Norwegian prog outfit Leprous have been around the block a few times now. Since their humble beginnings, including working as the backing band for Emperor frontman Ihsahn‘s solo material – a gig they got off the back of their 2009 debut Tall Poppy Syndrome – the group have released four albums prior to this year, with their fifth dropping recently via InsideOut Music.
In the wake of the release of Malina, we spoke to Leprous bassist Simen Børven, framing our questions (loosely – very loosely) around the track titles of the record. This sometimes has mixed results, but Simen was a great sport. Read on to learn about where he has most enjoyed playing, his modest ambitions, and the importance of perspective!
“Bonneville” (this is a very tenuous link, but with the Bonneville being a type of Triumph motorcycle…): What do you feel is your greatest triumph as a band so far?
Hi, and thanks for taking an interest in Leprous. Legendary opening to the interview! As I’m one of the new guys in the band, I’ll answer this question in a post-Congregation perspective.
Playing the Apollo Hammersmith in London, while supporting Devin Townsend, is definitely a highlight. I’ve travelled from Norway to attend concerts at that specific venue a couple of times and I’ve always thought: “Cool for them, but I’ll never play this venue!” 5 years later it happened. Career wise; always underestimate what can happen within a year. Never underestimate what’ll happen within a 10 year perspective.
“Stuck“: Which song from Malina gave you the most trouble writing?
Einar is the main composer for Leprous, this far in our career. In regards to recording it really sucked to play bass on “Weight Of Disaster” because of the bassline Einar wrote. It’s funny how some lines are hard lay down even though it seems as if it’ll be a walk in the park. At the conservatory, the professors always stressed writing ‘idiomatic’ (taking the range and reach of a specific instrument into consideration in the writing process).
The cool thing I’ve discovered with Einar’s composing techniques is that he takes no rules into consideration, only composing by heart. The results speaks for itself. He’s a really good composer – but it can be a bitch when it comes to the play-ability of his compositions. The road of least resistance is never the most rewarding though.
“From the Flame“: Conversely, which song was the easiest to write?
I didn’t write a single composition on the record, except most of the bass parts. When I recorded the bass lines for “Stuck” it only took a couple of takes. The tempo of the composition and the groove that Baard (Kolstad, drums) recorded was really appealing to my musicality, so that one was easy for me.
“Captive“: Einar said in an interview earlier this year that there were too many songs to go into Malina. Can you tell us about your favourite one that got cut?
“Root” is the bonus track of the record, so it kinda fell in between acceptance and rejection. It has a really cool bass line that dominates the progression of the song.
“Illuminate“: What’s something about you, or Leprous in general, that most people won’t know?
What people may not know…hmm! Personally, I think most types of metal are the least rewarding genres to play and/or listen to. BOOM!
“Leashes“: What sort of restrictions does being in a band place on your personally? On your lives, or non-music goals? What have you given up to pursue a music career?
Homelife, money, stability in commitment, being a young father, martial arts and other extreme sports, hobbies in general.
“Mirage“: What’s something that is possibly unattainable,which you would nevertheless like to achieve with Leprous?
To afford a hotel room in every city or a mini-sleeper with a driver for my family, whilst on the road.
“Malina“: Who is Malina? How does she relate to the record? What are the themes of the new album?
This is not a person. It means “raspberry” in Slavic languages. Einar was attending his brothers wedding in Georgia when he came up with the title for the record. He noticed several little old ladies on street corners shouting “Malina! Malina!” They were selling raspberry as a means for supporting themselves. This awoke a feeling of empathy in him that he wanted to explore in music.
“Coma“: Leprous have released a new album tirelessly every two years since 2009, which is very impressive. What do you do to rest/relax from such a busy schedule? Do you feel it is tiring, even?
I really like (or even NEED) to exercise. This is my remedy for all types of stress – not only in regards to Leprous. I also find freedom and relaxation in playing music that’s miles away from the aesthetics of Leprous’ music. Jazz is a great space for exploration. Composing and singing is a huge part of my musicality too, so I’m in need of an outlet for this urge, outside the confines of Leprous.
“The Weight of Disaster“: Is there anything you wish you could have done differently with this album?
“The roads not taken..” and all that. Can’t say I believe in looking back on the past with that perspective in mind, but we do try to draw from past experiences to improve on our work. I hope we can record drums and bass at the same time on the next record.
“The Last Milestone” (also a bit tenuous): What’s your favourite city or place you have toured?
Australia. We toured down under with Voyager, an Australian prog act that I really liked to hang out with. Adding the stunning scenery and endemic species, it’s super exciting to be over there. Also the Middle East. Never been there with Leprous (expect Israel), but the complexity and subtle variations in local culture is really exiting! And the people there are great.
You can read Kevin’s review of Malina here, and catch Leprous on their forthcoming European tour with Agent Fresco, AlithiA & Astrosaur – dates below: