Paul Castles hitches an intergalactic ride down Ghost Avenue where he learns all about the Norwegians’ sci-fi inspired new album Impact, released last month via Pitch Black Records.

ZT: Hi guys, thanks for talking with Zero Tolerance – The new album Impact kind of grips you right from the off with some really infectious riffage. Sounds like you had a blast making it?
Hi, and thanks for having us! Sure, we had a blast making this album even though it took a while for everything to be ready. Just a great feeling to finally have it all finished and released! We’re both proud and eager to show it off to the world!

ZT: How did things shape up in the studio, any hiccups?
The recording process was kind of different from what we’ve done on our previous albums. We changed the studio and recorded everything at Lionheart Studios in Oslo, with Øyvind Voldmo Larsen from Withem doing the engineering and mixing parts. We also did all the tracking of guitars, bass and vocals on our own and had access to the studio over a couple of months to do so. We felt we could take our time and really get things nailed instead of rushing through everything in like a week or two as we’ve done previously. This was really a pleasant way of working and we think the outcome is awesome and more than a couple of notches up compared to the last record.

ZT: How long had you been working on these songs?
We started writing songs for this album as soon as we had released our previous album back in 2013, so some have been “in the making” for quite some time. Others are a bit newer. We tend to change the songs over time, so at least some of them need the time to “mature” before we’re satisfied.

ZT: Impact is a concept album and the terrific sleeve artwork gives the game away, with its intergalactic images of an alien invasion? Where did the inspiration come from – any particular book or film?
Thanks! We’re quite satisfied with both the concept and the artwork! The inspiration came from our vocalist Kim and his overall interest in the sci-fi genre. He just started writing on this concept and had 4-5 lyrics completed in no time. We already had some songs ready before this, so Kim adjusted these to fit into the story line.

ZT: If there was an alien invasion what would the little green men make of Ghost Avenue?
Don’t tell anyone, but Ghost Avenue is really the alien scouts, making sure this planet is worth invading. So once it’s ready for an attack, we’re off to the next planet, blasting out some good old heavy metal on our spaceship stereo on our way to the next galaxy! ;)

ZT: Your last album was well received four years ago. Do you think Impact is a natural progression from that or are there any significant style changes?
Yes, we think this is the natural progression to the previous one. We don’t really decide on going in a specific direction style-wise so we let the writing be as free as possible and see where we end up. Impact is a bit more on the heavy side compared to our previous work, but we still feel that it’s Ghost Avenue so no drastic changes.

ZT: Your sound lends itself to energetic upbeat live shows – is being on the road something that you all look forward to it?
Playing live is definitely something we look forward to. We love our rehearsals as well, but playing live is kind of the award for all the work we put into the band. With the gigs following the new album we have also focused more on the performance on stage to be able to deliver a total package with the energy and enthusiasm that the songs really deserves.

ZT: What’s the mood like when you’re together touring. Is it one mad party or are things a little bit more reserved?
We haven’t really been out on tour playing for multiple days in a row so when we’re out playing a show or two in a weekend we make sure that we’re remembered for both the live show and the after party… ;)

ZT: There was a personnel change early in the New Year when Thomas Eljarbø replaced one of the band’s original members Øystein Wiik on guitar. Was that a difficult time?
Both yes and no really… Øystein leaving and Thomas joining started with Øystein moving to Thailand for a year with his family. The rest of us of course wanted to continue while he was gone so we asked Thomas to join us as a temporary replacement. Thomas brought a lot of enthusiasm to the band and also caught onto the songs incredibly fast so we were able move forward with both playing gigs and preparing for the album release. After a while we had a dialog with Øystein and he told us he lacked the motivation and inspiration to continue in the band, so we asked Thomas to join us permanently. We respect Øystein’s decision, he is still a friend of the band so no hard feelings. And we just love having Thomas in the band and look forward to the future.

ZT: What tour plans are lined up around the new album? You’ve got a number of Norwegian shows already in the diary. Anything else you can share at this stage?
We have a bunch of gigs lined up for the next months and also some in the pipeline that seems quite promising. Playing as many shows as possible is the goal and also to get a tour planned for next year if something we’d like to achieve.

ZT: Any summer festivals on your schedule, I see there’s one in Cyprus?
We’re going to Cyprus to play at the Power of the Night festival in July, so we’re stoked about that gig. It was our label Pitch Black Records that fixed that one for us so we’re really happy for that. No other festivals planned at the moment, but we hope to get some additional festivals in as well.

ZT: Scandinavian metal is usually aligned to black and death metal. Ghost Avenue are a straight down the middle traditional 80s heavy metal band – Never fancied going down the corpsepaint road!?
Haha, no you will not see us with any corpsepaint… Being from Norway we’re used to the questions about the black metal scene and even though we’re proud of our fellow musicians pioneering that genre, we’re also kind of eager to show that we have other styles of metal music to offer as well!

ZT: Your frontman Kim Ihsak Sandvik has a wonderfully powerful voice. Does he look to any one singer in particular as the prototype metal frontman?
Not really one in particular, but he has his influences: Vince Neil, Jon Bon Jovi, Claus Lessmann, Jeff Scott Soto, Dio, Jeff Keith, John Fogerty and David Coverdale to mention some.

ZT: Thanks for chatting with ZT, finally fellas if you could turn the clock back 30 years which band would you like to have seen perform live that you missed out on first time around?
Again, thanks for having us! Ah, going back 30 years with so many bands to choose from, it’s hard to just pick one. We’ll leave this one to our guitarist André as he in addition to being a huge Maiden fan, is the biggest fan of Savatage there is and he would definitely go back to see Savatage with both the Oliva brothers. He’d cry, that’s for sure, and the rest of us would probably follow along on that journey… :)

Thanks for dropping in!

If you’re here maybe you should think of adding Zero Tolerance Magazine to your arsenal of regular reading? We offer a 3-issue trial subscription to whet your appetite.