MÅNEGARM’S ERIK GRAWSIÖ on New Album, Collaborations & Love Of MOTÖRHEAD: “LEMMY Is My House God”

May 3, 2022, a month ago

By Dillon Collins

feature heavy metal manegarm

MÅNEGARM’S ERIK GRAWSIÖ on New Album, Collaborations & Love Of MOTÖRHEAD: “LEMMY Is My House God”

Sweden’s resident folk metal warlords Månegarm are closing in on three decades of merging viking/folk and black metal, and have showed no signs of creative fatigue with their now 10th studio release Ynglingaättens Öde, which describes the rise, fall and fate of an old Norse dynasty - the house of Ynglinga.

In the wake of the album’s release, bassist and frontman Erik Grawsiö sat down with BraveWords for a deep dive into the bands’ latest epic, the eclectic collaborations on the album, Månegarm’s longevity, his love of Deep Purple and Motörhead and much more!

BraveWords: The creation of this record and doing so within a pandemic, 10 records into your career, this had to have been the strangest time to put out a record maybe in the history of the band. 

Erik: “Yeah, it really was. And I mean, the pandemic was terrible in so many ways everywhere, I guess. But when it came to composing and recording music it was actually a good thing because we couldn't play any shows. No tours, no gigs, no festivals, no nothing. At worst we couldn't even rehearse. I mean, I guess it was like my therapy to compose new songs and I have my own little studio in my house so I could compose and also create rough demos. And then later on when we started the actual recordings I did all the bass guitar parts here and a lot of the clean vocals, so that was good. That was a good thing.” 

BraveWords: This band has always been deeply rooted in Norse mythology, going from the name onward. Now 10 albums deep, did you always have the idea for this record to be something vast, kind of like a concept album?

Erik: “The poem that we have based the lyrics on is called Ynglingatal. The idea is Jacob's, our drummer. He's the one that writes the lyrics. He's a history teacher ... And when he started to become a history teacher, he had a class with a professor who knows a lot about this shit who had written, what would you say, a dissertation on this field. Anyway, Jacob was in his class and was really fascinated about this old poem and he got the idea. He didn't write any lyrics back then because this was actually before our last album, Fornaldarsagor in 2019. So I guess this must have been like in 2017, 2018. But he kept it as a cool idea for later on for a future Månegarm album. And then when I presented some new songs he thought that this could be a good match. And it was.” 

BraveWords: Something I really like about this record top to bottom is the contrast between light and dark, between really heavy moments and moments of calmness, whether it'd be an acoustic interlude or something a bit more serene. And then you kind of really hit you over the head with heaviness. Is that something that was a conscious choice to have that yin and yang, that balance between light and dark, heavy and calm. 

Erik: “I can't really say that it's done consciously. When I compose songs it almost feels like they go through some sort of Månegarm filter, because when they come out it sounds Månegarm. Many of the songs have this diversity. It's high and lows and softer parts and hard parts. And so it just happens, man. We have tried to create composed songs like that for all of our career. So I like it. For me, it's important that the song or the music is diverse and contains a lot of interesting elements and I think we have created that in a good way on this album.” 

BraveWords: You have some fantastic guests on this album, namely Jonne from Korpiklaani, Robse from Equilibrium and Pär from Hulkoff. How cool was it to have those guys involved? I know all three of them admittedly do look up to Månegarm as peers and groundbreakers in the genre.

Erik: “I mean, it feels fantastic that these guys said yes to sing on our album. I like collaborations between bands. I really think it creates this cool community thing. I have been doing guest vocals for a couple of albums and I sang one song on Pär's previous album Pansarfolk. So for him it was like payback time. Now it was time for him to sing some Månegarm. I really like this song (“Stridsgalten”) and I find it so cool that they could participate. I mean, they have different voices, but great voices. When I got the idea I had just listened quite a lot to Korpiklaani's latest album. A great album with great vocals and I really like Jonne's voice. He has this harsh, high pitched voice. And so I just got the idea that his voice and Robse and Pär’s voices should fit in this song. For me it made it way cooler, way more interesting.” 

BraveWords: Your daughter Lea, I believe, did some vocals on this album. That must have been a cool thing as a family man, as a father, but also as a fellow artist, to kind of merge those worlds. That's like a different level of pride. 

Erik: “Yeah, it was fantastic. When I wrote this song (‘En snara av guld’) and this particular part, I got the idea that I wanted a female vocalist. But at first I thought that I should ask Ellinor. She's the one that sings on the last song. And I mean, she's a singer and has a great voice, a big warm voice. But I wrote this part and I was so eager to try female vocals. My youngest daughter sings a bit and she's 15. So I couldn't wait any longer. So I had this rough demo ready in my studio. So I asked my daughter, ‘Lea, can you help me out here?’ She learned the lyrics, and actually what you hear on the album is her first take, her first recording. We tried it months later, but that first session was the best. It was something with that session that really made it special. Lea does not have Ellinor's voice at all, but she has a great voice and a young, fragile voice that I think fit perfectly to the music. It really created a nice atmosphere. So I'm really proud.”

BraveWords: For you personally, were there any seminal bands or records in your earlier days that really converted you or drew you into heavy metal? 

Erik: “The first heavy music I heard was Deep Purple, ‘Speed King’. I don't know how old I was, maybe like seven or eight years old. And I was at my friend's house and his father had this LP with Deep Purple from the Machine Head album. And then we put on ‘Speed King’ and it's like woah, what the fuck is this? The energy and the strength in that music, it totally blew me away. So from that day I really think I was kind of hooked. And I have gotten almost these experiences later on when I heard Motörhead for the first time. Lemmy is my House God. I listened to Motörhead a lot. I really love it. The first album I bought was 1916. Fucking amazing. Also when I heard Entombed’s Left Hand Path for the first time, it was woahhh, so good. What is this shit? But I must say that when I heard Deep Purple, that was something extra. And it really just opened the doors to heavier music.”

BraveWords: We're closing in on 30 years of this band. Did you ever think you'd get to that point? It's been a pretty wild ride for this band and you've been kind of trendsetters and groundbreakers in your genre, if you will. In those earliest days of this band, could you have seen yourself at this point nearly three decades later?

Erik: “No we didn't think that at all. As you say, soon it will be 30 years. When I think about it, it's crazy man. And also to think that we are trendsetters. It feels so great to just think about that, that we have been an influence to other bands. It ain't that often that I think about that. I don't know. It's probably my humble side. I find it pretty hard to think about it like that. But many people say that you have really inspired other bands. And when I think about it, it feels amazing. Really, really amazing. I mean, when we started out we were young, ambitious and thought we were going to be rock stars in a year or two. Didn't happen, but it was really fun. When I think about it, it makes me smile because the first time we met, the first rehearsals, the first songs and recordings and everything, it was such a great time. We didn't think that we should be rocking 30 years after that. Crazy.”

BraveWords: All things being equal, how would you guys like to see the next year go? I'd imagine the plan and the hope would be to tour this record pretty relentlessly. 

Erik: “Yeah, it would be nice. I mean, we have no tours booked right now, but hopefully it will happen soon. For Månegarm, as for many bands, these summer festivals were already booked for 2020. So we're playing festivals that we should have done two years ago. But anyway, we have a couple of nice festival shows coming up, the Sweden Rock. That's huge. It's amazing, the first time for Sweden Rock, which feels amazing to play. We will go to Norway in May to play Karmoygeddon. Really cool festival. Not that super big but a really, really well organized festival. And then we have some German shows coming up and also our own festival. We started Månegarm Open Air in 2019 and then of course, two years off due to the pandemic. But this summer we will have our second edition of Månegarm Open Air.”

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