Two months before the release of “Nattesferd”, Erlend Hjelvik, singer of norvegian band Kvelertak, came in Paris. We talked about dad rock, H.P. Lovecraft, dark lyrics and… dad rock!
Welcome to Paris Erlend! What do you think of our city? Have you ever played in Paris?
Erlend Hjelvik (vocals): Hello, thank you! Of course I played here before. It’s always been one of my favorite city to play since the first year we were in tour with Converge. We were pretty unknown, we just put out the first album but, it was our favorite show of this tour. We always had a great reception when we played in Paris so I love coming back here.
A lot of bands are scared now to come in Europe. Do you share this felling or you don’t mind?
Erlend: I don’t care. I feel lucky to not being killed when I’m in front of my house, just walking in the street so, for me, it’s a chance to come and to play shows in different countries. But in a way I agree, it’s strange time we’re living. The only place we were scared to play was Istanbul. It seemed that a lot of bad stuffs and shits were going on there at this moment but, I personally thought that we should do it but some people in the band were scared.
How do you felt about attacks in Paris or Brussels?
Erlend: I think it’s the medias that are giving the wrong image of what’s going on. They made people think that all of muslims are bombing all the shit and in reality Irish people have done more of that stuff. But today, when something happen, you heard about it immediately so you don’t have the time to analyse and you just listen what the medias are telling to you, and sometimes it’s just the wrong idea of the reality is really like. I don’t like how the society is turning into. Things are getting colder and people are scared. I don’t know what to say about, it’s a little depressing and I’d rather not thinking about it too much.
Is that something that inspires you for your songs?
Erlend: Not really. I wanna leave politics out of the music. I don’t want to write a song about a terrorist attack. I think music should be like an escape. I’d rather write about things more fun. It’s an escape.
Let’s talk about the new album “Nattesferd” so. How do you feel about its release?
Erlend: Very excited! I think it’s the best approach of what the band is really like. We recorded it live, the whole band in a room, except me, like old Kiss records. It sounds more natural and organic. It’s a better representation of what the band sounds when you come to see us live. It’s the most “Kvelertak” of our records. We were doing a lot of new things that we never done before. I felt like it was our best of all the songs that we have written. I couldn’t be more happy.
What was on your mind for this record? It sounds more heavy than black metal or hardcore.
Erlend: Yes! But we don’t talk about what we want to do, we just play and let’s see what’s going on. We don’t listen bands that we were listening at the beginning of the band. When you just finish a super intense show, with a lot of noise in your ears, you don’t really want to listen to agressive music again. We all listen different things in the band but we all agree on bands that are more… classic rock, like Scorpions, Van Halen, ACDC and stuff. That’s mostly the kind of stuff that we’re listening into the bus. So, I think it starts to penetrate our subconscient now and we have a dad in the band right now, so it’s normal to play “dad rock”! (laughs)
The album is more natural but is more “written” too. How many time did you took to write the songs?
Erlend: We spent a year to work on this album and we also took things that we were working on before the release of our first album. We have like a riff account in a Dropbox and we often listen to stuff like that. Our guitarist is the main songwriter, he is like the captain of our band since the beginning of the band. But this time, every person in the group just spent more times in the rehearsal room. People come in with a riff and everybody was working on it until we get the song finished. That’s what I liked about this record.
And through the lyrics, what were the subjects that you really want to talk about?
Erlend: It’s a lot about the same things as before. The most important things for me is “cool and sinister”. It’s probably about the music I used to be into before. I used to be into black metal so I like dark stuffs but on this album it’s more occult stuffs and dark science fiction, horror things and H.P. Lovecraft. I can’t write about anything, it’s always about this kind of stuffs so yeah… I don’t have the choice. (laughs)
Do you think it’s possible to be in a metal band and not to love Lovecraft in the same time?
Erlend: (laughs) Yeah I know what you mean! Of course there’s a lot of people who listen to metal and don’t know anything about him but, you know if H.P. Lovecraft was music, I think it will be the music that I will be into. It makes sense. For example, my favorite stuff from Metallica are the things about Lovecraft like “The Call Of Ktulu” or “The Thing That Should Not Be”.
After “Meir” success, did you felt pressure for this record?
Erlend: Not really. It’s always the same of each record. “The step of the second album” or “the step of the third album”. A lot of people said that the third album is the most difficult to make but, I think it becomes difficult when you start to focus on what people are excepting from you. We have the same mentality when we started the band. We start with no expectations of making album or touring live so we just made the music for ourselves. We had a lot of fun doing it.
Why did you chose to release “1985” as first single? it’s the weirdest song of the record.
Erlend: Yes, it seems like it’s a bit controversial with our fans. People said “we won’t follow you anymore ” when they heard the songs so it was a bit crazy but I always felt like it was the right song to come back with! The next single will be “Berserkr” which is a more agressive song, more like our beginnings so, hardcore Kvelertak fans should be more comfortable with this song.
You’re going to play at Hellfest this summer, do you remember your last show in this festival?
Erlend: Yes it was two years ago! We played close to midnight so it was the best slot for us. It was very good, there was a lot of people. I remember that I was staying behind the scene for Black Sabbath because I was thinking that it would be one of their last time but, they’re playing at Hellfest this summer so.
But I love this festival. It will be fun to hang out with people that you know and bands that you like, even if there is probably 20 bands that I want to see each day and I only end up to see 2 bands of them! (laughs)
Are you listening other things than dad rock?
Erlend: (laughs) Not so much! I have an other band, a black metal band with ex Enslaved and Gorgoroth’s drummer so, when I’m about to record a new album with them, I listen very agressive black metal. But to be honest, today I prefer listen Scorpions than any other black metal stuff. (laughs) But no, I also like some prog metal bands, some african bands too. I like psychedelic things now. Well, I like “interesting” music, if you know what I mean.
Last, but not least, our website is called “RockUrLife” so, what rocks your life except dad rock?
Erlend: (laughs) Yeah, I’m pretty into The Stranglers’s first album “Rattus Norvegicus”. It’s just stuck in my brain. It’s so fucking tight so… yeah!