With their first album, ‘Restless And Dead’, this Swedish band had showed us how skilled they were. With the mini CD ‘Witchburner’, they had showed us their influences. And now, with the new one, ‘Dead, Hot And Ready’, no one has been disappointed. As they were hitting the road once more, but this time along with Novembre, Kreator and Moonspell, I couldn’t miss them! Let’s see what Jensen (guitar) had to say...
You have released your new album, ‘Dead, Hot And Ready’ a few months ago. What can you tell us about it? How have been the reactions? How are the sales going?
Jensen: The album was released on September 13th, it’s our second full-length album. We started to record it at the same studio where we recorded the first album, ‘Restless And Dead’, but we couldn’t get the sound that we had the first time, so we recorded the whole album twice. But it still didn’t work, so we took the tapes down to another studio in Gothenburg, called World Majority, that’s where bands like Transport League or Gooseflesh have recorded. A couple of Swedish bands have recorded there, and that’s where we managed to get some life into the tapes. I don’t know what else to say…The album is a bit more softer than ‘Restless And Dead’, but that comes from the fact that we write the material very quickly, just in two or three weeks for an album. So, it depends on what state of mind you are in. If you write an album in a whole year, you’ll get a more balanced thing. You know, for example, in October and November, you might want to write something aggressive, and in December and January, something moodier. If the band happen to be aggressive for that short writing period, of course the album is gonna sound more like that. I guess we had a more heavy metal influence during that period, that’s why we don’t know how the new album will sound like. It’s pretty exciting for us. We’re very happy with ‘Dead, Hot And Ready’, it has actually sold twice as more as the first album…
If you can write a full album in only a few weeks, it has to be pretty easy for you to compose…
Not pretty easy, but we make it fast.
And how do you do that? Do you rehearse twenty hours a day?
Well, I go to the rehearsal room at ten in the morning, and I try to find as much as I can. The other guys come at five, and we rehearse until one or two in the morning. Then everybody goes home, and I’m there at ten in the morning again. And that’s what everybody does for two or three weeks.
Do you have already-prepared ideas when you get to the rehearsal place? Or maybe you write stuff when you’re on the road?
You know, if we could write on tour, we’d have an album after every tour. Because it’s just ‘wait, wait, wait, wait’. We are in a great place here, but most of the venues are small. And as we’re the third band on the bill, we usually have to share our dressing room with November, and there's no place if we want to have a little amplifier. It would be a complete loss of time to write on the road. But that’s the fun thing with Witchery… As we write an album in only a few weeks, everybody has an other band. Like I have The Haunted, Sharlee has Mercyful Fate. That means we have to use every good riff we come up with, it doesn’t matter if it sounds black metal, or more rock’n’roll, or whatever. If it’s good, we use it! By the way, do you know what kind of style we play?
Well… I’d say heavy metal, with big thrash, death and black metal influences. Only metal, in fact.
That’s it ! And that’s the fun thing about us. That’s why, we never have writer’s block. If you have a lot of pressure on you, like ‘I have to do a great album’, then you have writer’s block. With Witchery, it’s more like a musical playground. I also write a lot of things for The Haunted, but I write everything for Witchery, that’s the way I’m avoiding writer’s block. And if it sounds too much The Haunted, I save the riff, then I have a riff for free. Usually, when I have done three Witchery songs, I have enough stuff to make a The Haunted track. And it’s good !
Concerning the MCD ‘Witchburner’, why did you choose these specific covers?
We wanted to do a song that meant a lot to us, which is why the first song is ‘Fast As A Shark’, there was no discussion about that one, it had to be on it. When I’ve first heard it, it blew me away. And then everybody loves Judas Priest, so we took ‘Riding On The Wind’. WASP’s ‘I Wanna Be Somebody’ is like a heavy metal anthem, so that had to be there too. And finally, we had to do a Black Sabbath song, but as everybody does Ozzy songs, as I’ve discovered Black Sabbath with the album ‘Live Evil’, and as ‘Neon Knights’ is the first song on that one, so we did it.
Would you be interested in covering some of your other influences like Metallica or Slayer?
It’s hard to do a Slayer cover better than it is already. We might do a cover, but then we would completely change it. We kept the ‘Witchburner’ songs as close to the original as possible, because people today in metal who are between fourteen and seventeen might not have heard the original ones. So if they like them, maybe they’ll go back and check them out, and if they were not the same kind of songs, they wouldn’t listen to them. They have to recognise them, and think that the original band is good. But now, if we do a new cover, it would be totally rearranged.
(then Jensen’s phone rings, and we stop for a minute)
Let’s talk a bit about the artwork. Think it is pretty important for you! What about your relation with Necrolord?
Great! He’s been into metal as long as I am, and we approach him with an idea, he knows what we want, because there’s a slight sense of humour in Witchery, in the lyrics and so on… And he likes that. He has told us that he had done so many graveyards, and got so sick of it, but he’s crazy about working with Witchery. I really like the artwork for ‘Dead, Hot And Ready’, so we’ll always keep on using him. We don’t really know what the new album is gonna be like, but it might be with an Egyptian concept, cos’ that’s metal ! (laughs) Anyway, we’ll see what happens.
Have you heard his band, Diabolique? What do you think of them?
Yeah, they’re on Necropolis. But it’s too much The Cure to me. I like the Sisters Of Mercy and this kind of stuff, but I’ve heard their two albums, and they change too much.
(Jensen’s phone once again, hehehe)
Still concerning the artwork, I have to say that I liked the girls on the promo pictures! Who are they?
Well, the first one is my mum ! (laughs) No, in fact, she’s a stripper in Gothenburg, so if you have a few hundreds of crowns, you can easily get her to treat you the way you want. The other girl is a model, she’s called December… I’ve heard that Cradle want to use her. But we’re gonna have new girls on every album, and we were thinking of doing a calendar ! (laughs)
Let’s change again a bit of topic… You are the biggest sale for Necropolis, how do you feel like that?
Hmmmm… I don’t know. Necropolis are very supportive of us, because if we are their ‘gold cow’, we benefit a lot from their work. We work very hard with them, and there has never been any problem. We are very happy with Necropolis. We’re growing, they’re growing…
Concerning shows, I was first supposed to meet you in Wacken, but you didn’t show up. What happened?
Our drummer got huge stomach disorders, so he couldn’t do it. The usual thing is that when you do a tour, you are usually well during the whole tour, and the last few days, you begin to relax, and that’s when you get a cold, or problems with your back, or whatever… So we did the whole tour in the US with Emperor, and we were home two or three days, and that’s when he had his problems. And that’s why we have a new drummer now, Pдr.
About this tour, how is it going?
Pretty good everywhere, but it’s really better for us in English-speaking countries, like when we arrived in London, people were really crazy. And in Germany, we are trying to gain importance…
What about the show in Geneva, organised by Transit?
Well, it was great. We loved the venue, there were really nice backstage and everything. It was really very nice !
Concerning Sharlee, isn’t it difficult for him to be in so many bands?
He only has two bands, Witchery and Mercyful Fate. He had to leave all his other projects, so…
OK, if you don’t mind, could we talk a bit about The Haunted before finishing the interview? What are the news, then?
Me and Pдr met the owner, the president of Earache Records in London, because there has been some funny stuff going on, and The Haunted is not a band like At The Gates. A lot of stupid stuff was going on. And due to that fact that nothing could be done without Earache, we have lost two members. Now we have Pдr on drums, and Marco on vocals, they are better members. We still like the old members, but the new ones are more motivated. So, we are still with Earache, but with better conditions.
And when can we expect the new album?
As soon as possible!
Yeah, that would be good!
We need to get another out there, it’s been too long! A band should release an album every year. Or maybe even two albums a year! You get used to everybody taking their time, but if you’re a musician that plays a lot of music, you have to release albums ! Well, it’s ok if you’re on the road all the time, but not every band tours a lot these days. So there is time to do it…
And about Adrian, your former drummer, don’t you think he left because of the opportunity to be in Cradle Of Filth, than because of the problems with Earache?
No. Did you ever see The Haunted on tour?
Nothing happened. Nothing at all happened. The band was full of musicians too good to be just sitting around. And if you have to choose between getting a job in Volvo or playing music, here comes the point when you have to think about yourself. So I wish him a lot of luck in Cradle!
Thanks! Would you have one last word?
Vive la France ! You got it !