**Photo used by permission of Marius Nilsen**
THE METAL PIT: Hello Marius! Thanks for doing this interview for The
Metal Pit. “Manifestation of Progress” is really a
fantastic album. For those readers who are not familiar with Dimension
Act, can you explain how the band was formed and how long it took to
record the album?
NILSEN: Hi Matt! First of all, thank you very much for the kind words
regarding our debut album. Getting that kind of praise from a fellow
prog addict is both humbling and rewarding, so we really appreciate
that kind of feedback. We are really proud of the album ourselves, and
are excited to finally share it with all the prog lovers around the
Dimension Act was formed by me and Tom-Vidar
Salangli (vocals) in mid 2008. At that time, we had been talking about
forming a band together for several years, but other bands and projects
prevented us from putting all our time and effort in what eventually
would become Dimension Act. Luckily, in 2008 our schedules matched, and
we decided that now was the time to put this band in to life. During
the next 12 months or so, I and Tom-Vidar composed, demoed and did
pre-production on all tracks that later would appear on
“Manifestation of Progress”, with me handling all the
instrumental duties and Tom-Vidar all the vocals. When it was time to
record the album in late 2009, we felt that we needed a full band, both
to get more of a band feel, as well as open up the possibility of doing
concerts and festivals. I had been playing with Kristian Berg
(keyboards) in my former band and Tom-Vidar had been playing with Tommy
Granli (bass) in several other constellations, so we knew they were the
right guys for the job. We discovered Frank Nordeng Røe (drums)
on Youtube, where he was doing a cover Dream Theater’s
“Dance of Eternity”. We were sold after the first three
measures. With this lineup completion, we started to record the album
properly in the autumn of 2009. Given some logistical and practical
matters, it took some more time than planned to record, mix and master
the album, but in November 2010, the final mastering was done with
Henning Bortne at Oslo Mastering.
Q: The majority of Manifestation of Progress
was recorded at Lionheart Studios owned by Øyvind Voldmo Larsen
formerly of Illusion Suite. How did your working relationship develop
with Øyvind and how was he to work with?
all the guitars, bass, keyboards and vocals were recorded at our
different home studios. All the drums on the album, though, were
recorded at Lionheart Studios. In addition, we mixed the album there,
so, yeah, a big part of the production on the album was done in
Our working relationship with Øyvind was as smooth as it
ever could get. Before starting the sessions, both I and Frank (drums)
had already met Øyvind at a couple of other occasions. Frank had
even done some session drums in Lionheart Studios earlier with another
project about 6 months earlier. So that helped a lot starting up.
mixing an album is quite intense, so knowing each other’s limits and working mentality is quite a bonus, to say the least.
In retrospect, I must say I am really happy with how our working
relationship with Øyvind developed. Øyvind is a true
pleasure to work with; he is both dedicated, professional and has a lot
of good ideas, both in regards to production and arrangements. And he
is a fun guy to be around. I’m also really impressed and forever
grateful that he was able to work with a control (room) freak like me,
without losing his temper. I know I can be quite focused on details,
aiming for perfection, but Øyvind always kept up the pace and
was willing to try out different production techniques. I can recommend
Øyvind and his Lionheart Studios to everyone. A good proof of
that is that we’ll team up with Øyvind for our next album
Q: The band is signed to ProgRock
Records, which is a U.S. based record label. Did you have to shop the
band around to different labels before ProgRock made an offer and why
did you settle on letting ProgRock release the album?
After we had
finished the album in late 2010, we spent around 7 months building up
our website, working on the album art/ graphics, as well as settling
other practical matters. In the summer of 2011 we eventually decided to
ship the album to five different labels which we thought would be a
good fit for us, in regards to genre, distribution and visibility in
the right markets. Progrock Records was, needless to say, one of these.
Around 20 minutes or so after we had sent the first email containing a
medley with excerpts from the album, we got a reply from Shawn Gordon,
founder and CEO of Progrock Records, asking for the entire album to
listen to. Understatement of the year, that’s always a good sign,
and basically, within a couple of days, the contract was on the table.
Regarding why we settled on letting Progrock Records release the
album, I’ve been a fan of Progrock Records and their releases for
many years. I also knew Shawn Gordon earned a good reputation in the
community, working hard for the bands on his rooster. And, naturally,
it’s a prog label with lots of respected bands and releases, and
that means a lot. Progrock Records was therefore one of our main goals
when we started to look for a label to release “Manifestation of
Progress”. Also, I believe Dimension Act and Progrock Records are
a good match in terms of both music and philosophy. As I’ve said
in earlier statements, Shawn Gordon and Progrock Records are all about
the music and the endless dedication and admiration of the progressive
rock and metal genre. And that mirrors the philosophy Dimension Act.
Q: Getting into the songs on the album. Are
you the main composer or is it more of a collaborative effort? What
inspirations do you have for the lyrical ideas?
As often is
the case with guitar players in progressive bands, I’m the main
composer (and control freak) in Dimension Act. All the music on the
album is written by me, and for the
part also arranged. With that said, every member of the band brought in
their own touch and distinct way of playing, and shouldn’t be
For this album, I did all the pre-production in my home
studio, recording all the musical parts before bringing them to
Tom-Vidar’s studio, where we together composed, arranged and
recorded all the vocals. The lyrics for “Cosmic Chaos”,
“Industrial Evilution” and “Uncharted Waters”
were done by me and Tom-Vidar as a collaborative effort. The lyrics of
“Perspectives Chapter I: Drawing the Lines of Mortal
Existence” was mostly done by me, as it’s somewhat more
personal than the other lyrics on the album. As a whole, the lyrical
content on “Manifestation of Progress” is not tied to a
concept, yet it’s clearly a thematic album. The first three songs
bring in different topics that work as a foundation for the lyrical
concept of “Perspectives Chapter I: Drawing the Lines of Mortal
Regarding inspirations for the lyrical ideas,
they’re very broad and come from different areas. For me
personally, I’m very inspired by the works of the American
philosopher John Rawls, the concept of rationality, as well as personal
experiences, often related to social expectations and constructions.
The lyrical content on the album is a lot about finding one’s way
in life, constantly making decisions hoping for the best, yet still not
knowing what makes the difference. On another level, it’s also
about mankind’s constant search for answers, climbing the
everlasting wall of ignorance. For me it’s all about having a
questioning mind and not succumb to conformity when everyone around you
expect you to. That’s my main inspiration when writing lyrics.
Q: If you were to describe
Dimension Act’s sound to someone who was unfamiliar with your
music what would you tell them?
until now we’ve basically just labeled our music progressive
metal, adding melodic, heartfelt, passionate and existential. For some,
I guess, though, that doesn’t make much sense either. So
it’s not easy labeling one’s own compositions in a way that
everyone understands. Taking it a step further, I would say the sound
of Dimension Act is like a cross between our biggest inspirations. We
have some of the the progressive, musical madness of Dream Theater, the
“larger than life” and bombast of Ayreon, and the songs of
Marillion and Europe. I’ll probably get arrested for that name
dropping, but, hey, it’s at least how I hear it. Those are bands
that I utterly respect and admire, and I’m always deeply honored
when someone mention our name in the same sentence as one of those.
Q: At the time of this interview,
Manifestation of Progress is only two days away from its official
release date. How are you feeling right now? Excited? Nervous? Or is it
a combination of both?
My thoughts now that the
album is completed and ready to be released are so many. I really
don’t know where to start. First of all, I’m really
satisfied with how the album eventually turned out. The compositions
and arrangements are the strongest I’ve ever
done. Especially the album’s 32-minute long epic, Drawing the
Lines of Mortal Existence, stands out for me personally – both in
regards to composition, arrangements and also lyrically. As a whole I
think we’ve managed to create an album with good songs and
natural flow within a progressive framework. That makes me proud.
Releasing ones debut album is a childhood dream coming true. It’s
marvelous, and brings a sense of achievement and fulfillment
that’s hard to explain. Yet, at the same time, it’s
terrifying. It’s all about letting go and abandon the
compositions. And that’s hard. But, with every of those aspects
accounted for, it’s just amazing.
Q: How has the advanced response been from music reviewers thus far?
responses so far have been really good. We were confident with the
album, as we’ve worked very hard and determined with it, but you
never know how people will react to your music until they sit down and
scrutinize every odd time signature, vocal harmony, guitar solo and
orchestration. The first review we got was from The Metal Pit actually,
where we got 8.5/10 and great praise (thank you very much, Matt, really
appreciate it!). Also, we’ve gotten 95/100 in a Japanese
magazine, 8.5/10 from the Czech Republic and lots of other great
reviews from around the world. We even hit “Album of the
Moment” on a French site, so that’s humbling. With that
said, at the end of the day, though, we are our own worst critics, and
as long as we’re happy and satisfied with our product,
that’s the most important thing.
Q: Once the album is out do you have any plans
to tour on your own or as an opening act? Are there any plans to do
some of the European festivals this summer?
As of this
moment, we unfortunately don’t have any gigs or tours scheduled.
As the band members are spread all over Norway, getting everybody
together is quite a logistical challenge. Despite these challenges, we
are working hard on getting Dimension Act on the road abroad. The
market for progressive metal is very limited in Norway, so we want to
focus on our main markets in Middle Europe and North America -
that’s where we first and foremost want to go and present our
music. I can also say that when we decide to present our music on the
live scene, it will be well thought and meticulously planned, so we can
deliver a great show in all aspects. Hopefully some promoters will read
this interview and invite the Dimension Act progchinery to their
festival/ venue/ arena. We are up for anything – anytime!
Q: The last track “Drawing the
Lines of Mortal Existence” is a six part song 32 minute epic.
That’s pretty ambitious. Did you set out to write a track of that
length or did the idea grow during the writing process?
That’s a question
I get asked a lot actually. And I’m not surprised. Recording a
32-minute epic on your debut album is quite ambitious, as you say. Even
for many prog bands, crossing the 30 minute mark is something that
don’t happen too often. Still, it was not
something I deliberately set out to do. So why did it end up spanning
over 32 minutes, you may ask? Let me explain; as a composer, my goal is
always to make the composition come alive naturally, and not force it
in a certain direction, genre, style or length. I want the composition
to flow naturally, without sounding forced. That’s always my
vision/ goal when writing music. Writing Drawing the Lines of Mortal
Existence was no exception. It all started out with the main keyboard
intro theme, and it just took off from there. I just went with the
flow, and “before I knew it” I had an epic on my hands.
Naturally I worked a lot with the composition and the arrangements, and
there are loads of outtakes and other parts that didn’t make the
cut. This composition really lived its own life, and it surely is one
of the greatest and longest moments of inspiration I, as a composer,
Q: Thank you so much for taking the
time to do this interview. I wish you great success with the album. Is
there anything you would like to say to our readers in closing?
of all. thank you very much, Matt, both for the kind words and for
doing this interview. To our fans, listeners and readers, I just want
to show my deepest appreciation for showing interest in Dimension Act
and our debut album. We’ve received so much great feedback from
all over the world, and it truly means the world to us. We are so eager
to hit the road and present the music of Dimension Act, so if you want
to experience the Dimension Act progchinery live, contact festivals/
promoters/ venues and request Dimension Act. We promise to deliver the
goods! Stay prog and stay in touch with us on our website (www.dimensionact.com), Facebook, Youtube and Soundclud. We hope to see you soon!