Helrunar's demo Grátr was (re-)released now and Skald was so kind to answer some questions...
Grátr was the demo, somehow the beginning of Helrunar - at least for the fans who got the chance to hear Helrunar's music. Have you been surprised by the feedback from the fans?
Yes, we were. Very much, actually.
Many still think it's your best release... How do you feel about that?
At least I can say that it is a release than we can still be proud of... Yeah, maybe it is our best. But that is hard to say... Every release is a little different. You can't really compare them. But maybe Grátr is our wildest and most direct record. And that makes it really special.
Who had the idea for the re-release? Was it your idea? Or the labels?
Both. Many fans asked us for a re-release, for many years. It was about time.
Pretty often bands decide to re-record stuff when the original release was a demo. Have you ever thought about it?
No, never. We are still satisfied with the production. No need to re-record or remaster anything.
The lyrics are based on Nordic mythology... Your name is taken from a book from Jan Fries... There seems to be a certain fascination on the Nordic mythology and culture. When did it start? And do you remember what triggered it off?
No, actually I can't say... I was fascinated by Northern mythology since my childhood days... Later I started to read more about it, learn more about runes and all that. There was no special 'starting point'... Rather a fascination, an interest that was always more or less present.
Usually your band is labelled as a pagan black metal band... How would you tag your sound?
We don't care. If you need a label, maybe call it 'Mythological Black Metal'.
Often the pagan metal bands have quite shallow lyrics and so give people a wrong idea about it. Is this upsetting you? And what book would you recommend someone who wants to get a basic idea about Nordic mythology?
Of course it is upsetting me! The people make a parody out of what they actually want to glorify! And they don't even realize. I am so fed up with that stuff... But on the other hand, it is human, all too human that it happens like that. In harder times people always look back to the past and then glorify and idealize it... In the 19th century it was just the same.
I would recommend any well researched, scientific book on historical and mythological matters concerning that. Rudolf Simek is a very good author for example. One can read that in combination with a good, scientific Edda translation to get a basic idea. Throw away the cheesy, poetically translated and illustrated shit… look for an Edda translation with scientific comments and footnotes instead, then you'll get the real thing.
You live in Münster where you can find a lot churches and the history is highly connected to the Catholic church... Did the overall presence of the church had any influence on you? Took part in turning away from religion?
Actually I rather regard these churches of interesting places of history and art. I like to visit them and to enjoy their atmosphere. What made me turn myself away from Christianity has nothing to do with these buildings... it has to do with humans. It was the hypocrisy and double morale of the so-called 'good Christians', and the fact that the Christian religion delivered no more answers at a certain point.
Since 2006 there is the Vainstream Rockfest... What do you think about it?
I don't care. Not my taste of bands. But it's not so far away from my home. If you make a barbecue with some beers in my garden on the 'Vainstream – Weekend', you'll get a funny kind of festival feeling without the need of camping...
Have you ever thought about make a conceptual album about your favorite saga?
No. Maybe such a project would limit us too much. Or, on the other hand, it would be an awful lot of work. Because, if we would do so, I would try to retell the saga in the context of the modern world. Maybe that would be interesting… But I still have enough other material and ideas. I want to work on that first.
I guess you are already working on new material... Anything you can already tell us?
Yes, we do... But it is still difficult to tell how it will turn out. On one hand, it will be a step back to the roots. On the other it'll be a step further. But I think I can say that it will become our darkest work.
What's next on your schedule?
Some concerts and then, in 2010, the studio.
Sounds like whatever Helrunar will deliver in future it's worth listening closely and check the lyrics. It's great to have someone taking a serious look at mythology - and not only jump on the bandwagon!