» Magnus/Lars - Knights Of The Realm
« back

Interview conducted November 23 2021
Interview published December 3 2021

"This band wouldn't exist if we had to rent a large studio that costs a lot of money."

Metal Covenant met up with Stockholm heavy metallers Knights Of The Realm's Megalomagnus and Larry "The Hammer" Shield, more known as Eclipse's Magnus Henriksson and Tiamat's Lars Sköld, to talk about the band's first and self titled record that was out on November 12th.

Album lineup:
Magnus "Mangan" Henriksson (Megalomagnus) - guitars and bass
Lars "Larsa" Sköld (Larry "The Hammer" Shield) - drums
Marcus von Boisman (Mean Machine) - vocals

Tobbe: Where and how was the band Knights Of The Realm founded really?

Magnus: Well, it was founded at Brickyard pub in Södermalm. I and Lars were just sitting there being bored during the Corona pandemic. We were writing down cool metal words, like pathetic cliché words. I think we wrote down around 40 and then sent them to our buddy Marcus, who I play with in a Saxon cover band called Wheels Of Steel and also in a regular cover band called Magnecyl.

So we were like "Let's write a song!", so we sent him the words and asked him to write lyrics based on these words, and about 10 minutes later lyrics came back to what became the song Heavy Metal. So that's exactly how it started.

Tobbe: You two guys are pretty well-known through your work with particularly Eclipse and Tiamat. Marcus on the other hand isn't so known to the public yet.

Lars: Well, Marcus and I play in the same band as well, that's called Stormen, heavy metal in Swedish. And then he had his The Windupdeads in, I think, the late '90s, but their career was mainly in the USA. So not so much here and, yes, he has been a bit anonymous. And he's a drummer actually, so being a singer is kind of a new thing to him.

Tobbe: But at the same time, singing ability is hardly something you just get thrown at you. I sense that he must have sung at least something at some point a pretty long time ago.

Lars: Well, he has sung a little bit before. But he plays everything. And he also made the videos. He's a photographer, cameraman, drummer, guitarist, bassist, now singer, and songwriter above all. So, he's one of those bastards…

(Magnus:) We noticed when we were playing with the cover band that he grew to some extent both as a solo singer and as a metal singer. We saw that he seemed to enjoy it a lot and that's why we pulled him towards this thing more and more.

Tobbe: In what way were the songs written? Were you all involved in the songwriting?

Magnus: It's mainly I and Lars who constructed the music and recorded it in his kitchen, in his home studio. A lot of it was just done on the spur of the moment without thinking about it so much.

(Lars:) Yes, that's what happened. Magnus is the riff master, but then I might say "Wait a minute. Maybe we should turn this around. Let's put a syncopation there. Let's take a break here.". Or maybe we do something else that's awesome, or we throw it around and edit it a little bit. Then we're like "Okay, this came out cool.", but then Mangan has given it a bit of thought and then something else happens. [Laughs]

Tobbe: Isn't it quite amazing that you used to rent a studio and pay a whole lot of money, unless you had a great contract with a label, but today you more or less just have to write the material and then you can do most of the other stuff by yourself?

Lars: You say something important there. This band wouldn't exist if we had to rent a large studio that costs a lot of money. Because then we wouldn't have gone in and recorded a song called Heavy Metal In The Night, as it was called originally.

You know, we couldn't have gone there to just toy around and see what happens. It simply wouldn't have worked. So this band wouldn't have worked in, let's say, the '90s and it is only now when I have good gear in my place that we could just try things out just for fun. (Magnus:) To rent a studio would have been like putting it all on red and, like, gambling away €30000. [Laughs]

Tobbe: Besides that it's heavy metal and that the lyrics are kind of cheesy and cliché, what else can you tell me about the album?

Magnus: Well, you know, it's deeply anchored in 1980-1985, when we were as most susceptible, I and Larsa. I'm born in 1972 and he's born in 1973 and we digested everything that we read in the magazines, like Judas Priest, Accept, W.A.S.P., Dokken, Saxon, Dio and all this New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. So that's probably what's most deep-rooted in us and therefore also comes out so spontaneous and easy, I believe.

(Lars:) With the lyrics there were some different approaches. Sometimes we sat there and I wrote something cool and then I said "Now it's your turn to write the next line." and back and forth and in the end, like, "Well, this turned out pretty cheesy…". So we had to edit it a little bit and then it just turned out the way it turned out.

(Magnus:) And occasionally Marcus wrote lyrics to a song himself, without us having decided anything beforehand. And to some songs we just had a cheesy title, like When Metal Meets The Beast, and we were like "Write something about that.", and so he did. (Lars:) Let's me put it like this: This band has now existed for about 11 months, and there hasn't been one dull moment when we have recorded. Just positive and happy, and no stress and no pressure, and everything has just come to us by itself, like record deal and stuff.

Well, I talked to a few guys about that really, but people haven't been willing to sign us due to their stop policy during the pandemic. They have people, who already are big, standing in line waiting to get re-signed, you know.

Tobbe: Are you guys a little afraid of just ending up among all the retro bands out there? Even if that necessarily isn't something bad, you know.

Magnus: You know, we never sketched a plan at all, and we didn't even think about making a record. We just wanted to have fun and just cope with the pandemic, because all our gigs were canceled and our whole economy went straight to hell. So this thing was kind of the only way to survive the everyday life. We have just hung out here in Södermalm, just waiting for… something.

(Lars:) And before that actually we almost made an entire Tiamat record. But for various reasons… Our singer [Johan Edlund] lives in Canada and they had a total lockdown and it's hard to be able to commute to move that thing forward. He lives in the countryside and his internet connection isn't super fast. You know, it can't be done really.

So we had to put that aside, again, and then we started with this in order to do something fun, and metal is always fun. The first song on the album [Referring to the intro An August Play followed by the song Into the Void.] was actually meant for Tiamat and that's why it's so different from everything else on the album.

(Magnus:) In the last minute we decided to move both those songs to this project instead, like gambling a little bit and we also needed some more meat and potatoes on this record. (Lars:) We had a different intro at first, that Carl Westholm made. He played with me in for instance Avatarium, and has done a lot that Leffe [Edling from Candlemass] has been part of, and I play on his solo records with Jupiter Society. So he always comes in when we want some synthesizers and stuff.

Initially that intro was slated to go into the song Heavy Metal, and to some extent we also got signed on those terms. But then the intro was dropped and August Play and Into The Void came in. And also When Metal Meets The Beast came in, because another song was dropped from the record, which now is a Japanese bonus track that's called… Deadly Viper. [Laughs]

Tobbe: When things couldn't get worse, huh?

Magnus: Well, we also figured that we wanted to have a bit better material on the record, so we had to sort out some stuff, like "There's perhaps too much funny stuff.", and get it more serious in order to raise the value on the record, you know.

(Lars:) It became a bit more real as the entire band went to the label office and they were like "So, now you have read the contract." and we said "OK, let's sign it.". They started to talk about choice of singles and stuff like that, and we were just sitting there laughing. So afterwards we went out for a couple of beers and talked, like, "This was strange. You know, maybe we should be serious about this.". So we became a but more serious about those three songs, and the one that fell off.

Tobbe: No one gets credit for the bass on the album, but I guess it's…

Magnus: Yes, I play the bass.

Tobbe: Most skillful guitarists would say it's pretty simple to play the bass. Yet, what does a real bassist say about guitarists who say that it's simple to play the bass?

Lars: Let's tweak that question, "What does the drummer think about a guitarist who plays the bass?". Most of the times that's a big, big no-no. When Anders Iwers started playing with Tiamat he had been a guitarist in Ceremonial Oath for about 1000 years. Then he joined Tiamat as a bassist and it took him 5-6 years before he tapped me on the shoulder and said "Hey Lars. I'm probably a bassist now.".

So it took such a long time for him to get comfortable as a bassist and didn't call himself guitarist anymore. Magnus, however, has even substituted in Tiamat as bassist, so he knows that, like a real bassist. And I don't know why he is able to play as a real bassist when he is a guitarist.

(Magnus:) Well, I have recorded a lot of stuff, and I have played the bass in many cover bands, and I have always done that. And there's also some kind of golden rule, like "If you don't know what to play on the bass, just stick to the fundamental tones, and stay there.", kind of… And place yourself close to the drummer and just try to glue.

(Lars:) It's like I always say, "I pull one oar and the bassist pulls the other.", so we go forward and are responsive and then the guys up front get to sprinkle the song.

Tobbe: To what extent might we see live shows from Knights Of The Realm? I mean, you guys have a schedule with your respective main band as well.

Magnus: Our goal is definitely to play live. We haven't started to really dig into that so much yet. Everything has gone so fast. We wrote and recorded, and now it's out, and we played a gig at the release party last week. So the goal is to put in as many gigs as we possible can, that don't conflict with our regular bands of course.

And I think it will be really fun to do this on a lower level, on a smaller scale, and build from the ground and play filthy little pubs in Germany. You know, to do it on that level again. With our regular bands there must be a certain level with everything, like this and that, like someone refuses to play in some place, and someone doesn't want to be in a specific hotel, et cetera. And I like to do those shabby tours. [Laughs]

So, I think it's really fun, and a little more punky. We have nothing booked at this point, but it's in the works.

Tobbe: Maybe I'm a little bit old-school, but I'm getting more interested in bands that play live in comparison to studio bands.

Magnus: I agree. It feels more real. You know, that there's a soul in it. Nowadays there are records where people send files to one another all over the globe and I don't think that's a band really. (Lars:) The live show we did hit it big-time, you know. We had Mats Rydström from Avatarium on bass and my buddy Peter Hallgren from Sorcerer on guitar. So that was fun. It was a really great band.

Tobbe: So, about Tiamat: Magnus, you have played live with them before and, you know, what is your status in the band right now?

Magnus: Well, there are some loose posts in Tiamat and it's really only Larsa and Johan who are permanent original members and then there are question marks after everyone else. And I have only helped out as a live guitarist.

(Lars:) And as a bassist on a few occasions. And now as a songwriter. (Magnus:) Yes, exactly. But I'm not a permanent member or so. (Lars:) There are no permanent members, besides Johan and me. I think there are 18 guys in our temp pool. [Laughs] Roger [Öjersson], who has played with us for about 10 years, is out with Katatonia all the time. Then there's Thomas Wyreson, who has been with us since forever, but he has been working, and then he has recorded an album with us, and then not on the next one, and then back for another album, and then for some live shows.

We're playing a Tiamat gig tomorrow and then we have Magnus and Thomas on guitars and Gustav Hielm on bass. So most of the times the one who played the previous gig gets the question first about the next one. And then we've had Per Wiberg on synthesizer, even if tomorrow's gig will be without a synthesizer.

Tobbe: How did your collaboration in Tiamat started to begin with?

Magnus: The thing is that we're neighbors. We live, like, 100 yards from each other. We hang out all the time here in Södermalm, like going out for a coffee or a beer. So I was close at hand, I suppose. Like "I can tag along if you need someone.".

(Lars:) And we had played covers before that too. A lot on the boat Patricia, like during the graveyard shift. So often it's not more difficult than that. It's people you know. I think no one, as far as I know, has been on an audition for Tiamat. If someone hasn't been able to make it to a gig, then on many occasions that musician has just recommended one of his buddies.

(Magnus:) You can often trust people you know and people you have played with before and you know if they can run things, instead of picking someone completely unknown to you. I know who to call if I, you know, need people.

Tobbe: So, before we end this, I must ask a little bit about the Tiamat album that's in the works. Like, how come Magnus is involved in the songwriting?

Lars: My goal was, which I have talked to Johan about for several years, to make one record of, like, class of 2020 and just gather people who have been with us and are involved. But then the pandemic came and ruined everything. Then we started to record instrumental songs and send them to Johan, so we continued to do that.

But we will see what happens in the future in terms of songwriting and so, because next year we have 18 shows booked with Tiamat, mostly festivals, and then not so much will happen, you know.

(Magnus:) And to some extent it was I who tried to initiate this during the pandemic. I said to Larsa "Should we record a song and send it to Johan and see if we can get his creativity started?". It was just a shot to see if he could get the urge back, you know. So we were going for a while, but we couldn't make it work, so we got sick of it and just started with this instead.

Related links: