If you really, really like the first three albums by Death you gotta check out GRUESOME. This is paying tribute in the highest form there is. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
A band name says more than thousand words, or does it? How important is a band name to get people interested in your music?
-I think a band name is really important – you should be able to hear a band’s name or see an album cover and get a sense of what they’re all about immediately. I like names that are straightforward and direct, and I thinkGRUESOME was a pretty good one, haha!
When you finish a recording and then sit back and relax, what kind of feelings do you get? Are you glad it is finished? Does the anxiety grow, not knowing if everybody will like it?
-Usually, I play a new record for a core group of friends and see what they think. My real friends will always tell me if they think that it sucks, which I appreciate. Ultimately, I usually only really care if I think an album is good, but with GRUESOME it’s a bit different, since we’re a tribute to DEATH. If DEATH fans hate it, then we’ve done something terribly wrong. So far, we’ve been very fortunate that they’ve taken what we do the right way and have been kind enough to get on board with it.
What is it like to be in a studio recording your music? What kind of feelings and thoughts race through your heads?
-The studio can be grueling and really repetitive, so that kind of gets rid of any nerves or emotions – it comes down to just pushing yourself a little further with every take to get the best performance you can. I try to stay relaxed and focused – no smart phones, etc.- while I’m working, and then take breaks where I can go outside, clear my head and really decompress from it. Then when the process is moving along smoothly and we’re almost done, a few beers is a great way to reward myself for the work and stay relaxed and loose.
Today I get a feeling that the promotion of a band lands a lot on the bands themselves so how does one promote oneself the best possible way in order to reach as many as possible?
-Obviously social media is the easiest and cheapest way, but without a sort of multi-pronged campaign, it doesn’t amount to much. It’s really a partnership between the band and label to line up press, take out ads, stay active and connected with the audience via the internet, and get out and play live gigs. If you can get all of those things firing smoothly together, you can feel the momentum behind a record build. Ultimately, that side of things really doesn’t interest me at all, but it’s a necessary part of being in a band, so there’s no escaping it, especially in the digital era of constant interconnectivity.
Today we have all these different sub-genres in metal. How important is that you can be tagged in one of these? Why isn’t metal enough as a tag?
-I think Metal is such a broad term that it feels too open – Black Sabbath is Metal, Immolation is Metal, Darkthrone is Metal, Slayer is Metal, Dokken is Metal – and there are oceans of differences between those bands. I think it’s almost like a sectarian thing – whether you’re Lutheran, Episcopalian, Seventh Day-Adventist, Christian Scientist, etc. you’re still a Christian, right? Whether you’re into Death Metal, Black Metal, Hair Metal. Thrash Metal, Power Metal, NWOBHM, etc. you’re still into metal (and hopefully not into Christianity, that shit sucks). And those differences are how fans and bands define themselves and are really important to people in the scene. For GRUESOME, we’re a Death Metal band, but we’re also a tribute band to DEATH, so I guess we’re in two categories.
What importance is there in being part of local/national/international scene? Does playing in a band make you feel like you are a part of something bigger? I know it does to me knowing that in some slight way I was a part of the Swedish death metal scene in the 90s.
-I think music in general is a form of communication, and when you connect with people in the music scene that are feeling the same vibe you are, that’s a very powerful and positive connection you can share. I meet people all the time that at shows who are strangers, but in a way, they’re old friends, because this shared musical tradition that we have makes us instantly bonded. It’s that connection and community that makes Metal more than an art form, it becomes a way of life, like a religion, but without all the stupid shit. It’s definitely reaffirming to me when I meet people who appreciate the music I’ve done, it’s very humbling and is a very special thing, because I know how much I value my own musical experiences – they’re a HUGE part of my life story, and to get to be part of someone’s else’s story is the highest honor you can receive.
Ever since I first got into metal the art work has been a main motivator in buying a record. What part does art work for album covers play in the world of the band?
-As a DEATH tribute band, the art is crucial to our albums. Our goal since day one was to make records that felt, sounded, and looked like unreleased DEATH albums. Without the brilliant art of Ed Repka, who of course did the art for Scream Bloody Gore, Leprosy, and Spiritual Healing, that task would have been much more difficult.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? With the ability to upload your music as soon as you’ve written it the freedom to create has become greater but are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans now that every Tom, John and Harry can upload their stuff?
-Ultimately, I feel that being on a label is crucial. In an age where anyone can upload an “album” themselves, being part of a team is more important than ever. The success of anything is never so simple as one person or one band doing something. There are a host of other people involved, label personnel, distributors, merchandisers, booking agents, publicists, etc. My focus has always been on the music itself, and having a team, not just of the band members, but in the business aspect of being a band, allows me to focus on the creative side of things, which is really the only thing that particularly interests me outside of playing live.
What is a gig with you like? What kind of shows do you prefer to play?
-We always try to do a good show, obviously, but in keeping with the DEATH tribute tradition, our shows are pretty straightforward. We always include a DEATH cover or two, and we make sure to salute Chuck and the guys every time we play. That’s very important to me. I prefer to play clubs rather than festivals – I don’t like playing outside and I like to play on my own gear, etc. Over the years I’ve realized how much more enjoyable and comfortable that is and I feel that it sounds better as well. But it’s nice to look out at a festival crowd and see 5,000 maniacs staring back at you, too.
What lies in the future?
-Well, we’re doing our European festival run now, and then we’re looking into FINALLY doing a proper US tour early next year. Beyond that, we’ll keep doing our small part in keeping the legacy of DEATH burning a little bit brighter.