Hello Oskar! Congratulations with the excellent new album ‘The Wheel’! Since this happens to be the first Slægt interview for Lords of Metal, we start with a couple of questions about the past. How did you meet each other, you and Adam, and can you tell a bit more about the first years of the band when operating as a duo?
Hello there! Thanks for reaching out! Well, it all started with me one day having a load of riffs coming out of me. I didn’t know the right people at the time to involve in a project like this, but at the same time I thought it would be a shame not to do something about the musical ideas I had, so - I went ahead on my own. That was the first demo, released in 2012. Slægt featured on a split 7” later that year, where a guy named Eik (MIC) did session drumming for the track ‘Lysets Død’. When I had written the songs for the first full-length ‘Ildsvanger’ and it was time to record them (summer 2013) I reached out to Adam, who at that time played in a band called Reverie. So to be correct - we never worked as a duo, Adam just came in to play the drum parts on the first album.
How and when did you turn into a four piece? Next the band could perform live I guess?
Yes, what happened then, is that I kind of thought, that the project was over. I wasn’t inspired anymore. The guitarist from Reverie then was planning a gig in Copenhagen (in early 2014) and he asked if Slægt would play. I had to turn him down, because the project was closing down, and it was a solo project as well. But then he was like “hey, why don’t Adam play the drums, I can play the bass, and then we’ll find another guitarist if we need it?”. I had never thought about a constellation like that, but I was intrigued so I went along with it. We met up one day to rehearse, and Adam then said that he knew of a guy, that could play lead guitar. That guy is Anders, our current second guitarist. And it just kind of clicked that first day. We played two gigs with Andreas on bass. He left (around November 2014) and we quickly replaced him with our current bass player Olle. At the beginning of working like this, we just played the earlier material. But I soon realized, that with these guys around (who are incredibly talented and capable) I could maybe go a little further with my ideas and not be limited by my technical abilities or creativity. That’s when the songs from ‘Beautiful And Damned’ started flowing out of me. Since then we haven’t looked back.
You play a ravishing blend of black metal and classic heavy metal with loads of amazing guitar skills and soloing. How do you see the musical development of the band since the beginning up to now?
I see it as a constant journey towards finding new ways to express ourselves or new ways to amuse or entertain ourselves. We mostly do this for us. Of course - the fact, that people like what we do, come to our shows and buy our stuff is extremely motivating and we feel very lucky. No doubt there. My point is just, that I think we would still make music, even if people weren’t listening. We need to. Anyway - to come back to the original question. As said - we look to get better at writing songs, etc. and the way it sounds is just expression or embellishment. We never set out to sound a certain way or anything like that. It just happened. If there would come other types of music out of us, we would pursue that path. If you know what I mean.
’Domus Mysterium’ marked an important change for the band: a full band, a new label and your most successful effort to date I guess? I see that you have played at renowned Danish mega festivals like Roskilde and the smaller but well-known Copenhell. What about these experiences for you?
Copenhell was our first show on a very large stage. It was quite surreal - normally I am used to looking people in the eyes and kind of recognise who is there. But this time there was just rows and rows of people, so I just thought “fuck it” and went for it in another way. Was good. Roskilde was pretty good as well. I might sound arrogant here, or something, but I don’t think bigger shows should be viewed any differently than smaller ones. You have to give everything, every time, otherwise, you are letting the people who showed up, and the energies that drive your art, down.
And in February you did a EU tour with Venenum. Was this your first longer trip? What are the memories on that musical journey?
It was our first “real” tour, yes, and it was very amazing. Not only are we big fans of Venenum’s music but we also turned out to click very well socially. So it was more or less just one long, joyous journey. We’ve heard stories of tours were the bands involved can’t stand each other or don’t get along, so we were very lucky there. And we got to see countries and places, that we’ve never seen before. All in all, a great success!
As I found out, you started pretty quick after the previous album with writing material for ‘The Wheel’. How did the fact that you are a four piece now influence this writing process and what can you tell about this birth of the new songs?
Well, some of the riffs and ideas we had already before we recorded ’Domus Mysterium’, but we didn’t start working on them seriously until that record was recorded. We have a lot of ideas almost all the time, so we just put our heads down and keep working and writing. No time to rest too much there. We have to keep going.
You have written the lyrics. Can you a shine a light on the topics that inspired you lyrically?
I would say, that most of my lyrics deal with a sense, or feeling, of being misplaced in the world/universe, a longing for something else (or more) than you already have, or change and transcendence, be it either intentional or random. Sometimes this is portrayed in an angry light, sometimes more melancholic or thoughtful, etc. It all depends on the angle or attitude I approach the specific lyric with. And some of them are about more specific, personal experiences or matters, but still pretty much draped in that view, or attitude, as mentioned above.
Who can be seen as influences on your guitar style (which is an amazing feature!)?
I can only speak for myself, but for me the people who have influenced my style/writing the most must be: Tony Iommi, Johnny Marr and Michael Schenker. Those are the most important. Not the only ones, of course, there are so many guitarists I admire or draw inspiration from. But I would say they have had the biggest, or longest lasting, impact on me.
Can you tell a bit more about the guest appearance of local musician Felix Havstad Ziska?
In the pre-production phase, we were talking with our producer Lasse Ballade about an idea we had to maybe put strings on the song ‘Gauntlet Of Lovers’. We didn’t know how to make it happen, but he said he would think about it. Some days passed and he then told us, that he knows of a guy, that plays not only the cello, but also the violin and viola. So we contacted him (Felix) and he agreed to come by the studio and see what we could get out of it. We didn’t really have anything particular for him to play, we just kind of hummed it for him, and then he went with it and put down many layers of strings. It sounds very good to us.
What does ‘V.W.A.’ stand for and I love the atmospheric second part of it! Can you tell a bit more about this song?
It stands for ‘Vision.Will.Action’ which are the main ingredients in magic (read: inciting change in the world). The song consists of three parts, correlating with those three elements. The first part is the birth of the idea (vision), the second is the manifestation of wanting to act out this idea (will) and the third part is then the actual actions being made to make your vision become a reality.
Are there plans to create music video clips?
No, but we are not against making one. The right idea just has to be there at the right time.
Who did the artwork and can you tell more about its symbolism?
A German girl named Rebecca Waeik made it for us. It is our symbol ’The Eye of the Devil’ spinning forever like a never-ending wheel, with floating, androgynous bodies around it.
Soon it will be pretty busy with touring, so this is the moment to tell us about your plans for gigs in the near future?
Well, we came home from a tour with Maggot Heart, and then Venenum, a little over a week ago. It was really cool! The first gig was in Copenhagen, our hometown, and it was the release show for ‘The Wheel’. We then went through Germany, and two shows in Austria, with Maggot Heart for about a week. We then teamed up with Venenum and went through Poland, the Baltic States and Scandinavia. Some truly amazing days with unforgettable things happening almost all the time. It was tough, hard and it kind of drove some of us insane, but it was all worth it! Right now we are sort of “licking our wound” and powering up again. We have a few shows in December, but plans are being made for lots of good stuff in 2019. Watch out…
In general, what are the goals for the near future?
To keep working and get better at what we do.
If there is anything you’d like to add, feel free to do it here...
Thank you for the interview! We will play two shows in the Netherlands in December and one of them will be at Eindhoven Metal Meeting! Hope to see some of you Slægtnings there! Shout outs to Daniel from Killtown Bookings, Ván Records, Maggot Heart, Venenum and H.M.H.