To form a band when you are sixteen? No problems! To release a killer debut album for Nuclear Blast when you are eighteen? You must be joking! This is a dream of any teenage metalhead who has just taken his first guitar or bought his first drum kit. Still, these aggressive young Swedes made this dream come true. And take into the consideration that none of these kids is in the relation to the Nuclear Blast boss! Then what attracted the guys from Nuclear Blast, who actually have no time for listening all the demos sent from all over the world, in these ęgreenĽ angry kids? Let me guess: blonde washed hair? Thin sopranos? Or, may be, excellent school certificates? Hell, no! Itís their young merciless brutality, teenage extremity and just killer music!.. The metal scene saw its own boy band. Something of the HANSON or KELLY FAMILY kind. The RAISE HELL drummer Dennis Ekdahl took such an implication with humor...
To tell the truth, Dennis, I actually donít know what to start with: thereís so little information provided about your band! Would you mind if I ask you to start our conversation and present your band?
OK. I have been playing drums for twelve years, since I was six years old. I used to attend a sort of musical high school, but I had to drop it after the tour. Actually, nobody from RAISE HELL ever attended any musical school, we learned by ourselves. I started my first band when I was thirteen-fourteen years old. I had played with lots of bands, just demo tape bands, you know. Then I met with the guys from RAISE HELL. They had already been playing for a year or so by that time. It was the end of 1995. They had another drummer then, but still me and Jonas began to jam. And we both liked to play together. A few weeks later they called me and offered to join the band and replace the old drummer. The old drummer couldnít play the blast beats, double bass and stuff. I really liked the members of the band and I knew I could play their music. At that time I listened to almost every band in the scene, really enjoying brutal music like DEICIDE and EMPEROR... We started to develop our music. From the beginning we played a sort of primitive black metal. After a while we started to develop as musicians, we began to play some melodic death metal. We wanted to have some challenges, some development in musical sense. So we would put some melodies into our songs. Then, a year after, we recorded a demo tape. It was a small shitty studio in Stockholm, not an expensive one. So, we managed to pay everything from our pocket money. We sent out about twelve demos. We didnít cherish any hopes though. And then we got the two offers from the major labels: Earache and Nuclear Blast. They both were fighting about us. Frankly speaking, we got about seven interesting proposals, but only two of them were from the major labels... I was rather familiar with the work in a real professional studio, as I had already recorded some stuff with other bands, but for the rest of the guys it was a great experience. We were in Abyss studio and we spent there fourteen days. Well, we had a great time there. It worked great to work together with the sound engineers. I think we have managed to record the album as we wanted it to be. The exception might be the vocals... Before signing the contract we did not have time to practice and played a few shitty gigs in Stockholm. So, the tour we did with DISMEMBER and stuff was the first tour we have ever did. We are not used to play live... The tour lasted seventeen days and we played seventeen gigs.
And how did you like the tour? They say ęYou must spoil before you spinĽ.
It was great! We liked the bands we played with and we liked the response. I mean we were the opening band but we had a great response anyway. We toured with AGATHADAIMON, DISMEMBER, CHILDREN OF BODOM and NIGHT IN GALES. When we went on the tour we learned a lot, and for the next tour we will be able to play twice as good. And we will try to make our new material easier to play live. We still want our music to sound powerful and aggressive but we will also make it easier to perform live.
How did the musicians you toured with react on your music? Didnít they think you were too young and inexperienced to play on the same stage with them?
The musicians accepted us great. We are very good friends with DISMEMBER, and I have met CHILDREN OF BODOM before. We had no problems with the bands. We had a great time! And also we were on the same level with the other bands. We are rather experienced as we have been playing for a long time, and we are on the same level with the musicians who are twenty five or so.
It is well-know that touring takes a lot of energy and even experienced musicians sometimes need some stimulants to play live every night. How did you survive the tour? Did you take any stimulants as an additional support?
I think the tour wasnít that hard. We didnít have to carry anything as we had the crew who did all that stuff. We just sat in the bus, hanged out and relaxed. I donít think that drugs have anything to do with the possibility to play.
But did you drink alcohol anyway?
Yes! Sure! Of course!
Drinking with such monsters is not an easy task, man! Did you manage to raise hell?
Yeah, of course!
How many countries did you visit while touring Europe?
Nine places in Germany, three places in Austria, Holland, France, Switzerland and Belgium.
Do you think there are any differences between the fans in these countries? Which country, you consider, has got the most crazy metalheads?
When we came to Vienna we had a very great response. It seemed like people got the album. It was like everybody knew us!
You told me there had also been an offer from Earache. Why did you decide to choose Nuclear Blast?
We heard a lot of rumors that Earache doesnít have any contact with the underground. Meanwhile Nuclear Blast still keeps contact with the underground, and that is very important! Weíve got a great deal, and the representatives of Nuclear Blast came into my house in Sweden to discuss some questions. They were really into having us. And we didnít mind, ha ha! Nuclear Blast is a great label!
How many options were there in Nuclear Blast contract?
If it is not a secret, how much money did you receive from Nuclear Blast?
We were paid in advance to record the album. Then we got the publishing advance as well. But now we have to wait for the Royalties.
Do you know how many copies of your album has Nuclear Blast already sold?
I have no idea.
How did Nuclear Blast accept the ęHoly TargetĽ album? Were they satisfied with the results?
As far as I can see, the cover of your album features the picture of airplanes bombing a church, your so-called ęholy targetĽ...
Me and Jonas just sat and discussed the cover. As we have an Anti-Christ attitude, we came up with the words ęholy targetĽ. So, on the cover you can see the church blown away! But we didnít want to make it in a medieval style, you know. We wanted to show the modern reality. Thatís why we have airplanes and stuff.
Donít you think your Anti-Christian position is too obvious for some ębenefactorsĽ of our society, who might choose you as a target for their attacks? Have you already experienced problems with censorship?
Yeah, but on the front cover there is no cross on the church! So, we can say: ęNo way, itís just a regular building!Ľ Everybody understands IT IS a church, but there is no inscription or any sign to prove it, ha ha!
Hey, guys, you are so hypocritical! (Just kidding!) May I ask you on what principles you base on your Anti-Christian attitude?
I am against all kinds of religions. Here in Sweden we have a propaganda from Christians. When a child is born, he automatically gets under the Church influence and has to pay money for it. The system is based on that shit, and they try to force people to become Christians. Since I donít believe in God, I think this is crap. The whole society is based on that shit! The music we play is in a way Satanic, because the whole scene is Satanic. I am not a Satanist, but we have the same thinking with the Satanists. The Satanists donít use propaganda to involve people into the Satanism. I think people should follow their own minds instead of following all that shit.
Are you going to continue your struggle with Christianity on your next album?
We were a bit surprised with the new album, as we didnít want people to concentrate on our Anti-Christian position. We want people to listen to the music. Of course, we will have some Anti-Christ lyrics, but we will dedicate out next album to war. We have the missiles on stage and we are dressed up like warriors. The new songs are more into thrash style, and I think war is the most suitable theme for thrash. I am very fascinated by war. I mean, I donít want to be involved in a war, because I have got lots of things to live for, ha ha! We like war in music.
Well, I can no longer resist my temptation to ask you of your age. You look so young, pals! How old are you?
We are eighteen years old.
Sorry for a foolish comparison, friends, but I think you look like HANSON or KELLY FAMILY, at least on your photos! Considering the image of the black metal monsters, youíve guys, mixed up with the wrong fellas!
I suppose there is no getting rid off the girls sending photos and stuff?
I guess so! I think so, ha ha! We got a good response from the girls! But you see, it doesnít mean we wash our hair and stuff just because we have to make pictures.
On the back cover of your album you are standing with the blood spilled over your bodies. Was it a real blood?
We wanted to express the following idea: if you have your blood inside your body - you are alive, if you have your blood outside your body - you are dead. We thought the idea was very brutal. And of course, it was the real blood.
Hey, who did you kill then?
Oh, you can buy it everywhere from the butcheryís and stuff like that. We had blood on our bodies every gig in Stockholm. We didnít have it on during the tour, as it takes lots of time to wash it off.
I wonder how did your teachers and friends accept your ęnow-starĽ career?
The people who knew about us before, think itís great and cool. But it is still a secret for teachers. They will not understand it anyway.
Do your parents like your activity?
They think it is great. They donít understand it, but still they think it is very funny. They do support us with everything.
Not so long ago you were ordinary boys playing black metal in the underground. Now you have become ęstarsĽ. How has fame effected your every day life?
Nothing really changed. We have got the possibilities to go on tours and get a good studio, but that is all. Surely, we have got some help from our friends from Nuclear Blast, who do have money and possibilities for promotion. But we still play the music we like. Nuclear Blast wanted us to record a more melodic material, but we didnít do that. You can hear it on our album. We just follow ourselves.
Do you mean Nuclear Blast imposed its ideas on you?
Well, they wanted us to sound the same as we sounded on our demo, but when we didnít do that, they accepted it. They have to do it because itís our music. We decided to make a brutal album and we did it.
How often do you rehearse nowadays? I guess you are going great guns as soon as you have become the professional musicians!
We donít practice that much, just two times a week. I think our musical development just comes naturally. Every rehearsal we do some new material, we have got new challenges.
Do you have any competition with Nuclear Blast bands? They have got DIMMU BORGIR and HAMMERFALL - Nuclear Blast would better spend more money on their promotion...
I donít think so. We canít control who is getting famous. We donít have expectations for being a success.
Have you already started working on the new material?
Yes, and we are planning to go on tour in December or January. Rather soon we will have a gig with DISMEMBER and CHILDREN OF BODOM here in Stockholm. It will be a Nuclear Blast gig. We are planning to release out new album in June or July.
How do you see the future of your band, what are your hopes?
I hope we will be able to release albums, go on tours, live our lives and become big rock stars and to live from our music!