Interview by Ed MacLaren
Blowing through the gates with their sophomore release “The Road Less Travelled”, Norwegian prog metallers Triosphere hijack our musical sensibilities and overpower us with a metal tour de force that assaults the senses with its melodic power. Femme Metal jumped on for the ride with vocalist and bassist Ida Haukland to map the making of the album and getting on that road less travelled.
Thanks for talking to us Ida. “The Road Less Travelled” is a phenomenal album of unbridled power and energy. It’s positively a joy to listen to. A to-date favourite for sure! Your comments on it first of all…
Wow! Well, thank you so much Ed –-that‘s just so amazing to hear! I’m so glad you like it!
“The Road Less Travelled” is aggressive, proggy and thrashy with tons of melody and more than a few nods to the classic anthems of 80s metal. How do you and the band sort all this out in the writing and recording process? It must be infinitely more difficult to come to a musical consensus with everyone contributing so many different musical influences.
It’s not too difficult… We are a band with different musical tastes and influences, but we more or less “clicked” instantly when it came to our own music, so it all kinda works naturally! More importantly, Marius makes all the music and brings his ideas and arrangement to rehearsal, so the combination of the different elements is to a great extent his doing! The rest of us then contribute with our interpretations, and I work out all of the vocal-lines and lyrics, so the end result, as such, is a band-effort. That being said, all of us have always been very much “in tune” with each other! We seem to have the same understandings and preferences of what our own music should sound like. I feel this is a defining feature of the band, so it’s maybe an annoying answer, but this blend of elements just comes “naturally”.
“The Road Less Travelled” will shred speakers on first listen. Tracks like “Driven” and “The Anger and The Silent Remorse” along with the duel-ish guitar solo in “Death Of Jane Doe” were definite album highlights. Did you have a specific sonic goal set out when approaching the writing and recording of the record?
Yes, in a way, we did… Our debut-album “Onwards” was very much pedal-to-the-metal and we love the way that album sounds, but we knew from the beginning of writing “The Road…” that we wanted this one to be a lot more dynamic, both in context to intensity and tempo. In this way, we knew as the songs began to take shape that the album would be very different from “Onwards”. This was actually a little scary as we’ve received very good feedback and rewards on “Onwards”. Nevertheless, Marius worked consciously on letting the songs “move” more- let the extreme be more extreme and let the fragile parts almost break into pieces. He also left more “space” in the riffs for me to work on melodies in the vocals… We were conscious that we wanted this album to have a bit more focus on vocal-melodies, and I think it worked pretty well!
What did you want fans to get out of “The Road Less Travelled” listening experience?
Hopefully, the same as we do! We want them to hear an album that changes and evolves each time you listen to it; to hear songs that we’ve worked on quite a lot to give them depth and dynamics; lyrics that try to tell stories I find important. To make them excited, engaged, maybe even meditative on some issues and atmospheres. But hey, if they are just left with a feeling of wanting to hear the album again, then we really can’t ask for more than that!
“Ignition” and “The Last Haven” really sound like a musical departure and arrival. Where did the road less travelled take us?
You know Ed, only the listener can really answer that. “Ignition” is meant to set the mood for the album, and also give a preview of the course of it; it’s passionate, encouraging, intense and confident. The road less travelled takes you through the various atmospheres and states of mind that one might experience when facing the challenges in ones lifetime.
For us, the road less travelled is a journey towards improvement, so we, in many ways. feel that musically it’s a very “positive” experience, but we’ve heard feedback on the album too that it has a quite melancholic and dark sound, so it really is up to the listener to say exactly where “The Road Less Travelled” takes them.
You’ve been tagged as a band to watch since your first album. Do you think you’ve fulfilled that expectation with “The Road Less Travelled”?
He! He! It’s maybe a little early for me to say that yet, but judging by the mind-blowing feedback we’ve received so far from the international press we seem to have at least made a very decent start. As I mentioned a little earlier, we felt that this album came out sounding very different from “Onwards”, hence we were a little worried on what kind of reception it would get. It’s still too early to get a clear image of what the general public thinks, but if the reactions are anywhere near that of the critics then we are in for a very pleasant time indeed!
Women have held down the bottom end with some of the top metal bands for years. What is it with women and basses? Is it a rhythm thing?
Really? I must honestly say that I have noticed a few more female guitarists – Michelle Meldrum, Nicole Couch, Jennifer Batten, Susan Gerl – than bassists (obviously except Jo Bench of Bolt Thrower)… no? Besides, from my own perspective, I can’t really answer the question as to why women apparently tend to take on the bass. Personally, I started out as a guitarist but wanted to learn all the “traditional” metal-instruments, so when a couple of guys who rehearsed next to my band asked me to take the position as a bassist in their band, I accepted without hesitation. As the years went by, I just felt more and more comfortable in this position working out the pulse of the music together with the drums. I also felt that I got in touch with the bass in a way that I never managed with the guitar, so it really was a natural choice for me!
Marius, T.O., and Orjan are fantastic players – it must be a blast to be on-stage immersed in all the synchronized instrumental chaos going on around you.
They are indeed! And I draw a lot of energy from them. I can always trust the guys to “deliver the goods”. That really is a privilege for sure! BUT, we have been, and are constantly working very hard to be the best we can be, and we all expect this from each other; I expect the guys to work their asses off just like they expect me to do the same. We never take for granted the amazing opportunity we are given every time we get to be on stage, so we better do our very best to put on a worthy show! We often evaluate the gigs and discuss things that should have gone down more smoothly and in this way we hope to continue improving and evolving our live-performances.
How hard is it to play bass, keep up with the changes and sing at the same time? Not everyone is Geddy Lee, right? Will you incorporating trigger pedals into your repertoire anytime soon just to keep your feet busy?
Ha! Ha! Yeah, I’m planning on attaching additional percussion as well. Ha! Ha! Nah, I think my hands are pretty full right now but I have always played an instrument and sung at the same time so I really can’t imagine anything else. I was “just” a lead-singer in one of the bands I had some years ago, and I actually felt naked and somewhat idle without playing an instrument… Certainly, it can be a little challenging sometimes to get the right sound in both things when working on new material, but once I’ve got it sorted out it’s just like riding a bicycle!
You not only have great bass chops but a classic rock and roll voice. Your singing has lots of power and attitude and you can turn on the emotion with tracks like “Worlds Apart” when you need to. You must tear that throat up during a gig!
Once again, thank you very much! It’s really all about finding the right technique and I have worked consciously throughout the years to find a technique that takes full control of both the softer sound in my voice as well as putting on the heat (i.e. the vocal equivalent to distortion)… I’m still working on it! In essence, the voice is never supposed to be “torn up” or hoarse after a gig, and it never is in rehearsals. BUT in a live-situation where the adrenalin is pumping, boiling hot lights, maybe a little smoke and you want to put on the best show possible, some of the techniques go straight down the drain and I sometimes get hoarse. Ha! Ha! You never know, you just have to be careful! This is something I’m paying very much attention to. My goal is to manage to keep “cool” enough to never stress out the voice, even live, and to constantly expand my range and expression.
For Triosphere, what is your personal road less travelled? Is the album title an expression of Triosphere’s musical or personal philosophy?
The main idea behind the album title is not directly linked to the band’s musical or personal philosophy as such, but reflects a theme of daring to take chances and opportunities that lead you closer to your goals and ambitions even though it might seem unconventional or more challenging. This could be said to be a personal philosophy of all of us in Triosphere and musicians in general who put everything aside to pursue their musical ambitions in spite of financial, social (i.e. girlfriends and kids) and work-related challenges. I am personally convinced that if you keep present and alert in your life you will see that there are a million opportunities to take or miss out on and based on this, people must take greater responsibility for the course of their lives. It’s never too late to change the pace and/or direction in your life and sometimes it is necessary to take the road less travelled in order to release your potential, but whether it’s a personal message… that’s uncertain!
Musically, I would say that we’ve taken a “road less travelled” by exploring a whole new dimension of dynamics and melody on this album. I myself have especially tested the softer parts and expression in my voice and not put everything in high gear from beginning to end (at least that’s how I experience it), so there is that argument… Marius has stretched the extreme and the fragile borders and written the music towards a more vocal-oriented sound than “Onwards” was, so you can argue many different sides to the title!
How does this philosophy infuse itself into Triosphere’s lyrics?
The lyrics try to tell stories of courage; choose something different and new for yourself even though you know you might not end up where you planned to. They’re stories of how mankind relates to each other and its surroundings with a suggestion of a change of course. Inter-socially, “the road less travelled” could be something as simple as compassion and acceptance, and environmentally, it could be less ignorance and arrogance and daring to decide that the outlook of profit and welfare does not justify exhaustion of our physical surroundings. The various themes are, to a great extent, influenced by stories from the media, and how mankind often appears to be incapable of both co-existing and preserving its grounds for existence.
Triosphere has a strong work ethic when it comes to its music and performance as well as the business. How has that contributed to your ongoing success?
Thank you very much, that’s really cool to hear! Yeah, we have a “run the business” side, certainly before we signed with AFM anyway, very consciously without any form of management or booking agency but it’s always been natural to us and crucial for our progress that we put so many hours into the various administrative things and keep control over them. There are so many great bands out there that you really have to dedicate a lot of energy and time to your own band if you’re going to have any shot at standing out!
At the same time, we’ve also been very focused and clear on our musical expression without making any compromises. We feel that the audience should get just as much of a visual experience as a musical one, and hence we try our best to constantly improve our stage performance. All those facets are important pieces in building a band worth paying attention to and we try our best to deserve just that!
Is the band ready to give up their day jobs yet, then?
Ha! Ha! I think it will take a few more years before we get anywhere near a financial situation that allows four people to quit their source of steady income but we dream! It’s also a very different situation now than it was 5-10 years ago when it comes to earning money through music, and there are many reasons for this. One is the situation with illegal downloading; but I won’t say anything more about this than the fact that those who download illegally under the impression that they are “fighting the greedy music industry” have seriously misunderstood a few things; it’s really only harming the bands themselves!
You’ve played support gigs with Ronnie James Dio and have called him one of your biggest influences. The passing of such a legendary vocalist, performer, and gentleman was a shock and loss for the entire metal community. Do you have any personal thoughts or stories you’d like to share?
Well, there are so many things one could have say about this monumental man and the importance he has been to hard rock and metal musicians for almost five decades. As you correctly state, he has indeed been one of my most important influences and “teachers” though because I grew up singing covers of Rainbow, Dio and Heaven and Hell. For me, the way of the world seemed to be that he would always be standing on that stage, you know, inspiring and entertaining generations to come. So even though I knew he was sick with cancer, I was just as shocked as anyone else when I got the news that afternoon. He leaves us a great legacy and I do hope that his name is honoured with respect and decency without any “hidden agenda” for years to come!
People need to hear this album live. What’s your touring schedule coming up? Any overseas dates planned? Pretty please?
Ha! Ha! Yes, I agree and we are planning loads of things at the moment but we can’t confirm them right now. All we want to do is get out on the road (less travelled, he he) and present this album live, so we’ll do our very best to make this happen as soon (and often) as possible!
(Famous) last words?
First of all… thank you – Mr. MacLaren – very much for taking interest in us and presenting us with this interview! And second – to all of your readers – please go get our album and give it at least a couple of spins before you cast your verdict! It’s a layered album, and I hope with all my heart that you will enjoy it! Hope to see you all very soon from a stage near you!