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Interviews   

V For…


Besides from the death of Valfar bringing an end to the band Windir, the origin of Vreid stems from the combination of anger and sadness that this death brought upon them. In fact, Vreid means “anger” in Norwegian.

Windir was an original band that exploited folk influences in a much more subtle manner than the mass of “binge beer drinking” folk metal bands. In their own way, Vreid have continued their work this way, by distancing themselves voluntarily and qualitatively from this often repetitive scene. Throughout the interview, Hvall will even confirm that he does not like this scene.

Their new album V, whose title holds many unenforced meanings, has allowed Hvall to achieve the dream of many musicians: being able to work in his own studio, free from time and money restrictions. This is a sense of serenity and comfort that many are unable to achieve despite their great efforts and sometimes unhealthy investment. As they say, such efforts for so little results are sometime hard to “swallow” for a musician… Sorry, I just had to get that one in.

 » I think that it is a natural reaction when someone so close to you passes away that you feel both sadness, longing as well as rage and anger. So I guess that “Vreid” or “wrath” is one of those reactions here. »

First of all, how did the concerts you gave last April in honour of Valfar from Windir go?

Hvall (bass) : It was a great experience. We had Valfar’s brother Vegard who had been asking us for a while if we were interested in doing something special for our show and he joined us. We did our set and then we played three songs with him doing vocals. It was great and it was good to see all of the people out in the crowd still cheering for Windir.

« Vreid » means “anger” in Norwegian. Since Vreid was created after Valfar’s death, is it correct to say that his death inspired anger more than sadness?

Yes I think that it is both. I think that it is a duality between sadness and anger, you know? I think that it is a natural reaction when someone so close to you passes away that you feel both sadness, longing as well as rage and anger. So I guess that “Vreid” or “wrath” is one of those reactions here.

What does the title « V » refer to? To Vreid I suppose?

Yes, but there are many interpretations of the title, which is what I like. For me it has several meanings but I like to keep them to myself so that people can interpret it the way that they want. But of course it refers to Vreid and it is also our fifth album so…

So is it a secret?

I have lots of ideas behind these titles so I think that people should see if they can find more about how to interpret it. But for me, it has several meanings.

If the album was called “Vreid” rather than “V”, could we still consider that it is an eponymous album?

It also refers to the fact that this is a new era for the band I think. We worked really hard for all of our albums, which were quite close to each other and then we had a change of line-up in the band. I think that this caused a few changes in the music and the way that we work. It feels as though we are starting a new chapter with this album, so it was important to have a symbolic title for it.

This is a new start?

Yes. We are building on our past and we also find that we are making a new start with the band with this album.

« For each album, we had been doing more and more ourselves, and so this time around we felt confident and competent enough to do everything ourselves. It was very liberating in the fact that we had no time for ourselves. […]So we got to experiment a lot and it gave us a lot of freedom. »

This album is the first produced by the band itself. You declared that it was a particularly refreshing and liberating experience. Were you controlled? And was your creativity restricted on the last albums?

No absolutely not. It is not like that. For each album, we had been doing more and more ourselves, and so this time around we felt confident and competent enough to do everything ourselves. It was very liberating in the fact that we had no time for ourselves. Going into a studio for several months costs a lot of money, but this time we had no stress about time or money. It also gave me a lot of time to sit down, test different things, listen to other albums and think “ok I want that drum to sound more like that” or “the bass sound more like that”. So we got to experiment a lot and it gave us a lot of freedom.

Most artists who get rid of their producers to produce an album themselves tend to say « it’s our first genuine, real album », referring to the fact that it’s the first time that they do what they really want to do. Is this how you felt with the new album? Did you have this feeling with V? Can we explain its name like that, as if you told your fans « listen to that, it’s really us »?

No, not really because Lars Klokkerhaug, who we worked with before, was an inspiration to work with in many ways. It’s more like we have been doing quite a lot of albums over the last few years with Vreid, Windir and Ulcus and so I feel more and more interested in the aspect of having total control over of the whole thing. Since I have my own studio, it cools things down as we take it step by step and we don’t have to make sure that the album is ready by this or that date. We just do it whenever we feel ready to. In that way it is quite of liberating but it is not a critique of anything that we have done before or the people that we worked with. We have been really satisfied with them, but now we feel that we can do this well enough ourselves so there is no reason to bring in other people I think.

The jacket artwork reminds us once more of various World War II symbols. Where does the fascination for this historical era come from?

Well the new album is not really about World War II at all actually. But I can see how some of the symbolic features on the album might resemble some from the previous albums, and in that way there is a World War II aspect. I think that we will do World War II lyrics again because I think that they are really inspiring and there are so many stories to tell from them. This time we kind of started where we left off with Milorg. The theme of Milorg is the resistance’s work and liberation as well as the outcry to see liberation through different times and different areas in our history. We can see it in a more broader perspective this time. It has been an interesting journey.

World War II is one of the metal fans’ favourite topics – why do you think this is?

I don’t know really. Well it’s darkness and war, and that’s what I like I guess (laughs). I think that it isn’t only metal though. For example in Norway, if you look into the most sold books every year, it is books about war and especially World War II. So I think that this is something that people have a great interest in and not only in metal music but in many genres and in general.

As you’re used to sing in English and Norwegian, could you tell us something about the differences between those two languages from a musical point of view? Is it easier, more natural to sing rock and metal lyrics in English rather than in Norwegian?

Well, I think that when we do it in Norwegian it has got more distinct characteristics in the way that you pronounce the words, but English has more flow to it. I enjoy both and I can’t make a decision these days before I start an album; whether I do it in English or Norwegian. So if the next one is going to be in Norwegian or English, I don’t know yet. But for this album, it felt right to do it in English and I made a decision and didn’t look back.

Which language do you prefer?

Well it depends you know. When I started on this album I felt like writing in English, but when I start on the next album I can’t really say. I really enjoy both of them and it is not like I prefer one language to the other, it all depends on what kind of mood I am in when I start with the lyrics actually.

« I think that most oompa hoompa bands, or whatever they are called, are terrible in my mind. When I think of them, I think that it’s awful. »

Most of the bands using folk influences do it to produce a very positive, festive kind of music. It’s however not the case at all with Windir and Vreid, who distance themselves from bands like Korpiklaani or Finntroll. What’s your opinion on the folk metal scene? Do you find it too caricatured?

I think that most oompa hoompa bands, or whatever they are called, are terrible in my mind. When I think of them, I think that it’s awful. Actually, I enjoy Finntroll. They are one of the few bands that I like in that genre. They were the one of the ones starting something new and doing their own thing and I have respect for that. I have enjoyed several of their albums but I think that there are so many shitty copy cats out there which are completely terrible. That music does nothing for me.

You recently announced a Norwegian tour during which you’ll be the headlining act. Will a European tour follow, and, if yes, will you also be the headlining act?

We are actually finalising a European tour but I don’t want to say too much about it because with touring the tours are almost booked and then they get cancelled so you never know. But I hope that we can announce a complete European tour by the beginning of next year, and either we will be the direct support or we will do a headlining tour, it depends as it will probably be part of the package.

Any summer festivals?

Yes. In December, many of them will be announced. We have been booked in three or four in Germany at least and we are looking to travel more. So I look to do like eight or ten festivals during the summer.

I have to ask this: I imagine that the answer is no, but has the title of the new album got anything to do with the 1980s TV series?

Hum no. I have never heard of it. So I can promise you no (laughs).

Did you know that your stage name Hvàll means “to swallow” in French?

(laughs) “to swallow”! Well that is going to come out wrong then!

Interview conducted in december, 2010 by phone

Transcription : Isère & Saff’

Vreid’s Myspace : http://www.myspace.com/thepitchblackbrigade



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