Vreid – Interview with Jarl Kvale @ Damnation Festival 2015

7th November 2015
Interview by Demitri Levantis

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At this year’s Damnation Festival, we caught up with Vreid’s bassist Jarl Kvale (Hvall) to see how the year has been for the black n roll outfit and their new album.

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How do you think this year has been for Vreid?

It’s been a long and very good year for us, we spent the first half working on a new album and now it’s out it’s the best reception we’ve had for an album so far. And now we’re touring, done six shows so far so a very good year. We played in Norway and our first show in the UK today, some of the best reception we’ve ever had here.

Is this the first time you’ve played in the UK?

No we’ve played London several times and we played Damnation about 3 years ago, we even toured a few years ago with Paradise Lost too.

How do you find the Norwegian Black Metal scene today, how do you think it’s changed in the last 20 years?

I don’t think it’s a scene anymore I don’t see that. I just see lots of bands who play black metal and a lot of them have changed over the years too. There’s not that many bands growing from the underground, some are coming up but not like those who came about in the early 90s.

What are the biggest musical influences on Vreid?

Usually you can divide it into three decades, like the 70s rock with Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath and then the 80s with Thrash Metal, really inspiring stuff, and of course the 90s Norway scene that inspired us to do music.

How about literature, art or films?

Absolutely, a lot of history in fact. My education is in history so we’ve done two themes about World War 2 so that means a lot to me.

With those World War 2 albums did you ever have anyone accuse you of being Nazis or militarist?

No, some people might look into what a band is writing about and then realise what they’re on about is history so it’s the same as reading a book about WW2. It’s a fascinating period of history and wasn’t very long ago so it’s very interesting to write about. But we’ve never had any accusations thrown at us.

So Vreid is not a political band?

Not at all.

What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

It’s the process of writing music, that’s why I do it. I write music for myself and working with ideas and then as a band we work together to come up with something. And having a loyal fan base that’s like a bonus on what we’re doing and we get to travel the world making music.

So is there any particular country that has a particularly big Vreid following?

It’s rather spread out over many countries. We travel a lot to places like France, Germany and the UK who are all good to us.

What are your favourite bands to listen to all the time?

Alice Cooper. There’s lots of other bands I’d recommend but I don’t know where to start, playing here today are our good friends in Solstafir, they’re one of the freshest bands I’ve heard in a long time. They started out as a real black metal unit and developed their sound into something very different so they’re one of the best bands around.

Having played here before, what do you think of Leeds compared to London?

Well it’s hard to tell, London’s always good and we tour there all the time. And Damnation today was amazing, of course it’s a festival so it’s people from all over England, not just Leeds so it’s a really great festival.

Have you ever found yourself supporting any bands completely different to yourself and you ask yourself ‘why are we on the bill’?

We did a tour in the states once with a really odd line up, it was Belphegor who were excellent and then there was Eluveitie and Alestorm on the same bill so a crazy mix, but it worked. There was a very big audience. But years ago differences between bands would have made something like that really strange.

Have you played any major festivals this year like Hellfest or Wacken?

Played both Wacken and Hellfest last year and we did things like Party San, almost after each album we play festivals for the rest of the year.

How do you find Vreid’s music changing with every album, has it stuck to a particular formula or has it moved on from what you started with?

We just do what we do at the time. If you look at the new album it’s the most black metal we’ve ever gone. We’ve always had a mix of Norwegian black metal and rock n roll stuff. But the new album, it’s the strongest nucleus of black metal.

So which album do you think is the most black n roll as people put it?

Maybe the I Krig album because we used a lot of rock influences. Further on with albums after that we just did what we wanted to do but we like to go back to where we started so on the new album we used a lot of ideas that didn’t go very far.

So do you ever say to yourself, we need to make a particular number of albums or you need to put out a new album every couple of years?

No we don’t do it like that but the last ten years I’ve been making music all the time so it comes naturally to make new stuff. But after the last album I had about six or seven months off not making music for the first time. But whenever we have the inspiration that’s when we start making music but if the inspiration is not there we can’t do it.

Have there been that many line up changes in Vreid over the last 10 years?

No we’ve been the same guys playing together for 20 years and Windir before that so it’s the same old gang.

Do you ever think Vreid might begin to sound anything similar to Windir?

Well it’ll always be similar because we gre up together with that band and all played it. I played a lot of music for it but some albums are just more similar than others.

Finally, can you think of any bands run by friends of yours or in the current Norwegian scene who you really would recommend as they deserve more recognition?

I think two of the freshest bands I’ve heard in the last few years are Necromant and Obliterations, kind of thrash and death metal bands who brought back something we haven’t heard since about two decades ago. Sounds like early Sepultura stuff and would really like to hear more of that.

It’s been great talking to you, well done again with your performance today too.

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