Norwegian post-metallers Heave Blood & Die are getting ready to drop their band new album Post People on February 5. The album has an ethereal feel but is grounded in serious subject matter, tackling issues as pressing as climate change and the misery caused by putting profits over people.
You can get an early dose of what Heave Blood & Die has in store for us on Post People by checking out our premiere of the song and video for the title track below, and then keep scrolling for an exclusive interview with band leader Karl.
How did you all meet? What is Heave Blood & Die’s origin story?
The band started as a past-time activity after school when we were around 16, and we’ve really just kept at it. We’ve recently moved the band’s headquarters from Tromsø to Oslo; while moving we lost one member on the road, we can’t remember where, but he has to be somewhere between Oslo and Tromsø.
So, we swapped out one guy with two other guys. We knew Eivind from before, as we had been in conversation with Fysisk Format before. Karl and Eivind started an instrumental-rock band in Oslo, and it felt very natural to bring Eivind into Heave Blood & Die as well.
Benjamin is an old friend of Eivind and is an amazing guitarist, so it was a no-brainer to include him since no other guitarist in the band is traditionally good at playing guitar. With all honesty, it feels like a couple of steps forward in improving our music! We thrive on musical change, and having some new views on things really helped us alter our sound, for the better, at least we think so and hope others might find it so as well.
How long have you been working on the new album, Post People?
We started playing around with the concept of Post People as soon as we were done with our second record. I remember a lot of songs going straight to the bin before we found a sound that felt right.
We probably spent about a year writing songs that were rubbish. But, as soon as we had a little break, lived life a little, read a few books, the process of writing the actual album took about four months, albeit we wrote a bunch in the recording studio. Our producer, Ariel, was bouncing out songs until the last minute of our stay in Ocean Sound.
Who or what are Post People?
My thought is that it’s the human race transcending violence, abolishing all authority that isn’t justified. To paraphrase Noam Chomsky, a parent grabbing its child from crossing a busy street is justified authority; police tear-gassing demonstrations are not justified. I imagined these anarchistic,
enlightened people set in a 1984-esque, post-apocalyptic universe, struggling to survive under various circumstances.
A lot of the lyrics on the record are based around books, especially “Empire of The Sun,” which is about a child separated from its parents in China during WWII, and is held in various, Japanese prison camps. I feel the J.G. Ballard references really adds to the whole post-apocalyptic the vibe, also the few less direct references to maybe both Chomsky and Bukowski adds to the anarchistic/nihilistic thought behind the album title.
What was your favorite part about recording this album?
The vibe. We recorded it at Ocean Sound Recordings; it’s located in Ålesund, by the coast; it’s really atmospheric, and you’re all alone out there with a great view of quite, moody waters. Staying there as a group was a blast; we cooked great meals, drank way too many beers, and stayed up long past bedtime experimenting with sound.
The fifth track on the record, “Everything Is Now,” came to shape one late night/early morning; we were just a few in the studio room, I’m guessing it was me (Karl), Marie Sofie, and Ariel in the studio (those late nights and early mornings are quite blurry to be honest), I think the rest had gone to bed.
We started messing around with the Varispeed; we slowed the song to half speed; it was great; we were ecstatic, and we insisted that we would keep it like that. We rearranged the song, did overdubs in higher pitch and reimagined the vocals. I think the way we ended up doing “Everything Is Now” is my favorite memory from the sessions in Ocean Sound, it was like being hit in the face by an acid trip disguised as a brick.
What was it like recording the album under the conditions of a pandemic?
We had to throw our initial plans of recording in Sweden out of the window and instead look to the west coast of Norway. The key element in choosing a location was to get to somewhere secluded, where we could live and record under the same roof.
The main thing the conditions during the pandemic made harder was to get a chance to rehearse a lot before we went into the studio. In hindsight, that might have been a good thing. Creating a creative environment and positive energy, making the songs grow into what they become, and an album we are really proud of.
What has your impression of Norway’s response to the pandemic been like so far?
A lot of people have been doing a very good job, but we feel a lot of frustration, especially with the current lockdown that has been in place since the start of November. We’re not allowed to see our friends, hang out or play music, but capital owners are allowed to fly in cheap workers from heavily infected areas like Poland and Lithuania.
We have no problems with being part of the effort to keep the numbers low, but seeing that the same rules does not apply to everyone is really demotivating. Leaders of the private sector have had direct communication with heads of state, shaping rules in their best economic interest at the expense of everyone else. And that is extremely sickening to watch.
Your album seems very concerned with the effect of climate change; are you seeing many drastic changes in the environment by you at this time?
In Norway, we have set new heat records every, single year the past years, and no immediate actions are set in motion by the government. The well-being of car owners, polluting companies, are being prioritized. And [it is] thought that the private sector will work things out. This should be abandoned ASAP. We have to put climate before capital gains.
The promotional materials for Post People use the phrase “We are standing on the verge of a junction with two options: ruin, or the chance of redemption.” It reminds me of the phrase that Rosa Luxemburg made famous. Was this intentional, or does it have another meaning?
The Rosa Luxemburg connection was not intentional, but we’ll gladly take it. To us, it’s a gaze at the world post-Reagan. It’s shocking to see how easily people can be manipulated into believing something that isn’t true. Using people as puppets, creating a diversion, and thriving in the chaos and lies created by them. Like Germany leading up to WWII, we are sitting across the Atlantic watching it unfold in the “leading democracy” USA.
Our hope is that we can find a way to silence these voices. There’s many different opinions on Trump getting kicked out of social media giants, and the effects it might have on free speech. Different opinions and discussions is a great thing to evolve and learn, but flat-out lies should have no room in this. They are not different opinions; they are lies. And that is how they should be treated.
What are your hopes for 2021?
It’s election year in Norway, so we all really hope for a new government. One that will put climate change in the front seat alongside getting the frontline of the pandemic: the nurses, and other hospital staff, the kindergarten teachers, teachers, cleaners, and the grocery store workers, the salary they deserve.
We would also like to get out into the world again. Head over to the local pub, and grab a beer or 20; listen to great music, and watch cool shows again. And play a lot of shows ourselves, together with friends bands. Mainly in Norway, and then hopefully somewhere in Europe in 2022.
Photo by Brage Pedersen.