Hello Frydo, greetings from Athens, Greece and Metal Invader! How are things going?
Hey there! I’m doing good, considering everything that’s going on…
After 25 years you do reunite with Napalm Records. Did you face any difficulties while returning to a record label that you have worked with so many years ago? We were a bit surprised, after all, when 2016th “Dragons of the North” release was out in collaboration with Indie Recordings instead of Napalm (original 1996 release).
Well, actually there were no difficulties at all. It has been a while for sure since we‘ve worked with Napalm, for the last time. I mean, we only actually worked with different people. When we signed with Napalm 25 years ago it was only Mark (Markus Riedler), he was at the same time boss and the only employee. It was his company, so… I think he may have hired only one more employee back then. Anyway … these days it’s like a big corporation, so it’s very different, but no trouble at all. I mean, we have a new role as a team, but everything worked out excellent, I’m so happy so far.
“Dragons of the North” is a total classic, a trademark album by all means. Do you feel that the band will be able again to reach such high standards in a composing/songwriting level at least?
I personally think so, yes! [laughter]. I mean this is very typical for the debut album for many bands. It’s basically all about kids that don’t know really what they‘re doing, and that’s why they are pushing boundaries in every direction. That’s why they do create new staff. They are inexperienced and, you know, they are just trying pretty much everything so many times that in the end works out really fine, and I think this is what happened with “Dragons” as well. That whole kind of Viking thing wasn’t really a big thing back in the days, well if you set aside Bathory’s presence. Anyway, we came out from the Norwegian black metal underground and what we were doing back then was at the time really different, I think we had different influences comparing to the other guys and also the whole concept of the band was very different. As I said, a common thing with any other debut album, just kids pushing boundaries. Well… I do think that we are going to write such good songs again! When it comes to composing it’s not like “Dragons” was a perfect album, it wasn’t, not at all. I think today we are better in songwriting than we were back in the days. But also there’s another thing to consider –most important for me- and that’s nostalgia! Nostalgia is a thing you cannot compete with, it’s impossible. I grew up with Kiss and for me personally pre ‘83 Kiss will never be a better band, and that has nothing to do with songwriting or music or anything like that, it’s just my state of mind as a kid being exposed to Kiss. It was fucking huge and has blown my mind totally; no other band will ever do that to me again. So nostalgia is very- very important when it comes to music.
You are more than 2 decades along with the band (if we set aside 2004 to 2008 period), how does the band retains its sterling reputation?
I don’t think we have a sterling reputation [laughter].
Well, let me insist on this one, at least in Greece you do have a strong fan base ….
That’s really cool, thank you! In Ohio this has begun since day one, it has been me and Gerhard (Storesund). The two of us are writing all the music, sometimes together, but mostly separately. The thing is that me and him we go way back. I moved next door to him back in ’81. We’ve been friends for 40 years and we’ve also evolved musically together, discovering and listening to our favorite folk bands (and Kiss of course). I mean we went through together all the ‘80s heavy metal movement (thrash metal, Norwegian black metal underground etc.). We do have a unique musical understanding, working together as musicians for, I don’t know, thirty plus years gave us that. So whenever I’m starting writing something, I know right away if he’s gonna like it or not. We do are very important for each other, if one of us quits the band or whatever there is no Einherjer anymore.
Your eighth album, “North Star”, came out in 26 of February, just few days ago. Could you tell us more about the writing procedure on this one, and of course all difficulties that have risen due to Pandemic?
The music for “North Star” was written prior to the pandemic, so we started recording the album in February and we did all the drums before mid-March. Then we were forced to take a few months off and that kept going for eight weeks with kinds at home and staff. You don’t have the energy to go into the studio in the afternoon, after such a busy day, and try to be creative cause you‘re already kind of tired. So everything was frozen for a few months and that was probably the main reason why we pushed the album to be out on February instead of October. It was really difficult to balance everything. You could only start working properly again when schools and kindergarten were reopened. The album was recorded to my studio; imagine a house next to my home. All the drums were done and I basically recorded most of guitar parts myself, actually pretty much everything except of lead guitars, so I basically worked all summer getting right the rest of the staff. Ole (Sonstabo) wrote lead (guitar) parts in his place, and when it was about time to do the vocals then was also time for the lyrics to be settled. I mean, the last thing we do is always vocals but same goes for lyrics too, I write the lyrics when recording the vocals. It’s a weird way to do it, but it works for me. I also mixed the album so I kind of did the whole recording process by myself. I sent the tapes away 1st of November, so the whole procedure kept me busy all summer long and mid of autumn as well.
Are your lyrics on the new album related again to Norse legends and Norwegian mythology? What does Norwegian heritage has to teach modern age people in your opinion?
No … actually … it has been a few albums since we wrote about Norse mythology … but there were many albums even with songs written in Norwegian, so I do understand that this is hard for people seek for it. The new album by coincident less or more ended up all in English and that lead to the fact that people really got a lot more interested in the lyrics than they used to. There is of course a link to Norse mythology there but no in a lyrical level. We are currently writing way more personal staff and we just use that kind of a Norse kind of wording, making the listener imagine that this would be a kind of northern kind of inception, while the actual topics are totally different. After all it’s a conscious choice of the band to stay within the whole kind of Viking thing, given that we‘ve been a part of it for so long. We want to continue with this identity. Even though we are writing about other staff, we still want to keep a Norse “rapping” let’s say to the lyrics.
So far you have released “The Blood and the Iron”, as well as “Stars”. The album’s opener, “The Blood and the Iron”, with a double-bass thunderstorm, gets the listener right from the start, while “Stars” stands out through its familiar atmospheric dark soundscapes. How does the audience respond so far?
It has been really good so far actually and we have done lots and lots of interviews this week. Also every journalist or reporter I’m talking to are giving extremely good feedback. I’m confident that the album will be received very well by the audience in total.
Covid-19 eliminated travelling and live shows in general. Are you guys planning on doing a live-streaming show or any other online promotion event?
I do totally understand and respect those bands that choose to do it this way, I do!, but for me an online show without the audience it has this added awkwardness that don’t really work for me, and I keep on listening to that for weeks in every interview, but we chose not to do it this way. For me personally I don’t care if what I’m seeing on a screen, it’s live from London, Berlin or Athens. I don’t care if this is happening right now, the only thing I get is this added awkwardness that I don’t really like because they are playing in front of no one and I feel a little bit awkward about it. For me is the same as watching any YouTube concert that happened a couple of years ago, it doesn’t matter if it’s right now. It’s much cooler you know just looking at something that actually happens when we will eventually be allowed to play in front of an audience again.
Any special message for your fans in Greece?
Well we have never played in Greece, so it’s really something that should seriously think about doing.
Overall… We are tired about this shitty situation that’s going on, we all want it to end, and it will someday but until then I think a lot of bands need a little bit for extra support, you know, the whole industry is really suffering a serious block. So if there’s a band that you admire, if you have a favorite band, you should buy some merchandise directly from the band. It will be really appreciated. We should think that by doing that, when this entire situation is over, we will be able to see this band again. So it is very important to support the bands you like especially right now.
We cannot wait to be out there and play again that’s for sure, we are really looking forward to that!
I totally agree, fans are anticipating for that too! Thank you for your time Frydo, it was a pleasure. Stay safe!
Thank you too!