Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sex, Drugs, & Rock'n'Roll Blasphemy: CHROME DIVISION

*to be published in Hails & Horns Magazine
Kim Kelly 2008

Rock’n’roll was never meant to be serious. Sure, its bastard offspring in metal, punk, and hardcore have been known to take their music very seriously indeed (deadly serious, as any extreme metal historian will tell you) but the spring from which those myriad rivers flow is another story entirely. Rock music wants to stay out all night, slug down its weight in whiskey, and maybe pick up a hooker or two, not stay home and mope about the human condition! Sure, it takes its music seriously, and it always there to lend a hand to a buddy in need, but as Bjorn Luna of unholy rollers Chrome Division will tell you, when it comes down to it, rock’n’roll really is all about the booze, the broads, and Ol’ Nick himself…

Cheers! The new record’s a killer; what can you tell me about the rock’n’roll behemoth that is Booze, Broads, and Beezlebub?
- Cheers. It’s our second album. We’re very proud of it right now. It’s like your new born baby, only this is a hell of a lot cooler!! With this album I think the band has established a style and a sound that is ours. We have grown stronger as a unit and conjured up some classic Rock songs.

How did you split up the writing process between such a talented, larger-than-life group of musicians (they don’t call it a ‘supergroup’’ for nothing!)
- Well, it’s pretty much guitar-based music, so it’s natural that our guitarists are credited for the writing. The arrangements and the final compositions are made quite democratically at rehearsals. We’re jamming most of the riffs, and mold them into songs.

The idea of Chrome Division has been floating around since 1999, but you guys didn’t really start revving the engine ‘til 2004. What inspired you guys to start doing this project in earnest?
- Like most bands, it all starts with an idea with people with common interests. So this was something that Shagrath and I had talked about for a while, but Dimmu Borgir took all of his time. Fortunately Dimmu decided to take a year off, and then finally there were room for trying this out. What inspired this idea I believe comes from the old feeling of excitement over bands that we listened to growing up. You know, the classic Rock / Metal bands like Motörhead, Iron Maiden, Kiss etc. So I say we pay tribute to this classic Rock and we try to develop a modern touch to this kind of music, and finally release it to the kids of today who’s seemingly engrossed by boring happy post-punk music.

You and the other members of Chrome Division come from a more extreme metal background, and yet you’re seemingly having the time of your lives playing in this badass hard rock band. Do you think you will end up incorporating more of those extreme elements into Chrome Division’s sound over time, or are you happy with it as it is?
- No. I believe it’s important to cultivate the genre. I know we’ve incorporated some more stuff this time around, like a bit more Metal parts, some Punk stuff, but it never gets out of proportions. It’s all within the frames of what we think has a clear expression of Heavy Rock. It gets more focused and strong that way. If the expression gets too wide, it kinda falls between two chairs, if you get my drift…

That ZZ Top cover kicked some major ass. Why did you pick that song to cover, and how do you think that that Southern rock swagger fits into Chrome Division’s sound?
- I think it fits perfectly, even though the original song is 20+ years old! You know, the album “Eliminator” was in fact a bit cheesy soundwise, but the songs were great (and still are). Picking this song was my idea actually. I’ve been a fan of ZZ Top and a lot of Southern Rock bands since forever. In addition, Chrome Division has a strong biker Rock image which also fits to this kind of music. Not that we’re converting to this in the future or anything, but it’s cool to pick a cover that initially seems quite different then turn it into your own song.

As you mentioned, Chrome Division relies heavily on biker iconography and a hard partyin’ image to back up their sleazy balls-to-the-wall rock songs. What goes on behind the booze and the flame stencils - meaning, how seriously do you guy take this project? Is it a main priority for any of you or just a way to blow off steam between working with your other projects?
- It got serious pretty fast. It was just the first few weeks from we’d started that we were unsure of the outcome of the project. But as we soon found out that it worked out very well and the songwriting went swimmingly, we considered it as a real band. For me personally, I have Chrome Division as first priority. In fact, it’s just Shagrath who has to prioritize Dimmu, but you know, there’s a major difference in size here.

How did you first become interested in this type of music? How old were you when you first heard gritty raw rock’n’roll, and what is it about this style of music that you love so much?
- You know, it’s often that the music you hear when you’re, say twelve or thirteen years old ends up with the one you’ll cherish most the rest of your life. Music (and really, all kinds of stuff) has a huge impact on you when you’re at that age. To me, it all started with Kiss in the late seventies. Back then it was almost more important with the image rather than the music. But after a while I discovered that the world had a lot more to offer with great Rock bands. I think I was thirteen when I started to collect records. My first real hard Rock album was “Ace of Spades” by Motörhead. I loved it then and I love it now. It’s the energy and the strong rebellious expression that attracts me to this style of music.

Do you think the world really needs another hard rock band? What do you think Chrome Division has to offer that hasn’t been done before – something that really sets you apart from the pack?
- Well, I have to be honest here and say that we don’t really offer anything new, and that’s not the intention either. It’s more like taking a well-known style and trying to bring forth the strongest of it, and make the best music you can out of that. We’re working hard on making our songs memorable and interesting without necessarily doing anything really special.

Booze, Broads and Beelzebub might just be the most honest title I’ve ever come across; I mean, really, isn’t that what heavy metal’s all about? How did you guys decide that that was the perfect title?
- The title has in fact stayed with us almost from the beginning. It was intentional for the debut. However, we called that “Doomsday Rock ‘n Roll”, to in a way describe our style to the new audience. So when we made songs for this second album we made a song with that phrase and then it was obvious what we should call it. The idea came from the old phrase “Sex, drugs and Rock and Roll”. It’s our way of rephrasing it, and of course it suits our lyrics very well. We never really sing about anything else.

Who writes the lyrics? Are they as important as the music itself, or would you say they serve as more of a complement – the icing on the cake, so to speak.
- It’s our singer, Eddie Guz, who writes most of the lyrics. He writes for entertainment only. No politics and no moral preaching, so the importance is limited. When a song is made, it’s always the music first, then the lyrics are put in in the end. However, a cool song has to have cool lyrics. I think he succeeds in that.

How is this album different from Doomsday Rock’n’Roll?
- There’s no huge differences, but the variation is more evident. We’ve incorporated a little bit more Punk and good doze of Metal in addition to our Rock ‘n’ Roll basis. The songs are stronger and more instantly catchy. Also this time the production is better. It sounds more powerful due to a good and expensive studio. “Doomsday” was a very spontaneous album, “Booze” is more worked through.

How do you feel about the album, now that it’s been set loose into the world?
- You know, that’s a bit strange because we recorded this as early as January this year. So we’ve been living with the album for a long time now. Suddenly there are a lot of people showing interest. The cool thing is that, in spite of the time, the album still sounds really cool and I don’t get tired of it.

How did you guys end up on Nuclear Blast? Do you feel like the label is a good fit for you?
- We already had the connection through Dimmu, but it wasn’t until after we’ve recorded the debut the actual contract was written. It’s a really good label with a huge net of connections. The only thing is that Nuclear Blast is a pure Metal label, and I think we’re the only ones who play Rock ‘n’ Roll. But it seems that the Metal audience has no problems of accepting this.

What’s going on with your other project, Ashes to Ashes, while you’re away doing Chrome Division stuff? Is the band on hiatus or are you doing a juggling act between the two?
- Well, actually Ashes to Ashes is put on ice. So Chrome Division is my full time band now. The third album of Ashes to Ashes is recorded and it only missing some mixing and stuff, but the process is put on hold for indefinite time.

I’ve noticed that you’ve got some pretty sick Evil Dead tattoos; I guess it’d be safe to call you a horror fan, eh? What would you say has been the best and has been the most disappointing horror films of the last couple years? Do you take any inspiration for your musical endeavors from horror movies, or are they just an interest?
- Yeah, the Evil Dead piece is my last one. I’ve got tattoos with elements from “The Exorcist”, “The Omen”, “The Thing”, “Hellraiser”, “Alien” etc. My horror enthusiasm comes really across on my body now. To Chrome Division it wouldn’t fit with a strong horror image. But bands like Necrophagia succeeds in the combination of Metal and horror. When it comes to late flicks, I can’t think of any. I’m a fan of movies between the 60’s and the 80’s. After that it’s become rare to find some real scary ones. The J-Horror movement was a breath of fresh air, and then came all the American remakes which are shit.

What do you do when you’re not rocking out onstage or in the studio? Do you have a “day job”?
- Yeah. I work at a printing place, making T-shirts and stuff. It’s a really cool place were we can play loud Rock music and get rowdy. He he! I don’t think I would manage to work at a quiet place behind a desk.

Does Chrome Division have any plans to tour in support of the new record?
- Yeah, but little is confirmed. There have been some rumors about a small USA-tour in November, and we’re going to Germany in February, but first we’ll play some shows here in Norway.

What’s next for you guys?
- Just rehearsing a real killer live set, and putting it out to people whenever we have the chance. Soon we will continue writing for our third album.

Any parting shots or final words?
- Thank you for supporting Chrome Division. It’s nice to get so much attention during the release. I hope a lot of you guys will buy our album and have a blast with it. Invite friends, serve beer and crank it up!

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