In today’s climate of precision focused, technical worship, it’s less often that an appreciation for the more primal expression of the drum set is found. I don’t want to come across as if I have some kind of double standard, many of my favourite musicians possess a great deal of clarity and others I even look to specifically for a clinical quality.
However, at times, while playing for artists that require precision, I often fear that I’m sacrificing a particular feeling to my playing that I get when I’m confronted with performances such as the late great Keith Moon, who captivated many with the sheer audacity of his personality that he so successfully appropriated on the instrument. But the expression wasn’t limited to his antics; one only needs to listen to “Live at Leeds” by The Who to be converted, as I was.
Kjetil-Vidar Haraldstad, known to most as “Frost”, is an embodiment of just this principle.
“The style comes from how I feel about music itself, I have always been fascinated by the energetic and aggressive side of music, when I started playing drums that’s what it was all about.”
This is very much where we all begin when pursuing a craft. Our faculties are so limited, yet our energy, particularly if you’re young, is not. It’s almost as if over time, if we’re not careful, we risk stifling that expression with the pursuit of perfection, by masking feelings with the most impressive words, instead of the right ones. We must be wary that each creative lens we obtain, doesn’t become a barrier.
“I really wanted to feel it and get in touch with and connect with it musically. I have no intentions of being a ‘good’ drummer or musician. It was more about feeling the energy. It’s still there, but today I tend to control it better, I just didn’t know what to do with it when I was younger.”
Frost has an enviable resume in the blackened extreme music genre, with stints in bands such as Gorgoroth, Zyklon-B, Keep of Kalessin and Gehenna, but his mainstay projects have been 1349 and seminal Black Metal outfit, Satyricon.
Originally booked to tour Australia in support of their new album “Deep Calleth Upon Deep” back in April, the tour was delayed until September of this year. While this may be viewed as a set back, it seemed to be that this decision only ensured the quality of the show they were bringing down under, a sentiment which was then confirmed. Citing various members of their touring party dropping out on short notice, proceeding with a compromised show was untenable.
“There were so many difficulties involved. The tour was supposed to happen shortly after our European tour and given the short amount of time between the tours, it was impossible to make it all work without creating problems. Now we were able to get more time on our hands to plan properly, which is a much better idea, and now I’m more confident it’s going to be a fantastic tour.”
Part of my own journey with drumming has been a fondness for many genres, which has resulted in a multitude of projects over the years with the goal being to satisfy and utilise all these different aspects of the craft and my personality in general. With that, I’m always fascinated when I see musicians who have several projects that orbit the same style. What could one band be offering stylistically that the other isn’t?
While listening closely to Satyricon, with its more structured approach and wider experimentation, and to 1349, with its brash, unrelenting battery, I was to find that Frost’s differentiation between the two was much deeper. Satyricon being a vehicle for a compositional, supporting role, and 1349 satisfying a considerably more fundamental, primal urge.
“It’s always natural for me to always try and back up (Satyr’s) ideas and understand his compositions, what he’s trying to achieve and even contribute to make them sound better, if possible. Just focusing on the composition. I feel there’s a lot of space in the drums to be really happening or just be more in the background. In 1349 it’s different because there’s not much we consider. When we get together, we let loose and open the gates of hell - it’s very brutal. It comes from a more intuitive source. It’s more about what happens spiritually when we get together, whereas Satyricon feels more like a musical project where we try and better ourselves at composition.”
In my preparation for my conversation with Frost, I stumbled across an interview where he was engaged in a discussion with a prominent Norwegian composer, Nils Henrik Asheim. The exchange was centred around the creative pursuit and while their respective approaches were different, their journeys and goals were very much similar and the relatedness between the two was palpable. This, in turn, made me speculate how far the Black Metal genre has come in terms of public acceptability, particularly in his native Norway.
“Today it’s hard to say that it’s treated on the same level. It has a very specific quality and expression that’s different from anything else. But people can appreciate Black Metal even if they don’t have a full understanding of the darkness or the atmosphere. It can be just for the sheer compositions themselves.”
It may not reach the heights found in Scandinavian countries, but the fondness for extreme music in Australia is very much alive and fuelled by a loyal and passionate following, as evidenced by continued successes by a brave few promoters. With this, Australia can expect to be rewarded with a riveting performance by one of the genre’s most important contributors.
“You can expect a Satyricon that is very excited to tour Australia. We have enjoyed touring “Deep Calleth Upon Deep” which we believe to be our finest album to date. We have been on the road with this album for about a year now so we’re really starting to perfect it. So we should be in a great place when we get to Australia, musically speaking. You have a very free spirit in Australia, which is something that we like. We have always had very big crowds in Australia, so that should make for some fantastic shows!”
Now that I've waxed lyrical on the expressive elements on the craft of drumming, the best way to understand it, is to experience it for yourself. You can catch Frost playing with Satyricon on the following dates:
Tuesday, September 4: Capitol, Perth
Thursday, September 6: Max Watts, Melbourne
Friday, September 7: Metro Theatre, Sydney
Saturday. September 8: Transit Bar, Canberra
Sunday, September 9: The Triffid, Brisbane
Tickets on sale now via tickets.destroyalllines.com.