ABYSMAL GRIEF has a name that reeks of despair and dark deep wells. To find out more I had to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2016
How hard was it to come up with a band name and how does the name fit the music?
R.G.) I had chosen this name long before finding members and starting it officially. I found these two “unusual” words on my English school dictionary (it was around 1994 and I was 16 years old at that time) searching for something that could express the kind of Gothic attitude I wanted to express, and I simply liked their sound together. It was not hard, just the work of a teenager who is more interested in music than studying…
As I am new to your band perhaps a short introduction might be in order?
R.G.) I consider it terribly boring to write and to read. We’ve been around now for 20 years so I really hope most of your readers know enough of us.
As I am no musician I have no idea how it works, but how do you make your own music based on what influences you? What parts do you pick?
R.G.) First of all our music comes from guitar riffs, so it’s a completely instinctive input and not necessarily influenced by any direct experience. Only in a second moment we add the keyboards and lyrics, and work on some subject and particular atmosphere: in this phase the songs get the influences of that period of our life, occult studies or personal experiences. But we never sit at table to discuss about what to create.
When you are in a band does it feel like you are a part of a worldwide movement?
R.G.) Not necessarily. We always kept ourselves quite far from any “scene” or movement.
How important is it that you look the part in promo shots and stuff? How important is the graphic side of the band?
R.G.) It’s extremely important. There would be no music of Abysmal Grief without a careful evaluation of the image and some kind of theatricality, both in our covers, promo stuff and during our shows. It’s a part of us since 1996, and we don’t even feel comfortable to play without our “funeral caravan”. Also during rehearses we play only with candles and in almost completely dark room: it wouldn’t work differently.
What would you say influences your lyrics? How important are they?
R.G.) The lyrics are the key to understand our message: many people and reviewers label us as “Horror” Metal band only because we play very atmospheric soundtrack-oriented songs, but in my opinion they tend to overlook the deeper Esoteric meaning. Our lyrics are influenced by my Occult readings, studies an personal experiences. In the past I was used to focus on more practical and ritualistic aspect of Occultism, while in these last years I wanted to experience a more direct and intimate approach to the Philosophy of Death, and the last work “Strange Rites of Evil” shows it perfectly.
Is the album as relevant today as it was in the 70s and 80s? Is digital killing the album?
R.G.) Yes, the digital format has already spoiled a lot. But we always considered ourselves as a “vinyl” band: when working on a album we take care of the length to fit perfectly with the timing of the vinyl sides, and we always privileged 7” and 12” releases. We will never become rich with our music, so we have no interest in digital downloads or similar trash, and our fans are mainly vinyl addicts.
Where will the future of format end – digital verses physical verses whatever?
R.G.) I think the CD format is probably destined to disappear completely someday, in favor of digital albums downloadable or directly listenable on the web. Only LP or tapes will resist for the collectors, and big majors seem they have already noticed it, filling the market with vinyl reissues of the usual big bands, including in the package the code to download for free the same album! It’s ridiculous and very clear what is happening in front of our eyes…
How much of a touring entity are you guys? What is a live experience with you like?
R.G.) Our shows are first of all an attempt to recreate a funeral ceremony. We became a touring entity only in the last 6 or 7 years though, thanks to the possibility to find more serious and professional drummers. In the past our music was considered too “strange” and our attitude too extreme for many drummers, who were leaving or being fired after some months. Now things are working much better concerning concerts, and we’re enjoying this status.
What lies in the future?
R.G.) At the moment we’re finalizing the last details of the European tour scheduled for next April, and then we’ll start working on a special release for our 20th Anniversary in November 2016. We never take breaks, as you can see…