Although Gothic extreme metal act Trail of Tears met its untimely demise in 2013, Ronny Thorsen (vocals) along with the remains of the aforementioned teamed up with Morfeus (DimensionF3H, ex-Limbonic Art, ex-Ancient) and Miriam “Sphinx” Renvag (Ram-Zet) to create what is essentially a gothic power metal supergroup which is heavy influenced by the black metal of Mayhem. I spoke with Morfeus (Guitars/Keyboards) as he talked about the formation of the project, his influences and musical background as well as some stories about his time on the road and what one should prepare for before they make the journey!
So tell me how all of this came together, from the dissolve of Trail of Tears to the formation of this veritable supergroup of talented musicians. Do you think that Viper Solfa breathes new life into your musical passion?
Viper Solfa was created in ‘13 after Ronny came up with the idea to work on a different sound for his creative self after the demise of Trail of Tears. I don’t personally have much knowledge about what happened to the band or have really followed their work, so I can’t talk much about that. I believe that we have a very strong passion about our music these days and we are really excited about the album, and most definitely to start hitting the stages around the world!
Tell me a little about the writing process behind Carving an Icon. How long did the writing process for the album take? Did you have some of these ideas already written out, or is this all completely fresh material?
We wrote for about one year I would say, a little on and off. Some of the material was already conceived but was heavily re-worked and changed after we entered the constellation that is Viper Solfa!
Tell me a little about the recording process behind Carving an Icon. Where did you record it and how long did it take? What was the atmosphere like in the studio? Did you feel pressured?
Carving an Icon was recorded at several different studios during the summer months of ‘14. We did the vocals in Sound Suite studio in France, Spacemachine Studio and Transient Lab in Norway. Drums were recorded at Strand Studio in Oslo. The rest of the fun stuff was tracked in the Transient Lab and then finally mixed and mastered at Strand Studio in Oslo. As for atmosphere in the studio, we were located at vastly different locations in Norway and we never did a “the band enters the studio, plugs in and counts in” sort of thing. For the most part each individual member entered the most convenient studio and went from there. We are all very experienced musicians and have a lot of hours in the studio behind us. I for one didn’t feel any pressure at all, as it’s more of a release to actually finish up and record the tracks that you have worked on for months!
Compared to your previous works in Trail Of Tears, Dimension F3H and Limbonic Art, where would you place Carving an Icon? Would you say that it’s better than anything you’ve written so far?
I don’t really see music much in the terms of better or worse. That kinda changes even with the current mood and state of mind. Now, that being said, I guess I could say that this album was the most fun that I have had both musically and in regards to recording, in a very long time and by the end of the process I am very happy with the outcome of the finished music.
As far as the lyrics are concerned, there seem to be several anti-religious themes, yet some portions of the record seem ritualistic. You’ve covered Dead Can Dance’s “Mesmerism” while in Trail Of Tears, so it’s certainly not out of character for the band to have some ritualistic semblances. So exactly what is the focus of Carving an Icon?
To me (who wasn’t involved in the lyrical processes at all) I see the lyrics as spanning several different ages and topics, from ancient Persia to a post-apocalyptic Russian utopia. I personally don’t really think of the lyrics as directly anti-religious, but then again none of us are very pro-religious either, so it might come off that way.
What is your personal scope on religion, considering the topics presented here on the record?
I don’t think this is the stage to go into a religious discussion. Answering my views on that topic would not come out right in such a forum. However, like I mentioned in the previous answer, I don’t think any of us are pro-religious. I think that we would have a better world if people were respectful of each other, used common sense and behaved! But this is very hard to achieve when there’s religion involved.
How in the world did you procure Ram-Zet’s siren, Miriam “Sphinx” Renvag to perform vocals on the record? She literally dazzles with nearly every vocal line here.
She’s pretty awesome isn’t she? Honestly, it wasn’t very hard at all. We asked and she obliged.
The record seems to have a lot of black metal influence as well, which is something that we know has been a bit of an influence on your music for quite some time. What are some bands that we can thank for that influence, and what other acts would you say you’ve been influenced by?
I don’t think that there are any direct influences coming from any band really, except for Mayhem. Quite a bit of the material that is found on Carving was originally written as ideas for Mayhem during the time that I was a session musician for them.
Let’s go way back for a second. What made you want to pick up an instrument and play music from the beginning? Did you ever think you would be at this point as a young man still learning how to play an instrument?
I was brought up in a big family that was very musical. I have been fiddling with instruments of all kinds for as long as I can remember. I think it was just a natural development that I at some point picked an instrument and focused on that. From there I kinda branched out a bit into several instruments, like keyboards and from there over to focusing more on composing and programming etc. I don’t think that I ever envisioned having a career in music at all when I was very young, that was never my ambition. Even the idea of recording the crap I made never entered my thoughts. “The others” do that kinda stuff. It wasn’t until I was kinda pushed into it that I got into the recordings of demos, and then finally recorded… An album!
What sorts of things do you enjoy outside of music? What gives your inspiration in life? What are some things that you might recommend we experience before we die?
First and foremost, I enjoy spending time with my beautiful fiancée and our two amazing children. It’s a new experience to me and finally I do understand the meaning of “When you become a parent you will understand.” So before you die, get a kid, or several! Travel as much as you can and see as much you can of the world. But seriously, do what you love! Do what you are interested in doing and do it with conviction!
Tell me a little about your experience while touring. What are some of your most memorable experiences on the road, as well as some of your least memorable? What is something that one should know before all else, about life on the road?
There’s so much to tell, both of the good and the bad sides of touring. To me, one of the most memorable moments was my first concert together with Mayhem. Debuting with them in Rio de Janeiro to a packed audience was an experience that I will never forget. Even though I screwed up the solo in “Freezing Moon” badly, that can’t shadow how awesome that was. (Smiles) Some really important things to know while you’re preparing for tour (and these are vital) are to never shit in the toilet in the bus, and to always (he reiterates this several times) keep a little roll of toilet paper in your pocket. You won’t believe how many awesome restaurants in the world have the shittiest, crappiest toilets with no paper!
Finally, will you be taking this show on the road? If so, where can we see you and are there any plans for a North American tour? You have a lot of American fans here that would love to see you perform live.
We are definitely taking this show on the road, but the wheels turn slowly. We are a brand new band with hardly any exposure out there yet, so it’s gonna take some time for us to get full tours etc. We will see what happens. The longest journey starts with a simple step, and we have only walked a few yards so far…
Thanks for making a truly different album. It’s extremely fierce, yet beautiful and fills my ears with more textures than I can count. This is definitely one of my personal favorite records of the year and I truly hope that we’ll hear more from Viper Solfa in the future. I’ll be listening! (Eric May)
Thank you very much for these good words. They’re very much appreciated!
To listen to Viper Solfa’s, “Whispers and Storms,” just click the song title. To purchase Viper Solfa’s, Carving an Icon, click on the album image below: