Artist Interviews Heavy Month

Interview – John Espen Sagstad

#1 – The new Trollfest album “Norwegian Fairytales” (NoiseArt) is as eclectic, powerful and original as ever, what is the writing process like for a Trollfest album?

Usually it’s our drummer, TrollBANK, who writes most of the music. On the latest album me and Fjernkontrollet contributed a lot more. The process is usually that we individually make a demo song that is sent to the other members for comments etc, and then the song will go through several versions before it’s “approved”. Then it’s up to the rest of the members to add their own instruments, ideas etc. We usually end up making to many songs per album, so we sit down afterwards and pick out the best of the best.

#2 – The band has returned to a single guitarist line-up for the first time since 2009’s “Villanden”, did that impact the writing for the album at all? To add to the question, will any of the dual-guitar material from past albums be difficult to reproduce live?

Dr.Leif left the band after we were done recording the new album. But he was not so involved in the making of this album as he had been on the previous two albums. We quickly started the process of getting a new guitar player when Dr.Leif quit and it didn’t take long before we found our man in Fabio Grimdrap Glutenfri Fleskeng. He had been a TrollfesT fan for years, so he basically knew most of our material and is 100% dedicated.

#3 – I have always been a fan of the guitar tones on Trollfest albums, what was your set-up like on the new album and what does your rig look like on tour?

Ever since we recorded “Kaptein Kaos” we have been using Kemper Profiling Amps. We have tried to change the guitar sound for every album by profiling new amps. On the latest album we ended up using Soldano Profiles for the rhythm guitars and Mesa Boggie Tripple Rectifier profiles for the leads. We also experienced a lot between several different profiles for effect guitars.

As for our live rig we also use Kempers. The have two Kemper Powerracks running, one for each guitarist.

#4 – Does your approach to your guitar tones and the gear differ between Trollfest and your other projects like Pantheon I?

With my older projects like Pantheon I and Sarkom we always went for a more metal sound as with TrollfesT, at least recently, I have wanted a cleaner distortion. There is so much going on with TrollfesT when it comes to other instruments, so it’s important that the guitars don’t steal the entire sound because of extreme distortion. So, the trend in TrollfesT atm is lesser and lesser distortion. Maybe we will end up 100% acoustic one day, haha.

Up until 2014 I swore to only using Tube Amplifiers and my favorite was Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier, but ever since we started using Kempers I have never looked back.

#5 – I once heard Trollfest described as “a cross between Korpiklaani and Necrophagist.” This comment is what made me seek out “Villanden”. Obviously you guys are hard to describe, what are some of the strangest ways you have been described by others?

We come across different ways of describing our music all the time, but one of my favorites must be Metal Storms explanation:

“Trollfest kind of remind me of what Finntroll’s hyperactive little brother would be like. Where Finntroll is ditching class, drinking schnapps in his pickup with upperclassmen and talking about getting laid, Trollfest is pulling fire alarms and running around in circles and making school administrators consider bringing back corporal punishment.”

#6 – Mixing Trollfest can’t be an easy task. At any given time you have vocals, horns, lead guitar, keys and various “lead” category instruments happening at once. How have you guys always managed to maintain such clarity and separation between them all both live and on albums?

We spend a lot of time trying to get every instrument recorded as clean as possible as this will help whoever ends up mixing the album a lot. And we also have a lot of focus on what instruments would sound best playing together etc. So, we spend a lot of time planning and focusing on the end result before the album hits the mixing process. We have also worked with a lot of very good sound engineers who know exactly what they are doing and understand what we want to sound like.

#7 – With a unique sound, what bands have influenced Trollfest and contributed to what really is one of the most original in all of metal?

Finntroll, Korpiklaani, Farmers Market and all types of weird folk music from all over the world. All the band members are huge fans of Balkan Folk, so that is something we constantly draw inspiration from. And since we are 7 different individuals in the band who all prefer their own type of music we have a lot of inspiration to choose from.

#8 – When you were a young guitarist, what guitarists did you see as your personal heroes and how did they influence the guitarist you are today?

I grew up with James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett. They were and still are my main heroes. I also must mention Dimebag as one of the biggest heroes for me.

#9 – Your live shows truly are something to behold, what is one of the weirdest things to happen on stage at a Trollfest show?

There is something weird happening on every TrollfesT show to be honest. We have so much fun playing live and every stupid idea we can come up with will be tested on stage. Some work, some fail, but at least we get a good laugh from it. Last year on tour we managed to get a Human Bubble Soccer Ball and decided to put our bass player in it and throw him out in the audience, was a pretty funny sight! We have had people proposing on stage, we have had strippers, both male and female, on stage (don’t ask me why), etc. We love chaos, and chaos is what drives us.

#10 – With the new album out, the snow melting and the summer festival circuit getting ready to begin, which of the upcoming Trollfest plans are you most looking forward to in 2019?

Hellfest will definitely be the biggest festivals this year and the one I am looking forward to the most. We also have a Norwegian run coming up in August/September and hope to be back for a tour in North America at the end of the year. So, lots of shenanigans coming up from the TrollfesT camp! 😀 

I have been a Trollfest fan for many years and they have always kept the listening experience exciting. You really never know what you are going to get in a Trollfest album and that is part of what has kept me coming back. Another thing that did so is this man’s playing. I have always found his style to be incredibly calculated, even in the chaos. Please be sure to check out all of what Trollfest has to offer!!

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