A few years ago together you were in a band called Moahni Moahna, with Tommy Rehn, and you made four albums. Why did you quit that band? Was it a case of lack of creativity, or 'musical differences' (to put it bluntly: a good old fashioned fight)?
Henrik: The main reason for the ending of Moahni Moahna was external problems. We were surrounded by "less gifted people" and criminals. In the end we had to spend more time on legal disputes then on our music. That can really make you lose the spirit after some time. Some of those assholes are still out there. Just to give you an example and to warn others I must tell you about German label "Rising Sun" with managing director Clemens Väth. They sold both our albums (Temple of Life & Why) in Europe and still they haven't paid us ANYTHING. When we speak to them they refuse, or just don't return our calls/mails. I know of several others that have experienced the same shit with them. And worst of all... they're still around!!! In the end we felt that we needed some drastic changes to maintain our interest and joy in doing what we really love to do: HARDROCK!!! We came to the conclusion that we needed a fresh start with a new band, under a new name, with new labels and co-workers. We had no "good-old-fashion-fight" in the band. However we needed to do some internal reorganization as well to be able to keep it on a professional level.
Later on you formed ZooL. Now of course a pretty obvious question is : where does the name ZooL come from, and why is it written with a capitol Z and L?
Henrik: The story of the name ZooL is a rather funny one. When we had written all the songs for our album we came to the unavoidable... What is the bands name??? The album was written in the northern parts of Sweden, where both Martin and I are from. In the village we have a local witch. Not of course one of those fairytale-witches, but the modern kind that mostly deals with healing and stuff. We paid her a visit and told her about our music and lack of bandname. She almost immediately came up with the name ZooL which originally is an ancient magic formula. Each letter represent a word. Together they constitute the spell. She showed us an old roll of parchment upon which the formula was written. But we had to promise not to reveal the secret behind the four letters, or otherwise it would lose its magic.
It took you guys about three years to release the debut album as it seems, for the songs were all written back in 1999, and you were busy for two years recording it. Why did it took you so long?
Henrik: You're right! The songs were written back in 1999. We recorded them 2000 and that didn't take much time. What DID take time was finding the right guys to work with outside the band.
The lyrics are kind of in the same vain like old tales and legends of the Vikings. Do you feel like a relationship between yourself and them, or is it just a way to get the message out? If you guys indeed have some sort of message underneath the epical, fantasy like lyrics.
Henrik: Both Martin and I see music as escapism. That means that we're not very much into writing about society and politics. I get fed up with that shit anyway, so it's no use for us to reflect it in our music. What we like to do is telling hardrock-sagas. It's true that some of the lyrics are dealing with northern mythology. That felt like a natural thing for us. Those tales and that part of history once took place in the same parts of the world that we are from. But not to worry! We don't intend to be another vikingband. We just want to give ZooL the touch of it.
Singer Martin's responsible for the lyrics and melody lines, while guitarist Henrik takes care of the rest of the song. Could you tell us some more about the writing process? Is it the melody line first? Are the lyrics the foundation of a song? Or do you start from some random guitar riffs?
Henrik: It usually happens like this. I'm writing different riffs, verses, choruses etc and file them away. Then I go back and listen to what I have created. I pick out the magical ideas and make them complete. Some of them have their vocal-line and others are more open to improvise upon. When I have a couple of songs completed, I present them for Martin. He picks out the ones he also believes in and adds lyrics and melodies.
On the track 'Dragon Chaser' Majestic's Richard Andersson does the keyboards. How did you get acquainted with this guy, and was his part spontaneous, or was the track written with him in mind?
Henrik: Richard is an old friend of mine. He has actually been playing all the keyboards for MM - from the release-gig for our first album, until the end. He just didn't record anything with us. I think he's the greatest keyboardplayer around and was happy to invite him to do this track. I wrote the track the way I usually do. When it was ready to be recorded it was obvious who should do the keyboards. I asked Richard and he was happy to do it. I wrote and arranged the song. The solo Richard wrote of course!
Moahni Moahna didn't gain much attention in Europe outside of Scandinavia, in spite of enough fans of your kind of music. How do you think to achieve bigger attention for ZooL this time?
Henrik: That question you should ask Lucretia Records and Intromental Management. My part in this is to write the best songs I can and to play them for whoever wants to hear them.
You've been labeled by the professional critics as being Viking Metal, Fantasy Metal, Retro Rock, Epic Hard Rock and even Melodic Prog Metal. What do you think yourself? Which definition would most accurately define your kind of music, and why?
Henrik: Fantasy Metal is actually a self invented term for MM. Perhaps that's still the accurate label... or perhaps it's Nordic Metal... or perhaps....Mythology Metal... or.... Or why not just good old HardRock indeed!!! I don't know. Feel free to use whatever term you find suitable. Perhaps that's for the best. I find it quit interesting to see what kind of music we're doing in the eyes and ears of other people.
ZooL was supposed to play the Sweden Rock Festival this year, but the show was cancelled due to severe throat problems singer Martin Häggström was suffering from. How is his health now, and doesn't it interfere with de CD release?
Henrik: Martin is on the mend! He will be fully recovered in a month or so. It will NOT interfere with the CD release.
Will the release be supported by a tour, and if so, can we expect the band in Holland?
Henrik: I would really like to go to Holland. I have never been there but I have heard lots of great stuff about the place. If it's possible to play there I would be delighted. However, that's up to other people to arrange. But I really hope they are planning to!!!
For live shows drummer Kenneth Olsen and bass player Kasper Gram have been added to the band. Whatever happened to Daniel Floris and Stefan Edstrom? Didn't they fit in anymore, or did they have obligations elsewhere?
Henrik: Daniel and Stefan fit the band just fine. They are great musicians and good friends. The problem has been that Daniel also has his own band Mind's Eye and Stefan is fully occupied as well.
It seems that you guys are already pretty busy working on the next album, so is it correct to assume that the current live crew will be responsible for writing and recording the new tracks, or is it just Henrik, Martin and Andreas, plus some session musicians?
Henrik: The writing process will be pretty much the same as on our first album and it's most likely that these are the guys to record it.
Is there anything left you wish to say to our readers?
Henrik: I would like to thank all the true hardrockers out there. It's because of You this kind of music will never die! Hope to see You soon!!!
Thanks a lot for your time, and good luck with the album!
Henrik: Thank YOU!