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Sahg – it´s all about boys, girls and life in general
During the first Scream Magazine anniversary festival (check the Screamfest review here), STALKER got the chance to meet Tom Cato “King” Visnes and Olav Iversen from Sahg in a small bar in Oslo and talked with them about… well dear reader, take a huge drink and read by yourself what the guys from Bergen had to tell…
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Who are you?
Olav: The band is called Sahg, consisting of three members at the moment. There is King, the bass player, who is also the bass player for Gorgoroth. He is a very creative person.
King: And mongoloid
Olav: Yes, mongoloid. He´s the man who knows everyone, which is good for the band. Then there is Thomas, the guitar player. He is also the most active song writer in the band. He is unfortunately not here right now. And last but not least myself, Olav. I´m the singer and guitar player. I´m also a songwriter and the fucking greatest frontman in the history of time. That is pretty much it.
What about the drums?
Olav: We don´t have a drummer right now. We have a session drummer, who has been working with us for a year now. His name is Kjetil Greve and he regularly plays in Audrey Horne and Deride.
King: Well, we have this guy from France, who is French. We always had to flew him in for rehearsals. Also, he is from the Champagne district, so we always need five bottles of champagne on the rider. All the money we earned was going to champagne and French stuff, so we´ll fire him. And he was also talking about potatoes all the time.
Remark of the editor: no, we were not really drunk…
So you have two members of Audrey Horne in the band right now?
Olav: Well yes.
King: For me, Thomas is more a member of Sahg than of Audrey Horne. I don´t know what his opinion is about this, but anyway.
photo by: Samira Alinto
Was Kjetil also the guy you mentioned during the listening session (check the report of the listening session here.), which you had to get out of the mental hospital for rehearsals and shows?
Olav: No, that was Brynjulv Guddal, another guy. He did a lot of stuff on the old album and did also a lot of stuff on the album which will come out soon. On “Sahg II” he is also co-producing, doing the drums, synthesisers and keyboards.
King: He wanted to play the drums only in his underwear at the rehearsals, that wasn´t that good for the shows.
Olav, at the listening session, you told me that Sahg means in an ancient Finnish-Ugrian tongue “walk with demons”, although in older interviews you said that it was “sag”, which means “saw”, and you pimped it with an “h” to sound more international. Then the meaning was a Nepalese turnip or other sources say it´s from a Perry Rhodan novel. What is it today?
Olav: Sahg is a word with many meanings in many languages. The reason why we chose the name is also because it´s written and pronounced the same way in many different languages. So it´s a very international word and the most international word we could come up with.
King: Most of our people are driving bicycles and if you drive it very fast downhill, it sounds like “sahg, sahg, sahg”.
Olav: We discover new meanings all the time in different languages.
How did you came up with forming Sahg and why?
King: It was the most obvious thing to do, as there were so many shitty bands around, so we decided to take responsibility and add more shit and go with the flow. … the shit flow.
Shitty bands in Bergen or in general?
King: In Bergenal. (laughter) So we went into the music scene in South Yemen and there was also sort of a shit scene, so our reaction on that fact was even more shit.
Olav: I can´t guarantee that the answer is as serious as the question.
King: But we try to understand the question!
Both: WHAT? (Laughter)
… the biggest difference for you between Sahg I and Sahg II? Are you such a big Led Zeppelin fan that you chose the name Sahg II for the upcoming album?
Olav: Sahg II got more variation than Sahg I and more psychedelic elements in it and it´s mellower, but got also more of the fast stuff.
King: Oh, we also have a singer this time, which is a big step forward. Rumours say that he wasn´t really there on the first album, but the truth is, we can´t remember.
Olav: Yeah funny. But he´s right. There is more singing on this album… and more guitars.
King: And more bass!
Olav: And more drums!
King: That is the difference.
Olav: And it is the second album and not the first.
King: There is also a different album cover on this one.
Olav: Right, it´s different from the first one. It´s number two, with three of us on it.
King: Last time it was number one with four of us on it.
Comment on the songs please.
Ascent To Decadence
King: We´re trying to deal with themes conquering boys, girls and life in general. We´re trying to create a triangle where we have boys, girls and life and we´re trying to combine those things to make a symbioses which leans to a final understanding of Sahg.
Olav: “Ascent To Decadence” was originally supposed to be named “Pretty Girls”, but we changed it because “Pretty Girls” was already a Van Halen song, which was never released. But I respect Van Halen, so we couldn´t take that name.
King: And then Audrey Horne came with a song named “Pretty Girls”. Also this name is discriminating. Ugly girls would feel discriminated, so maybe just “Girls” would have worked out too.
Olav: But that is discriminating as well!
King: Maybe “People” then? Or “Living Creatures”? That would include the animals and plants as well.
Echoes Ring Forever
King: That is what you get when you get really sick when you drink. You get really angry because you were throwing up on the toilet and if you screaming out loud enough “Arrrrrrggghhh!” the echo will ring forever. The toilets are constructed in a certain way, so it will never stop… Maybe you think the echo is gone after a minute, but it´s just very low, so you have to stick your head down in the toilet and listen very well and you will realize it is still there. It depends on the pitch on the voice that yells, but sometimes if the next person is going there and wants to take a puke and sticks his head in there, then he will still hear a silent “fuck, fuck, fuck!” Also it could be, that the next person is just sitting down to do his business and can still feel the vibration in there coming, from the echo.
The journalist spat her drink during a paroxysm of laughter over the table... just imagine the gesture during this...
Olav: It is about…
King: Boys, girls and life in general.
Olav: Err… yeah. But it´s also about a friend of mine who has a gas problem. The only way he could be with other people is to hand out light to them, so they don´t get the smell.
King: If he doesn´t do that, nobody wants to be with him! It´s all about the democracy in America. You have republicans and democrats and you can choose republicans or democrats.
Olav: It´s about democracy in ostrich farms.
What is your political view?
King: In Sahg it is that boys and girls and life are a triangle and we have to make a symbiosis out of this. So you can choose between boys and girls and life, and these are three choices. So it´s better than in America I think.
Olav: Three is better than two.
What is about religion? Does Sahg deal with this topic?
Olav: We´re not political and we´re not religious.
King: I am…
Olav: Yes, you are, but not the band.
King: The voice of Sahg has nothing to do with the individuals of the band. So, boys and girls.
Olav: And life in general.
Back to the songs: Escape The Crimson Sun
King: Boys, girls and life in general.
Olav: it is a long song, but there aren´t too many words in it. So it´s mostly music in the song.
King: And drums.
Olav: And words and vocals.
King: And bass!
Olav: And the words are very strange because my friend is leaving. He is just going to the bar…
King: More bass in the beginning and it remains for the rest of the song.
While King is gone for a new drink and stuff…
Olav: It´s about a sect of wizards, gathering together in the forest. They believe in something, they are trying to reach a "higher level", but they are not quite sure what it is. That´s why they gather together once in a while, but they have no luck until all of a sudden something special happens. The lyrics don´t really tell what it is, I´m just thinking, that if all these people with their special abilities use them together and unite all their abilities, something crazy is bound to happen. The lyrics might be very confusing, but it is a really fascinating thought. Because there are lots of people with special abilities in this world and there is a lot of prejudice against them, and I think it´s a really sad thing, because human beings can´t really know about everything that is going on in this world. It´s a big question and that´s the point. Sure, a lot of stuff isn´t proven, but there is too much depending on science, facts and everything. Human beings are intelligent, but we are not universally intelligent. We just know what is going on, on our planet and not even that really. So we basically don´t know shit about what is going on in the world. Monomania says that and tells people to accept it and not to be so blind and narrowminded.
If you could choose one special gift, a special talent. What would it be?
Olav: I would like to fly and I would like to move quickly from one place to another. So beaming basically (Laughter) but this would make a lot of trouble I guess. Just imagine the situation you call someone and ask “Hey! We wanted to meet yesterday. Where have you been?” “I was at home!” “No, you wasn´t!”
I know what I don´t want to have. I don´t want to be able to look in the future. The future of the world in general, mine or friend´s ones. That is in my opinion a very scary thing.
So do you believe in fate?
Olav: Yes, sure. I do believe that there is fate, but not definite. So I do believe that there is a fate for everybody, but none you are not able to change. There are ways around it.
What about the ancient gods like Thor or Freya?
Olav: That´s nothing for us. Enslaved are doing that.
King returned meanwhile...
King: That´s why we decided to make music about boys and girls and life in general.
Olav, you are playing in a band called Maidenheads.
King: I would like to answer this question. It all depends on the angle you look up on it.
King: Oh no, let me do this! So, in Maidenheads… I used to be the bass player in there. The whole band wanted me during that period of time, but I quit the band and almost broke up with them. They are still active, but no people show up anymore on their concerts. Because it´s not that bassish, bass…
King: Yes, they are not bassle orientated anymore. So, without the bassle there is no success in Maidenheads.
I also wanted to know why Olav is dressed like a woman and sits in a bubble bath on one photo …
Olav: That is my evil twin brother. He is over 18, so he can do whatever he wants.
King: It depends all on the angle you look up on it.
Olav: I prefer the lower angle when you look up.
King: Under the skirts.
You look good as a woman!
Olav: Thank you.
Do you actually plan to do a video for a song of the upcoming album and when will it be released?
King: I knew when I looked at you, that you´re going to ask this now.
King: The answer is yes.
Olav: We´re doing a video for the song “Pyromancer” and the album will be released in February 2008.
What is the content of the video?
King: It will contain different kinds of pictures, which are moving fast or slow and there are people in it. At least I think so, I´m not sure.
What are you doing beside music?
Olav: I´m an art director and designer… at least that´s what they tell me at work. I´m working for a company called Triple. I like to do drawings with colours and stuff. It´s very nice.
And you, King?
I´m a sort of an ass player, beside bassle I mean. I spend much time on the internet doing different things and answering e-mails sometimes. Music and internet, that´s for me. I used to play backgammon in the past when I used to live with these poor guys. We played backgammon a lot, but this was when I was 20 or so. I continued playing it a little bit on the internet. You are actually capable to play backgammon on the internet and you can do tournaments on different levels. You can play backgammon on a beginner level with other beginners, but you can also play on a professional level with professionals. That is a great, because you are also able to go in chat rooms. So you can talk to people from all over the world actually. They come from places like Portugal, Ireland, Mozambique, France, …
Olav and me got some new drinks meanwhile and returned 5 minutes later while King continued…
…Germany – they have a huge community in Germany, and then they are also from Sweden, Denmark, but never Finland! That is very strange. Almost everyone in the beginner level is from Portugal. I guess there is a mistake in the programming, or there are only Portuguese who are beginners in there.
Olav: We have to leave.
Later this day only Olav continued this interview. As you will notice it got again more serious from here.
We still have three songs to go.
By The Toll Of The Bell (working title was "From Conscious Sleep")
Olav: Those are doom lyrics about a dark force taking control over humanity. It´s about everything from small seductions to a greater force of evil, taking over mankind and hypnotizing the human kind to be slaves of evil. It can be interpreted from a very small scale to a very big scale. From the thought about some dictator manipulating people, to a bigger, spiritual scale like Satan hypnotizing mankind to become evil. So, it´s a very universal song with lyrics about the force of evil and the mechanism of the mind. It´s very easy for people to get swallowed by evil.
Do you think that people came up with the greater force of evil subject just as an excuse to let go and follow their more negative side by nature?
Olav: Sure, I think so. But here I talk about the force that makes you think that way.
So confessions in church are one way of the development of it?
Olav: I think Catholicism is a horrific example of that, because of the remission of sins. And what is worse than that? That means, you can actually commit the worst sin in the world and be relieved of it just by going to church and talk to a priest.
Or walk through a door like Porta Santa in the Vatican City…
Olav: How stupid is that? I mean that is begging for trouble and begging people to do those things. That is totally against my way of thinking.
In The Hand Of Mankind
Olav: I´m actually gonna change the title at some point, as we are not too happy with it. I don´t know yet what it´s gonna be, but the lyrics are very clear. It´s a very specific song about mankind and the way we are actually trying to get control over each other. We have this force in us to just conquer the world and conquer every other human being. We have this urge for dictatorship really. We wanna be the master, we wanna be the leader. The essence of it is the instinct of survival. If you are on the top, there is nobody behind you who can stab your back. We have a lot of urges; we have a lot of instincts by nature, we just have to cope with. It´s like sex. Why do you wanna have sex with someone, if you don´t want to have a baby? It´s the same thing. You just have the need to do it. That is a strong urge, like the urge to be the leader. It´s all a matter of power.
Olav: It´s a very cool song, inspired by the old lyrics from DIO, that he wrote with Black Sabbath for "Lady Evil". But it´s more sensually directed than that. Actually this song is about a guy who is becoming a drug addict. The urge that he has for his drug, he pictures as a woman that he is madly in love with. He doesn´t see it as a drug, he sees it as a woman that he loves. It´s like a mad romance he is urging for. And the more he uses the drug, the stronger the romance gets. But the woman doesn´t open up the way he wants to. Like with the drug, you want the heroine to relieve you from everything, but this is exactly what it doesn´t do, it brings you into a vicious circle where you need more the next time. The woman isn´t giving him what he wants, only drives him further and further in the wrong direction, and the hallucinations of her become wilder and darker as it goes on. It´s a metaphor between drugs and love. Looking at it that way, they appeared to me as very similar things, so I had to put it down in words.
Which was the hardest song to write for you?
Olav: Uhh, it´s a tough question as it´s been quiet a while ago. We started to write the first songs only three months after we finished Sahg I. Okay, it´s only one and a half years ago since we released the first album, but it feels much longer. The toughest one is the one that doesn´t have a definite title yet: “In The Hands Of Mankind”. That was a real struggle because it was Thomas´s song when we started, but we all had to give something to the song to make it right. And actually that song is with us since we did Sahg I. We had the riff, we had the theme, we had everything, but we couldn´t get it right to complete it. So we saw, that we have to do this song in two parts. The first part was Thomas´s part which was very cool, but it wasn´t leading somewhere. So we had to take that and move it on different level and that´s what we did and it really worked out. But it was such a long process to get there. As the title isn´t set yet it´s still not ready and still going on.
Will that be the masterpiece on the album when it´s finally done?
Olav: I think it is the best song on the album. I mean okay, I´m not sure as there are some great songs on it, but it´s a song I love and I love to play it live.
Who is the producer of this album?
The album was produced by Sahg and Brynjulv Guddal, who also co-produced the previous album. He is a great source of ideas, and he thinks the same way we do. He is really into this old 70´s sound and he is adding all the pieces which makes a simple song special. Like adding a tambourine here and something different there. A lot of bands doesn´t think that way today, because they rely on technology to do it for them. He helps us create that special vibe and live atmosphere we love about 70´s classics like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
You are part of an organisation called "Sleepwalking". What is it?
Olav: It´s an organisation we started three years ago. A musician friend of ours got cancer. I played in a band with him for a couple of years and he was a great musician. He was ill all of a sudden and died within a year. That´s the kind of thing that wakes you up. A lot of fellow musicians got together, and just decided to do something to fight cancer. We spoke to his family, and they agreed that we could use his name for the cause. Then we launched the foundation in his name and his family was very supportive. "Sleepwalking" is the title of one of his songs. He was a great songwriter. We gathered a lot of artists from the Bergen area mainly, but also from Oslo and around the whole country. We made a sampler where all the different artists perform one song each and all the songs were his songs. It became a great album which was distributed in Norway. We also organized a few concerts to raise money for the cancer reseach fund.
You can get more detailed infos about Sleepwalking here.
Or simply write to or visit them at:
Olav Ryes vei 39
If you like to support this fund please donate what you can afford to the bank address below:
Swift code: SPAV NO BB
Electronic IBAN: NO9436246656775
photo by: Samira Alinto
Author: Samira Alinto, photos: Pia Sundström transl: Kathleen Gransalke, Sandy Mahrer
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