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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.