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Interviews : “We want to make the music really come alive.” – An Interview with Baard Kolstad from Leprous

By on January 25, 2016

Baard Kolstad – Leprous

Leprous from Norway have been favourites in the metal scene for a while now and have gained even more support post the release of their newest album, ‘The Congregation’ which brought out the best in people’s tear ducts and windmill skills simultaneously. The band are all set to hit our country for a few shows with the lovely and very exciting Voyager from Perth in what promises to be a tour you will never forget. Metal Obsession caught up with the very cute ( yes he is cute, go away) Baard Kolstad, drummer and all-round nice guy for a little chat ahead of the band’s arrival in Australia this week. We talked about the band’s popularity rise, working on the new album, being labelled as a ‘progressive’ band, Baard’s amazing journey as a musician and much more.

With the Norwegian band’s visit to our shores, just around the corner, Baard couldn’t help but tell me excitedly, ” We’re really excited about our upcoming tours in Japan and Australia but for me especially Australia because we’ve never been there before. It’s going to be a really great time for us as it has been after we released ‘The Congregation’. We were in Japan back in 2013 supporting Ihsahn ( as well as being his backing band). At the time I was a step-in drummer but I started as a permanent member in 2014 and it’s been a massive learning experience ever since.  It’s so nice to see the audience and the support we get grow everyday.”As always, a new country brings along a good amount of excitement and possibly expectations.” Of course its very interesting to fly to a continent which is the furthest away but of course we hope that a lot of people will come to the concerts because we are very excited and we’re coming with an open mind. We’re looking forward to sharing the stage with Voyager. I’m glad they invited as to play in Australia. It worked out to be a good deal as they will be joining us on a European tour as well. ”

Leprous’ latest offering to the world, ‘The Congregation’ hit a lot of end of year lists in 2015 and personally it was an album that I always had a tough time describing. ” This is true, it isn’t easy to really describe our sound and put it into words, especially because of how much we’ve experimented on the new album.” On asking further what the writing and recording process was like this time around, Baard continued, ” This was my first album with the band and compared to the making of ‘Coal’, I know that Leprous had much more time to work on ‘The Congregation’ and rehearse it. We did several experiments, especially this one where we went to a cabin and just started writing. everyone had 30 minutes each on a Mac to sort out some ideas and the rule was everyone had to write something in their allotted 30 minutes, after which we would swap the computer around. It was a lot of fun and a very different way of working on each others ideas.”

The Congregation is the Norwegian drum legend’s first album with Leprous, since he became a full-time member of the band in 2014. ” If you asked me two years ago whether I thought I’d be contributing some of the main parts on an album, especially for a band like Leprous, I would say no. But it was such a good experience working with the band because it was a very open writing process. Everyone could just throw ideas around – whatever they had in mind and we would just give it a try. Einar and the rest of the band were very helpful and supportive – Einar kept encouraging us to do something different. So I had complete freedom with the drum arrangements, and although it was the toughest role I had, it was so great to be able to do it.”

For me, Leprous is one of those bands that doesn’t shy away from experimenting and this reflects in the new album which does present an array of soundscapes from the band. ” It is an important part of creating music – that freedom to express our feelings and emotions through our music so it comes naturally. The cool thing about the new record is that when  was doing the drums, there were no lyrics added just yet. So when you work with instrumental music, it really is all about the moods you feel, the emotions and the thoughts you think. Congregation is maybe a little more melancholic than the last one, but this is definitely a direction we will be taking with new material when that happens. Leprous has always aimed to make each album a little bit different than the last. When the band works so openly with each other, experimentation also comes naturally.”

Having become a permanent member of this amazing band,  and touring so much, Baard shared what he thinks Leprous does differently to make their live shows so mesmerizing and an experience in itself.” Live shows are very very important and serious to us. So instead of just playing the songs as best as we can, from the album, we try to  be completely involved with the music when we play live. Some things are done differently in terms of the music during a live show, such as improvisation with the drums and the vocals. But with the guitars, riffs and other things, it’s planned in so much detail. Apart from that, we’re really about putting in all the energy we’ve got and playing tight and together. We want to make the music really come alive and take the songs to a whole new level.”

In an age where genre categorizing has become a big focus of developing musical taste, labels that are placed on bands can sometimes be more further away from the truth than we know. “Really good point. Sometimes I forget we’re a ‘progressive’ metal band so to speak until I read the news or an article about us which says ‘Leprous, the progressive metal band from Norway, blah blah blah.” Baard continued, ” I guess we are hard to classify. I’d say melancholic metal but that’s not a genre at all and maybe sounds a bit too ambitious. We just create the music and play what we feel is natural. ‘Coal’ and ‘The Congregation’ are less progressive than ‘Bilateral’ for sure. We don’t really pay too much attention to all of that, it’s not a priority for us at all. But it’s good to see some people just taking the music as is without labeling it or trying to.”

A dedicated street drummer who started out in 2006, becoming a YouTube legend and winning the Roland World Championships in 2012, Baard slowly gained the recognition he deserved and is eventually one of the most respected and talented drummers in Norway and in the music scene. ” This whole journey has been absolutely amazing for me. From playing on the streets to focusing on playing in a band full time, it’s been a lot of hard work but the whole thing has felt so natural. I play in several bands now just because I try to make a living out of playing music and I like to be busy all the time. But for me it was definitely a natural step to focus on a more serious band career. I’ve even been to the United States a couple of times to play with DJ’s so I’ve done some completely different things. I think, people see my kind of style and it works for different kinds of music which is great because I like to keep things interesting. But of course, you need to be in it 100%, and really study the music you’re playing. I hope to keep this going.”

His most memorable experience so far being a part of Leprous? ” Those four days that I spent recording the new album. The biggest four days of my life and my career. It was important for me and my self-confidence. I remember how much  I pushed myself to the absolute maximum, playing the drums all day from 9 am to midnight which was very very tough but I’m very proud of what I did. There was a lot of pressure especially for me, because I was filling the seat of the previous drummer who is a brilliant musician too. Those four days taught me a lot about the band, music and myself.”

Baard Kolstad had one last message to the Australian fans. ” We’re so happy that we finally get a chance to come and play for all of you. No doubt, we’re going to give these shows all the energy we have. Every show to us is special and not just another date on the agenda so you can expect it to be something that you’ve never seen before. A little cheesy to say perhaps but it will be different in a lot of ways. If you like our music, you won’t regret coming to see us. So come join us for some fun times. See you there, Australia!”

Apart from seeing Baard, the sweetheart that he is, you do not want to miss this double delight of Leprous and Voyager touring and playing music that will tickle your senses (or have you jumping off the floor). Grab a ticket if you haven’t already and get your arse to a show on one of the dates below.

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About

Prarthana is a vegan, Indo-Aussie, heavy music addict, fluent in sarcasm and metal. Traveling is an obsession as she enjoys taking in the history of various countries and following her favorite bands. She's either eating, teaching grammar or learning an instrument, when not occupied with windmilling in the faces of other humans.