About Me

Interview with Orkan

Any Black Metal band hailing from Norway will surely cause an impact on the scene… Orkan are about to do it with their 3rd album “Element”… Metal Imperium talked to Rune and Gjermund to get to know better this intense hurricane (Orkan!). 

M.I. - The name Orkan stands for Hurricane. Do you believe you have caused a turmoil in the underground scene similar to what a hurricane does when it passes by?

Rune: I don´t believe we have stirred the waters of the underground scene as much as we would like to so far. There are so many great bands that release music every year, so I guess we are one of many bands that try to break ground in the music scene. Our wish is of course that everyone who comes to a show feels something to the likes of a hurricane when we are on stage. 

M.I. - This will be the 2nd album released by Dark Essence Records. How important is the label for the promotion and success of a band?

Rune: Dark Essence Records is vital to us. Without them, we would not reach as far as we do with our music. The fact that they believe in our music enough to put down the amount of work they do is the reason we are having this interview, and the reason so many get the chance to hear our music. A record label in most cases have a larger network than any band and tools to promote music. I like to be able to focus on writing and arranging the music, record and perform, rather than trying to figure out how to promote it. It is also inspiring to have someone work for us, to be on our team. It helps with a kick in the butt when we are working on our music. It makes us work hard to get better, to keep in line with progression on our creative work. Sometimes a deadline is what it takes to finish your work.

M.I. - Do you think Orkan are exactly where they should be? Have you accomplished the goals you set up when you first started?

Rune: Good question. I see success as a continuous event. First, I wanted to record and release an album. Then to sign a record deal and go on an international tour. Then to get the next record out… And for every goal we reach, we set new ones. The worst thing in my mind for our band, is to stand still with nothing going on. The hunger for more is what drives us forward. And I believe that the passion for music is what gives us the hunger to create and conquer!

M.I. - “Element” is the band’s 3rd full-length… why this title? 

Rune: When I wrote the lyrics, I had a few ideas for album titles. But none of them were really embracing the feel of the album. But one late night, I read through all the song lyrics from beginning to end, and the word “element” stuck to my head when I was finished. It´s the summary of all the songs, and that is what I think an album title should be. As you have guessed, this is an album that deals with the forces of the four elements. In addition, it is a homage to the adventurous nature that surrounds us on the coast of Norway. It´s so inspiring to me just walking in the nearby forest. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it´s a cliché for a reason. Some of the lyrics I wrote both for “Element” and “Livlaus” are pure descriptions of what I have seen and felt in the forest. –the same forest you will see in our upcoming video for the closing song on “Element”, called “Heim”.

M.I. - In what way does “Element” differ from your previous works?

Gjermund: I guess it is a bit more experimental, the song-arrangements are more varied. Also more melodies with a touch of melancholy...
Rune: We did a much more layered production this time. ”Livlaus” was written and recorded with the intention that all of it was going to be possible to play live. On ”Element” we have to think about how we can do the songs live, because tere is so much going on. But the reward is at the hands (or ears) of the listener. It is complex, and has a great sound in my opinion.

M.I. - The band’s first album had titles in English and from the second one on you have used Norwegian. Why this change? Apart from that both “Livlaus” and “Element” have 7 tracks… coincidence?

Rune: Our first album had one and a half leg in the thrash metal booth. At that time I wrote lyrics in English most of the time, but also some in Norwegian. We felt that English suited the music better at that point, so that was it. When I first heard the outlines of the “Livlaus” album, and we started arranging it, I immediately knew that I had to write that album in Norwegian. I don´t know why, but it was like the riffs Gjermund had made were screaming for it. It´s also much more comfortable for me to express myself in my native tongue, so it was an easy decision. Black Metal in Norwegian sounds more intense in my ears as well. And 7 songs per album? Coincidence. I never thought about it before you mentioned it. One of the songs on “Element” holds a riff that was in consideration as a basis for a song on “Livlaus”, but we decided to drop that idea and save it for later. So, it could have been 8 songs on “Livlaus” and 6 songs on “Element”.

M.I. - You formed Orkan in order to make your own original music and you have opted for Black Metal. Is it your favourite genre within metal? Is it the one that fits your music better?

Gjermund: Yes and yes. I´ve had periods where I have tried to write more «thrash» or more «progressive» music, but I find it difficult having those limitations or guidelines before I make riffs. On both «Livlaus» and «Element» I have just started making music, not thinking about genre or if I want to take a new direction or not. Turns out that most of the music fits in the Black Metal box, but we also have a song on the record  that is something completely different. And that is quite refreshing.

M.I. - The lyrics for “Livlaus” were based in nature and ghost stories… supposedly this one “deals with the power of the four elements and stands as an homage to the unforgiving strength of the earth as witnessed by the landscape of their native land – the Island of Stord.” What’s the importance of the elements for you?

Rune: The elements is the reason we live and breathe. And aside from that, they are quite impressive, and sometimes entertaining… And when I wrote the lyrics for all the songs this time, it just happened to fall into this concept. I didn´t sit down with a plan to put all the songs into this theme, and frankly, not all of the songs will fit into this concept on its own. But the sum of all the lyrics made me put this umbrella over them, and I think that tied the lyrics of Element together. Not that it´s important to have one theme through the album, but I like albums to have a connecting thread between the songs. Maybe that´s a little old fashioned, but that´s me. 

M.I. - The album will be released next month… what are your expectations?

Rune: It´s always exciting to release new material, so I´m looking forward to hearing some feedback from the fans. Always good to hear from the audience, because it is for you people out there we release the music! We hope to reach a larger audience this time. And we will always be interested in selling the records, so I hope everyone buys it ;-)

M.I. - In October you’ll be hitting the road with Taake, Bölzer, One Tail, One Head and Slegest. How excited are you? Apart from this do you have any other tour plans for the near future?

Rune: VERY excited!! We felt that we got a handful of new fans when we toured after the “Livlaus” album, and we shared some beers with the crowds after the shows. We loved every minute of it! I really hope to meet some of you again this time, and also make new friends along the way! Also, the bands we are touring with are great, so it´s going to be some inspiring weeks for us. Apart from this tour, we don´t have confirmed shows this year. Hope things get busy during the spring, though. We are keen on playing as much as we can!

M.I. - Orkan would like to tour with Iron Maiden, Metallica and Hellhammer… why these 3 in particular? 

Rune: Who wouldn´t??? We are music fans as well, and have our heroes like most people. Is this from some other interview maybe? 

M.I. - The band has gone through some tough times but have come back with full force. Have you ever considered the idea of quitting this project when those harsh times hit you? 

Rune: Yeah, there were some rough days when the guys had their medical issues. We were really worried about them, but I didn´t consider the well-being of the band in those days. I only thought about the guys having a good recovery. After they got back in good health I thought about the fact that the band had been in distress. But that didn´t matter at the time. The fact is, that I think we grew stronger from it. Not that I would like it to happen again, or view it as a good situation, but more in a way that I think we need to take the positive out from it, and continue from that. We had some delays with writing and recording, but that was it, and it´s in the past now.
Gjermund: I guess it is impossible to be in a band without being fed up and irritated from time to time, but that is more about slow email correspondance and different opinions than band members getting cancer. It was never an option to quit because of bad luck and illness.

M.I. - Being grown up family men do you view the underground scene differently from the way you viewed it 25 years ago? In your opinion what changed? 

Rune: I don´t really think about that. But I guess some of the mystique has disappeared. All the information is right at everyone’s fingertips all the time. I really respect the bands that are able to keep some of the privacy and a little mystic atmosphere around them if you know what I mean. At the same time, these are the days of sharing and keeping in touch, which is also good, with the fans and everything, so I guess it´s up to each and everyone how open you want to share your personal information.

M.I. - The band members enjoy taking a break from metal… which bands do you listen to when you do that? Why do you need to take this break?

Rune: I like to listen to lots of different bands and artists. I need variety in music, or else it gets boring for me. One of my favourite things are when friends ask me to listen to their old or new favourites! It´s fun to get to know new areas of the music universe. Also, I like to listen to local musicians and bands, and to keep up to date with everything that happens in my part of town. Some of my favourites these days apart from metal music are Susanne Sundfør, Lana Del Rey, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and Bare Egil Band.  
Gjermund: On tour especially, with several bands every night and noisy backstages, it is nice to listen to something other than metal on the bus, rest the ears and get some variation. The music can be everything from rock to country to eighties pop to electronica to movie soundtracks. A couple of Norwegian favourites of mine are Susanne Sundfør and DumDum Boys. 

M.I. - Which bands/musicians have had a major influence on you while growing up? Why? Were they somehow responsible for you wanting to become a musician?

Rune: For me it was Iron Maiden. When I first heard “Live After Death”, I knew that this was my life, and I had to become a musician. Also, I got really into Pink Floyd and Dire Straits through my father, and he gave me the opportunity to see both of them live when I was a kid. That was important for me.
Gjermund: Iron Maiden and Metallica were my favourites when I was a kid.

M.I. - If you could have one of your “idols” as guest musician in one of your albums, who would you chose and why?

Rune: I wouldn´t mind David Gilmour doing a guitar solo on “Heim” from our new album! 
Gjermund: I very seldom feel for doing guitar solos in Orkan, but I would like to see Adrian Smith do one.

For Portuguese version, click here.

Questions by Sónia Fonseca