Source: Doomed & Stoned (by Zachary Painter)
So, tell us a little about being in HEAVYDEATH. Between juggling projects, band members (Runemagick, Necrocurse, The Funeral Orchestra, Katatonia), and recording a slew of HEAVYDEATH demos, EPs, and LPs between 2014 and 2015, how do you find the time for it all? Would you consider HEAVYDEATH “top priority” at the moment?
HEAVYDEATH currently consists of myself on guitar and vocals, Johan Bäckman on bass, and Daniel Moilanen on drums. We are all quite busy. Johan and I live close to our rehearsal place, but we both have families, jobs, and other music projects. Daniel lives about five hours away from us and is busy with all that he does and his main band, Katatonia. So he does not have as much time for HEAVYDEATH as we do.
I see HEAVYDEATH as my main musically priority right now. But I’m still active as a drummer and songwriter in Necrocurse although we do not have so many activities scheduled right now.
If there is any time left over, I also write some music to my (at the moment) one-man-project DOMEDAG, it has been active and off since 2003. Wonder if I will ever release any official material? Time will tell.
My old band (and Daniel’s too) Runemagick is still sleeping. We’ll see if it will resurrect in the future for some gigs, maybe. It depends on my wife, too, who plays bass in Runemagick (we have small kids, so it’s not easy to rehearse at the same time).
The same applies to The Funeral Orchestra, also in some kind of sleep mode. As long as HEAVYDEATH is active, it feels that there is no question of reviving these bands right now. Mainly, because the music is not very different. I do not think it is relevant to have several active bands playing in a similar genre.
Johan’s main priority is HEAVYDEATH. He also plays bass in Necrocurse and makes some session bass recordings for other bands.
Each member of HEAVYDEATH is a seasoned musician with lots of versatility and experience in heavy metal, be it doom, death, or something in between. So what exactly led you all to become HEAVYDEATH?
The band was officially born in 2013. It started with me getting the urge to write heavier riffs and songs, which I had not done in a while. I also wanted to play guitar in an active band again.
I had some riffs and ideas lying around already that had I begun working on and I wrote a lot of new ones, as well. I presented the material, as some kind of metal in the genres of heavy, death, and doom, to Johan and asked if he wanted to join in and play bass in a new band. Johan liked the material and then it rolled on. We recorded many demo recordings with a session drummer. Daniel joined the band in the summer of 2014, when we recorded the debut album Eternal Sleepwalker.
There is also another pre-history of HEAVYDEATH that has been “taken into the band.” After Runemagick laid to rest in 2007, I met Daniel sometime in 2008 (or was it 2009?) in a studio to write and record material together. The project, as it was back then, had no name – just an embryo. The result was a long song, “The drones are walking to the downfall.” We did not have time to finish bass and complete the vocal recording. Then, we kind of lost contact with each other for a few years, and the recording was forgotten. In 2014, I got hold of a backup of the recording session. There were some similarities to HEAVYDEATH. So I asked Johan to record bass and I recorded vocals. Johan did a rough-mix, which we then released under the name HEAVYDEATH on our Bandcamp site for about a year ago. It is what it is, may not be 100% representative of how we sound now, but what the hell.
Tell us about your writing process. You are the key composer, as I understand it. What else goes into writing a HEAVYDEATH song? Is it a jam session, do you all come in with riffs, or are individual parts generally written in a big collaborative process?
So far, it is I who write all the riffs and most of the arrangements. Johan has helped with some arrangements. Daniel has also had some input on arrangements, mainly Demo XII, but we all are contributing in our own way by how we play our instruments. Johan’s basslines are as important as how my riffs are played. Some portions of the recordings actually contain some form of improvisation, like the song “Beyond the Riphean Mountains” from Eternal Sleepwalker and the ending of “The Bad One” from the Futility and Death demo session.
Where does HEAVYDEATH record?
We have captured all recordings, both demos and the debut album, at our rehearsal place, with some additions made at home. The conditions are quite simple, so to speak. Most of our demos released so far were not initially supposed to be released officially, but it has become so for better or worse perhaps. I blame Johan for that! (laughs) Several recordings are very sloppy and stressfully recorded. Almost all demos are recorded during lunch breaks. Barely have time to tune the guitar before you press the record button! Despite this, we have received very good feedback on the demos released.
Your first outing as a band was back in September 2015 at Mörkaste Småland Festival in Sweden. Any extensive touring plans this year?
Yes, our first gig was at the Mörkaste Småland Festival in Sweden and it was actually very good, I must say, considering our few rehearsals. It gave us a taste for more!
Our second gig was a few weekends ago. It was very different. Daniel had to cancel at short notice. We had no time to find and rehearse with a session drummer, so we had the choice to cancel or play live with a drum machine!! We took the decision not to cancel, so for the first time both for me and Johan, we did a gig as a duo with a drum machine. It was different and felt very stiff, so it will probably never happen again. But the decision we took still feels right, you should not give up too easily.
We still want to play more live and if there are conflicts with Daniel and his main band Katatonia, we must look for a session drummer. We are open for bookings, so hopefully it will be a some more gigs later this year. Contact us!
Does the band have any more intentions to record and release new material after the re-release of ‘Dark Phoenix Rising’ on CD via Dying Sun Records later this year?
There is a lot of new material written and some unofficial demo recordings of songs for our second full-length album. We had intended to record the new album now, in March, but probably we need to revise the plan for several reasons. Actually, it is in no hurry, so it will take the time it takes. Aftermath Music out of Norway will release the upcoming album on CD. We will also work on finding partners for LP and cassette release. Hopefully, the upcoming album will be released during 2016.
If I should say something briefly about the new material, it is a continuation of the Eternal Sleepwalker, but with a bit more variation in the songs.
I’m quite drawn to the quote, “Death is heavy, heavy is Death, heavy as Death.” Who is responsible for this loaded maxim?
It is I who wrote it and it is originally a piece from the first version of lyrics to the song “Heavy as Death,” which has since been rewritten a bit after that. But we still use that quote here and there.
Any last words?
Heavy… Thank you for the interview!