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Interview conducted October 30 2021
Interview published November 9 2021

"It's like a puzzle and there might be some dissatisfied faces when we're going away."

With more or less non-existent domestic restrictions due to the Covid-19 virus Sweden's venues are open to the public again. Power metallers Bloodbound made a stop in the nation's capital Stockholm in late October and Metal Covenant was given some time with keyboarder and founding member Fredrik Bergh.

Tobbe: Your new album Creatures Of The Dark Realm was out in May and it must feel great to finally go out and play songs from it.

Fredrik: Yes, it does. The last show we did was in January 2020 on the 70000 Tons Of Metal ship, you know. Well, then everything came to a halt. We played in Gothenburg last night and it was so amazing. The crowd was totally crazy, you know. It was like we were playing in Poland or the Czech Republic or the Ukraine. Everyone was really insane and sang along to the songs, you know. You could easily notice how everyone is starving for live music. And the same for us. It was really fun to play live again.

Tobbe: Were you able to just pick everything up from where you were, or was it a little bit hard to get back on track again?

Fredrik: Actually, you know, I had to kind of relearn the songs, and think about everything around them, like arrangements and getting everything together. I had to do all that again, you know. So it was kind of like starting anew in a sense. Well, anyway it was really great being back, you know.

Tobbe: You guys have a lot of records in your suitcase now and how is it even possible to pick songs for the live sets? From where do you get the feeling of what songs are the right ones to play?

Fredrik: To a great extent we're trying to have the stage performance on our mind when we're writing the songs. You know, that they will go down well live. Well, at least that we will have a few songs that will work out fine live. Sometimes you might have a great song, and you might have a good feeling about it, but it just doesn't work live whatsoever.

So, we have some songs that we must play every time, and we kind of play the same set that we've been playing before, with some changes here and there, and then we add some songs from the new record. Tonight we play 4 new songs for example. And when we've made the next record maybe 1 or 2 of those songs stay in the set. So I think we have a pretty good set right now, you know.

Tobbe: And bands want to play songs from the new album of course. You know, why even bother making a record if that wasn't the case?

Fredrik: Yes, exactly. Some bands put out a record and play 8 songs from it and on the next tour they don't even play one song from it, you know. A lot of the songs we choose to play live are based on the crowds' reaction to the songs, you know. So it's not like we want to be progressive and just play songs from a specific album, and songs we personally like, but it's solely based on what's working live. You know, to put together a show that is entertaining.

Tobbe: Next year almost every band will be out touring and I think that that will affect the number of visitors per show in a negative way. In what way does Bloodbound look at this? Do you guys even talk about this internally?

Fredrik: Well, it has taken a whole lot of planning to put together a tour for this record. Tours were booked, yet not announced. You know, we've had full tours planned that didn't take place and had to be postponed. So right now we're looking at a European tour in March next year. Every damn club has been booked since a year back, but everything is just being postponed all the time.

We have tried to put together a really great package, so we're 4 bands going out on that leg. [Bloodbound, Arion, Metalite and Veonity.] So an attractive package has been on our minds, you know. So, let's see how good ticket sales will be. [Laughs]

Tobbe: You've played keyboards for Bonfire in the last couple of years and is that something that you will keep doing or is that collaboration over at this point?

Fredrik: Well, it's just like a job, you know. You get paid and you're doing it. I have written some songs with them, and that's how it all began, like 3 songs an album. But it's a little bit on hold right now, because their singer [Alexx Stahl] got sick and everything got moved forward as well. They have no new record in the pipeline, for all I know.

But I sometimes talk with Hans Ziller to see what's going on, and for a while he was thinking about starting up EZ Livin' again, now that Bonfire is on hold. So he asked me if I wanted to join that band, but eventually it didn't materialize. If I would have joined that band, I guess there would have been no touring, but more of a studio band, you know.

Tobbe: Have you inofficially played on other records too? Stuff that no one knows about. Any secrets?

Fredrik: No, no, no, no, no.

Tobbe: Well, you never know. One must ask, you know.

Fredrik: I think that was more common in the '80s maybe. Like, Warrant and bands like that, who brought in Mike Slamer to play the guitars. And a lot of other bands too, like Kiss' Gene Simmons, you know, where someone else played the bass. I think it was about business and he was somewhere else making movies and stuff, or whatever he did. And bass; well, it's a cool and great instrument, but they maybe don't notice who's playing.

Tobbe: How did you get your first contact with metal music when you were young?

Fredrik: Well, it was through friends. When I was 10-11 years old they had bought Accept and Maiden records. You know, friends that had listened to it, and then I listened to it and thought it was really great. I grew up with Maiden, Priest, Accept, Twisted Sister, you know.

Tobbe: And what do you remember from starting playing instruments? Do you remember the very first years of playing?

Fredrik: Well, I started playing the violin, the trumpet and stuff like that, and then I got into the guitar when I wanted to play heavy metal. Then I slid a bit into keyboards. I kind of don't remember the very first years, but it's an ongoing progress until you find out what you want to do.

Tobbe: It takes some determination to become a good player, and at the same time it must be fun playing too. So a number of factors are needed to be able to get somewhere.

Fredrik: You know, I put writing great songs before being a virtuoso. So I've never been into practicing to become great, but I've learned the basics and the foundations and then the songwriting has been the most primary, at least for me. That's what I think is fun, to create my own music. That's what's rewarding to me. I would never be playing in an orchestra following notes and be a brilliant musician, you know. Such musicianship has never interested me, but it has been more doing your own thing and writing songs.

Tobbe: Have you been able to transfer your musicianship to your kids yet? Or is the competition too great with other things to do like cell phones and gaming and stuff?

Fredrik: We just talked about this in our car. A lot of the creativity has just disappeared from when we were young. Everything is available, everything must happen quickly, big kicks. Well, they don't have the mindset of "I will become good at this!" or "Now I'm going to create something or build something!". That's boring to them, when there's gaming or whatever there is.

I think it's deplorable, the way it is, you know. And it's hard to get them into stuff as well, because then they might be ending up on the outside, you know. All their friends, there's gaming, and there's internet, and all that. So it's a dilemma, I think, with creativity and so.

Tobbe: Well, what to do as a parent? Like you say, kids must get the chance to be able to get along with other kids. No parents want their kid to be alone.

Fredrik: I guess there's new times. It's like, my parents couldn't understand that I was into heavy metal and stuff. It was strange to them, you know. So it's a generation thing.

Tobbe: So with kids, family, work and everything, how hard is it today to get the band to fit into that equation?

Fredrik: It's a dilemma. Everyone in the band kind of has a toddler at home, aside from our singer Patrik [J Selleby], you know. It's like a puzzle and there might be some dissatisfied faces when we're going away. But we don't do this on a large scale. We do what we can do. We have turned down offers for several long tours. For instance with Sabaton when they asked us if we wanted to go to the USA for 6 weeks together with them. You know, we had to turn that down because, well, it wasn't the right time for us to go, you know.

Tobbe: Have you ever felt like not doing this anymore?

Fredrik: Well, there are certain tours which I didn't take part in, you know. Where they had backing tracks. But that goes for almost everyone in the band, that they couldn't make it to a tour, so we brought someone else in to do the job. So that's how we've done it. Someone says, like, "I can't go on tour at that point.", and then we just find a solution. But we're more established and popular than we've ever been and we're gaining larger crowds and all that, so it's still fun to do this. We have fun together and that's what's important.

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