- Hello, Andreas! Just to begin with, let's recall how you joined the band, how did it happen? Did you have any audition?
- Hi, and thanks for the interview. I've been in the band for seven years now, and this is actually my first solo interview, let's see how this goes... I was asked by Thomas (Ahlgren, guitar) in February 2009 if I would be interested in joining him and Martin (Schönherr, vocals) as they planned to reform Deranged after the break up some year earlier. I knew Thomas through his other bands Arsonist and Pandemonium, whom I'd shared stage with with my previous band Havok (actually he asked me while he was selling merch at our release gig for Havok's first album, that's why I remember when it was). I gave it a little thought, and since I was still a student at the university I had too much time on my hands so why not? Since Deranged was an established name, it would be easier to get out and play outside of Sweden, which I hadn't done at that point, which was really all I wanted as a musician. (I have to be honest, before joining the band, I'd hardly heard them other than a few songs here and there!)
Anyway, I was asked to learn Coven of Death from... Obscenities in B Flat I think? So I promptly donwloaded it. When I came to the rehearsal room, they started playing... a completely different song from the one I had learned! Apparently the mp3s floating around were tagged incorrectly, so I had learned the wrong song. Bummer! But they didn't seem to have any other bassist in line so I tagged along and now it's been 7 years already. Time flies...
- Your first work was the "Cut Carve Rip Serve" full-length, released in 2011. What can you say about working on that album? Was there any challenge for you?
- Hm, I have to rewind in my memory now. I think was stands out about this album specifically is not my part in it, but the collaboration between Rikard and Thomas, as this was the first album written with a new guitarist since the demo days. So there was what I remember a feeling of a new beginning, almost a new band in a sense (even though I'm bassist number 7 or 8). Exploring where we could go with the band now, both in terms of respecting the legacy and the vast catalogue of old material as well as moving forward, as we were dead set on not surviving because of the name, but establishing Deranged as a current and relevant band in 2011.
On my part there was no real challenge, the songs were rather easy both to learn and to record, and the studio sessions were great, working with a professional and experienced producer like Berno. Unfortunately the quality of the final product didn't match the level of our label at that point, and it kind of disappeared without any promotion to speak of. But I still think the songs hold up, a lot more solid than previous Deranged albums - the new blood was needed.
- Shortly after the release, Martin Schonherr left the band. Why did it happen? And how did you find your new vocalist, Anders Johansson? Did you have any other candidacy?
- Ah, that was a bit of a mess at the moment. After we reformed, in 2010 we did a lot of festival gigs, and focused very hard on Deranged, with the new album and everything. Martin, being first and foremost a drummer in his other bands, simply wasn't comfortable being a front man and vocalist, and to make a long and annoying story short, he chose to leave the band. Could have been handled better, but could have been handled worse too. Water under the bridge, and I hold no grudge, never did really. Unfortunately he chose to leave right before two major events, first a week-long tour in Russia and then a festival in Indonesia some week later. Luckily Thomas could step in and do the vocals so for a while we performed as a three-piece. But that worked out in the end as well.
Anders, we knew of his works with Vomitous and Carnalized and that he had recently moved to Malmö at the time. Rikard asked him to join, and late 2011 we had a new singer. So this line-up has been going for almost five years now, probably the most stable in Deranged's history.
- In 2013 you released your "Morgue Orgy" EP. Tell us a bit about that work, and especially about your choice of S.O.D. cover song you did. This release, was it for you some sort of test-drive to see how well you can work together?
- Well, after the first "reunion line-up" changed, we wanted to get some new material out there as soon as possible, so we preferred to do a mini-album and get it out quickly rather than either waiting a few more years to finish a full-length, or squeeze out four more songs for the sake of it. A test-drive and a demonstration you could say. The S.O.D cover... well that was just for laughs I guess. Rikard's idea! Unfortunately this release fell under the radar, with a poor mastering job (hard to hear for the average listener, but we weren't satisfied), and again little-to-no promotion at all from the label.
- Alright, let's talk about your upcoming album, "Struck by a Murderous Siege". How is it going? At what stage are you now? How many songs do you plan to have in the end?
- At the writing moment (first weekend in September), we are at the absolute final stages of production, waiting for a final mix from Berno. Deadline approaching hastily... It will be eight tracks, about 40 minutes so unusually long songs for this band. Three heavy and slower bits, five fast songs for the grindheads. Solid and heavy like a fucking mountain, especially the bass sound will destroy your speakers!
- Once again, you are back in Berno Studios. How could you explain the origin of this relationship? How do you like working with Berno Paulsson?
- I'm not sure how Deranged ended up with Berno in the first place, other than his studio being one of the few professional ones in southern Sweden working with death metal. I think his first extreme metal production was Seance, and you can hear that he understood the American sound of the day. So instead of cultivating one particular sound that becomes hyped up and worn out (HM-2 to the max etc), he had a more professional approach. Working with every kind of genre since the eighties, his understanding of musical sounds is wide and experienced; he records everything from folk and chamber music and big band jazz, to the extreme metal noise we're doing, and approaches every session equally serious. Which is rare these days it seems, when a metal studio is exactly only that, with one fixed sound ideal.
Before we recorded Cut Carve Rip Serve, everyone was telling me stories of how strict and harsh he could be, stopping guitarists mid-solo and yelling at him for playing shitty and so on. He has the guts to tell a musician his performance is poor and force retakes until it sounds good, rather than just pressing record and accept whatever the musician shits out. Something I think is bloody valuable - if you can't play your own material, go home and practice.
- When did you first start working on the new material? Do you have in the band the main writer or is it a common process, when everyone is involved?
- I think the first songs written for "Struck by a Murderous siege" came to life back in 2013, so this material has been growing for a long time; the last song which will be the title track was finished only some week before recording sessions began for the second half of the album. We recorded the first four songs early this year, with the ambition to release them as two 7" singles, but sending the songs to a couple of labels landed us with an album deal so... half of the album was written throughout 2014-15, and the second half over only four-five months this year. Let's see if anyone can tell which one is from which recording session (and no it's not the B side of the LP).
The riffs are written by Thomas, and then he and Rikard works out the arrangements together; I and Anders chip in with thoughts and suggestions every now and then but the major work is done by Thomas and Rikard; that's been the M.O. since the band started 25 years ago and it still works well.
- How can you describe the new material? What would be the main difference from "Cut Carve..."? Do you have any specific goals to achieve with it?
- It is stronger, mainly - a lot more is going on inside the songs, small details you won't notice the first time you listen but is there waiting to be discovered by the interested listener. There's a bigger difference between the actual songs, you're not going to doze of and not remember which song you're listening to because it all sounds the same (as the case often is with brutal death metal). Since there's only eight songs on the album, ranging from 3 to maybe 5-6 minutes, each song stands out on it's own. It is without a doubt the strongest, heaviest album from Deranged, with the best musical performances and most interesting riffs. There's a conscious thought behind every action and sequence, nothing happens automatically.
- Rikard is the only original member, how is it to work with him like? Since he is in the band from the beginning, does he have the last word in the decisions?
- Given that he has a much longer history with the band, both working with the material and going on tour (so many anecdotes!), he can approach the band and compare with earlier work and actions in a different way than we "newcomers" (seven years for me, nine for Thomas and five for Anders); knowing what mistakes not to repeat etc. However, when Rikard rejoined the band, it was outspoken that we should work as a democracy, where no-one has more or less say than another, or more or less responsibility - he did after all choose to leave band because everything with interviews, promotion and organizing gigs, landed on his table and he got sick of it. Fully understandable, even with an underground band like Deranged, the workload can grow immense. So no, even though some people from the outside seem to think that it's "Rikard's band" (including earlier members who probably don't even know who I am), it's a democracy where each members' voice is equal.
- Who is the artist of the new cover? How is it related to your lyrics? And do you have any main topic of the new songs?
- The cover is done by Mike Hrubovcak, based on an idea by Rikard (inspired by old slasher and giallo movie posters). It is directly related to the crime spree depicted in the title track. Topic? At least three tracks are based on writings, letters and poems from various serial killers, so I guess it falls under the "true crime" banner rather than the zombie focus of our two previous releases. True crime, violent B movies, and some other nasty stuff.
- By the way, how did you move over to Agonia Records? Will you have now a better promotion and distribution? Did any other label approach you too?
- As mentioned before, we recorded four new songs to release as two 7" EPs. Taking the opportunity to send them to a couple of labels, Agonia approached us with a good enough deal to turn down some other interested parties. Yeah, now we will actually be seen in metal media!
- Recently you played at the Maryland Deathfest. How did it go? What are your impressions after that gig and the local audience? Based on what did you create the set-list? Do you have some all-time wanted songs?
- It went very well! We had a blast in Baltimore. We played rather early in the day on one of the main stages, and the sun was scorching hot so you could see people lined up in what little shade they could find, it looked like it was cut with a razor, no-one standing in the sun, haha! But the crowd we had was great, you could really feel the appreciation from old-time fans who never had the opportunity to see us before; guys who wrote letters to Rikard twenty years ago who has been following the band for ages. So the set list wasn't as focused on new material as it is when we play in Europe (Deranged is about what we're doing now, not what we did fifteen twenty years ago), but with something from almost every album. There's always someone wanting this particular song or that, you can never satisfy them all so we focus on the songs we like to perform.
- How are you going to promote the upcoming release? Will there be any European tour?
- We're working with Doomstar booking agency now, so we hope to hit the roads a bit more actively next year. Confirmed right now is a short tour in Spain and Portugal in march/april, and some festivals across Europe. The past two years have been a bit slow gigwise, but this will change now...
- Thank you for this interview, Andreas. Would you like to add anything in the end?
- Thank you! SUPPORT UNDERGROUND METAL!