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Svarttjern's Hans Fyrste: "Put away your magnifying glass and open up your dirty mind, crawl in to your erotic lusts and embrace your deepest passions - there is no shame in that"

Interview with Hans Fyrste & Gamle Erik from Svarttjern
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 21 December 2019, 10:15 PM

The hell with it they say, that is how things get done, and if you don't like it, go look elsewhere. There are bands that don't really give a rats about what people think, if they are politically correct, or prudent. They will be merciless, brutal, disgustingly sexy in their own way. Now, that is interesting. Norway's Svartjjern removed their gloves, they are all in for the fight, in their blackened minds and provocative manners. Following the upcoming release of their new album “Shame Is Just A Word”, Steinmetal had a chat with Hans Fyrste and Gamle Erik about the band's dirty mind, ruthless philosophies, songwriting, their Black Metal and more…

Hello there mate, it is great having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how has life been treating you lately?

Hans Fyrste: Thanks for taking interest and sending me this well thought out interview, appreciate it! Life is treating me and the band well, for sure! For me it’s busy family life with two kids, just the way I like it.

By the way, I’m going to have Gamle Erik answer a few of the questions regarding the musical aspects.

I was glad to receive word about the return of Svarttjern with a new album, it has been four years since your previous. Is that considered too long of an absence? Was it intentional in order to come up with the best possible material for the new release?

Hans Fyrste: No doubt it has been a few years overdue, but we do things in our own pace. 3 members are active in Carpathian Forest and the remaining 2 members, including me, wants to give them the flexibility to fully commit to that band at times needed. Combined with a lot going on in every member's private life, I guess years fly by. We have all worked on the material for the album on and off since the previous release "Dødsskrik", always with a common goal. The album title "Shame is Just a word" must have been one of the first things we agreed on, several years back!

I have to say that the title that you gave to the new album, “Shame Is Just A Word”, has been having me intrigued. I am still trying to understand what you mean, but I guess that it will remain a riddle until you will shed some light about what were you aiming at. What is that all about really?

Hans Fyrste: Put away your magnifying glass and open up your dirty mind, crawl in to your erotic lusts and embrace your deepest passions - there is no shame in that. The title itself is explanatory as long as one knows what direction to view it from.

What can you tell about the philosophy that leads the “Shame Is Just A Word” album as a whole? Is there a relation between the written words and life experiences, perhaps even on a personal level?

Hans Fyrste: Indeed… First off, I want to point out that this is the first album where almost all of the lyrics are straight forward. Our more recent followers may not be aware, but for our veterans, they know that all Svarttjern lyrics have always been very cryptic with deeper meaning hiding through many layers and mazes. There are only a few songs on the new album that actually hides away the true meaning of the lyrics, our latest single "Melodies of Lust" being one of them…

Back to your original question. The album tells stories, fantasies and old jokes from our closest friends over the years, all wrapped up in ‘releasable’ content. For those who know us, they will recognize a lot of weird stuff going on in the lyrics. Svarttjern’s decision of doing it this way was a natural one due to us not caring much about what others think of us. I have never felt the need to write lyrics building up under the norms of what you should do or not. So the lyrics and general theme of this album is an even further statement of us not caring what so ever, and produce the material we enjoy the most. Back to the roots guys, it’s only rock and roll…

“Shame Is Just A Word” displays quite an interesting artwork, with two characters that look pretty distraught, and those look like demons swarming around. What is the vision behind this piece of art? Who made it? How do you make the relation between the artwork and the music?

Hans Fyrste: We are very pleased with the artwork on the album and it is once again Linda K Roed who has drawn it, ink on paper. She is a fabulous artist that also did the cover art for "Dødsskrik". We wanted her to do her own thing, as she does best, in order to get a more objective interpretation of the title. We sent her the album title, some lines from lyrics that were done at the time and some general background though around the title. Her artwork reflects two priest getting caught up in their sins and shames, spot on if you ask me.

How do you perceive Svarttjern on a musical level, when it comes to “Shame Is Just A Word”? From where I am sitting, there is the band’s Norweigan Black Metal signature, yet with a rather higher dosage of classic Heavy / Thrash Metal elements swarming within the rotten blackened atmosphere.

Gamle Erik: I think Svarttjern has always combined other sub-genres of metal and hard rock. Especially thrash-metal has always been a part of Svarttjerns music. This is based on personal musical preferences and so on I guess. And yes, the older we get the more other genres such as heavy metal plays in, just a more mature mindset towards music in my opinion. Furthermore, we get influenced and inspired by several other aspects in life, which inevitably will reflect Svarttjern music. Family, friends, nature, experiences - good and bad, travels etc. is just as important as art, if not more. We write and create the music we want to listen to, without any constraints from the doctrines and dogmas in the so-called black metal genre. If that is heavy metal, thrash metal or fucking flamenco fusion jazz, then so be it. With that being said - we are first and foremost a black-metal band and pride ourselves in just that.

Which elements in the music were provided with a stronger attention in comparison to previous albums?

Gamle Erik: Hard to say, we do not start the writing of a new album with any overall goal, timeframe or concept. But for me personally including sampling/ synths etc. is becoming more and more important. Feel that those elements just pave the way for the other instruments and music in an important way. This is sometimes difficult, as it requires a more overall view and vibe of the album in my opinion. Finding just the subtle, but important details in the music without overdoing it.

What do you think makes “Shame Is Just A Word” to become a standout among the vast line of albums, crossing swords in the same musical direction as Svarttjern?

Hans Fyrste: Personally I think the whole fuck off and rock and roll attitude of the album. As mentioned earlier, we have no urge to have any sense of belonging musically and the whole album is infused with old school heavy metal and thrashy riffs. We are extremely satisfied with the whole production and song structures, together with an organic yet punchy sound, this will hopefully have the album stand out.

Other than the musical prospect, what makes “Shame Is Just A Word” as the band’s most gruesome album?

Hans Fyrste: The lyrics reflects filthy blowjobs, girls on all four, grave desecration, erotic fantasies, self-mutilation, abduction of corpses, fetish paranoia, pure alcoholic outbursts and rage, and so much more. Honest. Simple, straight forward. But it's fun… And the truth hurts.

As a strong follower of the early 90s heritage of your local scene, how do you perceive the contemporary means and evolution of Black Metal nowadays? Have you been satisfied with what you have been listening or do you rather prefer being disconnected and tending to your own?

Hans Fyrste: Personally I don't stay very updated on much going on. I do catch up on a new release here and there and have my opinions along the way. I do feel that more bands today actually go their own ways coming to sound and feeling. But I am tired of reading the same lyrics and themes over and over. A few bands do actually take it all out on their own path, bringing something new and interesting along the way, new or old bands. I’m not going to namedrop, sorry. But I do have my favorites in both Scandinavian and European black metal. So as you say, I do prefer to disconnect from it all and tend to my own matters. My inspiration to write have, and never will be, other black metal bands.

How would you describe the songwriting process of “Shame Is Just A Word”? Would you say that it was a joint effort by the entire lineup, or are there main songwriters calling the shots for the other musicians to simply come up with what needs to be done to complete a song?

Hans Fyrste: It’s mainly the two guitarist Gamle Erik and Fjellnord, together with bassist Malphas throwing ideas and riffs back and forth. It has become so much easier to cooperate sharing ideas online, tracking guitars on your laptop and so on. The drummer Grimmdun and I are in on the action and it all works out really well for us. For me personally it is an honour to work with musicians at this caliber. After some sorting out back and forth, we nail a track and give it some time, before we actually do final tracking. We tracked all guitars and vocals in Gamle Erik's studio, bass and drums in Malphas’s studio, before Malphas mixes and mastered the album. The whole process has been extremely satisfying doing everything at our own phase. And we are proud of the end result.

Were there deliberations and considerations to write a whole album in Norweigan, something like a tribute to the old ways of your local scene’s music?

Hans Fyrste: No, never. I start thinking of a theme for a lyric and it’s simply random if it ends up in English or Norwegian.

Talking about the old Black Metal scene of Norway, did you have a chance to see the “Lords Of Chaos” movie. I trust that you were a youngster back then, yet do you believe that this is the actual story or it is just a bad interpretation? What is your appreciation of the movie?

Hans Fyrste: I never saw the movie. I will one day, just never sat down and bought it. It’s all a good and funny story with lots of mystery to it, so it’s natural for someone to actually go out and produce a movie. I’ll get back to you when I have seen it, and we can discuss it over a few beers!

Let’s go back to the album. You made a fine decision to cover the classic Thrash Metal number, “Bonded By Blood”, originally by Exodus. First, how did it feel to record such a legendary classic? Second, why “Bonded By Blood” in particular? Was it chosen out of a long list of favorites or it simply just came to mind?

Gamle Erik: It felt great in finally doing a cover on a Svarttjern album, and especially such a legendary track felt good to pay our homage to. We had a few options on the table, but none felt more natural than Exodus. “Bonded by blood” was decided based on a few things. First off, it's a great track and as mentioned previously thrash plays a role in our music. Second the overall mentality of thrash metal is much more representative for the members in Svarttjern. The whole “fuck off”/ rock´n roll is Svarttjern in a nutshell. Thirdly “Bonded by blood” was one of many tracks we were listening to when we like 14-15 years old and by so it played a role in our early history.

Continuing the Bay Area Thrash Metal, comes in the album’s closer, the self-titled, “Shame Is Just A Word”. It seemed to me that Black Metal was put aside to take a breather, letting in American Thrash Metal carve into your skin. When the launch line, “Now comes the time when I undress your paranoia”, it became even further sensational. What is your take on this amazing tune? Is that the loosen side of Svarttjern, out of the Black Metal grip?

Hans Fyrste: In a Svarttjern’s point of view it’s a very mature track. As Gamle Erik mentioned earlier, pulling further away from the ‘black metal standard’ has become very natural for us as a band, and I believe for myself that this track in particular proves just that. For me it was extremely satisfying to work with this song lyrically and contribute to one of the strongest tracks we have ever produced. So yeah, it’s a looser side to Svarttjern, on the other hand, a very natural one. And the lyrics are sexy as hell, right?! Get your cumface on!

In your view, what are the main challenges for Svarttjern in the coming years? Do you care what happens in the Metal market around you?

Hans Fyrste: We create music because we feel like it, so I don’t see how any outside forces can ever disrupt or challenge that. Yes, every band today sell fewer albums and have to play more shows and sell more merch to keep the money press working - and I respect that. But that has never been the case for Svarttjern. We have felt the pressure over the years from big labels, and have sat down more than once with people wanting to lift it to new levels. But it just never felt right for us. Maybe because of bad timing, I don't know, but we got the feeling of losing control when labels tried to dictate what was right and wrong for us. If we earned tons of money we might have given things a thought, but the differences are minimal, so we would rather stick to what we can control ourselves.

How do you intend to support the new album live? What are in the works for 2020?

Hans Fyrste: The last years we have decided to play very few live shows and we definitely want to kick that up a notch or two. We are negotiating a few deals as we speak and we are very open for direct contact from local promoters and festivals. So get in touch guys!

HansFyrste, I would like to thank you for your time for this interview. “Shame Is Just A Word” is quite an amazing album, intense and right in the face as it should be. Thanks mate.



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