– Hello, lots of thanks for answering our interview. How is everything going into the GRAVE’s camp right now?
Hi there, this is Tobias Cristianssson answering the questions today. Well, things are looking better and better considering what we and especially Ronnie went through since his heart failure in december 2014. Ronnie was put into coma and we didn’t know if he was going to even survive. It was pretty devastating and surreal for all of us. I visited him in the hospital and it was quite heartbreaking to see him the first couple of times with all the tubes and wires connected to him. But he recovered very fast, the doctors were very surprised about his quick recover, they said it was not usual for someone who had gone through those kinds of things. Considering that Ronnie was dead for about 20-30 minutes you can literally say that we are back from the dead!
– You have a new album coming out soon, “Out of Respect for the Dead”; how are you feeling about it?
We feel very pleased this time around. It took longer than expected to finnish the album because of Ronnie´s heart failure. He had recorded the drums, but everything came to a halt when this happened. So we didn’t do much until we noticed that Ronnie was on his way back properly. Now when the album is done I think we all feel something special about considering all the things surrounding the recording process. This album is very pissed off and in your face classic Swedish death metal.
– This is your second release with the band. After several line-up changes GRAVE has been through do now you feel like this is a really strong one?
I joined Grave in 2010 and I have been feeling very pleased about that ever since. I love to play this style of death metal and since i grew up listening to Grave as a young teenager in the early nineties it still feels like an honor that i can be part of the legacy of one of the pioneering death metal bands in the world. I must say when Mika joined the band it definitely felt like the last piece of the puzzle came to place, he is a real energy boost with his personality and he is one hell of a good musician. Grave have been through some line up changes over the years, but i know its difficult to play and go on tours every year if you have a family that also calls for your attention. I admire bands that can keep their line up intact, but those bands are very very few i must say. But now Grave have been constant and stabile for some years and i feel we are a strong unit. Just come and see us live and I´m sure you will understand what I´m talking about when i say that we´re a strong unit.
– Your previous “Endless Procession of Souls” saw your comeback to your old label, Century Media. What prompted this after doing a couple of albums with Regain?
Well, Regain messed up their business pretty good. They had a very good stable of bands such as Dismember, Nifelheim, Vader, Dark Funeral, Behemoth etc. I don’t really know what went wrong but they screwed up their business so much that the whole label went down the drain. So i guess going back to Century Media felt pretty natural since thats were Grave started the carrier and CM was definitely interested in pushing the band again.
– In fact now Century Media has some strong old school Death Metal bands as MORGOTH, ASPHYX or EVOCATION in their rooster, among some other young bands but also playing that style, as the now defunct MORBUS CHRON. Do you feel like CM is a good home for bands like GRAVE?
Yeah! They have a great line up of bands don’t they?! Just too band that Jag Panzer, which is one hell of competent us metal band is not on CM anymore. But otherwise yes, CM is one of the strongest labels for death metal out there. They have a pretty diverse style of bands nowadays but Grave was one of the early bands on there together with Unleashed, Tiamat, Morgoth, Asphyx etc. and a lot of those early bands are still out there making gigs or tours to some extent. I don’t what whats up with Tiamat these days though since i read a while ago that Johan Edlund had left the band. They guys on the Century Media label are really cool guys, music lovers really, and they come to our shows when they can to hang out and have a few beers with us. Its a very friendly atmosphere.
– Also Century Media has recently announced their whole catalog is also available on Spotify. What are your thoughts on this and on the effect the Internet has had on the music industry? Is it a handicap or rather a good way of promotion?
Its a double sided sword i must say. On one hand its nice that people can get hold of and consume music, you can check out bands that you would never hear otherwise. But the fact that is not good is that bands can not survive only on record sales these days which makes some bands rely on touring to have an income, and the more bands that do like that the harder it gets for any band to have and income on touring as well because its a constant flow of tours and gigs going on from bands on all levels. I guess there is a reason why some bands refuse to hand in the towel even if they should. Well, Mötley Crüe are saying they are doing their final tour now, so lets just hope they stick to their word, and Black Sabbath just announced that they will do a final tour as well, and the same thing there, i hope it will stay like that because there is way to many old heavy metal bands that start to make fools out of themselves when things are not even sounding close to what we are used to hearing on those old classic albums. Another thing that streamed music brings is that people don’t have patient to listen to albums anymore, not even a full song. If they are not satisfied after some seconds you can just switch to the next track. Things are really different if you paid for your music, and i know this myself, that i listen more carefully if i have bought an album for my own saved money, you will take more time and give the album more chances if you don’t like it at the first listen because you paid for the damn thing. I remember when i was young and i had just bought an album and i could just not wait until i could go home from school so that i could listen to that album again. Kids today will never feel that excitement about an album, because you can just plug in your earplugs and listen to a song or two whenever there is time for it. And i think the whole knowledge about bands and music will go down as well, its not as relevant today when all you have is a file on the computer and not a physical album that you hold in your hands where you can read the lyrics while you listen to the album or read information about where it was recorded and so on. Well, on the other hand is so ease to just google something that you wanna know if you want to find something out but it really does not challenge you at all, and when you have googeled to many things in a row you will only remember a tiny bit of it. And the same goes to music, if you listen to one song or half a song from 10 bands in a row just to check it out i guess it will be hard to really remember everything that you just listened to. Its like having 10 small plates of different food in front of you, i guess it will feel confusing after a while to separate what you liked or didn’t like so much on those plates.
– In fact with this new effort I think you go back to your roots, not just because of returning to CM, but also because the whole album has a overall old school approach, with the groove albums as “Soulless” had. Was this what you were looking for? Did you have a clear of idea of the sound you wanted to get before starting the creative process for this CD?
Im glad that you feel like that. Grave have always been deeply rooted in the old school style of playing death metal and it will always be like that. We didn’t specifically look for that, i guess thats just how it comes out. Its a natural thing and there is no need to complicate things. Its plain and simple meat and potato you know. We gathered riffs and ideas for songs before we started to put the songs together, but there was no special direction that we were talking about beforehand. Just as long as its brutal, dark and twisted evil sounding riffs everything will work out fine.
– What are some of the musical influences behind this album? As I hear a lot of things of the early GRAVE still with certain DEATH or AUTOPSY details, and even certain subtle Thrash elements.
Early on in Grave´s carrier the thrash bands had a huge importance on Grave´s sound, bands like Deathrow, Destruction, Dark Angel, Celtic Frost and of course Anthrax, Slayer and Exodus. I think when Corpse changed its name to Grave they were starting to look to the new sounds that were being creating from bands such as, Death, Carcass, Autopsy, Slaughter etc. When Grave down tuned the guitars the sound changed drastically, you can really hear the difference it makes if you listen to the Corpse version of «Into the Grave» and then the version thats on the debut album. Its the same song but the sound is totally different because of the down tuning of the guitars and of course also the more guttural growling vocals of 1991. When you write death metal riffs thats basically what comes out, its based on thrash and the very early death metal bands. I know Ola is enjoying some newer black metal bands such as Craft, Urgehal and Satyricon but apart from that i think its just the good old stuff that counts as influences.
– In fact in some ways follows the pattern both «Endless Procession of Souls» and the «Morbid Ascent» EP had, being more diverse, with well-written songs, combining slower, creepier tempos, with relentless assaults and lengthier tracks. Was this something you were consciously striving for? Maybe keeping the same line-up for these three releases had something to do?
I think keeping this line up together has also shaped the sound of these releases you mentioned. When i write for Grave i also want to keep it simple and organic, if i want to play complicated and technical stuff i can do that elsewhere but not in Grave. My influences when i write is actually Grave, the early records that i used to listen to as a youngster. The last album have all been recored in the studio Soulless with Ola doing all the engineering so i guess that also helps for keep the sound strong and solid.
– Nevertheless I could say this is one of your angriest albums ever. Do your emotions and moods affect what you are doing with the band?
You can get angry about many things, just turn on the news and you will see. Its a fucked up world we live in today. But i think its just the influences of the band that shines through, we all grew up listening to pretty raw and fast music like all the thrash and death metal bands i mentioned before. There is really no reason to wimp out and go soft after all threes years. I think when death metal bands get soft they also lose the core fans. Well, you have bands that really progress and develop to something else and i totally respect that, but in those cases you can most of the times hear that there was a progressive side of that band from the start anyway. Me as a person, im not really a angry guy at all, i would consider myself as pretty laid back and relaxed so i guess playing death metal is a way of getting some angry feelings out of the system.
– Once again the artwork has been crafted by Costin Chioreanu. How did you work on it? I guess having worked with him for several relases now make things easier?
Costin is really a wizard of what he is doing. I don’t know how he can come up with all these great and freaky ideas for the album covers. I definitely feel that this is his best work for Grave so far. I really love the artwork and layout for the new album. So i guess you will have to actual buy it to be able to check it out. I think he manages to capture an old school death metal vibe that i like with his paintings.
– And finally, what are your near-future plans?
We will soon go on a 4 week european tour together with Malevolent Creation from november to december, so if you can check it out live please do so. It will blow your ears and eyes to pieces! Its a full on death metal attack for sure! Im really stoked to go out on the road again. This time we will play in Turkey for the first time ever, so im really excited about that. After that we will have a break and then come back with more tours in 2016. Im not sure where we will play next year but our booking agency is working on that and im sure next summer we play as many festivals as we can. So once again, if you wanna have some dark, evil party death metal go and check us out.
– That has been everything from my side, thanks once more for taking your time. If you now want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Thanks for the interview, it was fun to answer these questions. Thanks for supporting Grave and metal music.