Imperishable - Interview
If you're thinking about how you could spend 7 months productively - sit down and write some sick riffs and solos, remembering to throw in some inspiration from your favorite death metal and classical music, spice it up with some old movie themes and remember to write the lyrics that listeners can relate to (as death metal's godfather Chuck once said "I don't see Satan coming out, I don't see hell bubbling beneath me, I see reality"). And then hope you can come up with 4 tracks as good as Imperishable. If you don't succeed, you can always hope to have Robin Holmberg on your team when the questions about Morbid Angel's "Covenant" come up on your pub quiz. If that happens, you can bet your life's savings and you should be good. But before you come across any of these two scenarios, enjoy few minutes spent on reading the interview with one of the guys responsible for Imperishable's "Deathspawn" EP below.
Your fellow metalhead,
Hi Robin, could you please introduce the band to us a little?
Robin Holmberg: Greetings Maciek! Well, in this early incarnation of Imperishable, we operate as a trio with myself on guitar, my brother Niklas Holmberg on drums and Henric Skoog on vocals. It is yet to be decided whether or not we will add more members, but I would see it as most likely. Right now, it's not an issue, but my guess is we'll feel compelled to add at least a bass player whenever a live show comes up. As for now though, we have every tool within the three of us that we could possibly need to continue writing music and find our own voice, so to speak. So, at this point, I'm more than satisfied with how things have turned out thus far.
How did the idea of the band appear?
Me and Niklas have been playing and writing together, only the two of us, since we were in our early teens. As time went by, we also began playing in different bands together and joined other temporary projects while always maintaining our own thing on the side. Over the years we have done pretty much everything we felt like doing, no genre limitations whatsoever. Write, record and keep the material to ourselves, for our own listening pleasure, kind of. Then do it again and again. This time around the only difference is we thought we might share it with others. So that's how it all went down. And then we added Henric on vocals, of course. He was actually an important part of this band coming to life.
Is it planned to be a full-time band or just a side-project between Vampire albums?
Full-time, no doubt. We're both still in Vampire, I might add, but that won't affect Imperishable, and vice versa. Like I touched upon earlier, me and Niklas would have written music together anyway, so we might as well focus our effort on another band instead.
How long did it take to write the material for the EP and how do you share songwriting responsibilities with Niklas?
It didn't take very long. The first rehearsal took place in May of last year (2021), after I had been toying around with some song ideas in the week prior. Since then, we have rehearsed a total of four times. And while I write the majority of music, Niklas plays an integral part in arranging and pointing me in the right direction, you could say. So, we're both depending on the other, which has always been the case. In the gaps between rehearsals, we sent each other demos back and forth, and the finished songs were all recorded properly in October. Had we kept on going with the writing process instead of shifting focus and releasing Deathspawn, I assume we would have had more than enough material to record a full-length album by now. But we figured we would need to develop the sound a bit before doing it all at once, and I have no regrets about that. It all comes down to time and effort, and while the effort surely was there and still is, time is still not on our side. When the time comes to record an album, I want the possibility to include all of the songs from Deathspawn, or some of them, or none of them. It all depends on the direction our sound is heading with the newer compositions and if the old ones make the cut.
How did the writing process look like?
The standard procedure is I start writing the riffs at home. Sometimes I will program some drums to accompany them, sometimes it's just a click track, all depending on the mood. Then I send the best riffs to Niklas, and when he has listened to the riffs, he arranges them and record his drums on top. Back to me, I suggest some alterations, then back to Niklas, and that way it continues until we feel good about the arrangement. Lastly, I write lyrics, and if necessary, we adjust or add something to the music to make it feel more "complete". This time around we were already too far into the process for Henric to contribute with ideas, but I'm sure he will, both musically and lyrically moving forward.
What are the lyrics about?
Addiction, to sum it up in the shortest way possible. It has plagued both myself and my brother for at least the past decade, and it still does. Somehow, music is the main reason things haven't gotten worse. I won't share any details, but it's mainly related to alcoholism. The desire to drink and the pain that comes along with it is always present in our lives. So basically, the lyrics are autobiographical, only disguised and hidden behind a wall of metaphors. Reality shrouded within a more suiting repertoire of words, you could say. That this concept or overall theme came to mind, other than the fact that it's constantly a part of my day, is not as thought-through as it might seem though. I just felt the need to express something other than the usual gore/slasher/horror/monster themes. Not that I don't enjoy bands that write songs about that stuff, it just doesn't affect me in any deeper way. I mean, Cannibal Corpse can and should do it. I love them. But I'm not any good at writing those kinds of stories myself. It's better for the listener, and more rewarding for me, to write about things I live and breathe. Addiction is real.
How did you find Andreas Sandberg to do the logo and who came up with the band name?
Andreas has been a friend of mine for a long time, and we have collaborated many times before Imperishable was formed. He was the first one that came to mind when we realized we soon would be in need of a logo and some artwork. Very talented guy, and this will not be the last time we work together creatively. Regarding the name of the band, Imperishable, I remember stumbling upon a verse in the Corinthians of the New Testament that caught my eye. I'm not in any way a religious person, I just happen to read whenever I have time to read, and I just froze when I saw the word 'imperishable'. I instantly realized that this was us.
How did you get in touch with Peter Ericsson to do the mixing/mastering and what studio did you use?
We have known Peter forever, and this was a quick, spontaneous way of getting things done while still staying in touch and having fun. He liked our material and offered to help us complete it, that's it. We recorded our parts separately at our homes and then he performed his magic. I don't know. He's the professor. I love him.
How long did it take to record "Deathspawn"?
One weekend for the music and one evening for the vocals.
What were the musical inspirations behind the material (did I miss any in the review)?
That's a very good question, and a hard one at that. I listen to a lot of different genres, and most of it inspire me to compose. But besides the more obvious ones you've already mentioned, I believe Death and Morbid Angel are always present in the mix. Not that there are particular parts of the songs on Deathspawn that I would say were consciously inspired by any of them, but on an unconscious level, most of our material certainly owes a lot to those bands. Not unexpected at all if that's the case, we've listened to those albums hundreds of times and it's part of our musical DNA. I know "Covenant" better than most of my relatives, ha ha. Other than that, film composer Bernard Herrmann is a constant inspiration, as well as the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven. I listen to a lot of orchestral music these days, and I think that will be more apparent in our post-Deathspawn compositions. The trained ear will hear it.
Are you a fan of old movies (like "Jason and the Argonauts")? Or was it just the best fitting to open the album?
I love old movies, horror and film noir in particular! I rarely have time to watch movies nowadays, but in my formative years I always watched older stuff. Why stick to whatever new crap is presented to you, when history is loaded with quality? Anyway, we grew up watching the old monster movies from the 30s and 40s ("Wolf man", "Dracula", etc) but the Ray Harryhausen stop-motion films were the ones on repeat, including "Jason and the Argonauts". The old VHS tape of that one must be in such bad shape… Still one of my favourite films, for sure. The scene in where Talos is brought back to life still sends shivers down my spine just by thinking about it. It's monumentally more horrifying and scarier than the effects used in modern horror films, at least to my ears and eyes. Why we chose that sample is no coincidence either, as it's closely connected to the lyrics of that song. And, at the same time, whenever you get the opportunity to do a subtle homage to Bernard Herrmann, who composed the film score, you don't pass on it.
Any details you would like to share about the songs chosen for the EP? Do you have more material (apart from "Scream Bloody Gore" cover, which I hope we will be able to hear at some point)?
Not much to share actually. The ones you hear on Deathspawn are the first four songs we ever wrote as Imperishable. They came to life almost by themselves, and by that I mean there's no "forcing it" or "overthinking" anything. The rawness and the spontaneous vibe were something we sought after right from the start, and I'm satisfied with the end result.
The "Scream Bloody Gore" cover will be released sometime in the future, I promise you that. It's a shame we couldn't release it as a tribute to Chuck on the 20th anniversary of his death, which was the original plan. But sometimes shit happens, and I have chosen not to dwell on it. It will be released someday, that's the only thing that matters to me.
Should we expect more to come from Imperishable in near future?
Most definitely! I work on new material almost every day. It's still in a very early stage, but I think it will sound somewhat different to Deathspawn. The songs I'm working on right now is a bit more technical, faster and "daring". We'll see where we end up, but the working process will not be rushed as was the case last time. Therefore, I can't tell you a release date or anything, but the goal is to be finished with recording before the summer, for a possible late 2022 release.
Do you plan to do some live performances? If yes - what would be the line-up?
Not at the moment, no. I would love to play these songs (and newer stuff) in a small, sweaty club, but apart from focusing on writing new songs I have a lot of other obligations in my life right now that's taking up a shitload of time. So that's the main reason. Then there's the pandemic to take into account, with all its restrictions and insecurities. I don't want to come across as a total shitbag here, but I would not want to play in front of 20 people sitting down on chairs. I have better things to do.
Thanks for your time and hope to hear more tunes soon!
Thank you for having me and take care Maciek. Na zdrowie, from the three of us.
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