They’re one of Norway’s hottest prospects and are riding high following the release of their latest album, Av Nag – could hardcore firestarters Man the Machetes be the new Kvelertak?
RUSHONROCK’s Richard Holmes chatted to frontman Christopher Iversen to find out…
RUSHONROCK: Av Nag has been a huge success for the band – do you feel you’ve made a ‘step up’ with its release?
Christopher Iversen: Yes, definitely – we feel that Av Nag has been natural step in the right direction for us. This release illustrates what’s been going through our heads lately in terms of music: more dynamics, more melodies and more aggression without compromising the foundation of Man the Machetes.
RUSHONROCK: How do you feel about the critical reaction to the album so far?
CI: The reception has been good, generally speaking. Of course, there have been some mediocre reviews as well, but we welcome all kinds of feedback, especially the ones which are constructive. The people who feel so-so about our record should try to play it backwards while drinking whisky and watching the newest Mad Max movie – the way it’s meant to be played!
RUSHONROCK: And what about the response from fans to the new material – for instance at live shows?
CI: It’s been great, both in terms of live shows and the music itself! One thing we especially keep hearing is that the sound on this record is more organic than that of our first one.
RUSHONROCK: You only formed five years ago – are you surprised about how quickly you’ve risen to playing festivals etc?
CI: Both yes and no. Five years might seem like a short time, but when I look in retrospect and think about all the hard work we’ve put down, I feel that playing festivals etc is a natural place for us to be right now.
RUSHONROCK: How do you think the band have evolved since your debut album, Idiokrati? What has changed since those days?
CI: Compared to our first album, Av Nag has a more melodic and dynamic nature to it, perhaps a bit darker as well, but it also maintains the violent and hard-hitting sound from our debut. We also managed to put a stoner-inspired song in there, which seemed a bit mental in the beginning, but it turned out to be really awesome!
RUSHONROCK: What influences your lyrics?
CI: The lyrics of Av Nag are, generally speaking, about various topics related to external and personal issues which inspire us. You could say that all of them have one thing in common: the imperfections of being human and the flaws of humanity in general. Mennesketrapp, which translates into ‘Human Staircase’, is about people who deliberately take advantage of others to climb their own ladder of success. Til Døden Samler Oss, which is ‘Till Death Gathers Us’, questions how we value human lives – whether you are rich or poor, man or woman, priest or the pope, we are all headed towards the grave anyway. Regardless of status, people will end up as a banquet for worms.
RUSHONROCK: And which bands have influenced you the most?
CI: It’s hard to say which bands have influenced us most, since we are guys with slightly different tastes in music. Some of us love Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones, while others prefer Nine Inch Nails and The Deftones. Sometimes we even listen to Tom Jones to get the blood pumping before gigs (laughs), but we have found a common love for bands like The Bronx, The Hellacopters, Comeback Kid etc.
RUSHNONROCK: Do you think you’ll ever want to sing in English?
CI: Using Norwegian instead of English was more or less a conscious decision by us from the very beginning. We didn’t exactly discuss this issue back and forth, elaborating on advantages and disadvantages etc, but instead we just decided to do what felt natural. At one point we tried to write lyrics in English, but it felt a bit weird to us then. Maybe in the future? We’re not excluding the possibility…
RUSHONROCK: With the rise of bands like Kvelertak and Blodig Alvor, do you think it’s becoming easier for Norwegian bands like yours to gain attention?
CI: We hope that the success of Kvelertak and Blodig Alvor has kicked down the doors for a new generation of heavy music from Norway, but it seems like this genre has been low in demand lately, with electronic-based music trending nowadays and everything. But we believe that if the bands continue to do what they love to do, they will get attention.
RUSHONROCK: From a personal perspective, which Norwegian bands do you like in particular? And what do you think of the current state of the Norwegian scene?
CI: There are loads of awesome bands from Norway, such as Jack Dalton, who deserve much more renown for what they are doing. I feel that the scene in Norway lacks the focus around rock-oriented bands which it had a few years ago. There is more attention around electronica and indie, which is good, but we hope that rock-based music will become more popular again!
RUSHONROCK: You seem to put everything into your live shows on a physical level – how do you keep that up night after night?
CI: Rest and a healthy diet consisting of shitloads of gluten!
RUSHONROCK: What does the future look like for Man the Machetes? What are your ambitions?
CI: Our plans for the future are to do gigs in Europe, write even more music and eventually come closer to an existence where we can make a living from our music… Av Nag is out now on Indie Recordings.