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Interview with Gazpacho
interview by: Bart Jan van der Vorst

 

The Recording Process

Gazpacho records their music in Thomas' studio, Krypton Sound Planet.
As Ohme describes: "If you're in Oslo, right behind the Royal castle, in an expensive neighbourhood, you have this studio, with this green light - as you know, Kryptonite is green, right? - and the windows are right down at the street level, and it's all green, and people go 'Oh, what the fuck is that?'"[laughter]

In the writing process, it's Jon and Thomas who usually come together and start working on ideas.
Ohme: "Tomas and Jon are the ones in the studio, laying down the tracks, having ideas, musically doing their thing. And then I come in afterwards and the song is more or less finished, musicwise, instrumentally, And I come in and do one or several ideas or sketches of song on top of that and we just, 'babble away'. And we're saying like we all live in the yellow submarine, or whatever, like hollow man can get you, long before you realise. And after that we just get the rhythm and all that and then we write the lyrics, last thing we do, actually."
Jon: "However, there is a theme, before the songs form an actual song. Once you start building it, you go like 'OK what's this basically going to be about'. And we'll say, 'ok, well it's in this direction, or in that direction'."
Ohme: "They're kind of moving from the very start until the song is finished it often moves, sometimes we have the idea 'it can be about this and that' and the song evolves and it turns into ... it sounds silly to say 'a monster you can't control' but the song just makes itself. As we go."
Tomas: "It comes to live..."
Ohme: "Yeah, comes to live and we haven't got much choice in. Oh that's that and we know we actually like it and we write the lyrics to suit that. And we got some pretty wild ideas, having these two guys in the band."

Jan-Henrik Ohme - photo taken by Lisa Nilsen

Ohme: "And we always write the lyrics in a kind of weird way. For mostly we sit down, actually not together, and hand eachother bits and pieces and ideas.
It's more like a collaboration thing than anything else. It's not like sitting down and 'OK, this song is about this and here's the mood and here's the vibe'. It happened several times that we actually made lyrics and changed them altogether. Have 'm fit in a song and think, 'no, that's not quite it' and then we'd rewritten the whole lyric. A kind of a strange way maybe of making music."
Tomas: "Well we always start out with what the mood of the song will be. Sometimes we'll have a picture that we downloaded from the Internet somewhere, to show to him and give him a general idea 'this is what it could be about' and then when he starts babbling on the song we pick something in that gives us an idea to think of which way to think we go further. And once he's done lyrics, and once he's done the primal thing then we make the song around his vocal tracks, for we make an instrumental, then he lays down his vocal track and then we change the instrumental to change the vocal track. "
Ohme: "We re-arrange after I have done my vocals. Like 'ah, a bit more subtle there, a bit more power there'."
Tomas: "And it's always a good idea if he hasn't heard the song before he comes in."
Ohme: "I go into my 'box', we'd like to call it like that. You know, if you've been a bad boy in Jail, you get sent to this box for two weeks. So I get sent into that [laughs] and I have a microphone, and about two square metres and I like to go in there before I've even heard the track, I haven't heard the backing track, and obviously you can hear the key it's in and I just start singing of the impressions I get. And very often the first couple of takes are actually the best. Because I don't know it yet. And I don't know when I'm supposed to come in with the middle eight, or chorus, or pre-chorus, uhm, and I don't know what's coming, but that's usually the best. Both Sea of Tranquility and Bravo was uh... in fact they both do, Oh, and Novgorod was a lot like that. It was all about that actually, I haven't got a clue. I knew the song from before, really, but I didn't know when I was supposed to go into, and magic happens when you don't want it to. You want to invent something but you couldn't do it."

Thomas: "So every Friday night Jon and I meet up to make music."
Ohme: "After which I come down and say 'what have you got for me'. They do their stuff often on Saturdays as well, and the following Friday , maybe during the week, but Friday is actually the day of the week that in studio time, and my work, is just round the corner from the studio, which is in the basement. There's no windows, where I'm working. It's like a cell and it's padded as well." [laughter]
[To the others:] "Could you buy me a strait-jacket please, I'd like to try that. I would make a song in a strait jacket, singing in my padded cell, would be absolutely fantastic."
"So in this padded cell, which is two square metres, I sing songs that I have never heard before. Uhm, like er... my point is, actually... so that's how we write, and we interact, and we correct eachother and I say 'No, I would not like to go to the B, I would like to go to the A there', and they go like 'Ooh, A...'
Yeah, that would open new stuff that I can do, because the A suits better, and yeah, and then we have to change it."
Jon: "It's a hell of a lot of work by the way."

Thomas Andersen and Jon Vilbo - photo taken by Lisa Nilsen

Jon: "we can only write one song at the time. Basically because with the recording, we have to finish one song before we can go forward to the next."
Thomas: "Because of the mixing desk... We've got a set-up for the sound of the songs, and then if you do another song, you change it completely. And I do radio commercials already, so I just hope I don't get any clients, or at least no clients that need a lot of tracks, because that would screw up the mix of the song we are working on at that moment.
But I do have a new mixing desk now, where you can just save a mix, which you can program."
Jon: "The working on one song at the time is much better, because you can focus on one song and get to like that song, and work on that. If you compare it, its a bit like to try and write three books at the same time, that's just not possible.
It starts off with the two of us, we lay down the backing tracks. He comes in later on to see if it's good, or not, or if he can sing on it. Not just melodic, but basically to get some sort of 'that special thing' going on, you know.
And then... we actually throw out a lot of things."
Ohme: "Oh, we threw away things..."
Jon: "It's you know, 'that's good, but that's been done before, it's not interesting' and then after that, then Roy comes in to do his thing. And now we're gonna have that fifth member, for our next album.
And that's the way we work, we don't do the kind of jam sessions or whatever, we are very structured the way we work. Then things just 'happen' as we go."

And with the backing tracks, before they didn't have a drummer, so all drums had to be programmed. This is done all by Thomas and Jon, who remarkably don't have any experience or background as a drummer.
Jon: "No, none whatsoever.
We use all samples and every single beat is programmed. So it's no automatic rhythm."
Thomas: "It's a hell of a lot of work."

Geir Digernes - photo taken by Bart Jan van der Vorst Jon: "Now with the new drummer it could be very interesting, it could be a lot less work."
Thomas: "Geir hasn't contributed much to this album because the studio isn't equipped. We didn't have equipment to record the drums, so we used samples because it sounds better... That's why we've done it."
Jon: "For practical reasons we couldn't re-record any of the older songs for Bravo, even if we'd wanted to."
Thomas: "It's all about economy actually, because we had to rebuild the studio to be able to record drums. But we've done that now. From now on we can record drums. "
Jon: "It's also revisiting tracks that have been made which are actually very good in itself. And we figured don't fix what ain't broke, so we left it."

Ohme: "We think Geir is a brilliant drummer and he's actually really been contributing to what we do."
Jon: "Absolutely. He hasn't been participating in the writing process, but we do work in a very different way, now in the next thing we're gonna do."

Ohme: "As I said earlier on, it's really my mood, in a bad day I can't say 'Oh, I'm all swinging' so it's really up and down. The Secret for instance or especially Novgorod, to keep the mood (is difficult). You're halfway there and going 'ooh, we're getting there now' but we have to get track from this woman on the other side of the Atlantic and also down in New Zealand, and to keep the mood and to be able to come one week after another is difficult. You can't have 'oh, it started off really depressing and now we something really happy at the end.' It doesn't sound right for the lyrics, does it, to go happily all of a sudden. I think that is one of the largest or biggest challenges that we actually have with not being a full time band and having our day jobs. And have our own quarrels and problems...
I have a really stressful day job and work very often 12 hours a day and when you've done that for 10 years then you get where the ultimate thing would actually be to be at home, rather than getting really psyched up. I have to do a lot more than if I'd be the bass player."

At this point fellow DPRP reviewer Ed, who had been sitting in on the interview, interfered, "Hey, I'm a bass player", to which Ohme quickly adjusted what he was about to say:

"There's nothing wrong with being a bass player. That's what I'm saying, if I could just sit down and all I had to do was just play the chords at the right time and do my little thing here and there, I wouldn't have to worry about actually delivering 100% all the time. But I'm quite a perfectionist and never ever happy with what I do - it's never good enough. And that's depressing as well [laughter] I actually have to sit at home and slightly up or slightly down and get in the right mood to do what I'm supposed to do. And by doing that I'm loved by everyone..."
Thomas: Unloved by everyone" [laughter]
Ohme: "No darling we have to do it this way, or not at all."
Jon [putting on a serious tone]: "The bass guitar is the background for all our songs, the way we write."

J.H. Ohme - photo taken by Derk van MourikSo back to a more serious subject. What happens to the songs and ideas they 'throw out', as they say it. Is that discarded forever, or do they actually store that away somewhere to revisit.
Ohme: "Oh yeah. We've got a lot of lyrics that I'd be really happy to see on a song some day. But we have to put them on the right song, and we've been trying...
That's even more difficult that writing new lyrics. To fit existing lyrics in a new song, that is really, really difficult."
Jon: "It's also the mood, the mood watch, which can be difficult sometimes."
Ohme: "We always write the lyrics in a kind of weird way. For mostly we sit down, actually not together, and hand eachother bits and pieces and ideas.
It's more like a collaboration thing than anything else. It's not like sitting down and 'OK, this song is about this and here's the mood and here's the vibe'. It happened several times that we actually made lyrics and changed them altogether. Have 'm fit in a song and think, 'no, that's not quite it' and then we'd rewritten the whole lyric. A kind of a strange way maybe of making music."

Jon: "We did Ghost, then Sea of Tranquility and then Bravo, in that order. And that what we want to say that we're on about mood, as we really go for mood..."
Ohme: "I'm all about moods."
Jon: "You can probably hear a lot of wintery feel, and more a summer feel in our music, like California - and a lot about the sea. Lots of happiness, well, not happiness as our songs are never happy, but at least it had more of a happier tone to it.
The rest is very descriptive and an awful lot of winter, cold, grey, winter, green light in the studio as well.

Delete Song

Drag Race Time So what about the songs that didn't make it on the album then? They had this great track called Drag Race Time which was supposed to go on the album...
Ohme: "Drag Race Time, err... that's Thom's question!"
Thomas: "It didn't work, it was too long."
Ohme: "Too much of the same thing."
Thomas: "It just went on and on, but at the same time it's a great lyric."
Ohme: "*That* is a great lyric!"
Thomas: "It's just too long and the last chorus of it, to me it's just too long."
Ohme: "I like the verse of that song, it's some of the best I've ever done. I mean, we *have* to use it at some point in the future. I just love that bit."
Jon: "There's just something wrong with Drag Race Time.
Ohme: "Some of our older stuff from 96-97, you can not possibly throw it away. But we have to be able to refine it and use maybe use it for something else. But on its own, as it is today, it's complete and utter crap. Just like a glimpse here and there, but we threw those away. "

Another song that didn't make it was Delete Home, which was featured on the MP3.com EP Get It While It's Cold (37C).

Ohme: "Delete Home is a bit like too pop, too ... all the other bad words really."
Jon: "It's a good song, but it's a bit too poppy for our style."
Ohme: "The main thing is that I try to do serious lyrics, but these ones are so crap! [sarcastic laughter from Jon] No, those lyrics need rewriting, we can do alot better than that."

New Songs

As for new songs, the band has plenty ideas and has indeed been working on some new songs. Some with quite unexpected influences...
Ohme: "What makes me very happy is that when I come down on the Friday and they've got 'Ah! Bulgarian Folk Music'. [laughter] But seriously it makes me very happy to be involved into other spheres. You come down and expect they have a track, like Sea Of Tranquility, or The Secret, or Nemo, I mean, Bulgarian Folk Music??!? That's the new direction now then? Like a concept album?
But it really makes me happy because it's a challenge as well."
Jon: "Exactly, it is kind of our attitude. We always want something new. That's why sound very different on some songs. We're like, 'OK, we've done that, now let's try something new'.
It's always that, and not just from album to album, but also from song to song."

Ohme: "I think it's really important that the songs are really different, that lots of them are different worlds, but that it's a Gazpacho track and you can still hear it. If you know me, or know Thom, or Thom and Jon, musically, you could say 'it's still Gazpacho', you could hear that Bulgarian Folk Song track and still hear it's Gazpacho.
And it's nothing like we've ever done before. Anyone who'd have heard Ghost, then this one is so unlike that track, but it's still Gazpacho.

Personal Favourites

And as a final question, it seemed nice to ask the guys about their own personal favourites. They were a bit reluctant to reply.
As Ohme saw it: "As a singer, I'm not 'Oh, I love everything I do', no. I'm never entirely happy with a song, it's always like 'oh, I should have done that verse differently' or 'that chorus a bit more...'
But I think Bravo, Nemo and Novgorod are my favourites. But I have a special heart for Ghost and Sea Of Tranquility as well. That's five... you asked one...
But Novgorod, I think is by far the most intimate song ever. Next to Bravo, they're like shoulder to shoulder.
Jon: "What about you Bart?"
Thomas: "No, we should answer this!"
Jon: "OK, I'll say mine. Bravo, The Secret..."
Ohme [as if flabbergasted]: "NO!!!!" [laughter]
Jon: "Uhm, and I would say probably Ease Your Mind, those three would be my favourites, if I had to name a top 3.
Thomas: "Sun God is my favourite song..."
Ohme [even more flabbergasted]: "Sun God???"
Thomas [continues imperturbably]: Sun God, and Sea Of Tranquility"
Jon: "So what are your favourites then?"

In Interview school I've been taught never to have the roles reversed and have the interviewee ask questions to the interviewer. So this seemed perfect timing to end the interview.
I had a blast interviewing these guys, as all are very nice blokes and we generally had a lot of fun and just recorded everything (from which I then extracted any useful information). They're really open and honest about the way they see their music and their future and I sincerely hope they find an audience with their music, as they definitely deserve it!


Gazpacho are:

Jan Henrik Ohme - photo taken by Clive Hewes
Jan Henrik Ohme
vocals
Jon A. Vilbo - photo taken by Clive Hewes
Jon A. Vilbo
guitars
Thomas Andersen - photo taken by Clive Hewes
Thomas Andersen
keyboards
Roy Funner - photo taken by Clive Hewes
Roy Funner
bass
Geir Digernes - photo taken by Clive Hewes
Geir Digernes
drums


Gazpacho on DPRP:

Get It While It's Cold
Get It While It's Cold demo
2002
Get It While It's Cold (37C)
Get It While It's Cold (37C) EP
2002
Bravo
Bravo
2003
Gig review - photo taken by Bart Jan van der Vorst
Live review
2003


Credits:
All artwork by Jon A. Vilbo, © Gazpacho
Band photos by Lisa Nilsen, © Gazpacho
B&W live photos by Clive Hewes, © Gazpacho
Interview photos by Derk van Mourik, © DPRP
Colour live photos by Bart Jan van der Vorst, © DPRP

 

2003 - Dutch Progressive Rock Page