Lik - Interview
I remember when I heard the "Carnage" album from LIK for the first time. I was amazed how it filled the void left by no new releases from Dismember. And when I looked at the line-up I thought it would be just a side project, since the members were involved in some big bands (Bloodbath, Witchery, Katatonia). But as you can read below it's a band with 4 musicians fully dedicated to every release and every show. So, I'm very happy that we will keep on seeing new releases under this name. And the way they follow the Stockholm school of death metal is immaculate. If anyone asked me what this way of playing death metal sounds like, I would immediately recommend going through LIK's releases. The riffs, the drumming, the lyrics, the album cover art - all is done by the book with great attention to detail, inspired by the biggest in this subgenre with a fresh take on it as well. I had an opportunity to chat to Chris Barkensjö (the drummer), and managed to get some interesting details about the band's past, present and future, right after their performance at Mystic Festival. Enjoy!
First of all, thank you very much for your time. Fantastic show, I enjoyed it very much. It was such good fun. I noticed that in the beginning there were not that many people and then everyone came in.
Yeah, Decapitated was playing so yeah, we counted on that.
So, you told me you're here for today and tomorrow so you are supposed to spend some more time over at the festival?
I think we are leaving here tomorrow at like 12h00 and we have to catch our flight home. Some of the guys have regular jobs, I mean everybody in the band has regular jobs but we have our duties back home you know. Family and stuff like that, so it's perfect to do just one in and out. We were at Stockholm airport at 06h00 this morning. We had to sleep in the rehearsal place because of the fact that there has been chaos in the airports lately. We played in Holland a couple of weeks ago and we had to spend the night in Schiphol (Amsterdam airport - MW). We were there like 5 hours before, but there was such a queue so we missed our flight and when our flight left, we hadn't even gone through security. So we had to sleep at the airport. So we were like, we're not doing this again. It's not like we are 25 anymore, right? So it's like nah, it's not worth it. But it's been good, we came to the airport this morning and everything just went smoothly of course. Fortunately we have lounge tickets, so we could sit in the lounge for like 5 hours but that's okay. We enjoy each other's company so it's just a couple of friends having a good time.
I have noticed recently that quite a few bands form like this, just a few friends getting together and deciding to make a band.
Yeah, I mean we have fun. We laugh. We get a lot of shit for that especially in the beginning when we started this band it was like "why do guys laugh on stage"? Because we love what we do, and why shouldn't we? You don't laugh when you do something you enjoy? We are four guys who try to have an image like "We're satan", it's not for us. We are just four guys. We're not even doing this shit anymore (refers to devil horns). We're not tough guys, we are just 4 guys like everybody else. We're just having a good time and we love playing live, we love spending time together and everything is just perfect with this band. Everybody is playing in different bands of course. Like Tomas is still playing guitar in Bloodbath, Niklas is playing in Katatonia, I play nowadays just in another band called Mefisto. It's an old school band from Stockholm from '84. Same time as Bathory. And Antman (bassist in LIK - MW) isn't playing in any other band. I used to play in Witchery but I quit.
Oh, have you?
Yeah, I quit 'coz I recorded this coming album but after that I just decided I'm done now. I did 3 albums with those guys and it's been fun but it's not my cup of tea, you know what I mean? It's like I love playing the drums, it doesn't matter what genre it is as long as I can have fun doing it. But it wasn't fun for me anymore and I just want to give all my focus to Lik as much as I can 'coz I mean, I am a father of 3, and married, have a regular job because as I said before the interview, I can't live off this shit. But I'm fine with that, 'coz you know I'm having fun. That's why I'm still doing it If I was supposed to make money out of it, I think I would probably quit decades ago. For now it's for my own satisfaction and for the rest of the guys' satisfaction.
So, this performance at this festival, have you played any festivals this year or are you planning to play any festivals or have any tour?
We played Netherland Deathfest, that's when we got stuck in the airport in Holland and then we played, oh my memory is so bad, ehm, I think we played a boat festival together with Dismember and Horndal (Gefle Metal Cruise - MW) but now after this June is going to be kind of quiet but that's fine. Then in July it starts again, there's going to be festivals for the rest of the year that we know now and in the fall we don't have much going on, so maybe, we'll see. But next year we have tours coming up and stuff like that 'coz everything got postponed 'coz of fucking corona. It's fucked up everything. But I think we have about 12 festival shows this year in total. And they are pretty good festivals too. It's going to be fun.
Do you have any time between those festivals to write any new material?
We talked about it. It's been covid and everybody, and friends of ours are like "oh we have to release another album" but it's like why, we haven't played Misanthropic Breed that much, or I would say at all for that matter. A good thing for us is that people are really starving for live music and they wanna hear the songs from the album live and there's no stress. Metal Blade don't push us, they are like "maybe a single if you want, guys?". But we have been talking about it. I started writing lyrics a couple of weeks ago 'coz I got really inspired watching the serial killer documentary on Netflix about John Wayne Gacy. I was like maybe it's time to start writing lyrics again 'coz I do that a lot - I'm not a guitar player but I do some just flicking the fuck around on the guitar and I send it over to Tomas or I just sing it on the phone and send it and he's like "that's shit, throw that away, okay we can use this". He's an amazing guitar player and he's an amazing musician. It's been him and me, we started this and we've got this formula that works for us and Nikolas always comes in with riffs of course and Antman is pretty new, but he recorded Misanthropic Breed with us. We don't really know what he has in the bag so that's kinda interesting. With that being said, yeah we kinda talked about it for sure. I would like to think that people would like to hear Misanthropic Breed first and just let this year go by and we'll see. We always get inspired during the fall, not in summer 'coz we're slackers. Like fuck that, we'll do that later. But there's no rush, we already released 3 albums and it's going to be hard to top Misanthropic Breed, we know that.
Not for you. The next albums will be better and better.
Maybe, hopefully yeah. I wish it would be that way, but we'll see. The criticism within the band is like this sucks. For example on Misanthropic Breed we have this song called 'Female Fatal To The Flesh' that almost didn't make it to the album. Tomas and myself were like "I don't get the feeling for it you know. You want the song to just sit there and play it naturally, but it didn't stick. And we we're like fuck this song, but Nikolas was like "it is, you guys can fuck off 'coz it's going on the album 'coz it's a good song". And we rehearsed it a few more weeks , and just one day we went in and both Tomas and I are stressful and nervous guys and we went. This sucks, it's not good enough, but then it just landed. It was okay, now it feels good. We found the tempo 'coz we don't record with clicks or anything like that - pure feeling.
Speaking of "Misanthropic Breed", apparently 'Corrosive Survival' is your favorite track?
He's just saying that (Tomas introduced this track during the show as Chris's favourite track - MW) because I came up with that riff, and I recorded it on the phone and sent it over to him, and he said "this sucks" then I said "play it on guitar" and then he thought it was pretty cool and then he came up with all his weird fucking riffs and I had some other riff and I was watching a lot of documentaries about stuff that actually happened. There's a series on HBO about the Chernobyl disaster, I think I've seen it about 6 times. It's amazing. It's a mini series like six episodes and I decided I have to write about this - this is fucking awesome. And I love Autopsy, they had "Severed Survival" so I decided 'Corrosive Survival' is a cool thing 'coz everything was just raining down and this guys was running in the street, and of course there were zombies and shit but hey, I'm just 46, I'm still childish .... but I just love that song because it has this old school death metal vibe that I really enjoy. I really love playing it live, I love rehearsing it, I never get tired of it. And for the crowd it's an instant headbanger when we play that song. You can say it's one of my favorites but he always uses that as a... I don't know.
Do you have any other favorite tracks from all 3 albums which you really enjoy playing?
Well, I guess we're never getting rid of 'Le Morte Homme' from the first album so it kinda got stuck there. I don't like rehearsing it but it's always fun to play it live because everybody goes crazy about it. From the second album, we used to start the set with 'To Kill', I like that song but we haven't played it for a while and I was like 'Death Cult' and 'Left To Die', and we played 'The Deranged'. It's nice if you need a breather and just relax and play along and on the new album I think 'Corrosive Survival' and 'Becoming'. I love that song. The ending on that is so perfect - that's our "Left Hand Path".
It is and I have to say from your music, for quite a few years it was missing from the Stockholm metal scene. We haven't heard new stuff from Dismember, we haven't heard anything new from Entombed.
Entombed, I don't think we should expect anything new from them. Dismember maybe.
I was about to ask, you have Matti as a guest on your album, how did you manage to get him?
Dismember are friends of ours, I've been friends with Matti for a long time and the same with Fred and the other guys too. It's like I just called him and asked "do you want to scream on a song we did" and he's like "yeah send it over, lets see if it's good". Of course it's good. He asked what it's about, I said war. He went "I'll do it". So he just came into the studio, got drunk as fuck and blegh. But yeah, it was fun.
Dismember are still touring a bit, but no new material.
No, they are just playing festivals and they are not going to tour again - I don't think so. At least when I talk to them but I'm not supposed to say too much. I know that they have been working on new material but if there's going to be a new album I can't say. I'm not in the band so. A fun story though is when Fred quit the band I was rehearsing with them but he came back full time fortunately because he has to be the drummer in that band. It's like Cannibal Corpse, if it's not Paul, it's not Cannibal Corpse. Some bands need to have that drummer, 'coz it's not the same.
I was going to ask you about your influences, can you tell us about your influences? Who inspired you to become a death metal drummer?
Someone who definitely inspired me was Dave Lombardo first of all. He's the king and Nicky Anderson when he played in Entombed. Still to this day, my favorite album ever is "Clandestine". The drumming on that album is like wow. It's mind blowing, it's so good. But there are a lot of drummers that are out there. I still listen to the death metal albums I grew up with when I was a kid. I still listen to it today and I still get goosebumps like Morbid Angel, Dismember, Entombed, Unleashed the first albums were so dear to me. Nobody beats that, that sound and that feeling is unbeatable. I think Chris Reifert from Autopsy, his drumming style is also so a little bit punkish sludgy vibe 'coz I would like to think I have that myself. I'm not a technical drummer in that sense, I can play it if I put my mind to it. I love to play with groove and feeling. I want to feel it. I don't have to show off to anyone, I don't have that. When I was young, yeah for sure 'coz you wanted to beat all the old guys like I'm faster than you motherfucker and I started to practice playing fast on the double bass so I can be as fast as Dave Lombardo. That's good enough for me. There's a lot of fast guys out there 'coz when I grew up I didn't have YouTube, I didn't have the tricks. I had to practice and practice and practice. I have a lot of odd drummers that inspire me as well in totally different genres and you can hear some stuff 'coz I'm a total nerd when it comes to drums. My wife is like watching something on a Friday evening and I lose interest or whatever and I'm on the phone, she's like "are you watching drum videos?" I might be watching porn, you don't know that. She's like, no you're not. Look at your Youtube . It's just drums, drums, drums, drums, serial killers, drums, drums, drums. So it's like yeah, I confess 'coz I'm a total nerd to that but I don't necessarily like that new sound that has come up now where the drums sound plastic. I hate that fucking sound. I want it to sound real. When you miss a beat or the sticks hit together, that's when it's real. Everybody's like "it has to be super tight". No, that's not drums. To me drums are in your fucking face. You should feel it in your chest. When you hear the kick drums, it has to be like yeah, kick me, now smack me in the face with the snare drum. You want to fucking feel that you know. I mean I hit it pretty hard but that's just because my idols growing up hit hard. One of my biggest idols from when I was a kid was Eric Carr from Kiss. He was an amazing drummer and a lot of guys don't realize that, they say Kiss suck, well that's your opinion and you're entitled to it but you can't say that Eric Carr was a bad drummer. You can't say that. Look at Dave Grohl. Amazing drummer. I get a lot of inspiration from all of them. Just to answer your question properly (I'm a blabbermouth I know), but Dave Lombardo, Nicky Anderson and Igor Cavalera from Sepultura - I love them and I guess Chris Reifert and I guess the list could be long but those guys inspired me and they are in my system. People notice that and say "oh that fill was like Nicky Anderson" and I'm like okay, cool. I'm satisfied. If you like it, it's cool.
We have talked a bit about the legends, do you see any new bands popping up in the Stockholm death metal scene that you think might follow the similar path or are trying to keep this similar style?
There are some other bands but not necessarily in Stockholm. There's one band that Tomas is friends with. Young guys called Katakomba. But I can't really say 'coz I haven't listened to them yet. But then you have Disrupted from Dalarna in Sweden up north. They are really good, they are fucking awesome. But like I said, I know what I like and I have a hard time getting new death metal to stick. Everybody today is really fast, I don't know what their competition is but this thing with groove and stuff like that - they don't care about it. It's always how fast are you , how fast can you play your double bass drums?. Does that really matter? Nobody can beat Dominator anyway and he's from Sweden and he is the fastest fucking guy I know. He's like wow, you can't beat him and Jalomaah who replaced Dominator in Dark Funeral, I don't know how they do it. It's amazing. And James who plays in Decapitated, he's also silly fast and there are tons of these guys but I think for these 3 guys - wow.
You also mentioned Dark Funeral, which seems to me like Sweden is dominating the black metal scene, Norway seems to be falling a bit behind. What bands do you like from Sweden who are playing black metal? Or are you not into black metal?
I'm into black metal but I'm thinking if there is anything from Sweden. I like Marduk. A favorite of mine - and they released an album this year - is Funeral Mist. Everything they released is like wow. I like my black metal violent, and that is violent with a black metal sound. It's crappy, but crappy in a good way, it's black metal crappy. I think Norway is still in the lead with bands like 1349 with Frost, it's really, really good. And Craft of course from Sweden, they are good. But I'm not out there looking for black metal, they just fell into my lap because my wife was big into black metal. She was a black metal bitch, she still is, but not a bitch, just still listening to black metal. She turned me onto a lot of stuff.
Thank you very much for your time and any last words for the readers?
Keep listening to Misanthropic Breed, there will be a new album out some time, but I don't know when. Maybe next year? Maybe the year after that, I don't know. Keep supporting death metal and smile while you're at the show, it doesn't hurt your face.
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