Being of Nordic heritage Iceland plays a huge part in our history. But that this volcanic island in the middle of nowhere has cool metal bands is a bit harder to handle. But FORTID is yet again proof of that. ©2015 Anders Ekdahl
Do you feel that you have come as far as you planned for the band now that you have a new album out?
-Yes, I feel that Fortid is in the right place at this time being. We could be pushing harder for recognicion, but we‘re not trying to become the next “big thing“ or anything like that. I’m pleased with the fact that we have a small, but loyal group of listeners and that we get the chance to deliver Fortid’s vision to the world.
How does this new album compare to the previous ones?
-It applies the same elements that previous albums had, but it offers greater variety, new ideas and more solid song structures. I think this is the most epic sounding Fortid album so far and production wise, it is my favorite of all 5 albums.
Was it hard for you to come up with a sound you all could agree on?
-Not really. We have analysed the sound to the fullest and discussed what could have gone better and we all agree on the same things. I see this album as a just another step in fully visualizing the world of Fortid. The sound will continue evolving, but at this moment we are pleased with where we’re heading. It feels right.
How important are the lyrics to you? What kind of topics do you deal with?
-The lyrics are very important. The whole album concept is based on the lyrics. 9 is about the god Odin and his travels and sacrifices to gain deeper wisdom and knowledge. Almost everything he did to become wiser is mentioned in these lyrics, except for the most obvious one where he sacrificed his eye to see better. He hung himself in the tree Yggdrasil for 9 days and 9 nights and travelled there through the 9 world. 9 is a magical number in Northern mythology. So this is where the album title comes from. The title track is 9 minutes and 9 seconds and there are 9 songs on the album.
How important is the cover art work for you? How much do you decide in choosing art work?
-That is equally important. The album should be presented as a package with a certain concept. I have worked through the internet with the cover artist of Fortid and made certain wishes and demands. There have been some back and forth tests before the final result. This time around I wanted to try out someone new but still maintain the overall discography concept. The guy that made this one is Tim Odom from Ghost Horse Art Design. Looking at all previous Fortid covers, we see this one fitting right in.
Where outside of your country have you had success with your previous albums?
-It’s really hard to tell how to measure success. We have been getting good feedback from all over, but I think Iceland would probably be the place where Fortid is best realized. Germany, France and USA are also countries that come to mind when I think of mails that we have received. Even though Fortid has never really broken into the US market, I will be taking a few steps now to make us a bit more visible over there.
Why is it that we do not see more metal bands from your country making it big internationally?
-There haven’t really been so many try hard bands from Iceland. Most of them are simply content with playing their music and see it as an added bonus when other people like it. But despite of that, if you look closer into it, you see more and more Icelandic bands becoming visible. We have the biggest Black Metal scene in history of this country today and some of those bands have been releasing albums lately, praised by the media. To bring you examples, I could randomly mention Black Metal bands like Svartidauði, Sinmara, Naðra, Misþyrming, Auðn, Carpe Noctem etc. or other musical approaches like Momentum, Kontinuum and obviously Sólstafir. And there are many more. I think those paying attention must surely have at least heard of some of those bands.
What is your local metal scene like? What status does does your band have in the national metal scene?
-I live in Norway now, so that’s what I currently consider my local scene. But I assume you mean in Iceland. Fortid is very well perceived over there, especially amongst the heathens. Polls show that Iceland is the most heathen country in the world, so Fortid is embraced by many. I also notice less rivalry between different bands in the Icelandic scene than here in Norway. I feel less competition and more support between bands in Iceland.
What is the general populations opinion on metal? Is being a metal musician a respectable choice?
-It used to be hated and feared. I had total strangers attacking me out of nowhere in the streets because of the way I dressed or my long hair. This has changed a lot now, but what always seems to plague a small society like Iceland is the fear of sticking out. With a growing metal scene, this becomes a lot easier, I can assure you of that. It is the same with the heathenism. More and more people are getting fed up by the church and leaving it. And the Ásatrú organisation is growing. Not that it has anything directly to do with metal, but it sure helps people like me walk the streets without having to get into a fistfight for no good reason. I still think Norwegians have come further in regards for public respect for metal musicians. The Norwegian government supports a lot of the Black Metal bands today.
What does the future hold for you?
-I try not to look too far ahead, but the coming months will mostly be about focusing on my family. I will do a couple of shows this summer as the vocalist in Den Saakaldte, including Graspop in Belgium. But Fortid will not be on stage anytime soon due to the fact that I’m moving back to Iceland for a while. When I return to Norway, we will hopefully not take too long to get back on stage.