It’s been a while since you started this whole band, and you had quite an amount of formation changes but you gathered a lot of fans. What were your goals when you first started and how did the viking style come?
Since we were kids, we always kinda found this fascitation toward north mythology and the viking history, because the place we grew up was very rich on viking history. So we always tought it would be a very good combination with heavy metal music and north mythology for the viking myths. We were of course searching for music that could kinda deliver the atmospheric feel and vibe that we were looking for. But we didn’t find much really. There were only a few bands, I mean the really early days of Manowar like you know “Into glory ride” album and that stuff you know. And it wasn’t until we discovered Bathory that we kind of knew, alright how powerful this could be when it was done right. And this was just prior to us forming Einherjer as a band. Me and Gerhard we have been playing quite a while already, but this was the time to form a proper band and do it for real. So that’s how we found the direction in the first place.
Your first album “Dragon of the north”, is became quite the standard for the music that you play, and it’s having it’s 25th anniversary – it’s coming out again – what effects do you think it has on the band? Or when you first wrote it what effects do you think did it had?
I mean everything was of course different back then. Since this was the mid ninties and we came off the norvegian scene of course the main genre was really getting attention up here was black metal. Even tought we kinda came from the same underground, we always sounded very different from all the other bands. And that I think also had a lot to do with our foundation has always been like classic death metal, that is the foundation. Of course we are inspired by the stuff that were going on at that time, with the whole experimental scene, but the musical foundation has always been heavy metal and I think we stood out from the crowd very much back in the day. And that’s also why I think that a lot of people gave that album attention, when it came out, because it sounded different. And of course we were not alone with having our focus on vikings and stuff, but we did it in a slighty different way then all the others, so I think that’s why it got so much attention back then, and it’s been an influece for many later bands, and that is of course very very cool.
Indeed. And reviewing the past days from now how do you see the critics you’ve been getting, and how harsh do you think they’ve been in generally?
I can understand a lot of the critics because due to line up changes and stuff, we also changed the sound quite a bit. For instence from “dragons of the north” to our next full length album wich is “Odin owns ye all” sounds like a completely different band. And in many ways, it was. Because we had a new singer, and a complete different focus. We were also leaning us against classic heavy metal even more, but now with cleanish vocals as well. So I think we took a good step to the side from that part we started with in “Dragons of the north” and also the EP “Far from north”, wich we released a year after. And we then signed to a bigger label to Century Media, and then we released “Odin owns ye all”, and they were going just like “okay, what the fuck is this?”, because it sounded completely dfferent. I also think that it took a coupel of years before we kinda found our way back you know? We did a quite symphonic album in 2002-3 with “Blot”, and that was also an album that led up to a break for 4 years. From 2004 to 2008 when we started playing together again. That album is also a bit different, it’s quite symfonic. And that was Gerhard who wrote almost all that album. And towards the end of the touring cycle after that one, at least I felt a little enough of the viking thing for a while. So we started discussing what options we had, and we didn’t want to water out the name, that’s why the exact same members just formed a new band, so we can play a slighty different music genre, so we don’t water down the Einherjer name. So we did one album with “Battle” and a couple of tours, that was a thrash metal band, and that was good fun! And then when we got together again in 2008 and started playing together, that’s when we really sat down and found the course which we actually stay on to this day. Because after the break everyone involved had different opinions and expectations of what this band was supposed to be. We really had to talk that trough, so we could find a foundation that we could agree upon, so we all agreed on the direction we took from there. I think with all the albums after the break from “Norrøn” and “Av oss, for oss” and so fourth, I think we have a very steady development, that shows a direction, and that’s the direction we are still following.
And in 2018 you album “Norrøne spor” came out, and it became a really iconic one with all the memorable viking metal melodies in it. How do you rate the time after the release?
“Norrøne spor” was a really great album for us I think. And it’s also very close to the new one. I think that’ just the natural development. We got some really really great reviews after that and we did some great shows, great tour. We had a really good year, but that’s when all of your plans got whiped out, so yeah. Now we just have to wait until this shitstorm is over, and we can start doing stuff again.
And what was your favourite critic about the album. Maybe any all-time-trough of your carreer, or cliché, reaccuring critics you’ve been getting?
It is really really hard to pin-point just the one thing, but it is of course always cool, when you good feedback for the stuff you do because it all boils down to music is very personal. When you put a lot of time and a lot of effort into it, it feels good, when people come up to you after a release or a show, and just tells what the music mean to them. I find this really rewarding. But it’s really hard to pin-point out just one to say that this is it. But it’s always cool that people appreciate what we do, because we certainly appreciate doing it, so it’s cool that they can find quality and joy in whatever in it, that’s important.
Theres been a lot going in with you recently. I mean, Tom Enge joined the band as the rythym guitarist, and you signed with Napalm Records from Indie Recordings, where your 8th album “Nort star” came out at the end of Febuary. As I see all these changed were for the better of the band. What would you say about Tom, about the new label and the album?
First of all, Tom came in after Aksel left, who was been with us for 22 years. It’s kind of a blow, because I knew he was about to leave, but even when though it happens it feels like shit. Because we had that chemistry from working for like twenty plus years. So we were looking for a replacement, and we didn’t want to go out of the country, but we didn’t want to go out of the city either, so we were looking here locally. Suddenly Tom came, I actually met him at a store just by coincidence. I’ve known that guy for years and years and he knows all of us, and I even worked with him in the studio many times. But for some reason he slipped my mind when I was looking for a new guitarist, and I accidentally bumped into him. And then I went like of course, Tom, he plays guitar, he is the guy! And that’s how he came in. But he came in kind of late to the party. He doesn’t really participate that much on the album, but he do have some great qualities that we hopefully can incoorperate on the next album though. And we signed to Napalm after 25 years, doesn’t feel like 25 years, but that’s just how it is. Of course the label is very different now compared to what it was 25 years ago. Now it’s like a huge coorperation, it’s like a proper big label. And that’s really cool. I mean we do have a team there now that is working closely with us, and that is really really good. I am really happy so far. And it’s also cool about “North star”. We are very happy about how that album turned out, and according to reviews and stuff a lot of people seem to agree with us. So I think it’s really cool that we have such a good start also with a new label, since we are doing a lot of press on this album. And also all the magazines and online magazines and everything, most of them agree that this is really good shit. I am just waiting for the world to open up again, so we can go out and promote this the proper way.
Can we say, that this is the most demanding Einherjer viking metal album?
I don’t know really, because all albums are demanding. This was a little bit different. Due to the restrictions there were no room to record in and stuff, so a lot of the stuff I actually recorded all by myself, because we were only allowed to be with our family. And this album was recorded like the last four or five albums. This was recorded in my studio, so it was quite easy for me, just to go out on door and in the next, because my studio separate house next to my house, so it’s easier for work. And Oola did his lead guitars and stuffs at his place, so I just reamped that stuff here. I recorded most of the rythym guitars and all the bass and the vocals of course. Becuase we were lucky! We started this recordings in February, so we were done with the drums and everything by mid March when everything turned out to be closed down. I actually spent months in here alone during the summer, because we had to delay this when everything closed down. Also schools and kindergartens, I am sure it’s the same as your place. So I had to do like home tutoring and home kindergarten stuff for weeks and weeks. And that is a really creative vibe killer. It’s impossible I think, when you have done that all day and so go out to the studio in the afternoon and be creative for the rest of the day. So we had to delay everything a bit.
Now let’s talk about specificly about the pandemic, since you already touched on that. Your song “The blood and the iron” has a video clip. How did the pandemic roughen the making of the video and how many options were limited and how satisfied ae you with the end result?
The whole restriction thing in Norway has been a bit up and down. It has been very strict at time and then they loosend up, and then they found out that this doesn’t work, so we have to be strict again. And when we did that video it was quite loose, so it was okay for us to meet as many people as many there were involved in that video, so we were allowed to do it. And I think it turned out great. We shot that in a viking village here close by. It’s actually the first king’s seat in Norway, so this is more or less where Norway was born. And now they have made this authentic viking village down there, and the house we used is a boat house actually. It fits the song perfect.
Now let’s dream a bit and just imagine that all the pandemic stuffs are gone. You gonna play festivals as you’ve done a thousand times before, but what old songs are you putting on the set list next to the new ones?
Actually we did 2 gigs this weekend. Because like I said everything here in Norway isn’t completely closed down. And this town where we live we are now allowed to play concerts in front of seated audiences up to 100 people. For just a week ago, that limit was 200 people, so what we did, is we booked this venue, a big seated theatre for 200 people and we sold 200 tickets. But then the gap further restricted, and we had to split that up in two gigs, so we actually played for 100 people on Friday at the release gig, and we played for the rest at Saturday. And the songs that we played there, I wouldn’t beleive are more or less the same as we would. We played the 3 singles from the new album, we played “The blood and the iron”; “Stars” and “West coast groove”. As for our old songs we played “Dragon of the north”;”Ironbound”; “Far far north”; “Battle of the swords”, and then we played “Kill the flame”, and a few more I don’t really remember. I would imagine that this kind of setlist is the same that we would take on a possible festival run at least for now.
And turning back to the labels I think you are at a really great spot, and your band have achieved a lot of fame and stuff. What do you think the next succesfull thing is gonna be?
Right now we are just waiting for stuff to balance out and for the world to open up. I’ve already started writing songs for a new album, but it feels kind of wrong starting it now, without having done anything in between. I am really just waiting and hoping for some sort of opening or whatever, for 2022 maybe? I’m sure this year is still fucked also. It’s hard, but I really sincerely hope that things will open up again, as soon as possible. And if not, we are just gonna make another album. We are all in a place now, the whole world is in a place where it’s kind of impossible to plan ahead, because you don’t know what’s around the next corner.
What is your happiest memory with the band, and what desires do you have that is yet to be fulfilled?
When you are in a place like we are now, I mean with the situiation of the world. When I think about us travelling, for instense I find that I kinda miss all aspects of it. It’s not even just those things that I normally find very rewarding and very fun. I even miss the 8 hour airport layovers or shuffle drives for like 12 hours to one festival to another. I even miss those things now. So in life it’s really hard to kind of pull out one type of memory that is really really good or bad or whatever, because everything is so strange now, that you really miss the whole thing. Just after show when the guys are sitting down having a beer, or even the really early mornings at the airport when we were going out to do a festival after 2 hours of sleep and you are really psyched up about. It’s those little things that I’m actually thinking the most about. Even then gig is of course really cool, but there is so much more than being in a band than just the on stage things. There is also a whole lot of comradery and really tight bonds between us. I really love these tiny details that make fantastic moments and they are taken away from you.
And in 2019 you’ve been here at Budapest and you gave a concert. How was it, and would you like to visit us again?
Of course. I think it was really fun, and also that promoter that did that gig, I’ve also toured with him before with “Twilight of the gods”. It’s also cool when you are travelling around and you are meeting people again you haven’t seen in years. Budapest at Hungary I think was the first gig we did on that tour. So yeah we are more than willing to come back and play for you again.
Those were all my questions and if you have anything to say or to add, you are more than welcome to do so.
I’m just gonna go back to that situation that we are all in, because I think it’s really important that we are all really fed up with this shit, and we all want this to end of course and it will end someday. But until then, some bands really need some extra support though touring isn’t happening, so it’s on a stand still, and there’s no indication when this can be picked up again. So this goes out to readers. If there is a band you admire, a band you like your favourite or whatever, just go to their websites and buy some merch directly from the band, that will be very appreciated. And also you never know. Maybe that band is still around.
I think these are the best last words to end our conversation upon. Thank you for your time and your answers, I wish you the best of luck and hope you have a great day.
The interview was taken with Frode Glesnes on 04.03.2021.