Panzerchrist (Denmark)18th December 2023
Interview with Nils Ivar Martila (Vocals & Composer)
Nils Ivar Martila founded the band Claymords in Bergen in 1993 together with Bjarne Olsen. In 2001 the band broke-up, right before releasing a full-length album. With a new complete new line-up Nils Ivar Martila started up the band again in Oslo in 2008. In the following years a couple of albums were recorded, while the band was touring Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia and Ukraine. A couple of years ago he recorded a solo 11-minutes long song, which was embraced by pretty much anyone who’ve heard it. Performing song for the first time live gave Nils the desire for doing another solo project, next to Claymords. Now the future is open and not set. Nils Ivar Martila is running his solo project Martila and Dødsreisen. About all of this, his musical journey, and future plans, we sat down and had a talk, exclusively for our webzine. Please enjoy the reading…
Metal Revolution: Hi Nils, I’m glad to finally get in touch with you and to get this interview out to you. How are you, and how are things in Norway lately?
Nils Ivar Martila: Hi! Thanks for getting in touch! I´m doing great these days! Love the fact that I`ve released new material, and the guys are ready for more. In Norway it is cold, and in Bergen there is a lot of rain. A lot!
MR: I believe most of our readers are familiar with your name since you’re a part of the scene with your band Claymords since 1993. Impressive career that has lasted for more than three decades now. Can you take us back in time and telll us about the very beginnings of your career?
Nils: It was my childhood dream to be an artist. I had a wish to learn to play the guitar and sing. Metal was of course the genre I listened to the most, and felt most natural to do. In 1992 me and my childhood buddy, Bjarne Olsen decided to learn to play the guitar. But we had to do it in two different continents. I spent my year as an exchange student in Salem, New Hampshire, USA. I bought my first electric guitar, a Peavey Fender copy. In my search for a guitar teacher, I happen to find this guy Robert Beal which was, and still is an awesome guitarplayer. A fun fact, he was one year younger than me. He was born in 76 and myself in 75. His vision in teaching me was that he wanted me to learn how to write original stuff.
After the return from the US, me and Bjarne got together and shaped what we called Claymords. It was a few line-up changes before we finally released… More Sombre Than Life. Which had another direction musically than my fellow bands as Taake and Immortal at the time in Bergen. Me and Bjarne split up and other line-ups followed.
MR: Now, you’re active promoting your solo-project/band named Martila. I guess your own family name has been taken as a band moniker, but who’re the other three guys in the band, can you introduce them?
Nils: Since I´ve been doing this for a while, my cousins grew up with me as a frontman in Claymords, and they attended shows from early on. They started earlier than me to play instruments, and now have their own project called Vald Heks. They are set for their second release in April. They weren’t a part of the first Martila release, but when we started out jamming out “Dead Birds Flying” it was obvious that it had to be under the Martila name since they are also Martila. Emil and Niklas Martila. It´s almost like the Jackson 5, only Martila 3 (Laughing). Bjarne Olsen whom I started Claymords with is also on the composing side of this project. He only needs to change his last name (Laughing).
MR: How does it feel to compose music with your two cousins? I guess it’s a completely new experience for all of you?
Nils: Yes, but very enjoyable. They are good at what they do, and they have a professional attitude towards composing and recording. I look forward to the next chapter.
MR: What does the future of Claymords looks like now after the birth of your new solo project? Is is completely dead or will you still create music for Claymords too?
Nils: Claymords have an album ready to record. But we need to get a line up again. Hopefully it´ll be recorded this fall/summer. But I´ve got 2 other projects set to record this fall. Dødsreisen and TH1S 1S BUS1NESS. All projects have material ready for recording. Earlier Claymords, video recorded in Moscow. Also on streaming services. (Red; here’s the link https://youtu.be/iMaWw9_JMLk?si=0_nQB0re9QZY7F7L )
MR: Actually, already back in 2017 Claymords performed a song from your solo project, right? Can you tell us a bit more on that expereince?
Nils: The song by Martila, “The Pale And The Storm”, was never intended to be played live. Weird you might think, but it was 11.30 minutes long, and the difficulty level was quite above average. It was made by me, Bjarne Olsen (ex-Claymords), Henning Ramseth and Erik Röjås (drums) Ramseth is from the band RAM-ZET (check out) and he recorded all guitars. I asked Steinar Albrigtsen to sing with me, he is the biggest country artist in Norway. His only demand if he were to do this, was that we should do the song live, and a Black Sabbath cover. Then I had to bring in Claymords to play, and we had to do this (Laughing).
In the middle of the song we have an accordion solo that lasts more than a minute. Karl Henning Lundby who played the accordion went to music school in Moscow during the Soviet Union. He also made it to 8th place in the world championship. Karl Henning on stage, with all our noise couldn’t hear his own playing, but still did it flawless. Steinar the country artist baptized 4 people in blood. We had a blast! Not a video, but you can listen to the song. It´s available on all streaming services as well. (Red; “The Pale And The Storm” link https://youtu.be/hFB-ZjSHG3Q?si=ULvW-ocxFu5fJDaD )
MR: How does your creative process work – do all members contribute equally or are you the one main song-writer? What’s the creative process like when you make a new song?
Nils: I do the lyrics in all projects. Musically we all contribute more or less. It is often a group effort. Some changes happen in the studio as well. But it can start with one of us have a beginning, or a frame.
MR: I’ve seen your new video for a second single “Dead Birds Flying”, can you tell us a bit more on this particular song? What inspired you to choose this title? Is it a metaphor for something else?
Nils: “Dead Birds Flying” is a anti-religious song. I feel there are so much horrible things that happens cause of religion. The theme is not new, but often it´s only Christianity that takes the beating in metal lyrics, I blame all religion and make no difference between them. In Norway, we had a massive bird flu last year, and the death was massive. I see religion as a deadly virus to mankind. Just see what´s going on in the Middle East right now, no matter who you like of the parts in war, they are all inspired by who´s got the “best” god.
MR: “Dead Birds Flying” has been recorded, mixed and mastered near your home in Bergen, right? Are you happy with the final result? How has been the reaction from media and fans so far?
Nils: I am very happy with the result. Still I call for some changes on the next songs. It was recorded at my cousins studio ‘Rothølo’. It is situated in gorgeous place in a Fjord near Bergen. The reaction has been great. Got tour offers and good reviews. It all looks bright now.
MR: Utilized any new recording techniques when recording this new single, compared to the things you recorded earlier in your career with Claymords?
Nils: First production were recorded analogue tape in studio. Other albums with Claymords were done on a time limit and budget. The longest time I´ve had in studio were in Italy. We spent a month recording Scum Of The Earth. Kongen Av Helvete we did during a weekend in a studio in Stockholm. The Pale In The Storm was done over some time in Hamar and Stockholm. “Dead Birds Flying” was the first song we made in studio, and we just played out different ideas before we got serious. That was a fun way. Don’t know what we´ll do next time, but assume it´ll be kind of the same.
MR: What are some of your other activities in order to promote your new single? Doing many interviews lately?
Nils: I´ve been in the game for some time, and is fortunate to have a broad network. Still the promoting business constantly changes, and you have be a step ahead. But the answer to your question, I am in touch with major newspapers and radio stations, and are doing interviews in both English and Norwegian.
MR: Another interesting thing is that the cover photo is shot by David Montalvo in a war-zone in Ukraine in 2023. How did you get in touch with this Ukrainian artist and why risk going to a war-zone to play a gig? Did you had any reservations or second thoughts before going there?
Nils: David is fan of Claymords, we kept in touch on Facebook. Me and him have a common interest, to visit abandon places like Chernobyl. He sent me some photos late 2023. I asked to use them in promotional purposes. It also ended up on the cover. I included photos in the video as well.
When it comes to play gig in war-zone, we did that as a part of a European tour. 6 cities in Ukraine in 2014, one of the stops where Russian occupied Donetsk. Our tour bus driver was too scared to go there, so we needed a driver from Donetsk to come and get us. We needed to pass 7 armed checkpoints. First Ukrainian, then Russian. Tanks and Kalashnikovs, and a lot of soldiers. We needed war insurance to go there. We had to do some serious thinking before we went, but I don’t regret it at all.
MR: So, you’ve also toured in Ukraine and playing gigs there? When and where was it exactly?
Nils: Two times in Ukraine, 2013 and after the war started in 2014.
MR: How was the reaction from the fans there? Are the fans all the same or do you feel any difference in how fans react in Ukraine, Sweden or Norway?
Nils: Fans in Norway are cool, but audience on international gigs are always taking it to another level. We´ve been to places that we were we were the first foreign band to play in their city. They are really appreciative. Ukrainian audience probably were more appreciative since most international acts cancelled shows there at the time.
MR: What bands/musicians did you listen to before forming Claymords? How/if your taste in music has changed over the years? Do you still listen to some of the same artists?
Nils: I have kept my taste more or less the same, except that I listen to some country music now, I used to hate that stuff as a kid (Laughing). Morbid Angel, Deicide, Overkill, Moonspell, Emperor, Megadeth, Pestilence, Exhorder and more were among the bands I used to listen to in the 90´s and still do.
MR: Now, would you tell us what’s the next step for Martila now? Plans for recording a full-length album? Live performances in support of your new singles?
Nils: A full length album with Martila is on the list. Maybe a couple of more singles first. As of today, there is no live plans, but that can change. We need to complete the line up.
MR: I’m glad we finally managed to conduct this interview. It was a pleasure talking to you Nils. Would you like to add anything to the readers of Metal Revolution?
Nils: Thank you for taking the time for this chat! It was a pleasure! There´s one thing the metal community needs, is that you the fans support the new bands, and support ‘zines like Metal Revolution. We need you to survive! Thank YOU!
MR: Thank You once again for such a nice words of support.
* P.S. After my talk with Nils was recorded, the band received a record deal offer from Atlanta.