The workaholic behind Ava Inferi

After his departure from Norwegian black metal cult act Mayhem, Rune(Blasphemer) decided to form Ava Inferni with Portugese songtress Carmen Simoes. While this band is quite departure from his days in Mayhem and his current black/thrash metal Aura Noir. Ava Inferni is a filter of Carmen's and Rune's expression of despair, darkness, depression, and apathy. Their recent release "Onyx" is just that, despite being a constant workaholic Rune took the time to discuss the dark world of Ava Inferni.

Hello Rune, how things been so far in 2011?
Cheers, all fine here thanks. A tad stressed out but thats how it goes when you are a workaholic with too much on the agenda I guess.

Right now I'm listening to the "Onyx" release. In a way it kinda remind me of Moonspell but I like the ambience of the band's sound.
Well, I get your point although I do not agree that much. I think its safer to say that we have maybe some common back ground in terms of inspirations.
I think we have some more vintage approaches in our music, and also some more progressive and more Doom-Metal passages.
But the distance between our 2 bands are somewhat short obviously, and Carmen is also participating on their albums every now and then, leavingĀ her distinctive mark on their music as well as ours.
Regarding our ambience, I think we managed to capture something very unique on our latest album, something that we rightfully can call our own, if you get my point.
We also worked very hard on that aspect, as the ambience is what paints the music and can also elevate the experience, obviously.

First, how long you been living in Portugal? Second, what drew you to move to Portugal?
I've been living in Portugal for about 6 years now, and enjoying thereafter. Its far from my Norwegian heritage but I also feel feel at ease with the southern "vibe".
I used to say that I moved to Portugal because of the great coast line, and that it was perfect for "nighttime activities" but I guess by now my hoax is getting old and tired.
It worked back then, for a short period of time, heh.... No, I moved to Portugal due to Carmen, and an overwhelming need to get away from my chaos in Norway at the time.
It did me good to see things from a different point of view, so in light of this, me moving was probably the best and smartest thing I've ever done considering what I have achieved in retrospect. I miss Norway naturally, but for time being I have a healthy relation to the distance and the longing.

How you like living in Portugal so far? It's lot warmer than Norway? lol
Yeah, its kinda different yes. But I got used to it. Actually, I prefer my weather warm and hot so to speak so.... funny thing, the beer seems to taste better then.
Right now its the summer period starting and I look forward to countless days in my terrace pool backed up by Scorpions and Champagne. The only way...

I never heard "Blood Of Bacchaus". So, in your own words, how would you compare "Onyx" to "Blood Of Bacchaus" as far as progression goes?
"Blood Of Bacchaus" is more "free floating" album. It has tons of riffs and it has many diverse moods and passages. I usually see the album as a creative waterfall, with a wall of ideas presented. Looking back, I could probably have forged 2-3 albums from the material presented there, but this doesn't mean I'm dissatisfied with it. On the contrary: it really contains some really heavy and mindblowing parts.- Like the Fado inspired "Tempestade" or the 10 minute mammoth of sadness "Appeler les Loups". Its also a very artistic album I think.....just another side of the band. Definitely worth checking out if you enjoy "Onyx".

I love your work in Mayhem and I still play the last release you recorded with the band, you have bought different dynamic to the band.
Thank you. Yeah, "Ordo Ad Chao" is indeed something different. It was also the aim with the release, to create something out of this world, and something so "anti" everything that it would hurt to listen to it. I think we succeeded in that.

What are the reactions from some Mayhem fans to Ava Inferi so far?
I think the majority respects Ava Inferi for what it is. You know, for me there are several ways of expressing myself. Its what the moment requires, you know. Im obviously not the guy that sits at home in the dark listening old Beherit demos if you get my point. I have a wide array of influences and creative power and I like to present myself as diverse as I can. Therefore I started Ava Inferi as well, as there was something else inside of me that needed to "talk", if you get my point. Life isnt only experienced 1 way, it is so much more, with so many intricate layers. And feeling and creating according to this is for me a part of being an receptive human being. However, and while all this is said, I must confess that I will always carry a dark outlet in my arts. It is no other way. It feels like a life long catharsis, in lack of better words. Mountains of grief and hopelessness to carry and overcome (oh, the drama). But still, even though Im a miserable freak, I try to aim for the better of it....

Do you feel that this album is more darker than the band's second opus "The Silhouette"?
"The Silhouette" is a very dark album, and is only preceived properly under heavy medication methinks. Its difficult to say but i think that Onyx presents a different darkness. "The Silhouette" was just a miserable outlet, in all ways. More sad Id say.

You also brought legendary producer Dan Swano on board for the making of "Onyx". What did Dan bring to the table when you started working on the album?
Dan is a very versatile producer, and he has some incredible albums on his resume as well. Bringing Dan back in, as he also did the final mastering on "Blood Of Bacchus", was something I was very conscious about, and I am very confident with the sounds he managed to stir up on "Onyx". Its sounding different, and it also it paints a pretty accurate picture of what is Ava Inferi in 2011.

Apart from the mixing and mastering skills he also brought inn some weird kinda "white noise" noises here and there, that really adds to the overall feeling and atmosphere.

What are some of the things Dan did to bring out the best of the band? And what are some of the qualities you liked when you started working with Dan?
Well, you must keep in mind that the album was recorded without Dans interference, so he basically did the work afterwards. That being said, he made us sound unique I think. He really felt the music and came up with something I haven't heard quite like before. It was also a cool thing when he stated that this album was one of the best albums he had ever mixed. A statement like that should warm any a musicians heart, considering his background of 100s of mixed and mastered albums.

I like to know about your singer Carmen. How did you two meet and for how long do you known each other?
We met in Lisboa back in 2002 actually, when I was on vacation with some Norwegian friends of mine. They happened to know her prior to me so when we all met for drinks and dinner upon arrival, we hit off immediately. A drunken weekend in Lisboa ended in "permanent vacation" in the very same city some years or so later.
Ever since we moved in together in 2004 we have been having ideas etc on doing some things together, as I have always been mesmerized by her voice. Ava Inferi is the direct result of this.
Unbreakable and unique!

She also worked with Moonspell at one time?
Well, she has worked with Moonspell on 2-3 albums now, and I believe she may contribute more in the future also. She has also been touring around with them here in PT when they are bringing in the choir that is now know as the "Crystal Mountain Singers".

The song that stand out to me is 'Venice In Fog' cause I hear the mandolin but it has a darker ambience.
All the strings and the sounds on this album comes from my guitar. I actually worked very hard and very long in order to obtain the dark and unique atmosphere I feel this album has.-

In fact, I used on occasion the same equipment as I used on the "Ordo Ad Chao" album with Mayhem. Everything to get that spiky and rotten sound into the mix. Obviously it sounds different in Ava due to the different focus and aim, but nevertheless, some of the same recording "techniques" were used. To great success I may add.

Ava Inferi has done a successful European tour with Tiamat and 69 Eyes. Are there any plans for a US trek in 2011?
We would absolutely love to do something like that. But unfortunately we are still a small band in the states, and in this economic climate its very hard for any band, let alone bands in our circle. But that being said, I truly hope we can make our way over during next year or so.

What about the feedback from the US metal press to "Onyx"? Have the reviews been positive so far?
To be honest with you I haven't read that many, as for now its been mostly European press I've been working on. But here in Europe things have gone really well, and we have received tons of praise for this album. Lets hope this spread to the States as well, as I feel this thing we are doing could go down well with the audience there too.

Have you done any shows in Norway since leaving Mayhem?
Yes I have. I still play in Aura Noir, the black thrash metal band, and I go over once in a while to both compose and rehearse and also to do some gigs with them. Last show we did with Aura Noir was the Inferno festival, where also Ava Inferi played. I sense there will be tons more trips to Norway in the future too, now with the release of the new Aura Noir album and also the increased interest in Ava Inferi.

I'm planning on getting a physical copy of "Onyx". I think the songs are great dark, heavy and mellow.
Sounds like a good idea. The lyrics are also quite interesting if I may say so. Also, the artwork inside is somewhat more personal than regular booklet prints as well, with handwritten lyrics and quotes. Should be in any fan of darker musicĀ“s record collection methinks.

So what are the band's plan as far going on the road in support of "onyx"?
Well, right now, hence my delay in doing this interview actually, there are tons of things to be solved before we head out to play with My Dying Bride as special guests on their 20th anniversary tour. This will kick off in London in a week or so, and we are looking immensely forward to it. As both fans and followers of the band and also friends with them, I sense a perfect symbiose of misery and despair. Albion in Ruin 2011.

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview anything you like to add.
Thank you for the interview! Check out "Onyx", there is much to be explored within. Cheers!