1. So how are the US dates going? Where are you now, and are you pleased with the response you’re getting out there?
– Sorry but there was no time or opportunity to respond to this interview during the tour. As I write this, the tour is over the past five days ago and we are back home, worn but safe and sound.
It’s a fucking nightmare not to be able play on your own equipment and we had so much trouble with it, especially with all the pedals that we need to get to make the wall of noise that we want and need. Things broke down, disappeared and missing constant. It’s frustrating and difficult to do flawless gigs under these conditions, but we made the best of it. Don’t think the audience noticed anyway. We’re picky with our gear, but only because we want to do and perform the best possible.
The support has been relatively very good and it shows that our band name and the album has received great spread just the last six months. We did the tour together with Canada’s finest, ABSOLUT, which rides on a good hype right now as well. I think that we complemented and benefited from each other. Economically, it was a total disaster tour. We sold lots of merch, but far away that we could cover all the expenses. But experiences and memories outweigh making profit. Just hanging out with a bunch of wicked friends doing what you love most for two weeks was more than worth the cost.
The memorable and crazy backyard show in Berkeley, all ages show in Victoria and Have a Good laugh fest in Vancouver was our best shows. We also saw and played with so many awesome bands!
2. How did you hook up with Southern Lord? And is that an alliance you’re particularly pleased to make?
– Me (Jocke) and Greg at Southern Lord have been in touch a lot over the last few years. I can’t really remember when he emailed me the first time but it was when he had heard my solo project ELECTRIC FUNERAL, and he wrote a short mail in which he said he dug my stuff and that if there was any interest from my side to release something on Southern Lord, he was interested and would love to do it. Two (three?) years later the double LP discography “Total Funeral” was released. After that, we have had continuous contact and I have sent him links and tracks after I recorded something new with the bands I play in. Some stuff he liked, like Paranoid, others he had rejected.
What I appreciate and value most about our relationship is that Greg always given me/us free reign and respected my/our strict diy-punk values and course of action. But above all, his immense patience. If you look at it the other way and if you’re going to mention something negative. Greg is a very busy person, which means that he may not always have time to read and take in all the important information in our email conversations that can sometimes lead to unnecessary misunderstandings. Guess our ‘Swenglish’ is a part of it too. But at the end of the day, he’ll do like everyone else, only their best. He have a great passion for music in general which you easy can tell by his support in all kinds of bands and genre worldwide that he personally likes himself.
3. What is your fascination with Japanese hardcore punk? What other – non-Japanese – influences might you have as well?
– Discipline and dedication are the first things I think of. No bullshit, just straight up true devotion to whatever they take on and do. The entire Japanese culture and structure has always fascinated me. For me it started early with me watching a lot of movies growing up. I remember when I saw ‘Seven Samurai’ by Akira Kurosawa as a teenager and by his filmmaking I built it further. Over time, even my obsession of the Japanese music and its scene has grown stronger. Mainly punk, obviously, but also a few metal bands. When I toured in Japan with another band I got to see and experience most of my favorite bands live night after night. It was insane how interact and complete all the gigs were, regardless of band. Most bands don’t release so many records but instead put all time and focus on making a great album once they are recording and releasing something.
I think an important, essential and decisive role is also that most Japanese musicians only stick to ONE band instead of a thousand bands and side projects like the majority of the rest of the world does. The fact that Japan is a pretty closed country with a lack of English communication and it’s difficult to search the terrain make it even more interesting and thrilling.
Non Japanese…hmm. I guess I would say our Swedish hardcore heritage. But I can also be influenced or inspired by a feeling, or a special atmosphere. Like just the other day when I listen to PORTISHEAD’s “Third” on my mp3 player. The darkness, silence and inner voices (demons) have always guided and appealed to me. Even a kind of attitude can inspire me. Even though how cheesy and cliché it might sound.
4. The 12 covers in 12 months thing you did was great… what inspired you to do that? Was there a lot of arguing between you as to what covers you did? Any plans to release them all as one LP perhaps? Any songs you really wish you’d covered, but didn’t/couldn’t?
– Thanks. We only saw it as a fun project that grew to an almost uncontrolled monster that took all of our waking time in the end. It’s a Swedish band called Sub Alert who did the exact same thing, a new cover each month, in 2010 that I followed with excitement.
We thought it would be inspiring and rewarding for us as a band and may force us to dare to think outside the box when we write our own material. It’s easy to fall into the same rut when doing new riffs/songs after a few years.
Without exaggerating, I think we have at least ten different email threads with over 80 conversations, ideas, suggestions, and emails back and forth between us in the band in each thread. There were so many bands and songs we’d wanted to do but did not make it all the way to the studio. Even today, half a year later, I’m not sure if we really chose the right songs. Haha. Emil (drums) had a desire to record a song of Nasum, but unfortunately, we had to recognize our limitations. I regret that we didn’t record a cover of Breach or something more unexpected and difficult to interpret song ‘I See a Darkness’ by BONNIE PRINCE BILLY, which was actually the idea. I’m open for another similar project again under a different angle in a few years.
The basic idea was never to have the 12 covers released except on our youtube channel. We had this hidden agenda that we would record a bunch of songs with only Japanese bands and release it as a 10” or 12” and call it “Hail to Japan”. That’s why we never recorded any covers by any Japanese bands. We was saving the best for last. But at the end of this project we were so uninspired and unmotivated that it would’ve just been a half-heartedly outcome. That’s why we decided not to do it…for now.
We have pro-printed 100 cassettes that we given away to people who helped us out in one way or another with this project. We sold all the remaining copies on our shows, not online. Sold out now. We also received a few offers for a vinyl release but has never really been interested. At the beginning of this year we gave it a second thought and agreed to do a limited run of 500 on Southern Lord. Sadly it didn’t work out as we had planned or agreed with Greg so we decided to scrap those plans. We are currently in contact and working with another label, hopefully, and as it looks it will be a release at the end of this year. Time will tell.
5. Why name the new LP after a Mahatma Gandhi concept? Do you guys have aspirations to spread a socio-political message?
– If I’ll be honest, I think that “Satyagraha” sounds like the title of a black metal album. You know, like FUNERAL MIST’s masterpiece “Maranatha”. Satyagraha is loosely translated as “insistence on truth” and for us, it also includes a spiritual mindset. Although the doctrine holds many great ideas we necessarily don’t agree with all the principles. For now there are no ambitions or goals to spread any political propaganda through our music, only chaos, noise and hell.
6. Is the new LP everything you wanted it to be, i.e. your definitive release to date? Or are you really self-critical of each release, and they never quite live up to your expectations?
– Self-critical? If you only knew. Haha. I am self-criticism and perfectionism personified. Just ask anyone of my friends or people that I worked with. I mean, I’m as pleased that you can be, but there are certainly things that I had wanted to change, and had undone with hindsight. As always. But I would go so far as to say that “Satyagraha” undoubtedly in all cases is the record I am most satisfied with of all records released and recordings that I participated in. I’m always he who is the first and last to the studio. He who sits day after day, night after night (for months) by drawing sketches and doing layouts in my head, on paper and on my computer. Think and analyze how things should sound and look like. I rarely leave nothing to fate. This can sometimes complicate things and people perceive me as demanding idiot, as I only have a clear vision of a perfect finished product in my head. To everyone involved advantage and best. The day I am consistently pleased with everything, at all levels (songs, recording/mix, artwork, outcome of the release), I will stop doing music. The quest for total perfection is what drives me.
I do believe deeply in perfection. I’m never satisfied. If you’re satisfied with everything, you’re just going to stay at one level and the world will move ahead.
7. Can you please tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the crazy album cover art?
– Unfortunately we can’t take credit for the cover art, but directs the spotlight to Andrew Morgan (Viral Age) who did a brilliant job. In principle we only asked him to create the image of what one imagines goes on inside the head and mind of a sick and mentally disturbed person. We gave him some guiding words such as; Paranoia, insanity, disorder, hallucinations, chaos, hell, trauma, neuroses, darkness…
The cover that you see and hold in your hand is the result. Everything is done in addition to classical mannerisms with photocopied images, scissors, a glue stick and pens.
8. Lastly, what can a Terrorizer reader who’s never seen you guys before expect to encounter if they come and see you live…?
– We leave it unsaid when it’s actually in the eyes of the beholder. There is so many different aspects that determine how a show will be. If you have the opportunity to see us live sometime somewhere maybe instead you can tell us what you what you experienced and saw?
A: Jocke D-takt