Oslo, Norway's This Sect caught my attention back in 2014 with their superb debut full-length, Shake the Curse (review here, interview here), so I jumped at the chance to help promote their forthcoming new 7" EP, Nil and Void/Pink in Red. Slated for release in the first week of June and now available for pre-order, its A-side, "Nil and Void," debuted two weeks ago—a dark, synth-tinged post-punk venture, loaded with angular riffing and a subtly aggressive vocal performance. The B-side, "Pink in Red," however, explores lusher atmospheres—its bass-centric verses building into a soaring, U2-ish chorus where glimmering, hard-panned guitar melodies bounce to and fro.
Stream "Pink in Red" below, followed by a brief chat with the group's fascinating and well-spoken frontman, Gøran Karlsvik...
You mentioned to me that This Sect had headed in a "poppier '80s" direction on this 7". Compared to the previous track, "Nil and Void," that statement feels most evident amidst "Pink in Red." The chorus reminds me a bit of U2, for example. What would you say was the driving force behind this "poppier" approach?
Part of the appeal of the poppier approach is to be more effective songsmiths. We tend to prog shit up way too much when rehearsing. Our brains can't process the math and we forget the jams. But initially, the 7" was supposed to showcase our Jekyll/Hyde phase. We tend to lock into Fugazi-esque noise rock grooves ("Nil and Void") or The Cure-worshipping '80s arena rock ("Pink in Red"). Each phase has its ugly and its beauty to us. Shake the Curse is a tough album to follow up, and we needed to do a slightly conceptual thing on a smaller scale. Also, some of us are 7" fetishists.
Similarly true of both tunes—and again more prevalent to me in "Pink in Red"—there's a sadness to the lyrical social commentary. Quite excellently written, with a "punk" ethos beneath the surface. I'm not necessarily asking you to reveal too much, but I'd love to hear you expand on the lyrics a bit...
Shake the Curse was a very personal album, with lots of inner turmoil caused by deaths in the family. I'd say the new material is "less personal" and more concerned with the human condition, via the strange worldview of This Sect. Not in a political fashion, more like a dystopian fever dream, digging into the dirt of the id. Good times, bad times—we've gotta love it, hate it, and have it all.
It also feels like the titles "Nil and Void" and "Pink in Red" are structured in such a way as to tie together, perhaps suggestive of some "deeper" meaning?
Our social climate is on a fear overload. "Nil and Void" touches on the thin layer between normalcy and meltdown. "Pink in Red" represents mankind on its knees, expecting some kind of mercy from some kind of deity. Both songs are catchy yet gloriously bleak.
Apparently This Sect's forthcoming new full-length is beginning to shape up differently still. I believe you hinted at "weird kraut doom-pop," heh. What can you share about those efforts at the moment?
I have high expectations for this record, because it's probably going to be super weird. I've taken the helm as demo dude and produced about an album's worth of tracks with me singing/shouting over home-cooked beats and strange synth licks. Then the rest of This Sect are gradually putting their tracks on top of my electro shit, and we'll see what sticks. This somewhat backwards songwriting procedure has worked well in two other projects, Post Love and Even More Now, as well as my web comedy show ZAP, where I compose lots of glitchy electro. We're just trying out new and entertaining ways to write songs, really. How will this sound? I'm thinking some of the simplicity and repetition of Swans, hooky big choruses with lots of echo, ice-cold synths, huge guitars that still sound piercingly skeletal, throbbing bass monotony, etc. If I had to mention one contemporary band that continually inspires, it would have to be Future of the Left. When to expect an album? Around early-2018.