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.
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.
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.”