Antihero Magazine’s Scott Martin recently had the opportunity to chat with guitarist Karl Fredrik Lind of Norwegian extreme metal band, Drottnar.
Karl Fredrik Lind: To me, extreme metal is just a collective term for the more extreme sub-genres within metal (death, black, thrash etc.) and is merely a tag for the musical expression so that people would know what style you’re playing.
ANTIHERO: Do you feel that Drottnar is misunderstood or not given a fair shake for the message you are trying to get through in your music?
Karl Fredrik Lind: Not really. I feel that we are acknowledged after releasing two strong albums, and now in the process of releasing a third. We have a lot of great fans and I think most understand our universe now or at least find something in there interesting and something that’s pushing boundaries. About the lyrics, they are very personal and sometimes quite intricate, so people might have different experiences or interpretations of them. Some have reacted to our imagery on a few occasions, but that’s ok. I think extreme metal should have sharp edges and be somewhat provocative. We’re not expecting to please everyone, and our attitude has always been to do what’s right and cool in our eyes and ears regardless of what anyone else might think. Sounds like a cliché, but for us, it has to be like that. To find inspiration when working for so many years with a project, you have to create and find your own meaning and your own satisfaction in both the process and result.
ANTIHERO: Where did the genre “Bunker Metal” come from?
Karl Fredrik Lind: It felt quite natural and describing at some point during the making of Welterwerk, when we started incorporating a militant and industrial look and nerve in our music. It also felt like a very distinct description of our sound and how our total package is perceived. We’ve always called the place where we rehearse and record our albums “the bunker” due to the meter-thick stone walls of the building, so this term or label came very naturally to us during this period. We’ve stuck to it and think it is the best label for us.
ANTIHERO: What is the message you are trying to deliver with Drottnar?
Karl Fredrik Lind: Triumph Standardization.
ANTIHERO: I personally am not against anyone that wants to express their religious beliefs in their music. Whether it is Black or Unblack Metal. It should be all about the musical presentation of the music at hand. With, what would you say to the people that say that there is no place for Christianity in Black Metal?
Karl Fredrik Lind: Some people are very categorical on that black metal must have a satanic or anti-religious message, and I have no problems with them having this view. I really couldn´t care less to be honest. We share the same opinion on this matter; people are free to express whatever they like through their music and what you label it is basically just to describe the genre. However, we now own Bunker Metal, so we can do whatever we like 😉
ANTIHERO: You stated in a prior interview that I read, that your main influence is Stryper. Since Stryper sounds nothing like “Black/Unblack Metal”, so what bands in that genre have influenced you musically, but not lyrically?
Karl Fredrik Lind: Stryper is not very influential these days, you are right. We’ve played so many years now, so musical influences are not that important or necessarily very important now. We´ve kind of found our playing capabilities and tools of expression. Influences come very broadly when writing music, from a state of mind to nature, a journey, a photo, or other art forms etc. But of course, there are musical influences as well, but that is from a very broad range of music styles. Usually, it comes down to being inspired by the feeling or nerve in a song, or a specific piece, tone combination or rhythm etc.
ANTIHERO: Can you tell me a little bit about the band’s history and when it began?
Karl Fredrik Lind: We started playing together in 1996 and recorded our first demos in the following years. After many years of developing our skills and finding our style, we recorded Anamorphosis in 2003. By then we got two new members and played a number of gigs. We worked really hard for some years in developing our style, resulting in the recording of Welterwerk in 2005 (released 2006). We played a lot of gigs following this release, both in Europe and the US and we really had a great time. After a few years, we started working on the following album and resulted in the release of Stratum in 2012. Shortly after, two of our members since Anamorphosis left us and we are now a three-piece. We’ve spent the last few years writing music and developing our style further, and we are now very excited in presenting it through Monolith I and Monolith II so far.
ANTIHERO: Where does your sound derive from?
Karl Fredrik Lind: Difficult (not possible) to pinpoint and is a result of various factors. We listen to a broad range of music and is inspired by so many things. We try to find the sound that fits best with how we want the music to sound and to be perceived. It is a natural process.
ANTIHERO: Describe the songwriting process?
Karl Fredrik Lind: For me, it usually starts with one riff or a few riffs/melodies. Depending on the structure and characteristics of the riffs/melodies, I try to create a mental structure of the song and where in the song this riff could fit and what / how big role this riff could play. Thereafter I create matching riffs/melodies, develops the mental structure of the song and create pieces needed. I keep on like this and will at some point write down an actual structure of the song. I record the bits and pieces and work on the structure and placement of the various parts within the song. Regarding lyrics, it starts with an idea or a thought. I usually write a rough sketch and let it rest until the song is completed before I work on it to match the song.
ANTIHERO: Are you constantly writing new material while on tour, or just focusing on the music at hand?
Karl Fredrik Lind: No, we’re not constantly writing material. We can have ideas etc., but usually, the songwriting process is during a specific period and we’re working on a defined concept.
ANTIHERO: Do you feel it is important to step out of your comfort zone when it comes to writing songs?
Karl Fredrik Lind: I think it is important to be open-minded and open to bringing in ideas that can seem unnatural at first. I think it is important not being tied to definitions and rules, and this might be outside someone’s comfort zone. On the other hand, I don’t think it is a necessity to step out of your comfort zone to write a good and honest song, but sometimes it can trigger ideas and techniques that can be interesting and useful.
ANTIHERO: Can you tell me a little bit about your latest release “Monolith I”? Where was it recorded? Who produced and mixed it? And the biggest challenges you encountered during the recording process?
Karl Fredrik Lind: We´ve now recently released Monolith I and Monolith II. It was recorded in “Der Bunker”, our rehearsal room since 1996 and studio since the Stratum era. It was mixed and produced at Urban Sound Studios in Oslo, by me (Karl) and Jock Loveband. He is a very experienced guy who has worked with a very broad range of music, and he did an excellent job for us. Having the possibility to record the album in our own studio is a privilege, where we don’t need to worry about time and having to complete recording at a specific date etc. This made us find peace and made it possible to concentrate on the music and the recording, not having to worry about anything else. The Monolith recording was the best recording we ever had, and we actually did not run into any problems or challenges of any kind. We just had fun and it was a very creative and inspiring process, which I think made us record our best material to date.
ANTIHERO: Have you experimented with different instrumentation that you had never previously used during the recording of your recent release?
Karl Fredrik Lind: Previously we have experimented a lot, but we wanted to make this recording darker, harder, straighter to the core and with full focus on the actual songs. However, I recorded all guitars using a baritone-guitar tuned in C which I’ve never done on any of the previous releases. The result was obviously darker and heavier and fit the new material very good.
ANTIHERO: In which way do you think you have matured as a band since when you first formed?
Karl Fredrik Lind: I started playing in Drottnar when I was 16 years old, and now I’m 37… I don’t know where to start, haha. We’ve played together most of our lives now, so we’ve matured and evolved in so many ways. I guess one of the things that come to mind is that we are more nuanced now, and things are not that black/white. Having our life-experiences will, of course, affect how we are as a band in every sense.
ANTIHERO: What would you say is your greatest musical achievement you have achieved since starting the band?
Karl Fredrik Lind: I think recording and releasing Welterwerk was a huge step up for us, and we managed to create something very unique musically and visually which we also brought to stage. Stratum was a refinement of that work and was in many ways a better release, but maybe not a huge step further for us like Welterwerk. With the Monolith releases, I feel we are taking the same step up as we did with Welterwerk, and is definitely our greatest musical achievement to date.
ANTIHERO: When you are not writing/recording and performing, what hobby/activity do you enjoy?
Karl Fredrik Lind: Besides spending a lot of time with my two kids, I really enjoy traveling, good food/wine and taking photos. Also doing outdoor sports like skiing, hiking, and diving.
ANTIHERO: Who are a few of your musical influences?
Karl Fredrik Lind: Horde, Oasis, Eminem, Carola.
ANTIHERO: What subjects inspire your lyrical songwriting?
Karl Fredrik Lind: The divine and dark human, greatness and fragility, creation and destruction. Alpha and Omega.
ANTIHERO: Your opinion on online streaming sites such as Spotify and Pandora?
Karl Fredrik Lind: Perfect, but should offer artists a greater deal.
ANTIHERO: Who designs your album cover artwork?
Karl Fredrik Lind: Samuel Durling.
ANTIHERO: Plans for 2018?
Karl Fredrik Lind: Rehearse, write new material, and play gigs.