Varg: Of Viking Myths, Heathendom, and Good Brew

Varg is a band from Germany who has just unleashed their debut CD for Napalm/Noise Art Records entitled Blutaar. An exciting collection of Viking Metal in the grand tradition of Amon Amarth and early Enslaved, Varg carries on a rich tradition of culture through their music.  All this, and you’ll want to head out to your nearest brewery after hearing their thrilling compositions. So grab a beer and get ready to explore the mighty songs of the Varg!!!  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Varg, and how long the
band has been together.

M: Hey, I’m Managarm – Bass-player and Co-Songwriter of Varg.
The band Varg was founded in 2005 by Freki and has released two Full-length Albums and one Split Album by now.
The name “Varg” is based on the Swedish/Norwegian word “varg” simply meaning “wolf”, just like our lyrical themes to a great extend base on norse and viking myths and heathendom. But, especially with our new Album Blutaar, we’ve put a greater focus on the human being itself and the values and teachings one can extract from those stories.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local metal scene like there?
M: Originally we’re all from the same region in northern Franconia (Bavaria) in Germany and except me everyone still lives there.
The overall scene here in Germany is very huge and still growing, but I would even go so far as to say that in Franconia the scene is especially big and active. Although it’s quite a rural region, there is an uncommon number of metalheads there. I guess that’s why I like it so much, hehe.

What does Blutaar mean and is there any story or concept behind the album title?
M: Blutaar is the name of an old norse method of torture and execution. It was the punishment for patricide and was performed by cutting the ribs of the victim by the spine, breaking the ribs so they resembled blood-stained wings, and pulling the lungs out. It guess it could be translated as ”Blood Eagle”. There are controversies about the background and if it really was used or if it was just a literally decoration, but for us it sounded like a really good metaphor.

Where did you get the ideas for some of your lyrics? Please select two songs from Blutaar and tell me what inspired you to write those particular lyrics.
Freki: Zeichen der Zeit (engl.: Signs of time) is inspired by experiences I made in the past years. The life we live forms ourselves, our opinions, our bodys and our minds. It leaves scars – sometimes visible for everyone, sometimes in the depths of your soul.
Seele (engl.: Soul)is about dealing with the death of a Person who is important for you. As long as you keep this Person in your memory, it will live forever. This is the only way to fight death.

How did you wind up being signed to Noise Art Records and being the very first release from that label?
M: We had a very good cooperation with Rock The Nation long time before we signed the deal and after Nuclear Blast dropped us, they always were a good partner to talk to. Then they came up with the idea of founding a new label starting with Varg and we were absolutely overwhelmed about the passion and enthusiasm they showed us. The cooperation is brilliant! These guys support us with a 100% and we appreciate that very much.

What did noted producer Andy Classen contribute to the overall Varg sound? Did he give you any good studio advice?
M: It was quite an educational time for us at the stage one studio. Andi is a real pro and it was absolutely pleasant to work with him. He definitely knows what he’s doing. Especially for me it was very interesting, because I’m about to become an audio engineer myself at the moment.
Since we were not very happy anymore with the sound of our previous releases we put everything in his hands and he did not disappoint us. The sound is really honest and at no time overproduced, but at the same time powerful and kicking. We’re completely pleased with the results we have now.

What could one expect from a live Varg performance?
M: Lots of fire and aggression. Usually we’re all painted with black and red colour we call warpaint, we have torches on stage, pyrotechnics and stuff. All in all everything looks very consistent and aggressive, but the most important thing is the energy we feel on stage – and the optimum is, if that energy demises over to the audience. Brutal, haha!

Have you ever played over here in the States or plan to do so in the future?
M: No, unfortunately not. But we’re really looking forward to finally getting a tour started there. I personally have never been there (although I have relatives living in the USA) and neither were my band mates, as far as I know. So yeah, we really would like to do a tour and sooner or later we definitely will manage to come over!

Tell me about the legendary VARG vs. ALESTORM – (Vikings vs. Pirates) football match and what happened. Will there be a rematch?
M: Hehe, I hope so. It just happened somehow – behind the main stage at the Summer Nights Festival 2009 in Austria. Our Drummer Fenrier and I were just fooling around with a football we found and then all the other guys came over and we started the Viking vs. Pirates match while Equilibrium were on Stage. The Pirates won and we seek for revenge since then. So if you read this, Alestorm Pirates: Varg will come to tear you apart! Haha!

At the Summer Nights Open Air Fest, did you get to meet any of the bigger bands such as Mayhem or Obituary?
M: As far as I can remember, I did not, but I think our drummer was at the backstage tent with Mayhem temporarily. I also remember that actually everyone except Mayhem had to leave this tent after they had arrived, so I guess he got thrown out pretty quick, hehe.

Your Paganfest Tour Europe 2010 is about to take off. What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s Paganfest tour?
M: That’s hard to say, because it’s my first tour as a musician. I worked as an organizer on a tour before, but I guess this time I can chill out much more, playing the rockstar, hehe. Just kidding, I’m really excited about everything that’s going to happen but mostly I’m looking forward to the gig in London, because I’ve never been there before and besides it’ll be at my birthday. That means double party!

Tell me about the “Gegen Nazis” banner on your Myspace and what made you decide to make a statement against that.
M: After being defamed as Nazis for some time, mainly on the internet by a group of agitators, we decided that it finally was time to nail our colours to the mast. We are no Nazis in private, we don’t play Nazi music and above all we don’t want to make music for narrow-minded fascistic assholes! Furthermore we’re interested in strengthening the metal scene for a better awareness that there definitely is a constant infiltration of right-wing extremists that should not be ignored. I’m afraid we straightened that out much too late.

Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of Varg?
M: Hati and me are also playing in a band called “Sintech”. It’s some mixture of Death/Black Metal and symphonic keyboards, very sick, weird and unique stuff. Most of us have some little side or solo projects, but Varg definitely gets most of our attention.

What is your favorite beer from your country and why?
M: Fuck yeah, that’s the best question I got to answer ever! That definitely would be “Gampert Bräu”, a little brewery in northern Franconia. If you ever get to drink one of those, do it and you’ll never want to drink another beer. Poorly I moved to Berlin three years ago and now don’t get the possibility to drink this delicacy very often myself. What a shame…
I really confirmed the cliché of the “German-Beer-Fanatic”, didn’t I? Well, so what.

Any messages for metal fanatics here in the Los Angeles area?
M: Come to Germany and drink some Gampert Bräu!

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

Varg on Myspace

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