Metal music and Sweden. A lot of metal bands are from Sweden and so Is Vanquisher. But when Conan The Barbarian is named in the interview and the bandmembers are talking about The Hybrian Age you can imagine this is not the most common metal band.
But see for yourself in the interview I did with them.
The band is called ‘Vanquisher’. Can you tell something about that name? Who came up with it and does it have a special meaning?
To “vanquish” means to defeat an enemy, opponent, someone or something completely, especially in war. Hence, the name “Vanquisher” is someone who does just that. It was Niord who came up with that name.
The name has a very special meaning; since the lyrics of our music tell the story of the age of ‘Conan of Cimmeria’, we wanted a name that could channel the energy of this character and what he does, so that our music would contain a similar force. Conan is the ultimate manifestation of war against civilization. He is someone who “vanquishes” all obstacles in his way, in one way or another. It also goes very well with the topic of primal battle.
Can you tell something about the history of the band?
There’s a million things one could say on this topic, but we will try to keep it brief: Niord and Heimdal got together with the intention of H teaching N some techniques on the electric guitar. They knew each other from before but mostly through a mutual friend. Not so much happened along the lines of a guitar lesson, but as by fate, the two started coming up with some melodies together, H using the guitar and N singing some melodies to go with it. And then they took it from there. After three songs were written by N & H, H’s brother Wulfhere joined in on bass guitar, learning to play the bass parts composed by them and then making his own bass lines on future songs. N encountered Horsa in the local rock/metal pub in Malmö after having seen H perform with a black metal band live just a bit before, and seeing him wear a Manowar t-shirt made N curious to ask if he would like to audition for the band. For some time, the trio had looked for another guitarist, and H fit just right in.
Some time passed, and after the release of our demo EP “A Demonstration of Power”, H came in contact with Gorm in the hobby store he worked at at the time. The two started talking, and that eventually lead to Gorm being interested in auditioning as a drummer for the band. There was not much hope in this, though, seeing as G did not actually own a drum set at the time, and simply practiced on “air drums”. However, G came to rehearsal and nailed the songs like none had before, and from then on, we have been complete as a five-piece.
Please introduce the band members. Who are they, instruments, musical backgrounds etc.
’Vanquisher’ consists of:
- Niord of Nordheim – lead vocals
- Heimdal the Warlord – guitar
- Wulfhere the Executioner – bass guitar
- Horsa the Steelshredder – guitar
- Gorm of the Pounding Hooves – drums
On our musical backgrounds:
- Niord: By now, I sing, growl, and play guitar. I started with growling, though. I started being in bands and making music because I wanted to express myself somehow. I was always a shy kid growing up, and felt that people didn’t try to understand or listen to me on the rare occasions that I tried to voice my opinion, which was very frustrating. So it was my way of forcing my voice to be heard, you could say.
- Heimdal: My family used to listen to lots of rock bands. Mother had played instruments, and so some of my brothers also started playing instruments, which in the end led me to pursue guitar playing. I started with bands such as Ramones, Nirvana, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Ultimately, it took off for real when I discovered Megadeth, Death, and Behemoth.
- Wulfhere: I started playing music because I’ve always had music around me and always liked trying to create my own music.
- Horsa: I started when I first found my father’s old guitar. I sat down and started playing and have continued playing ever since. My parents often listened to music and my father used to play when he was a teenager, so I grew up with music around me.
- Gorm: I started around the age of 6/7 thanks to my uncle Jörgen and quickly learned that drums is my weapon of choice. Playing Dio, Kiss and Rainbow covers alongside my uncle’s original songs made me the drummer I am today.
When I see the names you use on stage my thoughts go back to the stone age (I think) and maybe it’s the early history of Sweden. Why just this period?
The age that our names belong to is the Hyborian one created by Robert E. Howard. It is basically set in prehistoric Europe and North Africa. This has to do with the fact that our lyrics revolve around Howard’s writings about the Hyborian age.
Are the names you choose real people (in history) or are they invented by yourself?
They are all names from characters found in Howard’s short story “The Frost Giant’s Daughter”. We felt this fitting, as it is the only story of his taking place in Nordheim (which would later become Scandinavia, in his writings).
So I have to ask this. Is there a great difference when I speak to you as band members or in normal life?
No. Our band-personas are of course a little part of who we are, but we choose to mostly activate those parts of ourselves when we go up on stage. Roaring like a savage is simply not very convenient when you are going to take part in interviews or have a beer with a promoter *laughs*.
Are band members playing in other bands also?
Heimdal and Wulfhere are also engaged in another music project called “Cosmic Fruitsalad”. The genre would basically be impossible to figure out. But you can have a look online yourself and see if you can figure it out!
How would you describe the kind of music you make? What is special about this kind of music?
Our music is a journey through the Hyborian age, as conceived by Howard. We follow different characters on adventures in fantastical landscapes, mostly Conan, though. What’s special about this kind of music is that it’s (to our knowledge) the only musical project dedicated to chronicling the Hyborian age with a focus on staying true to the literature. We also think that we have a unique sound, formed by the different influences each band member brings to the table.
What are your favorite bands?
Some bands that we look up to are such as: Manowar, Megadeth, Metallica, Danzig, Behemoth, Iron Maiden, Dio, Rainbow, to name a few.
Can we hear the influence of other bands in your music?
Certainly! They are many and pop up every here and there. They would probably be the same as our favorite bands.
You are from Sweden, is it easy to play there?
We wouldn’t say so. And it’s a funny thing too! You see, a lot of big heavy metal artists come from Scandinavia, but the most dedicated crowds are usually found elsewhere (Germany and Japan comes to mind). That is not to say that we have not had a good response from our Swedish crowd, but sometimes the crowd needs a bit of warming up to get their engines running, if you know what I mean, hehe.
What can you tell about the metal scene in Sweden?
Same as above. We have plenty of brilliant artists from here! You can just look for yourself at many of the big metal bands we have today: Amon Amarth, Sabaton, Hammerfall, Opeth, Meshuggah, In Flames.. the list goes on! But this, while being the most populated Scandinavian country, is still not very big in population, and maybe that’s why it can be hard to get big audiences here unless you play at a big festival such as Sweden Rock, for example.
What are your goals in music?
Conquering the world!
What was your most remarkable gig so far?
Well, the one we have probably been the most happy with was the one we played at Copperfields in Stockholm. For many reasons: we got to meet Ola Englund himself from Solar Guitars, who we are endorsed by. What a great guy! Also, the sound technician did a great job, and it may have been the best sound we had live so far. Finally, the crowd gave us a great response; they even headbanged during the soundcheck, hahah!
What can you tell us about the Swedish audience? And how do they react on your performance? Your stage outfits are very special and I can imagine your stage performance will also be special.
After a few beers, the Swedish audience is great! People can have a hard time letting go of themselves here in northern Europe, so sometimes you need to try a bit harder to hype up the people. But the good thing is that people are very polite here, so they would never start booing or anything if they didn’t like the show.
We’re glad you like our outfits, we put a lot of effort into them! We usually have good reactions to our stage outfits; it creates a certain interest in people. I mean, how often do you see a bunch of savages in spikes, skulls, fur and leather walk by? *laughs* Our stage performance is always leaving some impression on people. You should come by and check it out yourself too!
How much time do you need to get ready for stage?
Around an hour would be a good measurement. That gives us time to put on the outfits, all the warpaint, blood and dirt, and to warm up for playing and singing.
Would your music sound different if you were not in your stage outfits? I mean would people enjoy it as much as with your outfits?
The music would maybe sound the same, although possibly lacking some energy, as putting on our outfits is a bit of a ritual that puts us in the right mood. People would probably not give our music as much notice were it not for our outfits, no. And that’s understandable; a live performance should be something different than just listening to some songs on Spotify. It should be an experience. And that’s what we want to deliver. Who remembers a bunch of guys wearing jeans and t-shirts? Throw on something that sticks out and it’s a different story!
Are you more of a studio band or a live band? And what is for you the difference?
We are a live band, without a doubt. The studio is such a stale environment where you just repeat things to get them perfect, sometimes to the point where you start to go a bit insane. Live, you can do mistakes and really just live for the moment. People forgive whatever shortcomings there are in your delivery technical-wise as long as you are entertaining.
The difference between a live band and a studio band would be that a studio band is concerned only with putting out music for people to listen to, while a live band has another dimension to it: one where they are entertainers who want to show themselves and what they do so that people can have a good time and rock out together as friends.
Did you make records so far?
So far, we have put out one demo EP “A Demonstration of Power” and our recent single “Shadows over Stygia”. We have quite a lot of material which is just waiting to be recorded, though!
Who is responsible for the music and lyrics?
The composition of songs vary. The songs on “A Demonstration of Power” were entirely composed by Heimdal & Niord, although they didn’t dictate the drum playing. Generally, the whole band is involved in the composition process to some extent, although different people lay down the groundwork for the songs. For example, Niord composed most of the rhythm guitars for “Battleborn”, “The Pride of Aquilonia”, and “Storming Venarium”. But Gorm and Heimdal composed the base for the song “Savage Sword”, and Horsa & Heimdal worked together to make the guitar parts for “Trapped on Shamu’s Plain”. So there’s really no ONE person who composes the songs. ‘Vanquisher’s’ music is a team effort. Niord writes the lyrics for the songs, although there are some small excerpts that Heimdal has come up with for some songs. Niord is the one who has read all the Conan literature by Robert E. Howard and therefore handles most of the narrative work in ‘Vanquisher’.
Is there (always) a message in your songs?
The song lyrics are mainly fictional stories, so it depends on what you consider “a message”. But if one wants to get philosophical, you could say that there is a message in every story, because whether it is fictional or entirely a real story, it is always a reflection of that person’s life put into that story. Sure, the Conan literature is fiction, but if one is willing to analyze it further, one can see that a lot of the narrative comes from a way of thinking. Howard genuinely believed that barbarism was a better way of life and saw civilization as something unnatural. There was a belief that brute force and violence will always ultimately triumph over sophist tricks and cultured ways. If one spends a lot of time dreaming themselves away to other worlds, it is probably because the one in where we live is not as one would like it to be.
You released a new single the 2nd of March. What can you tell us about this new single?
The single takes us on a journey to the Egypt-inspired land of Stygia. It is a place where dark sorcery rules, and the only god allowed worship is the serpent god Set. Its darker atmosphere lead us to experiment with a darker sound, in which you can find some death, black and thrash metal influences. We felt this would fit the theme of this release.
Why should people listen to this new single and, of course, buy it?
Because it’s awesome! *laughs* Seriously, though, we put in a lot of time and effort to make it, running into many obstacles, but we are very satisfied with it in the end. It is a more professional sound than we have had before (much thanks to the very skilled and helpful Cederic Forsberg of Blazon Stone, who helped us mix, master and produce it) and we think it is the best we have sounded on a recording so far. Also, if you are a bit more into darker themes and sounds than we had on our demo EP, this could be for you!
You’re with Kingart Music. Why Kingart Music?
We got in contact with them through Stefan Stiss Lundvall, who is one of the owners of the management company. He saw us perform at the NGBG festival in Malmö and liked what he heard, so he set up a meeting with us, and after much talk, we decided to work together. They have been very reasonable with us, and we look forward to further collaboration with them!
Where can we find the band in 3 years from now?
Out playing in other countries as well, hopefully! We really want to spread our music as much as we can. And we would like to make this our main occupation, no matter how hard that is today.
Is there a possibility to welcome you in Holland one day?
Definitely! Hook us up and the raid will come for you!
Is there something else you will tell us? Everything is aloud!
Thank you for taking the time to interview us! And to all our savage brothers and sisters: stay strong and never let civilization break you down, by Crom!
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Vanquisherofficial/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/vanquisherofficial/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Vanquisheroffi1
Bandcamp (where we sell our merch) – https://vanquisherofficial.bandcamp.com/
Official website – http://vanquisher.se/