Darkane - Interview
After making album of the year in 2001 at this very webzine, Darkane wasted little time before crafting their next masterpiece, "Expanding Senses". I had a chance to speak with guitarist and co-songwriter Christofer Malmstrom just before the release of the album concerning the band's new record and future plans. Read on!
First off, congratulations on winning Metalbite's album of the year along with Dimmu Borgir for the year 2001.
Yeah, thank you. That is very cool. I am very happy about that because I think Dimmu Borgir is very cool and it is great to be among them. Also, of course, it's very cool to be number one!
How did the shows in support of the "Insanity" album go? Any tour highlights?
Yeah, of course, The Milwaukee Metalfest! That was a very cool experience for us. It was the first time we were in the US as a band. We were there only for two days. I think we spent more time on the plane than in the states but it was awesome. It was so cool to meet all the cool American people. It was quite a crazy crowd. That was the coolest thing. We did some shows in Holland, Sweden, Denmark, and Austria but nothing compared to the US trip.
How was the reaction to the material? Were they comfortable with the new singer?
There have been different opinions since we got him. Some people loved him and some people thinks he sucks. Well, it's been like that since we released "Insanity"...
Well, I am pretty sure the new album will shut them up!
Yeah, I hope so too! He sings better on this album. We didn't know how he could sing when we recorded "Insanity". On "Expanding Senses" we tried to discover what his own style was. I think it turned out real well.
I have also been hearing other opinions of people who think he actually fits your music better than the old singer.
Yeah, definitely. I think there will always be some true death metal fans who will hate us for this but it's always like that so it's nothing to care about.
You guys are now gearing up to release your third album entitled "Expanding Senses". How happy are you guys with the way it turned out?
I am happy. I am very satisfied. Like I say on the website, this is the album we have always wanted to make. I think it is way better than "Insanity". When I heard this album, I thought that "Insanity" sucks because this is how it should sound. This album is more groovy, aggressive and brutal and "Insanity" is more sterile. It seemed dead. On this album it feels more alive.
I have seen that there are already several metal webzines and magazines that have given your new record excellent reviews. Does that make you even more anxious to get the record out to the fans?
Yeah, sure. Of course, the best thing about recording and releasing an album is to get the crowd's opinion. We cannot wait!
What were some of the main goals you had going into the recording for this album?
We didn't want people to say that the singer is annoying. You shouldn't have to hear a band that has an annoying singer. Maybe you hate him a lot but you shouldn't have to say he is annoying so we really wanted to focus on getting the vocals to be good this time. Also, we wanted the sound to be as fat as possible. Like in Strapping Young Lad, but more clear so you can hear what we're playing.
It took around three months to record this album. Was there a feeling within the band not to rush things and to make sure everything came out exactly the way you wanted?
You can say that but the truth is that we had no choice. We need like six weeks to record an album but we couldn't get six weeks in a row at Dug Out productions because we're recording the album there. We recorded for one week in February then In Flames went in the studio to record their album for six weeks. We continued to record the guitars and bass in our home studio and that was very cool 'cause we could do it...
Yeah, exactly. We had no rush and I could play a solo and go back and see if I liked it and change it if I wanted to. When we record in a studio like we did with the two previous albums, if I had recorded a solo there was no time to change it. When In Flames were finished with their album we went in to record vocals and do the mix and stuff like that. I think we were recording for six weeks at dug out but just not in a row.
You decided not to do an instrumental intro like you have on past CDs. What stopped you this time around?
We want the listener to get metal when he or she presses play. We're done with intros for now. Maybe we will do it again on the next album. I don't know but we thought that...
Maybe you should just cut right to the chase...
Exactly, I know a lot of people fast forward in the intros. We thought the first song was a good way to start the album.
I read that your old vocalist returns for a guest appearance on this record. How did that come about?
It was nothing we had planned. He lives in the same town as the studio in Uppsala in Sweden. He had been working in that studio. That's how we found him the first time. We went to that studio to record "Rusted Angel" and Lawrence was working there so he sang on it. (Laughs) He called one evening and asked how it was going and asked if it was possible to come over and listen. We asked him to do a guest appearance and he did. I think it turned out really cool.
I checked out the cover art and it has sort of a different approach than with your previous albums. Who did the concept and artwork for this one?
The concept is from Peter because he has a twisted mind. He has had a lot of nightmares. He has been dreaming that he is standing with half of his head in the wall. It's like the eyes and the ears and nose are covered in the wall so they can only eat and breathe with their mouths and stay alive that way. Peter has been thinking of this. It has been something that we have been working with since '95 and '96 when we played with Agretator. It was Thomas Ewerhard who did it. He also did the cover for "Insanity". It's the same guy, if you can believe that because it is a very different style.
Yeah, it's much lighter but still evil.
A lot of bands have light covers these days; In Flames and Soilwork. It just turned out that way I don't know why. The people on the cover are friends of ours. The right guy is actually Andreas, our singer, and the left guy is the guy who is doing our video right now. (Laughs)
Are you in there anywhere?
No because I am not thin. (Laughs) Peter is also in it but not on the cover but in the booklet. He is standing upside down with his head in a concrete block.
You guys recently shot a video for the track 'Innocense Gone'. How did that go?
It went very well. We have been cutting it for over a month. Those people who cut the video are not professionals so that's why it took a little bit longer. It turned out really cool I think. It's quite brutal. The song 'Innocense Gone' is about the brutality of incest. We want to show how brutal it can be so we got a little girl acting, but it is not too obvious in the scenes...
So no children were harmed in the filming of this video...
No and she was a grown-up, but looked like 14, 15 I don't know. I think she is 23 but there is quite a lot of blood and things. We want to shock people. The thing with incest is very brutal. This is how it is. It is existing. There is also a lot of headbanging of course.
You also have a show coming up in late August. Are you anxious to try out some of the new material live?
We will play like three new songs. We just rehearsed. This rehearsal tonight was the best so far with the new material because it takes some time to grow. We have a song that ends with a classical guitar outro. The guy who played that is not one of us from the band. He is a professional classical guitar player. He will do it live also on this show so that's very cool. It will be cool because it is where I work. I work at the culture center here in Helsingburg. There is a concert hall there that we will be playing in, so all my coworkers will be there so I think it will be very cool.
Getting back to the new album... How much input did Andreas have on the new album? Who works out the vocal arrangements?
It was mostly Andreas and Daniel who did it and Peter was also present. I wasn't there much because I was working. Daniel (the producer) has a lot of ideas; so, much of it is his work, I would say.
Are there any talks or plans yet for full-blown tours in support of the new album?
Yeah, it is in Poland in Europe and also in France so far. We are trying to get a real big tour somewhere both in Europe and in the States.
I wish you guys the best of luck. I know there are many Americans just waiting to see you guys and I know they are trying to get the label to bring you over.
Yeah, that's very cool. We are also trying to get the label to bring us. I have been mailing with Jill at Nuclear Blast and telling her that we want to tour in the States. It is a possibility but we will see about the sales first. I hope we will sell so we can come over. It is like a dream for me. I would like to tour in the States and I would also like to go to Japan. Soilwork is in Japan every year so I hate them for that. (Laughs)
So, besides Darkane, what other music so far this year have you had the fortune or misfortune of hearing? Which genre of music do you find that you listen to the most in your spare time?
That's hard because I listen to a lot of different stuff. I love like classical music and jazz and stuff like that. There is not much new metal that I like these days. Not "nu-metal," but bands that play metal. (Laughs)
Most of the bands "they" label as nu-metal I do not consider to be metal anyway.
The interesting thing is that there is quite a big war between nu-metal fans and true metal fans. It is quite stupid. Put those two groups together on a board and you have wars that will never end.
I've heard the new Meshuggah album and I didn't like it all. (Laughs) Have you heard it?
Yeah, a bit of it. There are a couple opinions I have heard. One: It is better than "Chaosphere". Two: It's nowhere near as good as "Destroy Erase Improve" and that they are slowing down too much and the music gets monotonous. So I tend to agree with the latter opinion.
It's too slow. I want my metal to be fast...
Right, but it is all a matter of preference because no one can deny their extreme talent.
No of course not but I think they are lazy or something. It has been like four and a half years...
And people who wait that long should expect something more, you would think.
It is a funny thing though, because they recorded "Chaosphere" just before we recorded "Rusted Angel". Now we have recorded our third album and they will just be putting out their follow up. That's quite cool.
I have been meaning to find this out for a while. What are some of Darkane's influences as a band and some of your personal influences as a guitarist?
I have three influences as a guitarist and it's Yngwie Malmsteen; I used to listen to him. I don't like the new stuff but I liked him in the 80s. Also, Allan Holdsworth if you know him. He is a fusion guitarist. Also, Steve Vai. He is very good at expressing feelings with a guitar. He has a lot of attitude and I like his playing a lot. Those three guys are the main influences for me. For Darkane, it is very hard to say. We have been listening to like Death, Meshuggah, Strapping Young Lad, Testament, Slayer, but we also have influences from classical music and jazz. We are not trying to sound like one particular band.
You also have a bit of a Hellraiser influence that I first noticed with the artwork in the "Rusted Angel" booklet.
On the song 'Emination of Fear' from "Insanity"; right before the solo there is a part with some fusion drums and the melody played on the guitar. That is very influenced from Hellbound when Tiffany opens the box and the cenobites come into the room. I was influenced by the music there when I did that guitar part.
As other bands seem to be getting softer, you guys just seem to be getting even heavier yet still focusing on strong melodies. What do you see coming up in Darkane's future musically?
Well, it's hard to say but we promised each other that we will never get softer. The brutality and heaviness is like our trademark. We've been disappointed a lot when we've heard our big idols getting soft like Entombed and Dismember. It was more brutal in the beginning.
I always thought Entombed were one of the most musically confused bands out there. Whenever they seem to have a sound they seem to change again.
I think it is more rock and roll now and not metal. We don't want people to hear Darkane album and say "well they got soft like everybody else." But regarding our style; I don't know. It's hard to say.
Well thank you for your time and this interview. Have any final words to say to all the Darkane fans out there?
Well check out "Expanding Senses" when it comes out. Give it a few listens because you might need to hear it a few times before you get into it. I hope to see you all on tour. I really hope we will tour this time!
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