Espervoll of Extol
Shari Lloyd: Pictures and Interview
Trish Patterson: Transcription
Linda J. T. LaFianza: Editing
Peter Espevoll, frontman for Extol, found his way to the Tollbooth tape recorder at Cornerstone Festival last summer for a candid talk about the band. Phil Powell of Screams of Abel magazine explains why the band is a worthwhile subject:
In the 7th - 9th centuries AD, marauders from Scandinavia conquered and pillaged large sections of the known world. Today their descendants have conquered and pillaged large sections of the known musical world - and boy are we grateful!
Extol are super musicians. Mixing metal melody with black death metal crunch, they've come up with their own style. Mostly black metal, the band is extremely brutal, and extremely creative. This five piece is a wall of sound built with big ol' cinder-rock'n'roll-blocks. It is thick with double guitars and relentless beats.
Tollbooth: Tell me a little bit about the history of the band.
Espevoll: We started off in 1994, the drummer and the guitar player. I joined in on the bass and vocals at first. Then we pretty much found that just doing vocals would be best. After a while we got a bass player and also a new guitar player named Emil. He had another band called Royal, so like in the end of 1996 he quit Extol and to do Royal 100%. And then Ole joined the band, that's pretty much how we began.
Tollbooth: Who's in the band right now?
Espevoll: David on drums; me, Peter, on vocals; Ole on guitars; Christer on guitars and we got a steppin' bass player called Thor. The other bass player is not with us anymore. We're looking for a new bass player.
Tollbooth: Where did you get your band name?
Espevoll: Extol means to exalt, to lift up what you give glory to, and that's what's we're all about. We want to give God all the glory with our lives and with our music.
Tollbooth: Is there any symbolism behind the cover on your CD?
Espevoll: Yes. There are like eggshells in the middle which is a symbol of rebirth. And there's one good and one evil lizard. There's a crown of thorns surrounding it. So like they're on the way to be reborn. It's through the crown of thorns. That's the symbolism.
Tollbooth: Your music is death metal, is that correct?
Espevoll: Yes, death black.
Tollbooth: What is that exactly? Can you tell me a little bit more to differentiate between the different genres?
Espevoll: What we do is we mix a lot of different styles. We can trace our melodies back to old pop music of the '70's/80's music, but we make them sound more like black metal with high pitched vocals, fast words and all. Add things like travesty rock with technical beats and then we've got the more groovy death metal things. So we mix everything together and make it into our sound.
Tollbooth: What's your vision for the band?
Espevoll: We want people to see Christ through us, not only through the band but through us as peope. So, we just want to share what God has given us, we want to give that back to the people, to the kids who are into metal. Because everything we have God has given us. He has given us the talents, our skills, He's given us everything. But when that is said, we also feel making good music is very important because God deserves the best, and so that is also a vision, to make good music. We feel that sometimes metal Christian bands are all into their ministry, like preaching but their music is not too good. That's cool. But we feel that God deserves the best music as well as the best ministry.
Tollbooth: does that make you more of an artist than a minister?
Espevoll: Well, I want to be a minister with my whole life, not only with my music so it's not a separate thing. It's just me and we have a band. That is the ministry, but also it's a whole; a unity.
Tollbooth: Your lyrics are in English, not Norwegian. Why is that?
Espevoll: Actually there are a few songs that are in Norwegian and the rest are in English. We want to reach out to the whole world, we can't do that if we only had Norwegian lyrics and no one understood. Also, we like the English language
TOLLBOOTH: Is it more difficult to write lyrics that are substantial in your second language?
Espevoll: Yeah, we try as hard as we can. We know our lyrics can be a lot better, like maybe the grammar, but we try, we do our best.
Tollbooth: Your lyrics seem to be a little different than what one usually expects in the harder music. Is there a reason for that?
Espevoll: I don't know, I guess we just like to write about what's on our hearts, personal stuff, but also things that deal with how you become a Christian. Such as, if you've been into black metal or into Satanism or into anything else like how God can set you free. We just basically write about things that are on our heart and feel God leads us to write. We want everyone to see themselves in the lyrics, to recognize things. That way to create contact.
Tollbooth: What's your favorite song and why?
Espevoll: I think "Superior" is. It's just a happy song for me. It's about how Jesus really is the superior one, how he defeated death.
Tollbooth: Are you working on some new things?
Espevoll: We have quite many new songs for the new album, so hopefully, we will record it in half a year's time, so hopefully it will be out around Christmastime.
Tollbooth: Is it similar to the present album or can we expect a style change?
Espevoll: It's further down the road for us, so there will be a bit more beat and more massive. You know the music is about the same, maybe a bit more--I don't know--it's hard to explain. We think it will be a lot better, both music-wise and songwriting-wise.
Tollbooth: How are you received at home in Norway?
Espevoll: We've got great reviews and critics even in the huge secular magazines and secular scene. People just seem to love our music. That's really awesome.
Tollbooth: You don't have a separate Christian scene?
Espevoll: Well, sort of but not as clear as it is over here. I get the feeling that over here it's very much Christian and then there's secular. Norway's approach is a bit, but not as much as here. So, we're up to doing even more secular shows and be more with the secular kids because that's where we feel we are called to be.
Tollbooth: What shows have you done over here? Have they pretty much been Christian venues or have you done both?
Espevoll: Yeah, I think we've had three or four secular venues and the rest have been Christian. We've been touring with Blindside.
Tollbooth: Any comments on the American scene? What do you think about it. An outsider's point of view?
Espevoll: Well, first of all I'd like to say there are a lot of great bands out here. And Americans are all very open hearted and friendly people, so, yeah, we've only met nice people all the way so that's very cool.
Tollbooth: Any drawbacks? We already know that Blindside can't stand our coffee.
Espevoll: Oh, yeah, we can't stand the coffee either. And also the food. We're missing Norwegian food. But the people are great and that's what counts.
Tollbooth: Who are your musical influences? Who are you listening to?
Espevoll: That's a hard question. We listen to EVERYTHING. But, I guess bands like old Tourniquet, old Believer, we used to listen to that a lot, so I guess that's in our blood and that's like rush. And also Antestor, a bit, Vengeance, Mortification (in their early days), a lot of Norwegian gourps, you know, everything.
Stryper is the best band that has ever been. I still like to listen to those CD's.
Tollbooth: So do you think metal is coming back and is becoming more popular?
Espevoll: I think so. We
see back in Europe that metal is on its way back, and we also we've also
heard from people over hear from the big labels and all that metal's on
its way back. That's cool?that's awesome.