A Q&A with Leper Messiah
From Bergen, here’s Vidar Edland, singer-songwriter in 5-piece hard-glam crossover Leper Messiah…
What’s the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
The record, our debut album, is called Fell Creatures. The title is borrowed from The Lord of the Rings (where Tolkien uses it to describe the evil armies of Mordor), but to us it alludes to the characters appearing in our songs. Fell Creatures discusses rock ‘n’ roll excess, unruly teenage wildlife, stalkers, and even Jack the Ripper; all, in one way or another, a bunch of “fell creatures”.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
This being our first album, there was no rush in getting it out. We had the luxury of taking our time and letting the songs and the record mature. This allowed us to cherry pick the studio, the producer, and the masterer, and to give them all the time they needed to do our record justice. But it was all rather expensive doing it that way, especially in a high-cost country like Norway; in the future, I think we’ll try to put albums together a bit faster.
Who produced the release – what did they bring to it?
Oh, we spent some time hunting for a great studio and producer before landing on Havnelageret Studios here in Bergen. It is one of those great places, both very professional and well-equipped but also with a very cosy and relaxing atmosphere. Actually, the legendary Sylvia Massy – who produced Tool, System of a Down, Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and more – had used that studio just a few months earlier to produce another album, and if Havnelageret Studios was good enough for her then it was also good enough for us. The producer, Daniel Birkeland, who also owns Havnelageret, was absolutely fantastic to work with; he understood everything that we wanted to do, sometimes better than we did, and was always accommodating. And, most importantly, when we were tinkering with an inferior idea, Daniel was not afraid to cut in and show us a better way. In short, Daniel was everything we could’ve hoped for and more. As for the masterer, we knew we wanted something a bit different and unusual, something artsy and with lots of groove. By random chance, we discovered Winter Lazarus in LA, a Grammy nominated, 12-times multi-gold and platinum award-winning producer, artist, and engineer, who has worked with such luminaries as Pink Floyd, Tom Waits, Michael Jackson, and Martin Scorsese, and whose mastering style is artful and intriguing, and quite special. We were so lucky to get him to master our Fell Creatures!
“We strive to make our music varied and interesting”
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
Apart from a soulful and gut-punching soundscape, we strive to tell powerful, interesting, and humorous stories in our songs. Art should be relevant and thought provoking, and we strive to fulfil that in our music.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
Typically, our main guitarist, Peri, will supply a melody and arrangements while I write the lyrics. But sometimes, one of us will present a complete song, which we all then develop further.
What bands/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
Principally, I think David Bowie’s been our greatest influence, only because we started out as a Ziggy Stardust celebration band, touring a Ziggy show during the 2012-2013 40th anniversary of that whole thing. So, we probably carried a lot of Ziggy “baggage” with us when we transitioned into an original music act. For Peri, Kiss is a major influence, so you’ll also find some Kiss strands running through several tracks. But generally speaking, we strive to make our music varied and interesting, and we dip our toes in many sub-genres of rock; it’s so boring when all the songs on a record sound exactly the same, and we are certainly avoiding that trap on Fell Creatures!
What countries would you like to tour? Are there any standout venues you’d like to play in?
As long as the plague doesn’t continue to spoil things, we’re looking to launch a foreign territory tour next year (2022). We’re planning to come over and collaborate on a UK tour with the brilliant Roz Bruce who’s based in Nottingham (check her out!), and Yorkshire is very much on the table. (We’d also love to hear suggestions from your readers about venues to play, so y’all should head over to our band page and drop us a PM, yeah?). Apart from the UK, we’re gearing up for a Poland tour, and we just got an invitation to play in the Netherlands, so that’s all very exciting. We’ve also got designs on Florida, once that place becomes safer. As for standout venues, I’ve got a burning desire to play the Nuke Club in Berlin (former Club K17), a marvellous 4-stories rock venue with different styles playing on every floor. Magical stuff. In addition, having lived for a spell in Cairo, Egypt, I would like to bring the boys with me to the Land of Pharaohs and play this funky little place called The Cairo Jazz Club; that’s somewhat of a life goal for me.
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
Oh, that’s a hard one… But I think it would have to be ‘Dance with the Devil (Alcohol)’, a nice rocker track about partying to excess. I wrote that as part of my battling with getting an unhealthy drinking habit under control a few years back, and it’s very special to me for that reason. That’s the one song where I feel I’ve contributed something to the world, if that makes sense? But I should mention that the songs on Fell Creatures are all very varied – from ballads to punk rock to almost classical heavy metal in places – so you’ll get a lot of interesting stuff on that good ride.
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
Right now, we’re just happy to tour the debut album and to meet new and old fans. Touring abroad is going to be another milestone for us. We are also looking for professional management and a big company to back our climb to the top, and in time we hope to become a household name and tour as a warm-up to the likes of Foo Fighters. Now, wouldn’t THAT be something!
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
Thank you and goodnight.
For more info visit: facebook.com/TheLeperMessiahBand