The words Iceland or Icelandic generally are followed by black metal since black metal from there is insanely good. But, Icelandic metal and even heavy rock are equally amazing as evident by Kavorka‘s debut full length, Internal Rituals, which was released late last year. The lyrical themes are dark and extremely personal while the music is a cohesive mix of metal, rock, blues, doom, and sludge—a mouthful for sure but this band is flat out powerful, period. This is an amazing debut from a band that sounds far beyond their years. We recently caught up with vocalist Haukur Már Guðmundsson and asked our set of Profile questions to dig deep in the minds of Kavorka so keep reading to get the scoop and please support the band through the links contained within.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
I started playing music at a very young age. At first, I wanted to be a drummer, because Lars Ulrich was my hero, so I began playing the drums around eight years old. Then when I was around twelve my childhood friend and I formed a band, and at the time he had a much bigger drum set than I did, and he was a way better drummer, so I just started singing and screaming. And that’s when I realized I could do that, so I’ve basically been doing it ever since. But I wouldn’t exactly say that I have achieved the level of success I have hoped for with Kavorka. We have a record out we are extremely proud of, but we haven’t toured at all to promote it. So, when we are able to tour and play our music to different crowds every night, I´d say we have achieved our goal. Because our main goal basically is to play our music to as many people as possible, you know. We want to be heard all over the world.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
We haven’t really done anything out of the ordinary to get our name out there. But I do have the most perfect embarrassing story. Back in 2017, we played a show, it was our third gig as Kavorka, so we were just getting started, so to speak. The gig was during the Iceland Airwaves week, and for those who don´t know, it is the biggest music festival in Iceland. But we weren’t a part of the actual Airwaves line-up, we were playing Off Venue Airwaves. But anyway, the promoters did a pretty shitty job at advertising the show. They weren’t even at the show. So, the only people who were in attendance were the sound guy, my girlfriend, my mom, my friend and his young son. There was a couple there too, but they left during our first song. But let me tell you, I’ve been playing shows since I was fifteen years old, and I have never, not once, experienced anything like that. Because nobody showed up. Nobody! Not even the goddamn promoters! So yeah, that was pretty embarrassing. But hey, my mom thought we were good, so at least we did something right.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
Well, I can only speak for the Icelandic metal scene, and I would say what’s so great about it today is the diversity, and open mindedness. I mean, metal and hip-hop bands are playing shows together, metal and punk bands, etc. And I just think that’s great. Music lovers from all genres uniting and having a good time. That’s what music is all about to me, you know. The worst thing is the elitists, I´d say. Closed minded people. Give me a break.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
Our album “Internal Rituals” is written about my personal struggles with mental illness and substance abuse. I´m not glorifying the substance abuse part by any means though. That’s just something I did when I was in that dark place, I abused alcohol regularly. So my passion is mental health awareness. What really infuriates me is all this goddamn stigma around mental health. I mean, your brain is an organ. It can dysfunction just like any other organ. And yet people are still afraid or hesitant to seek professional help, because society says that is a sign of weakness. And as a result of that, many people suffer in silence for years, or until they simply can’t take it anymore. But it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It’s a sign of strength and courage. So yeah, the lyrics on the album are all very personal to me, because they are about my personal experiences with mental illness and substance abuse. And if anyone out there can relate, hopefully they will find some kind of solace in our songs.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
My family got me into metal. Or my dad, actually. My brothers and I were listening to Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Guns ´n Roses, etc. from a very, very young age. I was watching Alice Cooper on VHS fighting monsters and getting decapitated onstage when I was probably around five years old. So I basically grew up on metal. It’s been in my blood from birth! But I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a “metal head,” you know. I mean, I do love metal. I listen to tons of it. But I consider myself a music lover, first and foremost.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
Man, I really don’t have much of an opinion on that one, honestly. I think music critics and outlets are doing just fine at what they’re doing. So yeah, more power to y’all.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
Our goal as a band is to reach as many listeners as possible. We want our music to be heard all around the world. We also want to tour, of course. We have toured Europe before with our previous bands, so we are no strangers to the touring life. We all have families and day jobs, the music isn’t paying our bills. Not yet at least.
My main hobby at home is collecting vinyl records, a hobby I inherited from my dad. It’s an expensive hobby, especially when you have a thing for limited colored vinyl like I do. I’m also on Instagram (@dirthawk) where I share what records and bands I’m listening to at the moment.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
Well, like I said before, I consider myself a music lover, first and foremost. I listen to everything from old school country, to hip hop, to grunge, to heavy metal, to punk rock, to alternative rock, to Irish folk, Celtic punk, to death and black metal. So what I’m listening to on a daily basis is pretty diverse really. It all depends on what kind of mood I’m in, you know. But if I had to choose my top three all-time favorite records, I would say The Great Southern Trendkill by Pantera, …and Justice for All by Metallica and Master of Reality by Black Sabbath. Oh, and every single song recorded by Hank Williams. The King of Country.
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
We released our first studio album six months ago, and so far we have only been performing locally to promote it. We don’t have any international tours booked for now, but that’s something we definitely want to do. Like I said before, we have toured together with our previous bands, so we are no strangers to life on the road. But as of now, we are going to continue to perform locally to promote our album and hopefully we will hit the studio again before the year ends to record our sophomore album.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the publication)
Many thanks to Haukur and Kavorka for their time!