Interview: Kvelertak (Vidar Landa)


Three years after the critically acclaimed debut album of Kvelertak, the Norwegians are ready to release their second record “Meir” which is going to hit the stores on March 25th via Roadrunner Records. The guitarist of the band Vidar Landa talks at Metalpaths about the new songs, the influences of each member of the band, his memories from the Greek show with Megadeth and the upcoming plans of Kvelertak…by Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.

First of all, congratulation for the debut album. It managed to shock a lot of people worldwide. Now that it’s two and a half years after its release, would you change something on it or are you completely satisfied with the result?

Thank you! I am still a big fan of our debut. That is how we sounded in 2010 and I still think it’s a kick-ass record with songs that work as good on tape as it does live.

Did the success of the first album bring any stress during the creation of the second one? How did you adjust yourselves to all these praising reviews from all over the world?

The only problem with writing and rehearsing new material has been that we’ve been touring constantly since the release in June 2010. So before the festival season last year (2012) we had a two month period when we were wroting and rehearsing pretty intense. I think that touring  made us a better band and it has definitely been inspiring to tour and play with a lot of awesome bands. All the reviews and praises haven’t really effected on us I think. We’ve just been doing our thing, and as for the songs on this new record it’s been the same procedure as last time. Bjarte brings in songs or ideas and then we rehearse. The 11 songs which made in this period are the 11 songs of  the new album.

The new album is called ”Meir” which means ”more”. Is it a title to show that this album has more things and sounds to offer compared to the first one? You understand that many have already thought of an even better album than ”Kvelertak”.

Yes. When the record was done, we all felt that it was basically just more of everything we consider «Kvelertak». For me that means more guitars and harmonies, and that we are expanding in and exploring both the catchy and rocknroll parts of our sound as much as the really heavy and extreme tones.

Tell us a few things about “Meir”. What should we expect? I have only listened to the ”Bruane Brenn” track which sounds like taking the sound of the first album and making it more flexible. Do you have any hidden surprises for us this time? How long did it take you to create it and what was the mood during the recordings?

Like I said, it’s a little bit of everything. «Bruane Brenn» is a good introduction to the new stuff. There are definitely some surprises in the new album. There is a song called «Nekrokosmos» that is really experimental, super heavy, groovy and atmospheric at the same time and at the other end of the scale there is the last track on the record called «Kvelertak» which is a super-catchy, shameless, rocknroll band anthem. And I have to mention my guitar-buddies Bjarte and Maciek, listen to the solo work on this album, I love it! Check out Maciek’s “Slayer-meets-Kurt Ballou” solo on «Månelyst» and BJ’s sexy and sleazy solo on «Kvelertak». Marvin stepped up his bass-playing for this one and there are some really cool bass-lines in there. Kjetil is the best drummer in the world and wrote riffs for the song «Tordenbrak». The vocals and lyrics are better too. Hard to hide that I’m very stoked about this album! Even though a lot of our songs are immediate and catchy, this is definitely a record you should listen to closely and give a couple of rounds. We spent about 4-5 weeks in Salem recording with Kurt in August/September 2012. The vibe was more relaxed and we all felt more confident this time. Last time was the first time for us recording a record, and for most of us the first time in a real studio. This time Kurt knew us better and vice versa.

Which is the secret of the band’s success in your opinion? Others say it’s the mix of styles, others say you have no style and just play from the heart, others claim it’s the Norwegian language which makes the material sound harsh. Enlighten us on this subject the way you see things from the band’s side.

I would say all of the above. We all listen to a bunch of different stuff, and our foundation is Bjarte’s songwriting skills and ability to put all of our favorite stuff into good songs with their own sound. Singing in Norwegian makes it more unique and has become a part of our sound. We are a live band with 6 members with the same drive that go out there like every show is the last one and put everything we have into this band. And this is a cliche, but it is also the truth, first and foremost we’re just 6 good friends that are having a really good time playing together and we’ve just been very lucky.

I’d like to know which were your personal influences as a guitarist and which bands did enable you to create your own band? Can you give us some of the other members’ beloved artists and influences as well?

The first rock tape I ever got was «Appetite For Destruction» and I was only around 6-7 years old. That was the major thing that put me to rocknroll and music. I was lucky having an older brother and a cousin who showed me the good stuff at early age. Then, I just soaked in everything I saw on MTV (back when they actually showed music-videos there) and other music-shows, everything from Metallica to Rancid, Nirvana, Aerosmith, even stuff like Meat Loaf and so on. I´ve been through a lot of different styles, but always go back to the rock bands. «Apocalypse Dudes» by Turbonegro was an inspiration growing up. Just the whole package with that band was so appealing. They put all the fun stuff from the punk and rock history into their own sound without sounding like a ripoff and mixed it with this dark, homosexual, decadent image. How can you resist that? Kind of hard to speak for others’ inspirations but I’ll give it a try:

Bjarte Lund Rolland: Everything from power-pop and Fleetwood Mac (he is a HUGE fleetwood mac fan) to classic rock and Thin Lizzy to soul and Marvin Gaye. That guy is a living music-library.

Maciek Ofstad: I met Maciek through the hardcore-scene in our hometown and he´s into all the classic thrash and hardcore stuff like slayer and metallica to death. He is a big NOFX fan, and apparently he is a huge fan of Avril Lavigne. I’ve never really figured out if that´s a joke or not.

Kjetil Gjermundrød: Motorhead, Slayer, GNR, Hellacopters, Gluecifer. After a couple of beers, this is what Kjetil will put on. Mickey Dee has been a huge inspiration for him. He is also the only other GNR fan in the band, and he loves Matt Sorums drumming on the “Use Your Illusion” albums. I find that interesting, because most drummers I know only talk about Steven Adler and “Appetite”.

Marvin Nygaard: I’m pretty sure Sepultura was the first real heavy band he started to listen to back in the MTV days. He’s always been into punkrock and hardcore. Queens of The Stone Age is his favorite band. Like with the rest of us, his music taste is all over the place.

Erlend Hjelvik: He got into Slipknot, Korn and stuff like that as a teenager and then he went on to discover black metal and is mostly inspired by Norwegian black metal bands like Taake and Darkthrone and so on…Again, Erlend also listens to a bunch of different stuff and Pentagram should be mentioned here too. He discovers new and old bands all the time. He also sings in a black metal band called Djevel.

The album is going to be released on March. Which is the schedule for the band for the rest of 2013?

Touring, touring and then some more touring. Hopefully we´ll make it to every corner of the world with this record and I really hope we are coming back to Greece again soon.

Which other new bands could have the success of Kvelertak? Do you have any new releases to propose to fans or do you stick to the old stuff?

There are a lot of cool bands in Norway at the moment: Blood Command, Purified In Blood, Overthrow, The Good The Bad And The Zugly, Gerilja, El Doom And The Born Electric, Djevel, Bloodlights, Man The Machetes, Haust, Turbonegro is back with a new frontman, Smoke Mohawk… there is a bunch of them and I hate this kind of questions because I always forget some. I am a big fan of Graveyard and they put out an awesome record last year called «Lights Out», I’m into the new Gojira record «L’enfant Sauvage», can´t wait to see and hear what Ghost has been cooking up since their debut. Converge put out «All We Love We Leave Behind» last year and stated that they are the coolest and most relevant metal/hardcore band out there. I love The Bronx and they just put out a new record, the same did our friends in Gallows. Check it out! Last week I was listening through some old death records. I remember when I first heard «The Sound Of Perseverance» and it blew me away! Listening to it again just makes me want to throw my guitar away for good. Chuck Schuldiner is out of this world. I have also discovered a lot of old stuff lately. Rory Gallagher has been on heavy rotation on my spotify list (the bassist in Graveyard turned me on to him), and the band he had before he went solo, Taste. At the moment Doomriders are recording a new album with Kurt in Godcity. I can´t wait to hear it, one of my favorite bands. I also heard that Mastodon are writing new stuff and they never disappoint.

Though it is still early, were there any moments in these first tours you did you wouldn’t change for the world? Every band has good and bad memories through the years. When you see things grow quickly, how must you act to keep yourself focused to your obligations?

The first European tour we did with Converge, Kylesa and Gaza right after the release was mind-blowing and we learned a lot from that tour. Supporting Foo Fighters and meeting Dave Grohl at the sold out arena show they did in Oslo was a highlight. Playing with Mastodon and Gojira in Australia. Playing this small club in Singapore where we ended the show out in the streets and the crowd went nuts is another. Our focus is always on playing good shows and having a good time, we don´t really think too much about stuff.

You played in Greece with Megadeth. What do you remember from your visit here? Do you have any time to see any sights when you visit a new place or are you always on the limit’s run?

That was one of the highlights of 2012. The crowd was amazing! It was pretty hard for me though, cause I had a concussion. The promotors took us out the day before and gave us free tequila shots at this rock-bar (Intrepid Fox or something). I ended up stage-diving from the bar and climbing on Erlend’s shoulders, we both fell over and I went head first into the concrete and had to go to the hospital to get stitched up. Luckily our Greek friends knew a doctor there, so it went pretty fast. I just remember inviting all the nurses to the show while getting sewed up, haha! I did play the show, but when I came back to Norway the doctor told me I had to lay still and not move for at least a week or I could get brain damaged. We went to see the Acropolis. That was fun! As far as seeing any sights on tour, it depends. Most of the time we see back-stages and bars, but I try to walk around as much as possible and just take in the vibe of the city whenever we are in a new place. I feel I’ve seen a lot more than just back-stages and bars for the last three years.

Which would be the ideal turn of events for Kvelertak in the future? What would you like to achieve with your music and how much important is for a group to be remembered because of its identity?

I just hope we can continue doing what we do now and I think progress happens naturally with time. Haven’t really given this any thought.

Thank you very much for your time answering our questions. Send a message to the readers of Metalpaths, and your fans in Greece and abroad.

Thank you! And to all the Metalpaths’ readers and metalheads in Greece: Thanks for the support and buy our new record. It’ll be out on march 25 on Roadrunner Records. We will come back to Greece and play as soon as we get the chance. I promise!

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