EINHERJER’S GERHARD STORESUND Talks 30th Anniversary, New Live Album and Current State of Viking/Norse Metal: “It’s Not Dangerous; It’s Not Underground Anymore”
August 7, 2022, a month ago
Norse Viking metal stalwarts Einherjer are closing in on their 30th anniversary, with nary a sign of slowing down in sight.
Fresh off the release of their 2021 studio album North Star, and a prestigious Spellemann Award nomination in their home-country, the four-piece force of nature have dropped their new live album Norse And Dangerous (Live… from the Land of Legends) from Napalm Records.
Recorded during the North Star release shows in their hometown of Haugesund in February of 2021, Norse And Dangerous is a potent collection representing the truest forms of one of Norway’s unsung heavy metal pillars.
Drum and keyboard wizard Gerhard Storesund sat down with BraveWords for his thoughts on the pandemic and how it affected the group’s creativity, his opinion on the current Viking metal landscape and a trip back in time reflecting on nearly 30 years of Einherjer.
BraveWords: Obviously, COVID really put a damper on everybody's plans for touring, for just about everything. It was strange. Did you find it was a productive time for you and the band? Because obviously you had the new album you were working on, North Star. Now you've come back with this live album. But how was the process during the initial stages of pandemic? Were you able to get together much? Was it done remotely? Kind of take me through that.
Gerhard: “Yeah, it was all of that stuff, you know? Because in the beginning of the pandemic we didn't get together much because it sounded like everybody was going to die, you know what I mean, through the media. Like the horror virus and all that stuff. So I think we got colored by that and tried to sort of say okay, let's just keep the distance for now and it stayed like that for a while. But we were quite lucky here in Norway, at least for the great majority of the pandemic. Not so many people here and we're few and far apart. So we weren't affected that much.
“So after a while, we just thought we can't keep on doing this and sit at home all day. So we started working again. Since we couldn't go out and play, why not just create a record? And that's what we did and we can do it here locally so we don't have to travel anywhere. We have a studio at Frode's house where he has a studio that we use. So we do everything here and that worked even during the pandemic. We didn't have to crowd the place with a bunch of people. Sometimes it was just me and Frode and sometimes some people were recording the guitars at home, you know, remotely. Just everything is done digitally through Cubase.
“So it is possible to do everything separately, but not the drums. That's got to be done in the studio. So yeah, it's a strange period, but I think it worked out in the end. I mean, it's something about the pandemic as well that's created some kind of laziness, you know what I mean? Everybody else is sitting at home and watching Netflix and then you just get infected by it, I guess. That's how it was in the beginning.”
BraveWords: Had you begun North Star before the pandemic? Or was that kind of solely done once COVID hit?
Gerhard: “Let me see. I think some of the parts. We always have some stuff lying around. Some ideas and stuff like that. So I guess the idea process for some of the songs probably started in 96, you know what I mean? So yeah, there's like ideas, old ideas maybe in a couple of the songs, but the production and the recording and all that stuff that was done during the pandemic.”
BraveWords: I've spoken with a lot of artists and there are some folks who said, “Well, I have nothing but time. I was really able to get creative, whether it be coming up with riffs, doing different things, or the songwriting”, where there are other artists who found it psychologically, emotionally tough to be creative. For you and the rest of the band, did you feel like it was a pretty fruitful time creatively?
Gerhard: “It was, as I said earlier, a bit strange in the beginning because it sort of created some kind of dullness and laziness because everybody was doing nothing, you know what I mean? You knew that was sort of a boring time. It's difficult to be really creative and be full of energy in that kind of situation, you know?
“So I really understand people that have difficulties with creativity and stuff like that. But after a while, at least here in Norway, we saw that not much was happening, really. And this just escalated and sort of dragged out in time. We just had to start. It's like with creativity, it doesn't fall in your lap. You have to pick up the guitar or the keyboard or whatever and just work. It just doesn't drop down from nowhere.”
BraveWords: Speaking now of this live album, Norse And Dangerous, and I'd imagine in those really early gigs finally getting back after the pandemic, particularly in your own country, the energy between the fans and the energy you guys were exhibiting on stage, it must have been pretty surreal.
Gerhard: “The strange thing was it was during a lockdown here in Norway, complete (lockdown) almost. So this was like a theater venue, seated audience and all that. And we were supposed to play in one day with 200 people. That was the limit. And I think just around the time we had a lot of interviews, regarding the new album and people were almost shocked that we even played a gig, you know? No, that's not allowed here, and stuff like that.
“But then like two days or something before the gig there were new restrictions, so we were only allowed to have like 100 people in there. So we had to play two gigs basically, so we had two gigs at the same venue with 100 people in each. And I can tell you that the energy from those hundred people there was quite something. You know, even in a sitting audience those people were thrown out and drunk and hell. It was cool. It’s a bit strange when you sit there, when you play a gig from a theater audience and a hundred people are just sitting there watching you. It's a little bit like a circus attraction kind of thing. But we knew probably 80% of the people there. It was a good two days.”
BraveWords: Fast forward to I guess the summer of 2022 and it’s quite the contrast from 100 people. You know, we're talking Hellfest, Wacken, all these massive European festivals. Now you're thrown back into the machine and it's like thousands of fans at the biggest festivals in the world. Talk about a contrast.
Gerhard: “That's a big contrast. And I mean, we were at Hellfest a few weeks back and it's like nothing ever happened. Pandemic? Never happened. It was packed wherever you went, you know? So it was insane and insanely hot as well.”
BraveWords: It may even be stranger playing to 100 now than 20,000. Were there nerves? Did it feel like, wow, it took a while to kind of get back in the motion of it?
Gerhard: “Maybe on the trip down a little bit because it's long, but once you get there and everything is set up and ready to go, It's just fun, you know? Obviously, we had some issues on that gig where none of our stuff got there. None of the instruments. We had to play in shorts and all that stuff. But we had to borrow the equipment. But still, it was awesome. It was fantastic.”
BraveWords: It's funny to think of the band in these terms because I believe next year will be the 30th anniversary, which is pretty incredible. Obviously, you had a bit of a hiatus up until 2008, but just the fact that it's three decades of this music and kind of the evolution of this band, does it kind of give you pause to think of yourselves as musicians in 1993 versus where we'll be in 2023? It must feel like a lifetime ago.
Gerhard: “It feels like a lifetime ago just when I see the pictures from the early nineties with the fur stuff and all that, like wolf fur on us and blood and gore and all that stuff. It feels like ages ago. It feels like it's someone else, actually, even though I know it's us, but it's very strange and it's almost like you feel a bit old maybe, 30 years.”
BraveWords: Thinking back to that period, what were some of the big feelings and influences I guess in the Norwegian metal scene? Obviously black metal was such a very prevalent thing. And I guess the bubbling and what would become Viking metal and Nordic metal. That was all really starting to happen in that period. Looking back at that time, I'm just curious what it felt like? It's probably hard to think of it now in those terms because Viking metal and Nordic metal are so well-established.
Gerhard: “It's well-established and also we call it house warm. It's like housebroken or whatever you want to call it. It's not dangerous. It's not underground anymore. Back then, in the early nineties, it was really underground and people didn't know about it, normal people. They didn't play it on the radio or anything like that. So what was happening in the underground was sort of only known to the people in the underground. And that's where we were, a small community.
“We didn't have the Internet, by the way. That's how old we are. And so we had to sort of send letters back and forth. If you wanted to share the demo we had to send it physically in the post. It's very strange to be a part of that old pre-Internet and all that stuff. I remember I was sitting with a double decker like a cassette player and copying demos like crazy. It's really, really strange. Now you're just sent a file.
“I don't know exactly how we got to know all the other bands, like Rotting Christ … which were a little bit bigger than us, a lot bigger than us at the time, Master's Hammer and stuff like that, which is just like a huge impact for us, these old black metal bands. But everything was by letters and word of mouth, basically. It's quite a difference from now. I'm not saying anything is better or worse. It's easier now.”
BraveWords: Just the accessibility of music now. It's just everything's at your fingertips. If you want to learn something, you can go on YouTube or any of these websites. Back in the day you had to really work to get your metal, especially the heavier it was, the more extreme, the more underground you had to work to find it. And there's no secrets anymore?
Gerhard: “No nothing. I remember when I was sort of getting into drumming and stuff like that. I was listening to Sepultura for example, like Beneath The Remains or Extreme Aggression with Kreator and stuff like that. And over and over and over and over checking out what he did or they did stuff like that. Now you can just go on YouTube and see exactly how they do it. But I guess that's a good thing. I mean, you learn it right the first time, you know?”
BraveWords: I'm curious for you personally, was there kind of like a seminal band or an album that kind of lured you into heavier music? Like, I know a lot of us have gateway bands whether it be Black Sabbath for Metallica or Deep Purple or whatever it might have been. Was there something for you at the time?
Gerhard: “It depends on how far back we should go. Band wise, an inspiration for the band that really changed everything, that was like Bathory, hands down, Twilight Of The Gods and Hammerheart. But that's newer. Stuff that really got me into this at all, like rock metal, I guess it's KISS. Still is for me, one of the greatest bands of all time. I guess we sort of loved them long before we heard the music just because of the look when we were kids. So yeah, that still sticks with me, that and also Status Quo.”
BraveWords: You know, I'm curious what you would like to see be the next step, because obviously if you wanted you could really roll out a pretty epic 30th anniversary type celebration tour next year. You have this live album, which is a fantastic representation of where you guys are, and you're just coming off North Star. You've been pretty active with albums every couple of years. What would you like to see the next year or two for the band? Is there kind of a blueprint that far out?
Gerhard: “We don't have a blueprint. These past couple of years the pandemic is still latching on, so to speak. And it's still a thing. Even at Hellfest we had to travel with face masks and everything, you know. So there's still restrictions here and there. But I guess next year, at least, what I'm hoping is that everything, all this crap will be over and forgotten about. Exactly for a 30 year anniversary what we had planned? I'm not sure. We haven't really planned anything major yet. But maybe we will. The only thing I want to do next year, as you said, maybe a tour, if that's possible. The problem with all that stuff is that we're all working full time jobs, so it needs to fit everybody. But a small tour and a good festival season. That's what I would like because everything we do this year is just stuff that we booked in 2020. And there's nothing wrong with that. But we don't have much new stuff, new festivals that we booked now.”