Interview conducted February 14 2014
Interview published February 18 2014
Swedish metallers Persuader got
a brand new record out, called The Fiction Maze. This outfit has been
almost absent for nearly 8 years, even if the members have contributed
to other things or other metal bands along this rocky road. I got on the
phone with guitarist and songwriter Emil Norberg
to straighten out what's been troubling them and also to see his perspective
on this new release and what's up with the band in general.
Tobbe: I find this new record pretty resemblant
to your 2 latest records Evolution Purgatory and When Eden Burns. What
is your view to this assertion?
Emil: We've always had like the same plan, regardless
of which album we're talking about. We try to combine different genres
and styles to make it a mix of everything. We have of course developed
with new influences and maybe changed our view on what's a good arrangement.
It's the same band that has written the songs, but I think we have turned
out more aggressive, both production- and song wise. The production
is also different. I think When Eden Burns is more polished than what
Ronnie [Björnström] did now with the new record.
Tobbe: So if should put a label on your
music. You are often called a power metal band and even if there's influences
from that genre, it's still harder and more aggressive than power metal.
What's your opinion?
Emil: It would be a long description. Power,
thrash, death, black metal. It's tough to say and it's probably better
to just call it metal and skip the initial epithets.
Where do you find your energy to write this intensive music?
Emil: I'm not really sure, but we're pretty much
all grown up with nineties death metal and things like that. I guess
that we're influenced by that to some extent and we also want to add
a punch to the sound. That's where we hail from anyway and we have also
started to listen to other shit as well. It becomes a mix of everything.
Tobbe: Your line-up is consistent and what
do you do to try to minimize the repeats to not make it all too similar
to what's done before? I this something you have in mind?
Emil: No, I wouldn't say that. We have like a
structure that we have followed, since I joined the band. Me and Effe
[Efraim Juntunen, drummer] write most of the music. We send shit between
us and try to build on each other's things and it has worked well for
us. I think we write pretty different things and when we put things
together, I think we get a good mix. It's 8 years since we released
our latest album, so hopefully it's a rather small risk that we will
sound exactly similar.
Tobbe: About those 8 years. Do you have
a good explanation for that amount of time between the releases?
Emil: We traveled abroad and went underground.
No, perhaps that's not the truth. No, I fucking don't really know, it
was a lot of shit. It started like a year after we released When Eden
Burns and we had pretty many discussions with our then record label
[Dockyard 1 Records] about tours and so. They released the albums, but
did pretty much nothing else. We agreed to make one more record with
them before we would go separate ways. We had just started to write
and we had a few songs and they decided that they couldn't be a business
anymore. The boss fled to Berlin with all the contracts and I really
don't know what happened, but it was chaotic back then. There was also
a lot of fuss with Savage Circus for me and Jens [Carlsson, vocalist]
during that time, you know with Thomen's [Stauch] departure and this
and that, so we were pretty tired with record labels in general. We
hadn't had much luck before this either. Later people started to get
kids, build houses and study. Things that happen and time went by. It
was hard to gather all guys at one time, to get anything done. 8 years
is a fucking long time.
Tobbe: Do you think people still knows that
you're current or that you're even active, or do you think that some people
has forgotten about you?
Emil: I guess some people has forgotten us, but
I think we have a solid, yet perhaps small, fan base. We've never been
a big act in any way, but there's always been a demand and people that
wants to know what the fuck is going on. Then we have to look at the
sales and see what happens.
Tobbe: About the sales. What are your expectations
within the band? I mean, what will happen now and what this record can
do for your career.
Emil: Good question. We're really just happy
that the album was eventually done and that it was released. It has
been a rough ride before, so if things just run smoother now, we're
okay. I mean, we really have to play live more and we haven't ever played
outside Sweden with Persuader. Things start to calm down now and the
kids grow up, so we will try to put more energy to this than what we
have done. I also think we're a pretty lazy band that needs a kick in
the ass to get things done.
Tobbe: About the album title, The Fiction
Maze. Any meaning behind that title or did you just use the best words
you possibly could find?
Emil: Yes, we just used 3 random words. No,
I think it was mostly Effe's idea. He draws a lot and he came up with
the pentagram on the front cover. Someone had an idea that we simply
could make a maze out of it. Effe is also our main lyricist and even
if there's no actual lyrical concept on the record, it deals with what
we always have written; problems with religion and to think for yourself
instead. You have to navigate through the maze to simply find the right
way. Maybe not that profound, but still cool words.
Tobbe: I understand that you're proud of
the entire album, but do you have any moments that feel a little above
Emil: The title track is a favorite and perhaps
also Son Of Sodom. I think that they turned out pretty well, but not
completely well. You're never fully satisfied.
Tobbe: The album has gotten great reviews
and a great response from what I have seen. Do you guys check out the
reviews and the fans' reaction?
Emil: It's things you keep one eye open for and
it's always fun to get good response. Then there's also bad reviews
that gets to you a little. Still it's fucking fun that the overall reception
has been great. We really didn't know what to expect. I mean, we started
with this material a long time ago and a few songs have been around
since maybe even before When Eden Burns, so this situation feels really
Tobbe: What's fascinating in your music
is that your choruses have great impacts. Even if the music is intense,
you find great vocal melodies on top. Is this something you put extra
Emil: Yes, certainly. We think it should be
fucking intense, but still you should be able to sing along and go crazy.
So we work hard on the choruses to find the right arrangements. It should
work live and not only in the studio. You don't have to create advance
stuff just for the sake of it. It's much more fun to have a good vocal
melody and then do more fun things in the actual music in the background.
We've already mentioned that you send things to each other and a little
about the choruses, but how do your songs progress from a first idea and
Emil: It's a fucking long process sometimes.
It usually begins with that I or Effe has an embryo, so to speak, and
maybe a pre-verse and some riffs here and there. We send those things
to each other and see if we can add something to his or my work. When
we have like a half or three fourths of a song done with a chorus and
so, musically, Jens, Effe and I sit down together and brainstorm the
song's melodies and lyrics. We try some basic arrangements and work
the vocals up to its chorus and then start to work with that to get
a hook or something. We try to build a song as it goes and we work a
lot with vocal harmonies and different choir arrangements. What the
hell do we do then? It just continues, we finish the shit. Sometimes
it's easy and sometimes we change riffs thousands of times. Anyway it's
very fun when things come together and worth all the time spent.
Tobbe: You earlier told me about trouble
with labels and other things, so what do you guys personally do to make
the wheels spin as much as possible again?
Emil: We sit on our couches and drink wine and
wait for better times. No, we have started to plan a European tour that
hopefully will come to life during this fall. Perhaps we're a little
late, but we have started to look for some booking agents for festivals.
But it is like it is, like with most people. We have jobs and other
shit to take care of and we haven't got so much time and in particular
no money to be away for 8 months on tour in a van. We will have to try
to compress our schedule as much as possible and simply go to the most
important places, and play the shit out of people.
Tobbe: So the main reasons that you never
became a touring band are both trouble with record labels and your personal
situations with families and stuff?
Emil: Yes, certainly. It becomes like damned
if you do, damned if you don't. You can't quit your job and go on tour
if you don't know if it will pay off and vice versa, it's fucking tricky.
I don't really know, but maybe we had some bad luck in the beginning.
In 2003, 2004, everybody had like an unrestrained life, so if things
had went smooth with Noise [record label], things perhaps would have
been different, but that's life.
Tobbe: About festivals, there are a lot
of them in Sweden nowadays and summer is still actually pretty far away.
Emil: Yes, exactly. Hopefully we will be announced
for a few here and there. It feels like every small village has its
own metal festival nowadays. In best cases, we will be able to play
Friday and Saturday on a pair of festivals.
Tobbe: I think that there's probably a somewhat
strong demand from some fans. It's been awhile.
Emil: I think so too. The response have been
pretty great. It's hard to say from what I read on the internet and
our facebook page. We will see around springtime how the sales have
been. But it's associated, you've got to go out and fucking play to
sell records as well.
Tobbe: Yes, definitely. Let's go back to
the album for a while. Why should someone choose Persuader's new release
in this nowadays enormous jungle of competition? It's a tricky question.
Emil: Well, I would say that it's a really great
mixture, when compared to many other bands. If you like heavy music
and if you don't mind that we sing tones and not only scream, which
we also do occasionally. It's a mighty record if you want energetic
Tobbe: It's heavy with melodies and not
all bands are successful on that matter.
Emil: No, that's the charm. We do music that
we would want to listen to ourselves. We're fucking all grown up with
Entombed and Dismember and those bands and we try to get it heavy and
raw, but still have melodies present. I believe it's a great combination
that everybody doesn't have.
Tobbe: If you see this in the bigger picture
or on longer terms, do you think you gain or lose from illegal downloadings?
You get more publicity, but no cash in your pockets.
Emil: It depends. At this moment, when we're
not on the roads, we don't gain anything from it. If we would tour more,
it's an advantage if we have reached out to as many as possible, who
comes to the concerts, buy merchandise, tickets and so on. It's a tricky
question, this one.
Tobbe: Would you consider to play as support
act to a more established band if you land a few gigs?
Emil: Yes, indeed. I don't think no one expects
us to headline a tour. These things with buy-ins and shit, like if you
tour with Helloween or such likes, is very hard to land financially.
The best deal would probably be if we find a band in the same size that
plays a slightly different type of music, so we can cooperate to reach
Unsurprisingly I have a few questions about Savage Circus. It's definitely
bad timing when Persuader's record is brand new, but I got you on the
line right now. So what going on with that band at the moment?
Emil: Well, it really didn't turn out the way
we expected. Jens and I won't participate on the next release, the way
things look now. It was bad timing. A few years ago, we started to talk
about reactivating the band. Thomen was eager to write and get the record
done quickly, at the same time that Jens and I focused on the Persuader
record. He will probably try to find other people to work with, but
we're on a friendly basis, so there's no drama, just really bad timing.
We had a few great songs that we had written. Hopefully he will find
people to control things better.
Tobbe: Isn't there a reason why you go separate
ways in the first place? Don't you have that in mind when you start talking
about reactivating the band?
Emil: It was a fucking hassle at the time he
left Savage Circus for the first time. It wasn't because he was a bad
person in any way. This time we had different conditions. A lot of the
hassle was connected to the record company and that they stuck their
nose in too many things and Piet [Sielck, guitarist, producer] was a
co-owner. The conditions were good at first, but then the business side
sort of fucked up.
Tobbe: Piet also said some unflattering
things in the media. That he had to do most of the work himself and so
on. What are your thoughts?
Emil: I can't really say that he was wrong.
To be honest, he almost wrote the entire second album by himself and
I can't say that we were that encouraging. It eventually became like
a joke, you know with hiring Mike Terrana, that plays with everybody
that pays him. He's a studio drummer, that's just the way it is.
Tobbe: Okay, back to Persuader. Have you
talked about the future plans with the band?
Emil: Yes, to some extent. There was some skepticism
before we finished this album, but now it's more positive. We have started
to find some riffs and song ideas for another album, that hopefully
will release quicker than this one. Then we have talked about tours
and festivals. We always have a lot of fun when we're out playing. Definitely
something to look forward to.
Tobbe: How do you see your situation, being
a band that has been absent for a while, with booking agents showing you
shitty deals? What are your expectations?
Emil: We don't have the possibilities to go out
and play just for fun. It's as simple as that. They could show us low
deals or whatever and then we will have to consider what's offered.
Tobbe: If we ignore your facebook page.
Do you have metal's worst updated homepage?
Emil: I believe we actually have. We're working
on it with a programmer, so within 1 or 2 weeks we will have a whole
new layout though. It's been a little embarrassing.
of the album The Fiction Maze