Hailz Sarke, nice to have you, because ‘Viige Urh’ is amazing! What struck me: some of the titles are in Norwegian, but the lyrics are in English…
That’s not correct actually. All the titles for the Sarke albums are self-made words. I just wanted to do something different when I started Sarke. I created my own words and the meaning of it.
There is a kind of theme running through the album, more precisely the passing of time. Is that something you are really aware of and having in mind most of time in real life?
It is actually not a concept album. Usually when I write lyrics, I use things of the older days, things that happened a long time ago. In that way it is a little bit conceptual, but I do that with most of my lyrics. I like to read and think about things that happened a long time ago, because people lived a bit specialized. They did not have electricity and all current luxury. It must have been not so easy those days in comparison with now. They had to live a different life than we have now.
Do you have a kind of nostalgia about those times?
No, I would not say that, but it is a little bit more exciting to read and think about that. Usually when I read books or see movies, I like to see and read about what’s happening in real life. I am not so into books about crimes and a guy who did a murder and we have to solve it… fantasy. I like more what’s happening in real life actually.
Indeed, the documentary style… when I watch television it is also more of that stuff I like. Are there kinds of things from the past you experienced that are worked out on this album as main inspiration for some of the songs?
Of course I know about your long time cooperation with Ted, Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone fame, but how did you actually meet each other?
It was back in Oslo, maybe in 1988 or 1989 or something when Darkthrone did their demos and we had some common friends. The scene was a bit smaller than nowadays. There were not so many bands. So if you played live, we did it all together as there were not so many places to play and be as metal fan. I usually went to see Darkthrone when they played. Ted used to play in a band called Valhall before he focused on Darkthrone full time. I played drums in Valhall after him and I was at the rehearsals sometimes. I don’t remember the first meeting, but we hang around in different places and had mutual friends and so on. You know… Mayhem, Darkthrone, Cadaver, Red Harvest and bands like that.
You play many instruments, also in bands like Tulus and Khold. What is the deliberating thing to play bass in Sarke, compared to drum jobs for instance?
In Sarke I play bass now, but in the beginning I played every instrument. My main instrument is drums, but I make all my songs on acoustic guitar.
What was the first instrument you played in your youth?
I started with piano. I also played keyboards in my first band. I also think about the keyboards when I write songs. And that is the positive thing about it, because when I make a song, I think about drums, bass, guitar and keyboards.
And even orchestration I think, because in the second song ‘Dagger Entombed’ there is orchestration as well, isn’t it?
Yes, yes. I do, but Anders takes care of it most of the time, but sometimes I tell him my idea behind the songs and he works it out. He is very good at it. So I trust him doing everything about that.
Another one that stands out is ‘Jutul’ with shared vocals from Nocturno and a female singer. Can you tell a bit more about that?
It is a song about trolls, Norwegian trolls, by mountains and forests. I used a bit of Norwegian folk notes. It is inspired by Norwegian music. I wanted some dynamics in the song, having a female vocal, so we get the contrast between Nocturno Culto and a nice female vocal. At a certain point they sing together. That worked out quite good. It is a very heavy song and it is a bit nice at the same time.
There are so many different influences and styles in the music that I cannot label it as black metal only…
I don’t think so much about whether it is black metal or not when I make music. I think many people say it is black metal, because Nocturno did the vocals. We have black metal elements, but we also have so much more. It is not easy to put it in one category. It is open for many people. We already experienced that in the past with previous albums. People have different opinions about it and that is fine with me. The sound is good, so it is not so hard to hear what we sing and the different instruments. I think we can reach many different people.
The former album was released not so long ago. It is only one and a half year since the concept album ’Bogefod’ came out. Did you do an amount of gigs to support it?
We did not do so many concerts for ‘Bogefod’ album, no. We recorded ‘Bogefod’ over half a year before its release, so it is a longer time and I had the time to make new music.
From what I understand at the moment in the last track ‘Evolution And Fate’, it has very nice lyrics about a universal theme and our place under the stars. Is that right?
Yes, that is true. It is about the universe and how big and how powerful the universe is and we cannot do anything about it. I am pretty fascinated about the universe, so I’d like to know more about it, but it is not so easy. When I was a kid I used to lay in the snow, looking at the stars for hours, because in winter time it is very dark. So you can see the stars very bright. So if you are in a right place in Norway, laying in the snow and it is dark – in a forest for instance – you can see the stars very good. I like it.
Me too, because that is something what common people in modern society miss: the connection with nature and with at least a little piece of nature in their lives…
Do you like animals? Do you have some?
I love animals, but I don’t have any now, because I do not have the time. I am always away and travelling and if you have animals, you need to pay attention and you need to take care of them, but when I grew up we had dogs and cats and rabbits, fish and birds… we had a lot. Until I was adult, we always had many animals. I do love animals.
About the concept: the passing of time is something nobody can ignore. Whatever you want to do about it, it is there… don’t you think that the more you grow older, the more you are aware of that?
Of course. You’ll never get the time back. What happened is happened. Of course when you get older, you appreciate the good times much more.
I see that there are two lyric videos, but are there also plans to create a proper music video?
That is up to the record company. It is up to them if they want it or not. But now we are booking some festivals for next year. It is not so easy for Sarke to book many gigs, because we all play in other bands. So now half our band is on tour with Satyricon.
Do you have any plans with Tulus or Khold?
Not yet, I am working with Sarke now, but I guess in a while that will come.
Is songwriting a lonely thing for you, something you like to do in isolation?
I do make most of the riffs and the idea for the songs, but we need that rehearsals to try it out and we do some changes. So it fits the whole band and it works out the best that way. But most of the ideas come from home where I make most of the songs. Of course some of the other guys bring in riffs and ideas as well and bring them to the rehearsal place. I have not made all the songs on the album.
You are a six piece band now, so I guess any input is welcome sometimes…
What does ‘Upir’ mean?
‘Upir’ is not my word. It is old Norse for ‘Vampire’. And ‘Jutul’ is a kind of Norwegian name for trolls.
I hope that Sarke will play live in the near future…
Yes, we will play some concerts next year.