Posted on by Oran

Kvelertak have been keeping things under wraps since the sudden departure of long-term vocalist Erlend Hjelvik. We spoke to Vidar Landa and Marvin Nygaard about where the band are with the new album, the new line up, and what we can expect in the near future. 

© Jonathan Vivaas Kise 2019

It’s 2019 (just about) and believe it or not, only the second time Kvelertak have performed in the Irish Republic with the first being back in 2010, as special guests to Converge.

Today, the band are preparing to take to the stage in the Irish capital with their old touring buddies Mastodon and will be flaunting their new vocalist Ivar Nikolaisen for all to see.

As we greet both Vidar and Marvin in the venue we have a slight Spinal Tap moment trying to find the bands dressing room (they had just arrived) and eventually sit down to catch up from our last encounter, which was back in 2015 in Manchester when they were on the road with Anthrax and Slayer and a lot has happened since.

OD – In the space of just over 15 months you finished up with your European Tour dates with Metallica and then the sudden departure of Erlend (Hjelvik) was quite an unexpected surprise. Can you talk a little about the period when Erlend decided to leave and Ivar (Nikolaisen) joined the band (pictured below), as it all seemed kind of seamless?

VIDAR – Yeah, it actually was seamless in a way. We knew that Erlend wanted to quit and do other stuff. We were lucky that we had that close connection with Ivar. He’s been part of Keveltertak for a long time and has sung on a few tracks for us (Blodtørst) in the past doing backing vocals. We’ve toured together in the past also, so he was really the only one that we were thinking of to replace Erlend when he was first talking about leaving.

© Down The Barrel Photography 2019

Luckily, Ivar wanted to do it and it’s all just fit really well, thankfully. It would have been much harder to go through the audition process and undergo that process of looking for a new vocalist. We were very lucky for the way it all happened.

OD – I saw some footage online of Ivar fronting the band at one of those first shows and he seems to be handling the position well. Did the change feel strange at first back on July 20th, as a new vocalist is a pretty big deal with regards to the sound of an already established band?

MARVIN – Totally! After that initial gig, we went on to play seven shows together and it just gradually felt more comfortable. We honestly thought those shows went better than we expected and are so happy with the transition. We’re like a team when we hit the stage and that’s the real feeling that we were worried about losing with the change, but as we said, we’re very lucky with the way things have worked out.

VIDARIvar brings a different energy to the live show also. Even though we do the same thing, Ivar brings a totally different vibe if you know what I mean.

OD – Okay, so moving on, the last album ‘Nattesferd’ (2016) was a slightly different approach to the bands sound (1985 for example), can you talk a little about the new material, as I’m guessing that there was a new fresh perspective taken with regards to writing and influence?

VIDAR – Right now, it’s kind of hard to explain the new material but we are working on the new album and have written a lot of stuff so far. The way it looks now, I guess we are working with things that we felt worked really well for us on “Nattesferd” and stuff from the other albums that really clicked with us collectively.

For us ‘Nattesferd‘ is not really that different to what Kvelertak is about, and I’m sure the next album is going to solidify our sound if anything else.

OD – With regards to the writing are all of the band members submitting ideas, or is there a particular system that you have for working on new material?

MARVIN – Right now, it’s mostly been Bjarte (Lund Rolland – Guitar) that’s been writing but we’ll be entering into the rehearsal studio soon, so we can all start working on the ideas. But yeah, it’s usually Bjarte that brings a lot of the new foundations to the tracks.

OD – Are you planning on testing out any new material while on this tour with Mastodon?

VIDAR – No, we made the decision to wait until for playing the new tracks live. Don’t get me wrong, the new album is coming… we…

OD – Is it coming this year?

VIDAR – …Yes, the new Kvelertak album will be coming this year (laughing). We’ve never rushed things. It’s always been a couple of years between our albums and when it’s done it’s done (laughs).

OD – Speaking of Mastodon, this is not your first time going out with these guys. Does it feel good to reunite with the guys again and did this tour come about through the labels, or was it more of a personal request?

VIDAR – This tour? To be honest I’m not really that sure. I think it was a mix of both personal contacts between both bands and also some orgainising by the label/management. We’ve toured with Mastodon in America, Australia and we always have so much fun when we meet up at festivals or whatever. When we finish touring together we’re always talking about how we would like to hook up with another tour somewhere down the line.

We have the same booking agent so that makes things a little easier. We saw them in Oslo last year which was awesome. We really enjoy touring together.

OD – You’ve just been confirmed for this years Tuska Festival, I know you can’t reveal any more festival dates just yet, but can you at least confirm if there will be a separate headlining tour coming at some point later this year?

VIDAR – Yes, totally. We have plans to do a big headline tour through Europe and the UK sometime down the line. We just want to concentrate on the new album and then all of that will follow.

OD – Looking back on that Metallica tour, I saw you in London and I have to say, that stage was just a little bit intimidating, to say the least. Did it take a little time to get used to the round stage or did it just feel weird for the duration of the tour dates?

VIDAR – I actually loved it (laughing). It was kind of weird in the beginning because we’re so used to bein one unit on stage, and I can feel the energy of the band. It worked out really well in my opinion. There’s a lot of us on stage and it helped in this case (laughing). I really enjoyed that whole experience, as it was just so different from anything we had done in the past with regards to stage/production.

MARVIN – Before we did the first show, we had a talk about how we should use the stage, kind of like; “Do we just use half of the stage or the whole thing?” The only solution was to just embrace the whole experience and just go for it.

VIDAR – The other thing that made it so good for us was all of Metallica and their crew were so easy to work with. Everybody made us feel so welcome and it really made a difference. We just felt ‘safe’ if you know what I mean. It was a good feeling to walk out to that enormous stage and just do what we do.

OD – Now that you’ve both performed on a stage like this, did you have any afterthoughts like: ‘Holy Shit! I’m entertaining 5K people in just this part of the stage?

MARVIN – Yeah, kind of thoughts like that from time to time. To be honest, it was way more intense when the venue was not that packed! Some venues had really strict security and it was taking ages for the audience to get into the actual venue and I found that to be more intimidating because you just feel so naked up on this huge stage. So, when it’s really packed, it made it so much easier for me personally.

OD – When you saw the size of Metallica’s production and behind the scenes working methods of how they run their tours, was it something of an eye-opener?

VIDAR – Definitely! Metallica today do things their own way, with plenty of smart moves and have always maintained control of their entity and brand. That was very inspiring to see and also how they continue to build up their own fanbase and how they continue to reach out and connect with not only the older generation but also the younger generation at their shows. The whole experience was so inspiring for us all.

OD – With regards to some of the tours that you have done in the past, at present, what is the most memorable for you?

MARVIN – The very first European tour we did with Converge was very special to all of us back in 2010. That always sticks out in my mind and very inspiring. Just getting to watch Converge every day on that tour was fantastic.

Also, just watching the way they worked with regards to touring. In fact, we’ve learned a lot from American bands. Just seeing how hard they bust their asses touring was very inspiring for us all. Be it big bands or the smaller bands, they have an unbelievable work ethic that just sees them relentlessly touring, recording, touring recording repeat.

VIDAR– When we did our first headline tour of Europe, and the first U.S tour, we were just learning as we were doing it. One tour that sticks out for me is the North American tour we did with Mastodon and Gojira, what was just such a great experience and one that will always stick with me. Lots of great memories and hopefully more to come.

ODJonn Bazley (Baroness) has done some covers for you in the past (pictures below), are there any plans for him working on the forthcoming new album’s cover, or do you have a concept in the works with another artist?


VIDAR – At this point in time, we have some loose concepts but it’s not as solid as of yet. Who knows maybe will get in touch with John for the next cover. We’ll just have to see what we are feeling when it’s time to get that part of the new album sorted.

OD – Can we expect a first single/video from the new album, and if so, when?

VIDAR – As soon as it’s ready we will release (laughing). We are so eager to get something out but just have to work through the creative process of writing, and get that nailed down first.

Hopefully, it won’t be long before we see the new Kvelertak album. Catch the guys NOW on tour with Mastodon across Europe with special guests Mutoid Man.