The Metal Way of Life presents metalheads like you and me, their lives and passion. Interesting stories are not limited to the people on stage but happen every day.
You know this: you attend a festival or a gig and somehow you find yourself in an interesting conversation with the one next to you. Even if all the rest was a god-awful event, this conversation with this person had made it all up. Of course the gig was all but shitty and so you had a perfect metal night.
A ‘Shady’ Festival Encounter
In case of the MISE Open Air [M:O:A] festival’s most interesting encounter it all began with me looking for a place to relax in the shade. The sun was merciless and I remembered that one bench in the shade near the gate. Damn, of course it was crowded already. Then when passing by, I overheard “Höllekön, köllekön” which is rarely heard in Germany as it is a Finnish drinking rime. It took a moment before my sun-boiled brain spit out the option that actually this could be meant to address me. What?! Not me I thought, looking at my loyal companion, the one and only metal moomin: HM Rock. I turned back. The folks on the bench had really addressed me. This , however, not because of the moomin but the band logo on my shirt: Turmion Katilöt. One minute later we were all swapping our Finnish concert stories. Hell, yeah. They had really gone all the way to Helsinki to Turmion Katilöt shock the legendary Tavastia club stage. …
Chil out with Odin Grimbart
When some time later I passed by again one of the folks, Oli, still enjoys the shady spot. I dropped on the bench next to him, and we picked up our conversation, moving on the ongoing M:O:A festival, what matters in metal to us and all that. True quality time! Oli turned out to be a perfect candidate for “The Metal Way of Life”!! So, spot on Oli aka Odin Grimbart.
Is there any better way to get to know a fellow on a festival than speaking of the music that really touches you deep in the belly that resonates in your guts and moves your heart?
So Oli, which music or genre or more particularly bands, songs, even riffs resonate the most with you? Or on the opposite what does not resonate at all?
“In particular, I am attracted to Death Metal with its fat, grooving riffs. At the moment I really like Konvent from Danmark, Venenum, The Monolith Deathcult, Sulphur Aeon, Eraserhead and Brutal Truth.. just to name a few.
There are really good artists in other genres as well but naming those would, I am afraid, outrun the capacities here. My eternal milestone is, however, Metallica’s “One”. This song always works! The louder the better.
What I just don’t like is this antisocial Gangsta German Rap or those Mark Forster-like stuff.”
I’d rather say it depends on the moment
Let’s get a bit more specific. What is a must-have of music to touch you deep down inside?
Laughing Oli replies: “Most of all the proper sound.” He takes a break. “I’d rather say it depends on the moment. It needs to resonate in me, have a soul in a particular manner such as Emiliana Torrini “Jungle Drum” is a source for good vibes, moods.
Then again a fat riff as for example in Tankard’s “Ice-Olation” or Katakklym’s “Shadows and Dust”. Those hit me deeply at an instant.
A good tune, a thrilling chorus in the perfect moment may pace me, however, this really depends on the situation. Then there is Enisum’s “Fauna’s Soul” that always touches me. Raging Black Metal breaking up to deliver a clean sung chorus that really always hits me, again and again.”
The Metal Heart Inside
It’s the heavy music that opens our hearts; than again our hearts are usually all but metal, in my experience. Thus I wonder what else moves Oli. What has to happen to open your heart?
“It’s about the little moments, moments of true human kindness or empathy and solidarity. I know, might sound surprising for a Death Metal fan.” Well, not me. Not at all, I think before Oli adds: “Someone falls on their face in the mosh pit and you just see fifty hands helping them up. – Moments in total harmony, like spending a sunrise or sunset with decent folks, a good meal. A walk through forest and meadow. A festival with everyone being on the same page and everyone having a good time.”
Apparently Oli is a bon vivant in a sense not limited to the culinary parts but more holistic. Embracing life and enjoying all its regards, especially what seems too normal to enjoy is a rather emotional approach. This is nevertheless an external view on Oli. How does he see himself?
How emotional are you?
“I’d consider myself to be an emotionally quite settled person and it really takes a lot until my patience runs thin, but when it does then run for cover – all and now!
However, the last two pandemic years have brought me to the limits of my mental resilience. Humanity in general has driven me to despair, only then did you realise how selfish people can be when there is no more toilet paper. At the beginning of this year I heard Louis Armstrong played “What a Wonderful World” and I thought to myself what good Louis would say about it today – when half the world has turned into a pile of shit… War, disease, corruption, perdition and as I thought about it, I completely burst into tears.
When Marko opened the MOA, I was also moved to tears.”
It takes remarkable strength to admit publicly what makes you cry, unfortunately still all the more if you are a man. We are clinging to the roles we have been raised in. And as if that was not more than enough war and disease are spreading. The state of our world will be a topic later again. So we can now approach the core of it all:
What is metal to you – very deep down inside?
“Metal gives me a sensation of strength and back up but then is also great to channel dammed-up frustrations or to properly party with friends. Metal is so few and then so much. Well, metal very deep down inside, it is my first big love.”
The Hand On Odin’s Cradle
There hardly ever is a party for one, which highlights the role of the community in Oli’s definition of metal. So let’s dive into that and explore Oli’s metal community and how he niched himself in it.
What was your first metal experience?
“Well, as metal was practically the hand that rocked my cradle. So it isn’t that easy to say, what my first experience was. But I remember that I used to go to Müller’s and there were all those evil artworks smiling at me. Then again my old man took me to my first metal concert. And that were no less than two legends at once – both still alive back then: Motörhead and DIO.”
So from there you’ll have made into the community automatically?
“Metal, as already mentioned, was laid in my cradle. My parents used to listen to a lot of hard rock and partly also metal at home back in the days. My father’s CD and vinyl collection included Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Slade, but also Motörhead, Manowar and Metallica, and my mother’s were Queen and Blue Öyster Cult, for example.
I stayed on this road and became who I am, which was no more than a logical step. At some point, you start looking for like-minded people and find them.”
‘Ice-Olation’, And The Metal Companion
So I suppose the metal community plays an important role in your life?
“Metal is – in the first place – something you have to explore for yourself and respectively celebrate all for yourself and on your own. If then however you want to experience your heroes on stage, then the community plays the major role. A great concert night is only as good as the band on stage AND the crowd. If nothing happens there the concert was a full fail – but I’ve never had that.
Naturally, I do celebrate a great album with my friends and we sing along some particular songs as loud as we can. That welds people together.“
There still is the rest of the world, the non-metal share which is an overwhelming majority. In which relation do you see the metal community to this rest of the world?
“We don’t need to search for the sense of life anymore”, he says smiling. “The community is open to anybody who is in for metal. You’ll be welcomed with open arms, even internationally, we are all equal. Yes, I think the main feature of the community is that we all meet as equals. This is entirely different in many areas of the world, unfortunately.”
Admiration Of What We Have Always Known
This might suggest that metalheads are less conventionally thinking. But is this really the case. What you do think, how conservative or on the opposite progressive are metalheads?”
“Oh, we can be really conservative. In metal we have faith in our old heroes, we deeply admire them and dare you something new knocks on our little metal door. You’ll keep it shut as long as possible. I am no different than that”, Oli admits laughing.
“On the other hand’s side it has always been thrilling like to check out new bands or to experience the resourcefulness of metalheads on a festival, like watch their craftsmanship or while inventing new drinking games.”
Either you’re an asshole or you’re not
I have avoided a delicate question so far but I am too curious to let this opportunity slip away. We have approached the topic anyway already. Additionally the major topics of the past three years: pandemic and war have changed the attitude of many of us as all the world seems to have become more political. But how political is metal or should it be for you Oli? Where do you see yourself in this discussion?
“To me, politics and metal don’t go together. Naturally on stage you may say that war and terrorism – either right or left – are bullshit, but you should in no way call for action or boycott against any person or any country.
The metalheads are in general smart enough to tell good from bad. It is up to each person to decide which side to take and it should not be propagated from a stage…. We’ve been through it all before. It was bullshit. It didn’t work. – Either you’re an asshole or you’re not, it’s as simple as that.”
People like you and me, we go to see a show to forget about distress and cruelty of our daily lives for a moment. A bit of escapism should not be spoiled with political sprinkling.”
The Heavy Metal Deceleration Channel
That is an interesting position. Very respectful in terms of minding people’s privacy. It also reveals that metal to Oli is a refuge from whatever is troubling him. That reminds me on his YouTube channel. It is designed to distract from haste and pressure, right? Or what triggered the idea to establish your YT channel?
“Well, Covid-19.” He takes a pause and momentum flickers from the corners of his eyes.
“When I noticed how more and more people around me were no longer allowed to go outside, or no longer dared; I was sitting at home watching videos of a buddy from Dortmund who was walking along the Lippe and filming nature – greetings go out to DSD for his Midnight Figure feature. I thought to myself: that’s what you do now, you go out into the forest, film the beautiful nature and show your fellow men that they don’t have to be afraid to go outside. The forest is such a peaceful place, it’s a good place to calm down, and so the Heavy Metal Deceleration Channel was born.”
I’d love to say how good it is that the wicked P[andemic] thing is over. But it isn’t and yet I have no intention on lingering on this topic. We are all so happy to able to breathe beer-fumed, dusty festival air again. Oli did run festivals [Taunus Metal Festival] himself back for some years. Let’s explore those glory days. What was the most valuable experience you made with it?
“Well, that very few people – like 8 – can pull together and by that make very many – like 800 – very happy with it. And of course that fans and bands from all over the world share one and the same passion.”
Another Cradle, called Gambrinus
It takes any form of organisation to run a festival like here the MISE Heavy Metal Club. You mentioned that you were a club member, too. In general what were your reasons to join a club?
“Well, first of all, Taunus Metal is no HMC but an association.
Friends of mine approached me back in the days, 2007, telling me there was a metal association in the “Hochtaunuskreis” [county of Hochtaunus] and that we should go there. They used to have a club evening in the Gambrinus [pub] in Bad Homburg each Thursday followed by a metal disco. As I lived in Bad Homburg and they needed a DJ, it was obvious to me: I went there and ended up at the turn table and mixing desk. I got into it very quickly. The association is a non-profit organisation, so young bands were supported by having the opportunity to play with us once a month. This established itself until we were able to hold a two-day open air with free admission in Oberursel for the first time in 2012.”
You cannot point out enough how important those grass-root events are. All the big fish began as a no-name combo on a basement bar stage or a far-and-away village festival. I think we all know this and as the metal community has always appreciated it we are able to meet on eye level when the guitarist from next-door has become a big fish. But back to Oli and his festival experience.
As you do know the crowd and the managing side, what element of our culture of metal festivals matters most to you?
“To have a good time together with people who are just as ‘stupid’ as you are. Meet new people and continue to knit the network.”
Festivals come with mixed emotions
Once more it is all about the people. One question about all this remains. I suppose running a festival changes the view on events for ever. How do you experience festivals since then?
“With mixed emotions as you can see where there is still room for improvement while on the other hand you will see how good other festivals are organised. Since then, it’s been a bit more difficult to experience a festival as a visitor. I can’t get out of my skin.”
Time to come to an end. But this one thought he mentioned previously lingers in my mind. We meet as equals in metal, Oli said. I wonder how you experienced metalheads especially artists – some more popular than others – in your festival managing activities. Was working with them any different than interacting with others?
“For me, it’s always important to meet people at eye level. Within the framework of the organisation, when a musician showed too much airs and graces, we told him that he should take a look inside himself and think about where he has come from and why he’s on stage now. That always worked.”
We all wipe our ass with paper
“Now with my channel, it’s not that big yet, I had the pleasure of chatting with Tom Angelripper from Sodom and with Sir Hannes Smith from The Idiots. But you also meet them at eye level, because at the end of the day they are just people like you and me. We all wipe our ass with paper.
I don’t make a difference whether I’m doing an interview with a friend or talking to Tom Angelripper about fire salamanders.”
I leave it to you to find out about Tom, the fire salamander and Oli. I am grateful Oli took the time to give us a tour through his metal universe and show his metal way of life. Thank you Oli Odin Grimbart!
Check out Oli’s aka Odin Grimbart’s YT channel.
Here are some more apetizers:
„Top 5 Brutal Death Alben“ (click here)
„Odin und seine Erinnerungen – Maiwanderung mal anders“ (click here)
„Der Odin unterwegs im Märchenwald“ (click here)