– Hello, thanks for taking the time. What are you currently up to?
R: No problem. Right now Im actually in a van on my way from Tilburg to Paris, and what better time than now to do something productive right?
– First of all, I would like you to make some history of AVA INFERI.
R: Yeah, it started out in late 2005, shortly after my relocation to Portugal, driven by the need and will to do something different. At the time I had just returned from a tour in Europe with Mayhem and this sense of tiredness and being somewhat fed up with the whole thing made me seek a different expression. A more somber and introverted feeling Id say. Shortly after the ideas for our debut Burdens was laid out, and we released the debut spring 2006. The band has been formed out by myself, first and foremost, and then with help and co-operation with Carmen. We are the cornerstones of this musical outlet so to speak. The other members (at that time) came forth via connections of Carmen in Portugal.
After a few more albums (The Silhouette, Blood Of Baccvhus), a few tours and changing of personell we arrived at the highlight so far in our career, namely Onyx. Its is now I feel that AI has the position I need to let the light shine truly, as with a revamped line-up and thourough media coverage and strong agencies working for us, we are curious to see where we can take this thing with a new release.
– And what are the band’s main musical influences?
R: Its kinda hard to say but i feel we have a lot of old heavy metal, albeit in a different wrapping than what most bands of today do. I also feel we have some ambient vibe incorporated, as well as some more rock, 80s gothic, Doom Metal, and possibly even folk-influences. I feel that AI has a mix of everything Ive been through in my life, and also everything that has branded me musically. This would be the 80s bands naturally, as well as the early 90s, so thats threads my childhood right there.
– You have recently released your latest «Onyx»; how’s being its feedback so far?
R: The feedback has been really good, and it seems we have managed to plant our feet for real within the waiting hall of «bands to look out for» with this one. This release also opened up a different level of attention as well, as we did several high profiled gigs after its release, with a UK tour supporting My Dying Bride as an example. Another fact is that this album outsold all previous albums within the first 3 months of release as well. I mean, we are still a somewhat small band but the growing interest pleases me immensly. Im confident we manage to pull this even further with the next offering, as I feel we have reached a certain level of maturity and style within the band and members.
– I’m curious about the album’s title, so I would like you to share some light on it as well as on the main ideas/concepts behind this new effort.
R: Onyx is seens as a stone with positive attributes connected to it. It has, among other things been served as a source of protection as it is known to absorb the negative and destructive energies around one self. It was also believed that inside the stone there was a demon imprisoned, which came out at night during sleep and spread terror and bad vibes causing nightmares to the bearers of the stone.
This being said, both Carmen and myself truly believes in the healing aspects of stones and gems and nature in it self. There are healing properties in all sides of nature, you just have to know how to use it..
Based on this, and more, I chose the title as a certain protective seal to hold the hard personal battles ive been going through over the years. The album is a stone, in which I channeled my negativity, so to speak. Besides all these myths, I also bear a Onyx myself and it has a connection with my zodiacal sign as well, making it kinda multilayered.
– Last 2010 you got a second guitar player; how could you say has this affected the AVA INFERI’s sound?
R: Yes, Andrè came into the band in 2010, just before we started the recording session for Onyx. He didnt really contribute too much on that album though, only 2 theme solos, on ((Ghostlights)) and The Heathen Island exclusively. Time will tell if he will contribute more on the compositional side of things this time around, but one thing which is certain is that he brought a new life into the live setting. He is a very promising guitarplayer and I am happy he is on board.
– There also a new drummer and bass player; how and why did you choose them both? And what have they brought to the band?
R: The bass situation was fairly easy and positive experience, as it was Carmen who mentioned Joana`s name to me after we had met or rather seen her perform with her old band a few times. So, we actually had her in mind for some time before we approached her. Anyway, when the old bassplayer was out, we took contact and scheduled a meeting with her right away. She had the right attitude for us, and also a burning fire to work so there was no doubt in our minds that she was the right choice.
Regarding Sasha, our new drummer, it also happened by direct contact or initative from our side. Him being a fan of our works, he was very pleased to take the role as drummer. We are all very happy about this too, as it feels we have all found the right members, the ones that were supposed to be in this band from the very beginning, if you get my point. I am a strong believer that evertything happens for a reason, and that there is a strong karmic law that works it wonders. In light of this, it will be very interesting to see what comes along, both in terms of live appearances and actual recordings now, with more new blood along.
– Dan Swanö helped you with certain production duties; are you satisfied with the final output?
R: Yes, I am. It was the way I wanted it to sound when we talked about this album, so no regrets. I wanted it to reflect the 80s metal, gothic movement in terms of sound, and i firmly believe it does.
– If I’m not mistaken you had to front some trouble while creating
this record. Would you mind elaborate a bit about this?
R: There is always issues when something as important as recording sessions is at hand. But actually, Blood of Bacchus was more troubled in that sense. That time we even made 2 separate headlines on the frontpage in a local paper. The first was due to the band residing in the studio,which was apparently agaisnt the laws and regulations in the buildings, and the 2nd was actually a car crash which happened to our guest violinist on the record. It was wintry days and her car started sliding on the road, crashing with a car in the other lane. Ambulances and healthcare personell were at the location and it was a big mess. Fortunately, everything went ok with all involved.
As far as Onyx goes, I cant really remember any really incident that was out of our hands. This time it was more on a personal level, interrelations et al. In retrospect, I sense Onyx as the album that brought the sun into the bands horizon. All the chnges that has been made after its release, and all the positive things came across when we needed it the most.
– Anyway, how was the songwriting process? I noticed a few changes in sound terms, so I would specially like to know if is an spontaneous effort or if you set certain patterns before starting the composing…
R: Well, the album was written after a longer tour we did in Europe, supporting Tiamat and The 69 Eyes, and while being on this trek there were a lot of new ideas shaping in my mind.
Thats why i went directly to write this album, even before BOB was even released.
The thing i wanted to change was the basic structures of the songs as up until Onyx weve had a certain progressive underlaying tone, and while being on tour i decided i wanted more straight forward material to go along better in a live setting. So, basically, this was the aim with Onyx. I think we succeeded also to go deeper into the core due to the focus and the new way of thinking music. The actual sound on the album is a direct consequence of this as well I believe.
– Talking about these subtle changes, I noticed this album is more melodic album than your previous ones; was this something you aimed for?
R: Not really, but I guess thats the way it turned out when the songs got more (commercially)structured and straight forward as well.
– I also noticed Carmen’s voice has clearly improved. I don’t mean her voice was worse in your 3 previous albums, as she has always been a fantastic vocalist, but I could say she has improved with her performance, expressing feelings, etc. If you know what I mean…
R: Yes, I totally agree with you. But I see this as a natural progression too actually. As I said, I think we hitted something more personal and focused on this album too, in terms of lyrics and the music itself. We found a core that I believe is very much Ava Inferi, and I also believe this will be a base for the coming abums as well.
Back to the question; I feel that the excitement around this album, during the writing process made us realize we were unto something special and different, and probably also more revealing in a personal way. At least for the lyrical content. So, this alltogheter made us shine differently i think…we let everything of ourselves into this in a manner we hadnt done before.
To finish off id like to inlclude that Carmen has a truly amazing voice and that it gives me the shivers everytime she starts to sing. She has definitely matured over the years and I cant wait to hear what she has in store for the next album.
– You have been involved (and still are involved) in different bands so, what does AVA INFERI provide you other bands as MAYHEM for instance, can’t or couldn’t?
R: Piece of mind, a sense of completion, at least in terms of actually writing the music.
– And, still into this topic; is there any other music style you would like to try?
R: I feel that I have most of my personal aspects covered actually. I have Ava Inferi which provides my deeper thoughs and also includes some mythological/occult/magical aspects in which I am very fond of, I have Aura Noir which serves as the beer drinking, physical outlet, I have Twilight Of The Gods which will (hopefully) enable me to dive back in into the norse way of feeling and providing epicness, and I also have a Death Metal band together with Steve Tucker (X-Morbid Angel) and Flo Mounier (Cryptopsy) which gets the anger out in a healthy way. Besides this i also have some other things coming up so…I feel covered.
– You have been playing and touring for many years now, so I guess you may lived different experiences but; what are the best and worst anecdotes in your career?
R: The best is when things go my way with Ava Inferi, as its there where my heart and personal feelings are involved. Worst: Mayhem during 2006-2008. It was utter shit and the environment was very bad, killing my creativity and the general will to do music. Besides this I have a ton of both good and bad memories naturally, too many to mention single happenings.
– Finally, what are your near-future plans? Next December you will support MOONSPELL in Madrid; what are your expectations? And haven’t you got any offers to open for the band in their other Spanish dates?
R: Well, we are starting to gather some important shows for next year and other than that continue what we do. I have also written about 20 skeletons for future releases so Im sure we will be busy with that too.
Regarding the spanish shows, we look very much forward to them and also sharing stage with Moonspell for the first time. It will be a great package I believe. The reason why we only do 2 shows are simple, as the Barcelona show already had 2 confirmed support acts when we got mentioned, so the promoter didnt want to change it. With this in mind we thought it would be too far a drive and also too expensive going along to Valencia after Sevilla, as it would require 2 nights in hotel and a rough 10-12 hour drive back to Lisboa. So, basically, it was only about the logistics that kept us from doing them. If we had been given the Barcelona show as well, things would have been different I guess.
– That’s all, thanks once more for your time. If you would like to add some final words; last lines are yours.
R: Thanks for the interview. I hope the 2 shows in December will be 2 of many more to come in the future. Cheers, and see you there!