December 5, 2019 Interview – Kjetil Nordhus of Green Carnation
Back in early 2000s, a very special band by the name of Green Carnation emerged from the Norwegian Metal scene. The creation of former Emperor Bassist Tchort, Green Carnation’s story took shape with the release of Journey to the End of the Night in 2000, awed listeners in 2001 with the epic Light of Day, Day of Darkness, while continuing to peek interest with follow-up albums such as 2003’s A Blessing In Disguise, 2005’s The Quiet Offspring, and 2006’s The Acoustic Verses. A quick rise into the spotlight of Progressive Rock and Metal, they would even make it to America on tour in 2006, yet shortly after, everything went black for Green Carnation.
A sad reality for the growing fanbase of the band, around 2016, whispers of a reunion started to spread. Now, in 2019, we stand on the precipice of new Green Carnation music for the first time in 14 years. A long overdue return, their new album could very well be one of the most anticipated Rock/Metal releases of 2020. Recently rejoining Seasons of Mist, and excited for what lies ahead for the band, Vocalist Kjetil Nordhus shed some light on the active years of Green Carnation, the break-up, their return, new music, plus much more.
Cryptic Rock – Green Carnation has a long history that actually dates back nearly three decades. However, the band did not really take off until 2000, and then went on to release five full-length albums through 2006, becoming a staple in the Progressive Metal/Rock world. Being a part of the band for this duration, how would you describe the journey?
Kjetil Nordhus – Looking back on those six years, you can truly say it was an intense time. We managed to release two DVDs and one EP as well during that period. While many people would say the albums are extremely different from each other, I wouldn’t say the DNA in the band really changed; the DNA in the band is about always searching to challenge both ourselves and our fanbase. We were not extremely active live, but did our fair bit of tours and festivals, the six-week US tour being our most bold move of that period – a tour that played its part in the band splitting in 2006.
Cryptic Rock – It was certainly a great time for the band and listeners taking it all in. Back in 2001, you joined the band and were a part of the masterful Light of Day, Day of Darkness. This album is still a fresh piece of material even 18 years later. What was that first recording session like for you with the band?
Kjetil Nordhus – It was actually my very first proper album recording ever and I have been thinking afterwards that if I had the slightest idea about how incredibly ambitious this actually was, I might have refused to do it. Luckily, I had no clue! Maybe none of us really understood the task ahead. I remember the beginning of the recording quite well. I had been listening and preparing the pre-production, which was about 40 minutes long, and when I came to the studio everything sounded quite different.
So, it is fair to say that maybe 40-50 percent of the vocal tracks were actually made in the studio. The process was quite demanding, to be honest, but I think we managed to squeeze out what we needed in order to keep the album interesting throughout. Since the recording took so long, we couldn’t all be there at the same time, and one of the things I remember is that I actually met the guitarist, Bjørn Harstad, for the very first time one month or two after the recording of that album.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it was a massive undertaking, but it was all worth it with the final product. You mentioned how the band’s DNA changed. Green Carnation would go on to shift styles and sound for 2003’s A Blessing in Disguise, again for 2005’s The Quiet Offspring, as well as 2006’s The Acoustic Verses. How would you describe the progression of Green Carnation?
Kjetil Nordhus – I was explaining a bit about that earlier, but changing from album to album was something natural for us. On the other hand, it would be total madness to try and create another Light of Day, Day of Darkness, so I guess you can say the change after that one was also forced in a way. Again, even though the albums all sound different, I still think of them as different colors in the Green Carnation universe. Many people have even been very clear about Acoustic Verses being the album where the atmosphere reminds the most about Light of Day, Day of Darkness, even though it might still be argued that it is the one that sounds the most different.
Cryptic Rock – Each album is great in their own right. Since Acoustic Verses, it has been relatively quiet for Green Carnation in terms of new music. Inevitably, what has the band been up to as far as recording over the past 13 years?
Kjetil Nordhus – Well, the short story is that we quit in 2006 and came back together in 2016, so there was obviously no new music from us during those years. Most of the members were very busy with other projects and bands in that period, and I am sure we contributed to something like 20-25 albums in that period, just not together.
Cryptic Rock – It is great to see the band is back in full swing so to say. Recently, there has been more activity on the Green Carnation front with a live album in 2018 and talks of a new album to come very soon. What can you tell us about the progress of the new material? What direction is the band going?
Kjetil Nordhus – Yes, it is great to be in that position again, 10 years more experienced as musicians and persons. We put the standard extremely high when coming back in 2016, and put so much effort into making the Light of Day, Day of Darkness live production not 97 or 98 percent as good as we could, but 100 percent. This taught us all a lot, I think; the huge different the last two or three percent means.
I am answering after we concluded the recording of our new album and are waiting to listen to the first mix. I find it a bit difficult to explain what direction the band is going. People are most definitely going to hear that this is Green Carnation. We have tried to not compromise on anything: it is more heavy and more progressive than most of our albums, and I have said in previous interviews that this album is a tribute to the band’s past, present, and future. Read what you want into that.
Cryptic Rock – Fascinating and exciting to hear. Many fans recall the excitement of Green Carnation’s visit to North America nearly 14 years ago. Is there a possibility for a long overdue return coming soon?
Kjetil Nordhus – We do have some great memories from that trip, of course. When playing ProgPower USA we were reminded that a lot of people in the US have a very close connection with the band. So as long as someone invites us over, we will most definitely consider that.
Cryptic Rock – Great to hear. Beyond Green Carnation, you have also offered your talents to other projects through the years, including Trail of Tears and Chain Collector. What was your time like collaborating with these projects?
Kjetil Nordhus – I am open to all kinds of music, and I really enjoy working musically with different people. I am not saying I would be bored in one band only, but it gives me great satisfaction to work with more than one musical project or band at the same time. Since the early Green Carnation days, I have been with (as you say) Trail of Tears and Chain Collector and Subterranean Masquerade, all releasing music internationally. I have also been playing bass in a fun Norwegian Rock band called Head Disco and produced a project called Exit Strategy No. 21. In between I have done some songs with some of the guys in the My Dying Bride family, I have a Post-Rock thing called Arvesynden being born, and I am also with Tristania, as well as probably a few more things.
Cryptic Rock – You are quite a busy man! Interestingly enough, as per a conversation we had with you in 2006 at the Green Carnation NYC performance, you had said you are actually not influenced by Metal music per se. This was compelling seeing you have been involved in many Metal projects through the years. All this in mind, what are your thoughts on Metal all these years later?
Kjetil Nordhus – If I am completely honest, I was sick and tired of Metal for years. I just thought “all the bands” just copied their favorites, and that there was no innovation. I must have talked to you in the middle of that period. Maybe it was wrong to say that I was not influenced by Metal, because I must have been, but I am happy to say the situation has changed.
For me, the label of the music means absolutely nothing. I have managed to find a whole lot of bands the last few years that have given me back the belief on the genre and more than that. For example, I used this summer to go very deep into genres like Sludge and Stoner Doom, and found some treasures I had not expected to find. Also, in the Post-Rock genre there are a lot of bands that deserve to be noticed by many, but I will not name them, because I want them for myself. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) Don’t we all want to keep bands we discover to ourselves? It makes listening to them so much more fun! The obvious follow-up, what are some of your personal music influences?
Kjetil Nordhus – I think it would be correct to list up the ones that have been with me since the early days, adding some on the way. It is hard to rate who has influenced me the most, but I am quite sure that these bands and artists together have influenced me: The Beatles, Tom Waits, Faith No More, Alice in Chains, Roy Orbison, Opeth, Kiss, Soundgarden, and The Beach Boys. More recently, Dillinger Escape Plan, Sleaford Mods, YOB, Susanne Sundfør, Meshuggah, Wardruna, John Moreland. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – That is a very diverse mix of influences. Last question. If you are a fan of Horror and Sci-Fi movies, what are some of your favorites and why?
Kjetil Nordhus – I watched a lot of Horror in my youth. I think I overdosed, so I stopped. But the feeling when watching The Exorcist (1973) for the first time, and walking home alone in the dark afterwards, is a feeling I will never forget. I am not into Sci-Fi movies at all, sorry. I enjoyed the first season of Stranger Things, second season was okay. Third I just finished, and it was okay, but nothing more. I am sure you will get more interesting answers on that one from someone else.