Around 1990 plenty of Death Metal bands were founded in Sweden, one of the most outstanding and underrated Death Metal acts of this period were TRAUMATIC from Mjölby. They didn’t sound as the next ENTOMBED-clone and convinced with their gory blend of Death Grinding Metal. Biggest success and the right step forward was their participation on the “A Projection Of A Stained Mind” compilation released through Chicken Brain Records, on of the best compilations of all time, and proved that they can persuade the Death Metal crowd with their original, even technical sound. Their song ‘Putrid Reek Of Mangled Remains’ is one of the most outstanding tracks on the whole compilation and it’s a pity that they never really made it. Read Jonas Larsson’s (vocals) story about the rise and early fall of an underrated Death Metal band.
Hello Jonas, what’s up? Anything which you want to say to start this interview marathon?
"Buckle up and I’ll try to do my best with this one, better late than never."
First up let me ask you if you are still interested in Metal or Death Metal in general and also follow the trends of the Metal scene or did you leave that all behind you?
"Honest I would say that Metal and Death Metal isn’t my top priority music today. I’m still a huge music fan and a record collector but these days more into Heavy Rock, Hard Rock and early Progressive stuff from the era 1968 – 1974, though I still love my records with Terrorizer, Repulsion, Entombed, Slayer etc. Much of my Metal interest got lost in the wave of Black Metal and hasn’t returned since."
How does it feel to get asked to answer an interview about a band long time dead and gone and which only released one demo (plus the one of CRAB PHOBIA), two 7”EPs and an album?
"It feels kind of weird but it’s quite fun anyway. Lately I’ve noticed a creasing interest and some oldschool Death Metal maniacs seem to know more about the band than I ever did."
Why do you think is there still an interest about TRAUMATIC? Is it pure underground nostalgia of persons who only live in the past? What made TRAUMATIC special?
"And that you ask me? Honestly I think it’s both the nostalgic hardcore fans (maybe collectors) and new, younger fans who seek bands in the back catalogue are the cause. I’m not the person to judge about the originality of TRAUMATIC but we surely didn’t belong to any of the later coming “Swedish sounds” and we can definitely not be accused of being overproduced. The later I think can be appreciated by younger Death Heads who don’t know anything else than glossy productions from well named studios."
It’s always interesting to read how many interviews you answer during a year about TRAUMATIC?
"This is the third one I answer but I think Totte has answered more since he still is in the scene sort of."
Ok, let’s start from the very beginning: you started as CRAB PHOBIA in 1989 and released a demotape under this moniker. As I don’t know this demo it would be very interesting to read something about this start. How old were you back then?
"CRAB PHOBIA was the first real band that we all were in. Of course we had been in other local bands but this was the first band recording a demo. At this time we all were between 15 – 16 years old except for Benny, our bassplayer, who was 19. I think the demo sold quite well and I’ve been told that its value is 40 euros. I don’t know if they are kidding me or what!?"
A couple of months later (March 1990) you changed your name to the far better name TRAUMATIC. What happened and what was the reason for the change?
"The change was partly cause of us sacking Benny and Matte from the band and get on as a trio Death Metal act on hunt for a bass player. Anyway what’s wrong with CRAB PHOBIA, huh? (ha-ha)"
In 1990 you released another demo, your first and only one of TRAUMATIC called “The Process Of Raping A Rancid Cadaver”. The demotitle and songtitles sound heavily inspired by CARCASS, right? Please tell something about this recording!
"The demo was recorded in a quite unknown studio called Art. Serv., I think bands like METROZ, LUCIFER, FUNERAL FEAST, BELSEEBUB, SALVATION (where I put the vocals) and MESSENTERY all recorded their first demos at Art. Serv. as well (DRUGSTORE did a 7”). Some people wrongly accused us to be CARCASS copy cats and they might just have read the lyrics and are therefore forgiven. Musicwice CARCASS had nothing to do with us or us with them. As a matter of fact I was the only one in the band who was into CARCASS and no one else was. Lyricwice I must admit that there were some influences but with another twist."
Besides the titles, also the music on the included 4 songs had a huge CARCASS influence (one of these 4 songs is the CARCASS cover ‘Genital Grinder’), but nevertheless were and are still up to today pretty outstanding and great songs played by quite skilled musicians if you ask me. How do you see this demo?
"As I said I don’t see the parallels to CARCASS musicwice since they were more sludgy and grinding than TRAUMATIC and like I said, I was the only one in the band who was into CARCASS and I didn’t make the chords. At the time I was really into GENERAL SURGERY as well and I also think they were much closer to CARCASS than we were. The cover of ‘Genital Grinder’ was of course my idea and probably the other reason besides the lyrics for people to draw the CARCASS-parallel. I still think the demo is pretty cool but it’s a petty the sound is so poor. Anyway it sold pretty well and got a great response." (damn, Larsson, this is one classic Death Metal demo. It’s far more than “pretty cool” if you ask me!! – Thomas)
The cover of this demo looks pretty much like a comicdrawing, still it looks original and well-done. Besides that there are these drawings of the bandmembers in a “zombie-style” – funny idea if you ask me. Who was the one responsible for all these drawings?
"His name is Ola Larsson who is an old friend of ours and the drummer of late FUNERAL FEAST actually. After our release of the 7” “The Morbid Act Of A Sadistic Rape Incision” Ola did get several cover art jobs but the only I can remember is a 7” by NECRONY but I know he did a LP cover as well but I can’t remember which. He’s a brilliant guy with the pen and I really dig the drawing to our demo and 7”."
You didn’t have a typical Death Metal logo, neither with inverted crosses or pentagrams nor in a typical gory style, which looks even from today’s point of view very professional. Was the graphical side an important aspect in TRAUMATIC?
"The logo is actually my own work and I still think it’s pretty clean. Of course was the graphical important back then but not that important. Though I think Jose’ of Distorted Harmony Records could have done better with the stuff we sent him for the 7” ha-ha. You must have in mind that back then a typewriter, a bottle of glue and some pencils was pretty much it." (Yeah, those were the days, haha. Guess we can remember this time pretty good and the hell of work this was, can’t we, Frank? – Thomas) (absolutely!! – Frank)
The next release after this demo was the 7”EP “A Perfect Night To Masturbate” (amazing title if you ask me, haha) on Chicken Brain Records in the year 1990. Why did you use 2 of the demosongs and no new songs for it?
"Actually this recording was never released on vinyl as I know of. If anyone has a copy then let me know. (me, too! – Thomas). It was meant to be but somewhere along the way something went wrong. We were asked to appear on a compilation CD called “Projections Of A Stained Mind” on CBR with one of our demo songs along with bands like ENTOMBED, MAYHEM, GROTESQUE, THERION, HOUSE OF USHER, UNLEASHED, NIRVANA 2002, CHRONIC DECAY, DISMEMBER, MERCILESS, MACRODEX, TIAMAT and SKULL. Then Fredda of CBR told us he had planned to release a 7”EP on every single band on the compilation CD but that never happened for any of the bands as I recall. (Actually the following sentence is printed on the booklet: “Their (the bands on this sampler) tracks are all released as 10×7” box with unreleased b-sides. Strictly ltd. Edition 800 copies worldwide and only available direct from us. Many special recorded songs you will not find elsewhere!! And also fucking expensive $ 40 all 10 with pic sleeves.” Obviously this box was never released – Thomas) The reason some songs were old ones were that all things had to go very quickly and we entered the studio with short notice. The recording itself was spread as an advance tape to friends and traders."
Later the same year you released your second 7”EP on Distorted Harmony Records called “The Morbid Act Of A Sadistic Rape Incision”. Here we got 2 new songs finally. Please tell something about this release?
"The 7” “The Morbid Act Of A Sadistic Rape-Incision” was pressed in 1000 copies, at least that I know of but I believe José of Distorted Harmony Records did at least a second edition cause he seemed to never run out of copies when we on the other hand sold out of our copies immediately. We were paid in 250 copies and the whole thing was recorded in Gorysound Studio with Dan “Kulan” Swanö engineering."
The song titles were in the great gory CARCASS-influenced style which is popular even until today, just look on releases like GENERAL SURGERY’s “Left Hand Pathology”. How do you see these titles today and how do you consider your lyrics of the early TRAUMATIC period today?
"I look at the titles and lyrics with nostalgia and remembering the great fun in writing them. Some lyrics I wrote along with Henke Forss at that time the editor of Brutal Mag then screaming the guts out in bands like DAWN, NIDEN DIV. 187, RETALIATION, CIRCLE SIX, FUNERAL FEAST etc. You have to take these kinds of lyrics with a great sense of humour and not take things to seriously."
Recently I saw some kind of bootleg CD of Distorted Harmony Records where they put your 7”EP “The Morbid Act…” on it (among other Distorted Harmony-releases). What do you think about releases like this and what do you think about the fact that you won’t ever get payment for it?
"All I could say is that it would be nice to receive a free copy at least but I don’t think that will ever happen, huh!? If it’s done in a non profit vein by fans for fans it’s one thing, but if people do this just for the money then it pisses me off. We’ve been asked to release old stuff along with video recordings, rehersals and stuff and if the band is involved then it can be pretty cool for those who missed out the early releases."
This second 7”EP was recorded in Gorysound together with Dan Swanö. Before and after that release you recorded your stuff in Art.Serv. Studio. What was the better choice?
"Art.Serv. Studio was the first studio that we ever recorded in and after that two recording sessions at Gorysound and of course the last mentioned was the better choice. Dan was a friend of mine before recording and was totally into Death Metal as we were. Considering the equipment used (a four channel portastudio) and the fact that the first recording took about five-six hours the result is great in my opinion."
How many items of your releases did you sell? And how did the labels pay for the recordings and what did you get as “royalties” from them?
"As I told you earlier the deal with Distorted Harmony Records was 250 free copies and some free copies was pretty much the deal with all the compilation tapes / CDs that we appeared on. If we’d been in it for the money we’ve been starved to death already in late 1991 ha-ha."
On various band pictures I saw quite many persons wearing a TRAUMATIC shirt. How many shirts did you sell and do you have one shirt left for me?? Haha!
"As I recall we did 100 T-shirts but I have a vague memory that José of Distorted Harmony Records also printed some and I’m sure that José somehow ripped us of along the way that old goat, he was always a step ahead of us ha-ha. Awhile ago I saw some TRAUMATIC T-shirts with red printing and back print on eBay and I don’t know who’s work that is. You have to buy your shirt there like me if you want one."
Back in the early 90s there was this huge movement in Sweden, many Death Metal bands were founded and many of them released demos which are unbelievable great and outstanding up to this very moment. How did you feel during this time?
"It was a great time and really great to be a part of it along with trading and fanzines and stuff. Although the Stockholm area was quite dominating. The whole thing went sadly wrong after a couple of years when labels were trying to profit on the movement worldwide and the quality of the band putting out records sinking. Then came the wave of Black Metal and many bands put on corpsepaint and went true or whatever. I didn’t really understand that."
Were you also involved in the whole underground movement with things like tapetrading, reading fanzines…?
"Me and Totte were involved in tapetrading, fanzines and local concerts, it was great."
You were located in Mjölby, I read in the book “Swedish Death Metal” that you could be one of the starters in your town together with BELSEBUB and SALVATION. Did you have some local scene back then?
"If you ask me we were the first band in Mjölby to play Death Metal but then, it was never a contest. Actually I did the vocals on the SALVATION demo and they rehearsed in Motala were TOXAEMIA and MORBIDITY among others held out. It was pretty much work setting up gigs in Mjölby at that time but there were some local gigs now and then."
If I read correct you were also a session-member of the band SALVATION. Can you please tell something about this band? Never heard anything from them!
"Yeah as I told you I was growling on the SALVATION demo. SALVATION was a band raised from the ashes of a Thrash act called METROZ who did a demo in late 1989. Stevo Bolgakoff left band to form TOXAEMIA and the rest formed SALVATION and the demo was out in 1990. Members from SALVATION later went on to join / form bands like LUCIFER, CARCAROTH, INDUNGEON, THY PRIMORDIAL, BELSEBUB etc."
Where actually is Mjölby located? Is it pretty close to other bigger cities in Sweden or were you more or less “isolated” from the rest of the Swedish scene?
"Mjölby is located right between Gothenburg and Stockholm with approximately 25 miles in each direction, 3 miles to Linköping and 10-12 miles to Norrköping and Finspång."
Did you have a good contact to the Stockholm scene were everything started? How was the mood within the scene at all?
"As I said, the Stockholm area was quite dominating with their own sound and more opportunities to play gigs etc. We had some friends from the scene but most of them were penpals and tradingfriends and we didn’t meet I R L that often."
What do you think about all these bands which started together with you around the year 1990 and which are now considered as cultacts or even established acts because they had the chance to release one or more albums?
"What can you say other than it’s great for them but it’s at the same time a pity that some of the great bands never made it for different reasons. Some band eventually made it but had to struggle very hard to get there and some bands gave up along the way. When the focus moved from Death Metal to Black Metal it didn’t matter how great tracks you had if you didn’t had blastbeats and corpsepaint. Strange if you ask me but I guess it was pretty much the same way with Thrash Metal when Death Metal came bubbling up the sewers."
Why didn’t you have the chance to release an album in the early 90s? Didn’t you get offers?
"We had a few offers to do release an album but the main reason not to accept a contract was the fact that we were a three piece band at the moment and our guitarist Manuel wasn’t the most reliable one. It’s hard to legally promise something that you never can be sure to live up to. That’s also the reason that we at that time were pretty low productive."
At which time did you play your first concert? With which bands did you share the stage during your existence?
"I think the first one was with local bands in Mjölby such as MESSENTERY and DRUGSTORE in 1990 but I’m not quite sure. We did gigs with GRAVE, UNANIMATED, AFFLICTED, THERION, GOREMENT, FUNK 48 as I recall. We didn’t do that many gigs back the due to the fact that we didn’t have a regular bassplayer."
If I recognized it correct, TRAUMATIC seemed to be more or less the band of you and Totte, your brother. Did this cause any trouble with other band members?
"Yeah that’s right but that never caused any major trouble with other band members. Totte did 90% of the riffs and me and him put the songs together with me playing drums. Then the others had to learn our songs, that’s the way we did it."
One huge step in the right direction was your contribution on the compilation “A Projection Of A Stained Mind”. What do you think about this compilation and did it help to spread your name around?
"Honestly I don’t know how well this compilation sold and how it was spread. I personally think that putting the demo and 7” out did the trick together with appearing in lots of fanzines and doing our tapetrading. I’m not sure that all the Death Metalheads even had a CD player, I know I didn’t ha-ha. Switching from vinyl to CD is the biggest world conspiracy in the history so far ha-ha."
I think this track ‘A Putrid Reek Of Mangled Remains’ is one of the most outstanding tracks on the whole compilation, though this CD hardly has any bad songs. How do you see the other tracks compared to yours?
"Most of the tracks on the CD are good ones but if I have to be honest and tell you that I haven’t listened to it for years." (I’m actually listening to it and I can only recommend to you to do the same. An unbelievable great compilation – Thomas)
I’m not sure when actually but it had be after the compilation CD that you splitted up for the first time. Or was it just a break? What was the reason for it?
"From my point of view the band never really split up but around the same time as we turned down a record deal from Turbo Records Manuel, our guitarist, got the sack. You couldn’t trust him anymore showing up for rehearsal or anything, he was just totally hopeless. Under a period of time we tried out some different guitarist but no one seemed to fit in. After a while other musical preferences than Death Metal entered as well and with the Black Metal boom it just wasn’t that fun anymore."
Then there was huge silence around TRAUMATIC. But all of a sudden you released “Spasmodic Climax”, your debut album. What’s your opinion about it?
"At the time it seemed like a right thing to do with new members in the band, you know, like a kick off. Me and Totte did new songs digging through old tapes and doing new riffs. One part HC, one part Death Metal, one part Stoner and one part Hard Rock ha-ha. Some riffs were actually from ‘91 – ‘92. The recording though could have been way better and we had all kind of bad luck with the equipment and the studiogear. Not to blame all things on Jocke (later Sunlight Studio) who did the recording but he could have done a better job."
Honestly spoken your music changed a lot and strangely enough there weren’t any older songs from your demo or EPs on it. What’s the reason for that?
"The idea was to do something different like a fresh start and the fact is that neither Totte nor I were really into Death Metal anymore."
Right now there is some kind of “back to basic”-feeling in the underground. Many old bands place information about their old bands on myspace. Books like “Swedish Death Metal” or “Choosing Death” write about these great times and many labels release the old demos on CD and so on. What’s your part of this game? Did any label ask you to re-release your old stuff?
"I know that Totte has contact with an American dude who put out old stuff with DR SHRINKER, DERKETA etc who wants to put old TRAUMATIC stuff out on CD (Necroharmonic Records – Frank). We have some unreleased stuff but I don’t know if he has given up on us lazy bums, we are talking years on this one. I do indeed hope that this project pulls off as I sure want a copy." (that’s great news, Larsson! Hope this CD will be realized soon! – Thomas)
You were also a part of the book “Swedish Death Metal” from Daniel Ekeroth. What is your opinion about this book? Do you think it captured the feeling of the days back when the scene in Sweden started?
"I have the book but I haven’t read it yet but it looks great."
What about the current scene in your hometown? Sweden has so many great Metal bands so I wonder if there are some of them located in Mjölby. I just know CEREMONIAL EXECUTION but they are far away from being well-known which changes hopefully
"I’m not a part of the scene in that way anymore but good there’s some really good bands nowadays like CEREMONIAL EXECUTION, CATAPULT THE SMOKE, JAM SESSION, OCEAN CHIEF to name a few."
We are almost at the end now, so let me please know your five favourite demos / EPs of all time and tell me why?
"OK, this is a hard one but I’ll do my best in no particular order; MORBIDITY – Morbidity. This demo from Motala / Sweden was recorded in 1989 and reminds a lot of early KREATOR and has always been a favourite of mine. ENTOMBED – But Life Goes On. Well do I have to say more? This one sold loads of copies and took the demotape to a new level. FATAL – A Somber Evocation Of Nihilism. I really enjoyed this 7” released on Thrash Records, they did a different thing. NIHILIST – Premature Autopsy. Primitive and lovely, their debut in 1988. CENOTAPH – Tenebrous Apparitions. This 7” from 1990 used to spin quite a lot back then on my recordplayer, it just had something."
OK Jonas, thanks a lot for taking the time in answering my questions. I’m sure there are many readers of Voices From The Darkside who are happy reading all the lines! Anything important left to say?
"Thanx a lot Thomas for forcing me to practice my English in this never ending interview, aaaarrrrggghhh. If anyone wants a copy from our CD I’ve got a few ones left, just let me know. Don’t forget, it all started with BLACK SABBATH."