Kvelertak - Erlend Hjelvik

Kvelertak - Erlend Hjelvik

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Without a doubt, KVELERTAK made a lot of heads to turn towards their direction with their bizarre Metal/Punk mix that slowly has taken over Europe. So, the Norwegian band got a co-headlining tour with SKELETONWITCH in the US and METAL KAOZ did not miss the chance to speak to the band’s singer Erlend Hjelvik and get some inside info.

Welcome to Chicago, Erlend! So, let’s start with the obvious question: how is the tour so far?
Hey guys, it has been great! We like the guys from SKELETONWITCH and ZOROASTER and so this tour has been like a constant party for us.

Was it your decision to tour with these bands?
Yeah, the final decision was ours. We met SKELETONWITCH this summer, while we knew ZOROASTER since we had toured together in the past. So, we knew the guys and choosing them was not a difficult decision.

Why did you decide to do a US headlining tour instead of joining in a big package and support an already famous band?
Well, it’s a co-headlining tour with SKELETONWITCH who have released a new album, while ours was just re-released in the US, so it was a good thing to do this together.

Why did it take so much time to bring “Kvelertak” in the US; I think it’s been almost a year…
It’s a lot of label bullshit, you know… it took a lot of time to find a record label to get our music in the US and in the end we found one in Norway who have just created a division in the States, so we went with them.

Did you expect that “Kvelertak” would be such a successful album?
No, not at all. I kind of knew that the album was good after we have finished the recordings but I never expected this kind of reception. In Norway the album has been in the top 20 best selling records for almost a year!

You also got two awards in Norway…
Yeah, and I think it is not that common for Metal bands to get this attention. I really did not expect that; I mean, every DIMMU BORGIR album stays in the charts for about two weeks...

I just have to ask now; what about the next album: is there any type of pressure for this? Do you feel that you have to compete yourselves?
We really don’t think like that. The way we see it is that the most important thing is that we like the album first and then people can take it or leave it. We have already made two new songs and hopefully we will record the new album sometime next year. Or I’d should better say we will try it to have it ready next year (laughs).

The debut album has an amazing cover art work; what was your contribution to its making?
Well, I did explain to the artist what the lyrics are about and he managed to put almost everything together in a single painting. That skeleton chick with the tits is from “Fossegrim”, while the owl is about Odin and so on... I really don’t remember everything (laughs) but it’s a great painting!

Yep it is! You are also using the Norse language in the lyrics; did you think of writing in English that is, let’s say, easier to accept and understand by the Metal scene?
I didn’t think about this. Norwegian is my native language and the lyrics feel more natural to me. After all this is the language I speak every day, so I can express myself easier. When we started this band, we really did not have ambitions to get this music outside Norway, so we did not think if we should use the English language. Now, I think the lyrics have become an important part of our music, so it’s really working.

So, there are no thoughts of using English lyrics?
Nope, absolutely none!

Fair enough. You have also released a music video for “Blodtørst”, sorry about my pronunciation…
(laughs) Yeah, that’s ok! The title means ‘blood thirst’...

Who had the idea to make such a video? Is it handmade or everything is from a computer?
The guy who made it is a friend of ours and he is also in a band called ULTRA SHERIFF. And he makes for them all their music videos by himself, so we knew his work and this is why we asked him to make one for us. Actually, he made this video as part of his Master thesis and in fact, he got an A! I told him about the lyrics and he made a video about this dragon called Nifelheim.

Nifelheim? That’s a great band! You said that you have already two new songs; does this mean that you can write music while on the road?
No, we can’t. We have to have time off the tour to do that. After the US tour, we will get back home and we will have one week off and then there is the five weeks  of the European headlining tour and after that we’ll have the time to work on the new album.

Can you reveal us any details about the European tour? Do you know the supporting bands?
For the Scandinavian part it will be DOOMRIDERS, TOXIC HOLOCAUST and THE SECRET, while in the rest of Europe we’ll tour with TOXIC HOLOCAUST, THE SECRET and WOLVES LIKE US. I am sure it will be great!

I find it very hard to describe the music of KVELERTAK…
Yeah, me too (laughs).

…since you have multiple influences for many other genres. So, what was in your mind when you were writing music?
In the beginning it was very simple since we were inspired by the “Volcano” album by SATYRICON, by “Isa” from ENSLAVED and then we added some Punk stuff like from TURBONEGRO. I think now everything sound more refined. After all, this band started six years ago...

So, how the US audience is treating you? Do you think it’s different from the European one?
They have been great! Here in the US we are getting more Metal audiences. Back in Norway we have a really mixed audience; from 16 yrs old girls to people wearing suites who have no idea what Metal is. It’s a pretty good mix there. It’s really fun and I hope this will be for the rest of the world sometime... (laughs)

Well, Erlend these were our questions, so if you have something else to add, please go ahead and do it.
I just want to say that KVELERTAK will play to Australia for the first time on the ‘Soundwave’ festival that was rescheduled after the cancellation from VAN HALEN and I am sure it’s going to be a lot of fun to play there.