I guess the book "Swedish Death Metal" needs no further introduction anymore as it gained a lot of attention all around the globe already… After finally having picked up (and read) a copy of the re-worked US edition a lot of questions started to arose that I figured could be best used in an in-depth interview with the editor himself… So here it is, the long overdue VOICES feature on one of the greatest books ever released in the history of Death Metal and its creator Daniel Ekeroth… Read on and enjoy!
Hey Daniel, hope everything’s going well overthere and you’re in a good mood to do some in-depth talking about your excellent book "Swedish Death Metal"?!
"Hey there! I will try to do my best with this, though I am at work at the moment. But since I have no internet at home right now, this is the only way I can do it!"
Would you mind telling our readers a little bit more about yourself at first and maybe also give us a list of all the bands that you personally have been (or still are) part of? How do you manage to find the time for all this (playing in bands and the intensive writing)?
"I am a 36-year old guy from Stockholm who grew up with Metal music and horror movies. I’ve been in the bands Dellamorte, Diskonto and Insision (and a zillion minor ones) over the years, and now I am concentrating on Tyrant. I started my publishing house Tamara Press 7 years ago, and have released 4 books. Since everything I do seem to loose money, I work full-time at a school and have several other jobs (I work at Stockholm Film Festival, I sit at the board of a real-estate company, I write for magazines…) to pay for all my losses. And, no, I never have much free time."
Have you already given many interviews in support of the book’s release, so that it has become a pain in the ass by now, to answer several questions over and over again or is it still fun for you?
"I don’t mind interviews. Even if the questions can be pretty much the same sometimes, I just let myself go and answer in any way I feel like. You can kind of make a question into anything, but I very much prefer live interviews since they have a much more unpredictable kind of life on their own."
When did you actually have the idea to write something about the history of Swedish Death Metal and was it planned to turn into a book right from the start or more like a bigger article at first maybe?
"It started as a list of old demos I had lost and tried to get back. Then it just grew and grew, and before I knew what hit me I was in the middle of this gigantic project."
How much time did you spend on the creation of the book in total, from the basic idea until the first final product saw the light of day? Did you constantly work on it every day? If so, how many hours were approximately invested in doing research, writing, travelling or whatever was necessary?
"About 5 years. The last three years I worked on it for hours every day, and the last year I worked on it around the clock. I don’t even want to think about how many hours I spent…"
When it comes to the research part of it, how did you actually work things out in detail? I mean, where did you collect all the basic info from? Was it mostly from old fanzines, the internet or did you prefer to talk to the relevant bands in person first and foremost?
"Interviews, old fanzines and the information on the demos themselves. But you know, interviews are based on memories and nostalgia, fanzines on guesses / in-jokes / opinions and assumptions and demos were generally made in haste – so all my sources stood on shaky foundations. But it’s all we’ve got since the whole movement was so underground back then – just a bunch of kids really!"
How did all the old bands react when you told them about your plans to re-live the early days of Swedish Death Metal with them again? Have they all been equally supportive in this project or did one or another also tell you to fuck off maybe?
"Everybody was supportive to the max, though some guys were hard to locate! I mean, where in the world is Lars Rosenberg these days?" (that’s actually something that I was asking myself alot as well already – Frank)
Considering the incredible big amount of Death Metal bands that are / were hailing from Sweden, have you never been afraid that this project would turn into a neverending story at one point or another?
"I sure felt it was a too big project at times, and I cut some sections off. At some early point I was thinking about including everything (even all Black Metal projects), but I realised it was just too much!" (the Black Metal scene would be a good idea for another book ; -) – Frank)
In the A-Z part of the book you have listed an enormous amount of bands that often have only released rehearsal- and / or demo-tapes… Do you own all those releases yourself or how did this list turn into reality?
"I borrowed it all from about 4 friends. It’s just mad how much things some collectors have!"
What about the reactions from the bands in this list… I mean, your description is mostly a very personal one and you weren’t really afraid to tell the truth when it comes to the lack of quality or originality in various cases… Have some of the bands been pissed off because of that?
"I think I got one or two angry e-mails, but the guys who were present back in the days can recognize the tone from the old fanzines! It’s intentional, and mostly for the hell of it to be such a wiseguy at times!"
Why did you also include bands in that list, that have Nazi lyrics?
"Since they play some kind of Death Metal, and since the idea seems so ridiculous to me."
Have you ever tried to compile a list of all Dan Swanö related bands? What do you think, how many bands / projects has he approximately been involved in as a (session) member?
"A fanzine did that back in 97 or something, and ended up with about 5 pages of band names! But you know, the same goes for most of the musicians who run a studio – I guess Jonas Kjellgren has had even more bands than Swanö – and he’s several years younger!"
As we have a R.I.P. section on our website which is dedicated to all those musicians that passed away over the years, I was actually quite surprised to find a couple more names in your book, that we still haven’t included yet… how did you find out about their deaths and do you maybe have a detailed list of all of them?
"There are probably a lot more casualties than I have listed, I can only mention the guys my friends or I myself knew. No list, no details."
The length of the description varies from band to band… was it because it started to bore you after a while, to write down all this info stuff or more the lacking of enough details here and there?
"Mostly I was lacking detail, but sometimes I just lacked interest for a band. Also, it would have been too big a book if I would have written long essays on each band. And it would probably have taken me another 5 years to complete it. You have to stop at some point!"
How did you work things out with the old bands, that you have covered in the first part of the book? Did you meet up with all of them for interview sessions to compile all the necessary info?
"Well, I tried to. But the problem was that many seemed to have very different recollections of events! Everybody was so young back then, and very few seemed to document what they were doing – and nobody thought this was going to be a successful kind of music!"
From my own experiences in doing interviews over the years I know that it sometimes can be quite frustrating when you’re trying to get historical facts from a certain band, but the members can’t recall all the important details anymore… How did you solve those problems?
"Well, the only thing to do is to compare “facts”, and print what they say. Try to find some more people to ask… and make something out of it all. But to place contradictory answers next to each other can be quite funny and revealing too!"
From what I’ve heard, the first edition of the book is already sold out for quite some time now… congratulations! How many copies were printed of it? Was it already clear at the time, that a new (US) edition would follow soon after?
"2125 copies sold in a year, and I shipped every last one myself. The US edition was settled long before that, and it was released 6 months after my pressing had sold out."
How important was the internet in general and myspace in particular in selling / promoting the book?
"Very important. It was the only advertising I ever did, and it sold about 600 copies. It also got me the deal with the German, US and Polish publishing houses."
What exactly has been added to the US version, compared to the original book? As far as I know a German version is coming up as well sometime next year… Will that once again have any updates included?
"About 15 pages of updates, corrections and some smoothening of the language. The German edition will also include some CDs, which is why it is taking some time to be released. I had that idea myself, but realised how much trouble it would be for me… I am very happy the Germans are doing it though!"
How did you actually get together with those foreign publishers and what kind of deals did they offer you?
"They somehow got the book, and gave me standard deals basically. A book deal is very much like a record contract."
Have you already received any response about possible content and / or spelling errors in it? If not, well here’s at least three little ones, that I noticed: Robert Kampf, the head of Century Media Records, was not the guitarplayer in DESPAIR, but the vocalist; UTUMNO are misspelled UTUMNU and SPV (the German company) is mentioned as SPY in UNLEASHED’s deathography ; -)
"I have found loads of small errors myself, and some major ones too! All corrected in the new editions. Spy??? I didn’t see that one!"
How do you explain the fact that several musicians recently re-discovered their love for oldschool Death Metal again, simply by reading your book… Mission accomplished?
"Nostalgia and the fact that Death Metal was better then (if you ask an old geezer like me). I am very happy for the new rise of classic Death Metal!"
There’s even another book dedicated to Swedish Death Metal by now: Nicola Costantini’s "Encyclopedia Of Svensk Döds Metall"… Have you seen / read that already? What do you think about it?
"I’ve only seen parts of it before it was released when I had Pizza & beer with the author in Padova two years ago. Cool guy, and I have heard he’s working on a follow up."
What was more difficult: to get the introductional words from Chris Reifert and / or the book’s coverart from Nicke?
"It was the easiest things! Chris I got hold of from the very same address as on the first AUTOPSY album, and he said yes flat out! Nicke offered me to draw something new when I asked him if I could use an old drawing by him. He didn’t charge me a dime. Guys like these are what Death Metal is all about!"
Have you already any plans for a new book? If so, would you mind telling us what it will be about?
"Not really, this was the book I hade to make. The one and only really."
The best / worst Swedish Death Metal act ever is?
"Best: Nihilist/Entombed, Dissection, At the Gates, Grotesque, Interment, Repugnant, Katalysator. Worst: Sonic Syndicate." (SONIC SYNDICATE = Death Metal??? – Frank)
Which period of time in the history of Swedish Death Metal was the best from your point of view and do you still get the same kick out of bands that release demos / albums these days?
"As always, the period before everything is settled within a genre is the best. Until 1991 most of the bands were completely unique, and that’s the period I have the most fond memories of."
Ok Daniel, I guess this should be all for now… Maybe you can close this interview by giving us a list of your 10 alltime favorite Swedish Death Metal demos and 10 alltime favorite albums?! Thanks for taking the time and all the best for your bands and future writing activities.
"Demos: Entombed – "But Life Goes On", Dismember – "Last Blasphemies", Crematory – all demos, Interment – both demos, Nihilist – all demos, Katalysator – second demo, Unleashed – "The Utter Dark". Albums: Entombed – "Left Hand Path", Dissection – "The Somberlain", At the Gates – "Terminal Spirit Disease", Grotesque – "Incantation", Entombed – "Wolverine Blues", Merciless – "The Awakening", Dismember – "Like An Everflowing Stream", Grave – "Into The Grave", At the Gates – "Slaughter Of The Soul", Tiamat – "Sumerian Cry"."