Fresh from the release of fourth album ‘Raspberry Dawn’ and four dates into their European tour with Trap Them and Venom Prison, Norwegian weirdos, Okkultokrati, are in need of a well earned rest. We took a load off with BlackRace (guitars), Verminscum (drums) and Feffe Severin (synths) at the pub, for a few pints, and a chat about bringing aboard a full time synth player, sleeping in crack dens and everything in between…
Ave Noctum: Your sound is pretty distinct; did you have that in mind specifically when you formed, or did it grow and evolve as you played together?
BlackRace: It was something that came naturally when we started writing songs. I had a lot of ideas about how we could incorporate other musical references into what we already had and really define the Okkultokrati sound. Since bringing in Fredrik [Feffe Severin, synths] to work his magic, it’s all just come naturally.
AN: What kind of stuff do you guys listen to, and who would you cite as influences?
BR: Some big game-changing records and bands? Well, we’re all into The Spits – they’re probably the best rock ‘n’ roll band today, they have this dogmatic way of playing songs, always the same beat but catchy and powerful. Kinda like The Ramones and The Misfits, y’know, simple rock for the people. We also like a lot of 80s synth and electronica from Britain…
Verminscum: …and Germany as well!
BR: Oh yeah, and Germany! Ministry creeps in a little bit on the new record as well, and Emperor’s ‘Nightside Eclipse’ is a record that we all bonded over.
AN: You recently brought on board a synth player – how has that impacted upon your sound?
VS: It’s had an excellent impact!
BR: Yeah, this is the first record that’s really had this sound, I mean, we started to introduce it on ‘Night Jerks’ but I just thought that for this record I would back off a little and just kind of let the soundscapes rule a bit more – it’s a huge, huge part of ‘Raspberry Dawn’.
AN: How does your writing process usually work out; do you meet with fully formed ideas beforehand or just tend to jam until something sticks?
Feffe Severin: All of them!
BR: We had some magic moments, where we sat down and said “alright, let’s see if this works” and I would introduce some riffs…
FS: …and I would add in the synths…
BR: …and then we’d end up with an entire song, just as it was written on the record.
AN: Given the unusual nature of the band’s sound, you get compared to an awful lot of other bands. What’s the strangest one you’ve had so far?
VS: I feel like a lot of the reviews I’ve read are quite on point. Like, we might not have thought of that, but when we read about all these bands that people can hear traces of, we’re like “alright, yeah, they’re right!”
BR: Especially for this record.
AN: How do you fit with Trap Them?
BR: Fucking great! It’s a mutual thing, we love each other’s bands and we’ve been friends for a while. To me, to us, it just feels great. What would you say?
AN: It’s a good way to mix things up a bit. When you’re at a gig and you have three or four bands who all sound exactly the same it can get a bit monotonous, so you guys help break that up a little bit.
VS: And when looking at other line ups, I’m not really sure who we’d fit perfectly with. I don’t really care anymore, I’ll play with anyone.
BR: Yeah, we’re that band now. If it can help us with reaching out, playing and having fun then we’re into it.
VS: We’re just gonna play with whoever and to whoever it is.
AN: So, the audiences have responded well to you so far?
BR: Yeah, really good.
FS: We’ve had a lot of people that have come out to see us primarily.
VS: Yeah, this is our sixth tour in Europe, so we have a crowd now. People just come out and mix with the other fans.
BR: Yeah, people are into a lot of stuff these days.
AN: What’s been your best moment as a band?
BR: Signing to Southern Lord was nice. That was a big deal, a game changer you might say. We signed for two records, so now we have to be a band for at least another two or three years!
VS: My highlight was when I met Pål [BlackRace, guitars] and we started the band. I was new in Oslo and I’d just got a new job working at a storage facility, and we met and we started the band, then we got Henning [Black Qvisling, vocals] along as the singer. It was just nice to connect with someone musically.
FS: Mine is when we made the video for ‘Magic People’. That was the first song that Pål & I wrote together and it was a very satisfying moment to see something I’d created all come together.
BR: Also, Okkultokrati is still a band and making music, and we’re at the top of our fucking game right now. So there’s my life story for you right there!
AN: Okay, so on the flipside, what’s the worst?
BR: Oh, you don’t wanna go there!
VS: Well, there was a time, about a year and a half ago, when we didn’t really do anything. We put out ‘Night Jerks’, toured with that and didn’t really know what to do next, plus we were involved with other bands, so we had some time off.
BR: We have some funny tour stories…
VS: Oh yeah! The worst one…
BR: No! That’s too sad! Tell her the crappy Manchester story! That promoter dude is after us, I think he’s gonna kill us…
VS: We played Manchester in 2012 and he said “I’m gonna take you to where you’re gonna spend the night”. He got in our van, dodgy looking fella, and he took us to this house. It was a nice looking neighbourhood, but the house was abandoned and there was a huge hole through the roof and all the floors. There were a lot of drug addicts living there, and needles everywhere. It was a crack house and that was where he wanted us to stay. I remember putting my stuff down, thinking “this will be fine, I have the others with me” but they were out of the door before I’d even put my stuff down. We had to find somewhere else to stay, so we didn’t get our stuff stolen. I’ve told this story before, and that guy found out and got really pissed off and called us “snobbish cunts”. But we’re not playing Manchester now, so I think we are safe! But we’re coming back next year, so I guess we’d better be ready.
BR: No, he better be ready!
AN: What are Okkultokrati’s ambitions?
BR: To become the biggest rock n roll band ever.
VS: Just to continue to make albums, make music we enjoy and keep on playing. That sounds very lame…
BR: …use my answer!
VS: …BUT when you look at other bands, they put out one or two albums and they give up and move onto other things. The really good bands are the ones that just keep on going, releasing record after record. That’s what I want to do; I don’t wanna start a new band, that’s a lot of work!
BR: Yeah, it’s much more interesting when you discover a new band and they have a whole back catalogue for you to dive into.
AN: What’s next for you guys?
VS: After the tour with Trap Them, we go to Spain for ten days, then we go straight into a tour of Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, all that. No Britain, but we’re gonna come back in 2017. We’re gonna keep touring for now, then start work on the new album.
AN: Any final words?
BR: Keep on rocking in the free world!
Interview by Angela Davey