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While I was still thinking of approaching the Norwegian Black Metal outfit WINDIR to talk about their great new album "1184", new member Hvall (formerly of ULCUS) already contacted us if we were interested in an interview. Of course I was, as the concept of "1184" naturally attracted the history student in me (probably nobody will read this interview now but I can assure you: we’re not only talking about history, so don’t be afraid and read on). The CD is one of my favourites this year as it’s full of unusual compositions including skillfully played non-Metal instruments as well. Fortunately WINDIR didn’t forget the heaviness we need for our daily fix of Metal so I can strongly recommend this CD! I’m really wondering why all those big magazines talk about them being clones of early DIMMU BORGIR? It just isn’t the whole truth!

First of all: when did you start listening to Heavy Metal? Do you remember your first Metal album? Do you still like that record today?
“I started to listen to Heavy Metal when I was 7-8 years old. I listened to bands like KISS, ALICE COOPER, WASP and TWISTED SISTER. The first MC I bought was “Stay Hungry ” by TWISTED SISTER. My first CD was “Keeper Of The Seven Keys Pt.2” by HELLOWEEN. I loved that CD when I bought it, and it is still one of my favourite CD’s. But the bands that really got me interested in Metal were METALLICA and DEATH. For several years I listened to DEATH almost every day. A couple of days ago I received the tragic news that Chuck Schuldiner had died. It really made me sad. DEATH’s music was one of my main inspirations to start playing Metal. Every DEATH CD is just brilliant, and “Symbolic” is my ultimate favourite. I think it is the best CD ever.”

What made you start playing music? Was that before or after you were introduced to Metal?
“I started to play music because I wanted to play Metal. As I was turning 15, Metal became more and more important in my life, so I decided to start playing myself. I started ULCUS with Steingrim and Sture. We released 2 MCD’s and 1 full length CD. The full length was released on Shiver Records. I wrote most of the music for ULCUS, and that is what I enjoy most. I love playing live and recording music, but what gives me the utter satisfaction is to write music. On “1184” I and Valfar have written 50% each of the music, and it has worked out very well. Valfar has been used to writing all the material for WINDIR, so it was quite an adjustment for him. But we have grown up together and know each other very well, so the collaboration has been quite painless.”

From what do you make a living? You won’t be able to live from WINDIR... would you like to? If yes, do you have a plan how this is going to work?
“No we ain’t able to live of WINDIR. I would of course like to do that, but I don’t really see that happen. I am a student. I am studying Philosophical history, and have previously studied Political science. I like to study, and it works out fine combining it with my music. I have a lot of spare time, and can use most of my time on WINDIR. It is no problem to go on tour for a month, or do a recording, this would have been more difficult if I had an regular full time job.”

Did you have a band before WINDIR and did you record anything with that band?
“As I mentioned I, Steingrim and Sture formed ULCUS. Later Strom and Righ joined ULCUS. We released one full length CD “Cherish The Obscure” on Belgian label Shiver records (now L.S.P Company). So all of the members of ULCUS joined WINDIR for the recording of “1184”. ULCUS is put on ice, and I doubt if we will do any recordings in the nearest future.”

How did you get your record deal?
“Metalion of Head Not Found got hold of a WINDIR demo, and made an offer. Valfar signed a deal for 2 CD’s in 1996. “1184” is also released on Head Not Found. But HNF doesn’t really exist anymore. VME has bought HNF, and we are doing all the business with VME now.”

What do you think about the three following points in connection with WINDIR: what do you like best and why? Writing songs, recording songs, playing live.
“I guess I answered that in a previous question. Writing songs is my favourite part. Because it is what gives me the greatest satisfaction. I love the feeling of having a song finished. That is what really gives me a kick. But playing live is also an enormous feeling. If you are playing for an enthusiastic crowd, it is an incredible feeling to play your own songs live.”

WINDIR started out as a solo project. What made you decide to make WINDIR a band and how did you find the other musicians? Did you know each other before? Are you planning any live activities?
“WINDIR was Valfar’s solo project up to the recording of “1184”. He released “Soknardalr” and “Arntor” in '97 and '99. I and Valfar were raised on the same farm, and we have known most of the other members all our lives. I have always loved WINDIR, and Valfar wanted to develop the sound of WINDIR. So we decided to join forces. This also meant that WINDIR could become a live band. We have been doing a couple of Norwegian gigs lately, and it has worked out very well. Next year we are doing some Scandinavian gigs and we will be playing at the Inferno festival in Oslo in Eastern. Currently we are working on an European tour for April. We will get this tour confirmed early next year. So hopefully we will see you then.”

Let’s talk about the concept of your new album "1184". I did a bit of research on the title and 1184 combined with Norway leads to the conclusion that you’re singing about King Sverrir. '1184' is already the second track, so I presume the rest of the album deals with Sverrir’s reign? Can you explain your interpretation of that particular time in Norwegian history by going through every song’s lyrics (maybe also how the music supports the lyrics)?
"1184" is not a concept album. The songs '1184' and 'Heidra' are the only songs related to the title. The title is the year of the greatest sea battle in Norway. It took place in the Fjord of our home village Sogndal. The people of Sogndal were tired of all the taxes from King Sverre. When he raised them again before Christmas 1183, a group of men in Sogndal, led by Arntor (a local farmer) killed the priests and men that served Sverre, as a protest for his tyrannical regime. Sverre was furious and ordered his army to burn Sogndal to the ground and kill the guilty ones. Another local king, Magnus Erlingsson, heard that Sverre was on his way to punish us and saw an opportunity to defeat him in a battle and become the sovereign king of Norway. The two armies bashed together in the fjord here in Sogndal, 2000 men died and sadly our "king" Magnus fell in the battle. As a punishment Sverre burned Sogndal to the ground. He confiscated Arntor’s farm, and made it a seat for his men. So our lyrics are made in honour of our local hero Arntor, and is in total hatred against Sverre. The other lyrics on “1184”are shared between me and Valfar and are more personal lyrics, dealing with subjects like longing, hatred, pride, sadness and egoism.”

Where does your interest for history come from and are you particularly interested in Norwegian history or are there other fields of interest for you?
“I am generally very interested in history. I am actually so fascinated by it, that I am studying it at university this year. It is Valfar who has written the lyrics about the seabattle of “1184” He is very interested in our local history. The lyrics of WINDIR are based on local history, not our Norwegian history in general. WINDIR will always be based on the mighty history of our home village Sogndal, and since both I and Valfar grew up on the same farm as my great ancestor Arntor, we feel a strong connection to the history of the battle in 1184.”

On the opening track of "1184", 'Todeswalzer', you use German lyrics. Why? What connections existed in 1184 between our countries or doesn‘t this song belong to the concept?
“There is no connection between the year of 1184 and Germany from our side. It was Valfar’s idea. He wanted to use a German title, and since the song deals with the death of Valfar and has a waltz beat in it, it felt like a fitting tittle. Also the German language is very majestic and powerful, so it adds an extra strength to the title.”

Did you use other instruments apart from the typical Metal intruments on "1184" or does it all come from the synthesizer? If yes, did you have any guest musicians in the studio or can you play those instruments yourself?
“We used an accordion. Valfar was playing it. He has been playing accordion since he was a child, and we find it very fitting to our music and concept. It is a trademark of WINDIR to have accordion on the albums, and we will definitively keep using it in the future.”

Please tell us about the cover artwork. It’s a painting, right? What does it show? Is there a connection with the album’s concept?
“The cover is an old painting of one of our greatest national romantics, J.C Dahl. The painting is of Fimreite where the battle in 1184 took place. I think it is a very majestic painting, and it fits the concept of the song '1184' perfect.”

Is WINDIR presented on the internet or do you plan so? What do you think about the internet in connection with Metal anyway? Do you think it’s a chance or do you see dangers as well?
“We have our own webpage: www.windir.no . I think that it is a great way to inform the fans what’s going on with the band. I just find it necessary. I understand the scepticism against Napster and all that stuff, but what can you do? I love history and I'm fascinated by old times, but you got to progress and adapt to your own time. Learn from the past, live in the presence and embrace the future.”

Please tell us an interesting or funny story connected with WINDIR for our readers.
“I don’t really know what you want to know here. I guess you find it interesting that almost all of us are raised on the same farm. Being from the countryside of course means that we have an heavy alcohol use. We make our own “Moonshine” and “Dunder”. “Dunder” is a kind of mead that Valfar makes in the old fashioned way. I thinks that it tastes gruesome, but he fucking loves it. He usually drinks 1 litre of the stuff before live appearances, this way he gets in a really killer mood. I guess that most of our interesting stories appear when we a are drinking (which is most of the time), so we just have to hook up in Germany on tour some time, and then you can see what we are like yourself :-D”

Anything else you would like to add?
“Thanx for your questions man. Hopefully we will see you German Metalheads on tour in the spring. Until then, buy “1184”, put it in you CD-player, lean back, and enjoy 52 minutes of majestic and melodic Norwegian Black Metal. Skåål!!”

Ramon Claassen

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