Kim Ljung from Ljungblut, Seigmen and Zeromancer
20th December 2019. We are in a small Norwegian town called Halden just a few kilometres from the Swedish border. Four SEIGMEN shows of the “Live 89 - 98” tour just passed by, two more to go. I am meeting Kim Ljung for the second time this year for an interview as a few weeks ago news about a new ZEROMANCER album reached us through Norwegian music press and after a short team meeting we agreed that we would love to have an update on it as well knowing that ZEROMANCER fans, us included, have been waiting for it for a long time and are longing for more news on it.
So we met to talk about the new album and all the plans surrounding it. As the interview happened in between of the SEIGMEN tour, we also talked about SEIGMEN of course and did not miss on LJUNGBLUT as well. 2020 promises to become an exciting and fully packed year for Kim and his band mates with live shows, writing new songs and releasing new music.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: Thank you for taking the time. So we are now in the middle of the SEIGMEN tour. How is it going?
Kim: It is going great. We had four shows by now. I mean, it’s not a big tour. It is six shows, but it feels production-wise and according to how many people travel and everything - it feels like a grand thing. I don’t know, it just feels a little special. It is hard to explain. We’ve been doing this now a couple of years. It is a December-thing. People are talking about Christmas - I don’t get the Christmas vibe. It is not a Christmas tour actually.
RoD: It is just really close to Christmas.
Kim:Yes. That’s true. I think we are having a really good run. It was a kind of a bold and brave decision of us to go for a setlist like this. We have never done it before and the range of the songs is so wide. We have the songs from 1989 that - okay, we played ‘Rosa Boots’ in Bergen, but that was one time since 1990 and then ‘Sure Tær’ - you know these funny titles - we haven’t played that song for 30 years, you know?
RoD: I actually didn’t know that song yet.
Kim:Nobody knows that. We start off the show and people - we expected it - and still, that is why I think it’s a bold move to just start with songs that people have never heard. People were just standing there - okay - and the lyrics are funny and the whole setting is different and the lights are too held back to match the songs like it was in the old days. I think it’s cool. And then we move within the albums - it’s a history lesson of SEIGMEN. What it is - it demands a lot from us. It is a difficult setlist for us. We had to be really good prepared and I felt when we played it in Drammen it was like -”oh shit” and that is why the setlist was a little bit longer in Drammen. We played two more songs from early 90ies - ‘Simone’ and ‘Mono Doomen’.
RoD: Yes, I am a bit sad that ‘Simone’ didn’t make it further.
Kim:Yeah, it’s one of my favourites. It was too much of it too early in the set for people to handle and too much for us to handle as well. It will re-enter the setlist, not on that tour, but later, because ‘Simone’ is a song we really like to play. But now it is too much from that period. It’s been a really good run. For me Oslo was the best so far and it was special yesterday because the Crown Prince of Norway was there. He was all over the news yesterday because his dad is sick, the King of Norway. He came into the backstage after the show as my best friend is a friend of his.
RoD: I know that you’ve played once on his birthday, right?
Kim:Yes, we played on his birthday and he even played guitar on ‘Hjernen Er Alene’. So he was there during the whole show and he is just a really gentle and nice guy. So we talked about his dad hopefully doing well. He is 82 and when you get an infection you never know how serious it will become. So one day the King will be a SEIGMEN fan and you know, this is funny. We were talking about the old days and he told us that he was at Hulen in 1993. He was stationed there in the marines. That’s cool. And yesterday we did something - you know right before the show we always come together and yesterday we did it on stage and that was special too.
RoD: Oh yes, I almost missed that as I was trying to capture the audience in that moment and someone from the front row pointed me at it.
Kim:Oh yes, nobody knew it in the crew either. We just said “let’s do it on stage!” That was something special and I said “but just once!”
RoD: Wow, that’s cool. And how long did it actually take you to decide on the setlist? There are some interesting choices.
Kim:I had the idea of doing it the chronological way and when I first got the idea, I had an idea for the songs based on the setlists in Hulen [RoD: the four shows in Bergen in May 2019 that were dedicated to the gigs played there in the 90ies] and then I was quite happy that we did the Hulen shows. Because we actually had gone through a lot of these songs and it was interesting because it is not a setlist that I would have had thought of one year ago when somebody would have told me before the Bergen shows - “this is gonna be the setlist”, I would be - no, no way! So it was a good surprise.
RoD: I think for many people ‘Frostbite’ was the greatest surprise from what I’ve heard.
Kim:Yeah, and we actually had several songs that we wanted to swap with for the shows, but then we felt like, no, we need to play these songs better and so we kept it in the set. So today I am not sure if we are going to do the same thing, maybe swap one song. I don’t know. We will see.
RoD: I assume today will be kind of a contrast to Oslo?
Kim:Not so many people, yes. But for me personally what I like best is like yesterday when you have certain friends in the audience, the special friends… good friends. Just the fact that the Crown Prince was there with my friend and I can perform directly to them makes it more personal. And today is the same thing. Two really good friends are coming - Ted from LJUNGBLUT and Kai who is the owner of the Athletic Sound Studio where we recorded ‘Pluto’, ‘Ameneon’, ‘Enola’, ‘Hjernen Er Alene’. He loves the band and he is a really nice guy, a good friend of the band and he is coming too. So it is kind of very personal and I like that.
RoD: That sounds great, indeed! Now let us switch over to ZEROMANCER because that was the actual reason that we wanted to ask for another interview as we’ve read some news in Norwegian and were wondering if we could get some more information for the fans who don’t speak Norwegian as well. So you’ve announced a new album for 2020?
Kim:Yes! That is true. It will be called ‘Orchestra Of Knives’ and we are currently in the writing process. The songs for the album are written, but we haven’t arranged it yet with the band. Not all of them. We have done a few already. So there is a lot of work to be done. There is going to be hectic until June, I guess. Alex and me, we had some meetings in my studio and in the rehearsal studio with the whole band as well and had some really good moments there. And now we have set a lot of dates for rehearsals until we start recording in February. But I think the people have to be patient about it. We were looking for autumn 2020, but the venues in Germany are fully booked. So it’s not like you could pick - “oh, we want to play there” because it’s booked. They plan so early.
RoD: Yes, that is a difference.
Kim:Well, yeah, that happens here too, but in Germany there are so many more bands touring. We don’t care much about that because it’s going to happen anyway, we just don’t know exactly when yet.
RoD: So you want definitely to go on tour at some point?
Kim:When the album comes out, yes. And maybe there will be one or two singles before the album release and maybe we will do some shows as well, but these are very uncertain things. The only thing I know is that there is going to be an album released on Trisol. The tour is going to be booked on Neuwerk and one or two singles released before that. We are really motivated. I think this is going to be very inspiring to work with new material. And Per-Olav is also doing a great job.
RoD: Yes, that is also something I wanted to talk about. The last time we met, it was still a secret and by now he has played four shows with ZEROMANCER - three festivals and the headliner show last month in Oslo. How does it feel?
Kim:Very good. When Dan said that he has decided to leave the band, it was a little hard for everybody. Then you have the talks after you had the news and everybody was very understanding, without any pressure. I was like - well, maybe this is it. I was not sure if I had the openness and the energy to find a new guitar player who lives nearby and we can relate to, easy work with, a friend. Guitar players are hard to come by, who are not so self-centred.
RoD: And who are open to travel abroad actually?
Kim:Yes, that’s too! I mean we all have a family. I think the hardest work was to learn all the songs, to learn how to play them, with that kind of effects. ZEROMANCER guitars are complicated. When you listen to the albums it is like - “is that programming or is that a guitar? I don’t know”. So getting Per-Olav in, which was Dan’s idea in the first place. He mentioned it when he said that he thinks he wants to leave the band, he also said that he knows who could take over. Oh no, he actually said it when we were talking later. And Lorry said it too kind of simultaneously. Yeah, I didn’t think of him. He was almost too close. It was like - “oh, okay! Of course!” He had cancer recently, but everybody is sick. You have to be sick to be a member of this band. It just felt too simple. Because he is just prepared, he comes from the Metal scene. When we gave him all the input like “this is our ZEROMANCER world and this is how we want you to fit in while being yourself” and he just picked it up and he understood it very quickly - with guidance of course. He has been to my house, talking a lot, listening to things and that all.
RoD: And then the first show at M’era Luna came - alright, “let’s start small”.
Kim:Yes. He has a calm personality and he was stressed inside. We didn’t want to copy Chris and we didn’t want to copy Dan. He has his own thing. He has listened to a lot of the things that Chris did and a lot of the things that Dan did. Now he does his thing. I don’t know - it’s perfect. That’s the word. And he is so nice. His resemblance to Dan as human is actually kind of huge. He doesn’t take much space. He is concentrated, focused, does his job. He has another tempo than I have. He is a little slower.
RoD: Okay. He seems to have a lot of his own energy on stage. It is really recognizable.
Kim:Yes, he has this inner thing and this means a lot to him. He has been playing in a band forever and he used to rehearse at Haugarock before, when I worked here, as a kid. He is taking all this steps. His band UNTIME - they still play and record, but they never kinda played on big stages. He has toured with other bands as well, but it has not been as personal to him because he has been a fan of ZEROMANCER for so many years. He was on stage with us in Total once, playing the drum line. He was just a guest coming on stage.
RoD: So it was really too obvious with him?
Kim:Yeah! I didn’t remember that anymore. Also his wife is a friend. So it’s all family. He has actually - his presence - he has an inner flame. It is very inspiring for us to have him with us.
RoD: He really is on fire when he is playing on stage, can totally approve.
Kim:Yes, fire is good for ZEROMANCER. So was it with Dan. You know, he is a really, really good friend and a fucking great guitar player and so it will be in LJUNGBLUT forever.
RoD: Yes, I just recently saw the picture you’ve posted on Instagram of the “LJUNGBLUT-meet-up” and was wondering when you are actually sleeping.
Kim:(laughing) Yeah, we just had a really nice meeting with LJUNGBLUT - went out, had a drink, something to eat. So we have plans there as well. But it’s SEIGMEN and ZEROMANCER first and then LJUNGBLUT. We don’t know when the next show will be, but it is just such a great band to play in. I think it is so meaningful, so personal, but it is not so popular.
RoD: Unfortunately! As I’ve got this year finally the chance to see you live with LJUNGBLUT. I really thought it would be just that one time, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t for me. It is quieter than the other bands, but really intense and great.
Kim:Yeah, but we don’t get many offers. Nobody knows of it. But the only thing that matters to us is to write good songs, to have a good time together and release great albums. And to do shows occasionally. And we are all with this band. That’s our plan. And everybody is into it.
RoD: Actually some of the songs have really some sort of a Post Punk vibe in it and at least in Germany this genre is really growing right now. So maybe there is a chance to find an audience that will appreciate the music.
Kim:I will think about that. It’s a good point. We have some songs that could be fitting, yeah.
RoD: Would love to see and hear more of you with LJUNGBLUT. Getting back to ZEROMANCER. Can you say something about the direction of the new songs or the inspiration for the new album?
Kim:It’s not like we started writing the songs for the album this or last year. We started writing the album 2015 or 2014, I think. Then the idea for the first songs emerged. Alex and I worked a little bit on sending ideas back and forth and then there were so many other things happening with LJUNGBLUT and SEIGMEN. We just didn’t have the creative flow within the band, because doing a ZEROMANCER album is a lot more work than people think it is. And when you have worked on an album for many, many years it’s like you have this idea in 2015 - the programming should be like this and the drums and so on. And then you come to the next year - oh, the album is not going to be recorded this year, okay. And then it’s just - okay, now I have this idea. So we changed this all the time.
RoD: So it will be like a time travel actually?
Kim: It is a time travel. It will be a classic ZEROMANCER album, I think. Just with the faster stuff, energetic, aggressive. There is going to be the softer side and melancholy. So I think it’s far from being finished, so it’s always hard to tell, because it develops all the time, you know. I think there are five or six songs that Noralf hasn’t played drums on yet, so a lot can still change. You know, when you try to merge Electronic music with Rock’n’Roll - which is difficult as when people program drums and stuff. And we want the album to breath. The album needs to be alive, not so mechanic. Synthesizer-wise we are trying to use filters and use the old keyboards that we have. We have a lot of cool, old, vintage stuff to make it really alive, not so static. But I think it will be a classic ZEROMANCER album. It is not going to be totally different. I think when the album is going be out and we are finished, people will be “wow, they can still make great stuff”. That’s what I hope, that people say it. And the songs are strong and it feels fresh. We are talking about it when on tour with SEIGMEN playing songs that are 30 years old and we think about ZEROMANCER like “oh well, that’s new” - you know, that’s 20 years old!
RoD: Talking about 20 years - you just announced the Hamburg show in March 2020 [20 years ‘Clone Your Lover’ exclusive show] and you literally “broke” Facebook on that weekend.
Kim:It was fun, yes! It’s something that we have talked about for a few month. It’s gonna be a great-great night.
RoD: Did you expect the reaction?
Kim:No! Not really, no. It’s fun to know that we actually have a lot of people that follow the band for so many years. They are still there and they still like it! And they are aware that the band exists and people realize when we do this “Fuck man, 20 years?! 20 years ‘Clone Your Lover’? Shit!” It is the same for everybody.
RoD: The day it was announced I was about to take a nap for about an hour and it was announced in between. When I woke up, my phone was literally exploding with messages. Everyone was so super excited and surprised.
Kim:Right. I think, we have so many hours in the rehearsal studio now in the future. It’s going to be pretty crazy. As Noralf is about to have a baby soon, this is one reason why we are pushing it now. Because we will record some stuff with SEIGMEN and we will record stuff with ZEROMANCER.
RoD: Yes, you’ve mentioned that you plan to record some new music with SEIGMEN when you’ve got the award in November. Congratulations once again.
Kim:Yeah. Now we have to do everything before he is busy.
RoD: So you want to start with the SEIGMEN songs also before the baby is there?
Kim:Yes, we will start with it in March. That’s going to be crazy! We don’t need crazy (laughs). We don’t feel like we have a choice. As long as it’s inspiring, it’s good. Nothing feels better to me than to create. That’s my main drive. And it feels natural. I don’t have to push it. It’s just - it comes natural. I think we’ve been pretty good to think, plan ahead like a year or months and it’s easier because you say on this date we have this show, this date we are going to the studio. Well, I just have to work then, you know? We have to prepare.
RoD: So a lot is going on next year actually, like Amphi Festival as well.
Kim:Yes, very fun stuff. Amphi, yes. They have been wanting us for many years now.
RoD: Yes, it’s going to be six years then after your last show there.
Kim:Yes, six years. It was like - “are we going to Amphi this year? Oh, ah, no.” We didn’t make it happen in between. It’s been like that every year. But now it suited everybody.
RoD: Great. Thank you so much for answering the questions. What else would you like to add?
Kim:I can tell you that we feel privileged and honoured to have you travelling for all the shows, this time as well. It’s great that Reflections Of Darkness is presenting a Norwegian band, singing in Norwegian.
RoD: Thank you! You’ve got some people in our team who really love what you do, I can say for sure. We all really appreciate it as well and it’s an honour too.
Kim:There might also be some SEIGMEN shows in Germany next year [as this interview will be published - SEIGMEN have just been confirmed for the NCN-Festival in September in Deutzen which is close to Leipzig]. I can’t tell more yet, but I think something will happen. Like you said, it will be a busy year and it’s hard to, no, not really hard. It’s just a focus thing to work with ZEROMANCER and SEIGMEN and LJUNGBLUT at the same time. I promised my family that I will never do it (laughs).
RoD: Yes, as we already talked about it last time.
Kim: I am really proud of it that we manage to do everything because there are very few bands that manage to do it like we do. When we past Youngs last night [the venue where ZEROMANCER played just a month ago] - oh, we are on another tour in a different mood and it was like three weeks ago.
RoD: Yes, I know what you mean. I had the same thought last night when I passed by. Thank you so much for the interview!
Kim:Thank you too.
All pictures by Nastja Iz