From Sounds of Unity to becoming Hellbotn festival; a story of dedication to hold a festival that is not like any other. Ah, and you can meet Darkthrone’s Fenris(z) there too!

It is a pleasure to have this interview guys! And let us perhaps trace back the history of Hellbotn Festival, can you tell us how did this idea come to the light, and what was the main aim behind this festival?

Wow, where to begin! Me and some friends started a small association called Sounds of Unity (SOU) long back, in the late 90’s. Sounds of unity was for several years a management, a record label and a concert organizer. SOU music genres was metal, ska, punk and hardcore, and we operated at different pubs and venues located in Oslo. At the same time, we were social workers at the local youth club Hølet in our hometown Kolbotn.

Kolbotn is known for nothing really, except some really great punk, metal and hardcore bands. At Hølet (meaning “The Hole”), me, Magnus and Erik started a youth festival we called “Tårnåsenfestivalen”, which in a few years grew to be the third largest youth festival in Norway. Many of the local bands arised from this festival and of the SOU passion and engagement. such as Obliteration and Nekromantheon.

In 2012, we stepped up Sounds of Unity and made it a registered company. In 2014, some of us had moved back to Kolbotn, and we wanted to do something here, in our own neighbourhood. Many of the bands from the youth club still played, and now were really good. We wanted to continue contributing to the community, and we enjoy organizing concerts.

A Sounds of Unity jubilee concert with Aura Noir was the beginning, and Hellbotn was born. We wanted to do metal because this is a genre that works great, and we manage to put Kolbotn at the map.

Since Hellbotn was born, how did the festival progress in terms of bands and audience all through the years? And what is the concept embraced by the festival organizers?

This year, Hellbotn will be arranged for the fifth time. In the beginning, we kept it local in every way and local bands were on the stage. Then we extended the booking, and now for example, we have a Swedish band for the second time. We who organize Hellbotn and is a part of Sounds of Unity, do this as a hobby and volunteering. All of the profit goes directly in to the next year Hellbotn. We also have a main idea to keep Hellbotn small and local. Many of the bands playing at Hellbotn, often do concerts at large venues in festivals or hangars in Europe or Asia. We believe that experience these bands in a rather small venue, being close up to the band and even talk to them over a beer after, that is a part of the Hellbotn charm.

Hellbotn is held in Kolbotn town, which is the centre of Oppegård, Norway. The population is of about +6,000 inhabitants. How do you spread out to metalheads inside and outside this small town to get them to attend your festival, and what obstacles do you face in that?

Kolbotn has about 6000 inhabitants, and Oppegård has about 27 000 inhabitants. We are close to Oslo, you can easily get here by bus or train, and we are close to Ski and other smaller towns. We spread our message about Hellbotn in the metal social circles in Oslo and Kolbotn, and we reach a lot of metal heads through social media.

An obstacle is the discussion about when the headline shall be at stage, since many of our visitors wants to get the last train back to Oslo. Usually we manage this just fine, and for the locals who wants to stay, we have DJs and beer and doesn’t close until 2.00 a.m. Of course, night buses to Oslo are available during the night if someone not-local visitors want to join the party!

What more are you offering besides the stage performances? Markets, beer and food stalls? Can you talk to us about the different preparations to what Hellbotn is offering metalheads this year?

We aim at making Hellbotn a greater experience than just stage performances! We always offer barbeque food, real burgers and local hot dogs, and of course we also have veggie burgers and hot dogs on the grill! We also offer beer tasting with the local brewery Ølsmia, which is highly recommended!

Last year, we tried to have metal movie, and this is something we want to continue. We have to look at the opportunities on how to organize this in the best way, maybe it will be “night metal movie” this year? Anyway, we promise a comprehensive experience at Hellbotn Metal Fest.

How is your festival DJs schedule? And how did it work out to invite Kolbotn’s Fenriz of Darkthrone to perform as a DJ during the festival?

This year DJs are, as usually, DJ Metalbastard and DJ Fenris, among others. DJ Fenris as you mention also comes from Kolbotn, and same as us, he has a great engagement to music, and to his local community. We play neighbourhood football, beer drinking and are general friends, so he is a natural part of the Hellbotn family.

DJ Metalbastard is also a local music hero, and also a natural part of it all. Our DJs are also a part of the booking crew, among Sindre from Nekromantheon and Obliteration, Olav from Nekromantheon and Inferno (++), and Glenn from Sounds of unity company.

What bands are confirmed so far to perform in Hellbotn 2018, that will be held on two days (31st August – 1st September)?

Antichrist, Nidingr, Force, Urarv, Isvind, Sarkom, Magmakammer, Æsthetica and Blood Suckers.

Did you face any obstacles to organize this year’s Hellbotn? How different is Hellbotn 2018 compared to earlier festival years?

This year, as every other year, we are dependent on selling tickets. Luckily, this year so far looks good! All Early Bird passes have gone, and right now we have less than 30 passes left. An obstacle is of course that metal is big in Norway, and there are always many metal concerts and festivals during the same time of the year. Of course this is a good thing, but it also makes it a competition to get enough visitors to make ends meet.

This year’s Hellbotn poster is like a very basic drawing, can you tell us more about the festival’s official poster?

Absolutely! This year we wanted to do it old school. We have a great drawer in the crew, Jan Eggen, who among other things used to draw posters for Blitz (famous youth venue in Oslo). We invited him to draw some samples, and we just love it! In these computer and Photoshop days, it feels right to take poster making back to the basic. Still, our graphic designer Charlotte is going to digitize it and make it media-friendly.


In your opinion, do you receive any metalheads from outside Norway? Where from specifically, and how is Hellbotn planning to take it to another level?

We have had visitors from Sweden, Poland, Finland, Germany, France and even China! And from other towns in Norway, such as Stavanger and Trondheim, which is just as cool! Right now, we have no plans taking Hellbotn anywhere. As mentioned, it’s a part of the Hellbotn experience that we are local and small. Because of the small venue, we have few tickets, which contributes to the feel-good charm. But who knows, maybe in the future we feel right to change this and go bigger.

Is there any particular message you would like to send to Hellbotn fans and metalheads in general through us?

Come to Kolbotn in August/September! We are looking forward to seeing you!