HENRIK PALM (EN)

-Hello, thank you so much for answering to our interview. How’s everything going? What’s keeping you busy?
All good here. Pandemic sucks but I just stay busy with my dayjob and listening to records and/or watching movies. The usual routines basically. 

I have a few musical projects in the works however:
SPHYNXS: Metal Urbain meets Chrome meets Hellhammer. Drum machine-driven and fuzzy as fuck. A cassette is coming ASAP. Mega stoked for this one.
A.I.D.S: Project with members from Wolfbrigade, Kite and Anti Cimex. Like Discharge but with some industrial and heavy synth-sounds. A 12” is coming in the spring on the mighty La Vida es un Mus-label.

Other than that I’m touring with my friend Mattias Alkberg during the fall here in Sweden. It’s gonna be great fun.
I have some songs written for HP3 but that can take a while before that becomes a record. No stress here! 

-How, when and why did you decide to go solo?
To be honest I don’t know if I have decided yet if this is the way to go or not hahah. But it feels great anyhow. I guess it was an experiment to test some ideas I had left from both Pig Eyes and In Solitude. Tor Sjöden (Viagra Boys, drummer and co-producer on “Many Days”) pushed to do it with my own name instead of a silly pseudonym and that was basically it. His and other friends’ encouragement was the push I needed, really.

-You’ve previously been involved in several other bands, from SONIC RITUAL to IN SOLITUDE among others. After having played music with different individuals and in different music styles, what does your solo project provide you on a more personal  level?
Musically I don’t have to compromise with anything really. That’s a strength I have picked up through this. Nothing is set in stone and that’s what I like about it. My goal is to use this as a vessel to fulfill any musical idea or need I have. I guess that’s the point of going solo anyway. It’s not like I’m gonna start to sing in French or start messing with drum & bass. But I can and I will do whatever I want no matter what and I don’t give a fuck what people think of it. I can also just pull the plug whenever I feel I wanna do something else. Total freedom. 

– Does having your own project provide you some kind of self-confidence? Or do problems/challenges also make you grow with a stronger determination? 
Yeah sure it does. Yet I don’t try to be too self aware ‘cos that can really fuck up the creativity. Being “alone” (which I’m really not, I have some lovely friends and people helping me out all the time) is of course challenging but you just have to trust your instincts. If you are unsure of something just go with it and see what happens. 

-Last year you released your second album, “Poverty Metal”. I read while on “Many Days” some of the songs were written at first as tunes for PIG EYES, this time all the songs were written specifically for this album. What effect would you say this had on the final outcome?
More cohesive I guess. I felt more free and open and happy in general which spurred it all in the right direction. To me personally Poverty Metal is a happy record. Believe it or not. 

– “Poverty Metal” sounds a bit like a pun, or a satire. It even has that gothic typography a lot of bands have used. Could you shed some light on the meaning behind the title and on how you came up with it?
My friend Henry of Impure/Electric Assault Records-fame enlightened me with this term when I visited him in New York City a few years ago. He told me the members of the Canadian band Cauldron used it as a term for old bargain bin heavy metal from the 80’s. The records hardly anyone cares about. I just thought it was a perfect title. It opens up your imagination. To me the title also could mean like “You do as good as you can” or something in that sense. Any heavy metal band in those bargain bin piles of records probably thought that the music they did was just as good as Judas Priest. And it didn’t go all the way most of the time but that’s how it is and that attitude should be cherished more sometimes. That’s my pretty confused answer on the title haha.
The whole gothic imagery fitted well with the title since Venom’s “Black metal”-cover has the same font and style in a way. A little bit of good ole’ nerdy references here and there all over the record and that flirt is just one of them. 

This time there are a few guitar solos here and there, a lot of fuzz too. And weirdness. Did you have a clear vision in your mind about how the album should feel/sound like or has it developed itself in a more spontaneous way? From the writing to the recording or even the mix, do the songs get new life?
Yeah it was all in my head from the start. Initially I wanted it to be more grim, rowdy and psychedelic. I had bands like Flipper, Blue Cheer, The Stooges, Hellhammer and other noisy assholes in mind. But I came to realize that I’m too much of an emotional wimp to go all the way with that kind of balls to the walls-racket so it all changed when me and Simon (Söderberg, producer) started the pre-production. That’s when the sound and the overall vibe of the album started taking form. I wanted a bit more loose sound, more fuzz and guitar solos ‘cos I missed that a bit on the first one. And I think the playing of drummer Daniel Moilanen (Katatonia, Runemagick) really shaped the sound even more in the right direction. That’s when I got that gut feeling that I lived on for the rest of the recording. I think we achieved all the goals I had in mind and all the others’ lovely contributions really took it up a notch.

-The album is as ugly as it is beautiful yet always dark and heavy. This builds some sort of imagery. A sonic/mental landscape. What inspires this “imagery”? A mix of inside and outside influences maybe? I think I sense some sort of a horror vibe?
It’s all gut feeling really. I don’t try to analyze everything so much. I just want the song to flow and hit you like a knife in the stomach. 

-Speaking of horror; any favourite movies or books?
Uh! The list is endless. But here are some – more or less – hidden gems:

The Resurrected (1991) – for the seriousness
Besökarna (1988) – the only really good Swedish horror movie
Chopping Mall (1986) – for the lovely silliness.

When it comes to books I read a lot of biographies about music and cinema. Hardly any fiction. Maybe someday. But a book I’ve been heavily into recently is Stephen Thrower’s amazing “Beyond terror”, which covers the entire career and life of Lucio Fulci. Every movie gets a very detailed run through and every page is a feast for the mind. Highly recommend it. It weighs a ton and looks amazing on the shelf, which doesn’t hurt either.
Another book I’m deep into now is the Video Forex-collection which collects all of the issues that came out 1997-2004 in a robust hardback book. Video Ferox was a Swedish movie fanzine which mostly covered horror, sleaze and other weird stuff. Very funny and informative, yet it’s only available in Swedish.
And last but not least I have to mention the new biography by Steve Sylvester of the mighty Death SS. What a fucking band and what an insane story. I instantly wanted to transform myself into a horror obsessed, Satan worshipping glam rocker after reading it. Get it NOW.  

-In fact I feel like this record works a little bit like a movie in the sense that it has a beginning and an end. Why this formula? What stories are you telling here? What do they deal with?
Yeah I like albums with a clear beginning and an end. Like it’s a whole piece and not “just” pieces put together. But that varies too. I like both Devil Doll and Dead Moon so what do I know? But I guess you can compare it to a movie. Dramaturgy is important and both my records have a certain degree of “acts” which the track orders are built around.(I can also fill in here that I studied cinema history at the university here in Stockholm for a year and it really made its mark on me).
I like to construct it that way because I wanna give the listener a chance to come into my world for a moment and stay there till the end, if they want. It’s made to listen right through and I wanna make the journey as pleasant/unpleasant as possible. So I put a lot of effort into that. In fact the order of the songs was set even before I recorded the album. So I had a clear idea of what I wanted it to feel like, the ebb and the flow and all that crap. There is really no proper storyline – the album is not lyrically thematic in any way – but I hope people’s imagination takes them wherever they are comfortable.   

Sound-wise it mixes Rock n’ Roll with the energy and aggressiveness/attitude of Punk and a bit of Post Punk’s dark atmosphere, elements à la VOIVOD and many other different nuances. It feels like a free expression of darkness and deterioration somehow. What does, not the music, but the ethos/spirit of different music styles bring or influence what you are doing? 

I just write my little songs and this is how it turns out. I don’t have a formula or a checklist of influences or things I wanna include just because it is supposed to fit a certain style or narrative. I experiment a lot with the odd guitar tuning here and there, maybe try some new sounds etc but the songs are the main focus. I’m a music lover/nerd so I listen to music 24/7 so it’s really hard to pin down any certain influences or style. I guess some influences are obvious but usually it’s because some stuff is so integrated in my DNA rather than being a conscious direction. So it comes from everything really. Be it Cirith Ungol, Billy Childish or Flying Saucer Attack. Or a Sergio Martino-movie. Or a bad day at work, a nice day at the beach or a bike ride in the rain around Stockholm. Inspiration and influences are everywhere.
But I certainly have a sweet spot for the weird and the avantgarde and if I can I want to push that element even further. So that could be more of a conscious thing in the songwriting process. I mean I worship people like The Residents, Chrome, This Heat, Univers Zero, Captain Beefheart and Throbbing Gristle and that experimental approach. So yes, I’m a pretentious asshole that rather not take the easy way out all the time. So hopefully more uneasy listening-music in the future.

-The cover artwork made me instantly think of RUDIMENTARY PENI. It’s very raw and Punk-looking (just like the cover of your debut) and with a lot of elements. How and who did work on it? What is it a representation of?
Yeah Rudimentary Peni is a huge inspiration for the cover art and the music as well. TOTAL genius. Sebastian Murphy (also in Viagra Boys) who did the cover knew exactly what I wanted and he improved my very vague ideas in spades. I just wanted something extreme and scary to clad the whole thing in. Contrasts, madness etc. I think the covers tie in really well what I want to explore and express with the music. 

-“Poverty Metal” was crafted and released during a pandemic. Has this record become some sort of haven for you? A form of escapism?

No it became more of a waiting game rather than escapism paradise. The album was recorded right before the pandemic hit big time so after that I just had to figure out a way to kill time. So it’s mostly been a harsh reality during the last year and a half. Mostly working my ass off at my dayjob. I work with people with special needs and I really like that. But everything has been alright considering none in my family, close friends etc have been severely sick so I can’t really complain. A strange year nonetheless.
But the whole two weeks recording of Poverty Metal were pure joy and escapism to some degree. Everybody was at the top of their game and it was a 100% pleasant experience. I got reminded why I do this and that is because it’s FUN. That’s what it’s all about for me right now. 

-All this about “Poverty Metal” being said; how would you describe it in just 3 words?

Better next time. Trust me! Go! 

I believe this project feels very DIY. And more like a way of working or having control over a creative process, I also feel the term “DIY” relates more to an aesthetic, to an ethos. It’s something that somehow makes certain releases feel more passionate and real, even rawer. Was to really make it feel like a DIY thing something you were consciously looking for? Or is a matter of freedom? 

Hmmm… Well I guess it’s a bit DIY by default. I’m very aware that I’m not gonna sell a hundred thousand records anyway so DIY is the most realistic way to go for me with this “project”. And that feels just absolutely amazing to be in this position where I can try out things without anyone interfering or trying to force me to be commercial, whatever that is in this day and age. And I wasn’t really looking for anything consciously then to make the best album that I possibly could at this time.

-And finally what’s next for you?
Doing some Scandinavian gigs during the fall. Hopefully a lot more during 2022. We’ll see. But first I need a some fucking time off from my job. “Give me paid vacation or give me death” like Diamanda Galas (almost) said. 

That’s all from our side, thanks again for your time. If you’d like to add some final words, feel free to do it.

FUCK FASCISM. FUCK NAZIS. Stay healthy, stay clean and have fun.


Tania Giménez

Tania@queensofsteel.com

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