Ole Andre Farstad is a Norwegian guitarist that plays along side black metal legend, Abbath.
#1 – How exactly does a guitarist go from a traditional folk band like Meelodi to shredding along side a black metal legend?
Haha, yes it´s a long leap musically, but in its core for me it´s about the same thing too. I work with a lot of different ways of shaping sound from different folk traditions or experimental music and jazz. Metal is in my spine, I spent my teenage years playing that in my band Ilti Milta. Abbath and I are the same age and we have the same musical references from that time, so we connected pretty fast.
#2 – Abbath’s new album “Outstrider” (Season Of Mist) has you in a more involved role than the previous s/t album. What was the making of the new album like for you and how did it all come together?
I was involved a lot this time, last time I was just in doing 4 solos. We really picked up the album process after the tour last September and pushed on to finish the pre-production. I did a bit of arranging, writing some parts to resolve when we were stuck or to move the creative process forward and there are plenty of solos 🙂 They really colour the record I guess. When we entered the studio it all went pretty smooth, we nailed it in a few weeks. We had a fantastic team from engineer Endre Kirkesola to the mastering by Maor Applebaum. We also had a great team effort to make the album cover and video.
#3 – The guitar tones on the album are truly fantastic, what were you and Abbath using for gear during the recording of “Outstrider”?
Endre Kirkesola did a great job setting our guitar sounds. For Abbath, he used and Engl Savage 120 and a London City Plexi, For me we used a Peavey 5150 and a Jcm800 2203 thru a Marshall cab mic’d with an Sm57 and Neumann KM86. Endre doing some secret magic connections and with a Variac making it sound spectacular. And of course Maors mastering was the icing on the cake.
#4 – Will your live rig be similar to the album gear or do you have other plans?
We are setting up a Kemper Rig for live gigs, it´s so easy and reliable these days and the Kempers sound really great. We have had our share of bad stage sound and unpredictable amps on different festivals and we need to get that good clean sound too. We want to bring the sound of the album to the live experience.
#5 – What’s your take on the current evolution of digital gear whether in hardware or software form? Do you use any at home in your studio?
It´s really good this stuff now, they do amazing things, and they are so easy to bringand use. I use a couple of plugins in my DAW system, but mainly I use the AX8 when I record without an amp.
#6 – When recording at home in your studio, what are some of your go-to recording and mixing techniques for a great guitar tone?
Pff, I don´t know really, since I record mostly sketches and solos in my own studio I use the AX8 straight in and it sound great just like that, haha. But of course I prefer the real amps when recording in a professional studio. I leave the good mixing to the pros 🙂
#7 – In addition to folk and black metal you also have another project called Ilti Milta. How do your gear and approach change for playing a more raw rock or punk type sound?
Ilti Milta was my band back in the days, and we have a reunion the coming winter actually, celebrating 30 years!! It´s less gained than the Abbath stuff. I guess the JCM800 was my preferred with that. For Abbath and black metal playing style I have had to adapt to that extreme speedy riffing of extreme metal whereas I grew up more on the Hetfield way of riffing.
#8 – You bring the shredder aspect to a genre that has not always embraced the virtuoso (or melodic) approach too warmly. How have your solos gone over with Abbath’s fanbase?
I dont know really, I guess I´m gonna get some stick for the coming album 🙂 I couldn’t really think like that when I made the solos, some of them came very naturally playing on Olve’s (Abbath) material. Some of them I really had to work hard to get the right thing to go with the song, to match the energy and speed of it. I think there is a good thing about me not having been involved in metal for so many years, and not really following the trends or what’s expected in the genre, I just do what comes naturally to me and that hopefully gives a fresh edge to this album also. I´ll just have to live with whatever criticism I get for it, I could not have done it any other way 🙂
#9 – With such a variety of genres and styles in your toolbox, you must have an equally varying list of influences. What bands and guitarists have been your biggest influences?
Well from my early days of course I grew up with Van Halen, Steve Vai, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Michael Schenker, Randy, Zakk, all the Ozzy, Dio and Megadeth guitarists, I loved Vernon Ried with Living Colour, he just had this unique edge and came up with unexpected things. It’s the same with Ronnie Le Tekrø from TNT. Prince was also a favorite and one of the most expressive guitarist I can think of. Later I was influenced by jazz guitarists like Allan Holdsworth, Bill Frisell, John McLaughlin, Paco De Lucia. Ohhh, there are so many great guitarists really.
#10 – Abbath is one of music’s more colorful and eccentric personalities so I have to ask, is being in a band with him as unique as it seems?
It´s great to work with Abbath in so many ways, it´s never boring 🙂 He is a fantastic artist with such passion for what he does, and I´m lucky to play along with him. He has a great sense of humor and is in general such a generous and lovely human being.
#11 – Do you have a lot of touring experience? With the new album out July 15th, I assume there is a mile long list of tour dates coming up, which tour that you know of has you most excited?
There are tours coming now with the new album yes, and it´s all over the world so I´m really excited about that. I have been a professional musician for over 20 years so I have toured a bit, and also traveld large parts of the world to study different musical traditions. I´m especially fond of South America as I speak Spanish and I have studied and played so many musical traditions from that continent but I´m looking forward to all of them 🙂
Ole is a fine example of “don’t judge a book by its cover” when it comes to metal musicians. What an interesting journey he’s had and it’s seemingly about to get a lot cooler. It’s awesome to look deeper to find out where players come from and where their roots are. It was a pleasure talking with Ole and I am very excited to see his career develop even further!