As we enter the calm surroundings of Kvelertak’s dressing room in the backstage labyrinth, that is Manchester Apollo, we find the always polite and gently spoken, Erlend Hjelvik in great form, ahead of tonight’s performance to the sold out venue. So let’s put the inquiring minds to rest about what is happening in the Kvelertak camp and when we can expect to see the follow-up to “Meir”!
OD – You are now in the process of working on the new album; can you give me a current status on it?
ERLEND – Well, at the moment we have about six songs completed and we just have to make, probably two more when we get home from this Anthrax / Slayer tour. So we are going to take about two weeks in December to complete all the tracks and maybe in January to finalise everything before we hit the studio at the end of January to record everything.
OD – So you haven’t begun the recording process yet, I was under the impression that you were further down the road with things at this point.
ERLEND – Yea, we made a few demos and I have written some lyrics, so we are pretty much on schedule with things at the moment.
OD – Do you have a rough idea when the release date will be?
ERLEND – I think we are shooting for May of 2016, before the summer kicks in and in time for all the festivals with a new album and a new bag of tricks.
OD – Have you been introducing any new material into the set whilst on this tour?
ERLEND – Yea, actually we have played one new song on the off shows, our own headline shows, because we only have like 30 minutes to do our thing and we have to make sure that we are playing the stuff that people already know. The set list for this tour is especially for people who haven’t seen us in a while and we just figured that is was better to stick with the old stuff, to get the most from our short time on the stage.
OD – Since you have been on this particular tour, have you found that you are playing to people who have never seen or heard of you before? I’m sure you can seen in their faces if curiosity got the best of them, or if they know the music.
ERLEND – Yea, totally you can see the people who look a bit skeptical at times and then I can see the head moving to the music and it’s a really good feeling.
OD – Have you thought of a title yet?
ERLEND – We have a few titles kicking around, but I’m not in a position to let you in on any of them (laughs). Seriously though, we have a few that we are not 100% about and I’m not at liberty to say, in case it’s not true.
OD – John Baizley (Baroness guitarist / vocalist / artist) was responsible for the two previous album covers, will he be doing the artwork for this album also?
ERLEND – No he’s not. We are planning to use a different guy and that’s actually not been 100% confirmed as yet, so I can’t reveal the name. But I can tell you that this artist, has been high up on my list for a very long time and I’m super stoked at the prospect of working with him. I think it’s going to be a very good continuation from what John Baizley had done for us in the past.
OD – While we are talking John Baizley, have you see the artwork for the new Baroness album “Purple”?
ERLEND – Yea, it looks amazing with the women and animals, its classic Baizley artwork.
OD – In terms of writing for the album, did you all work on individual ideas, or was is a collective effort between you all?
ERLEND – Well, we were doing all kinds of stuff really. There were different combinations of the guys working on the music at different times and we were all sending files to one another to check out the material. The rest of the band have been jamming in the practice space for ages and actually there has been more of a collective approach to this album, rather than before and we also spent a lot more time on the construction of the songs than we have done in the past.
OD – When did the writing process begin for the new material, say from when the “Mier” was in full swing, was there any writing taking place during that time or did you wait to get that out-of-the-way first?
ERLEND – I think we are the kind of band that need some time off after we tour, so we can just almost re-set ourselves. There is always something going on with writing, but nothing major while we are touring. We like to concentrate on the shows and try to relax as much as possible when we can. As I said, there are ideas happening all the time and we have a ‘riff-bank’ where we deposit the ideas into it and come back to when things are a little calmer.
OD – Can you confirm any singles from the album and if so will there be any vinyl releases?
ERLEND – I guess we have some ideas about that, but again I can’t tell you (laughs). The song is has a very classic rock sound to it, kind of like Van Halen meets Thin Lizzy. I think that might be the first one, but it’s just way too early to tell at this point. We just have working titles and nothing really set in stone at the moment (laughs). I wish I had something that I could let you know but as far as titles, it’s just too early to say. Regarding vinyl, we definitely plan to release everything that we do on vinyl.
OD – 2016 looks like it’s going to be a busy year for you, can we expect to see a headline tour happening and if so when will that be?
ERLEND – Yea, totally man. We are hoping to do a really big European tour after the Summer and I think we are going to do a U.S tour in April first, just as we have the album coming out.
OD – Can you confirm if you are playing any Summer Festivals next year?
ERLEND – I can say that yes, we have been approached with some really good offers and I know that we are going to be playing a few Summer Festivals next year.
OD – How has the tour with Slayer and Anthrax been, have the guys in either of those bands come to check you out?
ERLEND – Yea, they have checked us out from time to time. It’s been a really great tour to be on and very relaxed. We have been made to feel very comfortable and welcome which is great. The come and watch the show every now and again which it just very cool.
OD – Slayer audiences can be notoriously difficult to deal with, how have things been with the audiences so far?
ERLEND – It’s been a great actually and way better than I thought it was going to be. When I first got the news that we would be going out with Anthrax and Slayer, it was easy to just assume that it was going to be old thrash fans or fans that are super skeptical to any new bands, but I have to say the reception has been really good, with great venues and big crowds. We especially enjoyed playing Spain, as we had never played there before and that was a really fun place to play. We played Barcelona, Madrid and Bilbao and I could just tell that there was a lot of people there to just see us, so that was a really great feeling for us.
OD – What has been the biggest inspiration for you lyrically, on the new material?
ERLEND – I’m not totally finished with the lyrics at this moment, but some of the working lyrics at the moment cover stuff like, Odin hanging himself on the tree of life and there is one about a witch burning, actually it’s the last every recorded witch burning that had taken place in Norway. So, it’s just stuff that really catches my eye, that I think are really cool.
OD – Do you find that from all the touring and traveling around that you do as a touring musician, you are picking up lyrical ideas and stories from all the different cultures and slight oddities from one culture to another?
ERLEND – I guess you can say that you are most definitely influenced by your surroundings. I mean if you grow up in the Alps or in Norway, Scandinavia etc, that stuff is definitely inspiring. Also, we have been going to museums on this tour and checking out all the crazy art and weird sculptures and bizarre history which has been very cool. Vienna in particular was just amazing for that, you know? It’s not a conscious inspiration for me, but it helps when admiring someone else’s art. It can possibly trigger ideas later down the line.
OD – You had a fantastic run of tours last year paying with some really great bands such as Gojira and Mastodon, what would be your stand out moment from 2014?
ERLEND – Including this one (Anthrax / Slayer), the Gojira / Mastodon tours were just amazing. We actually did that twice in the U.S. with those guys and we all became really good friends and it was a really fucking fun tour to do. Also, we did a few shows with Metallica last year during the summer we played a bunch of Metallica festival shows, partly Sonisphere and their own headlining shows.
So that was a really awesome thing to be part of, because they put the bill together and we knew that Metallica wanted us to be there. They used to come back stage and hang out with everybody from time to time, which was just amazing. It’s the stuff that I could only dream of when I was a kid and for things like this to happen to me and the rest of the guys in the band, is just amazing.
OD – Finally, you mentioned after this tour you will be back home working on the few last tracks for the album and beginning to record in late January, any final words on the new material?
ERLEND – I can tell you that it’s shaping up to be an awesome album so far and we intend to make it the best thing we have released to date. I’m really looking forward to 2016 and getting out on the road to tour in places we have never been to and to play new material to new fans. We feel that we have not let anyone down in the past and we don’t intend to going forward in the future.
A follow-up to Kvelertak’s “Meir’ will be hopefully released in late April / early May of 2016. For more information on Kvelertak, click on the links below.
Interview / Transcription – Oran O’Beirne
Photography – Stock © Kvelertak Official 2015
Interview contents © OVERDRIVE 2015
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