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New Keepers Of The Water Towers - Interview

Interview with: Victor Berg
Conducted by: T.V.

One of the most enthusiastic releases in doom genre so far this year must be the album Cosmic Child from Swedish band New Keepers Of The Water Towers. Album was also "Album of the month - March 2013" on Terra Relicta! The band formed back in 2006 as a duo and have released three albums, Chronicles in 2009, The Calydonian Hunt in 2011, both on legendary stoner rock label MeteorCity and the last studio album, Cosmic Child on French label Listenable Records. If New Keepers Of The Water Towers were in their beginning mainly influenced by stoner and doom metal, the last output sees the band creating much more atmospheric, cosmic and psychedelic music. It's like a perfect combination between Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd with some Iron Maiden scent in it. The line up today consists of Rasmus Booberg (vocals, guitar and moog), Tor Sjödén (drums), Victor Berg (guitar), Björn Andersson (bass guitar and vocals) and Adam Forsgren (live synthesizers and sounds). We talked with bands guitarist Victor Berg about many things regarding their new album, recording process, future plans and other details about the band and more.

T.R.: First of all I find your bands name very interesting. Can you give me some explanation about it?
Victor: The origin of the bands name can be found in the story-line of the first album. It is a psychedelic saga about wicked scientists and malformed animals fighting each other for control of the water towers. They are the old keepers and we are the new ones.
T.R.: Before that the band was called just New Keeepers, so, why did you change the name?
Victor: Actually that is not entirely correct. The band started out as New Keepers Of The Water Towers and then for a brief period of time we shortened it to simply New Keepers. When we released our first album there was some debate which name we we're going to stick with and we chose the long one cause it is simply so much better. Even though it is very long and people have some trouble remembering it we love it. We wanted to have a short and catchy name but Slayer was already taken.
T.R.: Your third album is just released. How are you satisfied with it and what were the reactions from fans and media so far?
Victor: The reactions have been very overwhelming. Nearly every review we have seen so far has been extremely positive and the encouraging words from new and old fans make it all worth our while. We've been working on this beast of an album for such a long time and it feels great that it has finally left us. We are satisfied with how it turned out and now that we have a great sound to continue with we are looking forwards to start making new music.
T.R.: And what can you tell me about the album title Cosmic Child?
Victor: I found some inspiration after reading about something within Hinduism called the cosmic lotus dream. It is the tale of creation where our universe and parallel ones are the dream of the gods. When they wake up the universe dissolves and then comes to form again when they fall asleep once more. You can read about it here told beautifully by Sir Carl Sagan: I'm not a religious guy or anything but I think this story is similar to what scientists are exploring today while trying to figure out how all started and where it will end and when it ends will there be something after that? That was one point of inspiration for me but the album has a lot of different aspects. Mainly it is about how we perceive life and the flow of time. Dealing with yourself and your thoughts and how they change as you get older. You can find out a lot by reading the lyrics that we have included for the first time on an album.
T.R.: And why didn't you include the lyrics on your previous album?
Victor: The layout of the album did not allow it since there wasn't a booklet to print them in. But this time we got a booklet so finally we could get our lyrics out along with the music
T.R.: Cosmic Child is described by many reviewers as a perfect combination between Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. Is this what you had in mind while composing?
Victor: Those are both bands you can find among our sources of inspiration. Black Sabbath has definitely granted us with visions of heavy ass riffs while Pink Floyd bestowed us with the atmospheric and psychedelic passages. But we didn't say to each other let's make an album that sounds like Black Pink Sabbath Floyd or anything like that. We simply let our influences guide us as we set out to write our own music in our own way. I think we managed to create something that feels as our own while paying homage to these two giants among bands.
T.R.: And what can you tell me about the recording process?
Victor: We started out by putting down drum tracks and the foundations of the guitars in a studio we borrowed here in Stockholm. After that there was a long time of figuring out what to do next. Since most of the album wasn't finished and some of the songs were just loose ideas we gave ourselves some time to process these recordings and come up with new ideas. Then we started to record additional guitar focusing on acoustic parts and adding melodies which is something we haven't had in the past. This was all done in our rehearsal space in the cellar of an old insane asylum. There we also did the vocals and bass guitar parts. But the real magic started to happen when we got to the producing which was done by Rasmus in his apartment. There he added the synthesizers, weird noises and the other spaced out stuff you can hear on the album. To sum things up the recording process was very long, the longest we've gone through so far. But it was necessary for the songs to grow in an organic way during a stretched out period of time.
T.R.: Still, what is in your opinion the main difference between your new album and past ones?
Victor: Melodies, ambiance and atmosphere. Those are all things we haven't had in the past. We've always had a concept of having calmer parts followed by rockin' parts but the calm ones never got the time to build up properly before the heavy shit kicked in. So we wanted to work more on creating a good balance between those two elements. And as I wrote we had never had melodies before so that was also nice to incorporate in our music.
T.R.: We can hear on Cosmic Child also a lot of typical NWOBHM elements...
Victor: Yeah we are all fans of Iron Maiden, so of course there was going to be twin guitar harmonies when we adapted this sound, haha.
T.R.: Yeah, Iron Maiden are the band that I've had in mind... Tell me which album from them is the best in your opinion and why?
Victor: Hmm, that is like trying to answer the meaning of life. When I first started listening to them I liked the first two that have that more punkish raw vibe to them. But then I started listening to the rest of their discography and was amazed over the way that their songs give you the feeling that you are on an adventures or reading a book. I think I will have to land on Seventh Son but it is to hard to chose so I will stop here before I realize the awesomeness of all their other albums.
T.R.: Listenable Records! What's your experience with them so far?
Victor: It has been all good so far. They have been really patient with us as the recording process was dragged out. And Laurent had not heard any of the new music until it was almost complete, so he signed us based simply on our previous two efforts. But luckily he was positively surprised when we finally sent the new record, hehe. We are looking forwards to continue working with them as we have two more records two release with them.
T.R.: Do you know Slovenian band Noctiferia, who are also on their roster?
Victor: No, unfortunately not. There is to much music to explore and to little time to do it but I will check them out for sure. Maybe we can come to Slovenia and do a show together or if they come to Sweden. That would be cool.
T.R.: There really is a lot of it. So, what do you think of todays music and scene?
Victor: There are many good bands around these days. Especially the ones that can manage to take an established concept and make something contemporary out of it. My personal favorites here from Sweden are the heavy metal rock act In Solitude and the progressive and atmospheric Gösta Berlings Saga. If you haven't heard them you should check them both out. They are different in style but they both have that ability to reach your emotional spectrum with their music. And that is what I like to hear in music.
T.R.: I've heard In Solitude, they are really cool! will check out Gösta Berlings Saga. But, Swedish metal scene was known in the past mostly because of great death metallers like Entombed, Dismember, Nihilist, Grave,...
Victor: You do that! Although Gösta Berlings Saga isn't a metal band I think they have qualities to their music that can be appreciated by heavy rock fans. I'm glad you mention those bands and not that Gothenburg shit everyone seams to be talking about. Those are all great death metal bands and they have some following in their footsteps like Invidious and Morbus Chron.
T.R.: I know what you mean haha... let's return to New Keepers Of The Water Towers. Before joining the band have you had any other musical experiences?
Victor: Yes. When I first started playing instruments at the age of 14 me and my friends played some punk rock covers in the school music room. As we got better we formed the thrash metal band called Divider. After a while I joined to play bass in a band called Enraged, that eventually became the band known today as Grass-eating Man. It is a brutal rock band consisting of Rasmus (singer & guitarist in New Keepers) on drums, Adam (keys in New Keepers) on guitar and then we have the low range ranger Mockey D on bass guitar. We all sing and shout. Oh, and yeah I play the guitar in that band now.
T.R.: Do you plan a tour sometime soon or at least any live shows?
Victor: Of course. We just started working with dutch booking agent Tjerk Maas at the LoudNoise Agency. So we are making plans for the summer and after that. We'll definitely be on the road as much as we possibly can. We are very excited to start playing after the long recording process.
T.R.: Are there any dates confirmed already?
Victor: Yeah, we have two festival gigs here in Sweden at the Guerilla and Kröckbacken festivals. And then some yet unconfirmed gigs down on the European continent. We'll announce our plans as soon as they are confirmed.
T.R.: What can a visitor on your live show expect from the band?
Victor: Hen should expect a psychedelic performance of sorts. Since we recruited synth and sound-wizard Adam Forsgren the live show have become more atmospheric and experimental.
T.R.: Is there a song on Cosmic Child that you could point at as something really special for you?
Victor: Hmm, I don't know. I see Cosmic Child as one piece of music and I can't really single any of tracks out. I think the beauty of the songs are the way they fit togheter and feels like one complete work.
T.R.: I saw that New Keepers Of The Water Towers are a five piece now. Is Adam meant just as a live member or will he join the band as a permanent one?
Victor: He is with us now on the live set laying down some cosmic keys. We'll see how things work out when we start making new music if we can incorporate him in the process and if he will be featured on future albums. I dunno. But since this new sound of ours requires him to do what he does he will be with us for the time being.
T.R.: We talked before about your present label Listenable Records, now I'm wondering why did you left MeteorCity Records?
Victor: After releasing two albums through MeteorCity we felt it was time to search for new opportunities and found them in Listenable Records. MeteorCity is kind of niched towards stoner rock and since we've never felt as a pure stoner rock we wanted to rid us of that label and move on. We are very grateful for everything they have done for us and we are proud to have worked with them.
T.R.: Have you already started to write new songs, and if so in which direction will they go?
Victor: Yes. We have been jamming around with a couple of ideas. We have talked a bit about what is to expected on the next album and we will keep on pursuing the cosmic vibes we've got going on, but maybe add a little earthiness to it. But, It's a little early to tell.
T.R.: How it was on Roadburn festival, as you just returned from there?
Victor: Balltrippin' good! To bad about the weedpass in Tilburg though. But that's why you go to Amsterdam first and stock up!
T.R.: Ha,ha, I see... How much is your music "weed" influenced?
Victor: Some of it I guess. But mainly it's the will to create something that drives us. It has been there since the beginning.
T.R.: Ok, if I'm not mistaken you are not the founding member of New Keepers Of The Water Towers, but joined the band very soon. Can you reveal us how did you came along the band?
Victor: Yes, that is true. I play in another band along with Rasmus where he is the drummer. He asked me to join and I said yes. That band is now called Grass-eating Man.
T.R.: Thanks for answering all those questions and is there anything else that you would like to add?
Victor: No, I think we have covered it all. Thank you for reading and listening. Cheers!

New Keepers Of The Water Towers links: Facebook

New Keepers Of The Water Towers articles: Cosmic Child - review