Djerv: Back in Black

What happens when the worlds of rock and black metal collide? Djerv's axe man Stian Karstad explains.


Born of a little bit of black metal and a whole lot of rock n' roll, Norway's Djerv has set determinately down the dogged path of old fashioned hard work since the band was founded just one year ago. On the strength of the band's first demo, the three core members, singer Agnete Kjolsrud, drummer Erlend Gjerde, and guitarist Stian Karstad, earned an invite to their homeland's vaunted Oya Festival—a huge gig that served as Djerv's heady introduction to their home scene. Since then, Djerv has released an EP, entitled Headstone, and just released its first full-length album, a self-titled affair produced by the venerable Matt Hyde.

The band members come from diverse musical backgrounds, hailing from such divergent acts as Trelldom, Wardruna, Animal Alpha, and Stonegard, with live bassist Victor Brandt having done time in Entombed and Satyricon, among others, and live guitarist Stamos Koliousis having been tapped from the ranks of Mencea. Still, the band has managed to pull its wide ranging influences together and focus them into its own catchy, modern rock sound with just the slightest tinge of black metal influences and aggression creeping through at the creases. Karstad corresponded with Metal As Fuck about just what kind of monster Djerv might be, as his band prepared for a summer and autumn filled with European festival appearances.

Metal As Fuck: How did the three core members of Djerv come together to form this project?

Stian Karstad: Agnete's band Animal Alpha split up at the same time as Erlend's band Stonegard did, and my name was mentioned. We met up, and immediately decided to start a band.

MaF: Djerv had only existed for a little over a year, and the band has already released an EP and is about to release its first full length album. To what does the band owe its high level of productivity early on?

SK: Musically, we complete each other and found great ways of working together. We all know that hard work is the only way to achieve our goals.

MaF: How has Djerv progressed from the EP to the full length album?

SK: The EP had more of a metal approach, but we’ve added a bit more rock on the album. Matt Hyde also had his say, but ultimately we had a feeling for what was working out.

MaF: Who in the group laid out the vision for how Djerv's music was going to sound?

SK: The three of us all come from different bands, and individually created our own sound. It’s the combination of the three of us playing, and making music together that's the sound that makes Djerv.

MaF: With the members of Djerv coming from diverse musical backgrounds, how do you all go about bringing your various influence together and forming something that works for everyone in the band?

SK: We’re constantly trying to bring the various influences and the distinction of all three of us together, while calling attention to the things we know we’re good at. Naturally we don’t always agree on everything, but usually it has a way of working out for the best when we hear the end-product.

MaF: Djerv got a spot on Norway's Oya Festival just two weeks after the band's first demos were released in early 2010. How did that big leap come about?

SK: The Oya Festival was actually the first gig we ever booked, and that participated in having other festivals book us at the same time. The whole thing was strictly based on just the demo, so it was extremely cool of Oya to give us that opportunity.

MaF: What has it been like having Stamos Koliousis from Mencea and Victor Brandt from Entombed along for the live performances?

SK: It’s been awesome, and they’re both important pieces of the Djerv package. As I mentioned earlier, this whole thing started off flying, and the guys have been working really hard.

MaF: Lyrically, what sort of subjects does Djerv cover in its songs?

SK: It's Agnete that writes all the lyrics and its mostly short stories, not linked together. It's usually a bit nihilistic, and in a way I think it suits the band.

MaF: Currently Djerv has plans to tour around Norway and a date in Poland scheduled for October. Are there any plans to tour more widely in the future to other regions of the world?

SK: Our plan is to play as many live shows as we possibly can. And we’re constantly deciding new dates for concerts both in and outside of Norway. We might even be looking at a Europe tour this autumn. All dates will be posted on when they are confirmed.

MaF: What do you envision for the future of Djerv?

SK: I hope we can maintain the quality in our material, keep playing concerts, and have a good time all the time!