Norse: All is Mist and Frog

"If you're an asshole, you're still an asshole."

Aussie black metal miscreants Norse made their triumphant return to the live circuit last Friday week to celebrate the release of their Plaguewhore 7" vinyl single. Metal as Fuck caught up with drummer and sole original member Frog to talk about how it feels to be back and what Norse has in store for us in the future.

This is your first return to playing live after some lineup issues. How'd you manage to get the live lineup sorted? "Well, it used to be me and Treelo and we had session members come in, Shane (Querruel) on guitar and Wes on bass and stuff like that. That worked really well, but then last year Treelo decided it was time to move on. Then I realised that I was the only original member left. So I thought the way to go is that we have to get in another [permanent] member. It can't be a one man band with just session musicians, that's just rediculous. I really wanted to find a vocalist to complete the duo," He says. "We managed to find the perfect replacement and then we had the trouble of finding another guitarist because we couldn't find anyone good enough to sing and play [at the same time] like Treelo could. So we found another guitarist, it took a while, a few different tryouts and a few different failures, normal stuff. But it finally solidified and it's working really well now. We've been rehearsing for the last couple of months and everything's back to normal. It feels fantastic, really pleased with the process."

Is it tough finding session musicians that fit the feel of the band? "Yeah, you really have to go for personality and find the right sort of person rather than focus on technical ability. Not to say that the members of the band are technically incapable, they're all amazing players and you need to be to play this sort of music. But you really have to find people who are sensible and stable, otherwise it just doesn't work. You can be amazing on your instrument, but if you're an asshole, you're still an asshole [laughs]. So it takes a while and there's a bit of an art to finding them. But there are people around; you've just got to do some real research and digging."

Now that you've got the live lineup sorted, are you looking to increase your touring schedule a bit more? "Well, we are planning on doing some more shows. We've got an EP coming out very soon entitled Pest, we're just in the final stages of mastering at the moment. Once that's done, we're going to be touring off that around Australia. Probably around May, middle of the year onwards. It'll be great to get out there and do some more shows. One thing I missed is playing live; it's just the best feeling. Being six months off stage really makes you want to get back into it."

Seeing as he brought it up, I ask him about the status of the upcoming EP. "The new EP is coming along very well. It's taken a long time because the guitars were originally recorded and written years ago and then it sat on the backbench for a while. Then, when Treelo left, I decided to really make sure that it was the main priority to get a new release out and get the ball rolling. It's been a long time, but it's finally coming together. I had to find a vocalist that suited [the band], mixing always takes forever and then we've got to work out all of the promotion for it. So it's been a long slow road for half an hour of music, but it's been worthwhile. I'm really proud of this and looking forward to getting it out there."

Are there any plans to be heading overseas in the near future? "No immediate plans. I've done that a few times with other bands and coming back thousands of dollars in debt is just not feasible anymore. There's just no money in it. It becomes more of a burden than a fun thing. So I'd rather stay in the limits of what we can afford, be sensible about it and not implode because of the stress. As long as you're sensible, you can have fun, but if you push too hard you will burn out."

Because Australian bands are so isolated geograohically, do you think we're at a disadvantage to, say European bands? "No I don't think so. I think the European and American scenes are so crowded with bands that sound exactly like each other because there's so much interaction between them. With Australia, we're so isolated that we get some unique and interesting bands happening who are only interested in doing their own thing and not just wanting to jump on the latest trend. So I think Australia has a very healthy and unique scene as far as creative music goes."

Anything left you'd like to say? "Just keep an eye out for the upcoming Pest EP, which will be out early 2014. It's going to be interesting."