This review is Part of series of articles on London By Norse. The various articles will be linked at the bottom of each page once they have been uploaded.
Before their show at the Underworld a couple of weeks ago in London, I had the opportunity to spend a bit of time with one of the founding members of the extreme metal band Enslaved. We first did a bit of fact or fiction about the band and then focused on the overall 25 years of the band.
Thanks to Claire at Nuclear Blast for organising and Grutle for his time.
The first few questions are going to be a bit of fact or fiction on the band. Firstly, the band was formed in Haugesund but is now located in Bergen Norway.
Yes that’s correct. So one right so far!
The band was formed when Ivar was 13 and you were 17.
Yes, that’s right as well. We started playing together when he was 12 and I was in the band before Enslaved. We started playing together in late autumn 1990, so we’ve been playing together a long time!
The bands name was inspired by immortal demo track called: “Enslaved In Rot”.
That’s true as well. They started out before us in summer 1990 so they’ve been going a few more months than us. They haven’t been as consistent as us however!
The band initially started playing what can be described as ‘black’ metal but then started bringing in a lot more progressive stuff.
We’ve never really considered ourselves black metal. To me it’s down to the lyrical concepts, as we have never sung about that kind of stuff. To me, Merciful fate is black metal. Musically we have the same inspirations as bands such as Emperor and Immortal but the progressive stuff has always been there.
We’ve always been listening to Led Zepplin and the music we grew up so that’s obviously had a big influence on us. It’s always fun going back to the archives and discovering new music from the 60’s and 70’s that we’ve never heard. It’s important to broaden our horizons.
Before the album, Monumension, the albums were recording in Norwegian aside from 3 songs that were in Icelandic. What made you guys decide to change to singing in English?
It was an easy solution as a translation can never be truly the same as the original. It was kind of done as opportunity for everyone to get the full package as well, so they can understand what we are saying. I personally write the lyrics after all the music is written anyway so a translation seems a bit fake to me.
In this your 25th year, did you ever think when you were 17 that you’d still be here?
I have to be totally honest and say that I didn’t. I just thought about heavy metal, booze and chicks. Hell I still do! I can’t imagine myself on stage at the 50th anniversary. I’ll be 67!
As we spoke earlier how do you think the shows have been going?
They’ve been excellent. As I’ve said, we’ve been rehearsing over 40 different pieces of music and many of them haven’t been played in a long time. I’d say we’ve been a little apprehensive, as we’ve not known what to expect. But the crowds have been really good and if it’s appropriate, a lot of happy faces. Can we say there’s happy faces at a metal concert?
We can, Devin Townsend made it appropriate!
In that case we shall say that!
When you came to choose the songs for the set-lists, how did you go about choosing them?
We actually had a discussion about this when we were on a tour in the US. We had a list of all the songs and we tried to work out which songs would work with this lineup. Not all the songs are suitable for this lineup so we consciously picked ones that worked with the lineup and we also wanted to throw in a couple of surprises.
And finally, do you see yourselves getting to the 50th anniversary?
Well, it’s hard to see myself as a 67 year old on stage as a grumpy old man! I mean I could be dead in 5 years but it is a cool thought. We’ll see what happens though, but we don’t have any plans to go anywhere soon!
Grutle, thanks for your time today. It was a pleasure to meet you again.
Thank you sir!