At the end of August, the picturesque Kolbotn, located half an hour south of Oslo, is torn from its dreamy sleep: The Hellbotn Metalfest turns the loudspeakers to 11 again.
One wouldn’t know the name of Kolbotn: Kolbotn is a very small town in the centre of Oppegård, a municipality just south of Norway’s capital Oslo. Unless you like music and soccer, that is. Jazz guitarist Eivind Aarset was born in Kolbotn in 1961, blackened Thrashers Aura Noir have their roots in Kolbotn as well as the Black Metal band Darkthrone formed there in 1986, and amongst other classics like Darkthrone’s „Under A Funeral Moon“ and „A Blaze In The Northern Sky“ also Mayhem’s famous „Deathcrush“ was recorded at the local Creative Studios in 1987. Also, the football team Kolbotn IL hails from here, one of their biggest fans is Fenriz, drummer and singer for aforementioned Darkthrone. In 2006 Kolbotn women’s team were top of the top league for women in Norway, the Toppserien. They won the 2007 Cup competition and finished in third place for three seasons 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Although Fenriz recommended us in our last interview, should we ever be stranded in Kolbotn, we should better take the next bus back to Oslo: At least once a year there really is reason to stay here, as the Hellbotn Metalfest has been taking place there since 2014. As we are looking forward to this year’s edition by the end of August, we talked to founder Nicklas Erdal.
Kolbotn is really not a metropolis. What made you decide to organise a festival here?
Nicklas Erdal: You’re right, it’s not a big town. But the reason we wanted to base our festival in this area is to celebrate it’s rich contribution in metal music from bands like Darkthrone, Aura Noir, Mayhem, Obliteration and Nekromantheon plus many others. This is also our home town so we really wanted to make something happen here and contribute to the area in a positive way.
Behind the festival stands Sounds Of Unity. What are you guys doing beside Hellbotn?
Nicklas Erdal: Sounds of Unity has been around since the early 2000’s and we have organized small and big shows all over Oslo and back home in Kolbotn ever since. Right now though our main focus is Hellbotn Metalfest. We put on a few smaller shows each year where it feels fitting and if we can find the time. We always look for oppertunity to promote new promising bands.
Who else is involved in the festival besides you?
Nicklas Erdal: The foundation of Sounds of Unity is a four person team consisting of me, my wife Mette and our good friends Glenn and Tore. We also have a great team of volunteers that keep on helping and supporting us each year, which we are greatly appreciative for. We could not do this without them. This year we are working together with several businesses like the record store Katakomben, the amazing brewery Ølsmia from Vestby and this years festival hotel Quality Hotel Entry at Trollåsen.
What were your highlights all over the years?
Nicklas Erdal: If we’re keeping it to the festival it has to be the first year in 2014 with Aura Noir and Waklevoren, who both put on amazing shows. Also the feedback from our visitors made that first year so inspiring and has to be one of the best highlights since it layed such a solid foundation for what we’re aiming to achieve. We also got to put on Furze’s first ever show in 2015 which was very cool.
You always had mainly Death, Black and Thrash Metal bands playing. Is this your own musical background or is it just what “works best” for your audience?
Nicklas Erdal: Our background is mainly in punk, hardcore and metal. We decided to aim our festival towards extreme metal (with some personal favorites sprinkled in) because of this area’s history with this music and the bands we knew and wanted to present on this stage.
With previous editions, you had a nice supporting programme from beer tastings to afternoon cinema. What are your plans for this year’s edition?
Nicklas Erdal: This year we have booked the tattoo artists Nick Morte and Trine Grimm to come and work at our festival. We will also have an art exhibit with Nick Morte. Besides from that we are still trying to make some things happen and will release more information on this at a later time.
In contrast to the big festivals there will probably be no ferris wheels and similar shit, but there will be enough other possibilities to spend money and indulge in the gourmet delights …
Nicklas Erdal: We are still in talks with local businesses about this, but we’re hoping to get both smaller restaurants and food trucks involved. Katakomben will also bring parts of their record-store to our festival and have their own booth. Bands will also be able to sell their merch at a booth as you would come to expect from any concert venue.
As we all know, big sunglasses are very important when it comes to cool bands. For a cool festival, on the other hand, you need big DJs: Are we welcoming back your basic DJ-team Fenriz, Metalbastard, Stressminister and Kolden Shower?
Nicklas Erdal: We really want to have our classic team spinning records, but we’re still waiting for confirmation from some of them. More info on this to come.
When you announced this year’s edition, you pointed out that Hellbotn will be (slightly) bigger than ever this year. Progress has always been important to you, but so has the idea of „small and local“. So what was your motivation?
Nicklas Erdal: We’ve always aimed to evolve the festival in order to give the audience the best possible experience without compromising the feel of a smaller local festival. The intimacy between the crowd and bands is very important to us, and will still be intact while we are able to book some bigger bands and fan-favorites. We’ve also been sold out on some of the days for the last couple of years and it’s a bittersweet feeling when you know someone is missing out.
This year’s 6th edition of the festival will have three stages instead of one, all located in the Kolben Kulturhus: on Friday Sal 4 like the previous years, on Saturday Sal 1 and 2. Since the local civic center is picturesquely situated at the lake: Any plans to go for an open air stage in the future as well?
Nicklas Erdal: We’ve been toying with the idea but our current location is not ideal for this. If we were to move to an open air location it would be important to find the right one before making such a move.
How many people do you expect this year?
Nicklas Erdal: We honestly expect to more or less fill the house with its capacity of 500 people. The 2-day tickets are already gone and there are only a few tickets availible for friday. So it seems like this is not a crazy goal. The majority will come on saturday cus of the increase in stage size/capacity so we still have room for more, but the tickets are selling steadily so it seems like we will be able to get a full house this year as well.
Since your beginnings you have had a focus on Norwegian bands. Now you know that Norway is a birthplace of many talents. What do you think separates your country from the rest of Europe, when it comes to (heavy) music?
Nicklas Erdal: One of the key elements in Norway is definitly our small size in population wich makes it so mostly everyone knows each other at some level in their respective scenes and also outside. This makes for a great supportive culture where communication flows and keeps things moving. Norway is also somewhat isolated from the rest of Europe wich makes it so we gotta support each other and evolve at our own instead of always take in too much influences from outside. Also I think there is something in our waters …
In some countries, also in Europe, a large part of the population and politics don’t have much good to report about Heavy Metal. What about Kolbotn?
Nicklas Erdal: Today this doesn’t seem to be much of a problem here. Everyone seems very supportive and I think most people see it as a hugely positive thing that events like this gets to grow so that our culture is more inclusive then ever.
This year Cadaver will play their reunion gig at Hellbotn after their short performance at Inferno. This is not only a highlight for many visitors, but also for you. Which wishes have you not yet been able to fulfil?
Nicklas Erdal: We’ve been looking to book both Mayhem and Emperor the past years with no luck. Getting Darkthrone to play at Hellbotn has always been a wet dream and would be huge. But there are of course reasons to them not playing and we respect that.
You had visitors from all different countries already, even China. Can you give your non local guests some tips: What can one do in Kolbotn aside from listening to loud music whilst getting wasted?
Nicklas Erdal: No, this is what Kolbotn is all about. If you come here for other reasons you have come to the wrong place (laughs). No that’s just a joke of course. There is a lot of good nature around here for hiking and fishing. Also our women’s soccer team is one of the best, so if you’re able to catch one of their matches you’re in for a treat.
You mentioned the official festival hotel before: Are there other places to stay as well?
Nicklas Erdal: The walk to our festival hotel is only 15 to 20 minutes and will be marked, so getting back and forth to the hotel will be no problem. There are unfortunatley little to no other places/hotels in Kolbotn if you want to stay the night here. There are busses and trains headed for Oslo all day, stopping at about 12pm for trains and 2am for busses. The transport into Oslo takes about 20 minutes. But there will also be some special events at the hotel, so we would of course recommend staying at the festival hotel if one is looking for a place to stay for the weekend.
Hellbotn Metalfest 2019 is held on 30th and 31st of August at Kolben Kulturhus in Kolbotn, Norway. Kolbotn is located roughly half an hour south of Oslo. Coming from Oslo, you either take the bus 83 from „Jernbanetorget“ to „Mastemyr hotel“, which is the stop at the official festival hotel. Otherwise you go by train from „Oslo Sentralstasjon“ to „Kolbotn“, which is like two minutes from the festival location.
Doors on both days will be 6pm. On Friday we welcome on stage Nocturnal Breed, Nekromantheon, Incinerator and Filthdigger, on Saturday Cadaver, Mysticum, Carpathian Forest, Mork, Turbonecro, Foreseen, Liverum, Blodhemn and Negativ.
Festival passes are already sold out, but there is still a VERY SMALL amount of daytickets for both Friday and Saturday left. If you’re not local, be sure to book your stay including the festival hotel with reduced room prices!