Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Jenny Walroth at Century Media Sweden.
Promo pictures from Century Media.
The Swedish all-star act Witchery have recently released DON’T FEAR THE REAPER. They have also changed record labels. I hooked up with guitar player Jensen and we talked about many things. So all new and old fans of this act have some more back info on this.
Hi Jensen, would you please like to tell the readers why you chosed to call the band Witchery?
Back in 1990, when we formed my first band that put out albums; Seance, we had a bunch of names that we chose from. Witchery was up for suggestion back then, but we went with Seance. When we got fired from Satanic Slaughter and needed a name, we took it, cos we felt it fit us great.
Today, is Witchery a band or a side-project?
No, we were in Witchery before I formed The Haunted, before Sharlee joined Arch Enemy and before Martin joined Opeth. To us Witchery is a a real band.
What do you think of your first 2 albums if you look back on them today?
I love the first album alot. Some of our best work is on there I think. The next release was the EP. 4 cover songs and 3 origianl tracks. I like the original tracks, although the only cover song I think is cool today is Fast as a Shark. The second full-length album was kinda rushed, and didnt really have the same weight as the first one, although one of my fave Witchery tracks is on there (A Paler Shade of Death).
What did the media have to say about those albums, if you remember we’ll say :-)?
The first album made it into the Album of the Month in Terrorizer and got a lot of very high points and scores in the media. The Second album did do quite as good, but people seemed to like the fact that it was faster haha.
Why does it take so long for you guys to release albums?
We put out 2 albums the first year, then an album the year after. The new album is waaay overdue. We had it done back in Aug 04 already, but didnt have a record label then, since MFN and Necropolis had all disappeared. I was busy with touring with The Haunted so I couldnt get the bizniz hooked up…but, eventually CM heard it, got us signed and put it out. We have already 60% of a new album done, so it wont be much a long time until we get another album out, I promise.
You had the same line up until the last album SYMPHONY FOR THE DEVIL from 2004 when Mique left the band, why did he leave?
He was tired of touring. Mique let us know very late into the preparations for that album, so we were very lucky that Martin was available.
How did your new drummer, Martin Axenrot, end up in the band, did you know him from before?
Yes, I knew him. We are from the same city (Linköping) I had approached him already back when Adrian left The Haunted if he wanted to join the band. He was interested, but we ended up trying Per and hiring him without trying any other drummers.
How was SYMPHONY FOR THE DEVIL greeted by the fans with thoughts of the member change?
Oh, very well… I think SFTD is one of our best albums. I really love how everything (band and music) came together on that album.
You have always been signed to Necropolis Records, how come you left them and joined Century Media?
Necropolis went out of the music bizniz. I dont know why but it left us hanging for awhile. We are very happy to be on CM now. Great people and great label.
What do you think of CM so far?
Are you satisfied with the work they have put in regarding promoting the album etc? Oh yes, Sharlee and I knew the CM people since before cos of our other bands, so we knew that we were going to be treated well by CM. We had no worries about this at all.
So far you have done two US tours and one European tour, is there any plans on going out on tour now that the new album is out?
We’ve also done a Scandinavian tour and a Japanese tour. A tour now is very difficlut for us to do, since all the other bandmembers are so busy… We are hoping for festivals tho, so as many people as possible will have the chance to see that band.
How many shows have you done since the debut came 1998? Do you have any idea?
hmm… maybe 100? Dont know for sure.
What territory are the main priority for Witchery at the moment, America or Europe?
America has always been great for us.. We went there on tour with Emperor on their first US tour, and the audience was loving it… Lots of people came out.. And I think Americans might be a little more acceptive about the imagery/show that Witchery has.
How many gigs have you done with Martin so far?
What’s the difference between Martin and Mique drumwise I mean?
Martin is more based on Cozy Powel and Ian Paice. Mique was/is more into the thrash drumming style. Mique is amazing with coming up with interesting little quirks and minut details… Martin is more groove etc.. altho Martin also has very fast feet and blastbeats hehe.
You have once again recorded the album in Berno Studio in Malmö Sweden, do you think you’re going to record all of your albums there? What’s so good with Berno Studio?
Berno is an amazing cool guy, and he has an impressive diversity of mic’s and a great room for drumming.. We tried to mix there this time as well, but we couldnt find the sound we were looking for. Thats when we sent everything to Tue Madsen. He had done the Haunted album and I knew he could deliver a great mix,,plus Sharlee and I both were needed by our other bands and couldnt be there to supervise, sp it had to be someone who could do it on his own…and Tue managed to come up with a great mix.
How long did it take to write the new album? And who’s written the music and lyrics?
It takes about a month to write the music. I write 95% of the music.. We rehearse from 5pm (its in the basement of an office building and we cant make any noise until after 5pm) and we rehearse until 2-3am. The lyrics are written in the studio. As soon as Ive laid down my guitar tracks, Richard starts with his solos.. I then start to write the lyrics. The recording process takes about 2 weeks.
Are the lyrics about anything in particular?
Death, evil, torture and war… basically humanity in general haha.
Why did you name the album DON’T FEAR THE REAPER? Was there any special thought behind that name?
We’ve always ahd names that stem from classic albums etc. This is obviously from Blue Oyster Cults classic song title “DON’T FEAR THE REAPER”, but we didnt change it this time.. We thought it was classic, and it already had a Witchery connection, since the first song on the first album was called The Reaper
Why three instrumental tracks on the album?
Cos I love instrumental tracks…always have, always will…
Personally I think you have changed musical direction on the album, from thrash to a more heavy metal based music, what do you think of that and how would you like to describe what kind of music Witchery plays?
It’s alwasy interesing to release a Witchery album, because you see all the reviews trying to deternine what style we play.. We’ve been called every style there is. I agree tho that the music ahs become more and more heavy. I dont know why.. we dont have a strategy when we start out writing.. We cant, really, when we are on such a tight schedule when writing songs…If its a good riff, then we’ll use it.. I guess heavy riffs come easier than the fast one…I dunno…Nevertheless, I think there is a distinct Witchery sound and eventho it has changed over the albums, you can still clearly tell its the same band.
What do you think of the statement that Witchery is an all star act?
I can see what people mean, but it’s not that way in our eyes.. We started this band together when we had to fight for crumbs just like any other new band.. the All Star-factor came in later…Witchery actually put out the first album before The Haunted did…
Have you read any reviews about the new album? What have the media to say about it?
They love it… is any other respons possible? haha
Do you have any favorite track on DON’T FEAR THE REAPER? If so which one(s) and why?
I like Weight of the Pyramids the best, I think…cos its instrumental and my fave guitar hero, Hank Sherman from Mercyful Fate, is playing a solo on it.
Why did you feature a cover of the Satanic Slaughter song “Immortal Death”?
Cos it was written by me, so its not a cover, I guess) and recorded by the same guys that recorded it for SS (apart from Mique/Martin). We really love that first SS album, but feel the songs are sadly overlooked…thats why we add them on the Witchery albums.
Toxine has changed his way of singing on this album, he sings in his lower register compared to what he did on the previous albums, was that a conscious move of him?
No, its just the way his voice has changed since we did the previos album.. I think his voice just keeps getting better and better.
Where in the world is the album released at the moment? Do you have any dates when it’s going to be released in Asia and the US?
I’ts out everywhere..thanks to the good people at CM.
Do you have any idea on how many albums you have sold totally worldwide?
Not a clue…honestly.
Is it possible to buy your older albums today or are they sold out?
They are sold out, but we are thinking about re-releasing them for the new fans. we’ll see what happens..
Do fans of Witchery going to have to wait long for a follow up of DON’T FEAR THE REAPER?
Nope, next year…if nothing major happens, there will be a new album nest year.
How do you find time to rehearse with Witchery I mean you all have ordinary bands that you’re playing with?
Now its really hard, but before Martin joined Opeth, I rehearsed with the band when I came up to Linköping to visit.. Sharlee would joined the last weeks before we were to record an album…and T&oxine would show up the last couple fo rehearsals to get a feeling for the album before he heard them in the studio.
Why have a few of you chosen to have artist names here?
Just something that cool bands did in the 80’s.
For how long do you think Witchery is going to exist and record albums?
Forever…I really do hope so..we have too much fun when we wrtie and record, so I hope this will be able to continue forever.
What’s the plans for Witchery for the rest of 2006?
Play festivals…and write & rehearse the remaining 40% of the new album…oh yeah, and visit black masses, sing with the choir o the Dead and muster the legions of Damnation into world domination.
Finally, I’d like to thank you a lot for taking the time to answer my questions and is there anything you’d like to say to the readers and fans outthere?
Don’t lose faith in us… We are doing everything possible to get a tour going so that you can check us out live… and there will be more albums int he future. No need to worry about that…and thanks to all you old fans for sticking with us throughout the years! Cheers!!