Norway has a long and rich history in the worldwide metal community, it's seen it's bright days with the likes of Dimmu Borgir breaking into the mainstream charts, and it's darker days with the church burnings that arose from the controversial True Norwegian Black Metal movement; of which was spearheaded by Varg Vikernes and Euronymous.
Aside from the Black Metal love affair, Norway has a diverse metal range nowadays and it's bands like Veislakt who are carrying it forward towards newer heights. GMA spoke to the "Jærcore" / Punk Metallers about their forthcoming album, the Norwegian scene and their success. Guitarist / Vocalist René Undem filled us in with the details.
"Everyone depends on it (Facebook) too much; we have to go back to flyers, posters and care more about releasing physicals for the fans"
What are the inspirations that you are using for your forthcoming new album due out in September?
"Since we've made a concept album this time around, we've been checking out some Queen and Pink Floyd to see how we can build up a story with both lyrics and songs. What kind of mode the next song shall have etc., how it can build up the whole album towards a finale at the end. When the album was in the writing progress, we stopped around the last 5 songs writing lyrics, and just concentrated on what kind of songs was needed in between those that have already been written. The album is about an underground circus were everything isn't quite as a normal circus would be like. Alcoholism, violence and stuff like that occurs."
Will the songs be exclusively in Norwegian, or will there be some English songs?
"The songs will all be in Norwegian, and in our own dialect as well. At this point we haven´t thought about doing lyrics in English, because we are Norwegian, and love our mother tongue. :-)"
Would you describe your style as Punk Metal or something else?
"We call our style "Jærcore", that´s a hybrid name for us as we are from Jæren (the name of the province) and play hardcore. But we mainly do a hybrid between metal, punk and hard rock.
With your new album will you be doing an album release show? Maybe a Scandi-tour?
"We are currently booking all over Norway for this fall, haven't thought about doing any gigs outside of Norway yet. But if people want to come and see our shows, of course we´ll play. We love playing live, that´s why we release so much music, so we can go out and play new material to people."
What are some challenges that unsigned Norwegian Metal bands experience these days?
"We're so lucky that we've signed a license deal with Rob Mules Records for our next album, so we're kinda set with the distribution. But the biggest challenges now by my opinion is that there is too much information for the common man at this point, so bands kinda "drown" in between all of this. Facebook for instance has become the new internet as I see it, and everyone depends on it too much. I think we have to go back to flyers, posters and care more about releasing physicals for the fans. In the end metal fans are still the buyers of music. All the pop shit can have streaming for them selves."
Veislakt has been going nearly 5 years, what are some of the highlights of your career?
"We've played Rockefeller in Oslo, a big club scene, that was a blast. Done a gig and became friends with Audrey Horne, and that Metalinjection and Metalsucks picked up one of our music videos last year, that was kind of a highlight."
For those visiting your home town / city, what sights or attractions could you recommend?
"Prekestolen in Lysefjorden is something everyone should check out. Stavanger City in the summertime is magical. All the beaches in Hå Kommune I can highly recommend, not for bathing, but the wonderful nature out there."
What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
"Release the album, tour and have fun."
South Korea is often overlooked as an emerging and strong metal scene in the Far East, of course the metal scene seems to have originated back in the late 80's with Sinawe leading the line, but on an international level bands nowadays are more or less confined to that part of the world. Wasp Sting Danger is a Crossover Metal band whose blend of Thrash and Punk is simply captivating, GMA spoke with the guys about the scene, their band, cultural issues and the recent meeting between the South Korean leader Moon Jae-In and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. We are still yet to find out if metal music has entered North Korea and been listened to by it's peoples - we live in hope.
Answers by (L-R): Seongwu (guitar), Zeztto (bass), Wesley (drums), Alo (vocals) & Woncheol (guitar).
"it is relatively hard to put on shows in South Korea. This, I think, is mostly due in part to the lack of a strong metal culture here."
For those who have not heard of Wasp Sting Danger, could you give us a brief history of the band?
SW: "After I found myself a day job in 2015, I put an ad online to look for band members. That's how I met the guys, except for Alo; my friend told me he knows this dude who broke a karaoke mic with his voice while singing metal, and there he was."
WC: "Yes, the ad was how I came to join the band in summer 2015. At first it was just SW, a drummer (can't remember his name) and myself. I used to be in a K-pop cover band before that, but it obviously wasn't the music I wanted to do. After talking with the guys, I felt that we had similar pursuits in music, so I was in. But the drummer quit before our first practice. A while later, the first official practice took place with SW, Alo, Shane (ex-drummer from Ireland) and myself, where we covered Napalm Death's 'Scum'; I've been the guitarist for WSD ever since."
Alo: "I was introduced to the band by SW's friend after I broke a karaoke mic while scream-covering Korean girl group songs on a very drunk night. After a few different attempts at music (pop, hip hop, alternative rock, musical theatre, etc), I wanted to be in a Woncheol (WC) - Guitar Alo (Alo) - Vocals Wesley (WS) - Drums Zeztto (ZT) - Bass Seongwu (SW) - Guitar band where I could experiment and create with different genres. After meeting SW and WC and sharing our thoughts, I was in."
SW: "Our first show was on summer 2016. I have been taking guitar lessons from Chuck Jenga of Fecundation (Korean technical / brutal death band), who liked my songs and introduced us to Lee Yuying of LxPxP (Korean grindcore) and Sulsa (Korean goregrind), who runs a metal venue called GBN Live House. On the first night, Alo was out of town because of his day job as an AD in film, and we didn't have a bassist; I had to play guitar and sing. Still, I felt like that day was the reason I had been alive."
WS & ZT: "Internet ad brought us here. ZT was the latest to join."
Who came up with the band name and what made you play Thrash Metal / Hardcore?
SW: "Actually it was our ex-drummer Shane who came up with the name. He went hiking on Bukhansan Mountain one day and just spontaneously sent us a picture of a sign that read "wasp sting danger". He was joking about making this our band name, and I seriously thought that it was a pretty funny and unique name for a band; after a vote, it really came to be. Musically, we were influenced by various genres: Thrash (Big4, Lost Society), Swedish Death Metal (At the Gates, The Haunted), Melodic Death (The Black Dahlia Murder), Metalcore (Darkest Hour), Hardcore Punk (Banran, No Turning Back, Things We Say, The Geeks, Comeback Kid). We wanted to put the things we liked from these genres all in one, somewhat random and new, but heavy as fuck.
Alo: "You could say that we were influenced by a whole lot of things. Us bandmates all come from different backgrounds, and we're taking that as our advantage. Genre-wise, it would be hard to put us in a single category, but I believe our experiments will lead us to something fresh, something sharp and entertaining that you could only experience through us."
ZT: "I just play for the sake of playing. I don't care about genre, I just love playing my instrument and being in a band."
You released your debut self-titled EP this year, what has the reception been like? Did you do a show in support of it? Would you / did you tour in support?
SW: "Bands like us rarely draw any attention in Korea. We were invited to do a gig after our EP release, but the reaction was so-so. However, the online sales are doing much better than expected. I guess it's because recorded tracks are more approachable than live performances. As for touring, it sounds a bit unrealistic for us because of our day jobs."
WC: "I would love to tour, but it's hard to take time off my job. However, if the touring country is close enough to Korea, I'd be more than glad to go."
ZT: "I'd go anywhere in the world for a gig. But, of course, my job comes first in priority."
Alo: "I would love to tour, but the country won't let me get out of Korea so easily. In Korea, every male adult is required to do a mandatory military service, for approx. 21 to 24 months; I still haven't done mine, and it's becoming a huge pain in the ass. Every time I want to apply for a passport, I have to run a bunch of papers and shit, and prove that I won't run away. But still, I'd gladly go through all that shit if its for a WSD tour."
Recently the North and South Korean leaders met for the first time, surely this would make most South Koreans excited to see peace is on the horizon? Could you ever see a metal band emerge from North Korea?
SW: "Many people are excited by the idea of Korean unification, but one of my friends pointed out that Trump is trying to retract American troops from Korea upon unification, which is in fact a possible threat on national security. I think that this is more persuasive. We have almost no access to North Korean metal, or North Korean anything. I think I have heard a North Korean death metal band before, but there's no way to check its validity."
WS: "It would be unbelievably awesome to see a North Korean metal band emerge from out of Pyongyang. What would be even cooler is seeing South Korean bands perform in North Korea first, and potentially have an influence on North Koreans to begin making metal music."
Alo: "I would have to go with SW's friend on unification. We were taught in schools to believe that "unification, coming together of the Korean people is our dream", but I think there's much more to think of when ending this politically and culturally complex state that Korea has been stuck in for over 60 years. If two Korea's do unify, it would be awesome to play in North Korea."
ZT: "Give me some of that TRVE Pyeongyang Naengmyun (cold noodles, traditional Korean food)."
What are the challenges that South Korean Metal bands face these days? Is it easy putting on shows, tours (both regional and international) and festivals?
WC: "Metal is very unpopular in South Korea, so a vast majority of Korean metal bands need day jobs to keep the food on the table. In a country with such a shitty work and life balance, that's the biggest challenge; but maybe it's the same for other countries too."
SW: "South Korean listeners don't appreciate metal. Our CD's won't sell and our gigs won't pay, so we all have to work full-time to survive. Being an artist in Korea is tough."
WS: "From what I've observed over the past three years, and also from what I've heard from those living here is that it is relatively hard to put on shows in South Korea. This, I think, is mostly due in part to the lack of a strong metal culture here."
ZT: "Fuck Korean music."
Alo: "Korean culture, even among Asian cultures, is very hierarchy-based, conservative and totalitarian. If a trend is set, it is considered the law to follow it - people take popularity way too seriously. Moreover, Christianity is the most popular religion here, which makes Korea pretty much a barren land for metal bands to grow on. But we wouldn't have started a metal band if we ever gave a fuck about it."
What do your parents think of your music? Are they into metal music?
Alo: "My parents came across one of our videos (this is how I found out my Facebook friends can see the shit I press like on), and now have started going to prayer nights on Friday to pray for my soul. Yes, they consider it the devil's music."
SW: "They often refer it to the sound of a pig being slaughtered. This is the norm in Korea."
WC: "I never let them listen to our music. When I was in my teens, they saw the artwork for Blizzard of Oz in my room, and they fucking hated it (they are Catholic). I have never talked with my parents about music since then."
WS: "My family doesn't like metal the way I do. They can't stand it for the most part. My mom, for the most part, supports it in other ways like feeding the band and showing up to some shows with earplugs at the ready."
ZT: "I'm not close with my family."
Do you feel that metal music brings people together regardless of religion, race, political beliefs, etc? And that it is one of very few interests that do so?
WS: "I find this question rather silly. The whole purpose of music's existence is to challenge people's thoughts and feelings while appealing to certain groups of people. All of it is subjective in nature. However, for the sake of this question, yes. I think the metal community is special in that because it is usually in small groups, we tend to hold onto it and hold it close. It very much is an open group to anyone who wishes to enjoy the same pounding excitement that is metal."
ZT: "There are plenty of idiots out there making heaps of shit about politics or religion. There's no need to say such 'idiotic' things in metal."
SW: "Yes. At least I think us bandmates have become good friends regardless of political and religious preferences."
Alo: "I believe the meaning of music lies in its being a communicator, or, like in the question, "bringing people together". Not just metal, but music in general. In music, sounds and rhythm are put in a specific balance and order to transfer a certain emotion / thought / or something in between: sometimes it overpowers common language, and moves us in a very primitive & intuitive way. As for metal, I believe there isn't a language as energetic and powerful, and the emotions / thoughts involved are also intense. This is probably why closer ties are formed among metalheads than fans of other genres."
What plans do you have for the year ahead and do you have any greetings you wish to send out?
ZT: "Thank you kindly for your attention. My plan for the year is to return to Azeroth 4 months later."
SW: "Best of wishes to everyone who's reading! I'm learning drums, and thinking of starting another band."
WS: "Hey y'all. Peace."
WC: "My plan is to keep WSD going, and do some side projects on grind, power metal, blues rock, etc."
Alo: "Thank you for the interview, and greetings to everyone who's reading! We are writing new songs whenever we can, and I hope we can finish enough songs to put together into an album by this year.
And.... Fuck personal plans. Time is overrated. Eat, drink and fuck more. Be happy. Peace!"
Folk Metal has changed into many different forms since it's birth and over the decades these off-shoots have blossomed into their own being. Celtic Metal, Pagan Metal, Oriental Metal, etc, they all have a story to tell, but what of Crossover-Folk Metal? This rather interesting genre has been wallowing around a fair bit but without any real solid foundation being created. This is probably why Germany's Punch'N'Judy are a bit of an oddity when it comes to the Folk Metal tag, we caught up with accordionist and vocalist Ute, the sole remaining musician from the original line-up, to ask her about the journey the band has made, future plans and information about their home region.
Hey Ute, so please give us a brief history of Punch 'N' Judy, how you formed, member changes, etc?
Well, it all started off as a project at the end of 2012. We had some ideas for Folk songs with complete power and so we began to search for other musicians. In 2003 we had our first gig as Punch'N'Judy and from there on it started growing. Because of jobs or private situations we had some line-up changes, the only position which is still the same from the beginning is the accordion. But until now we are still going our way and we are still here.
Now you play a form of Crossover / Folk Metal, what inspired you to take this music style?
This was really not planned, the only thing we knew when we started, was to make some kind of powerful Folk music. All members brought their own music style to the band and so it just happened that we had metal elements, rock, medieval, hard rock and folk. We liked it that way and tried to find a name for that kind of music style and so our Crossover-Folk style was born.
Why the band name Punch 'N' Judy, apart from it being a well known British puppet show?
Yes, it is a well known puppet show in Germany as well, over here it is called "Kasperletheater".
We have a song on our first album "Spring!time", called "The Punch and Judy Show". This song was our first one, we made it together with the first band members and so that is how we found our name.
This year Punch 'N' Judy has been going 10 years, how do you plan to celebrate it?
Oh, when we did the first gig back in 2003, we already had our 10 years (2013), but we did not celebrate it. (Editor: to avoid confusion Metal Archives says they formed in 2004 (http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Punch%27N%27Judy/122459)
Have you performed outside of Germany? Do you plan to play in the UK?
Yes, we sometimes play in the Netherlands and we have played in Austria as well. If someone is going to book us in the UK, we would come over ;-)
If the band owned a plane, who would be: the pilot, the co-pilot, the baggage handler, the steward and the person screaming at the back 'Oh my god, we are gonna die!'
This is a very easy question to answer, nobody is the one screaming 'Oh my god, we are gonna die!' But everyone of us is sometimes the pilot, co-pilot, baggage handler or the steward, otherwise this band would not exist anymore. We are strong together and each of us has several things to do in the band, that is how it works.
What plans does the band have for the rest of the year and into 2015?
Some of us are planning to go on holiday this year and we will play a few club gigs. For 2015 we are planning the festivals now and hopefully we will get some good ones.
Besides Metal festivals, gigs and shops, what attractions / sites should metalheads go to in North Rhine-Westphalia?.
This is really a difficult question, we have a lot of Industrial culture here in the "Ruhrgebiet" where you can do several things from exhibitions to free climbing in an industrial area. We have a lot metal pubs and clubs as well. You should come here and see what`s going on.
What is your favorite song from all 3 albums you have released? (you can pick one song per album, explain why this choice of song)
From the first album 'Spring ! Time' I like "John Maynard", because this is also my favorite poem.
I like "Flibberty Gibbet" from the second album 'Punch On !', this song always gives me a smile on my face. And from the third album 'Cross!ng Over' my favorite song is "Last March", I like the arrangement and the strength of the song.
What other bands should readers check out from the North Rhine-Westphalia region?
I have no special one, there are a lot of small bands which are very interesting.
Finally do you have any greetings, thank you's etc, you wish to send out to fans, friends etc?
We`d like to thank everyone who is interested in music and supports bands, otherwise we and other bands could not exist. Thanks to our fan club and the great "Chaosraben", and thank you for the interview.