Asks Kampfar

By: Dorien
Photography: Anja Basma

Saturday 19th March it was finally time, the release-party of the new Kampfar album Mare, pub ‘de Beugel’ in Arnhem. spoke with Kampfar’s bass-player Jon. First of all of course the we ask what the title of this album is about. My Norwegian dictionary tells me a Mare is the same as it is in English. But while I thought this is a rather strange title for a folk/black metal album I had to ask them. But it turned out, I should have googled for this. Mare is a evil creature form the ancient Norse mythology. It’s first mentioned in the Ynglinga saga, but the story is much older. She’s a creature which rides at night on the back of people to bring them scary dreams. Nice chosen title which fits perfectly to the darf feeling their album brings.

In my opinion Mare is the crown on 17 years of work by Kampfar, and Jon agrees. The most import difference with the previous albums is the producer. With Mare they’ve chosen to corporate with Peter Tägtgren, a well known Swedish producer. The previous producer brought a rock ´n roll sound, but things improved with Peter. Finally the sound where Kampfar was hoping for for a long time. Peter iis great, we are all [Peter and the band] metal.’

Most important change in the band? The parture of their guitarist, Thomas. Thomas decided to leave the band after they had a good talk about this. No fight, and not because he’s a lousy guitarist, surely not. No, Thomas has a big heart for music, but doesn’t has a lot in common with ‘metal life’. The living ‘behind the stage’. The band is still good friends with Thomas and Jon admits the life besides the gigs is tough. You’re always busy playing, travelling, writing songs and recording. And despite the fact this is the live we’ve chosen and we like we miss holidays a little. The fact you’re throwing yourself at the band for the full 100 %, makes is difficult to do something besides the work in the music. You can’t produce of something like that. All the time goes to the band. The live-guitarist which Kampfar found is good. Jon got even goosebumps when he played. He fits in well, which is always important when you tour a lot.

On Mare are two English tracks. Despite the fact I have absolutely no objection against Norwegian, which fits very well to the sound of Kampfar, I wondered how this works in the writing-process. Jon tells me the songs are written in English or Norwegian depending on the way they feel. Blitzwitch for example was written in Norwegian originally, but turned out to sound better in English. But the roots of Kampfar lie in Norwegian language, English will never be the first choice.

Something I ask myself for quite a while. How are things for a Norwegian Black Metal band with the image of the Norwegian Black metal? A lot of churches were burned in the past and antichristian phrases were painted on the chuchwalls. Jon says he doesn’t care much, it’s a hype, no more. It’s awkward but the churce in Norway is even more annoying. It pushes itself onto people. And despite the fact the church itself doesn’t interest me much, it’s good for the music. It bring publicity and inspiration.
Something which Jon really is pissed off about is downloading. About 10 % of the fans is buying the actual CD’s, the others are downloading, but they have no idea which damage they cause. When less CD’s are sold, a label earns less money and has less money to release new CD’s. And they we’re on a way down. It’s a fight with the label to get everything done, and they have to fight for Peter. When the budget is lower you will notice it for sure. You won’t have fancy booklets in the CD’s anymore, but ugly photoshopped pictures and the music will be of a lower quality. So keep buying CD’s! (And the best is of course always still vinyl).

Do they have big plans for the future? Sure! A tour thought Europe and after that, in September, a tour through the USA. Because a big dream of Kampfar, is making it in the USA.

And the last question: Has Jon anything else to say to the readers? No, he doesn’t have a message really. ‘You know we love Holland’. They love The Netherlands and have a lot of friends here (drummer Ask lives in The Netherlands). In Norway most people are less social. As a Dutch I’m proud of the last remark. I thank Jon for his time and go inside to enjoy this beautiful album.