“Urd”, the latest Borknagar album, swept Cheryl Carter off her feet. She had the chance to sit down with guitarist Jens F. Ryland. They had a friendly chat about the new album, the stunning cover art, the return of ICS Vortex and being grounded by your band…
How do you prepare to write a new record? Do you all sit down together and discuss direction/sound, is it a natural process?
Øystein (guitarist/main songwriter) keeps writing no matter what time a year or what’s going on, he just keeps producing material continuously. When he feels ready he starts presenting his demos for us, the demos are made with Cubase and we simply use Dropbox for this. The way the rest of us work with this is a bit different, but the latest albums we haven’t at any time been together with the whole band at any point. I guess this is the natural way for us now, we live far apart so…
Can you tell us a little about the themes and ideas behind Urd? And whether “Urd” has a meaning in itself?
The themes are swirling around the usual Borknagar stuff; nature, elements, individualism and such. The meaning of “Urd” is straight up: The Past. Urd is a character, a “Norne” from Norse Mythology, you can find her in the Poetic Edda. I’ve also seen that in English we use “Wyrd” for this character.
The coverart is very intricate, how does that fit into the sound of “Urd”?
Oh, good point there, although I don’t believe Marcello E. Cissa had heard anything of the music when he made this. I have to point out that Marcello seem to have a strange connection to our music and he’s able to pick up the moods and atmosphere very fast, something he also did this time. It was a good process, the whole band was involved with feedback about the design.
ICS Vortex came back for this record, how did that come to be and what kind of effect did that have on the dynamics of the group?
Vortex is one of my best friends and he’s been up to date with the band situation even all the years he was “on leave” he he. In 2009 we were offered to do a tour in South-America and Vintersorg wasn’t able to join. I had pretty much put this behind me when I mentioned this to Vortex one day I was having coffee at his place, and out of the blue he offered to help us out if we wanted, he wanted to do the lineup we had when we toured in 1998-99 where he sang and played bass. This tour was cancelled, but the idea was presented and after his participation on “Universal” he simply stepped in and joined us again. Vortex brings in some good inspiration and having him back in the fold makes us all deliver the best we have, something I think you can hear on “Urd”. Personally I think this is the best I’ve ever heard Vintersorg sing ever, just to express my point.
Unfortunately you said goodbye to David Kinkade after recording, how did you go about recruiting someone new?
It all started when Vortex was helping out in Toproom Studios as engineer for a band who wanted to record a demo, and Baard was their drummer. Vortex was amazed with the skills of these young guys and I even remember he called me up to tell me about this. After a while we were invited to participate in the tribute recording for Metallica‘s black album made by German Metal Hammer, and ICS Vortex was also invited. I had not joined the band at this time and Vortex asked Baard to step in for Asgeir (former Borknagar drummer) on this recording. After this session he was convinced that Baard really knew his stuff. When Kinkade went back to the States Vortex phoned Øystein and that launched Baard as the new drummer…
After the time spent together as a band, what are the things that drive you to continue making music?
Passion. I tend to explain it as a necessity to master the everyday life; You build up aggression and mental imbalance with the chores of life and everyone needs an outlet to keep their sanity. Most people do this with some sort of hobby or action, simple stuff like working out or sex! To me, I also add the band-activity. Performing on stage is an incredible outlet of aggression.
Where do you seek inspiration? Whether that’s in other music, film, literature, etc…
Life! A philosophy of mine is that the road itself is my goal, meaning that enjoying my day to day life is my goal in life, and that also becomes the inspiration. Off course, all the inputs from music, TV and other media is a part of this.
What’s the process after the album gets released, do you have tour plans?
No, I’m afraid not. If it was up to me we would be doing quite a bit of concerts, but not everyone in the band have the same ambitions as I and can’t find time in their schedules to go out to play live. I’m grounded by my own band so to say…
Most of the members in Borknagar have bands and projects of their own. How do you manage to get them together in a single room, let alone putting a lengthy tour together?
The current lineup have never been together in one room! We meet up to rehearse for Inferno it will be our meet and greet hehe. Technology allows us to stay at home for recording and producing and the only thing we do together is concerts, and we havent played live since 2009, and that was with Kinkade and Tyr in the lineup, so…
Time for the last question. What is next for you personally in terms of new projects, music or life in general?
At this point I try to finish up my education which will be done in early June. And with the focus that is with Borknagar these days I don’t make any more plans. After my paper is delivered I will have 3-4 months off to spend with my daughter, (in Norway the dad is granted a 3 month paid period with the newborn during the first year). I was thinking I would spend that time to figure out what I should do next. It doesn’t seem like Borknagar is going to be a career and I’m considering my options from this summer. Most likely music will continue to be only a hobby and I’ll get into consulting.