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Enslaved interview (12/2009)

With: Grutle Kjellson (vocals, bass) and Ivar Bjørnson (guitars)
Conducted by: Darkside Momo, Bas (in person)
Published: 07.12.2009

Band profile:


This Enslaved interview is long overdue, as was done at Hellfest '09, some hours before the Norwegian masters of prog-black's show.
At first, only Grutle Kjellson was here, but Ivar Bjornson joined us later and answered a few questions too...

Darkside Momo: So, let's start with some memories. Two years ago you played at Hellfest. I heard you had a great memory at that time with Slayer... Can you speak a bit about it?

Grutle Kjellson (bass, vocals): Yeah, it was great. We were not supposed to play Hellfest at all but we were asked to replace Mayhem when they couldn't make it, because of the drummer's arm injury or something. So it was like one week prior to the festival... It seemed like a good idea, so we just went for it. And it was probably one of the best shows we played in 2007! The audience was absolutely great! The weather was shit, with mud all over the place, so yeah everything was pretty bad except the show (laughs), which was absolutely great. You mentioned Slayer, and I remember that when we hit the last notes we just found that Slayer was waiting and they started South Of Heaven instantly afterwards. So that was pretty cool!

DM: Yes, I can guess so! And how do think Hellfest is now, two years later?

Grutle: I have no idea, we just arrived, just came like ten minutes before, so... I haven't seen any band, I've been walking like a hundred meters through this place (laughs) so I really don't know.

Bas: Are you planning on seeing a few bands?

Grutle: I'll try to do it, if I have time to do so. I'll try to see Killing Joke after our show. But we have to go back quite early because we're leaving early as shit in the morning; we're leaving at 5: 30 in the morning for our trip back to Norway.

DM: You're going straight back to Norway after the show?

Grutle: We're going to have another car ride to Paris, and then it's like two flights to Norway. It'll be a loooong trip! (laughs) But yes, we're just playing and we're leaving. Sadly, I wish we were playing yesterday and not today. That's the way I'd liked it.

Ivar & Grutle

DM: Yeah, now about your musical evolution. You're getting more and more progressive during the last few albums. Did you plan everything, or did it come naturally?

Grutle: It came very naturally. We started when we were very young, our first album we recorded in '92, and it has been years ago. And we have always wanted to improve all the time. We're not that concerned about genres; we're concerned about great music. So we have no boundaries, you can include whatever you like. We just want to make our own favourite music at the time being. That's what we've done all the way, so yeah it'll probably become more progressive, because we've been picking up new music and it's just what you are listening to, obviously. So I think that's great. And that's a natural evolution.

DM: Do you think it will continue that way?

Grutle: Yeah, I think so! (laughs) Always picking up new stuff so yeah (laughs)

Bas: You were talking about new influences, what are your influences at the moment?

Grutle: I suppose you'd expect our influences to be not that different from what it was earlier, it's just like a lot more of the same bands I listened to back then. Black metal, death metal bands like Entombed, Autopsy, early Darkthrone, stuff like that, Celtic Frost, Bathory... But also King Diamond, Iron Maiden and stuff like that.

DM: Like we do too! (laughs)

Grutle: Yeah, sure! Still great music!

DM: Yeah.

Grutle: And lately I've been into a lot of stuff like Rush, Van Der Graaf Generator, Jethro Tull and even, you know, weird stuff really far away from metal, like funkadelic and as I told you we're not that concerned what the music is called, as long as you find something in there that suits your mind and your brain, everything.

DM: OK. On the last album I saw written about most of the songs that they were credited to I. S. Peersen. Who's that? Is that...

Grutle: Ivar's birthname. Ivar Bjornsson, because his father's first name is Bjorn, so he's Bjornson, it's an old norse tradition that we don't keep anymore. But we wanted to do it in Enslaved. So that's why we are Ivar Bjornsson and Grutle Kjellson.

DM: OK, so it's his 'real life' name...

Grutle: Yes, it's his tax-payer's name! (laughs)

DM: I know you have some side-projects in many bands... What about Trinacria?

Grutle: Well, this started as a one-off project which was for one festival, it was like the fusion between Norwegian extreme metal and noise music. But we played the festival and the chemistry in the band was looking really good and then we were invited to do a small tour of Norway and we decided to record the whole project and release it as an album. It was kinda well received. I mean, it's a little weird for most people maybe but a lot of people kind of adaptet it actually so the next thing we're gonna do with Trinacria is a show in Holland, next year's Roadburn Festival. We're gonna do Enslaved on Thursday and Trinacria on Friday; we're gonna do like a double concert. Like the show we played at the Hole In The Sky Festival, in Norway. We're gonna put the same concept on the Saturday.

DM: And what about Ice Dale's Audrey Horne? Do you know what they are going to do next? Especially as they toured with you last year...

Grutle: They're gonna play a couple of festivals. They just played Rock Hard festival, and they're gonna do a couple of festivals in Norway, like four or five, so they are pretty active.

DM: And a new album maybe? Do you know anything?

Grutle: The new Enslaved album?

DM: Oh no, Audrey Horne for now, I'll ask about Enslaved just later!

Grutle: I don't know the details about another album.

Bas: How you think that working in side-projects influences the work you do for Enslaved?

Grutle: Well, I only recorded one album apart from black [metal] session stuff with other bands. Trinacria's been my first side project in very many years. So I mean, it's a little different, I'm only the vocalist there, it's a new thing for me... I can do more stuff on the stage which is pretty interesting and pretty challenging, it's a whole new challenge for me so it gives your mind a new input and it's pretty refreshing.

DM: Do you think it's easier to do only the vocals on stage or not?

Grutle: It's a lot more difficult actually.

Bas: Really?

Grutle: Oh yeah, definitely I've been playing the bass for many years, so suddenly [shows his empty hands and laughs] what am I gonna do with this?

DM: And now for the new Enslaved album. Have you recorded anything, any ideas?

Grutle: Well err, what happens when we make a new album, Ivar is making riffs, making suggestions and we mix the riffs with organ drums in the studio and the main problem is with vocals arrangements. And then maybe we change some parts here and there and decide on the running order. The whole process usually takes from six months to a year. And Ivar's gonna put up some songs in a couple of weeks. It will be interesting to see. I kinda have an idea of how the songs gonna look like but I've been surprised before! (laughs)

DM: And you won't say anything!?

Grutle: Forecasting? (laughs) I don't know yet what it'll be like, but I have an idea of what it might gonna be, I have hopes! (laughs)

DM: OK then, we'll have the surprise! Now, one of my last questions, you featured on A Headbanger's Journey, the documentary by Sam Dunn. Did you see the whole thing? What did you think of it?

Grutle: Well, err... I was a little pissed when it came out because he only uses, like, the last two minutes of the three-hours long interview.

DM: Three hours? Whoa!

Grutle: Yeah. And it was put in a weird setting, I think. But I must say, you know, the movie's one hour and a half long, he didn't have that much time for it. But I still think it was probably a little weird, but he apologized and actually, there was much more to the extra material, that was included on the DVD and that made a little more sense so... Yeah it's well-made movie, it's entertaining, it's a nice movie. If you see the DVD, and see the extra material you'll have a little more of a picture of the whole thing. It's still a movie.

Bas: I was thinking you've been in the black metal scene since the very beginning in Norway, so what do you think is different nowadays? Is there anything different, maybe the people, or the whole music, the spirit behind it?

Grutle: Well, when it started it was only a handful of people, maybe ten or so - all together. So, back then it was like... No one knew about black metal, no one knew what it was. You'd fucking knew if you grew up in Bergen, but otherwise no one had an idea. And of course certain people started doing certain things, you know, like, setting fire to certain buildings, and yeah, even some killings on top of that... And everything was blown out of proportions... It was much more a media thing, than an actual scene. It was only a handful people that made all the crimes so it was not that big? But it certainly gave people a boost in starting bands and soon the metal scene in Norway was huge, it's actually one of the biggest of the musical genres in Norway. In 1991 or 1992, there were only a handful, it was very, very small, no one knew about us at all! That's the biggest difference: huge now, but very very small back then.

DM: And in terms of sound, of ideas... Do you think there hasn't been much change, finally?

Grutle: Of course there has been a lot of change! People are getting older, people are getting more still, they wanna kinda explore new territories? I think that it was the Emperor album that changed a lot of things and the Mayhem from Deathcrush to Ordo Ad Chaos was a huge change too.

Bas: Yeah.

DM: Sure!

Grutle: Always staying the same would be pretty boring. There are enough bands that are releasing the same album eleven times in row so... I think it's refreshing if there are some changes.

Bas: Apart from the fresh air, do you actually like modern black metal, or do you prefer the older stuff?

Grutle: I do prefer the older stuff because there are too many copycats now, I have the feeling I've heard everything almost everything a hundred times before, to be honest. And I don't listen that much to new, modern black metal. I don't.

Ivar then arrives...

DM: And, er, so we spoke about the future new Enslaved album, what can you say about it now?

Ivar: It's gonna be intense. I had some hopes for Vertebrae and I'm really happy about it 'cause this time there's an excitement about the new album and we want to make it stronger. It's something really intense. After this we'll go back to Norway and take most of July off just to write and I'm really eager, I'm really excited? We'll do it the same way as we did on Vertebrae and I can't wait to get started, it will be intense.

Bas: Are you looking forwards to recording the new songs in the studio? What does it feel like to get a new CD done?

Ivar: Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it, it's a fantastic process. The worst part is right now; when in a few weeks the main process is gonna start. The first few weeks it's always... When you start to work on something, it's when you sort of define it, then you have to be really sure that the beginning is open enough, so to speak, so you don't limit yourself. But once you get started it's just a fantastic process to make music and then the drummer adds his things and the vocals, and guitars, and everything... Up to the point when you make the album and get the CD it's a matter of?

Grutle: ?define and then refine?

Ivar: Yes! (laughs)

Bas: Like getting a baby or something like that?

Ivar: Yeah (laughs) I guess so... None of us ever had a baby, I guess we put all our personal energy in creating albums. A little bit I guess that when I have a baby one day I'm gonna say 'oh this is getting bigger!' (laughs) Now the next album is bigger than that and maybe one day a kid will be angry because at the moment a new album is more important and perhaps they'll have a difficult childhood then too and perhaps they'll start doing black metal too! (laughs)

Grutle: Awh, and then they'll also start burning churches!

Ivar: (laughs)

DM: Do you have anything special planned for tonight?

Grutle: Oh, I told you, we don't have time to get completely hammered or shit-faced drunk so... (laughs)

DM: OK!!!

Grutle: Just try to have some fun, try to watch some bands...

Ivar: Last time we played here we played on one of the outdoor stages, and this time when Hellfest wanted to book us we made sure that we get the usual visual effects like we do on the tours, so we're playing the Rock Hard tent. The response was so good last time at Hellfest, so we're really looking forward to it because it's so... so... fantastic.

DM: Finally, anything to add, maybe a last question...?

Bas: Nah I don't have any real questions anymore, but maybe you have anything you want to say to the readers of Metalstorm? Any message?

Ivar: Well we hope the show will be nice today and you'll enjoy it, you?

Grutle: I don't think much.... (laughs)

DM: OK, too bad! (laughs)

Many thanks are due to Ivar and Grutle for sure. And also many apologies for posting this interview so late...

Posted on 07.12.2009 by Once your regular Hellfest reporter, now retired. I (strangely enough) listen to a lot of metal. And enjoy good beers, comics, novels and role-playing games.


Comments: 9   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 231 users
07.12.2009 - 17:50
I can't wait for the new album, nice interview
07.12.2009 - 18:04
Liver Failure
Great interview. Nice to know they have no boundaries to the sound XD... no more time to shit-face drunk... oh the price of the job!

member of the true crusade against old school heavy metal, early 80s thrash, NWOBHM, traditional doom, first and second wave black metal, old school death metal, US power metal, 70s prog rock and atmospheric doomsludgestoner. o/
07.12.2009 - 22:59
Doc G.
Full Grown Hoser
This is one of my new favourite interviews, I hope to do one this good eventually.

This cracked me up so much:

Ivar: Yeah (laughs) I guess so... None of us ever had a baby, I guess we put all our personal energy in creating albums. A little bit I guess that when I have a baby one day I'm gonna say 'oh this is getting bigger!' (laughs) Now the next album is bigger than that and maybe one day a kid will be angry because at the moment a new album is more important and perhaps they'll have a difficult childhood then too and perhaps they'll start doing black metal too! (laughs)

"I got a lot of really good ideas, problem is, most of them suck."
- George Carlin
08.12.2009 - 01:03
White Winter Sun
Laboratory's Rat
Good interview guys. It was a really interesting and funny one.
08.12.2009 - 01:20
The Ancient One
Nice work.
get the fuck off my lawn.

Beer Bug Virus Spotify Playlist crafted by Nikarg and I. Feel free to tune in and add some pertinent metal tunes!
08.12.2009 - 05:02
Nice. Looking forward to a 'really intense' album.
08.12.2009 - 21:37
Great interview, DM and Bas. Enslaved have always comes across as seeming quite down to Earth - even in the early days, they stayed away from trying to be controversial or 'evil' like their contemporaries.
09.12.2009 - 00:50
Baz Anderson
Yeh, good interview.
09.12.2009 - 23:25
Totemic Lust
Grutle: And lately I've been into a lot of stuff like Rush, Van Der Graaf Generator, Jethro Tull

I knew it... the progginess of Vertebrae was a tell-tale sign, but I'm waiting to hear that jazz flute.

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