BERSAERK are a Danish stoner rock band that are pretty new to most of us. So what better way than to let them present themselves than in this interview. ©2016 Anders Ekdahl
When you release a new recording does it feel like you have to start a new a couple step back because so much time has passed and so many new bands have entered the scene since the last album or do you just pick up where the last one left?
-Well, since we are the only band (that we know of) playing pagan stoner/doom with Danish lyrics, everything feels fresh. We are always working on new stuff, going were the
music takes us, and we don’t have any plans to change to fit into a specific market. I’m sure that our potential market would be greater if we would sing in English, but we have no plans to do that but instead we’ll follow the path we are on now. We never worry too much about what other bands do in terms of viewing them as competitors or anything like that. We have a lot of great friends in the stoner rock/-metal community in Denmark, and this community really thrives in the city of Aarhus, where we are from.
Do you have an aesthetic that you keep true to from recording to recording (i.e. stylistical same art work, lyrical theme etc.)?
Yes, we have the wolf, which we use in our imagery pretty consistently. It is present in our artwork and an inspiration in our lyrics and riffs. The wolf was actually spotted in Denmark again a few years ago after having been extinct in our area for a few hundred years, and the first sighting coincided with us starting this band. I don’t think this is a coincidence. I believe it somehow has a higher meaning and connection. Generally you could say that the wolf is a very powerful animal, one of nature’s perfections that live in strong pacts, takes care of its weak, and is a strong, skillful hunter. In a sense, the wolf’s qualities are something to strive for.
How hard is it to come up with lyrics to the songs? When do you know thst you have the right lyrics?
-It’s not hard if you wait for them to come. But if you try to force them onto your paper prematurely, it gets really hard. I know the lyrics are right when it sounds good and natural, and I at the same time got to express what I wanted. Some of our lyrics are very personal to me, while some are more of a reaction to the society we live in. But I’ll leave the details in figuring out what the lyrics mean to the listener. You don’t have to have the same interpretation as I do but we can still both enjoy the song.
How hard is it to find the right art work? What are you looking for?
-It’s not that hard, we had the overall concept pretty much worked out from the start. The artwork is a piece of the same puzzle as lyrics and music, and they are all somehow connected in regards to Bersærk. So, when you have one or two of the pieces the third is easier to find. It just has to fit with the other two.
Do you ever feel that you get misinterpretated because of the metal you play?
-Interpretations are beyond our control. We don’t waste time on worrying about that, we write and play the music we want and like.
Do you feel that you get the recognition you deserve, nationally as well as internationally?
-We’re still a relatively new band, and we’ve already enjoyed a fair amount of succes here in
Denmark, like opening for Red Fang and Eyehategod as well as playing some really great shows, big and small. We haven’t gotten to the point where we feel the time is right to tour outside
our country, but we are definetely open to the idea if options arise. Our lyrics are in Danish but our sound is quite international, I think, and we’d love to expand our fanbase and play more live concerts. We love playing live and our music really comes to life when meeting the audience face-to-face.
Is the end of physical close by or is there a future for all formats?
-There will always be a market for a physical format. Especially vinyl which has seen an incredible revival over the past few years. Music lovers and enthusiasts want
more than a stream or a download. And who knows, maybe we’ll see new kinds of physical
formats in the future. As far as Bersærk is concerned, we have our debut Mulm our on CD and later in 2016 we will be releasing it on vinyl as well. We are very excited about this!
I get the impression that today’s touring scene is most made up of festivals or multiple band line-ups. Is it harder/tougher to tour today
-I think so. There are a lot of bands competing for breadcrumbs and since the physical sales are still relatively low – and streaming services account for a big share of how people listen to music – bands have to generate revenue in other ways too. The payment rates for streaming are ridiculously low. The only other way you can make some of the money you spent back is by touring and selling merch, so that’s what bands do.
But with so many bands doing this, the bookers in many cases have the upper hand and can pay bands fees that are much lower than maybe ten years ago. So that basically leaves merch as the only real way for a band to make some cash to spend on rehearsal spaces, gear upgrades, studio time etc. So, well – it’s not easy making money, and we all have regular jobs as well. But then again, music is about passion, not money, and we have a lot of passion in Bersærk. We believe in our band and in this project and if that makes us money too that’s great but that is not why we do it, obvioubsly!
If you were to decide how would the stage show look like?
-Exactly like it does now. 4 guys rocking their asses off. We love playing live and this is where Bersærk’s music really comes to life!
What does the future hold?
-This year we’ll be playing a lot of shows to promote the new album, Mulm. We have a tour coming up – the Something Is Rotten Tour – with four other Danish bands from different parts of the country, namely Dirt Forge, Grusom and Slowjoint. It starts in Copenhagen on January 23 and so far there are six shows spread out across Denmark. More may be added. In March we are playing at Viborg Metal Festival, a relatively new Danish festival with great potential and an interesting lineup. A great thing about Bersærk is that we don’t necessarily fit in with the standard rock crowd or the standard metal crowd but can shift between the two because we mix the genres in our pagan stoner/doom.
Besides playing these shows – and more – we are working on new material. We already have a bunch that we are working on as and there will be more to come. We are not sure when this will be released though but people can keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter to get the updates.