Interview with Airbag
Siavash: For the first question, please tell us how did Airbag start?
Bjorn Riis: Airbag was formed around 2004-05. We’d already been playing together in different projects but around this time we did some changes within the band and started to focus on writing our own material. We released our first EP, Sounds That I Hear, in 2006.
Siavash: Where does the name Airbag come from?
Bjorn Riis: We basically needed a name and I think it was Asle who came up with Airbag taken from Radiohead’s OK Computer.
Siavash: Your first album «Identity» was released in 2009. Please tell us a little more about this album.
Bjorn Riis: Identity is a collection of songs taken from our two EPs, Sounds That I Hear (2006) and Safetree (2008). In 2009 we were approached by Karisma Records who wanted to release the EPs on one disc. We remixed and remastered everything and featured most of the songs on the album. I think we managed to create a coherent album although the songs dates from two different sessions. It was meant to be a so called “soft release” while we wrote new material but the response really took us by surprise! It’s been a huge success that still continues to reach new listeners.
Siavash: How do you see Airbag’s progress during the recent three years?
Bjorn Riis: I think we’ve matured as individual musicians and as a band. It was fairly easy to write All Rights Removed because we were so focused on what we were doing and had such a strong unity within the band. The process was great fun and incredibly inspiring.
Siavash: Is Airbag somehow different? If yes, what makes you different?
Bjorn Riis: That’s hard for us to answer but I think we appeal to a broad audience simply because we’re not the typical prog band or classic rock band. I think Airbag is somewehere inbetween many genres because we find inspiration in so many forms. We basically write the music that comes natural to us and it seems that people appreciate that.
Siavash: Let’s talk about last album «All Rights Removed». The first thing which impressed me about the album was its smart cover artwork. A sad shark-head man with a suitcase jumping from a bridge. What are you trying to say by your cover artwork? Who are the sharks?
Bjorn Riis: The shark is a metaphore for the aggressive financial system. The people that ruthlessly use others to gain power and wealth are themselves being used by someone bigger and even more aggressive.
Siavash: In your previous interviews, you have mentioned that «All Rights Removed» is about the destructive forces in the society. Can you tell us more about it?
Bjorn Riis: It’s about all the things that throughout your life takes away your basic human rights, your pride and self esteem. The title track is about the financial game and the people who use others to gain power but it could very well be the school system, religion, war, powerty, the lack of social belonging. All these little things that very few think about or perhaps even recognize as destructive.
Siavash: The album opens with «All Rights Removed». It can easily eager any listener to follow the rest of the album. It seems that lyric plays an important role here. I’d like to know who do you really mean by «They» in the sentence «And here they come to take away your soul and pride» on this track?
Bjorn Riis: Whoever you want them to be. Whether you’re a small fish in the finacial game or a ten year old in front of your ignorant teacher, there’s always someone bigger and more powerful wanting to use you for their own winning.
Siavash: Is there a certain idea behind «Light Them All Up»? I’ve heard that it has been inspired by a video published by wikileaks about US Military attacks on Iraq.
Bjorn Riis: The track was initially an edning to Never Coming Home. The violin was so emotional and one day Asle had used this clip from the helicopter attack. We were in tears after listening to it and decided it should be a separate track. It sort of both sums up the whole album and it’s also a great intro to Homesick.
Siavash: The album finishes with “Homesick”, a mind blowing 17 minutes of strong emotions and charming melodies along with an impressing lyric. Tell us more about this ending, what is «Homesick» really about?
Bjorn Riis: Homesick is an old song. I (Bjorn) had this short pop song laying around that we started to work on but it was a bit too short and we though it would be fun to just add a couple of instrumentals we’d been fooling around with on rehearsals. It became a fan favourite on our shows and we realized we had something special for the new album. The lyrics was mainly written by Asle. It a realization of the dangers in our time and the negative spiral that seems to be out of control. It’s perhaps a message to people to wake up but I, not sure if Asle agrees, also think it portrays a small hope too.
Siavash: The band has moved so close to the Pink Floyd, some say to the point of duplication. How do you see that?
Bjorn Riis: I don’t really care. We’re making the music we want to hear and we’re not forcing anyone to like it. It’s incredibly rewarding though to know that so many does appreciate what we’re doing.
Siavash: What is your favourite song on the «All Rights Removed» album?
Bjorn Riis: Personally I think Never Coming Home is one of our finest songs.
Siavash: What are your next future plans?
Bjorn Riis: We’ll be doing some shows in Europe throughout the spring and summer. We’ve started to write for a new album and hope to start the recording sessions sometime this autumn.
Siavash: Finally, I couldn’t find any flaws in your album except its length. I wish it was a100 minutes long album. Thank you for the interview. Is there anything you want to say to our readers?
Bjorn Riis: Just want to say thanks for all the support! It means a lot to us and it’s a huge inspiration! Thank you!