There is no time for stupid introductions; actually there is no need for a stupid introduction as we are dealing with Death Metal history this time again. Jonas Stålhammar, who was the creative force behind ABHOTH, MACABRE END, GOD MACABRE and UTUMNO in the beginning of the nineties, was so kind to answer the questions about the 4 bands he was involved with which are far more unknown as they deserve, but classics in the true meaning of the word. Try getting the GOD MACABRE CD “The Winterlong” whenever you have the chance to and eagerly await the release of the UTUMNO and ABHOTH recordings on CD somewhere in the (hopefully not too far) future. Now I’ll continue listen to some BOMBS OF HADES songs which are available through their myspace-page, but please read more about them at the end of this interview. I guess this is some band to look out for as the song ‘Twisted Decay’ can only be one of these leftover tracks from the GOD MACABRE days Jonas is talking about in the interview. I’m impressed! Interesting news: BOMBS OF HADES is about to record their first album in autumn this year and could there be a chance to get Tomas Skogsberg from Sunlight Studios to make this the ultimate Swedish Death Metal record of the coming year? We can only wait and see! Enjoy the interview!
Hi Jonas, great that you agreed to answer my questions. I appreciate that a lot. Do you have anything important to say to start this interview?
"All I can really say is that it’s nice to still be able to gain interest from people all around the world about the music we did back in the day."
How does it feel to get interviewed about things happened in your life about 15 years ago?
"I have sort of a love/hate feeling about it. I do appreciate it a lot, but at the same time it’s sort of, fuck, now a lot of people are calling us an influence etc, if this happened when it should have we might have been able to do more records than just one. I had material for at least one more record when we split up. When I say this I mean GOD MACABRE of course."
OK, so let’s start! According to the information I have you joined ABHOTH in September 1989. Did you play in any other band before and how old were you back then?
"I joined MSA in September / October 1988 which would eventually turn into ABHOTH. I was 15 years old. Me and Fredrik (bassplayer in ABHOTH) had been friends since we were 7 years old and had been playing together since then, never in any real serious bands. Mostly we had been playing a sort of mix of Hardcore / Punk / Speed Metal."
ABHOTH were located in Västeras, were there any other bands in this town back then worth to mention?
"In Västerås there were some Speed / Thrash bands but we were the first Grind / Death band in our area. TRIBULATION were the closest thing to Death Metal and they lived about 30 minutes away from Västerås. Magnus Forsberg in TRIBULATION was the tapetrading guru in Sweden back in the mid 80s so I got a lot of demos from him, like DEVASTASTION (Chicago), MASTER, NECROVORE, REPULSION etc. He was a big influence on me and still is. A great friend and a great drummer also."
ABHOTH were one of the very first Death Metal bands in Sweden. How did you get in touch with the guys who formed ABHOTH?
"I met Jocke (ABHOTH) and Staffan (later in UTUMNO) outside a local record store the summer 1988 and we got to talking. I recommended Jocke should buy “Darkness Descends” by DARK ANGEL and we went up to his place and listened to it and talked about music in general. Then Jocke called me up some time after and said I should come and see a show they were doing with MSA. I went there and they were terrible, but they sort of split up right after the gig. Then me and Fredrik joined MSA… Only Jocke and Jörgen (guitar) were left in the band. This was in the autumn of 1988. I was sort of forced by Jocke to play the drums in the beginning since they didn’t have a drummer, and I could at least hold a steady beat. Blast beat that is, haha."
What’s the meaning of the word “Abhoth”?
"ABHOTH was taken from HP LOVECRAFT’s Cthulu mythology. Jocke was heavily into him at the time."
As you joined in 9/89 you were involved in ABHOTH’s first demo “The Matter Of Splatter” and on the following one, I guess? Can you tell more about your time in ABHOTH?
"Well, I played the drums on that first demo “A Matter Of Splatter” after that demo Mats “Masse” Blückert joined the band as drummer and I switched to guitar alongside Jörgen. At this point I was taking over more when it came to songwriting. I wrote maybe like 90% of the music after that. This was a really exciting period in the band’s life I think. We had some really strong songs and we did a lot of shows also which were great, but me and Jocke were fighting a lot over power in the band. And when we were forced to kick Fredrik out of the band it was a hard time for me. He and I had been playing together since we were 7 years old and he just didn’t want it as much as I did. That’s when the legendary Metalion of SLAYER MAG wanted us on a compilation LP he was putting together. We agreed to record a new song ‘Forever To Be Vanished There In’ for him, but that was just when Fredrik was out of the band. We recorded it in a couple of hours at the same studio we did the first demo and I played the bass parts also. It turned out really great I think. This recording is probably the most rare of all ABHOTH recordings and the best one at the same time. Jocke did some amazing vocals and it was just so brutal. ABHOTH never got the same magic again I think. After that me and Jocke argued about the choice of a new bassplayer. We had an important gig coming up with ENTOMBED, GRAVE and XYSMA and he wanted this friend of his who was a shitty bassplayer and he looked like a suntanned, shorthaired mountain of muscle in surfer clothes. I was dead against it and Jocke managed to get Masse on his side and Jörgen was in America at the time so they were two against one so I lost. I had already begun playing guitar with MACABRE END just helping them out with guitarsolos and stuff and I had a talk with Per and Ola and it was decided I should join them permantly. I left the band right after the gig, which went great by the way. I told the soundguy to turn down bass and I downtuned my guitar some more to make up for it."
In 91 ABHOTH released the great “Forever To Be Vanished There In” demo. Believing the cover / booklet you weren’t a member any longer, but you wrote at least the 2nd song on it, right?
"Yeah I wasn’t a member then, but they did a re-recording of ‘To Be Vanished There In’ which I wrote. The demo could have been a real classic if wasn’t for the poor vocals by Thomasz. But he didn’t last long as a member." (I would call this demo a classic anyway, though I have to agree that the vocals could be better! – Thomas)
How does it feel to leave the band when they released such a great demo? Didn’t you regret it?
"Well I left the band before that demo and Jocke had left too to join AFFLICTED."
How was the response back then to your band? Did you get some response from labels and how many copies did you sell from your releases?
"The response from labels was like zero, but after I left I think they had it even harder to attract attention from labels since I was the one who had any contact with the underground, fanzines and labels. Anfinn (who replaced me) did try and I did my best to help them but I had my hands full with MACABRE END and UTUMNO. I was singing with them for maybe 6 months after they kicked Thomasz out and I continued to write their lyrics for some time after Anders Ekman became their singer. I even played the bass on one gig 1992. After that my association with ABHOTH was over."
ABHOTH’s style was really unique as you had probably the greatest guitarsolos back then. I really love them and wonder if you are the one responsible for them??
"This one is hard to answer since I don’t know what time period you’re talking about (actually I’m talking about the “Forever To Be Vanished There In” – period – as I said, for me it’s a classic, and the solos are just amazing!! – Thomas). On the first demo there is maybe one solo I think, and between August 1989 and June 1990 I did most of the solos and after that it was mostly Anfinn who did the complex solos (he is a great guitarplayer) with the occasional screaming whammybar solo from Jörgen."
Judging some flyers I could discover that ABHOTH played live quite a lot. With which bands did you play and what were the best memories of that time?
"To compare to the amount of gigs I do with the band I’m in now, ABHOTH weren’t that busy when in came to playing live, but they were a lot more than MACABRE END / GOD MACABRE did. Most shows were with different local bands. The best gigs I did with them were probably one gig we did in a town called Sala at the beginning of 1990 and one gig in Avesta in 1992 I did as singer with them. UTUMNO did a lot more gigs with wellknown bands like TIAMAT, AT THE GATES and DISMEMBER."
I got told that you were a heavy tapetrader and also had a fanzine running back then. Please tell something about this fanzine and your time as tapetrader!
"The fanzines were fun to do but at the same time I didn’t do them very well. I did two issues but I changed the name for the second issue. At first it was called “Ripping Slaughter” in classic Death Metal style, but I then changed it to “Sorrow”. The second issue was done in 91-92 when I was so sick of Death Metal and I basically gave almost every band a bad review, and made fun of the growing Black Metal trend. The interview with Chris Reifert in issue 2 was really fun to do though. Tapetrading I was really serious with though. It was Magnus Forsberg (TRIBULATION) who taught me everything about the art of tapetrading. I was the only one in both ABHOTH and UTUMNO who was in the tapetrading scene."
In July 1990 you left ABHOTH to join MACABRE END. What do you think about the ABHOTH releases after you left them, like e. g. the 7”EP “The Tide” on Corpse Grinder Records (which I unfortunately don’t know, blame me for that!!)?
"As I said earlier, the demo they did after I left would have been a classic if it wasn’t for Thomasz poor vocals. He’s a great guy but he wasn’t a very good Death Metal singer. ”The Tide” was kinda ruined by a poor production but is still very good I think. Anfinn had some really cool ideas then. I did write the lyrics to both songs on that EP so I was still sort of involved in the band. Anders did some really good vocals on “The Tide”."
Despite the great music ABHOTH releases (“Forever To Be Vanished There In” and “The Tide”) and also UTUMNO’s 7”EP had something really special: the covers drawn by Paw Nielsen. I really like his work a lot (especially the great cover of the PAN.THY.MONIUM 7"). What do you think about his drawings and do you probably know what he is up to now?
"I think his drawings were pretty cool. He had a very original style. I got in touch with him through Magnus Forsberg (TRIBULATION). He even did a drawing for a GOD MACABRE t-shirt we never printed. Still have the original drawing for it at home." (Hey Jonas, do you wanna sell it?? : -) – Thomas)
What do you think about AFFLICTED which Jocke Bröms (vocalist in ABHOTH) joined. Honestly I wasn’t too much into their demos, but I love their debut album a lot. Unfortunately I don’t know the 2nd LP.
"I feel the same way. But they just couldn’t pull of the VOIVOD stuff that they were trying to do, and I thought their drummer was really bad also. But the first demo with Bröms on vocals and the first album are ok I think. It’s funny how me and Jocke Bröms got along much better when we weren’t in the same band anymore."
Before playing in MACABRE END you used to play in a band called PURULENCE. I know this is some kind of pre-MACABRE END. Do you still have some songs / rehearsal tapes available from this time? Tell some facts please.
"PURULENCE was never a real band. It was just me, Per, Ola and Niklas of MACABRE END having some fun. But it did sort of led to me joining MACABRE END. To my recollection we only did 2 rehearsals and I still have both on tape. I played the drums and Niklas played bass in the beginning by the way."
I got to know that you talked with Metalion from mighty Slayer mag about PURULENCE at a CARNAGE gig? What happened?
"I don’t recall talking to him about PURULENCE but that meeting made him interested in ABHOTH doing a song for his upcoming compilation LP."
Then you founded MACABRE END with Per and Ola as mentioned above. How did this take place, especially considering the fact that they were located approx. 250 km away from Västeras where you were living.
"MACABRE END already existed when I got in the picture. I got ahold of Pers Fanzine “Senil Nekrofil” in 1989 and we started tapetrading and becoming good friends. Eventually he got me and Ola to tapetrade with eachother also and the three of us started going to Death / Grind shows together all over the country. Then they asked me to be sort of a session guitarplayer doing solos in MACABRE END and that eventually would led to me joining the band permanently after I left ABHOTH. The distance between us was of course a problem but we worked our way around it. But thinking back now, I think the band would have had a better chance at lasting longer if I had moved there."
What instruments did you play in all of your bands? Sometimes I read you started playing drums in ABHOTH then switched over to guitars. You played drums in PURULENCE, guitars in MACABRE END / GOD MACABRE and sang on UTUMNO.
"That’s all correct. In ABHOTH I started out as the drummer, and then switched to guitar. Guitar was my main instrument. I would be the singer for ABHOTH for awhile after Thomasz was kicked out, and I played bass on one demo and one gig. In UTUMNO I played guitar and sang in the beginning. I did this at the end of UTUMNO also cause Dennis left UTUMNO in our last month of existing. In MACABRE END / GOD MACABRE I handled guitars and on the album I played the bass also."
Tell some words about the beginning of MACABRE END. Did you feel a progression to your ABHOTH days?
"Absolutely. When I joined MACABRE END I felt I had more freedom to compose music as I really wanted to since in ABHOTH the other guys weren’t really aware of all the underground bands like MASTER, NECROVORE, CARNAGE, SATHANAS etc.. They were mostly just listening to the bands who had released an album. But with Per and Ola into it more than me they pushed me into writing the ultimate Death Metal songs."
How did it feel to hold your own record, the 7”EP “Consumed By Darkness”, in your hand?
"It felt amazing. I’m still really proud of that recording. We got such an overwhelming response to it when it came out."
Did you recognize back then, that this is something really special? A classic from my point of view?
"I think we all felt it. “Consumed By Darkness” was such a monster of an intro song and I can still get amazed hearing it. It is such a simple song but so powerful." (you are so right here, one of the most atmospheric songs I have ever heard! – Thomas)
Then you changed the name from MACABRE END to GOD MACABRE. Ola told me it was you who wrote a song called ‘God Macabre’ with ABHOTH. Was this some kind of nostalgia probably, haha?
"I don’t think it was nostalgia, but I remember both Per and Ola really liked that title, ‘God Macabre’, and it sort of stuck with them. And since I wrote that song it didn’t feel strange to use it."
As far as I know you wrote almost all songs for MACABRE END / GOD MACABRE. Were you the motor behind this band?
"Musically I was totally in charge. Per wrote all the lyrics, but I came up with some of the songtitles as well. Per wrote a lot of his lyrics as poems first and would send them to me and I could use them when I was writing the music. When I joined the band it was really to take over the songwriting part. I still have tapes of about 7 or 8 songs that I wrote in the end of GOD MACABRE that we never even rehearsed. I was writing for ABHOTH and UTUMNO at the same time so it was a really creative period for me."
Next was the release of the MCD “The Winterlong…” through MBR Records. The time when it was released you already splitted up. What was the reason for it and how were the reactions to this MCD?
"The reason why the band split up was more or less because we couldn’t find a new drummer that we liked, so we kinda just gave up on it. As I said earlier I wish we would have stuck to it so we could have done a second album since I had so much new material. I’m actually going to record some of it for BOMBS OF HADES. I never saw any reviews of the CD when it was first released, but the re-issue has gotten a lot great reviews all over the world. Which is great cause I think it’s a masterpiece." (it definitely is!! – Thomas)
Were you involved in the re-release of “The Winterlong…” through Relapse Records and are you involved in the first time ever vinyl-release of this masterpiece through Blood Harvest Records?
"Well, I was involved in the Relapse release in the beginning. I re-recorded all the keyboard parts, replacing Skogsbergs cheazy synths with the real deal of a mellotron. We did this at a studio of this guy I knew, but he’s kinda strange and he more or less ruined the re-mix and also wanted more money than was said in the beginning. This made Per and Ola pissed of at me, which I can somewhat understand (I was a bit unreliable at the time due to drug and alcohol abuse and a heavy depression), but I still don’t like it that they did re-mix it again without involving me. I don’t like anything revolving GOD MACABRE not getting my approval. They may have formed the band but I wrote the music and created our sound. I don’t like getting into a pissing contest, but it annoys me that I get to hear about a vinyl release of the album through you and not Ola."
You see this interview isn’t as detailed regarding MACABRE END / GOD MACABRE like the one I did with Ola, but what’s your personal opinion about what you achieved with this band, the 7”EP, the MCD, the re-release of it, now the vinyl release about 15 years later as well as the steady interest and the great words about this band in the underground?
"I’m extremely proud of what we achieved with MACABRE END / GOD MACABRE. It was wonderful time in my life and very creative period. It’s great that we finally get the recognition we deserve."
Seeing everything with a little distance what do you think was the reason why you, even with a fantastic CD in your discography, didn’t get as popular and well-known as many of your colleagues back then? What do you think about the success of some of these bands which started in the same time you started?
"With GOD MACABRE the problem was that we didn’t strike while the iron was hot. If the CD had come out immediately, and we got a new drummer and bassplayer and the distribution of the CD was good I think we would have been quite a big act. Bands like ENTOMBED, DISMEMBER, GRAVE etc deserve every bit success they’ve had since they were really sincere about their craft, but there was also a lot of shitty bands that got signed between 1992-1994."
VOMITORY covered ‘Ashes Of Mourning Life’ and GOD DETHRONED covered ‘Consumed By Darkness’. What do you think about their versions of your songs and how does it feel to hear their versions on their official releases? Do you know of any other cover versions?
"VOMITORY’s version is amazing. My jaw dropped when I heard it the first time. Mainly because their drummer is fantastic. He makes the whole song. GOD DETHRONED’s cover is very interesting. Not quite as good as our original version (nothing can beat that) and it’s a shame they didn’t get the lyrics right, but I like it when people interpret songs in their own way. I don’t know of any others. Do you?" (no, as far as I know these are the only 2 covers done by other bands – Thomas)
Talking about UTUMNO, did you join them after GOD MACABRE splitted up or was it also some kind of project during your GOD MACABRE days?
"UTUMNO formed in 1990 under the name CARNAL REDEMTION. At first it was just Staffan on guitar, Dan on bass and Pontus on drums. Like a month or so after MACABRE END had done the “Consumed By Darkness” demo I was just hanging out with Dan and Staffan they told me they were about to record a demo and wondered if I was interested in just coming down and maybe do some guitarsolos. And since they didn’t have a singer I also offered to lay down the vocals. The demo itself didn’t turn out that good, but I really liked Staffan musical ideas and I just sort of joined the band without neither of us actually talking about it. We wrote some more songs and did a second demo and this one didn’t turn out that great either, but it was better than the first one. At this point we talked about getting in a second guitarplayer since I wasn’t that keen on doing vocals and guitar at the same time, and after some auditions Dennis got the job. We had already done some local gigs at this point and was starting get some sort of local following. It was one those gigs we recorded through the soundboard and that Ola (GOD MACABRE) sent to Adwin at Cenotaph Records. And the rest is history, haha."
What’s the reason why you decided to use a name inspired from Lord Of The Rings? What’s the exact meaning of Utumno?
"I don’t remember why we choose that name. It was Dan or Staffan’s idea."
As far as I know you released with UTUMNO one demo called “Twisted Emptiness” and the great 7”EP “The Light Of Day” through Cenotaph Records. Everything worked out pretty fast back then, right?
"Yeah, we did one demo under the CARNAL REDEMTION and one demo as UTUMNO before the 7” and the MCD. Fast is not the right word if you wanna talk about dealing with record companies etc. when it comes to UTUMNO."
Then you got your MCD on Cenotaph Records, too, and for me this “Across The Horizon” is a mighty Death Metal release current bands would be proud of. How was the response about it. How many copies of the 7”EP and the MCD did you sell?
"Thanks a lot. I like it too, except some minor things production wise, and one guitarsolo that I think is terrible. As with GOD MACABRE, UTUMNO had already split up when the record was released. I can’t even say when exactly it was released since we had no contact whatsoever with Adwin who ran Cenotaph. After we sent him the master DAT of the album and some photos that a friend of ours took we never heard from him again. He simply disappeared. I am still puzzled about it. I got ahold of the CD through a friend from New York who was on his vacation in Europe and found the CD in Germany. And then I got ahold of maybe 5 more copies through wholesale when I was running my own recordstore, and those copies I just gave away to the rest of the band. The 7” sold out its initial 2 pressings of 1000 copies each, but when it comes to “Across The Horizon” I have no idea."
Let me ask you how these contracts looked back then? You released the 7”EPs with MACABRE END and UTUMNO and two MCDs with both bands. How did this take place and who arranged everything like copyright, legal stuff, payments and so on?
"Hey, we were all still about 16 – 17 years old so we had no clue at all. We were just happy to be releasing records. But most of the guys who ran these small labels were almost as young as we were and had no idea also, so they have no copyright control over that music nowadays. I am starting to take control over all my material from those days, so nobody (not even other members) can release them without my permission."
UTUMNO were in my eyes far more brutal than your former bands. How do you judge UTUMNO compared to ABHOTH and MACABRE END / GOD MACABRE?
"UTUMNO may have been much more far out when it came to the music and the vocalstyle, but I still think that GOD MACABRE was the most brutal. It was much more about sludgy riffs, horror and the dark side. UTUMNO was the most original of the bands. We never ever set out to sound like anything else. And we were blessed with an incredible riffmaestro in Staffan and a fuckin amazing drummer in Johan Hallberg."
Talking about covers, as much as I love the Paw Nielsen drawings I wonder why you decided to use the rather boring cover from Kristian Wahlin for UTUMNO’s MCD. He’s a great painter and he did great covers, but this is really not so good I think.
"You don’t like it? You think it’s different from his other art? Well, that’s the point of it. I gave him specific instructions that it shouldn’t have any blood or evilness about it. The album was called “Across The Horizon” and that’s what the cover is all about. It really says something about the music and lyrics that are on the record. I was still a bit disappointed that he drew some skulls in the waterfall, but a song like ‘In Misery I Dwell” is about killing yourself and what comes after death."
When and why did you leave all this Death Metal stuff behind?
"It wasn’t so much about leaving it behind but about moving forward. As you know we were all very young when we started listening to this kind of music. I have always been a total music freak and have always listened to a lot of other music than Metal. I was into a lot of Hardcore / Punk in the eighties and at the end of it I was beginning to get really excited about stuff like THE CURE, FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM, MUDHONEY, SOUNDGARDEN, SONIC YOUTH, UNION CARBIDE PRODUCTIONS, DINOSAUR JR etc.. and then I discovered PROGRESSIVE ROCK like: YES, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, KING CRIMSON, GENTLE GIANT, GONG, PINK FLOYD, etc. and since then I have gotten myself into a lot of cool stuff like Jazz, Soul, Stoner, Black Metal, Singer / Songwriters, Country and tons more. My record collection is huge and has always been that way. I just love music and it’s all about what makes me feel good. The past years I have gotten back the feeling I was first got when it comes to Death MetalL and find myself listening to old demos and records all the time."
Coming back to your 2nd, well actually 3rd band. Ola placed this GOD MACABRE / MACABRE END-page on www.myspace.com (www.myspace.com/godmacabreend). What do you think about this?
"I think it’s great. More people find out about us and mainly you get the real story of the band. Most of these pages about Death Metal have gotten it all wrong."
Do you think there is a chance to see such pages also about ABHOTH and UTUMNO?
"There is a good chance there will be pages about those bands also. I just haven’t had the time to get around to it yet. The ABHOTH page will probably be done by Jörgen since he kept the band going for so many years after I left."
In this case I guess you recognized this new myspace-community with all these old bands like GOD MACABRE, GOREMENT, CRYPT OF KERBEROS among others? What’s your opinion about that?
"As I said earlier I think it’s great."
Seeing it now with a distance of 10-15 years which was the best band you played in and what was the greatest time?
"I think they’re all great in their own right. ABHOTH started it all for me, MACABRE END / GOD MACABRE was the ultimate Death Metal band and UTUMNO was the most original of the three. But if I had to choose I’d go with GOD MACABRE."
Do you have some great anecdotes?
"To be honest there wasn’t that much of anything happening. I did go to a lot of cool gigs and for like 95% of them I was sober which most of the others there was not. All I can really tell you is that at most of these gigs for example it was the same people and they where always incredibly drunk. Like Tompa (AT THE GATES, GROTESQUE etc.), he was always passing out and missing every band he intented to see. A lot of people where like this. When I read these books (“Swedish Death Metal” and “Choosing Death”) it strikes me that they are quite different from other books about artists or music genres. There’s hardly any drugs. I’m sure they came later (as it did for myself). A lot of alcohol yes, but no drugs. Sure people were smokin’ pot but hardly anything else. My only association with drugs and Death Metal back then was Chris Reifert. But if I was talking to you personally I could probably go on for hours about gigs we went to or played at back then."
What do you think made the bands you played in different and special from the other comparable bands back then?
"I don’t know really. That’s probably easier for an outsider to answer. UTUMNO was really different in every way but so was the other two bands but in a different way."
Considering the fact that you wrote most of the songs in MACABRE END and GOD MACABRE, couple of the songs of ABHOTH and partially also wrote some songs for UTUMNO how do you feel about that?
"Great. I wrote a lot of music back then (well I still do) and at one point when I was writing for all three bands was a really creative period for me. I just love writing music."
Most of the recordings you are playing on are recorded in Sunlight Studio with Tomas Skogsberg. What was the magic behind this studio that almost all Swedish Death Metal bands back then recorded there?
"Tomas was just such a laid back person and very easy to work with. I remember him staying some hours after we had finished in the studio just listening to cool Progressive Rock records with me and talking about cool analog synths and mellotrons and stuff. The magic was probably just that there was never any pressure working with Tomas. I remember a lot of people accusing him of making every band sound the same in the studio, but the truth is that most bands wanted that sound to begin with. He was trying to push bands to sound different but they wanted his standard production. I think UTUMNO was the first band to ever record there with real drums, since he only had a set of electronic D-drums. Our drummer Johan simply refused to play on any other drums than his own."
What about JEHOVA SUNRISE? Never heard anything about this band but it’s mentioned in your biography!
"I read this a lot on the internet, but to be honest with you I have never played in a band called JEHOVA SUNRISE. I think I had some sort of project called that for a while (after a song by the great Swedish band THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES) in the 90s, but after UTUMNO I didn’t play in a real band until I joined Ola and Per in SPACE PROBE TAURUS in 1999. My son was born in 1994 and put my focus on him. I still wrote a hell of a lot of music and I did do a lot recordings also, but they were all done by myself. It was mostly progressive instrumental music. I started to play the organ back in 1995 also and was mostly composing on that."
Do you know the books “Choosing Death – The Improbable History Of Death Metal & Grindcore” and “Swedish Death Metal”? If yes, what do you think about them, especially for you as one of the participants (in a way at least!)?
"They are both great books, but I think they could have been done better. They should have done them in co-operation with a real journalist, since I think it’s such an important part of music history."
What were your personal musical influences back then and what are your influences now? Did you grow old probably, hehe?
"Of course I’ve grown old, that’s inevitable. My influences back in the day I was composing for ABHOTH / GOD MACABRE / UTUMNO was stuff like: TROUBLE, MASTER, PARADISE LOST, AUTOPSY, DISCHARGE, REPULSION, BLACK SABBATH, NECROVORE, DEVSTATION (Illinois), NIHILIST, CARNAGE (the demos only), DISMEMBER (demos only), FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM, PINK FLOYD, VOIVOD, GRAVE (demos only), SATHANAS, IMMOLATION and probably tons more. As I told you my record collection is huge so what I listen to now is a lot, but at the moment I’m really into: WILCO, APHEX TWIN, MIDLAKE, KING CRIMSON, ANEKDOTEN, ANDREW BIRD, TAKEN BY TREES, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES, SILVERBULLIT, DIVISION OF LAURA LEE, AUTOPSY, SLAYER, MORBID ANGEL, DISFEAR, THE RULING CLASS, SEVEN FEET FOUR, ENNIO MORRICONE, BO HANSSON, JOHN COLTRANE, MAGMA, BJÖRN OLSSON, PINK FLOYD, VOIVOD, ARCADE FIRE, DUNGEN, THE FLAMING LIPS, MERCURY REV, BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE, THE PRETTY THINGS, BLONDE REDHEAD, WHISKEYTOWN, THE HELLACOPTERS, DINOSAUR JR, EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, HOT CHIP and I simply worship GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR." (holy shit – and I already thought that I am musically open-minded… – Frank)
Are you still in contact with some ex-members of your former bands? What are they up to right now?
"When it comes to ABHOTH I see Jörgen like once a week, since he works at a local music store and I go in there to buy stuff or just to say hi to him. He and Masse still play together in the band DEAD AWAKEN who are great by the way. Jocke I see once in a while, but not that often. Fredrik seems to have disappeared of the face of the earth. Don’t know what he’s up too. Last time I saw him was in 1999 or something. When it comes to later members I’m still in contact with Dag the bassplayer. Anfinn lives in Los Angeles for many years and has even been doing music for pornomovies. Anders Ekman the last singer and I play together in BOMBS OF HADES. The UTUMNO guys, well Dan has recently moved back to Sweden after having lived in Japan for a couple of years and I see him and Staffan every now and then. Dennis has disappeared I think, but I’m trying to get ahold of him since he has the mastertapes of all the Sunlight recordings UTUMNO did. Pontus the first drummer I haven’t seen in years and sadly Johan Hallberg commited suicide in February 2001. Miss him. Great guy and a great drummer. When it comes to GOD MACABRE, well, me and Ola e-mail eachother from time to time. The others I have no contact with. Should probably contact Per, miss talking about music with him."
What do you think were the greatest Swedish bands back then?
"Probably CARNAGE, NIHILIST, ENTOMBED, GRAVE, GROTESQUE, AT THE GATES, DISMEMBER, DEVOURMENT and DARKIFIED."
What’s your opinion about bands like EXCRUCIATE or EVOCATION trying it again and what do you think about something like the Masters Of Death tour last year with UNLEASHED, GRAVE, DISMEMBER and ENTOMBED?
"Since I have started to write and play Death Metal again I think it’s great. I salute all the old bands."
What did you think back then about the other scenes like the one in Finland or Norway? Was there some kind of competition going on before the Black Metal trend started?
"The whole competition thing I think started with the Black Metal scene. Before that everybody was friendly and supported each other. I think the Swedish scene was the best but that’s mainly ‘cause we had more bands. Finland only had 2-3 good bands and in my opinion Norway only had DARKTHRONE (still amazing), MAYHEM and CADAVER."
How does it feel that someone is still interested in your bands ABHOTH / MACABRE END / GOD MACABRE / UTUMNO so many years after seeing them splitting up? How many interview requests do you get during a year?
"It’s great to see that a lot of people still have an interest in those bands. The interest has really grown over the past 2 years. The last 12 months I have gotten 4 different interviews about all three bands."
Do you have any plans to release the recordings from ABHOTH and UTUMNO on CD like it happened with the old recordings of GOREMENT, EXCRUCIATE or will hopefully happen soon to NIRVANA 2002? I would love this idea
"UTUMNO is in the works but I’m still working out all the details around it, and I’ve had talks with Jörgen about doing ABHOTH stuff also, so it will happen."
I bought this GOD MACABRE t-shirt available on www.deathevokation.com a while ago and admire it a lot, could you think about releasing something like that by your own, probably also from your other bands?
"I would like to do t-shirts that are not only size XXXXXL which seems to be the case with GOD MACABRE. Those shirts have great motives but I want them in a smaller size. I want a t-shirt to fit and look good on me, not look like I’m wearing a tent."
You surely know that your bandmate Ola Sjoberg is doing this great radioshow called “Darkness Descends” on www.solarfall.com. I’m not sure how much you are still interested in Death Metal, but doesn’t it bring back great memories from this era?
"I haven’t had the chance to listen to his show, but I bet it’s great. Ola has always had great taste in music (and movies for that matter) so it’s probably a first class show." (it is and brought me back so many great memories!! Everyone should check it out and have a look on www.myspace.com/mondodarkness to download the shows!! – Thomas)
What do you think about the current Death Metal scene? Are you still interested in Death Metal? Tell me your all time favourites!
"I’m not so much into any new bands, but DEAD AWAKEN, DEATH BREATH and ABSCESS really blows my mind. Otherwise my alltime favourite Death Metal Bands are probably: MASTER, DEATHSTRIKE, PARADISE LOST, AUTOPSY, CARNAGE, NIHILIST, ENTOMBED, GRAVE, GROTESQUE, AT THE GATES, DISMEMBER, DEVOURMENT, NECROVORE, MORBID ANGEL, CARCASS, DEVASTATION (Illinois), BATHORY, SATHANAS, IMMOLATION (their demos), and probably 20 more I forgot."
Well, let’s come back to the present, could you please tell something about your hobby Death Metal project BOMBS OF HADES? Is that just for fun or do you also plan to release something (or have already)?
"It started out as just a Crust / Grind band for fun but has turned into something more serious. I just found it to be so fun and satisfying to write oldschool Death Metal songs again. The band consists of myself (on the last few demos I play every instrument) on drums, vocals, guitar, Anders Ekman (ex – ABHOTH, now with THE RULING CLASS) on guitar and Martin Larsson (he plays with me in THE COLOMBOS) on bass. We have material for 2 albums so an album will surely be done in the near future. Check out www.myspace.com/bombsofhadesmusic until then."
What about your current main band THE COLOMBOS? Which instruments are you playing there and is this just a hobby-band or do you take it serious?
"Oh THE COLOMBOS is so far from a hobby band. It’s probably the most serious band I have ever played with. I play a vast array of keyboards (organ, mellotron , Wurlitzer, pianet, synths) and guitars (electric, Lap steel, baritone). We have been playing together for 5 years now and released 2 EPs and just released our debut full length album on Regain Records (yes the Metal label). We have done over 60 live shows over the years with bands like THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES and DIVISION OF LAURA LEE. We play some sort of psychedelic garage Pop / Rock. Check us out at www.myspace.com/thecolombos."
OK Jonas, did I forgot anything? I surely did, but I think it would hurt you even more to get another bunch of silly questions. So let’s call this the end of this interview now, thanks for the time you spent answering it. I really appreciate that. The last words are for sure yours!
"Thanks a lot Thomas for the interview and sorry that it took so long for me to answer it. I hope you’re happy with my answers though. Be sure to check out THE COLOMBOS and BOMBS OF HADES and take care mate. Cheers." (thanks to you, Jonas, I don’t care for the delay at all, as your answers paid back everything!! Thanks again and keep me posted about BOMBS OF HADES and the upcoming CD-releases of the UTUMNO- and ABHOTH-stuff! –Thomas)