Fresh from Bavaria, Mr Alphavarg from Kromlek has taken the time to answer the burning questions about "Finis Terrae," Urban pagan metal, and touring in Europe.
First and foremost, we want to thank you for taking the time to sit down and answer some questions for us. It is greatly appreciated.
From the formation of the band in 2004, what was the overall vision for Kromlek? Did you have a sound in mind, or was it changing and growing each time you played?
Well, I think it is up to us to thank you for your interest and for the possibility to get a forum in the States. I’m not sure if there was any vision back then in 2004. By forming KromleK we just wanted to create our own image of Pagan Metal. One special thing that defined our sound from the very beginning has been the use of keyboards since HrísDólgr seems to be one of the most talented and gifted keyboard players out there. So it was both change and growth which we declared as our ideals.
Who were your musical influences during the early stages of the band? What bands, groups, singers, had the biggest impact on your sound?
The biggest influence on both the ere compositions and lyrics had Finntroll, Thyrfing and Amon Amarth. You can obviously hear that, I think. Later on Windir had more and more impact on our work. But nowadays we managed to liberate our sound from any influence and in my humble opinion there’s a specific KromleK style.
Your sound is described as “urban pagan metal.” Can you give us a little insight as to what that phrase means to you, and your music?
Oh, haha, “Urban Pagan Metal” is definitely NO specification of our style, this term is merely some kind of provocation in order to distinguish our sound from what is nowadays called “Pagan Metal”, you could translate it with “Fxxx you all”, haha. To be serious I wanted to state that I’m totally fed up with all the dogmatic rules of behavior, how to wear your hair, how to dress on stage and how to “act pagan”… We live in a more or less civilized European country affected by an urban periphery in the year 2011 and not in the middleages or earlier so there’s no authenticity in wearing Viking costumes or warpaint. It’s all a big carnival which nobody of us can take too serious. So I use “Urban Pagan Metal” as antithesis for the current Pagan Metal scene which means nothing more than “Bye, thanks for nothin’ & fxxx off!” Our style should simply be described as “Metal” whatever that means
On that same topic, there seems to be some confusion, especially in the US, over what it means to be a “pagan” metal band, as opposed to a “folk” metal band. How do you think the two differ?
I think this is a sound issue. A Folk Metal band plays folky melodies, uses traditional instruments etc while a Pagan Metal band could be related to any kind of Metal sound. Pagan Metal is more about the content, Pagan lyrics and appearance. There are Pagan Metal bands that play Black Metal, others play Viking Metal or Folk Metal, the connection between all of them is the pagan content dealing with mythologies, pre-Christian cultures, nature etc. On the other hand we got for example Skyclad’s “Irrational Anthems”. They obviously play Folk, but their lyrical content is definitely NOT pagan. They deal with social critics and stuff like that.
Tell us a little about the album cover. What inspired the look and feel of the artwork, and who created the final image?
I did the whole design myself. I wanted to create a post-apocalyptical imaginary that underlines the main statement of the album “Life will prevail…man will not.” The inspiration was the album itself and the concept of the artwork and the booklet was to visualize the lyrical and musical atmosphere.
The new album, “Finis Terræ,” is an epic masterpiece. There are so many instruments used throughout. What was it like to create such massive layers of sound?
Thank you! But that question is hard for me to handle since I’m not the composer. What I can tell you for sure is that it was an enormous investment of time, energy and patience
There is no denying the German metal scene is growing. What is it like to play shows in and around Germany? Is metal becoming the genre of choice, or is it considered to be music for “outsiders”, as it is here in the States?
For us there’s no constant attitude concerning gigs in Germany. It’s very difficult to give a general statement because we had fantastic shows where we had expected bad ones as well as we played horrible gigs that really sucked where we had thought it would be great. I like to play abroad much more than inside Germany for some of our best gigs took place in Switzerland and the Netherlands. In Germany it differs from place to place; Munich is always great while Nuremberg sucked, Berlin was quite cool while other places we played great gigs once became bloody terrible for the second time.
Yeah, it is definitely an outsider music. Even though there are for example 80.000 visitors in Wacken… we got 80.000 outsiders! Metal in general is an outsider music but especially Pagan Metal is even more outsider. I got the impression that there are lots of people who put on warpaint and disguise as ancient warriors just to compensate something they’re not able to manage in real life.
What bands do you guys listen to in your spare time? Are there any unknown bands that you want to share with the world?
Currently I’m not listening to metal that much. I’m more into electronic synthesizer bands from the 80ies like Camouflage, Kirlian Camera and stuff like that. I also developed a great passion for martial/military ambient music like Triarii or Tethrippon.
Earlier this year, you took part in the Black Trolls Over Europe tour. What was it like to be a part of that line-up, and make stops throughout Europe? And are there any major touring plans in the works?
Well, it was definitely a very intense experience. We were very lucky with the lineup for all the guys were great personalities, especially Skyforger are extremely nice guys. Touring Europe wasn’t really something new for we had played several times in the Netherlands and Switzerland before and we also played in Austria and the Czech Republic before. In the end it was very funny and we had lots of good times but sleeping in the night liner while travelling is everything but comfortable. But I don’t think that touring the whole week doesn’t make much sense for most of the people are used to visiting concerts on the weekend and not an a Tuesday or Wednesday. Thus those gigs were quite frustrating because of the few visitors.
There are definitely NO plans for a major tour for we’re still quite small. If there’s an interesting package of bands and venues in “real” foreign countries – that would be a different kind of story but at the moment I’m fed up with tour experiences. Still, it is an issue of time management.
Cruising around the internet, your album can be found for free download on hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs, torrent sites and hubs. What are your feelings on the downloading of music, and how has it affected your lives as musicians?
Piracy in general is bad for musicians, especially for the smaller ones like ourselves. If somebody downloads a new Metallica output illegally it’s a sad thing but it won’t be their economical ruin. But the smaller bands are in need of every sold record. Of course one can argue that the selling of merchandise is more important for bands than the record itself but in my humble opinion this is still about music, right?! I know that a lot of people get to know KromleK because of illegal downloads [especially in Russia]. It’s good for us to become more known to people all around the world but if that ruins our “band economy” how could we be able to present another album without the money needed?
What are your plans for Kromlek in the coming months and years? And what can we expect from the next album?
We’ll see! ;-)
Thank you again for your time. We here at Sorrow Eternal wish you guys the best of luck. Keep your horns up.