About Me

Interview with Einherjer

Considered one of the pioneers of Viking Metal, Einherjer recently released their latest album - "North Star". The Norwegian band, which already has eight records, recorded the latter in COVID times and Gerhard Storesund, drummer and founding member, revealed to us that this has become an advantage. We also talked about Viking Metal, playing in Asia, and the band's trajectory, which has a 28-year career.

M.I. - How have you been going through these strange times? Do you feel that it has influenced your creative process?

Well, personally for me, this time hasn't been very strange, to be honest. (laughs) Because, you know, I've been working as normal, nothing has changed that way and Norwegians are kind of anti-social animals anyway (laughs), so, we don't visit, we don't sort of run each other's doors down. So, personally pretty much the same, except for all the pubs that are closed and that stuff. But for the music, obviously it has had an impact as we can't travel anywhere, everything we do or had planned got cancelled, we had a lot of stuff going on in 2020 like tours, festivals, Norwegian tour… but it wasn't cancelled really, it was postponed until this year but, you know, I think this year will be not much different… at least over the summer, I think. So, yeah, but for the recording process, I don't know if I should say this, but the pandemic has been really good to us. It has given me or us a lot more time actually to finish the album, a lot more peace, less distractions, you know, we don't have any gigs to worry about, all that stuff. And the album was supposed to be released in October 2020 but, because of the pandemic, it was postponed until tomorrow, February this year. So, we had a lot of time, extra time actually, to perfect it.

M.I. - But was your approach to this album any different from the previous ones or you think it was also the same?

The approach I think it was exactly the same actually. We have the same recipe, I guess, and the same framework I think… because we think we have found a good recipe, why change it? But the goal is to, within that framework, just make good songs. You know, and that changes from time to time, your minds are getting refreshed and you learn new stuff along the way. What works and what doesn't work so, I think we progress within our own prison (laughs).  I'm just kidding, really, we are free to do whatever we want. No idea is a bad idea, to be honest. We can do anything, basically, but yeah we have some kind of framework that we feel that works right now and, you know, I think maybe on the next album as well we're going to continue down that path, or that uphill I would say, and just make hopefully better songs.

M.I. - Einherjer are a band whose conceptual basis is very strong - Norse heritage. How does this theme continue to inspire you after almost 30 years of band?

Well, I don't know. For me, personally, just going out the door in the morning really inspires me. I think it does, it's not necessarily the Viking stuff that inspires me. It's more like, you know, we have had many many lyrics and stuff about Vikings and Norse mythology but, all in all, I think for me it's more the place that I live that is more inspiring to me. It's that my environment, the rocky coast and all that is what really sparks my creativity.

M.I. - It's great because it's always there…

It's always there, you know? And I think that is sort of available to everybody, no matter where they live, if they sort of feel some kind of connection to it. I really do. So, yeah, and I think that Viking stuff, we still work around that framework but I think we are sort of allowing ourselves to write about other stuff as well. I think that since “Nørron” that sort of went a little bit down, I guess. 

M.I. - Well “North Star” seems to take a step forward in the sound of Einherjer, maintaining the identity of the band and adding some new elements that distinguish it. For you, what makes the difference between this record and the previous ones?

I think, as many people know, we are heavily based or influenced by Classic Heavy Metal, you know, that's basically the foundations of everything we do, like old Accept, Iron Maiden, Rainbow... And Rock and Roll as well, like Nazareth and stuff like that, old school shits basically. And I think that, on this album, I don't know what it is, but it really shines more through than the previous albums. Maybe it's that the previous albums were more sort of meditative than this one, and this sort of got this Heavy Metal aura around it instead.

M.I. - But you mean heavier or not in that way?

Heavier, yes! Or more Heavy Metal, at least.

M.I.- Since 2011, after reactivating the band, you have been very consistent in the production of the albums, this is the fifth in ten years. How do you keep the flame alive to be so consistent?

I think, as you said, we had a break. We started actually in 2008, we started back up again.

M.I. - Sorry, I meant the release of the album.

Yeah, we had our first gig in 2009, I guess. But in 2008 we started back up again, we sort of brainwashed ourselves, washed away the old and we just played Thrash Metal for two or three years, or something like that. And we started it fresh and now, as I said, we sort of found the path and I feel that we're on a really good street so that sort of gives me inspiration to move on. And, at least when we sort of feel that we are getting a lot of feedback, because feedback is important to us, when we get great feedback for the albums and stuff like that, we want to continue the stuff. It's great to be able to be creative and just release albums in the first place, you know. We sort of create our own favorite music, that's what we do. We don't listen to what people say, there's nobody telling us what to do, we close out everybody. We just listen to what we feel and I think we’re on a good path now.

M.I. - Throughout your career, you have always written in English and Norwegian. How do you decide which language to write in, since your main theme is your cultural roots? Do you see English as a way to reach more people, or are other reasons for using instead of Norwegian?

Well, I don't think the language… if we sort of have English lyrics will make us reach more people, but at least the people we reach will understand them, you know? (laughs) And that's, yeah… I think that's at least something. But I think it's kind of like a fluke, you know? Inspiration works in mysterious ways. Sometimes you just feel like writing in English and something about… all or nothing, you know? Either only Norwegian, or only English just to sort of glue the album together, and this time it felt right to do it in English. I don't know, maybe it had some part to do that we also signed on a sort of international label like Napalm (Records) as to the previous albums we were on a Norwegian label, but, you know, it just felt right this time to do it in English. 

M.I. - What do you think about the current Pagan or Viking Metal scene? Do you think that time has brought good bands to keep this kind of Metal alive, or you fear that it may become dated?

That's a difficult question, because I don't really want to step on any toes. As I said, we are based on Heavy Metal, you know, that's where we have the roots of our musical inspiration. And all sort of folk influences we have are from non-metal stuff, like folk music and like neo-folk bands, for instance stuff like Skyclad… Yeah, stuff like that. You know, when we started, Pagan Metal wasn't a thing, really, because there weren't any bands. So, we had to rely, we had listened to normal Heavy Metal and then we listened to folk music.

M.I. - So it's like your way to see, or to play Classic Heavy Metal, but with your roots there…

Exactly we just sort of implement some kind of inspirations like Bathory, stuff like that. Well, it's specifically Bathory… But yeah it's Classic Heavy Metal and then we sort of sprinkle some folk music on top there you know? So, after the later years, the scene exploded in folk metal, pagan metal and a lot of subgenres with, you know, pirate metal even… And I, for the most part, I can't relate to it that much, you know? People are throwing new bands at me and I'm sort of “hey but I just want to listen to Accept” you know? And Dio, you know? So, I don't know… I like Moonsorrow for instance. Because they also keep the metal as the bases, you know? Because you have metal and you have folk, and some people have like metal up there, but some just keep these sliders, like you have suddenly the folk up there and barely any Metal left. And, you know, it's not really my thing. But then, again, many of these bands are big and that also sort of helped us on the way to get into gigs and just as the scene, as a whole, has become big, has already helped us a lot. So yeah, but I don't have to listen to all of them. (laughs)

M.I. - In 2019, you played in China and Japan. How was it for you to play music with such strong cultural roots, in a completely different area of the globe, with such a completely different culture? Do the Asian crowds react very differently compared to the Europeans?

Yeah, I think that they are just more, you know? So, it's everything you think it is, at least in Japan you know? But I think it was a great experience for us. For example, in China where they actually are just recently starting to open up for bands coming from outside and play. Earlier they didn't want people to gather in groups at all in China. So now it seems like they're a little bit freer at least to have metal gigs and stuff like that, so that's a good thing. Although we had to have people with us all the time, no matter where we went, but still. And in Japan it's like, it's a little bit different, actually, because even we're not a huge band, you know, we're not KISS, but you still feel like a superstar when you're down there. (laughs)

M.I. - So was the experience of the show very different? Or when you’re on stage it’s the same?

Yes, it's basically the same on the stage, actually. But they didn't want to leave us alone afterwards. (laughs) But what sort of surprised me… well, I don't know if I should be surprised, but the quality of the venues, and the quality of the people that worked there. They were really really good people actually, both in China and Japan, so that's a good thing. Really high standards, you know? Good sound people and all that so… they are really good. I've seen it seen a lot worse in western countries.

M.I. - Are there any countries or cities whose audiences have surprised you? I mean for the positive, negative or just really different.

Not really, not these days actually. Because, now, Metal is different these days, you know? The extreme metal is completely different these days than it used to be in the 90’s. Now people are freer you know? It's not that elitist thing that… in the early 90’s I remember at least in Norway, all the people that were on your gig they also played in a band. And they just stand there. It was completely different… It's not like that anymore here, you know, I think it's all around pretty much the same 

M.I. It became a bit more standardized…

Yes, I think so. I think people in general are more laid back now than they were before. Instead of looking at the band as some kind of competition, now they're, you know, they're real fans! So, things, at least in that sense, have become better, I think. 

M.I. - Do you think that pagan festivals, like Midgardsblot or Kilkim Zaibu provide a better context for your shows, or that context just depends on you and your audience regardless of their location?

You know this type of Viking or Pagan festivals, I think it's a great thing actually! We played on Kilkim Zaibu which was fantastic, and we also played on Midgardsblot a couple of times actually, so… yeah it collects the right crowd definitely! You know we play a lot of different stuff: we played Midgardsblot, we also played Maryland Deathfest. And, you know, I think we were a bit out of place, on a place like that. You had Dying Fetus, you got Cannibal Corpse and, you know… blast your ears out. (laughs) But that was actually a great festival for us, surprisingly good! Because we gave people a break, you know? People were tired of Death Metal and they needed something else, a little break. So, we actually got great feedback from that festival as well. So, I don't think I should say that the Midgardsblot is sort of necessarily the best place for us, I think any place can be good, really. 

M.I. - How was it for you to release an album in the (still) pandemic context that we’re living in? What has changed in the release or promotion?

Well, you know, it didn't really change anything at all, basically. Because we record here locally. The studio is 10 minutes away from my house so, yeah, I can sort of come back from work, go and record a song if I like. So it's fantastic actually! Because, you know, our vocalist, Frode, he owns the studio. So, we can pretty much come and go as we please, as long as he's got the time you know? Afternoons, weekends… We can sort of drag the process out, instead of like we used to do, travel to Sweden or whatever for three weeks or something like that. And, you know, sort of hurry up and just try to do your best and get thrown out. And we were left with some idea that things could be better. But now we have time to perfect it. We won't release it before it's perfect, before we are completely happy with everything. So, yeah, it's been great I think. Because of the pandemic, as I said, we even got a few extra bonus months. 

M.I. - So musically it's been good for you.

It has, actually. So, it's not like I hope this shit is gonna last any longer, but still. At least it was sort of good for the process of the recording at least

M.I. - What are your short- or long-term goals? Do you have some defined goals for the band?

Not really. The goal now is actually for the world to be unfucked, basically. (laughs) So we can travel again, because that's what everybody wants to do right now. Things to get back to normal, you know, wade in the mud in Germany with a beer, with thousands of people. That's what everybody wants to do, you know? We’re tired of sitting home and watch streamed videos. It's not the same, it's far from the same. People need company, people need to meet other people, you know? And the energy you get from a real gig, both has band and people, can never be replicated on the screen. Well, I mean sometimes maybe when I'm shit-faced and watch Judas Priest, I get the same feeling. (laughs) But it's rare… So, I think people need to get out now.

M.I. – Thank you very much for your time! Just to finish, I wanted to ask you to share a final message with Metal Imperium readers.

Thank you! I don't know how big we are down there and probably, I'm guessing a lot of people that read this don't know the band at all, but I encourage people to buy physical stuff from bands. Because, you know, a lot of people are struggling these days, you know, businesses and bands and everything. So, people can't just sort of justify that they pay 10 euros for listening to Spotify these days, they need to buy their dance stuff. If they want them to survive, you know. Vinyl, shirts and whatever... Not talking specifically about us, because we work, but many bands are actually suffering and they only have the band, so they need to eat. And I also realized that many fans are struggling too, so you know… But if you can, you could try to support bands.

For Portuguese version, click here

Interview by Francisco Gomes