While the black metal scene in Norway has taken up most of the country’s extreme music spotlight, RED HARVEST are a band who’ve been honing their own brand of chaos under the radar. Their latest album, Internal Punishment Programs, continues to build on their impressive existing body of work. If there ever was a band that should be commissioned to provide the soundtrack to a dark, apocalyptic future, RED HARVEST would be the perfect fit. APESHIT caught up with guitarist Turbonatas to learn more about one of Norway’s most underrated exports.
APESHIT: Internal Punishment Programs a mighty beast and definitely another step forward for RED HARVEST. How do you feel about how the final product turned out?
Turbonatas: Thanks! I (still) like the album very much. I like the sound and also the structure of the songs.
APESHIT: The new album further demonstrates the band’s ability to create a strong sense of atmosphere. It’s a feeling of apocalyptic desolation. How important is this to your sound?
Turbonatas: I believe it’s got everything to say. That special vibe and feeling is what makes RED HARVEST unique and different from many other bands.
APESHIT: On your last record, Sick Transit Gloria Mundi, you had producer Neil Kernon (CANNIBAL CORPSE, NEVERMORE) work on the production and for Internal Punishment Programs you produced it together with Fredrik Nordstrom (DARK TRANQUILLITY, IN FLAMES). How does the production between the two albums and your participation on your latest compare to each other? Do you plan on having a hand in the production on all of your albums from now on?
Turbonatas: We have done all our albums by ourselves before Sick Transit Gloria Mundi, so felt it was important and about time to get some new influences to the way we worked in the studio. Otherwise we could end up very boring. And Neil taught us a lot. It gave a totally new perspective to recording and mixing. So on Internal Punishment Programs we brought along these tricks and routines during the recording. Still, I mean we have been playing for more than ten years now. It’s important that someone from “the outside” gives us input to the sound we want, and that’s where Fredrik came in.
APESHIT: Another major characteristic of each RED HARVEST release is that you guys always have a good balance throughout the album (i.e. fast /slow tempos, brutality/atmosphere, different riffing styles). Is it part of your vision to make sure an album is well rounded or is that just how things turn out? What is the band’s approach when composing music?
Turbonatas: These things just happen. It’s impossible to sit down and say, “hey, now we’ll make a really fast one” or something like that. I think all the songs kind of catches something in the moment. And as long as it fits with the rest of the stuff and the concept, it’s okay.
APESHIT: This characteristic of “completeness” also gives RED HARVEST albums an almost soundtrack-type of feel, like for a futuristic, apocalyptic movie. If there is a movie that a RED HARVEST album seems to fit best, what movie do you think that would be?
Turbonatas: Thank you. Good to know that we’re able to create images with our music, cause that’s a goal for us and something we reach for. So, guess I should mention a movie then…Blade Runner, maybe?
APESHIT: RED HARVEST has been around for much longer than most of Norway’s well-known metal bands. Can you give you a brief history on the band’s origins?
Turbonatas: The band started around 1989, but didn’t get its form until 1992 or something. In the beginning we played thrash, the first album came out on Black Mark. After that we continued working with the development of the band’s music. Even though we all have background from the group of people started the black metal wave up here, that never suited us. So they killed each other and burnt churches, while we played industrial/atmospheric music and did drugs on the mountain tops.
APESHIT: A lot has changed since 1992 when RED HARVEST put out Nomindsland. The landscape of music has changed quite a bit. How have things changed since your humble beginnings? Not many bands are able to sustain a 12+ year career.
Turbonatas: I think the reason why we’re still around is because we have allowed ourselves to fail, cause that way you also do many things right. By experimenting you always lose some fans, some people hate you and stuff, but after a while it also gives us a lot of freedom the artistic way. I mean, we can probably do whatever we want on our next album, it would still be RED HARVEST, right? I’m not saying we’ll start playing C&W now, he-he.
APESHIT: You guys were signed to Nocturnal Art Productions for quite some time. Can you tell us how you hooked up with labelhead, Samoth (ZYKLON/ex-EMPEROR)?
Turbonatas: He contacted me around 1997 or 1998 as far as I remember. He had seen us play live at his hometown, and obviously he liked what he saw and heard. It also turned out that he and many others people from the black metal/metal scene actually like RED HARVEST more than we knew at that time. But the thing is, in Norway, the label we had before Nocturnal Art Productions liked to call us “alternative” instead of metal. So the salad tossers got blown away when they came to see us live, and the metalheads thought that we were “alternative-some kind of freak synth-ambient band” and stayed away from us. Thankfully, good old Samoth changed that by signing us to his label.
APESHIT: Most members of RED HARVEST obviously come from a metal background. However, LRZ seems to come from a totally different musical foundation, perhaps because of his role is in the synths, programming, and samples. Can you tell us his about musical background?
Turbonatas: LRZ is metal, and still is. But he doesn’t listen to metal as much as for example Thomas (bass) does. LRZ is more a “GODFLESH” kind of guy. He is originally a drummer. Very good too. We played together in a band called DUNKELHEIT way back. It just turned out that HARVEST needed someone to push the keys so the samples would play, and Lars [aka LRZ] was a friend of the band and said he could do it. He also knew a lot about computers and technical shit, so that came in handy. On top of that, he really had a lot to offer the band musicwise, so he was soon to become a steady member.
APESHIT: What do you think of industrial metal bands like THE KOVENANT who have evolved into an almost straight-up industrial band out of a metal background? Do you fathom that RED HARVEST could potentially follow suit?
Turbonatas: Honestly, I think THE KOVENANT is crap. And I know that RED HARVEST will never end up sounding like them. I mean, it’s so hard to label our music. If RAMMSTEIN is industrial, I guess we’re not. If NINE INCH NAILS are industrial, I guess we’re not. I like to think about RED HARVEST as extreme music. Sometimes feel I have more in common with ISIS than ZYKLON, on the other hand we could very well play with both bands. Or MAYHEM, or MINISTRY, or SLAYER or NEUROSIS.
APESHIT: Although it’s easy to say that RED HARVEST are an extreme industrial metal band, you guys don’t really sound like anyone else out there. Who do you consider to be your peers, if any?
Turbonatas: We get inspired from what our lives are like, what we see, hear, read and live through every day. We have followed our hearts from the very beginning. I like a lot of music and I’m a big fan of many bands, like VOIVOD, NEUROSIS, SLAYER and so on. But I think it’s wrong to call those bands “peers.” For the first [reason], commercially speaking we’re on different planets. For the second [reason], I think it’s possible to find traces of these bands in RED HARVEST’s music. Still I believe and hope that we’re kind of unique.
APESHIT: Considering your use of electronics, have you guys ever considered releasing a remix album like FEAR FACTORY has done?
Turbonatas: Of course we have given it some thought. The first remix album that FEAR FACTORY did was great at the time. We let people that want to remix us do it. We did an internet release still available on redharvest.com with some of them last year. I love to hear what other people find interesting and essential in a song I have written.
APESHIT: Since 1992, you’ve outlasted the coming and going of death metal and black metal (in a general sense). How does RED HARVEST fit into the picture of extreme metal in the near future?
Turbonatas: Money and success have never been the main goal for us, but I must say that with bands like MASTODON, JESU and ISIS getting a lot of recognition these days, the chances for selling more RED HARVEST albums in the future are pretty high. So I guess we should go totally black metal then just to keep it real and underground. (Laughs.)
APESHIT: Now that it has recently been announced that you and Nocturnal Art Productions have parted ways and have signed to Season of Mist, what does the future hold for RED HARVEST?
Turbonatas: Well, we’ve started writing songs for the Season of Mist debut album. We’ll do some gigs and play some festivals during the summer in between the song writing. In September, we’ll film an entire gig here in Oslo for a DVD release. In October we’ll do a tour in Europe [with ARCTURUS].
» Check out our review of RED HARVEST’s Internal Punishment Programs