Hi Per… It’s great talking to you… You’ve done a great job indeed… “Bag of Tricks” is an excellent work!
P: Thanks very much! Great talking to you to…
It seems that you have been really busy lately… preparing your first solo album and also recording with Damnation Angels…
P: Yeah, spent a lot of time in the studio lately. Spent most of December in England recording with Damnation Angels, and then almost 6 months in Thundernight Studios in Norway making and recording the songs for “Bag of Tricks”. Gotta put in the graft… hehe.
First of all, tell us… how did you decide to take part in the Norwegian X Factor talent show?
P: To be honest, that was a waste of a year and I wish I hadn’t been part of it. It was an experience though, but it was very mainstream and far from what I love and burn for in music, so I’d rather not talk too much about that. I’ve been on the stage in front of 20,000 people who didn’t really care, except for the fact that I’d been on TV a lot, and I’ve been on stage for 20 hardcore metalheads. I’d take the latter any day without a doubt in my heart. To answer your question I did it as a good before I actually had started to sing, just to promote the power metal bands I liked in a time where no one seemed to care for it. Not that participating helped my cause but I digress. (i.n.: well I’d say you’d better not regret things you’ve done which have helped you in any way…)
Do you believe that X factor helped you gain more fame generally… but when it comes to metal music that you actually love… how much did it aid you?
P: I’d say about 0.2% or something. Almost no one knows who I am in Norway, but in countries like the UK, Brazil etc, a lot of people listen to my music. Seeing as X Factor was only in Norway that should say a lot…
Since X Factor was over… what did you have in mind to do so as to continue the road you wanted to take eventually?
P: Like I said I joined X Factor as a goof without dreaming of becoming a finalist, so it was first after that, that I decided to maybe try and become a good singer, and so I practiced for about 2-3 years, and then auditioned for Damnation Angels, and made “Bag of Tricks” plans etc…
Was it later when you recorded the EP “My Demons”, right?
P: “My Demons” was made in my room actually, with guitars recorded on an old bass amp. Horrible quality, but I just came home from a Damnation Angels tour and wanted to make something, and so I did. Despite the incredibly bad sound a lot of people liked the EP so it made me really anxious to make a well-produced album, and after a lot of dreaming and hard work we put together “Bag of Tricks”. (i.n.: Pel’s right… the EP does have a horrible sound quality… but some songs from it became super later…)
OK let’s focus on the new album. What’s this bag… and what kind of tricks does it contain?
P: Haha, well asked. The bag is the old bag of songs (11 songs), that I’d written through my life, for different reasons. They’re all different so the album title is perfect. It plays with your mind a little and has more ballads than most power metal albums, so it’s kind of a trick… haha… Anyway, it was on my second tour across the UK the drummer of Damnation Angels suggested that album title. I thought it sounded awesome so I just went for it. No regrets…
How did you choose with whom to cooperate? Probably Tommy “ReinXeed” has played a major role on “Bag of Tricks” as he has not only played the majority of the instruments but he’s responsible for the song arrangements and the production as well. Are you satisfied with the final result?
P: 100%. Tommy is a close friend of mine and an amazingly talented musician and a good guy. I wrote and recorded all the instruments except for guitars and drums, originally recorded by my Serbian friend Gisha. We originally planned on releasing it in that quality, but when I went with my fiancé Marit to Sweden to guest star in a ReinXeed video I met Christian Liljegren who runs Doolittle, the record label. He wanted to sign me for the release of “Bag of Tricks” cuz he had heard a lot of the songs and loved them, and so I had to live up to their demands of quality, and so Tommy and I began to change the songs. He did an astonishing job and I’m stoked about the end result.
Did Tommy also contribute on the songwriting? How would the final result have been like if it hadn’t been for him?
P: Well I wrote all the vocal melodies and instrumental melodies, the riffs and themes and all that. Tommy wrote new guitar solos, a few new bridges and riffs that went in mid sections of a few songs etc. What Tommy did was add that little extra, that to me, made the album complete. If he hadn’t done that the songs would first of all be too short for what people expect of such a release, and they would be less diverse.
Also remarkable are the very tasteful leads/solos of the album… Gisha & Tommy… have given some wonderful performances… don’t you think?
P: Yes. Gisha and Tommy are incredible. I don’t know how to collaborate on the subject, but I can honestly say I’m just extremely proud they wanna play for me. They are geniuses with their craft.
And we move on to the guest appearances. First, we have Oliver Hartmann on “Reason and Psychosis”, secondly Amanda Sommerville on “Send My Message Home”, Tommy Karevik (Seventh Wonder) on “Stare Into My Eyes”, Anders Ringdal Strom on “Born In Babylon” & Marit Borresen on “Don’t Belong” & “Conflagrate My Heart”. How did you come up with each one for the specific song?
P: Oliver Hartmann has something I don’t… he’s very different from me, and I wanted to get the two aspects of reason and psychosis out, so I needed a strong second lead singer. I asked him if he wanted to join in, and he wanted to. He did an amazing job didn’t he?!
Tommy Karevik, I’ve been told, has a kinda similar singing style and tone as myself, so I wanted him to fill out the song and make it more “epic”. Sometimes when you work on a song for too long you just kinda become oblivious to the actual feel of it cuz you’ve heard it 100 times, and after days and days I realized I wanted someone to help me out. Tommy Karevik is a genius and I’m proud he wanted to join.
“Send My Message Home” is a song I’ve done live many times, and it has had different guest singers. It’s a pretty long song, depending on how long you drag out the end, but it has a meaningful message I don’t want to be said from the first person narrative of “just a man” or “just a woman”. It’s a universal problem the speaking voice tells of, so it felt natural to have a female second lead singer. Amanda did an amazing job, absolutely.
Anders was there when we started working with “Born in Babylon”, and he plays some guitars on it. We’ve sung together for years and I wanted him to be on this album. That’s how he got his role on the song, and he did a spectacular job on it too. We’ve listened to it 10 times together or something and we both agree it turned out perfect J
Marit is on “Don’t Belong” & “Conflagrate My Heart”, but she is also on many other songs on the CD. She’s the best singer I can think of so it only made sense to me to have her sing the female parts on different songs
I didn’t know Marit Borresen (probably cuz she’s a pop singer) before but her voice is angelic… it fits so perfectly with yours… hope to listen to her again in the future.
P: Yeah you will! Marit is my fiancé, and she will always be part of the PelleK projects, and eventually different projects we decide to make. We will always stay true to metal in the things we do together though. (i.n.: I wasn’t aware of that as well…)
How anxious were you to see “Bag of Tricks” completed and out on the market?
P: Man oh man... When the album was done Doolittle told me I had to wait like 7 months before releasing it. It was a pain haha... but yeah, things happened, worked with Damnation Angels a lot, traveled to Egypt with Marit, worked on other projects for other bands, went to France with Tommy ReinXeed, and time flew by and I got through it. Good question!
Can you give us a hint about each one of the songs…?
P: Okay here you go…
“Entrance”: It was written mostly by Tommy ReinXeed as the record label told me I should have an intro. I loved the first take he did on it and since the day I met Tommy I’ve always been a fan, so therefor I kinda wanted to hear what he imagined after working hours and hours with mixing the album. I think it sets a nice mood for the album, and it has references to the opening track fugue state in it. Basically it’s just a dramatic and dark, then lighter introduction to the album.
“Fugue State”: This is a song I wrote and performed acoustically a few years ago. I used to be an insomniac and couldn’t sleep for days. One night I woke up after having fallen asleep on the floor somewhere, and found these lyrics with pictures of dragons and dungeons and all that generic power metal stuff I love next to me. I realized I had written and drawn all of this while not being totally asleep or awake, which is somewhat what it means to be in a fugue state. (the fugue state definition was added in later). I thought it was pretty cool to have written a song without remembering it so I made a melody in a minor and started performing it on small gigs. I wasn’t sure if it fit on “Bag of Tricks”, but it turns out it did. (i.n.: quite interesting story…)
“Reason And Psychosis”: This is a song about managing your heart ache and pain in relationships. It’s all chemicals in your brain messing with you and there’s always a way out of the misery. That’s the message in the song. Reason and psychosis are 2 very different things though so Oliver had to step in to show the differences.
“Send My Message Home”: I wrote this song in a first person narrative as most my songs. The person telling the story is absolutely lost, far away from familiar surroundings and family and friends, he knows he can’t go back, and he has one last message to send home to his family, but no one to send it. that’s all I’ll say about that… hehe
“Thundernight”: …is just a feeling! Through my childhood I’ve often wandered around in the city streets in the middle of the road hoping for the thunder to strike nearby because of the excitement. There’s only me alone in the dark empty streets and it gives me an empowering feeling, a kinda of hope. That’s what that song is about. I highly recommend finding a place where you’ll be all alone and just spending a night by yourself outdoors. It’s a very special feeling that will give the next day a different perspective.
“Win”: This one is about the chase for success in anything and everything. If you wanna achieve something big you gotta prepare to train and work for it, endlessly. And then… open your arms and receive the rewards. I hope this song inspires people to work harder and never give up. That’s my ambition for it anyway…
“Don’t Belong”: It’s about just that. Now and then you feel like you’re a misfit, like you’ve seen most things and you’ve lived longer than you need to. At least me lol. This song has taken literally months to complete, because the subject is hard to write about. Emotional turmoil and despair. Pretty dark, but honest.
“Stare Into My Eyes”: …is a song written from the perspective of a manipulative vigorous man. It’s very power metal-esque, and one of my favorites from the whole album. (i.n.: one of my favorites as well…)
“Born In Babylon”: It’s about breaking free from what you believe is your destiny and choosing for yourself what you want to be. It’s about confronting yourself, and maybe realizing you can… but the song will tell the story.
“Bag Of Tricks”: This is an instrumental majestic song. A great intermission for the last song…
“Conflagrate My Heart”: …which is a very sad and depressing song about a man who ruined his life and finds no way to repair what he’s broken.
How did you come up with the idea to re-record & re-arrange three songs (“Stare Into my Eyes”, “Don’t Belong” & “Born in Babylon”) from the EP “My Demons”?
P: The songs were bought by so many people and the feedback was amazing. I felt like these songs and the listeners deserved a version with decent quality. (i.n.: you’re absolutely right…)
I like your melodic approach to heavy/power metal music… it’s not too Euro power neither too US… I like the fact that you focused on your vocal melodies and on the song arrangements more. Did you have in mind which way to go… or it came out naturally?
P: Naturally. I’ve always had a little different approach to what I like in vocals. I like the extremely high power metal vocals a lot, kinda like Tommy ReinXeed does, but I also like to sing much deeper than most power metal vocalists do, and I like the different rock and blues singing techniques. I guess my singing is a mix of all of that.
I’ve written: “PelleK sings his heart out here… proving that he is a vocalist/songwriter that will take a leading role in heavy/power metal music in the years to come…” in my review… what do you think of it?
P: I thank you deeply and I’m very glad you think so. I do my best every day so it’s very rewarding to hear that it’s acknowledged and appreciated. Thanks again! (i.n.: there’s no need to thank me dude… just continue doing what you do best…)
I’ve also noted that: “Bag of Tricks” is a wonderful melodic heavy/power metal album… which becomes even more appealing with every new listening… Isn’t that, after all, what makes an album worth getting and worth listening to? To play it more and more… right?
P: Yes, I promised myself not to make an album with one bad song on it, and believe me I’ve thrown away more than 20 songs. Only the best went on the album. I want the people who spend money on this to think it was worth it, and I hope they feel that way. (i.n.: if only every artist was thinking like that…)
I do not wanna flatter you… but I think that you’re one of the highest hopes when it comes to heavy/power metal music of this decade…
P: Again man, that means a lot and I appreciate it so much. Thanks again and again!! (i.n.: now that I get to know you better… I can say that except for a great singer… you’re a great guy as well… I guess these things go together most of the times…)
You’ve also got your first video out for the song “Fugue State”. Are you happy with the final result? Are there gonna be any other videos as well?
P: There could be more videos, depending on how much we will tour. We recorded this in France with some friends of mine that I sing for now and then. It was an exhausting but interesting experience and I liked the final result. It’s a low budget video, but the film crew had great equipment and cameras and a nice location so I think it was great.
Let me ask you a few things about Damnation Angels additionally… As soon as you joined them you started the recordings of the debut album, right? How did you feel when it was released in Japan for the first time?
P: Well, actually we toured 2 times across the UK before recording the album. It was interesting, but I always wanted to have an album to sell at gigs. We had the EP with a different singer that I didn’t identify with so much, and some T-shirts, so things will be different now for sure.
I like “Bringer of Light” very much and I’m waiting to see the European release of the album with anticipation. Will told me some time ago that you were in negotiations with some labels. Are there any further news?
P: I got news today that more labels are interested in it. It’s all about finding a good fit for us and our plans. Will’s the decision maker there, like I am for my solo project although we always talk things over with each other. (i.n.: that’s great to know… I’m waiting for the European release of the album…)
I’ve also arranged an interview for “Bringer of Light” with Will… so we will have the chance to talk again in the future… I wanna know what’s the reaction from Japan for Damnation Angels yet though…
P: The reaction from Japan has been amazing. The label that released our album over there have prepared us for some gigs there so that gotta mean it’s doing good...
Thus, what’s next for you PelleK? Will you go on tour soon enough? What are your future plans?
P: Touring with “Bag of Tricks” material, then a tour with Damnation Angels, and then a new PelleK album, and a new Damnation Angels album…
Which are those bands/vocalists that have influenced you since your beginning?
P: Jorn, Masterplan, Glenn Hughes, helloween, Freedom Call and Edguy to name a few…
What are those things that inspire you in order to write music & lyrics?
P: I just love to sing. That inspires me more than anything. The fact that my fiancé sings as well makes it twice as motivating because we can share the interest for power metal and singing, and making music that I and she love…
How do you see metal music nowadays? What does it miss? What acts as a surplus in our age?
P: After touring a lot in 2011 I’ve noticed 90% of bands nowadays are that kind of scream-o thing. I have nothing against it, but I think that’s what we see the most of nowadays. Can’t blame them with all the great bands they’re influenced by of course, but I always think it’s really cool when someone who’s warming up for us have vocals that are sung, rather than growled/screamed. However, I love metal, it can be scream-o or heavy or whatever as long as it’s good I’ll listen and headbang to it.
Can Internet be “used” as a promotion tool for every band out there or it causes problems that cannot be fixed ultimately? Is it a curse or a blessing?
P: I hear everyone else saying it's a bit of both, but to me it’s just a blessing. I am eternally grateful for people who buy my music, but it’s not about making money, it’s about enjoying good music and having a nice life. If people listen to my music and it makes them happy, that’s awesome. Regardless of how they got it.
How good is the fact that a whole generation learned to hear music via MP3’s (that have such a bad quality) and they actually believe that music is only in mp3 format… and nothing more? Maybe some of the younger guys won’t even own a single CD! That’s gonna be a boomerang in the end… what do you think?
P: That is terrible if that happens, because they’re missing out so much! It’s a magical feeling to spend your hard earned money or allowance and open a CD, read the personal thanks from the band, see the artwork, and KNOW that you’ve helped out the band. Like I said, I appreciate everyone listening to my music, regardless of how they got the music, but it should be experienced to buy a CD, hold it in your hands, and BE PART OF IT! (i.n.: what more to say here Per said it all…)
It’s time for the Weird Questions now!!! Which music kind can’t you bear to hear at all?
P: Feminine boys singing pop/techno-ish music isn’t for me. But I’ve been burnt in the past for having strong opinions about music. I like two things. Metal and old Dean Martin & Frank Sinatra jazz. That’s what I love. Mostly metal, but there’s something about that old jazz that is so unique and honest.
How did you experience all those incidents in the early 90s… in the Norwegian black metal scene? Do you think they have caused any kind of problems or helped the scene to become more known all over the world?
P: The studio I record in now, and own and live in… haha… is actually the old studio that used be run and recorded in by Mayhem. They wrote the Norwegian metal history, and I’m damn proud. It was insane and ridiculous yes, but will you even find something more honest? I doubt it… (i.n.: that’s a legendary studio/place indeed!!!)
Which are the top heavy/power metal albums of all time according to you and why?
P: Masterplan’s debut album is my all-time favorite, because in my opinion all the songs are good, the vocals are great, and the production is really good. I’ve listened to it more than 100 times. However, “Welcome to the Theater” by ReinXeed is one of my favorites nowadays, it’s so majestic and beautiful…
If you could put together the best heavy/power metal band in the world who would participate and why?
P: I can’t really wrap my head around that right now. I’d say Tommy Karevik on vocals and Tommy ReinXeed on guitars, Rob Reiner on drums maybe… I can’t really decide, but those guys are all awesome for so many reasons…
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
P: None. I wouldn’t have written any other record than what I have, because it’s not me. My music means something, so I can’t imagine having written something else. Sorry to disappoint you… haha…
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
P: Haha you have some interesting questions! Tell you what, I’d want to give them a mix-tape of different metal/jazz genres, but if that’s not allowed I’m just gonna go with Helloween’s “Keeper of the Seven Keys”. It would be a nice present for the aliens… haha…
Who is your favorite fantasy author and why?
P: I’m not that into reading fantasy, and I don’t wanna make a fool out of myself and say the most obvious of all… but hey… Tolkien!
If you were the opposite sex for one day, what would you look like and what would you do?
P: I would walk around in the city and understand how a woman feels. I’ve always felt safe, and also always been very protective of my fiancé because I feel like woman can be easily stepped on by assholes. I wonder if it’d make me any wiser. haha. I know you expected some sex-related answer, and that’s a given, but it’s very interesting to dig a little deeper isn’t it? Men and woman have different brains and hormones and I think it’d be like living in a different world. Good question that. (i.n.: I didn’t expect anything at all… just what the artist feels like saying at the specific time…)
You have the opportunity to sleep with the movie-celebrity of your choice. Who would it be?
P: Absolutely not that guy haha… (i.n.: hmmm… probably his fiancé will also read this interview… )
What would you do if you were not afraid to fail?
P: I’ve read that people can survive falling into water in terminal velocity. I can imagine it’d be insanely awesome to jump from a commercial airplane and land on the ground with a big boom. If that’s what you meant. If you meant something completely different I just don’t know. I’ve tried a lot of things and I have an amazing life, so there’s nothing I feel like I’m missing out on. Luckily!
If you could go back in time in any time-period where would you go and why?
P: I’d go back to the 70s and visit some of the main guys in their prime
You’re standing between God and Lucifer… the situation is weird and you must say something in order to save humanity… What would you say?
P: Well, I can’t imagine God and Lucifer have another drive than pride, if they both are determined to do something that involves killing all of mankind, so there’s nothing I can really offer. I think I’d tell them both that they are awesome and so powerful and that everyone knows it, so they don’t need this dispute. I’d tell them they rule and as long as humanity exists they will have millions praising them every day. Can’t think of any other incentive that would calm down those guys. haha… (i.n.: hehehe very comical answer…)
If you were dating a very beautiful woman- who hated metal music and you knew it- on a loft with a beautiful view in the evening… which song would you choose to play to make her feel comfortable, to break the ice… and why?
P: “Love you to Death” by Kamelot…
Imagine that your wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?
P: I’d hate myself for being blind enough to marry someone who’d do such an idiotic selfish thing. That’d be horrifying…
That’s all for now PelleK… Thank you for the music dude... Please leave a note to Grande Rock readers… Take care!
P: Alright! Thanks for all the questions, and thanks to all the Grande Rock readers for reading through all of this. I hope you like “Bag of Tricks”, regardless of how you get a hold of it I’ll be happy as long as you take the time to listen. If you, who are reading this right now, are one of the guys who still buys CDs, I can tell you that if you buy a CD from www.pellek.com I will personally ship the CD out for you, and you are helping me pay for the next album. Have an awesome night and thanks again!