2013-03-29 Kvelertak

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KVELERTAK continue their success story with the release of their new album “Meir” and well-attended headliner tour. The Norwegian six-piece stick to their roots, while at the same time worked new influences and ideas into their sound – and it works out. Prior to their headliner show at Hamburg, I talked to Maciek. Laid-back and relaxed, the guitar player talked about past, present, and future of KVELERTAK and the work on the new album. Interview KVELERTAK caught my attention when I noticed that there are three guitar players in the line-up three years ago; not very common in heavy music. Did you decide to do so right from the start or did it evolve over the years?

*laughs* It evolved… in the beginning of the band there have been so many back and forth considering stwiching between the instruments. Our guitar player used to play base, our base player used to play guitar….But as long as I can remember, there’s been three guitars. I’ve joined the band in 2009…just after the demo. One of the guitar players quit to focus on his other band, PURIFIED IN BLOOD, and I joined.

But three guitars is a very conscious choice, there was even a time when we talked about having four guitars.

That would be awesome!

*laughs* It would awesome, yes! It would probably be really hard: it took us a long time to play together and to really understand how the guitar players fill the sound. Each of us has his own style to play and it took us some time to get to know how it works.

And to give each one equally importance.

We also try to broad the perspective on the guitar base, that’s why we have the three guitars.

Did you expect the success you had with your debut album?

No, not at all. I knew when we flew over to the US to record the album that we’re gonna make a good album, but for it to explode the way it did and to have all the things happening that happened after the release. I never thought any of it would happen on such a massive scale. None of us was prepared to tour the world for three years. But when you get the chance, you have to take it. And now we are here.

Did you plan to make KVELERTAK a full-time band?

No, no, no. It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t a goal. It wasn’t like “Ok, we need to do this.” The mentality has always been that we’re friends playing the music we love and apprecitate it as far as it goes.

It hasn’t been a plan to make a living off it. We always just did what we thought was cool for the band and for us. Take this tour, take that tour, stuff like that. Things worked out in a good way. *laughs*

Many bands from the US seem to follow a straighter plan; founding a band with the sole goal to make if their full-time job.

I don’t want fun to get the backseat. You know, this is fun and it’s cool. We’re taking it serious now, of course, since it’s our main occupation and our job. You try to take care of yourself and your friends. We never tried to start a band to make a living off it.

Did your relationship with the other band members changed after you’ve decided to make KVELERTAK your full-time job?

Yeah, we’ve become more like a family. I see these people 300 days a year and that turned our relationship into a very strong one. I guess it’s only like that it changed for the better. I guess we are a really lucky band when you hear all the stories about shitheads in other bands. *laughs*

That shows when you’re doing your first or second tour as a band…

Ja. Jake of CONVERGE told us, when we did our first tour as their support act in 2010, that he has seen so many bands break up on their first tour.

No surprise here.

No, not at all. The guys in CONVERGE are excited to see what’s happening to us. *laughs* It’s running good.

Did you plan to switch the label, going from Indie Records to Roadrunner Records after your debut album?

No, it wasn’t a plan. Go with the flow. *laughs*. Roadrunner is a huge label and we wanted to have the album out in physical form through every channel possible. Not just have it available on the surrounding Skynet that is controlling our world. *laughs*. We are a touring band and we want the music to be everywhere. That’s what we want: to have the music be everywhere so we can go and play in every city.

How long did you need for the songwriting of “Meir”?

Well… we released the first album in 2010 and have been on tour until early 2012. We’ve played an awesome show here in Logo at our last headliner tour.

Yeah, that was an amazing show.

One of the best of that tour. We could have been on tour throughout 2012, but we decided to hit the brakes and gonna see what we’ll do on the second album. So we took four months off and worked on the songs. We met in the rehearsal room every day for like six hours and worked hard.

Sounds like a true day job.

Basically it was one, yes. But the songs have been created during the touring, after one year in the touring we already had a couple of songs ready. “Spring Fra Livet” and “Trepan” in example. They had been pretty much done, we even played them on the headliner tour. The Hamburg show was cool, it was warm. *laughs* After the tour we worked on the songs, trying to figuring out how to broaden them up and in the end it all worked out and I’m super excited how the album turned out.

“Meir” sounds like you know how to write a trademark KVELERTAK-song, while at the same time you expanded your sound and influences – conscious decision or did it simply happen?

No. *laughs* There’s a pattern in it.

A true pattern….

*laughs* Yeah, a true pattern. Don’t make plans. *laughs* What can I say? It was gonna turn out the way it turns out, you know? It just happened. You know, it’s fun that way. I know that’s a pretty happy-go-lucky word, but it’s a good word.

You’ve recorded “Meir” with Kurt Ballout (CONVERGE) in his God City Studios again, so I guess you’ve been satisfied with his work on your debut album?

Yeah, absolutely. He’s a pretty cool guy. The album is a continuation of the first one, that’s another reason for us to chose Kurt again and have the BARONESS-guy John do the artwork again. We didn’t intentionally went into the songwriting and all the classic rock influences, but we just followed our feelings there. That is just more, the songs are way bigger. You can still hear that it’s KVELERTAK even though we did stuff we haven’t done before. It also feels like a natural continuation of the first album.

Any thoughts about changing the pattern with your third album, even if it’s still far away?

Well, we’ll see. No plans so far, but that’s no surprise. *laughs*

How much influence did Kurt had during the recording sessions?

The songs are pretty much done when we enter the studio. We recorded demo versions and sent them to Kurt, so he could get a grip on them. It’s more like sound-wise he has a major influence. If I’m laying down a track and tell him how it should sound, play it, crank it, turn on distortion, he stops me and tells me which guitar to chose to make it sound even better. The guy is amazing. A genius.

And a total nerd.

*laughs* Yes, of course. But also a very smart and talented person, while he still has huge respect for my opinion. Something he didn’t need to have seeing his work with his bands and his studio.

Maciek, thank you so much for the interview, it was a pleasure.

It was a pleasure talking to you. Enjoy the show tonight, I’ll wave you when I’m on stage. *laughs*

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