Interview conducted November 14 2021
Interview published November 19 2021
"Leffe is an artist, indeed, and he has a clear
vision, and you cannot really tweak his stuff, and therefore things started
Accordingly, on the 6th attempt
due to shows being postponed during the pandemic, Stockholm doom metal
pioneers Candlemass finally were able to play their double night show
The Tritonus Theater, which saw the band perform the classic albums Epicus
Doomicus Metallicus (1st show) and Nightfall (2nd show) in their entirety.
Metal Covenant had the pleasure
to meet up with drummer Jan Lindh to talk
about the band's bearded faces, the possibility of playing the album Tales
Of Creation live from start to finish, bass player Leif Edling's current
health condition, former singers, how they nearly disbanded about 4 years
ago, ongoing recordings of a new album, et cetera, et cetera, and indeed
got some quite interesting answers.
Jan "Janne" Lindh - Drums
Leif "Leffe" Edling - Bass
Mats "Mappe" Björkman - Rhythm guitar
Lars "Lasse" Johansson - Lead guitar
Johan Längquist - Vocals
Tobbe: You're quite a bearded band nowadays,
although you've trimmed yours a bit lately.
Jan: Well, I let it grow on top instead. But,
you know, I work and then in the end it just became two cones, because
everything in the middle was torn by that damn zipper, and I was like
"I can't look like this.", because it looked like two ice
cream cones on my chin. Ever since I was younger I've shaved my hair
off at every even decade birthday. The first time was when I became
30. And then I let my hair grow and again shaved it off at 40 and then
again at 50. On that very same day, July 29th, you know.
Tobbe: And the other guys, besides Mappe
that is, like to don some kind of beard as well, and especially Leif's
is something else.
Jan: Yes, Mappe doesn't like to wear a beard
because of the itch. But he had a bit before, I remember. And Leffe
hasn't even cut his hair in a long time. He kind of looks like Saruman
Tobbe: You recently did a nice thing in
honor of Trouble's Eric Wagner's death by recording a version of their
song The Tempter.
Jan: Yes, exactly. There really wasn't any question
about it. Leffe just emailed me and asked. We've known Trouble for so
long and played a couple of times with them and met them in the USA
and stuff. So we just went down to the studio, rehearsed a couple of
times, and just counted it in. It was a cool thing to do to honor him.
has meant a lot to us, both for us in the band musically and for Leffe
who has often been in contact with them and they were a great inspiration
for him as well. And we have kind of gone hand in hand over the years,
so it's a pity, you know.
Tobbe: When I spoke to the promoter a couple
of weeks ago, he told me that these are the 6th dates for these two shows
and I guess it must feel really great to finally get to do this.
Jan: Yes, it does. We have been waiting and waiting,
but right now it has felt solid in Sweden specifically to go through
with this. This coming weekend we're playing a gig at Keep It True,
which is something that we had to cancel before, not because of us,
but due to unforeseen stuff. They have wanted us there for a very long
The first time it was because of that volcano
in Iceland, which spewed out a lot of ash. And then two years ago the
pilots went on strike, and perhaps we could have rebooked our flights
and stuff like that in some way, but it was so much work trying to do
that, you know. Because it come so sudden, like one day before. Or perhaps
we could have gone there by bus. I remember that we got some complaints
about that, like from fans, and the promoter told us that we could have
come by bus, you know.
But it would have been difficult to quickly hire
a driver and then drive straight to Würzburg, Germany, which is
pretty far away, and then go on stage, and then go back home again.
[The distance between Stockholm and Würzburg is approximately 1500
kilometers / 900 miles and a 17 hour drive.] And now the Germans have
warned us that they maybe will shut us down, so we'll see what happens.
Maybe it's not meant for us to play Keep It True.
Tobbe: It's unfortunate for everyone involved
Jan: Well, that's the way it is when people don't
behave right and so. But I think there will be restrictions in Sweden
again, like restaurants having to pull tables apart again.
Tobbe: Will there be a special set at Keep
It True, like playing an album in its entirety?
Jan: I think so. I think it's the Epicus set,
you know. But it could be Nightfall as well. I'm wondering myself actually.
[Laughs] But we have kind of a list of which kind of set we're going
Tobbe: Because maybe your fee could be a
little bit higher if playing a classic record on a festival.
Jan: Ah, well, but first and foremost if it's
a special thing then it's a way in to a festival for us. But the way
it feels right now, when looking at our emails within the band, it's
like, you know, bands are really dumping their fees to get to play now.
the promoters are rubbing their hands now, like "Yes, the last
time we had this band we paid this and that amount and now they've more
or less cut the price in half.". But as long as it might last we
will go out playing, you know.
Tobbe: You have played Ancient Dreams live
in its entirety and then more frequently Epicus and Nightfall as well.
I talked to Mappe about 4 years ago and at that point he said that you
will most likely play Tales Of Creation some day too.
Jan: Yes, it will happen. Absolutely. Maybe
we will play a couple of shows during a year and play specifically that
record. You know, we have the experience to play an entire record, so
we are able to do that. It will happen one day, for sure.
Tobbe: Do you think that these two special
shows would have been possible to do if Leif wasn't able to participate?
Jan: Well, yes, I think so. In terms of musicianship,
yes. But then Leffe is Leffe. You know, Johan isn't so keen on talking
upon stage, so if somebody talks to the crowd it's usually Leffe. But
it's a real pity and it was incredibly fun when Leffe returned. You
can see the joy in him playing. But he is still really tired. It wears
and tears on him big-time. But still, he sits up all night and we tell
him "Go to bed and go to sleep instead of sitting up all night!".
Like, he's watching YouTube, and there's some band, you know.
I just have to go no further than to myself,
like sitting with my cell phone and just scrolling and then go to the
next page and next and next and then suddenly hours have passed and
it's 3 o'clock in the morning. And, you know, he has so many ideas.
You know, this songwriting; he's unique, really. It's just an everflowing
Tobbe: I would guess that his brain is kind
of always in overdrive and never gets to slow down and relax a little
Jan: I think so too. By producing music and stuff.
But that's his lifestyle and ideas have always come to him. Of course
it's related to stress. His head is constantly in overdrive. A lot of
stuff, like looking at his watch and planning times and things like
that. But he's lovely anyway. What a guy, you know.
he has so many projects. I mean, he wrote songs to Avatarium, and then
he has The Doomsday Kingdom, and Krux and stuff. Just the thing that
he is able to distinguish stuff so that it doesn't sound like Candlemass.
He is incredibly good with that, like "This song is Candlemass,
and this one is not a Candlemass song so I'll put that one here.".
If I would have done stuff like that everything would have sounded the
same. You know, just because it is the easiest way to do it.
Tobbe: So will we see a new Candlemass record
Jan: I have just almost finished my parts on
the new record. I'm the one who is almost done, you know. So now the
other guys will do their parts, but we have been concentrating on these
shows and rehearsed for a while now. I have one more song to go, then
I think Leffe is the next one to go, after November 27th. He and Mappe,
and then Lasse after that. I think it will be out in the fall, maybe
Tobbe: Do you guys ever really say no to
anything of Leif's material?
Jan: No, it's amazing what he's able to do.
Nowadays we rarely rehearse before a record. Leffe is making demoes,
because we have Marcus [Jidell] and his studio, so they sit down together,
and then Johan is there singing, so it's the original vocals there.
So then I get to hear it, and rehearse, and it's just amazing. It's
unbelievable that he is able to get stuff together.
He is often inspired by perhaps a specific album,
like "This is kind of the style I'm looking for.", so he has
been getting a feeling of, well, let's say Black Sabbath, Dio or Judas
Priest. I mean, stuff like that. I guess that's why the albums have
worked with the different singers. I think maybe Mats [Levén]
wouldn't have been so suitable for our last album The Door To Doom,
but it's more suitable for Johan. Leffe writes a little bit like "Who
do we have on vocals?" and knows the capacity of that singer, like
with Robert [Lowe] for example, who came in so well for King Of The
Messiah [Marcolin] was originally going to sing
on that one. It was very important. Robert was just lying on his couch
at home in Arlington [,Texas]. Leffe just sent an email to his wife
and she was like "Leif Edling from Candlemass has sent an email
and wonders if you want to join their band.". He was probably lying
there with a 6-pack of beers and, like, "What? Hell yeah!".
anyway, the timing with Robert on vocals was just great. But maybe there's
not so much talk on the web about those albums anymore, and first and
foremost live, you know, because that was a catastrophe. Sweet Lord
Jesus, you know.
But on the albums he was amazing. It was like
"Just give me a couple of beers and we're doing this! No problem.".
Most people like the songs, but live-wise it just went worse and worse.
But then Mats replaced him and things were getting better again. But
Mats is a professional, you know.
Tobbe: Pandemic or not, you guys don't play
live so much anymore, and is everyone happy with that situation or does
someone want to be out playing more often?
Jan: Well, personally, instead of playing weekend
after weekend after weekend I would rather go out in a bus for a 4 week
tour. Really great, you know. I mean, I enjoyed the Ghost tour [February
2019]. But still, I and Lasse work full-time. Lasse has more of a supervisor
job, so it's harder for him to go away.
But if I don't want to play and do something
else and have told the other guys way ahead of the gig, then no one
will complain, even if the pay is great. And we could replace me for
a gig with Olle [Dahlstedt] from Entombed for example. We have decided
that if someone can't do it, then that's the way it is. I think Mappe
wants to go out more. You know, so that something will happen.
We're kind of still on the same level as we've
been for such a long time. You can see certain bands who supported us
before, like Ghost that supported us in Greece, go straight to the top.
It's what it's all about; just go out and play. But it takes a great
sacrifice too. And weekends with festivals work great with Leffe now.
He usually go there a day before and just relax in maybe an airport
hotel or whatever, just to be able to get up, have breakfast and so,
and then we'll meet up with him.
Tobbe: And about Candlemass' constant curse;
the singer changes: Again, I remember asking Mappe, in 2017 when Mats
was your singer, if the band could survive another singer change and he
told me that you could. So now when the original singer Johan is back
in the fold, could Candlemass manage yet another singer change?
Jan: If he would, you know, succumb in the next
few years, then we would have to do that, as long as we like to do this.
But, you know, Johan is stuck with us now. And he's such a wonderful
person. Such a humble guy. He was on our minds before Robert. We made
a demo with a couple of singers and Johan was one of them. But Leffe
said "Well, he's a good singer, but he hasn't got that power, you
had already written King Of The Grey Islands and thought that Johan
wasn't really the right guy for that record. But what if we had had
Johan from the beginning there? It would have been great. Now we have
gone through Robert and Mats and now in hindsight we should have brought
Johan in already at that point.
And he's always up for everything, like when
Ole [Bang, management] sends an email asking us if we want to do a specific
gig, then Johan is like "I'm in. No matter what.". And
I'm sure he will be with us for a long time, unless anything unexpected
happens, like him getting run over by a train, you know.
Tobbe: You know, you guys seemed to be so
happy with Mats Levén, and everything was at peace, et cetera,
and you guys have known him for decades, yet he left the band in 2018,
and I'm just like "What the fuck happened, really?". Do you
dare telling me anything about it, or is it maybe a too sensitive subject
to talk about?
Jan: Well, let's say, like, Mats and Messiah
for example are two personas where it's all about them, you know. And
Leif can't take that someone minds about things. No offense, Mats is
a professional in every detail and he knows what to do, but Leffe must
get some time to think things over and there's no room for quick decisions.
And Messiah was even worse. You know, it could
take two weeks to think about a decision whether we should play a place
or not, and then a list, like a rider, came for things that he wanted
to have. He was quite special as well. But, you know, like with Mats
for example, he started to dig into Leffe's lyrics, the way he wrote
them, and the mixes and stuff like that. Leffe is an artist, indeed,
and he has a clear vision, and you cannot really tweak his stuff, and
therefore things started getting difficult.
we were very close to just put it all to rest, you know. Well, it was
Leffe who wanted to do that because he wasn't feeling well and so. So
Mappe kind of said "Okay, I will take Janne and Lasse with me and
put something together with Johan. I have
talked to Johan many times about it." and Leffe was like "-Johan?
Which Johan?" and Mappe responded, like, "-Längquist."
and Leffe "-Do you mean that Johan is interested?". [Mappe:]
"-For sure. We have been thinking about doing something for a long
time now, you know.". Mappe told me that he then could kind of
see Leffe's facial expression through the phone, like "There's
a sun shining here.". So Leffe became really stoked about that.
So we talked to Johan, he came down to play a
little bit, and we clicked big-time, you know. But absolutely no offense
to Mats or anything. He's a real professional and he got us back on
track and take a couple of steps after Robert's live fiascos and so.
Tobbe: I actually did an interview with
Mats just a month or so before he left Candlemass. And like you say, he
was a true professional, not a word about things weren't all right. Everything
was, like, "Peace and happiness. Never been better.". So I guess
being professional is very important for bands until the bitter end.
Jan: Yes. I mean, there is no ill will here
towards anybody, but it's just that things must work, you know. But,
for instance, if someone is a fucking asshole, that makes me mad. You
know, I've been furious and almost quit the band a few times, like with
Robert for example, when you're like "What the hell is he doing?
He's completely off track.".
We musicians were like "When will he enter
with his vocals? Will he come in at the right spot for the verse? Should
I just continue? Will he start from the beginning now?". It caused
a real chaotic situation live and we weren't able to get him to get
his shit together, you know.