21 Mai 2015



Interview Einar Solberg

Hello and thank you for granting us this interview, we are the French webzine "Aux Portes du Metal".

Hi there! My pleasure!

At first, can you introduce the band and its members?

Leprous is a prog band from Norway, always looking forward, avoiding the quagmire of old habits. The band was founded in 2001, but did not go professional before our first official studio release “Tall Poppy Syndrome” in 2009. Today the permanent members of Leprous are:

Einar Solberg (Myself – Vocals, Keys): Main creative but also administrative force, frontman.

Tor Oddmund Suhrke (Guitars): Main lyricist, accountant and last but not least an incredibly tight rhythm guitarist. Only founding member together with myself. We’re like yin and yang, the perfect team, hehe.

Øystein Landsverk (Guitars): Computer geek, and the fantastic solo guitar player (who never gets to play solos).

Baard Kolstad (Drums): Hyperactive virtuoso and a wonderful breeze of fresh air in the band!

And it would be a shame not to mention:

Simen Daniel Børven (Bass – Session member): Amazing bassplayer who played on “The Congregation”, whom you will also see at all our live shows this year.

It may only be a personal view, but it seems that you are becoming huge in the prog metal scene (I was especially thinking of your headlining Euroblast and Progpower 2015). What is your feeling about it?

Well, huge might be an exaggeration, hehe! But we are building our career stone by stone, and now it seems that this year there are more stones being added to the building process than normally, hehe. But I’m very happy about for example headlining a festival (PP Europe), where we played as one of the opening bands just some years ago. When you experience building a career slowly (with all the ups, but especially downs included) as we do, you don’t really notice that sudden success. What I see though, is that we are finally starting to make some money on Leprous, so that I can gradually work more with Leprous and less with my daytime job – which has been a goal for me for a very long time. I’m not in this business for the money, but we all know that we need money to survive, and I want to live from only Leprous. That is my dream, and it’s of course very nice to see the dream is gradually coming to reality. But just for the record, until todays date Leprous has only been an expense for me, hehe. But yeah, it’s changing finally.

Your future album, "The Congregation", will be released late May, can you tell us more about its genesis?

The first rule I have is to always look forward, and not dwell on old routines. This time around, I was determined to choose a completely different way of writing the music, to not find myself drowning in that quagmire of old habits. I mean, it's impossible not to repeat yourself if you repeat your writing methods time after time. It's not that it's a goal for us to never repeat ourselves, but there has to be a new feeling and a new approach for each album. So this time around I chose to use my ears, rather than my knowledge to write the music. Logic and art don't go very well together in my opinion. and the more knowledge you have, the more likely you will be to use that logical thinking in order to reach your musical goal. Which in my opinion often ends up very clinical, and without any true passion or emotion. So after going a bit back and forth in my head, I realized that I needed to write on the computer. Because only then, I can move the notes wherever I want them to be, without theoretically analyzing anything, only using my ear to determine when things sounds good enough. My experience also, is that I work best with deadlines, so I set myself a deadline for each rehearsal (we rehearsed twice a week in that writing period) to come up with a sketch for a song. We kept on going like this until we had 30 sketches. During that period I also spent countless hours listening through and evaluating the sketches, planning possible changes or just considering to throw them away due to lack of potential. After all 30 sketches were made, we had a vote and half with the least points were thrown away. So we were there with 15 new sketches, and I started making all those changes I had imagined in my head from listening, and at that stage all the sketches started becoming true songs. Before entering the studio, we threw away 3 more songs, leaving 12 to be recorded (one ended up as a bonus track). Also in the recording process, a lot of changes and improvement were made. I think the main key for evolvement is evaluation. You should never stop evaluating yourself, looking for what can be done better. There are always improvements that can be made, if you keep an open mind. Many people don't do that due to some kind of "pride" or "insecurity", but only when you let yourself truly open for evaluation (from yourself or others you trust) you can evolve.

Einar, you are the one who composed the music of "The Congregation", at first on your computer. What kind of hardware and software did you use?

For the composition I just use my MacBook pro with Logic Pro X as sequencer. Sometimes I used my very small Akai Mpk Mini as a midi keyboard for programming, but mostly I just used the keypad.

Have you got an overall view of the track while you start writing ?

No, not at all, hehe! In the beginning everything is quite random actually. The main skill of a good composer is to recognize a good musical idea, but first you actually have to write something. If I go very determined into writing a certain kind of song, I always end up with something else. So I learned that the first part of the writing process should be very open, to not put any kind of lid on the creativity. Then later on, when I have lots of ideas to choose between, I can push it in a certain direction.

Do you start with the lyrics or with the music?

We always start with the music, as the creativity in our way of writing lyrics is more “controlled” than the musical creativity, and therefore it’s nice to have a certain mood to trigger that creativity.

And then, how did the other members learn the tracks?

They’ve just learned it now, for the live season, hehe. Well, I actually sent them the midi files for them to rehearse it earlier, but as it’s really difficult material it didn’t really work that well to learn 30 sketches for songs just like that. During the recording process, especially the guitar players do everything very much section by section. So learning the songs as a whole, just happened during the spring. Difficult stuff, haha!

The other members have no role in the writing process?

Everyone has the possibility to write whatever they want for Leprous, and I don’t have a monopoly on that. However, this time it seems like I was the most motivated to do the majority of that work. Tor has written a couple of riffs, Baard has contributed with a couple of rhythmical ostinatos as well as personalizing and improving the grooves I’d made for the albums. So everyone have the role they want to have, but we have very strict deadlines, so we won’t have the possibility to wait for people to become more motivated or more creative, hehe. There were also other a few sketches that was written by the other members, but we didn’t end up voting for those this time. We did a 100% fair vote, over which ideas to go further with, so everything is democratic.

Do you think that music can be more personal and unique when it is written by only one person?

Not necessarily, but as I felt very motivated this time, it might be. Often collaborations between composers can result in fantastic compositions, but again, it’s all about hard work. I felt quite comfortable in composing alone, but I’m completely open to collaborate more with the others for future releases, if they’re up for it. I think “The Congregation” is my favorite Leprous album because it’s the most worked through album, were everything in there is there intentionally. It was all about maximizing the potential of the BEST sketches, instead of making the best out of what we have, like we’ve done to a bigger degree before.

As I am writing this interview, I have heard your album in its entirety only once and I am already impressed, but also confused. It is a huge piece to assimilate and I will certainly need a few more listen to start understanding what's happening to me. Mission accomplished?

I mean, it’s not our goal to confuse people, but I can understand that it for some people can be a lot to swallow. But comparing it to many of the bigger names within the prog scene, I actually think “The Congregation” is quite catchy. It’s not that often you hear complex music with “Pop structure”. Intro, verse, bridge, chorus, etc etc. Many prog bands don’t work like that, hehe. So I personally think we’re rather accessible, seen from a progressive point of view.

One of the things that, in my opinion, makes you stand out, is the singing. Did you learn by yourself?

Thank you! Yes, I took singing lessons from my mother who's a singing teacher, and piano lessons from another teacher. I never used instructional videos or books very much, but I had teachers and experimented a lot on my own. It was really important in the early stages of developing my technique and expression, and I would recommend it to everyone to have some good teachers in the early stages, who can guide you.

This one has certainly been asked a thousand times, but what are the origin and the meaning behind your band name?

Actually, that story is not as interesting as you may think. We started Leprous in 2001, when I was 16 years old, and we simply searched through a dictionary to find a cool name for our band. We found "Leprous" (and saw that it had a “dark” significance) and thought it sounded awesome. We've heard many times that people imagine we're a death metal band or similar, and although I agree that it's not a name that makes me think of progressive metal, however I couldn't imagine changing it now. The name has become a part of who we are.

Which bands influenced you the most?

I’ve had many different periods of influences, that probably has stayed in my subconscious whether I like it or not. In my youth I was very into melodic extreme metal, which a few years later evolved into being more interested in new and old prog bands. Now however, some of my favorites are Massive Attack, Arvo Pärt, Radiohead etc etc.

What are your favorite albums for the past few years?

I loved Behemoth’s last album “The Satanist”! Very good songwriting and a lot of nerve. The Norwegian artist Susanne Sundfør’s “The Brothel” has already become a classic to me, and "Heligoland" by Massive Attack. The last two are not particularly new, but I was too busy writing music the last year to be paying attention, hehe.

A word on illegal downloading?

Hasn’t illegal downloading to a big degree been replaced by legal streaming? I never experienced how it is to actually earn money on CD sales, as I do not belong to that generation. So when I went into the music industry, it was with the plan to make the best out of how thing has become, instead of complaining about how much better things were before. Even though I believe that music is something that should be paid for (like all other products), I think that it has its advantages with the Internet also, promo wise. All your potential fans are just one click away.

The last word is for you :

We’re very much looking forward to come back to France, to play for our favourite audience (and it’s not even adulation) at the following dates:

October 5th – Le Divan Du Monde, Paris

October 6th – Le Ferrallieur, Nantes

October 12th – Ninkasi Kao, Lyon