About Me

Interview with Vreid

In 2021, VREID once again invite the fans to their dark, cold, and wild universe. Leading the black n’ roll movement in Norway, VREID arose in 2004 from the ashes of WINDIR after the tragic perishing of Terje ‘Valfar’ Bakken. The Sognametal legends declared the mission of exploring new musical paths, which they have pushed to even greater heights on their new record ‘Wild North West’. 
The ninth record is not just a collection of songs, but a concept album developed alongside an entire movie. Throughout eight chapters, one is taken on a journey deep into the mountains, to a dark place where the borders between reality and fantasy fade and where death is only one step behind you: The Wild North West. VREID have done something truly unique and lifted their art to a new dimension. Metal Imperium decided to ask Jørn Steingrim Holen a few questions about their new masterpiece! 

M.I. - The band’s sound is described as “Black n’ Roll”… is this still the best description for Vreid in 2021?

Hello. Yes, we've been described as Black n Roll, but to be honest I never really thought - or cared much - about what people call our music. In my opinion you can enjoy music regardless of brand, category, etc, etc. 

M.I. - According to the press release “The Sognametal legends declared the mission of exploring new musical paths, which they have pushed to even greater heights on their new record ‘Wild North West’.” What does this mean exactly?

We always like to explore different new angles to both recordings and liveshows. The combination of a full record and a movie with eight music videos – releasing this as a package has not been done before.

M.I. - How did the recording process proceed this time? Did you work differently than on previous albums because of covid?

No, the recordings actually was, call it, "normal". We recorded most of the album when things were quite "ok" here in Oslo, and covid-cases were few – so in that sense we were lucky with timing I guess. We did re-arrange some songs when the movie started to form, but this was done in Jarles’ studio and did not involve the whole band.

M.I. - What can you tell us about the new album? 

In my opinion, it is the strongest release we have done. What can be said?? – it's number nine (and not the last) & includes a movie. The songs are quite varied, and you'll get the idea with that when watching the music videos, or preferably the whole movie. As it can be called a concept album, and much is fiction (and some parts are reality) I guess you have to make up your own mind about the story itself.

M.I. - How different is “Wild North West” musically speaking when compared to your latest album “Lifehunger”?

You definitely can hear that this is Vreid, and this is in some way a natural continuing of Lifehunger. But, I think, this is much more varied, has more elements of music and time periods that has influenced us as a band – the moods from the 70's, the thrash-metal from the 80's and so on.

M.I. - «Wild North West» is a concept album about the Norwegian state of Sogndal. Why have you opted to do a concept album based on this state? What’s so special about it?

Simple answer here. This is where we grew up, and this is were we belong. We have always been proud of the Sogndal-area and what people from this area have achieved. Two of the band members also still live here. The story/concept could probably have been told anywhere in the world, but as for the film/movie there was no other option. 

M.I. - Vreid has put together a really creative film, inspired by the work of David Lynch, to coincide with the album’s release. Is David Lynch a source of inspiration for you somehow? Why do you appreciate his work?

Very much so. I think it's difficult to watch David Lynch’s works and not get affected. I still remember the fear watching Twin Peaks for the first time, when we still were in our early teens. I could hardly sleep - and this universe was so spooky, evil, weird and still intriguing.

M.I. - The first chapter of the film has already been released to the public. How have the reactions to it been so far?

We've had very good feedback to all chapters, people really seem to appreciate it (which is obviously very satisfying).

M.I. - Hvàll has stated “I try to have no limits on the creative work. I purely write music and lyrics based on my inner voice. I pay no attention to expectations, rules, or dogmas of how things should be.” Have you done that again this time around? Did the pandemic affect your writing or lyrics somehow?

No change here, we usually do not pay any attention regarding the story, lyrics etc. I think this is the real essence of "Sognametal", do it the way you want – your own way, do not care what others may say.

M.I. - Do you heal your own wounds when writing lyrics for a new album? Is it therapeutical for you?

Sort of yes. This is what we like to do obviously, but I can relate to that idea of self-cleansing therapy more or less.

M.I. - Which of the newest tracks are you most proud of? Why?

I think "Into the Mountains" is sort of special in the way it was created, using Valfar’s lost synth/bass-tracks from 2002. But listening to the album I must say "Dazed and Reduced" turned out so very cool and different than I had in mind doing the pre-productions... This is probably the song I have played the most myself (I usually do not listen to my own music very much).

M.I. - The cover has a “wild wild west cowboy film” vibe. Was that the intention? What’s its meaning? Has it got something to do with the fact that mankind is trying to destroy nature and only death will stop it?

Yes, this was intentional. This has more to do with what inspired us in the "movie world" years ago. We grew up with spaghetti-westerns, and we've always liked the films. So, when the movie following the album slowly took form we thought that would be both fitting and a cool thing.

M.I. - In your opinion, is the virus being “nice” to nature considering that it has stopped society from doing many things it was doing… is it nature’s way to show us that it has more power than we imagine?

I guess it shows us how small and helpless we are when something like this happens. But I don't see it as a "power" trying to show off - this has happened before, and it will happen again.

M.I. - How have Vreid dealt with the pandemic that has affected us all? Did you ever imagine we would face an invisible enemy? How have you kept your mental sanity?

We were just as little prepared for this as all others, but in the end this period has made us think differently – looking for different options. How can we adjust to this, how can we turn this into something positive?! You cannot stop, sit down and feel sorry for yourself. The new record, the video sprung out of the livestream we did last year. This livestream would not have been done if there were no pandemic, and so on…

M.I. - The band believes in the here and now… has this whole situation made you even more certain that one should live in the moment and not expect things from the future?

Yes, definetely. Although there is nothing wrong with planning ahead (we do that all the time of course).

M.I. - Vreid have done something truly unique and lifted their art to a new dimension. How proud are you of your accomplishments so far? What has been the highlight of Vreid’s career?

Very proud. It's very difficult to point out "this is the greatest moment" I think. In total we are proud of how many people enjoy the music, and all the great tours and shows we have been lucky to play over the years – catching up with good friends all over the world.

M.I. - In 2018, the band teamed up with Season of Mist for the previous full-length ‘Lifehunger’, and that contract is still on. How are things between band and label?

Very good and very professional – we are very happy how things are working out.

M.I. - Vreid have been a heavily touring band. How much do you miss being onstage?

Oh, we miss that a LOT! We can't wait to get back on the road, and meet all the fans. Also, there's something special about the "off stage" time as well. The strolling around in the city we play, the excitement backstage before the show and so on. We miss all that.

M.I. - Do you expect to be able to promote the new album properly? Any plans already?

We have plans of doing that psysically as well, yes. We've already had the livestream of the record/movie, and news of touring will come – although this is something we have to adjust to covid/the pandemic, of course.

M.I. - If you could tour with any band at all, which one would it be and why?

Personally, that would be Metallica for me – or Slayer. But both are unrealistic of course...!

M.I. - “Vreid launched their own beer in 2020, which turned out to be the biggest success of the Balder Brewery. Instead of waiting to be able to tour again, the Norwegians invited the fans to their home region and hosted a massive streaming concert among the beautiful mountainous surroundings of the Sognefjord. The concert, ‘Into the Mountains of Sognametal’ took place in June 2020 and was viewed by over 140.000 people from more than 40 countries”. Any more “strange” plans for 2021?

Yes, we have plans. New ones that will come. As I said, we like to do things out of the box so more strange plans are brewing.

M.I. - Please share a final message with our readers.

Thanks for your interest and support. Please check out the new album and movie "Wild North West" – and hopefully we'll see you on the road soon!

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca