Dismember - Interview
Dismember doesn't need much of an introduction. I had the chance to do an interview with their drummer Fred Estby via Skype (thanks again for this Fred!!!) so we talked about future plans, the band's past and his projects, as well as about a possible, long-awaited new album of the band. Have fun reading!
Hello Fred, how are you?
Good, you know it's 30° Celsius today, so it's pretty nice.
You moved to the USA some time ago - how did that happen?
I was on tour here, doing sound for a band and I met this woman. We really hit it off straight away and so I started coming here going between Stockholm and New York for a couple of years and then we got engaged. We decided to marry, and I moved here, started working here. The working situation within the music industry was a little bit more open here than it was in Stockholm. Sweden is a pretty small country and you have to really hustle to get in on the work and I have more opportunities here.
How does it work since then with the communication with the other band members?
It's like we're talking today. You're in Germany and I'm in New York. It's pretty easy to keep in contact. The only thing that's kind of annoying, the same with my parents and so on is the time difference. It's never a great time to do stuff but you learn, and you get used to that. It is pretty easy, you have so many ways to communicate these days.
At the moment there is not much going on with concerts and tours due to corona. What does that mean for you?
When it comes to the band, we don't even do tours and we only had two shows at one weekend in October 2019 and one in January 2020. We don't do tours anymore because of our work. We all have day jobs these days and we've done it so many times that we tried to quit our jobs to go touring and then you really struggle. And we did it so often in the past that we decided to do only some shows any more. So, we don't have to take off for work and quit our jobs. It also makes it more fun. Touring can be pretty exhausting, even if you're doing good for yourself. Travelling and every and all day and I've done that a lot, after I quit the band, too as a sound engineer and tour manager and that's a tough life. Even if you make money it's tough and you need to put the roots down some time, and we all decided that's the way to do it. But apart from that, it sucks that everything went down but we are not the only ones in this problematic situation. I've been unemployed for over a year now and this sucks. But at least over here, it's starting to look better. Shows are starting to come back, and I hope that Europe gets their vaccination done, too.
Yeah, I read that Deicide played a show with Inhuman Condition in Florida lately and was pretty jealous about that.
Yeah, I guess that is what we're gonna see this summer. National and local shows might happen but probably not international ones. We are still waiting to see what happens to Party.San Open Air (German Festival scheduled in August; M.). I really hope that this will happen, but I don't really see it happening.
Do you already have any concerts and tours planned; things are slowly looking up again?
We have all the shows that were postponed from last year and then got postponed again. That means we have Netherlands Deathfest and Maryland Deathfest next year, Obscene Extreme (an open-air festival in the Czech Republic scheduled in July; M.) and as I said, we will see what will happen to Party.San. Then we have a show in Stockholm in September called Macken Fest and the Mexico Metal Fest in November.
Do you notice any changes in the audience? After all, there is a lot of competition on the market and you haven't released anything new since 2008.
We have only done three shows back together so far and they have been sold out. That hasn't been a concern and I don't think it will be either because we don't play that often. It's not that we play every day out of every year so you can come see us at any time. When we play it's gonna be very exclusive. I assume that there is a pretty good attendance whenever we play.
Speaking of competition, what do you think of the newer HM-2 sound bands, who of course also pay tribute to you? Endseeker, Revel in Flesh or Lik should be mentioned as examples.
I like it. It sounds like Entombed and Dismember and it would be weird if I didn't like it. I'm listening carefully to what they do. Lik are really close friends of mine, too, so I am a little bit biased there. But I think they're writing really good songs with a great sound, so you can't lose.
Looking back, what would you say was the biggest success in your career and what was the biggest mistake or setback?
I remember one tour that was really successful from start to end, that was like mind-blowing. It was when we toured with Napalm Death and Obituary in Europe back in 1992. We didn't have any local bands and only had this three-band-package and almost every night was sold out. We played in pretty big venues and I think that was a very important tour for us. We played in the Czech Republic and had an attendance of about 6000 people in an ice-hockey stadium, that was pretty crazy. We didn't expect that, but it was great.
When it comes to failure, I don't know…we have always gone our way and have made a sound for ourselves that we do not compromise with. The only album that we might have been a little bit on the verge of compromising a little bit too much and maybe the songs aren't exactly like we should sound was "Massive Killing Capacity" to a certain extent. Not all of them, a lot of good came out of that album. From that album all the band-members were writing material, everybody was contributing and involved in the process. We got a little bit more melodic and the good parts were kept, the more rocky stuff was thrown out of the window, which was a good thing for us but I think when it comes to an album that some songs should have been cut, I guess that's the album I think of.
Really? It is still one of my favorite albums. I loved it when it was released and had a huge DinA1 poster showing the cover in my room and a lot of shirts with that motive, too. I think "Death Metal" is one of the weaker albums if you just listen to the vocals. They don't sound that powerful and seem to be in the background a little bit.
I know what you mean. But it is actually one of the best albums we ever did. The production is very raw, very in your face and there are a lot of components fighting for your attention. And if you are a person who likes vocals mixed a little bit louder that's maybe not your favorite album. I also think that the songwriting and the energy of that album is probably one of our best.
Is there another album on which you would change something in retrospect?
I mean "Hate Campaign" has fewer good songs and for some reason I think that was a time in our career when it was difficult. We lost Richard (Cabeza; M.) our bass player, Robert (Sennebäck; M.) was out of the band, so two important members were gone. Nobody really cared about death metal at that time, so this was kind of a tough album. We also started recording in a new studio we didn't know that well, so it was a little bit all over the place. But I think when it comes to "Massive Killing Capacity", I can underline that a couple of the songs are too rocky and groovy for Dismember. I don't think that a whole song that's kind of mid-tempo, that's not really Dismember. I think we realized it there. When it comes to "Hate Campaign", there are a couple of songs that have the feeling to be some kind of fillers because Dismember always has been about hooks. Even though we play extreme music we want the music to be memorable and we're pretty picky when it comes to riffing and songwriting.
Was it actually difficult to get dates after "Like An Everflowing Stream"? I mean, song titles like 'Skin Her Alive' and the bloodstained photos aren't exactly something women are into.
(Laughs) Well for death metal, there weren't many girls in the audience back then. There weren't many chicks who were into that. You have to remember that in the late 80s and early 90s there were bands like Skid Row and those were the bands that most girls were into. I mean, we all had girlfriends and they hung out with us, but I can't say that our girlfriends at that time were really into our music. That was a little bit later but not when we started. I don't think that the lyrics and the covers were putting people or female listeners off. That's a better question for the female audience back then.
Have your musical influences actually changed over the years - I've just about completed my Rush collection and started listening to old Scorpions and Kiss, something I found pretty uncool as a teenager.
Those are bands that we listen to from early on. I grew up with Kiss and it was the first hard rock band that I listened to and I was really young at that age. But then it all progressed. I would say rather that bands like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, bands from the 60s, those were the bands I had to reevaluate and rediscover. I knew about them but had never listened to all their music and I started doing that in the 90s first. Apart from that, we always had the same influences for our music. It has always been Motörhead, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Slayer, Metallica, Death, Bathory and Autopsy. All those bands were our influencing bands from the start and still are.
Lyrically, on the last album you veered away from the gore thing quite a bit and tackled the subject of WW1. Can you talk a little bit about how that came about?
Matti is a history buff, especially when it comes to the World Wars. He's very interested in that and he's read a lot of books on that topic, both biographies and fiction. He is very much into that. When I was still in the band, in the start he used to write more the gory lyrics and I used to write more about lyrics that handle with religion and oppression on mankind and stuff like that. I think he just got more influenced by the stuff he was reading about war at that time more than about serial killers. I mean, both topics are pretty saturated, look at Sabaton, all they're writing about is war and Cannibal Corpse, all they write about is gore. We write about four or five different topics and that's our style I guess.
And now, in keeping with a drama with the build-up of tension and climax, the question (and hopefully the answer) that everyone has been waiting for - will there ever be another album or at least one or two new songs from you?
We don't know yet. We have been talking very loosely about it, but we got together to play shows and to have fun. We haven't got much further than that. We have a setback for over a year now and we haven't really decided. We'll see what happens.
You have another band, Necronaut. Do you have any plans concerning this one?
Not yet. You know, there was a very unfortunate thing that happened that when that album was released that label at that time went kind of bankrupt, so it never really came out. But I really like the music and it was fun doing it. What I'm working on right now is that we're trying to get the Dismember music back on digital platforms and physical formats like CDs and vinyl and all that. After that is done and we're back on track with everything, I'm gonna try to get the Necronaut album out on a new label again to make sure that people can actually hear it. I have some material and I would really like to do a second Necronaut album. I have a lot of singers that I would like to include in that project and I really hope I can do that in a couple of years' time.
And now the last question, are there any current albums or absolute must-haves that you can recommend? My wife will surely be happy when I arrive with even more CDs...
The Swedish bands like Lik and Necrophobic released really good albums lately this year, Gatecreeper, Spirit Adrift, Impure is a band I've worked with from the US, who is a really good black/death metal band. I have produced their first album and they have released two EPs after that and hopefully we can work on a new album soon. I also produced an album with a band from New York called Stress Angel, I hope that the album is gonna be out this year. It's also old-school death metal.
The last words are yours!!!
I hope we get out of this situation soon so that we can play some shows and we wanna get more shows going across the globe, a lot of territories that we haven't booked shows for yet and I hope that's gonna happen as soon as this is all over. And maybe we'll have a new record out in a year or two.
The God That Never Was
Where Ironcrosses Grow
Massive Killing Capacity
Indecent & Obscene
Like An Everflowing Stream
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