I stumbled across Kvelertak at the end of 2010, reading a short review of their debut album in one of the metal magazines. Something from the descriptions struck a chord completely, taking the plunge and purchasing the eponymously titled album. What followed became one of those earth shattering musical moments, as you hear for the first time something truly, truly special. Loud shouts announced “Ulvetid” prior to colossal drums, a massive riff and one of the most venomous throat ripping vocals known to man, translated into English, Kvelertak means stranglehold, the name proving apt. While the tempo and power of the album never waver, melodies are intrinsic and hints of playfulness within their music arise. A burst of acoustic guitar in “Mjod”, “Blodtorst’s” one note piano , even a surf guitar chord at the end of “Sultans of Satan,” proving Kvelertak no ordinary hardcore / metal outfit producing one of the greatest debuts of all time.
I saw the band live supporting Come Back Kid at Manchester Academy back in April earlier this year, where they definitely picked up a number of new fans and tonight finds Kvelertak back in the city, this time as headliners at The Roadhouse. Before the gig, Mudkiss met vocalist Erlend to discuss how the tour’s progressing and what the future holds for the mighty Norwegians.
ANDY: You’re well into your headline European tour, how’s the response been so far?
ERLEND: It’s been great…the bands we’ve been playing with are awesome…Doomriders joined us in Norway, Sweden and Finland and then they jumped off and then Wolves Like Us from Norway jumped aboard……we’ve been playing Germany now the U.K, England, Ireland and Scotland……the show’s have all been great, it’s been a cool trip so far.
ANDY: The Roadhouse is quite a small venue, is there a big difference in the size of venue you are playing in Europe and Scandinavia, especially Norway?
ERLEND: Yeah…..Norway, they’re like I guess, three times bigger……In Germany they’re probably twice as big……….you know you just have to start somewhere, so hopefully we’ll play bigger shows next year but it’s cool doing shows like this, more intimate.
ANDY: The lyrics from the debut album are sung in your native Norwegian, did you ever think that may restrict your appeal to a wider audience? Did you ever consider singing in English?
ERLEND: I never thought about singing in English…..no I’ve always been singing in Norwegian since I was sixteen and first start playing in a band…….it just feels more natural for me and I don’t think it’s been like any hindrance for us, it doesn’t seem that way…… People still sing along even if they probably don’t know what the hell they’re singing (laughing)….. it seems to be working.
ANDY: I think with metal, it matters less what language the lyrics are than most other genres.
ERLEND: I guess it’s more a part of the music than other genres probably.
ANDY: Do you have any new material you’ll be playing tonight?
ERLEND: Yeah, we’re gonna play two new songs, they’re gonna be on the next album, that’s all we have so far.
ANDY: So the second album is in the very early stages?
ERLEND: Yeah, we have to make the songs first and we’ll start working on that when we get home from this tour and then we’ll record hopefully something next year and maybe have the album out by Fall but we don’t know yet…..it depends on how smoothly things go. (Laughing.)
ANDY: Where do your influences as a band come from? It’s a big, big sound with three guitars and there’s a real classic rock feel about the music, Jimi Hendrix and even perhaps a bit of Status Quo. Are you influenced by the 60’s / 70’s era?
ERLEND: It’s not so much me personally…..Bjarte our guitarist he writes all the music and he’s got one of the broadest tastes in music that I know in a person…….like he has in his car, Marvin Gaye, Beach Boys and Burzum……that kind of shows you what he’s into.
ANDY: I’ve never picked up on the Marvin Gaye and Beach Boys aspect in your album I must admit. (Laughing.)
ERLEND: There’s supposed to be a Beach Boy reference, but I don’t know where it is. (Also laughing)
ANDY: There are a lot of melodies in the album though, so perhaps it’s not that surprising.
ERLEND: You should ask Bjarte about that, but I don’t know where he is. (Laughing.)
ANDY: So are you personally more about the metal side? You also sing with Djevel, which is much more Black Metal based, is that the type of music you prefer to listen to?
ERLEND: Yeah, that’s more like the music I listen to…… so it’s cool to be in a band like that too, where I can sing like the music I listen too.
ANDY: Has that been purely a recording project at the moment or have you had any gigs as Djevel?
ERLEND: It’s just been recording……….we’re talking about doing a gig at some point……I don’t know……he (T. Ciekels) just got a kid and I’m busy with Kvelertak and now we need to find a new drummer…….I think we’ll probably start recording our next album before we start playing live, I don’t know.
ANDY: I did read that work on the second Djevel album had already started, is that the case?
ERLEND: Yeah, he’s already started writing stuff so yeah, we’ll probably start recording once he’s ready.
ANDY: From an audience point of view, do you tend to see a broader age range at Kvelertak gigs, than you would expect to see at more out and out metal gigs? I saw you supporting Comeback Kid at The Academy earlier this year and just before you came on, Gravemaker played and the audience were all younger metal kids.
ERLEND: Yeah, there were a lot of young kids at that tour.
ANDY: When Kvelertak came on stage, quite a few older rockers suddenly appeared at the front with the younger fans, do you feel your classic rock sound also draws in more mature fans?
ERLEND: I think so…..At the show’s we play we get everybody from sixteen year old Emo girls to forty year old…… fifty year old rock guys.
ANDY: That’s me, the forty to fifty year old rock guy. (Laughing)
ERLEND: I think that’s awesome……we take any fan we can get. (Laughing.)
ANDY: So the current tour takes you to the middle of December and then I guess you are taking a break over Christmas, so what else do you have planned for the New Year?
ERLEND: Yeah, we’re taking a break and we’re going to start writing the new stuff and we have a tour in Australia, the Soundwave Festival.
ANDY: Is that you’re first visit to Australia?
ERLEND: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to doing that I’ve never been to Australia before so yeah….it seems like a comfortable festival to do, it’s like you do one show and then have two days off……hang out around the hotel, sounds perfect. (Laughing)
ANDY: So Kvelertak is taking you round the world to places you’ve never seen before.
ERLEND: Yeah, it’s awesome.
ANDY: And what are you hoping for tonight in Manchester?
ERLEND: Packed show, it’s sold out so it should be.
ANDY: You’ve sold out quite a few shows on the tour haven’t you?
ERLEND: Yeah we sold out like Sweden and Norway they ended up being sold out. I remember the two shows we did in Germany before coming here were sold out, London is sold out tomorrow, so pretty good…….I think it will be crazy tonight I hope.
ANDY: Well, it’s a small packed venue in Manchester, I’m sure it will be a bit hectic.
ERLEND: I just hope it’s not too early for people, it’s pretty early stage times today.
ANDY: What time are you on tonight, 8.15?
ERLEND: 8 o’clock, quarter past eight yeah…… we haven’t played before nine so far……. Club night after so what are you going to do. (Laughing.)
And with thank you’s expressed all round, Erlend disappears into The Roadhouse Green Room, re-appearing on more than one occasion, watching the support acts prior to a ferocious Kvelertak performance, proving to be one of the gigs of the year, Manchester going absolutely mental for the six piece from Stavanger. Let’s hope they find time to write and release album number two in 2012, the new material offered tonight already suggests a potential highlight of next year.