When we think of Norway in musical terms, Black Metal is the first genre that comes to our minds. However, Whip is a Grindcore-based band which turned twenty in the current year 2018. After several demos and EPs, they finally released their debut album, “Digitus Impudicus” in 2013, followed by the “Repulsion and Disorder” EP which came out three years later, and currently they’re working on their second LP. The current four-piece lineup has invited RISE! to one of their rehearsals before their twentieth anniversary show and this resulted in a very funny and interesting interview that you can read below.
RISE!: – The band was founded in 1998, so you Sturt (Jens B. Johansen) were a teenager back then. How was it all at the time? Was it just a high school joke band and then it got more serious or how was the process?
Sturt: Back then I was living in Brønnøysund, in the middle of Norway. We had a few other bands, some serious Black Metal kind of stuff, and one summer we were only two people who liked Metal in all the city. That was me and another guy. He played drums and I played guitar and bass, so we played around a bit, but every summer he went to Finland for holidays because his mother was from Oulu, Finland, and one summer he came home and discovered “Rapture” album by Impaled Nazarene, that was summer of ’98. He said “we have to start this Punk-inspired Metal band!”, so he had four or five songs and I made four or five songs and we recorded our first demo in summer. So Whip started as a burning desire for the other guy in Whip to play some Punk.
R!: – After your second demo released in 2000, you’ve been inactive until 2005, what happened at the time and what have you been doing during that period?
S: After our first demo in ’98, I moved to Oslo in ’99, I had to go to school and the other guy in Whip, Jonny, he wasn’t working or anything so he just moved to Oslo too. So he was living here for about half a year, then he moved back to Brønnøysund. It was just the two of us, so when he moved back the band was put in pause. Then he moved to Finland, then he moved back to Brønnøysund, then he moved to California. So a few years later, in 2005, I started getting some members from other projects, so I asked him if I could continue this band without him and he said “Yeah, sure, but just don’t record any of the old demo songs”.
R!: – Then you returned and released some demos and EP’s until you finally released your first LP called “Digitus Impudicus” in 2013, where did you record this album and how was the experience?
S: For the first album we recorded drums at this punk studio in Oslo. Then we borrowed a cabin from some family friends, and the guy who played bass and vocals at that time and me went out to that cabin in the forest, stayed there for one week and recorded all bass, guitars and vocals. Then we got it mixed at this hardcore punk guy studio in Oslo. In the eight years between 2005 and 2013 when our first album came out, we went through a lot of lineup changes. Every time we were going to the studio to record something new, we got a new member and we had to start over. We were a trio and when our drummer quit for the second time, we got a new drummer and we were like “ok, let’s just stop rehearsing these songs and we’ll record drums in one month or two when you’re ready”, because fuck it, we needed to get our album done.
R!: – The songs in that album are a bit longer… is that just a coincidence?
S: Yeah, I don’t know. We just did what we felt it was right at the time.
Raatten (Vetle Skogmo): Also there are songs on that album from many years back, there are some old songs and some new ones, so it would be only a coincidence.
R!: – How do you see that album today after five years?
S: It’s a really nice album. Of course there’s stuff you wish you have done different, but we’re just focusing on the next one.
R!: – Then you released a new EP called “Repulsion and Disorder” which has an interesting artwork, who was in charge of that?
S: It’s an artist called Ksenia. She has done the cover artwork and she has also done a lot of artwork for Kvesta, the other band of Raatten and Hemsk.
R: She also did the artwork for the first album.
S: Oh yeah, she also did that artwork and some remakes of the album covers for Troll except for “Drep de Kristne” where they actually found the original cover artwork. But she’s a fucking amazing artist, does really great work!
R: Continously getting better. Every time we commission a new piece is like “wow”.
R!: – Talking about the new album, how is the process going? Do you have any written or recorded songs?
R: We started to record it when we were a trio I think, then we got a new member and started to record everything else. Then we got a new drummer and a new guitarist.
S: We have changed 50% of the band members since we started recording the album.
R: And we started recording it in… three years ago? (laughs). And we’re still adding new stuff but I think we’re actually done with most of the stuff. We might have some guest vocals on one track.
S: Yeah, well, we have all our vocals done but we should see if we have to redo this line or this refrain. Myrkur should do a couple of lines, this is exactly why the album takes forever. We’re hoping to get it done some time next year.
R: We’ve been saying that for the past three years (laughs)
S: On the internet, it says that “Contra Mundum” is coming out in 2017.
R!: – Well, actually it says it’s coming out in 2018 right now (laughs)
S: So it wasn’t updated in all of our pages (laughs)
R!: – As you said, it’s going to be called “Contra Mundum”, which I think it means “Against the World” in Latin. It’s actually similar to Spanish because Spanish for that would be “Contra el Mundo”. So did you choose this name for some reason in particular? I mean, is it just for the violent and brutal sound it will have or is it a statement against the modern world?
S: This is kinda part of a trilogy, but it’s not like a planned trilogy. Everything we’re singing about is in a way about freedom and the first one, “Digitus Impudicus”, is showing off the finger to people around you, more like a personal thing, and this one, “Contra Mundum”, is against everything. And the third one will be universal. There will be a straight line between the first three ones.
R!: – I know you are playing in different bands as well. We were talking about Raatten and Hemsk playing in Kvesta some minutes ago, Sturt is involved in other projects as well, how about you Håvard?
Håvard: Currently I’m studying music at the Oslo University, so I don’t have much time to have different bands, but I’ve been doing some things on my own more or less seriously that drags me in different kind of projects. We have a pop thing which has been inactive lately, then we have another band which sounds like Stoner? I don’t know how to call it.
S: Can you say “Actively Inactive” or “Very Inactive”? (laughs)
R!: – Sturt, you’re involved in Urarv. Are you still doing stuff with Troll?
S: Yeah, we actually started working on an album with Troll before we started with the Whip album. We were talking about finish it someday.
R: I think the drums were recorded before the first Kvesta album which we started in 2014 and came out in 2016.
S: But I think in Troll two members left or maybe three, so it’s Nagash and me there finishing that album. Hopefully Henrik, the guitar player, will be joining, he wants to finish the album too. So I hope the three of us can get it finished next year.
H: I think Magnus is the one with the most different bands. How many bands do you have?
Magnus Hagen: Five!
R!: – Five bands!? Really?
MH: No, it’s six bands!
R!: – So how did you manage?
MH: I don’t (everybody laughs)
R!: – I was asking because I assume you have daily jobs…
MH: Well, I actually study.
R!: – Yeah, so you’re busy most of the time. Do you rehearse once a week with each band?
S: With Urarv we have been rehearsing on Sunday or Monday, or Sunday and Monday. But last year I’ve been focusing on Whip mostly.
MH: I rehearse with two bands on Wednesday and two bands on Friday, then with the other ones it’s just projects for when we have time.
S: So you’re playing drums for those four bands?
R!: – So you rehearse with all these bands in the same place here?
S: If someday you don’t have any bands, just make an ad saying drummer rehearsing with six bands, one for each days. I still have free time on Sunday night, if you need I can play in (everybody laughs)
R!: – So how did you come up with the name of the band, Whip?
S: I think that was Jonny. I’m not sure if I remember, but I think Jonny’s ideas were around things like S&M, sado, dirty, sexy, metal and Whip came out.
R: And it’s also short, you kinda know what to expect.
S: You know, over the years it’s been more what we do live, like a whip in the face. It kinda changed the meaning of the name of the band when the band developed live. So today we mean Pussycats (laughs).
R: And tomorrow we don’t know.
H: Tomorrow never comes.
S: Yes, it comes in some time.
H: Are you sure of it?
S: We will see. We could die.
R!: – The end of the world happened like five times now (laughs)
S: And the worst year in history was 536. That summer a vocalist went off and then we had another one who went off next summer and then we played a gig! (everybody laughs)
H: Good times!
S: Yeah, good times!
R!: – You also run a record label, Polypus Records, how difficult or easy is to set up a record label and keep it running here in Norway?
S: It’s easy to register a company. It’s hard to do the economics and everything you’re supposed to pay, but as long as you don’t earn money like us, I think you go under the radar. So it’s like “what’s this company? They’re making a thousand kroner a year” (everybody laughs out loud). To maintain the company properly, you need to pay an accountant, send papers to state, etc.
H: How many people work at the company?
S: It was started by three people and the day after two of them quit (laughs), so I was like “I cannot do this alone” and then I’ve been kinda searching for new people and found people to make videos, but I need some to run the company with me. It actually started but it’s like we never got to start it because I was never intended to start this alone. So I’m hoping to find some people because right now we’re releasing stuff from the bands of people related to the company and not releasing much outside. We also have another label called Digipus Music which is only digital. We released more stuff on that because it’s easier to put it on the internet, but you know, we need money to release the rest of the stuff, we just have to find a way. One day, hopefully, there will be more action on Polypus Records and Digipus Music.
R!: – So this year you’re celebrating 20 years as a band…
S: Yes, it’s just insane that we have survived 20 years… or that I’ve survived 20 years (laughs)
R: And I was born just one and a half year before.
S: Yeah, he’s actually from the same city as me. So when we started the band there were actually three Metal people in Brønnøysund, but he was one and a half years old at the time (laughs)
R: But I don’t know if I was listening to that much Metal.
S: But we knew you would.
R: And of course when they already started, I was the only one listening to Metal in Brønnøysund. But the story of how I found out about this guy is kinda weird because I was reading Metal Hammer Norway and I was tired and bored, I was just flipping through it. I was on the last page and about to close it and then I saw a word on the last page and I was like “What!?”, it said “Brønnøysund”, and I was like “WTF!?”, and then I read about this guy being in all these bands I actually heard of and he was running a record label, so I added him on Facebook straight afterwards and didn’t speak to him for two months because I didn’t dare. Then I asked him for different bands from Brønnøysund and we got to talk and suddenly I was in Whip. That’s the short version of the story.
R!: – Isn’t it weird for you to have someone in your band who was born almost the same year you formed the band?
S: For me it was like “Oh my God! Is there another metalhead in Brønnøysund!? I need to take care of this guy! I know how fucking painful is to grow up in Brønnøysund. I told him NOBODY listens to Metal there except you and maybe one other guy” (laughs). So I got him to come down to Oslo and recorded the first Kvesta album for free, I just wanted to help him to get out there, to get your album out at once when you’re young instead of waiting until you’re 33. I think I was 31 when we released the first Whip album, so I’ve been learning how to do the stuff and I said “Hey, this is knowledge, use it”.
R: I’m the youngest guy in the band, but I’m also the second who has been more time in the band apart from him (pointing out to Sturt), because these guys are new.
R!: – So how old were you when you joined?
R: Oh, I think I was still 17.
R!: – So was this your first band?
R: No, I played in some other bands, but this was the first band that actually have done something before me. I got to the first rehearsal in the autumn of 2014, then I was still 17 because my birthday is in December.
S: (He starts singing…) When I was seventeen, it was a very good year!
R: I joined Whip and recorded an album…
S: That was one of the favorite songs by Frank Sinatra.
R: Then I didn’t move to Oslo until Spring of 2015. We didn’t do anything for like six months, then we started to rehearse.
S: I like doing nothing for six months (laughs)
R!: – Now just out of curiosity, do you know any bands from South America apart from Sepultura?
S: We’ve just done an interview with a zine from Colombia called Ultra Metal which is like some mixture of Punk and Metal, so we kinda felt like a connection with them, but I don’t remember any band.
R: But you have bands like Sarcofago, also slightly newer bands like Witchtrap. One Thrash Metal band from Argentina which is really cool is QuickFire Deus Sol Invictus.
MH: There’s another band from Brazil I think called Thy Antichrist.
R!: – No, they’re actually from Colombia.
R: Yes, Colombia. Revenge also from Colombia.
S: And the first Shakira album is quite cool and it’s in Spanish, not English. I remember I heard that in a taxi back in 2010 and I was like “WTF is this?” and he said “it’s Shakira!”, and I was like “I love Shakira!”.
H: There’s also a great guitar composer from Brazil called Heitor Villa-Lobos. He’s a classical guitar player.
R: We’re actually in an Argentinian documentary.
R!: – Really?
S: Yeah, we’re there.
R: It’s called “Black Metal from the End of the World”, it’s not out yet, but it’s coming.
H: It’s coming next year! (laughs)
R: It’s being released at the same time as “Contra Mundum” probably.
S: Yeah, I think so.
R!: – But what’s the relation with Argentina?
R: The filmmakers are from Argentina and they’re making this comparison between Argentina and South American Black Metal musicians and Norwegians, so they recorded both in Argentina and Norway.
S: And what Argentinians think Black Metal is about and all these misunderstandings about the genre.
R!: – Tusen takk for the interview guys! Any last words you want to say to the readers of Rise!?
H: Do you have elevators in South America?
R!: – Elevators? Yeah.
S: Yeah, do you have elevators in Uruguay?
R!: – Yeah, of course we have.
H: No, escalators. Do you have escalators?
R!: – Yeah, we have.
Everybody: But can you BE one escalator there?
H: I mean, can you be an escalator officially like in your passport saying you’re an escalator?
S: Like if a person says “I want to be a lamp right there in the corner”. Because it’s legal here in Norway to do that.
R!: – No, you cannot do that in Uruguay (laughs)
R: Let’s fight for escalator rights in Uruguay then!
R: And also now Magnus is going to tell you about his three favorite drummers now.
MH: Hellhammer, Frost and Tomas Haake.
H: Ringo Starr?
MH: Fuck Ringo Starr (laughs).
R: But on a more serious note, keep on keeping on.
S: Then we’ll rise!
R: Oh and we’re making a documentary I guess.
H: Might be fictional?
R: Might be fiction but there’s also a lot of truth.
MH: But it will be a new kind of movie, because you have documentary, fiction movies, this is something new.
S: It’s not a documentary, not totally real, but lots of truth.
R: Some interviews, some live clips, animation…
S: We call our music “Scrap Metal”, so we mix all the scrap from Thrash Metal, Black Metal, Death Metal, Heavy Metal, Doom Metal, Grindcore, Crust Punk. All these things are a big pile of scrap that Whip is made of. I think the movie will be kinda the same thing, all different kind of genres.
R!: – And is it going to be released as a DVD or something like that?
H: Yes, probably next year! (laughs)
S: Probably in VHS! I think the VHS is the best format!
R: It’s like we made some clips in here and take some clips from the archives and mixed them with interviews with past members and stuff.
H: We have a teaser created.
R!: – So this will be actually on Youtube, right?
S: Yeah, of course, Whip supports sharing culture. We’ve always been opened about sharing music for free.
R: And apart from the movie, we also have the podcast. We recorded many episodes and we released none! (laughs)
R!: – Maybe next year! (laughs)
R: We released one animated clip and put it on Youtube. A lot of the in-jokes in Whip come from recording podcast like, for instance, “Håvard’s Anecdotes” (they start to do the podcast right there! Håvard tells a funny anecdote and everybody screams, laughs and comments his anecdote).
Doomsday Machine (Demo) – 1998
Fullmoon Vomit (Demo) – 2000
Innocence & Fistfucks (Demo) – 2005
Godfucking & Wardreams EP – 2005
Primitive Slaughter (Demo) – 2007
Unholy EP – 2013
Digitus Impudicus – 2013
Repulsion and Disorder EP – 2016
“Older Than Death” (2018):
Tags: raatten, whip, whip grind, whip grindcore, whip interview, whip interview rise, whip norge, whip norway