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Second Shadow – Pleasantville, Norway, ainīt pleasant at all

During our visit to the Straight Out Of Vennesla festival we were introduced to the rising death metal talents Second Shadow who, despite participating in the organizing of the festival, werenīt able to play themselves as their drummer is in the middle of his military service. The STALKER now offers you a head start in finding out what the rest of the metal world will be talking about in years to come. Hereīs what singer Jon Vassbø had to say…

First of all I would like you to introduce yourself.
Yeah, Iīm Jon, singer of Second Shadow, a Norwegian death metal band.

As we know Norwegian death metal is very evil. (laughter) Would you consider yourself and your band typical evil death metal from Norway?
We do have a tendency of having influences from gore and typical death things that death metal do but weīre not a gore metal band. Weīre not a purely death metal band either. We have a lot of black metal influences and some thrash influences with really groovy parts sometimes, so I think we have what many people have difficulties in, taking elements of different styles of metal and make good songs. But I think we pretty much have a good combination going.

But what Iīve heard itīs still quite melodic.
Yeah, thatīs one of the parts we try to do, putting in melodic guitar lines, so it pretty much ties everything together. The combination of different styles.

How long has your band been together?
We were formed in 2003 during the fall. So that would be two and a half years almost. And we decided quickly to really go for it this time. Iīve played with a lot of different bands but itīs never really been anything big. So we felt good just playing gigs. The biggest gig we did was opening for Mayhem the last time they played here in Kristiansand. That was really cool. Weīre starting to get connections around and trying to play bigger things.

Jon Vassbø (vocals)

Did you release an album already?
We released a six track EP last year called "Line Up [Execution Style]".

Did you release it yourself or did you have a label?
Well, since I did everything by myself, although I call it a label, itīs not really a label but you could say it was published by Murdered Records, which is what I prefer to call it. So we did everything ourselves and took all the money from our own pockets.

How is it like to come from a small town like Vennesla? For instance the gig with Mayhem. How is this possible?
I have a good connection with the guy who books most of the metal here in Kristiansand, so we first did a gig whit a Norwegian death metal band called The All Seeing Eye and the guy was really impressed by that. I mean, seeing us some more times. So when Mayhem was coming he asked us to do it, so we did. It was really cool!

You guys are still pretty young. How old are you?
Iīm 23 and Iīm the oldest one. The youngest one of us is 20 or 21.

Preben Mosfjell (guitars)

Tell us something about the band members. Letīs start with yourself. Who are you? What are you doing if youīre not on stage? And what are you doing in the band?
When Iīm not on stage I study information technology, computers, at the local university college. Thatīs pretty much just to do something, because what I really want to do is play in a band but to play in a band you need to have money and to have money you need a job and to get a job you need an education. So I have to do something besides doing music.

And in the band?
In the band Iīm the growler or doing the vocals.

Ok. Who else is there?
On guitar we have Preben. Preben is the youngest, I think. Or maybe Stig is? Heīs 20 or 21 I guess. I canīt remember. Heīs a really good guitar player. He used to play drums but then he found out that he really wanted to play the guitar and even though he hasnīt been playing too long heīs really good. He really has a talent for that.

Is he doing anything outside the band?
Heīs working. Heīs a like a carpenter or a construction worker. So thatīs what heīs doing. And then thereīs Ramses.

Stig Reinhardtsen (drums)

Like the pharaoh?
Yeah. Well, itīs a pseudo name. Heīs real name is Torjus. Heīs the bass player. Heīs 21 and he studies in the same school as I. He studies history or something. Heīs in the same circle as me. (Laughs) And then thereīs Stig who plays the drums. A really good drummer. Weīre very lucky to have him. Heīs an electrician. I guess thatīs what itīs called. Doing wires and stuff. Yeah, and thatīs it. We only have one guitarist. It used to be two but we kicked the other one out because he wasnīt good enough.

Could you describe the topics of your lyrics? Is it more fictional or is it more personal stuff?
Most of it is kind of personal. Itīs really my way of getting out my aggression, so thereīs a lot of hate and feeling miserable in my lyrics. They can be kind of disturbing lyrics sometimes. (Laughter) But itīs all to get out the brutal expression and cleansing my soul of all the aggression I keep inside when I write lyrics and when Iīm on stage. And then it all comes out and itīs just GRRR! (Growls)

Can you give one example of one song.
Well, the song called Torture from our EP is about being in a state where everything is really fucked. You canīt do anything and you canīt die. But youīre just suspended in a state where everything is against you and youīre just being tortured all the time. And thereīs no way out. And you canīt die from it. Thatīs not an option. So, if you read deeper into my lyrics you see that theyīre coming from somewhere inside me but really I try not to be too metaphorical. Itīs sometimes pretty straight forward but itīs my aggression. Heh.

Torjus "Ramses" Argento (bass)

How can somebody who lives in such a painting, really, (laughter) get aggressions? I mean, every thing is beautiful and nice and people are smiling?
Well, yeah. Thatīs the beautiful side of it. I donīt know really? But something, I think, has to do with the Christian mentality here because a big part of the place is Christian. Especially in a small town. Itīs like, thereīs the Christians and then thereīs a few rockers and then thereīs kids driving around in cars doing nothing. Itīs pretty much those three groups of people, I would say. So when you live in a small town and thereīs nothing to do you can either do drugs or you can try to do something constructive. So music kind of saved us from either being happy Christians or driving around in a car all day whit some 14 year old chicks in the back. So itīs kind of a way out. But some of the aggression comes from the Christian mentality. That weīre always being judged by the Christians and it tends to stick. Most of the people higher in the hierarchy in the city are Christians too and so what ever you do you get shit back. And they donīt see us as something constructive when weīre playing in bands. They think weīre people doing drugs and burning churches and what ever, you know. (Laughter)

The area we are talking about...
Photo: Samira Alinto

Youīre born in Vennesla, right?

But you were never part of one of those churches?
Yes I was. My whole family is very Christian. My grandfather is a missionary. Heīs has been all around the world preaching and stuff so Iīm like the black sheep of the family. (Laughter) Itīs just something I was stuck with. I never really had a choice until I got older. I was raised Christian with very Christian values. Thatīs a good example of what I just told you!

So... Where was I?

That you were the black sheep of the family…
Yes. So when I got older I decided to resign from the church and not be a member anymore. And I had a big discussion with my family. But they respected it, because they didnīt really have much choice. My mom and dad arenīt really that bad but I donīt think my grandfather knows. (Laughter) I donīt think my mom would tell him. Thatīs not really something they would talk about. But Iīve been brought up Christian and I know many of the guys in the band have. Itīs maybe starting to get better now but in my generation everyone was Christian. Thatīs just what you are if youīre from Vennesla. Everybodyīs Christian and thatīs how it is.

Yeah. A child canīt help itself. (Laughter) Talking about your band again. What are your plans for the future? Are you working on a full-length album right now?
Weīre not working on it right now but weīre thinking next year, when our drummer is done with his mandatory military service, that we want to make enough songs to make an album and I may contact some labels to see if we can get a deal somewhere but I think weīre going to do it ourselves. Or maybe on Dīs (Dagfinn "Mister D" Bjelland) label, Dīs Harmony. He might want to publish something with us. So weīre going strong. We really want to make it big.

Sounds good!
Weīre working hard to get somewhere.

Are you planning to come to Germany some day?
(Laughs) I hope so! I think Germany is a good market for us. We received a lot of good reviews of our EP from Germany. Actually I think the best reviews were from Germany. So I think thereīs potential for us being in Germany one day.

A more fictional question. If you could go on tour with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose?
Eeh… Thatīs a tough question. It would be really cool to go with some cult bands like Necrophegia, īcause theyīre such cool people, but maybe Nile. Itīs one of our favourite bands. The American death metal band. Itīs really good and everyone in the band is a big fan of them. Theyīre a big inspiration for us. And also I have some other bands like Strapping Young Lad. I mean, Devin Townsend is a fucking genius. I love them and everything they do just turns to gold. I mentioned three, at least. (Laughter)

Thank you for the interview, Jon.
No problem!

Website of the band: www.secondshadow.net/
Current release: "Line Up [Execution Style]"

Review of their current release here.
Author: Samira Alinto, Photos: Second Shadow, translation: Klaudia Weber
Date: 2006-06-10

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