Exclusive interview for hellfest.fr: Erlend Hjelvik (vocals) & Vidar Landa (guitar)
“We timed the interviews so that we wouldn’t miss bands that we really wanted to see” – Erlend Hjelvik – Friday 17 June 2016
How has been your day so far?
Erlend: Very good. We got there pretty early this morning. We just woke up and had breakfast and then started watching bands. I saw Audrey Horne at 11:40 and All Pigs Must Die.
Vidar: I saw Victims too. It’s fun. Lots of people we know so it’s great to be here.
Why are you doing interviews instead of hanging out with friends?
Erlend: We timed the interviews so that we wouldn’t miss bands that we really wanted to see, so… (smile) This is the perfect time to do interviews today. We have a new album to promote so we have some work to do.
What about that new album: are you satisfied with the first reviews?
Erlend: Yeah, very. I’ve pretty seen only good ones. I thought it was going to be a little more mixed reception this time since we had a different approach to the sound. Things were different this time than the first two ones so… I’m just really happy people agree with us.
Doing things differently was your ambition this time?
Vidar: I don’t think that the record is that different. The influences as well as the band are the same. We recorded it live and produced it ourselves. It sounds different than the other ones but apart from that the approach is pretty much the same.
Erlend: I think it sounds more natural and dynamic this time because we recorded live.
Vidar: I think there’s even more a classic rock stuff on this record than before. If you listen to the first and second records, I don’t think that you’d be so surprised about the new record.
The art cover is rather different than the previous records as well. Was it important to offer something different visually?
Erlend: I guess we were just thinking that since we were doing things differently in a new studio, it was time to have some new guy to do the cover. Personally, I thought it would be boring to do the same thing over and over. So it was just time to do something new and I think that Arik Roper was a perfect match for us. We’re really happy with the work John Baizley (art covert) and Kurt Ballou (production) did on the previous albums but it was just time to do something new and Arik Roper has made the perfect cover for that album: I’m really happy with it. And I don’t think it’s like too far from the work John Baizley did: it’s like a continuation of the past.
What will be the strategy of Kvelertak in the months to come in terms of touring?
Erlend: I guess we’ll mostly be doing Europe and the United States. But I’d like to go to some new places. We haven’t been much in Asia, except for a few shows in Japan and Singapore. Also, I’d like to play more in Australia and South America.
Vidar: So many places and so little time…
Some says that festival culture is killing touring. Do you share that point of view?
Erlend: I don’t, really. I think that festivals are very good for bands. I guess that for a lot of bands, for us at least, the festival season is like the most important time of the year. It can pretty much get us through the whole year with what we make from doing festivals.
Vidar: I can see the point when the biggest festivals get exclusivity and stuff like you can’t tour 2 months before or after because you’re headlining some festival. But apart from that, festivals have always been very good for us, since the beginning. Because you get to play for so many people. And those people can come to the club shows. In Norway, there seems to be festivals all the time. I think it makes people more interested in music. The media writes about it, festivals and the bands.
Erlend: In Norway, it’s crazy. Like every village, every city, has its own festival. I guess we could just do festivals in Norway pretty much forever!
Vidar: I think that’s a good thing because we get to play festivals in really small towns and cities, where normally, on tour, there wouldn’t be many people. I kind of disagree but I kind of understand what they mean.
Norway is a prolific land for extreme music. How do you explain that?
Erlend: It’s kind of hard to say. The first thing that comes to mind is the nature. And it’s fucking cold there. But I think that we have a pretty high standard of living in Norway so everyone is comfortable. So you need an outlet to let some aggression out. I think that’s one of the reasons. Regarding the whole black metal thing: Norway used to be a very Christian country before. Black metal, and what happened in the 90s, was just a reaction to that.
Vidar: I think that the weather explains quite a lot: long and dark winters…
Erlend: It’s probably a combination of all these things.
Would you say that you are proud of being Norwegians?
Erlend: Yeah, sure. I guess no matter which country I would have been born in, I would have been proud to be from that country. Norway is a beautiful country and a great place to live. So of course, I’m proud of that.
Vidar: I’m not. I’m just born there, I didn’t do anything.
What’s the best-ever Norwegian band according to you?
Erlend: One of the best ones is playing today: Turbonegro. What about A-Ha? (laughter)
Vidar: And Satyricon.
Erlend: OK, Turbonegro, A-Ha and Satyricon. And loads of great black metal bands like Mayhem.
You just mentioned Satyricon. Last year, they released a live DVD of a concert they did with a choir. Playing with a choir, acoustic or with a symphonic orchestra is something you could be doing later?
Erlend: I guess that would be funny just to do one show maybe but I don’t know…
Vidar: I think that if you get the opportunity to play with a symphonic orchestra and that the time is right and you really want to do it, then, that’s cool. But I don’t think we’ll be doing anything like that.
Erlend: You have to make sure it wouldn’t sound too strange and that it would be a good match. So I don’t know… It could be funny at some point but we’re definitely not thinking about that at the moment.
Could you finish that sentence for me: “I have never told that story before and I probably shouldn’t but…”
Erlend: We played at a fashion show once… I think it was like the second year that we started playing and we were desperate to play shows. We went and played at that stupid event…
Many thanks to Manon (Warner).