Death Breath, where are you? Is Scott Carlsson having too fun with those Repulsion gigs? Or is Imperial State Electric making so much money that Nicke Andersson has abandoned death metal (again!)? Or is this zombie just hibernating, ready to strike when we expect it least? Well, the reason can be this or that or maybe there aren’t any reasons to this season of silence, but this Swedish band’s debut Stinking Up the Night was an impressive effort in 2006. Retro – yes, but who cares if you get such rotting, rolling and stinking death metal as this album offers. Robert Pehrsson (guitars, vocals) wasn’t a man of many ,many, many words in this old interview, but I hope you find it a good read nevertheless.
Well, let’s start from the recent news, which can be described – as on your homepage – as good and bad. First the bad ones: you lost your bass player Magnus Hedquist – how did this happen? You have found a replacement, right?
– We haven’t been searching really. In the studio Nicke can do the bass, that’s how we’re it doing now. And live we’ll have Scott Carlsson anytime when it’s possible. That’s where we are right now and that will work just fine.
And then the good news: you had your first gig some time ago. Could you tell some general feelings about it? Did all go well? Did you get those two other vocal musketeers (Scott Carlsson and Jörgen Sandström) to perform live also?
– Yeah, I was really blown away by the response, we had Scott coming over here to Sweden rehearsing for a week and we had Erik Wallin from Merciless/Harms Way on second guitar. It all worked really well. Jörgen came up and did two songs with us also, and he was superb of course.
What kind of set list did you have? Did you fill the list with some cover songs or was it enough to play songs from your debut album? If there weren’t any covers, what would be suitable songs for Death Breath and why?
– I guess we could have done only originals, but did a bunch of covers, ‘cause we think it’s fun and we like the songs. Here’s the set list:
Bodily Dismemberment (Repulsion)
Dragged through the Mud
Coffins of the Unembalmed Dead
Reduced to Ashes
Circle of the Tyrants (Celtic Frost)
Heading for Decapitation (w. Jörgen)
A Morbid Mind (w. Jörgen)
Maimed and Slaughtered (Discharge)
Black Breath (Repulsion)
Christ All Fucking Mighty
Well, then to your debut album Stinking Up the Night, which has been one of the year’s best albums for many, although the feelings were quite sceptical at first. So, I guess this kind of fame has been a big thing and an act of power to you?
– We did the album ‘cause we wanted to and didn’t think about expectations and such at all really. I was more concerned with just doing the best I can and that I would be proud of what we achieved at the end. And I am. Everything after that is a big bonus to me, and I’m very happy to see people digging it!
Could you describe how were the first, primal feelings when you were starting to nail down to those songs? Did you start from your old favourites, or from pure booze-laden hatred or just from 100% having fun? In the case of some songs like Dragged through the Mud you don’t have to dig the influences very deep (Autopsyyyy!!!), so there is a spirit of tribute present sometimes…
– We just wanted do a pure death metal album the way we like it. The songs aren’t very different from our first demos to what ended up on the album, that’s just the way we write for Death Breath so that wasn’t hard at all. I draw influences from those old favourites that I always liked the best. I couldn’t really do it in another way to tell the truth.
Well, in my opinion you got covered quite well all the aspects that are important in death metal. I especially like those humorous moments in lyrics, Chopping Spree and Heading for Decapitation being the best examples. Death metal is not so serious thing to you, right? Does this sense of humour shine also in music (I can feel some ridiculously overflowing massiveness in Cthulhu Fhtagn!…)?
– Thanks! We’re a 100% serious with the band, but of course we want to have some humour in there. I also think some people mistake a good rhyme with humour sometimes.
On the other hand you attack on God in Christ All Fucking Mighty. Does Death Breath have still some serious message? Should the lyrics of that song be read in a Satanic way or as a burst of basic Christ-mocking anger?
– That one is Nicke’s lyric, but I would go for what you mention last.
I had a chat with Repugnant guys some years ago and they said that echo and rhymes are the most Satanic things in death metal. Well, you have at least that latter part in aces, so are you Satanic? What else does make death metal so harsh and gruesome in your opinion?
– They got a good point there. We have to have more echo on the next album! We like it simple and raw, no point in overdoing things.
And just keeping things in Satan: do you think that all extreme metal music has that Satanic vibe naturally, or is this all just result of that trio from Newcastle (Venom) and one hockey-crazy Swede (Bathory)?
– No not really, I’m not the one to say what’s evil or not. Bathory sounds evil to me, but I don’t think Quorthon was the least bit evil in person.
One speciality in Stinking Up the Night is that aforementioned vocal threesome of Sandström, Carlsson and yourself. How did you share those songs together? And why didn’t Nicke (known of his great performance in Entombed’s Clandestine) join to you vocal orgies?
– We discussed early on to have a couple of different screamers. We liked Scott’s and Jörgen’s work a lot so we decided to ask them. I think it makes the record better, and it’s a lot of fun working with them. Nicke did try it a few times but couldn’t get the sound right this time around. It was quite easy to hear whitch song suited Jörgen’s, Scott’s or my style the best in the studio.
In my opinion Jörgen has the toughest throat in this album. Was he like possessed in the studio or how did he manage to make those unholy guttural noises?
– He’s just being Jörgen. It comes natural to him.
How it was to work with Nicke? Did you write those songs separately and just gather for the studio sessions, or were there a deeper connection between you two?
– It’s really easy to work with him, he’s got lots of talent and has a lot of experience in every department. As soon as we had decided to do the album we immediately started writing songs, recording them at our home studios and then exchanged them when we met up. Some of the stuff we wrote together, just sitting down with guitars as usual.
People are talking about Death Breath as Nicke’s band but the things aren’t like this. Does it get on your nerves or are you all right with this?
– I’m all right with that, we both knew that would be the case he’s being so much more well-known than me. People who get the record will know there are two brains behind the band.
So, let’s turn the limelight to you then, heh! Tell something about your metal history. What was your first connection to metal music? When did you discover death metal and what were your first thought about it? Maybe Entombed/Nihilist was one of your heroes back then?
– On this record I got to work with a lot of my old heroes. Nicke, Scott, Jörgen and Fred (Estby from Dismember, producer on this one -ed.) are all from bands that I discovered and liked really early on so that is a blast for me no doubt. I went from bands as AC/DC, Maiden, Motörhead, Priest, Kiss etc. to thrash such as Sodom, Kreator and Metallica. Then I think one of the first really brutal bands I heard was Bathory, I immediately bought the record. A long time ago I was in bands such as Masticator, Runemagick and Deathwitch.
Metal Archives says that Masticator was your first band and you released a demo tape in 1991. Can you recall those feelings having your own (death metal) band, doing that first demo tape etc.? Have you found some of those feelings again through Death Breath?
– Absolutely, I remember it like yesterday. Heavy, thrash, death and black metal were the reasons I picked up a guitar. I never stopped listening to death metal, I just stopped looking for new bands at some point. I have been returning to my old records all the time through the years. I love doing this again with Death Breath, I just never found anyone to do it with in the last couple of years.
Although you had your own role in Deathwitch and Runemagick, you dropped your metal armour and headed to Thunder Express to play some garage rock in 2004. Did you fed up with death metal or what happened? I guess you didn’t turn your back to death metal completely? What else have you done during these years in the music scene?
– I think I answered some of this in the question above. I moved to Stockholm and had started to not only listen to metal and wanted to do something else. I’ve been in a couple of rock bands here since then. Tomahawk, The Preachermen, Wrecks and now Thunder Express. I also write things on my own recording that whenever I have the time.
And now straight to this moment. Death Breath is alive and kicking, and although couple of the greatest newer Swedish death metal bands (Repugnant and Kaamos, I guess you have heard of them!) have disbanded, good ol’ Dismember, Grave, Unleashed and of course Entombed are raging like 15 years earlier. But what new things will Death Breath give to death metal audience?
– We’ll supply a good healthy death metal injection in the old spirit.
And what about today’s scene, what do you think about it? In my opinion people have become speedfreaks and they just making blastbeats just for speed’s sake and they have forgotten chaotic, slimy atmosphere of Autopsy and likes.
– I think you hit the nail on its head.
Well, your myspace site is saying that you are already doing Death Breath 10” containing seven songs. (This revealed to be Let It Stink, including four originals and three covers). Can you reveal any facts about it? Will the songs follow the path of your album or are there any surprises? One thing seems to be sure: Death Breath won’t be a one-album wonder, right?
– Yeah we do, doing vocals for it tomorrow. But that’s all I will say for now and you won’t be rid of us for some time that’s for sure.