Candlemass, the Doom side of Metal17 min read
One of my all-time favorite (and underrated) bands is here, right after his birthday number 58 we got some precious time with JOHAN LÄNGQVIST to talk from the first beginning with the glorious “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus” to his prolific return to the band in 2018, including “The Door To Doom”, a couple of live albums “Dynamo Doom” and “Green Valley” and the EP “The Pendulum”. It was a busy day for our singer (the best for CANDLEMASS in my opinion), but he was very kind to us, he’s living in a suburb outside Stockholm with his family and looks very healthy, now let´s go on this doom ride.
Do you have anything planned in the coming months any gigs lined up?
We’re supposed to, I’m not sure if it´s in November or December we’re gonna play at the local place in Stockholm it’s been put forward I think three or four times so far but maybe it happens this time hopefully.
About all the gigs that were planned are put for further forward in time and even the now some gigs are put forward so it’s very hard to tell, we were about to go to Holland a couple of weeks ago, actually pretty much this month, but it was suddenly they closed it so we couldn’t get over there so it happens very fast, then you need to have this covid passport too, I’ve got but they canceled the show anyway because the restrictions in the country so I think it’s pretty much all over the world right now I don’t know if there are any full gigs in some countries.
Some of those days are really sold out by now.
Maybe one or two tickets left, haha, I don’t know there are two days and it’s not a very big place, I don’t know if there are 500 or 600 people or something like that.
How long ago it’s from the last time that you played?
I don’t know, it was February or March somewhere, then a couple of streaming shows
How was that experience?
It was okay, you have to think that the camera is the audience, so I tried my very best, it was my very first time, but I think we did it pretty well anyway but of course it’s not the same every time we play, I enjoy every single time but of course in front of an audience is the best of course with the feedback and everything.
Do you miss it?
Yeah of course! Because the audience, they’ve been so kind to me everywhere so I can’t complain actually about anything because they’re so awesome wherever we go so far even though I do a couple of the other singer’s songs they say that it’s okay, but of course you have to go into a bubble and then learn all the songs and I take parts of the song one night and then the next and then I repeat and I do a lot of rehearsal in my head so, of course, the songs where it’s a lot of lyrics sometimes they are hard to remember but I think I haven’t done that many mistakes right now, haha.
We usually talk about the songs we’re going to play and then we know it, all the guys in the band and then I can listen to the songs at home and learn the lyrics and how the song is done and things like that and then we have a couple of meetings before it’s time to go out and do the real show.
What happened in the middle of those 32 years?
(between “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus” and “The Door To Doom”)
I’ve been into music in one way or another all my life so I’ve been writing songs since I was 15 or 16 years old and more it’s music has been a part of me more or less all my life so I’ve had a couple of suggestions from other bands back in time, but I’ve got four kids and now they’re growing up okay, now I can do whatever I want and I had bills to pay, that’s the way of life so I was talking to some of the guys that asked me if I wanted to join them on the tour back in time and I said “yeah, but you know I have to pay the rent, I can’t leave my woman with all the kids alone and no money so I’m sorry I can’t join you guys” but I’ve been into music in one way or another, some songs been singing at weddings stuff like that and some private parties, I’ve always had this small home studio at my place though.
I assume that you’ve been writing for the past year and a half during the covid time. Have you been writing stuff for CANDLEMASS or your own?
No, CANDLEMASS is pretty much hundred percent LEIF (EDLING, bass), he is Mr. CANDLEMASS that’s for sure and we’re actually working on a new album right now and he’s writing the songs and then we go to the studio where we play around a bit and see what we can do with the songs, but he’s the main writer absolutely and if I write songs I write them for myself, and I can tell that LEIF is a good songwriter so I can’t complain about the songs it’s good.
Do you have any idea when that new album will be potentially released out into the world?
No, because LEIF is in charge of the album and he knows pretty much how he wants all the songs have to sound and everything around it but I can tell that we’ve been working we have got a lot of songs so far and I’ve sung a lot of demos at this time so, there will be a new album but I can’t give you a date for it and when it will be finished, who knows, but it’s all kind of going in the right direction and I can tell you that there are very good songs on this album.
How’s the experience with TONY IOMMI in “Astorolus – The Great Octopus”?
I haven’t met TONY but LEIF met him a couple of times and it was pretty awesome because everyone was telling LEIF that “no way he won’t do this for you” and he said “well I won’t give up I’ll send his manager he sent the email and TONY said “yes” wow and that’s pretty awesome man so he must be a nice guy TONY, haha. In my opinion, he’s one of the kings of guitar riffs he’s done so many epic riffs he’s really good, for sure, riff writer.
And the tone on that solo is this kind of really something special the tone that he had blended with that song it’s just amazing it’s just a really good fit.
How was it after such a long time to enter the big stage with CANDLEMASS again like how did it feel?
We’ve done a couple of gigs at this point but I remember the very first one we did in Norway and I was of course very nervous from pretty much nothing like that to a big stage but after a couple of minutes into the show it felt so good and it was the same there, the audience was fantastic and it felt relieved that it worked out so well the very first one with all the lyrics in my head and I don’t want to do a mistake because people have got their eyes on me at this point, but it worked out and it felt very good after that very first one and then we did a lot of gigs with GHOST on very big arenas in Europe and it all just what do you say it was a great flow and every night was very a lot of fun so I just enjoyed the moment.
I saw CANDLEMASS just before your last era playing in a Rock Fest in Barcelona, which was okay, but it was something like 35 degrees sunny at 1 pm, it was not the best atmosphere for the CANDLEMASS show.
You can’t play doom in broad daylight that’s not exactly perfect, it’s supposed to be dark and a couple of lights.
You look like you’re enjoying the gigs, the last time I saw you live was at Hellfest in 2019.
That was a good one, I remember that one pretty much because we were doing the show in one of the big tents and then I saw when the show began how the people gather outside the tent, so many crowds, I mean the band enjoyed, the people enjoyed, it was a perfect gig, that’s a pretty awesome festival, the biggest one I’ve ever seen, it’s awesome. I don’t know if we’re invited so far for next year, but you never know I would love to go there again and on the big stage, haha, we did the tent beside the biggest one.
Do you like all the kinds of music, because in that time I remember as ZZ TOP playing, for example, or balance big bang but in another rhythm?
Yeah, but to make it short my heart is all about hard rock and heavy metal from the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s there was, in my opinion, so many good songs written at that time so and I can still put all of them on my recorder and enjoy them like I’m 15 again and there are good bands also in the 90s and I guess that’s just what you say, my relation to music, the back in the days where your heart was pumping and your adrenaline were running around in your body and you had the music that you just felt good and strong, but I can hear good music these days too, but that’s where my heart is and every time I hear a band that sounds a bit like the greatest bands in the 80s I think “wow I must listen more to this band”, it sounds good but a good song is always a good song there could be a good pop song or ballad or anything, every good song I can listen to it of every kind of music.
One time I’ve been in Stockholm, and I went into the ABBA Museum.
Okay, I haven’t been there myself so tell me.
I pay attention because they recorded some albums in Spanish in the late 70s, it was quite weird to see ABBA and DISMEMBER in the same place at that time.
My girlfriend and I’ve had the same woman for all my life actually, and when we met, she had all the ABBA albums, but I was too young, when you’re 15 you just can’t listen to ABBA, you couldn’t do that, but now when I become a bit mature and a wiser man I can tell that they were great songwriters it’s awesome music.
Why do you think so much great music comes out of Sweden because you guys, have a lot of great bands a lot of good songwriters come out of that part of the world?
I don’t know, could be that it’s pretty much because of the darkness during the winter when you’re living in Sweden you say “when the summer it’s over?”, then you say “oh my God now it comes again six or seven months of darkness” and you have to push yourself that there will be a new one more summer, so just hang on through the darkness and then you try for therapy write songs and I don’t know, but it could be one of the reasons.
Yeah, it sounds like a plausible reason for sure.
For sure and I’ve heard songs from Iceland and the north part of Finland and they’re very good songwriters so you get the time and nothing else to do and you can go into the music bubble and be an artist, if you paint or if you write music or whatever.
That’s awesome because all the guys that we interviewed they have three or four projects at the same time, quite awesome you know for us, it’s almost impossible to have one band and it’s like a side project the band because you must work and live
It’s pretty much the same for me because I would be the happiest guy the day when I don’t have to work at my ordinary jobs so that would be a blessing if we could sell some more albums and I could be free to do even more music, that would be great but, you know it’s life and I shouldn’t be sad about anything you have to look forward and it would be a blessing where the day when you earn so much that you can leave your ordinary job when you’re almost 60 years old like I am right now when you work all day you’re not full of energy when you’re coming home and “come on guys let’s go for a party” no way! You take a nap on the sofa, haha, and your wife comes and knocking at you “you can’t sleep here”, no, I’m joking it’s not that bad, haha.
What do you like to do besides music in your free time do you have any other kind of hobbies outside of playing and performing and writing?
Yes, I like to fishing, I have a boat here and I love to go out and fishing and everything about music of course, I built my own small house where I’ve got my small studio, where I’ve got a couple of instruments and I can record and write songs, and it’s very good to do some sports too so I can play tennis and paddle, it’s very popular and it’s like tennis but it’s not that difficult, haha, it’s more easy to learn that’s actually very funny to play with partners but I’m not that sporty, I do it like every couple of days a week or something like that, it’s a nice sport when you dominate the technique you know because you don’t need to run so much, haha, you have just to be smart, it’s a little bit difficult in the very beginning when you’re trying to learn it but just after a couple of games you’re pretty much into it, the first time you run just behind the ball and you’re trying not looking like a maniac “where is the ball”, I like to play indoor soccer too but there’re not that many guys at my age playing soccer anymore but I played in a competition every year until I was 50 years old right when I was young we did it every single year and we actually did it pretty well but when we became around 50 bad backs and heart problems and things like that so, I got a couple of ribs broken at one game but that’s a pretty intense. Did you know that LEIF was a good soccer player, when he was very young he was a very talented football player.
When you write your lyrics do you have a routine or something that you always do? When you’re out fishing for example. Do you have lyrics coming to your head and you write them down or speak them into your phone what’s your process?
When I’m writing the songs I shouldn’t say that´s political lyrics but in a way they are, because you see things that you think are good and you can get inspired by them and then you see things that you think are very wrong and then you can get inspiration from that too, the lyrics comes from life I think so and it’s instead of standing on the square in the somewhere screaming you can go over my right to town so I think it’s kind of therapy in a way to get it off of your mind and then you’re sitting here and thinking oh these are good words and I’ve written them.
What subjects are you writing about then?
I don’t write straight, I can say metaphors like “he’s an angel in disguise” means, for example, that “he gives people a good look of him that he’s a good man”, but underneath the service, he’s pretty much evil so I can’t write exactly the right words, you have to put into metaphors, in a way or another, I think pretty much all the music is about to be writing more sophisticated or maybe use some other words.
Do you find as you get older you have more things to talk about or to say because of all of your life experience?
Yes, I think so, in a way I can tell many things, because now I have eight grandchildren too so my children are now grown-ups and they’re having their own families and now, of course, I’m thinking about their future and I want to give these cute little girls and boys the best future they can have, like every child in the world deserves a bright future in my opinion, so if I see bad things happening I’m worried about their future, not myself because I managed to do this, I want them to have a good future and stay as happy and full of love as they are. I wish that for every child in the world of course.
Are there any of them old enough to be into metal yet?
No, but they really enjoy when I’m playing guitars and you see them sing songs for them and include their names and just having a good time, songs like “she is the nicest girl in the world” and then their names and things like that, the oldest one is sticks so he just started up in school this year so they’re not that big anymore, maybe I can see a small seed of music into them they’re talking about the grandpa at the kindergarten “my grandpa is a rockstar yeah”, haha.
You want to travel to make gigs but also you want to come back home because of your family.
Of course, but when I’m away from home, I’m lucky to have a girl, we’re not married but we’ve been living together for all our lives and she does well pretty much on her own too, so I don’t leave her crying, she’s okay, for me if I’m going away for a week or so, it’s not a problem she wants me to feel good and I let her do the best she does and whatever she wants in life, so it works very good actually and as you said, I really love to fly away and be away for a couple of days doing a couple of gigs that’s great but then, of course, it feels very good to come home afterward.
When I was a kid, I thought about the behavior of the metal bands, what can you tell me about that?
Absolutely and definitely very nice people, if you take your grandma or something like that to a festival or something she would probably scream “oh why they look dangerous and wild” but then she finds out that these are the nicest people of all, we’ve done the 70.000 TONS OF METAL and that’s very compact and you’re close to a lot of people all the time and it’s all the people they’re so nice I think maybe you get some of your aggression and feelings out listening to hard music so you don’t have to go around being angry all the time.
Talking about music at end of the 70s beginning of the 80s what had been the album that actually brought you into metal, into rock?
I think what was in the very beginning I was thinking “my god this is something that I want to do”, I think it was the beginning of JUDAS PRIEST, when I was young I was a very big fan of ROB HALFORD, in my opinion, he’s such a great entertainer, and then SCORPIONS, BLACK SABBATH and RAINBOW, all those albums back in the 80s they have a safe place in my heart, and there were a couple of Swedish bands too that I loved.
What were the Swedish bands that you liked?
It was a band called EBBA GRÖN, which is a Swedish name and grown is green so it’s ebb green, and that was more kind of punk music, it was in my opinion pretty similar to the metal music but they didn’t play the guitars the same way, it was the same energy and they were writing very good songs, I’m pretty sure that you will like this, the other one that I really liked was a guy called Magnus and it’s MAGNUS UGGLA, he was also in the very beginning a pretty wild punk rocker writing songs about teenagers and when you were a teenager yourself you wow he knows what it’s all about.
And later on, you witnessed the rise of thrash and death metal a bit later in the early 80s and the 90s i was set for you to see that it gets harder and harder
It was clipping a bit but in the beginning JUDAS PRIEST, RAINBOW, and then, later on, I found out about QUEENSRYCHE I really like them and his vocals because I can’t sing the way he does, talking about GEOFF TATE, he’s actually one of my favorites the old things with him like “Operation: Mindcrime” and “Rage For Order”, those albums are very good I think the first ones everyone should have been listening to Operation: Mindcrime for example, I think what is fun is that when you meet young people and you play these old songs for them they say “wow this is great” so I think we’re right when we say there were a lot of good songs written in the 70s 80s 90s because a lot of people these days really love them too so it’s a good choice. Maybe these days the problem is that there’s so much and you can’t even find everything that is good so I guess that a lot of songs just comes by and you don’t even find them but that’s true but you know when we were young you went into the record store and you saw all the albums right away and now you have to go on iTunes or something and there are thousands of them.
Do you have metal bands in your surroundings like does it happen that you see the live kick some very young metalheads like 10 years old dancers?
No actually with such a big family I haven’t got that much time left to go out and see the bands that I want to see but every time when we’re out with CANDLEMASS there are always a couple of bands that I want to see, sometimes we stay behind the stage watching the next band if it’s something that we like, so do you mix into the ground sometimes it’s the festivals like after the show.
Do you go around at the festival and have some beers?
Not that much it depends on the schedule if we’re having an early flight or something like that but usually not but it happens sometimes if we have a session writing, autographs things like that but we’re trying to see a couple of bands every time.
Candlemass invites to a doom drenched weekend at Södra Teatern, Stockholm TICKETS:
13 November 2021: Candlemass: The Tritonus Theater – TADC Sweden AB
14 November 2021: Candlemass: The Tritonus Theater – TADC Sweden AB
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