Interview : Månegarm

Erik Grawsiö, vocalist and bassist of Swedish Viking Metal heavyweights Månegarm answered my questions about Ynglingaättens öde, their new album.

Review of Ynglingaättens öde

Version Française ? – soon on French Metal

Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Månegarm without using the usual “Metal” labels?
Erik Grawsiö (vocals/bass): Thanks alot, my pleasure 🙂 Månegarm started out in 1995 in a city called Norrtälje, 70 km North of Stockholm. We wanted to play raw, primitive and fast metal with a nordic touch, and the idea from the start was to sing about the Norse mythology and the Viking era, in Swedish. Quite early, in 96/97, we started to experiment with traditional instruments such as violins, flutes but also female vocals just to evolve this nordic/folk vibe even more. Today we have been playing for 27 years and personally I think that we’re still going strong!

Where does the band’s name come from, and what is its link with your music?
Erik: Månegarm is the name of a wolf that lives in the Iron Forest. He feeds on the blood of dying people and pursues and devours the moon, leading to lunar eclipses. During Ragnarök he spits blood around him so that the sun turns black and there is a solar eclipse. Månegarm is a character in the Norse mythology and since the idea was to sing about that, we thought it was a good band name.

The band celebrates in 2022 its tenth album, named Ynglingaättens öde, did you ever think the journey would last this long?
Erik: No I don’t think so…back in the days it was more ”here and now”! We loved playing music and didn’t care that much about anything else. But I’m so happy that this journey still continues. Playing in a band is the best and funniest thing you can do in life, at least I think so. I have my best friends in Månegarm and the band is like my 2nd family. I can’t even picture my life without music.

What is the story behind Ynglingaättens öde? What are your influences for this album? Musical or not.
Erik: The new album is a lyrical concept album based on the old Norse poem Ynglingatal. The poem tell us about a Swedish old Norse dynasty of rulers/kings of Uppsala and about their deeds, their rule, and above all – their deaths. The house of Ynglinga claimed to have divine origin as the offspring’s of the Norse god Freyr. The kings were religious and military leaders and did often die in mysteries, grim and sometimes even unnatural ways. The poem Ynglingatal includes 54 verses, but the Kings weren’t that many. On the Swedish side there were 20 kings. The Yngliga king then continues to include a couple of kings in Norway but we have focused on the Svea (Swedish) kings. On the album we tell you about every Svea king in one way or the other, and a few selected kings have gotten their own song.

How does the composition process happen? Was it different from your previous releases?
Erik: The composition process has been the same as before. I compose the songs, send a rough demo to Jakob and he writes the lyrics. That’s the way we do it and it works great.

What can you tell me about the album cover and its relationship with the music?
Erik: The cover art is once again made by the Belgian artist Kris Verwimp who we have been working with since our second album in 2000. Kris is a great artist and usually we come up with the ideas for the cover. We tell Kris our ideas (by mail) and then he creates these phenomenal album covers. Every cover art has a close connection to the music and you can see the theme/concept in the album covers. Like on this for example – Here you see the story about Ingjald Illråde who we sing about in the song Ulvjärtat (The Wolfheart).

The most impressive track is in my opinion Freyrs blod, the first and longest one. How did you have the idea to create such a contrast in this song?
Erik: Thank you, great to hear! 🙂 Freyrs blod took me a while to compose. I came up with the 1st and 2nd riff and also the chorus I think, but then my ideas stopped for quite a while. The clean, soft part in the middle was actually going to be an acoustic song but I didn’t come up with anything else than this part. So I took this clean part and placed it in the middle of Freyrs blod and it worked really well. It gave the song much more dynamic and I like that. I’m really happy with how this song turned out!

How do you decide to use harsh, clean or female vocals?
Erik: Sometimes I try out different styles and other times I just know what will be best. Whatever serves the song best! 

What made you think about releasing an english version of Ulvhjärtat, entitled The Wolfheart?
Erik: First we wanted to make an english version of the whole album but we didn’t had the time. We recorded The Wolfheart and also English versions for Auns söner (The Sons of Aun) and Vitta Vettr and these last two versions are ONLY included in the limited wooden box we release (on a 7” vinyl) so that makes them really exclusive.

Since 2020, Covid-19 crisis fucked a lot of things up, how did you face the situation as a band? Did it have an impact on the album?
Erik: With zero gigs and festivals for more than 2 years, it was really great that we had the new album to compose and record. It was like therapy for us 🙂

Do you already have plans for the future after the release of the album?
Erik: We have some nice gigs and festivals coming up this spring and summer but after that we’ll see.

What can you tell me about the evolution of the Metal scene around you?
Erik: I don’t know really…There are sooo many sub-genres but if you look at the big group/genre Metal/Heavy Metal it has certainly had it’s ”highs” and ”lows” over the years of course but overall. Heavy Metal stands strong I think. The fans are very loyal, they buy the albums and they come to the shows and that’s so important. Maybe I’ll sound like Manowar now hahaha but Metal will never die! 🙂

Do you think you still improve yourselves as musicians?
Erik: Definitely. The last couple of years I have mostly improved my singing I think. It’s so much fun and I love to sing in harmonies and arrange my vocals and when you like something that much improvement comes by itself.

What are your best and your worst experiences as a musician ever?
Erik: Best festival moment is Hellfest! Best ”special” festival is 70 000 tons of Metal where we played at a huge carribean cruise ship on our way to Haiti together with 60 other bands. That was fkn amazing! 🙂 Worst memory…hmmm I don’t really come up with something here. 

What led you to the Metal universe back in time? What was the very first album you ever bought?
Erik: I remember that Deep Purple was the first ”hard” music I heard. Think it was the song Speed King and that made a huge impact on me! It was the coolest and most energetic music I had ever heard! Later on I bought Entombed Left Hand Path and that was almost the same experience: What the f**k!! This is some evil shit man haha! Motörhead also came in to my life pretty early and also made a huge impact. Lemmy is king and the totally uncompromising rock n’ roll he brought to the world is legendary to me. I  also really like the German band Running Wild who has been a big inspiration and influence for me. I think the first album I bought was 1916 with Motörhead. One of their best albums I think! 

What do you know about the French Metal scene? Which French bands do you know and like?
Erik: Not that much unfortunately…I know Gojira but I don’t listen to them. We have played in France a couple of times and the audience is always awesome! We played Hellfest a couple of years ago and that was the coolest festival ever!! That I will remember forever 🙂

What if I ask you to compare Månegarm’s music with a dish? Which one and why?
Erik:  Like a Scandinavian buffet I would say. A bit of everything but all with a Månegarm/nordic/folk touch 😉

Are there any musicians or bands you would like to collaborate with?
Erik: Not any that I specifically think of right now, but I really like collaborations though. I have done guest vocals for many bands and many singers have helped us out as well. It’s great!

Last question: which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour with Månegarm as opener and three other bands!
Erik: Then I’ll pick this Line-up: Månegarm, Korpiklaani, Equilibrium and Hulkoff because then we can play the song Stridsgalten together every night haha! 🙂

That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Erik: Our new album is out 15th of April and we hope you will like it! We are very happy with the final result so we really hope that you will enjoy it as well. And come to our hometown Norrtälje this summer; 26-27 of August will we hold the 2nd edition of our own festival Månegarm Open Air. First edition was in 2019 and it was a great success. Sold out and visitors from over 30 countries, so we hope for the same this year. We have a great line-up including Moonsorrow, Grand Magus, Einherjer and others so it will be awesome! Come join us!! 🙂

Rock n’ Roll // Erik Månegarm

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