partner: V'gandr (vocals/ bass),
After the gig in Munich Nov. 8, 2006, vocalist and bassist of Helheim, V'gandr, took out some time to answer our questions (and guitarist ThorbjÝrn joined us later). So what is a band doing, which sometimes seems to be a thorn in the side of any political people from either directions? Exactly: that band keeps on with creating their excellent, non-political Pagan Metal.
((Comments in double brackets are additional explanations of Twilightheart))
Sheol > We had a bomb alarm here around the location this afternoon. This might be one reason for the lack of visitors today. Or do you think it had other reason, too?
Vígandr > If I only knew. I think itís the promotion, but Iím not sure. Itís out of our hands. Itís not Helheimís problem to promote it.
Sheol > Was it a problem for you to play for only 30 people?
Vígandr > No, but actually if itís a bigger crowd and itís a more enthusiastic crowd, it gets over to us in a way, it influences us, but we did the best we could out of the situation. We were not bored or anything. We played our stuff and gave as much as we could to the crowd.
Sheol > The gig was very great, thatís for sure.
Vígandr > Thank you. But it was a better show yesterday. But every day canít be as good as the other day, it goes up and down.
Sheol > As I said, there was a bomb found here yesterday, which got dismantled today. So many subway and undergrounds didnít go, maybe thatís also a reason why not many visitors came.
Vígandr > I heared that at a lot of shows these days that really less people are coming. So in a way we think ďOkay, itís not just us.Ē Itís everywhere in a way. Anyway, weíre not that big of a band, so for us to carry such a burden to be the only known band in a way, itís too hard. We should have had one more band at our size, then there would be more people. XIV Dark Centuries were supposed to maybe join the tour, but they cancelled because I think one guy couldnít get days off from his normal job.
Sheol > I hope you anyway could take out something good from this tour?
Vígandr > No, the tour is great, donít get me wrong. Iím really not sitting here whining at all. We had a lot of good shows. I think that happens to everybody. And the other guys from the other bands are really great to travel with, so apart from that weíre really happy.
Sheol > In which city did you play yesterday?
Vígandr > Berlin. It was excellent, the crowd was great and it was a smaller stage. It was more packed and more energetic in a way. So we really felt good yesterday.
Sheol > I`ve read an entry in your guestbook some days ago, even before the Berlin gig. It says: ďYou donít have to play on Wednesday in Berlin or you getting some trouble. Stay away with your childish potato norse shit, arrogant pissers. Death by hanging!!! Fuck you.Ē
Vígandr > Yeah, I know that. We saw it the day before but we have no idea whatís that all about.
Sheol > And were there some people in Berlin trying to make trouble?
Vígandr > No, nothing at all. Nobody showed up. I donít know what it was, but we didnít care about it anyway.
Sheol > There was something else I read in your guestbook. Any fan at the Leipzig gig almost broke his nose. What happened?
Vígandr > He was fine. We took him on stage and we gave him a guitar. He was headbanging all the time. And then when he gave back the guitar, he was headbanging all the time and crashed his nose into the guitar. And he was just standing on stage bleeding and banging. Afterwards we asked him and he was alright. He came the day after and he was in Berlin yesterday and he will come to one more gig. He is a big fan. Heís a German guy.
Sheol > You gave him a guitar. Could he play it?
Vígandr > No. It was just to make some noise. Just for fun. We supposed to do it all nights, but we have to see the crowd in a way. Thereís no necessity to take someone up on stage when theyíre not in front of the stage. Sometimes it depends on the audience what we can do. Once we had 3 people on stage, one was singing along, one was playing the guitar along, and just one girl dancing. But it was really funny, people loved it and took a lot of pictures.
Sheol > I wonder why you re-released the first 2 albums. Donít you think that might lower the sales numbers of the new album?
Vígandr > No. It was our decision, because the first 2 albums havenít been out of production for many many years. Weíre not on that label anymore, but people still buy it. So to make it available again, itís the best thing to do. I think itís better that all the people can buy it instead of buying it in a second-hand-store. You can have a brand new release of it. We remastered the sound and the cover.
Sheol > The new album ďThe journeys and the experiences of deathĒ is much more complex than the previous albums. Itís not so easy to get into it.
Vígandr > Itís a much different album than the earlier ones. But itís definitely of course the best. I think itís an interesting album with 2 sides, one aggressive side and one more melodic, more epic side. Itís all linked up to the lyrics. And we never worked as hard before as on this one. We worked really really hard to make it believable. You have to present something that people can reach.
Sheol > I had to listen to it several times to get a connection to it. But after 3 or 4 times I liked it.
Vígandr > Then it means itís a good album, because I think albums that have to develop in your mind, that's the albums that will stick in your mind in a way. Thatís the way I feel. When you hear something once and you like it, of course you like that too, but you get more or less bored after a while. This new album, you really have to listen a few times before you get really into it.
Sheol > Why did you suddenly change to an English album title?
Vígandr > Because the last album was also a lot of English lyrics and I couldnít switch between the English and the Norwegian lyrics when making a story, it should be one language. So I chose English due to the sources that I used. And also I found it more easy to present the content of the story with the English language. But the next album again, I can say, will have a lot of Norwegian lyrics again, so weíre more and more getting back to the Norwegian.
Sheol > I think especially for the Germans the interesting thing about Norwegian bands is to hear them sing in Norwegian language. There are enough English albums on the market.
Vígandr > Totally. I can see that. But we came to a point where I drained myself with the Norwegian language, lyricwise, so I had to do something else. But now I am ready to return to the Norwegian language, because now I had drained myself in English language. And also because if you look at the 3 languages, you have more diversity.
Sheol > Youíre always writing the lyrics alone? Do the others not even give you an idea of what you might try writing about sometime?
Vígandr > No. It all started out with me writing the lyrics, and it has always been like that. The others donít want to involve themselves in that because they know that I know what Iím talking about. And also I am more content to do it alone, because then I can have the flow of the album lyricwise, I can decide myself, and I know each lyric and what it is standing for. I myself wouldnít like it if somebody else in the band would like to do the lyrics, Iím a bit egoistic about that.
Sheol > Are the others satisfied with handling it like this?
Vígandr > Yeah, with the music we have a democracy, but when it comes to the lyrics, itís MY job. Itís like in an office. ďYour job is to write the lyrics, and your job is to do the drumsĒ for instance.
> Have you already seen one of Helfahrtís gigs?
(( = one of the support bands, Pagan Metal from Munich))
Vígandr > I saw their gig yesterday and I saw a few songs from the earlier days on the tour. And they are getting better and better I think. They are up to something. They have something to build on, I think. But they are still young, soÖ I think they should continue. They could become something really good.
Sheol > You will play the RagnarŲk IV festival again next year. Did they offer it to you as a sorry for letting you play so late last year?
Vígandr > Thatís the reason, definitely. If we would have played at the time that was set originally, it would have been okay. But since everything was so fucked up and we played like 2 a.m. or something, really late, and there were a lot of people who went to bed. I saw in our guestbook that many people wanted to see us, but they just were too drunk already. We lost a lot of audience on that. We were supposed to be one of the headliners along with some other bands. Unfortunately there was some mixing and changing of the line up and we were saying ďokayĒ. And Black Messiah couldnít play of course. It was a strange gig anyway. So he offered us to play again. Next year weíre gonna play at 10 oíclock and thatís for sure.
Sheol > Now something less serious: What happened to your artists names? Some years ago it was a long Nordic name that no one can speak, and now you have the short versions of it, and still no one can speak it.
Vígandr > First of all, the original names were Vanargandr and Hrimgrimnir. But then we thought itís too long, so we just took away the middle of it. Since the names are so weird, people recognize them anyway. People donít speak it, but they know we have strange names. We used those pseudonymes for so long now, that we just stick on them.
((ThorbjÝrn joins the interview.))
Sheol > Do you think in some Metal genres people should use artistís names anyway?
Vígandr > Itís up to the bands. Some artist names are so stupid that it would be better if they would stick to their real names. No names mentioned, butÖ I think we donít have the most stupid names. But ThorbjÝrn uses his real name. He joined the band at a later stage and he kept his real name. If we would take out the band only these days, we wouldnít have the artist names, I think.
Sheol > I heared you did some sightseeing today in Munich. What did you see?
Vígandr > We went to the old part of town and went to this Bierstube and ate and listened to some Humppa music. ((common laughter))
Sheol > Thatís not sightseeing! ;-) And that was German ďVolksmusikĒ, not Humppa!
Vígandr > Well, we didnít have that much time, we walked from here to the city and the guys of Helfahrt were guiding us, telling us a bit of this city, of the history and stuff. And then we were hungry and so we were sticking in that pub.
Sheol > What was the last gig that you saw as a visitor?
Vígandr > It was W.A.S.P. in Bergen. Me and ThorbjÝrn and some other guys. It was brilliant. I was a little kid again, just headbanging throughout the whole show. I love W.A.S.P. It was 700 people in Bergen, I think.
Sheol > What has been your worst tour memory (apart from today, maybe)?
Vígandr > The most stressful one was the X-mas tour. I donít have a driving license, so I shouldnít complain that much. But Iím really thinking about ThorbjÝrn, who was driving most of the time. He must have been exhausted. We played in Berlin, and the next show was in Rotterdam, you know the distance is quite far. We were finished in Berlin at 4 a.m., ready to drive. So we played the show, then we had to drive to Rotterdam, you can see thereís no sleep. And when we came there, we had to unpack, unload and everything, and then we played the 2. gig. So we played 2 gigs without sleep.
ThorbjÝrn > And then I got 1 hour of sleep in an apartment, and there was a dog in the apartment, and the dog was the owner of the apartment. ;-) I closed the door, but the dog managed to open the door, and I was laying there on the ground, and the dog was there on the sofa. It was a Doberman or something. I think I was sleeping for 5 minutes. I was just laying there, trying to get warm. I could hear the dog breathing near my face, and the dog was stinking also.
Vígandr > Another bad memory was the Under The Black Sun festival. There were some Nazis that were supposed to beat us up or something. It was a violent festival. I think a girl was raped.
ThorbjÝrn > But thatís not proven.
Vígandr > And I think someone was knocked down.
Sheol > Did they tell you right into your face that they wanna beat you up? For what reason?
Vígandr > No, the promoter said it: ďJust go backstage, donít do anything on stage, just play, then go backstage and stay thereĒ. And when the gig was over, there were no trouble, because the guys who were supposed to beat us up fell asleep.
Sheol > I heared you had problems with the antifascists also, because you had to cancel one of your gigs.
Vígandr > Well, WE didnít have problems with them, but ALL Pagan- and BM bands had. But we didnít say anything to them because we didnít organize the concert, but a promotion agancy who did it, and the agency guy was told, that we couldnít play there. But I donít know if it was those people that made the trouble.
Sheol > Some clubs in Germany donít want to have any Viking- or Black Metal bands anymore, it seems.
Vígandr > Well, we only had problems in one place. So it was only cancelled there. But the other clubs had no problem.
Sheol > Itís only a German problem, I think. Or do you have problems in other countries?
Vígandr > No, never. Itís probably just a German thing.
Sheol > It would be very frustrating, when the Pagan- and Viking- bands are the new victims to witchhunt, just because they donít find anyone else.
Vígandr > Yeah, itís not understandable at all, because we have never been a political band and we have nothing to do with the right or left side at all. Well, people come up with these strange ideas.
Sheol > Did you always have those problems that people try to push you in any corner just for being from Norway?
Vígandr > Yeah, but I guess we have made our point clear: weíre not politicalÖ and those people who havenít got it yetÖ wellÖ what can I say!?
Sheol > Nothing left to say, I guess. Thanks for the talk.
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