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Kvelertak Interview at Webster Hall in New York

12 December 2013 No Comment

Kvelertak
11-15-2013 @ Webster Hall
New York, NY
Photos and Interview: Jeff Longo with Daryl Longo

Kvelertak is Norwegian for “chokehold” and kick-ass.  Stubble talked with Kvelertak vocalist and Owl King Erlend Hjelvik just before their set at Webster Hall in New York City with Doomriders supporting High on Fire. We chatted about their new album “Meir” on Roadrunner Records and working with producer Kurt Ballou, expanding their audience in the US, Black Metal, and we discover how Erlend feels about Sweden’s Watain “those guys are douche bags.”

Photo Slideshow –Kvelertak at Webster Hall in New York, NY CLICK HERE

Stubble: How do you pronounce your Kvelertak
Erlend:
Just pretend its a Q instead of a KV.

Stubble: So you just kicked off the tour here with High on Fire?
Erlend:
Yeah we started like five days ago in Atlanta and yeah its been great so far. I think its an awesome tour. I think we are good match with High on Fire. Its also awesome that Doomriders are on the tour too.

Stubble: You all seem to be connected by a common theme here and that is our producer gentlemen friend from Converge, Kurt Ballou.
Erlend:
That’s true I didn’t really think about that.

Stubble: He seems to be the producer of the last probably six years looking at some of the crazy releases he’s produced besides his own music. (Converge, ISIS, Orchid, Nails, All Pigs Must Die, Genghis Tron, Skeletonwitch, Black Cobra, Torche)
Erlend:
Hes a great guy to work in the studio, just the sound he is manages to bring out of bands. Yeah I think it sounds great, its pretty unique.

Stubble: You just released a new album Meir (mure) is that how you pronounce that?
Erlend:
Its pronounced Mier (mike). We aren’t making it easy for the English fans, yeah we released it in May.

Stubble: And Kurt produced Mier plus your debut album Kvelertak. How did that come about?
Erlend:
Just like when it was time to pick a studio we just kinda made a list, every member in the band and he was the top of everybody’s list. I guess mainly we were listening a lot to records of bands that he’s produced Doomriders, Tourche, Converge, Disfear we just thought he would fit us perfectly.

Stubble: They seem to be the who’s who of the underground rock and metal scene these day that is good company to be in.
Erlend:
Yeah basically we just sent him a message on Myspace and we got a answer the next day and he said, “Fuck yeah, let’s do it”

Stubble: I have just recently heard of your guys. I know you have done a couple of US tours. First of all you guys sound amazing, its a very unique mix of punk, hard rock, metal, and even some black metal in your vocals that everyone seems to compare you guys too. How would you explain Kvelertak to the uninitiated?
Erlend:
I don’t. I just say we’re a rock band. That’s how we feel on stage anyway.

Stubble: It’s fun music. I was rocking the song “Kvelertak” from the new album (2013 Meir) and I tried looking up the lyrics because I couldn’t quite make out what you were saying and all lyrics are in Norwegian.
Erlend:
(laughs) Its kinda difficult. I never put the lyrics out so, there is a lot of bad versions out there. I wouldn’t trust the English ones.

Stubble: Especially with this type of music and vocal style it probably inst that critical, but how do you guys plan on growing your audience in the US without singing in English?
Erlend:
I think we’ve done pretty well so far without English vocals. Yeah, it’s just every time we’ve been in the US it just keeps getting better and better; and the crowds keep getting bigger. I think for our fans, I think they think its cool that we sing in Norwegian. I think it is a big part of our sound the Norwegian lyrics.

Stubble: I have to agree it is. I don’t think I would want to hear those songs in English.
Erlend:
That is what I mean. I think people would be or at least our fans would be pretty disappointed if we suddenly switched to English.

Stubble: Usually its the opposite, you have a foreign band singing in English. And then you seem to wonder how did they write that if that is not even their primary language or dont speak the language at all.
Erlend:
Just for me its just felt more natural to sing in my own language. Besides there are enough bands singing shitty in English.

Stubble: You got that right. The other thing that is really cool is your album covers by John Baizley of Baroness. I think it really fits the mystique of your band.
Erlend:
Yeah when we were recording the first album I guess we were trying to figure out what would make the cover, we hadn’t really decided. John Baizley got the promo from our European tour manager and he just sent us an email and said he liked the music and just let him know if we needed some artwork. We were already fans of Baroness so that was easy to yes to.

Stubble: Your live show is described as not even coming close to your recordings which are already incredible. Will you be wearing the Owl Mask.
Erlend:
We had to get it fixed right before we left. It was kinda looking beat up after being on one too many tours.

Stubble: Whats coming up for your guys after the tour?
Erlend:
We have this tour then we have like five weeks off which is good because we have been touring pretty much the whole year. After that we are doing a Scandinavian tour and after that its still a little too early but next year is going to be a good year for us.

Stubble: Are you a Black Metal Fan?
Erlend:
I am really in to Black Metal. I actually play in a Black Metal band on the side. It’s called Djevelenit means devil in Norwegian. And that is all in Norwegian too.

Stubble: I’m interested already. See we don’t get Black Metal out here, where it may be common place out there, the only good thing that has come out here… are you a fan Watain?
Erlend:
No. Those guys are douche bags.

Stubble: (hahaha) Why are they douche bags?
Erlend:
I wont get into it.

Stubble: So what Black Metal bands should we be listening to?
Erlend:
My favorite Black Metal band is probably one called Taake it’s Norwegian. It’s the best Black Metal band I know of.

Stubble: Do they wear the corpse paint at all? Are you down with that part of the equation, do you think that still belongs in Black Metal in this day and age?
Erlend:
Yeah there like classic Black Metal. Yeah, I mean like that band is probably last true black metal band.

Stubble: Anything you want to add?
Erlend:
Come to the shows. You’re are going to miss out if you don’t come see us with High on Fire, its a fucking awesome tour it’s great.

Stubble: I’m more of a fan of more of the Darkthrone, early Mayhem. Have you heard of some of the newer US bands like Deafheaven.
Erlend:
Yeah like you were talking about US bands. I haven’t really been listening to them that much but yeah I guess like the us bands I have heard, Krallice not really black metal, but still really good.

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