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Steel for Brains

Exploring the Brains behind the Noise

Equal parts black metal, punk, and the purest of rock n’ roll, Kvelertak have in a seemingly short time captured the attention of critics, fans, and even non-metal listeners.  One of the main reasons for the draw is their penchant for putting on every live show as if it were their last.  In my review of their latest release, Meir, I mentioned the fact that the album effectively translated almost every bit of raw energy you get live into each track.  Not an easy task and one that easily sets Kvelertak apart.  I had the opportunity to ask guitarist Bjarte Lund Rolland a few questions concerning the new album and his take on the band’s success.  

You guys are on a huge roll, gaining a lot of publicity, and a lot of listeners.  What’s been your take on the continuing success of the band?

Thanks man, what can I say! It’s been crazy and more and more weird shit is happening, kinda hard to grasp it all really, so I try not to at all.


What was the recording and compositional process for Meir like?  Did you find yourselves coming at this record from a different perspective from the first?  What influences the lyrical process for the music? 

I can’t speak for Erlend regarding the lyrics, but musically it was a little different approach than last time because all the material was written in a shorter time period. This time the other guys have been more involved in arranging and stuff, which I think is awesome. But other than that it was pretty much the same approach, lots of demoing and practice.

credit: Fotograf Jarle Hovda Moe

From a personal standpoint, what’s been your journey as musicians (feel free to answer this individually)?  What was it about heavy music that drew you in, so to speak?

For me personally, I don’t come from a metal or hardcore background like the other guys, if anything I am probably the one in the band that is the least interested in heavy music. But I have a very versatile music taste. I am fascinated with juxtaposition in music, when beauty meets ugly and hard grinds meet soft hooks, shit like that. That is what drew me into black metal for instance. I like to think about our music as having three elements. I want the music to be hard but catchy and beautiful at the same time, at various degrees across the song material of course. But I try not to make like one song that’s hard and one that’s poppy, etc.


What are your thoughts on the heavy metal genre today?  It seems as if the genre itself is in a constant state of flux – evolving and devolving with an ever changing source of influence.

Like I said before, I’m not a metal head so I don’t really care, but it looks like it’s dividing the scene, those who are like us and try to do new shit and those who hone in and worship traditional metal, to the point of pastiche, which is ok too, but obviously not something for me. I can get into both, as long as the songs are good, that’s the only thing that matters, regardless of scene or genre or whatever. And 99,999% metal bands couldn’t write a hook or make sense of a song structure if it crawled up their tight leather jeans and bit them in the belt buckle.

credit: Fotograf Jarle Hovda Moe

What’s been the most challenging component of the journey so far with Kvelertak?

Without doubt, following up the first album. But economy has also been an issue (yes, Norwegians have money trouble too). We’ve also gone through a couple of shitty work relationships with managements and agents, labels trying to fuck us over, the whole music industry cliché basically, which is exhausting.


Is the US response to your music different than that found in Europe?  If so, why do you think that is?

Not really, it’s not like Europeans understands any more or less. I think Americans really respond to the overthetop-ness and hooks of our music, as do Europeans too I guess. I really don’t know if there is a big distinction between US and European fans and audience.


What do you guys like to do in your spare time when you’re not busy recording, writing, or touring?

Recording and writing! [laughs] I work in a studio part time as a technician and producer.

Thanks to Bjarte and the rest of Kvelertak for their time.  
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1 year ago
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