Blood Command against the world. It is these five words that Yngve Andersen and Nikki Brumen live every moment; the mantra that guides Bergen, Norway’s “death pop” quintet spiritually and sonically, and which forms the soul of their fourth full-length record, Praise Armageddonism.
Blood Command have in recent years developed their own ever-growing and fiercely loyal following – who Brumen and guitarist Andersen refer to as the “Awake Team” – through three preceding full-lengths of hook-laden punk laced with an alternative pop sensibility. Ghostclocks, its follow-up Funeral Beach and third album Cult Drugs also earned the band ever-increasing critical acclaim to match, too, and projected Blood Command onto sharing stages alongside the likes of Refused, Gallows, Biffy Clyro, Kvelertak and more. Nikki Brumen talks to Hi Fi Way about how excited they are to be playing at Good Things Festival and how she came to join the band.
Congratulations on being added to Good Things festival. You must of been doing cartwheels and air punches when you were told?
Absolutely, I’m so excited. I think Blood Command is the perfect fit for this festival and no member of my band have ever been to Australia other than myself. We are so excited to play the festival and then get one of those daggy souvenir photos with a koala at a wildlife park or something, that’s a necessity!
How do you think you’ll keep the lid on the excitement until Good Things?
Luckily, we’ve got a lot happening in between then and now. We have released our album back in July and we are doing the Praise Armageddonism tour in Europe. We’ve got a lot to keep us busy before coming to Australia. Then it’ll be getting really cold in Norway so we get to escape the winter to come over for the Australian summer.
How did it all come about?
We were asked to play a while back and the initial offer that we got, we were so excited and we wanted to do it. Logistically we weren’t sure if we could make it happen. We were going back and forth a little bit with our booking agent being and then finally we all just said we need to do this. It’s so important for the band’s growth and we have so many fans in Australia who want us to come. I think there’s going to be a lot of excited people when they see that our name is on the bill because Blood Command has never been to Australia. Old Pagan fans as well will be excited to see Blood Command and we’re going to have a really good backing. The crowd is going to love our live show. I’m sure of that!
When you see the calibre of bands on the bill you must be literally be pinching yourself?
It’s really cool. I think we’re really deserving of playing next to bands like that though. We work really hard and we’re super professional and our live sound is bloody great. I think that this is exactly the right direction that Blood Command should take. Now that our album is out I think that this is going to be a huge step up for the band as well. Hopefully we have a big crowd and a lot of people wanting to see us because it seems like we’re the right fit on the bill as well.
Do you feel like the hard work is just starting to the payoff now more people are tuning in and taking notice of the band?
I really do. We’ve all worked in incredibly hard like every band. Everyone was affected by COVID, no one got to play for years, but the added stress with Blood Command was that I was asked to join the band the month before the world went into lockdown. So we had to record our entire album with me in Melbourne and the band had already recorded the album in Norway. We’ve had all these logistical nightmares on top of not being able to play our live shows, having rescheduled shows as most bands have experienced. I think because we went through that stress, and we were like physically separated on opposite sides of the globe we had to find ways of working around those restrictions and me not being able to get into Norway and or them not being able to get to Australia.
It really made us know that this is exactly what we wanted and that I was the right fit for the band and it gave me time as well to work on all of the songs. Now our live show is just a step up from anything that any of us have ever done. It’s a step up for Blood Command, but it’s also a step up for me as well. All of us put our whole heart and soul into our life performance. Now that we’re all in the same country, all in Norway, we’re able to rehearse a lot and just work really hard to make a brilliant life of performance.
With all those challenges did that test your own resilience and now that you have overcome those you can rise above any challenge thrown your way?
Exactly right, it really is a bit like that.
Do you approach a festival any differently than you would your own club show?
I like that question because it’s something I’m always say as I find it more impressive seeing a band play an amazing show in front of no one opposed to playing an amazing show at like a big festival. It really is harder to play an amazing show when there’s like two people there, not that we’re going to be playing shows with two people there. I think that it’s testament to the band that no matter what the crowd is like, no matter what stage is like, no matter what the atmosphere is like, if you can deliver a good show, that is a good band, regardless of what festival line-up is, regardless of what stage you’re on. It’s something that I’ve always taken really seriously that no matter what show we’re playing, I will always give it the same amount of effort, energy and performance. I think that that’s what sets aside a really good performer from somebody who isn’t. You should just be able to do it anyway no matter who’s watching, no matter what stage you’re on. It’s incredibly exciting and super cool to play festivals. It’s my favourite thing ever, but also if I play a small club show, I’d still give it the same amount of energy.
For people who don’t know how did you connect and find the rest of Blood Command?
It’s my fairy tale ending story. I was in a band called Pagan and we split up, we announced our breakup in January 2020. I had somebody on Instagram trying to message me from Norway. At that time, I was going through a lot of things in my life where I just had to disconnect from social media. I wasn’t checking inbox on Instagram and eventually in February 2020, I got a message on Facebook from an Norwegian person by the name of Yngve Andersen. I was like, who the hell is this? I accepted their friend request and I realised in their bio on Facebook that they played in a band that I really liked called Blood Command. Weirdly a few months prior, I’d written an article for Kerrang or one of the big music magazines about like my top five bands of that year.
I included Blood Command in there because I discovered them through my ex-bassist of Pagan. I said I love this band they’re from Norway, which is one of my like favourite places I’ve ever visited and they sound like a pop version of Pagan. So, I get this message from Yngve and he says, “Hey, I know this is really weird. I’ve been trying to contact you on Instagram, but you never check your messages. So I’ve had to find you on Facebook. What are you doing now that Pagan has split up”. I said hello, I don’t know what I’m doing musically. I definitely want to continue playing. He said, “well, I have a proposition for you. Would you want to be the new singer of Blood Command?” Immediately I said, yes. Then fast forward three weeks the world goes into COVID lockdown.
We were stuck with this like tricky situation where I joined the band, but we had to record an album, but I couldn’t get over to Norway. So, we recorded our album Praise Armageddonism, with me in Melbourne and the band in Norway. Yngve produced me over Skype with an engineer who I was working with in Melbourne. He actually produced me over Skype from Bergen. Then in 2021, I finally met my band for the first time ever. I went to Norway for four months, never met my band members and that was the first time I met my band and I stayed for four months, went back to Australia for a couple of months and then packed up everything in my life and now I’m living here permanently.
That’s an awesome story, a bit like reconnecting with a lost family?
It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done in my life for sure. I’m very grateful that it worked out so well because here. The band, we all love each other and we all got along right away too, which was really special.
Has there been a subtle shift in the Blood Command sound since you have joined?
I think my vocals have made the band more tough in the hardcore songs and then in the popier songs, I still bring that punk element and vocally as well. My vocals are pushed a lot more to the forefront in the production in our recording, which I think is like just adds to that Blood Command sound even more. I feel yeah that I was the missing piece of the puzzle for this band for sure. Their previous list was great in her own right, but I think that I’m the person who’s meant to front this band and I think a lot of fans agree with that too.
Does it feel now that all your dreams and ambitions are starting to come true now?
It is, literally the whole thing to me is my dream come true, my fairy tale ending. I know it sounds cheesy and cliché, but it’s true. I feel really lucky and just so happy to be doing this and it really is a dream come true. I think if you work hard and you put something out to the universe, you really, really want it, you can, you can get it.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch Blood Command at Good Things Festival, tickets HERE…