- Hello, Ola! Alright, let's start with the beginning. How and when did you find out about Metal music? And when did you decide to pick up your first guitar and start learning to play?
- Hey there! I got my taste for metal music from my uncle, who is 9 years older than me. We lived in the same house for all of my childhood and he was very much into hardrock and heavy metal from the 70s and forward.
He didn't have his own stereo for a couple of years in the early '80s, so he had all his records in my mother's apartment, as he used her stereo. So I listened a lot to everything he bought as he sat there and listened a lot.
I think my first memory of thinking "I like this" was when he brought home Motörhead's "Overkill" album in 1979. The drums at the beginning of the title track was my favorite. I mean, I was 6 years old, so those heavy bass drums were cool as hell to me. Then it was all a whirlwind of Maiden, Judas, Venom etc etc etc during the early 80s. Somewhere around the mid '80s I got his Slayer records as well as some other old thrash albums, as it wasn't really his cup of tea. So I started my own collection by getting stuff from his.
Me and a couple of classmates wanted to start a band in 1987/1988. And as none of us really could play we started a punk band. I played the bass, as I felt four strings were much easier to keep track of than six. We played for a couple of months, but the band kinda went nowhere and me and the vocalist (Per, who would later be the God Macabre vocalist) started experimenting with grind. Something that didn't really work out with the old band. So we took the drummer with us (who also was the original drummer of God Macabre) and started a new band. A grind band. That's where I became the guitarplayer instead. So, I picked up the guitar for real in late 1988.
- What were the first Thrash and Death metal bands and how did you find out about them? When did you first meet the local stage and some of the Swedish bands?
- The first thrash bands that I knew of were Slayer, Sodom, Metallica, Anthrax etc. The old big ones, and I learned about them from my uncle. I also remember buying the demo tapes of Damien and Ice Age in 1987, all thanks to them being interviewed on a classic metal radio show on Swedish radio back then. I was a total thrash kid there around '87/'88. I can't say exactly how I learned about death metal, but I do remember hearing Nihilist on the Hardcore for the Masses compilation album and thinking "This is it!". I was already into Bathory, Napalm Death, Carcass and stuff like that at the time, but that pure death metal probably started with that Nihilist track.
We come from a little place quite far away from the bigger cities, so we never really met that much of other Swedish bands. Vomitory was a local band that we did know. We played with them a couple of times, but we didn't play live more than a handful of times, so we never really hung out with any other bands. We did meet a ton of band people at other bands' gigs, but it's not like we mingled with the rest of the scene that much.
- Tell us a bit about the Suppuration Magazine, the one you were the editor of. When did you start it? How many issues did you publish? Was there anyone to help you?
- It was a VERY amateurish affair! Hahaha! I probably started it around 1988/1989. I was already doing a punk fanzine with a friend, but I felt I wanted to do something with death metal and grind as well, so I just started to work on Suppuration on the side. I only made one issue, I was working on the second one when my inspiration just kinda faded away and I dropped it. And I did it all on my own (well, with the help of the bands that responded to my inane questions, that is). It was a nice learning thing, I love working with graphics and layouts, and as I did this on my own (compared to the punk fanzine) it was all up to me to decide how to make things look. I liked that.
I still like working with graphics and layout stuff, so this was the start of something that has been with me all these years.
- In 1988 you still played grindcore under the original name, Botten Pa Burken. Tell us a bit about those days, how did you meet each other and what influenced you to play grind?
- Those days were really fun as those were days that we experimented a lot with the music. We weren't afraid to throw in a lot of different influences, to see what worked or not. Our grind was very inspired of Heresy in the beginning, so we mixed our grind a lot with US hardcore style of riffs. It was a great time. We rehearsed at the youth center, and I think we were there at least twice a week. They only had one rehearsal room, so we shared with others, but it was clearly us who were the dominating band in that place. The rehearsal place quickly started to look like it was our own with us plastering the walls with flyers and gig posters of death and grind bands. And I think we were the only band that took things more serious there.
Me and the drummer were in the same class together at school, for all 9 years. So we were classmates. The vocalist and bassplayer are one year older than us, so they were in the classes above us at school. A small school like that makes it easy for the few metal heads to hang out with each other, so we were all friends at school. The bassplayer was also the next door neighbor to the drummer, so we knew each other for many years before starting to play together.
It was probably Heresy and Napalm Death's first album that made us think that we could do this too!
- Little by little you moved to the Death Metal sound and changed the name to Macabre End. How did it happen? What did make you change your mind and even come up with a different name?
- The name change came about because we started to add death metal parts to our songs, early Pungent Stench was an inspiration for that. We also started to change the kind of lyrics we had, and after a while it wasn't really the same thing anymore, so a name change was needed. To show that this was more serious than what B.P.B. was. If you wanna play death metal, you don't want a joke name like we used during our grind days.
So, it was our love for death metal, our need to play it, that made us change the name.
- Tell us about your demo, "Consumed by Darkness". Where did you record it? And how did you distribute it? Later on the same record was released as an EP by Corpse Grinder Records,how did you get that deal?
- We recorded the demo at Studio Sunlight in September 1990. I think it took us 11 hours from when we arrived at the studio, to when we left with a finished demo recording. It was our first time in a real studio (at least for the four original members, now Stålhammar had joined us and he had recorded with his old bands), so it was an interesting experience to say the least. And we did the regular thing everyone did back then: xerox a ton of flyers and send them out in every mail we sent. We sold all quite fast, if I remember correctly. We also had some really good reviews in fanzines that made people order the demos from us.
I think the Corpse Grinder guy either got a copy from Per or he ordered it from us. Per was the one who was in touch with him and took care of that deal. It was quite fast after the demo was released, so that's also the reason we never bothered with making any more copies of the demo. It was recorded in September 1990 and Jonas was back in the studio to fix some things for the EP version in January 1991, so things happened quite fast between the release of the demo and the offer to release it on vinyl.
- Then, once again, you changed the name to the final one, God Macabre. What was the need for it? And who came up with that title?
- One silly reason was probably that a lot of people here in Sweden seemed to think we said we were called "Macabre Ant". There were probably more reasons though, all I can remember is that I was really against a name change as people started to know about us and recognized our name. I felt it was just gonna drag us back and we would have to start over again to try make our name out there. Today that I'm happy about the name change as I feel God Macabre is a much better name than Macabre End, but Macabre End has a nice little meaning to me still as it was a name we gave the band back in the day when we still were a four piece. It was the first death metal band name of ours. And in a way God Macabre marked the change from our old line-up with the old bass player to the new without any bass player. He still played with us up until September 1991, but he wasn't part of the album, so it's kinda fitting that we changed things a little afterwards.
Jonas' old band, Abhoth, had a song called God Macabre that we had rehearsal recordings of, so I knew of the song. But I don't know anymore who came up with us using that name for the band. Either Jonas or Per.
- In 1993 you released your full-length, "The Winterlong...". How did the recording sessions go? How long did it take you? Did you face any difficulties in particular?
- The recordings were done in December 1991 and it was released in December 1993, so the first difficulty was the long ass time it took to get released. The recordings were really fast. We spent two days on recording the drums, bass, guitars. Then one more day for recording vocals and mix the whole thing. So the whole record took us three days to complete. For some reason I remember that A LOT of the stuff on the record is first takes as we just didn't feel it was necessary to spend too much on things if it worked. There are some glaring errors on the record, but nothing that takes away anything from it.
It was a little bit of a weird recording as Nicke had left the band by the time we recorded the album, so we paid for his expenses to make him come with us and record the stuff we had rehearsed with him up until just a couple of weeks before we had to go to Stockholm. So me, Jonas and Nicke went there first, Nicke was finished after one day so me and Jonas slept in the studio, and then on the second day recorded all the bass and guitar stuff (well, I just recorded my rhythm guitars, Jonas the rest). It was one of those things I think you only think it possible when you're in your teens (me, Jonas and Nicke were all 17 at the time of the recordings, Per was 18).
So, there weren't that many difficulties while recording, I think that stuff came afterwards when it was time to put together a cover and things like that for the record. We worked with a couple of different ideas as it was also meant to be released on a gatefold vinyl version, which then fell through as it was too expensive. If you have seen the live LP that we released some years ago you see the original idea for the cover of the album. And for the longest time the album was meant to be called "Godforsaken". The label also had difficulties in getting the CD released due to the cost, so things took a lot longer than planned. I mean, we had split up more than a year and a half before the album was out. If it had been released early in 1992 (like the plan was) I suspect things could have been quite different for us. We would probably have spent MUCH more time trying to find a drummer and continued with this.
- How did you like working with Tomas Skogsberg? Was it an obvious choice for you or did you consider anyone else too?
- Sunlight Studio was the go to studio at the time, so we really didn't even think of any other possibility for us. It was also a very cheap studio compared to the others, so that also had a big part of why we chose to use it.
Skogsberg was super laidback and very easy to deal with. If you wanted to try something he was always "sure" (something I've learned through the years with other studio technicians that it's not always like that...) and he was aware that we had never been in a proper studio before (when we recorded the demo), so he was very helpful and made things much easier for us. A really great guy.
- Mark Franson did the artwork for you, but who was that guy? I couldn't really find any other of his works. And whom does the concept belong to?
- Per was in touch with him for some reason and he sent Per a bunch of images he had done for no reason more than trying out ideas. We fell in love with them, and as we felt the original cover idea we had didn't work we quickly decided on using the image that we later used. It was just one of many that he sent us and we were like greedy little kids in a candy store chosing whatever we felt like we wanted. So, nothing was done with us in mind, but we got to use whatever we wanted and we used a lot. Many years later we even used one of his original images for a new t-shirt, so his stuff is still important for us.
I was in touch with him back in the old myspace days a little, and he had made a lot of death metal looking stuff early on, but then moved away from it completely. But in the last (then) couple of years he had found back to it and he used the cover image to show off his stuff again. I also think he offered t-shirt prints with some of his images, one of them being the original cover image.
- Was the album released already after your split-up? Why did it happen anyway? Wasn't it only the beginning for you?
- Circa a month before the album was recorded our drummer decided to quit the band, so that's the reason he originally was written as "session member" on the album. We paid for him to play on the album as everything was booked for us.
After the album recording it was time to try and find a new drummer to continue, but back in those days it was a lot harder finding members in such a small part of the country. We had no interest in moving to any other town for the band, so we only looked for local drummers and after maybe 3-4 months of looking and finding absolutely no one we just felt it was time to end things instead of just dragging it out. It was sad to just let things slip away like that as we, like you said, were just in the beginning of things, but we all moved on. I am probably more sad about us not really getting to do what we had planned for the next record today than I was back then.
But, I also look at it like this. We're getting a lot of love these days (we've always gotten a lot of love throughout the years) and who knows if we had continued? Maybe the album wouldn't have been anything special to people as it was just one among a line of albums that got shittier and shittier from us ;-)
- In 2010, H.M.S.S Records released your live album, recorded back in 1991. How did it happen? Where did you find that original record? And do you still have more of those rare stuff?
- I was contacted by John Redfern in England about a possible live LP release. He was working with the Japanese label H.M.S.S. Records and they wanted to make a super limited LP of it. We thought it was a fun and novel idea for us, something we had never planned or thought of before, so it was on. I know I wanted to work on the layout for it, and that was ok with them, so that was all I needed... hahaha. The recording is ripped from a VHS we have from that gig (it was also planned to be released on DVD around the same time by another label, but that just fizzled out into nothing), and I think they might have fiddled a little with the recording in a studio to make it sound a little better.
And like I said in another question, the cover of this Live LP is the original idea for the Winterlong. We don't have much rare stuff as we recorded what we wrote, and then released what we recorded. The song we recorded in 2013 for the latest reissue of the album was the only song from back then that was finished and never recorded. There is a silly remix of the track Consumed by Darkness that we just removed the guitars from. It's been called horror mix, goth mix etc, but it's really nothing
special. Just the same recording sans guitars.
- Since we mentioned your live performances, how often did you play live back in those days? What are the best gigs you still keep the memory of?
- We rarely played live. Probably less than 5 times altogether. The gigs I remember most fondly are the one we also used for the Live LP (Forshaga September 1991) as it was when we were at our peak during the original run of the band. We had good new songs, we were tight and the hours in the rehearsal room started to really pay off. The other gig I have a lot of memories from is the first gig we did with the full line-up. It was still as Macabre End and we played a local music festival (that we were part of running ourselves, lots of punk and metal). It was in December 1990 and after the demo recording, and we started the set with "Life's Verge" (which is the song that we recorded in 2013 for the reissue). The audience went nuts when we played and that was my first time going "OH SHIT! So this is why you play live?!". An awesome evening with awesome friends.
- Since your return in 2013 you've been playing several concerts. Who was the initiator of the reunion? What are your plans so far? Do you consider any new record?
- Jonas and Tobias of Vomitory met at a release party/gig or something and talked about him doing the drums on the track we were gonna record for the reissue of the album. That was the start of it all. We had no plans to play live whatsoever then, but in the studio Tobias asked if we wanted to play as God Macabre at the very last gig of Vomitory. It was hard to say no to that, and that started something in us. It didn't take long until it came out that we were gonna play live for the first time in over 20 years again and we started getting offers that was hard to say no to. We look at this a little like this is our way of getting to do the stuff we planned back in the day, but fell through as we never were able to get a line-up together again and, even more important, having fun together with old friends.
All of us in the band have known each others for many years, so it's great doing this together with good friends.
Our plans right now are a couple of festival gigs late this year and early next year, but that is all. There is no plans to record anything new though. It would be hard to make something that would have to compete with something that has been out for over 20 years now.
- In October you'll play at a very unique Close-Up Baten Death Metal cruise, sharing the stage with lots of cult Swedish bands, such a Entombed, Grave, Merciless and General Surgery. What do you expect of such trip? Do you think there is a possibility for this line-up to appear in some other cities?
- I expect to have lots of fun, get drunk, play a good gig (not in that order though), watch some awesome bands. It's gonna be a very special gig with all those bands in the same place at the same time, so I think it will be a truly great experience.
I do doubt this line-up could happen anywhere else. I think it would take too much to get all these bands together like that for an extended time.
- Alright, thank you for this interview, Ola. Would you like to add anything in the end?
- Well, thank YOU for your patience with me taking forever with this. So, thank you and that is all I need to add.