» Johan Längquist - Candlemass
« back

Interview conducted August 17 2019
Interview published September 25 2019

"We're not a band that cashes in serious dough."

Metal Covenant met restored vocalist Johan Längquist of legendary Swedish doom metallers Candlemass when the band played at Sabaton Open Air in Falun, Sweden.

Tobbe: I see that you have let your beard grow and is that because of getting older or maybe just out of sheer laziness?

Johan: Well, when we got together again last year I had just trimmed my head. I had pretty long hair before that. So I thought "What am I going to do now, to become a little bit rock 'n' roll?". That was in September last year and my beard had already begun to grow a bit, so I thought "Okay. Let it just keep on growing.".

Tobbe: You have played quite a few festivals this summer, but I don't see you touring so much although you put out a new record in February. [The Doom To Doom]

Johan: Well, maybe I'm not the one to give you an answer to this. But I know that we will do just over 30 gigs this year. I don't know what would count as many gigs and what would not count. I think we did 11 or so gigs in Europe with Ghost this spring and we've been playing at least every other week, so I think it's been pretty all right, you know.

We've been pretty far away too. We were in Tasmania and it took two days just to get there. I don't know what the touring schedules look like for other bands, but since Janne [Lindh, drums] and Lasse [Johansson, lead guitar] work full-time and I used to work full-time, the band has chosen to stay at this number of shows. I took a new job last year, in order to be able to come and go, so when I'm home I can work and earn a few bucks.

Tobbe: After a festival summer like this one, mentally seen, do you bring something from this period into the next phase of Candlemass?

Johan: Well, to me it's been great fun, since I haven't been out like this for so long, so at least I've become a bit more experienced since September last year. Of course I think things over, and now and then I watch a gig on video and "Perhaps I should do this differently…", so of course I work towards a goal of getting better and better. But the way I see us: you know, we have no spectacular events on stage, like pyros and stuff. It's just the 5 of us going out there rocking, with in best case some lighting, and a backdrop.

But I think it's fun. It's a little stripped down. But of course, if you had a lot of money, you would have wanted to fire up with cool stuff on stage to make more of a show out of it. We're not a band that cashes in serious dough. So, naturally it's a money thing as well. But everything works and we've had great fun on each and every show. Everyone feels that it's really fun right now.

Tobbe: I guess that a lot of material has been recorded during these festivals by different organizers and whoever. So, is there any material available that you might use to make a live video?

Johan: I don't know exactly how that works. I think it was just, maybe Hellfest, who asked us for permission, like "We will film the whole gig and we want your permission to publish it.". I don't know about the other festivals, in terms of what's out there and what's not, but there is probably stuff, because on quite a few occasions there have been cameras on stage, you know.

Tobbe: I talked to Mats Levén, your predecessor, before his departure from the band last spring. Everything was just fine according to him, but he was out of the band just a few months later, and are musicians just the best of keeping a secret?

Johan: Well, I don't know. I don't know all circumstances, but they had come to a point, they've told me later, where they didn't even know if they were going to go on with Candlemass or not. And Leffe [Edling, bass] has been gone for quite some time, and I mean, he is the keystone of the whole package. Then they got in touch with me, with an idea of kind of being the old Candlemass again.

Of course you can't recreate the old Candlemass in that way, but the lineup is pretty similar to what it once was, and this made everyone feel a little bit energized again, and especially Leif. He saw it as very exciting and interesting. He has been going all the way from the start and people out there are happy to see him again, I'll tell you that.

Tobbe: You were away for so many years and might a 90-minute live set be kind of a tough challenge to you now?

Johan: Well, you know, I think it works pretty well. Occasionally I feel that I get a little croaky, but that's rock 'n' roll, so I guess it doesn't matter, really. But no problem. I can take it. Hands down. On our last show, I don't remember where we were, whatever, but I could have continued for 30-60 minutes longer, easily.

Tobbe: When bands hire new singers, those singers have to sing other people's songs. You do that as well, but you don't have to imitate someone else and isn't it very liberating to just go out there and be yourself?

Johan: As you know, I sing some songs that weren't mine, and if I do them I'm not going to plagiarize. I mean, I do them in a way that feels good to me. It's just as simple as that. If I would go up there and try to imitate someone, it would just turn out really bad. It's better to do your own thing, in best way possible, and then hope that people think it sounds all right.

Tobbe: Is there an emotional difference for you on stage when you sing the songs that you once recorded yourself, in comparison to songs recorded by someone else?

Johan: No, actually not. You know, we have a discussion before the gigs about which songs to play and I have gotten to pick a few songs myself, that I feel comfortable with. I mean, the songs we're playing now, I like them. You know, it's authentic and I think that they are awesome songs. It's a luxury problem, because there's quite an extensive catalogue to pick from. I must like what I'm singing and maybe that's a little problem. Well, problem or not problem, but I mean, I couldn't go up there and sing songs that I don't like. It would just be so odd to me.

Tobbe: It was such as long time between the two records that you have recorded with Candlemass and is it even possible to compare them to each other or do you see them as two completely different things, you know? [Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in 1986 and The Door To Doom in 2019.]

Johan: You know, I don't think that you can recreate an Epicus today. It would be just naïve to think so. It's about what different eras certain records come from, you know. But I mean, The Door To Doom is a modern development of Candlemass and everyone recognize it in some way. It's not an Epicus 2. It's really not. I guess the listeners have to decide. I sing in a different way now and it's not as harmonic or clean.

My voice is actually rather low-pitched and I guess that's why I get a little bit croaky when I'm singing the high notes. And on The Door To Doom there are some powerful shit, I'll tell you that. But it was really fun. I had to give everything I had. You're on the edge and then you just go.

Related links: