My name is Zsuzsanna Muszka, I’m calling you from Kronos Mortus metal magazine, Hungary! Can you hear me clearly?
Yes, I’m in my car right now but I’m just more focused, it’s okay! (laughs)
So we can start the interview, fine! 2012 we took in interview with Vanir already – so welcome again at Kronos Mortus! How turned your past few years since the latest conversation with us?
What was happened? We had a change in the line-up. The band has a new singer (me), a new drummer and we replaced the folk instruments with the keyboard. I guess the band musically developed since we reached that and our music became more restless, less talky, less party-like (laughs) and more serious as I guess. I think that’s the biggest change from 2012 to 2019. I think line-up changes were big changes but our sound is still the same when it comes to creation. We’re sure so more as a melodic death metal band now than we did that time we talked in 2012.
You’re still at Mighty Music so it’s quite obvious there’s a good chemistry between the band and the label. What is the secret of this good relationship?
Yes, there is, I agree with you! I don’t know, I guess there’s just a neutral respect. Mighty Music doesn’t interfere with any of our creative process. I think on one hand we have a good partnership that helped to figure us out what we want. But of course, there is not a secret that every band like us would love to be signed at a larger label like Nuclear Blast or something like that. But if you take into consider the size of the band, the area, the scene, I think Mighty Music fits as well because just a good partner and agenda would let us doing the same that our creative task is. Because we’re a band doing the fuck that we want. (laughs)
So they don’t bind your hands at all, that’s good. Viking style definitely fits for Denmark but you already played in several countries so far. In your opinion, in which part of the globe people are the most opened to your music?
That’s fun becuse these days and this time you can get a lot of statistics through Spotify or YouTube or Facebook and medias like that actually gives you the opportunity to look into where your music is listened to. And a lot of our listeners are, of course, placed here in Denmark, that’s given. And Germany and then we have extremely growing fanbase in the USA, actually and a growing fanbase in Eastern Europe. That’s interesting because I think that for a smaller band like us the touring life was very expensive and therefore it could be kinda hard to get a good gripp in places like Eastern Europe. So I’m amused about the openness to our sound, our music in places like that. Scandinavian people are very proud of their heritage and the sort of being Viking is transcendent somehow because it’s more has to do with the shamanistic warrior culture I think. A lot of Eastern Europeans and British, Ireland cultures have nothing to do with that and typically we use to meet people that are not open-minded to Viking metal. You know, the guys who always listen to technical-prog gents, ska genre. We hate everything that is about those stupid, singular genre. But all in all, I actually think most countries are open-minded to Viking metal so answering your question.
It’s good to hear! You released 4 full-length albums in a row and the 5th one called ’Allfather’ is due to release within some days. When and how did the songwriting process start for this new album?
It started two years ago, I guess. I wrote all the lyrics of the album and it started for me with beginning to get into some researches about folk tales of Svend Tveskæg [Danish king, a.D. 986-1014 – note by the contributor]. Because folk tales of Tveskæg is a lot of songs that the album is about. And as I wrote about a more of this character, it spoke to me and it was really interesting, the history of the king and at the beganst I just came round with some techs and interested to the band and then people beganst pitching riffs and we knew that we’re right. So yes, two years ago we had a higher step forehead and main focus on telling a story about Svend Tveskæg cause he had a huge impact on Scandinavian expansion. And then that the whole process of writing of the album has turned to be quite long because we, you know, getting older and I think whole life happening, shifts and house mortgages and stuff like that, so the process was a bit more workful than there was in the past fifteen years but I think we’re happy with the results and of course I hope the fanbase will agree with us.
What is the origin of the albums’ name? It refers to Odin as well as the cover artwork, am I right?
Yes. At the time when Svend Tveskæg rebelled against his father, Harald Bluetooth [Danish king, a.D. 958-986 – note by the contributor] – and yes, there is why bluetooth is called by the way –, there was a cultural struggle in Scandinavia because Christianity had became more and more growing, thanks to Harald. And although Tveskæg baptized, christianed, he had a more loose direction towards religion and he wanted to weaken Christianity in Denmark and stengthen pagan beliefs. He was against to completely Christianizing Denmark, like King Olaf did in Norway. And the other thing was that Svend wanted to expand Scandinavia great more. Engaged more in combat with other cultures, although his father was thinking rather about trade agreements. The Odin mask on the album, pleads from one eye is that because of that the religion of paganism was bleeding at that time. It was a dying religion at that time. But the king himself was actually fighting for it. Even though he was Christian. And one of the songs on the album, the Svoldir is actually the song about the battle that went on in Norway against King Olaf who forced Christianity on the Norwegians and killed thousands of people who believed in Odin. And Tveskæg of course, killed King Olaf in battle and took the Norwegians’ country, fine is all. The album symbolizes a struggle between cultures and the rights of the king fighting for pagans I guess you can say, in a way. And, fighting for the whole Viking belief he, Svend Tveskæg took England, for God’s sake. (laughs)
So the whole lyrical topic of the album covers this theme…
No, it’s not all of the songs are about that topic. Some songs are about the interpretation of the events that happened. The song Shield Wall for instance. It’s not a specific battle but it’s the interpretation of the battles that ended with Tveskæg killing the English king and taking the country. So it’s like most of the songs are interpretations of that period of time. And then some songs are about exact historical events. So it is both half and half I guess. I said the opening track Væringjar for instance. It is not about Svend Tveskæg but is about a group of mercenaries, the Væringjar guard that existed in that period of time. So it’s both periodic album and thematical album, I guess.
I see. Your music could be described as melodic death metal, planted deep in the Viking folk music of course. But how could you describe your own music as a bandmember?
Well, of course we describe it as a kind of melodic death metal! (laughs) We have been on a cried journey for that manner because previously they described us as pure folk metal. Fortunately by this time it ended up. What we are today is Viking death metal, I guess. We are not a band musicwise who tries to be who are not. When melodic people compares our band to Amon Amarth, we’re fine with that because we are influenced by that. The Swedish melodic death metal sound is nothing we want to hide from. (laughs) So I guess I would say, we are a melodic death metal band that very influenced by the whole genre of the Swedish melodic death metal.
Vanir recently released the video clip for Fejd. What was the reception of it so far?
People have reacted very positively. We haven’t had any negative comments to the video for the song yet, so that’s nice. (laughs) That’s always nice. That’s actually an important song for the whole album and for the concept of the album because that song is about the fury between Harald and Tveskæg. So it’s a pretty important song storywise.
That’s good to hear! We can hear Martin Steene of Iron Fire in the song as a guest vocalist. How did Vanir come up with the idea to mingle your Viking style with Martin’s clean vocals?
That’s true, we wanted to have Martin from Iron Fire from the starting in the song that is written by our guitarist. When I wrote the lyrics of the song, it became obvious quite early that the song needed some clean vocals and it will make sense to have another singer because the song is between two people fighting over country. So it made good sense to get another vocalist instead of putting just a growl vocal on the top of the another growl vocal. The growling sound sounds very similar. So getting clean vocals would keep that dualistic view, the dualistic feeling as it was about two persons. So I guess that’s the reason of the order to sound like two different persons on the song because the song is about the father and the son. That’s the actual thing that the video shows: that quarrell, that dualistic thing. And I think Martin Steene has great vocals, it sounds awesome.
I agree! What are the band’s plans for the future? Will you be touring with the new album?
We are hoping to tour with the new album like I said early on the interview. It comes down to the question of money. (laughs) The tour life is very expensive and we’re trying to figure it out when and how we could tour with the album and we’re looking a lot of festivals. We’re trying to get some attentions towards the festivals. Then we’re working on the small tasks as well, at the moment so. Always working on something, I guess (laughs).
In our homeland, Hungary, there is a quite strong folk metal scene and we really like the Viking way as well. Is there any chance to see Vanir live in Hungary in the near future?
Future limit this, I hope so! (laughs) It demand we I something am scared about. If we get the chance, for sure! I think if we find the festivals and the festivals once to progress than we are more than opened to come to your Hungary. But as now, we don’t have the big European tour plan late out right now but we hope to get the chance to play Allfather in a place like Hungary! If the festivals want to book us too. Please spread the word for us! (laughs)
Okay, definitely! Thank you for the nice conversation! I wish you great success in your career as a band and as persons and I hope we will talk again and see on the stage here someday!
For sure! Thanks for the conversation, it was fun! Have a nice day!
For you too, thank you! Best wishes, bye-bye!
You’re welcome! Bye!
The interview was taken with Martin Holmsgaard Håkan on 29.01.2019.
Contributed by: Zsuzsanna Muszka