I remember that when I was seventeen years old, my main objectives were to visit every Athenian Metal Club with my friends, buy the latest Thrash Metal release and grow my hair long. Well, Torbjorn from Glittertind has managed to find something more constructive to do at that age (not that I regret my choices of course). The young Norwegian is celebrating the release of his first official album "Evige Astaro" and I took the opportunity to experience how young Metalheads think nowadays. Quite impressive!
Hi Torbjorn. I am really pleased to be able to make an interview with such a young artist such as yourself. We will be talking about your debut album "Evige Astaro". When did you first start composing the material for the album, and what was it exactly that you wanted to achieve with this release?
Torbjorn: I started composing the material when I was 16 and 17 years old. I also recorded the material in this period and the result is what you hear on "Evige Asatro". With this material I just wanted to create music based on what inspired me the most which basic is Nordic culture and nature. I also wanted to use the musical elements like punk, metal and folk music because this is the music I like listening to. I never thought it would lead to a recording agreement two years later. So itís an honest record based on true feelings. Now that the record is released through a proper indie-label like Karmageddon Media, I just hope that other people like what I am doing and can have a nice listen when they let my record spin.
Your music combines elements from two quite controversial styles of music - Punk and Folk. How well in your opinion do these two styles combine and how happy are you with the way they co-exist in this album?
Torbjorn: Bands like Dropkick Murhpys and Flogging Molly has done this before me with great results, but I have used Nordic folk tunes and not Irish folk tunes. Also I must say to my defence, because I have no intentions being a rip-off, that at the time I recorded these songs I had never heard of these bands. However I think the songs are great and I am happy the way they are, and I can not see how I could do it different at that time they were recorded. Today I would have solved it a bit different because I have developed as a musician, but that is just a natural progression.
The band has been around since 2001, and even though this is your debut album, almost all the compositions have been recorded during 2001 Ė 2002, when you were only 17 years old. Most of the 17 year-olds that I know are struggling to play one instrument, yet you managed to record a whole album without any help! How did you manage to achieve that?
Torbjorn: I started to play the guitar when I was thirteen years old and one year later I started to play in several bands. By doing this I learnt the basics of drums, bass, guitar and vocals so for me it was not a problem because I had started that early. I have been autodidact all the time so to speak and I have never taken any professional lessons. I just do what I feel is right and that paid back with a recording agreement! He, heÖ
I understand that Norwegian culture and tradition was the main source of inspiration for the creation of both the lyrics and the music. I am pretty sure that this subject is quite appealing for many of your countrymen, but what about the rest of the world? Do you believe that the stories that are presented in this album will also appeal to people outside Norway?
Torbjorn: Yes, I think so indeed! Even though most people donít understand a bloody word of what I am singing, the response from abroad has been great! There is also added a short English explanation so that people understand what the lyrics are all about. There is also a large interest for Nordic culture and nature in Europe and these stories often links to other European countries. Like for example "Karl den Store" which is about the emperor of France around the end of 700, which caused the Vikings to start their terror attacks on England. I also think that many people like my band profile and what I stand for.
One more question related to the lyrics of the album: why did you choose to write them in the Norwegian language? I understand that it gives a special touch to the music, but arenít you afraid that this may put of people who are not acquainted to it?
Torbjorn: When I sing about Nordic culture and history, then it would be totally ridiculous to have all the lyrics in English! However on the next album I will most probably have one or two songs in English, but most people abroad think itís great that I donít obey commercial interests by singing in English and rather choose my mother tongue. There will always be a majority of Norwegian lyrics on a Glittertind record, thatís for sure!
You have released three demos before the "birth" of "Evige Astaro". Where did you distribute them, and how well were they received by the underground Metal circles?
Torbjorn: The first two demos were each pressed in 1000ex. They were distributed underground through Ultima Thule Rec. and werenít promoted at all. I donít think it reached the metal circles to any special extent. The third demo was not pressed professionally and just burnt in 10 ex. This was the demo, which led to a recording agreement with Karmageddon Media.
Back to your latest release. The artwork of the album was created by a guy called Skrymer - are we talking about the same Skrymer that plays the guitar for Finntroll? How did you get in touch with him in the first place, and why was he to create the album cover instead of a professional artist as it normally happens?
Torbjorn: Thatís the guy! Trollhorn from Finntroll did some synth on my third demo and I got the phone-number to Skrymer from him. Skrymer is a genius when it comes to Nordic elements in cover artwork and he did a brilliant job! He is by the way a professional artist with art-school education and a great amount of talentÖ
Which were the bands that have influenced you as an artist? I couldnít fail to detect the strong Bathory influences in the quite epic composition "En Stille Morgen" and also in the acoustic "Om Kvelden". Do you accept this statement of mine, and how do you feel about Quorthon passing away at such a young age?
Torbjorn: Those songs are inspired by Nordic folk melodies and "Om kvelden" is a Norwegian folk tune. I have never been inspired by Quorthon or Bathory because that band belongs to a different generation. Bands like Windir, Immortal, Emperor etc. have got a lot of influences from this man, but I have taken influences from them because of my age. So maybe indirectly I have been inspired by him, but he has never been a direct influence. Since I donít have any particular relationship to this man or his music I donít feel anything about his death.
You mention that the main reason for working alone is because of the difficulty of finding people who could share your vision. I understand that there are no immediate plans for touring, since you are a solo artist, but how are you going to deal with this "problem" in the near future? Is Glittertind going to be an exclusive studio band?
Torbjorn: I want to play gig and promote my band like any other band wants. However I donít want my band to turn in a direction that I donít want, so therefore it is important to have band members with the right attitude and understanding of the bandís concept. I think that after I have released my next record, then people will understand fully what this project are all about and that will hopefully attract the right type of musicians to get in touch! Weíll see if that proves me right!
In case you will decide to go on tour, who would be the musicians that you would like to work with and why? Have you pictured how you would like the band to look on stage?
Torbjorn: It has to be one hell of a show with 100% pure energy from each band member all the time. Thatís the most important thing. The persons involved should be friendly easy-going types and not egocentric and negative. They also have to fit into the spirit of the band concept and like what itís all about.
"Evige Asatro" consists of many different songs. Which in your opinion is the most representative song in the album, and why?
Torbjorn: "Lindisfarne-793/Karl den Store" represents what the album is all about concerning lyrics and it represents my hybrid of punk, metal and folk. The song is available for download at my homepage www.glittertind.net so people should go and visit the site if they are curious!
Apart from giving interviews in magazines, have you considered any alternative ways of promoting your album? What does Karmageddon Media say about this? Any specific plans?
Torbjorn: There will be some ads in relevant media, but since this is my debut album and KM doesnít know whether people will like this or not, I think the jungletelegraph will do most of the job. HeheÖ Hopefully spread a good word about my record!
Since most of the compositions are at least two years old, I assume that you must have some new songs ready, or even prepared in your mind. Do you plan on using the exact same formula for your next album, or are we to expect something totally different from Glittertind in your following releases?
Torbjorn: The next record will be harder and more "metal" than "Evige Asatro", but I will stay true to the band-concept and use folk elements and lyrics about Nordic nature, history and so on. I am currently working with the pre-production and I expect a record to be ready spring-2005!
How important is for a person to be aware of his heritage and background? I come from Greece and in my opinion, it is one of the most important things in the world, but unfortunately many people tend to confuse this with right wing beliefs. How will you manage to make sure that people do not get the wrong message from your music?
Torbjorn: It is stated on my homepage and in the promo-sheet that my band has nothing to do with racialism or that stuff. However I will not do anything further than that because that will take the focus away from the music. I will not use much energy by telling people what I am not, because itís they who have a problem with it, not me. But it is the same in all countries of Europe. The values and basic interests of the countries have changed, so it is considered political incorrect to be proud of your heritage and background. Globalization and internationalism is what the politicians scream for these days. Glittertind is my little opposition to thatÖheheheÖ
Talking about hereditary awareness, how well would you say that the young Norwegians are aware of their cultural background, and how much has Heavy Metal contributed to this?
Torbjorn: As I mentioned above, the politicians scream for globalisation and internationalism these days. This also affects the teachers, the schoolbooks, TV and so on. There are very strong forces that push this through and they reach their goals to some extent. I have nothing against other cultures and learning from them or being inspired by them. But there is a large difference from denying your own culture by identifying yourself with a commercial created culture, rather than taking some elements from other cultures into your own culture. Thatís what I do with my music. I bring elements from punk and heavy metal which comes from outside Norway, however I still take my own Norwegian touch to it and I donít believe that I am something else than a normal guy from a little town in Lillesand. These days I see several Norwegians, which act, talk and look like Britney Spears or 2pac. That is just ridicules and it is sad that more and more people are so rootless. People should be able to be proud of who they are and what they are.
Can you share with us your vision about the band? What do you want to achieve as a musician?
Torbjorn: I want to start playing gigs and get a good name! That is a lot of hard work and struggle, but when you believe strong in something you can do it. I just hope the gods of faith are with me and I will continue with doing what I feel is right!
Are there any special people who helped you in your first step as an artist Ė anyone that you would like to thank for his or her assistance in the early steps of your career?
Torbjorn: My brother who bought me my first guitar for all of his month-salary. He also got me bass guitar and taught me some basic tricks on all the instruments. I also would like to thank my parents for support and my sister for being the great person she is. They have all done what they could for me all the time, and thanks to them I am here today with my debut album available in most countries of Europe!
If you had the chance to work with one specific artist, who would that be and why?
Torbjorn: I would like to work with Edvard Grieg, which was a brilliant composer. I would love to see how he worked thought and did the most amazing compositions. I am afraid he died over hundred years ago so that could be a quite interesting affair to arrangeÖheheÖ
Are you participating in any other projects outside Glittertind?
Torbjorn: No, being a one-man project there are one hell of a lot to do and that leaves me unable to play in other bands.
The epilogue is yours, my friend. What would you like to say to the subscribers of Get Ready to Rock, and the people who are going to read this interview?
Torbjorn: I really hope you guys go down to your local record store and listen to my album! If you like what you hear then buy the record, get home and grab a cold pint, sit down in your best-chair, spin the record and enjoy the beer and the music! Take care folks!
Interview © 2004