This live interview with Andreas Hedlund (aka Vintersorg) from the Swedish progressive metal band Vintersorg was done by Jonathan Thell on May 21st, 2004, at Valhall in Bengtsfors, Sweden, where they performed at the 2000 Decibel festival. The live photos are taken by Jonathan and may not be used without written permission.

What do you think about the festival and the bands?
I like the bands. Pain Of Salvation and The Haunted who play later tonight are fun. It is fun also that it's an all Swedish festival with only Swedish bands.

You mostly like Swedish bands?
I think it's nice that there is a festival like this with only Swedish bands.

If you like Swedish bands why did you change into writing your lyrics in English?
Oh, was that your question. I do not only like Swedish bands, it doesn't matter which nationality it is. What I meant was that it is fun that there is an alternative festival with only Swedish bands but I like bands from all over the world.

Can you give any examples?
I'm a big fan of the 70s progressive rock from England but I like a lot of bands.

Can you tell us a little about the new album and the thoughts behind it?
The new album is a concept album. When we started writing our last album we wanted to do a concept album but at that time we didn't feel quite ready so we let it wait. That album still has some sort of semi-concept feeling. When we started writing the new album we felt that we had to do a concept album. It feels as if you have to have done one concept album in your career. I think an important part is to weave everything together so that all songs work under the concept. Some songs can be a little different but in some way there has to be a feeling of wholeness. We though that it would be difficult to write such music and lyrics but it turned out to be easier than I thought.

Lyrically it is a rather complex story. The theme of the album is a basic idea of understanding the human in a larger context.

You have changed quite a lot since the early albums. What made you changed the musical direction?
It was a completely natural development for us. It has never felt relevant for us to write "Till Fjälls part 8" so to speak. It is important to feel that something happens with each new album, otherwise you might as well not record it. I started the band in 93 / 94 some time and then we mixed black metal with some acoustic guitars and common singing which was super progressive at that time. There has always been a thought to do what we wanted ourselves and never adjust to a specific market. If people like it that's great. What's most important is that we are happy with the result ourselves.

How did you get in touch with Steve DiGiorgio?
It was really Asgeir [Mickelson] who plays drums for us and also Borknagar who knew him a little and thought that he would fit us. I am a big fan of Steve DiGiorgio's bass playing on the Death albums for example and I was completely into the idea when he presented it to us. We asked Steve and he was very interested. He thinks it gives him something to play on the albums and we think it gives us a lot. We have a good communication and we give each other so to say.

You have a live DVD on the way, what is happening with that?
It has not been on its way since 1999 or something like that and was never that much on the way. We recorded it but then we noticed that the people who recorded the sound absolutely didn't do the job they should have done. The sound was rather lousy and you have to be able to stand for each product you release and I don't want to release a DVD with a bad sound quality. We have put the plans on ice and if there will be a DVD in the future it will be a completely new recording.

What is happening with your other bands?
Things are going well. We have a new album out with Borknagar now in June. Me and the live drummer Benny Hägglund have a band called Fission and our debut album will be released in August. I also have a few other projects going on so I'm keeping busy.

Why did you disband Otyg?
It was really rather easy. We felt that we didn't have the inspiration and energy to continue so we quit before recording something that we could not stand up for.

You never recorded "Djävulen"?
No, we didn't. We did pre-production and only recorded the drums which we also did rather reluctantly. We had booked a demo studio to do pre-production and spend a day recording the drums but then we just gave up everything.

Where do you find the inspiration for Vintersorg?
It is in fact to hard so say. I play in so many bands now and deal with music on a daily basis which inspires me to write more music. I am also inspired by things that I read and experience but I try not to take too much inspiration from other kinds of music. That's on a conscious plane but subconsciously you are probably still inspired by it.

Ulver for example?
It's nothing that I have tried to steal songs from but it was very fun when Ulver released "Bergtatt". It was a break from the traditional black metal school and they did a fun thing.

Can you make a living of your music?
Absolutely not. I study full-time. You have to sell enormous amounts of albums to make a living of music. It doesn't matter that I play with so many bands, it's just a few thousands here and there. It kills the myth of fame and fortune. You become poor by playing music and actually lose money.

What are you studying?
I will become a teacher. I do not know which subjects yet so I am studying rather broad.

What do you think about people who download music and albums from the internet?
I don't know what to say, it's both good and bad. It's great that you can download a few songs and decide whether you want the album but I think it's quite sad when people have their whole record collection as mp3. People have worked hard on those songs and put their time and soul into them and then they are stolen for free. At the same time it's good promotion but I think it's sad that the albums are out there a month before the release date.

What books do you read most?
I read everything from poetry to science but not ordinary fiction. I don't like it, fiction doesn't give me that much. Even if it can get your fantasy going there has to be some kind of reality behind. Otherwise it doesn't work for me.

You don't read any fantasy?
No, actually I don't. The only fantasy I like is old science fiction which is today's reality. The things they talk about there are things which have happened now.

Why did you decide to write lyrics in English?
It was just for the challenge itself, there was no commercial trick behind it or anything like that.

You play live shows only in the north of Sweden, why don't you play further south some time?
There has to be a promoter who is interested in having us play there. We don't even play in the north of Sweden, we hardly play live anything at all. We do a few gigs a year and that's all.

There is no personal interest behind it?
No, no. We play where we get the chance to play and when we receive a good offer we take it.

Let's round off a little. In what direction is Vintersorg going in the future?
That's hard to know. It's decided in the momemt when we write new material. We are right now writing a new album which we will record later on. It's hard to say what it will be like, it's rather symphonic stuff. I can't really say what it will be like until it's recorded and finished.

For how long do you think you will continue?
With music? It will probably be for life. I don't know about the band Vintersorg if it will be for life or not but I hope so. Mattias and I have been band mates for 12-15 years or something like that already and I think there is still at least 15-20 years to go and probably even more. Music I will continue with throughout life but it will be in different forms. We will find new things to do but hopefully Borknagar and Vintersorg will exist for a very long time.

Thanks a lot for the interview and good luck tonight!

Links of interest:

Napalm Records
2000 Decibel