Espen Granseth is the drummer for Norwegian progressive/art rock band Delvoid. His band has recently released their latest album “Serene.” I had the chance to sit down with him and discuss his album, influences, and future plans.
How long have you played in Delvoid? Did you know everyone in the band prior to joining?
I´ve been playing in Delvoid since the very beginning, sometime in the spring of 2007, although it wasn´t really «Delvoid» until the fall of 2008. More of an immature instrumental post-rock kind of thing. I incidentally ran into our soon-to-become first bassist Adrian Haugen, (also called Chad), in 2007 and we started jamming. Then I brought Erik onboard on guitar, who I knew from school, and had already been playing with in various projects. So Erik I knew. Adrian I got to know in the beginning of Delvoid.
What are you currently listening to? Have you discovered any bands or albums lately?
The most recent music I have discovered to be awesome lately is maybe Jethro Tull, which isn’t really much of a discovery I guess. Also Opeth and Godspeed You! Black Emperor are rocking my stereo these days. And I’m looking forward to hearing the new Daniel Norgren album.
When you aren’t playing music, what do you do in your free time?
I guess it´s really not much besides the music. I work on a sideproject with two other guys, and besides that I enjoy a good book, a good movie, and I’m quite fond of drinking beer. Especially with other people.
Are you self-taught, or are there any teachers who helped you to become the drummer you are today?
I got a drumteacher when I was eight, who taught me classical drums and told me never to improvise, for that was the road to the dark side. I learned the basics from him, and to read sheet music and I also played in a marching band for several years. But it was when I started jamming in bands that it really turned out to be something enjoyable. I´ve had lessons with different teachers since then,but not in the last five years or so.
How extensively has Delvoid toured? What are some of your favorite memories of being on the road?
Delvoid hasn’t really been a lot on tour. We have played a bit here and there in Norway, but as you might guess, the music isn’t really easy to sell, and these last three years we’ve used all our time and resources on finishing the album. We are hoping for some touring both in and out of Norway next year, now that the album is done.
I think most of my favorite memories of being on the road, is in the car with the guys. I enjoy long drives, and especially with these three people in the car. I know it probably sounds weird, but these guys are hilarious. So that´s my second favorite thing with touring. Playing gigs is obviously number one.
It’s been four years since your debut album “Delve.” How has the band kept busy during that time?
Well, a few months after releasing Delve, our bassist at that point, Jonas Kjølstad, quit the band. We got busy finding a new one, and a year later we started rehearsing for our second album with Magnus Falkenberg on the bass. After our first studio session with Serene, we used about six months to compose the soundtrack for the documentary «First Contact» by Johan Wildhagen. Then Falkenberg also quit the band, and it took us some time to find our current bassist Magnus Andersen, who I hope will stay with the band forever. He nails the part. After that, it was quite a project to finish Serene, mostly because we financed it ourselves, so that took up most of the time and energy until now. We didn’t really plan on working on it for so long, but it turned out good, and we’ve learned a lot. So “kept busy” is definitely the right term.
What were some of the band’s influences musically going into this album?
The musical influences in the band aren’t always the same so I can’t really answer on behalf of the band.
There was also probably a lot of them. We had just discovered Karnivool, when we started this album, and they were very influential at least for me. I think it´s safe to say that Tool and Motorpsycho have a special place in our hearts, and I think I also had Mew, and This will destroy you, somewhere in the back of my head during the process, to mention a few.
Can you elaborate on the themes and concept behind “Serene”? Are they based on personal experiences of the band?
Since Alex writes almost all the lyrics in the band, I don´t feel it´s up to me to elaborate on the concepts. The theme for this album is the relationship between mother and son, but only two of the songs are about this. The rest of them are as far as I know based on Alex’s thoughts or view on things, and his personal experiences. So I guess you’ll have to ask him.
What equipment did you use recording and playing “Serene”?
Erik played an ESP eclipse II. Amps: Orange rockerverb 100w, Peavy Tripple X 120w and a Vox AC30 that, funny enough, Brian May´s guitar technician had modified (that amp was also one of 12 used by queen on Live Aid). Effects: TC.electronic Hall of Fame, Electro Harmonics Memory Man. Mangnus Falkenberg used a Fender Jazzbass, and a Fender bassman amp with a 4×12 cabinet. I played a Gretch Catalina Maple kit, that now belongs to Alex.
Describe the writing process. Is there a primary songwriter, or is it a collaborative effort?
We have a very good working process where all of us participate. The songs often start with long jam-sessions, or someone has an idea or a riff, and the rest is basically tossing ideas and opinions back and forth. Everyone has a say, and it works pretty good. A lot of the time, Erik, Magnus and myself work on arrangement, while Alex sits and writes lyrics, although Alex also have been playing guitar on a lot of songs lately. On a few occasions, someone brings a pretty much finished song (mostly Alex), but except for that, there´s a good collaboration.
How was it recording with Ole Henrik Moe and several musicians of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra?
It was amazing getting so many talented and nice people helping us with our vision on the Serene-album. They all did a fantastic job, Ole Henrik Moe, really did some magic on the song Serene, and Sofie Mortvedt´s hardanger-fiddle solo on Transient is also worth mentioning. Jørn and Birgitta from the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra is also Erik’s mom and dad, so we are quite fortunate to have those kinds of contacts.
Is there any information you’d like to share about Delvoid, whether upcoming tour news, band updates, etc.?
I can say that in addition to being busy with booking for 2016, we are practising a lot on some new material. We have just finished a long process with this album, and have currently no plans for recording another one in the near future, but we do have enough material for at least one, if not two more albums at this point. So on behalf of the band, I can say that we are keeping busy with composing. And the new stuff is pretty cool, if you ask me.
Have you learned anything about yourself since joining Delvoid?
I´ve been playing in Delvoid for eight years so I guess I’ve learned a couple of things since then. Band-related, I’ve learned that success is a term open for definition. That being a musician doesn’t have to be about big arenas or your face on the cover of a magazine. I´ve learned that doing whatever I want usually gets me where I want to be. And that I´ll probably won´t stop playing in bands any time soon.
A special thanks to Espen for taking the time to chat with me!