[Interview] Vederkast /w Heave Blood & Die @ Prelaten Kro & Scene, Tromsø

by Emīls Vilcāns

a1662973352_10On the evening of 22nd of October,  Prelaten Kro & Scene uncovers it’s stage to host Tromsø’s own hard rock/progressive metal craftsmen – Vederkast. With 5 months since the last encounter with the band, HTA had the chance to sit down and talk with the guys. Supported by Tromsø’s sludge/doom act Heave Blood & Die, the evening is balanced between the punk and the mystique. 

Held in the very center of town, the place, Prelaten Kro & Scene, for some reason I cannot explain, reminds me of The Green Dragon Inn. After finishing the fine local brewery’s dark beer I meet up with Magnus Tornensis [drums] and Finn Fodstad [guitar/vocals] from Vederkast, soon after joined by Sindre Bakland [guitar] and Paul Aronsen [vocals/bass]. And through the black gates we enter the Scene room, surprisingly, a quite spacious one. We sit down and have a chat, which you can read a tad lower. Meanwhile, Heave Blood & Die are setting up for opening the show. The butcher coat sludge/doom metal quintet from the very start fills the room with thickened doom atmosphere. Noisy as hell, these guys (and lady) fuse their doom/stoner instrumentals with Karl Pedersen‘s [bass] and Mads Ystmark‘s [guitar] screamo vocals, gaining a pleasant sludge metal out-put, Neurotic I and Neurotic II being the best examples. Tending to their stoner side of things, the band imprints some of it’s Kyuss influence in the track Blues Machine. With a blooming riff, Heave Blood wraps the room in a desert-like desolation, finally adding that buried wah-guitar to their sound, and, with the lead of Kenneth Mortensen [drums], they emerge on their stoner-rock’ish run that just so ends up slow-paced buried in the sand. Presenting their self-titled debut (April 29th, 2016, BFTRS Records), the show of Heave Blood & Die is well put together. Whilst their songs don’t shine as compositional masterpieces, the band still delivers diversity in the atmosphere, time signatures, effects and the riffs. If you enjoy Sleep, Neurosis, Kyuss and Bongripper, check them out! [FB] [SC]

A short pause, a fast switch-up between the two acts and Vederkast is ready to unleash it’s loud roar. Opening their set with Skirmish, the band seems to be as lively as ever. And, better yet, joined on-stage by their cello master Bernt Simen Lund, who also stepped in for the band on their debut – Northern Gothic. Accompanying the guys on three songs, Bernt‘s cello fights it’s way through the riff assembled walls, adding, where audible, that extra melodic nuance. Yet, that’s not the last surprise the group brings before us this evening. After finishing their gripping ballad My Burden, they engage in their first newly written song with a working title – Skitten Mopp. Fitting perfectly within the set-list, this piece still delves on that traditional Vederkast sound, with a complex guitar riff verse and tricky time signatures throughout. Coming to the track Forget Me Not, the band is joined on-stage by their second guest – Tarjei Antonsen on keys, whose organ tracks are also featured on the debut album. Assisting on three tracks, the main one being Malison, the keyboardists sound is quite hard to make out, being pressed under the distorted guitars. Although, you can still sense his touch, easing the flow on each of them.  The second new piece, with a working title as well, is Is-Is, which is based on a catchy stoner’ish riff and altogether is quite straight forward in it’s composition. Landing on their closing song Remain, Vederkast nail their most diversity filled track, again, leaving me astonished how much of a glimpse their 11 song set-list feels. With the two guests and two new songs, the band’s performance at Prelaten is by far the best I’ve seen from the guys. Packed with diversity and surprises, Vederkast is definitely the band that can drag you into the melodic/progressive metal world and yet present the whole thing with an ease and a lot of their own twists. To get a more intimate view on the band, continue reading onto the interview with Vederkast below! [FB] [BC] [SC] [IG] [Official]

It’s the end of 2014, the formation of Vederkast, how did you guys end up together?
[Sindre] We actually worked together. He [pointing at Magnus] was working at the same school as Finn and me, and he wanted to start a band, so… [Magnus] Yeah, we just started talking one day during lunch break, had some coffee, and… [Sindre] Real boring story [laughing]! [Magnus] Yeah, it is real boring. But, you know, I just wanted to play some rock & roll…because I’ve been listening to prog and rock, and metal all my life, but never really played it, at least on drums in a band like that. And I knew about Sindre and Finn, of course, so I just asked them if they wanted to try something else. Stuff happened.

So, all three of you worked together, how did Paul join the picture?
[Paul] I knew Sindre and Finn from before. [Sindre] Yeah, we knew each other, but the main thing was that I was actually going to play the bass in this band, but, when we started rehearsing, I started to play the guitar because it was so easy to make riffs and stuff like that. So, that was kind of fun, so I thought: “no, we’ll have to find another bass-player instead”. And we knew him, where he was… [Magnus] And possibly also a singer would be nice.

From what kind of musical backgrounds did each of you emerge?
[Paul] I played a few bands. One band was a, kind of, pop-rock country – a band called Desert Highway. And then had another band called Whore House Blues Orchestra, and that was a bit more heavy rock, maybe. [Sindre] And Just Did Doris. [Paul] Yeah, that was a short period between…I think it was the year 2006, I was playing on one EP. And then the first band I played here when I came to Tromso was called War Pigs. And we played for about two years.

War Pigs – Just like the Black Sabbath song.
[Paul] War Pigs, yeah. We were influenced by Black Sabbath, but we played our own songs. [Sindre] Finn? Over to Finn! [Laughing]. [Finn] Just to add up on the earlier question, how did we all come together… We also have known each other, pretty much, for a long time before this band started. Maybe not everyone, but, like in the Tromso’s musical environment we all… [Magnus] We knew about each other. [Finn] We [looking at Sindre] actually played a very long time ago. [Sindre] Yeah, that’s probably 20 years ago. [Finn] Yeah, the early 90’s, when we were in like Junior High School. Played in several bands. And I had two more bands. And I also played in Whorehouse… with you [looking at Paul]. [Paul] For a short while. [Finn] For a short while, yeah…didn’t like it that much. [all laughing] [Paul] Obviously! [Sindre] We grew up together, Finn and me. We played together when we were young. But, then he had his bands and I had my bands. [Finn] And I also did a fill-in for his band at the tour… [Sindre] Yeah, Taliban Airways. So he played a little bit with us there, for a year or so.

That basically explains why both of you, when on stage, go so good together instrumentally, because of the history.
[Finn] Yeah, perhaps…maybe! [Laughing] Never thought about it, that could be a reason. [Sindre] Nah, [laughing] I just usually look over and…OOOoh, that’s the song, alright! [Finn] And style wise, I think, I’ve been playing mostly heavy rock and hardcore. [Sindre] I’ve mainly played a bit hard rock and stuff like that, but later years only played stoner-rock, so this is totally out of my league. It’s more difficult to play this than stoner-rock, let’s say. [Magnus] I’ve been doing a lot of alternative, pop-rock kind of stuff, some Sami music and some freelance work – both modern pop and hip-hop. Kind of little bit of everything. But like I said before, never really something like this, which is, sort of, what I’ve always wanted to do. In addition to everything else, this was kind of the missing piece in my musical experience.

Do you guys remember your first jam session as Vederkast?
[Sindre] That was, probably, just him [looking at Magnus] and me. [Magnus] Yeah, it was just me and Sindre in the beginning, a few times. And then… Finn came along for a couple of sessions and then, finally, Paul was there also. And when that was, I don’t know…a couple of months after.  [Sindre] I think that was in April/May of 2014. That was, probably, when the whole band was together for the first time. But we had done some rehearsals just me and him, and us three a couple of times. [Magnus] We had a couple of songs basically finished by the time Paul came in. [Sindre] Malison was pretty much finished, but we lacked the vocals, of course. We had the structure. And Skirmish was almost finished, I think. [Paul] And I think we jammed on the one we didn’t play on the… [Finn] Leave Them Behind [Sindre] Leave Them Behind, yeah. It took a while to finish that song.

Ok, so the very first sessions were without Paul, how long did it take you to end up with the sound on Northern Gothic?
[Sindre] I think it was pretty quick, actually. Malison was the first song we finished, and that kind of set the standard of what we wanted to sound like. A bit. And Skirmish as well, I think, captures Vederkast pretty good. So I think it was early. [Finn] And also, I think, recording the songs in the studio…because we added a bunch of things we hadn’t thought of. Just like technical guitar stuff. And we were like: “oh, this is how it really sounds like.” Little bit different than in the rehearsal room.  [Sindre] We didn’t do a pre-production or anything. As soon as we had a couple of songs we just went into the studio and recorded. And then we found a figure while we were listening to it, it was like…oh, we’re missing something here. We need to do something here. [Finn] So I think a lot of it was created in the studio. I think also the sound came around there. [Sindre] Yeah, the total product, probably, in the studio. But, I think, pretty early we knew kind of where we wanted to be.

Do you remember your very first show as Vederkast?
[Magnus] Oh yeah! Absolutely! The very first one was at “Rock mot Rus” (“Rock Against Drugs)”, in their [nodding at Sindre and Finn] home town or Home Island – Andenes, which is a big… [Sindre] Drug free festival. [Magnus] A festival that goes about 30 years back. And it’s great! We all had been there many times before with other friends. And it was, of course, cool for these two guys to, sort of, debut their new band in their hometown. Yeah, it was a great, it’s a big stage, a big production, so it was really nice to kick it off like that.

On that very first gig, were you well-received by the audience?
[Finn] Yeah, very well received. [Sindre] Yeah, I think so. But nobody knew any of the songs, except Malison, I think. Maybe they had heard Skirmish as well, I don’t know. But, it was like a thousand people there, so, from there on it just went down-hill [all laugh]. [Paul] We should’ve just quit after that [all laugh]. [Sindre] I think everyone was very nervous. We played a lot of new songs, and new to us as well, so, it was a terrifying moment [laughs].
[Magnus] We we’re so focused, but it went well. We played all right, no major hick-ups as I remember. It was a good experience!

For you guys, how did it feel to come to the point of recording an album?
[Sindre] We recorded in many different sessions, so we did three songs there and two songs there, and stuff like that. But, I think, when we drove to Alta in May, or something like that, in Finnmark, we booked a studio from the car, yeah, we just said… yeah, we finished these songs and we just booked it, and I remember calling Yngvar (the producer) and telling we took a studio next weekend, and then I realized: “we have enough songs for an album!” And he said: “woah!” At that point I really understood that we had an album. But, all along, the plan was to make an album…at least, that’s what I had planned.

About the band name, some people I’ve talked to about your band usually get quite puzzled about what the name actually means – “a curse from the world beyond this one”, how did the name pop-up and become your signature?
[Magnus] That was a long process. We spent months, I think, discussing and trying to figure out what to name the child. It’s always difficult, actually. I’ve been through that process with many bands, and… it really came from your part [nodding at Sindre].  [Sindre] I didn’t find it, my girlfriend found it in a book. It was just mentioned in one passage, one place in one book. And she said: “that’s a cool band name!” And I was: “What?” [Laughs] And it has a cool meaning behind it as well. So it’s a northern-Norwegian word, but nobody has ever heard of it before. It’s just mentioned in two or three books, otherwise. Someone actually called me to ask: “what does this mean?” [Magnus] The cool thing, I remember, when she suggested the name to us, we tried googling the word, “Vederkast”, and we tried searching for it on YouTube, Facebook and all the major channels, and there were practically no hits at all. [Sindre] There were 9 hits on Google. [Magnus] Yeah, which is pretty great if you want to get noticed on the Internet. So that was kind of the turning point, I think, when we thought: “Yeah, let’s have it, let’s go for that one!”

Do you think that the name resonates with the music you make?
[Finn] Don’t you write lyrics [nodding at Paul]? [All laugh] [Paul] It’s a bit mystical, yeah. Some stuff that I write may be interpreted in different ways. [Sindre] Lyrics match! And the music, I think, captures the atmosphere of the name. [Magnus] Yeah, it’s pretty dark and mysterious, but not all the time, which is kind of important to have that dynamic and that range. Because this is not a black-metal band, it’s not pure evil all the way, it’s more diverse and that, which I think, is very nice.

As a band, which musical acts are your biggest influences?
[Sindre] I think that’s kind of funny, because, when I make riffs, I have some bands that I think of, some songs – okay, that’s some inspiration to me, but I don’t think it’s the same for him, for him or for him. [Magnus] That’s kind of a cool thing that we are so different to begin with. And then, luckily, when we mix it all together with our influences, it happens to work – that’s amazing! It couldn’t gone completely wrong. But it works out, so the fact that we are so different really reflects in the music. [Sindre] It’s funny, because sometimes when I make something and he says: “Oh, that reminds me of Muse”, and I was like: “ssss…shit! We have to change some chords here!” I don’t hate Muse [all laugh], it’s ok. I prefer Tool and Kyuss, and stuff like that.

Ok, Tool, Kyuss…what about you, Finn?
[Finn] Never really thought about it, for this group. For my role, I think, they usually have made a frame for a song and I usually try to figure out where I can… [Sindre] He colors it! [Finn] Yeah, where I can color it! I never really think about any bands when I play in this band, I think it’s a good thing. I just try to find out where I can do something more, with the rhythm guitar or add to the vocals. I never thought about what I wanted to sound like or if it sounds like anyone. Just have to be the guitarist guy! [All laugh]

What about you, Paul?
[Paul] Singing wise, I’ve always been a big fan of Chris Cornell, Mike Patton. But, in the riff point of view, I think I’ve been influenced by our own things, the way Sindre makes up riffs, and I get some ideas from the way he makes them. [Sindre, laughing] Finally, I have inspired someone! [Paul] So, I think, I’m not only influenced by other bands but also the way we make music in this band and try to keep that thread going.

And you come from a stoner-rock band, Sindre, so you should be the man of the riff!
[Sindre, laughing] Yeah! But, strangely, I didn’t make that many riffs when I played in stoner rock bands. I think it’s the guitar part that’s made me more riff-based. We all make lots of riffs and we just add them up, and just sit and listen to them, play them and then, probably, someone comes up with a good idea: “This one! Ah! We can do this or we can do that!” [Finn] I think, like, creatively, there’s pretty much like an ideal how a band should write songs. Because, there are like bands where one person pretty much decides everything – writes and decides how it’s going to be. We’re kind of the opposite, ideas from everywhere and we find out everything together. [Magnus] We take the time to try out, you know, whatever we want. So, the freedom in this band is great! In many ways, unlike anything I’ve done before. The fact that I can go crazy on my drum parts or we can do something completely strange, you know. Not always follow the rules. Just try whatever and see what works. I love it!

And what about your influences on the music you make for the band?
[Magnus] Well, I’m not the biggest riff-maker, obviously, but I have some ideas. But my ideas are mostly arranging rhythmical stuff, to try different time signatures or accents. So I am very inspired when playing with these guys, feels great! Of course, I have some drum heroes and some prog/metal bands that come to mind. But I try to take little bit from here, little bit from there and kind of make it into my own. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unique, but I try to add a little flavor from different things. I could listen to a riff and be inspired by gospel music, and they will never know, but that’s what I’m having in the back of my head when making drum parts. It can be anything, basically.

You guys recently released your cover on Cornelis Vreeswjik’s “Cecilia Lind”, what’s the story behind the song for you?
[Sindre] I just remembered that Magnus just tossed it out there and said: “Cecilia Lind, we should cover that one!” [Finn] And as we said, we’re pretty much open to anything. I was also like: “Really? Ok, let’s try!” [All laughing] [Magnus] It’s a beautiful song, I’ve loved it for many years, I wanted to cover it for many years, never really had the opportunity to do it until now. I’m a big fan of Cornelis Vreeswjik’s songwriting. And, of course, Paul is Swedish, so he had a chance to sing in his language, which is wonderful!  [Sindre] I hate doing cover songs, really, because, usually, when people do cover songs, they just cover a band that sounds like them, do it the same way the other band did. If you’re going to do it, you have to do it totally different. In my opinion, that’s the only way it’s worth doing. Then you’ve added yourself to it. If you just did it the old fashioned way, it doesn’t matter.

Now you’re upon your 2nd EU tour, what are the experiences and lessons you’re going to take with you from the first one?
[Sindre] I don’t know if we learned that much. Probably how to save more money. [Magnus] Bring some extra warm sleepwear for cold nights. [Sindre] The booking we do everything ourselves. It’s hard to get noticed on a bigger scale. We do clubs and we have to take what we get, pretty much, for now. But that’s ok, we like it, but we would really like to play for a bigger audience, that’s why we do it several times, to get noticed. And probably, somewhere, sometime, someone will hear us who could take us a step further.

And that is also the reason why most the venues for this tour are the same from the last one, good contacts?
[Sindre] We contacted the places that were good last time first and we got those confirmed, so we had something to build around. And we tried a lot of new places, but not everyone checked out. We had to cancel Hamburg last year, so we wanted to do that again. And Leuven, we had to cancel that one as well last year, so that’s two gigs we had to cancel last year. That was no good. Last time we were on tour it was the Bataclan episode at the Eagles Of Death Metal concert, and that happened on the second day of our tour, we were like: “whaaat?” And then, when we were playing in Leuven, Belgium, every Belgian authority said: “don’t play concerts, don’t do that”, and yeah, we were scared [laughing]. We didn’t want to take any chances and we didn’t really want to fly from Belgium, we just wanted to drive away and go somewhere else. It was no comfortable situation to be in. And we just thought it’s not worth playing a gig for 10 people in Leuven. If shit happens, then shit happens.

The last time you were on tour you also played a gig that was practically empty.
[Finn] It was completely empty. But the cool thing they had like a system where we could play tapes and record a video of our concert. It was a cool thing to do and we had to live there, so we might as well play.

As an independent band, what does it take to manage a tour like this?
[All laughing] [Magnus] No idea! [Sindre] Well, basically, we send a lot of e-mails. Loads of e-mails everyday and we hope to get some responses from clubs or management, or whatever. Practically, it’s a job on top of the normal job, so it’s a lot of work. Some people say musicians don’t do enough, well, fuck them!

For the future, where would be the top places where you’d like to tour?
[Sindre] Anywhere! New places! Japan! [Magnus] Of course, everyone dreams about nation tours – Japan and of course the States, both Northern and Southern America, really. Even Africa! I would love to go anywhere! Antarctica, maybe? Metallica played there, so maybe we could too?

You guys should go to Svalbard!
[Magnus] Yeah, we really want to go there. [Sindre] We played in Svalbard, Finn and I. In 2013 with Taliban Airways. It was great! We had a weekend there, played one gig, got drunk, drove snowmobiles, went looking for polar bears and stuff. That was great, I loved it! [Finn] You can’t really tour Svalbard, it’s just like, you play there. That one place and then you go back. Maybe we could do Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland in one tour. That would be very expensive.

What are your plans and ambitions for next year?
[Magnus] Play as much as possible. Write a lot of new songs. Maybe start recording something. Just continue to have fun doing this. That’s my ambitions! [Sindre] Yeah, my ambition is…I think we will record our next album next year. During the early part, hopefully. We’re a bit behind on songwriting, but we have a lot of sketches. A lot of groundwork. We need to finish those sketches and start recording. That would be the main part. And hopefully we will get some booking agency and record company. That’s the dream. American dream! [Laughing]

A possible album, what boundaries from Northern Gothic are you going to push forward?
[Finn] We never talk about that, I think. I would, personally, like more of the mystical sound to it. Also, maybe a bit more progressive. [Magnus] Keep on challenging ourselves in the songwriting, both creatively and technically and just see what we can do together! Because there are no limits!… well, there are several limits, but [All laughing] we will see if we can get there!

What should the people coming to your shows expect?
[Sindre] I think they can expect a pretty tight band, a lot of atmosphere and… I think they will get a… I don’t know how to put it, I haven’t heard how we sound [Laughs]! [Magnus] I hope people will find the live show interesting and exciting, and fairly varied when it comes to dynamics and songs. Atmosphere in general. That’s what I hope and that’s what we’re trying to do. [Sindre] I think people interested in music are going to find it interesting, really. I find it interesting, at least.

So are you excited for today’s gig?
[Sindre, laughing] Yeah!

[Sindre] Nah! [Finn] We’re too old to get nervous [all laughing]. [Magnus] It’s going to be great fun, yeah. [Sindre] Yeah, I think it will be fun. We are going to play two new songs today, so that will be interesting. [Finn] We are also having two special guests – one on cello, Bernt Simen, and Tarjei Antonsen on keys. Really looking forward to that!

Ok guys, have an awesome show!
[Vederkast] Thank you!