PROGRESSIVE ROCK FROM DENMARK READY TO CONQUER THE WORLD
Chrome Shift is a Danish band that came into life in 1999. Otto Schutt and Jens Christian Nielsen founded the band and they started of playing original compositions inspired by the progressive metal-scene. "Ripples In Time" is their debut album and I have a talk about that album with guitarplayer Otto Schuett.
Martien: "What is your goal in music?"
Otto: "Well, let me start by saying that the following statements are very much my own - Chrome Shift is a group of extreme individualists - I think that accounts for our individual lifestyles as for our musical backgrounds and tastes. So, truthfully, CS could be viewed as the head-on collision of very different persons with very different opinions on just about everything, especially music. Or, you could look at it as a merging point, a constant creative crisis, it's the latter view I prefer. Hence our bandname Chrome Shift - the music constantly shifts - from song to song, often even in the song. As a listener you can never be sure where the tune will go. The secret is to have a lot of variation and yet to have a musical indentity, or you may call that "sound". That surely was, is and will be a headache for our management. I'm glad that I don't have to label our music. Still after four years, we are friends and make better and better music together, I think.... So, what's our goal, to play live a lot, to write and record a lot of more "chrome-shifting" music, maybe even, some time, make some money, which would make being a band a lot easier."
Martien: "What would you like to achieve with your music then, after hearing what you just said?"
Otto: "Again, that's a very personal one. And, considering a difficult question. Or, maybe not - I think a lot of musicians will agree on the following - : I strive to be happy, to get better as a person and as a musician. I take pride in something well done, be it a liveshow, a new song, a new sound, a new lick. If the music or lyrics can transport emotional or bodily sensations and feelings, then we have achieved instant grace for all involved. Very simple and very difficult at the same time."
Martien: "Could you please give a few lines/words of comment on each song of the album "Ripples In Time".
Otto: "Here we go, "Nightmachine" is the opener of the album. Jens Christian came up with the intro and basic riffs. I did some work, after which it was "chromeshifted" for maybe half a year until everything was molded together. By then, we knew we had a "hit". The words were inspired by reading the Danish poet M. Strunge, a lot of his poems deal with big city nightlife. I felt neon colour words were the right fit to the relentless raw energy that is transported throughout the song. "Full Moon", in many ways a favourite song for the band. Like Night- machine it is in perfect balance and physically and mentally rewarding to play live. JC had a little sequencer-recording of the basic riff; I think I wrote the rest of the thing on one or two evenings while looking out on a fat autumn moon hanging over the fjord where I live. At that time I was also occupied by reading books about deserts. These things melted together in the words, which tend to decide for themselves which way to go anyway... "In My Own Dream", the first song the band ever played. I wrote it in the transition period, after the band JC and I had played in had felt apart. Since then it has been under construction for nearly 4 years. Originally it had a 4-minute long instrumental break in its midsection. We actually recorded it like that for our first demo, but then we felt it disturbed the natural flow of the songs feel and I rewrote the midsection, adding the guitarsolo. The lyrics grew out of some words which Jimi Hendrix supposedly had written on a last note before he died. A strange song, which I love very much.... "Shadowsong", Jakob is just wonderful! Without his natural creativity, his technique and his fabulous bag of coloured sounds Chrome Shift would be just black and white. He is the difference! On our next record there will be a lot of his fantastic compositions, watch out for that! "Through", a special one... Again JC brought the basic lick which was based upon a 5/8 count. For me it was new and at first very difficult to work within that time-feel. But after some time I had roughly worked out the bridges and choruses. We had played the raw bones of the song for some time - we all loved the waves of the rhythm - without lyrics or vocal melody. Then I stumbled upon some of the Danish writer M.P. Helle's poems, they are much like expressionistic paintings, just in words. They deal with water and the decomposing of organic matter, wonderfully mad and clear. And suddenly I had the theme and the word pictures to fit the rhythm. As I wrote those lyrics, there were no limits. This also brought up the instrumental ideas in the mid-section, trying to emulate the feel of running water penetrating all. It took some years though until everybody in the band was satisfied. And, we are still working on this song!! "Kosmonauten er ded", also one of the bands first songs. We were very surprised to see how well accepted this song is being played live; as it is very shifty in feel and rhythm. A real chrome-shifter, grown in the times before we met Rasmus. Again, Jakob really sets the scinemascope. The title refers to a note I found on the burning-up of a Russian cosmonaut in space on his way back to earth. It's that kind of feeling, or is it? "Les temps des Assasins" is my responsibility. Sometimes I simply have to go against the grain. What is it that makes men go to death open-eyed? Any men? Any idea? How can one be so desperate? So weak? So strong? If the lyrics provoke, that's what they're meant for!! "Sorry", a personal song written by JC. "Ripples in time", all the music and the lyrics were written by JC. Funnily enough, the title track for our album was a last minute addition. JC only finished writing the songs a couple of months before we went into the studio. We simply were not sure if we had worked out the songs enough to do them properly. But we went ahead anyway, as you can hear. The lyrics tell the dramatic science fiction story about a machine built by extraterrestial intelligence to keep time and space in its eqilibrum. Then somewhere a fuse blows, or what???
Martien: "So, who is responsible for the actual songwriting?"
Otto: "In the run of the last year all the bandmembers have started to come up with songs. Also Jakob and I have started a very exciting collaboration. It's just pure joy to work on new things together with him.... Most often it's his job to take my rather simple riffs and chord changes and "prog them up", while my function is to take his very complicated things and bring them down to earth. Rasmus is a very talented songwriter, he just is very picky and takes a long time before he dares to release something into the chrome-shifting grinder. Also JC has a lot up his sleeve, I know. So, what we have is a band filled with creative ideas and now maybe even a chance to realize them in the coming years. That would be wonderful."
Martien: "Who takes care of the lyrics, normally?
Otto: "Traditionally, I have been the one who has written the lyrics. That's always been a blood-dripping affair, very tiring. But surely also very rewarding. Like mentioned before, words have their own life, and it's not always that I am able to tell what is going on. But I know for sure when lyrics and music melt together and complement each other. After a year or so a song and its lyrics have their own seperate life, become an entity of their own. Even if I have written the thing I can have a hard time to recognize it as "mine" and somehow it reveals a truth: there is not one musical line or word that didn't grow on other dying music or words. The credit always goes to something "higher" than an individual person."
Martien: "So, how important are your lyrics? And are they political, emotional or personal, perhaps?
Otto: "In the sense that we strive for a perfect match between the feel of the music and the colour and taste of the words, lyrics are important. And, yes, they are political and emotional and personal. It's all there."
Martien: "I hear influences of Fates Warning, Dream Theater, Wolverine and Pain of Salvation; am I right?
Otto: "I can only speak for myself. Sure, everyone in the band has listened a lot to DT, especially in their up and coming years. Who can not be impressed by their sheer artistic capabilities? And for me Pain of Salvation went, where DT could have gone, but didn't. To me, they simply are the undisputed kings of modern prog rock. Daniel is a genius!! I would have a very hard time if I had to choose, which of their albums is the best. I must admit though, that they are very demanding to the listener, not everyone's cup of tea.... The other bands I must admit I have not heard, I know that JC is a fan of Fates Warning..."
Martien: "Why is Rasmus the perfect singer for Chrome Shift?
Otto: "Well, is he?? We were simply lucky that Paul knew Rasmus and kept on recommending him to us others. It took quite a while until we had him pinned down and dragged him into our rehearsal room. Less than a month after that we went into the studio to do our first demo, then we knew for sure. Rasmus is basically a very nice and friendly person, very social. It is still unbelievable for me that such a skinny person has so many voices. He works hard on getting better all the time and brings a lot of his ideas into our songs. It is really him and Jakob who do the vocal arrangements. Also as a composer he is very gifted, which will be obvious to all on our next record. He has worked a lot with musicals and is at the current time again involved in a musical project."
Martien: "Plans for the future?"
Otto: "Well, we have yet to see if our record sells.... But I think we are ready for the grand ball, if that should be so. I know our record company and our management have a lot of plans for us. We played a surprisingly well received release party in Copenhagen a short while ago, and I know we are going to play Sweden Rock Festival in June and Progpower Festival in October(Baarlo, The Netherlands). So, basically it's the same as always: we are working on a lot of new music; at present we already have enough material for the next cd, a lot of it we already play live. We surely hope to get into the studio again this autumn, if possible with a little more money than last time, where we only had two weeks doing the whole thing as we financed the project oursleves. And we all think it would be wonderful to do a tour, but that seems way ahead in time. But time is a wonderous thing, sometimes it just ripples!!!
Martien: "Thanks for your time and good luck".
Otto: "Thank you."
by Martien Koolen,