Interview: Ravn (Olav Bergene) of 1349
SoCalMusicToday.com sat down with Ravn (Olav Bergene) vocalist for Norwegian black metal band 1349 during their stop at The House of Blues in LA on Tuesday June 19. Ravn told us about the current tour with Marduk, their new touring drummer, 1349 jeans and what the future plans for 1349.
1349 is almost to the end of a month long tour with Marduk on their Serpent Sermen tour. How has this tour been going to date?
I would say good on all parts . . . I like the package . . . to do a Scandinavian black metal tour. These types of tours happen in Europe all the time with black metal bands but to do it over here in the US is nice. The crowds seem to be really into the bands as well. I’ve watched a bit of Marduk onstage and the crowds are just really into both bands. 1349 has toured over here a bit and has grown quite a fan base. I think we are bringing a lot of fans and introducing them to Marduk. We seem to have a lot of old school fans that are just into the extremity of the music and stage performance. Black Metal is a genre of metal that both bands hold really strong and we have been supporting for many years now. We need to stick together to maintain and continue to build the fan base.
1349 did a headline show last night in Reseda, CA – How did that go ?
Well we’ve played better venues for sure . . . It was either doing the show or deciding to stay on the bus. Being a support band right now we need the money so we try to play as much as possible on this tour. Your travel expenses are still there even on days off . . . we’ve only had one day off on this whole tour – that was a driving day in Canada. I like to play every day and not have a day off as you tend to get a bit lazy the day after a show if you have the day off. If this was a three month tour that would be a different story but for a one month tour I like to stay busy. The show was definitely intimate that’s for sure but it was fun. The PA system was odd as it was far away from the stage – It was a weird venue but that’s what makes up the good tour stories for sure.
Does a headline show differ at all from an opening slot – preparation, setlist, etc ?
Obviously you get to play more songs but the performance you get from 1349 is the same. You cannot treat people differently regardless of our status on a particular night. 1349 will always give you a top-notch performance.
You have recruited Jon Rice on drums from Job For A Cowboy for this tour – how did that come about and does your playing differ at all with different drummers ?
His name came up from a few different sources. We checked him out and consulted Frost. Frost knew about him and said he definitely would be good for the job so we approached him and he was very interested in doing this and it just went on from there. We flew him out to Norway before the tour for four days of rehearsal and it became very clear the first day of rehearsal the young boy had done his homework. There were very few things for us to pick on and in the last three days he perfected everything.
All drummers bring something different but the band maintains its energy and focus. John is a huge inspiration to the band and is a very groove based drummer. His technique and playing skills are something that fits 1349 very well. He plays our songs maybe just a little too well. We played the headline show for just over 1hr last night and he said he has never played that long before. 1349 drumming requires quite a bit of endurance.
Do you guys still breath Fire at the beginning of shows? What dictates if you can do that – size of venue, fire codes, etc ?
Most of the time we don’t tell we are going to do it . . . at least in Europe. If we did that in the US we would definitely get canned from the tour. In Europe you can get away with it. Frost and Archaon are the ones who do it.
You have five studio albums now, what is your favorite song to play live and why ?
Atomic Chapel is probably my favorite song to play live due to the whole entity of the song, the way the song moves . . . the different tempos and the lyrics on top of that. We usually end the set with it. It is such a great song to bring back the energy at the end of the set. The audience has paid to see the show and it is a great way to end the night. We take performing very seriously and want to make sure the fans leave satisfied.
I know you guys are a big fan of Thomas G Warrior (Celtic Frost and Triptykon) and have played with him – is there another band you would like to tour with or share a stage with ?
It was a really great package when we toured with Triptykon . . . we’ve toured with Celtic Frost, we’ve toured with Carcass. Seidemann is a big Motorhead fan but I don’t think we’ll ever to tour with Motorhead. Slayer would be a good band to tour with – a bit more our style.
When you tour with bands you are fans of do you watch their performances night after night after your own set?
Yes of course. Getting out and watching side stage . . . it’s a perk, getting to see a favorite band many nights in a row and you don’t have to pay for it. It’s that type of thing that makes touring even more fun.
You are obviously a music fan yourself, what music is currently in your iPod , what are you listening to on the road?
We have different types of music in the bus – different people have different music. We listen to a lot of music while driving . . . metal to ambiance based music. We have listened to the new Cult album a couple of mornings now – that is very good. We all chip in different music . . . techno, black metal, standard metal, jazz , classical . . . whatever fits the mood.
Can you tell me about the custom 1349 handmade jeans ?
I don’t get what the big deal is – we have designed and sold t-shirts forever, when you design something for the lower half of the body people make a big deal of it. If you make jeans you are a sellout – I don’t get it. It’s fucking merchandise . . .
What does being part of the Black Metal community personally mean to you ? Is it a religious statement, political statement, musical statement, etc ?
I don’t really think about it, I’m just focused on the task which is being 1349 – build the band, work on the band. I don’t really see it as a community just a musical genre that is unique to the world of extreme music. There’s not much more to it than that actually. To me it’s a style of music that has developed over the years into a big thing. What I am really proud of is that 1349 has made a name for themselves and to be accepted in the circle of bands that is black metal. That is something I hold in high regards. We have been able to come up with our own sound and own identity that is 1349. I am proud to have accomplished this.
What are 1349’s future plans after this US tour – Europe festivals, new album more tours ?
We have San Diego tomorrow then a couple dates in Mexico then its back home to Norway. No festivals have been confirmed at this point but you never know. As far as new music we are writing, 1349 is a band that is always writing . . . and making music. We cannot rest we have to keep on rolling in order to maintain the momentum. We want to continue to evolve and progress. I personally have to do things all the time. When I get an idea I have to try it out – I don’t want to wait. I would guess in the next 1 ½ yrs we will have a new album out.