When it comes to real cult acts from Sweden there’s at least three names that should get a mention: MEFISTO, MORBID and OBSCURITY. The latter gained themselves a diehard following with their two demos "Ovations To Death" and "Damnations Pride" and still have a lot of supporters because of them nowadays. Here’s an interview with original OBSCURITY guitarist Jörgen Lindhe…
So Lindhe, how and when did you discover Metal? What did you find so exciting in this untrendy music?
"First experience of Hardrock was KISS. The "Love Gun” Album had been released and my mother bougth it to me. On my request of course, I supposed I was nine. After that it was MOTÖRHEAD for a couple of years until VENOM and later SLAYER arrived to the scene. I’ve never listen to trendy people. I´ve always tried to find my own musical ways."
When did you decide to become a musician? How did you turn from fan / listener into musician?
"I’ve always been a musican in a way. I always tried to make songs at an old piano at home."
What influenced you to become a musician?
"When I started to play drums at the age of twelve. I also begun to listen to MOTÖRHEAD. Since then I just wanted the music to become more brutal and dark."
Why did you choose the guitar? Do you play perhaps other instruments as well?
"I played piano as a child. When I was twelve a started to play drums, and 15 I begun to play guitar. I have alwas loved to listen to diffrent sounds. Mostly dark sounds. I also now sing in the band S.K.U.R.K.”
You joined the band in 1986, was OBSCURITY your first act or did you earlier play in other groups as well?
"I was the only member in the band who had played with other people and bands before OBSCURITY. This was useful for the future."
Do you still remember how and when you got into the picture exactly? Were there other guitarists auditioned besides you?
"I don’t think so. There wasn´t a real band. They were two teenagers who had dreams. I was their savior. If I hadn´t shown up the whole OBSCURITY thing would have never happened. I brought a lot of my old ideas into OBSCURITY. I´ve also tried to find some members on my own to start a new band. But they got practical things fixed already, like rehearsel room and stuff like that. It showed me that these two guys were serious about the whole thing."
Was OBSCURITY a three piece act back then?
"Yes, me, Dani and Janne. Me and Janne did the drumwork on the first demo "Ovations To Death."
Did you know guitarist Janne Johansson and bassist / vocalist Daniel Vala earlier already? What about their earlier musical involments and passions?
"No. I´ve never met them before. They were never out."
You came from Malmö, what do you remember from the local scene at the time? Were there any Metal clubs, pubs etc.?
"Hahahaha… No. Malmo had a crap scene. In Malmo there was only some BON JOVI lookalikes. But Malmo is close to Copenhagen in Denmark. So we got over there and watched concerts with SLAYER, VENOM, KREATOR, EXODUS back in 1985."
Did Malmö play an important role in the establishment of the Swedish Metal scene? Are / were Gothenburg and Stockholm always the centers of the Swedish (extreme) Metal scene?
"In the 70s and early 80s their was a Rock and Heavy Metal scene in Malmö. Absolutley not a Black / Death / Thrash Metal scene. Except for a few Punk bands, we were the only band from Malmo who played brutal Metal."
Would you say that OBSCURITY was the first Swedish Thrash / Death Metal band, were you the pioneers of this genre that opened the doors for bands, such as GRAVE, NIHILIST, GROTESQUE, TREBLINKA etc.?
"BATHORY was the first Swedish band who opened the doors of possibilities for the Swedish bands. I think it was an international thing going on. We didn´t listen to bands because of the nationality. We only listened to bands that we thought were great. Music we could bang our heads into pieces with. We didn´t care which country they came from."
Do you agree, that your main influences were rather SLAYER, HELLHAMMER, POSSESSED and KREATOR than BATHORY?
"SLAYER, BATHORY and CELTIC FROST where our main infuences. We also listened to other music that was dark and evil. Acts like DIAMANDA GALAS."
Would you say that BATHORY had the most important influence on the present extreme scene, although a lot of bands appeared at that time such as MERCYFUL FATE, HELLHAMMER, CELTIC FROST, VENOM, BULLDOZER etc.?
"It´s wrong to just pick one band. Every band who had released an album back then made their contribution to the scene."
In your opinion, did the whole Black Metal thing start with the appearance of VENOM or with BATHORY? Would you say, that Quorthon was influenced by VENOM?
"Of course he was. VENOM released their first album 1980 or 81. BATHORY released their first album 1984."
How came up with the name of the band and with the logo?
"Dani did all the artwork for OBSCURITY. He also came up with the name. But he didn´t like it. Me and Janne liked the name. You know "two against one", hahaha”
Were you familiar with bands such as MERCILESS, MEGASLAUGHTER, FALLEN ANGEL or AGONY back then?
"I heard MERCILESS and AGONY, great bands. I also like MEFISTO."
What about the rehearsals of the band? Were you jamming on covers of the aforementioned bands or did you strive writing originals?
"Covers? Never! We have always done this because we wanted to create our own dark and brutal music."
What about the recording sessions of your first demo "Ovations To Death" (1986)? Was it recorded in a rehearsal room or in a studio? Was it your first experience as a band, is that correct?
"First experience, absolutely. It is recorded in a 8-track analog studio. We also recorded the "Damnations Pride" demo in the same studio. The difference was that the studio was rebuilt into a 16-track studio. We also had another sound engineer who was much better. We were also better musicans."
Was the material already written or did you take part in the songwriting?
"Dani alone had composed three of the songs. But we did the arrangments together and the other three songs. Dani wrote all the lyrics."
The drumparts were both played by you (‘Across The Holocaust’, ‘Excursion To Eternity’ and ‘Celestical Conquest’) and by Janne Johansson (‘Spiritual Entity’, ‘The Condemnation’ and ‘Unblessed Domain’), did it mean that you didn’t find a suitable drummer? Was it hard to find a drummer in Malmö who fitted to the band, both musically and personally?
"We where out of drummers for 1.5 years. Back then we wanted to try everyone who was fast enough. There wasn´t anyone. You should know that the people who liked brutal music in Malmö were a crowd of 30 persons. And to find a drummer was impossible."
At which point joined drummer Marre in November of 1986? What about his musical background?
"He is one of our friends and we forced him to play drums. Our plan didn´t work. So one month before the recording day I teached Janne how to play drums. And we shared the drumwork on the first demo. Crazy, I know, but we had nothing to loose."
Did you spread the demo in the underground scene? Did it draw the fans attention to the band?
"Yes. It slowly grew trough the underground scene and all the fanzines who existed then."
Do you still remember how many copies you sold or traded back then?
"It was less then fifthy copies. All the other copies who were spread, was the tapetraders work. Thank you."
How about the songwriting department? Who was responsible for the riffs and stuff? Did you have a big hand into the songwriting yourself?
"Me and Dani made all the material together exept for a few exeptions."
In 1987 you recorded your second demo called "Damnations Pride” featuring ‘Graves Of Rebirth’, ‘Damnations Pride’, ‘Mortal Remains’ and ‘Demented’. What about this tape compared to the first one?
"Better sound, better played, better songs."
On this demo Marre played the drums. Was it easy for you and for Janne to only concentrate on the guitar parts?
"Valle played the drums on "Damnations Pride". Janne and me just wanted to play guitar."
Was this demo a better representation of the band?
"I hope so."
Were you satisfied with the sound of both demos?
"When we had done the first one, we liked it alot. When we had done the second one, we didn´t like the first one so much anymore."
What about the lyrical aspect? Was it something that had a lot of importance in your eyes or was it like something that came next to the music? It seems Satanic topics were privileged
"The first demo’s lyrics were kind of Satanic. But at the second demo it´s only the title track that is Satanic."
Who created the covers of the demos? Did you like them back then?
"It was Dani. We liked them a lot."
What about your gigs and shows? How often did you play live? Did you play only in little underground clubs or…?
"We have never played live. We are going to play our first gig in Stockholm in January next year, 2008."
Would you say that the Death / Thrash scene had a strong background / fanbase in those days in Sweden?
"The people back then were very few but amazingly enthusiastic."
You gained the status of a cult band in the extreme Metal scene, do you agree with this statement?
When and how did the whole OBSCURITY thing end up exactly? What kind of reasons did lead to the demise of the band?
"Different reasons like we were kicked out from our rehearsel place and two members were going to do their duty in the army."
While you split up, ENTOMBED, UNLEASHED, DISMEMBER etc. became the faves of the fans, a great Death Metal boom started in Sweden, how do you remember those times?
"Honestly I didn´t follow it so much. Not in the begining. No one in OBSCURITY did. In the beginning of the second era we thought that all the new bands sounded the same way. It was lucky for many bands from the second era that the record companies now had started to open their eyes for the Death / Black Metal scene in Sweden. Great”!
Would you say, that Death Metal became more and more popular and it supplanted Thrash Metal from the market?
"In a way, yes. But it is only diffrent name on same thing. I mean. HELLHAMMER invented the term called Death Metal. Today no Death Metal band sounds like HELLHAMMER. If we had asked SLAYER what kind of music the play back in 1983, they would have said Black Metal. Their lyrics were Satanic so why not? MERCYFUL FATE did also say that the played Black Metal. All terms are just upside down."
Did you stay in touch with each other after OBSCURITY’s demise?
"Yes. Compared to other bands we had never any big fights. And had always been friends. We are playing right now and are making a few gigs next year."
In 1990 another band called OBSCURITY came from Sweden, from Järfälla. Didn’t the fans mix up the two OBSCURITY’s with each other? Have you ever listened to their stuff?
"No I haven´t. But I know them. I think they changed their name and became a famous Black Metal band. They still play."
You appeared later in FLEGMA and REDRUM, could you tell us more about these acts?
"FLEGMA was a Hardcore band from Malmö. When I started to play with FLEGMA they became a crossover band who mixed Thrash / Hardcore / Goth. I think it was a great band. We did some shows in Italy as well. We did a few albums, the best one is "Flesh To Dust” from 1994 Record Heaven Records. The album got great reviews. FLEGMA also did a song on the "Tribute To METALLICA" album togheter with bands like IN FLAMES. REDRUM was also a great band who existed for five years. REDRUM were played on the national radio several times. Many people compared REDRUM to ENTOMBED. I don’t know. REDRUM still exist in a way. We changed the name into S.K.U.R.K and started to sing in Swedish. S.K.U.R.K still exists and released an album last year "666 Personligheter”. It is the same drummer who played in FLEGMA, REDRUM, S.K.U.R.K and now also OBSCURITY. His name is Martin Brorsson."
Between 1992 and 1997 you received offers from several labels who were interested in releasing your older material. Was the interest too late from the part of the labels? Does it mean that you haven’t got any label interests earlier?
"We got a couple of intrests from several labels, also big ones after we had quit. We refused because we weren´t interested then."
In 1997 To The Death Records released both demos on vinyl 7” EPs. "Ovations To Death" was limited to 500 copies, "Damnations Pride” was limited to 666 copies. Was it done only for the die hard fans? Were all of the copies sold quickly?
"It sold quick as hell."
How came that To The Death released the demos on vinyl? Was there a big demand for the OBSCURITY demos from the part of the fans?
"Yes there was."
1998 Italy’s Scarlet Rcords released the CD "Damnations Pride”. Did they offer you the best opportunity, as far the releasing of the CD? Which labels did show interest releasing the material?
"I think so. Osmose Records, Regain Records, Roadrunner.”
The CD contains both of your demos and the unreleased tracks ‘In The Watches Of The Night’ and ‘Fallen Arches’. What about these songs? When were they written exactly?
"We wrote ‘Watches…’ back in 88. ‘Fallen…’ is from 92. Both songs were recorded in 92 in the lousiest studio ever. The songs are OK but the production is crap."
Were these songs released and recorded only for this CD, as a present for the fans? Didn’t you think about putting some live and cover tunes on the record?
"We are not the kind of band who makes covers."
Were you satisfied with the end result? Did Scarlet do a good job? Did they pay you royalties, credits etc.?
"We were satisfied. We got paid."
What kind of other OBSCURITY merchandise is available in the underground besides the CD and the vinyls? Is there t-shirts and stuff available?
"Some t-shirts will be made."
What did Janne Johansson, Daniel Vala and Marre do after OBSCURITY’s demise? Were they also involved in other bands or did they stop playing music?
"Dani had done strange art since we split up. Janne became an expert in Asian sports. Marre became an Alcoholic. Valle just disappeared. Heard a rumour that he had been in jail and that he had mental problems."
Didn’t you think about reforming OBSCURITY or to play some local shows?
"We are going to do it."
In your opinion is OBSCURITY’s name still big and in people’s mind?
"We will see."
How do you view the actual extreme Metal scene? Would you say that it’s great having so many outfits around sounding more or less all the same instead of trying to come up with different, original ideas like it was back then when you could distinguish most of the bands?
"More or less. It’s great with a big scene. Is it big? And it is boring with all the bands look the same, sound the same. It had become the same situation when the Glam Rock scene was big. Everyone looked and sounded the same."
Thanks for the interview Jörgen, anything to add to this feature what I forgot to cover?
"Thanx. If you want to check out OBSCURITY and S.K.U.R.K on myspace: www.myspace.com/theofficialobscurity, www.myspace.com/skurk666