Latest release: Kvelertak (Indie/Riot!)
Norwegian extremists Kvelertak have virtually dropped from out of nowhere to be one of the most publicised metal bands of the past twelve months. Their idiosyncratic blend of punk and black metal laced fast hard rock has won them both adulation and criticism in even amounts and in June last year they were awarded a gold record by no less an identity than Dave Grohl. On their way to Australia for the Soundwave Festival this month, Loud caught up to vocalist Erland Hjelvik via Skype for a chat about all things Kvelertak:
Q: Hey Erland, how are things? What’s happening with you right now?
A: Really chilling. Not doing much at the moment. I’m supposed to be writing lyrics and the band’s been practising. That’s pretty much it. It’s pretty slow here until the band comes down to Australia.
Q: A lot of people are looking forward to seeing you here. Are you excited to be coming down here finally?
A: It’ll be cool to actually see what it’s like down there. I’ve never been to Australia before. It’s cool that a lot of people seem to know about us down there already.
Q: Are there any bands in particular that you yourself want to see while you’re here?
A: From what I remember from the list, the bands i’m looking forward to seeing are Mastodon and Watain. Actually it’s such a big line-up that I can’t remember everything!
Q: Of course you’re doing a couple of Sidewaves with Mastodon too, so you’ll be seeing plenty of them.
A: Yeah. It’s cool that we get to do some indoor shows along with festival-type shows.
Q: You mentioned that you were supposed to be writing lyrics. Does that mean you have some new songs on the way?
A: Yeah we have a few songs now. We have at least two new songs that we’ve been playing on the last tour and I guess we’ll be playing them in Australia too. We’re working on this and hopefully we’ll start recording it by the end of summer. Maybe have the album out by the end of the year, or maybe early next year.
Q: So what do you think we can expect from the next album? Is it going to be much different from the last one?
A: It’s gonna be more of the same, I guess. At least that’s what it seems like to me from the two songs so far. I guess it’s gonna be like the first one. It’ll definitely sound like Kvelertak. I’m really looking forward to starting to record it.
Q: Looking back on the debut, is there anything you think you will be doing better or differently next time?
A: Yeah for me… obviously the album was the best that we could do then. For me, I’ve become a better vocalist since we recorded the album. We’ve been out on a couple of tours and I think the vocals have just become stronger from all the touring. So I look forward to recording the vocals next time.
Q: It’s been a huge year for Kvelertak. Is there anything that stands out for you as being a real highlight?
A: The highlight was… we’ve just played our first European headliner tour with Doomriders and a Norwegian band called Wulpurgis. That’s the highlight. All the shows were pretty much sold out or really full, especially in Germany and England. England was awesome, and the countries of Scandinavia… it was the first one we headlined by ourselves.
Q: When it comes to songwriting, what is the main influence for you? Is there a person or a theme or something that inspires you?
A: I don’t write the songs, so this is really a question for Bjarte (Lund Rollan – guitar). I’ve said this before, but if you go in his car he’s got like Marvin Gaye, Burzum, Fleetwood Mac, Beach Boys and Darkthrone. He has pretty weird tastes in music. I guess he somehow manages to steal the parts he likes the best… whatever he’s doing it seems to be working.
Q: What about the lyrics then, as that seems to be your department?
A: For me it’s just listening to music myself. Watching other bands, watching other bands play live. I listen to a lot of metal, so I’m mainly concerned that the lyrics are sufficiently badass!
Q: A lot of people love what you’re doing, but there’s also been a lot who have criticised you for whatever reason. What are your thoughts about that?
A: Well I guess it would just be wrong if everybody got on board with what we do. In the end we don’t really care either. We’re living the dream at the moment (laughs).
Q: Being a newish band that’s making the waves you are, have you seen any other bands around now that seem to be imitating what you do or taking their influences from your sound?
A: I haven’t seen anything like that yet. What I’ve seen is a bunch of kids just playing drums along with it, stuff like that, on YouTube. We have a cover band now in Norway! When I see stuff like that I’m just really happy that we have fans like that. We wouldn’t have the band if it wasn’t for crazy people like that: A guy who buy all the shirts and goes to all the shows and stuff so it’s just great to see.
Q: So do you have any shows between now and when you hit Australia?
A: We’ve just been taking it easy after the last tour. We played 281 shows last year, so it’s time for a small break.
Q: Kvelertak has a style that’s pretty hard to describe. People seem to be calling it all kinds of things and nothing really seems to fit very well. How do you describe what you play to others who maybe haven’t heard the band before?
A: I just keep telling people, yeah, we play hard rock! That’s the easiest way out! It just makes me kinda squeamish when people say… I think black n’ roll is a really bad term. I can’t come up with a good name for anything we do. It’s kinda fun. People keep referring to us even as a black metal band. It’s really entertaining to read what people write.
Q: You’ve got a few days off in between shows here. What are you hoping to do outside of your shows while you’re here?
A: At least one guy who wrote us on Facebook, we’re going to hook up with him. He promised us a barbecue and koalas… not barbecueing koalas, just going to see some! I think it will be the most comfortable tour we’ve done so far. From what I understand it’s going to be playing a show and then chilling out for, like, a few days in the hotel and playing a show again. That will be perfect.
Kvelertak will be touring with Soundwave 2012 on the following dates-
25/2: Brisbane Showgrounds, Brisbane QLD (SOLD OUT)
26/2: Sydney Showground, Sydney NSW (SOLD OUT)
2/3: Melbourne Showground, Melbourne VIC (SOLD OUT)
3/3: Bonython Park, Adelaide SA
5/3: Claremont Showgrounds, Perth WA
They’ll also be performing with Mastodon and Gojira on the following dates-
27/2: Billboard, Melbourne VIC
1/3: HiFi Bar, Sydney NSW