Ash Naderhoff: Survivalist & Good Samaritan

Ash while he was filming Season 1 of “Alaskan Killer Bigfoot.” (All photos used with permission from Ash Naderhoff.)

I recently had the pleasure of becoming friends with Ash Naderhoff, one of the cast members from the new series “Alaskan Killer Bigfoot” which premiered on Discovery+ earlier this year. During the past couple of months the show could be seen on the Travel Channel on Sunday nights. The final episode of Season 1 aired on August 14th. Given the way that episode ended I know I’m not the only fan who is hopeful that the show will be green-lighted for another season. For anyone who hasn’t seen the series yet it’s not another one of “those Bigfoot shows” which have been produced during the past several years.

The cast members- consisting of Ash, Keith Seville, Frank “Guy” Berestoff, D.J. Brewster, and Kyle McDowell -are five ordinary Alaskans. They’re not hired actors, Bigfoot experts/hunters, or people taking part in a hoax. For them the mission that is being documented within the show is personal. Four of the men are descendants of the original inhabitants of Portlock who have been given the task of reclaiming the village. They’re doing so on behalf of the Suqpiag people who are currently living in the Alaskan towns of Nanwalek and Port Graham.

Ash and his castmates D.J. Brewster, Frank “Guy” Berestoff, Kyle McDowell, and Keith Seville (in plaid shirt.)

Portlock has been occupied many times over the past 400 years, first by indigenous people, then by others who “discovered” the area during various expeditions; Spanish, British and Russians have all attempted to claim Portlock for their empires, but to no avail. For various reasons the settlement has also been abandoned several times over the centuries. The main reason people have been afraid to remain in Portlock appears to be related to a creature called Nantinaq, which is either a supernatural entity, or a Bigfootlike creature depending on who you talk to. I’d elaborate on that, but I really want more people to check out the series for themselves. All eight episodes from the first season will be shown on the Travel Channel on Tuesday, August 30th. Check your local listings for channel information and airtime.

Ash investigating an old cabin which has been a center for activity involving the legendary Nantinaq.

I had the impression that Ash was a decent guy from watching the show, and, I’m happy to report that my impression was spot-on. Ash is one of those rare people who is exactly what he appears to be whether he’s on camera or not. He’s known for his expert survival skills which allow him to roam the Alaskan bush in a much easier manner than most people. He’s taught others how to live off the land, too, as well as how to survive in the backcountry in case they encounter some unexpected disaster.

His dedication to being a survivalist is equally matched by his devout Christian faith. That was something else which impressed me about my new friend. I can honestly say I haven’t met many Christians who adhered to the principles of their religion the way Ash has. If a lifelong pagan like me can be won over by him then it’s safe to say that he’s a fine example of his faith. Perhaps that’s why he often appears to be a calming influence on his fellow cast members when incidents on the show send them into a panic. Even his own terrifying close encounter with Nantinaq during an ill-advised solo outing one night has only strengthened Ash’s resolve to get to the bottom of the mysterious activity in and around Portlock.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the crew who also worked so hard behind the scenes to make “Alaskan Killer Bigfoot” a reality.

Louise: Were you born and raised in Alaska? If not, where did you and your family come from originally?

Ash: My parents, especially my dad, spent a lot of time in Ninilchik, but moved to the Seattle area before I was born. We spent time all over the United States from Colorado to Kansas with Washington state usually being our home base and Alaska as our favorite. But the harsh winters were just not for my mom. Growing up with vague memories of the Alaskan wilderness and nightly stories from my dad, I always knew I needed to get back.

Louise: What led to you honing your skills as a survivalist?

Ash: I don’t know if anything besides boredom and necessity really led me to it. I grew up in some of the most remote parts of Washington, Colorado and Kansas. We would take nothing, but a .22 and go up into the woods for literally days, even weeks. It was so easy to go get lost in such beautiful country, and just eat what you shoot and forage. With nine brothers and sisters, a small house, and a very limited income there were always plenty of chores for me to do being one of the older kids. But once the chores were done my relief was going out into the woods and being by myself. Just being one with nature and living off the land. It’s amazing what you can learn being a teenage boy alone up in the mountains.

Louise: What was the most frightening animal that you ever encountered prior to your experiences with Nantinaq?

Ash: To be honest I’m not actually scared of animals. I have pictures on my iPhone of grizzly bears wrestling, I’m talking almost 2,000 pound giant bears like 10 yards away, and I’m having the time of my life. I’m always around moose and I have hunted cougar as well as wolverines. To be honest the only thing I’m truly scared of in the city, or the woods are people. I know how to read animals. I can tell what they are thinking by how they are acting. I cannot do that as well with people. I don’t trust people like I trust animals. Don’t get me wrong, I have a healthy respect for animals, too. The last thing I’m about to do is run through the Alaskan bush in the dark. That is a quick way to die from bear, moose, wolves, and many other dangerous things. One thing you learn fast in the woods is it doesn’t matter if a predatory animal is being hostile or not; if you run it will always chase you. Usually true with a dog as well.

Louise: What led to you becoming a part of the current attempt to reclaim Portlock?

Ash:  I’ve spent time along with my wife living from Arizona to Alaska learning from indigenous people how to live off the land; not to just survive, but to thrive. Being a survival specialist is not something that I studied, it is who I am. When the show needed a survivalist and a bear guard they started looking around the area where the tribal descendants lived. They found Kyle, who is probably hands-down one of the best bear guards that has ever lived, and myself, a survivalist. I just happen to live in Nanwalek so there was no way they were not going to use me. I said no quite a few times, being on TV isn’t something that’s important to me. But I saw how much it would help the village, and it was clear how much the story needed to be told. It’s something they’ve been encountering for well over 400 years. It really just fell into place.

Louise: Were there times when you feared for your sanity while you were at Portlock? If so, how did you deal with it?

Ash: This is a really good question. It’s kind of hard to answer so I’m going to do my best. There were a couple times that I feared for my safety. Not mental, not spiritual, but physical safety. There were times when huge thermal images were coming directly towards us. There was the night in Episode Five where I was completely surrounded by at least three unknown creatures and had them whispering to me, literally inches from my ear. I could feel it. There were times all of my experience in the woods didn’t mean anything because there was no way you can prepare for something like this. You can be around 10,000 bears and it does zero to prepare you for what we encountered. We decided for safety reasons that we needed to head back to camp by dark, but I still went out on my own a lot. I did that because I feel that I can keep myself safe better alone rather than in a group. I know how to watch my back for predators. I’ve been doing it for a lot of years. But what we were dealing with out there was not just physical. That became very clear to all of us very quickly. It didn’t matter when it came to our doubts, or our beliefs, we were quickly encompassed by something that none of us were expecting. What kept me going was my faith. I’ve been a Christian for a long time, and I’ve seen my God work miracles. I’ve seen demons, and I’ve seen healings. I received an absolutely impossible healing myself as I was literally laying on a hospital gurney getting ready to go into surgery. People from my church were there, laying hands on me, and praying. The blood in my urine went away instantly. I ended up standing up, changing into my clothes, and walking out of the hospital without surgery. I was a teenager back then, and the kidney that I’d wounded still shows no scarred tissue, or any evidence of ever being ripped. It was a miracle. I know how to keep myself safe from the physical, and I fully trust my God for the spiritual.

Louise: Do you believe that there are a family of creatures related to Nantinaq who are claiming Portlock as home? Care to venture a guess as to how many there could be based on what you experienced?

Ash: Yes, there is a family out there. We did not include all the footage that we got at all. There was no way in the time that we had, and we always have to make a moral call on how much to expose. We did not talk about time slips on the show, there was just not enough time to mention it. There were times when someone would go in the woods, and would be missing for up to six hours. An occurrence like that happened to me. I had a camera filming me the whole time, so we knew exactly how long I was gone. They were filming a couple miles away, too, so that was another way we knew how long I had been away. Yet for some reason the timestamps did not match up at all. When D.J. finally found me on the beach we were exploring the area that I was in while trying to make sense of everything; that was when we found what we fully believe were two juvenile creatures playing. When I was in Episode Five there were at least three of the adult creatures around me with one much bigger one coming through the trees. I personally believe the number of them there in Portlock can and does vary. One of the only hypothesis that really holds any water in my opinion is that there is a portal there. I believe when I was standing at the base of the tree (which is what we think Nantinaq was very close to that night) is when the portal opened with a big flash of light. I felt an energy unlike anything anyone could ever explain. It was pulsing through my entire body. I have not been the same since that night.

In addition to being terrorized by Nantinaq the men also had to endure harsh conditions courtesy of Mother Nature.

Louise: Prior to spending time in Portlock, had you ever encountered anything resembling Bigfoot during your time in the Alaskan bush? If so, how did you react?

Ash: I have always had a fascination with the big guy. I have seen a lot of supernatural stuff in my time. I never knew what he was, but being in Washington state there are so many sightings, and I’ve talked to a lot of eyewitnesses, people that I trust. I spent six months living out on Forest Road 2880, living off the land. I knew it was a hotspot out there. I also knew just going out on the weekends for a couple hours probably wasn’t going to do much so my wife and I stayed for an entire summer. We encountered many things that I would say were supernatural. But nothing that I would definitively say was Bigfoot. When I moved out to Nanwalek I was not expecting to have any encounters, but I actually had 31, with most of them being pretty visual. For example, during one incident you could see from thigh to shoulder as a creature stood up, and went through the brush while its head was hidden behind branches before it disappeared into the thick brush. The crazy thing about that experience is there were a lot of us there, and we saw it for long enough to be 1000% sure it was not a bear. I have seen black bear, cinnamon black bear, polar bear, brown bear, and variations of all of those that you wouldn’t even think are possible. This was no bear. Not even close.

Louise: Has any of your experience as a youth pastor helped you while you were at Portlock? Did that experience help you to calm down those who were overwhelmed by what they were going through?

Ash: Yes, for sure. My experience as a youth pastor and my faith 100% helped me out there. The guys have a similar faith to mine. They are Russian Orthodox, very Russian Orthodox. We are all very experienced being in the bush, and having Bigfoot around. The guys in the village have been dealing with this their entire life. They know how dangerous it can be. People in the village regularly get rocks thrown at them and stuff. For some reason when you go back to camp, or when you go back home it seems to leave you alone, though. It’s just when you’re out in its’ territory that it gets aggressive. There were definitely times that were overwhelming even for the camera crew. But we all had our own way of coping.

Louise: Has the time you’ve spent in Portlock impacted your faith at all? Would you say that it has made you a stronger believer?

Ash: Oh, 100%; actually, 1,000,000%. I have seen some crazy things in my life. Things that make me believe a lot of scientific theories are just that, theories. I’ve seen supernatural things that go against everything we were taught in school. But to live it, to be out there in it for an entire summer was something that none of us could ever forget. There’s no way you could experience the supernatural things that we encountered, and then just go back to being an atheist, just thinking there’s nothing.

Proof that being part of a popular paranormal series isn’t for those who aren’t willing to work for it.

Louise: What would you say to anyone who is thinking about looking for Bigfoot in other parts of Alaska?

Ash: Give me a call, I’ll be there tomorrow! I came to the realization a long time ago that dying of old age in a hospital bed surrounded by loved ones seems pretty unlikely. Chances are I’m going to be alone in the woods, and search parties will come up empty-handed. I know the dangers of what I do, I know the dangers of how I live, and I know the dangers of exploration. Anywhere between 500 and 2,000 people a year go missing in Alaska, many of them never to be found. This is a dangerous place on the best of days. I’ve been around a lot of wild animals, and I know we have a lot of active serial killers in the state, but there’s just too many people going missing. What if Bigfoot is behind it? What if the Alaskan Killer Bigfoot ventures outside of Portlock, and we just never knew it because no one was there to see it? I have always had a fascination with in-depth exploration, and getting to the bottom of mysteries. I hope to continue to look for real answers. This isn’t about people putting on gorilla suits for ratings, or making fake castings of giant footprints because that’s what everyone wants, or expects to see. It’s about honestly recording any evidence that gets found. But that leads to a whole other conversation, because, once again, you have to make that moral decision about how much to show.

Louise: Do you believe that people will eventually be able to resettle Portlock?

Ash: I truly do. I feel not only that they might be able to, but that they should. That is their land. It is some of the most beautiful land in Alaska, if not the world. There is something that when you go there it just takes hold of you. There’s something special about that place. It’s the reason why the Spanish, English, Russians, natives, and everyone else, including businessmen, have been trying to settle it for so long. I don’t think we are at the bottom of the mystery yet. I think we definitely have a lot more exploring to do, and I’m very excited to get out there, and keep going, just like all the other guys are!

Louise: Is there anything that you’d like to say to those who insist that the show is perpetuating a hoax? This is your chance to speak your mind so say whatever you feel needs to be said.

Ash: When we first went out to Portlock we sat down, and had a conversation. We had a very serious conversation. We talked about elders, and first-hand eyewitness testimony. We talked about theories and hypothesis. I am a very critical thinker, and the first thing I said we should try to do is go through with this, and try to disprove the story. We looked at the very first theory of a serial killer. I’m not gonna talk about multiple Spanish dying within a few days in 1779. I’m not gonna talk about newspaper articles down in San Francisco in 1876 talking about a giant cannibal who picks up people, smashes them against rocks and trees, then rips their skin off, and eats them. I’m not gonna talk about the multiple times archaeologists found Portlock to be abandoned, which was at least six.

I’m just going to start nice and easy and fresh in 1920 when hunter Albert Petka’s body was found mutilated, and his death was never solved. Not cuts, no claw marks, no teeth marks, just literally torn apart. So, this is 1920; we’ll say that the serial killer is 20 years old at the time. He’s going around killing people, and starting fires. He burns down the cannery in 1937, then burns down the home of the people who own the cannery in 1938. Then in 1939 he really goes crazy, and kills Andrew Kamluck with a giant piece of machinery too big for multiple people to lift and drops it on him. It was literally picked up off the ground and used to crush him. Then in 1940 Simon Kudsnikoff was beaten to death with his gun and knife still on him. Over the next two years 15 hunters go missing, all armed and some in groups. Their body parts would wash down from the mountains into the lagoon in the spring with no bullet holes, and no marks from animals, just once again torn limb from limb. In 1943 John Mire is cutting firewood at his cabin and was attacked. He had an ax and his dog, which started attacking what was on him; eventually, he was able to fight off his attacker. Mire sees it limping off, and describes it as a giant beast, “a monster”, after he makes it into town for medical help, where he ends up perishing from his injuries. So, the serial killer is going around for over 20 years at this time in a town where, at its peak, only a couple hundred people lived. It would be pretty obvious to know who was there literally the whole time if there was any suspicion at all about a serial killer. People were so scared that they had armed guards at the entrance of the cannery. All of the workers were escorted to and from work by those guards.

In 1949 things really get bad. The town is repeatedly attacked, and even with armed guards no one feels safe any longer. The town is literally abandoned overnight, left by everyone except for the postmaster who had to be relieved from his position. He spent a lot of time alone there. I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but next season you will be hearing his stories. It’s 30 years since the killing began, and the town is completely abandoned. Things don’t stop there, though. The natives continue trying to fish the area, only to be met with hostility, and sounds coming from the woods. Talking to local fisherman who live in the area there’s always stories about when the weather is bad, and someone needs to take port in the area where the sounds are coming from the woods. Usually people are too scared to even try to touch shore.

So, if the alleged serial killer was 20 when the killings started, he would’ve been 50 when everyone evacuated Portlock, then 70 when the natives were still trying to fish the area. Finally, we arrive here; the killer is now a little over 100 years old, and still attempting to scare everyone off, including us last summer. He must be incredibly spry for his advanced age since he was knocking on trees, whispering in people’s ears, and throwing rocks too big for two people to pick up, as well as many other things meant to terrorize us.

This old man is clearly an absolute freaking legend! Somehow he was able to convince people he didn’t exist in the town. Not one person ever thought the killings were from a person, and, yet, for over 100 years the old serial killer is still going strong. It’s impressive how he gets Amazon out there to to keep up with technology. He’s able to turn into balls of light, and he found some really cool hallucinogenic mushrooms to put in our food to make us lose track of time. I mean, it just doesn’t even come close to holding merit!

We tried, and tried, and tried, and TRIED, and there’s just nothing to prove with regard to the serial killer theory. That brings us to the infamous highway coming through that took all of the business away. That sounds really good unless you’ve ever been to Portlock. Nanwalek is halfway to it, and is itself an almost 30 minute bush plane ride from Homer. On an absolutely beautiful summer day with perfect weather you’re looking at quite a helicopter ride from Portlock, literally like 45 minutes, at a cost of thousands of dollars each way for helicopter fuel. That’s just to get to the closest highway. There’s an entire ocean between you, and hundreds of miles of bush. The highway in Homer has nothing to do with Portlock and the resources there. It’s the dumbest theory I’ve ever heard. In Nanwalek you can go weeks without getting medical help because of the weather; Portlock is much more brutal. There’s no way to get to the road except by boat, and that is only accessible a few months a year. People don’t realize how remote Portlock is. A highway 100 miles across the ocean from it has nothing to do with its’ economy.

If there was a way to disprove what was going on out there that would be the easiest way to wrap up the show. Unfortunately, that’s not what we found at all. There is something still active going on out there, it’s as active today as it was in the 1700s. It’s hard for people to understand that. It’s hard for a lot of people to think outside of the little box they were indoctrinated within during school. Not many people are willing to open their minds, and expand their horizons. It’s easier to try to justify something you don’t understand, even though the justification is dumber than what you were trying to wrap your brain around. It’s just what people do. It’s easier to deny rather than to accept.

Ash enjoying some quiet time in the Alaskan bush.

If you want a chance to find out more about what happens with the cast and crew of “Alaskan Killer Bigfoot” before Season 2 possibly takes place you might consider joining the show’s official fan group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/520251775597784.

If you’re more interested in Ash and his business Ash In The Wilderness, simply check out his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AshInTheWilderness.

Thanks, once again, to Ash for being such a cool dude, and allowing me to interview him. I hope all of you reading this managed to learn something about him as well as the show that he’s a part of.


A Thrasher In Finland

Since meeting him I’ve discovered that Jarno Leväinen is something of a character. Don’t expect him to be very serious because it seldom happens. But, don’t let the light-hearted, comical attitude fool you, either; this guy can play guitar like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve been lucky enough to hear some of his music and he’s definitely one of the best lesser-known guitarists that I’ve met in a while.

Do you play any instruments other than guitar?

Jarno: (laughs) Ehm, I try to play bass, too, as well as keyboards, and a little on the drums. The bass I have had only  a bit over a year now, and haven’t played it before sooo… kinda learning it. Keyboards I have played longer, but I’m not an expert. However, I like sometimes how they add mood to a song. I would love to practice more on the drums, but living in a block of flats… not gonna happen so easily. (Laughs again)

Are you a vocalist, too, or is it strictly music for you?

Jarno: I sing in a shower, hahaha! Sometimes I sing karaoke in a bar. People have said I have a good voice, and I agree with them! (laughing) Nah, I don’t know; it’s nice to sing sometimes, yeah.

What made you decide to become a guitarist?

Jarno: Actually, I really don’t see myself as strictly a guitarist. More like a person who has ideas for a songs along with melodies running through my head. So, basically, a guitar is just another tool for me to use to translate the music that I create in my mind. And it has distortion, damn wicked! Devil horns! (laughs)

Do you play any other styles of music, or is it all metal, all the time?

Jarno: Uhm, I think my style, or, actually, what I like to play and what comes naturally is kinda bluesy. And maybe rock n roll, too; kinda old school rock. I really do adore that. Heavy rock from the 1970’s is dear to my heart. One of my so-called ‘guitar heroes’ is Ritchie Blackmore. There’s a dude who has the most soulful solos and just incredible talent! But with keyboards I can create lots of different music, and I have done it. Also, classical music I like a lot and many, many other genres, too. So, not only metal, really. But metal is still the most fun to do, and what I like to listen to, and create myself also. Hell yeah!

Which is your favorite to play; faster songs or slower ones? Why?

Jarno: Hmmm, this is a tough one, hahaha. Faster, of course! (laughs) Nooo, I’d say both are nice, and it depends on the mood I’m having.

Are you self-taught or did you take lessons?

Jarno: I am self-taught, 100%; never have took any lessons. But not because I don’t need them, or have something against them, no. I just have played, and learned little by little. I’m having a good time with it. I’d recommend taking lessons, honestly, to all who wanna learn to play guitar. Then you’d have real proper techniques from the start and musical knowledge about things. So, don’t do it like me! (laughing)

How often do you practice?

Jarno: If I were Dave Mustaine I’d say never, but I’m not, so I need to practice. (laughing) I really don’t have any certain time or rule about how long I practice or play. But I try to play every day and jam at least a little bit so I keep my fingers kinda ready all the time. But, of course, there are days when I don’t have time or motivation then I don’t practice. Or when I have a hangover…then I really don’t wanna practice, man! (Laughs)

What is your dream guitar; which brand and what model?

Jarno: Oh man, I love all guitars; I want ’em all, hahaha! But, oki, seriously, I think an Ibanez JEM like Steve Vai uses, or John Petrucci’s Music Man Majesty… oooor, also, some of Alexi Laiho’s signature models. Cooool Beans!

If you had the chance to tour would you do it, and who would you want to tour with?

Jarno: Oh boy…who to tour with? Hmmm…I’d have to say Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals. But, in all honesty, I’m pretty happy just composing music and playing it for a limited audience. I’m not really interested in fame.

How Black Veil Brides Saved My Life- Twice.

Black Veil Brides

Laugh at me if you want to, call me “ridiculous”, whatever, I get it, but it still makes no difference to me. I am not ashamed to admit that the metal band Black Veil Brides really did come to my rescue in a very unique way.

The first time that they rescued me took place during the summer of 2014. I was struggling through my first marriage. My husband and I had been together for 19 years by then. Our relationship had always had it’s ups and downs, thanks to his emotional issues as well as my own. The relationship became abusive over time as my former husband’s temper got the better of him more and more. He’d yell at me sometimes. Other times he’d treat me with cold contempt, as if I was beneath him somehow. It was the classic narcissist (him) and empath (me) relationship. I did my best to endure what was happening because I knew his background quite well. Early in our relationship we would actually talk to each other instead of behaving like warring factions. Somewhere along the way my former husband decided he’d rather destroy me instead of loving me.

In his defense he had no idea that I had complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder thanks to sexual abuse that I’d suffered between the ages of 4 and 7 at the hands of a family “friend.” Like many victims I hadn’t really forgotten what had happened to me. Instead my mind repressed it in an attempt to protect me. There were other things that took place later in my teen years which contributed a great deal to my problem; my mom abandoned my father and forced me to move with her and her boyfriend to a different state. Sounds like just one of those things until you factor in this bit of information; her boyfriend had stalked me for years and had every intention of molesting me if he ever got the chance. I spent six years living with my mom and him. He constantly tried to grab me whenever my mom wasn’t around. I developed a prisoner mentality and began to withdraw further into myself as a result. I went from being a friendly person to one who trusted no one. I managed to cover it once I was on my own, but I still sensed that something wasn’t quite right with me. By the time I met my first husband the problem was beyond my control. My complex PTSD became even worse as I dealt with constant emotional and mental abuse. The more my former husband belittled me the more I believed that the world had nothing to offer me. During the last three years of the marriage I was suicidal. Every morning I would wonder if I’d die that day. I even had a method in mind for when I did it after I did some research. It seemed like my only way to escape what felt like Hell.

Black Veil Brides during their Wretched & Divine days.

So, in the summer of 2014 I was not in a good place. One morning I was alone at home. My husband had taken his dog to a local park for a walk. While he was gone I decided to take a bath. The large bathtub that I used was also where I intended to kill myself. It was very much on my mind that morning. I had lost contact with everyone that I used to know so I felt very much alone. The urge to die kept creeping up on me as I filled the bathtub. Then I remembered that I’d left the radio that I usually listened to upstairs. I brought it into the bathroom with me. After I’d turned it on I got into the bath and thought things over. Should I bathe like I normally would, or should I slash my wrists instead? For some reason I took notice of the song that was playing at the moment. It was “In The End” by Black Veil Brides. I’d heard it before, but this was the first time I really listened to it. The song opens with the lyrics “In the end as you fade into the night/Who will tell the story of your life?” I won’t lie, I started crying. I knew the song had nothing to do with me, but those words woke up something within me. I suddenly decided that I had to live because my story was NOT over yet. And I definitely wanted someone to tell it one day.

Within a couple of weeks events took place which completely altered my existence. I met a man on Facebook who was also struggling with an abusive spouse with emotional and mental issues. We began to talk all the time, and we ended up falling in love. Then the man I was married to found out. He forced me to tell my love interest goodbye then went through the charade of patching up our marriage. I lasted four days before I contacted the man I really wanted to be with. I ended up leaving my husband and demanding that he divorce me immediately. After he did I left the state I had lived in for most of my life so that I could be with my beloved. I was scared to death, but proud of myself for getting out of a bad situation. I never forgot that song by Black Veil Brides, either. They had woke me up and I was grateful.

Black Veil Brides 2021 (photo by Josh Schultz)

The second time that Black Veil Brides saved me was earlier this year. The man that I’d left my first husband for eventually became my second husband after we’d moved back to the state that I was from. We had two and a half years of happiness before the unthinkable happened. Even though my second husband was incredibly fit and very healthy he had a stroke which left him crippled. He lost the ability to walk on his own and he couldn’t swallow normally. He had to take in liquid nutrition through a feeding tube which was implanted in his stomach. His speech had also suffered at first, but, fortunately, he learned to talk again. Nonetheless, our lives were turned upside down. Our days consisted of me taking care of him while he spent most of his time sitting on our bed and watching TV or playing video games. I learned to become a nurse’s aid without the benefit of formal training. It was stressful for me since I still struggled with complex PTSD. I loved him with all of my heart and was determined to take care of him no matter how difficult it became. My dedication did not go unnoticed by my husband. He gave me the ultimate compliment once when he said I was his hero. That was one of my proudest moments.

Then it all came to an end. After struggling with his health for almost five years my husband died at the beginning of February of this year. I was with him when it happened at 5AM that morning. He hadn’t been feeling especially well for quite a while, but I never anticipated his death would happen so abruptly. The doctors had given us the impression that he’d be around for several more years. The world I’d known vanished that day when I became a widow. I was in shock for the first week or so. I don’t recall much besides crying constantly when I wasn’t trying to sleep away every hour. I felt I had no purpose or reason for being. Gradually, as the weeks passed the suicidal urges crept back into my mind. I thought about it more and more as the sense of loss consumed me. I didn’t want to live in a world without my husband, that much I knew. Once again Black Veil Brides played a part in getting me to reconsider ending my life. I saw a video on YouTube one day for one of their newer songs called “Born Again.” It had themes about struggling with your inner demons as well as redemption after you’d fought them and ultimately won. Once again I found myself crying as I listened as well as watched. It seemed so strange yet so wonderful to me that the same band who had inspired me to leave a broken marriage was helping me once more by giving me the courage to carry on despite my intense grief. And, again, I am truly grateful to them. I know the song wasn’t written for me, but it still worked some sort of magic for me.

So, to Black Veil Brides- I don’t know if you’ll ever read this blog entry, but, if you do, you have my eternal gratitude for your music as well as your positive influence on me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am without a doubt a fan of yours for life.

Life Is Very Unpredictable

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. To be honest I just didn’t want to. You see, my husband Randy suffered a major stroke in June of 2017 which left him disabled. He lost the ability to walk on his own, and he could no longer swallow food or water thanks to a paralyzed vocal cord; if he attempted to take either of those things by mouth they would go directly into his airway then down into his lungs. He had to take in fluids through a feeding tube in his stomach; this included the liquid diet which replaced solid food.

So, from the last part of 2017 through earlier this year I spent a lot of time taking care of Randy. I was glad to do it even though both of us often felt depressed because our plans for the future vanished in the blink of an eye. It seemed really unfair after everything that we went through just to be together. I’d been involved in a marriage that had been slowly disintegrating for several years and Randy was basically in the same situation. Somehow we found each other on Facebook (thanks to a Black Label Society group that I ran) and after trying to pretend that we weren’t attracted to each other for a few months we finally began to talk to one another on a frequent basis. It didn’t take long for us to fall in love. That was when we decided to leave our spouses so that we could be together. I divorced my husband then moved back to Illinois to be with Randy after he told his wife that their marriage was over.

The move to Illinois took it’s toll on me. I always lived on the West Coast. I was born in California then moved to Oregon when I was 12. Leaving behind Oregon hurt. It was and is a beautiful state with a great deal of places that are still mostly wild and untouched by people for the most part. Illinois, by contrast, was heavily populated with few places near the urban areas that were still fairly pristine. The people there were good, but I was not in the right state of mind to appreciate that at the time. I was homesick a lot even though I was with the man that I loved. Randy was very good to me despite the fact that my depression often made me anti-social and withdrawn when it came to socializing with everyone he knew. Randy was a social butterfly compared to me. I actually loved that about him, but it still wasn’t enough to draw me out of my shell. Nonetheless, we carried on anyway with the hope that things would get better.

But they didn’t get better. After I’d been in Illinois for about 4 months Randy’s employers informed him that his job was likely to be cut along with other positions at the company he worked for; he drove a forklift at a metal recycling plant. Randy panicked and told me that I wouldn’t be able to live with him anymore because he believed he’d have to move in with his mother or brother until he got on his feet again financially. It was devastating for both of us, but it didn’t look as if there was much to do about it. I made preparations to move back to Oregon where I’d be living with my mother and stepfather until I figured out what I was going to do. I left Randy a note that told him I loved him and that he was welcome to come find me in Oregon if he wanted to.

Randy followed me to Oregon within a couple of weeks of my departure from Illinois. He fell in love with the area right away because of all the mountains and wide open spaces. Those were the things he’d missed ever since he was in the Army and spent time in Alaska after being stationed there with an artillery unit. Seeing how happy he was in the natural places made me fall in love with them again as well. We spent a lot of time traveling around and taking photos before he found a job with a local feed and hardware store. Even though the job was a big change from the one that he’d had in Illinois he enjoyed it because he got to know the locals and spend a lot of time talking to them. We’d gotten married in October of 2016 and were looking forward to growing old together in eastern Oregon.

As I mentioned, Randy’s stroke took place in June of 2017. We’d been married for about 8 months. Despite the problems caused by the stroke that I’ve already mentioned the doctors were confident that Randy would still be around for quite a few more years. But they were wrong. On February 1st of this year the love of my life passed away in our home at 5AM. I spent several days in a state of shock while I made arrangements to have his remains cremated then sent back to his family in Illinois and wrote his obituary for the local paper here in the little town where he’d lived with me in Oregon. Once those things were done I began the process of learning to live my life without him. All of those dreams and plans that we’d had were just so much dust in the wind and I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to carry on or not. Life seemed empty and meaningless to me without him.

I’m in a somewhat better place now even though the pain and resentment are never far away. I still think it’s very unfair that anything happened to him at all. I don’t believe in God so the idea of it being God’s will is ridiculous to me. It was fate, nothing more. His time was up for whatever reason and it’s just something that I have to accept. My advice to any of you who might be reading this is do NOT take your loved ones for granted because life is very unpredictable. Love them while you can because, like it or not, you will lose them one day just as someone will lose you eventually. It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s one that no one gets to avoid forever.

The Browns, October of 2016.

Want GREAT Metal Music? It’s In Finland

I won’t apologize for my love of Finland and its metal music scene. After years of boredom due to a fairly stagnant music scene here in the States I was delighted to find Finnish bands who were still playing music that wasn’t designed strictly to please the major record labels and their investors. Even though I’ve recently discovered some great bands in the States, my first love continues to be Finland when it comes to metal. MADRED is one of those bands that I’m a big fan of; they’ve got a great sound that makes you want to hear even more from them once you’ve listened to a couple of their songs. I was delighted to interview their lead vocalist Oskari Hurskainen recently.

Oskari (center) onstage with MADRED

How old were you when you decided to become a musician?

Oskari: Since I was playing my father’s tennis racket for some song when I was 5 or 6; I don’t remember what song, though, haha. Well, I think that music has been always a big part of my life, but when I was younger I just wanted to play. There were no goals or decisions to become a musician. That idea pretty much started to become more concrete when forming the first band (early version of MADRED) and writing our own music for the first time. Probably when me and Harri (MADRED guitarist) were about 12 years old.

Which bands or musicians influenced you?

Oskari: The first bands were Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Beatles, CCR, Deep Purple, etc, that my father listened to when I was a kid. But then, of course, came the bands that I really started to listen by myself. The one and only AC/DC has to be mentioned first, because that was where it all started. Then Motörhead. Then came The Darkness which might be a surprise for many, but not that much, perhaps, if they have seen my stage wardrobe! And, of course, the local music of my hometown plays a really important part, especially Anal Thunder, Stam1na, and Mokoma. Those bands have influenced me a lot as well.

Did you know the other guys from MADRED before the band formed?

Oskari: We had been playing with Harri for a long time, and I think that’s where it all started anyway. But I was kind of the new kid in town since I moved to the town later. I could even say that I did not know my-soon-to-be brothers before we were already in the band. Some of the guys like Aapo and Harri had known each other a much longer time. MADRED just united the guys who should have been doing stuff together. And when Vinski (drummer) joined the ride we were complete.

The early days

What inspires your songs?

Oskari: Everyday life, what pisses us off basically. Nowadays I’m taking more personal angles also.

What’s the most difficult thing about being an independent metal musician/band in Finland?

Oskari: The lack of time mostly. And, if we talk about Finland only, there are so many great bands that it’s getting pretty crowded. Should we call it over-supply?

What’s the largest venue you’ve played so far?

Oskari: We can’t count the festivals so the biggest stages are Nosturi and Rytmikorjaamo. But the one with the most cultural value for myself must be Tavastia. Too bad there was one band playing also in Helsinki at the same time, that being Metallica.

Onstage & looking like a rock star

Which major bands would you like to tour with?

Oskari: Motörhead, when we invent time travel. AC/DC and Anthrax

After ten years together what are MADRED’S plans for the future?

Oskari: 6 MORE!

If you weren’t a musician which career do you think you’d have?

Oskari: Dead and gone

How do you like to spend your free time when you’re not playing music?

Oskari: I like walking. I walk a lot around my hometown and listen to music to get my head straight. Nowadays also when we are playing in a new town, I don’t want to stay at the venue, but disappear outside to see the place. The dark side of me is, of course, ice hockey.

MADRED can be found on:

Bandcamp: https://imadred.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/imadred/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/madredofficial

Wisconsin Has Metal

Whenever you hear “Wisconsin” mentioned in most places throughout the United States, you tend to think of cheese, dairy farms, more cheese, the Green Bay Packers, cheese; and possibly the serial killer Ed Gein if you’re someone who keeps track of things of that nature. (I am!) Does metal music come to mind? Well, no… not exactly. Alternative music, sure, but metal? No. However, that notion has been changed for me thanks to the band Under Darkest Skies, who hails from (you guessed it) the great state of Wisconsin. It was my pleasure recently to interview the band’s vocalist and guitarist, Steven Fedder.

What influenced your decision to be a metal musician?

Steven: I got into metal at an early age. Around seven or eight years old after hearing the song “Electric Funeral” by Black Sabbath. Still remember that moment of hearing that riff for the first time to this day. Pretty much have been addicted to Metal/Music since. Metal always attracted me more than any other type of music I heard when I was real young. It was the raw aggression, the anger…basically, the whole entire vibe and feeling behind every song that I was hearing had a different way to hit me in the feels. After I heard Megadeth “Rust In Peace” that was basically the moment when I wanted to play metal music, and shortly after I picked up a guitar.

What inspires your music the most?

Steven: We use our music as an emotional outlet. The pitfalls of everyday life being our muse. It ends up being sort of an exorcism of our inner most demons and therefore, ends up being rather personal. Music is something that always has spoken to both Adam and I very personally, and we both have relied on music to get through some dark times. So now we hope that we can help others do the same through our music and the emotions that it carries.

Which band or musician has been your biggest influence?

Steven: It is hard to narrow it down to a singular band or individual. Dave Mustaine was my guitar hero when I began playing and shortly after I got into Death Metal and Doom Metal. So Bill Steer, (Carcass) then became a huge influence as did Calvin Robertshaw and Andrew from My Dying Bride. Vocally my influences are quite vast from Dax Riggs, Phil Anselmo, John Tardy, Tomas Lindberg, Jeff Walker, Jesse Leach, Bjorn Strid, Christian Alvestam, to Ozzy, Bruce Dickinson and Jim Morrison. As for the overall influence band-wise, Black Sabbath, The Doors, Megadeth, Slayer, Obituary, Carcass, At The Gates, Soilwork, Allegaeon, Scar Symmetry, Killswitch Engage, Pantera, Iron Maiden, My Dying Bride, Draconian, Amorphis…just too many to list.

Steven Fedder & Adam Didier of Under Darkest Skies

What’s your experience been like so far with the Milwaukee metal scene?

Steven: Since Adam and I do our own thing here and our way…we basically pay attention to what we are doing and our vision. Both of us have vast amount of stage experience due to our successful past endeavors (White Knuckle Trip & Suite 13) but until we successfully find individuals who fit into our vision and goals…we will simply continue to do things our own way.

Do you have any particular venues that you like to play; or would like to play?

Steven: Both of us have played some of the larger stages/venues in the Milwaukee and Chicago in the past. But a dream always has been to play one of those huge summer festivals.

If you could take part in a national tour, where would you start? (Besides your hometown.)

Steven: Wherever it is planned I guess.

If you could choose, who would you like to tour with?

Steven: Killswitch Engage, Allegaeon, Carcass, At The Gates, In Flames, Soilwork.

Which foreign places would you like to play in?

Steven: Europe, Japan and Australia.

Ever have issues with religious people because of your music?

Steven: Not yet. It would be rather hilarious if it were to ever happen. But at this point The Westboro Baptist Church haven’t shown up at our doorsteps with their signage.

How does your family feel about what you’re doing?

Steven: Interesting question and one that I really don’t have an answer to. Or maybe, I should just refrain from answering that…

Under Darkest Skies can be found on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/underdarkestskies/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DarkestUnder

Bandcamp: https://underdarkestskies.bandcamp.com/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA2qxZTTkL7QieGlSkIXXRA/featured

Mediterranean Metal

I feel foolish for admitting it, but I never gave much thought to a metal scene in Italy. I was raised by someone of Italian descent for a time in my teens. I learned quite a bit about the culture that way and still have a considerable amount of respect for it as an adult. However, given its’ conservative nature, Italy simply didn’t seem like a place where metal music in more extreme forms would be welcomed with open arms. I am happy to say that I was quite mistaken. Italy has some really talented bands within it. I was very pleased recently to meet Luca Riccardelli, the bass player from one called ABSCENDENT

What influenced you to become part of a metal band?

Luca: I first got into metal by listening to Iron Maiden when I was about 11 or 12. From that very moment I knew I had to play bass in a metal band; it was some sort of life-changing event for me.

How long have you and your bandmates known each other?

Luca: I got to know Gabriele, the lead vocalist and guitarist, in 2012 when first auditioning for Abscendent. I first met Davide, our drummer, approximately in the same period, sharing a gig in his hometown. He was playing with his band Brvmak which you should absolutely check out.

What inspires your song-writing most of the time?

Luca: While there is sometimes a sort of stylistic frame of reference that we impose on ourselves to operate within in order to obtain coherent records, the songs are most of the time the natural effect of the sum and interaction of what we’re mainly listening to at a given moment. When writing Deliverance there was an explicit intention to create something more technical and articulated compared to the first record, but the songs ultimately came out the way they did because we were actively listening and dragging influence from various bands.

What is the metal scene like where you live?

Luca: Not unlike the rest of the world, the scene here is somehow saturated. There are lots and lots of bands, which are struggling to get themselves known in this ever-growing market, despite many of them being really valid. Playing in the bigger cities might be a hassle, too. The venues are often difficult to reach, and there are so many concerts taking place, (especially from international, more famous bands) that many fans won’t bother to spend their time and money for the more underground acts, quite understandably. On the other hand, the lower rate of big concerts in smaller areas ends up attracting bigger audiences even for lesser known bands like ours.

How many times have you played before an audience?

Luca: I sincerely lost count. Our longest tour was 15 days-long, though.

Do you want to tour and perform in other countries eventually?

Luca: The aforementioned tour was across the Balkan region: we played in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Bulgaria. It was my first playing experience abroad and we all have very fond memories of it. We are definitely planning to travel back there, and we’re also trying to organize some short tours in other areas to promote Deliverance.

Which band or bands would you want to appear with?

Luca: We have a great respect and admiration for Fleshgod Apocalypse, the greatest Italian export in the metal scene in the last few years. I had the pleasure of seeing them a couple times and they put on an outstanding show. It would be a real honour to perform alongside them.

Do you ever have any issues with religious people because of your music?

Luca: Apart from occasional arguments that may emerge at times (and I mostly try to avoid anyway), not really. Nothing relevant anyway.

Does your family support what you’re doing?

Luca: Despite not being what one would call a “musical” one, my family is incredibly supportive, and I could never thank them enough for that.

Which career would you have if you left music behind?

Luca: Given the current situation with the music business, especially in extreme metal, there is really no way that bands could support themselves solely on their music career, except for a very few cases. Even well-known musicians work regular day jobs alongside their musical activity. Personally, I recently graduated in Languages and Literature and I’m currently studying for a master in Linguistics, so that will hopefully be my field of occupation.

ABSCENDENT can be found on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Abscendent/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtoU11e7-tZKmDiVzKc73RA

Bandcamp: https://abscendent.bandcamp.com/

Fire, Ice, and Metal

I knew that Iceland had volcanoes and pagans. I also knew that there were quite a few fans of metal music who lived there. But I never expected to be fortunate enough to know an actual metal band from there. I met FOLKVANGR thanks to Twitter a few months ago and quickly discovered that they’re creating some seriously excellent music. From their first album “Saga of the Lone Skald” (released in 2016) through both of their follow-up EPs “Wolf in the Tundra” and “Vanatru” (each from 2018) the band has managed to craft songs that are extremely hard to forget once you’ve heard them. My favorite tracks include “Call of Wotan” and “Helheim”. However, there are plenty of others to choose so feel free to find your own favorites, haha!

Formed initially in the summer of 2014 then reunited in 2017, FOLKVANGR is based in Mosfellsbær, Iceland and consists of three members: Galdraföðr (guitar, vocals, producer), Davíð (bass, Folk Ólafur Þór), and Óli (drums). My interview took place with Galdraföðr and Davíð since Óli had gone away on vacation to find warmer weather in Spain. The band isn’t quite ready to share photos of themselves yet so they were nice enough to share some of their photos of Iceland instead. (Thanks again, guys; I am very honored to tell other metal music fans about you and your music!)

1) What were your earliest musical influences?

Davíð: In my family they have always listened to rock or heavy metal of the 70s and 80s. So you can say that I’ve grown up listening to metal since I was a less than a kid. At the beginning with soft things, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath…

Galdraföðr: (sarcastically) “Soft things”

Davíð: Compared to what I listen to today, yeah. Then I opted for black metal for a while, honoring that I am half Norwegian. Somehow I ended up in folk metal, especially when it became more popular with the arrival of bands like Korpiklaani or Eluveitie. I think that since then I have been listening to mainly black metal and folk metal, and all the inspiration and subsequent influence has come from there. My father played bass before, so when he saw that I was so into metal music, he decided to teach me and gave me my first bass, a Fender Mustang that I still have today on the wall. I also learned at the same time to use some folklore instruments because one of my best friends when I was a teenager knew how to build instruments like stråkharpa. Very basic instruments handmade, but very well made! He taught me how to play several instruments and since then I started being super interested in learning more about folklore instruments.

Galdraföðr: In my case I started listening to metal quite late, when I was already a teenager. In my family they used to listen to classical music, metal was like “noise” for them. But I remember that the first song I heard of metal was “In Your Face” by Children of Bodom when I was around 14 or something, and I kept thinking how great that was, and how could I have not known it before. I did not have many friends with the same musical tastes, so I had to explore a bit on my own. I’ve never heard many classic heavy metal bands, I suppose, because I discovered it quite late in relation to other people. But since I started listening to metal, I mainly preferred to listen to folk metal and death metal, with bands like Children of Bodom, Gojira, In Extremo, Korpiklaani, Dalriada, Månegarm, Lumsk…. especially when I saw many of these bands live at Hellfest. That’s when I thought “I want to make music that feels earthquake, like these artists!”. But I have listened to folk music all my life, since I was a child. I’ve always loved Celtic and Scandinavian folk music, and it’s something I’ve had in mind since long before I started listening to metal. I’ve always had in mind that I somehow wanted to end up doing this kind of music.

2) How long has your band been together?

Galdraföðr: It was formed in 2014. It lasted only two months, but in those two months Davíð and I made all the music entirely alone. We were in the University and I think that was the main reason why we could not invest enough time to continue. But here we are again! And now with Óli.

Davíð: I had been in two other bands before. One was a solo black metal project. Another was a death metal project. But I never felt comfortable with the members of that second band, it was very difficult to agree with what we wanted to do. So when Galdraföðr told me about his proposal for Fólkvangr I agreed immediately. We have quite similar ideas and I think that connection is great when it comes to making music.

3) Have you had difficulty reaching a broader audience outside of Iceland?

Galdraföðr: Not really. In fact, I think that more people know us outside of Iceland rather than on the island itself. Maybe because we are few people, or because metal is not so popular here. Although there are very good bands here and of course there are many metalheads. We even have a very good festival in the east. But I have the feeling that we somehow have captured more the interest of people from outside, and that has helped us a little to make it easier to make ourselves known beyond the island.

Davíð: Maybe because people relate Icelandic Folk Metal with Skálmöld and somehow they are curious about the emergence of another folk metal band in Iceland.

Galdraföðr: I think the metal community worldwide is very open to new music and has received us with curiosity and interest, so there has not been much difficulty in reaching a wide audience.

4) Is music considered a career or a hobby in your country?

Davíð: A bit of both. There are many people who are professionally dedicated to music, and there are studies and options to do so. I would say that there is a very broad musical culture and it is easy to find many people who at least dedicate a large part of their lives, starting as a hobby and later taking it to something more serious. I suppose in that sense it is like everywhere, with the difference being that since we are fewer people here it is easier and quicker to make yourself known and open up a space for a musical career.

5) Is there any particular message that you’re trying to send with your music?

Galdraföðr: Fight! Whatever you face in life, take it with your hands and destroy it then keep fighting, moving forward. Sækið fram! The gods and people who love you will always be with you, but you must fight and not let your strength ever fall, so that you make them feel proud of your persistence and courage. That is the message.

Davíð: You should have said what you told me once. He once told me something about the music he wanted to make, and I thought it made quite a lot of sense. He told me about a feeling. That the closest thing to that feeling was “the moment when one cavalry hits another.” A charged force of that kind is what we would like to be able to express, to be able to transmit it to those who listen to it, and offer as extra strength against life. We also want to transmit that magic and mysticism that only music (or other arts) can provide, along with the strength and power of metal

6) How long did it take to learn a more traditional style of singing?

Galdraföðr: I think I’m still learning and trying to find a way to sing that I feel comfortable with, and that I think that could fit more with the music we do. Now I am trying to return to the growl of our first songs, stronger and more deeper than those of our last songs. But I’m also trying to learn to sing in a clear way, to somehow innovate a bit, try new things to have something different to offer to our music. It has been many years of complete inactivity until now to remake the band, so it will take me some time to get back to get a kind of voice with which I feel comfortable. Meanwhile, I will continue to scream like a crazy goat lost in Vatnajökull.

7) Are any of you pagans?

Galdraföðr: Yes. I am “pagan”, although I don’t really like that word very much. I am Ásatruar, and Davíð is, too. Óli on the other hand, no, but we will end up attracting him to this.

Davíð: Óli is learning about shamanism and has a much broader vision of religion, seeking the connection between all of them and learning healing through shamanism. I started to be very interested in that too and I will probably end up attending the ceremonies and learning more about it.

Galdraföðr: I am also trying to learn, although I consider myself mainly Asatruar. It’s what I feel most connected with. Shamanism is a recent discovery for me, and I am willing to learn and get into it much more. Yes, Louise! We are pagans!

8) Any plans to play in Europe or elsewhere eventually?

Galdraföðr: We thought we would play in Denmark or the Netherlands, because we were offered opportunities there. But we are still not popular enough in a specific area to be able to make a decent concert. I mean, we are listened by a lot of people, but they’re scattered all over the world, so we do not really know how to organize a concert tour yet, hahaha.

Davíð: We should go to play to the United States, too. A lot of people there listen to us and support us. It’s amazing!

Galdraföðr: That is true. But, yeah, mainly I think our first move would be to play in the Netherlands. It’s the most likely.

9) Do you think you’ll always be in a band or involved with music somehow?

Galdraföðr: Definitely. I have always been connected to music. When I was a kid I went to music school, and at the age of 12 I was already using a program called Sibelius to compose my first short pieces in MIDI (very crappy, but it was something!). In addition, music has always made me get ahead of the most difficult situations. I know I would be always in a band or involved in music! Because without music, I know that my strengths and life itself would not be the same.

Davíð: Hopefully we can continue for many years, or forever, with FOLKVANGR; and with music in general. I don’t think I could live without music, it’s unthinkable.

10) Which bands would you like to perform with if you had the chance?

Galdraföðr: Ugh, uf! Korpiklaani, it has to be extremely fun to play with them. Or In Extremo. Eluveitie!! By the gods, Eluveitie!

Davíð: I agree, Korpiklaani. Also maybe Alestorm. I think I would mainly look for bands that I’ve always had a good time with at concerts. But maybe Heilung, or Wardruna too, or maybe Danheim. They are bands of pure folk, not metal, but I think it could be interesting to prepare a concert together with them, because of the mysticism they have.


Twitter: https://twitter.com/folkvangr_band

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/folkvangrmusic/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7Oo12lqP7DKWNR24d3H6gA

Desert Winter

During the summer it’s hard to imagine snow in the desert. It reaches temperatures as high as the low to mid-100s at times between June and September, with the average usually hovering around the mid-90s. In other words, it’s a typical desert. You do adjust to the heat after a while. I’m not sure if anyone ever gets to the point that they like it. So, as you can imagine, when the cooler weather arrives it’s a nice change of pace. 

I love the winters here. They’re not for the faint of heart. I live 41 miles away from the nearest large town/small city. During the winter that distance seems even further since we frequently have ice on the roads. The snow likes to drift across the highway in places, too, which keeps the snowplows very busy. With the exception of the plows winter also brings silence with it.  And the wind; the wind frequently makes its presence known as it shrieks then mutters to itself almost constantly. I like it, but it makes some people quite uneasy. I would imagine it’s because it can sound like voices at times. 

But, as you can see, there are rewards to being here when winter sets in. Those are the Wallowa Mountains just outside of what’s known as the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. They’re beautiful all year, but once the snow covers them they become something out of a fairy tale. The nickname “The Alps of Oregon” suddenly makes so much more sense. For those of you who are into winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding the mountains get that light, powdery snow that so many of you adore. They’re like the Rockies only far less crowded. 

If you’re not easily intimidated by ice, snow, wind or extremely low temperatures (we tend to stay in the upper to mid 20s with even lower temps sometimes) you might consider visiting this part of Oregon during a time year when others do not. You’ll definitely escape the hustle and noise of larger cities by taking the path less traveled. If you’re an artistic type like I am you’ll find all sorts of inspiration in the scenery as well as the solitude. This place changes you; visit sometime and see for yourself. 

An Artistic Introvert From A Blue Collar Family


As I’ve mentioned before I was a child of the 1970s; I was born at the very beginning of that beautiful and odd decade. My first clear memories were of country music, the Vietnam War and the Native American protest on Alcatraz Island. And that was before I’d even started school. I was also obsessed with drawing. I would draw on anything I could; my themes were usually cats or horses. Once I began school my teachers became frustrated with me. I was well-behaved, but inattentive at times. I wanted to draw, not learn about boring “school stuff”. Luckily, my second grade teacher managed to get through to me somehow and taught me that books were actually pretty cool. I’ll always love her for that reason, too; thank you, Mrs Tucker, may your memory never fade. 18622312_142554536288645_3195449044209831672_n_142554536288645

In addition to being the year that I fell in love with books, another almost lifelong love of mine came along in 1977; Star Wars, and (even more important to me) Darth Vader. I still love Lord Vader. While everyone else was going crazy over Luke or Han I was crushing on Darth Vader. My working class parents honestly didn’t know what to think. Their sweet little country bumpkin girl began changing into something else; I’d also discovered rock music by accident one day, much to their chagrin. I still loved horses and cats, but I started showing signs of being a bit darker and stranger than they’d expected. Their feelings were soon shared by the rest of the family as I got older. I was treated well enough (with the exception of a bratty cousin or two) but being an only child who had some different habits and tastes still caused confusion and bewilderment. I could feel it. I was beginning to learn what being intuitive was all about though I didn’t understand it then. I ended up withdrawing from my family more and more over time.imageedit_20_3105416290

Eventually I learned to accept the fact that I’m not like the people who raised me. I am very different. It used to bother me because I felt ashamed. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to be like the rest of them. I was supposed to get a job after high school then meet the “right” guy so that we could settle down, start a family and continue the cycle that had been going on forever. But it wasn’t meant to be in my case. I embarked on a life that molded me into being more artistic, more obsessed with music, and just more interested in living life rather than sleepwalking my way through it. While the lives of my relatives have been centered around kids and work and so on, my life has been centered around.. well, so many things I can’t even list them. I’ve explored dark corners, sat under the sun in empty spaces, and encountered souls that were filled with light as well as those that were pure darkness. I’ve heard the wind speak where few people have even set foot, and I’ve been lost within a crowd in the middle of a city I went to on a whim. I have learned to trust my intuition and it has allowed me to soar above rather than falling time and time again. I’ve lived and will keep doing so until Death himself eventually claims me.imageedit_11_2219600189

If you’re the weird one in your family who likes to create and daydream, do NOT be ashamed. Find out what moves you and embrace it. Better yet, run with it. Don’t let someone else hold you back or deny your dreams just because they can’t see them or understand them. It does not matter because you’re the one who has to live your life, not them. Be strange, odd, weird, eccentric, freaky, bizarre, confusing- call it what you will, but just be YOU. The world will thank you. And so will I.