Kampfar's II13 Answers Some Questions
In conjunction with the Hammerslag Vinterblot 2006 sponsorship, I sent over some questions for Kampfar by email. Kampfar's drummer, II13, has taken the time to respond.
Gothique: First of all, I have to say that you made a tremendous comeback with "Kvass". What prompted the resurrection of the band?
II13: The band was never dead, as it seems to be perceived by many. Of course, Kampfar has never been the most visible band in the media, at least not until lately, so the amount of information has been scarce. But, the thing that happened back in '99 was that the amount of personal issues within the band meant that it was not possible to focus on creating music for some time. It ended up taking over two years before they did anything, and it was through Dolk's attachment to Gruesome that things started getting back on track. They brought Jon in on bass, and some time later I joined.
Gothique: Were you looking forward to getting back on the map? Did you expect "Kvass" to be so well received by both fans and press?
II13: Expectations were unnecessary, really. We just spent a long time making an album that we felt strongly about. In this band everything takes a longer time than one wants, but it always comes out the best that way, so we all just try to be as patient as possible and trust our abilities as musicians and as a group. To me personally it wouldn't matter too much if the album was well received or not, I am proud of what we've done none the less, but it is of course beneficial to have a well received album out when booking concerts.
Gothique: How long did it take you to put the album together? Were you writing music during this 7-year hiatus?
II13: We wrote the album in 2 years, and recorded and mixed it in 3 months. Though, neither the 2 years nor the 3 months were continuously working, as we need breaks in between for distance and reflection. Also, for the writing, we became a live band in that period which meant that many rehearsal hours were spent getting the old songs in order for the stage.
Gothique: How did the addition of the 2 new members change the band? Did it affect the song writing process?
II13: We've talked about this many times, and they seem to believe that the band wouldn't have existed much longer if something drastic didn't happen, which it did by adding the two of us. We spent some time understanding the principal of Kampfar, but it went quite fast before we all clicked and were pulling in the same direction. For me it was a challenge to cut down on my playing, as I used to be into technical metal much more. In Kampfar I am the foundation, underlining the power of the guitar and the accents of the vocals. Same with the bass. As for the song writing we write as a group. It normally starts with Thomas having a couple of riffs put together, and then we dissect and remove or add lines, exchanging ideas and at the end we end up with a song that everybody put something into.
Gothique: Your 2007 live schedule looks pretty busy. Is this a direct result of your signing with Napalm Records?
II13: Napalm is merely responsible for our albums. We prefer to do as much as possible ourselves, so that we have (almost) full control over what's going on. This means that we have to sacrifice some offers, and some times struggle to get things to work out. Yet, it also means that we get to decide what's going on. For instance with touring, we decide which bands we offer to come with us. This means that we get a good group of people travelling together, which is such an important factor when you live together for weeks. We have a Portugese booking agency by the name of Icon Music Agency being our extended hand in this, though. As for the festivals it's mostly a team effort, but Jon has done a great job getting those in place.
Gothique: Compared to your previous releases, Kvass doesn't incorporate so many traditional folk elements, but in my opinion it still creates the same atmosphere. Is it important for you to stay close to your roots?
II13: That's a perception we get some times, about as often as the album having more folk elements than on "Fra Underverdenen". I haven't listened much to the album since we were done with it, but the other day I gave it a spin. And I discovered that "Gaman Av Drømmer" is quite folky. My perception is that the folk elements are just used differently than earlier. As for the roots, it was important that we keep the same atmosphere, feeling, as before. It's uninteresting to write a song that resembles one that's been written before, but one can make a new song sound like it could only come from one place. I think we did that here, take "Ravenheart" as an example. This song has a harder and more defined rhythmic build up, it has three different time signatures, and the structure is different than anything ever written by this band. Still, it sounds like 100% Kampfar to me.
Gothique: How is the Norwegian metal scene today different from 10 years ago?
II13: More diverse, I would say. There are internationally acclaimed bands from many different genres here now, and people seem more free to express what is natural to them. At the same time we have ways for new bands to be seen and heard more easily so the amount of bands is enormous compared to back then.
Gothique: You sing primarily in Norwegian. Could you explain to our readers what is the main focus of your lyrics?
II13: The focus is on nature and the dark forces within it. After all we're all products of nature, and so is everything around us in the end. So basically, even though nature is a focal point, the lyrics are about very diverse subjects.
Gothique: Judging by your artwork, you are fascinated by nature. In this relation, where do you stand on the global warming issue? Do you think mankind is exhausting the natural resources and killing the planet?
II13: I don't think we should be so arrogant as to believe that we can kill this planet. But we can kill ourselves. The thing is that Earth has been through some rough shit, and can handle it, it just adapts and evolves. Mankind on the other hand can't take that much, so we're much more fragile to changes. Still, I think things are being done for us to handle the upcoming changes. Any futuristic movie gives a black and white image of mankind and the world, and if you look around and study people you see that there's an enormous diversity within this breed called mankind. And most of them want things to work out in the end. I live in The Netherlands these days, and this country and their engineers have proven that nature can be controlled on a big scale. Still, it might go terribly wrong here within 50 years, but they're ahead of things and will be prepared in that case.
Gothique: Thank you very much for your time, it's much appreciated. Any last words to our readers?
II13: We're hoping to see you guys at Hammerslag, one of the greatest events in Norwegian music! This time of the year needs some real metal! Keep the banner high!
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