"Music Is All About Emotions"
Some days ago I reviewed the new Kollapse album "Sult". Now I had the chance to talk to the post-hardcore trio from Danmark. In our interview, we also talked about the band's tour plans.
Anne: Hi! Thanks very much for agreeing to this interview! I am very excited about getting to know you guys. How are you doing today?
Peter L: Hi! Thanks for having us. Right now, I'm doing ok. The album is out, people seem to like it, and we have shows coming up, so I'm pretty alright.
Peter D: I'm good! Super stoked that people are enjoying the record.
Thomas: Feeling good about the album and excited to write the next one.
Anne: You've already mentioned it: You've just released your new album "Sult" after four years. Congrats on that! It was pretty much worth the waiting! Are you happy with it?
"Now we are a band"
Peter L: I am very pleased with it. It's been a really long process. After being asked to join the reforming band, I spent a reasonable amount of time trying to get to know the other guys – both musically and personally. So, the album is sort of the culmination of a couple of years worth of work, where we've tried to find some common ground and a musical footing – and I think we've come a long way in that process. And even after we decided that "now we're a band" and "now there are three of us" and actually began planning the recording, there have been many bumps on the road. So, the whole road to this moment has been a bit chaotic – but it probably couldn't be any other way with this band. So yeah, I'm happy with it. I'm delighted that we finally released it, that people are enjoying it, and that we created this record together!
Peter D: Peter L said it!
Anne: What is the album all about? Did you follow a concept when you were recording it?
Peter L: I don't think we followed a very specific or thought-out concept when writing the songs. I guess, musically, we just tried to write songs that made us feel something – we wanted to experiment with the "hardcore"-format and see how far we could push ourselves in that sense. But we have talked a lot about the mood of the album and the themes it encapsulates.
Desperation, anxiety, mortality, and things like that, always take up a huge part of our discussions and the things we find interesting ourselves – but we didn't sit down and say: "All right, let's make an album about death." I think it just turned out that way because of the combination of our three mindsets. Lyrically there are specific themes the album revolves around. Still, musically the album is very much trying to emote – to translate many of our experiences and emotions into something we can play in front of other people.
"We wanted to write songs that make us feel something"
Peter D: I won't get into concepts and lyrics because that is not my area of responsibility, but the drumming on "Sult" is about embodying whatever comes through me. I try not to overthink things when writing music. I just want to push myself and discover something new. Peter L said before that we write songs that make us feel something, and I couldn't have said it any better. To me personally, music is all about emotions. If I don't feel it, and if it doesn't evoke something in me, I do not need it.
Thomas: I usually work through a lot of sketches and written down thoughts when preparing for an album. Whenever something moves or terrifies me or if I get caught up in my inner life, I try to express this in a series of simple sentences. Words and lines tend to cover a wide array of emotions, and more often than not, single words are solid emotional triggers for me. It is a long process, but we wouldn't be doing this if we aren't communicating anything of meaning.
Anne: How does "Sult" distinguish from the records you made before?
Peter D: "Sult" is so much more a product of a band that shares the same mindset. I think, whereas "Angst" was an album that, in my opinion, suffered too much from us trying to force things.
Thomas: "Sult" is focused. "Angst" was stitching together various gristle and meat.
Peter L: Yeah, what distinguishes it for me, is the fact that it helped to write and record this one and not just listen to it like the last one!
Anne: I enjoy the dark atmosphere of the album a lot. It feels familiar to me, but it is also unique. What makes it so special?
"We are friends"
Peter L: That's a tough question. In a lot of ways, I don't see the album as special. I think of it is personally: unique I made this record, and I wrote these songs with two of my friends. But I am also very much aware of where many inspirations I have drawn upon show up in the songs. But maybe that's what makes it unique: the fact that we let our different inspirations converge without too much adherence to any genre format. And we also spent a reasonable amount of time with the excellent producer of the album, Lucas Illanes, discussing the album's sound.
Making it "big" and menacing without using many layered guitar tracks, but instead focusing on making it sound very present and capturing many acoustics in the recording room – a big, harsh, scrambling and "real" sound. I think that helps bring across a lot of the emotion of the songs. It is making them feel very close to the listener. We aimed at not hiding the fact that there are just three instruments in the band. I think that is because there is this rawness and nakedness in this constellation. It brings frailty and co-dependence to the music and the band.
Some people and reviewers have talked about the albums as encapsulating a lot of what is going on right now globally – and I think that is also something that makes it special. But, again, we haven't made a record about Corona or because of the pandemic; we just incidentally wrote and recorded it while the world was in lockdown. So, I think the record will always be seen in that light in some shape or form. We don't think of it like that ourselves, and we weren't aiming at making a record that had anything to do with the pandemic. We didn't write the songs because the world was in bad shape – if anything, the Corona pandemic made it more difficult for us to write and record.
"The mood on the album reflects peoples mood"
But I think the mood on the album reflects the moods of many people around the world right now – desperation, anxiety, fear, loneliness and so on. And that's perhaps why it resonates with people.
Thomas: I love how you describe the feeling of a dark atmosphere as "familiar". Deep down, I think we as humans share many core fears and anxiety. For me, it is very important to be true to myself, however heavy-handed or pretentious this might come across to other people. If someone truly connects with the album (and I know it isn't for everyone), that is the highest compliment we can get. I think we as a band are slowly moving towards something that is uniquely Kollapse, and in the future, this will only get more pronounced.
Anne: Gina Skowz painted a fantastic horror artwork for "Sult". It is so cool! I can't imagine a better artwork for this album. Is she a friend of yours?
Kollapse – "Sult" Artwork: Gina Skowz
Thomas: I grew up on noise rock in the early nineties. Through the Amphetamine Reptile label in the US, I found out about Gina, as she is somewhat associated with these noise rock creeps (laughs). She is a fantastic artist.
"We knew there was something we needed to change"
Peter L: Agreed – Thomas introduced the rest of us to Gina's work, and it was just the perfect match for the album!
Anne: You told me that the last few years have been pretty rough for you. Two members left Kollapse, and you reformed as a trio after that. How did it come to this?
Peter D: Yeah. As we talked about in another recent interview, we played some of the last shows promoting "Angst" in Norway and Sweden in 2017, and things weren't cool at all. I particularly remember one show in Norway where we walked off stage after playing, and the vibe was dreadful. I went outside the venue with Thomas, and we sat down on the pavement and just looked at each other. I think we both knew that this would probably be our last show in this constellation.
"Kollapse is the band I've always dreamt of"
We had so many conflicting ideas about aesthetics and what we wanted the band to be – things just weren't fun at all. So when we got home from that show, Troels and Frederik more or less decided to quit the band. I have massive respect for Troels for taking that decision because I know it wasn't easy for him, but I think he knew we had to split up somehow to save the friendship, and today Troels is still one of my best friends.
Thomas: I agree with Peter. Friends don't always share a similar mindset. Kollapse now is precisely the band I had been dreaming of: honest, focused and without any restraints. I am way too old to want to do a watered-down rock n roll band.
Anne: I assume your new constellation is the perfect fit then?
Peter D: Absolutely! I always wanted to play with Peter! Even in my old band, we talked about asking him to join the band, but we never did. So I am delighted that I managed to convince Thomas that Peter was the right person.
"Kollapse makes me feel at home"
Peter L: I definitely feel at home in this band by now – I've played in a bunch of bands, and I also play in another band where I also feel very much at home. So, when I joined Kollapse, something clicked pretty fast. I also remember seeing Peter D play with his old band Aedra and being thoroughly impressed with him. And I was also very impressed by the first Kollapse album and what they did with that record. So, when Peter D reached out and asked if I would like to join, I was both thrilled and terrified – but I am thrilled he did and that we kept the band going.
Anne: Did you always want to make sludge/post-metal? Where are your roots? I heard a rumour that you adore the noise rock of the good old 90s?
Peter D: We never talked about what kind of music we wanted to make. Kollapse is a product of us three individuals and our different approaches to music and songwriting. We all listen to an extensive range of musical expressions, but we never talk about genres. If people want to categorize us as sludge/post-metal, that's fine with me, but noise/black-jazz would do just fine as well (laughs).
"Critics are hung up on genres"
Peter L: Yeah, I agree with Peter D. I don't think we set out to create sludge or post-metal – we just sort of landed there because that was what made sense to us while writing to record. We have a lot of coinciding musical interests and inspirations, but we also have many different influences between us. I think that helps. We sometimes refer to songs or albums and go: "Man, I would like to make a song like that." and then we try it, and we end up with something completely different. We try not to fit into a genre, per se consciously; instead, we try to create an atmosphere or a tone in our music that we find meaningful.
Thomas: Critics are probably more hung up on genres than musicians. It might boil down to the fact that it is convenient to label when you have to sit through dreary album after dreary album. I love the physicality of heavy and abrasive music, and the shit in my head lends itself better to this type of sound than what is playing on the radio.
Anne: What drives you on when you are making new music? Is there anything in particular that you would say gives you the motivation and endurance to get things going?
Peter L: For me, it's a question of keeping myself sane. I use music to grapple with my emotions and my problems. I've done so for years and years. This band is probably the clearest translation of my more existential thoughts and my somewhat melancholic mindset, but I have always used music as a form of therapy for myself. I can convey things and express things with music that I have a hard time doing otherwise. And since we deal a lot with the pains and sufferings of being human, I think it speaks to a lot of people – and I'm not talking only lyrically.
"Writing songs makes sense to me"
Our songs are expressions of these emotions, so I think us trying to put those experiences into our songs causes them to resonate with people. I write songs because it makes sense to me – I can't imagine not doing it. And that is a big driving force for doing it. And I think when it works, when you end in a band where you write songs that make sense to you, there's not much that can compare to it. Creating these songs, playing them for an audience, and making them feel the emotions you have bled into the writing, is an experience like nothing else.
Thomas: Peter nailed it.
Anne: How would you describe the music scene in Denmark? I can imagine it to be quite creative and productive with all the beautiful nature and a melting pot of a city like Copenhagen?
Peter L: The music scene in Denmark is very productive, as you say. There are tons of great musicians and bands that do a lot of great stuff. I'm cut off from a lot of it since I'm getting old, and a lot of it is sort of outside my preferred music tastes. But when it comes to the hardcore/metal scene in Denmark, we have a lot of stuff going for us. People are just making albums that sound killer these days. Bands like LLNN, Eyes, Hiraki, Demersal, Orm and many others have all made killer albums as of late or are in the process of writing great albums. The scene is bustling these days – it's competitive in a healthy way. You really want to do great, and you get inspired by all the great work everyone else is doing.
"The music scene in Danmark is very alive"
For us, Copenhagen is far away. No doubt, the scene over there is very vibrant, but our hometown, Aalborg, is on the other end of the country. It's a lot smaller, and it's not as metropolitan as Copenhagen – which is good and bad at the same time. Sure, there is a fantastic scene in Copenhagen and many great bands, but being from Aalborg, in the northern part of Denmark, perhaps also feeds into our way of thinking and writing music.
Thomas: Denmark has never produced as much great aggressive music as it currently is. Of course, we are kind of isolated from the scene in the rest of Denmark, being from Aalborg, but we feel a certain kinship with some of the bands mentioned before, and we are friends with some of those guys. But as far as being part of a "scene", I don't really think we qualify or care.
Anne: What's up next for Kollapse? I heard you have planned some gigs for the next months? And you are also planning to go back to the studio?
"We already started writing the next album"
Peter D: Yes, five or six shows are coming up later this year. A few local shows, a few in Copenhagen and one in Germany. Hopefully, we will be able to tour some parts of Europe next spring as well!
We already started writing for the next album and paid upfront for studio time. Dates have not yet been booked, but hopefully, we will be recording sometime next year. Fingers crossed!
Peter L: I love playing shows, and I love touring, so this last year has been challenging. But I can't wait to get on the road again and play this album for people. And also, I can't wait to write the next album!
Anne: Thanks very much for all these precious insights and for answering my questions!
Peter D: Thank you!
Thomas: Thank you for showing interest!
Peter L: Thank you!