Right now there is an artist who is stirring up a multitude of emotions and hearts within the metal/rock world with her immensely explosive and exciting debut EP. The lady in question is The Commander-In-Chief, one of the most impressive emerging talents to hit rock in a long time. The singer, songwriter and a masterful mesmeric exponent of the7 string guitar, has just released the Evolution EP, produced by the legendary Sterling Winfield, to ever growing waves of acclaim and feverish demand for her time. The Ringmaster Review had the pleasure and honour of being able to find out more about this extraordinary talent and we are reliably informed learnt more about The Commander than anyone had previously before.
Hello and welcome to The Ringmaster Review. Many thanks for taking time to talk with us here.
Firstly and quite simply would you introduce yourself, The Commander and the band The Commander –In-Chief?
I am a 22 year old female Norwegian singer/songwriter/7 string guitarist/shredder.
I’m a solo-artist.
Could you give some history to your life so far?
I did visual arts for years. I always had ideas for songs, but never pursued music since I had some horrible experiences with music teachers who hated me, as a kid. Music teachers, just like art teachers in school, have a tendency to HATE creative students who do not fit into their definition of greatness. I actually failed music in school and I was denied to be part of the music program in High School. They actually put me in the IB program without any artistic classes. I hated that so much I decided to drop out and stayed home for a week. That was when my mom told them they were killing my creative spirit and I got transferred to the art program. Having said so, I had some truly important art teachers after that who did their best to convince me to pursue that road. I would say I had 4 great art teachers, one truly important guitar mentor and my irreplaceable vocal coach.
At what age did you know music was your future and when did you first pick up a guitar?
Music was always part of my life as far as I can remember. I did not pick up a guitar until 2005.
I knew what I wanted to do, and there was no way I was gonna let anything get in my way. I got lot of static in the beginning, but I just brushed that aside. 3 years down the road, people starting realising I was very serious.
Considering your impressive skill and young age how long did it take you to master the instrument to this level and how much dedication and work did you put into it?
Musicians often think they are Gods unrivalled gift to music, I have never thought of myself that way.
I always focused on all the things I could not do rather than what I could do, and never realised I was any good at all, until after some years. When I look back now I think I did always did pretty well. My greatest passion has always been and will always be creating, so I spent all my time on that. Funny enough, my greatest development happened when I kicked visual arts out of my life and decided to focus all my time on music.
I wanted to be a good guitarist and songwriter more than anything. If you think about it, It’s a pretty modest goal. If you set your mind to learn something and/or create something, it really just depends on your will power and where this will take you.
You play a seven string guitar, did you graduate to this through the more normal six stringer, and why this as your eventual choice?
First 6 strings, just tried a 7 just for the heck of it, then I fell in love.
It allows me to transcribe my music in a way I find intriguing. I can play with dynamics, going from heavy to HEAVY. Counterbalance my vocals nicely. At the end of the day, I like it, which is the most important reason.
What are your musical influences leading you into making music and on the guitarist side?
Deep Purple, Slayer, James Brown, Windir, Jefferson Airplane, Randy Rhoades….etc….etc…..
Have you always been a metal hearted girl?
Yes, only difference being that I became more interested in extreme metal acts and more up-to-date on current trends in the genre, once I started playing. I saw the genre from the perspective as a guitarist always looking for a challenge, instead of perceiving the genre as a music listener.
What came first, writing songs or being able to play?
Writing songs, that was my main motivation, and the song always comes first. I still consider myself a songwriter, above all.
Being able to play, means playing boring exercises and having an even more boring practise diary…accompanied by the unmatched beauty of a metronome…….you can make it interesting by writing your own exercises, that is how I learned tapping.
You have just released your impressive debut EP Evolution; you must be pleased with the response to it, an element of surprise too how fast it is catching the attention of people?
Makes me very happy! I think the greatest shock to me was the Paranoid release actually, as I had never had a feature or even been mentioned by any big blogs or magazines until all of a sudden that cover was all over the place. It makes me happy to see that my music fan base is growing and pleased to see that people are buying my music in an age when nobody really does.
The release has a distinct commentary on certain aspects of man, whether the abuse of science, the world of fake celebrity importance etc, does this show you are not a love song kind of writer haha?
Hahaha, you have a lot of songwriters who can fill in that gap, not that there is any, anyway lol
I am a good observer, and good art or funny lyrics will always come out of that.
I also took an early interest in social issues and was one of those annoying Amnesty International kids in high school, talking about issues nobody cared about then, and few still care about now. On one of my longer stays in Norway, when I was 17, I wrote some opinions/letters about Norwegian society (under another pseudonym), two of them were published. One of them resulting in a main article/almost full page in a nationwide newspaper. That was when I started writing lyrics and the first lyrics were the ones for THOU.
The variety of songs also indicates inspiration can hit you from any direction or with any theme, is that how it is?
Yepp, it’s cool, but it can be annoying if I do not have something to write on and with. Then I just have to rely on remembering the idea, which I usually do. My notebooks are a total mess and sometimes not even I can decipher my handwriting. My ideas can be found on toilet paper rolls, napkins, bus tickets, receipts, guitar string packages … lol … My worst nightmare was when I threw out something I thought was garbage and it was the full lyrics for a song. I could never recover that one and it still bugs me today.
Let It Go is a personal song I believe, I am right in thinking it was inspired by your younger brother? Would you elaborate on that and its wider dedication?
It is about trying to reach out to someone you care about who suffers, but do not want to talk about it. You know something is not right, but you don’t know what …You do not really know what to say either, so you try your best at being encouraging, without truly knowing what the source of the problem is.
You recorded Evolution with Sterling Winfield doing the production duties. Legendary for his work with Pantera and Hatebreed to name just two, how did your link up with him come about?
I heard him on a speaker phone with my manager, talking about how awesome he thought my songwriting was. He had obviously heard my demo as he was referring to those tracks. I thought he had contacted us first, but apparently my manager sent him a link, and then he called us, which was the phone conversation I walked into.
First he was meant to re-mix the demo, first songs being Paranoid and an unreleased original track. We decided not to remix anymore after those two, but rather focus our attention on recording songs from scratch.
We got a chance to do this in December, when we recorded 5 tracks, 4 of those resulting in the Evolution EP.
I am assuming you have a definite direction you see your songs going in as you write them how much did that alter if at all by working with Sterling?
Haha, his main job was to say NO!. I wanted to have dive-bombs on top of the tapping intro of Evolution, I had an idea for a congas in Famous and several background vocal arrangements for Thou and Evolution and a steel guitar intro for Let it go, all of which were totally rejected, lol .. luckily.
He is a funny guy to work with. Great producer and I think the combination of his extensive experience and my overly creative brain, makes a good combination, hahaha!
You are a songwriter open to suggestions and advice?
Hmmm … I will let you make an ass of yourself, trying to convince me ….. It’s dangerous to be a dictator… I will try things out, don’t expect me to like it or embrace it….
How long did the EP take to record? I ask as I hear you are unrelenting at times in your energy haha.
I did what I had to do in 11 days, well actually 10,one of those days was dedicated to bass … I recorded all vocals and came up with new ideas and variations as I recorded. Sterling wanted to try out how will this sound like with head voice, how will this sound like with chest voice, how will this sound like with head doubled with a chest voice …
I recorded rhythm and lead as well, and improvised some of the lead stuff, like the solo in Thou and some licks in Famous, I recorded 3 tracks of rhythms and wrote new arrangements as we worked our way thru the songs. To do all that in so few days, I think I almost drove everybody crazy with my energy. The short day in studio we worked 12 hours…lol
This is really an unfair question but what the heck hehe. Is there in hindsight anything on the EP which you would change or tweak?
No, I am done with these songs.
Conversely is there any moment that you are especially proud of?
Yes, I loved recording the vocals for Evolution as this is my favourite vocal line of all the vocal lines I have written. I was proud of all the solos, my favourite being the un-released one, funny enough. I guess it is hard to see yourself from the outside, so I surprised myself just as much as a surprised Sterling and my manager, haha. I was very happy when I was done recording rhythms for Thou – that was my proudest guitar moment – and the only time I had a little drink to celebrate, lol.
Are you a constantly active live band?
I bring in musicians when I need them … I will be doing more gigs from now on, as my main focus with all these demo recordings etc has been to develop my sound etc. I think I’ve done more than enough of that, I’m ready to go out and kick some f%$#@&*^ ass!
Is it just the trio onstage or do you add additional guitarists to bring your sound forth?
No other guitarist wanted.
Are you hard on them when they cannot match your own skill and creativity haha?
I have come to accept that you have two kinds of musicians, those who write and those who just wanna play. You cannot be an ass just because people are different, so as long as nobody is greedy and start making all kinds of outrageous demands, I’m okay.
Any shows lined up to promote the release?
Yes, In the UK, gonna play Bloodstock in August as well
What is next for The Commander-In-Chief?
I obviously need to be touring ,that is what people wanna see and that’s how you get a career in this industry. Personally: I wanna get a huge full length album out, I got lots of songs and I also want to re-record songs from demos etc …. my main goal as a creative person is to record as much as possible, I know what kind of videos I want, and usually have illustration ideas for my lyrics. On a different note I also design my own outfits, so I would be very happy to see all these ideas come to life, once and for all.
A great thank you for sparing time to talk with us, and good luck with Evolution not that you will need it.
Hmmm…you always need luck and someone, eventually many, who believes in you
Just like the Evolution EP does, would you like to leave with some words to fire up the readers?
Please check me out and buy my EP, and a t-shirt!! Tell your friends
Read the Evolution EP review @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/the-commander-in-chief-evolution-ep/
The RingMaster Review 15/03/2012
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