Metal Militia 2022 (pic courtesy from J. Espen Sagstad)

When we talking about tribute bands, it is inevitable that many of us think in Motörhead, Metallica, AC/DC, Pantera, Iron Maiden… bands that have left their mark on the music world and also in those who decided to dedicate themselves to music too. And this is an imperious Law around the world. Here in Spain we have several exemples like Law Maker, Sepultnation, Overdose, Led Zepp, Mastertallica, Motörhits, Motörized

Metallica is probably one of the bands that has had more tribute bands (some more luckier than others) and in Norway reigns Metal Militia which I present to all of you here today. So, I get in touch with their guitarist John Espen Sagstad to speak us something more about them.

K: First of all, thank you so much for attending me for VALENCIA’N’METAL AROUND THE WORLD. Let’s strat with the primordial question: when we talk about tribute bands, the first thing that comes to our mind is which is the reason why you decided to create a tribute band to Metallica?

J.E.S.: Everyone in the band has been playing Metallica tunes on our respective instruments since we were kids, so when the idea came up to do a Metallica tribute band it all made sense to us. Nothing beats the feeling of playing the best music in the world with my best friends!

K: Could you introduce me to the members of Metal Militia and their band’s role?

J.E.S.: My name is John Espen Sagstad and my role is Kirk Hammett. Always loved what he has been doing on his guitar.

J. Espen Sagstad (2019)

On drums we have the madman Jon Eirik Bokn. When he gets behind the drumkit you never know what’s going to happen, kinda the same as Lars Ulrich.

Jon Eirik Bokn (2022)

Birger Larsen (2019)

Bass guitar is handled by the monstrous Birger Larsen. He combining the presence stage of Jason Newsted and the technical skills from Cliff Burton. He is a force to be reckoned with.

And finally, on rhythm guitar and vocals we have Morten Renvåg Müller, that crushing every riff with the same precision as James Hetfield.


Morten Renvåg Müller (2019)


K: In all of this kind of bands, the principal attention is focusing to the vocal section, because is the part where the audience expect recognize the main band. In your case, how did you decide who should be in charge of it?

J.E.S.: Morten has been a rhythm guitarist / vocalist for as long as I have known him. So for us it was a very easy choice.

K: Sometimes the tribute bands, more than do a tribute, only cover them. Are you agree? Exist any difference in between?

J.E.S.: For us there is a big difference between a cover band and a tribute band. Cover bands can alter the original songs, do their own version etc. But for us, we aim to play the songs exactly like Metallica. Why would you changed the best songs in the world?

K: After listening to your latest show, in your particular case, you remained faithful to Kirk Hammett. How do you prepare for it?

J.E.S.: I have been playing Kirk Hammett’s solos since I started playing guitar. For me, they are in my blood.

Mr. Kirk Hammett (by Ross Halfin)

K: Apart from being in Metal Militia, you play the guitar in TrollfesT. Do your colleagues in Metal Militia play in other bands too?

J.E.S.: Jon Eirik Bokn plays in Venus Flycatchers, Cult of Destiny and Tottal Tömming. Morten Renvåg Müller is busy with his band Tottal Tömming and Birger Larsen is currently only involved in Metal Militia.

K: Here in Spain, the Tribut Bands, sometimes don’t enjoy much acceptance. But in Norway? Are tribute bands well received by the general audience?

J.E.S.: Yes, I would say so! Tribute bands always throws good parties where the audience get to sing, headbang and mosh along to their favourite tracks!

K: And there is any Norwegian tribute band that you like?

J.E.S.: Metal Militia! But to be serious, there is a lot of very cool tribute bands in Norway. We played along side many of them a few months back. To name a few; Bömbers (Motörhead), Bon Scotch (AC/DC) and Powerslaves (Iron Maiden)

K: How do you remember your first performance, your debut?

J.E.S.: My first performance with Metal Militia was at a metal pub in Oslo called Rock In. I can’t remember exactly what year but probably around 2010. The place was packed and people went apeshit. I remember the PA wobbling on stage because people was jumping and moshing like crazy!

K: I have observed that much of your repertoire is very focused on the firsts Metallica’s albums: Kill’Em All, Ride The Lighting, Master Of Puppets, …And Justice for All and Metallica. Why.

J.E.S.: We just made a decision to focus on the first 5 albums. These are the records that means the most to us as we grew up with these albums constantly on our ears. It doesn’t mean we don’t like new records, in fact we have done gigs where we actually included newer Metallica tunes.

K: So, do you think about playing in the future songs from their other albums?

J.E.S.: For each show we do; we try to keep the setlist fresh and not just play the same songs everytime. So of course, there is always the possibility to throw in songs from albums after the Black Album. We have done “That was just your life” (Death Magnetic, 2008), “Hardwired” and “Moth into Flame” (Hardwired… from Self-Destruct, 2016)

K: Have you recently seen Metallica in concert (pre-pandemic situation, of course)? Do you think that they have changed a lot their sound?

J.E.S.: Last time I saw Metallica was in San Francisco on their S&M2 concert. This was in 2019. I have of course seen a couple of newer live shows on YouTube, but I can’t use that to compare how they sound. Metallica is a live band, meaning you need to be there in the audience to fully experience them. Watching concerts on YouTube is dull…

K: Totally agree. Last March, Metal Militia participated in the tribute festival ‘Monsters Of Rock’ in the town of Kopervik. How did you feel playing again after your last show in 2019?

J.E.S.: Nothing beats the feeling of being on stage and playing a Metal Militia show again after two years. Was magical! Let’s hope it wont take another two years until our next show!

K: And finally, could you imagine if Lars Ulrich ask you to open for their shows in Oslo?

J.E.S.: I have dreamt many times that we have supported Metallica at one of their shows… But this scenario is only meant for dreams.

K: If you want to add something else more… you’re welcome!

J.E.S.: I think Metallica said it best; Metal up your ass!

Metal Militia (2016)





Last performance

All the photos taken from the band’s Facebook

Credit Live 2019 photos:

Mathias Hemmingby

Bokn’s live 2022 photo by Irmina Lunnøy Photography

Mr. Kirk Hammett photo taken from his personal IG

Photo by Ross Halfin