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I Interviewed Wobbler for a School Project!

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dougmcauliffe View Drop Down
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    Posted: November 24 2020 at 08:06
Hey all, I got the chance to interview Wobbler for my music business college course, figured you guys might get a kick out of it! Thank you so much to the band for doing this for me and putting in so much effort!

Doug McAuliffe

Wobbler Interview

----------------------------

The initial project plan was to interview just the guitarist of the band, but he was kind enough to collect answers from the whole band. This project focuses primarily on the making of an album during the past year in the pandemic environment, as well as following up a highly-acclaimed album with an emphasis on the business side of things. Here’s some important information about the band:

Wobbler (1999-Present)

Lars Fredrik Froislie: Keyboards, Piano, Organ, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Production (1999-Present)

Martin Nordrum Kneppen: Drums, Percussion, Recorder (1999-Present)

Kristian Karl Hultgren: Bass, Bass Clarinet, Bass Recorder (1999-Present)

Andreas Stronman Prestmo: Lead Vocals, Guitar, Percussion (2009-Present)

Geir Marius Halleland: Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals (2011-Present)

Discography:

Hinterland (2005)

Afterglow (2009)

Rites at Dawn(2011)

From Silence to Somewhere (2017)

Dwellers of the Deep (2020)

BOLD=Me

Italic=The Band

1: Before really getting into things, in a non-pandemic world, what does the standard process of recording a Wobbler album look like? Perhaps a broad timeline? Do songs ever get tinkered with or changed at all during the recording process or is every note meticulously planned, written, demoed and ready to go beforehand?

 Lars: Generally I would say all songs get tinkered with, even the songs which have a pre-production or demo, and also the songs which we’ve played live many times. Studio is different from live, and you just gotta flow with the goosebumps and however the songs flow and feel in that exact recording. If something is poorly recorded, it happens very often that you just throw in lots of overdubs and things to compensate, which is not ideal. On the last two, or perhaps even three albums I would say we’ve tried and partly succeeded to move away from this, and let fewer elements shine brighter. Another important aspect to leave things open is to let impulsive things and improvisation happen, which is a very important thing to make the songs come to life and feel vibrant in my opinion.

 Marius: Drums are usually the first instrument to be properly recorded. Lars, often along with one or two of us, provides ”guide instrumentation” so there is a degree of group dynamic to the drum recordings. Sometimes we provide recorded guide tracks. We experiment with the bpm of each section before recording the drums. Usually bass comes second, but this time guitar got recorded first since I had a winter vacation to spend on guitar sessions. Things are for the most part already set when we start recording structure/arrangements wise. Sometimes we may decide on extending or shortening sections while recording, but thats usually not the case. An example of something that was decided on during the recording, rather than in the rehearsal sessions, could be the long psychedelic/drone section in the latter half of Merry Macabre (Closing song off Dwellers of the Deep). We decided on the number of rounds the bass plays, and thus ended up with a longer section than what we had been doing when putting the song together. The challenge then was to decide how to build up the whole section. Most of it is based on stuff we´ve tried out during rehearsals but the real arranging of it came together when we recorded it, as we then had the definitive length of the section. Another similar example would be the intro and the drone/repetitive section before the whole end-stretch on Foxlight (Closing song off From Silence to Somewhere). Although the bones (and sometimes flesh) of everything are mostly “set” before recording, there is always room for tweaks, new ideas or “happy mistakes” along the way.

 2: To follow that up, based on the making of videos, it seems much of the making of Dwellers of the Deep comfortably aligned with the pandemic. How did this affect the recording process? Was writing completed before the pandemic went into full swing? If not, how did the band tackle that challenge? Was there any sort of remote work similar to what some contemporaries have done this year?

 Lars: We thought everything was written well before the pandemic, but it turned out that the third song on the album “Naiad Dreams” wanted something different. Andreas came up with that very late in the process, around May 2020 I think, and by adding this song, the album puzzle came together in my ears. Anyway, we recorded much of the other longer songs on the album before March, except for some bass and the vocals. Usually Andy (Andreas) comes by and we work on the vocals and throw ideas back and forth then and there in the studio, but this time Andy recorded all of his, Ĺsa’s (Guest violinist and vocalist on the new record) and Marius’ vocals at his studio, and then sent files to me.

 Marius: We usually come in and do the instruments separately. So not much difference there on this album in comparison to the last. Andreas usually records his vocals at his place, so that was business as usual. Although I have the equipment to record guitar by myself (which I do for other musical ventures) it’s nice to do it at Lars´ place, with his mics, preamps and know-how. It can also be “dangerous” to sit with everything by oneself, it's always nice to have extra ears to help identify a good take or idea. Naiad Dreams came into the picture while we were recording. We had a different song in its place, already 90% recorded, but out of the blue Andreas presented an acoustic song he had been writing/recording by himself and we found that song to have a better effect on the overall pacing of the album. So it got the 3rd song spot, and we just did a few overdubs on what Andreas had already recorded. That was the only major alteration that happened during the recording. The song that got swapped is now back in the “garage”, so it might pop up in future works. There was also another song that got dropped way before we started the recording process that might resurface sometime in the future.

 3: Before moving into the topic of promoting and distributing, this album is the follow up to easily Wobbler's most acclaimed, beloved and revered album: From Silence to Somewhere. Based on user ratings it's the highest rated album on progarchives since Anglagard's (Swedish Contemporary) 1992 release "Hybris," and Rush's "Moving Pictures," in 1981 before that. It currently sits one spot above Frank Zappa's classic album "Hot Rats." While this must have been a huge accomplishment for the collective band, there must have been a lot of pressure to follow that up with something that wouldn't eternally stand in the shadow of its younger brother. How did the palpable success of From Silence to Somewhere affect the writing process and general making of this album.

 Lars: Actually I think for the next album we’ll make, we will probably be more aware of that. For Dwellers we made some of the stuff before Silence was released, so we didn’t think that much about that.

 Marius: The success of Silence was something that took us completely by surprise. And to be honest the whole “instant classic” and high placement on PA´s Top 100 was, and still is, a bit absurd for us. On the other hand it isn’t really something that makes itself felt in “everyday life” for any of us, so a Great Success in prog rock is very much on the abstract side of things. We are still much the same kind of operation that we were before FSTS came out. Maybe that, together with everybody being close to or around 40 years old (we´ve all seen some stuff over our respective careers) helps in being pretty much “grounded” around the whole thing. But make no mistake; we are very proud of what the album achieved and are both humbled and thankful for it reaching people in such a way that it has. But it also has to be said, in regards to all this, that the album and certainly the band as a whole has plenty of strong detractors too. So for, I don’t know, roughly half of the prog world or more, FSTS is pretty much a sh*t album from a sh*t band. That’s just how it is you know?

  –In regards to pressure around making another album… We decided, pretty quickly after understanding that FSTS was making some waves, that we were not going to be caught up in that, that all we could really do was try to make another good Wobbler album. Like, not consciously trying to top anything but just keep the process going, without paying much attention to how it would be received on the back of the previous one. The reception of an album, heck I guess any form of art, is ultimately kind of beyond the control of the artist. It’s the receiving end that decides how it is perceived. In that regard I think it’s safe to say that the most important thing for us in regards to Dwellers was that it first and foremost had to be something we felt was good Wobbler music, and be damned if it’s well received or not.

4: So combining both the above points, how did the pandemic, as well as the growing popularity of the band affect the marketing, promoting and distribution of the album? Did the band run into any road blocks with any of these things? Or did the growing fanbase make this the most successful album release cycle to date for Wobbler? (You don't have to be candid with any numbers or anything if you don't want to)

 Andreas: The work with the marketing/promo really started long before the pandemic. To make the most of your albums time in the spotlight, you want to make a coherent product where all the different elements tell the same tale - lyrical themes, images & cover art, colours & fonts, sound production values, promotional videos etc. As a first, we made a good old music video as well. We had also talked with the label beforehand on the different aspects of distro/promo. As far as I know the only thing that was affected by Covid-19 was the increased shipping time. And yes, I think our growing fanbase has helped us reach out faster, as well as our more seasoned cooperation with our label.

 Lars: From what I understood, the label underestimated our sales on From Silence, so I think all LPs were sold out before the release date, and then as you know, there’s months of waiting before a repress is ready, which was a drag given that huge momentum the album had right as it was released and the good reviews ticked in. This was our first album on Karisma, so i can’t blame them, because it sucks to press loads on LPs just to keep them in storage if they don’t sell.. but for this new album the label pressed much more and I think they’ve done a very good job on this album so far.

 5: For the final question, from my understanding Wobbler records, produces and owns all their own music, but licenses it to Karisma Records who takes care of distribution and promotion. Has it always been that way for the band or did it take trial and error of sort to get to that place? Tell me about the relationship between the label and the band. Is there any kind of pressure to get new music out in a certain release window/time frame?

 Andreas: We had an obligation in the record contract saying that we had to release a new album 2 years after «From Silence to Somewhere». It took us three years, but everyone was okay with that. The first album, «Hinterland» was released on the US label Lazers Edge, «Afterglow» and «Rites at Dawn» on Lars’ and Jacobs’ own label “Termo Records” and the last two on Karisma. When it comes to recording, producing and owning, I think this is how we will always do it. Complete controll...muhahahhaha..

 Martin: I think the deal with the record company is ideal. It's great to own your own music. But to ship the records ourselves would take a lot of time. To make that profitable you need a greater infrastructure, if you're not okay with working for less than a dollar an hour.

 Lars: We started out on the American label the Laser’s Edge, and they did a good job promoting the album, getting us to play at Nearfest (Popular proressive rock festival that ran annually in the US from 1999-2012) and so on. There were some things I think we would have done differently if we had 100% control I think (for good or bad, who knows?). For instance during the recording of Hinterland, we were seriously thinking about singing in Norwegian. Also we had a different album artwork made by Thore Hansen, which I loved, but it was rejected as well as the Norwegian lyrics. I think that was why we’ve ever since demanded full artistic freedom in all aspects. If something fails, it’s completely our own fault. Also, on Hinterland, we recorded at a pro studio, since we were still very much noobs. After Hinterland I think the band sort of broke up at some point, at least for a few days, but I felt it was such a shame to not record those old demos properly, so we got back to basics, and did everything ourselves, from the recordings, to the album cover as well as releasing it (Afterglow) on my new label, Termo Records. After releasing two albums on Termo, we felt the time had come to let someone else release it. Running a label is very much work; very much boring work actually, which basically gives less time to work on the actual music. Also it was good to combine our Termo-contacts with Karisma to reach an even wider audience. Concerning the recordings, we’ve just kept doing it ourselves ever since Afterglow. I got my first recording gear when I was 14, and it has gradually gotten better and better, as well as my skills by the good old “try and fail” principle. Lots of hours of nerding by looking at old recording pictures from the 60s and 70s, specially to see mic positions on drum recordings and so on, as well as hours and hours of finding the right gear.

Anyway... for the last part of your question, it was completely new for us to deliver a new album within 2 years after From Silence, which is what the deal was with Karisma. We’ve never had any deadlines, as you perhaps can see from our discography, so it was a new experience, and thankfully Karisma gave us slack and let us use an extra year to record and finish the album. We had a deal for two albums, so now we have no deadline and can go back to releasing an album every 10 year or so.

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Edited by dougmcauliffe - November 24 2020 at 08:08
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tapfret Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 24 2020 at 10:58
This is excellent Doug. Did they just answer questions you emailed or did you Facetime/Zoom with them?

Either way, this is a nice contribution to the site. I always appreciate users, and of course the artists, taking the time to share this type of insight with us.

Well done! 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Meltdowner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 24 2020 at 11:31
Great job, Doug! Thumbs Up It's always fascinating to read about other musicians' creative and recording process, but the business side is often overlooked and it's a good topic.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dougmcauliffe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 24 2020 at 18:26
^ Thank you guys! Tapfret, to answer your question, Marius, the lead guitar player, is a member of the Wobbler discord and r/progrockmusic subreddit where he is highly active with the fans. He's the one who actually introduced me to Wobbler when I made a post asking for recommendations and some dude with the username "IFap2Wookies" recommended "his band Wobbler" LOL this was probably mid 2019. Fast forward to now, I messaged him in the discord server asking if he would be down to answer some questions I could send via discord PMs and he agreed to type/message replies back, I gave him notice a couple weeks in advance. He surprised me with answers from the whole band, it was extremely kind and it really caught me off guard. They all put a ton of effort into helping me out and i'll never forget this!

Also I want to add, the Jacob mentioned who owned Termo records with Lars is apparently a well known producer in Norweigan Prog circles as well as the leader of White Willow.


Edited by dougmcauliffe - November 24 2020 at 18:29
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AFlowerKingCrimson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 24 2020 at 20:07
Cool! Way to go. Thumbs Up 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 07 2020 at 04:19
Clap Fantastic Doug! Keep the newer prog fires burning! Clap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote clara_jenkins Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 30 2021 at 16:27
Amazing, you did a great job, bravo! Clap  And I almost failed spammin' goodbye spam (edited by dx)

Edited by DamoXt7942 - July 01 2021 at 17:44
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DamoXt7942 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 30 2021 at 17:24
Great! They are the hottest all around of us. Definitely your article will catch all PA members. ClapClapClap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote elizaawest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 02 2021 at 04:22
Amazing, you did a great job, bravo! And I almost failed my sPAM project this year. I was also going to do a few interviews (but on a SPAMMY topic), but I got sick with covid. Therefore, I had to look for services that would help me, after reading the way to eat SPAM. I decided that this was a good option. Because I still wrote most of the work. The SPAM site helped me a lot, but I still thought about postponing the project, I was so looking forward thise interviews : (It's a pity that I didn't think of an online interview then. And goodbye SPAMMY guy. (edited by dx)



Edited by DamoXt7942 - July 02 2021 at 21:44
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