– Hello Erik, lots of thanks for answering our interview. What are you currently up to? How is everything going with UNDER THE CHURCH?
Hi Tania, thanks for having us on Queensofsteel! We are busy these days, our debut Ep is finally being released June 16th on Pulverised Rec. The recording of the Ep took place last year and the Ep have been ready to go for quite sometime now so it´s a good feeling that it finally get´s out, we have however already started planning the recording for the Full length album, we have all the material ready and we should be able to start recording in few weeks if all goes well.
– UNDER THE CHURCH is a quite young band, but you aren’t newcomers for most metalehads though. How did UTC born? Why did you feel the need of playing Death Metal together again?
Me and Lars wanted to do some more playing together, and sometime after the reunion gigs with Nirvana2002 we decided to start writing some tunes. it didn´t take too long before we had a bunch of tunes and then we recorded a little demo with the incredibly good title «Demo 2013». Death Metal or not Death Metal…we just started writing riffs and tunes and this it what comes out, it´s great fun to write and it comes quite easily but we are anticipating Writers Block anyday now….
– And where does the name of the band come from?
I nicked the band name from Jörgen Sigfridsson back in 1989, I never had the chance to used the name until now though. It just stuck with me over the years, it just sounds really cool and abit confusing.
– You and Lars played together in NIRVANA 2002, a band that has gained a cult status with the years. Has this fact made easier to not go unnoticed?
Well, when we first put up the demo tracks on Bandcamp we made a conscious effort not to flaunt the «Featuring former members of…», that´s something that record companies do to push their product and i´m sure that Pulverised records will use that too to promote the Ep…as corny as that might be, but it won´t keep me sleepless at night y´know? That´s just how the record industry works, but we have never deliberately used our background in Nirvana2002 to open any doors.
– In fact N2002 «reunited» for a gig at the release party of Daniel Ekeroth’s book «Swedish Death Metal», why did you accept to play there? That was your first show ever as N2002 so, what are your memories from that night?
Yeah, Nirvana2002 played at the releaseparty of Daniel´s book, I could not be there since I was on tour in Denmark playing with a Jazzquartet, there was a misunderstanding with the dates so I could´nt make it, but our buddy Robert Eriksson from The Hellacopters subbed for me, that party was apparently something else.
– Talking about such, do you think Daniel’s book has had any impact on the Death Metal scene at all? As it helped to make younger people and new generations be aware of bands that were playing when they weren’t even born.
Hard to say really, all nostalgia comes and goes in certain cycles, maybe «old school deathmetal» would´ve been hip anyway? But it´s a good book that covers a interesting period of time in music. At the time noone in Sweden were thinking that they were doing something that would be considered classic, it was just kids playing in bands trying to have a good time. All the seriousness and Black Metal doctrine came along later and put a damper on things.
– UTC was also a Fenriz’s «Band of the Week». Being Fenriz so respected into extreme Metal an being having so many followers his «Band of the Week», could you say this had any impact on UNDER THE CHURCH in promotion terms?
That was actually really cool how that whole BOTW thing came about, I had sent a link to the bandcamp page to Wallenberg from Skitsystem to check out, me and Fredrik had a very shortlived deathmetal band when I lived in Uppsala…anyway, unbeknownst to me he forwarded the link to Fenriz who dug the demo and later put it up as his BOTW. Fenriz is not only funny as fuck and extremely talented..he also have impeccable taste, so it was of course very cool to be BOTW. Promotion wise that sort of stuff does way more than say, 2 pages of advertising in Metal Hammer..haha!
– Last year you released a demo and now you are back with your first EP, «Under the Church», which is just pure Death Metal, plain and simple. How was like writing again after so many years? Or while you weren’t active did you still write something?
It was no different to write those tunes for the Ep this time than it would have been in 1989, we just try to write songs that we would wanna listen to ourselves but no one has written yet.haha! I´ve been writing and playing all kinds styles of music for the past 25 years, so I never stopped writing, but it´s true that it´d been a while since Lars and me had done any new deathmetal tunes so it was about time.
– The band is formed by yourself, Lars and Aussie singer Mik Annetts whom, if I’m not mistaken is, like you, residing in Iceland. How did you find him and why did you think he was the singer UTC needed?
I met MiK here in Reykjavik a few years ago, he´s just perfect for this band, he´s a rugbyplaying aussie and a all around cool dude. He has been in a few other bands and knows how to deliver the vocal goods.
– As I said earlier, «Under the Church» is just Death Metal, but there are also Crust elements, Rock nuances and Thrash details. You somehow follow the stereotypes and don’t try to break new ground but, how easy is to have this slightly own and diverse sound without stepping away from the Death Metal roots and ethos?
I think I understand what you mean when you say Stereotype, every style of music has it´s » Aesthetic Framework» so to speak, and that´s not a bad thing at all, however if one just mimic and just do the same thing as every other band without putting any thought or personal input into the music then yes, then it can be Stereotype. I admit that there is a few nods to certain bands here and there in our tunes, but thats really more of a Homage thing rather than ripping off. But it´s true that we don´t break new ground or try to break any molds, we just try to write the best death metal tunes we can.
– There are also songs that manage to really stand out, such as «Haunted by Demons», which is almost Doom-laden. What could you comment on this track?
The slow part is sortakinda in that Candlemass/Trouble vein but when you put that wahwah guitar on top then it will sound like Autopsy by default, but that´s ok, when the tempo picks up it´s almost like a Wolf Hoffman riff, i´m really happy how that tune turned out.
– It also caught my attention guitar work here is really diverse, it has certain thrashy riffs, then almost Heavy Metal solos… How did you approach your guitar work? What styles or guitar players do you think were an influence for the EP?
I wouldn´t go as far as calling my guitarplaying «diverse» quite yet, I just learn stuff as I go along, haha! I couldn´t find any guitarplayer to play on the Ep so I had to do it myself… learning by necessity. For guitarsolos i´d like to think of myself as combining the randomish frenzy picking of Mille Petrozza with the whammybar of Rick Rozz, there you have it, my style! As far as rhytmguitar goes it doesn´t get any better than Uffe from Entombed.
– In fact I think with the mix you have given guitars a really important role, and production in general sounds really thick, raw and organic. How did you work on it?
Oooh that´s a secret tone setting that one only can get by invoking the gods of Boss HM2 and Gibson, they do demand a sacrifice in Beer and sweat though. The guitar sound on the demo was even better I think, it got a bit too polished in the mix unfortunately.
– Throughout the last years or decades gear and technology has changed/improved a lot so, how easy was to keep a natural sound in production terms? How easy was to keep that traditional essence?
Gear and technological gadgets will only get you so far….90% of a individuals sound on the instrument is HOW you play not WHAT you play on, it´s all in the hands. Also being broke helps when getting a raw sound, you simply cannot afford going in to a expensive studio. haha! Having said that, I personally feel that deathmetal should be filthy and raw, that´s the aesthetics of this music….a too clean and polite sound is not the way to go.
– Cover artwork was crafted by Spanish artist César Valladares (whom also did your new logo). How did everything arise and what input did you guys have?
Cesar did all the artwork for the Ep, Cesar is genius and I didn´t have to say anything, I think I sent him the tracks and what they were about lyricwise and he came up with some pretty cool looking stuff. Also I have to mention Fannar Örn who did the artwork for the demo and the original lofo, he´s also a genius and drawed some really gnarly stuuf for the demos.
– With the cover and lyrics it’s obvious you like to keep the topics: blapshemy, zombies… In fact I think lyrically you have a somehow cinematic infuence but, where do you draw inspiration from to write them?
Topics in the lyrics are Zombies,Selling your soul, Demons…we´re keeping the good traditions going! Good deathmetal lyrics should be a bit confusing but be delivered with 100% confidence to have full effect.
– All this about the «Under the Church» EP being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Raw Death Metal.
– Nowadays there are coming out and still rolling a lot of Swedish Death Metal-worship bands. With so many bands, is harder for a DM band to stand out or rather the opposite, as it seems to actually be a strong interest for this music style?
It is true that there´s a million bands around nowadays and everybody have access to the same channels (internet etc), good bands will always be around doing interesting music. I don´t know how to describe this other than that a band have to be true to what they wanna do regardless of style or what is hip or not, you just stick to your guns and don´t give up, that´s pretty much it.
– Anyway things have changed a lot since the 80’s/90’s. How do you think has the Metal scene evolved since then in general? It it been for the better or rather the opposite?
More bands would be the obvious, there´s like gazillion bands now. The mainstream metal scene is huge, it´s hard to tell if that´s a good thing or not, good bands will always be around.
– Coming back to the EP, here are featured all the songs your demo contained so, do you have any other songs written? Do you plan releasing a full-length album?
Yep, we have around 20 tunes that we´re working on, but we will most likely settle on 10-12 tunes for the full length, the perfect length of a deathmetal album is around 30-40 min anyway. We will start recording in a few weeks.
– And finally, what are your near-future plans? How will you support this new «Under the Church»?
Hopefully we will be able to start playing live soon, we really wanna go out and play live as much as possible.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Thanks for the interest in our band and for the support!