Sweden’s Grimner have once again put together another epic album for label Despotz with their latest opus “Vanadrottning” With their 3rd full length under their collective belts, Grimner is now poised to vault into the stratosphere with a string of European tour dates to promote the album. Flute specialist Johan Rydberg answered some questions for us regarding the latest album, the lineup change, the tour and a few other things… check it out…
Once again another epic album from Grimner… what have you been hearing as far as how it has been received so far?
“Thank you very much! The reception has been really good so far. Some seem to like the heavier sound of this album although some seems prefer the more melodic/epic previous album. Anyhow not much bad critique so far.”
Take us back to “Frost Mot Eld” for a bit, was “Vanadrottning” spawned from this era or after? How did this album come about?
“Well, it feels like we really found our sound on “Frost Mot Eld”. But we also don’t want to keep doing the same thing over and over again. And we felt that we nailed the melodic feel on FME and for Vanadrottning we wanted to bring forth the guitars a bit more and get a bit heavier feel without losing the melodic parts.”
Mythology and History
Could you give us a brief synopsis of the album and the concepts behind the tracks (generally speaking)?
“For this album we didn’t go for a concept album like FME. Instead we went for individual tracks with their own sound and theme. Most of the lyrics are based upon mythological themes but we also incorporated historical themes like in “Vårt blod våra liv” which tells about the “Väringarna” (Varangian guard) warriors from different cultures who went east to work as bodyguards in Constantinople. And this time we also played around with some folklore like in the song “Kvällnjngssång” which is about elves from Swedish folklore.”
How did the writing process differ this time for “Vanadrottning” if at all?
“The biggest difference is probably that I have now joined Ted for most of the songwriting. Before it was mostly Ted and Marcus although I’ve helped out sometimes often with more poetry like parts.”
Sadly, guitarist and vocalist Marcus left last year, how did you go about finding a replacement and eventually having the über-talented Martin Welcel join the band?
“We actually just went looking for Swedish bands with singers who played guitar. We basically Searched alphabetically and stumbled upon Martins other band Bell. We contacted him and got some videos of him trying out some singing and guitar and we really liked what we heard and went for a full audition.”
…about the “Väringarna” (Varangian guard) warriors from different
cultures who went east to work as bodyguards in Constantinople…
What has Martin brought to the band as far as writing, style, etc that may have changed some of the tracks for the album? For example, are there tuning differences or changes to riffs to fit his particular style?
“We actually had most of the album somewhat ready when he joined. So he pretty much rehearsed a whole album in a very short time and went straight into the studio.
But he has already started helping out Ted in writing so I think you will get more of Martin in the future.”
The album to me has a more guitar and vocal oriented approach then previous albums, was there any particular attention paid to these aspects of your sound this time around?
“Yes, we did work more with guitar on this album as well as working a lot with the vocals and vocal arrangements. Vocals is probably what we put most time into in the studio.”
Johan’s flute work and Kristoffer’s keyboard work always seem to be where some of the harmonies come from… are they the “main riffs” that are originally guitar and become flute/keys or is it vice versa?
“Well not really riffs but they often are the ones playing the lead melodies of the songs.
I’m not quite sure how Ted works, if he writes melodies or riffs first. But would guess that he works mostly around the melodies.”
The question of language always comes up as far as what any band chooses to do, while I believe Swedish lyrics are the way to go for you, have you been tempted to pursue doing some English lyrics again at some point?
“Not really, we are very comfortable with using Swedish since it works best with our sound and especially the lyrical themes. So I don’t think we will switch completely to English. But I don’t think it’s impossible we might release a track or two in English. Time will tell.”
One of the major highlights is having Erik from Månegarm perform guest vocals on “Fafnersbane”, how did this come about? Did you always have him in mind to guest appear on the album?
“We have talked about it for a while that it would be fun to have a guest on an album. And we have met Erik and Månegarm sometimes during gigs and festivals, so we do know them a bit.
So we just checked with Erik if he was up for it and he was. So he went down to the studio and did a great job. He is very professional and a really great guy.”
You recently had a release party with Månegarm and Midvinterblot… how epic was this event?
“It was incredibly epic! The venue sold out a few hours before opening the doors opened so there was a lot of people attending. Everything went really smooth during the evening and after the gig rounded of the evening with one hell of an after party in my little house in the countryside together with Midvinterblot.”
Have you contemplated the amount of success you have had over the last few years, looking back on where you came from? Is it hard to believe how far you have come or did you have expectations of being at this point now?
“The last few years we have grown incredibly fast. I think it really took off with the band joining Despotz records and the release of FME and it has started going up fast once again with the release of Vanadrottning. I don’t think we knew how or planned on how much we would grow but we have grown steadily upwards so hopefully we will keep going in that direction.”
You have a huge 2 part European tour coming up starting in March and then continuing in September….how excited are you guys for this? What support acts are on board for this?
“Yes in September we have almost 3 weeks of touring planned. That’s the longest we have been out playing so far. We are really excited, there is a few new countries we haven’t played in the tour so that is going to be interesting. The support will vary depending on the gigs and country. But the whole tour is also a co headline together with Kalevala who will join us for the whole tour.”
Any music you are looking forward to in 2018?
“Hmm, wow I really feel that I’m not quite up to date with what’s coming out this year. Probably been so much work with the new album I haven’t have much time to think about it haha.
I think Månegarm is working new material? That’s always exiting!”
“It’s going to be a really intense year for Grimner, we have more shows than ever before. We will visit a lot of new places and will meet a lot of new fans. Hopefully we will meet a few of you guys reading this and we really hope you enjoyed our new album! Cheers!”