Interview: Grutle Kjellson Of Enslaved
The Viking gods of progressive black metal return to herald the coming of Spring along Australia’s East Coast this August. Fresh from delivering the outstandingly heavy powerhouse of an album “E”, ENSLAVED are bringing the brutal beauty of their doom-laden drums and sledgehammer guitars to deliver a glimpse of metal Valhalla in the blood pounding manner that only they can. SÓLSTAFIR join ENSLAVED as their very special guests for the tour. 20 years into their astonishing career and riding high on the five-star reviews for their Berdreyminn album, SÓLSTAFIR finally bring their blend of intense post-rock majesty and beautifully melodic, atmospheric progressive metal to Australia. We got to speak with founding member, vocalist and bassist, Grutle Kjellson, before their tour of Australia. We spoke about the new album, touring, Christianity and the weather, plus much more.
You were here in 2016 when you celebrated 25 years of Enslaved, do you remember how that was and did you have a good time while you were here?
Oh well I was drunk so I don't remember anything... (laughs) just kidding, uh it was great! We played two sets each night so it was kind of long and it was a long travel of course, it was pretty exhausting. It was a very exhausting year actually with those shows, lots of songs to learn all over again because we played a lot of older songs from albums that we hadn't played for many, many years. But it was cool, always nice to play down in Australia, one of my favourite audiences, so yeah, really looking forward and excited to come back.
Nice! This time you'll be coming back in support of your latest album "E" which is fantastic by the way. We can't wait to hear songs from that album being played live. What are you looking forward to most about being back in Australia?
It's been two years, and like I said it's always one of our favourite audiences. It's always exciting to present new material for an audience that haven't yet experienced those songs live before, so that's always exciting. We are also bringing along some really, really old songs from '93 and '94 as well, songs that we have never performed in Australia before, so very much looking forward to that and bringing something a bit different to last time.
You've been called extreme metal quite often, even though you embody different elements of metal such as black metal, progressive metal and even viking metal. What's your favourite style of metal personally?
Well I've never really been concerned about labels or genres, I mean if people call us rock and roll then that would be fine by me. We just go on our own way and make our own contemporary favourite music, so I don't really mind what we get called.
Growing up, what music made you decide that you wanted to be a musician?
We started listening to music properly in the late 70's and the types of bands that were around then were Kiss, Slade, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Rainbow and stuff like that. Later on it became Iron Maiden and the thrash metal bands and of course the more extreme metal bands like Venom and Merciful Fate as well. So, it was a development but I think what really hit me was extreme metal and bands like Venom because they were so frowned upon and they were so artistic and you had that occultist approach. They were completely set aside from the rest of the music scene and they didn't really give a fuck about opinions, and I was really fascinated by that approach to make music and perform music. That was definitely the biggest inspiration for me when we started listening to those really extreme bands, and for it was Venom, Merciful Fate, Celtic Frost and Bathory who were the biggest inspirations.
What's it like playing these Summer festivals in Europe at the moment such as Wacken and HellFest?
That's always really cool for us, those two festivals that you just mentioned were probably the best Summer shows that we've played this years, absolutely. They were fantastic and there were so many people and so much energy. We never get tired of playing those festivals, although the travelling in Europe in the Summer time can be a pain in the ass because there's just so many people travelling and lots of lost luggage and things like that, so that can be really annoying of course. But I mean, you forget all that when you're up on stage and playing in front of 20,000 people.
Have you had a hot Summer in Europe this year?
It's been crazy actually, I mean, even the Western of Norway where it's usually all rain and 12 degrees in Summer, it's been quite warm in comparison and I'm not used to it (laughs) so yeah it's been crazy.
Well you're coming into our Winter here and it's probably a lot warmer than your Summer.
Oh yeah, well I hope it's not too hot, I don't like the heat. Anything over 15 degrees is too hot for me (laughs)
Have you experienced many weird moments during your time on the road and touring across the World?
Not at all (laughs). Oh man, there's been a lot of things. There's one particular memory that I have to tell from Mexico in 1995. It was absolutely crazy. We played there in a small venue and our backstage area was actually in a whore house, so there were like rooms in there with Mexican men wearing white shiny shoes and white hats who were bringing the girls to have a little chat before they got down to business I guess. So our green room was one of the rooms of the brothel, and that's just one of the moments I can remember right now, I could go on for 2 hours if you like but we don't have time for that. Sometimes you can't avoid weird experiences.
You've said before that you're quite openly anti-Christianity and non-religious, do you still feel this way and does that have any influence on the music that you create?
Oh I just became a Catholic yesterday actually so I'll have to disagree with you... (laugh) No, I'm still the same, I mean, just look around you and ask yourself what the World has benefited from religion. It's crazy. I mean it's not even religion, it's politics, it's just politics in a very bad wrapping. The whole Christianisation of Europe was politics, not religion. There's nothing in there to support, it's just dumb, it's just stupid, so my opinion on that will never change, not at all.
Finally, do you have any words for your Aussie fans before you begin this tour?
Of course! Thank you for showing up last time and I hope that you decide to come back to these shows as well, and each time we're in Australia it's just so fantastic and very memorable. So pleas come along and let's make one hell of a party together, let's destroy these venues. We are very psyched to come back.
Get your tickets here - www.davidroywilliams.com/tours/enslaved-2018/
Written by Steve Jenkins