Eirik: Well, we’re a friendly bunch from Oslo. (Surprisingly friendly, perhaps, considering that we’ve recently “waged war on Progressive metal as we know it” - but then most metalheads are, aren’t they?) But we’re a band who believe that we have quite a lot to offer, and are anxious to do so, having carried this around for quite a while now. As soon as we’re out and about, you won’t know what hit you - and we might not know either, but please feel free to ask!
2. You have your first full length coming out in December, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording?
Eirik: Self-evident things first: the word Metal is a given. So’s Progressive, and Extreme and Melodic should be in there as well - maybe even a touch of Doom, and the word Opera can scarce be forgotten considering there’s quite a bit of theatricality to the music. All these are there, we’re just not quite sure in which order. We believe we cater to quite a diverse audience - as diverse as our own influences, really - so which of these become the most prevalent really depend on the listener.
3. The band has been around since 2005, but so far has only released 2 demos and a full length, can you tell us a little bit more about the gap between releases?
Torgeir: There are really no good reasons, just many bad ones – we have had a really hard time getting a stable line-up without friction, and that has definitely harmed the ability to think in a longer perspective. Also, to speak for myself I’ve had to focus on my day job for a few years and have put a lot of effort into that, and Carl and Eirik have had lots of both metal and non-metal related bands and musical projects all the way.
4. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?
Torgeir: We’re touching upon various subjects, some more specific than others – “Dead Birds”, for example, deals with a horrific series of suicides in a certain area of Wales. The number “17”, which is sung several times, is the number of young people that had committed suicide in Bridgend at the time of recording. “Lusk Letter” deals with the Jack the Ripper mystery, which has always fascinated me – George Lusk was the man who received the infamous “From Hell” letter in October 1888. Another recurring subject is the little man against the big society – “Anomic Nation”, “The Claustrophober”, “My Mysteries…” 1 and 2.
5. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Sarpedon'?
Torgeir: Traditionally Sarpedon was the name of one of Zeus’ sons, but I got it from an episode of MacGyver (!). Graphium Sarpedon is the latin name of a butterfly species, and in that particular episode MacGyver was fighting a villain that was a butterfly collector. I thought the name was cool, and the rest is history. Actually, a weird but true story – I used to work as a security guard a few years back, and I got to know a guy selling the Norwegian equivalent of the Big Issue on the streets of Grünerløkka in Oslo. A friend of his had a (rather peculiar) hobby of making model butterflies, and he made me a Graphium Sarpedon butterfly for free. I’ve kept it in my guitar case ever since, and we used to have it with us on stage.
6. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Torgeir: It’s been a few years since last time now, but we did a few very cool ones, it was very, very much fun playing with Communic at their home turf in Arendal, same with Leprous at the festival they organized in Notodden. And everyone who has ever met the legend that is Ingar Amlien know how good he is both at entertaining people on stage as well as partying afterwards – so it was just fantastic to play with his Crest of Darkness on several occasions.
7. Do you have any touring or show plans once the new album is released?
Torgeir: Although nothing is booked yet – I’ll give you a big YES on that one. There are talks about a first show this winter, but nothing confirmed yet, but we definitely plan to do a few gigs. It will be a blast to perform the material live, and
8. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of both progressive and extreme metal?
Torgeir: So far – very good. To be honest we’re a bit overwhelmed with the reviews so far. To some extent the reception of Anomic Nation has been a “reality check” for us – the material has been with us for so long time that we to some extent had lost the ability to judge it properly, and due to the long periods of passivity we needed this “reality check” to see if it was worthwhile to keep on doing this. Also, your question is a good one because I think we appeal to quite a diverse fanbase. Traditionally we have not been so well received among fans of straight ahead, clinical prog metal, but this time around we have seen very good reviews from both prog metal, heavy and extreme metal people as well. For that matter – the other day I heard someone recommend to us that we should aim our music at the LGBT community – so maybe that’s where we are heading next :-D
9. What is going on with some of the other bands or musical projects these days that some of the band members are a part of?
Torgeir: Oh, quite a lot actually. Eirik is making a living singing in some of Norway’s most respected choirs, as well as solo concerts, theatre work etc, and Andreas and Carl are very busy with both Troll, Urkraft, Endezzma, Unspoken and other projects, both working on new albums and touring in both Norway and Europe. In the end Sarpedon definitely benefits from this – we are a much better band, both individually and as a whole, now than we were in 2008.
10. Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Torgeir: More of everything! To quote a certain hero of mine: “MORE IS MORE” J The riffs will be even heavier, the choirs will be bigger, the extreme metal influences will be more evident.
11. What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Torgeir: In no specific order – Savatage, Nevermore, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Queen, Emperor, Broadway and West End musicals, Mayhem, Rainbow, Blind Guardian, Judas Priest, Pantera, The Beatles etc. etc. etc. At the moment I’ve been listening a bit to the new Sanctuary album (but to be honest I’m a bit disappointed), as well as rediscovering a totally random set of bands – Lefay, Tad Morose, Old Man’s Child, and Anaal Natrakh. I’d forgotten how good all of them were.
12. What are some of your non musical interests?
Torgeir: Way too much – personally I live with my girlfriend and a cat bed and -toy (but no cat), and love my day job as a crime reporter at a national newspaper, as well as working out, watching Manchester United games, travelling, good food and wine, driving and reading about cars, and reading both fiction and documentaries.
Eirik: Seeing as I work as a musician full time, learning new music, rehearsing, performing and occasional travelling take up most of my time - often with my girlfriend, who also works as a singer. Other than that, I enjoy good TV, good literature and the weekly pub quiz as well as far too much football, which together occupy most of my spare time. What’s left, I waste.
13. Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Torgeir: For those who haven’t checked in at our Facebook page yet please do – facebook.com/sarpedonnorway – you’ll find links to a few free songs there as well as information about everything the band is up to. Also – for those who HAVE visited the page – please keep on doing it, and thank you really very much for doing so (really). It’s a certain sense of relief to finally see the album hit the streets, to good reviews as well – the feedback is what made it worth it in the end. Same to you John – thanks so much for taking the time to do both this interview and the review. We really (honestly) appreciate it.