This interview with Stefan was done when FLESHCRAWL were on tour with VADER and VITAL REMAINS, supporting their album "As Blood Rains From The Sky" at the end of June last year. It was helt at the Biebob Club in Belgium and was originally published in Sleepless Magazine No. 9…
FLESHCRAWL is now already existing over 13 years when I’m right?
"Yes and no, next year in August we will have our ten year anniversary under the name FLESHCRAWL, the three years in advance the band was first called SUFFOCATION and afterwards MORGOTH, we were just beginners at that time and it doesn’t have that much to do with FLESHCRAWL."
I guess most of the people out there know that you’re a sort of Swedish sounding band in the old Death Metal style. Which bands were the major influence when you started FLESHCRAWL?
"Our original Death Metal influences were definitely albums like ENTOMBED’s "Left Hand Path" or AUTOPSY’s "Severed Survival", the old CARCASS albums, things like that. Our first album "Descend Into The Absurd" sounds a bit different from the stuff that we’re doing nowadays, it sounds less Swedish, altough we recorded the album already at that time at the Montezuma studios in Sweden. We would’ve liked a real Sunlight sound at that time, but it didn’t work out."
You don’t want to re-record maybe some tracks of your first album?
"Not really, we don’t have to. Maybe one day, there will be a band which covers a song of ourselves (laughs), who knows."
You just said that you’re almost existing for 10 years, are you going to do something special for this occasion?
"I guess that we’ll give a concert in the city from where we’re coming from, which will probably turn out into more drinking than playing (laughs)."
You’re now on the European tour for your latest album "As Blood Rains From The Sky", how is it going so far?
"In the beginning it was really good, also the two gigs in France went really well: we got a good response and sold quite some CD’s and merchandise. The two gigs in Germany and the one in Holland yesterday in Oss, there were not that many people, but I guess it also has something to do with the football championship. VADER has also recently played quite some festivals, they have been around within the last couple of weeks. We’ll just have to see how things are going tonight."
Since you’re on Metal Blade, I guess you’re sharing the tourbus with VADER?
"Actually, we’re with 4 bands on the same bus: REBAELLIUN, VITAL REMAINS, VADER and us. When it’s so hot like today and when everybody is on the bus, not everybody has some space to sit decently. It’s often when we’re taking off in the evening to the next city that most of us immediately go to sleep. In the back, there are always the people who like to continue to party but we get along with each other really well."
Most of the fans will know that you had quite a lot of problems with you earlier record company Black Mark Productions. I guess everything is going now much more smoothly with Metal Blade, since you’re now also on a big European tour, something you always wanted?
"I don’t want to say really bad things about Black Mark, I just think that they really don’t have an idea how to promote a band. They seem to have the idea that a good band doesn’t need any promotion, when they’re good they will sell anyway, and it doesn’t work that way. Even bands like SLAYER and METALLICA which everybody knows still get advertisements in magazines. It also works the other way round: the more bands from a certain record company gets featured in a magazine, the more advertisements they will get. Black Mark didn’t publish much advertisments for us, never did that much promotion for us. All this happenend for over 8 years, so we’re really happy that we’re on Metal Balde now, since we’re really going up now. We did many interviews and we also experience it on this tour."
Does it also happen that some people think you’re a new band?
"Yeah, sometimes that happens, and then especially in countries or cities where Black Mark didn’t do anything, now and then. It hurts a bit since we’re around for already so long."
Would you say from yourselves that FLESHCRAWL is an underrated band?
"It depends on how you look at it. In the reviews we got so far, also for our earlier albums, we never were underrated because we always received very good reviews. So, if you just focus on the reviews, I would say no. If I look at the press, I think we maybe didn’t get that much attention, and that we’re underrated."
I know all your albums, I’m just unfamiliar with the second one, "Impurity".
"Too bad, cause it’s one of my fave albums. I kind of like all our albums, but I really like our latest one and "Impurity". "Impurity" is a bit different from our other albums: it’s still Swedish-sounding but it also has some CARCASS influences in there, a kind of a mixture of NECRONY and DISMEMBER. Our new material sounds more like AT THE GATES and DISMEMBER. "Impurity" has a bit more doom parts, more brutal vocals, it’s a bit more extreme. I think you’ll like it when you hear it."
How do you judge the evolution of FLESHCRAWL over the years?
"We put a lot of effort in the band, we had to have patience and work very hard to get where we’re now. But I guess on the other hand we can be happy as well, because somehow we also reached already quite something. A dream of me is to play in America and Canada, that would be really great. It almost happened once in the past, but then two of us had to go the army for their civil service, so that couldn’t happen. Another dream is also to play in Japan once, because I have a big interest in that country. Japan has an interesting culture, they’re nice people, nice girls (laughs), good food, I would like to go over there once."
I noticed that you were responsible for the layout of the booklet of "As Blood Rains From The Sky", and that you also run a small DTP company or something like that. Do you also make layouts for other bands?
"Sometimes, I did that for quite a while for some other labels, but nowadays I don’t do that anymore, as it’s too much work for me. I did the layout for all our albums except for the first one. I have a Mac computer at home with programs like QuarkXpress, Photoshop and I can work with it rather well, I really like to work with those programs. For example, the cover of our new album is completely made with Photoshop, nothing at all on paper, everything was made on computer. A friend of us made the major drawings and afterwards I adatped it."
On almost each FLESHCRAWL album, you also recorded a cover. For "As Blood Rains From The Sky", you recorded an EXCITER cover, ‘Sword Of Darkness’, why especially EXCITER?
"That was actually my idea. I’m 31 years old, I’m already listening to Metal for a very long time, and I remember very well when the album "Violence And Force" of EXCITER came out in 1984. At that time, you didn’t have what we call nowadays Death Metal, you had CELTIC FROST’s "Morbid Tales" and VOIVOD’s "War And Pain" and then you also had this album "Violence And Force" of EXCITER. Those three albums were at that time by the press labeled as Death Metal. Those albums don’t have that much to do with Death Metal of nowadays but still a little. EXCITER is a band like SLAYER and METALLICA, I grew up with them, and so it was somehow a challenge for me to cover that song and make a real Death Metal track out of it. The song itself is also a rather good song to play in a Death Metal way, we also play it tonight. On the album before, we covered SLAYER’s ‘Necrophiliac’, but it didn’t have anything to do with SLAYER cover boom that was going on at that time."
In the booklet of "As Blood Rains From The Sky", there was written that there’s also a special version of the album which includes an additional cover of the mighty CARNAGE. Which song is that?
"The first 5000 copies of "As Blood Rains From The Sky" also include CARNAGE’s ‘The Day Man Lost’. Originally, after we left Black Mark we wanted to sign to Invasion Records and they wanted us to record an extra track for the Japanse market. It sounds good, I’m rather pleased with it."
Did you perhaps already get a reaction from Michael Amott?
"No, unfortunately not, but we also didn’t send the album to any ex-members of CARNAGE. To be honest, we never really thought about it, we had so many things to do lately: we changed labels twice, we went to the studo twice, the preparation for the tour. Normally when we cover a band, we send them a copy of our album, but EXCITER and CARNAGE didn’t get anything so far. Whenever they would perhaps read it, I’m sorry (laughs)."
You visited all the more known recording studios in Sweden like Unisound, Abyss, Fredman or Montezuma to record your albums. When you reflect them to each other, what would you say was good there, what could have been better?
"Abyss has a very nice surrounding, in the middle of Sweden in the forest by a lake. It has a great atmosphere to relax, Peter of HYPOCRISY is also a very nice person. We were disappointed that Peter had to cancel our date for "As Blood Rains From The Sky", as he just got a major deal for his PAIN project, and so he didn’t have the time anymore to do other things as well. But the Abyss is really good. What I really liked about the Fredman studios is the endmix, Fredrik Nordström did a really good job on that. At the time when we were at the Fredman studios, they were just moving to a bigger place. We could record whenever we wanted, also very late in the evening because they never closed it. Unisound doesn’t even exist anymore nowadays. That studio was a real underground studio, it was located in the basement of a house in the row, but it was pleasant recording with Dan Swanö anyway. We never were in Sunlight so far, we also checked the Tico-Tico studios in Finland out once, and we also got very good impression of that studio."
Are you also interested in culture of Sweden itself?
"Yeah, I like Sweden a lot, but I like Finland even more. It’s also a kind of dream of me when I’m old and retired to buy a small house in Finland or Sweden near a forest and to live there."
You released so far already five albums with really totally uncompromising old-style Death Metal. What keeps you going to stay this aggressive and not to wimp out?
"FLESHCRAWL stands for brutal Death Metal, and we just do our best each time when we record a new album, and I think we really succeeded again on "As Blood Rains From The Sky". I don’t think we would continue under the name FLESHCRAWL if it would ever happen in the future that we would like to take other influences into our music. I think that’s somehow betraying your fans, if a band releases music under a certain name, and then from one day to another then sound totally different. When you buy a BOLT THROWER album, you want to hear BOLT THROWER and not THE GATHERING, with all respect for BOLT THROWER as well as THE GATHERING cause they’re all great bands. I wouldn’t say that Death Metal is my life-style, but Metal, I don’t care about these divisions into Thrash, Heavy and Death Metal. Basically, I think Metal fans listen to the same music, have long hair and deal with the same problems everywhere."
What are your plans when this tour is over?
"I think after this tour I will first take a shower and have some peace (laughs), maybe go on a small holiday somewhere. In July and August we will play at several smaller festivals and at last in September, we have to start to write new songs. And for now, I’m preparing for the show, and afterwards I’m going to watch the football game Germany-England. What do you think will be the score?"
I think 2-1 for Germany.
"Let’s hope so (laughs)… "
The gig was really cool, later on in the evening I met Stefan again and Germany had lost from England with 0-1, can’t be lucky all the time…