“A song should convey an atmosphere, and if possible a historic aura” – interview with Gerhard Storesund of Einherjer

With “North Star”Viking Metal pioneers Einherjer released their eighth studio album on February 26, 2021, proving their status as the pioneers of blending Nordic Black Metal and Folk Metal genres once again. The album marks the band’s return to Napalm Records after 25 years and their release of the legendary “Dragons Of The North” album (1996). The Norwegian metal outfit remains musically true to themselves and reinforces their exceptional position.

“North Star” was recorded in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic at the in-house Studio Borealis, owned by founding member and mastermind Frode Glesnes. The raw production ties in seamlessly with its predecessor Norrøne Spor and makes “North Star” probably the most powerful Einherjer album to date! “North Star” is Einherjer‘s musical mission towards something bigger – the search for guidance by the “North Star in a constantly changing world that is searching for stability.

The album’s opener, “The Blood And The Iron”, peppered with uncompromising double-bass thunderstorms, pulls the listener in from the very first second, while “Stars” stomps through atmospheric soundscapes with dark chords. “West Coast Groove” underlines Einherjer’s technical songwriting sophistication with the finest guitar solos.

North Star” is available in black, blue/white inkspot, and limited gold vinyl editions (gold limited to 300 copies). Founded in Norway in 1993, the band has significantly influenced the way of Viking Metal in the following years with Dragons Of The North – 25 years later, Einherjer is stronger than ever and is bursting with energy on “North Star! We had a chat about the new album with the guy behind the drums, Gerhard Storesund!

MyTouché Blog: The band is turning 28 years old this year. What were the most memorable moments during those almost three decades?

Gerhard Storesund: Yeah, 28 years later, so to speak. And it’s not the horror show it sounds like. We live in a day and age, where we have the opportunity for self-realization. Through these years, we have had the opportunity to travel to the ends of the Earth. Paid for by other people. We are very lucky to be able to travel and discover new places. As a fellow musician said; “I’m not here to do a gig, I’m here to eat a good steak.” And that’s a big part of traveling with the band. To get away from everything, and eat a good steak, and have a local beer in a place you’ve never been. Then you do a gig to top it off.

MyTouché Blog: What was the biggest challenge for the band in the past 28 years?

Gerhard Storesund: I think that after Blot, we simply lost the will to go on. Musically that is. It’s quite an unthinkable bow, but back then we were collectively fed up with the whole band. Not music in general, but that band. We traveled around with our thrash band Battered in the meantime. But all in all, I think it was a good thing for Einherjer. We blew off some steam and came back stronger and more invigorated.

MyTouché Blog: Which is the most special song on “North Star”?

Gerhard Storesund: Well, it’s a bit like choosing a favorite kid, but regardless I would have to say “Stars”. Normally when we write music, we just sit at home and create complete sketches of songs for the other guys to review. We don’t really jam out songs, and in many cases, I don’t think it’s a type of music suited to be jammed out. But “Stars” was actually made in the studio by me and Frode. An example of something awesome that can come out of some sparse ideas. It does not always work, but when both of us really get into the flow mode, good shit can happen. It’s like the whole process is a blur.

MyTouché Blog: What were the most memorable moments during the working process of “North Star”? 

Gerhard Storesund: The writing process goes over such a big timespan, mixed with daily life, so it’s difficult to say. One thing to mention though is that I’ve started to write lyrics out in nature. It’s something I simply had to do, to get away from all the distractions at home. You know, all possibilities for procrastination. I don’t write many lyrics, but if I chose to sit at home, the album would be delayed to February 2022. It’s not always possible to sit outside here, as it often rains sideways where I live. It’s by the coast. But when it’s a nice day, I’ll cook some coffee over a fire, and be alone with my thoughts. That’s when the inspiration kicks in.

 I guess the biggest challenge has been to understand what Covid-restrictions apply from a day-to-day perspective. It’s very confusing.

Other than that, the recording went very smoothly. There was a little extra caution at the beginning of this pandemic when the newspapers told us in war types that we’ll all be dead next week. It didn’t really turn out that way, at least not in my area.

MyTouché Blog: Did COVID-19 affected the album release?

Gerhard Storesund: Well, “North Star” was supposed to be released in October 2020, but because of the pandemic, it was postponed to February 2021. For us, that was a good thing, as we got more time to experiment and perfect the album. We were also supposed to release a couple of 7” as promotion for the album, but due to printing plants being closed, the whole thing was just canceled. For the band in general, it affects us in the same way as every other band. We are stuck within our borders for the time being, and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it.

MyTouché Blog: Which song was emotionally and/or technically the toughest one?

Gerhard Storesund: We don’t really deal with technical difficulties. That’s why we have Meshuggah. To me, a song should convey an atmosphere, and if possible a historic aura. Without getting tacky. If there’s one song though, I’d have to say Ascension. Not because it’s very technical or difficult, but more because the song is based on old ideas. There’s something about picking up old stuff, and wondering if it’s good because it’s good, or that I have some kind of misconception that it’s good because it’s burned into my memory. But I think it’s good.

MyTouché Blog: You have returned to Napalm Records after 25 years. Why did you decide that you want to release your new album under Napalm’s wings?

Gerhard Storesund: Well, mainly our contract with Indie Recordings was over. We’ve been with Norwegian labels for the later years now, and it was time to check the market so to speak. We pulled out our fishing rod and started to fish. When Napalm Records showed their interest, It was a pretty easy choice for us. We have a history with them, which makes the transition easier. We have high hopes for this.

MyTouché Blog: As I noticed Viking Metal is getting more and more popular nowadays “thanks to” mainstream media and series like Vikings. How do you see that, have you felt a significantly increased interest in your music in the past few years?

Gerhard Storesund: Yeah, I think Viking Metal and all Viking-related things are popular these days, because of the things you said. And we are benefiting from it as well. It has a roof though, and I don’t think the sky is the limit here. I think this is a trend that will diminish over time, and only the hardcore will be left. Suddenly there’s a new show about Genghis Khan, and everyone rides around with a new mustache and a bow. People have a pretty short attention span.

This has been discussed in our board meetings, and the answer is no. We don’t depend on the band to survive, so we just want to wait until playing live is fun again. And now a full year has gone with this crap, and we’ve stayed it out so far. We can wait a bit longer. Just need to get that stamp in our foreheads now, so we can travel again.

Gerhard Storesund about online concerts

MyTouché Blog: How do you get over when you have a creative crisis? Do you have any special habits, tricks?

Gerhard Storesund: You know, there’s a saying that an artist dies twice. First, the creativity dies, then the artist. The latter is the easiest. One thing I know is that you cannot just sit and wait for inspiration. It doesn’t fall into your lap. You need the motivation to work, and then inspiration comes along. I’ve been in many of these crises, but I have always come back on top. As I said, it really helps to go outside, to get rid of all distractions. It helps with the stress level as well, at least these days.

I remember something my uncle told me when I was in the military. “Relax kid, everything has an end.” So will this ordeal we’re going through now. Maybe not as fast as we first thought, but it will pass eventually, and we can all go back to being shitfaced at festivals. In the meantime, people could support their fave bands by buying their stuff. Many bands are on life support already. Rock on!

Gerhard Storesund‘s message

Interview by Afrodite Szeleczky
Cover photo by Jørgen Freim

Special thanks to Napalm Records

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"I associate heavy metal with fantasy because of the tremendous power that the music delivers." - Christopher Lee

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