Fucking Hell. Life and work is progressive and uncertain sometimes. Bad Sounds reporter and photographer just got our press-passes confirmed a few hours before the gig, when we’re already in the middle of a completely different task as the whole venture seemed uncertain. A Saturday night is after all a Saturday night, so we were busy pouring pints down our throats at Bad Sounds’ favourite hang out in Gamlebyen, Oslo, namely the OSB (Oslo Sportsbar) when the mail from our dear editor gave us a final go. Time differences and communication breakdowns were resolved in the same way as does a sunny day miraculously appearing on a day with dark clouds in all horizons. Suddenly the sun shone straight over our heads and kept it’s position, no matter how much it rained elsewhere.
Our bartender Asle was just telling us how much he looked forward to the gig. We gave ourselves a brief look, and without further communication emptied our drinks and headed straight off to prepare our coverage of Virus and headliner Goblin from Italy. Photo equipment was packed and prepared, notebooks and voicerecording equipment was set and a couple of more drinks was concumed and then some for the road. This was going to be a gonzo-job. After connecting with horrormovie and horrormovie soundtrack connoiseur, Tico Pulido, as an expert co-writer, all was set only an hour before. More than tipsy we finally stumbled into a fully packed Blå on this rainy evening.
Virus was already on stage. We passed by organizer Priscila Morales from Proxy Management, who agreed to catch up for a few words later. A wall of distorted jazz chords by the bearded and bar stool sitting frontman, Carl-Michael “Czhral” Eide (Also known from Aura Noir, Cadaver, Infernö and Ved Buens Ende, just to mention a few) filled the venue. A steady pace held by the amazing drumming of Einar “Esso” Sjursø and the original bass player Pepsi back in the band.
We were treated with tracks from their entire discography, plus a few new ones. The Virus spread throughout the audience as apt to its name, with an organic drum sound and improvised instrumental parts. Czhral is a regular crooner as with his vocals in Aura Noir, yet in Virus he presents a more drone approach with elements from the post-punk era of music, with nods to Voivoid. Desperation through a organically driven machine. Like a sick animal moaning through distortion and unexpected turns of disharmonic licks. Still balancing on the edge of complete insanity there is a structure of melody and arrangement that brings my thoughts to what the Pink Floyd would have sounded like with Captain Beefheart as a songwriter.
They truly have their own style and must have left many a new spectator confused but also curious.
I managed to get a hold of Carl-Michael as walked off stage and he agreed to a short interview. We met up backstage over some more drinks.
BS: Carl-Michael Eide of Virus, amongst many other things, you have just finished your set here at Blå warming up for Goblin. You played for an hour or so.
CM: Well, more like 45 minutes I would say.
BS: What I found rather interesting was all the new material you introduced us too, tonight.
CM: (Sighs) We played two completely new songs and one rather new song from our last release, the EP (The Agent that shapes the desert) we released last Christmas.
BS: What are the new songs called?
CM: The first one is called “Investigator” and the other one is “Rogue Fossil”.
BS: Can we expect to hear them on any scheduled upcoming release?
CM: Upcoming release at least (smiling) We need to record them first.
BS: One of the things I find particularly interesting with Virus is that you seem to surprise each time you are on stage with completely unexpected material and that you are rather experimental live. This continuous jazzrock approach to music fascinates and (also) puzzles me. In what direction is Virus heading now for the future?
CM: I’m not sure but our next release is probably going to be easier to grasp. A more rock oriented album moving away from our previous metal influences. More post punk, perhaps. Like the dronelike sound we started to approach on our previous album. Perhaps more catchy in many ways without the peaks and pits we have had in our catalogue so far.
BS: That’s rather interesting, since I as a listener have found your material rather catchy all along all since your debut, Carheart with instrumental pieces like Road.
CM: In many ways we have moved way from catchy in that sence since then in our later releases…
BS: (Interrupts) – and when you call it catchy now, it’s perhaps in an all new way now ?
CM: Yeah, more catchy in a rock sense of the meaning of the phrase.
BS: So the direction is more of the traditional refrain rock this time around ?
CM: That’s perhaps it. Just in a wrong and weird way.
BS: Wrong and strange as in your signature way of playing guitar chords ?
CM: Absolutely. We will never abandon our disharmonic jazz chords. They are just so right for us
and that’s where we have our talent perhaps..
BS: Do you have any new influences since you are moving in a bit of new direction?
CM: (Turns over to band collegue Einars Sjursø) Einar have we got any new influences ?
ES: We have just polished the same thing over the years. We keep making the same stuff still, it
just turns better all the time. I’d say that there are alot of other things that influences us (than music). Five days
a week there is not time for much else than just living ordinary lives. That’s a massive influence.
BS: If you would have to describe Virus as a motion picture. What picture would that be ?
CM: That’s of course a difficult question. (Einar Sjursø laughs in the background) But it would have to be
Critters. Critters 2. That’s Virus today.
BM: And what motion picture was Virus when Carheart was released?
CM: Critters 3 (laughter)
BM: Would you say that Virus as a band have a message?
CM: When out at sea, always use a life vest.
BM: Or else?
CM: You will drown. Just joking. We don’t have any message at all. Virus has absolutely no message at all. (hoarse laughter)
BM: So when at sea, Virus will not encourage you to use a life vest?
CM: Don’t use a life vest. (laughter)
BM: So we are now soon about to hear the Goblin. Any thoughts on hearing them?
CM: I heard them on the soundcheck and it sounded extremely promising. – Helt Konge. Really excited to see them.
BM: I agree. Thank you so much for the interview Carl-Michael.
CM: Thank you yourself!
Thank you to Monika Buer Photography and Sten Ove Toft/Blå.