What made you get involved in Grimfrost, then?
Johan: “It’s some friends of mine that had this idea for making these very traditionally minded Viking artefacts. They asked me to come onboard, initially as a representative of the company, because I’m kind of known as ‘The Viking guy’, I guess. But as time went on and the ideas that I had were talked about, it became something that we all thought I could contribute more to. So, I began to get involved in marketing and design, and all of these other things that I had never really thought about before.”
How easily did it all come together?
“Pretty easily, actually. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do, and how the items looked in my mind. Luckily they did, too. So, in terms of agreeing on what we wanted the pieces to be, it was actually a very simple process. The production of these items and the artistry that went into making them, that is a different story. A lot of craft went into giving them real authenticity. But we all sat round and had a very clear collective vision about the aesthetics, which matched up in an almost unspoken way.”
What new things have you learnt from this endeavour?
“Oh, so many. It’s actually quite hard to pinpoint exactly what. But in terms of actually learning how to market something it’s been… eye opening. The interesting thing is that there are people buying things from us because Viking culture is suddenly ‘cool’, not because they’re aware of me or of Amon Amarth.”
What has surprised you the most?
“I think the fact that it has grown so quickly. It’s testament to the renewed interest in this point in history that it’s not just sold to Amon Amarth fans. It’s become as big as the band in such a short period of time. Which is incredible, obviously!”
What item are you most proud of in your collection?
“I’m proud of all of the pieces, but I have to say there is an axe that we have that is really beautifully made and is very, very authentic. I’m very proud of how that came together. We had to be careful, because it is a weapon. And we wanted to make it as authentic as we could, so it is very much a weapon. It’s not a toy. This is not for chopping wood! It’s made for a different purpose, and we had to be very careful about that. We wondered if we could actually go through with it, because there are some odd people out there, and who knows what may have happened with it? But the end result is beautiful, it’s a work of art… an incredibly dangerous work of art! Ha ha ha!”
It probably helps that metal and Viking culture are such natural bedfellows, too?
“Of course. I don’t think anyone is going to be too shocked that a band like Amon Amarth are getting involved in a venture like this. We love the imagery of heavy metal, and this has always been a huge part of that dating back decades. If we continue to turn metal fans onto this world then I’m very happy with that.”
How metal is Grimfrost on a scale of 1-10?
“Oh, of course I’m going to say that it is a full-blown 10! I think that this company is very metal. It’s about using your hands, and working hard to achieve something that has come from nothing. Especially as it is something that is very difficult for most people to be able to comprehend. I think that as an ideology it’s incredibly metal, so, of course, I give it a full 10.”
Amon Amarth are playing Chicago Open Air, which takes place July 14-16, where we’ll be celebrating 30 Years of Metal Hammer. Tickets on sale now.
The Shop: You can browse Johan’s many metal-as-fuck Viking wares at www.grimfrost.com. Just be careful opening whatever you end up buying – there’s a lot of sharp shit there.
The Course: If you fancy not only making your own weapon but actually getting to take it home, you can take a special seven-day sword course with Owen Bush! There are axe and blacksmith variations, too. Head to www.owenbush.co.uk.
The… sigh… LARP: That’s Live Action Role Playing if you’re not fluent in nerdspeak. Basically you can pretend to be a Viking and run around a field with other people pretending to be Vikings. Look, just go to www.live-roleplaying.co.uk or www.larpevents.co.uk if you want to take this shit to a whole new level.