zaterdag 5 mei 2018

Interview with Soup

Interview: Wout de Natris

© WoNo Magazine 2018

In the spring of 2017 Erwin Zijleman reviewed 'Remedies' by Soup. His review triggered Wo. into listening and listening some more and finally to review the album himself. The beautiful artwork adorns his living room in 12" format and 7", next to the music that finds its way through his home. Soup linked the review on its Facebook site and the views kept pouring in right up to this day, placing the post firmly in the position of best read ever.

With Soup going on tour and playing in The Netherlands this May Wo. reached out for an interview, next to making sure he is able to go and see the band play live in Zoetermeer. You find the result right here.

As not all readers may be familiar with the band how would you like to introduce yourself?
I guess we are a psychedelic post-prog-rock band from Trondheim, Norway if that would make sense to anyone. We are not too good at categorizing our own music, but it seems to draw equally from those genres.

The artwork of your album ‘Remedies’ may well be the most beautiful ever. What is the story behind the artwork?
This is the third album that Lasse Hoile has done the cover photo for. This time he came to us with an idea to shoot some photos in the dark, where the models would be drenched in fluorescent paint.  We thought it sounded absolutely awesome. Nobody had tried it out before, according to Lasse, so we went for it — hook, bait and tackle.

Did you choose the final selection or did the artist have a say in it?
We got a portfolio of maybe a dozen or so pictures to choose from, and (Oslo based graphic designer, Wo.) Håvard Gjelseth  put it all together for us. Our label, Crispin Glover Records, always makes sure that the packaging is of the highest possible standards — they’re absolutely off the hook there!

As I wrote in my review, ‘Audion’ cuts the album in two (on cd) and assists in changing the mood. How did the idea to play on a church organ for the album evolve?
We fooled around a bit once with playing our song “Playground Memories” on an organ at concerts a while back, I think that might be the spark that lit the fuse. “Audion” started out as a long post-rock track, kind of Sigur Rós-like, that you can find on the Remedies 7” EP.

Was it easy to convince the church to allow the recording?
No problem at all. There does not seem to be many religious people left, so there’s always vacancy in churches in Norway. We also recorded a symphonic orchestra in a church for our previous album.

Each song on ‘Remedies’ has a few motifs. Can you share a little with us about the creative process? E.g. are there certain moments that a new ideas enters or that you know a composition needs something extra (or a piece needs to go)?
Well, there is no definite answer to that question. There are quite a few parts on Remedies that grew out of long jam sessions in the dark, but also parts that are more worked through and arranged. New ideas can come along all the time, but we we’re very focused on making an album that did not have any excess material on it. We had to kill a few darlings to make the album work the way we wanted.

In how far do the members of Soup have a part in the end result apart from playing their respective parts? 
By all means we are a democratic entity, but sometimes one can walk around with a vision that needs to be fulfilled more or less exactly as you pictured it.

The line-up of the band has changed regularly through the years. Is the ‘Remedies’ band a more definitive form or do you prefer working more on a project basis?
We really hope this line-up will last a good while, it seems to work very well – both in the studio and on stage.

There are a few bands from Trondheim that have made these pages in the past months, you, Motorpsycho, Sugarfoot. In how far is there a scene that assists or inspires each other where possible?
Well, Motorpsycho are legends in Trondheim, and are more or less the originators of psychedelic heavy rock here, so of course we owe a lot to them. We consider them good friends and mentors. As far as if there is a scene in Trondheim, I’m not sure. There most definitely is one revolving around the jazz milieu in town, where everyone plays in 200 bands with eachother, but I don’t feel like we’re a part of anything. We’re just working on our own like we’ve always done.

Is there something in the water that makes so many talented bands spring up there or is it more a well-structured or (government) supported infrastructure for bands?
Actually the water here is worth a try. But it also helps that we have a very well renowned jazz conservatory here, and highly acclaimed music high schools as well. They all have drawn lots of talented folks to these parts for many years.

Of course everything is one click away in modern society, still, you live relatively isolated from the world of music business. Does that make it easier or harder to, on the one hand play what you want to play and on the other to succeed?
That might be. We have been playing for quite a while, but none of us can afford to retire as of yet. But I’m not sure if we would want to move closer to the eye of the hurricane either. I guess the relative solitude and closeness to nature that we have here lets our creative juices flow more easily, and that’s more important than all the money in the world. It’s not like we can help but making music, it has to come out. It’s like a valve that needs to be opened.

There is a lot going on on ‘Remedies’. How hard is it to translate this epic music to the stage?
We had to take on an extra live member to fill out some guitar and mellotron parts, so I guess it would be hard for a four piece band, although we have played some of the material live as a four piece prior to making the album.

If you had to choose between the studio and live, what would it be and how come?
They both evoke different feelings that we like. Playing live is pretty cool when you’re in the zone and  the adrenaline is pumping  and you’re communicating with the audience and all that. But of course the studio always lets you paint with a broader brush, and lets you try out anything.

What are the influences from your youth onwards that define you musically to where you are now?
I guess we all have our separate influences, but in sum we have quite a few shared favourites. We all really like Pink Floyd up till about 1977. And lots of classic stuff like Queen, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Genesis, Bo Hansson, Can, etc., but there is also lots of 90s and 2000s stuff in there too. Mogwai, Sigur Rós, Jaga Jazzist, Grizzly Bear, Arcade Fire, etc.

Was music something that was around when you grew up?
Yes, music was invented a long, long time ago. Before any of us were born. Haha. But I think we all started playing music at a young age and have always let ourselves be surrounded by music.

What album or artist did you listen to most when working towards ‘Remedies’?
Hard to remember, but we listened a lot to Dungen, Tame Impala and 1099, which is an excellent post rock band from Trondheim and good friends of ours.

Soup is arguably not the most sexy name for a band. How did the name come about?
Most band names are stupid, and ours is no exception. It’s really hard to google it. I think it evolved from a wish of finding a band name that was not to pretentious.

What can we expect from Soup in the foreseeable future?
We will hopefully be playing as many shows as we can this year, and start recording our next album this summer.

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