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Fredrik Norrman (October Tide, Thenighttimeproject, Trees Of Eternity, ex Katatonia, Uncanny,...) - Interview

Interview with: Fredrik Norrman
Conducted by: T.V.

Swedish guitarist Fredrik Norrman is one of those musicians and names that had a huge impact on the metal scene since the late 80's, especially those who like the more obscure and melancholic side of it must know him very well. He started his musical career in a death metal group Uncanny, later on, together with Jonas Renkse, he formed the legendary doom/death metal band October Tide. Soon after that Fredrik joined the mighty Katatonia and was involved in the creation of some of the most groundbreaking albums in Katatonia's discography, Brave Murder Day, Discouraged Ones, Tonight's Decision, Last Fair Deal Gone Down, Viva Emptiness, The Great Cold Distance and Night Is The New Day. Last year we witnessed a really special album from October Tide, Tunnel Of No Light, one of the darkest creations in doom metal history ever, but Fredrik gets no rest, as he has also formed a new project without boundaries, Thenighttimeproject, that should appeal to all those who liked latest Katatonia albums and at last but not least, he joined Trees Of Eternity, a band started by Swallow The Sun guitarist Juha Raivio and South Africa born, singer Aleah. But, why telling you everything right away as Fredrik Norrman revealed all this and much more in the interview he kindly answered.

T.V.: Hi Fredrik! First of all tell me what's going on in the October Tide camp? Any new music in the making?
Fredrik: Yes we´ve began the work on the next album. Mainly collecting ideas at the moment, it´s going a bit slow but I´ve got at least one song finished more or less. We´ve done a few gigs in Sweden lately. Going to Finland in the end of summer.
T.V.: Now it's around one year since Tunnel Of No Light was released... Tell me how are you satisfied with it now as I believe the initial feelings calmed down?
Fredrik: Yes I´m still very happy with it. I was actually listening to the vinyl version the other day and it sounded great. All music should be heard on vinyl by the way. It´s really good to see that the interest for vinyl is getting back. The whole package is so much more appealing than CD. It sounds better, looks better and smells better.
T.V.: Yeah, I noticed that as well. Tell me, are you also one of those music lovers who's building up anew his vinyl collection?
Fredrik: Yes I buy mostly vinyl these days, but also CD of course. Even though I hate it I use Spotify lots. It´s so handy, you got almost everything there. What I don´t like about it is that they pay the artist almost nothing.
T.V.: Tunnel Of No Light was released by Pulverised Records. How did this collaboration happened and how are you satisfied with them? Was there no interest from big labels such are Nuclear Blast, Century Media, Peaceville Records, etc... in releasing the album and signing with October Tide?
Fredrik: No interest from any bigger labels. Can't say we really tried to reach them anyway. But Pulverized was one of the few who contacted us. Compared to our previous label the Pulverized people are nice talking to, they released the album and also made it come out on vinyl through Cyclone Empire. Nothing more nothing less but I'm quite happy.
T.V.: Have you had a lot of live shows to support this album? Is there any major tour around Europe to be expected?
Fredrik: No we haven't and we don't have any tours planned exept for the short ride in Finland in the end of summer. It feels that it´s getting harder to get gigs if you´re a smaller band like us. I was talking to a musician friend and he had noticed the same thing. Less and less people is showing up. Or is it because we suck?
T.V.: You most certainly don't suck, but I think that the problem is in the fact that there are so many bands around and people must be confused which show to attend. Don't you think so?
Fredrik: Of course we don´t suck, haha. Yes we came to the same conclusion that there´s so many bands around and too many concerts to attend.
T.V.: It passed sixteen years since October Tide released the debut album, Rain Without End. Where do you see the major differences between then and now?
Fredrik: The major difference today is that we´re actually a full band. Back then we were more of a project, only 2 members. Musically I`m not sure... We`ve tried to keep it simple and oldschool and not bring in too many modern sounds. For the next album I have no plan at all. It will become what it becomes.
T.V.: October Tide had three different vocalists so far and much more other members. How do you choose people to work with. Do you have any auditions for that?
Fredrik: First we search through our friends and friends friends, trying to find anyone as close as possible. It was Jonas Kjellgren who suggested Tobias Netzell and Martin our booking agent who told us about Alex. We´ve also had a few session members as well so I´m kind of fed up with finding new members.
T.V.: The line-up of October Tide is completely different now compared to the first one. You are the only original member. How are the relations between members in the band today?
Fredrik: I must say it´s pretty good, even though we don´t see each other that often since we live in different parts of sweden.
T.V.: You started back then this band together with Jonas Renkse and if I'm not mistaken you two together recorded first two albums. Even though you guys have a lot of history together, have you ever thought of putting up another new project?
Fredrik: No, Jonas is busy at his side and so am I, so I don´t think anyone of us even thought of it.
T.V.: Yet, you are in the music "business" since 1989. Where do you find the energy and most importantant the inspiration to carry on?
Fredrik: Music is my only interest so what should I do, haha. Inspiration can sometimes be tricky to find. Often the ideas comes when I´m doing things like walking, watching tv, reading or anything like that.
T.V.: Are you the one who's the most responsible for the music or is this a team work?
Fredrik: Guess I´m responsible for most of the music. When I have a draft of a song I send it to the guys so they can come with inputs, then I make changes and send it back. It also happens that Robin, our drummer, sends me a beat that I can jam to. That can be really inspiring.
T.V.: Each one of October Tide's album has quite a meanigful and deep title. Can you give us some insight in the meanings of them or at least in the title Tunnel Of No Light?
Fredrik: Tunnel Of No Light is such a dark album on all levels and its title sums the album really well. Then of course you can interpret the titles as you want, I have my way and I don´t want to spoil anyones vision.
T.V.: Ok, I can get it, but at least can you tell me some words about the lyrics of yours?
Fredrik: To be honest I´m not exactly sure of what our lyrics are about and that´s the way I like it. I want to interpret and make my own vision. It´s more fun that way. I don´t think I´ve ever asked for example Jonas what his lyrics are about.
T.V.: You've been in Katatonia for 15 years! I never came across any of informations why did you left them? Do you miss in any way playing with them?
Fredrik: It was mostly financial reasons why I had to leave. Not sure if I miss playing with them since I play with so many other good people today, but I do miss the guys of course.
T.V.: Financial reasons? I thought that everyone involved in band such as Katatonia are must be a rich and wealthy man...
Fredrik: Perhaps not exactly rich and wealthy and it also depends on how big expenses you have and how much you´re willing to sacrifice. Daniel who used to play drums quit recently for the same reason I think.
T.V.: It seems that your musical path is many times crossed with your brother, Mattias. You've been together in Katatonia and now also he joined October Tide. Is there a special artistical chemistry between you two?
Fredrik: It seems like that, haha. I introduced him to the Katatonia guys in 1999 and we´ve been playing together since that. Now we´ve both also joined a project called Trees Of eternity. It´s Juha's from Swallow The Sun new project. We are working on debut album as we speak.
T.V.: Yes of course, I remember writing news about Trees Of Eternity. A project started by Juha and South African born singer Aleah. But this album is in the making for a long time, the first news came in the beginning of 2013. Tell me in which phase is the album, what can we expect from it and when it should be released?
Fredrik: I think it´s "just" strings and such things left now, not sure actually. It´going a bit slow but I think the result will turn out great and I really can't wait to get out and play those songs live.
T.V. And beside that not long ago you also started a new project named Thenighttimeproject. Quite different from October Tide and on the other hand it's similar on some parts with the later Katatonia. Any words about this one?
Fredrik: The idea for this also came after I quit Katatonia. I had so many ideas that didn´t fit October Tide so the only solution was to start up this project. I'm playing guitars, bass and keyboards in it, on drums I have Nicklas who used to play in a band called Mandylon and Tobias Netzell from In Mourning on vocals. The fun thing with this project is that musically, there are no limits. I can do whatever I want to. For example one song have a kind of ambient/techno feeling while another is more traditional... I don´t know what, alternative music would suit this project I guess. All with a touch of melancholy of course.


T.V.: When can we expect the debut release from Thenighttimeproject?
Fredrik: We have put together eight songs that will be mixed now by David Castillo who has worked with Katatonia and Opeth among others. There are some plans for a release, but we´re not quite there yet. But hopefully soon the pieces will fall together.
T.V.: Beside David Castillo, who put his fingers on many great releases, you worked with lots of producers and in many studios. With who and where do you felt most comfortable? Who of all those guys best understood what you want to achive with your sound?
Fredrik: I think I have to say Tomas Skogsberg. I enjoyed being in Studio Sunlight and I really think Tomas did a great job with most of the stuff we recorded there. Specially Katatonia's Last Fair Deal Gone Down, it turned out really well.
T.V.: Yeah, Last Fair Deal Gone Down was and is still one of my all time favorite albums. It's one of those groundbreaking albums, not just for a band but for the whole genre. Tell me which one of the albums you took part or you were in any way involved in is the one closest to your heart?
Fredrik: I think that Last Fair Deal Gone Down might be that one. All from the songwriting, the way it was recorded and how it was received by the fans made it really special. Also the latest October Tide album Tunnel Of No Light is really special to me.
T.V.: Every band, every album and almost every song you were involved in so far is depressive and melancholic. Is your nature also like this or are you just cleaning all the dark thoughts through the music you make and play?
Fredrik: No I would´t say that I´m more depressed than anyone else, perhaps a few dark thoughts passes through the riffs but I guess I´m just like people are most. It just happens to enjoy and make music in minor. I could easily put on Red House Painters or similar at a party and have a blast.
T.V.: You toured and played gigs almost all over the globe... is there any place that you would still like to visit and perform there?
Fredrik: Yes, I never got the chance to play in Australia. That would really be something. Asia would be great as well.
T.V.: The fans of bands always like to know if their idols have any musical suggestions and what they like. Is there any band or a special album that you came along lately and you would like to recommend to them?
Fredrik: I recently heard a band called Gazpacho. Their album Night is great. Unfortunately I seldom get the time to sit down and discover new bands. Luckily I got friends who give me suggestions all the time.
T.V.: And who were the bands that inspired you mostly when you started your musical career?
Fredrik: At early stage it was Iron Maiden and such bands, specially Adrian Smith's guitar playing. No one plays guitar the way he does. Paradise lost of course has also been a huge inspiration. Nick Drake, Red House Painters and such artists have also affected my playing.
T.V.: If you could have a chance to speak or play alongside one of the passed away (dead) musicians, who would you pick up?
Fredrik: Nick Drake or Jeff Buckley. Beside being a great musician, Nick Drake also seemed to be a special personality. Would be interesting to see how he was.
T.V.: Is music your only occupation in life or do you have also a regular job beside all those bands and projects?
Fredrik: Yes I have a regular job, I work at a steel mill. Can´t get closer to heavy metal than that, haha.
T.V.: Thank you very much Norrman for taking time and answering my questions. I hope you enjoyed just a little bit. What would you like to say at the end of this interview? 
Fredrik: Thank you very much, it was a pleasure. Please check out Thenighttimeproject if you like the softer songs with Katatonia vibe and other alternative music influences, it might be worth it.

October Tide links: Official website, Facebook
Thenighttimeproject links: Facebook
Trees Of Eternity links: Facebook
Uncanny links: Facebook


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