DRAKKAR

I have only nice memories of DRAKKAR from the 90s/early 00s. With a comeback and a new album I found it to be time for an interview. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

I haven’t heard from you guys in a long time. What have you been up to?
-Well, after the promotion for “Razorblade God” we entered into a spiral of events, both in our personal lives and with the band, which made everything related to Drakkar slow and painful. The main issue was the departure of our original drummer Chris, who relocated to Mexico. Without him in the band, it just wasn’t the same anymore, for several reasons. To this, you have to add that we were all in a moment of transition in our personal lives, so we were basically forced to slow down so much that, at times, we kinda felt like we might as well split and be done with it. But that never happened, primarily because we are friends and we enjoy being together and making music together, so we just thought “Ok, no rush. Let’s just take our time and we’ll be back when we’ll be back. No sense in calling it a day: we enjoy this and we have no pressure from outside the band, so let’s just take our time”. That’s more or less how it went. In 2010 we were finally ready and willing once more, so we started recording the new album, and then it was all a matter of finding an interested label to publish it.

When it’s been so quite about you for such a long time how do you keep the fans interest up?
-Well, in 2007 we did a downloadable EP with 4 new songs, distributed for free through our website. That was a way to say: “We’re still here, still alive”. After that, we thought we could get the new record done in a year or so but once again “shit happened” so we weren’t really able to complete the composing sessions until the end of 2009. From that moment onwards, we always tried to keep the fans informed through our Facebook page, to let them know that we were about to finally come back. It has been tough and I’m sure many thought we had disbanded, so I was pleasantly surprised by the interest that this new release has been gathering. It is a testament to the fact the we did at least something right with our first three albums, seeing how there were still fans interested in us after such a long time.

What is the hardest part in not releasing records while still keeping the band alive?
-Well, when you’re not able to release new records, it’s tough because you don’t have feedback anymore if not when you can do a live show… and we’ve been doing few of those as well due to the line-up issues. So basically the hardest part is to find the energy to do things without having a direct feedback. As much as you do something for yourself first and foremost, knowing that there is someone else interested in what you do is important.

Is an Italian record label a good option if you want to reach outside of Italy with your music?
-My Kingdom Music has a very good international distribution network, so I think it’s a good option, yes. Being Italian, it’s easy for us to get in touch and work with them, and they treat us as a priority.

What is it with Italy and symphonic power metal bands? Is there something special in your water?
-I wouldn’t know precisely, but Italy has a great tradition when it comes to classical music. Symphonic music and opera are an important part of our culture and history, so I’m not surprised that there are many bands influenced by our classic composers. To be fair though I don’t consider Drakkar a strictly “symphonic metal” band. I see ourselves more as an Epic Power Metal band. We have classical influences, symphonic keyboards, intros and the like, sure, but those elements are just one of the ingredients of our sound. We do not build songs around the orchestra (except of course for intros like Hyperspace, but that’s – again – an Intro), it’s the other way around.

How pleased are you that there is a new album to promote? What was the inspiration in writing this new album?
-Mighty pleased, of course. It was never our intention to take such a long time between releases as it has been the case in the last ten years, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. As for the inspiration, well, there were many, especially for the concept behind the record, which is based on classic, pulp American science fiction from the ’50s and the ’60s with some hystorical elements and some interesting (in my opinion) twists. Concerning the music, well, we just wrote what we felt like writing. The fact that the development of the record has taken such a long time has obviously made it a bit different than how it might have been if it was all composed and recorded quickly, especially due to the fact that in these 10 years our tastes evolved and we matured as people as well as musicians.

7. When you named the band back in the days what was it that made you chose Drakkar as the band name? Is it a good band name for a power metal band?

The name of the band was chosen by the original bass player, I joined it when it was already called like that, actually. I think it’s a good name, yes, I mean, it’s the name of a viking ship and that fits perfectly with the epic and “northern” side of our music. We come from Milan, in the North of Italy, where many germanic populations migrated and made their home. Especially in the early days of the band we were getting many questions from people outside Italy that were surprised that we hadn’t taken a name more inspired by Roman mythology or stuff like that, so I always had to explain that Italy is a country that has been split up and dominated by foreign populations for so long that you can really find lots of different influences in our culture, on a regional basis.

You’ve always had very dramatic album covers. What is it you want to say with your album covers?
-We simply want to give an idea, a hint of the epic and powerful music inside. I think it’s important that the artwork communicates what the general feeling of the music is, as it is really an integral part of the experience of the album. At least, it is for me. I’m not too fond of MP3s and stuff like that, I have a very tradition approach to music and records, and to me the packaging, booklet, cover and everything is just part of the experience.

How does the cover tie in with the lyrics? Is it important to have lyrics that say something special?
-I wouldn’t know how to define “special”; what I know is that I care very much about lyrics. Of course there are bands with very silly or “standardized” lyrics that I love anyway, because their music is great, but the best of the best, to me, are those songs where words and music go perfectly together, hand in hand. So basically, what I try to do is write lyrics that are befitting with our musical style. As an Epic Power Metal band, I think our songs benefit the most from having lyrics that help you escape from reality, that bring you into a different world, made of heroes, of great battles, of values like friendship, honor and self-sacrifice. It is an allegoric form of writing. For what concerns the link between lyrics and cover, When Lightning Strikes is a concept album. It revolves around a man who has been transformed by an alien race so that he reincarnates every time he dies. The aliens’ purpose is to use him as a witness of our evolution through the centuries in order to judge if Earth’s people can be allowed to one day travel through the stars, or if we are too violent, and therefore dangerous to other races, in which case they would have to confine or destroy us. The cover shows us this man, a viking sailor, when it’s just about to be taken by the aliens and transformed.

Will it take this long for a new album to arrive again? What plans do you have for promoting the album/band now?
-Definitely not: we are already working on the new record and we want to make up for all those years of inactivity. We have great energy at the moment and we plan to make the most of it!
As for the promotion, apart from doing several interviews and stuff we are starting to work on live dates. We will do our best to play as many shows as we can in the next few months.

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