my responsibilities. But very often these people forget that I am a boss without payment, and simply can't use all the time in the world on a "hobby" band. There's also the fact that no big decisions in the band are taken without everybody getting to speak their mind.
RF.net: Most people in Denmark seem to agree that your live shows are some of the most unhinged, energetic and downright mental performances the country has ever seen. Would you agree with that sentiment? What is it, in your opinion, that makes for a great show?
Thanks. I guess it comes down to two main points: positive energy between the people on stage, and a lot of stage practice. We are good on stage because we have played tons of gigs together since we were 15 years old. Our first band was called Müsli (rock/grunge, 1997-2000) and we played plenty of shows in that 3-year period until we started The Psyke Project around December, 1999. During high school we spent most of our time rehearsing with our instruments, drinking beers and playing gigs at small venues and bars. It's like soccer: if you wanna be good at it, you need to be on the field with your team-mates.
Another important thing is the whole build-up before a show. We always hang out and talk, make fun of each other, drink, and listen to music. We want to create an easy vibe before entering the stage.
My opinion about a "great show" comes down to several things, but since you ask I want to point out "the groove". A lot of people will probably disagree on this, but usually I can't feel "the groove" with many of the metal bands in Denmark. And I don't mean groove like in nu-metal, etc.; by groove I mean the authentic feeling I get by listening to a band that rocks the shit out of me - when my head can't help itself from banging back and forth! It's not that hard to be a technical musician; it's harder to obtain that groove in the way you play your music. It probably comes down to the fact that the majority of Danish metal bands don't rehearse enough with their instrument, in my opinion - though I might be wrong! My old drum teacher told me that you can tell how good a drummer is by how he grooves the hi-hat. That's always the first thing I notice when I see a band - how the drummer hits the hi-hat.
RF.net: You've just released a new album, "Guillotine". Tell me about the writing and recording process behind it. Was it smooth sailing all the way?
Rasmus: It was. No bigger problems or crisis. We knew what sound and feeling we wanted to create from the beginning.
RF.net: Do you have any interesting, funny, etc. stories to share from the writing and recording process; things that might not be common knowledge outside the inner circle of the band?
Rasmus: We considered to name the album "Jump the Fuck Up" - because most of the rhythms you hear on the album are hip-hop beats. Glad we didn't, ha ha. But no greater stories, I guess, besides taking the piss as much as possible on the producer, and so on. The album is recorded live and all tracks were recorded in 1 to 4 takes, so what you hear on the album is also what you will get live.
RF.net: Having listened to the full album, it seems to me like you've adopted - once again - a fresh approach with regard to the style of music. I feel like its rawer, dirtier and darker than your previous output. Can you tell me a little bit about some of the influences and inspirations underlying "Guillotine"?
Rasmus: This is the most raw and dirty studio production we have ever done, that's for sure. We told our producer, Jacob Bredahl, that we wanted the most raw and heavy TPP sound to date. So he did a lot of research on gear, and he was very well prepared when we arrived at the studio. We had 7 days to record the album, so everything needed to be in order. Bredahl is a very good man, and a highly skilled producer, so I think we made the perfect pick choosing him as the producer for this album. Martin's vocals are more monstrous than previously, which we aimed for. For me personally, I wanted to groove more and cut down on the more chaotic parts of our music. Plus we wanted to add some more black metal riffing on there, and so on.
RF.net: What are some of the predominant moods, themes and atmospheres that you hope to convey on this album?
Rasmus: Darkness, the "point of no return"; epic and depressed melodies and riffing; heavy grooves and intense vocals.
RF.net: Is there a story behind the album title, "Guillotine"? What about the tracks themselves; what sort of individual tales do they tell?
Rasmus: We wanted all the track titles to circulate around the faces of death - the intense experience of staring Death in the eyes and maybe surviving. Plus the fact that the hell we impose on other people is created by fellow men. No people, no hell. Behind all of this misery and lurking evil our key message is quite simple: be good to each other!
RF.net: You have quite an alternative arrangement set up for this effort, with no less than six record labels involved in its release. What were your reasons for working with such an array of labels?
Rasmus: We wanted to try something different. Instead of only working with one record label, why not spread out the work and territories and work with six? The Psyke Project has always been - and will always be - an underground hardcore band, so that's why we can have a setup like this. The whole team behind the band is run by passionate people with a strong D.I.Y. mentality, who work hard for the hardcore and metal scene; so this setup is perfect for us. We understand each other and don't need huge agreements, business plans or contracts made by lawyers to fulfill our common goal: to get the music out.
RF.net: On your previous album - the split LP "Ebola" which you did with As We Fight - there was a distinct hardcore influence present, in that the songs were simpler and more direct. Why did you choose to make such a drastic, retrospective change to your sound compared to the epic post-metal stylings of "Dead Storm"?
Rasmus: I want to quote the singer of the legendary Düreforsøg, who I met on a train on a Saturday night, on my way home from a bar many, many years ago. We were both drunk and tired. I asked him how come they had decided to do such a drastic change of sound between their debut album "Knee" (1997) and their second album "Exploring Beauty" (1999). He looked at me like I was stupid or something and answered: "Sometimes you want to paint your room blue, and sometimes you want to paint it red." Good answer, and it makes perfect sense to me.
RF.net: Is "Guillotine", for you, a logical continuation of the style unleashed on "Ebola"?
Rasmus: I guess. Our source of inspiration comes naturally, and it is not planned. But in retrospect, I might be able t osee "Guillotine" as a hybrid between "Daikini" (the darkness) and "Ebola" (cut-to-the-bone song-writing).
RF.net: Outside of the Danish borders, you seem to enjoy huge success in Eastern Europe in particular, and you tour there regularly. Why do you think that is?
Rasmus: In many years we toured the UK mostly, and the years before that we often went to the Benelux area. The last couple of years we have visited Eastern Europe quite often. We go where we are wanted; no greater plan behind it, actually. We are not a big band who can decide which territory we want to play in; we need to go where the bookers want us, and where people wanna go see us.
RF.net: You have a European tour planned, set to begin shortly. How did that come to be? What are your expectations for this tour?
Rasmus: A hard-working team of cool Czech dudes has coordinated the tour and - as always - we are in for a hell of a ride. I expect lots of crazy partying and rowdy punk gigs.
RF.net: What are some of your favorite cities and venues to play, both domestic and abroad?
Rasmus: In Denmark I always enjoy playing in cities like Århus, Roskilde and Fredericia - and of course our hometown of Copenhagen. Outside of Denmark I enjoy most of the places. A special place in my heart will always be Iceland. We have played there many times, and will be back again in July (ed. the Eistnaflug Festival). Great people and cities; I really like that place.
RF.net: What does the future have in store for you guys in terms of immediate and long-term plans and ambitions?
We are not a heavy touring band, and will never be, but we've got plenty of gigs lined up for the summer, and stuff in the works for the autumn and winter as well - as well as touring plans for the beginning of 2014. The main plan is to present "Guillotine" to a live audience and keep spreading our music.
Personally, this album will most likely be my last with the band. The Psyke Project have been part of my life since I was a wild teen, so I want to leave this life-project as well as possible. With this album I believe I will be able to look back and be satisfied with what we've created and accomplished as a band - and as a little group of friends. Nothing lasts forever, and it's time for me to move on and focus on other projects. If the band want to continue with a new drummer, that's totally fine by me. I would love to see the band evolve in a new direction without my presence. "Guillotine" is the album I always wanted to create, so it makes perfect sense for me to quit while I still love this with all my heart.
RF.net: That was the last question, so I'll leave it to you in case you want to make any final comments, shout-outs and the like?
Rasmus: If life is like a 9-map HALO game, I've reached the end of level 3. Still plenty of time left to enjoy the game, but it's only a matter of time before I reach "Game Over". I will use my time well!