Kvelertak’s Erlend Hjelvik: The Gun Shy Interview


Recently, I have been in touch with the Canadian chapter of Roadrunner Records and I have met quite a few really cool people in my adventures. Gojira was obviously awesome but I recently had the chance to listen to the forthcoming album by Norwegian band Kvelertak.

Meir drops on March 25 and I must say it’s a keeper. Very talented bunch of guys and cool to deal with, too! They’ll be heading out on a trek of North America with Cancer Bats and Black Tusk and I’m hoping I’ll meet the dudes in person.

As for now though, here’s an interview I had with lead singer Erlend Hjelvik. We cover his influences, bands they’ve befriended and Kurt Ballou’s presence in the studio. I’d write it in Norwegian but I don’t have the money for a proper translator!

Sean Harris: Growing up, who were some of your influences? Any particular musicians you idolized more than others?

Erlend Hjelvik: I got into a lot of teenager-metal when I was about 14-15, Slipknot was my favorite band for a few years before I moved on to cheesy black metal like Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth. That in turn led me to discover older Norwegian black metal bands and so on and so on.

Harris: I love how the lyrics are written in Norwegian. Many bands from overseas tend to write all their lyrics in English. Any reasoning behind not having your lyrics in English? Is it a comfort issue?

Hjelvik: Yes, it started out as a comfort issue, I just feel it’s more natural for me to be singing and writing in Norwegian. I kind of feel like I’m acting or something if I sing in English, and in terms of writing lyrics I think it would be easy to turn to cliches. And like you said, there’s enough bands doing that already!

Harris: Has the recording process for “Meir” been the same or different compared to the self titled debut?

Hjelvik: The most difficult thing this time was actually getting enough time to write it! We looked at the schedule and figured out that we had to slow down our booking agent if we we’re going to make that album. Most of it was written in June and July, so it was written in a lot shorter time span compared to the first one where we had been playing the songs for a long time. Everything went pretty smoothly once we got started!

Harris: How cool was it to work with a guy like Kurt Ballou in the studio? Any interesting quirks he brought in to Godcity?

Hjelvik: Very cool! He has a lot of awesome equipment and a good ear for what things are supposed to sound like. He’s really honest and professional and lets you know immediately if something is off, he doesn’t let you get away with a bad take. He’s been great for us to work with, that’s why we chose to go back there. Also because he has dogs there.

Harris: The album art is definitely a John Baizley classic. Who approached who when it came to the issue of an album cover?

Hjelvik: I don’t know exactly who approached who about it, we just stayed in touch since the last cover and it just felt natural that he did the cover again. I just gave him all the translated lyrics and he just did his own thing with it. It turned out great as expected!

Harris: The music video for “Bruane Brenn” is awesome! Who’s idea was it to go with the kids playing fake instruments?

Hjelvik: Vidar and Marvin in the band came up with an idea about kids drunk driving around or something like that. Didn’t quite turn out that way, but I like how it didn’t turn out to be a typical brutal metal video. The director developed a small story based on that idea and came up with the rest.

Harris: How stoked are you guys on being apart of the Roadrunner family?

Hjelvik: So far we’re very stoked, they seem like a good bunch of people to be working with, I got a really good impression from them. It’s going to be fun to see what they’ll be able to do with the new album!

Harris: Any bands that you have toured with or shared the stage with that you can look back and say you had great time doing that with?

Hjelvik: We’ve been lucky enough to share the stage with a lot of awesome bands, but I can definitely mention that we’ve had a good time with bands like Coliseum, Converge, Doomriders, Kylesa, Skeletonwitch, Toxic Holocaust, Torche, Zoroaster, The Secret, Purified in Blood and Wolves like Us.

Harris: Any other bands you are really good friends with?

Hjelvik: Sure, I just told you most of them though.

Harris: Finally, outside of Norway, what’s your favorite part of the world to play shows?

Hjelvik: Pretty much everywhere is fun, but I love playing in the States because of all the great Mexican food, the view from the car window and all the cool people who come to the shows! I’m sure you Canadians are up our alley too, we’ll find that out soon!

The Meir tour starts April 21 in Chicago and the Vancouver date is May 5 at The Rickshaw Theater. See you guys there!

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