Last week on Progarchy I reviewed the new Seven Impale album, City of the Sun (https://progarchy.com/2014/08/21/seven-impale-basking-in-the-city-of-the-sun/). It’s a tremendously creative record with energy to burn, worthy of the accolades it’s getting as its early September release date approaches. The band graciously granted an interview, which I am including here and in the original review.
Progarchy: City of the Sun is an impressive full-length debut, following a fairly tremendous EP in Beginning/Relieve. It feels like a leap forward. How did you get from the EP to the LP, and what kind of progress has it been for the band?
Seven Impale: We feel that we’ve come far, both as musicians and composers, in the ~4 years we’ve been playing together. Even though it has only been a year since Beginning/Relieve was released, the material was made in the space between when the band was formed and when our current line-up had just been assembled. Wind shears, the second track on the album was actually composed around that time, but it’s been revisited and rearranged many times since then. The best thing is that we feel like the process has just started when we continue working together, making music that we enjoy, which challenges both the listener and us.
Progarchy: There is a lot going on in these songs. What’s your writing process like, and how would you describe the narrative of the album?
Seven Impale: It differs a bit between the songs, but generally we start off with some guitar riffs or a rhythmic idea, and we jam for a while. Each of us gets to know the new parts and start to find our places, while we figure out what kind of musical landscape we are aiming for. And the songs take their form, one way or anther, often over the course of a few months.
Progarchy: City of the Sun makes the connection between modal jazz and heavy rock seem effortless. The spirits of both inhabit this record seamlessly, as if John Coltrane and Deep Purple are smiling down benevolently. This is what I hear, and it’s wonderful, but was this your intention?
Seven Impale: We have always enjoyed a lot of different music, but I think the progress and musical direction of Seven Impale has been more based on randomness than intentions. It has been our intention from the very start to make complex and exciting music, but the sound we have today has more to do with the individual musicians and what they bring to the table. A lot of details on the album came about through experimenting and/or “mistakes” during the recording process.
Progarchy: How did the band come together, what are your backgrounds?
Seven Impale: Fredrik and Benjamin are brothers (that’s the obvious one), and have grown up in the same area as Håkon and Tormod. The four of them have worked a lot together in various projects for a long time. Fredrik got to know Stian and Erlend through mutual friends, many years before Seven Impale, and the rest of the story is mostly random and about being at the right place at the right time, with the right instrument.
Progarchy: Is there a story behind the band’s name?
Seven Impale: Stian found the name before the band even existed. It came about kind of randomly when he was thinking about what to call the next project, and thought it has a nice feel to it. Also the number seven is often associated with religion, and the word “impale” brings more of a dark or heavy feel. And we are all somewhat critical towards religion, so it fits quite nicely.
Progarchy: What music are you listening to?
Seven Impale: We listen to a lot of different things, and we agree on most things musically. Stian has a bit more of the opera/classical music side, he is currently studying to be a classical singer. We listen to alt./prog rock like Mars Volta, King Crimson, Zappa, Motorpsycho and Porcupine Tree as well as heavier stuff like Tool, Pantera and Meshuggah. And then there’s the weird avant-garde/jazzy side of it, with Jaga Jazzist, TrioVD, Shining(NO), WSP, Ephel Duath, Nik Bartsch’s Ronin. In between there is some hip-hop: Hopsin, Side Brok, Bustah Rhymes and then there’s the electronic music like Noisia, Justice, Aphex Twin, Todd Terje and Venetian Snares.
Progarchy: Do you see yourselves as a Norwegian band, that is, do you have a sense that geography makes a difference in your music?
Seven Impale: Not really. But being from Norway means that we’re probably more exposed to and inspired by Norwegian bands, adopting what has been known to be the “Scandinavian sound”. Otherwise I don’t think it is significant, but what do we know?
Progarchy: Is there a city of the sun?
Seven Impale: There is a fictional book about a “City of the Sun”, by a 17th century Italian philosopher. In reality, I don’t think it ever will be.
Progarchy: What’s next for Seven Impale?
Seven Impale: Get rich or die tryin’
Progarchy: Please don’t die. We like your records too much.