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Relevant Few

“You want the best, you got the best; the grindest band in the world!”
“Please to meet you, hope you guess my name.”
“Grinder, looking for meat. Grinder, wants you to eat!”

No, we aren't talking about Kiss, the devil or Judas Priest, but about the new grindcore sensation Relevant Few. It's not they have found a new way in making grindcore, but there new, second album 'The Art Of Today' do sound excruciatingly brutal, ruthlessly violent, venomous fast and above all: extremely good!

Are they really the “relevant few” in today's grindcore scene? Rob Hakemo, guitar player of these Swedish speed maniacs, will tell you more.

By: Evil Dr. Smith | Archive under death metal / grindcore

Your album is released on Century Media, a record label that normally releases melodic types of metal. Aren't you way too loud for them?

Exactly. But it's a collaboration with No Tolerance and Newhawen in Sweden. And Newhawen is a sublabel from Century Media: that's why. But I recently heard the news that Napalm Death also signed with Century Media, so it would be pretty cool for us if we got a deal with Century Media.

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Okay, so it's only a license deal. But still, it took a long while to release it, cause the album is already recorded in December 2002.

Yeah, it took a while to get a release date in Sweden as well. I don't remember it clearly, but I think it was released there last September. It took so long, because we had some troubles in the band. Our drummer Mojjo quits the band. He got tired of playing grind and joined Lord Belial, a black metal band from Sweden. Yeah, that's still pretty fast, so we got very confused about this. So when we talked about this, he said it wasn't actually the grind-thing why he left Relevant Few. He confessed he wasn't really comfortable with another band member in the band, which was Johan Nilsson, our second guitar player. But at that moment we spoke with Mojjo again, Johan already had left our band as well – because he moved to another place, way up in the very North of Sweden - so that was reason enough for Mojjo to return immediately to Relevant Few. Nope, we haven't noticed any friction between Mojjo and Johan in those days. We didn't know about it. But now Johan is gone and Mojjo is back and we are very happy with this line up now. We don't need a second guitar player anymore; we stick to a four-piece band with one guitar. Actually, this was always our main idea about the band: being a four-piece band. But our first singer, J.C., brought in a second guitarist, which was… Johan. And now they're both gone. Only the story about the departure of our first singer is a more complicated story that's dealing with family and personal issues. Or to be more precise: drugs. But I just recently met J.C. again here in Gothenburg and I've heard from him that he's doing fine at the moment. He's clean now. I'm very glad for him.

So maybe you can be a five-piece band again? Only not with two guitar players, but with two vocalists.

Yeah! Very good idea! I will bring this up during our next rehearsal.

Besides the record label Century Media there was another surprise for me that I had never expect to find on a grindcore album and that is the artwork from Travis Smith. This art-genius (Opeth, Katatonia, Testament, King Diamond) is one of my favourite artists, but I never expected he would do the artwork of a grindcore band. Just like Century Media, I thought grindcore is way too extreme for Travis.

I think we are the first, yeah. It's actually a long story. First of all, Dennis from No Tolerance found the cover on Internet. So Travis already made the drawing. Dennis thought it was a perfect match for our next release. I checked it immediately when he brought this up. All band members instantly fell in love with the picture. It so intense and we thought it fit so perfectly well with our music and lyrics. It's almost a conceptual album about frustration, disappointment and hatred. It's a statement against life and the world at large. So we started to get in contact with Travis Smith, but he told us that the picture was already sold to Pissing Razors. So we called Pissing Razors and talked to their manager at that time. She told us that the picture supposed to be printed on T-shirts, but eventually they've changed their minds. So she was willing to sell the picture to us. So we bought the Travis Smith-picture from Pissing Razors. But when we received the picture, it was totally fucked up. They didn't send us the original version, but some sloppy copy we couldn't use. So we got in contact with Travis again and he was pretty mad about it. Pissing Razors had signed a contract with Travis for the cover and was not allowed to sell it. Travis still has the copyrights. We were really pissed by this. They did not only ripped us with a cheap copy of the picture for 500 dollars, they weren't even allowed to sell it to us in the first place! But Travis is a very, very nice guy. He didn't have the original picture anymore, because Pissing Razors still got that one, but he gave us a real good and useable copy of it. For free.

band imageYou were slight hinted the lyricism on your album. This very day (May 11), we lost our first Dutch soldier in the Iraqi-war. When I see the cover, you are not really Republicans…

Well, as you can see on the cover of our album, the pig resembles pretty much George W. Bush. I mean, he starts a war and he managed to get away with it, despite the whole world is against it. I just say the word “democracy”. I think he's a very scary guy. I think he's the one that will push the button, so to speak.

I think he already did it several times.

Yeah. The man is just not righteous. From the very beginning, they have nothing to do there, in Iraq. It's all about oil, money, greed and especially power. But it's a hard question when we are dealing about the rehabilitation of Iraq. When I have to choose, I'll still saying: They shouldn't be there at all. Never.

But on the other hand: they pretty much ruined the whole country. We're looking from the outside and I think it's pretty good to rebuild the entire land. But we don't really see what's going on there, because the media isn't reliable at all. So I think America or France or Russia or whoever should be there.

That's food for thought… or food for new songs. Now this album is, like I said before, already pretty old. Already sweating on new material?

We're working on new songs. At the moment we have about eight new songs ready.

Okay, that's about ten minutes …

No, actually these songs will take much longer now. They're more down to the beat and more back to basic. They take about two and half minutes, some even three minutes. They're slower, but also even faster than our previous stuff. Actually, I just came back from the rehearsal room and we made a song called 'Solitary Sickness', which is probably the fastest in our history. But we did also some kind of the opposite song as well today, which was much slower and heavier. We were almost into doom. I think it's a natural progress. With having just one guitarist in the band, I think our new stuff is much brighter, bigger and dynamic now. I can do much more on the bass, Kristian (Lampila) can do much wilder stuff on the guitar and we can fool around a lot more with tempos and rhythms and stuff.

On your first two albums you are compared with Napalm Death and Brutal Truth. But what are your inspirations and influences on this newly made musical direction?

I recently listen very much to Today Is The Day, Neurosis and Isis.

When I listen to the soundscape-ish, instrumental song 'T.A.O.T' on your present album, this will come as no surprise. On a few songs you already showed your talent in more doomy, slower kind of metal.

'T.O.A.T' is actually the title track and is done by Kristian in his own recording studio. He tried out this instrumental, industrial piece. It's an ideal song to give the listener a breather halfway the album. Why not totally get it down? We thought it just make sense. And it fits perfectly before the song 'Doomsday Celebration' and after that one we have the intense fast 'Apt For Idiocy' which is also perfect start for side B, that is if this album will ever come out vinyl. We had talked with Dennis from No Tolerance during our first album 'Who Are Those Of Leadership' about releasing that one on vinyl, but they lacked the money to do it. And after that we haven't really searched for it.

band imageWhat about your live album 'Live: Revolution'? Is that one released or not?

It's in the process of putting the pieces and artwork together. A label that is based in Malmö will release it, but I haven't heard from the guy from that label in a long time. In the meantime we recorded our songs at a live show at the Belsepub here in Gothenburg, last February or March. We thought it would be better to release a live album with the band as a four-piece, instead of the very old five-piece recordings that guy in Malmö has.

I saw your name popped up in several bands. It seemed you're becoming quite a metal veteran. You played in Gardenian, Gooseflesh, even with Snowy Shaw (in IllWill). It also seems that every time you're starting in a new band, you're gonna play harder and faster. The older you get, the angrier and frustrated you are?

[laugh] Well, not really. In the first place, when I first heard Napalm Death was when they released 'Scum'. I think it was somewhere in 1987, I was about eighteen years and it totally blew me away. Then I heard 'Harmony Corruption' and then I've heard the first Brutal Truth. These albums really make me interested to start such a band like that. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the right people. But I always thought it would be great if I can manage to get some people with the same influences and get them together to play such crazy music like that. I had a band together in 1993, but it didn't last for long. It wasn't until 2000 when it really started to happen with Mindsnare, which became Relevant Few some time later. I have found my perfect partner in crime and sharing the same goals in our guitarist Kristian, when we played in Gooseflesh together where he was the singer/guitarist. We talked together about starting a more brutal band, but it wasn't until we saw Mojjo playing in a club – in a Slipknot tribute band (!) - that we really started with this band. Kristian had also an engineering job in the Belsepub and there he saw J.C. performing with his band Abandon – which is by the way the most brutal band I've ever seen! It's so extremely depressing and frustrating to hear: you wouldn't believe it - and Kristian got J.C.'s interest to sing in our band as well, only if he brought Johan Nilsson with him. But that's something I already have told you before.

Your album has a bright, clean and killer sound. I like it that way in grind. Not such a sloppy, East-European noise-crap. You recorded the whole bunch in one take? That's sheer impossible!

It is. We recorded the album in two days. Completely live with no overdubs. We did about two or three live takes on each song and picked out the best one. Most of them were even first takes. No, we didn't need any fancy producer or so, this is just the way we play. People are always enthusiastic about the way we play and how we sound. We did a gig at Fuck The Commerce Festival in Germany and we brought our album with us in the nightliner. In that bus there were the guys from Grave and The Forsaken and I played some songs of our album for them and told them it was recorded completely live. They didn't believe us. The night we played our gig at Fuck The Commerce they have been watching us And after we were done with our show the guys from Grave and The Forsaken came back to us and told us that they believed us now completely. It sounded exactly as our album. Even rawer.

band imageWell, I could say that I believe your story. On the other hand I could also say: seeing is believing. So tell me, when is Relevant Few in Holland?

Hopefully it's gonna happen in September. At the moment we are thinking about the places we could do for a mini-tour with our friends from Gadget. And if we are lucky we can bring Regurgitate as well, so that it will be a three-piece package of grindcore. But nothing's scheduled yet.

That's grindcore overkill, man. It will kill every living organism in every venue you're gonna play. Such a pretty way to die. When this all will happen, what three albums will you play in the touring van?

Brutal Truth – Need To Control
Probably the upcoming album from Today Is The Day.
Massive Attack – 100th Window
I may say only three albums? That means I already missed out Tomahawk and Tool!

Relevant Few: nothing but a bunch of Napalm Death-clones with weak lyrics.

Yeah, I know what you mean. This was mentioned in a Greek webzine. I think they didn't even listen to the record at all. He just couldn't comprehend with the style of it. He's actually the only one who's comparing us with Nasum, and I think that is not a relevant comparison. We are much more into the old school grindcore. He gave us something like three out of seven or so. He understood that we were from Sweden and we play in the grindcore genre. So he calculated this as one and one is two, and there it was; the review. But if you read his review very clearly, I think he wrote from another angle where he thought in some crazy way the album was actually great. [Hesitant chuckles]

Relevant Few is playing grind, cause they can't play anything else.

It's all about the energy. When we play live or in the rehearsal room it's almost like a therapy. But it's not that I can't play anything else. I also play with Niclas Engelin from Gardenian in a band called Kerosine. It's more song orientated and American, commercial related metal like Sevendust of The Passenger. The total opposite of Relevant Few. But that's not all of it, because I also play with my friends from an old band – which was called Ton Of Bricks somewhere in 1994 - in a King Diamond tribute band.

Grindcore is for stupid people with a lack of good musical taste.

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