BLOODBATH - “We Are Just Miserable Suckers For Death Metal And Can't Let Go Of It”
July 13, 2016, a year ago
Jonas Renkse and Anders “Blakkheim” Nyström represent the ultimate Jekyll & Hyde scenario; the melancholic madness of Katatonia and the brutal bludgeoning of Bloodbath! The latter conquering the BravePicks 2014 with the death metal majesty Grand Morbid Funeral, which saw Paradise Lost vocal god Nick Holmes take over the microphone from Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt and Hypocrisy/Pain mainman Peter Tägtgren. It’s all in a days work when you’ve been born and bred on that glorious guttural Swedish sound from the early ‘90s. But let’s cut to the bloody chase. Bloodbath are filling a gaping hole. Sure, Grave are still pounding out some truly memorable material and Unleashed to a lesser degree. But when Dismember called it quits, it plowed a stake through our hearts. And the fact that LG Petrov and Alex Hellid aren’t seeing blackened eye-to-eye, Entombed continue to fumble the ball. Or is it Entombed A.D.? No matter, back to the point. Bloodbath is a trip back in time to where Tomas Skogsberg and his Sunlight Studios ruled the underground with that chainsaw sound.
“You gotta love that sound first and foremost,” Anders says with excitement. “Even before you have a chance to put the album on you gotta love that sound. We just see it as kind of a worship really. When we entered the studio to do the last Bloodbath album it was all about creating the magic we felt back in the day listening to a Skogsberg production, and I think we achieved that. We went in with the mind-frame of being very inspired.”
“With Nick (Holmes) coming in as well, it's been great,” Jonas adds. “I mean, all the vocalists were great, Peter and Mikael, but Nick has this rotten grimness to his voice.”
BraveWords: So, take us back to that Sunlight sound and trying to recreate it in the studio. What were the albums back then that you live for?
Anders: “Well, there is one album that will always be legendary for me - Entombed's Left Hand Path. It's the holy grail. It's the album we always go back to. If we have to reference something for death metal - that's the album.”
Jonas: “Sound-wise, song-wise, mood... it's just everything.”
BraveWords: That album is a beautiful thing. I need to get a picture beside the cross.
Anders: “We even went there to do that with Katatonia (laughs). We didn't care. We did it for death metal (laughs)!”
BraveWords: What is that area, and what does it represent?
Jonas: “It's the biggest graveyard in Stockholm. It's quite old. It's very big with different parts. It's kinda central as well. You only have to take the subway a few stops from central station.”
Anders: “It's vast! It goes on for miles and miles - it's huge. So, the first thing you see when you enter is a hill, and on the top of it is just a cross. It's so big that there are very old parts as well as newer parts. You gotta check it out. It's definitely a must-see metal attraction. If you are into death metal you gotta go there.”
BraveWords: What's your relationship with both Peter Tägtgren and Mikael Åkerfeldt? Are they just too busy?
Anders: “Of course. They are doing their thing. We managed to catch Peter at a really good time where he was able to do this, but we never went live with Peter. It was just about doing the album actually.”
BraveWords: And his Abyss Studio keeps him quite busy, I imagine?
Jonas: “Yeah, he was the most busy of all. When we did the album with Peter, we asked him if he would also be interested in doing this live. He mentioned that it would be fucking great, but he would probably never have the time to do it. So, at that point, Mikael came back. That said, he was honest and mentioned that it was not really for him and that he couldn't see himself doing full-on Bloodbath shows in the future. We respected that.”
BraveWords: His path has changed so much too. He is doing less of the guttural stuff. He is changing all the time.
Anders: “It definitely didn't come as a surprise. Mikael is in a different mind-frame and all.”
BraveWords: He has a kid now too.
Anders: “Yeah, we all do. We are just miserable suckers for death metal and can't let go of it (laughs). We don't really have an option do we?”
BraveWords: Going back to Peter, I'm just waiting anxiously for a new Hypocrisy record...
Anders: “Yeah, he's got a lot of projects going right now.”
BraveWords: The Lindemann/Rammstein thing...
Anders: “… and Pain.”
BraveWords: You guys are kind of like the Jekyll & Hyde of metal, as Katatonia has nothing to do with Bloodbath, and vice versa. Curious to know how you balance that musically. Are they two different zones mentally?
Anders: “That's exactly why we are doing it, the whole Jekyll & Hyde thing - it makes it easy. It's like going to a diner - you are not ordering the same thing over and over, you might want something completely different. Then, maybe the next day you will go back to something you have had before... you keeping swapping things to keep it interesting and fresh. For us, it keeps the creativity level high, and we are always motivated where it never feels like a duty. We are always inspired and never grow tired of it.”
BraveWords: So, not to pry, but when speaking of business models - and these are clearly two different business models - which one is rising? Which band is sought out more by fans and promoters? Is it equal, or is there one that stands out more?
Anders: “It kind of depends who you are speaking with. Bloodbath is very high profile right now because of the last album and everything. If we are talking festival-wise, Bloodbath is definitely higher up the bill.”
Jonas: “That said, Katatonia is more long-term, as far as building toward something. We haven't released an album in over three years, but now with the new album (The Fall Of Hearts), over the next little bit Katatonia will rise.”
BraveWords: Do you guys write on the road.
Anders: “Not a note. I never find myself taking a riff home from the road. It's strange actually, but never.”
BraveWords: Rock n’ roll deaths - how have they affected you? Creative people dying in the music business recently.
Anders: “Well, I suppose it's inevitable. Still, it's always shocking to wake up to news like that. It really hits you hard. It's part of life.”
Jonas: “Lemmy hits closest to home. Iron Fist was one of my first albums.”
Anders: “They were always kind of the house band at festivals... you always see him around. We didn't know him or anything, but we were used to seeing Motörhead everywhere.”
BraveWords: Some of these deaths impact so much... like losing a family member.
Anders: “Yeah, it's definitely part of your lifestyle.”
Jonas: “Just like when Dio died... fuck.”
BraveWords: Did you watch the Lemmy funeral?
Anders: “Yeah, I did.”
BraveWords: It was really touching... 150,000 people were watching.
Anders: “I watched right up until Dave Grohl was speaking, then the sound just cut out. But, yeah, it was definitely moving, especially seeing how those close to him in his crew talked about him. All those people who knew him so closely.”
BraveWords: Sorry to move back, but I gotta ask when can we expect another Bloodbath album?
Anders: “That is a really good question - one we have been asking ourselves. At this point, it's impossible to schedule it. We can't see any gap that would allow for that. We have to just grab it whenever we see it, but who knows when that's going to be. It has to be between something big - between an album or between a tour - whenever everyone is home. The problem is, that never happens (laughs). It could be another three years!”
BraveWords: The planets have to align.
Anders: “Yeah! There ya go.”
Jonas: “Now it's even worse, both Axe (Martin Axenrot) and Mikael were in Opeth, but now we have Nick in Paradise Lost which is another schedule altogether. I think we will make it happen, as everyone in the band is so into it, and it's on everyone's mind. We need to do it, so we will.”
BraveWords: How have you guys adapted to all these huge changes in the music business in recent years - in terms of social media and being forced to tour because the album sales aren't there anymore.
Anders: “Well, we are living through it right now. I think I will have more of an opinion about it later on when I have more distance on the whole decade of what happened. We are still so soaked-up in doing it this way, so I don't really know what I feel about it. Every band is in the same situation. I just try to deal with it as best as possible.”
BraveWords: Are you guys collectors of music still?
Anders: “I’d definitely consider myself a collector, as I still have my collection; though, I'm perhaps not as active of a collector as I once was. I also find it comfortable getting stuff digital these days. If I see something from a band that I just have to get - like a limited edition vinyl - of course I'll want it.”
BraveWords: The problem I have as a huge collector is that record stores are a dying breed. Every band is now their own store, so now I've got to do mail-order everywhere around the planet like when I ordered that first Bloodbath t-shirt when you guys first launched the band!
Anders: “Amazing! Yeah, things have changed. Back in the day, you went to your favorite local record store, and you could get everything in one purchase.”
BraveWords: Also, now bands are doing a ton of limited-edition packaging, so you gotta choose between ten different versions. Do you guys think of fans when you are putting together various versions of releases?
Anders: “I do love limited editions, as they are kind of a favorite thing for fans. I've always loved hand-numbered releases, as it's a very limited thing. So, I'm still really into that. Obviously, some fans want everything. Much of that is up to the label, and bands don't have a lot of input. A label will just say what they are going to release, as far as all these versions go.”
BraveWords: Well labels have the template set, as bands are all doing the same thing. The production for this kind of thing is all set-up and ready to go.
Anders: “Yeah, totally. We have felt it, being filed into that template and forced to deliver.”
BraveWords: Well, you guys are delivering the goods so thank you so much. So, on that note, I have a gift for you guys... are you fans of hockey?
Anders: “Yeah, we are for sure.”
BraveWords: Here are your own personal BraveWords hockey jerseys...
Anders: “Oh fucking hell! How cool is that!”
Anders: “That's my first official hockey jersey, right there!”
(Bloodbath live photo by Mark Gromen)