In a world were there are so many bands to keep track of I want to bring my two cents in presenting you to this interview with HELLSINGLAND UNDERGROUND. Anders Ekdahl ©2019
Every band has to introduce their music to new people. What is it that you want people to get from listening to you guys?
-I’ve always wanted our music to feel like a warm blanket over your head, when you feel like disappearing from the world. That’s what it feels like for me. The lyrics are dark but sometimes humorous, just like life itself, but the music is often uplifting. I see it as if the lyrics stands for the harsh reality of things, why the music tells you how things SHOULD be. In the best of worlds.
How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
– The name came around the same time as I started to write the first couple of songs for this band. I had moved back to my small hometown after many years in Stockholm and wrote songs about my childhood friends and things about my hometown that I was able to see with a fresh pair of eyes. I live in a county called Hellsingland, and the songs back then were very much about things you didn’t exactly see in the tourist brochures around here.
Everybody is influenced by certain things. What band(s) was it that turned you on to the kind of music you play? What inspires you today?
-We were all metal kids growing up. AC/DC, Maiden, Motörhead, Slayer. Those kinda bands. But I think the difference between us and other friends is that we didn’t keep listening to only that kinda music as adults. We moved towards bands like Pink Floyd, The Doors, Dylan, Springsteen, Neil Young and stuff like that. On the first two albums, The Allman Brothers was also a big influence. But more in the way they play together, not so much songwriting wise.
When you formed did you do so with the intent of knowing what to play or did you do so from the point of having a band name and then picking a sound? How did you settle on the name/sound combo?
-I was sick of being in bands for a long time, having been in so many shit bands from when I was around 12. So I basically quit making music for some years, just doing art instead. But I always had in the back of my head that one day I would form a band that sound like this. Twin guitars, piano, Hammond. Etcetera. Even though we have changed over the years, you can still hear those blues and country elements from the first couple of albums.
I believe that digital is killing the album format. People’s changing habit of how they listen to music will result in there being no albums. Is there anything good with releasing single tracks only?
-I agree, but what can you do. Can’t turn back time, so you better just roll with it. I think the good thing about streaming is that you can get to hear any song, whenever you want. But that is also what is killing the excitement about music a little bit. It’s more something that people have in the background while cooking dinner, working or fucking or whatever.
What part does art-work and lay-out play when you release new recordings? How do you best catch people’s attention?
-Being an artist and illustrator myself, it has a HUGE significance. The music is always number one, but it has to go well with artwork that it’s delivered with as well. This album is the first where we have worked with another artist than myself, which I have wanted for a long time. You tend to be a little overanalyzing when you do stuff for your own band.
Has social media re-written the rules on how to promote your music? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
-We started out in 2006, which was right around the time when MySpace was the new shit. Every band was on there. So for us, it worked extremely well. As soon as we put up our first couple of songs, there were fans from all over the world that started loving us. So for us, social media has been the biggest promotion channel outside of touring and releasing music.
When you play in a band, does that make you feel like you are a part of a scene, of something bigger and grander?
-No, I’ve never felt a part of anything really. Even when I was 18, 19 and moved to Stockholm and hung around all these rock clubs with people looking and dressing like me, I kinda felt alone and outside of the whole thing. I’m not trying to say that I’m special or better than other people or anything, it’s just a feeling I have had since I was a kid. Feeling alone. The only time I feel some kinda connection with other people is when we’re on stage and you see the audience are into our songs as much as I am. I think that’s the closest to magic as it ever gets. And that’s why I’m still doing this I guess.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-In periods after releasing a new album we have toured a lot. Both in Sweden and the rest of Europe. Mostly Spain and Germany. I think it’s the best way to reach out to people. To it takes much longer compared to if they would ever play our kinda music on national radio.
What will the future bring?
– On a personal level: getting older and dying I guess, haha. On a band level I hope our music lives on forever, and that we keep evolving as a band as long as we’re around.