SNOWY SHAW said: “in the second album with OPERA DIABOLICUS, that I’m playing drums on and singing, I think it probably might be the best album I’ve ever appeared on”37 min read
Some time ago Snowy Shaw talked with us about a little bit of everything, because he does everything, he´s a singer, he´s a drummer, he´s a bassist, he´s a photographer, and many other professions, the only way to get more information about Snowy from himself, is if you buy his autobiography “THE BOOK OF HEAVY METAL”, so now is time to know deeper this multifaced musician, he started with some thoughts about the communication on this covid era:
“I’m learning, I’m doing all these kind of interviews but it’s on zoom and it’s on messenger and skype and all that and it’s like a lot of kind of difficulties some people are “I cannot connect you” and this and that because they did that on messenger, on my official page and that doesn’t work because they cannot call each other and stuff so, it’s like postponing and try to set up new dates and all, it’s like really complicated but you guys been very easy to handle, but that isn’t it funny, I was doing an interview with a guy in Winnipeg (Canada) and we had some disturbance because there was a snowstorm or whatever, it was like that’s had a bad connection and we kind of got a little bit pissed off about that or whatever, but if you think about just zoom, talking in real time across the fucking planet and then you complain about a little bit, if you think about it like 20 years ago that was unthinkable, it’s kind of funny that if you talk to kids these days and if you show them a classic telephone, how do you dial, they don’t even know how to do that, haha.”
“It´s funny how quickly you adapt to certain things, it’s like control said when I’m doing something on my computer okay I regret that I want to back it up and if I’m you know sometimes it has kind of transferred into real life if I’m doing some painting for example, and that turned out wrong I should regret that but you cannot do that in real life you’re in control then, I killed someone I shouldn’t have done that so how can I regret that, no I’m reversible.”
Where are you living now?
In Gothenburg Sweden, I lived in New York for a couple of months, that was a childhood dream of mine because that’s the metropole for everything as far as I’m concerned growing up, like seeing all these movies and all that and to me, it was basically KISS country, KISS came from New York City and also Spiderman and MANOWAR and all that, so I wanted to live there, but when I did that, I realized that like Lemmy said “the chase is better than the catch” sometimes you’ll realize that at this point in life when I’m 50 maybe not so much, do I want to live in a city that never sleeps? No shut the fuck up, I just want peace and quiet, haha.
Your life changes and you have different ideas or goals in life, I just want peace and quiet and walk in the forest and stuff like that, it may sound like some people are surprised about that “wow you’re hanging out to night clubs and stuff” absolutely not, I want to walk in the forest with my dogs.
Maybe it’s the idea or myth that we have of the rock stars.
The whole kind of public image or illusion of being a rock star or in a band or something, and I’m telling that the harsh reality, because there are two sides to every story, it’s far from as glamorous as a lot of people still to this day seem to think, as far as I’m concerned, this thing is kind of getting dated and old this whole heavy metal thing.
I haven’t seen which is very active, we’re always surprised to see so many young people streaming still into metal.
Define young if you mean 45, haha. It’s a kind of heavy topic, but as I can see running my own business, the whole operation of my own record company, and everything like that, I think that the whole pandemic bullshit going on putting a halt and pause to everything like that, I tend to think that is this the end of an era, is this the death knell to the whole scene, because you can have that as a hobby to play music, but to earn a living from that like you could in the past, it’s just we were talking about this rock star illusion, a lot of people seem to still think that “wow it’s like in the 80s to have like limousines and travel around in chartered flights and all that” not so much, haha, of course, it happened.
In the music industry, I think there´re no artists that can probably survive anymore for music apart from the big names.
Even the really hard-earned, like established acts from the 80s and stuff like that they are still struggling like fuck, I guess, they want to keep an image that everything is so good, but no, it’s getting really difficult because there are no record sales, so we can get into that topic and talk about that forever, everything’s been taken over by the streaming services, although I’m using Spotify, and that’s been the best platform, you have access to everything, even if you’re online out walking or whatever you’re doing and you create your own list, that’s very good, but the thing is that there are too many middle hands, so the money and the royalties won’t end up in the pockets of the artists and then the songwriters, and that’s the problem, but these are really boring topics but that’s the harsh reality of the situation right now, so, you have like 2 billion streams, then you get a thousand dollars.
How is it when you have a record label? How do you manage everything is a record label actually of importance nowadays, so most artists are self-published?
There are different aspects, in 2017 that was the last time when I put out an album on a record label and they did such a tremendously bad job, so I told myself “fuck that shit, I will never ever sign an away to a record label” unless it’s like universal knocking at my door chasing throwing millions after me and so far that hasn’t happened, haha, so I figured that after all these years, it’s a whole different ball game, the whole scene has changed so drastically and I’ve picked up stuff over the years being in this business for 30 plus years, that basically I’m not saying I’m an expert in the field, but neither are they and they claim to be so, and they don’t care about it, if my music is like my baby so who’s the most qualified to take care of that kid, that’s me as the parent obviously, because to them it’s just another title, they just after the money and they don’t give a shit basically, so you have like a promotion run or a period of like two weeks or something like that, and they send it out or put on some sort platform or whatever and that’s it, you can’t really expect them to do that extra or run those extra miles to promote it and get it out there, because to them it’s just another fucking album, so I figured I might as well take care of it myself that’s how I feel.
Normally, when is that still a lucrative way for bands to be earning money and sustain themselves throughout their career, or have you seen that also?
Yes, it’s going down, if there are no receiver for whether you put out an album or if you want to do a tour and all that the whole business, there are too many bands competing about the same audience and it’s not like a growing because it’s not that popular anymore, of course the people like us who grew up with this these are so strange topics what I’m trying to say is that I don’t see a lot of regrowth with young kids, like you mentioned you can see like young bands putting a thrash band together or something like that of course they are those people, but it’s not on MTV there’s no such thing and it’s not like the 80s and a lot of people still think seem to think that it is like that, when you put out on Netflix the dirt movie and wow it’s also fashionable and lucrative and this and that, but I cannot really see that anymore and I’ve been in on the grass sort of like going up and down like a rollercoaster, like being with very popular bands touring the world and then I’m doing my own stuff starting from square one again and I’ve seen every fucking level of it, of course SABATON are very popular for example and probably earn really good money, but it costs tons of money to bring out that circus on the road as well, because there’s a big productions and all that, so I’m not in this for the money but we all got to eat right? I don’t want to be negative or have that bleak outlook on it but it’s hard, you got to be realistic and reset sort of look at it the way it is.
Do you feel that the metal audience it’s not really growing, it’s kind of shrinking on itself?
Yeah, definitely yeah.
Do you think something you can come out of this, there’ll be a new kind of direction that maybe it could take that might re-spark the demand or the interest?
I would say we were praising the we were just praising the fact that we can sit here and talk four ways and we’re all over the world and that is modern technology and that is wow really impressive, but internet has definitely kind of changed the game plan or the whole thing of course and the way I see it is that if you don’t invest in anything, like buying a product, if you get everything for free, you have access to everything for free online just a click away, it tends to lose its value, for instance I keep drawing those kind of comparisons like when I was a kid and I set up my weekly allowance or whatever to buy an album maybe wow this looks so cool and I picked it up and I went home, I wasn’t so good really but since I invested all my hard-earned money on that, I kept listening to it and eventually it kind of grew on you some songs, okay that seven songs it’s not so bad and okay the third song you’re a really cool riff and blah blah blah, whatever it was, so it kind of grow on you because it takes time, and nowadays the attention span is down to three seconds or something like that, if someone tells me for instance “check out this cool band” and I do that on Spotify, okay I listen to their top list, their most popular songs and I listen to, maybe I can go to the second song and then I probably skip it, because I haven’t invested anything, so I don’t give crap but that’s just me and I’m not a consumer, I’m more of a producer, I haven’t kept updated with contemporary bands or whatever they do, I don’t really care, I’m doing my own thing, but what I’m saying is that if you don’t haven’t spent any money on it, mean it’s like easy come, easy go, you can just throw it away, it’s not worth anything anymore.
Some of the greatest music takes some time to kind of like absorb and really get into it and then if you don’t have the time, you don’t get the reward out of it and that’s a real big shame.
That´s exactly the truth because it takes some time, otherwise, you’re going to see music that in the chorus the catchy chorus comes straight away because people have no fucking attention spam, if you watch a movie you can see the sort of the intro introduction of the movies like big explosions and hot chicks and all that because they want to catch the attention of the people right away, otherwise, they say “what the fuck, this is boring” then I don’t have the time to spend, so it’s kind of a little bit saddening and it keeps the songwriters have to step up and do more catchy songs and all that and I got to say that the thing is that an album these days have the longevity or life existence on the streaming platforms and services, let’s say depending on what kind of artist it is of course but it’s like a month or something, then it’s over. If you put out like 12 songs on an album that you spend two years in the making and people only listen to the two first songs maybe, that is why I kind of reversed the whole thing and decided why to put out 12 songs on an album and it’s over in a month or six weeks or something, so I reversed it and decided to put out one single each month instead and then in time for Christmas, collect them all and put it out on a physical CD and a double vinyl, that’s right that’s what I did, because then it keeps me sort of in the focus in some way or for 12 months instead of one month she gets one song every 24th of the month so you have something to look through with you, it was just an experiment that I tried out then from what I can tell in summation, I think it has panned out pretty good I gotta say.
Jorgen Munkeby (SHINING/EMPEROR) told us, more or less, the same that he prefers to publish or post a song each month, it feels better for the artist also, it’s like a shame because two years making 12 songs, looks like 10 songs nobody can really hear.
Yeah, but that’s the way it is, if you’ve got to look at, then adapt or die, it’s pretty much like that, you got to look at the situation for consuming music nowadays, how does it work, in some ways, I would say it’s been kind of going back to the 60s, when people put out hit singles on the radio and all that, then they did eight singles or something like that and then collected that on a full-length LP (long play) and put on like two bonus tracks or something, so people who had their singles already would go out and buy the big LP and its kind of back to that, there is no place for failures. A lot of the albums that I listened to, when I was growing up, maybe they had like three really cool songs and the rest were like pretty much crappy that they just fillers, but you cannot afford that anymore, you cannot put out that, because now it has to be top-notch all of the songs, gotta be in your face, like spearheaded or something like that and, sorry, in a way it’s a good way because it’s sort of the competition gets tougher and maybe people step up to the challenge, I guess, and doing better songs or something like that, because you can’t have any failures anymore.
I guess then we don’t really seem like the concept albums anymore or like the album that’s meant to be kind of listened to from start to finish, it´s just singles.
Yeah, but it’s really sad, because the way I consume music is listening the whole album and the running order of the songs and listen to the lyrics maybe or the whole atmosphere of the whole album, but that’s sort of lost, that whole experience is kind of lost, but what I’m doing here apart from this book, this is heavy metal plain and simple 12 songs, one put out each month and I have invited a lot of special guest stars on it, that’s that kind of concept but apart from that I’m writing in different directions and that is why I picked up all these old songs that I’ve been writing, maybe I did it for DREAM EVIL or even earlier, some other projects and I kept remembering these songs and that is why these are good songs but they don’t necessarily fit into that kind of direction or concept that I’m writing or that one, because I’m doing like these different concepts albums that when I want things going into hand in hand, like the sound and the lyrics and the way you sing and the artwork and this and that, I don’t want to have it too scattered, it’s got to be like one world, so I’m creating those small worlds but in this case with this album, this is heavy metal plain and simple, it’s also called that because it’s nothing special, it doesn’t have that unique characteristic direction musically it’s like hard rock or heavy metal, like within a big span of it but the next album that I’ve been planning on doing for years and years, I was thinking okay so this is the kind of problematic situation that we have that people don’t pick the races from the cookie, so to speak and just pick out the songs they like and they ignore the rest, but I was thinking I shouldn’t have any fucking songs, it should be one song 45 minutes instead so you cannot jump to the third song if you prefer that one, no, you got to listen to it from start to finish to get the hang of the whole concept, to speak, but I’ve been saying that okay when I pick up the book I don’t jump to page 146 and start reading there, if I watch a movie I don’t fast forward into the movie like 45 minutes into the movie, I want to see it from start to finish and same things with concept albums, but I don’t know if it’s a big business or not, then everything comes down to money in the end, not that I’m doing this for money but I cannot invest all my money into something that’s going to have no fucking return, so those are the conditions, you gotta adapt to it.
Do you still buy some physical vinyl or CD?
No, I haven’t, like two three years ago I sold all my vinyls, because I figured that next time I move I can’t carry around a thousand vinyls or whatever, I haven’t listened to them for maybe 20 years or something, so I figured okay now it’s kind of popular and I had this renaissance and people are interested in getting rarities and all that, so I might sell it, I kept some on my shrine here, I have like KISS “Destroyer”, RAINBOW “Rising” and QUEEN, it’s a mix, these albums that I mostly I like the album covers haha, but it’s sad we saw the best names one of my favorite JUDAS PRIEST albums and NAZARETH “Loud´n´Proud”, ALICE COOPER “Welcome to my nightmare” stuff so not necessarily my favorite album with the band, in some cases like URIAH HEEP “Wonderworld”, maybe not my favorite album but it has Ken Hensley’s signature on it, when I met him he was supposed to be a guest star on this particular this album that I’ve been putting out this year but he passed away and a lot of my teenage or childhood heroes has passed away, because that’s the law of nature, they are probably 20 years older than me and they’ve been around for a long time and you don’t live forever, so the whole thing is getting kind of old, if the whole metal thing or heavy rock if you want to call it that, started out like in 1970 the first URIAH HEEP, the first BLACK SABBATH, the first real DEEP PURPLE in rock and all that so and those guys they are fucking 75 now or something, my heart and soul is in the 70s and early 80s, I gotta tell you I was really into MANOWAR they were as big in the 80s as KISS was in the 70s to me, I have like tattoos with MANOWAR and I had Ross “The Boss”, nowadays I’m proud to call him my friend, and my favorite album is “Into Glory Ride” that is kind of my bible and “Hail to England” also, but like with everything I don’t know why I took it so much to heart like I did, and I really adopted their destiny, that is something first of all I thought it sounded like a corny thing to say death to false matter what is false metal but gradually I got the hang of it or understood what they meant because you could see that by 1984, 1985 or something you could see that it became a band wanted to make it big commercially and MTV and then the whole hair metal thing started to happen you could see all these bands like SAXON for example, they’ve probably been told by the by the record company “hey guys it’s in America that’s where everything happens so you got to compete now with VAN HALEN and MOTLEY CRUE and all that, and you have to look like hot guys hanging out on the beach or something”, so they tried to have beach blonde hair and lead warmers and compete with DAVID LEE ROTH and not necessarily it didn’t work out so well haha, I hated that whole thing happening because what happened to the real Heavy Metal was like ugly guys from Birmingham haha, kind of like the outcast and they’re the outsiders or the rebel rebels or whatever and everything became so superficial and MTV, radio friendly americanized and the longer you could see the eighties progress it became more and more superficial and plastic and fake, what happened to Heavy Metal, so that is why “Into Glory Ride” became my bible, “Kings of Metal” is probably the last one I like, it was the last with Ross “The Boss” and it’s a really good album.
You’re living in Gothenburg, it’s like the cradle of a Swedish Death Metal, what do you feel about that?
It’s kind of funny, there are been places over rock history where it’s like focused on a specific city like Seattle for example, maybe is not the best example haha, I hear people like I was working with these French people they were based in Paris, and they said “we have to relocate, we can’t be here let’s go to London where everything happens”, and this was maybe 10 years ago and I said “what do you mean? Nothing happens in London”, haha, but think about the swing in 60s and everything became really based in the epicenter of the whole glam scene or whatever in Hollywood, in Los Angeles, in the 80s, where this hair metal, thing kind of exploded and so on, but Gothenburg there was this festival here that name “Gothenburg Sound Festival”, it was called, and they interviewed me and asked “how do you feel part of this Gothenburg sound about this Gothenburg death metal sound” I don’t know about that, I know the guys and all that, but I am from Pittsburgh and that’s it, so I don’t feel part of that and from an outside Frederick Nordström that I played with in DREAM EVIL and so, he kind of invented that kind of thing together with AT THE GATES and maybe DARK TRANQUILLITY and IN FLAMES of course, but when you’re in something where you live there you don’t even notice that, from an outsider’s point of view it’s by they might think that wow there it’s like such a great scene and all the guys hanging out and blah blah blah, playing it’s not like that at all not that I can see anyway, just because you’re in that melting pot so you don’t know it, you don’t notice it.
So, what’s up next, new albums, live, what’s coming up?
The whole live scene has taken a dive and pretty much people are trying to book new tours and all that, but everything is so insecure, you don’t know what’s going to happen, I was supposed to do this book signing tour last year, where I also should play a couple of songs, talk in between the songs and meet the fans, slower like smaller more intimate get-togethers or events and sign the books, talk to people, Q&A and all that, and I was supposed to do that from late may in Europe and then in America all over in the fall, but that thing had to be postponed or pushed back until further notice and we’re still here now, you don’t know what’s going to happen and let’s say okay, now it’s Denmark, is older, for example, I can play there, can I play Germany? I don’t know, can I play Holland? Maybe, but not Belgium, there are all those different restrictions and it changes from day to day, it’s so much insecurity you cannot really afford to go out there work, for example like those nightline or buses, they cost maybe I don’t know shit loads of money to rent every day out on tour and you cannot be out on tour and okay now we cannot play for two days we have the whole crew sitting here and then and we have to get hotels and all that or stay in the bus at some fucking parking lot so it kind of ruins the whole economy of it, when I was with THERION for example we might be out on tour all over Europe for like three months and we never had any days off, if you have a day off you lose money, so you got to get the circus going on, you got to keep it rolling and so it’s kind of hard to set up a tour now, you see that all those bigger acts like for example OZZY OSBOURNE now he postponed to 2023 I think like this farewell tour that he’s been on since 1994 or whatever it was, it’s “No More Tours” that was the tour for “No More Tears” album and that was I think in 1993 or 1994 or something like that and he’s been on this “No More Tours 2” since maybe 2018 or something I don’t know, haha, they never really but it’s the same thing with KISS and all those bands, JUDAS PRIEST as well, all events it’s a kind of cheap trick I gotta say to you to lure people into coming “wow we gotta go this is the last opportunity we have to see them before they quit” they’ve been saying that now for 15 years, but it’s crazy I think STATUS QUO was the first band they announced their farewell tour into 1984.
What do you think about the next tour of MERCYFUL FATE on that kind of band?
I’m not that much involved with that, I heard they got back together, my ex-wife, called me up and said: “hey I heard MERCYFUL FATE got back together, weren’t you in that band?” she asked me, yes at some point I was of course, so I had to call Mike Wead up and say what’s going on here? “yeah we got back together”, but okay since I’m talking to you it means that Michael Denner isn’t there, so who’s playing drums is it Bjarne T. Holm?, yeah it is, okay so it’s Sharlee on the bass? because they’re gonna pick up from where they left off with this last album in 98 or wherever it was, and no we didn’t we didn’t even contact Sharlee D´Angelo because he’s too busy with the ARCH ENEMY and all that so yeah it’s kind of strange set up there, so it’s I guess you haven’t missed there’s been a lot of conflicts because they left out, they didn’t even talk to Michael Denner about that, so I don’t want to take sides or anything like that, I don’t know about their politics but it’s been a real stab in the back I think, he wasn’t even asked to join the band but what can I say, I need to phone now for two-three years business but who knows if it’s gonna happen now like 2022 who knows, I don’t know.
Speaking about the technology of zoom and being able to communicate from all corners of the world, have you been using this time to collaborate with other musicians and other bands during covid?
I have quite a few, actually just yesterday they posted INFINITY, his keyboard player name is Beto Vázquez, I sang on that song (“Insanity”) and i posted it on my official Facebook page last night, because that was the first time I heard it but that’s how it works nowadays, I posted a picture of collage of all the members appearing on this album, this is a metal plain and simple and there are tons of them, I don’t know maybe 30 people or something like that and the collaboration or it works like this, I record everything in my studio and doing all my vocals and stuff and also doing the guide vocals for them, okay I want you to sing like that, like this or with those type of lyrics and all that and I’ve been sending it off to SUZI QUATRO for example, and Dan McCafferty from NAZARETH, all those childhood heroes before they, I don’t want to be a jinx or negative like that, but we’re not getting any younger so I want to fetch them before they pass on, haha, that’s hard to say but Ken Hensley, he was going to be on my album but he passed away and other people too, I was in contact with HANK VON HELL for example to collaborate on a song called “Weekend Warrior” but then I kind of changed a little bit so I had a Gothenburg team on it, so I had people from the singer from HARDCORE SUPERTAR, MUSTASCH and LILLASYSTER, but I wanted to make it a Scandinavian thing, so I would have add kids or maybe Jesper Binzer from D.A.D. we should do taking turns there, with the vocals, but what I’m getting is that we don’t meet at all, we’re just sending files, I’m standing there the song, and okay here’s where I want you to play, so you put your soul on top of that and they do that on a separate file obviously, and send it back to me so it may look like “wow we were hanging out”, that’s not how it works haha.
Is it weird when meeting someone that played on your album in real life and they’re like “hey I did the solo on that song” and you meet them in real life, is there some sense of like you know them already?
Yeah, that probably happened, but I recorded a whole album with Ralf Scheepers for example, I went email contact but I never talked to the guy, I never met him, so that’s how it works, but I was doing this interview with an American radio station like a couple of years ago and she said about “Dennis Shermann”, this is like Hank Shermann and Michael Denner and it has some pick on vocals and I don’t remember the name of the bass player, and she said “yeah it must have been good to get together with old guys and talk old memories and all that”, I hate to ruin your illusion, I said, but we never even met “what do you mean”, Denner live Copenhagen, Denmark, I live in Gothenburg, Sweden, the singer lives in San Diego and the bass play lives in Denver, Colorado so we never even meet,” if people ask me “how do you rehearse”, then we don’t.
What’s your collaboration right now with THERION?
There is not so much collaboration with THERION going on at all, I recorded drums on two albums, maybe 22 songs or something like that, that was maybe last year and they also used another drummer, so we had like two options to pick whatever they choose felt what’s the best result or whatever that fit is the song the best way or something, but apart from that I haven’t had any much contact with Christofer Johnsson, lately, I was supposed to be on this big tour before the fucking corona thing hit the world, we were going out two or three months tour all over the world, and he had been calling and asking me “can you come back to the band and sing now?” I don’t want to do that, “can you play the drums” no, I don’t want to do that, so he asked me “can you play the bass”, no, you can stop calling, I’m not interested, I want to move forward, I have pretty much done that, so I said the only thing that would make me change my mind is that if my own solo band could be the opening act and we play an hour, “yeah! that’s perfect” he said, he kind of interrupted me “and then you change shirt and then you go out and play with us and then you play bass and sing yeah” but that’s a good setup so I play like three hours every day, every night or something.
But you really enjoy doing live music, don´t you?
Yeah, definitely I’m so grateful for the years I had with THERION but towards the end, I don’t know what it is, but with me, I’ve quit all those big bands that I’ve been with because after a while it starts getting like routine and in a way boring, that’s just my personality, I guess, I need more challenges or something and it’s become like routine and the same thing and I tend to sort of start drifting off and getting bored with the whole thing because I need to take on new challenges, I remember the kind of towards the end when I was with THERION it must have been 2011 or something like that, I was up on stage; we were in Greece and I was there singing and I was looking at the stage floor, I was like “wow I wonder what kind of wood is that birds maybe, haha, I was like what the fuck am I thinking about? here I’m up on stage singing, start looking at the floor”, that was a clear indication to me that maybe I’d need a change, haha.
Those years you had a collaboration also with DIMMU BORGIR, what happened with them?
Yeah, you can read about that in “The book of Heavy Metal”, that´s the name of my autobiography because that was the most popular song that I have written so far and had some all other titles, to begin with, but then I figured oh it’s so obvious, if I write my autobiography it’s going to be the book of heavy metal of course, because that’s been sort of my life, playing metal music with a lot of bands and then doing my own thing the whole way through, but what happened with DIMMU BORGIR I kind of explained that in detail, because I wasn’t that keen on kind of spilling the beans earlier on and I was like not allowed to, but I’m telling the way it is because we got along really fine I told my wife then, after the first couple of weeks like “wow I love being in this band” we get along so fine and I thought that I was going to stay in that band until the day I died, but after like six or seven months, I could have operated no, did you heard from playing bass? because that’s what I did bass and sang, it has nothing to do with whatever it might be, other things that going on behind the scene, they had absolutely nothing to do with the guys, even though indirectly it had something to do with them, because they didn’t back me up or stood up for themselves, so they let her be a fucking dictator in a way and run the business which she did very poorly, so that’s why I left, I couldn’t put up with it anymore because I was getting at, I’m going to stay in this van until may I die after seven months, then my live DVD show that here up on the wall, I don’t know, if you see maybe SNOWY SHAW plays all his favorite song with all his former bands because when I was out on that THERION tour all over Europe like former eastern person like because the union countries, I barely hear of their you should go back to DREAM EVIL, I want to see you play drums again and “wow you should reform NOTRE DAME and old horror bands”, some friends that he should go back to MEMENTO MORI yeah it’s a nice call, I cannot possibly please them all at the same time because I cannot be 12 bands at the same time so how the fucking can I do that after a while?, you kind of brushed it off and say thank you very much that’s very nice of you but after a while it started to nag me kind of like okay there are so many people I haven’t heard about their country and they talking about obscure underground battles, like ILLWILL, so I figured what can I possibly do to please all of them at the same time, including myself because I have no interest in going backwards I want to move forward and take all new challenges and all that, if I’m sort of like the maybe not the focal point but I’m the connection here in a chain, but if I do my solo thing then I play all MERCYFUL FATE or all those bands and I also invite guest stars from all those bands and I recorded so that out on a live DVD it’s called “The Liveshow: 25 Years of Madness in the Name of Metal” it’s called so that one was like kind of the breaking points like okay for the next 25 years I’ve been doing this for 25 years now the next 25 years I’m gonna go solo and do my own shit, because I’ve quit all those bands and I cannot fucking quit all the bands all the time, if I do my own band, I never quit unless I die of course haha.
Did you enjoy every band that you have?
Yeah it’s been a yeah but even the bad ones i gotta say, because it’s a good learning experience in in every kind of way because you’re you gradually learn even not to repeat the same mistakes again okay maybe I should have handled that better or that band was really cool for the first two or three years but then something changed, some member leave the band and that changes the whole chemistry or if I wasn’t pleased with my position in the band, with MERCYFUL FATE for example that was a childhood dream, I guess, to be in that band I discovered them with “Black Funeral” on a compilation album in 1983 when I was 15, me and my buddy was the guitar player we picked out that song “wow what is this?” they were all American bands and we tried to do that, so okay I’m getting on a detour here haha, but anyway when I was in that band 10 years later in the original battle of MERCYFUL FATE I just figured that I was like an equal member sort of like a full-time member and could contribute with the songwriting and in the creative process and all that, but it turns out that they were not so interested in that they wanted a drummer, to keep time and to me it felt like I had my hands behind tied behind my back and I wasn’t allowed to contribute in a way and it made me feel sort of left out and to me that is like so important, unless I can be creative and involved in the whole process I’m not screened I’m not so interested, so I can do that for a short while but in the long term I got depressed, so I had to quit.
With the KING DIAMOND band the same way with the creative process?
Not really, on the first album I joined a band in 1989 and did the whole “Conspiracy” world tour, but then when it was time to make the next album “The Eye”, me and Andy LaRocque wrote a song together we had some I had some parts and riffs and all that and he had some stuff and we put that together and we sent that to King and he came up with his vocals and arrangement and whatever, there I had a different position and it felt good but what happened with KING DIAMOND is that after “The Eye” album Pete Blakk, the guitar player, and Hal Patino were asked to leave or left on their own accord, I don’t know, so they were replaced and King and all the bang the manager put me and Andy in charge of finding new members, so while they were looking for a new deal, because they kind of terminated the record contract with the Roadrunner after seven years or whatever, and they figured that they would sign with a big label, and it turns out that it was more difficult than they expected, so it took a long time and a lot of negotiations with Sony or Warner Brothers or whatever it might have been, so nothing happened for a couple of years there, and when they were in contact with Metal Blade for example from what I heard is that “okay we’re interested in KING DIAMOND but we are even more interested in MERCYFUL FATE or MERCYFUL FATE reunion” and they offered King a record deal with MERCYFUL FATE and they also wanted to see a tour so King called me up and said “you’re in the family we want to put MERCYFUL FATE back together but with the exception of Kim Ruzz“, the original drummer, because they didn’t want him around I suppose, so I said “sure I’m a big fan, of course” so I wanted to do that and it’s kind of spilled over after two years at least it spilled over into to becoming MERCYFUL FATE instead, so that happened.
Thank you, sir, I really want to read your book now!
You gotta do that, you gotta push for that because I’m spilling the beans, I’m telling things the way they are but in a better way, because when I’m writing I can reverse myself to go back and then polish it of course, so it’s way better than I did now, it´s translated from Swedish to English.
Maybe try to write it in Spanish
That would be pushing it a little bit, I don’t know much…“Hola señor” (in perfect Spanish accent) haha, I can’t speak Spanish.
Have you ever been to Latin America touring or tourist?
Yeah of course, not with my solo band I was supposed to do that support than to THERION, but I’ve done a lot of touring in Latin America with THERION but I gotta say that is a real privilege that I’ve had in my life and in my so-called career that I’ve been with bands that some of them are mostly popular in America, for example whereas other bands they’re mostly popular in Japan and with THERION for example it was almost beetlemania I mean, they are not so popular in North America but in South America and Latin America they are huge, so we did tons of touring there like maybe eight shows in Mexico alone and all over so it was really great, so I’ve had the benefit of being in those bands like for instance DREAM EVIL were pretty popular in Japan whereas MERCYFUL FATE or KING DIAMOND has ever played in Asia so I get to get the best of it all I suppose, I’ve been with all those bands, it’s interesting because I mean when I joined THERION as a singer and we first we did a long European tour and then we probably went to South America and they had no clue who I was, they saw me as a singer the new singer in THERION and they had no clue I’ve been a drummer with MERCYFUL FATE and KING DIAMOND and DREAM EVIL and all that, so to them I was like a new person so it’s cool like a new career I suppose, haha, I gotta say that if I stayed with, let’s say KING DIAMOND for the last 33 years, it would be too boring to me I suppose, to push my limits and to take on new challenges and all that changing instruments and do it all with different bands, that’s what keeps it exciting to me, like we’re doing not just one particular style of music but everything that I like.
I was in this band called LOUD´N´NASTY and then it morphed into XXX and then I had sort of like a creative outlet for my passion for 70s glam rock, everything from SWEET to T-REX and DAVID BOWIE and all that, so I was doing that at the same time I was doing THERION, and it was completely something different and I can use different set of influences and inspirations, with THERION that’s more operatic, more pompous symphonic and all that and that’s cool, then I can be that guy and then I go back home and put on a different suit and be with this glam band and to me that’s been a really good privilege I gotta say, because otherwise I tend to get bored with doing the same thing all at the same time, you gotta have some sort of diversity, that is what makes it fresh still otherwise I’ve noticed that if you’re doing the same kind of music all the time it tends to get a little bit boring for me at least, so then you kind of move into a different direction and you don’t want for example to do progressive stuff with DREAM EVIL that is more meat and potatoes haha, so you don’t want to squeeze any funk into THERION either or pop haha.
In that way, I must tell you that I knew you from “The Eye” album because that was the first time I heard KING DIAMOND and I think it’s the best album of his your work there is awesome.
Thank you very much, but I gotta say that it’s probably because it’s your first album, it’s always like that, the first always end up in those kind of arguments about the best KISS album for example, I discovered ”Destroyer” and that is the ultimate album to me, people who were got into them the next album “Rock and Roll Over” wow that’s the best album, whereas I mean it came out like six months after ”Destroyer” and I went out and bought it and it was so different sonically and the production was completely different, actually I was only eight years old or something so I went back to the store and “there’s something wrong with this it sounds like crap” haha, so what I’m getting at is that it’s your first impression with something, your first experience with something got to be some sort of sensation and it’s always going to mean something to you and you’re going to carry that with you for the rest of your life and wow, to me I still to this day this album came out like in fucking in 1976 and I measure everything I do with that album wow the album cover and then the production and the whole quality of it like that’s still what I want to do I’m still trying to get there.
I think that that’s important because it’s like an emotional thing, I connect with that album, sentiments, with the band, and with the members basically.
You say sentimental it’s also a lot of nostalgia going on now all those bands that are out there like oh farewell tour people “I want to hear the good old songs” and it’s always like that it doesn’t matter if JUDAS PRIEST put out like this “Firepower” and people were like they were going ballistic about it, they have thought it was so fantastic and it probably is, but for the most part people tend to like the old stuff that they grew up with that they listened to. Everything goes back to that if you heard something over and over when you were more open-minded like a sponge in your teenage years, you were like wow I listen a lot to a “Number of the Beast” or something but I cannot really get into those newer albums because I don’t set off the time for it or I have matured or grown in a way so I’m not so open so you tend to go back to listen to what you are used to hearing and it’s maybe that you’re sentimental or it’s nostalgia, I don’t know what it is.
Maybe because you’re listening to it so much it kind of just gets sedimented into your brain at a deeper level, so it’s really in there forever.
Yeah but I think also when you’re in your formative years when you’re like between for sure yeah 10 to 20 or something you’re like wow listening and you’re really absorbing some of the things yeah but when you’re like 45, you don’t spend that much time it’s not like you’re sleeping listening to that album it doesn’t get ingrained in your physical body as when you were a kid so that just explains it, this new album with OPERA DIABOLICUS that I’m playing drums on and sing and this is the second one then and I was saying this is such a great fucking album that I think it probably might be the best album I’ve ever appeared on, and people say “yeah it’s probably good but it’s never going to beat “The Eye” or those MEMENTO MORI albums”, but that’s like 30 years ago and we were 30 years younger and if you were 18 back then wow this is so special, but now you’re 48 and you don’t give a shit basically, it’s hard to absorb things when you’re older and going back to this attention span thing also you’re not that as open-minded you like it the way it was it feels comfortable, I brought up JUDAS PRIEST for example, I love JUDAS PRIEST, I think “Painkiller” is a fantastic album the “Sad Wings of Destiny” from 1976, is a fantastic “British Steel” too, I mean to me I don’t need any more JUDAS PRIEST if I want to listen that kind of sound I put on something that I’m familiar with instead of the new album Rob Halford is the best singer ever, he doesn’t matter if he loses range there or something because he’s the best, but to me I don’t need that, if I want to listen to that kind of music I can put on “Defenders of the Faith” or “Painkiller” or “Stained Class” whatever, if I need to get some JUDAS PRIEST into my system I’m just battling a lot of shit here so let the guys go.
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