Einherjer, Old and Wise?

By: Dorien

After years of absence Einherjer finally came back to Holland. I got the chance to talk with them about the break, their latest album Norrøn and being a belieber.

How is it for you to be and play in Holland?
Haha so far we ve seen the airport and the traffic. We have been in Holland before but that has been a while, I think it was 2001 or something, pretty long time ago.

After lots of years you came back with Norrøn. Why did you decide to take a break?
Mainly because we had just like doing something else. We were doing this for 15 years till the split up. We wanted to do something else. We had a trash metal band for couple years, released one album. We didn’t want to combine that music with Einherjer, because it’s something completely different.
There was definitely no politics involved. We were done with this so we thought: let’s do something else. And after a few years then we were done with that so we decided to go back to Einherjer.
No bad thoughts since we are the same guys as before.

And the fans kept saying please come back?
Actually we don’t listen to the fans. We needed to do something else. Get our heads on something else and come back with inspiration.

How do you see yourself and the band compared to your beginning times, the split up, and now? Has, by example, your view of life changed?
We’re older and wiser. We’ve changed our mind set concerning music en how Einherjer should evolve. The break has been great for us. We’ve set a completely new track and not only grown as musicians but also as a group. It’s a good thing to reboot everything once in a while. Everybody should do that.

Over the years the folk-metal scene has grown and became bigger and bigger. Einherjer is quite an old warhorse in this genre. How was it to come back to the scene?
Oh yeah It changed a lot. It didn’t really exist in that way back then. But I don’t know, the whole folk metal scene, I don’t really relate to it. It has evolved in something completely different to what we do.
It has become more mainstream, jolly, happy humppa. The old bands play more black metal/ oldschool. But it’s not only music, also the mindset of the band. We are a band of a different generation. In every view we are different.
On the other hand, all these bands have helped the scene to grow. So there is a positive thing.
It was sure strange to come back. The first show we did was on a festival that couldn’t have existed in the late nineties because the scene wasn’t big enough. But in 2009, when we came back, we played on a folk/pagan metal festival for 5000 people. Even for such a narrow genre that just crazy. Or at least it was crazy.

Norrøn sounds rougher than the previous albums. That sound, was that a conscious choice or just the evolution of Einherjer?
It was planned. It’s simpler, more folk through. Also the production is definitely rougher. The album sounds more real, rough. Less symphonies and more guitars. It’s not that synthetic. Rough, real and good.

The mixing and mastering was done by Matt Hyde, who is really an artist. How was it to work with him?
We have never met him. That was just some e-mails back and forward and the mixing was also discussed by e-mail. We wrote the list with stuff we wanted, then he gave us some rough material with the question if we could live with it. So we said yes with some of it and some of it no
And then back, forward, back forward. We were really lucky with Matt. Before you send it, you have an idea and the first test mixing was really close. Something we could work on. If he was really off target it would be really hard to do it by e-mail. If you have to change everything, that’s impossible.
We were really lucky. We wanted to go a little bit distance ourselves from the metal sound, more the rock sound. I think we might have said something like AC/DC for the guitars and more like that.
We also asked him to make it sound like rainbow with the rising. Like a 2011 version of it. Make it sound real we said. It doesn’t sound anything like rainbow but it does sound good. He understood what we meant. We are really happy with the outcome. We definitely can’t complain.

The lyrics of Norrøn are completely in Norwegian while the previous albums contained English. Why did you choose for Norwegian?
It’s more original for our sake. It sounds better and it’s better for my vocals to sing in Norwegian. If you look at the lyrics, the way they are written is impossible in English. You can’t just translate them to English. You would have a poetic problem. It just doesn’t sound in English.

The artwork of Norrøn is amazing. Who painted it and is there a meaning behind it?
Coincidences, like the whole album. It doesn’t really mean something for us. Gerhard’s girlfriend painted it years ago and it just fitted perfect for the album, the music and the whole theme of the album.
Everybody makes their own idea. There is a lot of stuff to see. Maybe you see some positive or negative things. Everybody sees it their way and that’s the nice thing about this piece of art.

Can we expect now more frequent albums of you?
At least one in 5/7 years, haha. We should be able to come up with an album within a couple of years. We have contracts, so at least the record company has a plan.

On Norrøn is one cover: Alu alu laukar from Ym:Stammen. What does Alu Alu Laukar mean and why did you cover it?
It says Beer, beer, onion. And that’s not a joke. (then why do I have this feeling they are joking me? ) It’s old Norwegian or Icelandic I don’t know exactly. There is actually a story behind it. There was a battle in Norway I think around the year 300 or something. The Norwegians wrote Alu Alu Laukar on their weapons. Not because it says Beer Beer Onions but because it are magical words. Beer is like a lucky drink and onion is health bringing. So it has a meaning.

Why did you cover it?
Because it’s a great song and not many people outside Norway know it, it’s a strange band. We bought that album in 1995. It was the last record Ym:Stammer did, we really liked the song. We’ve been talking about covering that song for a long time, this was the right time and the right album to do so.

Can we expect more covers in the future?
Yes I think so, at least we have plans.

Your lyrics are often about mythology and pre-christian time. How do you see religion? Somebody ones told me that religion in Norway is really pushed towards the people. Is that still the case?
It was indeed like that but nowadays state and church are divided.
Aksel: I’m not really a believer. I’m a belieber.

Eh…?
Luckily he just laughs.

Gerhard: I don’t call myself an atheist. I don’t need a name for thinks/stuff. People can believe what they want. That’s fine by me.

Norway has had a tough time with the whole Norwegian black metal scene. How is it now to be a metalband in Norway?
Being a metalband is really accepted. That time lies far behind people. Black metal bands playing on big festivals now, that’s how accepted it is.

Are there some final words you would like to say to your fans?
Eleven.

Why?

Only eleven. No explanation.
Join the cult.

I don’t think the fans will understand that joke. Some words to the fans?
Thank you.

Well than thank you for the nice interview.