RENDEZVOUS POINT: Music with Edge

Rendezvous Point

Norwegian progressive metal five-piece Rendezvous Point emerged as one of the most promising groups on the prog scene in 2010. Two singles “Implode” (2012) and “Wasteland” (2015) hinted of the things to come, and after the positive reception of the group’s full-length debut Solar Storm (2015) released via Karisma Records, it has been confirmed that the prog community received another determined act to look forward to.

The excellent feedback Rendezvous Point received both from media and fans led to numerous concert and festival performances, resulting in signing a record deal with Long Branch Records and the release of their sophomore studio album Universal Chaos in 2019.

2020 has started nothing less spectacular for the band; with a confirmed appearance at this year’s Prognosis Festival in Eindhoven and a European tour supporting Anathema.

Guitarist Petter Hallaråker speaks for Prog Sphere.

How did you come to do what you do?

Petter Hallaråker: We all met when we studied Music Performance together in Kristiansand, Norway back in 2010. Gunn-Hilde [Erstad, bass] and I talked about having common influences and music taste, and so they decided to form a band in the progressive metal genre. Nicolay [Tangen Svennæs, keyboards] and I have been friends for some years and had played in prog bands before, so it was natural to ask Nicolay to join. Baard [Kolstad] was also the natural choice of the drummer, since Nicolay and I also knew Baard since we were teenagers and knew that he was a beast. Geirmund [Hansen] had the power, the technique and the control to match our sound and therefore we asked him to join as the vocalist.

You released your sophomore album Universal Chaos in 2019. How did the creative process for the album go?

PH: The creative process started already before the release of our debut album Solar Storm back in 2015. Typically Nicolay and I have worked together and formed many ideas which we would then send to the others online or present the ideas during rehearsal. We would work on it together and that’s how the songs came together. On Universal Chaos we sent most of the ideas to Geirmund, and then he worked out lyrics and melodies over the demos, in addition to coming up with ideas when we were rehearsing. He also contributed with one song he wrote (“Undefeated”), and the band arranged the song when we were recording basically. Gunn-Hilde also experimented with bass lines while recording, Baard did also the same thing with the drum parts. Nicolay was hugely responsible for being the recording engineer and pre-mixing the whole album. I also contributed with one song (“Universal Chaos”). Nicolay and I also attended the mixing process and we were very involved in the recording process and the production of the album. But it was also a very cohesive recording process with everybody being involved in making this album.

Where was the album recorded and how long did it take you to complete the work on it?

PH: The drums were recorded at PhatCat studios in Oslo, except for “Undefeated” which was recorded at Urban Sound Studios in Oslo. The guitars, bass and keyboards were recorded at home, and the vocals was recorded in a private studio where Nicolay has part ownership.

Rendezvous Point - Universal Chaos

To someone who hasn’t heard the album, what can he or she expect from Universal Chaos?

You can expect to hear music that is somewhat atmospheric, heavy and powerful, very rhythmic with lots of unique sounds combined with a lot of harmony, melody and space. The music also has an edge to it and a darker vibe, but we can also have songs with a more calmness to it. Mostly it’s heavy and powerful.

What were the biggest challenges you faced when working on the album?

PH: The biggest challenge is probably the distance between all of us geographically and how to make plans work when everybody has stuff going on in their life. We had to work a lot on weekends and not on weekdays, because we have jobs as well. And we had to travel about 4-7 hours time every weekend to work on it. We are also very caring about details, so it takes a lot of time to record and create the music since we want to make it the best we can. That can be very time consuming. Also we have 5 different opinions, so we have to discuss and try out a lot of ideas. It can be hard to stand on what you think is the best idea, because usually somebody has a different idea that they like. But we compromise, and in the end we are super proud of the music and very happy how it turned out.

Have you managed to make any new discoveries as the time passed during the creative process? Do you think that at some point of that process your writing approach changed drastically?

PH: Yes. This time around I think we naturally progressed towards a bit more space in our sound, and trying to go for cool rhythmical ideas instead of it being too many notes. At least for a few songs. Trying to make it somewhat simple, but also interesting enough so that it would spark the interest. Some of the music is complicated, but a lot of it is really based on simple ideas. Especially the last half of the album.

One thing we did wanted was to not use any sampled drums, we wanted Baard’s raw drums and make sure that it was recorded really good. And I think we just wanted everything to be recorded better and making it sound better from the get-go. Attending the mixing sessions was really helpful so we could explain our vision of how we wanted it to sound to our mixing engineer Bjarne Stensli. We didn’t do that on the first album. So we were much happier how this record sounded.

Tell me about the complexities of creating this album.

PH: The complexities in creating this album would be logistics with the band, scheduling recording time, making sure we are going forward with the record and balancing that with personal lives. The rest, the creative part, making the music and recording, is the fun part of it, and not really a complex task. Making music is something that’s interesting to all of is and we seem to make a lot of music in a short amount of time.

What types of change do you feel this music can initiate?

PH: Hopefully we can be able to inspire others and create some sort of meaning to those who listen to us. We hope that when people listen to our music they feel good, they feel energetic, they’re into it, maybe we can transfer them to some other place in their mind, who knows. All we know is that it feels really good when somebody truly appreciates your music, and you can vibe with them and connect! We can really feel that after playing a gig and talking with fans afterwards. It feels very rewarding, to make someone happy and excited about seeing us, or saying they have been listening to us and really love the music.

Do you tend to follow any pre-defined patterns when composing a piece?

PH: It always starts with an idea. Being inspired as well is really something that will boost your motivation to just sit down and create music. We usually start with an idea either on piano, bass, guitar, drums, melody, chord progression, sound, whatever, and then we try to develop that idea with putting on different instruments, and usually it ends up with something totally different then what you had in mind. We have started to develop more ideas individually lately than before, since when we started the band we would all play together and rehearse. But when we had finished studied and we moved apart, then we had to try and create stuff on our own. So that’s when we started sharing ideas with each other online instead, and meet up two people at a time to create music together. That works really well and it’s way more inspiring to work together than working by yourself.

What non-musical entities and ideas have an impact on your music?

PH: When we listen to our music, we tend to visualize bigger things, sort of “larger than life” things. So we like to draw inspiration from the universe, humanity, the world, stuff like that. Geirmund also likes to talk about lyrics that reflect personal struggles and what we as humans go through in life.

What kind of gear do you use for recording your music?

PH: That’s a lot of gear! Nicolay used a lot of synthesizers like Moog, Prophet and Nord Stage with sounds from Omnisphere and many other programs that he likes. Gunn-Hilde recorded her bass through a DI at home. Baard recorded real drums in the studio, I can’t remember what drum kit we used unfortunately, but it was the same drumkit model as the drummer from Audioslave and Rage Against the Machine used. We wanted that drum sound from the first day of recording, and luckily the recording egineer Sigve Bull knew exactly how to create that sound, so he was onboard. I also don’t remember the vocal mic Geirmund used unfortunately. I recorded my guitar through an Axe FX 2 at my home.

What is your view on technology in music?

PH: We all have different views on technology, but I think we can all agree that technology is fantastic and an awesome tool to use for creating music, recording music, mixing and mastering music, doing promo for music, releasing music, playing music live and connecting with the fans. The bad side of it might be that since technology makes music so accessible, is that musicians overall get paid extremely little or nothing at all for putting in a lot of work, time, energy and passion in creating it.

Technology can also sometimes make music sound more “sterile” and flat, giving that everything is so compressed these days. The dynamics of the music and the human touch is an element that’s missing a lot of times. Also a lot of things are sampled, and there are plenty of recordings that don’t even feature somebody playing or singing. In a lot of scenarios the music sounds really good because you have talented people mixing the music, but there is something in there that just feels very different from the music that was recorded before sampling and autotune came into existence. But then again music is so subjective so it’s not a black or white thing.

In our music we like to utilize techology, but we want to make sure that the music sounds authentic and not too overy processed or compressed. We want that warm natural sound but with a punch to it, and we want to have the dynamics in the music intact. That is really important to us.

You are scheduled to play at this year’s Prognosis festival in Eindhoven. What can lovers of prog and beyond expect from your set?

PH: They can expect songs from both of our albums, performed as best as we possible can. We will put on a great show, and hopefully we will create a good experience for people and that they will like our music! It will definitely be epic and you don’t want to miss it! :)

What advice or philosophy might you impart to other musicians, be it in forms of creativity, technical stuff, the business side of it, or anything else?

PH: If you want to do anything in life that you dream of, just always work towards that goal. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. The only person who decides what to do is yourself. If you have a dream and you want to achieve it, go get it. Believe that you can do it. Have a vision, create a plan, follow that plan, be consistent, be fearless, never give up. You’re gonna get setbacks. It’s not gonna be easy, it’s going to take a lot of time, you have to work very hard. Just keep going and don’t stop. Don’t let others drag you down. If you know that you have to do it, then do it. Trust yourself. You are the only one in the power to do it. Grab the opportunity and don’t let it slip away before it’s too late. Don’t waste your time. You have only one life, make the absolute best out of it. You can do what you dream of if you want it badly enough.

That’s today’s piece of philiosophy. :)

Universal Chaos is out now via Long Branch Records; order it from here. Follow Rendezvous Point on Facebook.

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