I’ve had the pleasure of encountering quite some of the people who make the music I love. One of them was Ice Dale, legendary guitarist for Enslaved and Audrey Horne. Also known for the project I with Abbath, Demonaz, Ov Hell and many, many more.
I ran into Arve Isdal, which is the real name, after Dynamo Metal Fest 2016 at the Blue Collar Hotel and for the very first time in a long while I bravely asked for a photo. Later I got in touch and asked if he’d answer some questions for on here.
Now, Ice Dale is an interesting guitar player, coming from the black metal scene. He’s also a producer and works with many smaller bands. His stage presentation is unlike most black metal musicians and much more inspired by the great rock guitar gods. Legs spread, hair waving in the air and just chugging out mighty riffs. It was very esciting for me to do this article and to have it on here.
Interview with Arve Isdal
Since you are involved in quite some projects, what are the bands you’re currently working with and what is happening there?
I´m only involved in 2 bands now and that is Enslaved and Audrey Horne. Both bands are working on new albums at the moment and playing gigs in between. Enslaved will do a European tour starting late September and also Australia and a festival in Japan this autumn. Audrey Horne will play some shows in Norway and focus on writing new material.
How do you decide what projects to say yes to and which to say no to. In other words, what are you looking for in a new musical project in order to join it?
-As a musician I haven’t really had time to do much else then Audrey Horne and Enslaved for the last years. Both bands are touring and putting out albums every other year so it keeps me busy. As a producer it of course has to be a band or music I like for some reason or something I feel I can contribute to. I haven’t really produced recently but I have been teaching about music production at a school here in Bergen and that’s a lot of fun.
Next to being a musician, you’re also a producer. Do you find that you’re a diffferent producer than a musician outputwise? Or how has it influenced your musicianship?
You always learn things from every session you do in the studio cause they are all different. What works in some sessions might not work at all on the next one, so that keeps it interesting and you cant just do the same every time. You learn a lot from working with other musicians and also producers and sometimes they are doing something that just sounds really cool and you can adopt that into your own playing and producing.
I also have recorded a lot of demos with younger, local bands and that’s very inspiring too. They got the spirit and enthusiasm you had when you started playing and its such a big deal for them to get their own demo and you can see how proud they are when its done. That makes me appreciate more what i´m doing and to remember that in the end this is all about having fun and the love of music in between all the hard work.
What is the most rewarding to do for you nowadays? Producing or making music?
Definitely making music! Its fun to record other bands and artist too and be a part of making and maybe forming their albums, but it will always be more personal to write your own music. At least for me. I like to do both though cause if you have been writing a lot for a period, its nice to just be the “ears” to someone´s songs and help them get where they want musically and production wise.
Enslaved has been your band for a long time, all the way from the pagan black metal days to the more progressive times now. How did you get into black metal in the first place? What did you listen to?
I grew up listening to more Rock n roll/ Hard rock and progressive music and bands like Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Guns n Roses, Faith No More, King Crimson, Yes, Pink Floyd and those kind of bands. I didn’t play extreme metal before I started playing with some friends of mine in a band called Malignant Eternal in the mid 90´s and it went on from there.
Nowadays you combine work in Enslaved with Audrey Horne, two completely different bands. Are you experiencing a difference as a member and in the way you perform?
I have always played a lot of different music and in different bands, so I´m used to changing my playing and feeling a bit. Its more like a psychological thing I think. In extreme metal you usually have a more aggressive approach and that attitude and that “feeling” musically can be just as important as what you play technically. If you play for example punk and are supposed to have a chaotic and “fuck off” attitude, you cant all play in perfect time and play all the notes and chords perfect cause that wouldn’t sound chaotic at all. That said I have always had a more rock n roll approach to my playing in Enslaved and other metal bands I played with, so its really not that different. Its another style and another way of riffing and building up the arrangement but both bands are practicing a lot and try to play as good together as possible so its kind of the same only a little different;) Sometimes the most straightforward riffs and music can be the hardest to play cause then all the notes you play count more and there are no room for mistakes or being a little of rhythmically.
What was it like to play in the band I and how did you get involved with it? Will there ever be more work from that group of people joined?
– I met Olve (Abbath) at a local pub called Garage, which was the bar all the musicians hang out in Bergen at that time. We started hanging out and became friends. I had a homestudio and after Immortal took a break, he asked if I could help him record and work on some ideas he had. We didn’t have a band or album in mind at that time so we just hung out and played and recorded stuff for a year or two before we decided to put together a band and make an album. I already played with King in Audrey Horne so I suggested him on the Bass and Abbath wanted to try Armagedda, who was the first drummer in Immortal, on drums and it worked out great. Of course Demonaz had to write the lyrics so suddenly we had a band. We all became close friends and we had a lot of fun making the album. I don’t think there will be another “I” album, or at least I cant see that happening right now.
Of all the music you’ve made, what would you like to be the production or album to be remembered for?
I hope that album is yet to come! I´m proud of everything I have done cause it reflects the time and period in my life when I did it. After every album you do, it always feels like the best you have done so far. Its natural cause its fresh and you have worked on making it as good as you can for a long time. When the album is finished and “borned”, you are very proud and its impossible to have an objective opinion on it. Its supposed to be that way. After a while you start getting inspired again and think that you can make even better songs and an even better sounding album and the circle continues. I think that the day you feel that you have made the perfect album and cant possibly do it any better, that’s the day you should find something else to do.
I’ve heard you mention in an interview that you need a guitar that feels right. What makes a guitar the right one for you?
I found my guitar a long time ago and it’s the “Black beauty” Gibson Les Paul Custom. I use a lot of different guitars in the studio and for writing but live that will always be my main guitar. Its more about the shape and the way it looks and feels than the sound really.
What does the future hold for you and what plans do you have?
Writing more songs, playing more gigs and making more albums. Basically doing more of the same
All pictures provided by Paul Verhagen, check out his website.