I have just rushed to grab a beer at 5 to 10pm. Nobody knows what will happen, and having a beer handy means staying at the safe side.
Prompt at 10pm the side door of the main stage, Munich Backstage, opened up, and a blond long hair guy appeared there, obviously with a bottle of beer in his hand. I did recognize his pendant, the same as Nag of Tsjuder wear half an hour ago during their gig. “Right, we can go’, he said. That’s how a long chat in a really friendly atmosphere with Jan-Erik Romøren, bass guitarist of Tsjuder, has been started.
You are famous to be known as the bass guitarist of Tsjuder, but you also have a brother (Bjørn Einar Romøren), who is famous to be known as a ski jumper. So what about ski jumping in your case?
I used to tell to everyone that he started when he was three years old, because I was ski jumping, so he wanted to do everything what I was doing. I usually tell people when he got better than me I quit, so I let him do the ski jumping and I can play bass guitar.
This raises the next obvious question: how many albums did your brother release?
Well, you can twist the question. You can ask how many World Cup wins does he have while listening to Tsjuder because he was running especially when he was pissed off… but it’s zero.
How you started to play this kind of music, and how you started to play bass guitar?
It started out because I was skateboarding… I started skateboarding when I was 6 years old. And back in Norway at the time, skateboarding was actually illegal, and there was no one else in my age who was skateboarding, all others were older. So I was hanging out with older guys like brothers from people in my class, they were between 3 and 6 years older, and they introduced me to the metal. So that’s where it was actually through skateboarding, how metal came to me. When it come to starting a band, then I started to play bass, it was probably at an early age, as I always wanted to make my own music. I had a really good friend, Diabolus Mort, we grew up together, and we decided when we were 10 years old or something, that we are going to start an extreme death band, which obviously never happened. We had a passion and we wanted to do it, so we tried with other people, but none of them were into metal at all actually. But we played in some bands just to get some experience. I got a bit older, and I played in a band, and my goal was still to play death metal but it never happened. Then another friend of mine, Berserk (Martin Krogh), he played in another band basically the same thing, and he also wanted to play black metal. So we started talking about starting our own band, and we did it. The reason for playing bass guitar was actually a flip of coin, we basically flipped the coin, me and Berserk. I remember, it was in his kid room… but he wanted to play guitar, so I was due to play bass.
Have you ever learned to play bass guitar or are you just managed to pick it up and started to play it?
I never ever said I’m a bass player. I’m not a technical musician, I play what I feel to play and what I wanted to play, and I picked up everything by myself. I never ever went to any classes or anything, it was just through passion.
What’s your way creating songs? Are just sitting down and trying to put together everything step by step, or how it is going?
It’s been different, I mean through the years, we have changed. In the very beginning it was me, Berserk and Draugluin (Halvor Storrøsten), we sat together, Berserk and Draugluin had riffs, and we put everything together. After Berserk left, it was me and Draugluin, and that’s since 1995 I guess. I was playing guitar at home making riffs, same with Draugluin, and we sat together and put the songs together. But through the years and through the albums, we have changed a bit, we have tried to make an album or songs in the rehearsal room, and we tried to go back to what we did before, it has been a lot of back and forth. But at the moment it’s back to making riffs at home alone and then putting them together.
What about the next material as Antiliv has been coming out in 2015. What can we expect?
Actually, it’s hard to put in words. We have always played what we wanted to play. Right now, I have a really-really-really strong passion of just putting a big red cross over everything we have done so far, and go back and start over a bit, go old school again. But the new material consists of much more… two, three or four guitars, and lots of melodies. Not nice melodies, but it’s like… when I listen to it now, I’m really going straight back to the early 90’s. I think it gives me the chills to listen to the rehearsal, and I’m hoping that we are able to make an album as good as a shitty rehearsal, because I want the feeling of a shitty rehearsal.
You have some lyrics in Norwegian, and also many ones in English, which are the dominant ones. What it depends on, which language to use?
I can’t answer it, it just comes to me. I can get some words or sentences in English or in Norwegian, and it just happens, it’s nothing I decide. Well, right now I’m thinking on the new lyrics, and only a few ones are in Norwegian. Something in the next what I’m writing needs to be in English because we don’t want to do an all-Norwegian album. But I also think in Norwegian and sing in English, which gives a different expression. The vocals are different, and so I think it’s very good to have both, but it’s not anything what we really decide.
Where your inspiration is coming from?
Like Antiliv, I think the title describes everything. Antiliv is not the word, but it is a made-up word, which is pretty obvious the meaning of it. So the whole album and all lyrics are about death, misanthropic things mostly, and of course, spiced with some anti-religious stuff.
Of course, but where the inspiration is coming from?
Oh well, that’s life. Before writing Antiliv, I think for everyone in the band that was fitted very much.
You had the first full album, Kill for Satan in 2000, then the Demonic Possession two years later, and so on, but since that, there is a massive gap between albums, so what has changed that time?
Here we are older (laughing). The reason is simple because we were younger, we had much more focus on the band. Now we have houses, families, works, mortgages…
That raises the next question: is Tsjuder at the moment your full time job, or that’s a side project?
Tsjuder is a passion, it doesn’t make any income at all. There are a few bucks we get, but it doesn’t cover the expenses.
Was it a full time occupation during the Kill for Satan period?
During that period, I think where were all students… yes, we were all students.
What about the families, how can they accept or appreciate this kind of job?
They have to (laughing). I mean when you get into a relation with anyone of us, you have to accept that. If you’re talking about parents and stuff…
…I’m talking about the wife and children…
…children… I can only speak for myself. They think it’s cool that I’m playing, it’s nothing more than that.
Are they coming to watch dad on stage?
Yeah, well, if we were playing, I mean it’s so rare that we’re playing in Norway. I wouldn’t have any issue bringing them. We were considering bringing them there, but later on didn’t. The problem is that bringing kids to stuff like this isn’t really appropriate… it’s too much.
I think this thing raises another question that Tsjuder is considered to be quite anti-Christian and anti-religious. What’s the problem with Christianity and religion?
I think you could write quite a few books about that. First of all, it’s suppression. They try to force upon a religion and a god that everyone has to follow, which I think is a plain stupidity. I think I didn’t have different views before but at the moment I don’t care for religion so much other than that’s bullshit, it’s for pathetic people. As long as it doesn’t concern me, as long as it just stays away, it’s fine. I hate that Norway has, you know, that national governments’ church thing, because I think that’s a way of forcing religion upon someone. I have sent so many letters to tell them that I don’t want to be part of the church because they automatically enroll you, they enroll all adults and children. The only reason the church survives is because they do that, they enroll people who doesn’t have a phone. So yeah… but as long as it doesn’t concern me so much, people can do whatever they want.
It’s quite clear to have significant differences between black metal and church, but what’s the main reason why you think the church and the religion is not something that you would accept?
Because the church is built up by a few leaders and a shit loads of sheep without opinion, without any meaning, just following blindly a bunch of dictators basically. And don’t get me started on the Catholic priests, what they do in their spare time with young boys… it’s so fucking double moral. I think the whole world… and probably not all religions but Christianity and Catholics itself is so much about money.
Is there any kind of non-black metal music you listen to?
I’m so conservative, I listen to the old stuff. Maybe once every five year I can find a new record. I listen to the old demo tapes from back in the day and it really bugs me because I really want to find a new band which gives me the same feeling. But on the other hand, it is probably hard because I have the memories from the time when I was in the cabin listening to some demo tapes which is probably a shit today, but from other perspective it’s still good.
You’re a musician who plays black metal, so it raises the next obvious question. What music means to you, and what black metal means to you?
It’s my life. I think it defines me.
What would you be without black metal?
I don’t know. I would probably have serious problems finding my inner peace. Black metal gives me some kind of calm. I was actually driving with Seidemann (Tor Risdal Stavenes) from 1349, and we were discussing it… like when listening to black metal, you should feel the woods, and you should feel the winds, the cold, the isolation, the misanthropy… everything. If you listen to a music and you can feel that, it’s black metal. I listen to black metal every day. I’m not a music fanatic, and I’ve always been honest about that. I like different kind of music, but I’m not one of these super lectured musical guys. I like what I like and I don’t care about all other stuffs. People are talking about whatever bands like Pink Floyd and Beatles which is fine, but that’s not my cup of tea.
Written by Á