Now in the 11th year of their career, Extol have released four full-length albums and toured relentlessly to get themselves on a (major) metal label and on the brink of wider success.
musicOMH caught up with frontman Peter Espevoll (aka a Norwegian facial double for tennis champ Roger Federer!) to hear about Extol’s latest release, The Blueprint Dives and the joys of no longer having to do a day job.
“Even without the line-up change, we were talking about heading in a more straightforward direction, being more melodic you know? Obviously new guitarists will change the sound of a band, but this has been a really natural transition.”
Along with the increase in melody, many listeners have commented that the band’s more accessible songs now contain some Deftones-sounding influence, particularly on tracks such as Gloriana. Peter is understandably defensive (“I don’t think they sound a lot like that although I do love the Deftones sound”) before conceding that “the production of the vocals is maybe similar.”
– Extol frontman Peter Espevoll insists that Norway’s bad musical reputation is an unfair one.
Blueprint may be considerably more melodic than previous efforts but it certainly plays like a very honest album. Peter agrees:
“Well, what you hear is what came out of our hearts, and choices like that are always risky, but I think our fans are open-minded and we really appreciate that. They don’t just want the same thing every album, they allow us to play what’s on our hearts.”
With so much stress upon what is true and real to them, Extol are certainly a band unashamed to scream about what they believe in. Peter admits that the band’s unwillingness to compromise their Christian faith may have held the band back. However, he can also see the bright side:
“Well we may have got where we are now quicker if we had a different view on life. Maybe we would’ve gotten a record deal quicker. But really I think it’s been healthy developments for Extol – step by step, not just a bandwagon / overnight thing and that means so much more anyway.”
– Every rock star has an unglamorous past…
With the band’s beliefs one might have thought that they would have felt excluded from their local scene in Norway – the infamous home of all that is black metal. Peter begs to differ:
“Outsiders? No, we very much feel part of the scene back home. I mean, we see thosebands, they’re really nice guys, and the whole ‘true black metal thing’ – church burning and all that – it ended in ’94 and the media has just kept it going. I think a lot of that scene got caught in the hype along the way you know? A lot of it was just based on image, which ofcourse sells a lot of records.”
Speaking of major unit shifting, Peter explains that the band’s work load become a lot more intensive since they went full-time in anticipation of Blueprint:
“Well yeah, with [last album] Synergy we were touring during our vacation when we got six weeks off for the summer, with really understanding bosses who let us jet off to the States!”
So what do heavy metal singers do for a living when they’re not shredding their vocal chords?
“I was working as a salesman for a government recruitment website, and I was good at it!
A sly grin appears on Peter’s face:
“Well, it was commission sales, so I made sure I was good at it! But now, thankfully, this is what we do, it’s all about the music and taking it wherever it goes.”
– Extol frontman Peter Espevoll whets the appetite with an imaginary concert bill.
For now hyperactivity certainly seems the order of the day. Having just finished a mammoth tour across Europe with current hot potatoes Mastodon and with the band currently appearing at the New England Metal & Hardcore Festival, spreading the Extol bug is certainly no chore:
“Oh we love it. We’ve worked so hard to get here. And it might not be all fun when your van breaks down in a Swedish winter, but… it’s all totally worth it when you get to play a show and have the chance to let your music mean something to somebody.”
For a band who have remained so inspired throughout their career, it is easy to see why Extol’s music does mean so much to many people. In these circumstances it is interesting to discover which bands have enthused such talented musicians, something that Peter is only too wiling to share:
“Well, King’s X for me are absolutely amazing, especially Faith Hope And Love – I think I’ve worn that album out!”
Perhaps it is unsurprising that a purveyor of some of metal’s finest vocals should be a fan of one of the most influential but criminally underrated acts of the last 20 years. However, Extol are certainly ones for diversity, as Peter’s dream concert bill proves:
Well, if Extol can keep gathering momentum faster than a snowball in an avalanche, and if the units can keep shifting, who knows? Here’s hoping that there is a last-minute amendment to the bill at Twickenham in June!
Interview – Extol
Interview – Extol
Extol @ Underworld, London
Extol – Blueprint