NOVEMBER 9th 2015

Welcome to Metaltitans, Guardians of Metal Entertainment Worldwide, we are here with Ronny Thorsen of Norway’s dark metal powerhouse VIPER SOLFA. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

1. How did VIPER SOLFA get chosen for the band name ?

The viper represents something lethal and dangerous, but also fast and elegant. Which is how we want the music to sound like. Solfa comes from the word solfege, or solfeggio which is an old singing technique, or study if you will. The key here is of course that it is related to music and that our ambition is to create music which is lethal, dangerous and poisonous, yet without the restrictions of genres. Hence the term Poison Music.
2. You are the founder of the band, what made you decide to put together a band ?
Well, the idea for Viper Solfa came to me while I was still with Trail of Tears, seven albums and 15 years of world wide touring does that to a man. I felt the need to explore a different musical climate after concentrating on one band only for so many years.
3. Why the choice of metal, did other Norwegian bands have some influence on you ?
As I mentioned, this is not my first band, I started Trail of Tears almost 20 years ago and was active in that band until the end. Viper Solfa was originally intended to be something on the side but since the demise of Trail of Tears, the focus is naturally different now and Viper Solfa has turned into priority number one.
4. Tell us how each of the band members came to be in Viper Solfa...
Miriam "Sphinx" Renvåg (Ram-Zet, Eternal Tears of Sorrow) - vocals: She was the final piece of the puzzle, we auditioned several female singers from different parts of the world and it took a local girl to grasp what the hell we had in mind for this position.

Morfeus (Mayhem, Limbonic Art) - guitars/keys/orchestrations: Morfeus came in about half-way into the process, actually Endre (bass) went to his place to record some ideas in his home studio and it was during this visit that he showed interest in being part of the whole thing.

Both Endre Moe and Bjørn Dugstad Rønnow were members of Trail of Tears along with me so when the idea of Viper Solfa came up, the two of them were the first ones I asked. They are both great musicians and good friends so I knew from the get go that I wanted them to be involved.

5. What kind of female vocals were you looking for when you found Miriam, there must have been a lot that applied, but what made her stand out above the rest ? By the way, love the diversity of both vocalists.

Thanks! Yeah, we tried out quite a few and they were all very good singers in their own right, it just didn’t fit with the music, or we had different goals/outlook on things. The most important thing for us was to avoid the glossy, polished expression that most of the bands with a female singer have. The music is too dark and too aggressive for those kind of vocals and we wanted a female singer with a more menacing presence and a mind twisted enough to fit the material. Voila, there was Miriam!
6. You have an album that is about to be released at the end of this month called "Carving An Icon", how did you come up with that name ?

The title is related to the fact that we are starting a new band after being active in the scene for many years, we are just getting started on something new and we need to carve our new band into the history as we have done with our previous bands. Ambitious yes, but we are in this for the long run.
7. You have a diverse group of musicians with different backgrounds in music, was it an easy process to put this album together ?
I think its never easy to put together an album, at least I have never experienced such a thing and I think this is the 12th album I’m participating on. There is always a lot of work that goes into the whole process which is making and album and this time was no different. Of course, it is interesting work which is after all why we`re still doing this, it sure as hell isn’t for the money haha….
8. Who wrote the lyrics for the songs ?
The lyrics were all written by Miriam and myself, and we are also responsible for the vocal lines and arrangements.
9. Where did the inspiration come from to write them ?

I guess you could say that the biggest inspiration is basic personal outlook on everyday life and surroundings, things we personally experience as well as world wide events. Inspiration can come from practically anything, I can be on my way to the store and a person’s facial expression while waiting for the bus can trigger something inside.   
10. How did you come to pick the Sound Suite Studio in Marseille France to record the album ?

Well, the album was partly recorded in Sound Suite however we also did some of the recordings in Strand Studio in Oslo as well as a couple of local studios. The reason why I wanted to record my parts in Soundsuite is because I have worked with the producer there for close to 15 years and it helps me a lot to travel away from the usual everyday hassle while concentrating on my parts.
11. Then you chose Strand Studio to mix and master, is there not a studio that can do it all for you ?

Strand Studio is a great place, and we started the recordings there by tracking the drums. It felt like a good place to go for the mix and master as well and we are very satisfied with the result. There are of course plenty of studios where we could do the entire album and personally I really miss those times when a band went in to a studio together with a set producer for two months and knocked out the album together from start to finish but there is simply not that kind of money involved anymore as the industry is today and it becomes increasingly more and more difficult to work that way.
12. Is it more expensive to have to go to different studios to get the CD done ?

No, like I said it`s exactly the opposite. It is both cheaper and more convenient to make use of studios closer to home. Remember, all the members are spread over different places in Norway. It would be impossible for the five of us to take 6-8 weeks off from our daily life without any income to enter the same studio together. 10-15 years ago this was no problem because you had something called studio budgets. Those are close to extinct today unless you are a big selling band on a big label.

13. Tell us about the inspiration behind the artwork for the album ?

We wanted something very simple and militaristic but with some added details when giving it a closer look. It looks both clean and immediate I think, simple and straight to the point.   
14. The artwork was done by Marcelo Vasco (Machine Head/Dimmu Borgir/Borknager), talented for sure, did you give the ideas to Marcelo or did he come up with the idea on his own ?
We gave him some guidelines, a few ideas and the lyrics and asked him for his personal interpretation. I think he did an outstanding job. And the booklet is perhaps even better. People really need to check out the whole booklet.
15. Did each of the musicians create their own music for the CD, or was it planned ahead and they learned their parts ?

The main ideas for the songs come from Morfeus on this album, he had a truckload of music written, some of it actually intended for the new Mayhem album but of course after parting ways with them he took these things further and some of the ideas eventually ended up as Viper Solfa songs. So he is the main song-writer, or the riff server if you will and then everything goes through the band grinder, the rhythm section do their thing, then me and Miriam start working on vocal stuff and lyrics.
16. What was the hardest part about putting this album together ?

Just the fact that we work very meticulously on everything, lots of pre-production stuff back and forth and the fact that we all live in different cities makes it quite hard sometimes. But of course, had it not been for the technology we would never be able to do this so it is what it is. But I have to admit that I sometimes miss the old ways of hammering out music together in a sweaty rehearsal room.
17. What do you hope the fans will like most about this album ?
Well, if they like it for ANY reason, that is a good start haha! I hope people give the album the time it needs to understand the songs, I know we don’t always make it easy for them but hopefully a couple of more spins will reveal some of the layers that lie under the surface.
18. Do you plan on touring after the release, and where if you do ?
Of course, isn’t that why you play in a band?! For me personally, I don’t know anything about playing in a band that does NOT play live. Since I first started my first band close to 20 years ago I have been fortunate to tour the world and seen places I could only have dreamt about had it not been for the band so that is naturally something we hope to keep going. So far we have some festivals booked in Norway and Europe in the summer and we`re looking to join a good tour package once the album has sunk in a little bit more.
19. Is there anything you would like to add to this interview that I might have missed asking, but you want people to know ?

Thanks for the support, check out “Carving an Icon” and follow our Facebook page and website for news and tour dates!