Interview: Leper Messiah
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Hey, Volatile, and thanks for having us!
Well, we’re five guys in the band and our backstories are all very varied, but most of us had played in bands since we were kids, for the love of music and dreaming of stardom. That said, I am Vidar the vocalist, and speaking for myself, I discovered by accident that I could sing, spending a solitary summer vacation just listening to and singing along to David Bowie records, and that convinced me to give this music thing a shot. Yes, that’s a lame and embarrassing origin story, I know; oh well. If I hadn’t gotten into music, I’d spend more time writing, being an aspiring author and all.
As for the rest of the band, I couldn’t speak for them, but in any case, they are: Peri on main guitar – our musical maistro Øyvind on rhythm guiter – the joker of the band Iggy on bass – bringing that sexy funk Per Henrik on drums – so steady you could set an atomic clock to him
What do you like to do when you’re not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I write a lot, slowly building up my Bronze Age Fantasy fiction corpus and constantly scouting for agents to represent me in the publishing business. My literary work and interests definitely shape my lyrics writing, both the quality of my prose and poetics, but also in its scope and width; rock songs can’t all be “suck me fuck me” and “your mama be so fine”, right?
How long has your band been around?
Well, we started out as a David Bowie tribute act, touring a fun Ziggy Stardust show in 2012-2013 to celebrate the then 40th anniversary of Bowie’s legendary glam act. We transitioned into an original music band once the Ziggy thing had run its course. This year, we’ve released our debut album, FELL CREATURES, to some pretty awesome responses, so we will hopefully be around for quite some time, more.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Bergen, Norway is our base of operation. The music scene here is pretty great, although mostly metal-based. There’re several great venues here, too, and a sizable student population; so, pretty great rock ‘n roll town, really.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
The name, Leper Messiah, is taken from the Bowie song, “Ziggy Stardust”. Since we spent the first two years touring a Ziggy show, it was naturally that we adopted a reference to that as our band name moving forward. That said, we meet a lot of fans who believes we got our name from that Metallica song *laughs*
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
The best show was probably that one gig we got to do during that Age of Plague last year. For a short while, society opened up enough that we got to play a single regular club-gig at a venue called Påfyll in Stavanger, which was jam packed with music-starved people coming to see a gig-starved band (us) perform. It was magical! The worst gig got to be the one back in 2014 when we booked a student venue, did a lot of promotion, and even invited along a friend-band to come raise some hell, only for nobody but our families and two Chinese students to show up. I mean, the show turned out pretty fine, all things considered, and the audience were brilliant, but the experience almost broke me *laughs*
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
Well, we lost a fantastic venue here in Bergen a few of years back. The place was called Garage and had been around since 1990, and quickly become one of the most renowned rock clubs in Northern Europe – that was magical place to play, but of course, the building owners went and killed a good thing. The place has been shut down for years now, so I guess the capitalists got their money’s worth by closing down Garage, right? Idiots.
As for places I want to play, I myself have two dreams. A few years ago, I visited Berlin on a vacation and hit a random rock club one night on a whim. The club turned out to be, K17, an absolute legendary place with 4 floors dedicated to rock & metal music and shows; they had something for everyone and I vowed to try to get LEPER MESSIAH booked there at some point. Unfortunately, K17 has since closed down, but a new venue has taken over – Nuke Club. I hope that place is just as cool as K17, and one of those days I _AM_ going to bring my band there! The other place is a bit weirder, but back in 2007 I studied at the American University in Cairo, becoming a regular at the Jazz Club venue; being a huge Ancient Egypt geek, I’d like to bring the bands with me to Cairo and play a gig at Jazz Club. Is that weird enough for y’all?
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
We ourselves host an annual 4-band rock night event here in Bergen, called RockFest, with us and three special guest bands playing. If I could invite ANY band to come play, I would probably give Iggy Pop, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Tom Waits a call; wouldn’t that be a fun lineup to watch?
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
First of all, good luck. There are no quick fixes, no short cuts (unless you’re daddy’s got money, of course), only years and years of hard work and heartache. So you’d better practice and work hard, and have as much fun as you can along the way. Also, be nice to people; music is about forming relationships and sharing experiences, and nobody want to come see a bunch of arseholes playing a gig. Dare to dream big and don’t be afraid to ask for help; if you’re polite and hard-working, it’s amazing what helping hands more established bands might be willing to lend you. Do what you love with people you like, and try to stay away from the worst clichés of rock ‘n roll excesses.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Start out much, much earlier and avoid distractions more.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
To me personally, it’s “Dance With the Devil (Alcohol)”. I wrote that to work out some bad drinking habits that I had acquired as a student, and that song makes me feel like I did something important with my life.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
There’s a punk rock track on our album called “Slave”, which is kind of our answer to “I Wanna Be Your Dog” (itself very fun song to perform), and it’s got great, balls-to-the-walls energy. I love that song! The track that we get requested the most is probably “Blood is Black,” a moody hard rock tune about Jack the Ripper, that feels a bit Black Sabbath’ian to some. People, especially here in Norway, just love that track!
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Inspirations varies a lot. I myself am a slave to my muses, and inspiration typically just strike down from music heaven. That said, we tend to write about love and loss and hardship. There’re many bad people populating our songs, which is why our debut album is called FELL CREATURES. Typically, our songs are written by Peri and/or myself, with him usually creating the music and I usually doing the words.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I am a storyteller. I like to tell interesting stories, which usually means tragedies, in the form of music. More often than not, our tracks are angry, sad, or horny *laughs* As for a message, we don’t really preach all that much, but we do wanna take you on a musical journey. Also, I guess you could say our songs work well as cautionary tales, much of the time.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Well, of course we do. Whenever five people come together to create art, it’s impossible not to end up disagreeing every now and again. Thankfully, we are all pretty understanding and empathic people, with no monster egos to speak of, so disagreements typically resolve themselves after a while. And you know what? The most passionate views or arguments frequently turns out to be the right one in the end. Music, after all, is about feeling.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
We have plans to tour abroad next year, with our sights set on the UK and Poland firstly, and we hope to get to see y’all at one of the gigs. And if you can, do catch one of our annual RockFest mini-festivals here in Norway; those are always great!
In the meanwhile, check out our debut album on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/7znRKVKPwbSzcACvatUJWV
And give us a shout-out on Facebook or other social media if you like. You can find us at: https://www.facebook.com/TheLeperMessiahBand
Thank you for spending some time with us here at Volatile Weekly. It’s been a lot of fun, man!
LEPER MESSIAH out.