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seid-pic flag Norway - Full Moon 35 - 08/26/99

Seid
What Seid said - an interview

During the last few years I've witnessed a young band each summer in the town where I was born that always has impressed me. The band is called Seid and the town is Arendal, on the southern coast of Norway. By now, all band members spend most of the year in rainy Trondheim where they study or work. The band has a cult following in Arendal, but ought to reach a much wider audience.

Seid's music is a sort of funk-grunge-metal-progressive-psychedelia without any prejudices. The members are (from left to right): Jørgen Yri (guitar and vocals), Bernt Erik Andreassen (bass, vocals and keyboards), Ole Thomas Tommesen (drums and keyboards) and Jan Gunnar (Janis) Andreassen (guitar). The following interview involved the former three, which was quite enough. They are young, eager, and optimistic and all of them tend to speak simultaneously or interrupt each other.

HISTORY AND CONFUSION

Though the boys are only in their early 20's, the band was formed as early as 1991. Originally Espen Andersen handled the drums. He and Bernt had been involved in a thrash-metal band. Roger Jensen took care of samples and assorted facilities around 1993-94. Ole replaced Espen in 1996.

Bernt Erik (BE): It was the father of Espen who suggested the name. The seidman was a sort of Nordic wizard that originates from the pre-viking era.
Jørgen (J): Janis and I played in a local supergroup called Kanskje Vi Bare Kødder (Maybe We're Just Bullshitting) and got an incredible cool review in a Norwegian rock magazine. It said: "Kanskje Vi Bare Kødder was a suitable name and their version of Wild Thing was probably the worst ever." I guess it was true.

The involved get carried away when they reminisce about earlier projects like the punk orchestra Pungsvetta (Balls' Sweat), Skogtissfolket (Forest Pee People) the hardcore band Samuel, the popcore group Fudge and so on. More recent is the surf quartet The Rockets that released a CD of the same name last year, where Bernt plays lead guitar, the pop group The Sherocks where he used to be the drummer and the techno project Lord Snappy Trio. They also talk about a side project with weird versions of Scottish and Irish traditional music and female vocals. Did someone mention confusion of styles? I guess it's apparent in Seid's music, too.
Ole Thomas (OT): To start with some, let's say funk-hardcore'ish in 7/8 and have a break into a 60's pop-tune can be pretty far out.
J: But sometimes it might work.
BE: We started by playing cover versions of songs by Metallica and Guns n' Roses. You can still recognise traces of them in our music (bursts of laughter). We only had one self-penned song in the beginning, but it was as long as hell.

Newer sources of inspiration and favourites, though not necessarily an influence of the music of Seid, include Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins, Mr. Bungle, Primus, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci ... To yours truly Seid's music seems influenced by King Crimson of the 1972- 74 era.
BE: I have a cassette of In The Court Of The Crimson King (from 1969). It's cool! Epitaph is part of our live repertoire by now. But I've never heard any latter days Crimson albums. Swedish Anekdoten and Änglagård are great! I want to buy a Hammond organ and mellotron and start making progressive music!
OT: Janis is more of a rock'n'roll guy. He has been listening a lot to Deep Purple. He wants to play blues solos all the time.
J: Then we start beating him up.
BE: A lot of people will obviously claim we're inspired by Motorpsycho (of Norwegian fame, reviewed in Luna Kafe's menus 4, 5, 10 and 19), but that's not so. Tangle Edge and The Smell Of Incense (check out LK's menus 6, 25 and 26) have been much more important to us. We've taken the bubble synth and the glissando guitar using a knife on the strings from The Smell Of Incense.

Who got it from Daevid Allen of Gong who got it from Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd. So it goes. Seid was a support act for Tangle Edge and The Smell Of Incense at a sort of rock festival in Arendal in 1993. It must have been a turning point.
OT: We want to play a sort of progressive psychedelia, on the other hand ... We're not as psychedelic as we used to be.

COMPOSITIONS AND QUARRELS

How do you start the process of writing a new song?
J: Usually it's a riff or some idea.
BE: And then we find something we've written earlier and try to put the pieces together.
OT: Also we start by jamming.
BE: Sure, you play something and refine it ...
OT: When we've developed a song by jamming, there are lots of possibilities when playing live. It's great when we know the structure and possibilities of a song, to improvise and stretch it and return to the starting point without ruining the song. We're headed in that direction, I believe. We have an advantage because Bernt is playing all sorts of instruments. If he wants me to play a certain rhythm, he can sit down by the drums and demonstrate.
BE: Instead of waving my arms in the air.

And the communication is two-way: Ole Thomas started playing piano 13 years ago.
BE: He's a clever boy!
OT: It's a good thing being a drummer who knows what keys and chords the others are playing.
J: That's more than I know!
BE: That's why Seid is a psychedelic band. We knew very little about music when we started. We tried to play Metallica or Guns n' Roses, but didn't manage to sound like them. Jørgen played major while Janis played minor ...
J: But it worked!

Sometimes the songs are developed by quarrelling.
J: The two most self conscious in the band, Bernt and myself, have different visions of how a song ought to sound. Ole Thomas and Jan Gunnar often have to act as mediators.
OT: I can sometimes be very stubborn concerning rhythms and get quite mad if someone disagrees. I think it's a healthy attitude.
BE: As long as we're pleased with the end result. A quarrel might be important, then at least we're committed. Usually we tend to agree after all, we're just clumsy to express ourselves. We misunderstand each other, much fuss about nothing, really.
OT: And some big egos maybe ...
J: The most worn out expression within the band is probably: "I quit!" (bursts of laughter, again). Especially some years ago, when we were about to start a concert. Then Bernt and I began quarrelling. And Espen, he was a bit of a weirdo, too. Bernt used to shout, "I quit" and leave the room. He returned five minutes later and said: "What the hell, let's start playing!" (even more bursts of laughter). He has improved somewhat.
BE: During the last year, I've only quit three times.
J: I remember a funny story when Espen was our drummer. I was careless during a rehearsal and threw something at him that made him bleed. He chased me and we started to fight a little in a friendly sort of way. Then we got angrier. I ran out of our rehearsal studio and he threw a big armchair after me. He missed, but a poor boy was coming down the stairs at the same time and asked cautiously: "Eh, can you show me the way to the toilet?" "Sure, through the door to the left, but watch out for the armchairs!" (Lots of laughter.) But it works after all. If no one ever shows any emotions, you just keep being angry with one other. It's quite intimate, really, playing in a band. It's a kind of family situation.

LYRICS AND TRANSPIRATION

Seid used to write lyrics in Norwegian. Not anymore. Their aim is evident:
J: We want to be rock stars, play at Wembley and sing in English with a bad accent!
OT: Usually it sounds cooler singing in English, some reason or other.
J: The clichés are not that evident, at least not to us Norwegians.
BE: Often I start writing the lyrics and Jørgen continues.
OT: They're not the cleverest parts of our songs.
BE: Jørgen and I are the silly ones.
J: We keep fighting ... and writing the lyrics ...
BE: There's a lot of crap, but some are cool.
OT: They're often about fantasy and animals.
J: Dog, cat, a drug-addicted rabbit, and jellyfish - an underestimated animal ...
OT: I don't believe we'll ever write serious lyrics with a deep message.
J: You never know, our music changes and we change. There's no reason to restrict ourselves.
OT: It would've been great to write some sort of concept lyrics, a story all through an album, maybe.
J: I don't know... A record ought to show how a band really sounds. We have a lot of different sounding songs and lyrics.
OT: It's kind of schizophrenic, really.
J: It ought to be schizophrenic in a way that others may understand, with a schizophrenic governing idea... (bursts of laughter).

Seid has been playing live quite often lately, in Trondheim and Arendal. What they really need live, is a person to be their sound engineer on permanent basis.
BE: That's a problem with our concerts. We had a gig in Evje (a small village) where I used distortion and echo on my bass, and treated the strings with a screwdriver. The sound engineer went bananas. He thought the bass amp had blown up.

But the Seid men want to gain even more control.
BE: At one of our concerts, we went over to the sound engineer when the previous band finished and started a CD by Spectrum with some strange noises made by a guy using analogue synths and organ. The intention was to get the audience in a certain mood and get them ready for our performance.
OT: Eventually we hope to run our performances without any breaks to keep people in the mood.
BE: The only problem is guitars getting out of tune. At our gigs, we have to do a lot of tuning in between songs.
OT: Then I'll play something on a keyboard. Also, it would've been cool to start some ambient techno-sounding tune after we've finished playing. Often it feels like a sudden stop when we finish and the sound engineer or DJ starts some crap CD.

PLANS AND RECORDS

Of course Seid has plans to record an album.
- We'll make a CD eventually, everyone exclaims ...
J: We're not in a hurry. It'll have to include lots of short tracks woven into each other. No hasty recordings. When we start the process, it'll have to result in a proper album that'll stand the test of time.
BE: It has to be released by a record company. It's sheer hell to distribute on your own. We tried to distribute the CD by The Rockets ourselves ...

So far they've recorded three varying demos. The last was recorded in Trondheim last autumn and they're pleased with the way it worked out. Still, it was only a demo.
OT: The songs are fresher live than what we've gained in a studio so far.
J: It's not easy to transfer the live energy onto record. Suddenly you're in a studio and nervous as hell.
OT: Maybe we can invite 10-20 friends to the studio, to keep the energy while we're recording?
J: We can tell them to rock and jump, as long as they're silent.

Do you have any other ambitions?
BE: Seid is a sort of underground band, and I'm satisfied as long as we keep it like that.
J: That's your opinion.
BE: You want to be a rock'n'roll star.
J: Of course, lots of parties and ladies and cocaine and ... (believe it or not: hysterical bursts of laughter).
BE: I guess I have to reconsider.
J: At least it would've been fun to do some touring, in Norway or wherever, youth clubs, small clubs, whatever.

And where does Seid proceed from here?
OT: To me, it seems we're moving in two directions simultaneously. Even crazier funk, hard with unusual rhythm patterns. At the same time, we keep on playing those long jam-sounding poppy psychedelic songs.
J: What we ought to do is to reach even further in all our directions. The hard parts should get harder, the powerful parts even more powerful, the calm even calmer ... To really bring out the contrasts.
OT: Dynamics, very important!
J: Motorpsycho is the masters of dynamics in Norway these days. Their live concept must be close to perfection by now. They've got it all: film projections to get you carried away, lots of rhythms, a wall of sound that suddenly gets calm with beautiful melodies... That's the way we ought to work. Seek the right ways to make the different elements fit. That's not easy.

The boys treated different exotic drums at a jam along with members of the band Chateau de Fleurs some time ago.
- It was incredibly cool! they all exclaim.
J: What I learned from the jam was that we need even more rhythm instruments. Lots of percussion. I can understand why Ricky Martin has gained his popularity. The music gets very intense with that much percussive instruments. Not that we intend to be the Ricky Martins of psychedelia ...

It's about time to stop. We give the quartet a pat on the back, and wish them the best of luck with forthcoming quarrels and development of the music. And don't forget where you first read about Seid!

Copyright © 1999 JP e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Seid articles/reviews: Among The Monster Flowers Again, Creatures Of The Underworld, Magic Handshake, Meet The Spacemen, Mines of Moria EP, Silver Messenger.

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