Heidevolk: Folk Metal Hymns from Gelderland

Since 2002, Heidevolk has been on a musical journey through Gelderland, composing folk metal hymns of legends and lore from their homeland.  Uit oude grond (From old soil) is their third release to date, and it’s bound to thrill all fans who would like to tag along on the exciting adventures this Dutch band has to offer.   Presented to you worldwide from the folks at Napalm Records, here is a recent interview we conducted with Heidevolk vocalist Joris Boghtdrincke to learn more about the band and their exciting pagan folk metal tales…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Heidevolk, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Joris, and I’m one of two singers in Heidevolk. We formed in 2002, had some line-up changes but now we’re stable again. Sort of. Hehehe.

Where is the band from and what is the local music scene like there?
We’re from a town called Arnhem in Gelderland, a Dutch province in the east of our country. Can’t say I’m too involved in the local music scene anymore. Some cool concert venues, record shops and bars that used to be hotspots closed down, so everybody got a bit scattered. Of course we’re not getting any younger and most of the new generation seems to have been born with a distinct lack in taste when it comes to music, so everything really was better in the old days! Still there are some promising new bands such as Mondvolland who I hope will carry the torch.

Is there any story or concept behind the Uit Oude Grond title?
There are several. Again, our songs are built around local history, folklore, mythology and nature, and the old soil (“oude grond”) is what binds these things. We’ve expanded our view a bit on this album though, so you’ll also find some more generic subjects like on “Vlammenzee”, “Dondergod”, and “Beest bij nacht”. As usual, everything is in Dutch but we included some liner notes so you’ll know what we’re on about.

Tell me about Gelderland in particular and what fascinates you the most about its rich history?
It’s the combination of its landscapes, its history, and its culture that fascinates me. I’ve lived here all of my life and all my ancestors come from this region, so naturally I feel quite attached to it. It’s the biggest province of the Netherlands, and the last region to lose its independence when our nation was formed so it still has an identity of its own. The oldest city of the Netherlands, Nijmegen, lies in Gelderland and within our province there a lot of dialects and peculiar customs to be found. There are some castles, all of them haunted of course, forest, hills, but also the typical Dutch river landscapes. We have a few Gueldrian heroes, like duke Charles of Egmond and the poet A.C.W. Staring, and you’ll find two songs on Uit oude grond that are directly related to them!

Where did you get the ideas for some of the lyrics? Please cite three song examples and what the lyrics are about.
It’s impossible to predict when and where inspiration comes, but when reading books on history or visiting historic places my mind starts processing all the inspiration into thoughts that I distill lyrics from, to put it that way. I’ve written some lyrics for a song about Ostara, the divine personification of spring among the Saxons, six years ago around the vernal equinox but never put it to music. When we wrote the song Ostara last year, the lyrics fitted perfectly.  Sometimes the ideas for lyrics just come from listening to the music. For instance, one day I came up some with some riffs which had a grim and pumping vibe, and then Reamon added some very fitting stuff to it. I had no lyrical concept for it, but after listening to it a couple of times I got the feeling of becoming “possessed in the night” and an “urge to unleash the madness”, and so the lyrics for Beest bij nacht were born. It’s one of the darker songs. Reamon had written a fast song, and they immediately brought me clear visions of a funeral pyre… I think I’ve never written any lyrics as quick and fluently as I did for that song.

What is a live Heidevolk show like for those of us who have yet to see you play?
A very intense mixture of a ritual, a battle and a party. It combines the extremes of the profane with the spiritual.

With two different vocalists in the band, is there ever any problems as to which person will sing what? How difficult were the two vocal choir parts to record?
Mark and I have this way of working when we both start out doing our own thing but gradually grow towards each other. Combining our vocals comes naturally, we usually don’t have to talk it all through because it just happens. He has higher reach than I do, so we both know our place. Recording the vocals is extremely strenuous , mainly because of the timing.

Would you ever want to put together a Heidevolk DVD of your performances?
Possibly, but it would have to be done in a manner that would do the atmosphere justice. Our shows are very energetic and intense, it would be hard to capture the feeling on a DVD but maybe we’ll try it someday!

How did the Black Sails Over Europe tour go and what was it like touring with Alestorm and Tyr? Did Alestorm challenge you to a football match?
They challenged us to a lot of weird and perverse things, but as far as I recall I don’t remember them asking us to play a game of our favorite pass time. Or at least mine, as none of the other guys in Heidevolk seems to care about football much.

Any chance of seeing Heidevolk here in the States for some shows?
That depends on your customs, really! Hehehe. But seriously, we really want to make it to the States someday so we’ll do everything in our power to make it happen! It’ll be quite an undertaking but if it happens, my grandchildren will never hear the end of it!

What is your favorite Dutch beer and are there any American beers you are particularly fond of?
Beers like Grolsch, Brand, and Hertog Jan are among our favorites. I’ve noticed that Heineken tastes a lot better abroad than over here for some reason, so we’ll leave that one out. I’m a bit ashamed to say I never had an American beer as far as I remember (which doesn’t mean I never did, hehehe), which ones would you recommend? Need to come prepared when we tour the States, you know…

Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of Heidevolk?
I have several small projects but nothing worth mentioning at this moment. Our drummer Joost also plays in a death metal band named Autumnal Reaper, and our guitarist Sebas has a folk project named Chariovalda.

Do you have any messages for metal fans here in the Los Angeles area?
I hope we’ll be able to capture your imagination with our music even though we’re almost from the other side of the planet! We will not rest until we play in your neck of the woods! And even after that we will not rest!

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

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