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5th October 2008
Originally called Suffocation upon forming in 1988 before assuming present name Atrox two years later, the self-proclaimed Norwegian schizo metallers are one of progressive music's best kept secrets. With only five albums released and a small number of live performances during their long history, it seems 2008 could be the year that sees Atrox elevated above their erstwhile underground status within the scene. Gaining a plethora of glowing reviews for stunning new album 'Binocular' when released earlier this year, an appearance at this year's prestigious ProgPower festival, and their first ever forthcoming European tour with Helheim and Vulture Industries, the Norwegians' music finally looks set to be discovered by a wider audience. And it was during the ProgPower weekend that the following 'interview' of verbal craziness and random gibberish took place. Chatting with guitarist Rune Sørgård and bassist Erik Paulsen late on the final day, they request an interview when I introduce myself as the webmaster of Metal Discovery. With recording equipment still in my camera bag from the previous day's Wolverine interview, I suggest we do one there and then. However, with no questions prepared, and my knowledge of the band somewhat limited, I ask Rune and Erik if they would mind answering my Wolverine questions in some kind of "ask a band another band's questions" bizarre experiment of iconoclastic interviewing. After all, ProgPower is a progressive festival, Atrox a progressive band, so I hereby present to you, dear reader, a progressive interview of sorts...
METAL DISCOVERY: As well as the standard Wolverine set you’ve played, you’re playing the original set that you opened ProgPower with in 1999.
MD: Yeah, hard to rehearse because you haven’t played them for a long time.
RUNE SØRGÅRD: It was, er…if I must say, a really, really bitchin’ experience because, first of all, the first set was really hard...
ERIK PAULSEN: Yes, I remember that!
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(Rune Sørgård on his horticultural observations in the south of Holland)
"If you’re into gardening, Baarlo is fucking number one!"
Erik and Rune outside the Sjiwa, Baarlo, Netherlands, 5th October 2008
Photograph copyright © 2008 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
MD: And obviously some of those songs you haven’t played live for a few years. How much of a challenge was it to rehearse those again?
EP: Not much really.
RS: No, no, no. Not hard to rehearse - it was really HARD! Yeah?
MD: Ah right, so it was like an erection experience to…
RS: Yes, yes.
EP: Erectionophobia!
MD: Erectionophobia?!
EP: Yeah, a bit like that because it was so hard and we couldn’t…well, we were too soft to make it as hard as we wanted to.
RS: I must say, personally, talking the obvious, the lead singer in Wolverine…he’s from the Discovery Channel.
MD: Really? Oh cool, cool.
RS: Yeah.
MD: Did you have any hesitations about doing the original set again when Rene approached you with the idea? You know, did you think - fuck no, I can’t do that?
RS: Er......yeah.
MD: Yeah? Cool, okay. This is the third time you’ve played ProgPower Europe…it was actually the fourth time, I fucked that up on here…how important is the festival to you? Actually, you might be able to answer this - do you enjoy coming to Baarlo?
RS: We fucking love Baarlo - it’s one hell of a good town. Not many people here, but we’ve been drunk; we’ve had a good time and er…that’s about it. Really cool people.
EP: And nice gardens!
MD: Yeah!
RS: Yeah! If you’re into gardening, Baarlo is fucking number one!
MD: How did you end up signing to Rene’s label DVS in 2001?
EP: [something incomprehensible and much laughter]
MD: Wolverine/Atrox are widely labelled as a progressive band - what does the term progressive mean to you?
EP: It means standing still; doing anything new; and going back actually.
RS: Being a retro-band it is…while drinking Cognac.
MD: Definitely, yeah. Do you think there’s a need to differentiate between….I can’t ask that, you’re too drunk to answer that really!
EP: I’m not!
MD: Maybe I’m too drunk to ask it anyway! Erm…
RS: What the helllll!
MD: Do you think being labelled as a progressive band has ever been restrictive for Wolverine/Atrox and have you ever wanted the band to be marketed in a different way to garner more mainstream, or at least widespread, acceptance?
RS: Okay, let me answer that in a very progressive way. Er…I would say…yes.
MD: Oh cool. That’s marvellous.
RS: Yeah, yeah.
MD: I understand from reading on your Ultimate Metal forum…do you actually have an Ultimate Metal forum?
EP: Yes, we have THE ultimate metal forum!
MD: I understand that the band have been working on some new material for the next album?
EP: Yes.
RS: Yeah. We have like erm….erm…we have er….errrrrrrghhh….
EP: [sung tunefully in the style of the Madonna song]…we have…“like a virgin”.
MD: Do you have any complete songs yet, and what are they sounding like?
RS: We have like seven songs already…sounding very much like ABBA.
MD: And Wolverine?
EP: And Wolverine, of course, yeah.
MD: When recorded, will the new album be released through Candlelight as with ‘Still’?
EP: No, it will be released as through mail. Mail order.
MD: Cool. And in Baarlo for ten euros?
EP: No. Two euros if you buy one, and a hundred euros if you buy nil.
RS: Er…I must reply that it won’t be through Candlelight; it will be through actually...we feel Candlelight is a bit old and we are trying to, you know, progress like a band; a progressive band.
EP: We’ve just discovered Morse code.
MD: Morse code?!
EP: Yeah.
MD: So the whole album’s gonna be written in Morse code?
EP: Yeah.
MD: What, like beep-beep-b-beep-beep-b-beep-beep-beep kinda thing?
RS: Yes.
EP: Yeah, a bit like, er…daa-d-da-da-da-der-d-daa-daa-daa…la-da-daa-daa-daa…
MD: What, on drums? All drums?
EP: Oil drums.
MD: That’s interesting.
RS: Yes.
EP: That’s an intestine.
MD: You realise I’m publishing this?
RS: Yes!
EP: I know!
MD: Of course, you’re a prog band, so it’s a progressive interview, that’s all I can say really. When you signed with Candlelight/Season Of Mist was there any Lee Barrett connection because he signed you for Elitist and…
EP: We met him when we were waiting for the bus. That’s the connection. When we saw him, it was across the street.
RS: Have you ever seen the film ‘The French Connection’?
MD: I have, yeah, yeah…Gene Hackman…
RS: It was just the same. Very much like ‘The French Connection’. Errr…..there was also a Polish connection. This Polish guy….er, this guy [points to Erik]…
EP: I’m not from Poland.
RS: He’s from Norway.
EP: That looks like Poland.
RS: He went swimming one night, and he forgot his shoes, and…you know…and that’s the end of the story.