Tulus - Interview
There are very few bands within the world of black metal and extreme metal in general that kept their songwriting to the minimum form with a simple yet effective approach for 2 or even 3 decades. One of those bands that successfully manages to do so is the Norwegian black metal band Tulus. I've already mentioned in the review of their new album "Fandens Kall", that Tulus isn't exactly a band that's generally talked about when mentioning the Norwegian black metal scene, especially since they are probably one of the few rare examples where a band stays true to their ground as the world of music evolves and changes rapidly around them. Although they are highly underrated and underappreciated, there are many fans like myself that enjoy their music for being old-fashioned and catchy without the necessity of adding too much substance that could break away the magic of their music. You have to give them credit, because they have never followed any ongoing trends and they are a rare case of bands that always respect their core foundation. For this opportunity, I've decided to speak with Thomas Berglie, also known as "Sarke", whom you may know from other bands such as Khold and Sarke, but is mostly known as one of the original members of Tulus.
Greetings Thomas! First of all, I'd like to wish you a warm welcome on behalf of the MetalBite crew! Your seventh full-length album "Fandens Kall" was released a few months back on February 17th, both the fans and the critics seem to be very pleased with the outcome. Are other members pleased with the overall reaction since the release of your new album?
Yes, I think so. It's good to get great feedback on our work. Seems like many understand our music and what we do.
The cover art done by Kjell Åge Meland is pretty dark and grotesque, but it fits so well with the music and themes of both Tulus and Sarke, do you think that there will be a possibility of hiring Kjell once again to work on the artwork for future releases of both bands?
He is very good. I like his work of art. Of course we can use him again. We also like to try new things. What we do on our next releases we don't know yet. It can be him, but it can also be somebody else. Time will show.
Tulus has been around for more than three decades since it was founded, and you are performing and composing like the band was started not long ago, still fresh and full of hate. How do you manage to maintain that immense optimism and same level passion you've had ever since your beginnings, especially in this very "overcrowded" and "over-saturated" world of black metal bands around you?
We have always just done our thing. Made Tulus music the way we wanted. We don't think about what is hot, trendy or what kind of music people buy at the moment. We just keep having a good time at rehearsal and make good Tulus music. We still want to make pure dark music.
Although there are so many people out there that prefer the older stuff over the new stuff when it comes to veteran bands, in the case of Tulus it seems that many black metal fans like your later albums just as much as the old ones, if not more. Do you feel the same way that the recent albums managed to get more attention from black metal fans when compared to your previous works?
I am not sure if we get more attention than before. But we still gain new fans still I hope. They think that many bands lose themselves over time. Maybe too many new members. They try something new to sell more. They maybe lost the edge and eagerness they had. With Tulus we have managed to keep the same spirit and drive we had from the beginning.
At this point everyone knows that every current member of Tulus is also the member of Khold (with the addition of Geir on guitar), but I have to ask how is everyone able to manage everything work out with both bands without having one interfere with the other and without the need to sacrifice one for the other?
That's easy. Because we never work at the same time with those bands. We keep it separate.
Looking back at the reformation of Tulus back in 2006, which of the four albums that came out since its resurrection are you most proud of today, and did any of those albums assure you that you're now officially an accomplished and experienced musician/songwriter?
It is not possible for me to pick one favorite album. They all have their highlights for me. They are all also different from each other. I am not sure if it's correct to judge myself if I am an accomplished songwriter. I have been around a while and also made a decent amount of songs. So I guess I have some experience.
What I find special about each Tulus album is that even though you add certain things in your songs such as acoustic guitars, keyboards, pianos, choirs, trumpets, female vocals and technical songwriting as well, your music always keeps its edge and it never felt over-saturated or polished when compared to black metal bands that incorporate symphonic, Gothic, Avant-Garde or other various elements in their music. Is there anything in particular that inspires the band members to maintain that level of musical freedom and simplicity in your songwriting?
We know early in the process if we want to add something to the song. We want to keep the song true and inspirational. We try to keep an honest feeling. To have an atmosphere that will keep the listener interested. Our inspiration comes a lot from 70' music, different genres and Hildes dark lyrics.
You are probably well aware that Tulus hasn't been that much talked about or mentioned like other bands in the Norwegian black metal scene until many years later. How do you perceive this unfair treatment towards the band and do you think it's the fault of the media or the problem of general motion that swallowed the black metal genre with a rapid need to constantly evolve?
I think it has to do with the fact that we did our own thing and did things a bit different. If we had done the normal corpse paint thing, recorded the album in a well used black metal studio. And had more black metal sound. And black metal cover artwork in black and white. Maybe things would be different. But it's true as you say. When black metal from the 90's is mentioned. You never hear them bring up Tulus. But we did our own thing then and we still do today.
When did the attention towards Tulus exactly shift all of the sudden? Was it with the release of a specific album or something else entirely?
I think with the Olm Og Bitter release. They closed the metal label down just around our release. So the major label took over. And they don't do much to promote our music. I have tried to buy back the album, but they are not interested in giving it back to us. So I guess when we got back on a metal label again it was of course better.
We can't talk about Khold and Tulus without mentioning your additional longtime member Hilde "Hildr" Nymoen, who wrote lyrics for both bands ever since their inception. Do you think that Hildr deserves to have her lyrics be published one day in some special collection of poems in Norwegian language to preserve her creative and artistic side. Also, do you think that more Norwegian bands should or should have hired her to write lyrics for their songs?
She is doing a great job with the lyrics for us. She gives us inspiration to make dark good music. Yes, and we have talked about it. To release a small book with some of her work she has done for us. Think that would have been cool. Maybe in Norwegian/English and German. I guess she has enough with our stuff, but maybe she would tell me differently.
How do you look at Tulus at this point now that the new album is out? Are you hoping for a brighter future for the band?
Other album out. That's good. We are booking some gigs. So our plan is to play more live. Hopefully also more people will discover Tulus.
Thank you so much for taking your time to do this interview Thomas! Are there any final words you'd like to leave to all the fans out there reading this?
Thank you for your interest in the band. I hope that people out there check out our music.
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