After the boys had been through with their sound check Alex (vocals), Kim (bass & vocals) and your humble found a quiet corner in the bar of the venue to have a chat. To remind the readers, Zeromancer neither played live nor had any releases for five years and are back now with a new album and a tour to support it. Asked how the tour was going Alex expressed his content that all had been fine up to now. “To see so many dedicated fans and new fans coming to the shows after so many years (of no touring) is just flattering. It’s really, really cool. I know many bands that had been selling many CDs and many tickets and have been away for a year- a year and a half away are struggling to come back. And Zeromancer is still relevant after so many years.”
Chain D.L.K.: First tell us about the new album: the whole creative process. How was it written? How did the recording process go?
Zeromancer: Alex: With Sinners International it’s been a different process, because of the long time between this album and our last album. After the last album we decided to take a little break. We did some other projects in between.
Kim: We didn’t know it would turn that long. We’ve had a reunion with Seigman and Alex did some Ljungblut stuff and we produced some other artists.I usually start with writing the lyrics. First comes the title which kinda gives me the picture of where it is heading. And then I record very simple demos with Dan (the guitarist). And then we play it to the other band members and the whole thing takes up from there. The demos for this album were made in the late 2005. The album was made in stages, ‘cos we had other projects in between and the work on Sinners International took place during the time when we had no other projects going on. A lot of things happened in between. The strong side of this process was that we really had the time to work on something and then put it away for some time, reflect on it while doing other things and later come back to it and try something different. Then we rehearse some more and do better demos. The recording took place in Alex’ own studio, so we had a full control over the whole recording process. It has been a long process, but there were many obstacles along the way.
Chain D.L.K.: Could you elaborate on the title of the new album, Sinners International?
Zeromancer: Kim: The title came very early. I instantly knew this was going to be the title of the album. As I said the title is very important to me. It gave me the direction of how it should sound like. I always picture things in my mind before we really get started. I’m fascinated by religious cults, most of them American. They are all kind of strange in a similar way. One of these sects was called Children of God and later changed its name to Family International some years ago. I came across this cult via another band called Swans, who had an album titled Children of God in 1997. I had it in the back of my mind.I love to play with words. Like, Zeromancer = zero + romance. Putting stuff together, trying to create something, trying to be original. I thought it would be a good combination between these two words. You know, we’re all sinners one way or the other. I think there is more sin in the world than love.
Chain D.L.K.: The refrain “fuck you and your American whore”; is it your sequel for Eurotrash or is it a song about the responsible for the contemporary financial crisis?
Zeromancer: Kim: It’s not that deep. (Laughing)
Chain D.L.K.: I guess I over analyzed that.
Zeromancer: Kim: It is a line from an email that was sent to me.
Alex: It’s always like that with the Zeromancer albums. When we released Dr Online we got a lot of emails from people that really misunderstood that song. I mean it was really mad, y’know. But now people understand what it was all about. And it is a little bit the same with that line “fuck you and your American whore”. We get some emails from Americans that take this line out of context. It’s not that weird. You cannot release a CD with the whole interpretations attached to it.
Kim: When I write I put together a lot of different stuff and what comes out is not always what I thought it to be in the beginning. That’s the way I like it. I like people to interpret that themselves. I never explain in detail what it is about, ‘cos sometimes when you sit down… I know a lot of our fans like the way we write. They’ve known Zeromancer and Seigman for years. They come up with their own interpretation of the lyrics and I don’t want to destroy what they came up with.
Chain D.L.K.: It’s a pity you don’t want to talk about the lyrics because I wanted to ask you about the song Doppelganger I Love You. (all laughing) Who is the addressee of the line “how can I save you if I cannot save myself?”. Who are you talking to in the song? Is it yourself? Your alter ego?
Zeromancer: Kim: Well I write and Alex sings it. I kind of write for somebody else. So sometimes I write very personal and sometimes I write not personal at all. I write about somebody else. The way I like that is to get closer with our fans. Since I write the lyrics I get long personal letters from fans about their lives who write their own lyrics and they tell me how much my lyrics mean to them. I think it is a very good way to communicate with the fans. And sometimes I use stuff they send to me, so I can write about other people as well. I think it is cool. Alex has his own opinions. I do not tell him what the song is about and how he should feel while singing it.
Alex: Then it would not work… I have to pretend or feel like all lyrics are mine so I can perform it. If you ask us about the lyrics you get two different opinions, but that’s the whole point. The positive thing about it is that this way it is easier for the fans to get their own interpretation better ‘cos they have to think through another person when the lyrics are being written. This is our way to work. Not many do so, but for us it works rather well.
Kim: The doppelganger is just yourself looking in the mirror.
Chain D.L.K.: You both play in Seigman too. What is it that you’ve got in Zeromancer and that you cannot have in Seigmen?
Zeromancer: Alex: Fun. (laughing)
Chain D.L.K.: With which band do you have more fun Zeromancer or Seigman?
Zeromancer: Kim: In Zeromancer. We played in Seigman for ten years and it is our past. On two occasions we brought it back. First the reunion in the Valley of Death in Norway in 1995 and then we did a small tour. And then we played two shows in the New Opera House in Oslo. So when we are with one band or another we change our moods accordingly. Seigman is kind of the past.
Alex: It is a different world.
Kim: It’s a struggle. With Seigman to write one song is a very long fight. It gets really cool in the end but going all that long way is very hard. With Zeromancer it’s very easy. But music-wise when we started Zeromancer in 1999, that’s when Seigman split up, we did a farewell tour in Norway. One month later we moved to the States and decided to start a new band and then it was very important for us not to sound like Seigman in any way. We wanted to do everything anew. But eventually when we did Clone Your Lover and Eurotrash and then we made ZZYZX which actually sounds more like Seigman with more harmonies and more atmosphere, more melancholic than the previous Zeromancer albums.We know that the Seigman heritage is always going to be with us, we’re not gonna fight it, we gonna use it for what it’s worth but not in a Seigman way.
Chain D.L.K.: When you’re on tour do you get a chance for some site seeing?
Zeromancer: Kim: I do. He doesn’t. (Pointing at Alex & laughing)
Chain D.L.K.: Are there any sites you’d like to visit on this tour?
Zeromancer: Kim: I’m a site seeing type. I get up early if I’m in a city I’ve never been to. I like to walk around. On this tour I’d like to check some site in Switzerland. I have a book with 100 wonders of the world listed in and I cross them out one by one. There is one in Switzerland that I haven’t been to. I’ve got over fifty crossed out already. It is a fun hobby.
Chain D.L.K.: Are there any things that you notice to be typical for your audience in one country or another?
Zeromancer: Alex: It’s pretty much the same.
Kim: Pretty much the same.
Alex: The majority of our audience are the gothics and some metal fans, but we also have fans among the ordinary people. People who work in a bank or so. There is some difference between Europe and the States, but basically it is the same. Just wonderful people. Extremely nice. We always get gifts and they’re very supportive.
Kim: We feel we get respect everywhere we go.
Kim: One thing we’re very fond of the German audience is that they come to see all the bands on the bill. In Norway they turn up only to see the headliner.
Alex: They stand and scream for the main act and give the support act the finger. In Germany they show up and give all the bands a chance. This is very cool.
Chain D.L.K.: What was the craziest thing that happened to Zeromancer on a tour?
Zeromancer: Alex: Our tour bus nearly fell off the road in the States. That was pretty bad.
Kim: We woke up as the bus was standing at an angle. People fell sleeping off their bunks. Everything fell out of the drawers.
Alex: A complete mess. There was a video crew following us on that tour and they charged their huge heavy camera batteries in our bus. Little Jim was the technician on that tour and he was sitting in the lounge of the tour bus as it happened. There were few of these batteries next to his bunk and as the bus turned over they knocked a hole through the iron wall of the bus. Meaning, if Jim had been sleeping on his bunk, his head would have been knocked through by the impact. He would have been dead.
Kim: Our keyboardist fell from his bunk on the third and the highest layer and his head landed on the pillow of the guy who didn’t need it to sleep on and it had fallen on the floor from his bunk just before our keyboardist fell on it. So his head dropped just on someone else’s pillow by chance. Nonetheless, he fainted five times afterwards and was taken to the hospital. We weren’t sure we would play the next concert in Chicago, but we did and it turned out great. Since then we wake every time the bus loses its balance a bit.The bus drivers claimed it was caused by the winds.
Alex: He was fired right on the spot when he told his boss about the accident. American way. The boss didn’t even want to hear his explanation. Like, if you cannot keep the bus on the road you cannot work for us.
Chain D.L.K.: You travel the world, would you consider yourselves cosmopolitan? What does this mean for you?
Zeromancer: Kim: We enjoy being on tour. When we’re on stage we feel that’s where we belong. It doesn’t matter where we are as long we’re on the road. That is cosmopolitan to us.But it is very expensive to tour. It is one thing to take an EBM act to the States with 2-3 musicians and some synthesizers and another to take a full rock band of 5 guys from Norway. To get to the States we have to go to Germany first. Touring is way more expensive for a rock band.We go to Russia in October. We also would like to play in South America.
Chain D.L.K.: What emotions inspire you to write? Is it anger love, insecurity?.. Many artists get creative when they suffer. How is it with you?
Zeromancer: Kim: It doesn’t matter. I create in any mood, be it happy, sad or lonely. The best way for me is to be away from people, from cell phones and travel. If I take a bus to Oslo, which is an hour and a half drive, I’m more productive there than in a whole week home. Something opens up. When you get away from home it’s just you, your thoughts and emotions.
Chain D.L.K.: Some people labeled you a boy band. Do you consider yourself extraverted? How important is the visual side to you?
Zeromancer: Kim: The visual side is important, but it has to fit your music and you must not overdo it. Otherwise people will see it through and say, “you’re a fake”.We put that label Industrial Boy Band upon ourselves. We were younger then. But music always comes first. I think with many bands it’s the other way around. For us the visual side is there to strengthen the music.
Alex: It’s like when you draw a picture you pick a frame that fits the painting in the very end.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you believe one can tell something about a culture or society judging by its music? If yes, how do you think the Norwegian music scene reflects Norwegian contemporary society and culture?
Zeromancer: Kim: These days in Norway there are more bands with ambition than ever before although the chances to earn money with music are very slim now. This shows how important the music is for the people.
Alex: The record sales dropped heavily but the interest for music has grown. You see festivals everywhere. The festival season starts in May and ends in September. It’s crazy.
Chain D.L.K.: Are there any hidden messages in your songs or your imagery? I’m asking ‘cos there is a section on your web site for your previous tours, where the cities you played in are marked on the map and joined with dots. The German leg of the 2001 tour looks like a pentagram! Did you plan it?
Zeromancer: (all laughing)
Alex: I wish! I wish! We laughed about that a lot. It happened by accident. I wish we had a good story for you now.
Kim: There’re some hidden messages on the Seigman albums. Some fans are aware of it. There is a Morse code and stuff.
Chain D.L.K.: Are you guys afraid of growing older? When it won’t be so much fun to hit the stage and touring could become strenuous.
Zeromancer: Kim: We’re there. We never thought when we were 22-23 that we would get big with Seigman in Norway. I never thought I’d play music until I’m 30. And when we reached 30 sure we kept making music.
Alex: We will make music as long as we have something to offer. We might grow senile though.
Kim: We might stop touring, but we will make music some way. Alex is a producer and I have some other projects of mine.
Chain D.L.K.: Are we going to have to wait for another six years for the next Zeromancer album?
Zeromancer: Alex: Nope. You’re not gonna get rid of us that easily.
Kim: The end of the next year looks pretty good. There are plans and demos already. There will be a new release. An EP or an album. We’re on it.
Alex: Touring and recording is a good cycle. On the tour you get responses and you grow tired. And then you go into the studio.
Chain D.L.K.: What are your future goals, professionally and personally?
Zeromancer: Alex: To make another album. Keep making music. Rebuild Zeromancer.
Kim: We set very high levels for us live and in the studio and we feel obliged to maintain those standards. It is not a lucrative business though.
Chain D.L.K.: Is there something you’d like to say in the end of the interview?
Zeromancer: Alex: There is always something to say. We thank our fans. There are people who follow the band on the tour and see a number of shows. They travel across Germany just to see the shows. I met eight Norwegians here, who I knew, who just came to Frankfurt to see the show. A.W.: I think you don’t play on Oslo often enough.
Kim: (laughing) Such things keep us playing good shows.
Visit Zeromancer on the web at:
[interviewed by André Wiegand] [proofreading by André Wiegand]