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Arve Isdal Interview

A Conversation with the Audrey Horne and Enslaved Guitarist


Audrey Horne

Audrey Horne

Napalm Records
Updated February 07, 2013
Arve Isdal, aka "Ice Dale" keeps extremely busy. In addition to being in Enslaved and a few other projects, he's the mastermind and guitarist for Audrey Horne, who just released their latest album Youngblood. Isdal gives us the lowdown on Audrey Horne, Enslaved, Demonaz, Ov Hell and other subjects.

Chad Bowar: How did the songwriting and recording process for Youngblood compare to your previous albums?
Arve Isdal: The whole writing process was a bit different this time from what we have done before. The main thing is that we worked a lot more in the rehearsal room. It has always been me and Toschie (vocals) working on the songs and arrangements on my computer and Thomas (Tofthagen, guitar) working at home on his songs. We didn't really work together before the songs were finished.

This time we wanted everybody more involved in the writing process, so we spent a lot of time arranging the songs together. It still mostly me and Thomas who writes the riffs and comes with the ideas for the songs, but also our new bass player Espen Lien has contributed with a lot of ideas and songs this time. It was strange in the beginning to let a new person join the writing of Audrey Horne songs, and we didn't know if it would work at all before we started. In the end it turned out great so I am glad we gave it a shot! Espen is a great player and musician and he has very strong opinions when it comes to the arrangements.

The whole "keep it simple" thing also got important in the writing sessions. To me it's one of the most difficult things to do. When you focus on doing things as easy and direct as possible, you also make every single note you play count more. Its like making a long story as short as possible but still keep all the important stuff and details. It certainly got us more in depth of every song and we spent months and months making them as perfect as possible.

Before we started the whole writing process, we decided to be very open minded to everybody's ideas. We tried out every idea that came up so and spent a lot of time to find out what we really wanted to do and what songs we wanted to make. It was kind of like we discovered the band all over again and found out that we could do whatever we wanted to because when we play together, it sounds like Audrey Horne no matter what we play!

When the ball first started to roll, it all came pretty easy. We had a lot of fun making this album and we love playing the songs. I think you can hear that on the album too because everyone has more freedom to do what they want within the songs. We approached the album like we were 16 years old again, when all that mattered and meant something in life was music and to play in a band.

How would you characterize the style/sound of this one?
Its definitely more classic rock and heavy metal than we have ever done and sounded before. We have always had a touch of that in our music and especially on the previous album Audrey Horne they were more presented than on the first two albums. On Youngblood it's like we have really gotten in depth of what the band is all about and how we want to sound and what kind of music we want to play. You can hear elements and inspiration of all the favorite bands of each and one of us on the album. Its got a lot of guitar solos, twin guitars, classic rock' n roll riffs, drum fills, big choruses and a lot of attitude. So grab your air guitar and play along!

What will you remember most about the recording of this album?
It was a great experience to record the way we did this time. We had spent so much time in the rehearsal room and it sounded so damn good in the end, that we decided to record the album live in the studio. Recording live as a band and playing together compared to just sitting in a control room playing on the drums from the loudspeakers, was very inspiring! I think there are no way back for us now and that we definitely will continue to record albums this way.

We actually had a few songs we did record the old way with recording the drums first, then the bass and guitars, but in the end they didn't sound nearly as good as the rest and they didn't have the same attitude, energy and atmosphere, so we chose not to use them. It is the fastest record I have ever made too. We recorded everything within two weeks and then mixed it in six days.

As far as writing guitar parts, do you find it easier, more difficult or just different in writing for Audrey Horne compared to Enslaved?
Just different I guess. In Enslaved I mostly write guitar solos and melodies and in Audrey Horne I write more songs and riffs. I approach it the same way when I write and its not easier or more difficult to do some things than others. I try to challenge myself and push myself to get better and have the right focus, especially when I write guitar parts or leads.

When you have played for a long time you can easily fall into the trap of playing within your safebox. I mean I could probably play a solo on anything and record it in five minutes and you could hear that it was me playing and it would sound OK. For me its important that a solo really fits the song as a whole and gives it something extra and has a musical meaning. I always try to find the right melodies and atmosphere more than pulling off some cool licks or shredding stuff. I try to think more like a musician than a guitar player, as guitar players often have a tendency to try to impress other guitar players.

What inspired the album title?
We had a lot of different ideas for the album title and Youngblood was one of them. There's not a big meaning to it other than it was one of the songs on the album and a cool album title. That said, it fits the music very well and the fact that we have changed a bit and gone more back to our roots and the music we listened to when we were young. We are not getting younger either, so of course you can draw some lines there too.

How was the video shoot for "Redemption Blues"?
That was a lot of fun to do, actually. In general I hate doing music videos because it's always a strange setting and it feels very unreal. It's also usually very long days and a lot of hard work. On the video for "Redemption Blues" we decided to make a simple video with us playing at a party, and make a little story in it.

It starts with an old guy listening to the radio when the song comes on. He put on his Elvis sunglasses and he goes back in time when he is young again. In his head he is having a party in his living room where Audrey Horne are playing and he is dancing with his young wife and rocking out. The old guy did a great job and it was very funny to watch him rock out with the young people at the shoot. It's a simple video just focusing on the energy of the song and it turned out pretty good I think.

How did you decide to sign with Napalm Records for this album?
Our contract with Indie had expired so we got a lot of offers from different labels. We felt it was time to try something new so we chose Napalm. They gave us a very good offer and seemed like a good label to take us a step up. We are proud to be a part of their roster and they seem to head in a more rock oriented way now which suits us perfectly. So far they are doing a great job with the release so it looks very good!

Does that change your expectations for the album?
Of course we hope that they can take us a big step forward. We have made our strongest album yet, so we hope and think that a lot of more people will check us out and listen to the album. We have gotten fantastic reviews and feedback so far so we believe this will be a great year for us!That said, we are so satisfied with the album that for us it's already a success no matter what happens, and that's a great feeling.

How has the early response been?
Like I said its been awesome so far. We already got album of the month in Rock Hard and Metal Hammer Germany, Rock Hard France and Metal Hammer Norway and a bunch of other places and the album went straight into the top 10 charts in Norway so it looks extremely good. Most important is that our fans seem to love it even though we have changed quite a bit on this album. That's very important to us, because in the end they are the ones who keep us alive, buy the albums, come to the shows and so on.

What are your upcoming Audrey Horne tour plans?
We already played two release shows in the biggest cities in Norway because the album was released a few weeks earlier here. Both shows were totally sold out and it was a fantastic atmosphere. In March we will tour in Germany and the Czech Republic with Long Distance Calling and Solstafir. In April we will tour in Norway again and in the end of April and beginning of May we will tour in the UK. Then the festivals start and in September we will tour in Europe and UK again, so its gonna be a busy year for us. We will also continue to write new songs this year in between the gigs.

What has been your most memorable Audrey Horne live show?
When we were the main support for AC/DC in Norway in front of 45.000 people. I will always remember that show even though it wasn't our best gig, but the whole feeling standing in front of so many people is something every band and every musician dreams about. I remember I told my girlfriend two days before we got the gig that one of the bands I had never seen live and really wanted to see was AC/DC. So when our booking agent called me and asked if we wanted to play support for them I was like "hell yeah!"

Also the release concerts in our hometown have always been awesome. It's a bit strange to play in front of all your friends, but those concerts are more like a celebration of the album and the atmosphere is always fantastic!

How difficult is it to balance being in so many different bands?
I am pretty used to it since I have always played a lot of different music and in a lot of different bands. The last years it has been mostly Enslaved and Audrey Horne though and it's all about planning things ahead. Since none of the bands are touring 10 months a year,its not a big problem to combine them, it just keeps me very busy. And since its going very well for both bands so I haven't really had time for much else, just some studio work and playing on an album here and there.

It's not like it was 10 or 15 years ago when I played in 12 bands at the same time. Then I didn't even have time to eat dinner because I went to so many rehearsals every day. I just made a bag of sandwiches every morning and ate on my way from one rehearsal to another. Grutle (Enslaved) just started calling me "skjevo", which means a slice of bread, and that nickname has followed me ever since.

Now I have realized that I can't do everything and play in every band in the world so I am getting better at just saying no to stuff. I have my two main bands now and I am very happy with that at the moment. I will continue to do some albums and work with others in between, because I love playing different kinds of music and evolve myself as a musician. I am very lucky to have worked with so many gifted and talented artists and musicians and I have done a lot of stuff I am very proud of.

Were you satisfied with the response to last year's Enslaved album RIITIIR?
Yes. We got very good response on that album and people seems to love it! The songs also work out great in the live shows and they are a lot of fun to play. We are touring on that album still so I am in the U.S. right now playing gigs with Enslaved and doing interviews about Audrey Horne. Basically I am going be on tour the whole year since I go on tour with Audrey Horne after this tour and then after the Audrey Horne tour I am immediately going on tour with Enslaved again and so it continues the rest of the year.

What are your most and least favorite things about touring in North America?
All the states are so different from each other, so it's almost like going to a new country each day. It's cool to be here and hang out and meet our fans again. For us coming from a little country like Norway I think the whole "Big in the USA" thing is like an old childhood dream and its more like the whole idea about it that's cool!

The whole culture and mentality of the people here are very different than in Europe so of course that makes it more interesting too (in a good way). The worst thing about touring here I would say are the backstages. There are a lot of places that don't even have showers and when you think about us playing every night and living together on a bus for a month, that's something that's really makes a difference.

What is the current status of a couple other bands you've been a member of lately; Demonaz and Ov Hell?
I haven't really talked to Demonaz in a few months because I have been so busy I haven't had the time to hang out with him. Last time I talked to him he said he had already worked on some ideas for a new album and that we should start to work again soon. So I guess there will be a new album maybe next year, but right now I think he is busy with Immortal stuff.

I talked to Tom (King ov Hell) a week ago and we talked about this other band we have had for some years now but haven't had the time to do something with yet. Its called Temple Of The Black Moon and the other guys are Dani Filth (Cradle Of Filth) and Rob Caggiano (ex-Anthrax, The Damned Things).

I think Ov Hell was a one off thing (they released The Underworld Regime in 2010), at least as far as I know, so don't think there will be another album, at least not now. Tom is pretty busy with God Seed these days so I think he will focus on that and some other projects. Also Stian is busy with Dimmu Borgir and Frost with Satyricon, so I don't really see us doing something in the near future.

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