It’s almost more difficult to grasp how the bizarre wouldn’t interest someone than how it would. Everyday life can get so boring and dull and routine definitely can make today feel like yesterday feel like tomorrow feel like yesterday in one long, unbroken line. The bizarre, the weird, the strange all give us a chance to break from those commonplace conventions of ordinary life. When something is truly weird and out there, it lets us add a little spice and variety to life. If you need a suggestion for injecting some of the oddness of life into your routine, look no further than Bizarrekult.
After forming in 2005 and putting out a demo and split, Bizarrekult disappeared until 2019, when they returned with the Join the Kult!!! EP. That was followed up by 2021’s Vi Overlevde and this year’s killer Den Tapte Krigen. Throughout it all, Bizarrekult has never bowed to convention or what someone might expect from the group. Every time out, you know you are going to be getting a wholly unique piece of music that’s a deeply personal expression of main man Bizarre. I recently caught up with the driving force behind the group to find out how the new record came together and what’s next for Bizarrekult.
First off, how did you get started with Bizarrekult? How did you guys meet and what made you want to start this kind of band together?
Bizarre: To begin with…Bizarrekult has been my solo-venture from the start, as I wanted to do something on my own. So there is no “band” in its normal meaning. I have friends that help me with recording and I have a live line-up with other musicians but there is no “normal band” with people writing it together and rehearsals before recording something. Of course both studio and live line-up bring something on their own when it comes to recording or performing on stage but I have the final word.
How did you guys initially get into black metal and who were some of the important bands in getting you into the style?
Bizarre: I heard Immortal and Emperor in 1995 on a tape from a school friend and I was not impressed. I guess I was not ready for sound. At that time I was more interested in thrash metal and death metal. So [the] black metal sound was too raw. But then I got more and more interested in 1999 with Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Mayhem (2000), and in a way re-discovered many of the bands, including Emperor’s brilliant “Anthems…” (1997). [I have] been listening to black metal bands since then, I guess, but not limited to them, of course.
Bizarrekult started in ’05 but went on an extended hiatus in 2010. What led to the long gap and how did you decide to bring the band back in 2019?
Bizarre: I did two demo records, in 2006 and 2007, and there was no band at that time, just me and a studio drummer. Then, when I moved to Norway in 2009, I gathered a few musicians and this is when I wrote what you hear on Vi Overlevde but then I had to prioritize work and family so I left the musical path. My guitar was in the bag for until 2019 indeed. A friend of mine, Ignat from Minsk, Belarus, who is a great guitarist, has been challenging me with recording the material from 2009/’10 and finally I gave up. He has been central to kicking back my creativity.
Since you’ve been back, you’ve put out two killer LPs. What’s fueling the current creative fire and how have you managed to keep the momentum going this time around?
Bizarre: Vi Overlevde is basically songs that I wrote in 2009/’10 that got uplifted, reconsidered, a bit rearranged, with Ignat bringing his experience from post-metal/sludge. As I had to bring back all the riffs back into my memory, I started playing guitar again in 2019. I also started writing poetry again so this combination and feeling that I still have to say something keeps the flame burning.
Between studio and live members, there have been a decent amount of people in Bizarrekult. What do you look for in a new member when there is an opening? How do you keep a healthy band dynamic?
Bizarre: For studio work, these are basically my friends (plus my wife) so there is no “looking for new members.” Everyone is on board as long as they like what I wrote and want to be a part of Bizarrekult record. For the live line-up, I was looking primarily for a good collective of musicians that can play together and here I also was lucky to get these guys that I work with now. They are playing in their own band called Enrapture, are young, motivated, and very skilled. Needless to say that they play well together. There is no need to change anything at the moment but should there be an opening…it should be someone who has great skills and good taste in music!
What is the music writing process like for the band? Has it changed at all as time has gone on?
Bizarre: I don’t think it changed that much since 2005/6: I play something on the guitar, if I like it I write it down on the computer in guitar pro software, add all other instruments, and use this as a starting point for a demo record. Then there are of course things that might change a bit with regards to additional arrangements, vocal lines, or melodies at the time of recording.
What’s the lyric writing process like for the band? What do you try to do with the words to a Bizarrekult song?
Bizarre: I get random inspiration, often when listening to the demo of the song to get a feeling of what would be the topic here or there. Then I get a lot of inspiration when walking or running outdoors. The words are mostly my reflections of past, present, and future. Personal feelings, relationships, sometimes a bit of societal perspective (“Kongen,” “Skrik i Tomhet”).
The most recent record, Den Tapte Krigen, is a great sophomore record. What was the recording/writing process like for that one? Did you feel more comfortable with everything since you’d already had one full-length recorded by then?
Bizarre: Thanks! Similar to what I already mentioned, I composed it all on the guitar, some ideas were tested with my wife with me playing the guitar and she playing piano/singing clean vocals. Then I made the files on the computer, recorded the demo, showed it to the guys (Ignat and Alexander) and we started recording, remotely, each in their own studio. Then Alexander did the editing and Miguel Tereso from Demigod Recording (Gaerea) did the rest of the magic with mixing and producing the final sound landscape. It was more comfortable indeed as the ideas were more actual and not historical (Vi Overlevde has material from 2009/10) and we had already established a good workflow with Vi Overlevde.
I wanted to ask about the origin behind a few of the songs on there. What’s the story behind “Du Lovet Meg?”
Bizarre: “Du lovet meg (You Promised Me)” is a song about the mismatch of our expectations and actions, promises that never get implemented, forgiveness, and eternal love. A soundtrack for anyone who has ever been in a relationship with another person. For the music video you can trace back ideas to Peer Gynt, Legends of the Fall and The Story of Mr Sommer.
What’s the origin of “Midt I Stormen?”
Bizarre: “Midt I stormen’ (In the Middle of the Storm)” is a desperate hymn of a loss. As we age, we lose our dear ones. Sometimes, these messages are like lightning that hits the only tall tree standing in an open field. And there we are, burned and broken, on the ruins of our memories. It is related to the passing of a close family member. Something we also tried to incorporate into the music video.
How about the story behind “Himmelen er Utiljengelig?”
Bizarre: “Heaven is not available” is about living in a waiting for something yet to come, in a promise of a better life, better place, better next step. While the focus should be on making your current life and your current place a better one. Improve yourself, evolve, educate, reflect on what is actually going around. Many people spend their lives in illusion that there is something better to appear (be it thanks to religion or politicians) and you only need to wait, while you actually need to look around and act now.
What is your local scene like over there? Do you get to play live often and has the scene had an effect on the development of the band?
Bizarre: Well, Norway is huge when it comes to big names and great bands. As we started playing only last year, we had 20 concerts, including a tour in 6 EU-countries with Regarde Les Hommes Tomber and Der Weg Einer Freiheit and looking forward to playing more soon. The Norwegian black metal scene definitely had an impact on me as a composer and other members of the live line-up as musicians. You can’t live here without being affected by it 😉
Lastly, what’s next for Bizarrekult? What are your goals for the future of the band?
Bizarre: We will play at festivals in Norway and abroad and I need to finish lyrics for the third album in order to finish recording it!
Photo at top: Den Tapte Krigen album cover.