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Rowan & Lars (Heidevolk)

Interview with Rowan & Lars from Heidevolk
by Danny Sanderson at 04 July 2015, 2:09 PM

One of the genre's original pioneers, Dutch Folk-Metallers HEIDEVOLK have unleashed a darker and heavier offering upon us under the title of "Velua". Regarded by both the band and their fans as a major step up from its predecessor, "Batavi", HEIDEVOLK proves to us there are more Folk bands than Eluveitie. Danny caught up with Rowan (and Lars) about the new album's change in direction, the band's interesting choice of cover songs and the importance of one's homeland.

Hi, today I have the pleasure of interviewing Heidevolk! I hope you guys are doing well. Obviously, you have a new album, called "Velua", out at the moment; How do you think the album is being received?

We think the album is very well received. Most of the reviews are very positive and also the reaction of our fans is overwhelming. We even made it in the Dutch album charts, which is no small task for a metal band. The overall marks on "Velua" are higher than "Batavi" so we've proven that we can evolve and renew as a band and as songwriters and still maintain the Heidevolk sound.

To my ears, this album sounds a lot heavier and darker than your previous records. How did this change come about?

We just figured out the sound to go with the stories of "Velua". It relies more on heavy riffing instead of blast beats and tremelo picking, as much as we love that stuff. I don't think we deliberately set out to do something different this time around. It's just how the songs evolved during the writing process. Needless to say we're very pleased with the result.

What are your personal favourite songs on the record, and why?

Lars: I have a few favorites. And also, it changes over time. Right now my favorites are "De Hallen Van Mijn Vaderen" and "Velua" (the title track). Because they sound epic and have some melancholy to them. I also like "Drankgelag" since it's a straight up drinking song. I think that the bands favorites among others are "Urth", "Winter woede" and "een met de storm". In fact, there are so many songs that have their own atmosphere, it is hard to really choose hahaha.

You also included some covers on the new record, from artists like the Nits, Billy Idol and of course the immortal Led Zeppelin; why did you choose to cover these specific songs?

I love this question and I like to reply with a counter question: why not? They're are great songs and although they don't all fit the Heidevolk concept lyrically, the overall vibe and sound does apply to our sound and music. So, why? Because the rock ;-)

One of your key musical features is your deep, chanted vocals, which really help make you sound completely different from most bands out there. Why did you choose to approach vocals this way, and how instrumental do you feel it is to your core sound?

Before Heidevolk came to be there were a group of friends who wanted to start a metal band and another group who wanted to start a folk choir. The two groups met, drank and merged into what was to become the first incarnation of Heidevolk. We've changed a lot of our lineup since then but we kind of stay true to the roots of the band.

One of your main lyrical themes is the history and culture of your home state, Gelderland. How important do you think it is for bands to incorporate aspects of their own culture and customs into their music?

Lars: I think people should write about what they feel is important to them. Some people write about riding Harleys into the sunset. Some write about slaying dragons and saving the princess. We write about the history close to home. I personally don't like it when people from Europe mimic what they see on TV and try to act all America when they're not. There are enough artists singing about the Mississippi already. Sing about the river Rhine if that's what you know.

You are, of course, one of the many bands that first began to write what is now known as "Folk Metal", and you have obviously seen the genres rise to prominence and mainstream  recognition. Do you think that the genre is here to stay, and what is it's place within the wider Metal spectrum?

A lot of metal fans like history and historic fiction and/or fantasy so I think the genre is here to stay.

Are there any lyrical themes, topics and historical/cultural concepts that you'd like to approach in you music in the future?

Maybe something more broader than just legends and stories from Gelderland. There are a lot of stories from other provinces and countries. You know, this is one of the best aspects of our approach: there are so many historic events, myths and legends around the globe. It is an unending storybook that can carry the listener away into realms they didn't know existed.

Are there also any areas, cities and festivals that you'd love to play?

All of them! We'd like to see the world! So Tokyo, if you're reading this…

We're really stoked about playing Graspop in Belgium since most of us have been visitors there and the last time Heidevolk played there the crowd was huge and really crazy. We'd also like to play some of the legendary festivals like Wacken Open Air. Of course we'd love to play in Scandinavia to see what the Nordic crowds think of our Dutch version of folk metal. But yeah basically anywhere!

Speaking of playing shows, what are you future touring plans for promoting the record?

Sure, we've only just begun promoting "Velua". We're doing European festivals this summer and we're going on a US / Canada tour in September, which is very exciting. Autumn, Winter we will do some cool headliner shows around Europe.

Do you have any messages for you fans reading this article?

We hope you enjoy our new album just as much as we enjoyed making it and we hope to see you on tour!


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Edited 28 January 2023

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