Boomtown Streetrats

28 May 2012 | 11:13 am | Simon Holland

To be known as the 'best drummer in Norway' is no mean feat. In a region of the world known for its particularly lethal brand of black metal, Baard Kolstad has been tagged with that label, largely thanks to a viral internet video that recorded his blistering drum solos on the streets of Oslo at the tender age of 17. The world was hooked. Now aged 20, Kolstad recently claimed the crown at the Roland V-Drum World Championships, enhancing his stake at international legitimacy within the drumming community. In a major boon for metal music worldwide, Kolstad signed up to drum with progressive black metal titans Borknagar.

Recruited by the legendary ICS Vortex (Dimmu Borgir, Arcturus) for his solo project, Vortex quickly realised the ability of the young man and offered the position to him. “I was actually playing with some prog metal friends at this studio in Norway,” recalls Kolstad from his home in Oslo. ”The man that owns the studio has been the tracker for a lot of the Borknagar albums, a little bit of Mayhem and Triosphere. He set Vortex to track us. We kept in touch and he liked my drumming, and around six months later he asked me to play on his Metallica tribute album. I thought, 'Well, this is a big chance, Vortex is a hell of a big guy so I need to prove to him I can do it.' So I just prepared and went into the studio and played the Metallica song in a kind of a groovy way. “

The successful recording of the ICS Vortex Metallica tribute album led to a chance to drum for Borknagar, the seat behind the kit having recently been vacated by David Kinkade of Soulfly. For Vortex, the choice seemed a no-brainer. “He loved the recording,” says Kolstad, “and at some point showed it to the Borknagar guys. It was down to me and the drummer from Gorgoroth, and they chose me so that was pretty cool.”

Kolstad officially debuted with Borknagar at the Inferno Metal Festival, a mid-sized show in his hometown, last month. Kolstad, just out of his teens, already commands the respect of a consummate professional. “Being focused on that and also hidden away some metres behind the rest of the band, I felt like I wasn't right out in front of everyone and could just sit there thinking, 'Need to play, don't play it wrong',” he laughs. “Maybe the rockstar feeling arrived after a couple of songs.”

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It's Kolstad's flair for the creative that separates him from the crowd. “I think it is very important to add my own touch to everything,” he explains. “I really tried to play the songs in an unlikely way where possible. At first I would try to add my own touch and feelings in parts, but to maintain that classic feel it is important to play it like it is. I do try to bring my own touch to it, but I always look for balance. Not too much and not too little.”

As a drummer, Kolstad remains pure to his craft. “I'm a drummer who likes everything. I really like Aaron Spears and those crazy guys. It was really funny; the first rehearsal with Borknagar I actually had this gospel, you know, Christian, hallelujah kinda 'boom, kadak, gik, gadak, boom, kadak' rehearsal in the morning and then I got in the car and drove for four hours to the 'brrrrr, brrrr, brrrr' drum style. Completely another kind of thing. I don't know if you can have two more different musical styles. So I don't consider myself a metalhead. I consider myself a drummer who likes all kinds of music that I think is well played and well done.”