Gothminister - 'I wouldn't trade my life I have today for the status of a superstar!'
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The Norwegian Industrial/Gothic/Metal band Gothminister has a very impressive live stage-act, thanks to the gestures and outfit of singer/songwriter Bjoern Alexander Brem and the catchy music. For some people they sound like a Rammstein rip-off, according to others they will become one of the biggest acts in its genre. We had a chance to meet the sympathic minister himself, who is getting ready to celebrate a decade in darkness, for a relaxed chat after the show! (By DJ Wildhoney)
SL: As you are the main composer of all Gothminister songs, please tell us which instruments you all can play and which one your favourite is ...
GM: I started out playing keyboards and then I played the guitar in different bands. Then I played the bass and I played the drums, always doing vocals at the same time. Now I just do the vocals and write the songs and then all the basic instruments. I really like to play drums; drums and bass guitar are in fact my favourite instruments. I did not follow any conservatorium, I learned it all by myself.
SL: There is a period of more than 3,5 years in between the release of the second cd "Empire of Dark Salvation" and the latest album "Happiness In Darkness". What took you so long?
GM: I had a lot of work to do. I work in Oslo as a lawyer, I have 2 jobs. We also did 200 shows in that period, it was difficult to do it any faster.
SL: How was the last European tour experience with Magenta and Trail of Tears ? Is there a big difference with touring in the USA?
GM: We did our headlining US tour in 2007, it was really cool, we did 8 shows from Hollywood to New Haven. I think that America is more rockstar-based than Europe. The industrial-gothic scene is in America more electronic, but we played both electronic and metal clubs. The tour with Magenta and Trail of Tears was cool, we had a great time. We know the people of Magenta from before. I am also doing the EMC (European Music Council) this year with Anders Odden, the guitar-player from Magenta, who also plays with Satyricon and played with Celtic Frost, Cadaver, Ministry and Apoptygma Berzerk. He has his conference on the Inferno festival in Norway, I was also with him last year as a lawyer in a panel debate. This year we are going to focus more on the film-industry: how do film-directors choose music for films. We will invite one director of documentaries and one of motion pictures in Norway, and they will explain how they choose, what they focus on and why they are interested in metal bands. We try to build a bridge between musicians and film-directors which is very interesting.
SL: May we know your most remarkable tour moment ever?
GM: I think I have to mention the tour with Mortiis in 2006 here. It is a funny story but also a nasty story. We were driving with a nightliner bus from Edinborough to London and we had a support band, following us in a van. Our busdriver asked the sound-technician to empty the toilet. You should know that it's not allowed to shit in the toilet but taking a piss was no problem. Normally the toilet is emptied on some kind of dumping area and sometimes this is done on the road. So the support band follows us and there was some kind of miscommunication, so the toilet-plug was pulled and the van behind us got it all over them. It went through the air-conditioning system, everybody was puking inside and got sick and they had to stop the car which needed to be cleaned. Later on, we were all standing in a big traffic-jam to London and the drummer shit in his pants, because they didn't have a toilet in the car, haha. They had a terrible day!
SL: It looks like Gothminister is becoming more popular as we can see on the numbers of movies on YouTube, the increasing Facebook and MySpace fans and support profiles worldwide. How important are these social networks for you or do you find it a waste of time?
GM: I don't think it's a waste of time, it's really important. When MySpace was launched a lot of bands also had their own homepage. After a short period of time, a lot of bands put their homepage down and focused only on MySpace anymore. Also as a lawyer working for bands, I have the experience that agents/publishers/booking-agencies/record-labels want to check out bands via MySpace which is very efficient, because they just have to press on the play-button to listen directly to the music. A lot of band-websites are more complicated and they have to struggle to find the music, MySpace is just easier and in fact a result of our society in general, which is becoming more stressful. People have less time and are less patient, they just want everything like this (snaps his fingers) right away. On the Inferno conference some years ago, we talked to people of the US, and they were already talking all the time about Facebook and Twitter. In Norway Twitter hasn't exploded yet but it will soon happen I think. Before, I used to get a lot of mails from fans via MySpace, now I get more mails from bands, trying to promote their own music. You have to go where the fans are, not where the bands are. Twitter is more simple and good for messaging like iPhone etc., but in Norway Facebook is more important.
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SL: Imagine Gothminister would become as huge as for example Rammstein is nowadays ... Would you feel happy and comfortable in such situation or would you prefer to stay more in the underground-scene?
GM: That's a difficult question because on one side you want to reach as many people as possible with your music and on the other hand you want to maintain the integrity. The reason why I write music and why I perform is to do what we want and not to try to adapt the masses. We do it for ourselves and then we hope that people like it. I really think that becoming a superstar in the music-business is very difficult and a lot of hard work. You have to let go of the rest of your life. If you think about how some bands started out with record-labels saying "If you have a job, quit it!" or "If you have a wife, divorce!" or "Get rid of your friends, now the band is your life!" ... You have to give up everything for it and I don't think there's enough money in the world to pay for this loss of a normal life, at least not for me, it's not the life I want to live. I am happy where we are now, of course it's great to play in front of a lot of people on big festivals, but I wouldn't trade my life I have today for the status of a superstar.
SL: Is it still possible for you to combine your job as a lawyer and musician? If you had to choose between them, which one would you prefer and why?
GM: I would like to keep the combination, I like the balance ... My job is my main focus and I think it's much safer as well to have this. I wouldn't like it to be a "desperate musician" having to earn money all the time because then you have to make music you couldn't stay behind. I am lucky to have my job and have a safe income and then to do whatever I like in music, that is what keeps me happy!
SL: Is it not a little bit contradictional being a lawyer during the day, and becoming "a monster" at night? Or do you keep combining both jobs, perhaps because the music-business is in such a deep financial crisis?
GM: No, because there is a connection between my job and the music scene as I mentioned already before. Since 2002 I represent bands in Europe and the US as a lawyer on a self-employed base. I am lawyer in the entertainment sector (film and music) but also working in the real-estate business as well.
SL: Do you have any plans to release a live DVD soon?
GM: Yes, we recorded a lot of live and backstage footage all over the years. We are not sure yet when it will be released, we don't want to do it in a rush. We hope to release something soon as the original idea was to release it this year for our 10-years existence.
SL: Now that 2012 is coming closer, any last important message to the fans to save the world?
GM: I find it a little dangerous that people are so much depending on internet, phones, etc. I know of people who are really addicted on things like Facebook for example. The first thing they do in the morning is to check all these things or they join every application on it. It's better to go out for a walk in the woods or to go to a theatre or something I think ...
Band: www.gothminister.com / www.myspace.com/gothminister
Label: www.drakkar.de / www.myspace.com/drakkarentertainment
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