Sweden is known for a lot of things. The well-known “dala horses”, a rough and impressive nature, an independent and successful country in all kinds of sports, and of course the widely known and successful music industry. Metal bands like Hammerfall and Sabaton have their roots in this beautiful country.
As far as music goes, Sweden has a lot to offer. From young and upcoming names, all the way to firmly established bands, and from pop music to black metal and all in between, Sweden has given the world a lot of new and interesting music and other material. An artist with one of the most distinctive voices that combines a lot of old history with a burning passions for his believes is Pär Hulkoff. As founding father of several bands, this one of a kind “Viking Warrior” has become the true Viking voice of Sweden. With bands such as Hulkoff, Bourbon Boys and perhaps best known Raubtier, Pär Hulkoff has built an impressive repertoire and gained a loyal and dedicated fanbase!
After a busy summer of 2022, Hulkoff went back into the studio to work on new material and to prepare for an upcoming tour, to be held in homeland Sweden. I was in the lucky circumstance to watch a live show of Raubtier last summer, and was instantly captivated by the energy and stage presence shown by Pär Hulkoff and his fellow bandmembers, so when the opportunity arose to have a talk with Pär Hulkoff, about things to come and to find out a little more about the “Viking Warrior” himself, I gladly and enthusiastically accepted!
First off, on behalf of everyone at MU we want to wish you all the best for 2023!
How are things in the North of Sweden?
Thank you brother. I wish you and all the readers the same, of course.
Things up here are covered in snow. At the moment, We have rather busy times with a big tour coming up in two weeks. Much work on the farm, also trying to squeeze in studio time and rehearsals. We will sleep in the grave.
I understand you live fairly secluded and mostly self-sustaining. Next to that you are a true warrior and Viking as well as a well read and knowledgeable man. How do those things translate into your normal (daily) life?
The way I see it, everything I do is connected. I live on and off the sacred land of my forebears, I get what I need from it, both in terms of survival and inspiration. I am absolutely convinced that the answer to our wellbeing as human beings is found in our past.
With every drop of sweat and blood poured into the soil or the trees, we receive tenfold in return. When I hone the scythe and mow the meadows, we get hay enough on our hayracks to feed our sheep and horses. When I fell birch, rowan, pine and spruce we get firewood, beams and planks, shafts, spoons, bows and rifle stocks.
My true belief, is that a man is bound to wood and iron. Like the mighty chieftains of yore were masters in woodworking and blacksmithing, we must strive in that direction as well. It has been written, that the Vikings were “farmers who came to blows”. Indeed, farming makes us strong, resilient and resourceful. All the wits and skill required in combination with physical labour is good for the body and the soul. Add upon this the challenges of hunting and fishing, with marksmanship and knife handling and a new level of insight will quicken.
Horse handling and riding, the training of hunting dogs and physical training through martial arts are important as well.
From what I understand you’ve lived quite a life before becoming an artist. Can you tell me something about that?
Well, yes in some ways. I never found peace in stillness as a young man. I was constantly searching adventure, and I travelled some. The army contracts were great for training the tactical mind set, and for learning to function around other people. Of course, it was great fun as well.
My philosophy has always been, that life is made out of two columns. Asset and Liability. If you find yourself residing in the latter, it is best to swiftly adjust attitude and haul your ass into the first.
The first time people in a wider range got a chance to know you, was in the early 2000’s when you made several appearances as guitarist. Than in 2008 Raubtier came to see the light of life. An industrial metal band with heavy Viking and warrior influences. How did that came to be?
Well, Raubtier sprung out of a thrashmetal band I had going. 2006 I believe it was. The thrash band was a bit too technical and aggressive for most people. So I decided to change the input and the outcome, and create this new thing with Swedish lyrics and Arena-friendly tunes.
With Raubtier you’ve walked different path’s both lyric wise and music wise. as well as using other languages. And although all music produced is unmistakably Raubtier, its changes in different ways. Is that intentional or did it just “simply” worked out that way?
I really don’t know how to answer that question. I compose all the time, for different projects and I kind of choose the music that fits best. Sometimes it is brutal, sometimes it is softer.
With Raubtier the name of Pär Hulkoff as the Viking voice of Sweden has been established. Entering the 15th year, releasing 6 impressive albums and played countless shows across Sweden, how would you describe the ride so far?
Ups and downs. Like life in general. I am proud of what has been achieved.
And if you should name only one thing you have learned or experienced with all you have done with Raubtier, what would it be?
Trusting is dangerous business.
The music industry is a tarnished, filthy beast that spawns offspring fouler than spiders. This is why me and my wife started Faravid Recordings.
In 2012 the news got around you had started a new band and Bourbon Boys entered the stage. A completely different road that has been taken here. How come you decided to spread your wings towards country rock?
The truth is that I wrote most of the songs for the first album as a teenager still in school. Country and old Rock’n’roll has been around me my whole life. Bourbon Boys have existed for decades, but it finally materialized through an album around 2011 with that 2012 release.
After releasing 2 albums with Bourbon Boys, your focus went back towards other things, and then late September last year Bourbon Boys dropped a new single. Is that a lead up towards a new album?
Yes. The new album will be called Forever Rebels and it is a damn fine thing. The production is clear as spring water, and the songs are solid country gold. Haha.
As if the above isn’t enough, you decided a little over 5 years ago to start a new band. Hulkoff came to be in 2017 and with 3 albums and a brand new single just released, you took things into high gear. What can you tell me about the origin of Hulkoff, and the trip so far?
No, I decided to release my first “solo” album in 2015. Throughout 2016 me and my wife Lotta started up Faravid Rrecordings. I was building a house during the daytime, wifey being expecting. We got our son in the fall, so between building the house and caring for our new-born I recorded Kven.
It was a decent success. It opened new doors, and closed down the path to old horrors. I had some good guys with me during that time. My blood-brother Anders Johansson pounded the drums. We did some shows together. Good times.
The brothers who play with me come and go, depending on availability and such. I would not call it a band in that usual context, although it is a band of brothers. I only recruit the best. This is like a reaving warband of yore, and he who has great enough skills comes along for a raid or two.
With the latest two albums Hulkoff has released their songs both in English (Vinland edition, after the first Vikings who entered what is now known as Northern America) and Swedish ( Svitjod edition, after the Old Norse name for Sweden). Why is that? And how can you keep the same message as strong in English as you bring it in Swedish?
Simply because Kven was made in English. I wanted to distinguish it from Raubtier and move even further into honouring our mighty past. But as I delved deeper into the old music, somehow the Swedish language came so naturally. But with all the new friends and listeners that came with Kven, I decided to translate the whole album. Ragnarök went the same way. It is difficult to translate at times, but I try to catch the spirit more than the words, so to speak.
Now, for the second part of 2022 you’ve toured with Swedish Sabaton across Sweden with Hulkoff. Obviously it was a great success, as a second part for the tour has been announced and will take place early 2023. An intensive period is coming for you. How do you prepare for such a tour? And how do you coop with life on the road, not being at home regularly?
Most of the pressure lies in preparing the farm for my absence. My wife is a badass, and runs the whole thing when I’m away (like the strong Viking women of yore) but of course there are many things that need attention since four hands often are required.
Life on the road gets harder with every year. I of course miss my boy, my wife, my animals and all that. I enjoy playing and meeting the followers a lot. But yeah, it is a two edged sword.
Well, now we have entered 2023, what are your plans when it comes to new music, shows etc.?
The tour, then studio. New Hulkoff album in the making. Releasing the Bourbon Boys Forever Rebels album in the spring. Doing some festivals.
But also building stables, buying goats, making hay, carving wood, fishing and a whole lot of hunting, shooting, horseback archery and Muay Thai etc.
Looks like you have enough planned for yourself as well as some really interesting things for your fans in the (near) future! Exciting times!
Is there anything you wish to add or share with anyone who reads this?
If anyone is looking for a rough job as housecarl (“Drengr”) in the polar north, get in touch.
Live well warriors!
If I ever get tired of my live in The Netherlands, I will gladly apply haha!
Thank you Pär for your willingness to talk to me, and the mighty interesting talk! On behalf of everyone at Maizter Underground, I want to thank you for your time and wish you all the best with the coming tour as well as the new releases that are coming soon!
To make sure you won’t miss anything that is released by either Hulkoff, Raubtier or Bourbon Boys, please follow them through the following links!
IF YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT RAUBTIER, HULKOFF OR BOURBON BOYS PLEASE CLICK THE FOLLOWING PLAYLIST!