5 Questions With... is your chance to get to know a new or up-and-coming metal band. Tellus Requiem are a progressive metal group from Norway, who second album is Invictus (The 11th Hour). Guitarist Stig Nergard introduces us to his band.
Give us a brief history of Tellus Requiem.
Tellus Requiem was formed back in 2007. After one sleepless night resulted in a track called "Oblivion." The search for members began and soon the co-founder of Tellus Requiem; Arve Hage Grytbakk joined forces together with the only other remaining original lineup member Ivar Hagen Bøe on bass. The recording of the first album began and we did a couple of live shows. The debut album was self-released digitally in 2010 and did open some new doors for us. Among the opportunities of touring along great band acts as Keep of Kalessin, Pagan's Mind and Circus Maximus. Arve decided to leave the band because he knew were it was going and didn't see himself fronting the band in the future.
Shortly after that, keyboard player Torbjørn Kobberstad also left the band because of studying obligations out of town. Things did not look promising at that time, but we eventually found what we were looking for in Anders Sundbø on keyboards and Sondre Lyngwar on vocals. Touring began again in summer 2011. And also the recording of the second album Invictus (The 11th Hour) began. After some touring and big concerts together with Pagans' Mind among others the diversity of the members started to float apart and we decided to end relations with vocalist Sondre Lyngwar.
After seaching through most of the music academies in the world we did find the right guy in the bar next door! Ben Rodgers joined in March 2012. Then lightning struck again. Espen Hektoen, the drummer and one of the remaining original members decided to quit. A friend was then called and asked and we soon found ourselves on the road again with Vidar Lehman behind the drums. After finish the record we signed a record deal with the American record company Nightmare Records.
Describe your songwriting and recording process for Invictus.
It's a long process! It usually starts off with me bouncing out some riff ideas and some chords on the piano. And then I record them with programmed drums, bass and synths and make a crappy mock up or pre-production you may call it. I deliver it to the other guys in the band for them to practice and learn. We then come together and play it all together. Everybody has their own spin on things and maybe there will be some alteration on the riffs or the formula of the song. But we usually stick pretty much according to the first sketches.
When all is set for recording of an album we usually start with the drums. On our first album we did this ourselves in a studio with no producer. On Invictus we recorded it with Jon Tore Dombu at Skarp Studios as a co-producer. After the drums are tracked we do the bass and the guitars, both in our own studio. Ivar produced the bass himself and I produced the guitars together with Jon Tore Dombu again. The synths are handled by Anders and Stig, and are mainly programmed through VST-Software on the computer. We use a lot of time to find the right sounds, and we tweak until we're nearly deaf!
The last thing we do is the vocals. And usually we don't have the lyrics written until we start recording the vocals. We have some ideas here and there, but we mainly work with working titles. For example "Red Horizon" was called "Burning Sparrow" and "Sands of Gold" was called "The Inevitable." The last thing we do is record the choirs and I do also bring the soprano into the studio at this time. We ship it off to be mixed, because when we're finished recording it all, we're really not in the mood to hear it a thousands more times! This was handled by Tommy Hansen in Denmark, he also does the master. So we go back and forth and tweak and adjust some minor details and end up usually after five or six rounds with the final result.
How would you characterize the style/sound of the album?
We would characterize it as melodic progressive metal. We incorporate many styles and aspects of other cultural music genres. It's kind of a mixture of the Eastern sounds and colors combined with the Western contemporary music, both modern and old sounds. We have this nice phrase to describe what we do: "If Symphony X and Richard Wagner made a baby, it would sound like one of the colors on the surface of Tellus! Imagine the Requiem... "
What has been your most memorable Tellus Requiem live show, and what are your upcoming tour plans?
For me it's the show we did in our hometown Trondheim together with Tristania. Because we were in the zone, and in great shape, everything was just fun. The band really did shine that night! But there are many unforgettable nights on the road for sure! We're working on some tours right now, but nothing is settled yet. People in this industry are terrible at answering their e-mails! But hopefully we'll have something to announce soon.
Anything else you'd like to mention or promote?
We have this awesome new music video coming out really soon! Hope you'll check it out and hope you'll enjoy the album! And we see you on the road!
(photo courtesy Nightmare Records)