Einar ‘Eldur’ Thorberg: “The message is that wherever you are coming from and whatever your status is in society, we all have that same destination and we can never escape ourselves. We have to learn to live with our inner darkness.”
Einar Thorberg voelt constant de drang tot creativiteit en zo zijn er recentelijk heel wat artistieke werkjes verschenen waarbij hij betrokken is. Zo bracht hij samen met zijn vrouw een kinderboek uit, maakte een soloplaat en bood ons zijn veelzijdige kunsten in de IJslandse band Katla aan, maar nu is er ook een nieuw album van Fortíð, de atmosferische black metal band die al jaren eveneens een uitlaatklep is van de gedreven kunstenaar. ‘World Serpent’ is het zesde studioalbum dat hij onder deze noemer uitbrengt en daarover hadden we een uitgebreid onderhoud met de ondernemende, sympathieke IJslander.
Vera Matthijssens Ι 21 januari 2021
Hello Einar, I am pleased to talk to you for the third time on behalf of Arrow Lords of Metal, how are you doing?
Hello Vera. Sorry for taking this long of a time to answer you. Things have been pretty busy lately. I am in the middle of organizing a house construction and dealing with different kinds of people regarding that. There’s always someone trying to screw you. People and business are a nasty thing really, I don’t like it at all. But otherwise, I am doing great, thanks.
Our last interview was done when ‘9’ came out, so let us pick up the thread around that time. Were you satisfied with the reception of ‘9’ and could you play enough live gigs after its release to support it (because that was one of the reasons for living in Norway)?
Playing live was originally the main idea behind living in Norway, that’s right. But things changed over time and somehow the enthusiasm we had in the band had pretty much faded away. I even remember a time during the making of ‘9’ where we discussed disbanding. We eventually decided not to but we never played any shows after that anyway. So, this brake up now in the lineup was way past due really. People had other priorities. It was frustrating as hell at times but never any bad blood between us. Maybe that was the most difficult part of it. It would have been easier to get angry, say “fuck off” and continue. But we’ve always been like brothers and Fortíð was this thing that brought us together. I was fairly satisfied with the reaction to ‘9’, but naturally that was a 15 minute “fame” because nothing really happened after that and the band fell into a coma.
Let us now focus on the new album ‘World Serpent’ which has a remarkable approach due to circumstances in life (as we might call it). Please tell us about the several levels of duology on this new record?
In the summer of 2018, I went to Norway for a couple of weeks. I met up with the band and we rehearsed and recorded the first part of the Duology, now titled “Disorder”. I finished those recordings and eventually sent them to Prophecy in 2019. They liked it, but the length of it was only thirty minutes and they didn’t see the sense in releasing an EP. I spent some time coming up with a solution. During this time, we decided to split up the band. After that happened, there was really nothing stopping me anymore and I realized I could easily just add songs to this album. I did so very quickly and easily with the help of Kristján Einar who also played on Fortíð’s debut album. He is a real pro so we didn’t even have to meet up for rehearsal. He just took the tracks himself to a studio here in Iceland and laid the drums down. I sent the whole thing to Terry Nikas at Zero Gravity Studio in Greece, because I was already working on finishing an album for my other band Katla. It was basically more than I had time for. He did an excellent job of course. We worked together online and saw this album through. Prophecy people were quite okay with this 55-minute-long duology and so the wheels finally started spinning again.
Where do these thrash influences in the first part come from? This was a surprise to me…
I have always snuck in a couple of thrash riffs here and there on Fortíð albums but this time it’s simply more obvious. Metallica was the reason I wanted to pick up and learn to play the electric guitar. Their old albums and also Megadeth, Testament and Sepultura between their ‘Schizophrenia’ and ‘Chaos AD’ era all had a huge influence on me as a musician. It wasn’t until later that I got into death metal and eventually black metal. Maybe it has something to do with my age, I don´t know, but those old thrash roots are coming back to me now.
What were the reasons for relocation from Norway to Iceland again in 2017?
I came to realize that I just had to move back to Iceland. I had both financial and family related reasons to do so. I came back in the winter of late 2017. I wasn’t really ready to let go of Norway though. I was always dreaming of being able to somehow arrange my life in such a way that I could move frequently between the two countries. It’s really just a 2 and ½ hour flight between and I was already a frequent flyer. Now I’m married and building a house and Covid is here and all that. So, these thoughts are really no longer relevant to me. But who knows what the future holds? I never plan too far ahead. Circumstances like Covid 19 and the financial crash in Iceland in 2008 taught me that anything can happen and the world around you can change very suddenly and without warning.
What struck you when coming back to Iceland? Did it change a lot in those ten years when you settled there again?
The tourism was booming in such a way that we had about two million people visiting annually. The population here now is 356 thousand. Everybody had at least someone in the family making money of all these people. It seemed like every tiny space with four walls had gotten turned into Airbnb’s. There were a lot of people settling here too so the job market had changed drastically. I hated the fact that I could no longer go out to my favorite spots in nature without them being full of people. And if there was no one there, it didn’t take them long to see the parked car, become curious and park there too. The roads got filled with rental cars and people wondered how some of those drivers ever got a license. It was a circus on the streets. But the economy was booming and people seemed happy. Some people had gotten very rich from all of this. Those same people have had a very tough time lately of course.
Another consequence is the renewed cooperation with drummer Kristján, how did that work out (because in Iceland you were a one man project again so to speak)…
All it really took were a couple of text messages. He had just left his band Kontinuum and didn’t have a lot to do music wise. I’m not sure he would have said no anyway, because like I said before, this required only a few rehearsal sessions for him alone and then one trip to the studio. There were no band rehearsals. We’ve been talking about getting him much more involved in the making of the next album. When I write music, I demo everything first on my computer. I build my music by listening back to not only the riffs but also the transitions and basically the composition as a whole. I often end up throwing entire songs away like that and others get a makeover. The process next time will basically be about letting Kristján get his say in all of this and make changes to whatever sounds the best. Nothing is ever written in stone for me anyway when I demo songs so I’m always open for suggestions. We will also be meeting up to try out some ideas together. There is even discussion of playing this stuff live eventually if everything goes OK in the world.
There should be an apocalyptic theme running through the entire album. Can you tell a bit more about that and go deeper into the personal approach of the lyrics?
The lyrics of the first half called ‘Disorder’ are basically packed with negative energy. They talk about the failures in societies and the control of the masses with greed and corruption. They are about wars, gap between social and economic classes and the self-destructive behavior of the human species. A system that is built to keep you down will always lead to something like we are now seeing in the USA for example. If this continues it can only get worse. The second part called ‘Premonitions’ has a spiritual and much more personal touch to it. It deals with dreams mostly that I have had. I have had many dreams of war and destruction. I’ve even had a few about alien visitors wiping out human life here on earth. It’s not nightmares though. I do not feel afraid in those dreams. Out of body experiences, if you believe in such a thing. I know many don’t, but my experiences are for me anyway. It’s not my thing to judge what people believe or don’t believe as long as it’s not called organized religion. Anyway, the red thread through all of this is an end. End of humanity, but not necessarily end of Earth.
‘9’ was graced with Icelandic lyrics, but this time you go for English. Was there a certain reason for that?
I remember discussing this with the Norwegian lineup and they felt more in touch with the English lyrics of course since they don’t understand anything in Icelandic. For me that was the main reason why both ‘Pagan Prophecies’ and ‘World Serpent’ ended up in English. The guys weren’t really involved in the making of the ‘9’ album at all. That’s something I never really talked about, but I was basically making that album alone while the others had mentally left the band. I did that entirely for myself and it was a period where I needed to do something just to keep Fortíð alive. I wouldn’t have liked to have the second part of ‘World Serpent’ in Icelandic just because I was back in Iceland. I wanted to stick to the same language throughout the album. So, what happens next? Probably Icelandic, but nothing is still decided at this point.
So far we have two intriguing video clips. What can you tell about (the making of) the first one ‘Son Of A Barren Land’? Also any words about that song, because it is epic and majestic!
Thank you! That video is shot in four sessions. The longest session being when my wife and I travelled around the country on our honeymoon and stopped anywhere and everywhere we wanted to film. It was in fall 2020 and very few people around. The cave scenes for example would not have been possible with tons of tourists walking around. But we felt alone in the world most of the times and it was a great feeling. The second session was with both Kristján and my sister who buries us in the sand. She is acting as the deep sorrow that follows people through life, some more than others. That inner darkness that does not leave you even if you might not feel its presence for a long time. Third and fourth sessions was the shooting of Kristján, first in our apartment and then outside where the two of us eventually meet in the video. So, the message is that wherever you are coming from and whatever your status is in society, we all have that same destination and we can never escape ourselves. We have to learn to live with our inner darkness.
And then we are in the midst of the current ‘talk-of-the-world’ with ‘Pandemic’, what has driven you to write a song about it and how did the video come into being?
In January 2020, my wife and I were travelling from Iceland to her family in Spain. We had middle landed in Frankfurt Germany and we were eating some weird German bratwurst with potato salad and dry bread. We saw Donald Trump on the news talking about the virus outbreak in China and people dying. Uncomfortably enough, there was a Chinese man standing next to our table coughing with his mouth wide open, straight over our food. I got angry at him. Virus or no virus, Chinese or not Chinese, that’s just plain disgusting. Anyway, the ideas of a life-threatening bacteria, plagues and deceases came into my mind then and were later written down. I had no idea of course that this virus would become so massively widespread as it did and the lyrics are not directly about Covid 19 but pandemics in general. We put this video down pretty quickly. We made most of it at home. We bought some alien looking creatures and they even got to live in our living room for a few weeks. They were meant as food for frogs and snakes and such animals. There’s also a snail in there that we owned but sadly died soon after this video. The basic idea is to remind people of the little things that we don’t think about in our daily life and the impact the tiniest of creatures can have. The video was also meant to disturb people and that was a successful mission.
How do you experience this global pandemic in Iceland? There are not so many people and the government is very strict… Did it change your life or activities in a certain way or not?
I have to wear a mask when going to the store. That’s it. I am very content with staying at home. I like no other place in the world better anyway than with my wife and family. At my work place I am mostly by myself and get to work in my own world, usually undisturbed. I write lyrics and music and even sometimes manage my social medias at work but of course make sure it doesn’t interfere with the job itself. It’s a nice arrangement for me and maybe when all of this is over, I will meet some friends or even go to a party or to a concert, but this is nothing that I really desperately need. Weekends are better spent at home or out in the nature anyway. So, this is my take on it and I ignore the rest as much as I possibly can. I’m not sure exactly how the rules are today or how things are being handled. I just stay away and enjoy life in my little bubble.
This album marks your entrance at Prophecy Productions. How did this contribution come into being and what are the expectations?
Being already signed there with my other band Katla meant of course that I already had one foot in the door. It was the most obvious choice for both parties involved, I think. My expectations were higher than theirs. I think the success of ‘World Serpent’ surprised them and I am happy to have proven our worth so quickly. They signed the entire Fortíð discography, so of course I am hoping for some nice re-releases in the future. Fortíð becomes 20 years old next year for example and that should call of something special. I will be building a new studio along with the house as well so with the changed times, we might get our listeners more in tune through social media as we work on the next album. I think that will be fun and exciting for all of us. We hope to play the legendary Prophecy fest one day of course. I don’t see why that can’t happen. There are always a lot of ideas and Prophecy is a good label to assist with those ideas.
To occlude some words about the artwork and your cooperation with artist Laura…
She is my aforementioned wife! We have done a lot of projects together including Katla and Fortíð merchandise and music videos. She is working with me on Electric Horizon Productions and I will be assisting her in releasing her own art design page. We have also released a children’s book together through a publisher here in Iceland. She made a lot of the artwork on the new Fortíð merchandise that we just put online a few days ago. The covers of ‘World Serpent’, ‘Disorder’ and ‘Premonitions’ are all her paintings that decorate our home. We inspire each other constantly and we’ll be doing a lot more projects together in the future if anything is for sure.
You also have a big role in Katla, so would be nice to round off this interview with your thoughts about the new Katla album and about your input on it…
I wrote almost all the music and recorded, mixed and mastered it. It was a long process and not a very easy one. Very personal though. It’s as personal as it gets really. The album is much darker than the debut. I still think it was the better decision to go into that direction than to go softer and eventually ending up like one of those pop bands that lurk in the metal scene for some reason. I am happy with the way it turned out. A lot of depression and difficult times in there that got turned into something good and positive. That’s the most rewarding thing I can think of doing with my time. It doesn’t spoil to get good feedback and there has been a lot of that as well.
What are the plans for the near future?
Finish my house, finish my studio and thus bring my entire life and music career to the next level.
If there is something you’d like to add to this interview, please feel free to do it right here…
Like I briefly touched on, we just launched the Electric Horizon Productions website. Check it out here WWW.EHP.IS