– Hello David, thanks for taking your time. How’s everything going right now into the THE DAGGER’s camp with the release of your debtu album?
Hola! Everyhting is just fine in the daggercamp. We’re so happy about the release and all the great reviews. The response has been absolutely incredible worldwide. Europe, south america, USA and Japan are really diggin’ the dagger..We just had a releaseparty here in stockholm and we played more than half of the album on stage. We had great fun!
– First off, how did a band like THE DAGGER get together? Being involved well-known musicians, specially into Death Metal, why did you feel the urge of forming a band rooted in Blues, 70’s Hard Rock and 80’s Heavy Metal?
Because we love old hard rock. Fred and I played death metal for more than two decades and felt like we wanted to do something different. Playing hard rock was a challenge because we have to write all the vocal melodielines. (With dismember I only wrote gallopping “maiden-parts” as instrumentals). With Mr Kärki at the microphone we didn’t have to worry about that obviously.. And I think the most honest way is to form a new band and NOT under the name dismember! Both for the fans and for us.
– As I said, you have a really classic sound yet diverse so, did you have a clear idea of how you wanted to sound and what kind of style did you want to play with THE DAGGER?
Yes, we did. Right from the start we knew how we wanted to sound. Both musically and on record (a very “authentic” sound). Our songs are very much to the point, not to long and with a lot of melodies. We do believe in good melodies. Both vocal- and guitarmelodies. I’m personaly a big fan of twin guitar harmonies. Iron maiden, thin lizzy and wishbone ash are a very big influence for me. And when Jani recorded the vocals for the album, I was suggesting a lot of harmonies for the vocals to. And I think he did an amazing job! We also decided to record the whole album live in the studio to get that groove that many bands today are missing. That’s the problem today, bands tend to concentrate too much on being so “tight” instead of perhaps letting a few “mistaces” pass through, like we did. But the feeling is there and that’s what matters. Overdubbed guitars in hard rock doesn’t sound good in my opinion. We also didn’t use any click-track for the drums. Just listen to the spontanious drumming and the bass in the end of “dogs of warning”. I think a rock band should rehearse together as a band and record in a real studio. In 2014 it might be old fashioned when you can get “help” from these damn computors to send files to eachothers to record “your parts” and put it all together but that’s so boring and without soul, passion or any feeling. LISTEN when you play and don’t focus on looking at the screen. I really hate the production on new metalalbums, it’s a joke! So stiff and boring. Bassdrums sounds more like the soundeffect from old movies when someone gets hit in the face. The drumsound in the seventies would always sound more authentic and “real”.
The two first years we rehearsed a lot and all of us came up with loads of riffs, melodies and exiting ideas. After a while we had to sort of “stop ourselves” and concentrate on a few tracks so we could record a demo to eventually find a singer. We recorded a five-track demo in 2011. (The demo contained one of Tyrants songs). About the bandname, we heard that there was a band already called dagger from arizona so we (after a great deal of persuasion from our manager) changed the name to THE dagger. We recorded quartz’s “mainline raiders” as a cover at the sime time as the other songs for the album. Fred mixed it so we could release it. The b-side is a very rough and raw version of “dark cloud” from our 2011-demo. Jani just added the vocals to it. Tyrant plays the second guitar on it by the way.
– In your line-up you had Tyrant for a while, so back then you had two guitar players and now just one. Are you looking for a second guitar?
Tyrant played with us for about four years. He was very very driven and exited but he left because he wanted to focus on nifelheim. They had a tour booked at the same time we were about to record the album. I actually asked him to rebook the tour so he could play on the album but it was already booked so I simply played the guitars myself (Exept for some guest-solos by Robert Pehrsson and Nicke Andersson). We really didn’t want him to leave. He was a “true dagger” in that sence. He has a lot of bad luck, getting old and losing hair…If you’re rich, have thick hair and a fortunate life, you have nothing to do in the dagger, haha. Now we have Robert Pehrsson as a second guitarist. He’s a great guy and a stunning guitarist who plays very much in “the seventies-spirit”, which I like. It really suites the dagger. We would never bring a fast “new school”-guitarist…
– In fact, if I’m not mistaken, JB (GRAND MAGUS) almost became your singer. What happened finally? And how and why did finally Jani took that place?
Janne actually asked us to be our singer but (sadly) after a few rehearsals he just realized there wouldn’t be enough time since he put most of his time on grand magus of course. But he did have enough balls to tell us the truth and wish us luck and we do respect him for that. He would have suited us perfectly otherwise. He’s a great singer, very cool stagepersona and he’s a true hardrocker! He actually put vocals on the tracks “skygazer” and “dogs of warning” from the 2011-demo and they sounded great. His voice sounded great especially on the track “skygazer” with his bluesy vocals. Anyway, a while after Fred heard a song from Jani’s old band sideburn he said, “what a bloody good singer this is” and he was right. We simply played a few tracks from our demo and asked if he would be interested to join us, he was. We are so happy we found him! What a vocalperformance on the album, if I can say so. He’s very easy to work with and he can really be a cool frontman on stage. That is also a very important part for us, the visual part. We could never bring an unsecure guy with short hair and no personality. I think personality, passion and feeling always come before technical skills. First heart then brain, you know..The only thing we told him was “go and get a leatherjacket now and you’re in!”.
– Now you have just released your self-titled debut album, which has been released by Century Media. Your EP was released by High Roller so, why moving to Century Media for the full-length? In fact they still have some Death Metal acts that were already signed back in the day so, did this have something to do? As I bet you may already knew the peole at CM.
There was some labels that showed interest in us but we thought that Century Media was the best choice. We only released the 7” on high roller.
– Digging deeper into «The Dagger», the opening track, «Ahead of you All», perfectly depicts everything we can find on the album. Did you put much thought into the track list order?
We did actually. To put “ahead of you all” as the opener was decided at the same second I played the song to Fred. He said, “great song, this should be the opening-track” and I said “of cource”, haha. You are right about that song, it sums up really what the dagger is all about. Twin-guitars, to the point riffs and very melodic. Also the lyrics are very daggerish..”as dark clouds are with me through my memory lane”. We did put very much thought into the tracklist order. Tempos, mood and also in which keys we play them. It’s very boring to have ten songs written in e. I came up with this trackorder and we feel very happy about it.
That’s right. And also on “ahead of you all” which I wanted to give a bit “Lord-feeling” to, especialy on the instrumentalpart. The guy who plays on those songs is called Johannes Borgström. Jani playes on “ballad of an old man”, “1978” and Fred on “call of 9” and “dark cloud”. About “skygazer”, it has this really “old feeling” to it. I was very influenced by early whitesnake and deep purple when I wrote it. That goes for the lyrics to, very much “darker” Coverdale-words there. It’s very simple and melodic at the same time. I really like the twin guitar-parts. That really gave Tyrant some “strange rythms and unusual bendings on the guitar”, as he said. It was actually one of the very first songs I wrote for the dagger. I didn’t want to play two solos in a row so I thought that hammond would be great there. My style of playing solos is not very “variated” so to speak… Iv’e heard from many people that they really likes the organ and that it brings a very suitable “spice” to our songs.
– And how will you transport these tunes to the live scenario? Have you thought about it yet?
That’s been a pleasure to play live together with Robert Pehrsson. We do allow him to feel free to improvise and be spontanious on stage, That’s what the dagger is all about.
– And what could you comment about «1978»? What does it deal with and what inspired it? At least for Rock that was a pretty good year.
That’s true. Many great hard rock-albums was released in ’78. When me and Tobias wrote the music for it, Fred called it “the ’78-song” because he thought it sounded a bit like hard rock did in 1978. We didn’t even think about it very much until we realized that Tyrant would’t play on the album. We were supposed to record two of his songs for the album so we needed an extra song and we said, “maybe we can record that “’78-song”? After we recorded it, Fred put all the words and vocalmelonies. I think it has one of the albums strongest and most memorable choruses. Very catchy. 1978 was also the year when “pre”-heavy metal begun to take form but still the “old” bands would release very good albums. I like the lyrics. You should not be afraid to put a few album and songtitles in the lyrics sometimes. Many bands are so afraid to be labeled “cheesy” or even “silly”. Who cares anyway, really? Don’t take yourselfes to seriously! Personaly I rather listen to someone singing about whitesnake, AC/DC and thin lizzy-songs than boring occult lyrics.
– As I’ve mentioned earlier, you have a quite diverse sound, for instance you also have really Heavy songs, with a special influence from the NWOBHM I could say, as we can find on «Electric Dawn», which I personally think has a certain JUDAS PRIEST flavour…
Judas who? Haha, of course it is 100% influenced by the mighty priest! It’s impossible not to be influenced by judas priest. It has a really british steel-vibe to it. Fred wrote the music and lyrics to it. Very good track. When he played the riff to the verse I could almost hear Halfords vocals in my head. We are indeed not afraid of writing stuff that is deeply influenced by certain bands or artists. That’s the thing with the dagger, we’ve never said our songs are very original or groundbreaking. As long as you have quality songs and a good production that’s what matters at the end of the day anyway. You could be a supergroup-musicians but if you have no ability to write good and memorable songs that no one would remember, no one cares if the songs are original anyway, would they?
– In fact though keeping the spirit and essence, all songs have their own identity, being «The Dagger» a really dynamic album. That makes me wonder how is the songwriting process like. Is it a team effort?
Yes, it’s a teameffort. Even songs which says only Estby or Blomqvist on it still means that everyone has had their input. Everyone would always suggest something and that is good. Of course I put my my nose in the guitar-harmonies… Also arrangement of the songs is something we all would have input on. I wrote all the music for “inside the monolithic dome” for example but Fred helped me with the arrangements. I couldn’t really decide if it was good or not so he helped me. The song has riffs in five different keys. It’s very hard to play. Why the hell did I make a guitar-harmony in c-sharp?…My songs are very Blackmore-inspired because I listen to rainbow and deep purple every single day. They would always have plenty of twin guitar-harmonies and a quite simple structure. Fred is the one who writes with most variation, I guess. And very clever. He would always think one step ahead, leaving a thought to what’s gonna be vocals or not. Tobias songs have a very to the point-structure with sharp and good riffs. My personal favoriteriff of the whole album is the openingriff of “call of 9”. Sounds like a typical Blackmore-riff.
– With such diversity , what sound were you looking for in production terms?
Our favorite-producer is Martin Birch. Fred wanted a drumsound that sounds like drums, which means that you necassarily don’t have to hear the bassdrum as loud as the snare all the time. Guitar that doesn’t need to much distortion and a pretty “clean” bassound. I think he did a very good job pruduce ing it! We pretty much gave him sort of “free hands” to put the sound that he wanted and then perhaps come up with ideas or suggestions afterwards. He knows I want a bluesy and not to distorted sound on my solos and some good old delay. I use the “upper-mic” a lot in my guitarsolos. I hate sharp and overdistorted sound on solos. Think Murray on “killers” and Blackmore on the first rainbowalbum. Another thing that Fred did was to put some “shakers” and even real “handclaps” to make it more groovy. I love it! It might sound silly when I mention it but ALL of my favorite hard rock bands used it on their albums. Ones again, some bands are maybe afraid of sounding “cheesy”, I don’t know.
– On line with the previous question, did Fred as producer look at the album os a whole or you rather went song by song?
I know Fred produced the album as a whole but he also went song by song because the songs differ a lot. Obviously, songs like “dogs of warning” would need a bit more doomy and heavy sound (perhaps like mob rules) and “inside the monolithic dome” would have some more “mysterious” sound with echoes and reverb. The riffy ones like “call of 9” and “dark cloud” need more loud bass and maybe less effects. In “ballad of an old man” there has to be place for the hammond and clean guitars so it was a challenge to mix I guess. On that one I played the solo on a slide for the first time ever to give it a bit Blackmore-feeling that it needed.
– All this out «The Dagger» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Heavy metal rock!
– It’s obvious there’s lately an urge for 70s/80s sounding music, specially when it comes to Rock in Metal, in fact there have been lately popping out from Sweden quite a lot and some really interesting ones. Do you think this big interested toward this style can be something positive for a band like THE DAGGER?
I actually do believe that this interest has to do with how much bands there are today that actually sound like crap. Maybe it’s some kind of backlash at all the too heavy, too tight, too mixed amount of diiferent genres in the same song-bands today? Who really want to listen to a bunch of macho-men in militaryclothes bought at H&M with “threeoctove- casiokeyboard” with warlyrics as a theme? Trends come and go as usual but we would never pay attention to it anyway. If you’re strong and confident enough you don’t really care which way the wind blows..It was the same when we played with dismember, after a couple of years old school death metal was totally “out” and all of a sudden it was “back and cool” again. But we were playing the same style all these years anyway.
Yes, you are right about that. Many journalist just love to name-drop ex-bands and members. You couldn’t have said it better, it’s like a double edged sword. The good thing is that you get much for “free” when they know who you are and that perhaps give us some kind of respect (don’t like like to use that word, but..) and status or whatever but it would also mean that you would automatically have eyes and ears on you as soon as you leave your “comfortzone”, which in this case of course is death metal.. But both me and Fred made it very clear from the start with the dagger that WE wouldn’t even bother to mention who we are or which bands we’ve played in before. It has nothing to do with this. If the kids today haven’t heard of dismember before that’s just fine with us. As I mentioned earlier, it’s very important to be comfortable and confident with what you do. I could always stand up for the bands I like and the ones I don’t like. I mean, in ’91 I was about the only one in stockholm who was wearing an iron maiden-shirt instead of morbid angel and have J.S Bach written on my leatherjacket…
– Finally, what are your near-future plans?
Our futureplans is to come out and play live. We won’t do twomonth-tours but we would love to play live again for sure! We do have a couple of gigs and festivals booked at the moment and the interest from promotors and fans is hugeright now.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Thank you spain for all your support! Wish too see you soon! If you are tired of updating your facebook, throw your iphone away and listen to our vinyl. Muchas gracias! Up the daggers!