Having had read on the band's official website, www.trollfest.com, that they are playing True Norwegian Balkan metal, I decided to try to find out what on Earth would connect the true Norwegian with the Balkan, in regards to metal music. An attempt at enlightening me was made by two of the trolls in the band, Mr. Seidel and Psychotroll. I call it attempt because, if any of you gets an answer to my question by the end of the interview, I'd be very thankful if he or she provided it to me as well. And I'm also thankful to the two band members who brought a long a trollish amount of good mood and I hope you'll enjoy reading the dialogue below at least as much as I enjoyed having it and writing it down. And making this compilation of farm sounds, which I recommend you listen after being done with the interview.
Me: So, let's start talking about why do you have the word “Balkan” in the description of your music style? Is it True Norwegian Balkan music? Or True Norwegian Black Balkan music?
Trolls: We're kind of fucking with True Norwegian Black Metal. We're trying to figure out ourselves what is so true and Norwegian about the Balkan music but it still hasn't happened, but still what we're making is very true Norwegian and it's still Balkan.
Me: Where's the Balkan idea coming from?
Trolls: From the first songs we made we wanted to add something extra to Trollfest and I don't know why we didn't have it from the very beginning, even if Balkan has always been very inspiring. We started using some German oompah rhythms into black metal and then thought why not Balkan rhythms. Also our drummer is listening a lot to that kind of music and his father is playing it. After we did Welcoming (Me: I assume they meant the album Willkommen Folk Tell Drekka Fest), we kinda wanted to make even more crazy music and the crazy Balkan folk addition seemed like a great idea. So we made Villanden and we were quite happy with it back then, but even that was not Balkan enough. While on the new album, there's even more of it. So it is even more Balkan. And Norwegian. And it's true. It's a new album.
Me: Can you say any Balkan names that contributed to your inspiration?
Trolls: It's the whole sound of it. And to see at parties with such music how people of any age are dancing all night long and they're having fun. That's the kind of feeling we want to put out ourselves. We've been to a lot of these “Balkan beat party” here in Oslo. We'd probably be killed by some of the other guys because we don't remember specific band names, but let's text the accordionist and find out. (read the rest of the interview if you're curious to find out). He's the kind of guy who has a lot of albums and knows what we're talking about.
We listen to a lot of Eastern European music and get inspired by them, but there's also this Norwegian band playing folklore music and they're called Farmers Market, but they're not into the metal part of it, just Balkan. They got quite big lately and their sole purpose seems to be to preserve endangered rhythms.
Me: I happened to be at one of your live performance and I noticed one of the most alive audiences I've seen in Norway. And I saw some concerts here so far. You said that you enjoy seeing the great mood in the crowd and people going wild on your music?
Trolls: I realised that quite early at our shows that we didn't have moshpits, we had dancepits. It's very strange but people were dancing in circles.
Me: You recently made a new acquisition in the band. What's the process for that? Do you look for a specific musician/instrument or it just happened that he came and said “hey, I could play that in your band”?
Trolls: Actually he's been with Trollfest for quite some time now as a session musician. We got in touch with him when we started recording Villanden and that was through Eirik's, our drummer, other project, the noise project, and there he had a friend who plays in a band, who has a friend who plays in a band and eventually we found this new member. We actually asked for a saxophonist, since we think saxophone is able to catch the Balkan feeling. He loved the music and he's been playing live with us for quite some time. Ever since we thought we're never ever going to hear anyone playing saxophone the way he does.
(at this point, some Southern European bands name had been sent by SMS and attempts at pronouncing them were made. You still have to read the rest of the interview to find them out)
Me: Let's go talking a bit about the upcoming album. What stage is it at, currently?
Trolls: The waiting stage. We are waiting for the label. The music is recorded. The artwork is ready. Photoshoot is ready, we're just waiting for the design and everything. For the moment we're kinda broke as we paid everything ourselves. We have started sending it out to labels but that is a really slow process. We had few responses so far, and we're sitting now and reading contracts, trying to understand contracts. And then we drink beer and the contract is still not signed.
Me: Maybe you can sign in beer. Or it should be printed on beer bottles.
Trolls: We're lucky to have our manager reading through this. You should see the mails we get from her. She is so fucking tired of the contracts because she doesn't understand what they mean either. They write so difficult. So we tell her “we'll just wait for your answer”. But yea, if they sent us beer with the contract in between that might help. But they need to send a lot of beer to keep us drunk until we go with it to the post office.
Me: What about the music on the new album? Is it related to beer drinking?
Trolls: I'm seriously so excited to release this album because it is the craziest we have done so far. We have added new stuff, we tried some Spanish, some Greek stuff. But the lyrics are still in the silly troll language. The story is also silly. It's actually like with the Brakebein, it has a full story, it's a concept album. We won't tell much more except that for the layout for this album, we had the same cartoonist who did the duck on Villanden to paint the story. We can also say that we are introducing some new characters to the Trollfest world. There is going to be more merchandise related to it.
Me: I see a lot of various merchandise on your webpage. What is the people's reaction to it?
Trolls: What we hope for is just laughing and entertainment. We're actually selling quite a lot of it.
Me: What's the people's favorite?
Trolls: I think what we have sold the most of is the Villanden tshirt with the duck. I think that's also the most distributed as well.
Me: What's the story of the duck?
Trolls: Oh my God, I don't know. He's crazy. We were at the preproduction of the album, Villanden, it was actually the song with the same name. And in the middle of that song there was a melody that our drummer was playing on the trumpet and we started laughing since it was sounding like “toot toot toot” <trumpet sounds go here> and it reminded us of this duck in an old old cartoon series that were on children TV when we were young. The duck goes around like “quack quack, quack quack” <picture duck sounds> and when it sees a train for example he learns to say “tchoo tchoo tchoo tchoo” <train sounds> . But back to our drummer, he turns to his father playing “toot toot toot” <trumpet> and his father tells him that “quack quack, quack quack” <duck> you sound like that duck from cartoons. So of course, this combined with a lot of drinking so we had a very wonderful night in regards to that song. Now there's even a quacking sound on the song. And we just imagined having a duck as the cover because it's so retarded. We actually had some really funny reactions about this song and Helvetes Hunden when we played them one after eachother at a concert. The sound engineer of the house was next to our sound engineer and he asked “are they going quack quack? What's going on on stage?”. And the next song “are they going woof woof?”. We should actually get a full farm for the next album. The Troll farm. I'm getting ideas here. We can even have elephants.<there comes elephant sound>
Me (after good minutes of laughter and wondering how I'd write down the duck story): So, does any of you own a duck?
Trolls: No. Can't you see how scary ducks look? You can't own a duck! Seriously, I would never have something like that.
Trolls: Are you ok?
Me: <mad laughter>
Trolls: That's what we do all the time. That's how it started and how we're making our music. 80% of the song writing process consists of laughing.
Me: So how does the process of the writing goes? Is it like jamming sessions or there's someone responsible with it?
Trolls: Actually on the new album there is a riff that we have jammed together during a gig in Paris. But except from that we just sit home and we try to make songs together but we just end up drinking so it's better to make songs alone, otherwise we listen to them the next day and we're like “what the fuck is this?”. So it works to make something by ourselves, sober, and then add them together. We have the basics made either by me (Mr. Seidel) or the drummer — actually the drummer makes most of the music. He makes songs at home for all the instruments, we listen to them, accept them, the vocalist adds lyrics as he listens to the silly music and gets ideas. Then we all try to find parts of the songs that could have vocals and where we'd like to have choirs and such, but it's mainly the vocalist who analyzes how the voice should go like.
Me: Your lyrics are mainly in Norwegian? German? English?
Trolls: It's a mix between those three actually.
Trolls: Because it's fun. When Trollfest started, me (Mr. Seidel) and the vocalist were going to a party, started to get drunk and we just needed some new music as we were tired to go through the same playlist every night. So we said “let's make a tune or two”. We made some songs, decided for some funny lyrics, but he wanted to sing in German, as it sounded mean. Then I (Psychotroll) came in with my German-Norwegian dictionary because none of us spoke German. But the thing is that our vocalist has a different “r” than the one he wanted to use “rrrrr”, because he doesn't have it in his dialect. He wanted to roll on his r's.
Dialogue between Trolls: “roll on his r's? That sounded very strange” “Yea” “Roll on the r's? That would be cool on stage!” “Can you please roll on the r's for me!” “Does it mean we can stop barbecuing on stage, right?”
Trolls: We actually did that. It was fucking fun at a festival in Germany. We told the organisers that we want a barbecue on stage, they arranged for the grill and a bucket full of meat and we had our roadie who kept barbecuing and serving the audience. It was funny as hell because we were standing on stage, having our show, looking down at people holding their plates and eating while they were looking at us.
Me: Was any of the food thrown back at you?
Trolls: No, they really liked it or must have been really hungry. But we actually had to stop doing that. At the next gig we had our roadie on stage again, this time serving only beer though, but in the middle of the songs the audience started screaming for our roadie, not Trollfest. He actually signed more during that festival than we did. So we kinda had to lay him off. “Sorry dude, we can't use you anymore. You're doing a really bad job”. He got pretty sad though, started crying and everything. But you know it's a hard business.
Me: So now that you stopped barbecuing, what are you doing on stage?
Trolls: We're trying to play our music.
Me: You've finally decided it was about time.
Trolls: We're trying to, but there's been a couple of concerts where we don't even remember being on stage. We just see pictures afterwards “Hey, it looks like us”. And the worst part is when you see it on youtube afterwards. “Hey, that looks like Martin. And this is me!”.
Me: When I saw you live you had, well, not quite a stage uniform, but there were some different looking outfits.
Trolls: I don't know where that came from. It comes from many things actually. That's how I (Psychotroll) ended up in this big fur. And we always manage accidents and end up very dirty before going on stage. We always carry around this big oily pipe backstage and everyone has to carry it. That's our warm up for the concert. Maybe it's about time to wash it. Or maybe not, so we can keep being dirty. Actually the white shirts you have seen us wearing are really comfortable. Especially when I wear this warm fur, I want something light underneath.
Me: Have you ever ended up too drunk to play at a concert?
Trolls: I (Mr. Seidel) I was really close once. I was playing two shows, one on Friday with Trollfest, the other on Saturday with Sarkom and on the 3 hours trip from the airport to the festival area I ended up in the car with Sarkom guys and we all got really drunk. They played the next day, so they didn't care, and I have problems saying no to alcohol. And I got so insanely fucking drunk. We opened with Sweet child o'mine just for fun and even if it's like the most easiest riff in the world I just couldn't play the intro and I was panicking backstage. I started drinking water, slapping my face.
Me: Did it work?
Trolls: No, because I can't actually remember anything of that concert. (Psychotroll) We actually rehearsed the song one half a tune lower, as I couldn't go that high, so my vocals were kind of awkward when we got on stage. I've seen the video and seriously, the song at the beginning sounds as if we had just bought the instruments and it was the first time we rehearsed together.
Me: Is it on youtube?
Trolls: I hope not. It was really funny to see the audience, but I guess it was only funny for us because everyone would just look with really big eyes like “what the hell just entered the stage?”
Me: What's the story of Trollfest, as band name. I read on your page that you guys started with Finntroll as your main inspiration.
Trolls: Yea, me (Mr. Seidel) and the vocalist really loved drinking and listening to Finntroll and we had this drinking game as well that was also about Finntroll. And when we started to make music, we wanted it to be fun party music, just like we considered Finntroll to be. And when you sing about trolls and want to make party music, you just add up the two words. We basically had this name and another option, The Devil's dangle berries (you know, the sheep's poo that gets stuck into their fur) But I'm kinda happy we went for Trollfest, to be honest.
Me: I understand why, I wouldn't want to see your outfit on stage if you had the other name.
Me: What's on your schedule, concert wise?
Trolls: We have one live show completely confirmed in December at the Black Troll Winterfest in Germany. We have a one week tour in Germany we are working on at the moment and also maybe another concert in Oslo. There is a concert confirmed for next year in Belgium, at a festival called Rage of Destruction. We now have a booking agency that we agreed to work with, so we hope to see more concerts in the future.
Me: Where from in Norway is everybody in the band?
Trolls: I'm from Norway. I'm from Norway. Are we done? … (Psychotroll) Seriously, I'm from TÃ¸nsberg, a town South West from Oslo. (Mr. Seidel) You don't know where I come from. I come from Kopervik, it's on the West Coast. I come from the West Coast baby. The vocalist is close to where I come from, the other guitarist is from TÃ¸nsberg as well, our drummer is from LÃ¸renskog, just outside Oslo, and Dag… I have no fucking idea where he comes from. I don't remember. Beyond the North Pole somewhere. He just appeared in Oslo one day.
Me: How did you find each other?
Trolls: We found each other in Oslo. Me (Mr. Seidel) and the vocalist have been friends for a long time, I moved to Oslo to study, he also moved to Oslo but to attend the army. I studied at a school called NISS and Martin here and our drummer studied in the same class. And out accordionist as well. We were actually studying sound engineering. We were musicians, but the music thing at NISS is just hippie, they are in love with motown. It was really painful for us to do recordings there and we so had to make our own music.
Me: Glad you didn't get inspired by that
Trolls: Yea, imagine the sound of Mofest. Actually the Motown music destroyed our careers as sound engineers, more or less, but we had very good use for the skills we learned there that got applied when we recorded the previous stuff. Even if it took us about a year to record Villanden, unlike the work on the new album when we don't have time to get drunk every fucking time we sit down to record something. Because that's what happened. We sat down to record something, and after one hour we kinda forgot that we were recording and we just sat there, drinking, putting other music. No wonder it took us one year. But sure, there is a lot of work when doing the processing and everything.
Me: When it comes to your musical tastes and the music you are listening to when you are not recording, what do we have on the menu?
Trolls: Practically everything from black metal to chicky Japanese music. That's the cool thing about Trollfest as well, we use inspiration from just about everything.
Me: Is there going to be any Japanese stuff in your music?
Trolls: We actually talked about that for Villanden because of a cellphone with black and white keys on which our drummer spent about two hours playing, but we forgot about that one and it didn't end up on the album so I am kinda happy about that.
Me: You said something about choirs. Are we talking about big choirs or?
Trolls: We actually borrowed some friends for the previous choirs but on this album we use the vocalist with 3 people backing him, including our drummer. I remember on Villanden when we were supposed to record the choirs, we were so drunk and no one managed to hit the right tone. And not only that, but nobody managed to keep the rhythm so we were about 5 or 6 retards tying to sing. I don't know if we even managed to sing lyrics. Now (on the new album) that we had a strict deadline we had to keep it more sober. But we didn't throw that stuff away. Actually some of it is on the album, just a bit lower. We should do some bonus material with only these. Even on the Brakebein album, the last part of the Legendarisk Ã˜L, the opening song, there is a really off key voice singing along the vocal. That's our vocalist. We thought it was just so funny and left it there. There's actually a lot of stuff like that on our albums. People might not hear it, but we know where it is. Especially on openings, at times it sounds as if we're stepping on the microphone. One time when I (Mr. Siedel) was recording the guitar for the last song on Villanden, while sitting down, our drummer came to give me a massage, but he kinda overdid it and made me fall off my chair while playing, but I still managed to go on playing. So on the album you can actually hear the change in the guitar when I was falling from the chair. And even if we had an entire year to redo it, it was too funny to remove it.
Actually our EP (Uraltes Elemente) is just filled up with such things. I was so embarrassed when we were sitting down in the mastering studio. We recorded and mixed it ourselves, but we had to master it at a studio. We gave him the song and when he started working on it, he had such a “what the fuck am I working with” expression. But we listened to it when we were sober, and it was fun. And it turned out cool. The reason for this EP is that we had too many songs for Villanden and we didn't want to overdo it, as it gets boring. Plus we had such a huge mix of instruments and rhythms so it would have just been too crowded with the extra songs. So the two songs, Byttedyr and GrublegjÃ¸ken didn't make it on the album and they are the reason we released the EP. We have the same problem now with the new album. We have 13 songs and we're releasing 11. And this time around it's really filled up with Balkan stuff, there are no breaks, we have skipped the quiet accordion songs.
Me: Have you ever traveled to Eastern Europe?
Trolls: No. I (Mr. Seidel) was supposed to go there with another band, but unfortunately it got cancelled. We're really looking forward to get to play there and hope one day it's going to happen. There's also something a bit scary in this idea though, as we like to play and mix he genres but we don't do this to make fun of anyone, we just like doing it and doing fun stuff. So we don't know how that would be perceived in the “mother lands”.
Me: What about Norwegian folklore and trolls? How much do you take from that for your music?
Trolls: It is kind of the reason we choose to look towards Balkans. We've seen so many people trying to copy the Norwegian folk music and metal and there is something very Norwegian that they don't fully catch in their music. (Mr. Seidel) You're talking about us dude. You should rephrase that one. Actually, what he meant to say is that some bands try to copy Norwegian stuff and they really suck. And we are trying to play Balkan so we really suck.
(the Balkan names we got via sms - Fanfara Ciocarlia, Boban Markovic, Besh o droM, Mahala Rai Banda, Stelios Kazantzidis, Roza Eskenazi)
Me: How's your relationship with the fans at the shows?
Trolls: We actually enjoy playing in smaller venues, where the audience is closer to us and it's much easier to get into the atmosphere. Then we really love to party with them after the concerts. It's so cool to meet the people who like the music, and we are really honoured to meet them. We get free drinks, that's why we do it. Don't write that down else people will just start coming with beer and asking us to pay for it. But actually we only started all this for fun and made some songs which we put on a website so we can download them at our parties and have fun on them. And a German label managed to stumble upon this unpublished website and they asked us for some rehearsals recording. We obviously had none. That's how it started and we're still doing it for fun.
Me: So what's the goal for now?
Trolls: To just keep having fun, go out, meet people. We love meeting people who love to have the same madness as we do. We have been amazed by the crowd at every concert we've been. They're singing, the know the fucking songs, even better than us and it's scary. But most of all we will go on be very serious about how unserious we are. And maybe get some Trollfest tattoos.
By Andrea Chirulescu