Sulla via per il Roadburn faccio ascolti casuali, i resuscitati Witchfynde, NWOBHM del tempo che fu, un primo album "Give'em hell" ancora acerbo e "Stagefright" che viaggia sulla scia dei Judas Priest, rinunciabili; i Suma che ho apprezzato tanto la scorsa estate live tornano con "Ashes" che è un balatone di disco, ancora uno, seriamente catalogabili come una delle migliori realtà post Neurosis al pari dei Minsk; la leggenda Thorr's Hammer e la curiosità di vedere se la bionda Rhunild regge ancora quel growl profondissimo regalato su demo ed ep ormai quindici anni fa.
Interessantissima l'intervista su Terrorizer dello scorso anno, la copio e incollo, chè il sito del magazine sembra off-line, benedetto Google Reader.
Unless you've been living under a rock, or find anything slower than Agoraphobic Nosebleed "a bit dull and uninteresting", you've probably heard that legendary doom troupe Thorr's Hammer (the Thorr's Hammer that gave us drone daddys Stephen O'Malley and Gregg Anderson) have reunited to play this year's Supersonic Festival. Sufficed to say we were a bit excited, so naturally we bombarded the University Of Oslo with phone calls and emails until we got hold of Dr Runhild Gammelsæter to get the lowdown on the whys, whens and hows from the vocalist extraordinaire.
People often have a quite cynical view of bands getting back together (and rightly so), so why was now the right time to do this?
“We didn't want to do a reunion previously because we thought it sort of cynical, not 'cult' and not 'true' as we say in metal. All members of TH are old friends, I still call Steve when I have a broken heart. I love those guys to death. But we are getting old, people are having babies, careers, living all over the world, rarely seeing each other. We loved the idea of having an opportunity to fly everyone in, spend time together and experiencing the vibe between us again. It may be the last opportunity we have to do that.”
How were you occupying your time between Thorr's Hammer and Khlyst? Were you still engaged with music? Have you been working on any other projects more recently?
“When I left the states and TH disbanded, I studied for ten years at different universities getting my PhD. Khlyst came out in 2006, but James and I had been working on that for a year or so before the release. I worked minimally with music while I studied, spending all of my times with books and in the lab. Played some guitar at home, singing Nirvana and Gram Parsons, which perhaps prepared me for my solo record released last year.”
In terms of lifespan versus influence/impact, Thorr's Hammer are probably one of the most significant bands of the past two decades. How does it feeling knowing you were part of it at that time, at that age? Did you consider staying in the US longer to continue with the band?
“It is very surprising to me that TH would earn such a reputation and becoming such a cult phenomenon. I was seventeen, we played dive bars in Seattle released a demo on cassette and were not known at all. When I left, I never thought the band would have such an impact, and certainly not that we would still be selling records fifteen years later! I am naturally thrilled and awed to have been part of that. Receiving positive attention for something I did as a young girl has definitely affected my life in ways I could never have imagined.
“It's mind baffling, and very flattering. In fact, I never thought we would release it as a CD on a good label. In retrospect I see that we had something different, that few have followed our trail. And listening to the record again, I humbly admit that I sometimes think: damn, that is a good record! I'm very proud to have been a part of that. Makes me happy to see people appreciate what we made.”
What inspired you to revisit Thorr's Hammer after all this time? Is it something that's been on the cards for a while?
"We have spoken of it many times and have had numerous offers for reunion shows throughout the years. All members of the band are old school, and we really didn't believe in reunions. For many years we agreed that TH should be left in peace and remembered for what it was. But because of the success of Sunn O))) and the increased acceptance and exposure of doom and underground music, we have gotten more and more attention as the years went by. We are getting 'old', and we are all still great friends, and consider TH as one of the best and most fun periods of our lives. So we are doing it to all meet up, have a party and revisit that music we made together. Also, a ton of our old friends and fans are coming to see us, it is sure to be a blast."
I assume you’ve had rehearsals ahead of the Supersonic show, so just how strange is it playing these songs again after all this time?
"We are all rehearsing separately now, and meet up ahead of the shows to rehearse together. Listening to the record again is a strange experience. And my lyrics! I have good laughs at myself for those. And why did I write such long lyrics! Why didnt I go for the three verses and chorus? Relearning those is a project in itself... I will have to write things down on my arm or something, my memory has gotten so bad."
Are you nervous about playing Supersonic? It’s an obvious question but Thorr’s Hammer weren’t exactly road-tested for the short time you were active.
"Yes, I am terrified. It is quite a strain for my voice to do long shows and physically demanding as well. We are rehearsing and playing many days in a row, and I have not done this for many years. I can still do a decent growl though, and hope the vocal chords will hold through the mayhem of it. Perhaps my vocals will never recover, getting a rasped voice like Marianne Faithfull. But I dont care, I aim to do my very best and hope that the shows will be amazing for the audience"
Obligatory gender based question, apologies. What was your experience as a young female in the 'business' during the '90s?
"I got a lot of attention, of course. But I didn't experience sexism at all. I felt respected, and that much of the focus was on my vocal performance, which was seen as good compared to vocalists of both genders. Rather than a 'female vocalist', I was a doom vocalist, part of the boys club. And I always enjoyed the company of the guys and always have had a lot of male friends. I like the way men communicate - straight talk. When I had parties, there was a keg in the bathtub and fights outside whiIe I was trying to give people hugs, Steve and Greg (self declared big brothers) protecting me from unwanted male attention. I consider myself a feminine woman, and never took up the metal image or dressed or acted like the boys though. Communicating with though guys back then has been very useful in my current job. Going into the boardroom with men in suits is not very different that rehearsing with long haired men with attitude. Also, metalheads are not stupid or unsophisticated. Most of the long haired men in black clothes back then were revolutionaries, creative geniuses and very intelligent."
What are your thoughts on how the doom/drone scene has developed courtesy of Greg and Stephen's activities as a certain popular band?
"It's wonderful! I have been a fan of this type of music since I was a teen. I enjoy the whole experience of doom. It's more than just sound, it's physical. It leaves room for reflection and feeling the music shake the body. When I was young, people were afraid of this music, and I always thought it was a pity they didnt sit down and give it a chance. Now people wearing suits show up to Sunn0 ))) shows and lie down in front of the stage. That thrills me. Doom has no religious or political affiliations, it's not aimed at a certain audience. Doom is for everyone."
Supersonic Festival is 24 – 26 July at Birmingham Custard Factory.