PAGANIZER is a band that will satisfy all the dirty deeds of thoses sickos who still cry for the old days of Swedish, Stockholm based Death Metal!!! The title of their 2003 album "Murder.Death.Kill" basically describes of what PAGANIZER will bring into your living room, so why bitching around? For all those who can’t believe ít: this is a real band and not a project which gathers around some famous and saleable names – no way – look at the band’s homepage (www.paganizer.com) to get more details about their background. They already have a new album entitled "No Divine Rapture" released through Xtreem Music in 2004 and besides that band leader and riffproducing machine Rogga Johansson is also a member of the oldschool outfit RIBSPREADER… But now join this interview which has been done somehow in the beginning of 2004. A German version of the story you can find in #9 of MYSTICAL MUSIC Fanzine, but now let PAGANIZER do the talking…
Hey Rogga – what’s up in Swedish Gamleby? Have you already fixed your daily essencial dose of oldschool Swedish Death Metal or what have you done before these interview questions invaded and mutilated your life?
"Actually we rehearsed today with PAGANIZER and it went good as usual. The new material is coming along nicely. As I’m starting to anser your questions half past eleven in the evening my daily dose of Death Metal is already heard and digested, haha! Today the only stuff I listened to however was the new DISMEMBER and some both old and newer ALICE COOPER albums."
"Murder.Death.Kill" shreds me still off!!! It’s a fucking orgy of old fashioned nostalgic Stockholm Death Metal… feels like old GRAVE, GOD MACABRE, NIHILIST, old EDGE OF SANITY and pile of German FLESHCRAWL’s "Impurity" album being mixed in one blood kitchen mixed up with a few crust elements as well, or what would you say? A lot of people said that this is the first really impressive PAGANIZER output, so what do you feel personally about the reactions and what kind of impressions do you like to take further to the next album?
"This and also our previous album "Dead Unburied" are concidered our best work I think. Actually most people say that "Dead Unburied" is better but I mainly think that is because it was recorded in Sunlight Studios and they know the sound of that studio as all the old classics have it. My own faves of the ones you mentioned are GRAVE and EDGE OF SANITY so it’s really cool to hear those names mentioned in the same sentence as PAGANIZER actually. The crust elements have also always been present in our music as I listened to a lot of that stuff before and still do, and the early Swedish Death Metal has very much in common with that music. We will definetly keep the crust elements in our next album and of course we will try to improve all other elements that we had on "Murder.Death.Kill", which I think is a fairly complete album containing all the stuff we want to do."
PAGANIZER is currently signed with Dave Rotten’s new label XTREEM MUSIC, so how do you feel about his work? I mean your past labels (Forever Underground Productions and Psychic Scream Entertainment) have been totally underground while Dave has at least a huge range of experience within the scene / business, or what would you say? I like PAGANIZER and VERMINOUS a lot, but I can’t understand why he’s also that much focused on this sort of getting faceless US styled Death / Grind bands, who lack in an own identity… I mean he released really much and not always quality stuff within a short period, but what’s your point of view?
"Actually I must say that I agree very much with you. I think VERMINOUS and MISANTHROPIC are very good bands, especially VERMINOUS has this total oldschool brutality going that doesn’t sound fake at all. These guys seem to genuinely write music this way even though they can’t possibly be the age I’ll guess by hearing the music… haha! I don’t know why but I’ve never taken to that US style that is supposedly so brutal either. To me it’s just the same semi technical stuff gorged over and over again and the vocals lacks any feeling that you can take to and appreciate. I mean US bands like Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation and even Dying Fetus have that little thing that is so necesarry called hit songs. Those bands always manage to write and blast forward memorable songs that you can remember which is not the case with these newer bands that just regurgitate blasting mayhem over again. I guess they’re saying the same about bands like us that we feed off the oldschool too much but the point is that we try to write songs that you could both bang your head too as well as listen to at home in your stereo. But Xtreem has worked extremely (haha…) well for us and I have only positive things to say about Dave and his label. After having two totally underground labels that doesn’t manage to get your albums out working with Xtreem feels like total bliss. They sure know how to get the albums out and they keep providing interviews for us as well as sending us all reviews they find of our album so it’s really great working with them."
Wow, I think you defintely made a huge step production wise with the choice of Soundlab Studio: the sound has a real early 90s vibe, which means rough, dirty but still pressing and brutal as fuck. How was it to work with Miezko of NASUM as producer and Dan Swanö concerning the mastering… I mean "Murder.Death.Kill" is soundwise much more nostalgic and authentic then for example the last album of BLOODBATH. Did you go in the studio with the vision to make some early Sunlight and Unisound revivals? By the way how long have you been in the studio and where have you seen the strength and weaker points of PAGANIZER?
"Actually as I mentioned above we recorded our previous album at Sunlight Studio, so when we decided to use Soundlab Studio for "Murder.Death.Kill" it was not at all to get an oldschool sound it simply just turned out that way as we sound like this. Mieszko / NASUM is really easy to work with, he’s both a nice guy and totally knows his studio so it went really smoothly to record at Soundlab which is also the studio we’ll use for the next album. The "Murder.Death.Kill" album was recorded at two separate sessions, each three days long, so the total time of the album recording was six days which is not very long I think, at least not compared with most other bands. As I said, work went smoothly and I think that is the strong side of PAGANIZER, that we work really fast and know what we want right away. During the second recording session our lead guitarist had left the band so I ended up doing all the solos which wasn’t the best thing but I think it worked out ok in the end. The weak point definetly with PAGANIZER is that we are so fucking lazy and never manage to rehearse as much as we should and that adds maybe a few hours in the studio that we instead could have spent drinking beer during the mix… haha!"
You seem to have a really good sort of relationship with Dan Swanö, or what? I guess it was a big honour for you to be announced as vocalist on "Crimson II", or what do you remember about this recording session? Personally I was more than just hot to get this new EDGE OF SANITY material, but after all I think it’s not my favourite one. "Spectral Sorrow" and "Unorthodox" are still the mile stones in my point of view, but tell me more about your impressions? Personally I have huge respect towards Dan Swanö… a really interesting and creative person, but I can’t understand why he still spits fire in interviews when it comes about talking about his old bandmates and the "Cryptic" album, or what do you say?
"Yes, I like Dan very much, he helped us out mastering our previous album and when he did the mastering for "Murder.Death.Kill" as well he sent me a letter asking me to help him out with some vocals on a project. Of course I said yes but didn’t have a clue that it was to be "Crimosn II" that I would do the growls on. The session where I did the vocals was done in two days and went very nicely. Dan even did some growls himself after a few beers which was very cool for me to hear, as he is on of my heroes, both when it comes to growling and to writing music. I agree that "Crimosn II" isn’t the best album but I think it turned out really great anyway, it’s hard to top classics like "Spectral Sorrows" which is probably my favourite together with "Purgatory Afterglow" and "Unorthodox". I can also imagine that the "Cryptic" album puts some spite in him, I mean, it’s not even a Death Metal album really. More like a rock album if you ask me and you can hear right away that there is not the classic riffing present when listening to it. The "Infernal" album isn’t a classic EDGE OF SANITY album either in that sense but when you hear it you can still hear that it’s EDGE OF SANITY no matter if you like it or not."
There’s another old school project with yourself, one ex – PAGANIZER and Dan Swanö called RIPSPREADER… what can we expect from that? Another Swedish styled massacre or what? Have you done any demos or is this a one off album thing? By the way are there any other PAGANIZER member involved in other sort of projects?
"Of course it’s yet another Swedish styled Death project, haha! Actually it’s not a one off project at all but a regular band, and Dan plays drums and lead guitars on the album that”s out on Karmageddon Media. I just had an idea to record a bunch of Death Metal songs together with Dea as he’s no longer in PAGANIZER, but we still like to write music together. We recorded the stuff and Dan thought it would be cool to play drums as he doesn’t do that too much nowadays, and then he also did the leads as both me and Dead are crappy lead guitarists… haha! The songs turned out killer, actually some of the best stuff we’ve ever written and Karmageddon wanted to release it. Already before it has been released we’re working on the next release which will be a mini CD with some new stuff and some covers and maybe even some live tracks as well. As for other bands among the PAGANIZER members you have ex – member Dea’s ANOTHER LIFE which is very soft stuff like ANATHEMA or NIGHTINGALE (check it out at www.anotherlife.se), and then PAGANIZER drummer Fiebig plays in PORTAL which is kind of Viking Death Metal and he also plays in BLODSRIT which is pure oldschool Black Metal. So, as you see we keep ourselves busy most of the time."
What has your mother said about your tattoos, ha! Are you a lot into tatoo art and what do you think about cliches like "Metal life style"?
"When I got my first tattoo at the age of 15 my mother was maybe not too happy, but nowadays she’s fine with it! Actually I have paid for two tattoos for my mom and one for my dad the last five years. They’re kinda living the tattoo lifestyle now as well… haha! For my dad’s birthday I dragged him to the tattoo studio and now he’s got a mighty Viking woman with a sword on his underarm. My mom is a bit more conservative and has a Chinese sign tattooed on her shoulder and a dolphin tattooed on her breast… haha! Recently my girlfriend also got herself tattooed (a shedevil in the back of the neck) and my sister has a tribal tattoo on her neck so I don’t really know if it’s a big deal here in Sweden. Actually the last years most people have gotten tattoos, so maybe it’s not so Rock’n’Roll anymore? Haha!"
Have you ever played in Germany? I mean you have at least a booking address there and what about PAGANIZER doing the live assault? Do you already have some live experiences… I mean most Swedish bands complain about the lack of venues in their home country and the fact that mostly musicians stand critically in the audience, could you agree? By the way, who announced this sort of tour with FLESHCRAWL, PAGANIZER and MISANTHROPHIC… Mike from FLESHCRAWL told me that he never heard of this negotiations – strange thing – but the FLESHCRAWL dudes defintely worship "Murder.Death.Kill", ha!!!
"The lack of venues in Sweden is very real unfortunatly, and the few that are around most of the time look for bigger bands to get people to even show up for gigs. The live situation here has been really shit for the last ten years at least and that’s why most Swedish bands love to play Germany and other European countries. Yes, we have a booking contact on our site but so far all he’s managed to do is promise us a tour with FLESHCRAWL that never happened… haha! Actually I got a mail from FLESHCRAWL where they asked about this tour and why it didn’t happen as they would have liked to tour with us… All I know is that our booker said FLESHCRAWL wouldn’t work with him and I’m kinda confused over the whole thing actually. Maybe he didn’t talk to them at all… I don’t know. All I do know is that we are supposed to play a gig in Finland this summer and that our booker is trying to get us at least 4-5 shows in Germany, but I haven’t heard from him in a couple of months now so I don’t know… I did tour the whole of Europe as session vocalist for DERANGED back in 2001 and that was reallly cool, so I would love to play Europe with PAGANIZER sometime that’s for sure."
Why have you put this sort of "Jesus" head on the front cover? Actually I think that you have a really cool cover artist with the last two albums, defintely interesting and for sure more original than these World War II pictures you’ve stolen from your history books for the first releases, ha! By the way what kind of outlook do you generally have about your old material musicalwise as well?
"The "Murder.Death.Kill" cover was done by Kribbe from Darksource Designs (who also is the main man of PORTAL) and I think it turned out really cool as well. The concept is as usual the religous aspects and all that shit. The malformed Jesus on the cover pretty much states what we feel about christianity and religion in general. The "Dead Unburied" cover was even better and done by Mike Bohatch who has worked with THE FORSAKEN and ROTTING CHRIST among others. We actually were considering Mike to do the coming album but as it turned out we had a little too small budget to fit his price range. So you don’t think we were original when using World War II pictures for "Promoting Total Death"? Hahaha! I can tell you it was a last minute descision as we had no plans releasing the album at all until Forever Underground wanted to do it, and then the artwork we had was sent off to Asia to our previous label and they didn’t return it to us… Of course we were so stupid not to make any safety copies of it so we just had to pick something and we went for the army tank in a drunken state I guess."
What comes to your mind when you read the following points:
"All the other guys in the band are using it but I don’t like it… It’s kinda like smoking but not smelling as bad and it doesn’t fuck up your lungs. Actually I have only tried snus or smoking a few times but it’s not for me at all. I stick to alcohol, unfortunatly I drink the shit almost every day so maybe it’d be good for me to do snus instead… haha!"
The new DISMEMBER album:
"Have just listened to it a little, but this far it sounds like some of the best stuff they’ve done for a long time. I really like DISMEMBER, even their "Massive Killing Capacity" album that most people think is too soft. These guys can’t really write something bad I think, they’re too good!"
Blond, wonderful Swedish women:
"Yes please, haha! I have one of them here right now actually."
Doing interviews for PAGANIZER:
"I can’t understand people that don’t like doing interviews for their bands, it’s the best promotion you can do as it reaches lots of people and they hopefully want to check out your band. I also like doing interviews because you get to say a shitload of stuff that no one would have listened to otherwise… haha!"
When will the next PAGANIZER album wreck my stereo and what can we expect from the new songmaterial? Can you top "Murder.Death.Kill" – I hope you will…
"The new album will totally demolish your ears, stereo and bowels sometime in the first days of June. We’ll record it at the end of March and then it’ll be mastered as usual by Dan Swanö and this time the artwork will be handled by Turkka Rantanen who did the RIBSPREADER cover as well as the latest stuff from TORTURE KILLER and ADRAMELECH. And the artwork will be killer as well as the music will be. The main development from "Murder.Death.Kill" is that some songs will be faster and some songs will be even more crust influenced but it’ll be mixed into the songs like bands like NAPALM DEATH and VOMITORY do. Expect nothing but pure Swedish Death Metal though."
Thanx Rogga for taking the time to do this interview! Keep the PAGANIZER rolling… Any final words or nasty jokes you have left for us?
"Thanx to you for providing an interesting hour for me as well. We’ll keep PAGANIZER rolling as long as there is people out there that need to get their ears cleansed by some oldschool shit and are not too busy jumping on the latest trend of technical crap… haha! Unfortunatly I have no nasty jokes as I’m fairly drunk by now and my short time memory is starting to fade… But last words are as always: Only death is real!"