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Kurgan's Thomas Hvisel: "First we brought in Brian Petersen, who is Charlie's friend. All though he never growled a note in his life haha. After several beers, and we quickly saw his potential! (the man can really drink!!)"

Interview with Thomas Hvisel from Kurgan
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 30 September 2019, 8:25 PM

There was no intention to deal with Vikings to begin with, however, I guess it is unavoidable when one has the artwork, and direction of music. Not that it mattered to the new Danish band, Kurgan, and their debut album “Yggdrasil Burns”. Whether it was on Viking blood or merely Death Metal usual themes, it didn't matter. As long as it involves friendship, Metal and alcohol, that's a party. Steinmetal had a chance to catch Thomas Hvisel of the band for a talk about the debut album, signing with Massacre Records, how did it all start and more…

Hello Thomas, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. How is life been treating you?

Hello! Thanks for having me. Life's been good, I can't complain!

Earlier on I came to know your band Chainfist, back in the day you were signed to Mighty Music with the “Scarred” album. Is the band still rolling?

No, we ended the band back in 2015 I think. I'm still good friends with all of them.

Chainfist aside, we are here to talk about your new adventure with Kurgan. You guys have been up and about for five years now, what can you tell about how things started in the new clan?

Well I met Charlie, the drummer, back in 2009ish. We started a Pantera Jam band together with two other dudes. We had a lot of fun with that! But in the end, we wanted to make our own music as well. So we began creating some songs, and started looking for band members. First we brought in Brian Petersen, who is Charlie's friend. All though he never growled a note in his life haha. After several beers, and we quickly saw his potential! (the man can really drink!!). Then we brought in the mighty Thor on bass, also a friend of a friend! Jesper Myrup Andersen came into the picture around 2015. I played a few gigs with a band he played in, called Diretone. We became friends, and the rest is history.

Kurgan, whether through its music and artwork imagery, seems to thrive on Norse myths and Viking tradition, other than being a history fan, which I have the slightest feeling that you are, what fascinates you about these themes?

Well… I think they had to be some tough bastards back then. Maybe that's the reason.

Recently you signed with Massacre Records, for the release of your debut album, “Yggdrasil Burns”. How did this deal go down? What made you decide to start working with Massacre Records?

We got a lot of offers from different labels, so we actually had some to choose from. In the end, we thought Massacre Records made out the best deal.

Yggdrasil has been known as one of the pillars of Norse legends, so why come up with such a title as “Yggdrasil Burns”? What does it symbolize? Perhaps something to do with Ragnarok?

"Yggdrasil" is a huge tree that symbolizes the way/age of the Vikings. And the tree in flames symbolizes the end of Vikings, and the beginning of Christianity. So it's quite sad you know!

I think it became rather obvious nowadays that when you hear about Melodic Death Metal and Vikings, instantly there is a comparison to Amon Amarth. However, Kurgan is a sure surprise musically, not mainly relying on the foundation of the Gothenburg sound, yet inhaling various influences of both extreme and classic Metal. Was it intentional to escape that obviousness or it mainly came as natural while you wrote the music for “Yggdrasil Burns”?

First off, I'm glad you put it like that! Because, of Couse we didn't want sound like anybody else. Our mission was just to create music we all liked in the band. And actually we didn't even aim at Viking stuff, it just came naturally with some of the riffs and melodies.

Tue Madsen made an awesome job with your album’s sound, sharing both worlds of old and new in a single platter. I have been a fan of the guy's works with various of Danish bands. What is your appreciation of Madsen’s work? Did he help you find the Kurgan sound?

He did! We had some mix going back and forth for a while, until everyone was happy. We think it's a perfect sound for this album!

What can you tell about the songwriting process of “Yggdrasil Burns”? Would you say that it is an effort of a single songwriter or rather a group joining forces to come up with the best possible result?

It's a bit of both. Usually one of us comes with the main melody and riffs, then we join forces from there. But we do have songs written by one person… I guess we don't have any rules, when it comes to that. We all just have to like it!

 “Evil Dead” is surely one of the toughest tracks I listened to in a while, taking a path of the Melodic Death Metal wagon and into the late 80s first features of extremity that is more US than EU. I think it is one of your best works and a must to be played in shows. What is your take on this number?

Thanks! It's one of my favorites as well, and certainly must be played live!! I think the mood and the lyrics of the song fits very nicely. And who doesn't like blood, undead and gore???

Though it is a tough question, which of the album’s tracks is your number one? That one track that once it came fresh out of mixing and mastering, you just couldn’t let it go?

"Yggdrasil Burns"! Maybe it's because it's also the first song we ever wrote.

Did you have a chance to play some of the new tunes, which weren’t part of your early demo, live in local shows? If so, what were the responses? Are the folks back home catching the draft of your music direction?

Yeah, we have been out quite a bit actually. The video for the second single we released, was recorded locally, and the response was very good!

What would you say the scene is like Denmark nowadays? Is there an ample chance, and opportunities, for a new band to grow and capture attention?

I think there is. But it helps if you know a shit load of people in the business. We don't btw, so wish us luck!

What is coming next for Kurgan in 2019? I assume that you will be playing a special release show?

We had a deal at our release date, to play a gig at a festival. But we got screwed on that one, sad to say! But we have done one show after, and we have two more this year.
12 Okt at High voltage, Copenhagen Denmark
23 Nov at Pakhuset, Nykoebing SJ Denmark

As for 2020, will you be looking for a booking agency or rather do it on your own? Any thoughts regarding a possible tour or festival appearances?

Yes, we are currently looking for potential bookers and such. But I think we will handle some of it ourselves too. We want tour and all that, but let's see what happens.

What can you tell about a Kurgan live show? What makes it standout?

You will see 5 people on stage giving it all, and having good fun! I think the love we have for the music, and our friendship shows. Then add to that some beers and metal!

Let’s go off topic for a bit. It was found that Heavy Metal music is actually making people to become a better version of themselves. I guess us Metalheads are fortunate right? What is your opinion about that?

I think your right! It was probably what saved my life. Maybe there should be schools of metal all over our world! Can you imagine?

Yes, I can actually, and there is already a course in Australia for that.

Thomas, I wish to thank you for this interview. I believe that you made an inspiring debut, not caring about boundaries, just doing it naturally. All the best mate.

I'm glad you like it! Thanks a lot, for the interest in Kurgan, and for giving us this spotlight! Cheers!



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