Interview: HEIDEVOLK
Title: Teamwork

The album „Vuur Van Verzet“, released in 2018, once again revealed the continuing class of the independent Dutchmen, then it was time for a longer period of scythe on the album front.

One was already worried about the Viking ambitious Folk metallers, then Heidevolk in the renewed line-up redeem the eagerly waiting fan base with „Wederkeer“ - and the six-piece immediately provides again for pagan high spirits!

As bassist Rowan Roodbaert explains to me, the band break with whole 5 years without a new album also seemed like half an eternity to him.

„Yeah, it seems like ages.The 5 years were absolutely not intended and we aimed for a long yet reasonable 3 years, but then Covid struck.This blocked the way we were writing the songs and it had a great impact on our personal lives as well, which translated into a huge delay of writing and recording.“

Congrats to the pretty unusual „Wederkeer“ and the great result with all the fine melodies in the 1st new single Klauwen Vooruit, incl. surprising clear, wonderful heroic vocals.

„Thank you very much! Unusual, that is an interesting word. I think we can see ‚Wederkeer‘ as an accumulation of the stretch of time, the way of writing the album and the influence of the new band members. Although we created an album that fits perfectly into the Heidevolk lineage, it has a distinct sound and feel. We did stray a bit from tradition to create the atmosphere needed for the concept but there is an undeniable, progressed Heidevolk sound to it. We also emphasized more on the dynamics in the tracks although there are some songs that feel very raw.“

Who of you guys out of the band did the lion's share of the new song material?

„Most of the songs were originally composed by me but unlike last album we had more composers, with songs from Koen as well as one from Mat. We also took a different approach to the pre-production of the songs. Last few albums were mostly created in a home studio filling in details in one on one sessions. This time we took the basic song and structure to the rehearsal room and strived to work on details and ideas in the rehearsal room with everyone involved. When we had our first meeting with Joost van den Broek before the start of the production, early 2020, he explicitly asked for this; every song must be played and rehearsed as a band before entering the studio. This was February 2020, and then Covid struck.“

How did your collaboration for the new work go in these difficult times?

„Difficult times indeed.Times that shook the very foundation of every creatives’ soul, and, well, every person I think. With a North American tour and lots of other shows planned we postponed and canceled almost 40 shows, the outlook was grimm. Due to the regulations we were not able to do the very thing we intended: rehearsing and writing together for the studio. On top, the impact on our personal lives, day jobs and families made it even harder. During 2020 and 2021 we found ways to cooperate again and the album progressed slowly. Luckily most of the regulations were lifted just in time to record early 2022. 2 years too late, but better late than never.“

How was the selection of songs for it done? Was it difficult for you?

„Well, we had big plans, selecting songs, demoing songs, rehearsing together etcetera. I think we had about 30-40 ideas for either whole songs, basic riffs or lyrics. When time progressed the selection on ‚Wederkeer‘ was what we worked with, that means there is a lot left to work on for a new album haha. But yes, one always tries to find a balance on an album with faster songs, mid tempo bangers, epic hymns and acoustic songs.“

„… a powerful odyssey of the Self …“ … great, love it, one have to stay absent from all the TV shit etc. - what's is behind the idea to create such a concept album?

„Thank you. Well I don’t have to tell anyone that we live in a world with lots of distractions, stimuli and pressuring (social) networks. One can easily be distracted for an hour, a whole day or even months without realizing it. Forgetting about who they are and why they are doing things while being pressured into having opinions about subjects that already have been distorted by narrowing algorithms. We invite everyone to take a step back once in a while, go back to your roots and realize who you are, that you live for you and your loved ones and are not obliged to pick sides or give your opinion. As for the concept, firstly we picked the qualities of the runes as a base for every song. So we have ‚Sowulo‘ about finding happiness that became ‚Drink met de Goden (Walhalla)‘ or ‚Hagalaz‘ (halestorm) about the depths of a personal crisis. Once we progressed in writing the lyrics we found the main storyline was about growing up, finding yourself and carving your own path. That said, the lyrics are still very much Heidevolk, displaying topics like the awe of nature, epic battles and drinking with gods.“

What is the song lyric with the most meaning for you on the new release?

„If I'd choose one based on the lyrics, I think: ‚IJzige Nacht‘ is a song that describes a lot about how I felt during the crisis. The rune I wrote to was Eisaz, meaning ‚being stuck‘. The lyrics translate to ‚Imprisoned in a cage of ice on desolate barren lands, where screams fade and hope dies in the cold winter nights‘. A feeling that many people can relate to when their creative world was reduced to almost zero for two years. If you listen to it, the song feels a bit ‚stuck‘ until the bridge where everything clears up because even the darkest nights have a dawn. On a positive note: I really love the song ‚Oeros‘, it describes a rite of passage, hunting an aurochs to achieve manhood. It stands for overcoming something so you can grow again.“

Nearly everything has changed since Covid - the world, the music business, the societies - how much have you changed, how much have your views on true art changed now?

„I think I have become more aware of what life is about. When social life was reduced to the web and about every project around me came to a halt I had to reset goals from short term to long term, carefully choosing what mattered and what not. When it comes to art, I’m aware of the amount of ‚spin-off‘ art there is, a logical consequence of living digitally. We also tend to see a lot of things through the lens of someone else or their comments about it. However, I do crave originality and luckily I get impressed on a regular basis with amazing new and old art, music etc. It is one of the reasons our cover artist made an original painting as a cover concept.“

Anything you would like to add?

„First off, we really hope to see everyone again on tour in 2023, it has been too long since we had a decent talk with fans on live shows. If you live in the ‚Oberhausen‘ area we have a release show planned in Club Helvete on February 24th. Secondly I’d like to invite anyone to listen to the album and let us know what you think. See you again soon friends and we promise no more 5 years between albums haha!“

© Markus Eck, 02.02.2023

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