Here comes the sophomore album of Oslo/Norway based progressive rock act INFRINGEMENT! They came together on a cold November evening in 2015, when they met for the first time, to drink whiskey and discuss the idea of forming a new band. They are now ready for the second chapter. “Alienism”, a concept album that will not dissaponint all fans of progressive rock and that places Infringement as a new and wild force in the genre. And pay attentiont to the lyrics because theses guys work on that aspect too, they do have a meaning and a message.
Hello Hans, since the birth of Infringement you have been able to deliver two albums with a huge amount of hours behind I suppose, is that right or creating music is much easier for you?
There was a huge amount of work behind both of the albums, but the process of making them differed a bit. For the first album, it was much more of an individual process where we got together and started playing on each other’s tracks. With alienism, it was more a process of the band getting together and working around different ideas and melodies. Having a keyboard member in the band also helps out (Bård joined the band for the live shows after Transition), as we didn’t have to compose and arrange that part by our self. I will say that as we’re slowly finding our identity, the music comes more easily.
Your debut “Transition” was a concept album focusing on one family across different generations, cool, not the first thing you think when you awake in the morning… Why that subject?
In hindsight, I don’t know if I (Hans Andreas) would have taken on the task of writing that story. It was more complex and challenging than anything else that I had done before, and even though I’m pleased with the result, there was a lot of hairpulling involved. The idea to write a concept album popped up quite early in the process, but it wasn’t the first idea. One of the first songs that I wrote the lyrics to was a song called Copyright Infringement, which is where we got our name from. I think the theme for the album first appeared as an idea Stig had around the concept of an imaginary castle, but as a band, we decided to tone down the fantasy aspects of it and decided to focus on a house instead. When the idea to tell the story from the house’s perspective, it all fell into place, and the story evolved as we gave the house human qualities and have it evolve with the generations of its inhabitants.
A great story. Of course, after a so big effort, your second album could not be anything but another concept album around another cool idea. Can you explain a little about it and how did you develop that subject?
Even before finishing writing the first album, the idea for the second album was already in the works. The idea of a mental institution is nothing new when it comes to writing lyrics, but it is an excellent setup for exploring the human psyché, and I think we managed to put our special twist to it. From the beginning, it was clear that the individual songs would tackle one patient at the institution all told through the journals oft he commissioner in lunacy, or the head doctor. As the story evolves, the mental health of the doctor slowly deteriorates as he reaches his own personal epiphany. The Gentmire institution exists somewhere out of time and space, even though there are some easter eggs in the lyrics linking it to the house from the previous album (something for the keen listener). It was important to me to stay true to the history of psychiatry, and I even consulted a friend of mine who’s a psychiatrist. We also went all out when it comes to the album art and band photos. The one photo where we stand in front of an old building, is an old mental institution in Oslo, Norway.
Amazing, you actually work hard. Is there a writer in the band or the script is worked out by all members in the band?
Hans Andreas writes all the lyrics for the band, with inputs from the other members. When the band comes up with an idea, it takes time to mold it into a story, and it kind of evolves organically. Hans Andreas writes the whole story out as a short story first, without considering the music, and then start to trim it down to fit. The story on both albums is also expanded by text in the booklet. We recommend reading the booklet while listening to the album to get all the context.
Yeah, a good recommendation. Bård Thorstensen (keys) joined the band for the live shows and the guy didn’t want to leave it any more, I think his support to the band is actually a great value
This is so true. First of all, we’re so lucky to have Bård in the band. He’s an amazing musician, with inputs and ideas that help us grow as a band. He’s also a great guy and fits perfectly into the outfit that is Infringement. He has a diverse background ranging from classical music and jazz, to even black metal.
When it comes to the musical part of your project I will label INFRINGEMENT as a progressive band, your world is too wide to talk about rock, metal or whatever, what do you think?
We identify as a progressive rock band, but that doesn’t limit us in the songwriting. If we feel like putting a pop-part or a metal-part into one of our songs, we go for it.
If you have to compare your first album with this second “Alienism” the result would be…?
I think you hear a band that has evolved a bit, taking the cornerstones from Transition, and slowly growing into the Infringement sound. It is also a bit more catchy, something that hopefully can be a gateway drug for new fans into the progressive/neo-progressive music.
If we talked in cooking terms “Alienism” would be gourmet cuisine, those who are looking for fast food probably will not finish the dish…, what do you think?
I agree. It is written to be a four-course meal, not a quick bite you grab on the run. It is best enjoyed in a restaurant setting, with a white table cloth and a glass of wine. Disorder is the appetizer, giving you a taste of what to come. Triad and therapy is the surf and turf, one to fill your stomach and the other more easily digested. Delerium is the dessert, one not to be consumed quickly, but to be enjoyed into the long hours of the evening.
An exact dissection of the album. How long have you worked in the composition of “Alienism” and how was the process?
Some of the ideas for Aliensim dates back to the previous album. Back then they were only riffs or short themes. Most of the composing and writing were done during 2018. Some of the songs were worked on heavily at rehearsal, while others, like Delerium, was methodically composed over time by Kristoffer. When the musical structure of the song is roughly worked out, Hans Andreas starts working on fitting the lyrics in. Over time the songs evolve, and we end up with something that can be far from the original idea.
Listening to your new album I have the feeling that it’s impossible to digest it in just a few times, it needs many listenings in order to discover all the treasures hiden in it
I agree, there are manly subtle nuances that can escape you during the first couple of times you listen to the album. This is what makes it interesting and hopefully makes people come back to the album. I think all the great albums have this quality, the joy of discovering something new every time you give the album a spin. The album being only 40 minutes long is also a deliberate choice when it comes to this, hoping that it will make people want more, and not wear out the listener.
Every piece is perfect but I particulary love Stig André Clason’s work on guitars, so elegant as emotional…
I think you nailed Stig there. He has an incredible feel for the music. It is so easy for the guitar to dominate the soundscape. His brilliance lies in the subtlety, complimenting all the other instruments, whilst also shining when it’s his time to shine.
The album has only four songs, three of them long tracks. Is easier to make a catchy short song or a long track where you can avoid some fixed parameters?
You would think so wouldn’t you? It was definitely not true when it came to this album. The hardest song to nail on this album was the shortest one, Therapy. The intricate chord progression on the refrain made figuring out the vocal line some of the most frustrating work we’ve done. It was also a song that we experimented a lot with when it comes to effects.
Is there any specific band that had inspired you in the task of creating your own sound?
It’s a hard question to answer. I think all the different band members brought their own inspiration into the mix. The feedback we have gotten for the album has compared us to everything from Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, to Rush, Blue öyster Cult and Queensrÿche. Unconsciously I think all these inspirations, and many others, shape the sound of Infringement.
Any favorite song in the album?
In a way, it’s like asking to choose your favorite child. All the songs are structured to be a part oft he whole, and I think if you ask all the members of the band, they would choose different songs depending on their mood and time of day.
I would say so. Where do you see yourselves in terms of composition and style in ten years from now?
I hope the band will continue to evolve whilst keeping what makes us Infringement intact. Ideas for a new concept album is already brewing. When making an album, the members’ state of mind at the moment of conception is the source of creativity, and who knows where our state of mind will be down the road.
Would you play this second album live? From beginning to the end?
Just a few days before this interview we played the release concert for the album in Oslo. We started the set playing some songs from the previous album, before leaving the stage and returning in a new set of clothes to play Alienism in ist entirety. As long as the material is new and fresh, we’ll continue to perform the whole album, at least through the upcoming spring and summer festivals.
Awesome, something to watch, listening and enjoy. Thank you very much and congratulations for your big album, if you wish to add something…
Thank you very much for the amazing review of Alienism. And to all the fans of progressive music, thank you all for being amazing fans. Look us up on Facebook, write us a message if you like, and continue supporting all the amazing progressive bands out there. Buy records and go out and watch them and us play live. Let the progressive revolution begin!