Shining (NO) Interview is up 4/20/2010
Interview by Jørgen Munkeby
1. With Black Jazz the band as move to An Avant Post Black Metal meets Electronic Hybrid. How did this come to be?
Since our beginning as an acoustic jazz quartet in 1998, we have covered a lot of different grounds stylistically. Our first albums, released 2001 and 2003, were acoustic jazz albums. Our third album, from 2005, was more of an art-rock album also including a lot of electronic instruments, which we did not use in the beginning. Our fourth album, “Grindstone” from 2007, was a continuation of the previous album, but with added focus on the metal inspirations.
Now, on our fifth album, the metal part is much more important than before, but the free jazz attitude from our first two albums are also more important than on “Grindstone”. We have also stripped down the instrumentation to a more standard rock band instrumentation, with drums, two guitars and bass as the foundation. The focus on catchy riffs, choruses and verses, and more prominent use of vocals have made “Blackjazz” an album much more accessible.
But all these changes me have made since the start-up, are just a natural and gradual development that is slowly working all the time. It only looks like sudden revolutionary jerks of motion when you look at album releases, since there are at least two years between our releases, and actually three full years since our previous album. These changes are made because we want to make music that we ourselves find fresh and interesting. Through time, both our tastes and our knowledge of other musical styles develop, and therefore it is only natural for us to also change the music we make. Basically we only try to make the best music possible, and the result is what you hear on “Blackjazz”.
2. Your working with Indie Recording and the The End Records now are you happy with all that is being promoted on there sides so far
Yes, we are extremely happy working with Indie and The End Records! They have done an amazing job with promoting “Blackjazz”, and they’re all great guys! In just the few months since starting to work with “Blackjazz”
3.Will Shining be touring off Black Jazz in North America?
Touring in North America is definitely a high priority for us now. On our Myspace page more than 60% of all visitors are from the US, and judging by the amount of extremely good press coverage in the US we can easily say that the US are our most important and best territory.
The press’ reactions to “Blackjazz” has been amazingly good! Even two weeks before the “Blackjazz” release, Time Out New York dubbed us ”Stars of 2010”, and soon all the important media immediately followed suit and wrote amazing reviews of the album, including The New York Times, Metal Hammer, Alternative Press, Allmusic.com, Popmatters.com, Aquarius Weekly, and many others. Not to mention a great 2 page lead feature in Terrorizer in the February issue. And great reviews keeps flowing in. “Blackjazz” was the album with the absolute best average ratings in February, and quotes like "All hail Shining, the kings of new-school Prog Rock."(-411 Mania) and "One of the most assaultive, addictive albums around" (-Allmusic.com) really makes it feel like it was worth spending a whole year doing nothing else but working on the album!
So this all makes it a high priority for us to get a good tour up and running in North America. Right now we’re currently pretty busy with touring Europe. We just finishing our 4 weeks long European release tour, after touring Norway in January. During the Summer we will be doing up to 20 European festivals. But hopefully we will have time to come across the sea during the Fall! We’re very much looking forward to this.
4. Is there a running theme on Black Jazz or just collection of crazy tracks?
Recurring emotions on “Blackjazz” are aggression, confusion, frustration and a general psychotic feeling.
In the music there is a lot of recurring motifs, which comes back in different forms and variations throughout the album. For instance the main synth melody on Fisheye is also the foundation for the main synth bass lines on “Blackjazz Deathtrance”. Also the second part of the second “The Madness and the Damage Done” track is the same music as the first “Madness” track, but with a different mix and different lyrics.
The lyrics are also often repeated throughout the album, coming back in different variations. They are usually mainly made out of aggression on most songs, but on Fisheye they are more focused on a nightmarish confusion.
So you can absolutely say that the tracks are tied together by musical and lyrical motifs and ideas, although the album is not a typical conceptual album with a chronological story to follow.
5. I can hear elements on Arcturus, DHG, CODE , The Kovenant even bands like Liabach and Neubaten on " black Jazz" . Is this what the 21st century is all about mixing Music, sounds and machines all in one?
Yes, I can surely see what you mean by these references. It’s hard to say now what will be the main important thing in the music of the 21st century, but it will surely be exciting to see when we’re all old and look back. Right now, our band is only trying to make the music that we like the most ourselves. We are really happy and proud of how “Blackjazz” became, and hope that other people also might find this music interesting.
6. Do you even have issue with two Shining’s the other being from Sweden? Esp that you’re both on same label now it seems
It is of course a weird situation to be in, for both bands. But both bands are doing this for the sake of trying to create the best music possible, and this is still where our focus is.
Both bands chose their names over 10 years ago, and both bands have managed to build up their own solid fanbase throughout the world. There is no rivalry between the two bands whatsoever, and I personally like what Niklas is doing very much. I hope that both bands will be able to continue to deliver great music to their fans in the future, just as they have been doing the last 11 or 12 years. After all, it’s just as simple as making sure that the press and concert venues distinguish between the bands by clearly marking them as either Norwegian or Swedish.
Both Shining bans are in fact now on the same record label, and I think this will make it easier for people to distinguish us in the future, because people are being reminded that there are two different bands with the same name. iTunes recently made a different page for each of the two Shining bands, so it seems like people are getting used to the fact that there are two active Shining bands that are both active.
And, as a matter of fact, the worst thing that could happen is that a person searching for one of the bands, unknowingly would discover another great band. And that’s just a positive and great thing, both for the bands and for the person discovering something new.
7. With Shining be releasing any Videos or DVD for this release as Black Jazz seems to fit that format perfect.
We have always wanted to release a good live recording, and with our current band and the new “Blackjazz” music we also feel it’s the perfect timing for this. Although I cannot promise anything, I can say that we’re currently thinking about different options for making a live dvd.
In regards to music videos, we have actually just recently released a music video for “The Madness and the Damage Done”, which is available on our YouTube channel page www.youtube.com/SHININGofficial. This video is made out of live shots from our release tour in Norway, cut together to fit a single edit of the audio track.
We have also uploaded a great live performance of Fisheye on National TV, which is also to be found on our YouTube channel. Both videos are also embedded on our Myspace page www.myspace.com/SHININGofficial.
8. Over the last 10 yrs the band has had many line-up changes why do you think this to be?
This is just natural for a band that is evolving and developing in a natural way. The persons in the band change as they grow older, and their tastes change along with their situation in life. This may or may not fit with what the band collectively decides to do, and this may lead to one member being less interesting than before in spending a big part of their life on the band.
If this is the case, as it has been with every change in the line-up, we all try to co-operate in the best and most flexible way as possible, and we usually spend quite a lot of time still playing together while searching for a fitting person to fill the gap. It is always hard to change out members in the band, but after more than 10 years with this band I now see that the band always has gotten better after such changes, so I guess it’s all for the good.
9. What is a live show like with Shining I'm sure it has changed greatly over the last few years?
We have always been a band that has had a strong focus on performing the music well in a live concert situation. All the members of the band are professional musicians that have spent their entire life practicing, and we really enjoy playing concerts! We feel that albums and concerts are two different things, and that both should be top priority, in their own unique ways. A concert should not be a lame and sloppy presentation of the album, and an album shouldn’t be made just to have an excuse to book gigs. The concert should be a super energic and precise show that is to stand on it’s own strong feet.
Our concerts are usually full force from beginning to end! We actually find it easier to express the right kind of energy live than on records. The band members in SHINING are so extremely good playing their instruments, so getting this energy across in a live situation is just fun. The volume in the halls, and the sweat and physical efforts are also easy for the audience to experience.
10 You worked with Rune Grammofon label for yrs just wondering if there was a reason for the move?
As the music changes, it is also very natural that there might be need for changing the record label. We were very happy with our years on Rune Grammofon, but felt that the new music called for a change of label. The music is much harder than before, but also much for immediate and has a big potential for a much bigger and wider audience than before. Since our band has now gotten a quite extensive fanbase around the world, we are very happy to know that our new label, Indie Recordings, are able to push our album on a much larger scale than before. They are also extremely great guys to work with, and love our music, so we’re very happy with the way things work now.
11. As Black Jazz was such a change in sound where do you see Shining for the next release? Similar or yet another twist and turn?
It’s very hard to know what our next album will be like. It might be drastically different, or it might be just a further extension of “Blackjazz”. We’re currently way too busy with touring to think about our next album, so we have no idea about this ourselves. All I know is that I’m very much looking forward to working on a new album again.
12. Do the members of Shining work in other projects right now or is this the only focus for the members?
All the members of SHINING are professional musicians, and we all work with other projects also. I personally unfortunately have not had much time for other people’s projects in the last one and a half year, due to “Blackjazz” taking up my full attention, but I really like working with other projects from time to time!
But as SHINING has grown and become bigger and bigger, so has the amount of time spent on the band by all members. Since the release in late January, we have toured six full weeks, and have scheduled at least another four weeks of touring, along with 20 festivals in the Summer, so SHINING is clearly the main priority of all members this year.
13. Your Website is very impressive tell us a bit about it and how it came to be.
ThThanks! Both our websites, www.shining.no and www.myspace.com/SHININGofficial, are based on the amazing album artwork made by the eminent Trine + Kim Design Studio, but redesigned for the internet by two different web designers.
I think that Trine + Kim have come up with the absolute perfect cover for “Blackjazz” and I’m extremely thankful for this. The album cover is always very important for me, and it is usually very hard trying to co-operate with designers to make the perfect album artwork for music that you’ve spent your every waking and sleeping hour on for a whole year. But with Trine + Kim the results were just amazing!
14. Thank you for your time any closing thoughts here
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us about “Blackjazz”!
Before we end, I would love to bring the attention to the wonderful producer and engineer Sean Beavan (NIN, Marilyn Manson, Slayer etc.). I’m extremely happy that he decided to join in on the Blackjazz mission. His work with NIN, Martilyn Manson and Slayer is just amazing, and because of his work with pop artists as No Doubt and Depeche Mode, I knew that he was the right guy for “Blackjazz”.
He didn't just prove to be the right guy, he was actually the PERFECT guy! His sheer talent is impeccable: His knowledge of musical and techical theory, his understanding and sensibility for emotions in music, and his ability to reflect and discuss these things in words - all of this makes him the very best guy I have ever worked with! He is also full of great ideas on mixing, and really put his mark on the album. On top of this, he's a wonderful person be with, and his family is super nice!
Needless to say, Sean contributed extremely much to Blackjazz, and I'm very happy that he would want to join in on the Blackjazz team. I wouldn't want to think about how the album would have been without him.