Anubis Gate Interview

PHOENIX:  First of all, congratulations on the new album “Horizons,” your newest venture since your 2011 self-titled release!  It seems you and your fans have been eager to hear this new album.

In October 2013, you released a free downloadable EP through your label Nightmare Records.  On it you included a teaser by including the first song on “Horizons,” entitled “Destined to Remember,” as well as covers of Pink Floyd’s “Sheep” and Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings.”  Why did you decide to release the 3-song EP, and how did you decide which “Horizons” and cover songs you wanted to include on this EP?  What do you think that says about Anubis Gate’s musical preferences/style?

KIM: We finished HORIZONS just too late for the release window of 2013 and I had boldly been promising on the socials that it would be out in 2013. So the fans were anticipating it and we felt we should do something for them. Our initial plan was to put it on iTunes and depart the fans from their hard earned pay but Nightmare boss Lance suggested we give it away as a really nice treat for the patient fans. And of course that was the right thing to do. Without them we would not be able to put albums out.

DESTINED TO REMEMBER was an easy pick since we had two slightly different versions of it. That way we could make both releases unique in content. It’s not just the length that’s different. There are keyboard parts in the shorter version that aren’t in the long version.  SHEEP was one I just had to get out of my system. It’s always been my favorite Pink Floyd track from my favorite Pink Floyd album. And I knew it would make a good Anubis Gate track. So I made a demo of it (this was when Jesper and “old” Morten was still in the band) and they liked it. Henrik was quite skeptic until we got nearer the final result.  BROKEN WINGS was a fan suggestion, but we knew it would be right. And Henrik loves this song so he wasn’t hard to talk into it. I think this one came late to the table.

In terms of musical style I guess you could argue (I certainly have) that if you fuse 70’s progressive music with 80’s pop and add NWOBHM with old school thrash metal you have a recipe for Anubis Gate’s music.

HENRIK: Since “Andromeda Unchained” we’ve always done one or two covers the last day in the studio. ”Sheep” was Kim’s idea, one that I didn’t like at first, but I went along it and it really grew on me. Now I see how great it works and I’m very happy about it. “Broken Wings” was a song that I was very fond of when I was 13, so it was a bit nostalgic for me to do. It’s still a great song. The two covers were never intended for the album, so they were pretty obvious. “Destined to Remember” is a classic-style Anubis Gate song in our own opinion, so it was a good choice to include. A little teaser of what to expect from the album. The choice of covers tells its tale of a band who is inspired by other music than metal. We are.

PHOENIX:  The lineup for Anubis Gate has changed since the last album…50% of the group are new members! So what was the songwriting and recording process like with new members Morten and Michael and how was it similar or different than previously? 

[Author’s note:  Longtime members Kim Olesen (guitar, keyboard) and Henrik Fevre (vocals, bass) welcomed new guitarist Michael Bodin (taking Jesper M. Jensen’s spot) and drummer Morten Gade Sørensen (taking Morten Sørensen’s place, in a stranger than fiction yet humorous identical name replacement, to whom I affectionately refer as Morten 2.0).  They are both experienced musicians, with Morten 2.0 known from his work with Pyramaze, and Michael’s work with Third Eye.]

KIM: The process stayed much the same as on previous albums (excepting Purification). We write and record the demos via dropbox. Someone debuts a piece, long or short, everyone adds to it. I then step in as the producer and make some “anubisifications” and turn it into a finished demo. This time the borders between our instruments got even more blurred. Henrik wrote guitarparts, I wrote vocal parts and even a full lyric etc etc…. really our songs have started life as anything you could imagine. Tinkling on the piano. Humming into an iphone, a groove a guitariff etc etc. It’s never the same way twice.

HENRIK: Yes, I did more guitarparts than ever for this one. It was done  before Michael joined at time when we needed the extra input from another guitarist/writer. So the backbone of the album was already written when Michael and Morten joined. Nevertheless Michael is responsible for quite a few middleparts and most of “Hear My Call!”. I bet you will hear much more from these two on the next album. Recording was also very similar to what we normally do. We’ve sort of persuaded the two new members to go along with our methods and I think they’re pretty ok with that (’cause it works).

PHOENIX:  Michael and Morten, can you describe the assimilation process into Anubis Gate for you?

MICHAEL: I have been taken into the band with open arms, and from day 1, I’ve been treated as a full member. I was asked from the beginning to make parts for 2 tracks that wasn’t finished and the guys would like me to make a track that was mostly my ideas. As Henrik says: then I squeezed my self into a couple of songs more. I love the professional way these guys work and they all have a very nice personalities. I´m grateful  and honored that they asked me to join them.

MORTEN: Kim contacted me the day before Christmas Eve 2012 and asked if I was busy.  ”Well, everything is relative”, I replied. – Kim and I had been working together previously on Lance King’s ”A Moment In Chiros” album, and he had me and my drumming in mind when looking for a replacement for Morten 1.0. I was very honored and accepted right away as I have always been a fan of Anubis Gate’s work. We are all with kids, family and daytime jobs so I found myself in a position to be able to give what it takes to be a part of the band – also touring wise. As the creative process are done via online Dropbox exchanges, my first real-life meeting with Kim, Michael and Henrik was in the studio recording the drums.

PHOENIX:  Even with the new additions of Michael and Morten 2.0, Anubis Gate still retains their trademark sound over the years.  Do you feel like all 4 of your musical visions for Anubis Gate are in line with each other?

KIM: I think they are to a certain extent. But given that we can assimilate so much stylistically into our framework they needn’t be really. There is room for so much. And having two new members in the band without anything changing wouldn’t be any fun 😉 I feel it would be like asking Jacob Hansen to sing like Torben Askholm when he joined. We didn’t want that. We wanted something different both in respect of what came before and as a way of developing.

HENRIK: I think Morten and Michael would never have joined if they weren’t happy about the sound of the band and the development we’ve gone through in our time. We have had no real arguments over this and that, yet, even though we come from very different backgrounds and are different as persons. But that’s exactly what makes a good band. Four of the same kind is rarely a recipe for success.

PHOENIX:  The vocals on this album are as rich as ever with catchy melodies and lush harmonies.  This is now what I consider the “Henrik era” of Anubis Gate albums.  Torben Askholm sang for 2 albums, Jacob Hansen sang for 2 albums, and now Henrik has sung for 2 albums, each covering exactly 1/3 of the Anubis Gate discography to date.  Henrik seems to have definitely settled into the lead vocalist seat on this album.  How does it feel to have a new vocal “era” established and do you foresee Henrik covering vocals for the distant future? 

HENRIK: Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I’m settled into the vocal seat and I have no intentions of leaving. Earlier I had no ambitions of being the singer of Anubis Gate, but now I’m really happy about it. So it’s a great feeling and something should go spectacularly wrong if I didn’t end up being the first lead vocalist to appear on more than two Anubis Gate albums. But then again; if you listen closely to our albums from ’05-’09 you may discover small lead vocal parts here and there.

KIM: Hopefully everyone in the band stays forever 🙂 Changing vocalists once is hard enough since so much of a band’s identity hangs on the vocals. And rightly so. We have done it twice and survived. We are lucky that our initially reluctant bass player was actually a conservatory trained vocalist. And I think people accepted Henrik easier because he was part of the band for years and they already knew his voice from the things he had sung on the previous albums. Had we not had Henrik to take over the band had probably ended when Jacob left. Now Jacob also knew that Henrik would step in easily and that made Jacob’s decision to leave easier, because the last thing Jacob wanted was to ruin the band.

PHOENIX:  Henrik, how do you come up with the vocal lines as well as the lyrical themes for each song?

HENRIK: The lyrics for ”Horizons” are mostly storybased and fictive, except ”Hear my call!” which was inspired by a true story and ”Erasure” which has the same level of personal content that was evident on the s/t album. And it makes sense ’cause I wrote that one during the s/t period, it just didn’t make it to the album. But it’s all really coincidental. Often I listen to the music written and sent to me by the others, and I hum and sing strange English sentences to find a suitable melody to fit the music. Some of these words get stuck and end up in the finished lyrics. The nonsense vocal demos can be great inspiration and lead me in a certain direction, when the lyric is written. Some of it subconsciously I guess. Otherwise I like to make up stories and strange situations to fit the music, but time and again the true story occurs in my lyrics. ”Purification”, ”Approaching Inner Circle”, ”Epitome of Delusion”, and ”Snowbound” were all based on true stories either heard on the news or experienced by friends. ”Hear my call!” was inspired by a tv-show.

PHOENIX:  This album seems to have a lot of existential themes to the songs.  Did you go into the album with an overall concept for it in mind ahead of time, or did you go about it more spontaneously?  Also, do you feel there is an overarching thread to the album yourselves?

KIM: Spontaneously. After both Andromeda Unchained and The Detached we really had exhausted the concept album thing. There are some songs that are both lyrically and musically linked. NEVER LIKE THIS and A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM are both songs about the world of dreams. HEAR MY CALL! and AIRWAYS is part one and two of the same story.

PHOENIX:  You found a fantastic piece of art for your album cover, which even influenced one of your songs.  Can you talk more about that?

KIM: I had this song called Horizon. Which was like something like The Cure with the classic Led Zeppelin track Achilles Last Stand thrown in. It wasn’t finished and it wasn’t really a song that had “metal” stamped on it. So I was going to let it go. I then found the cover art in the “unused” section of Greek artist Nikos Markogiankannis homepage. And it was so close to the image I had in mind when I did Horizon that I took it as a good omen. We the resurrected the song. Henrik augmented it with some guitarparts and a chorus (that only appears once). We then rewrote the lyrics because by that time the cover art was influencing both the musical and lyrical aspects of the song.

PHOENIX:  Now that this is your 6th studio album, how do you think it differs, if at all, from your 1st album as a group?  Do you feel your style, approach, sound, etc. has morphed over time, and if so, how?

KIM: Much so. But always in steps. So one album has never been too far away from the previous. The progression has always been logical. When listening to Purification now it does feel like it could be twenty years ago (even though it’s only ten and I still love the album). The approach hasn’t changed much since the recording of A Perfect Forever though. And certainly since Andromeda Unchained we have done things much the same way.

HENRIK: I see the first two as very different to the last 4. For me we finally found ourselves and our way on ”Andromeda Unchained”. That was the beginning of the Anubis Gate we are today. We’ve all evolved as musicians and writers since then and the people who was previously in the band have all inspired us as we have probably inspired them. It has been a great journey so far and we have no intensions of stopping now. It always excites me to see where we’re going next.

PHOENIX:  Those who purchase the physical CD album of “Horizons” will get a bonus album included of live performances from 2005.  Can you speak more about that?

KIM: Certainly. It’s a recording that dates from the interim between Torben leaving and Jacob joining. So it has Henrik as the stand in vocalist. Which makes it interesting in itself since it’s the debut of the lineup that made the s/t album quite a few years before it was an official lineup… It’s full of raw energy and it’s a good sounding mix.

PHOENIX:  What are your favorite moments on the album?

KIM: That changes every day. I have heard the material so many times from the first conception, through it’s childhood and now the album is grown up and leaves the nest. Some songs I have heard many hundred times in all their incarnations. In two years time I might be able to answer this.

MICHAEL: I think it is very hard to point out highlights on the album, because all the songs has a great flow and you couldn’t have one part without having the other, but I love the track “Airways” and the whole song is a highlight for me. “Horizons” at 3.05 min. It is a brilliant piece, vocals and music just goes to a new level. I am very happy with “Hear My Call“. It´s a song I wrote the most parts of 😉 But I think the guys made this song an Anubis Gate track with a great chorus, which Kim made.

HENRIK: I will agree with Michael: ”Airways” is one of the most interesting pieces we’ve ever done, so that’s definitely a favourite of mine. ”Breach of Faith” is another highlight.

MORTEN: There are so many details on this album which I haven’t even discovered yet. I’m really stunned about the vocal abilities of Henrik which amazes me with every listen. Mindless, Airways and A Dream Within A Dream are current favorites and the guitar work of Hear My Call! is of another world.

PHOENIX:  You hinted that even as you were finishing this album, ideas for the 7th album are already in the works.  How far along would you say that the songwriting is already, and are all members involved in the process from scratch?

KIM: All are involved. I think Michael is the one that has written most at this point. I’m always a late starter. Henrik has done some stuff too and Morten is voicing his opinions so everyone is in from the start. We are not very far. We have maybe 15 minutes of what I would call “unproduced” raw material. The closest thing to a finished song is a “ballad” Michael and Henrik have done together. It’s beautiful.

PHOENIX:  For those who might be interested, can you elaborate on your plans to re-release the first four albums in a crowdfunding campaign?

KIM: The first 4 albums are out of print (stemming from the now semi-defunct label Locomotive Music, who has thieved us out of thousands of dollars, but that’s another story). Prices have gone through the roof for a used copy of any of these. Last I looked someone was trying to sell a sealed A PERFECT FOREVER on Amazon for 2000 euro. Which is of course beyond the ridiculous. So we will do a fundraiser, probably through pledge music, for the release of a “box” with those four cd albums and a cd of rare and unreleased tracks. If digital is what a fan should want they will be up on iTunes the around April 1. And if people should desire an mp3 version they are already on with exclusive linernotes by all ex-members.

PHOENIX:  In closing, what would you say to a new listener of Anubis Gate?  And what would you like to say to longtime AG fans?

KIM: Thanks for listening would be appropriate I think 🙂

PHOENIX:  Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions.  We wish you all the success with your new album “Horizons” and for Anubis Gate’s future endeavors!

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