Interview conducted March 25 2016
Interview published April 06 2016
On February 26th Gothenburg based
outfit Bombus released its third full length record, Repeat Until Death,
and about four weeks later Metal Covenant therefore met up with guitarists/vocalists
Feffe Berglund and Matte Säker
before the band's show in Stockholm. After a while drummer Peter
Asp joined our small group too and somewhere in
the middle of our conversation, the final piece of the puzzle, bass player
Ola Henriksson, decided to sit down beside
us as well.
Tobbe: A band's third record is quite often
a kind of now or never album, and regarding Bombus, do you believe that
this assertion is correct?
Feffe: Well, not a now or never album, but we've
been doing this for quite some time now. I think it doesn't matter what
you do really, but if you do something really intensively and put effort
to it and really go for it for a long time, clearly, at some point,
you check out what is working and check out what happens and then afterwards
you evaluate the result of course. Nothing lasts forever. Not even Bombus.
The record has been out for a month and it's gotten great reviews so far,
at least what I know of, and I reckon you're really happy about receiving
all these reviews.
Matte: Yes. It feels really great. It's really
fun to get great reviews. It's easy to say that you don't care about
reviews, but when they're good, it's really fun. You put a lot of time
and effort in a record or in a concert or in the band, so it's great
to get something positive back.
Tobbe: The reviews you've read or seen,
have you gotten them served on a plate or have you been browsing the web
and have you even seen some negative opinions as well?
Feffe: You get them pretty much served on a plate,
you know. A lot of the reviewers send links to show that they have reviewed
the record, so we get to see a lot of them. But they've been good overall.
Maybe someone hasn't been completely enthusiastic, but, you know, no
one has chopped us to pieces either.
It's been good overall, both in Sweden and outside
of Sweden. Above all, it's funny when you realize that they get the
point. If you get a good review, but you think that they don't get it,
it's not as
you know. I mean, it's great that they like it, but
it's even greater when they understand what it's all about.
[Feffe's phone rings
and 30 seconds later Peter
enters the room.]
Tobbe: Your last record, The Poet And The
Parrot, was also critically acclaimed. You've been kind of hyped by the
media, but still you haven't really gotten that real break. So do you
believe that a break is on the doorstep?
Feffe: Yes, we believe so. We're absolutely sure
about it. Definitely. But, you know, you don't get acknowledgment in
advance. All of our 3 records have been getting really great reviews,
but we haven't gotten that break yet. But we have kept going and gotten
bigger and played more gigs abroad, but it has never been like we've
hit it big on a commercial level. And maybe we won't either, you know.
Tobbe: How do things look on an international
Feffe: Good, but it's not like we've hit it in
a way like we've released a record and been going out and playing for
a 1000 people abroad, you know. We've been playing clubs and supporting
other bands, like most bands have to do, but with this record it feels
like something is starting to happen really. And we will soon be doing
a couple of gigs and possibly we will see if something has happened
really hard to know what will happen to your band, you know. (Matte:)
It's like tonight, you know. We've been doing one gig with this record
so far and it's like we have no idea how things are going really. The
reviews have been great and that's all we know so far.
Tobbe: So what is your music's greatest
strength? On what will you base your potential success on?
Feffe: I think that our strength is our weakness
in a way. What we do is really two sides of a coin. We don't belong
to a specific genre. You can't really label us, you know. I think that
could be either a strength or a weakness. People may find that difficult,
that it's not, like, obvious. But I think that's our greatest strength,
that what we write isn't generically the right way.
Tobbe: You're songs generally have a pushing
forward and pumping groove and what makes you able to create this together?
Peter: Just rehearsing and playing a lot together.
(Feffe:) And I think we're pretty meticulous too.
We talk a lot about tempos. You know, we talk a lot about what we do.
Sometimes it's hard to put the finger on it, but we're rehearsing, and
we're not trained musicians in any way, but we talk about it, since
certain tempos are really hard to find in a song because it should be
slow and pushing at the same time. Like details and the feeling in the
You know, basically we're a little bit of a mid-tempo
band. Most of our songs end up in mid-tempo and in that region. (Peter:)
It's easy to ruin a song if it's a fast one for example. It's easy to
get overexcited when you play live because you're so psyched. You've
got to allow yourself to be psyched, but at the same time kind of control
you aggressiveness. (Feffe:) But we're
really thorough with this when we're rehearsing. A good drummer and
a good bass player are huge parts in our groove too. It's the backbone.
Tobbe: What about your overall sound picture?
I think the record doesn't come out sounding like a totally modern product,
so what are your approach when you try to create a specific sound?
Feffe: The new record of course feels very contemporary,
without being too triggered. It's maybe not modern in a way, but we
never look backwards when we're trying to find a sound. (Peter:)
And we don't want to be retrospective either. We said, before we recorded
the album, that the drums are gonna sound like real drums. Not so triggered
and more natural. (Feffe:) There's no strive
to sound like any other old band, you know, who has already done something,
much better probably.
you work with 2 electric guitars, a bass and drums, you know, you can
have kind of a timeless sound picture. But we're not one of those bands
that thinks the technique of the 70's is the best to use and it has
happened quite a lot in the last 40 years and it would be like to assert
that Atari is still the best game computer. A lot has happened and we
utilize it in this recording, you know. But we're all grown-ups and,
I mean, no one is 20 anymore, so of course it's there in some way, like
Super Distortion is the greatest guitar microphone, you know. Like Ace
Frehley's guitar, so somehow you end up there anyway.
Tobbe: About basic ideas to your songs.
Do they start off with a riff, or maybe a beat or even from a nice vocal
melody popping up inside your head?
Feffe: It's kind of a combination. A cool drum
beat can be a good start to a song. Starting with a beat and a tempo
in a song and then the riffs and the melodies follow. And often it's
a riff, with a melody interacting in some way, that is the start to
a song too. We're not really a riffing band and thereby we're looking
for riffs with melodies that fit well together and the harmonies that
come out of it. With the new album we said that we wanted it simple
and I think if you work that way you can sort out things.
You know, with a good drum beat, a good rhythm
guitar and a good vocal melody you have 3 components and that's all
it takes to make something good. It's so easy to think that you need
to add more, because you think that you must fill out the blank spots
a little bit, but then everything ends up fighting for space and we
have to compromise, instead of just keeping to the good core.
[Ola enters the room and finds himself comfortable
on the armrest to the couch that I'm sitting on.]
Tobbe: Repeat Until Death is your shortest
full length record so far. It's only 34 minutes. Was this something you
thought about when you were recording?
Feffe: The playing time of a full length record
is kind of standardized, but I think it depends on the record and 34
minutes that works well is good enough. With 40, 50 or 60 minutes I
think it's starting to get too long. We've been doing 40-minute records
before and I like the vinyl format, with 20 minutes on each side. (Peter:)
Records were never longer than 40 minutes before. You know, classic
albums. (Matte:) Even if you take an extremely
good record, that you really like a lot, and it's too long, then it's
still unnecessarily long. Half of it could have ended up on the coming
record instead. 40 minutes is good enough, no matter how good it is.
Let's take a look at your lyrics. Are you trying to bring forward something,
or do you just write for the moment, or do you even have some kind of
Feffe: You know, we have opinions, but not a
message. Our opinions are visible in the song lyrics and it's about
everyday things and things taking place around you. Like society and
real, sad things. You know, social realism, but it doesn't always have
to be so obvious. But we have no message and we're not political in
our music, but we have opinions and that's what probably ends up on
Tobbe: If someone can only buy one single
album right now, why should it be Repeat Until Death?
Feffe: I would say that there's nothing else
sounding like it. No other band has this sound really. Besides being
really good, I think it's unique in today's music, you know. And in
yesterday's music too. And in the future too. [Laughs]
Tobbe: You replace your bass player every
now and then, so is this record Ola's first and final with the band?
Matte: It's probably a matter of how long he
can take it, because they seem to drop out from the band quite frequently.
(Feffe:) Yeah, it's themselves quitting.
(Matte:) We will see. We don't know what
will happen yet, if there will be a new one on the next record. We don't
believe so, and we don't hope so. (Ola:)
Oh no. Don't worry. (Feffe:) [Laughs] Yes,
it's been one bass player for each record. (Ola:)
Maybe I'm soon starting to make myself uncomfortable. You never know.
(Peter:) We had 2 bass players between
Jonas [Rydberg] and Ola too, who also left the band. (Feffe:)
I think we've had 9 bass players in total for Bombus, if counting live
Tobbe: But the other three of you seem to
get along really well.
Matte: Every constellation so far has worked
really well. It hasn't been any hard feelings, neither before, nor after
they have left the band. (Feffe:) It's
probably just the way it is, playing in a band. It's takes a lot from
you. (Matte:) Maybe you don't have the
time to do it or maybe you get tired of it. (Feffe:)
You know, you're touring, you're away from home and you're short of
money periodically. All this can be frustrating and when people have
done it many times, they maybe have enough.
Tobbe: If we look forward
How many bass players will you
Besides the bass players.
What are your plans, after this album
Feffe: In some way, you are always a little
bit on the next record in your mind, although it's probably more production-wise
and what you want to do the next time with the next record. Music-wise
when you have released an album, you're already thinking of the next
record. Band-wise, we take it album by album, you know. (Peter:)
We will try to not wait for so long with the next record. (Feffe:)
Yes, we've been making one every third year so far. It also depends
on touring and if we can be home and make an album.
Tobbe: I was browsing your home page and
I had a quick look at your touring schedule and you didn't have that many
Matte: We have a pretty good festival season
and a trip to Germany and some additional gigs and we're waiting for
some ideas for the fall.
Tobbe: Do you have the time to spare, if
you would get like a 2 month tour? You know, will everybody in the band
be able to go on a longer tour?
Matte: Yes, absolutely. You have to have that
in mind and also have the mindset to like "Let's do this record!".
Tobbe: When you're in the lower 20's, this
is hardly a problem, but as you're getting older
Feffe: Well, there's a little bit of an administrative
difference now and back then. People in the band have kids and families.
It's not really the same, but the musical part is the same, you know.
In a way it's better to be older too, as you're getting along better
when you're out playing and it's easier to make things work.
We want to play moderately too. We've never wanted
to do 300 gigs a year with Bombus. We're not a band like that. (Matte:)
You know, when the record is still fresh, it's like we've done the record
and we want to tour for it and give it all we've got. We'll see what
pops up. But it's like Feffe says; We don't want to do 300 gigs a year
for 3 years and then another record, you know. At the moment we're excited
for what's to come though.
Tobbe: You haven't really gotten a break
yet and money isn't piling up obviously, so how do you combine daily jobs
and families and everything?
Peter: That's exactly what's hard. Of course
it's easier if you can make a living out of music. You can make records
quicker and you will be able to tour a lot more. We can't afford playing
hundreds of gigs a year. We have to work in between. (Feffe:)
We're all in a situation that circles around the band. We all have jobs
and I wouldn't be working with what I do if it wasn't for the band.
We're all in this situation where we can have a band on this level,
you know. (Matte:) You have a job where
you can have some leave of absence and where things tend to be fine
in the end. (Ola:) When you were 20, you
just quit your job.
of the album Repeat Until Death