Spidergawd are ready to usher in the new dawn of hard rock

(Image credit: Marthe A. Vannebo)

For many, heavy metal grabbed us by our hormones as we hit our teens and has held on for the rest of our lives. Spidergawd frontman and guitarist Per Borten can beat that. 

“It got me when I was six!” he exclaims. “It was Dio, Iron Maiden, W.A.S.P., Manowar, Accept. I grew up on a small farm [in Norway] and my mother had a much younger brother,” he continues. “He had money to buy new albums, which I copied on to cassettes. The first album I bought myself, aged ten, was Houses Of The Holy. And I stole some albums from my neighbour’s mother, by Jimi Hendrix and The Who. I got my first guitar then as well, so that’s what I was listening to.” 

Unsurprisingly, Borten became a pro musician, and spent years playing in pop, soul-rock and prog bands, and also became a sought-after producer and co-owner of Soergarden studio. In 2013 he formed a new band with two friends – bassist Bent Sæther and drummer Kenneth Kapstad – from Norway’s biggest psychedelic rock band, Motorpsycho

“It was going to be a stoner rock side-project,” Borten says of Spidergawd, named after a Jerry Garcia instrumental. “Then we started to get popular, really fast.”

This led to problems for the ’Psycho pair, and Sæther had to leave or his work schedule meant that “he would never see his kid”. Kapstad also had to make a choice – and Spidergawd won over playing in Motorpsycho. 

“Bent is the best bass player in rock,” Borten says. “You can hear the change from the first three albums to the last three – that’s when we moved more towards Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy.” 

Spidergawd’s latest, and sixth, album, Spidergawd VI, finds Borten and Kapstad alongside new bassist/vocalist Hallvard Gaardløs and guitar ace Brynjar Takle Ohr, who, in spite of his penchant for singer-songwriters, pairs majestically with Borten for some monumental twin-guitar shreds. 

“You don’t hear twin lead so much these days,” Borten says. “I was always into The Stooges, MC5 and hard punk rock, but also Wishbone Ash. It’s something we wanted to highlight.”

Adding some extra oomph to VI is saxophonist Rolf Martin Snustad, a “former sports professional, now on steroids because of an illness, so he’s got a chest like a Greek god and can play a baritone melody line for hours”. 

With metal festivals like Tons Of Rock coming up, Borten is excited about Spidergawd’s participation in what he sees as a new dawn for hard rock. 

“We played some shows in Sweden just before lockdown and the NWOBHM thing is really happening there,” he says. “We also did a special show recently, and you’d think it was mainly grownups coming along but it’s kids too. "I don’t know if it’ll be a massive movement,” Borten concludes, “I’m just happy that heavy metal’s coming back.”

Spidergawd VI is out now.

Jo Kendall

Jo is a journalist, podcaster, event host and music industry lecturer with 23 years in music magazines since joining Kerrang! as office manager in 1999. But before that Jo had 10 years as a London-based gig promoter and DJ, also working in various vintage record shops and for the UK arm of the Sub Pop label as a warehouse and press assistant. Jo's had tea with Robert Fripp, touched Ian Anderson's favourite flute (!), asked Suzi Quatro what one wears under a leather catsuit, and invented several ridiculous editorial ideas such as the regular celebrity cooking column for Prog, Supper's Ready. After being Deputy Editor for Prog for five years and Managing Editor of Classic Rock for three, Jo is now Associate Editor of Prog, where she's been since its inception in 2009, and a regular contributor to Classic Rock. She continues to spread the experimental and psychedelic music-based word amid unsuspecting students at BIMM Institute London, hoping to inspire the next gen of rock, metal, prog and indie creators and appreciators.