James travelled down to London to have a chat with Enslaved’s two founder members before they played a date at the Academy in Islington. This show with Grand Magus was turned out to be a warm-up of sorts for something pretty special next year…
Enslaved will be playing three special shows entitled ‛Enslaved 25’ as part of London By Norse 2016. These special shows by the Bergen five-piece are to commemorate a quarter-century’s worth of cultural and spiritual invocations and ever-expanding musical horizons. The first show of ‘Enslaved 25’ will be at The Dome on March 17, with support acts to be announced, and their journey will continue the following night at The Underworld. This rare event will culminate with a night at Shepherds Bush Empire on 19 March, which includes a performance by Skuggsjá and feature Wardruna’s second ever appearance in the UK plus a rare art exhibition by former Gorgoroth and God Seed vocalist Gaahl.
On March 18, The Forge in Camden will see Enslaved’s Ivar Bjørnson presenting his immersive electro-ambient project Bardspec, while Einar Selvik will be presenting his workshop, a spellbinding solo performance and wide-ranging talk that takes in the philosophy of Wardruna, the background to the ancient instruments he uses, and on the historical background to Skuggsjá.
But, back to 2015 and backstage at the Academy…
MT: You’re currently on tour with Grand Magus and the first show was yesterday. How did that go?
Grutle: It was ok. The first show of the tour is always a bit strange and we have new sound, backline and light technicians. So I’d say the new crew was naturally a little bit nervous but we pulled it off. Tonight looks good, I have faith in them!
MT: After this tour, you’re playing a few dates in Norway and then heading over to the states with Between the buried and Me. Are you looking forward to those tours?
Grutle: Yeah sure! We’re going to be playing loads of venues and places we’ve never played in Norway. It’s the most extensive tour we’ve done there, it’s like 16 shows there, covering everything from the south to north. I’m particularly looking forward to the shows in the northern part as it’s like a completely different country and they don’t have a lot of shows up there. The states is always good and it’s a good market and territory for us.
Ivar: Playing in the States is always a bit of a challenge for us as we’re playing to potential fans but I think that’s why they asked us to paly with them. There should be some bridging between the fans of the other bands and ours. If not then we can just beat them in arm wrestling!
MT: I spoke to Dan from Between the Buried and Me a few days ago and he said that they were looking forward to it.
Ivar: Oh great!
Grutle: Why didn’t you tell us beforehand?!
MT: Do you have your gear with you this time as last time I spoke to you at Bloodstock you’d had all sorts of gear problems…
Grutle: Yep, barely. You just got your guitar back a few weeks ago.
Ivar: Yep, 31 days after Bloodstock. It was surreal. I kept calling the airline as they wouldn’t return my calls and it was always in a different place. They tried delivering it 5 times to the Bloodstock, the last time was when the whole festival was packed down and it was just a field. Then it disappeared, was in France for a bit, then appeared in Manchester. Then it disappeared again, and ended up at the Bergen airport. The people in that airport called me and said they had my guitar. I’d like to know where that guitar has been, it’s probably been in space or somewhere.
Grutle: The problem is always Charles de Gaulle. It’s like a 99% failure whenever we travel through there.
Ivar: Some big touring bands have that in the rider. They put, Cannot pass through Charles de Gaulle.
MT: A little birdy told me that you’re quite a fan of Family Guy, Ivar. What’s your favourite episode?
Ivar: Oh man, there’s so many good ones. I think the one that really kicked it off was the surfing bird thing. It’s not the oldest but it can be considered old now. I would say that one just for nostalgic reasons.
Grutle: I’ve got that on 7”. The Trashman one.
Ivar: Oh yeah. We watch a lot of Family Guy, me and Grutle.
MT: Who normally writes the music in the band?
Ivar: I write the music and we then adapt the arrangements with Grutle for the vocals and I have some basic starting parts for the other instruments. The other parts are then developed and Cato’s drum parts are slightly altered.
MT: I know it’s probably very early days, but have you started working on any new material?
Ivar: No actually I haven’t. I’ve got a few ideas here and there but I’ve not written anything down. I’m guessing around January/February time is when we’ll start writing some new material I’m guessing.
Grutle: We’ve been really busy since the album was released so we haven’t had much time to do anything at all.
Ivar: I’m guessing by the time we get to Christmas, we’re going to be wanting to work on some new stuff.
Grutle: Yeah totally. It’s always good fun to start working on new albums.
MT: As you said, you’ve got the 25th anniversary coming up so do you have any plans?
Grutle: We have many plans that we’re not going to talk to you about!
Ivar: They’re so secret even we don’t know about them! Right now, we want to co-ordinate it and make sure that we can pull it off.
Grutle: There’s going to be shows in England.
Ivar: London’s going to be the epicenter of a lot of it.
MT: Any shows in Scotland?
Grutle: I hope so!
Ivar: We were discussing how horrible it was that we are not stopping in Scotland. Missing out on the all the haggis and whiskey sauce.
Grutle: We want to eat some good haggis and whiskey sauce. The place we went to last time, Drum and Monkey was awesome. Great portions and awesome sauce.
Grutle: Ah… Fantastic.
MT: Given you have your gear with you today, what’s the normal gear you use to play live?
Grutle: The usual Gibson guitars, Peavy amps and Pearl Drums.
Ivar: Is it Sabian cymbals?
Grutle: Paiste Cymbals I think.
Ivar: Yeah, Paiste cymbals. And Rotosound strings. They’re fantastic and great for strangling people with.
Grutle: And you can take them on the airplane. You’re allowed to do that but you can’t bring a nail cutter on as that’s a weapon. You can take a thick bass string but not them.
MT: Thank you for your time guys!
All photos by Thorin Earl – more to be added to our Flickr page soon.