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Iron Fire's Gunnar Olsen": "One thing that was really hard about "Beyond the Void" was to choose the single. Because there’s so many great songs on the album, and they all tell their own story and have unique grooves..."

Interview with Gunner Olsen from Iron Fire
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 16 March 2019, 4:59 PM

Never give up, never let go and keep fighting. The Danish Power Metal act Iron Fire are no less than pure survivors, they keep on pushing as hard as they can without slipping. Coming in with their brand new "Beyond The Void", via Crime Records, a strong patch of devastating fury is reveled. Steinmetal had a chat with the band's longtime drummer Gunnar Olsen, about the new album, style and songwriting, past and hard present.  

Greetings Gunnar, how have you been? It is a true honor having you for this interview for Metal Temple, especially with me, as a long time follower of Iron Fire

Thank you Lior, all is well. I will answer your questions the best way possible

After the world was sunk by zombies on your previous album, “Among The Dead”, it was time to cross the threshold into another place in space in time with your new release, “Beyond The Void”. How do you feel about the new release?

We all feel very good about the release, we have had very good reception this time, and it seems that the approach we chose actually suits the band’s sound pretty good. However, the album wasn’t that easy to record, since we had other things on the schedule. So the timespan of the album used was about a year.

Do you believe that featuring a songwriting style of simple tracks, songs that could make the listener go boom, are way better than coming up with mystic concepts to base an album them on?

One thing is not better than the other. A concept can be intriguing and add a layer to the music, but on the flipside it can lock you on to something that narrows the song approaches a bit, since you need to support the lyrics with suitable music. So we are all fans of both ways, and since we had some sort of concept on "Among the Dead", we figured that this release should be a little straighter up.

In comparison to the bombastic “Among The Dead”, which raised the bar of your level up swift brutality in harmony with sheer classic Heavy / Power Metal stream, is “Beyond The Void” more of the same musical approach or do you think it is a step forward?

"Beyond the Void" is a different album but in the same style and approach as "Among the Dead", you could actually call it a twin album to "Among the Dead". The songs were written at the same time as "Among the Dead" and features many of the same aspects as it’s predecessor. But to avoid making the same album over again, we chose a different place for the recordings, as well as a different place for the mixing. Besides that, I think that "Beyond the Void" is slightly more melodic than "Among the Dead", as well as the production work and performance is better. Also we had better preparations as a band for this one, since Martin was living in Norway at the time of the preparations for "Among the Dead". So on "Among the Dead" it was not so much a band effort as "Beyond the Void". I think it sounds different from "Among the Dead", that again sounds different from the previous albums, and in Iron Fire we always move forward. We don’t forget about the past, which we like to revisit from time to time. But we always move forward and try to challenge the power metal style.

Theme wise, though it is no concept album, it felt to me like a collection of horror stories. Has it been a fascination of yours for some time? Of course if I am wrong, it would be great to know if there is a shred of theme connecting the songs

There’s no such thing as a theme on this album. The lyrics are completely different from each other with independent lyrical themes. So we did the trick to use the theme of the title track and put it as a theme for the cover art. You will find some horror stories there, but you will find personal lyrics as well, and it’s actually really nice to escape from those fantasy lyrics, now that the band has been stuck with them for so many years. And if you listen carefully to "Among the Dead" it’s not really a zombie concept on the whole album. We have different themes there as well, but the vocabular actually just points in that direction, and some of the song titles as well. But it’s not one coherent story, and it’s not the same theme all the way through. But there’s definitely more horror connected to "Among the Dead".

 “Beyond The Void” shares quite a firepower of destructive Metal creations, it seems like impossible to choose between the tunes. Nonetheless, which of those, or if there is a special one, do you find as your prime best? Please elaborate on your pick

One thing that was really hard about "Beyond the Void" was to choose the single. Because there’s so many great songs on the album, and they all tell their own story and have unique grooves. On "Among the Dead" that part was a bit easier. So that is a really hard question to answer. But I think eventually that we all agreed on "Wrong Turn" as something special on this album. Not that it’s better or more personal, but because of the way the complexity works with the songwriting. Everything that the song was meant to be like we actually succeeded in doing in the studio. All the changes in the song are as fluent as ever, and we all think it kicks ass – despite of the complexity - or maybe because of the complexity…(?)

Listening to Martin's voice pattern and ability since your debut is quite a treat, I must say that he made a heck of a progress. His voice became amazingly diverse, reaching higher ends of gruesomeness alongside melodic singing. Have you been developing your voice all this time?

Martin always works on his singing, trying different things out. And even though the notes to hit usually are a little lower than before, the challenge comes in the expression. How to be credible when phrasing some punchline in a simple chorus. Or how to deal changes in the style of the songs. But having sung different styles over the years, Martin has been quite comfortable with the versatility in music. And especially his work with Tommy Hansen, whom is a really good vocal producer, has shaped his ear for hitting the right notes. And his work with Force of Evil also shaped his voice to do more extreme things. And just the thing about getting older, effects your voice and makes it darker. It might take something from the high notes, but adds to the power and character of the full register.

Just last year Iron Fire celebrated its 20th anniversary, a true cause for a celebration. Looking back, has your travels throughout the Metal world been fruitful? Are you all prepped and primed for another 20 or more years of pure Metal assault?

Has our journey in metal been fruitful? Good question. On one hand it has, since we had some great experiences over the years. Just learning to make albums and play our instruments on a decent level is kind of fruitful. But commercially it could definitely be better. Somehow we feel overlooked by the audience, as well as the bigger festivals never give us a call. And it can sometimes be a little hard to sit and watch average bands get a lot more success than us. It’s hard to comprehend because we really believe that we make great albums. Of course we’re not the only ones making great albums, but I do think it should be good enough to gain some success – at least a little tour somewhere, a few festival gigs etc. But I guess that we’re not very exiting anymore, so we just do this for the fun of it. And you know life can not only be about work and kids right

Oh trust me I know that. Would you have made things different in your decisions along the way? Any events in your career that you regret?

Well, I think it depends on the eyes that see. I think that "On the Edge" was too big a step for Iron Fire. At the time the world was not ready for what, at the time, seemed like a drastic switch in the style of music. It was a good album and all, but the audience could not really grasp that direction of the band. And I think that Noise probably felt it difficult to support the album. I guess we were a bit too young and naïve to understand the record business at the time. But the thing is, at that time the original band was worn out, friendships broke and something new was going to happened. So in that aspect "On the Edge" was somehow necessary. And at a personal level I simply needed some time to get a hold on myself and be something other than a drummer in a metal band. I branded myself too hard, burned some bridges and needed to find myself. What we should have done, was probably to have been slightly more patient. To grow up a bit before we signed a rather big record deal. But then again, our driven force was huge, and we just couldn’t help pushing ourselves all the time. And before we knew it one Europe’s biggest independent labels wanted to sign us. And we were basically just kids.

If there is something that I don’t see a lot in the press or in the social media, is Iron Fire planned shows / tours / festivals. I am positive that you will be supporting the album this year, is there a support plan for the new album?

There’s only single shows here and there, simply because it’s so hard for us getting gigs. We are an overlooked band, that nobody wants to play with. We get good reviews. But the fact that we’re from Denmark does not do anything good for us, since power metal is not very popular in Denmark. So the only place worth touring is in other countries, which is hard to get. Who are we going on tour with? We had some buy-on offers, but we turned them down cause it’s simply not working out on a financial level. Besides that, we need to get touring planned to match our day jobs, and that’s not always easy to do. But we’ll see if we can do something, even though people seem to ignore us a bit.

Gunnar, I wish to thank you for the interview. If there is a band that I would like to see in a higher position in Metal, is Iron Fire. May you prosper going forward. All the best mate.

Thank you very much and thanks for the interview. I hope you can do with my words of wisdom instead of Martin. Greetings Gunnar (drummer, Iron Fire).

Indeed I did sir, an amazing interview


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