Ondt Blod are the newest kids on the block to burst onto the scene with their mixture of punk and hardcore, but they’ve also got a deeper meaning behind them.
Signing in their native Finnish, the band carry the torch for the Sami people – who are being persecuted by the national government.
So read below to gain a fascinating insight into what drives one of the most exciting groups around!
RUSHONROCK – Natur is an album that carries a political message. How closely aligned is the album with the policies of the Red Party?
Aslak Bjørn – Natur is a Sami (the indigenous people of Scandinavia) call to arms against the still on-going assimilation and oppression of the Sami people, and colonisation of the North; against the loss of land, language and pride. These are questions that are outside the classical political axis of left/right. Historically the left have been more supportive of both post-colonial movements and minority rights, but that being said, even the radical socialist Red Party has a way to go in understanding the Sami v. State dynamic.
RUSHONROCK – And how can a left-wing government’s aims align with the needs of the Sami people?
Aslak Bjørn – Any government, who seriously want to better the conditions for the Sami, should start with giving greater weight to the voices of Sami interests, the reindeer herders association, the local town associations and the Sami Parliament. Taking them seriously in consultations, and re-structure their policies affecting traditional Sami livelihoods, language and use of land.
RUSHONROCK – And I guess following on from that, how does the current system and those in power neglect the indigenous groups?
Aslak Bjørn – The sitting government coalition attacks Sami interests in several aspects. Lands used for reindeer herding is taken away and used for wind power parks and mines, and at the same time young reindeer herders are forced to slaughter their flocks. Sami schools are under constant pressure of being closed, putting several Sami languages in a desperate situation. Sami culture is exported as postcards, while the government cuts down the budgets for Sami cultural institutions.
RUSHONROCK – Is Ondt Blod driven by Aslak’s political ideology or are they separate entities?
Aslak Bjørn – Ondt Blod is not a political program, but we are a manifestation of young discontent and attitude. We´ve always had a northern identity, giving our finger to the centralised government of Oslo as well as the Oslo based mainstream music industry, while at the same time moving to Oslo and moving into mainstream radio. Hypocrites? Infiltration? You chose.
RUSHONROCK – Moving to the music, how is Natur different from Finnmark?
Aslak Bjørn – Where as our debut album Finnmark was clearly based in the punk and hardcore genre, we have allowed ourselves to be more genre bending on Natur. We’ve kept an open mind to all ideas, and have not taken heed to considerations on what some would consider as “sell out”. On one hand we’ve dipped our feet deeper into our metal inspirations, giving room for chugging riffs, as well as opening a Pandora’s box of shamelessness including saxophones, emo, and power pop. We’ve also experimented with the ancient Sami singing tradition of joik on the album opener and closer.
RUSHONROCK – And did the success of Finnmark put any pressure on you when you were making Natur?
Aslak Bjørn – Of course we’ve felt the pressure. Your first record sets you on the map, your second has to cement your position. However we’ve left this sense of pressure at the doors of the studio, and the recording process were more defined by our will to experiment and make a huge record, than being nervous on how it would be received.
RUSHONROCK – You’ve moved to Fysisk Format and Natur was produced by Blood Command’s Yngve Andersen. What influence did that have on you?
Aslak Bjørn – We’ve worked with Yngve Andersen of Blood Command since our second EP Bunnen of 2014, and it has been an seriously fruitful relationship. We have a lot of similar musical references, and share an idea of how hardcore should not only be serious and hard hitting, but also catchy and fun. Yngve is a great producer, and a lot of the kick ass outcome of both Natur and Finnmark is due to him.
We are really proud and privilege getting to release Natur on Fysisk Format. Since getting into hardcore and underground punk rock, Fysisk Format has been an go-to institution for quality. Fysisk Format has always challenged the established mainstream labels in Norway, and we´re proud to fly under their flag.
RUSHONROCK – Going back to the start, can you talk me through the decision process behind signing in Norwegian as opposed to English?
Aslak Bjørn – Starting up Ondt Blod, I never considered singing in English. In Norway, singing in our own language gives an immediate connection between the listener and both the message and sound of the music. The fact that the lyrics are in the listener’s first language makes it harder to get away with clichés, which challenges me to write better lyrics.
Obviously some of the immediate lyrical impact is lost in translation when exporting this bad boy abroad. Even still, we have gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback from both the UK and Germany. The nerve and the energy of the music is also such an important part of punk and hardcore, meaning that if you bring raw force to the table, foreign listeners might get a kick of the music, even if they don’t understand the words.
RUSHONROCK – And what’s the plan for the rest of the year?
Aslak Bjørn – Right now we are in taking Natur on the road all over Norway. Come spring we will tour abroad, touring Denmark in May, and Germany in June and July, supporting Therapy? and the legendary Helmet. We are doing a festival run at home this summer, before heading back down to Germany, Austria and the Benelux this fall.