Norway - Full Moon 35 - 08/26/99
What Seid said - an interview
During the last few years I've witnessed a young band each summer
in the town where I was born that always has impressed me. The band is
called Seid and the town is Arendal, on the southern coast of Norway.
By now, all band members spend most of the year in rainy Trondheim
where they study or work. The band has a cult following in Arendal, but
ought to reach a much wider audience.
Seid's music is a sort of funk-grunge-metal-progressive-psychedelia
without any prejudices. The members are (from left to right): Jørgen
Yri (guitar and vocals), Bernt Erik Andreassen (bass, vocals and
keyboards), Ole Thomas Tommesen (drums and keyboards) and Jan
Gunnar (Janis) Andreassen (guitar). The following interview involved the
former three, which was quite enough. They are young, eager, and
optimistic and all of them tend to speak simultaneously or interrupt each
HISTORY AND CONFUSION
Though the boys are only in their early 20's, the band was formed
early as 1991. Originally Espen Andersen handled the drums. He and
Bernt had been involved in a thrash-metal band. Roger Jensen took care
of samples and assorted facilities around 1993-94. Ole replaced Espen in
Bernt Erik (BE): It was the father of Espen who suggested
the name. The seidman was a sort of Nordic wizard that originates from
the pre-viking era.
Jørgen (J): Janis and I played in a local supergroup called
Kanskje Vi Bare Kødder (Maybe We're Just Bullshitting) and got
an incredible cool review in a Norwegian rock magazine. It said: "Kanskje
Vi Bare Kødder was a suitable name and their version of Wild
Thing was probably the worst ever." I guess it was true.
The involved get carried away when they reminisce about earlier
projects like the punk orchestra Pungsvetta (Balls' Sweat), Skogtissfolket
(Forest Pee People) the hardcore band Samuel, the popcore group Fudge
and so on. More recent is the surf quartet The Rockets that released a
CD of the same name last year, where Bernt plays lead guitar, the pop
group The Sherocks where he used to be the drummer and the techno
project Lord Snappy Trio. They also talk about a side project with weird
versions of Scottish and Irish traditional music and female vocals. Did
someone mention confusion of styles? I guess it's apparent in Seid's
Ole Thomas (OT): To start with some, let's say funk-hardcore'ish
in 7/8 and have a break into a 60's pop-tune can be pretty far
J: But sometimes it might work.
BE: We started by playing cover versions of songs by Metallica
and Guns n' Roses. You can still recognise traces of them in our music
(bursts of laughter). We only had one self-penned song in the
beginning, but it was as long as hell.
Newer sources of inspiration and favourites, though not
necessarily an influence of the music of Seid, include Sonic Youth,
Smashing Pumpkins, Mr. Bungle, Primus, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci ... To
yours truly Seid's music seems influenced by King Crimson of the 1972-
BE: I have a cassette of In The Court Of The Crimson
King (from 1969). It's cool! Epitaph is part of our live repertoire by
now. But I've never heard any latter days Crimson albums. Swedish
Anekdoten and Änglagård are great! I want to buy a
Hammond organ and mellotron and start making progressive music!
OT: Janis is more of a rock'n'roll guy. He has been listening a lot
to Deep Purple. He wants to play blues solos all the time.
J: Then we start beating him up.
BE: A lot of people will obviously claim we're inspired by
Motorpsycho (of Norwegian fame, reviewed in Luna Kafe's menus 4, 5,
10 and 19), but that's not so. Tangle Edge and The Smell Of Incense
(check out LK's menus 6, 25 and 26) have been much more important to
us. We've taken the bubble synth and the glissando guitar using a knife
on the strings from The Smell Of Incense.
Who got it from Daevid Allen of Gong who got it from Syd Barrett
of Pink Floyd. So it goes. Seid was a support act for Tangle Edge and
The Smell Of Incense at a sort of rock festival in Arendal in 1993. It must
have been a turning point.
OT: We want to play a sort of progressive psychedelia, on
the other hand ... We're not as psychedelic as we used to be.
COMPOSITIONS AND QUARRELS
How do you start the process of writing a new song?
J: Usually it's a riff or some idea.
BE: And then we find something we've written earlier and try to
put the pieces together.
OT: Also we start by jamming.
BE: Sure, you play something and refine it ...
OT: When we've developed a song by jamming, there are lots of
possibilities when playing live. It's great when we know the structure
and possibilities of a song, to improvise and stretch it and return to the
starting point without ruining the song. We're headed in that direction, I
believe. We have an advantage because Bernt is playing all sorts of
instruments. If he wants me to play a certain rhythm, he can sit down by
the drums and demonstrate.
BE: Instead of waving my arms in the air.
And the communication is two-way: Ole Thomas started playing
piano 13 years ago.
BE: He's a clever boy!
OT: It's a good thing being a drummer who knows what keys
and chords the others are playing.
J: That's more than I know!
BE: That's why Seid is a psychedelic band. We knew very little
about music when we started. We tried to play Metallica or
Guns n' Roses, but didn't manage to sound like them. Jørgen played
major while Janis played minor ...
J: But it worked!
Sometimes the songs are developed by quarrelling.
J: The two most self conscious in the band, Bernt and
myself, have different visions of how a song ought to sound. Ole
Thomas and Jan Gunnar often have to act as mediators.
OT: I can sometimes be very stubborn concerning rhythms and
get quite mad if someone disagrees. I think it's a healthy attitude.
BE: As long as we're pleased with the end result. A quarrel
might be important, then at least we're committed. Usually we tend to
agree after all, we're just clumsy to express ourselves. We misunderstand
each other, much fuss about nothing, really.
OT: And some big egos maybe ...
J: The most worn out expression within the band is probably: "I
quit!" (bursts of laughter, again). Especially some years ago, when we
were about to start a concert. Then Bernt and I began quarrelling. And
Espen, he was a bit of a weirdo, too. Bernt used to shout, "I quit" and
leave the room. He returned five minutes later and said: "What the hell,
let's start playing!" (even more bursts of laughter). He has improved
BE: During the last year, I've only quit three times.
J: I remember a funny story when Espen was our drummer. I was
careless during a rehearsal and threw something at him that made him
bleed. He chased me and we started to fight a little in a friendly sort of
way. Then we got angrier. I ran out of our rehearsal studio and he threw
a big armchair after me. He missed, but a poor boy was coming down the
stairs at the same time and asked cautiously: "Eh, can you show me the
way to the toilet?" "Sure, through the door to the left, but watch out for
the armchairs!" (Lots of laughter.) But it works after all. If no one ever
shows any emotions, you just keep being angry with one other. It's quite
intimate, really, playing in a band. It's a kind of family situation.
LYRICS AND TRANSPIRATION
Seid used to write lyrics in Norwegian. Not anymore. Their aim is
J: We want to be rock stars, play at Wembley and sing in
English with a bad accent!
OT: Usually it sounds cooler singing in English, some reason or
J: The clichés are not that evident, at least not to us
BE: Often I start writing the lyrics and Jørgen continues.
OT: They're not the cleverest parts of our songs.
BE: Jørgen and I are the silly ones.
J: We keep fighting ... and writing the lyrics ...
BE: There's a lot of crap, but some are cool.
OT: They're often about fantasy and animals.
J: Dog, cat, a drug-addicted rabbit, and jellyfish - an
underestimated animal ...
OT: I don't believe we'll ever write serious lyrics with a deep
J: You never know, our music changes and we change. There's
no reason to restrict ourselves.
OT: It would've been great to write some sort of concept lyrics,
a story all through an album, maybe.
J: I don't know... A record ought to show how a band really
sounds. We have a lot of different sounding songs and lyrics.
OT: It's kind of schizophrenic, really.
J: It ought to be schizophrenic in a way that others may
understand, with a schizophrenic governing idea... (bursts of
Seid has been playing live quite often lately, in Trondheim and
Arendal. What they really need live, is a person to be their sound
engineer on permanent basis.
BE: That's a problem with our concerts. We had a gig in Evje (a
small village) where I used distortion and echo on my bass, and treated
the strings with a screwdriver. The sound engineer went bananas. He
thought the bass amp had blown up.
But the Seid men want to gain even more control.
BE: At one of our concerts, we went over to the sound engineer
when the previous band finished and started a CD by Spectrum with
some strange noises made by a guy using analogue synths and organ.
The intention was to get the audience in a certain mood and get them
ready for our performance.
OT: Eventually we hope to run our performances without any
breaks to keep people in the mood.
BE: The only problem is guitars getting out of tune. At our gigs,
we have to do a lot of tuning in between songs.
OT: Then I'll play something on a keyboard. Also, it would've
been cool to start some ambient techno-sounding tune after we've
finished playing. Often it feels like a sudden stop when we finish and the
sound engineer or DJ starts some crap CD.
PLANS AND RECORDS
Of course Seid has plans to record an album.
- We'll make a CD eventually, everyone exclaims ...
J: We're not in a hurry. It'll have to include lots of short tracks
woven into each other. No hasty recordings. When we start the process,
it'll have to result in a proper album that'll stand the test of time.
BE: It has to be released by a record company. It's sheer hell to
distribute on your own. We tried to distribute the CD by The Rockets
So far they've recorded three varying demos. The last was
recorded in Trondheim last autumn and they're pleased with the way it
worked out. Still, it was only a demo.
OT: The songs are fresher live than what we've gained in a
J: It's not easy to transfer the live energy onto record. Suddenly
you're in a studio and nervous as hell.
OT: Maybe we can invite 10-20 friends to the studio, to keep the
energy while we're recording?
J: We can tell them to rock and jump, as long as they're
Do you have any other ambitions?
BE: Seid is a sort of underground band, and I'm satisfied as long
as we keep it like that.
J: That's your opinion.
BE: You want to be a rock'n'roll star.
J: Of course, lots of parties and ladies and cocaine and ...
(believe it or not: hysterical bursts of laughter).
BE: I guess I have to reconsider.
J: At least it would've been fun to do some touring, in Norway
or wherever, youth clubs, small clubs, whatever.
And where does Seid proceed from here?
OT: To me, it seems we're moving in two directions
simultaneously. Even crazier funk, hard with unusual rhythm patterns. At
the same time, we keep on playing those long jam-sounding poppy
J: What we ought to do is to reach even further in all our
directions. The hard parts should get harder, the powerful parts even
more powerful, the calm even calmer ... To really bring out the
OT: Dynamics, very important!
J: Motorpsycho is the masters of dynamics in Norway these
days. Their live concept must be close to perfection by now. They've
got it all: film projections to get you carried away, lots of rhythms, a wall
of sound that suddenly gets calm with beautiful melodies... That's the
way we ought to work. Seek the right ways to make the different
elements fit. That's not easy.
The boys treated different exotic drums at a jam along with
members of the band Chateau de Fleurs some time ago.
- It was incredibly cool! they all exclaim.
J: What I learned from the jam was that we need even more
rhythm instruments. Lots of percussion. I can understand why Ricky
Martin has gained his popularity. The music gets very intense with that
much percussive instruments. Not that we intend to be the Ricky Martins
of psychedelia ...
It's about time to stop. We give the quartet a pat on the back, and
wish them the best of luck with forthcoming quarrels and development of
the music. And don't forget where you first read about Seid!
Copyright © 1999 JP