Interview with Kampfar

Interview with Dolk (vocalist of Kampfar)
De Beugel, Arnhem (NL)
By: Roel

During the, already described, listening party of the new album of Kampfar called ‘Mare’ , we had an oppertunity to ask Dolk (singer) a few questions.

Are you having fun at the party in The Netherlands?
Yes, I’m having fun, I went from winter to spring in a day. The last thing I did was bring in two buckets of firewood for in my home as there is one meter of snow in front of my house. And then I come here and see people already working in the garden.

This party is a different way of celebrating an album, than when releasing previous albums.
Yeah of course, normally we don’t have a release party. For us this album has been, to put it in short words, not normal in any way. It has been a struggle for us to come here. And for us to say ‘ hey this album is now out, lets celebrate it’ is one of the biggest reliefs. The opportunity arises that Ask (Drummer) lives here and could organize a party. I just got called and said I would come straight from Norway.

Will there be different party in Norway?

No, this is the release. We normally don’t have this big event going on in Norway, as Norway has been a bit cold when it comes to Kampfar. What is great to see is that with the release of the new album for the first time ever, we are already on the 5th place of the Norwegian charts, even before the release of the album. That is something very special for us. It is quite nice to see that things are starting to happen in Norway. Finally we get some recognition from the home country. It has taken us by surprise. We probably have to do a minitour in Norway.

You have now recorded a new album. It’s your 5th album in about 16 years. But it is your third album in 6 years with first Kvass and Heimgang before. This is a big change in tempo from the early days. How do you explain this?
Well the thing is, Kampfar has always been Thomas and me. When we finally got together with Jon and Ask. That changed the tempo a bit. It was more natural to go touring. We had plenty opportunities to do that before, but it was hard to arrange with 2 people. When they came into the band, it was those two guys who pushed me and Thomas to go further and faster.

How would you define the new album?

This album has been a great struggle for us. To put it in pictures, before this album we have only gone till our knees into the water. Now we have decided to go for a swim. We wanted to go the whole way. For the first time ever we decided to go with a metal producer (Peter Tagtgren). We talked to Peter many times. The whole idea is we didn’t want to go to a studio with someone because it would turn out that way. We wanted to go to a person that really wanted to do this album. A person who had clear ideas. All those years I was talking to him, he was always the guy who said we should do this together. That was a clear signal we should and could do this. In the end we decided we didn’t want to do the album without him. And we don’t regret it. I’ve been working with Kampfar for 17 years and still I was amazed of what Peter did in the studio the first day, as I had no idea what he was doing. He did things I had never seen before.

You talked about Peter, are there any other new influences?
With this album we kind of tried to redefine our roots. Because we felt that we had gone into a street were we told people what we do and we reached the end of that street. We had to redefine what we are doing. We had to go back again in time. So what we tried to do is old school in modern shoes. That was the really hard part. In my opinion we are closer to the core now than ever. As an artist you always want to push things forward. With Heimgang we took it a bit forward but it was a bit too safe. But with Mare we did everything in another direction.

How was the atmosphere at the recordings with Thomas gone?

It was hard. I have been together with Thomas as blood brothers for like 17 years. For me hearing him say “I’m done with it”, was really hard for me. The great thing is that Thomas has been with us the whole process of the album. He has not recorded the album but has been with us during the whole process. We will always be influenced by Thomas but don’t know if he will still have an active role on the next album. As with the Mare album we have created something to continue on.

How are things between you and Thomas?
Me and Thomas have such a bond that we have only talked by phone and not in person as it will probably be too heavy. But the time will come that we will be together again. And I can tell you one thing for sure, and that is that I will never turn my back on him. As we have been together so much.

Any new projects of Thomas?
No, nothing known about his projects. I know what he is capable of. He is the kind of guy who does something 100% or not. So it will be interesting to see what he will do as I don’t know it myself.

Of course guitars are played on the new album. With Thomas gone, who played those?
We have agreed to not tell. Only thing I can say is, it is not Thomas. Thomas helped with the process but did not record. We are together with a new guy called Ule. But he has so far only been live musician this year. What will happen, we don’t know.

Is there a one defining moment that you thought : This album is coming?
It’s strange how Kampfar has always been like that. We’ll we work the best under pressure. Like the Mare song itself, we did it the last day before we went to Sweden. We were just sitting in the living room with a lot of whisky and the song just shaped. The same thing happened with Ravenheart, it was the natural thing to do.
We have decided that we want to make a album every two years. But in the ends you don’t have control. So the pressure is good. When you have pressure you create. The day before we went, we thought there was something missing. So we did the Mare song in like 3 hours. So for me the true moment of that album was the day before we went into the studio.

How do you see the future?
It’s quite hard to say. We have been in an era where everything happened, like the police knocking on the door every week because of all the shit going on in Norway (1991, 1992). And if you think about that and the situation today, its quite different for us now. We are still the same guys. We still do the same thing. But today black metal is so common; as you now read about black metal in the biggest papers in Norway. That is one of the biggest thing to struggle with. Black metal is not for the common people. It is supposed to be a individuals expression that means something. The whole idea of black metal is blurry now as you see it on the national television and is becoming really generic. That will be the biggest struggle for Kampfar in the future. To keep doing our own thing without being influenced by all the other stuff going on. If we will succeed only the future will tell. But we will try our hardest to make original and strong music.

Final question : There is always one question you are dying to answer and never gets asked, what is it and what would be the answer. So what do you want to say to the public that no one has asked you?
I don’t know if it is question but its something about Norway. Norway is a long country but it is a small country and in the end there is the big boys club in Olso. You have to be in the big boys metal club to get somewhere in Norway. When you are not in there you cant get anywhere. For me that has been one of the biggest battles in Kampfar. To do what I want to do and say fuck you to the rest aka big boy league. There are so many great things going which never come to life because there is this big club of humans that lock them out. That is one of the struggles of Kampfar. That is why it is so great to see that it is going great in Norway without being in the big club in Norway. That we reached this without being in the big club.