The album is already a couple of months ago, but it's never too late to thank you VERY much for that mind-blowing album! It was an awesome and suffocating journey. Damn, I'm really impressed by your massive monolithic wall-of-metal!
Well, thank you.
Last March, you did a UK-tour with Isis. How was it?
Oh, it was cool. I mean, we have toured with other metalbands, but our music can be quite hard to understand for the usual metalfan. But Isis plays somewhere in the same league as we do. So when you play with Isis you know that the people who come to the show are into this kind of music. So it's much more fun to play in front that kind of audience. No, I don't think we play actually in the same vain as Isis. Sure, we share the same thoughts and creative minds, but they're not a band we've influenced by. Well, it's however quite interesting, cause they brought another band called '27' – which is awesome by the way – and they played some kind of lo-fi kinda progrock, very mellow and soft music. Isis liked them very much and one of those bandmembers, leadsinger Maria, is now appearing on their new Isis-album. And actually, that's the very same thing we have done. We have used other musicians who normally play in the band The Parishers. In fact, the old drummer of that band, Thomas, is becoming now a full-time member of our band. And sometimes we use their singer, Ula, for singing in our band when we play live.
He replaced Marco Hildén? How did that happen. Did he have other priorities or so?
[very short]…uhhh, yeah.
Well, it's not really an important question for us. These things happen in the band. Some members quit, it's not the first time, but we always got new members in. It's no problem at all. It's nothing unusual. Happens in every band.
Of course, but despite the democratic structures a band might have, there's always one or two guys in the band that play the leading role. So what are you? Are you the backbone of the band, or are you only “allowed” the play the guitar?
Well, I would say…well, okay, I'm one of the big guys.
So you are also responsible for the songwriting?
Well, most of the times I do the songwriting. I do that at my home and when I come to the rehearsal room I showed the other guys I have a song ready. But then they manipulated and criticized it and in the end it sounds always a hundred times better. So they are very valuable for developing the songs, even though I write most of the music. But it's not that I write all music. Others write as well. And we also have these kind of 30 minutes grinding sessions when we all grind the riff just as long to get the right mood. And then we're gonna write a song out of that. And those are the best musical experiences I have: playing a riff all over again until you have the right mood. A song like 'Further' is one of those results.
And how is with the lyrics?
That's a fifty-fifty job between Klas (Rydberg, the singer. EDS) and me.
Bands like Neurosis take their inspiration from nature, the 4 elements and so. Where do you get your inspiration. Living over there in the upper north from Sweden I think it's about the same? I mean, songs like 'Arrival', 'The Watchtower' or 'Further' have lyrics that sound like it has a lot to do with nature.
Well, maybe. We have heard these kind of question before, or at least similar, but I don't think so. At least, it's not intentionally. To be honest, I just don't know. I have written the lyrics for two songs and while I wrote those I haven't had that in mind. The lyrics for 'Arrival' are the one I am most proud of. You know, you have those periods in life when you feel like everything is going down hill. And I have that period all the time, hehehe. But I'm talking now about the whole picture, the whole world: everything is just going down hill. It seems to accelerating by every day that this maniac hasn't been charged in the White House. And I thought how easy it was for religious people, how they just sit and wait for 'the one' that will set everything straight. So I created one myself. Just like Depeche Mode did in their song 'Personal Jesus', I did this in 'Arrival'. Like a personal made up Messiah. We also might evolve this character in our future yet unwritten albums, so you might find her in future lyrics too. Yes, hér. Of course, no man is gonna salvage this Earth. Forget it! The person will be a she, and she sets everything straight, gives redemption to all the oppressed people and give all the ones everything what they deserve. And I really hope that someday that will happen. I'm not religious myself, but I really hope that everyone will get his or her comings in the end. And I hope that 'Mister Bush' will not get away with it…
'The Beyond' is already your second album. I don't know that first one. Has it the same choking, strangling noise-erupting lava?
No, I wouldn't say that. I think the first one is more chaotic than this one. It draws into a lot of different directions. We recorded those songs pretty fast and just after we wrote the songs. It was not like this album when we really thought it over. No, it's not like a bridge to this new album and our previous metalcore-band Eclipse. That was way back. Only our first Cult Of Luna-demo sounds a bit like a mix of Eclipse and the things we do right now. But what more can I say about our first album? Buy it, if you like!
Your first album was released on Rage Of Achilles. This new one is on Earache. Earache gave you more money?
No, it's nothing like that. Well…eh…of course they gave us more money, cause they're a bigger label. But back then, we didn't sign anything with Rage Of Achilles. We were satisfied with their work, but Earache gave us simply a better deal. But I must say that Duncan from Rage Of Achilles is amazing. We wouldn't be in this position without him.
You also played quite a few times with your country mates Breach. Over here, that band doesn't get really great reviews but I really like that band. They're also somewhere in that type of music you play: are they, besides the obvious influences like Neurosis, Swans, Coalesce, Botch, Disbelief, Godflesh (maybe?) and Isis, also inspiring for your music?
We have played a few shows together with Breach, a long time ago. They're from the same area as we are, the north of Sweden. It was just some local gigs a guy set up. We've been asked to play there and Breach as well. That's about it. And for the other bands, well, I wouldn't say that I'm not influenced by anything. But when people has discovered our music, they give us a lot of references and to be honest: a lot of those band I've never heard of. But as far as music concerned, my conscious influences have nothing to do with music. For instance, I have never heard a song by The Swans. And every journalist asked me about it. The same with Saint Vitus they come up with. Gee, I hardly can pronounce that name correctly, cause I have never heard of that band. You mention Coalesce and Botch and those bands were big influences in my previous band Eclipse. Especially their early work. Like the album 'Give 'em Rope' from Coalesce, it's like the hardest record there is. That's at hard as it gets. They did it. That can't be beaten. So after that, I decided I wouldn't go for the hardest album, I decided to go for the heaviest album ever made. And it took a few years, but I think that our last album is as heavy as it will get. But turning back to your question. Music is not a conscious influence in the music of Cult Of Luna. But books and art influence me. On this album I was influenced by the science fiction movies form the eighties like Dune, Bladerunner, Terminator and all those. Talking about music, I'm into all kinds of stuff. I listen to singer-songwriter stuff like Nick Drake, Tracey Chapman. But also to Queens Of The Stone Age, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and a while ago I had a big The Doors-period. So I listen to everything, not that much metal, actually…
Last thing about that that influence-thing: do you like Bathory?
What do you say? What? Bathory? No, I haven't heard of it. Yes, I do know the name, but not the music.
And the very final thing about music that reminds me of when I listen to your music. Are you into classical music like Gustav Mahler or Anton Brückner?
I'm not really into classical music. I do enjoy it very much, but I never know what kind of music is composed by what kind of composer. I don't know much about it. I do know Albinoni and that guy…eh…Carl Orff (he composed 'Carmina Burana' and the first part of it – 'O Fortuna' – is used as opening-music for live gigs by countless of (metal)bands. EDS). But if you can recommend something to me, it would be great, cause I like to listen to music when I fall asleep. […] So, okay, I'll check out the 4th Symphony by Anton Brückner the first thing next morning. And classical music is really cheap over there, so I like to find out.
Do you put your depressive, frustrating parts of your life in Cult Of Luna and are you furthermore a shiny, happy guy, or do the songs only reflect your character in your normal, dragging days of life? (Days without sun, long and cold, cold winters, high suicide-level etc.)
I think a lot of people would imagine that the members from Cult Of Luna are really depressed, self-mutilating people. But I think those people will be surprised if they meet us. We can have a good laugh now and then. I can say that we are a fun gang to hang out with. But that don't contradict that you do have dark sides. Of course it's depressing during the winter. There's one side of me that I literally had to control for a few years. I have it under control, but it's still there, if you know what I mean.
I read in some interview questions about your samples. Well, I hardly heard them, except for some spare moments. So I think they're well woven into your very organic sounded music. But are those samples a big part of your musical structure?
You hardly heard it? Okay, I think you're right that it's well woven in our songs. But you haven't heard 'em? Hmmm…I think you have heard them, but you might not have identified them as samples. And those samples are a big part of our music, and they will even get bigger. We'll start working with more synthesizers in the future. We like to expand the electronic part of our music. Nope, that's no problem for bringing that on stage, cause we have a guy – by the way: he is from The Parishers as well - that will do the samples. And the keyboards. And the extra guitars. Hehe, he does a lot of things…
You also invited some guest-musicians in the studio. Who? Any famous guys?
Well, I don't know. They're not famous yet…but they will be! We worked for instance with a guitarplayer called Anders Pettersson and if he'll not be famous within a year, I'll be surprised. He played pedal steel guitar on the song 'Circle'. Yeah, that's the country-bit on our album. But Anders is a musical genius. He's absolutely the best musician I ever played with. It's just scary. And the cello we used on the album? Johanna played that. No, she's not coming with us on stage, but we won't use her part on tape. We try to do those songs a bit different in a live setting.
Even though I only have a promo, the cover artwork is quite stunning. Very post-modern sci-fi-like: Science-fiction from a science point of view, or something. How did you got in contact with the sleeve designer Per Gustafsson?
I don't know really. I can't remember. Oh…wait. Someone knew his work and someone gives us a tip and so we got in contact with him. We told him what we wanted to do and he did something. We criticized it and he did some things redone. Well, that's sort of how it went. Oh yeah, I think we'll ask him again for our third album.
How about touring?
We'll see what happen. We are planning at the moment a tour through Europe, but nothing is confirmed. We'll do at least a few festivals in the summer. But I don't want to say anything about it, cause nothing is clear at this moment.
Which of the next albums will you take with you when you're crossing through Europe? You may pick only one.
Swans – Soundtrack for the blind
Neurosis – Souls At Zero
Breach – It's me god
God Machine – Scenes From A Second Story
Hehehe, I haven't heard of two of those albums, but I'll pick out The Swans. Cause everyone is talking about The Swans and praising them and compare them to us, just like Godspeed You Black Emperor! and so. So I really like to check them out for once.
And with 3 other albums will you bring with you?
Danzig - IV
Nine Inch Nails - Fragile
27 - Animalize
At this moment their video from 'The Watchtower' might be finished and who knows if it will be aired by MTV or other music channels…