The bands’ last recorded album ‘Nattesferd‘ (2016) featuring Erlend, diverted from previous LP’s (debut self-titled’ in 2010 and 2013’s ‘Meir‘) with more classic rock and 80’s inspired structure, but still possessing their unique translation of extreme elements and punk rock swagger.
Throw in their opening slot for Metallica’s European run of dates back in late 2017, Erlend’s sudden departure, Ivor’s recruitment as the new vocalist, a whirlwind tour with Mastodon in early 2019 a bunch of Summer Festival appearances and now, to present day with a gripping new album, it’s safe to say, Kevelertak has been on one hell of a rollercoaster over the last 4 years.
Speaking from a rowdy bar, Overdrive caught up with bassist Marvin Nygaard on release day for their new album ‘Splid‘ and to say that he was a little ‘cheerful’ is an understatement…
Overdrive: I wanted to ask you about the general writing process, because the last time I spoke to you guys it was in January and you were out with Mastodon, and things were at a very, very early stage. So at what point did you actually focus down on writing the material for this album?
Marvin: We’ve been writing for at least a year, and our main songwriter BJ (Bjarte Lund Rolland) was showing us some hints of what’s going on. So we started really writing in the rehearsal stage.
Maybe half a year ago, but to be honest I’m not good with remembering the time, and when exactly we started. It’s taken a while and it’s been fun, and it’s been exciting to write because also we have new members in the band. We have a new drummer and a new singer, so it’s been really fun.
OD: Kurt Ballou (Converge)was behind the desk on this album. Did you actively seek out Kurt again to work with him or was it a no-brainer?
MARVIN: We did our last album ourselves in Oslo, and we wanted to do something different than what we did on the last album. We wanted to introduce a new producer. We went through ideas that people had. We had some alternatives, but in the end, we were like; “Ok, go back to Kurt because that’s what works”.
It worked out so well the last two times and the last album we did with Kurt was in 2012, so even though it was the same producer, Kurt has grown as a producer as well. We’re not doing the same thing we did before, and we’re a different band. He has done so many different things between 2012 and now. I’m so stoked about the way it sounds, and as a bass player, I’m super happy with the sound.
OD: With the new members, did you find their contributions to the writing had a different effect on the album because there is so much melody going on in the song structure?
MARVIN: Yes definitely. I think you’re right about that. I think also we have grown as a band, and I said in an earlier interview that this wouldn’t be possible with Erlend on vocals. It has probably affected us that we can do some melody on our vocals and Ivor can actually sing a bit. It was a chance for us to experiment more with melody.
OD: I want to speak briefly about ‘Crack of Doom’. Did the opportunity to work with Troy (Sanders) come from the tour with Mastodon, or did it happen in another way?
MARVIN: The idea of adding Troy as a guest vocalist on that came in the studio. But it was natural of us to ask him because obviously we are super fans of Mastodon and inspired by them in many ways, and we had toured with them.
But we know those guys very well and Troy (pictured below) is such a good, kind and lovely person to be on tour with and to hang around with, an amazing bass player and vocalist, so yeah, it was just natural for us to ask him. We didn’t know if you were going to say yes or no, but we are super- stoked to have a track with him.
OD: Was that song written with Troy in mind or did you write the song and then say we would love to have him sing?
MARVIN: No it wasn’t written with him in mind, but we’re so glad that he was able to do it – it was awesome. That song could have easily been done more straightforward, but I’m glad we added him on it. It makes it a bit different rather than straightforward Scandi-rock and punk.
OD: If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time that you have with lyrics in English. Is that correct?
MARVIN: It’s the first time that we’ve done it. There’s a song on our first album where half of the song is in English, and we have a demo way back when the chorus was in English. But this is the first time we have a whole song in English.
OD: Was there any particular reason for that or did you think it would just sound better like that?
MARVIN: I think the most obvious reason is that Ivar (Nicolaisen) has done all of his other bands in English. They all have their lyrics in English. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to do anything in English, but it didn’t feel natural for him, but also it gave us a chance to reach out to our fans who don’t speak our language, and now we have this. Obviously, when we change the frontman we can play around with stuff like that and take a bit of a chance, and see how the reaction is.
OD: So you guys are now with Rise Records, so with all of the lineup changes, do you feel now that everything has kind of settled? I mean they’re always was a good feeling but with this new album out today, it seems like there is a very, very bright and exciting future ahead.
MARVIN: Yeah definitely. Today is a fucking great day. It’s obviously been quite tough, what with all the changes and stuff. We were all best friends, but as with any relationship, you go through stuff, and you realise ‘Ok this is fucking tearing us down and we need to do some changes’.
Now we have some new fresh blood in the band, and I would never just talk Erlend down or Kjetil – it’s been so good for the band to have some fresh blood and for us to be able to turn things around and put this record out and show the world that the music we do is more than just us in the band.
OD: With regard to Kvelertak’s journey to where you are now, do you feel it’s been overwhelming at times? Looking back I’ve seen you play live many times. You have opened for Metallica, you have won multiple awards in your own country… So when you look back on it do you feel like ‘Oh my God – look at what we have achieved so far!’, because you have achieved so much?
MARVIN: Yeah it’s weird. I guess you learn a lot by having success like this no matter where you are in life. If you are really down or way, way up there air it doesn’t matter what happens there is an upside and downside.
I guess… I mean… overwhelming, yes and also no. No matter what, you just live your life. Stuff happens and it is important to think back on that. Sometimes you have to think; ‘Holy fuck I’ve just been on tour with Metallica! I won four or five awards and I’ve been on tour with Mastodon, Gojira, Converge.” I’ve done everything and maybe we’re not meant to be on top of stuff all of the time, no matter where we are on the scale of social success. No matter what we just live our lives.
OD: For you personally, what has been your biggest accomplishment to date?
MARVIN: That’s a difficult question to answer, to be honest. With the band, it’s to be able to make it to this point where we can put out a record after all of the changes. At the same time, the tour with Metallica was a pretty great highlight, but looking back, all I wanted to do was just do a proper tour and play Roskilde festival, which is one of the biggest festivals in Scandinavia or maybe in the world, and then we did that.
At that point we were like; “Where does this stop?” We have done gigs with the Foo Fighters as well… there is so much that I feel so lucky to be a part of. I mean, just being able to have a bunch of plans to live by making music and playing bass must be the biggest highlight.
OD: Are there any particular bands right now that you are excited about and any bands that you personally are listening to that you would like to share with us?
MARVIN: Lately I’ve been a bit off but Viagra Boys from Stockholm would be one that I would listen to a lot. There are a super weird punk band and are just awesome.
OD: You’ve already announced dates that you will be doing across the UK and that’s going to take you up to April. I’m assuming, although it hasn’t been announced, you will be doing some American tour dates, but will we see you back again in Europe for more dates before the end of the year?
MARVIN: I would think so. I’m 99% sure about that. I’m pretty sure we’re going to be back in Dublin.
‘Splid’ is out now via Rise Records. Get your copy here. Catch Kvelertak on tour via the dates below;
Interview Oran O’Beirne
Editing – Shaun Martin
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