The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world






Grutle Kjellson






Andrew: Hi hows it going?



Grutle: I'm fine, and you?



Andrew: Good thanks. So let's get started. So you guys are on tour, hows that going?



Grutle: We are on tour? I don't think so because I am at home haha!



Andrew: Oh really? I thought you guys were on tour for some reason?



Grutle: Na every summer we do the festival thing, most of the weekends we are away but we are always at home  in the weekdays.



Andrew: Ah ok so when did the tour for the last album finish?



Grutle: We did a couple of tours, a small one in Norway which ended in October and we went to the United States in January/February and we had a European tour in March. So after March we basically did one-offs and festivals. So we haven't been constantly on the road.



Andrew: So obviously your tour in Australia is coming up in October, is this your first time in Australia?



Grutle: Yeah that's correct, very first time.



Andrew: Do you have any expectations and what do you know about Australia?



Grutle: Not much actually. We have been talking about going to Australia for a while but it's very far away from Norway so obviously it's more difficult to setup a tour down there than it would be in Europe. Someone has to pay for the promotion and the plane tickets, it's a little more complicated than going to the U.S. or to Europe so that's why it's taken so long. We don't know much about Australia, actually my father thought about moving there before I was born so I could of been an Australian! But yeah a lot of sheep, a lot of kangaroos and dingos! Apart from that we don't know that much haha!



Andrew: Well hopefully you'll have a good time when you finally get here and there's quite a few fans who are definitely into the extreme metal. But let's talk about your last album, first off the album title I'm not sure how to pronounce it (RIITIIR) but what does it actually mean?



Grutle: RIITIIR, it's actually a word that me and Ivar (Bjørnson, guitarist) constructed, it's a made up word really. It's very inspired by an old Norse word which means "rituals". It's something made up so you can pronounce it any way you want.



Andrew: There's some very catchy melodies on this album which surprised me. I know it's been happening for a while on the last few albums but do you feel that this album is continuing on the progressive path you guys approached years ago or does it seem like a different album than previous releases?



Grutle: It has a lot of differences I think because this time around we wanted to go back in time and do things with a bit more dynamic and organic so we recorded most of it live in the studio. So all the bass and the drums and the guitars were recorded at the same time like in an old school studio setting. I think it gave us a certain dynamic touch because you can easily hear this is performed by a band and not just individually in the studio. So it's more like listening to a live recording than a modern metal production nowadays. That might be the biggest difference.



Andrew: What were the main influences or inspirations for this album?



Grutle: Nothing really specific when it comes to music. All of us listen to all kinds of music ranging from the 60's and 70's, even 80's and some classical and jazz. Of course when you are doing this for so long obviously what you are listening to kind of contributes to the music that you are making but there's never any goal of sounding like Bathory or Thin Lizzy or Death for that matter. I mean if you all listen to Pink Floyd 365 days of the year you might end up sounding like that. We all listen to a huge variety of music, it's kind of difficult to pinpoint what took us there or any specific inspiration.



Andrew: Well that leads me to my next question actually because a lot of media and fans label you guys as a black metal band but certainly on the last few albums at least, the music doesn't fit into that genre so what style do you consider yourselves to be?



Grutle: Well our style or genre is of very little importance actually. We never consider ourselves black metal, mainly because we had a pretty clear definition of what black metal was back in the day and we still have, at least here in Norway. Black metal is any kind of metal with satanic lyrics, so for us Bathory is black metal, Venom is black metal, Emporer is black metal. We never had satanic cults or anything like that, we never considered ourselves as a black metal band whatsoever. I guess it's some kind of extreme metal that we've always been, and we always try to keep some balance between the harsh and the beautiful or whatever you wanna call it.



Andrew: Melodic maybe I guess?



Grutle: Yeah exactly. It's very crucial in making music to keep things in balance. It's much more interesting instead of having 4 minutes of blast beats. Maybe it's fine to have some songs like that but in the end it gets very boring, everything is homogenic.



Andrew: A lot of your music deals with Norse mythology, what do you think of the recent popularity of it in popular culture and movies, are you a fan of that stuff?



Grutle: Well I can tell you that I'm not a fan at all haha! I think your referring to the movies, cartoons even the series Vikings. It's such crap, if I watch one more minute of Vikings I would probably vomit all over this place!



Andrew: Hahaha!



Grutle: No I'm not a big fan. It's commercialised and Americanised and action figures and blah blah blah It's a bit sad actually, it's a very philosophical system, very intricate, very holistic the whole Norse belief system. Not only the Norse but all the spiritual...not religion but the belief systems in those ancient times. The Indian mythology, the Greek mythology, Celtic, there's a lot of similarities between those different cultures as well. That's what we have been writing about on this album, the similarities, that people with absolutely no contact with each other have the same way of approaching life. The God of Heart, the God of Strength, the God of Wisdom, stuff like that. The North American Indians almost had the same way of life as people living in far north of Norway so that's pretty fascinating.



Andrew: Yeah it all seems to be connected, it's all evolved and moved around.



Grutle: Yeah absolutely! We have the same ways to take the first steps so there's gotta be some kind of connection. Maybe there's still some divinity left in me, I've been trying actually.



Andrew: It's interesting stuff! So now you guys have been around for over 20 years now, how does it feel looking back and seeing how far you have come? Any particular highlights or proudest moments?



Grutle: It certainly went fast I'll tell you that much! As far as proudest moments, they still pop up every once in a while but not much beats the first release, the first vinyl copy of "Hordanes Land" back in 1993, that's gotta be one of the highlights. The first European tour, the first concert we had outside of Norway. Pretty small things but we still have highlights all the time, 2 weeks ago we played a stadium concert in Romania - Bucharest with 30,000 people- that was pretty amazing too. It's very difficult and maybe unfair to compare those moments. The crucial thing is we still enjoy this very much. I think that is the biggest achievement, that we can still enjoy this as much as we do for 22 years.



Andrew: Yeah being around for that long and still enjoying it as much as in the beginning, obviously that's a very positive thing, being in the same band.



Grutle: Yeah it is!



Andrew: Obviously we are looking forward to seeing you guys in Australia for the first time, is there anything that we can expect on this tour at all?



Grutle: Just 5 very tired guys with jetlag hahaha just kidding! I think you will see a very energetic band, 5 guys enjoying just being able to have a chance to play in Australia for the first time. It's going to be huge for us.



Andrew: Did you have any say in picking out the opening bands for this tour?



Grutle: I don't think we have any support bands so far. There is a couple of bands in discussion but nothing has been confirmed yet.



Andrew: If you could be a fly on the wall for the recording of any classic album in history what would it be?



Grutle: Oh that's an interesting one! Obviously it doesn't necessarily have to be one of the popular ones, it just has to be the most interesting. It would be quite funny to be a fly on the wall for the recording of "Trout Mask Replica" from Captain Beefheart. That's one of the strangest albums I have ever heard in my life. Just to see what they actually did, if they created that stuff on purpose, if they meant it. It would be an interesting thing to view.



Andrew: I've never heard of them, what kind of band are they?



Grutle: You should just search Captain Beefheart and the search Trout Mask Replica and do a search on youtube and you will see what I mean haha!



Andrew: I will do, sounds interesting! One last question for you, what is the meaning of life?



Grutle: There's so many meanings to life! But let's see, you have to be healthy to enjoy yourself. So enjoying yourself is crucial, to be able to enjoy yourself and be healthy. It's a very difficult question. To be able to feed yourself by playing music, that's the meaning of life. Everything else is bullshit!



Andrew: I will agree to that! Music is a huge thing for me too so yeah music is the most important thing.



Grutle: Yeah!



Andrew: Thanks so much for the interview! As I said before, we are looking forward to seeing you guys down here in Australia for the first time. I hope the tour goes really well for you!



Grutle: Yeah thanks a lot! See you in Australia!






By Andrew Schizodeluxe August 13 2013




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