Interview with GRIMNER
After their first European tour, I interviewed Marcus Asplund Brattberg from GRIMNER band who released their debut album Blodshymner earlier in this year.
Discover deeper the band GRMNER, their experiences, and what is about their debut album, in this interview :!
01. Hello Marcus! First of all, can you explain us how was born the GRIMNER project & why have you chosen this bandname ?
The band Grimner was born from the ashes of Ted’s and Henry’s previous band, which was oriented more towards melodic death metal. The funny thing was that the name “Grimner” was not taken by any other band we found, and we thought that it was a perfect name for us.
02. Some former members left GRIMNER, what happened ?
The members that left Grimner did so because of personal reasons, and we thought that it was best that we parted ways since they wanted different things than we did. The band has always been able to cope with members dropping off, since there are always people interested in joining the band. It would be hard to replace some of the players of course, but we have never had any problems. Mostly, there have been no hard feelings when people leave, which is a good thing.
03. Back in 2010, you introduced first your music with your demo “A call for battle” available for free download, how was it perceived by the people ?
The demo was received really well when it was available for free download. Some of the songs are still our favorites and we play them live at almost every show. Some of the tracks are still played at radio for example. We really like the demo, and it was our first attempt to find our sound and our audience.
04. What is the lineup on this record ?
This was a very early stage of the band, and a few members had already come and gone. John Egnell played bass and growled, Ted Sjulmark played lead guitar, Martin Petterson played rhythm guitars, Kristoffer Kullberg played keyboards and Henry Persson played drums. John and Martin has since then left the band, and I took over from Martin.
05. wo years later was released your EP entitled “Färd”, did you sell good ?
We sold pretty well, and we still do. The records and merch we sell is the thing that gives the band a possibility to continue since this is the main income. All fans who buy merch are directly supporting the band in a huge way. Some fans even pays extra money just so that we can do get out and play more, and for that we are forever thankful.
06. How do you work for composition ?
Ted is writing the majority of the songs, but we collaborate to some extent when it comes to lyrics. Since every member has discovered what they want to contribute to a song on terms of playing style, we have opened up more for all members to participate. We mainly use Guitar Pro which gives the possibility for every member to practice at home.
07. You released March 21st from this year the first album “Blodshymner” for the band available on your Bandcamp page, Are you happy with the result ?
We are very happy with the results so far. We have gotten some great response from fans and critics, and we are very happy with that. We have tons of songs just waiting to be recorded, and we are really trying to look for deals, which can make it possible for us to record as soon as possible. We are a very productive band when it comes to songs, but we are at the same time very meticulous with the end result.
08. Can you share with us your experience while the recordings ?
We had a blast recording the drums and vocals at Aftermath Studios. We got a lot of help and pointers in terms of drum sound. We always have a goal when it comes to mixing as we know pretty much how we want the music to sound, and since we have a multitude of instruments, we want every individual instrument to be heard. We recorded flutes, guitars, mandola, keyboards and bass by ourselves with me as the sound engineer.
We want to record some instruments by ourselves since we, as I said, know how we want it.
We also went for a kind of live sound on this album. We want that people should be able to experience what they hear on a record when they go to a show. We do not want to over-produce and use thousands of tracks which require playback in a live situation, because we want to be able to create the authentic Grimner-sound by our hands alone.
09. What’s the story behind “Blodshymner” (Hymns of Blood) ? Can you tell us what are the tracks about ?
The tracks are very different in nature and we do not really have a concept for the album more than the themes we always strive to relate.
Dom Över Död Man is just an epic intro in our opinion. We love bombastic intros with a dash of Viking brutality. The chanting band of Vikings really put the cream in the coffee so to speak, and we are very happy with this track leading up to the first song of the album.
Blotet is an old track – actually one of the first the band ever wrote – and it originally included a violin instead of flutes. A “blót” is a norse ritual which was intended as a sacrifice for the norse gods. In the HBO series “Vikings” we get to see a reenactment of the legendary Uppsala blot as documented by the German monk Adam of Bremen, but according to historians, we do not know if this blot ever took place or if it was Christian propaganda to show the rest of Christian Europe how uncivilized Vikings were. We turned it around in this song in order to show how the Vikings may have protested against Christianity by sacrificing one of the missionaries to the gods. A blót was usually less violent and included the sacrifice of vegetables, fruits and drink.
Färd is really one of our signature tracks for the band. It is about Vikings travelling to unknown shores, venturing out for treasure or for death. No one is really sure of what they will find, but still, they boldly go out to find fortune in an unknown oceanic landscape.
Ett Likbål För Den Tappre is inspired by Ahmad ibn Fadlan’s description of the burial of a (probably Swedish) Viking chieftain. The particular chieftain in this song is called Ulvar, and he was a strong leader worthy of praise. The song tells us the story of his deeds and finally his burial where he is laid in a ship filled with goods he might need in his next life. The ship is burned at sea, and Ulvar’s remains sink to the bottom for his final rest in this life.
Skogsdömd is a funny track with a lot of trollish influences. We used almost all folk instruments we were capable of using in order to relate more of a fairy tale. It is about giants and trolls rebelling against the Christians who cannot live in harmony with the creatures of the forest, which leads all the creatures to invade Christian villages in order to kill them and end their destructive ways. We include a lot of Swedish mythical beings in this song to relate more of the Scandinavian folklore.
Forna Dagar is also one of the signature tracks for the band, and we all love it. It tells us about how the Viking society was really colonialized by the Christians in order to eradicate their culture. It is important to remember that we always write in an objective historical and fictional manner in order to relate the feelings the vikings perhaps felt. We do not really know much about the Viking mindset other than what is related by Christian historians, but we like to fantasize a bit.
Mot Jotunheim is a song that we wanted to be epic. It is also one of the newest tracks were we have switched to seven-stringed guitars. It tells us of vikings venturing to the land of the giants on order to steal their mythical treasures and kill them in order to stop their constant invasion of Midgard.
En Saga Om Underjorden is a tale of the norse hell really. It tells the story of the suffering one might experience in Hel, and how one will end up there if one does not die in battle. We wanted to create a cold atmosphere for this song, which reflects the suffering and grief of those people who were unfortunate enough to not die in battle. We have a warmer part in the middle of the song which is meant to reflect the contrast between the partying that goes on in Valhall and the misery in Hel.
Ättlingars Klagan is once again about the lament of the descendants of the vikings. It is a nostalgic song that is meant to induce the feeling of something that has been stolen from us. It is a protest towards the supposed superior values imposed upon the vikings by the Christians.
Hinn Heiðinn Siðr is just a track meant for dancing. It is about the holy mead which should be drunk in absurd quantities to attain the optimal level of partying.
It is important to always remember that the band is not affiliated to any ideology or religion. A hard thing for Viking/folk bands is that they constantly get accused of being affiliated to Nazism, racism and intolerance. This is not what we want to relate at all. We are just interested in telling the history of how vikings might have felt in their lifetime. We often get the question form fans if we are affiliated to Asatrú or obscure variants of it, but we are totally separated from any philosophical or religious ideas, even though we find them fascinating.
10. Sometimes ago, you shared on youtube some acoustic MÅNEGARM covers you played in the street. Why have you chosen this band and not…THYRFING or BATHORY for example ?
I with Ted played some Månegarm covers for fun a couple of years ago. Since we already knew some of their songs, we thought that we could use that. We’re really surprised by how well the people received our covers. We could’ve played a lot of different songs, but we stuck to Månegarm and also some Fejd that was not filmed.
11. What are your main influences ?
This is a question that is always hard to answer. We have so many influences since every piece of music that we hear can influence us in some manner. Generally, one could say that Ensiferum, Wintersun, Fejd, Finntroll, Svartsot, Turisas, Amon Amarth, Eluveitie and Trollfest are things that we listen to a lot. But these are just the more known bands. It would be hard to speak for the whole band as we all have individual influences.
12. Lately was your first North European tour. How was it ? Tell us everything! :)
It was just pure awesomeness. Since this was our first tour, it was an opportunity for us to see how well the band would stick together through some bad conditions. We never got tired of each other and we kept each other’s spirits up constantly. It is a bit much to tell, but generally we started in Motala, Sweden at the club Brygget. We played together with Vanir and King of Asgard which kicked ass. We always have blast with Vanir, so it was fun to play together once again. After that, we bode farewell to our loved once and ventured down to Copenhagen. There we played at Lygtenstation with Barricade and Vanir. Barricade is insanely good on stage.
Then, we went on to Stade in Germany to spend a couple of days at Váli’s place. Váli is the drummer from Rabenwolf and we had a blast during this time. We spent long days and evenings together and had a bit of a vacation. He is one of the best people ever. We played in Berlin with Serpentic and Rabenwolf on the 17th of March at Blackland Club. This club was insanely awesome with great staff who really knows how to take care of bands.
And then, we drove all the way from Berlin to Kemzeke, Belgium and Club 52. There, we played with Ithilien and Pitkan Matkan. We owe a lot to Jerry (drummer of Ithilien) and his wife who took us into their home where we could spend the night and got a kickass Belgian breakfast.
The last gig was In Best, Holland at the ToDo. We played together with Druantia and Encorion. This was a venue that fit us perfectly. Since we have a lot of members, we need quite a bit of space when we play. When we play at small venues, the band is held back a bit by the lack of room. The staff was awesome, the bands were awesome and the fans were as always kickass.
The long drive home went smoothly, and once again, it was good to stand on Swedish soil. We hope to get out there soon again, but until then, you know where to find us.
13. Did you sell cd’s & merch good on your tour ?
We sold quite a lot actually! One always hopes to sell a lot of merchandise since that is what complements our income. And it is always nice to see people walking around in Grimner-shirts. We also got to sign quite a few copies of our latest album
14. Do you plan one official video for the album ?
We did for a while, but it feels a bit late now. It’s hard to afford a video production when we have no real experience in filming ourselves. Support by fans may give us possibilities to get funding for a video, but we’ll see what the future holds.
15. What are your next plans ?
Since we are not doing any festivals this year, we are thinking of recording some stuff and practice new material. We also want to develop our show to give the audience the ultimate Grimner experience. Right now, we are just recuperating from the tour.