Have you ever heard about a band from Växjö, Sweden called FURBOWL? Some of you might have and some of you don’t. But I am sure that all the readers of Voices From The Darkside can handle the term Death’n’Roll, right? The majority of people might have ENTOMBED on their mind. Of course these guys were to most successful band sailing under the flag of Death’n’Roll during the mid 90s. But did they invented this kind of music? No, they didn’t. So which band came up with this funky music? Who played Swedish Death Metal in the early 90s and mixed it up with ingredients like Hardcore, Punk, Rock’n’Roll and Gothic? Which band wanted to be different and broke the traditional chains of Swedish Death Metal? Of course it was FURBOWL! Let’s check out what drummer Max Thornell has to say about the band’s history and the re-release of the debut “Those Shredded Dreams”…
Hi Max, what’s up? Hope everything is fine in the capitol of Sweden. How is the Death Metal scene doing these days?
"To be honest I ain’t got a clue! Can’t really say I’m that updated. Haven’t been to a Death Metal gig in ages and well…guess I’m not as interested nowadays as I was back in the days. Just ain’t got the same feeling anymore. Then I think most of the stuff that’s called Death Metal nowadays is way to “perfect”, polished and neat. No charm at all. Well, it’s just not of any interest to me. Well, ENTOMBED, DISMEMBER and GRAVE are still doing the thing good though!"
Let’s start immediate with our little questionnaire. Here we go. How is it to be the unsung inventors of Death’n’Roll music? Or perhaps where have you guys stolen this kinda sound from? ; -) *lol* Just kidding. How did you guys come up with the idea of mixing Swedish Death Metal with a Rock’n’Roll impact? Was this a natural process within the band or a result of massive brain storming?
"That is pretty much what came out when we begun playing. It wasn’t really anything we planned. I guess though what was a bit different about both me and Johan was that we were pretty openminded when it came to music. We listened to like everything that was good. I mean every genre seem to have some good music. Ok, maybe not all genres, he he! Then I guess that we were a bit tired of playing that ordinary Death Metal, and as we both loved bands like THE CULT, the rock elements came in pretty natural in our music."
What were your musical influences back then? What bands inspired you most to create this Death’n’Roll sound? Would you say, that you guys still dig to these bands nowadays?
"To be honest I think we listened to like the same bands back then pretty much as we still do. When it comes to extreme Metal I’ve always prefered Swedish and British bands though. The British scene have produced great acts like Napalm Death, Carcass, Bolt Thrower, Intense Degree and also a bunch of cool punk and HC bands etc. And we liked the Swedes like Entombed, Dismember etc. In the American scene I guess that we both liked Morbid Angel and Death and then I was also into Terrorizer and O.L.D. To sum it all up I’d say that we pretty much loved and still love all the Earache releases back then. Then I guess that bands like The Cult, D-A-D, Sabbath, Uriah Heap, Kiss, Sisters of Mercy, Poison Idea and a bunch of more made bit of an impact on us. So I guess that’s pretty much the bands that still make my world tick."
When exactly have Johan and you founded FURBOWL and under which circumstances? You guys started as a duo. Was it a just for fun project back then or had you guys serious plans to start a new band with additional people?
"We both played in a band called Devourment back in 1990 (a fuckin’ great band, check out their "Shallow Grave" EP if you ever get the chance to!! – Frank) but felt that the band wasn’t really doing what we were out for. It was more straight forward Death Metal and I guess we wanted to do something else which lead us into FURBOWL. FURBOWL meant no limits and a flow of ideas that wasn’t really possible in Devourment."
Before Nicklas Stenemo joined the band in 1993 on guitar, how did you 2 guys handle the situation when it come to rehearsals and live shows? Had you permanent additional musicians around you or just hired guys when necessary?
"Well, the first album was recorded as a duo, but with great help from Michael Amott (Carcass / Arch Enemy). Then we did a couple of gigs with two other guys in the line-up, but we came to a point where it just didn’t work out, so we decided to go on as a duo again. Then we ran into Nicklas that at the time was in another band, but we sort of nicked him. He was more sort of a rock guitar player (was totally into Randy Rhoads) which also defined our sound."
When did you play your first show with FURBOWL? Can you remember how many people showed up and how they responded to your music? Because of your impure Swedish Death Metal, was the reaction positive or negative? I guess a lot of people expected a type of CARNAGE follow-up!? Because of Johan’s former band!?
"Yup, I remember the first show pretty well. We played in a Swedish town called Halmstad. It was actually arranged by Jocke, who now plays live with me and Johan in Hearse. The gig was just great, real chaotic and a great responce from the audience. The gigs at those days were real cool. Not that organized, more Punk, more chaos and more just going with the flow. Still remember one of the organizers words to the sound technician; “I don’t care if the sound is good tonite, just as long as it is loud!!!” That was pretty much the attitude back then and I really still dig that!"
On “Those Shredded Dreams” Johan’s former bandmate Michael Amott (back then active in CARCASS) helped out on lead guitar and as co-producer. How did this joint venture come together? How important and big was Michael’s influence on the debut? Was this a kind of a reinstatement? Because a few years earlier Michael Amott kicked Johan Liiva out of CARNAGE?
"If I don’t remember wrong it was Michael’s own idea to join us on this little trip. Guess he was bored hanging out at home inbetween tours. It was super having him on board as he had a lot more studio experience than me and Johan. He helped out with the sound a bit and also came upwith some ideas plus that he also did two guitar solos for the album."
You played a European tour in 92 / 93 together with THERION, who still played Death Metal back then! Those were the days, right? *lol* Was this your first tour as a band? What funny stories can you tell us, when some young Swedish dudes are going crazy in a tour bus across Europe with lots of cheap alcohol? How was the comradeship between the bands back then?
"Touring with THERION was great fun and we came along very well. The guitar player now works at a music store here in Stockholm which means good buddy prices. We actually did two tours with THERION, one Sweden tour and one Germany / Belgium tour. To be honest I don’t remember that much from those tours. Remember the tour manager nagging all the time about how unprofessional we were. Then this dude acted extremely professional at the last gig of the tour, an open air one. He was so fucking stoned that he was just lying straight on the ground, was totally uncontactable and had lost our backstage keys. Germans!!! He he!"
Where would you say received FURBOWL the best feedback from the audiences? Did you ever have had problems with the Death Metal "scene police"? Have you ever received a harsh feedback by some ignorant fans? What were the funniest insults you have ever received for playing your music?
"Well, we always had real good album reviews, except in the local paper, he he! When playing live our hometown back then, Växjö was always good. Remember we were a bit annoyed about not having any threats from the Norwegians, he he! Felt like every godamn Death Metal band in Sweden got threats about being “life Metal” and stuff, but we didn’t. Guess noone cared about us, he he!"
There is a story mentioned in the Swedish Death Metal book (yeah… everybody has a copy) about FURBOWL opening for DECIDE in Sweden. The story says, that evil Glen of DECIDE doesn’t wanted to have too many opening acts on the billing. So he kicked a few of them (including FURBOWL) from the billing. Is this a true story? If yes, how have you experienced the whole Glen Benton show back then? This guy also had some trouble with some animal welfarist and feminist organizations, right? So have you ever seen the DECIDE shows back then and how was it seeing the evil rule the stage? *lol*
"To be honest I don’t really remember what happened, ha ha! But that story just might be the truth. I remember that we were on the roaster, but then I guess that Ben Glenton thought that there were too many bands on the poster, I don’t know really. A bomb detonated during the DEICIDE gig. Don’t think that anyone was hurt though. Who actually let the bomb go off was never revealed as far as I know. I wasn’t there. DEICIDE has actually never interested me much to be honest. I saw Death, Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel back then and that was pretty much the American Death Metal bands I liked so…"
I would describe FURBOWL as a band who was very different than other bands. Not the typical traditional Swedish Death Metal outfit. A unique band with an own sound would describe it good, I guess. In your opinion, what other Swedish Death Metal bands delivered also a very unique sound or style? What other bands would you call leaders and not follower?
"Yup, I guess we pretty much had a style of our own at the time. Nowadays it’s nothing new about mixing in other styles in Death Metal, but back then I guess that not many did. Hmmm… leaders not followers? When the first ENTOMBED album was released that sure was something new at least to me (even though I’d listened to their demos before)! The whole sound was so extreme and heavy! Guess they started the whole Stockholm thing and then a lot of bands followed."
Alrighty. After 17 years Vic Records released a re-release of “Those Shredded Dreams”. Why so goddamn late and not earlier? Has it something to do with the rediscovery of oldschool Swedish Death Metal by a younger audience?
"I don’t know really. I guess that we’ve had some interest in releasing the album again a couple of times, but this time it felt like the time was right. The Vic boss is a genuine fan and that meant a great deal. So it’s finally out again which feels great and even greater is that it’ll also finally be released on vinyl too!"
The Swedish Death Metal book might open some doors again for bands from the past? What do you think? Do you think a new and younger audience will pick up oldschool Death Metal again and make something new and creative out of it?
"Some might, but I’ve noticed that a lot of the kids just don’t get it today. They want perfection, a cheesy production and some playing brilliance. I mean, to me VENOM and BATHORY still is the shit! I want a bit of chaos and hellish inferno to get real satisfied and to be honest I don’t find much of that in today’s Death Metal."
Ok. Back to the fine re-release of “Those Shredded Dreams”. How was it for you guys digging in the vault and rediscovering all the great shit which finally made it on the bonus disc. I’m talking about the demos, the live songs, etc. and also the old pictures for the booklet. What were your feelings during the making of? Have you relived our own past again? Please give us a moment full of true emotions! *lol*
"Oh, that was so much fun. I actually found some songs I don’t even remember we ever recorded. I’ve always been pretty good at saving old stuff and the same goes for all the old FURBOWL recordings. Have it all on DAT tapes and recently I made wav files of it all, so now it’s all saved on an external hard disc drive together with a bunch of other old recordings from all my other old bands. And the old pics… goddammit! That sure was a trip down memory lane!"
Do you have further unreleased stuff (like demo / live / cover songs, video clips / footage, etc.) in your vaults, which are worth getting released someday or have you guys offered all available?
"Nope, now I think we’ve used it all. There might be some porta recordings left, but no new songs. Just recordings we’ve made better in different versions. Hmmm… then I guess that we actually had some songs written for the third album that was supposed to be recorded. Remember that we booked time with Dan Swanö and then Johan just left the band, so we had to cancel it all. We were actually talking about recording them some year ago, but we never seemed to find the time (hey, how about re-releasing the complete FURBOWL demos, instead of just excerpts, along with the DEVOURMENT stuff?? – Frank)."
Will you guys reunite for some shows again to celebrate this re-release or this is it? Generally, is there a future for FURBOWL? If yes, what could be next?
"To be honest I don’t think there will be any reunion, at least not a serious one. Guess none of us would really have the time. I mean, times are different nowadays. Jobs, kids and other bands you know. Then Nicklas nowadays plays in a pretty big band that’s pretty active. So unless our government decides to extend our days with a couple of hours I really don’t see it happen."
Ok. Final question for today. What in your opinion are the most underrated and overlooked Swedish Death Metal bands of all time? Please name us your top five and let us know why!
"I sure could make you a list of the most overrated ones, but I guess that really wouldn’t be fair and would just make me look like I was extremely jealous, so I won’t do that. Well, guess these ones aren’t underrated at all, but Swedish extreme Metal bands I really dig are Entombed, Dismember, Grave, Bathory, General Surgery, Nasum, Tribulation (the old ones), At The gates, Arch Enemy, Haunted, Face Down."
Thanks a lot for your time, patience and support. Wish you all the best. Take care.
"Thanx a lot for the interest and support!"