March 27, 2019 Interview – Hváll of Vreid Talks Lifehunger
Hailing from the remote Sogndal region of Norway, the band Vreid has established itself as one of the most solid, unyielding forces in Extreme Metal. Hot on the heels of their latest studio album, Lifehunger, the band returns to North America for the first time in six years to support Finnish act Kalmah. With the first date set for the 17th of April, 2019 down in Dallas, and concluding on the 1st of May in Baltimore, Vreid is focused on reconquering theses shores with their blistering Black-n-Roll attack. Recently, we managed to divert Bassist and Composer Hvàll (Jarle Kvåle) from tour preparations for a conversation about Lifehunger, returning to North America, and the desire to keep on creating.
Cryptic Rock – You joined Windir in 2001, and you were instrumental in making two great albums with 2001’s 1184 and 2003’s Likferd. Then you endured the tragic loss of Terje “Valfar” Bakken. From those ashes, you guys erected the band Vreid, all of which happened to you in under 5 years.
Hvàll – It was a very intense period of my life. Terje was my best friend, and we had a spectacular time working on these albums. Then darkness struck, and all turned black. Vreid arose immediately as reaction of therapeutic nature. It was my savior in a gruesome time.
Cryptic Rock – It is hard to imagine losing your best friend like that, so far before his time. All these year later, you are celebrating the release of the 8th studio album, Lifehunger. Looking back now, can you talk about the experience of building Vreid into the highly productive collective that it is? Did you ever think when you formed Vried that you would still be going strong in 2019?
Hvàll – No, and I don’t think in these terms for the next 5, 10, or 15 years. I know how sudden all can go away so I put all my energy in creating what I can here and now. I follow the natural hunger and try and go with my instincts all the way.
Cryptic Rock – Sounds like a wise plan. It has been six years since Vreid toured the United States and Canada. What is different about Vreid now from half a dozen years ago? What can fans expect as you lend support to Kalmah on what is definitely a special tour?
Hvàll – I think the band has never been stronger. We all have families, other jobs, and interests outside music that we follow. I think this is a massive strength. Whenever we gather in studio or go on the stage, we catalyze all energy into this. Getting older also puts into perspective how fortunate we are that we are able to do this. That said, it’s only the result of our own hard work and relentless will. So, on this tour you will see 4 Norwegian bastards filled with energy having the time of our lives. So, we bloody well hope you will feel the same.
Cryptic Rock – No doubt fans will be thrilled and return that energy back to you. Lifehunger follows on from 2015’s Solverv quite smoothly, as all Vreid albums stand alone, yet seem connected to one another. From the moment the album properly begins, it is obvious that it is Vreid. Have you, as a creative unit, sought for a signature sound in the way you build your songs? Or, do you approach each album as a separate entity?
Hvàll – I approach them as separate entities. I try to have no limits on the creative work. I purely write music and lyrics based on my inner voice. I pay no attention to expectations, rules, or dogmas of how things should be. What’s the point of that anyway? I see so many bands that are obsessed about how they are perceived by the “right people,” pathetic and weak in my book. That said, there definitely is a signature in our albums that connects them. In many ways, I approach the same universal themes of life and death all the time, yet the wrapping and angles differ.
Cryptic Rock – This type of honesty and commitment certainly shines through on your recorded material. The lyrics to “One Hundred Years” are a bit reminiscent philosophically of those found in “Resurrection of the Wild” from 2003’s Likferd album. Was this intentional, and is isolation from mankind a result of coming from Sogndal? How important is this theme of escape from the weakness of society to you?
Hvàll – I can see the connection. It’s absolutely a song inspired by the massive forces of nature, and how perverted a lot of the modern life has become. “One Hundred Years” was also inspired by the words and life of Norwegian Author Knut Hamsun. We might work our whole life for something, yet the legacy might end up being something completely different. Life is a weird thing.
Cryptic Rock – It certainly is. Apart from the observation on Socrates (“Sokrates Must Die”) and the occult trappings of “Black Rites in the Black Nights,” the overarching theme of the album appears to be death, or reconciling with the end. What made Vreid want to deal with this theme? Perhaps the tribute in the booklet regarding the loss of a loved one influenced Lifehunger in some way?
Hvàll – Life vs. Death is the basis for all albums. I suffered a tremendous loss while finishing this album. This of course colors the album. Losing your loved ones is the most destructive aspect of living.
Cryptic Rock – This is the eternal struggle, without a doubt. Speaking of struggle, how difficult was it to come up with the set list for this North American tour? Eight albums to choose from is a lot. How does the band arrive at a set list without killing one another? Also, might you tailor your set list differently for an American audience, and, if so, how?
Hvàll – I choose the set list, and yes, it’s hell to pick it. I hate leaving out albums, as I want them all represented in our shows. I also want to play all of Lifehunger as I love the album and enjoy every second of performing these new songs. I absolutely feel it’s our strongest album ever. There will be new stuff, there will be older stuff, and there will be a band on hellfire delivering it. Prepare America, the Norse wrath is coming.
Cryptic Rock – The album is most definitely worthy of complete play in the live setting. As you may know from your previous interview with Cryptic Rock, we also cover Horror and Sci-Fi films. We wanted to ask you again what are some of your favorites in these genres, or if you have seen any since your last interview with us that you enjoyed?
Hvàll – To be brutally honest, I am not a big fan of either, so I guess we are not getting any more interviews by you now. (Laughs) Reality overshadows the imagination over and over again, and history is the best channel to view this. The world’s history is filled with so many absurd, fascinating, depressing, scary, and lovely things that I don’t need anything else.
North American Tour Dates:
4/17 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey
4/18 – El Paso, TX – Rockhouse
4/19 – Mesa, AZ – Club Red also w/ Uada, Wormwitch & Cloak
4/20 – Los Angeles, CA – Hi Hat
4/21 – San Francisco, CA – DNA Lounge
4/22 – Portland, OR – Bossanova Ballroom
4/23 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon
4/25 – Denver, CO – Marquis Theater
4/26 – Kansas City, MO – Riot Room
4/27 – Chicago, IL – Reggies w/ Exmortus
4/28 – Toronto, ON – Velvet Underground
4/29 – Montreal, QC – L’Astral
4/30 – New York, NY – Gramercy Theater
5/1 – Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
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Band photo credit: Håvard Nesbø