Star Scene: Progfest Special: Tor Oddmund Suhrke (TorO) ~ LEPROUS

Tor Oddmund Suhrke (TorO)’s scene is quite “homely”.  A deep contrast to his music and lengthy touring, the prog metal LEPROUS’ guitarist prefers a quieter time. TorO explains: “I really like being at home. To be completely honest. I think because we’re out touring so much. Just being at home with my wife and my cat, that’s probably the best feeling for me.”  Nonetheless, TorO does love touring – and enjoyed Australia on his last visit. He states: “I guess, just in general, for a Scandinavian to come to Australia, it’s kind of a dream destination. Especially this time of year, when it’s like very cold and dark here and there – well, you have from what I’ve heard, you have quite the intense summer -it is quite high temperatures.”

From the depths of snow to the intense heat of Australia, the extremes in weather reflect the extremes in musical taste. TorO recalls: “I started to play guitar like very shortly before we founded the Leprous in 2001. At that point I was fifteen. And then … I mean, at that point I was into mostly the metal end of the music. Also not progressive music at all. I mean, I remember I listened to a lot to Opeth, Pain of Salvation; I also listened to Judas Priest, bands like that. And then as time went on, I got more into Mars Volta, Porcupine Tree, Dillinger Escape Plan. And yeah. And then, also what I went on after that as well I became more into … I would say, just music in general, like the Beatles and Massive Attack. It’s a lot of different kinds; I think it’s very difficult to list them because there are so many, and very diverse.”

This eclecticism has assisted TorO not only in fine tuning the music on LEPROUS’ latest release, MALINA, but also with the lyrics. He is open-minded to experiences around him. TorO explains: “My work on the last albums has been mainly the lyrics; I would say just things influence me; either things happening to me or things that I just see, it could happen whenever. Kind of just pops into my head. You can have an idea from something completely different. Like driving somewhere or seeing something on TV or watching a TV series. Yeah. Or just talking to someone, or reading something. And sometimes you can kind of get ideas from maybe some kind of line pops up in my head and I think, ‘Oh, that could be a very cool thing to have in a song but how can I make something out of it?’”

TorO continues: “For me, it needs to start from the beginning. I can’t just write some words that sound cool and then they call it a lyric. It has to have some sense meaning. Whenever I experience anything that either gives me an idea of some theme that I could write about, or maybe a cool phrase that I could use; then I write it down and then when I find the time for it I will sit down and try to see if I could combine something. And then when you have the starting point of some lyrics, then it kind of builds into maybe a complete … something like a complete lyric I guess.”

TorO expands: “From the Flame, those lyrics; they went through a lot of different times of change. So from the first idea to what it was meant to be, it kind of developed. And when we got the music and we got the vocal lines and everything, it kind of … everything needs to kind of be adapted. So what it started out to be was like maybe something different than what it ended up with; but what I feel, and what it means to me, it’s the feeling of having been trapped in this situation that hasn’t been good for you. And kind of finally maybe breaking out of it. And then while doing that, you have to burn down everything that you have built around this thing you’ve been a part of. And that kind of … it’s what From the Flame means, you kind of have to burn down everything so you can from the flames kind of build up something new.”

The phoenix undertones do not get lost in translation. In fact, TorO actually writes the lyrics in his second language, English. He states: “I don’t think I have ever written … especially never written down entire song in Norwegian or in any other language, than English. I’m not sure why, but it’s kind of … it’s more difficult to write in your own language. And it’s the same as watching a TV series from a Norwegian TV series. I always thought that maybe I just feel that all Norwegian actors are lacking something, or kind of seem so unnatural; but then again, I just realized that in your own language everything gets so much more. You kind of see all the details in what’s happening and for you to actually believe it, it kind of takes a lot more in your second language. And you hear a lot more.  And a funny thing, I’ve been talking to Danny from Voyager; he’s a good friend of mine and he pointed out it’s so typical for foreign bands, that they can be really good at English and kind of know a lot about the English language but then when in the lyrics; you can kind of hear that this wasn’t written by someone speaking English because even though it’s kind of correct, it’s a bit strange combination of words. And I kind of … that kind of made me realize that I can definitely understand that. I guess maybe that’s one of the reasons also why I think it’s very interesting to write in English because it’s, in one way, it’s more difficult than writing in Norwegian because of course, I’m better at Norwegian than I am in English; but also it kind of is a very creative thing as well because as you said, you kind of have to develop the language in your own way since I don’t really know all the facets of that language.”

TorO continues: “And I think it can be interesting. And I also feel it’s not my point of being perfect in English because what I’ve also realized since we’ve been traveling around very much; I mean English speaking countries don’t agree either. So it’s kind of difficult to know when you are Norwegian … I mean, should you kind of stick to one specific kind of dialect? Or what should you do? So I think it’s kind of open for being interpreted or being used by someone else. I think it’s a very interesting, creative option. When you don’t necessarily need to stick to the American version, or the English, or the Australian, or … yeah. Also, the English language is a lot more diverse than the Norwegian language. We kind of have one word for something while in English it’s like so many different variations of that word. And I think by writing lyrics, I’ve learned a lot of the English language. And I kind of very often stop other Norwegians directly translating something from Norwegian and I understand why you chose that word, but the thing is; since it’s kind of in this context, that’s the wrong way of using this English word. The English words, sometimes you don’t get the time to give a very good translation to Norwegian. Of course; you have a translation but it would be the same as something else. So it’s sometimes a bit more difficult to explain it to a Norwegian person.”

With the recording process of Malina, TorO states: “One of the songs that was technically very challenging was Coma. I think it’s really challenging for everyone. Everyone in the band to play. My part of it, it’s kind of like I play the eight string, which is always following the low voicing; which is kind of very off beat and it’s a very difficult time signature and tempo. And I’m playing kind of off the main lead voicing. So I think it’s still one of the most difficult songs to play live as well I think. And also to kind of record it and make it sound good, that’s maybe the one that I remember mostly that I felt was difficult. But then again, now it’s more than a year since I actually recorded those songs, or more or less exactly one year since I did. So I don’t really remember that well anymore actually which songs I was spending the most time recording; but definitely still in the live setting, that’s one of the most difficult ones to play.”

Difficulty playing a song live does not dismiss it from the set. TorO states: “Well we’re definitely not excluding it at least. On the last tour we did a couple months ago; we played different set lists everyday. So we’ve played Coma several times on that tour. It wasn’t the one that we played most times though. And to be honest, we actually haven’t setup the set lists for the Australian base yet. So I actually don’t know myself which songs we’re actually going to play. But I definitely am going to rehearse it. It’s probably one of those that I’ve been asked to rehearse most, because now it’s like as I said; it’s like a couple months since we went on that tour and even though we played it so many times and I know the songs very well, I really need to have some recap on the songs.  I’m only switching between two guitars. I use Aristides guitars, which is a Dutch company. And they have their eight strings that I’m using, it’s so many levels than any other eight string I’ve ever played. So I’m definitely bringing that. We’re actually bringing two of that guitar because it’s … yeah, and I’ll bring if the other guitar player needs one as well. And also then I have kind of a backup if something happens. If something happened to my eight string I wouldn’t really know what to do on several of the songs because that’s the one I use most.”

Catch TorO, and LEPROUS, tackle COMA and more, at PROGFEST!

The 2018 line up of Progfest will be the strongest yet with Norway’s LEPROUS confirmed to headline all 3 Progfest festivals, plus headline their own sideshows in Perth and Adelaide!

Some of Australia’s finest acts including: Voyager, AlithiA, Orsome Welles, Meniscus and Dyssidia were confirmed for Progfest as part of the first round announcement.

The full national line up for all festival shows can now be revealed. Confirming a massive 24 bands will be taking part across the 3 festivals (acts to appear on selected dates as per below).

PROGFEST 2018 Featuring:
Leprous
Voyager | AlithiA
Orsome Welles | Meniscus | Osaka Punch
Toehider | Breaking Orbit | Glass Ocean
James Norbert Ivanyi | Dyssidia | Branch Arterial
Acolyte | Opus Of A Machine | Majora | Kodiak Empire
Hemina | Enlight | Balloons Kill Babies | Fierce Mild
Mercury Sky | He Danced Ivy | Logic Defies Logic | Genetics

Osaka Punch: These Brisbane genre benders deliver a tonne of groove and extremity in equal measures. Their virtuosic high energy show has forged them a reputation as one of Australia’s most wildly entertaining live acts. The group’s distinctive fusion of funk jams, jazz chops and a rock ethos sets them apart from most heavy acts, and allows an element of humour and satire in an otherwise very serious scene.

Toehider: Melbourne’s world-acclaimed singer/instrumentalist Michael Mills and his band of merry men, aka the prog power trio Toehider, bring their unmissable show to Progfest on the back of their latest release GOOD. Featuring Mills’ unmistakable, otherworldly voice and signature bizarre storytelling lyrics, stadium-worthy guitar melodies and driving classic rock rhythms, Toehider is a prog cult classic known the world over, with prominent admirers such as James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Devin Townsend and Aryeon!

Breaking Orbit: Progfest 2018 will mark Breaking Orbit’s momentous reunion, with this being their first show with the original lineup since Progfest 2014. Their dynamic prog-alt brand of music ebbs and flows through passages intricate and eclectic, melodic yet heavy, tribal but modern, atmospheric and at times brutal.

Glass Ocean: Boasting maturity beyond their years, and earning a reputation as a ‘must see’ live act with their modern take on late 90’s progressive pop laced with sensuality, Sydney’s born and bred Glass Ocean are one of Australia’s most prominent up and coming acts.

James Norbert Ivanyi: One of the most original, commanding and versatile young guitarists on the scene today. His unique style of technical modern metal fused with the classic sounds of 1960’s and 1970’s progressive rock music have seen his fan base transcend generations and genres.

Branch Arterial: Following near life-ending experiences for two of their members, Branch Arterial have risen from the ashes to release their strongest album yet Beyond The Border. A unique and distinctive sound derived from the desire to push musical boundaries, don’t miss one of Australia’s most spine tingling onstage performances.

Rounding out the Progfest 2018 line up are
Acolyte | Opus Of A Machine | Majora | Kodiak Empire
Hemina | Enlight | Balloons Kill Babies | Fierce Mild
Mercury Sky | He Danced Ivy | Logic Defies Logic | Genetics

 

PROGFEST 2018
Saturday, January 20: The Factory Theatre, Sydney
Leprous
Voyager | AlithiA
Meniscus | Orsome Welles | Breaking Orbit
Glass Ocean | James Norbert Ivanyi | Osaka Punch
Dyssidia | Majora | Hemina | Mercury Sky | Genetics

Sunday, January 21: The Triffid, Brisbane
Leprous
Voyager | AlithiA
Osaka Punch | Orsome Welles | Opus Of A Machine
Dyssidia | Kodiak Empire | Balloons Kill Babies | He Danced Ivy

Saturday, January 27: The Corner, Melbourne
Leprous
Voyager | AlithiA
Orsome Welles | Toehider | Meniscus
Branch Arterial | Dyssidia | Acolyte
Enlight | Fierce Mild | Logic Defies Logic

LEPROUS
with special guests AlithiA
Friday, January 19: Badlands, Perth
Thursday, January 25: Jive, Adelaide

Tickets from wildthingpresents.com

ABOUT PROGFEST

Progfest 2018 has expanded to include all three east coast capital cities, hitting Sydney and Brisbane along with returning to Melbourne, following its December 2016 sold out edition!

Featuring progressive bands of all styles and genres, from prog, post, psychedelic, art rock, metal and everything in between, PROGFEST is about showcasing bands that think for themselves; bands who rather than following the latest trends, have decided to challenge themselves musically and create music with depth and vision.

Beginning life in 2008, Progfest has grown along side Australia’s love of progressive music, and has become the centrepiece of the nation’s burgeoning prog scene. In the intervening years, the progressive scene in Australia has exploded and the bands associated with it are now a global force to be reckoned with.

Many of the acts have gained huge followings from all over the world. Ne Obliviscaris, Caligula’s Horse, sleepmakeswaves and Twelve Foot Ninja have all headlined Progfest in the past, and each of them have gone on to crack the ARIA Mainstream chart and have global success.

PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED FOR PROGFEST 2018
LEPROUS: Stepping out of the shadows, Leprous have come into their own this year, performing to packed crowds on their European tour with Devin Townsend and becoming the ‘must see’ act of the Euro summer season. The band released their new album Malina in August this year to critical global praise and have crafted songs that are both catchy and progressive. Featuring sophisticated and intricate textures that are woven around sublime harmonies and rolling post rock rhythms.

VOYAGER: Perth prog masters Voyager are one of the nations most recognised prog bands around the world. With 6 albums under their wings and constant appearances at global festivals such as ProgPower USA, ProgPower Europe, Hammersonic and Euroblast, supporting the likes of Opeth & Deftones plus multiple national tours of their own, Voyager have their live act honed to perfection.

ALITHIA: Melbourne’s tribal space rockers AlithiA recently embarked on a 29-date European tour supporting Leprous (Norway) and Agent Fresco (Iceland). Imagine floating through the cosmos, out of body and out of mind on a space trip shaped by mutant riffs, driven by tribal percussion and a shamanistic feel.

ORSOME WELLES: This Melbourne experimental creative defy classification. Merging progressive music with an early 20th century panache, pounding grooves, intricate instrumentality and raw uncaged power. Their avant-garde live show is a must see!

MENISCUS: These Sydney instrumental post rockers seamlessly blend guitar-driven ambient soundscapes, hard-rock, electronic and psychedelic music with a striking visual element to their live performances that has captivated audiences since the bands inception in 2005.

DYSSIDIA: Adelaide’s foremost progressive metal act have crafted a unique sound amongst their peers. Their breathtaking motifs and intricate rhythms have lead to them sharing the stage with the kings of the global progressive scene.

For tickets and more information:

WildThingPresents

Progfest:

About Mary Boukouvalas 811 Articles
Mary is a music photographer and reviewer.

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