ZEROMANCER by Moe Wyoming
Combining flashy music and style just as sharp, Zeromancer rose from the ashes of the Norwegian band, Seigmen. With Cleopatra Records behind them, theyíre ready to storm the US underground. Bands trying to produce electro-rock are a dime a dozen. But Zeromancer are that rare breed of musicians who have the musical chemistry to set the standards for the genre.
Moe Wyoming: Iíd like to start out talking about the name of the band, Zeromancer. It sounds like a cross between necromancer and neuromancer, is there anything special behind the name of the band?
Kim Ljung: When we started this band in Ď99, here in Los Angeles, we started looking for a name that you could have a ďdot-comĒ to it. We wanted to have a special name that wasnít out there already because itís kind of hard these days to come up with something original. So the way we did it, the way we do lyrics too, we mixed words together to create a new meaning. ďZeroĒ came out of Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. and ďmancerĒ came out of Neuromancer by William Gibson. We just put words together. We have an apartment where we stuck pieces of paper on the wall and for weeks just came up with different names and word structures and tried to figure out what looked cool. That was one of the ones that stuck on the wall for the longest time.
MW:What genre of music is Zeromancer?
KL: Itís kind of hard. You canít really just sit down and say well ďthis music is that.Ē We just call it electronic rock. Itís not industrial, I think, but itís got a lot of industrial stuff in there. Definitely rock, thereís pop and a little touch of EBM, even.
MW: So this is the second Zeromancer album, right?
KL: Yeah, our first album Clone Your Lover is not released in the States yet. It will be, I think a little later this year. Probably later this month I would think.
MW: Is that through Cleopatra Records, too?
KL: Yeah, they have the rights to those two albums. Weíre really happy about that. Like I said, we formed this band here in Los Angeles three years ago and we tried hard to get the first album released here, but we didnít make it. Now we have the second album and thatís getting put out first here. But I think thereís a big difference in the two albums.
MW: Now you said you formed in LA, but arenít most of you from Oslo, Norway?
KL: Yeah, weíre a mixed breed. Weíre four Norwegians. One member has a Swedish passport, but that doesnít change anything. We have this thing going between Norwegians and Swedes, weíre neighbors. So weíre four Norwegians, we like to say, and one American. So the four of us, Norwegian guys, we used to play in another band and we know each other pretty well form the past. When that band broke up we moved here to Los Angeles and wanted to come up with something really fresh and we started looking around for guitar players. We stayed here for a year and recorded the first album here. We met Chris when we saw the kidneythieves play and got in contact with him.
MW: So you knew each other from your previous band, Seigmen. Iíve read some things about that band and from what Iíd heard, you guys were doing pretty well.
KL: We did really well in Norway. That was our main objective back in those days. We played in that band for 10 years. It was the kind of band that hadnít happened in Norway before, because our first three albums we had Norwegian lyrics. We were kind of a dark, underground band. The third album went gold, we had platinum singles, two number 1 albums and we won the Norwegian Grammy for rock. It was a good period for us. It was a special band. We made some really good albums, too. Too bad theyíre not released in the States. Two of them I think are released in Europe. But I think with some success with Zeromancer people are going to pick up on that band, also. Zeromancerís been influenced from that band, too.
MW: Were you scared to end Seigmen and start over?
KL: Yeah (laughs).
MW: So what was the point that made you say for sure, Iím ending the old project and going with something new?
KL: It was a really weird time. I was kind of depressed at the time. That band quit because the guitar player didnít want to be in it anymore. We had this rule that if one member quit the band, weíd all quit. I think I stayed home in Norway for a week and we just came here. Actually we started off in Portland, Oregon; we have some friends up there. They had a studio in their basement. So weíd write, just me and Eric, the programmer. When we started Zeromancer we all wanted to do something really new, and weíre not going to sound like Seigmen, for sure. The whole structure, the whole way of thinking was different, the way we were making songs. We were thinking the total opposite. It was a really good thing, though. It was like starting from scratch again.
MW: Now this might be an old subject and old news, but back in the 1990ís in Norway, you had the whole black metal movement, Burzum, Mayhem, stuff like that. Did that have any effect on you personally or the way you were making music at the time?
KL: No, not really. I didnít like those bands at all. But it was kind of weird because back in those days we were playing really dark music, ourselves. In one way or another we were kind of seen as being in the same genre. But we didnít play black metal at all. Weíre more metal now. But musically it didnít affect us. Itís funny because the black metal bands have a lot of respect for Seigmen in Norway. Itís kind of cool. Thatís because the Norwegian black metal is very traditional, they use Norwegian lyrics a lot and with Seigmen, we did that in a very dark way. We were kind of ahead of our time in a way. Black metal picked up on us. We were a little pop, so some of them had a hard time saying that they were our fans. Itís funny (laughs).
MW: Iíd never have guessed. So whatís the music like out there in Europe as opposed to here these days?
KL: Well itís always kind of the same thing. In America rock is always happening. I think one of the things happening in both Europe and the States is basic rock. You know, back to like the Rolling Stones, the very basic rock níroll. I think itís doing very well in Norway as well as Europe. Itís more of a stripped down rock níroll thing. Youíve got The Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age, The Hives from Sweden, that kind of thing. I donít think itís gonna last, though.
MW: You think itís just going to come and go?
KL: Yeah, as it always does. You always have the electronic stuff and I think a band from Norway thatís going to do well in the States right now I called RÝyksopp. Itís more of like electronic/ambient stuff, but itís really cool. Itís all over Europe and itís just in LA Weekly this week that theyíre released over here. Itís kind of weird because itís a bedroom album. But I think itíll do well here.
MW: Now going back to your latest CD, you covered ďSend Me an Angel,Ē by Real Life, how did that come about?
KL: Thatís right. It was just a joke, actually (laughs).
MW: I think you pulled it off pretty good, though!
KL: I think so too, thatís why we put it on the album. But it wasnít intended to, at all. We were fucking around in the studio and I think heard it on the radio and played a guitar riff to it. I think that triggered the whole thing. But like I said, it wasnít intended to be put on the album, but it worked out very well. Real Lifeís never been our favorite band at all.
MW: I think thatís the biggest song they had.
KL: Yeah, theyíre totally a one-hit wonder band (laughs).
MW: Do you know if theyíve heard your version?
KL: I donít know. Itís kind of funny because our manager, heís Norwegian, heís stayed in Los Angeles here for six years and he was in a band here that was signed to a major label Ė the same label as Real Life. So he knows those guys. He hasnít talked to them in a long time, but the only drag is the lyrics are so cheesy.
MW: Also, I have to say my favorite track from the new album is ďNeed You Like a Drug,Ē what was the inspiration for that song?
KL: I remember how it started, a line from Achtung Baby, U2. I was driving around in LA when I heard the song and it just started from there. It was the first song written on the Eurotrash album. We did the first album, Clone Your Lover, here in the States, then we moved back to Europe and started touring. We toured for two years and when we first went over there we just had those ten songs from the first album. We were really pushing the writing for the next album. So we were in a rush and that was the first song to come up after the period of recording the first album.
MW: Now have you guys done any touring here in the States prior to the release of Eurotrash?
KL: No, we did one show at the Whiskey here in LA before we went home to Europe. So this is going to be a first, itís not a tour, but its five shows here on the west coast. Itís always been our dream, weíre dying to play for you guys.
MW: I know you did the Cleopatra 10th Anniversary show, how did that come about?
KL: Itís through Cleopatra, they signed us. So we heard about this 10th Anniversary thing and they really wanted to have us on. So we said, ďyou know itís going to be really expensive to fly us over.Ē But they did it, because they really wanted to show people what weíre good for. Zeromancer is very much a live band, we enjoy playing live. I think thatís when people really get to know us. Weíre planning a North American tour in the spring.
MW: How did your deal with Cleopatra come together?
KL: They made contact with us, actually. Before we did Eurotrash weíd send out CDís to labels and we didnít hear anything and time just went by. Then suddenly, there were three labels at the same time. We must have been playing venues here because suddenly there were all these labels. Cleopatra seemed really nice and theyíve worked their asses off.
MW: Awesome. Have you done any new writing for the next album yet?
KL: Oh yeah, totally! We wrote all of the songs already and we programmed the whole album. I donít know, we might do it a little different this time, weíre planning on doing it as more of a band album. I think when we come back from this trip weíre gonna go straight back into the rehearsal studio and try to strip it down a bit more, play more as a rock band. Right now it sounds like a mix between the first two albums. The material is very strong, stronger than those two albums. I think weíre going to release it next fall, so look for it.
MW: Now I was looking around on your Website a bit, and I found a page where you guys have a bunch of personal links to different Websites set up under each of your names, you guys have some interesting stuff up there.
MW: Alex (Maklebust), your singer, has a lot of porn links
KL: Just porno, yeah (laughs). Thatís kind of what he does. Itís just for fun, though.
MW: Any youíd really recommend?
Posted by Alex Zander at November 1, 2003 12:00 AM
KL: Whatís up there? Thereís one ďHot or Not?Ē I like that one. You can send in a picture of a friend of yours, or yourself even and people rate it Ė are you hot or not. Itís kind of fun, though, because our programmer did that with Alex, our singer, heís supposed to be sexy (laughs). He put Alexís picture up there and he got ďnot".