To The North
An interview with Jonas Albrektsson, bassist of Swedish Viking metallers King Of Asgard
You joined the band in 2009: how did you know Karl (Karl Beckmann, vocalist, guitarist and funding member of the band) and what attracted the most of King Of Asgard since the first time you hear and saw them?
I have known Karl since we were 5 years old, we hanged around in the same area for a while before starting playing in local bands, until Karl started King Of Asgard and he asked me to join him. I went to the first rehearsal and I immediately liked what he was doing and that was it.
Have you always wanted to be the bassist of the band?
Definitely, it’s my instrument of choice, I have played it all my life.
Your arrival into the band also marked your deal with Metal Blade: how did they found out about you and what do you think are the factors that made them choose King Of Asgard over other Viking metal bands?
Actually it was our drummer, Karsten (Karsten Larsson) who got in touch with them and sent a demo to the label. Andreas from the Metal Blade German office really liked it and once he got the ok from the US headquarter, he got us signed. He saw the potentials for us as a metal Viking band, we had been in the metal scene for a while and they relied on us for the fact that we were going to do something special in the future.
Tell us about the King you take your band name from: why did you choose him to represent your band?
The King Of Asgard is Odin. Karl came up with the name when he started the band, he thought it was a good idea to use him to identify us with the Norse heritage we are so proud of.
Indeed, in the lyrics as well as in the development of the music path you use the Norse heritage: do you do lots of research on the subject and base your song-writing in legends or do your song relate to imaginary tales?
We based our music solely on the Norse mythology, the Viking, the myths and the legends from books that were written thousands of years ago. We tell these stories as we want to share our heritage with others.
Fi’mbulvintr your first album was released in 2010: what do you treasure the most of the writing and the recording process of the album?
It was like… everything was really new with the band, I have just joined, we were a new unit and felt that the first album was going to be something special. As it came along in the studio, track by track , we did not really know what to expect but once everything was recorded we were more than happy with the results. It was a surprise to us we had no idea on where we were heading, also considering that people really liked it.
When was the first time you played songs from Fi’mbulvintr live and was there any particular of the songs of the album that you felt proud playing in front of a big audience?
The first time we played Fi’mbulvintr live was at the release party here in our hometown and when we played the song Einharjar, the song we also made a video for, people around us just went crazy. It does provoke the same effect when we played it live now.
And in 2012 we already have the follow-up with To The North coming out on 27 July. Is To the North a title that implies a command? It sounds like you are guiding an army of Vikings to war particularly in the track Gap of Ginnungs.
We wanted to create such a feeling of command exactly as you said. With regard to the title, it does have two different meetings. It’s first of all a celebration to our Nordic heritage, we salute our country and surroundings. The second meaning refers to the Vikings when they were fighting in wars around the word, and when heading back to their country, To North was the command to guide them. Gap Of Ginnungs is a very epic song, very different from what we did in the past, I am very glad you like it. The lyrics of this track are based on the story of creation of the Norse mythology, it tells how about the fights of the Viking when there was nothing, then the world was created.
Up In The Mountain is a beautifully structured song that again implies a path to a battlefield, Karl’s vocals become even deeper and I really like his scream half way. Are you planning to take this song live at all?
I think so yeah, most likely! When we recorded it we were not sure it was going to work out but in the end as time went we thought to go for it. The lyrics are based on two beings rising from nothing to have a good life.
The title track is perfectly placed at the end of the album: is there any closing message for To The North in this beautiful, instrumental song?
It reflects the feeling that we wanted to represent, some sort of low, mellow, sad mix of emotions, like the struggle the viking had to go through for living in those times.
What it also the mood of the band as you were recording To The North?
We recorded the whole album with a deep sense of pride since the very first moments that we entered the studio, we knew it was going to be a good album. We wanted to do our job and we did, everything worked out the way we wanted it , it was hard work but lots of struggle, well worth struggle though. It took us only two weeks to complete, lots of people think now it sounded impossible but it is exactly the time it took. We did lots of pre-production at home working our ass off, we knew exactly how the songs should have been before entering the studio.
What are your plans for the next King Of Asgard tour?
We want to come to England! We have hard times getting on tour because of our let’s call them “regular jobs”: Karsten for instance has a farm to run and Karl owns his own furniture shop so it’s kind of difficult for us to go on long tours, hopefully we will get on shorter legs. But please if someone want us in England let us know and we will come!
King of Asgard vs Amon Amarth in a battlefield: who wins?
Laugh! Oh my God, that is hard to say but one thing is for sure, we are old dirty bastards that won’t give up! Maybe we get even…..