Interview conducted May 09 2014
Interview published May 21 2014
After having some difficulties with
the connection, Bleeding Utopia's 3 fixed members Andreas Morén,
David Ahlén and Joakim 'Jocke'
Bergros called me 20 minutes past our appointment
this Friday night for something that turned out to be a pleasant conversation
with a band that has big plans. The band's second effort, Darkest Potency
was released on April 30th and with tons of hard work, perhaps their visions
will come to life, as they're about to start a reputation in the world
of heavy music.
Tobbe: You're not an established band yet,
so tell us a little about your background?
Andreas: The actual embryo of the band started
in 2003, when I had a personal little side project and I wrote a few
songs that didn't fit the other bands I was involved with. I put that
aside in 2005 maybe and when I and our nowadays former drummer [Lawrence
Dinamarca] disbanded Astral Carneval in 2009, we felt that these songs,
and some new shit, was something we wanted to work with. I gave David
a call, a guy I've known since I was a sperm, sort of. We have played
for many years together and he wanted to join us. I also called our
nowadays former singer [Henrik Wenngren], who we also knew. Jocke joined
in April 2010 and that's when we really became Bleeding Utopia, you
know. We recorded a 4-song promo in June 2010. We began to search for
gigs and received quite a few good reviews. Around Christmas in 2010,
we had several songs, so we decided to record a full length album to
see if someone was interested. The record was done in like summer of
2011 and an Italian label [Wormholedeath] approached us and, which after
a few delays and other shit, released it in April 2012. (David:)
It was supposed to be released in September 2011. (Andreas:)
Totally insane people, those ones. Italian's best ability isn't time,
you know. We did a Scandinavian tour in connection to that album release
and after that our drummer left the band, because he lived in another
city and he had 2 other bands [Carnal Forge and Loch Vostok] and he's
also a single dad, so he needed to be there for his kid. The rest of
us decided to bury ourselves in the studio and write songs for another
album, and now we're here.
How would you describe the music on Darkest Potency?
Jocke: The difference between the first album
and this one is rather radical, in terms of both songwriting and production.
It feels like we found our style now. (Andreas:)
On the first record I wrote, during a long time, 9 songs out of 10 and
we pretty much recorded that one because we had many songs available.
With this new record, we worked together for like 6 months and really
did everything as a group. We had riffs, we had the entire feeling and
we tried many things. This is more a collective album and this is what
we will sound like. (David:) In terms of
type of music, we have never been out to do something innovative. We
grew up and listened to and loved this type of metal. We're not trying
to differ ourselves at that point, and we play what we want to play.
(Andreas:) We like pretty much everything,
from the beginning of the 80's and to the middle of the 90's. We're
all born in the early 80's, so we grew up with the second wave that
came in the early 90's with At The Gates, In Flames, Deicide and Dissection.
We have taken that and mixed it with some of our personal American heroes
and done it in our own way. Not a new way, in our own way.
Tobbe: You play some kind of melodic death/thrash
metal and you just told me what your inspiration comes out of, but did
you ever consider to play a different type of metal?
Andreas: This is what we are able to play and
this is what we want to do. When you pick up the guitar, a certain type
of riffs comes out. You have a certain melodic sense and when I, who
write a lot of the lyrics, write something, I see a film before me and
I think of what the soundtrack would be to that film and then it comes
out like this. This is what I've listened to and this is what has inspired
me and this is my melodic sense. (David:)
When it comes to this music, we feel like at home. When we write, we
land where we feel safe. (Andreas:) Our
first record was highly inspired by the old Gothenburg scene, while
on the new album, we have different things to get inspiration from.
In terms of atmosphere, Behemoth has come out as inspiration and perhaps
Black Dahlia Murder and White Chapel also, but we try to do it in a
Swedish way. [Asking his bandmates:] Is that the way to put it? (David
and Jocke:) [both] In our own way. (Andreas:)
Yes, exactly. Then it becomes a sort of Swedish way, almost.
Tobbe: The solo guitar in your songs creates
a melodic atmosphere to the music. It has kind of its own melody and why
do you choose to have that element?
Andreas: On the record I play the small solos,
so to speak, and Jocke plays the bigger, ambient and epic solos. (Jocke:)
Many bands focus on technique nowadays and I'm not that technically
set, so this feels pretty safe. [laughs] (Andreas:)
When we wrote solo stuff and so for the new record, we talked about
that playing fast is fun, but also doing something that works as a song
in the song. If you think of an Amon Amarth solo, it's not very technical
and it's no fast stuff. It's an atmosphere. And the same with like Behemoth
solos, it's not really a guitar solo, but more something that sticks
out, like a song in the song. And also if you think of old Randy Rhoads
solos. They are not over technical and he also wrote like songs in the
songs, you know. (Jocke:) It's also easier
to relate to solos that are a little more ambient. Who thinks of something
like [making humming fast tones] all day? (Andreas:)
You want to stand there in front of 50000 people in Wacken and hear
the people humming to the solos and not hear them go [making humming
fast tones]. It would be really strange. I think that since we don't
have that much synthesizers, strings and choirs in the background, we
try to create atmosphere through the solos, like creating a feeling.
(Jocke:) Try to keep it simple, not too
difficult, so people have something to relate to.
Tobbe: You probably reach a broader audience
with this matter as well.
Andreas: Yes, exactly. When we started to write
for the record, we had pretty cluttering riffs. (David:)
We cleaned things up a lot. (Andreas:)
Oh yes. We made it more simple and straight ahead, so that we also are
able to move on stage, without making a mess. Really just go for more
feeling, atmosphere and slaps in the face. We wanted to simplify things.
It wasn't that we thought that if we simplified things, we would be
the next In Flames. It was more that if we simplify things, we are able
to play better.
Why should people who listen to this type of music, buy your record in
favor of another record? Perhaps it's not the easiest question to answer,
out of your own perspective, because you think that this is the best record
in the world, I reckon.
Andreas: I you want the fast stuff, the heavy,
a lot of grind and blast beats and so, you'll get a share of that. If
you want some grand choruses, which are easy to learn the lyrics of
in no time, you'll get a share of that as well. People who wants heavy
music, should buy this album. People who wants to shout through the
choruses, should buy this album. People who wants epic solos, should
also buy the album. (David:) And everyone
who likes "Fredagsmys" ["Cozy Fridays". Swedish
expression. Not translatable], should also buy this album.
Tobbe: That will be lots of records to sell
in the end. Let's go back to the album's production. I think it's powerful
and the overall sound is great. What were your thoughts when you picked
producer [Jocke Skog] and what were you looking for as a whole?
Andreas: We worked with him on the previous record
and we created a great relation to him. We have talked with him pretty
often and we think alike with productions and so. Everything should
have its place and at the same it should be dirty, gritty and violent.
I mean, we like big productions, but there are many metal bands that
want everything as well-polished as possible. (David:)
With a plastic sound. (Andreas:) We don't
want that, but everything should have its place, but still there should
be a lot of violence, with broken arms and so. (David:)
Like old The Crown, but cleaner. (Andreas:)
Dirty, but yet like clean. We have gotten to know him well and he did
the new Feared album and he did a lot with Clawfinger and as we have
talked to him and also hung out a lot, this turned out a no-brainer,
that he should take care of everything. (David:)
He wasn't hard to convince either. (Andreas:)
No, he wasn't. We didn't sit at home and thought about who we should
get in touch with. It was an obvious choice and we have the exact same
Tobbe: So what are your goals with this
new album, both on short terms and on a long time basis?
Andreas: In short terms, Billboard top 10, but
that will be tough. (David:) We have to
make it visible. (Andreas:) Yes, we have
to make it visible, to as many as possible. Everywhere, like the whole
world. We will work really hard, both ourselves and then Rambo Music
and Sony Music will help us in Sweden. Then we have recently signed
a booking/management/promotion contract with a German company [Agentur
EAM], which will start helping us around the world, while we also will
try to control a lot of things ourselves. And about the future; At this
point, it's a little late for festivals this summer, but hopefully we
will play Europe this fall and next spring, and we will try to play
many festivals next summer. We want to, and we try to plan to, possibly
next fall, go over to the States. Those are our goals and our plans
and hopefully we will reach that far, if we work hard enough.
Tobbe: I will return to hard work later.
It has been 10 days since the album release. Have you been given any indications
whatsoever, on sales figures, you know?
Andreas: Well, people have ordered it through
our site and copies have also been sent to Scotland, Norway and around
Sweden. That's what we know, thus far. We don't really know what the
status is at Sony yet and we probably won't know anything until 6 months
maybe. As it looks now, from our bunker, we have sent out a good loot.
We have contact with a distributor in the US, so we send stuff to him
and hopefully he manages to sell some stuff too. For being a band that
everyone hasn't heard about, so to speak, it has taken off really well.
We have worked hard since November, when we and Johan at Rambo Music
decided that we would release this shit in the final days of April,
so we have at least tried to work in a frenetic pace.
Well, with most of the records released by less known bands, it's not
certain that things happen upon release. It might be a long process.
Andreas: Yes, especially since we're a rather
fresh band. We've only existed for like 4 years and released 2 albums.
The more we play gigs and sell, and the more reviews coming up, maybe
somewhere around fall or winter, we'll start to sell more records, when
people start to know about us.
Tobbe: Do you have any gigs planned at this
Andreas: Not at the moment. Right now we're
looking for a new drummer.
Tobbe: Quite so. So why don't we talk about
why you chose Kevin Talley to play on the album.
Andreas: It started around Christmas, when we
were recording the guitars and so. He got in touch with us, after he
had heard all the demos on SoundCloud. He liked the songs and he heard
that Jocke Skog would produce the album and since Kevin played on Feared's
latest album, he knows Jocke and he knows what Jocke is able to do.
He felt that nothing could go wrong, with the songs that he thought
were great and with Jocke as producer. He contacted us and asked us
if we wanted him to do the drums and it was a no-brainer. We sent him
the stuff and he learned them in a week, and recorded them in a week.
We're really happy with his work. Now we have to find someone who is
able to play his parts live.
Tobbe: The new record is intense and when
you play gigs later on, will you try to make them varied, or will it be
full throttle from start to finish?
Andreas: No, we will probably play something
mid-tempo in the middle. We have talked about focusing on the new songs
and at the same time use the songs from the first album that fits the
best. It's maybe 4 songs that fits the new direction. We have a slower
song from that one, which we can use, so we can take a rest for a while.
We're such a new band, so we will play as support act and we will probably
have 25-40 minutes, so why not go up on stage and kick the audience
in the balls and hit them in the face for 30 minutes and then walk off
stage and then the audience won't understand what happened. I have since
long had a thing when we played live; the audience should not remember
the bands that have played before us and the bands following us should
feel that it's tough to enter the stage. That's my vision and we try
to go there.
How do you look at your opportunities to become something outside of Sweden?
Maybe it will start there, but you never know, so what are your thoughts?
David: Our best opportunities are probably outside
of Sweden. (Andreas:) To sound a little
Swedish as a Swedish band is always tough in Sweden. If a band from
abroad sounds Swedish, they will get embraced because they sound Swedish.
If you go down to like Germany, Spain, Italy and especially South America,
who has given us great response, they are overwhelmed by Swedish bands.
We haven't seen so many reviews of the new album from abroad yet. The
latest album wasn't that hot in Sweden, but especially in Germany, Spain,
South America and the US, it was well received and we had many interviews,
radio-time and promotion. If we do 10 gigs in Germany or 10 gigs in
Sweden, I believe the gigs in Germany will generate more. When we now
have signed the contract with a booking company, which hopefully will
make things happen, I think we will get good response out there. We
have around 9 million inhabitants in Sweden and how many of them listen
to extreme metal? Then we go to Germany and they have 9 million people
in Berlin [Really?], so it's a different approach. When I've been to
concerts abroad, the audiences differ a lot when comparing to Sweden.
The Swedish audiences are like the music police and when we've been
abroad, we have been received very well, because we're not from around.
In Sweden it's like a half circle in front of the stage and the rest
have their arms crossed, if they haven't heard the band. With this record
we have gotten good response from Sweden as well, so we hope that Sweden
will receive this with open arms.
Tobbe: If you look forward. Do you have
any goals for the coming 5 years or so?
Andreas: We have talked a lot about that when
we win the lottery, we're set to go. (David:)
Especially, we want to go out and play as much as possible. (Andreas:)
Yes, go out on tours. We will probably play gigs as support act for
this record and maybe in 1½-2 years we will release an album
again. By then we have played gigs enough to get bigger support slots
and at the same maybe headline a few shows and then hopefully go over
to the States as well. Our goal is to have some sort of income in a
couple of years, so we will be able to play more music and work less
with our boring jobs.
As with most other bands, you have jobs and you aren't teenagers anymore,
so how do you combine your music, work and private life in best possible
way? It's not easy to tour for 2 months if you have a job or family.
David: We have no private life. (Andreas:)
I'm the only one that has a wife and she's like me. She's not into music,
but she's like me, and no one has any kids, and we will probably quit
our jobs if things start to happen. (David:)
Our private life is ruled by the band's schedule. (Andreas:)
Yes, exactly. We work and after that, on our spare time, 90 percent
is about the music. (Jocke:) Work is right
now a temporary necessity. (Andreas:) We
are full-time musicians that have to work a little extra. (David:)
And not the other way around.
Tobbe: Don't tell your boss tomorrow, guys.
You have played in other bands before, so what makes Bleeding Utopia a
band to really go for, compared to the other bands?
Andreas: I think that it's a maturity thing.
We're at the same level, very immature. (David:)
We have the same thinking, the same visions. (Andreas:)
And we work well together and, just like you said, we're not youngsters
anymore. Me and David have played together since '94 or '95. We know
each other really well and we have played in bands without the other
as well. It's like when you have had many jobs, you know what you want
to bring to the next band and what you don't want to bring. We have
talked a lot about how we want to work and everybody has had the same
vision. When our former drummer, Lalle, wasn't able to share our visions,
and put in all time to the band since he wanted to be more of a father,
it was pretty natural that he stepped down. There was no ugly words
when he left. And our old singer, Henrik, also became a father. It was
a rather natural step, since they didn't share the same visions as we
did. If we're out touring, we will miss out on anniversaries with the
wife, we will miss birthdays and we will miss the Eurovision Song Contest.
(David:) No. (Andreas:)
We are all rather aware of this matter. You have to work with the band
as it is a business and we are freelancers until we are able to employ
ourselves. If we want to sell something, sell ourselves and to work
with this, we must run it as you run a business. We are all into doing
Tobbe: Not many bands sell a lot of records
anymore, so you have to sell a whole product, not only records.
Jocke: That's why we want to go out and play
a lot too. (Andreas:) And sell shirts and
stuff. We want to sell merchandise that we will be remembered for. We
have made condoms with our album cover printed on them.
Tobbe: Hopefully I won't see those when
they're set to action.
David: Don't count on it. (Andreas:)
We're so vicious, so we have pierced a hole in every one. We will use
them as giveaways and if people get condoms, hopefully someone will
remember which band gave them one. And the same with live performances
and it's important that you include the whole package. We won't use
corpse paint or dress up like Ghost. Not to put anyone down, but I think
that the hype around Ghost wouldn't be as big if they weren't so surrounded
by mystique. We try to make people remember us in the best possible
ways, with different merchandise, stylish merchandise and really kick
people's asses on our gigs. The best publicity is people talking to
other people about a band, like if somebody has bought a nice shirt.
And if our fans want to talk to us, we will spend time with them.
Tobbe: It's a killing competition nowadays.
Andreas: Yes, definitely and you have to handle
things right. Everyone that spends money and comes to our gigs is a
customer, like any customer at a newspaper stand or in a grocery store.
The customers should be able to get the best raw material, so that they
will return. And it's the same thing with a band, in order to make them
What is the hardest part of getting a band to function properly?
Andreas: People not answering their text messages.
(David:) No one mentioned, Andreas. (Andreas:)
The hardest part is, that if you're for instance 5 guys in a band and
like with us, 3 of us are ready to go all in and some others tell us
that they have to go shopping instead. You know, that you have something
that is holding you back and doesn't share the same vision. It's like
a relationship and if you have a girl that doesn't like you, it won't
work. You have to have fun and have the same kind of humor and puerility.
(David:) And you have to have structure.
If we say that we will rehearse intensively for 2 hours, you have to
set aside time and then you can do what the hell you like afterwards.
None of us 3 who's still in the band has any problems with this. If
someone is out partying the night before, he better show up for rehearsals
next day. (Andreas:) And the same thing
with the administrative stuff. You have to know that things will get
done. And also that you get along off stage as well. If you travel around
Europe in a filthy, small bus, you have to get along at all levels.
(David:) It's a little cliché, but
it has to work somewhat as a family. It's just the way it is. (Andreas:)
You have to find someone who wants to do it on the same terms, and who's
willing to sacrifice money, time and convenience. That's the toughest
part. With all the bands that I've played in, when we have disbanded,
something like this has been in our way. Someone doesn't want to spend
money on something and someone thinks it's tough to travel in a specific
car and someone doesn't want to hang out and blah blah blah.
Tobbe: The bigger a band becomes, the bigger
the workload. Have you talked about how you will spread the workload between
Andreas: Yes, to a small extent, you know. We
have our own company, which includes the band, and we have released
our records through it. It's like; I'm doing the finances, he's taking
care of the web design, and he's doing this and that, but when it comes
to new things, it's always up for discussion. When we have a plan and
when we decide to really do this, we will talk about it and who will
be doing what. I don't think that anyone of us will say that they won't
do something and all of us wants to go there.
Tobbe: It's probably good to have plan,
since becoming bigger isn't a walk in the park. But you're old enough
to realize that.
Andreas: It's like when we now are looking for
a drummer and people think that as soon as you have released an album
and you have a record deal, money comes rolling in and we don't have
to do anything to cash in. But it's the opposite, as a band we have
to prove, for those who have invested in us, that we are something to
make an investment in. People don't understand that things cost money,
and people are too comfortable, which have been evident in our drummer
search. We have to find people who understand the music industry and
if we find those people, it's probably easier to keep the band together,
since these people will have the same visions. We do what's necessary.
Tobbe: Yes, it's a different situation than
it was 20 years ago.
Andreas: If you go back to the mid 90's, an
okay studio budget was like $10000-15000 and nowadays $5000 is like
"Yes, what a budget!". (David:)
People think that the music industry still works this way.
David: And then they don't realize that it's
self-inflicted, because of all the downloading.
Tobbe: Okay, thanks guys and good luck with
of the album Darkest Potency