INTERVIEW: Ondt Blod – “We’re Aiming at Total Domination”

ondt blod
Image source: Viral Propaganda PR

Hailing from Norway, the up-and-coming hardcore five-piece Ondt Blod has just graced the metal world with their debut album “Finnmark.” Full of extreme riffage, commanding vocals, and expertly placed melodic moments, the album is a wild ride worth experiencing (even if you can’t understand the lyrics). “Finnmark” has quickly garnered heavy recognition and critical reception from magazines and websites despite it being a debut album. In this insightful interview, lead singer Aslak Heika Hætta Bjørn of Ondt Blod was able to speak of their new album and share their experience on being a hardcore band in a country that is predominantly known for black metal bands. He was also able to share some of their cultural background, musical influences, and their plan for total domination.

The new album kicks ass. Congratulations! How does it feel to have a debut album finally out? Have you guys had the chance to celebrate?
Thank you! Seeing that all the hard work from the previous years resulting in an album we all are super proud of is such a rush. We started off our spring tour two days after we released the album, so it would be safe to say that we’ve been celebrating since the end of January.

Nice! So putting out a debut album can be pretty scary for most bands, was it a relief to have gotten positive reviews and recognition right off the bat?
Well, we wouldn’t have put out the album if we thought that everyone would go “meh…”. Still, reading the first positive reviews was a major relief. You want people to appreciate and get the music you put out. When musicians say that they don’t care about the public’s opinion of their work, I call bullshit. If your band just wanted to circle jerk to your own work, you would not put down thousands of dollars in recording and production. We´re aiming at total domination.

I read that you guys formed in 2013. But how long have you all been playing in bands? Were they all metal/hardcore bands?
We´ve played in various bands in our hometown since we were kids. If you consider covering “highway to hell” and Turbonegro metal/hardcore, well yeah, they were all metal/hardcore bands.

I would say their tunes are on the heavier side for sure. What was it about the hardcore genre that appealed to you?
I was a punk rock kid before I got into hardcore, so to me it was the combination of youthful anxiety and punkrock ethos, with trashing drops and screaming vocals of metal that attracted me to the genre. The first Gallows album, “shape of punk to come” and “We get along like a house on fire” by the Norwegian band Like Rats From a Sinking Ship has been very influential to me.

Awesome! I know for myself and other readers it’s always great to discover which bands have a major influence on musicians. I read that the album has lyrics about unemployment and declining industrial communities. Are these major problems still going on in Finnmark? Was it a pretty tough place to grow up?
When we grew up, Finnmark was struck by economic decline and unemployment problems, and due to the dominance of price sensitive industries as iron ore, these are problems that some towns are still struggling with. I would not say it was very tough. There were a lot of haters and racists, but it was not like people got shot. We were safely spared of the world’s realities by the Norwegian social democracy. As there is a major fall in oil prices globally, large parts of Norway are now struggling with economic decline that Finnmark were going through in the 90s. Still, we’re awesome at selling oil and weapons, so still fucking rich tho!

So from a musical or cultural standpoint, what is it about being from the northernmost part of Norway that makes you different from the rest of the country? For instance, I’m from Los Angeles, and we’re constantly being compared to New York and how they do things.
In Norway northerners are generally seen as a little rough around the edges, but very friendly and open minded. I think the same could be said about our music scene. People are genuinely interested in your music, and there is little room for scene “rules” and credibility piss fights. When the musical scene in your town is thirty people, you can not afford to be a hater.

Yeah that’s a good point. So unfortunately, for someone like me who’s not from Norway, whenever someone mentions a metal band from there I immediately think black metal. I’m sure you’re well aware of the huge shadow black metal has cast over the country, but despite this, how big is the hardcore scene out there? Is there a strong brotherhood of bands?
Black metal is still a big deal in Norway, even if we have grown out of childlike activities as burning churches and killing each other with knives. Many hardcore bands experiment with black metal elements in their sound. The hardcore scene in Norway is small but pretty diverse; we have the Oslo scene with classic DC-hardcore sounding bands, as well as bands from the rest of the country with more of a commercial appeal (if that is a word in hardcore?) like Blood Command, Kvelertak and us. I think that the brotherhood thing is the same as other places. You love all the bands you have been touring with, and hate all the others.

You mentioned Kvelertak, what was it like touring with them? You guys sharing the stage with any other big names soon?
Kvelertak brought us along on their northern Norway tour when we had just put out our first EP, and were pretty fresh in the music game. Playing for hundreds of impatient, but very polite, Kvelertak fans suffering through our set waiting for the main attraction, was probably a healthy way to keep us down on the ground. Along the way we learned important life lessons: you don’t have to empty the backstage beer fridge EVERY night of the week, and certainly not when your plane leaves at 06.30 the next morning. It was seriously a fun experience that we are very grateful for, and we got to see them perform a kick ass rock show every night. This spring we are sharing the stage with Refused on a festival in their hometown Umeå, Sweden. Stoked.

Sweet! That’s great to hear. So I’d say it goes without saying at this point you’re all committed to being in the band and achieving success. Is playing music and touring all that you ever wanted to do? Or do you have other interests you want to pursue at some point?
When we started the band my motivation was bitches, high-fives and free drinks. As I´ve been in a steady relationship for the last two years, that plan kinda didn’t work.  At the same time, most of us have been university students since we started the band, so at some time I guess we all want to finish our master degrees. But for now we are focusing on touring and the quest for world domination.

The world definitely needs more educated hardcore dudes around. Any other plans for the future? Or mainly touring/writing new music?
We plan on some heavy touring of  “Finnmark” the next year, making ourselves a household name in Norway as well as expanding across the seas. Having finally released our debut full length album also gives us the freedom to do less work intensive stuff for a while, like making splits, collaborations, and singles.

Well thank you for your time, I wish you guys the very best and good luck with all your endeavors!
Thank you, you´ve been great.

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