Hello Gerhard! I see that November has been regaled with any live gigs for you. So let’s kick off this interview with: how are you doing and what is going on at the moment in the Einherjer headquarters?
Hi there. Well, at the moment everything is great. Pretty busy, but great. It’s been a lot of work lately, that finally culminated in our new album ‘Norrøne Spor’ a few days ago. We’re currently doing a few shows around Norway to wrap up this year. I guess you can call them release shows. That also gave us the chance to test out a few new songs live.
What do you see as highlights for Einherjer during the last years concerning playing live and can you tell a bit more about those events?
Well, prior to our break back in 2004, we only did small shows/clubs and that kind of stuff. After the break however, a lot had changed in the scene, and I guess it affected us in a positive way. Suddenly we did big festivals like Wacken, Summer Breeze, Brutal Assault to name a few. That was completely out of reach earlier for us. So to play main stage at Wacken was a pretty big landmark for us. We’ve also attended the 70K Cruise in the Caribbean a couple of times. The atmosphere there is really something special. It’s a strange setting, but it’s awesome. Only you need a vacation when you come home. But gigs doesn’t have to be huge to be memorable. One of my absolute favourites, takes place here locally. A smaller festival, at least by European standards, called Karmøygeddon Festival. We’ve played here a few times, and the atmosphere and mood among the people there are excellent.
Can you tell for our readers – in great lines – what happened with the band since your previous studio album ‘Av Oss, For Oss’?
After ‘Av Oss, For Oss’, it occurred to us that our debut album, ‘Dragons Of The North’ was about to have a twenty year anniversary. We are terrible at marking milestones and important events in our career, so we wanted to do something to honour this release with a re-recording. We were aware from the beginning touching old stuff like this is like walking in a mine field. Come to think about it, I hate when other people do it too. We just had a good feeling that we could do it justice, although it was more challenging and took a lot more time than we anticipated. I’m guessing some of the most old school fans will have some issues with this, but we got almost only good feedback from it.
Let us focus on the new album ‘Norrøn Spor’ now. Firstly it seems that you changed your way of writing songs for this one. Well, please explain these new challenges...
The main challenge is always to create something better than our previous work. If we achieved that is up to others to decide. But we are happy as long as we can stand for our music, and that we feel it can stand the test of time. I think we have done that with this album. I don’t think our mindset has changed drastically about what we want to achieve. It’s more the practicality of how it’s done. We make more music together now than we did before. Other than that, I don’t see making music as a challenge really. It’s not like it’s a chore, although creativity comes and goes in waves. Mainly due to life basically. That’s the challenge, to make room for everything. We have jobs and families, and basically other stuff we want to do as well.
It happens to be a classic familiar sounding Einherjer album, yet two things seemed to be developed I think: more clean chants (even though they are often in the back) and more arpeggio’s in the guitar soloing. Do you agree with that and can you tell a bit more about this evolution...
Yeah, I think it’s a pretty natural progression from ‘Av Oss, For Oss’. We’ve always used chants in one way or another. The difference now, is that it’s only Frode’s vocals in there instead of the usual sing along we used to have. I’m not sure I would go as to call it chants anymore even. Turns everything a bit more gritty. And things have changed guitar wise as well. With the new guy Ole Sønstabø on board, there has been more focus on classic guitar solos, as it really fits our melodic style. It spices everything up, and lifts our sound to a new level.
In addition to Frode and you as core duo, we see that Aksel Herløe remained the third force. What can you tell about his contribution on this album?
Yes, Aksel has been with us for about two decades now. Usually, the majority of the music is made by me and Frode. That was also the case this time. Simply because we have a different reference point. The band was founded at the start of the Norwegian black metal wave, and a lot of the sound and mood comes from that. He has ideas and contributions to the band as well, and I think that our different background helps maintain the originality in our sound.
New man is Ole Sønstabø. Can you tell a bit more about his contribution and recruitment?
Yes, Ole joined us just before starting the re-recording of ‘Dragons Of The North’. We were tired of being a trio. We felt a bit amputated in live settings. He is basically a guitar virtuoso, and a guitar nerd. Half our age, but twice as good hehe. It’s easier to find people among the young, as most people our age are pretty much settled now. At least in this area. He was “discovered” during a recording of his own band in Frode’s studio.
Why the title ‘Norrøne Spor’? And can you go deeper into the segments of Nordic heritage you deal with in the lyrics this time?
Well, I don’t really write much lyrics myself. But I think it’s safe to say, the lyrics are maybe a bit more philosophical and profound in lack of a better word. Earlier we concentrated about telling stories, but there are limits to how many different ways the same story can be told.
I guess the album is once again recorded at studio Borealis and produced by Frode? Who was in charge for mix and mastering?
Yes. On our two previous albums, the drums were recorded in other studios. This time we recorded everything in Frode’s studio. Frode was in charge of both the recording and mixing this time. It’s a very comfortable way of working, instead of going away somewhere with a set timeframe. I can’t tell you how much that stresses me out. The mastering was done by Jaime Gomez Arellano in Orgone Studio.
Until now there are two music videos. One for ‘Mine Våpen Mine Ord’ (my favourite!) and one for ‘Spre Vingene’. Please tell us a bit more about these songs and the making of the videos (location and so on)?
We had plans from the beginning that we wanted two videos for this release. They are both done by Costin Chioreanu. We’ve worked with him for a good time now, and we know he understands what we’re looking for. When it comes to choice of songs, I guess we just felt that these two were the correct pick. Two completely different songs that shows the diversity on the album. ‘Spre Vingene’ was recorded at a local theatre venue here. Frode works there, so we have a foot inside. ‘Mine Våpen, Mine Ord’ was recorded on the coast just outside the city. We wanted something that was typical for this place, and this place was perfect.
When talking about Einherjer, I always think of bands such as Thyrfing, Mithotyn, King Of Asgard and even Månegarm, but is there (still) a bond and contact with the guys of these bands today or do you rather have a long distance relationship with mutual respect?
Well, I’m glad you put us in that booth, instead of the more “folkier” alternative hehe. Personally I don’t know any of these people, apart from a couple of them. I think we’ve played with most of them though.
On which tour(s) do you have the best memories?
Well, we don’t really do tours. We’ve done a tour with Cradle Of Filth, and one with King Diamond and a couple of smaller tours. It doesn’t really fit in our lives to go on long tours anymore. We are a lot more comfortable with festivals. I think being able to play festivals like Wacken, Brutal Assault and Summer Breeze to name a few, is something that will stick with us forever.
The impressive artwork is really beautiful! Done by Costin again? What does it reflect for you personally?
Yes, this is done by Costin. We prefer not to give him any input, just to see what he does. Yet he constantly surprises us. He’s extremely creative, and exactly what he means by this piece is difficult to know. It’s up for debate. For me, it’s hard not to see the link to where we recorded ‘Mine Våpen, Mine Ord’. I think that was a big inspiration to all of us. I think it’s about creating music to make this place alive.
What are the plans for the near future?
Well, now we just wrapped up a few release shows around Norway. We’re taking the rest of the year off. We are working on a lot of festivals for 2019, so I think that will be a very good year.