» Feffe/Matte - Bombus
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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.

Tobbe: 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 level?

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 so far.

It's 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 songs.

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.

If 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.

Tobbe: 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 message?

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 print too.

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 also.

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…

Matte: …How many bass players will you have?

Tobbe: Besides the bass players. …What are your plans, after this album cycle?

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 dates yet.

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.

See also: review of the album Repeat Until Death

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