Heart of Steel: Interviews

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Interview with Lunaris guitarist - Azarak

Interview By Chris

Lunaris was formed through the collective vision of some of Norway’s most inspiring acts: Spiral Architect, Borknagor, and Satyricon to name a few. Let it be known, though, that Lunaris is by no means a side project. Their debut, “The Infinite” features ten tracks that defy easy classification, but such is the beauty of true Metal. Sure, there are hints of Black, Progressive, and Death Metal, but the end result is a truly distinct sound with shades of the aforementioned and more. Read on as I pick the brain of guitarist, Azarak…

So you guys formed in the fall of ’98…

Yes. It was M (guitars) and Balfori (vocals) who started the band in ’98. I hooked up with them in ’99. They didn’t actually have a name, but they were doing a demo in the studio where I was working so I got to know them, I liked what they were doing, and hooked up with them.

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Was it mutual friendships that brought the whole project together?

Yeah, it was. Like, Maztema (bass and vocals) is the vocalist from Spiral Architect and I am the guitarist from Spiral Architect so we knew each other from that band. We were all actual friends, yeah. It is M who was composing the music. He is composing songs all the time so he wanted to get a band together to perform this on a demo and to make a record of it. There’s been different members coming and going into the band. The members that are in the band now have the same philosophy concerning the music.



When did you know that you were on to something that was going not to be a side project, but a serious band?

Well I knew that in the early stages because M was a really good songwriter and his ideas were very good. I knew that we were on to something early. That’s why I started spending time on this. I mean, I don’t have a background in Black Metal. I have a background in Progressive Metal, and this was really the first time I started playing Black Metal myself. So to me it was like a new experience. I’ve been the guitarist for Spiral Architect for ten years so that’s what I had been doing.



Was your exposure to Black Metal minimal before that?

Playing it was minimal, but over the last two or three years I’ve been playing mostly Black Metal. I’ve also been doing live guitar for Satyricon.



What do you think was the impetus for your recent attraction to Black Metal?

I like the imagery of Black Metal, and I think in Lunaris there’s a very Progressive element present. There’s a lot of Black Metal music that is very Progressive and technical to play, and I enjoy playing it. In Norway you have all the really good Black Metal bands and a lot of really good musicians. I’m still working with Spiral Architect. I’m not putting that away.



Are you still working with Satyricon?

Yeah. We just finished a tour.



Is there a theme to “The Infinite”?

No, there isn’t a theme. I can’t say that much about the lyrics because most of they lyrics were written by M. My role in the band is more like finishing up the songs, working on arrangements, working on guitar lines, and producing. I’m not that involved with actually composing ideas for the song or the lyrics.

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Are the leads divided evenly between you and M, or is there one person who mostly handles the leads?

They are divided. The songs that have lead guitar, it is divided.



What kind of gear are you using?

I’m using PRS guitars and a Rocktron power amp. I’ve always been using tube pre-amps, but with Black Metal, it’s best to use solid state stuff. I’m using the Boss GT-5, and I have a 4x12 Carvin cabinet.



Do you guys have any touring plans?

Nothing concrete. There may be some small tour in the UK in January or February. I don’t think there’s going to be much touring after this first record. We actually have new songs for the next record so we’re focusing on writing the new album. We’ll do more touring after that album. “The Infinite” was recorded in March-April 2001 so it was a while since it was recorded.



When can we expect the next album?

It’s really up to the record company, but we hope to go into the studio this spring. It would probably be released after the summer. We are very eager to do an album quickly because we have a lot of songs lying around. We want to do a better recording. I mean, we had such a limited budget on “The Infinite” so we want to spend more time in the studio.



Is there a certain studio that you have in mind?

Not yet. We know all the studios around Oslo, though, but we still haven’t decided.



Where did you record the last album?

Well we used two studios around Oslo.



How long was the recording process?

I think we did it in a month and a half. We didn’t do it continuously. We used a month and a half on the evenings and weekends.



What can we look forward to in terms of the sound of the newer material?

More aggressive. Maybe more symphonic. More Progressive. I think more of everything, basically. We’re not going to use the same drummer as last time. I don’t know if you heard, but it was Asgeir Mickelson from Spiral Architect and Borknagor who played drums. Our new drummer (Janos from Italian band V.E.G.A.) is more of a traditional Black Metal drummer so you can actually hear a difference in the drumming style. Our bass player has started using a fretless bass, which is pretty unusual in Black Metal so that will make a difference in the sound. I think it will be more Progressive, and maybe more Death Metal. We have some slow odd sounding parts as well.



Isn’t it interesting how in the last few years the lines have been blurred in terms of the genres of Metal? A few years back, Black Metal was Black Metal, and Death Metal was Death Metal, etc, etc.

I think it has something to do with people growing up listening to all these different styles of music and they mix them up. I think composing this music is very natural for M. He listens to Progressive, Death, and Black Metal so it’s very natural.



On a side note, what kind of role did you play on the new Satyricon?

I’m not part of the creative part, and I’m not playing guitar on the record. Satyr is doing all of the guitar himself so I’m just part of the live playing. The new album is done and has gotten great reviews so far.



How was it going out with Pantera on tour?

The live experience with Satyricon is great. We supported Pantera for five weeks in Europe. That was a great experience playing in front of several thousand people a night. I think we’re going to do a lot more touring in the states in the next year.



There’s lots of exciting things in the future for you….

I’m very busy. I have a lot of projects to do, but I like staying busy!