I was recently treated to an email interview with Ville Hising of Run Level Zero, who was nice enough to take time out of his holiday weekend to answer my questions. Vocalist and other half of RLZ, Hans Åkerman, later joined to add his input. Arctic Noise, the band’s latest album, has made a splash on the German Alternative Charts and in the industrial scene worldwide.
Arctic Noise is very confident and pulled together. Would you say you were more confident here than with previous albums?
Absolutely. Cthulhu knows we've spent a lot more time on this album than the previous ones and a lot of work has been put into the flow and design of Arctic Noise. It's far from a concept album, per se, but we have been thinking a bit along those same lines.
Is there a chance we could see a concept album in the future?
Not sure. Some concept albums in other genres have been very interesting but we also feel that it somewhat limits what you can, and can't, do production wise. Maybe a concept mini album or digital release….who knows?
Most of the songs on the album are anthemic, both in music and lyrics. Did you approach Arctic Noise with a vision of creating something on such a large scale?
Good point. I agree that there are several tracks that are anthemic in their nature, it wasn't something we planned but rather it came out that way because of our current taste in music and production skills. Or lack thereof.
I'm in love with "Stroke" right now. Do you have any favorites on the album?
"Stroke" is my favorite, too! It's always been the one song, out of the 30 or so demos we had to choose from to put on the album, that I liked the most. Other than that I like "Black Cinder" and "Hitting Ground". "Shine" is actually an old (well, old-ish) unpublished track that I've learned to like because of it's clean and airy atmosphere.
How do you feel about all the comparisons to Front Line Assembly?
There's no denying FLA has influenced us but I was actually a bit surprised that people seem to compare us with them even more than before when the first reviews started to pour in. I think we rely more on refrains than before whereas FLA has always been a bit darker and noisy.
Do you think that recent flood of comparisons will affect how you approach the next album?
One would think so but we've never been huge fans of changing direction, or style, just because of what other people think. That said, we always strive to explore other ways of improving the creative process so as to not grow stale. I'm convinced most people will be able to tell from listening to our previous albums.
Are there any tour plans in the future?
We want to get back on the road, soon, but there's nothing planned as of now. We've been in discussions with some promoters during the last year but we wanted to wait until we had a new album out.
Ville, you’re a promoter, DJ, and logo designer for Tech Noir*. Has that helped your work in RLZ?
I've also done logos and graphic design for Necro Facility, Spetsnaz and, of course, Run Level Zero, so it has definitely had some influence on what we do with RLZ. During the last couple of years we've applied some of the ideas I've picked up from my time as a visual designer onto our website, album covers, Myspace, etc. We developed a kind of visual identity and I even created a small, digitally distributed handbook for our "brand" that we give out to promoters and flyer designers. I'm not sure whether this way of thinking has had any tangible impact on how people perceive the band as a whole but it's a fun way to apply those principles.
What's next for Run Level Zero?
We're already begun working on the next album. It won't take another four years this time, for sure! Other than that we hope to do a lot of gigs and maybe put together a video.
Any idea yet what we might see a video for?
Judging by ratings, reviews and input from our fans it should be either "Black Cinder" or "Hitting Ground" and we tend to agree – they would probably translate well into the visual realm.
*From the official website:
“Tech Noir is Stockholm’s, and Sweden’s, biggest and most well-known Synth/EBM/Synthpop/Industrial club. We arrange regular clubnights as well as live performances and also organize travels to other underground and alternative events in Sweden.”