One Tail, One Head. Here is the enigmatic name which resounds since a few years in the somber spheres of the underground. Formed in 2006 and having released two demos as well as two Eps, this Norwegian quartet especially marked the spirits by its scenic presence throughout these last years. Furious performances in every corner of the globe which confirmed the potential of this horde pouring in face of the world its chaotic prediction. After almost a decade of existence, the time has come to dialogue with his founder in the person of to present to our readers this mysterious entity… Words immortalized by J. in April 2015.
Hail! First of all, thank you for accepting to do this interview! Your horde came out from the misty shadows in 2006. Who created this project and under which circumstances did it came to life? What were your motivations back then?
One Tail, One Head was founded me and the drummer, and born out of the need to explore wilder and more primitive territory than we were currently able to with our main projects. We were younger and certainly less experienced then, but it was a time of fierce fire and powerful passion nonetheless.
The current line-up seems pretty stable now since years... I guess it was important for all of you to share the same ideas and visions. Can you tell us how did you met each other and as a person, which values are important in One Tail One Head? Do you care about the personality when it comes to musicians?
The founding members were all present and active in the same circle of bands, projects and individuals in Trondheim. This was simply a new musical constellation. When our former bassist left the earth in 2009, our current one stepped in from Oslo. Since then we have slowly morphed into our current shape as a band.
We have always seen our differences as equally important to our similarities, if not more so. These different personalities has always fueled the chaotic and uncontrollable force that is OTOH. Somehow we meet at some sort of centre, and the eye of the storm, so to speak. Of course the personalities of the musicians are important, not everyone could have been part of this. Only we can make this particular thing happen and every individual is irreplaceable. Our values? Honesty and devotion. Simple, but true.
The band’s name is rather enigmatic and by regarding closer to your bands logo, one can recognize a snake which bites itself the tail. Can you explain us the relation between them? How did you came to the idea to choose the name One Tail One Head?
It became clear early on that cycles of time, the eternal return, death and rebirth and such were becoming overarching themes in our lyrics. These are indeed enigmatic themes, and nothing is explained. Personal interpretation is paramount.
In these early stages we were both nameless and logoless, but sketches came along, pieces of lyrics, here and there, slowly painted a some sort of picture, however vague and obscure. We thought One Tail, One Head sounded strange and unorthodox, so we went with it.
How many time did you took to find your own musical way? Was it a long process to find it or did you had from the beginning an idea how OTOH would sound like?
This process was very organic. We always had some idea of an earthy primitivism, performed with fire. The way to do it grew forth between the four of us. It is hard to tell if it came quickly or slowly. Many years have passed, and the hours in the rehearsal space are countless. Then again, the work was more about digging deeper in the shared essence we found, rather than looking for some formula or identity, that was always present anyway.
You realized your two first demos in 2008. Six years later, what is your regard on them? Are you satisfied with them ? What feedbacks did you got at that time?
The first demo was a very good way to start off for us. The material on it has remained cornerstones in our live set all the way up until today, and personally I have a bit of a nostalgic connection to it as well. It captures the atmosphere of those early days very well. The second demo was more of a "work in progress" sort of rehearsal tape, recorded and printed with
Nidrosian Black Mass II in mind. It was a very limited pressing and quite intentionally obscure in nature.
If one takes a look at your discography we can see that until now, you realized two demos and two Eps. These two Eps were gathered in one Mini cd. Can you explain us why did you took this decision? Was it a will for you to make these tunes available for everyone?
Basically, yes. The original 7" EP's sold out quite fast, but the demand was still there so we figured a compilation was a good idea. As long as people are interested we see no reason not to print more physical copies.
I noticed that your lyrics seems not to be revealed on your productions. Is there a specific reason for that? Do you consider them as too personal to publish them? Can you introduce us to the lyrical content of your releases?
No, the reason for not including the lyrics had to do with format, mostly. Being demos and EP's we didn't feel the need to include the lyrics, but they will certainly be printed when the album finally comes. The lyrics are not explicitly personal, although they do of course have dimensions to them that can be interpreted in a very personal way, which is certainly the case for us in the band. I mentioned the overarching lyrical themes above, and most of the lyrics are variations on these. They are chaotic, sometimes paradoxical "meditations" on certain thoughts, emotions or instincts, often with a wild and uncontrollable nature, reflecting the forces at work within the band.
To stay on this matter, you have a song called “The Golden Light”. Could you explain us what symbolizes this “Golden Light” for you? Could it be seen as a metaphor or a certain vision of Death? I know this is a vast subject, but how do you consider death?
Again, the golden light could be interpreted very differently depending on the individual, the situation and the outlook. It means something for us, and hopefully it can mean something for you too.Personally I am not a man of belief. I am living now, I will die later. We will all find out, in the end, what we believe does not matter.
I noticed that blood seems to play an important part in the concept of OTOH also on stage. Can you tell us what represents this element for you?
We are born in blood, and we die in blood. It so closely connected to what this band is about, so it is just very natural to use it in a direct way. It is not much more to say about it, really. Profound simplicity.
Where do you get inspiration for your lyrics and music? Is the fact to be several persons with different personalities an advantage regarding the inspiration?
Everywhere, nowhere. Everything and nothing. I mean, I rarely write music or write lyrics with a specific influence in mind. and I do not trace my inspiration back to something specific. I like to keep this process as organic and as intuitive as possible.
As of today I write all music and lyrics, but certainly all members are instrumental to giving it shape and soul. The metal that comes out of the OTOH blacksmith carries a distinct signature. Not to say what we do is particularly original, that is not our intent, but we put our mark on it, which is the fundament for the emotional connection we make with the music.
Due to the individual differences, I guess each OTOH member has different believes and I suppose each of you bring elements into the whole concept. How do you manage to form a homogeneous concept for OTOH? Is eclectism important? By the way, can you tell us your personal driving force?
We have been quite eclectic all along, at least if you look at the vibrational level. We have not been strict or very orthodox in our approach. I am not completely certain that we have a "homogeneous concept". OTOH is, as I have been onto several times already, an exploration of the chaotic and uncontrollable forces within. We go in all directions at the same time.
Could you please tell us more about your way of composing? Does everyone of you take part in this process?
No, it is only me for the actual composing. There are no rules or routines for this process, it is different every time. Quite a bit of material is made, but only a percentage of it make it through and end up on a final piece. This is where the others come in - we find the proper form for the pieces together. It is a lot of intuition all the way through this process, so there is no strict method whatsoever. Full on fiery force. Always.
You are all involved in other bands and I guess it must certainly take you a lot of time! Isn’t it too difficult for all of you to find the time for One Tail One Head? Can you rehearse as much as you would like? How long do you usually need to write a song ?
This is of course spot on - creativity takes time and there is a lot of energy and will to do a great variety of things amongst us. Sometimes it can be a challenge to make all ends meet for OTOH, but as you can see, we do get by with the time we have. We have given live performances the most priority, so the recording aspect of this band has surely suffered somewhat. You make certain sacrifices. That said, this is natural path to take for us, and all the live activity have been part of making us who we are. We rehearse often enough, and writing a piece can take from two hours to two years, really.
To have seen you once live, I was impressed by the energy that you bring on stage! How would you describe to an outsider a live appearance of OTOH ? How do you feel on stage?
Thank you! We give it a lot of effort and energy - it is very important for to deliver in the live setting, and yes, we definitely appreciate it, although it is of course extremely hard at times. I have no idea how to describe an OTOH performance for an outsider - but I would probably use words like chaos, wild energy, unpredictable, blood, earth and fire.
How do we feel on stage? Well, it is like some secret euphoric place somewhere between pain and pleasure - very hard to explain. Intense presence; nothing exists but the now. Sometimes it is very hard to remember what happens or recollect the experience afterwards. It is certainly a very physical experience, but there is an unmistakable mental aspect to it as well, despite what people might think. It is simply very, very intense, in the true sense of the word and in every aspect.
Recently, you also had the opportunity to do a tour called Untamed & Unchained. What memories do you keep of this experience? Are there places which particularly marked you?
A tour is something special, at least this one were. We traveled in the very best of company and with the very best of bands, Svartidauði and Mgła. The companionship made the whole of the tour extremely memorable for us, and surely the best part of it. We also got a few truly great performances out of it, and seeing the other bands perform each night inspired us to push our limits. For us I think Prague stuck out as the best, and I am not sure why, but Prague always seem to go berserk when we visit. It is extraordinary every time. All in all, Untamed & Unchained was a valuable and enriching experience we shall not soon forget.
I could see you on the Speyer Grey Mass in March last year. According to me, you did a great show. How was this date for you?
The circumstances were not optimal in Speyer. I will not go into detail but let us just say that we wish more festivals would put quality over quantity in all aspects of their activity. Regardless of circumstances, we always give our best effort, and I believe all of us were very satisfied with this performance, even despite being the last date of the tour, and our exhausted bodies and minds.
You could also play in the United States! Can you give us your impressions about this country and the audience there compared to Europe?
The people coming to our performance in the US seemed very hungry and we were well received there. Overall the audience was not so different between the continents but there might have been a greater surge of energy going on in New York City than what we normally meet, although that is hard to say after playing so many highly energetic concerts throughout the last years. We have great audiences in many places - no boundaries.
How will the future looks like for OTOH? Can we expect a full length soon?
Yes, our main focus as this is written is the full length album. We are closer to completion than ever. The main body of material is done and we are working on details. There is not much more to say at this point - we mean for it to be worth the wait, for ourselves, and for whomever else that might have been waiting. Onwards. Well, thank you for the interview, and, to anyone who read this far: thank you for the interest. See you somewhere in time.
Interview by J.