Before the show in Bucharest on February 17th, I had the pleasure to have a chat with Simen (bass) and Robin (guitar) of Leprous about the new album Pitfalls: the theme, the cover, the elements. More, the two have talked about Massive Attack’s cover of “Angel“, working with visual artist Costin Chioreanu and many more.
Hi guys, how is everything going?
Simen: Fine, bit tired!
Robin: Yeah, is good to be here, out of the bus.
You have been to Athens last night, how was the show there?
Simen: Very good show, probably my favorite show from this tour so far, we connected good with the crowd, they were very engaged and that makes a good show for me.
Again on the road over Europe along Maraton and Klone, then the tour is going great!
Robin: Tour is going great! Been a lot of good shows, everyone is in a good spirit, great bands, great crew.
Simen: We’re on a tour bus, but we did 2 flying shows in Istanbul and Tel Aviv and then we flew to Athens to meet the normal production with the bus and that was like a test you know, because we are all too tired…
Robin: I think we had like 6 hours of sleep in 3 days.
Oh, that’s crazy! But the new album, Pitfalls. I’ve no idea how to describe this, it’s an amazing album, I had to listen to it many times to convince myself is worth adding Pitfalls on my top 2019 favorite albums, so I did. Congrats for this album! First of all, what is the crowd response to the songs during the shows?
Robin: Thank you! Well, there will always be those people saying like “Oh, we like the old stuffs more“ and those voices are usually very “loud“ on the internet sometimes and you can fool yourself thinking that’s what people feel about it, but now that we go out and play, people already know the lyrics and we get a great response on the new songs, I think it also added a new dynamic on our live sets, it does not have to be full blast all the time, you know we have these transitions and some parts of the show that are bit more melo and we feel that people are more engaged.
Simen: Is usually like, people know your songs from the previous releases best…
Simen: … with Malina lyrics is easier with them but I was surprised to see how fast Pitfalls been accepted, people sing along every night.
Of course, if the album is good, people will easier accept it and will like it. Is this album a continuation of Malina?
Robin: No. I don’t think Leprous ever, like to make an album to sound like the previous one, I would say it is something by its own. It’s probably a product of the way the band took on Malina, but Pitfalls is closer to Malina than other albums for example, it has a natural evolution, but is not a continuation.
Then what would be the concept behind Pitfalls?
Simen: Einar is on this artistic treats, especially for that album, he was very clear on his need to kind of to bring a specific artistic treat. Pitfalls is about Einar’s journey through depression basically, that would be the theme of the album, but is not controversial for me to answer this, but when it comes to why and all that stuff behind of theme, Einar can answer.
The songs are emotional in my opinion, catchy songs with jazz elements aswell, is there anything else you want to add about it regarding the elements on the album?
Robin: Maybe more electronic elements. We all enjoy electronic music, I guess that is something you can hear and I would say also is has less riffs than the previous albums, it’s more like atmospheric, it is more layering.
And there is Raphael (Browne) again on cello, also touring with you. How was to work with him again?
Simen: He’s a brilliant musician and a brillian player! My wife, she’s a classical violonist, so I know a lot of classical musicians kinda, he kinda has this rythmical and improvisational element to him, that’s the biggest part of it, being improvisational and free, he has a lot of music inside. Definitely, he is a huge asset for the band, sound wise, he is just brilliant in my opinion.
Robin: He’s a nice guy too, is nice to have him back on tour.
Track number 9, “The Sky Is Red“, the longest track indeed, has some guest, on choir, can you mention them?
Simen: Is a Serbian choir. Einar was in touch with individuals singers, not like a huge choir but, if you can hear the layered sound, they recorded 4 or 5 singers multiple times, over and over again, then you get this wide sounding choir, it’s the same as the technique we do with the strings, and yes, we had some violin recordings, Chris Baum helped about it, but as on Malina was only cello in different recordings and it’s seem to be an unique sound, so is the same thing with the choir, it was great.
What about the cover?
Simen: While we were recording the album, I was in Stockholm, I was there twice and the second time I was there I just saw in the room that Einar was looking online for graphics and then I came across Elicia Edijanto few months earlier, then I was listening to a podcast with a producer that had a concept album about the solar system and she (Elicia) made a piece of art for each planet and I was like “Holy s**t“, her atmosphere for work is so puristic, is no doubt you would not indentify her work. Then I just showed Einar her instagram profile and then he just searched her catalogue and then asked what we think about this image of the Budha.
You did a cover of “Angel’’ by Massive Attack which you nailed it. It almost sounds like the original. Why did you choose this song?
Simen: The song chose us! (laughs). It was basically, we were in the studio working on Malina, I think it was planned as a side project, not like a part of Malina but since we were there, we just thought like would be nice if Einar would be able to do it and then we just recorded this. You (Robin) were much more involved than me, I recorded one note, 2 minutes. But Robin, please! (laughs)
Robin: What you said is right, maybe yeah, we can cover this song. Einar is a huge fan of Massive Attack, but we all had some extra time and we said sure, why not just try and we experimented in the studio and it ended up as it is. We played that song quite a bit live and turned out different on the live version, because it’s a very spacious song and everyone just enjoyed playing it a lot, it fits very well into the set and our sound guy wants us to play this song every show I think (laughs). It works pretty well live I think. And it sounds a little more like us on the live sets.
But will you be going to play this cover tonight or on the other shows?
Simen: Likely yes, because we had a setlist changes…
Robin: I can check that…
But anyway, this song enede with a video aswell, which you have worked with Costin (Chioreanu), if I’m not wrong. You have actually worked with him before, how is it to work with him?
Simen: The cool thing about Costin is that he has his camera… Wait, is that a camera? (laughs). The last time we worked with him I noticed he was standing with a magnifying glass in addition to set it in front of the lense, you know, to make like a focus of shooting or whatever, a bit obscure, he has quite creative techniques…
Robin: Yeah he is like, most photographers are really like gear ‘’heads’’ you know, to have the latest lenses, the latest camera, but Costin is not like that, he just has that camera and his visions, is not a fancy camera but he makes cool stuffs with that, because is about the artistic visions. He also does a lot of great paintings, he did a lot of visuals for us aswell.
This is one of his artworks (showing my Cellar Darling t-shirt, artwork designed by Costin).
Robin: Ah yeah! He did also stuffs for Rapahel’s solo album.
What about this modern pop sound that some people are perceiving in your music?
Robin: I love pop!
Simen: I think lot of people don’t know the sound of the contemporary pop sound. Because ‘’oh s**t, I hear electronic drums, oh, is f***g pop’’! Joking aside, is ok that people comment on those pop elements of Leprous.
Robin: Is an insult, because we all listen to contemporary pop music, so it would be strange not to translate it into our music at all, at least personally, I don’t take it as an insult , but sometimes I get the feeling that once someone who say it, mean it as an insult, I think is kinda narrow minded, that is more specific to metal genre that metal people use other genres insults, I mean what is wrong with pop or electronic music. We are also doing a lot of rock and metal, but we also do a lot of electronic and pop, and a little jazz.
Probably they mean it because of these changes you had in your music along the years, from metal to rock, to progressive and then the reactions ‘’oh, you aren’t heavier anymore’’.
Robin: Doing the same thing is probably not the best, you are doing the music you feel to and Leprous does it.
I would say you music is also indie rock, electronic, progressive, you know.
Simen: Yeah, maybe.
Thank you guys for this nice interview, it was again my pleasure!
(Both): Thank you!
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