Heart of Steel: Interviews

Michael and Micko of Debase

Interview By Anders Sandvall
Photos by Anders Sandvall

debase_michaelmickoI met up with the singer Michael and bass player Micko, the metal icons from Malmö, Sweden, to ask them some questions about the band, their newly released album, “Unleashed” and what their plans are for 2004-05. I have followed this band for a long time and I hope that the band receives some success with this new album.


Would you please like to tell us who Debase are for those who don't know?

Michael: The band started out in 1996 by Micko, Jonas and Sigge. Mårten and I joined them in 1998 and our debut was released 1999. Mårten left Debase after the debut and Johan came along instead of him.

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Do all of the members live in Malmö, Sweden?

Michael: All of the guys live in Malmö except Jonas.



Why did Mårten - the drummer on the debut, leave the band?

Michael: He has a restaurant and I think he wanted to put his energy on that instead of rehearsing and touring with the band.



debase_live_9.jpg (23076 bytes)How did your current drummer Johan end up in the band? What are the differences between Johan and Mårten as a drummer?

Michael: I knew Johan from earlier when we’ve played together in Peeping Tom and when Johan came along it felt like Debase reached another dimension in our music development. Everybody in Malmö knows who Johan is and he is a lot of bands dream drummer because of his playing skills.



You don’t sound like any other band out here, you have your own sound that I would like to call Debase–metal, how would you describe what kind of music you play?

Michael: We simply play hard music because we love that kind of music. The music becomes what it is because the different influences we have in the band.

Micko: Yeah, hard, raw, powerful and honest, it’s really heavy but at the same time very dynamic and melodic.



Do you have any influences from other big hard rock/metal acts?

Michael: All of the guys have Black Sabbath as a big influence, which is the only band who all of us have in common.

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In retrospect, how do you look upon your two previous albums?

Michael: We have taken one step further in the right direction where we want to be. We are satisfied with the first album but in order to make the second album right we needed another year to really make a great album of that one.

Micko: When we recorded the other albums we didn’t have that much experience (of course), so maybe we trusted too much in the guys that had the studio, now that we recorded and produced it ourselves we got everything the way we wanted.

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What was the response from the fans/press on the previous albums?

Michael: We haven’t had any response from the press because there weren’t any promos sent out to them. Both of our previous albums have been really hard to get in the record shops due to bad distribution. But when we’ve been out and play we’ve had some really good response from the fans.

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You have done lots of shows over the years by yourself and as support act to Paradise Lost, Entombed, Judas Priest and Alice Cooper. How do you think you’ve developed as a live act through the years?

Michael: Because we have played a lot, both on bigger scenes and on small ones we’ve gained a lot of routine by that. Therefore we have been developed as a live act.



How was it to be supporting The Annihilator/Seven Witches tour through  Europe? (That sadly didn’t reach Scandinavia.)

Michael: It went really well and we’ve played on a lot of different places throughout Europe. We did 30 shows on 35 days.

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How did the crowd respond to you in Europe?

Michael: In the bigger cities the response was of course bigger, because it was a lot more people there but every where we played we had great response from the fans.



Do you think that you developed music-wise? If so, how?

Michael: We have developed a great deal. Both our songs and arrangements are much better, this time we have worked really hard with these parts.

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You have recently changed labels. How does it work with the new label, compared to the old one?

Michael: It’s fantastic, it’s as night and day. Our new label really shows that they are giving us a lot of promotion and they show it big time.



All of the songs on the promo sampler made it on the album, but why have you chose to rearrange the songs and change titles on some of them?

Michael: We re-arranged them simply because they sounded better that way and we’ve let them grown a while and then they sounded better than they did on the promo.

Micko: Yeah and some of the old titles were just working names.

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Why have you chosen to call the new album, “Unleashed”? Does it mean anything special to you?

Michael: We wanted to let the greatness inside of us free, what we’ve kept inside us earlier we have now unleashed.

Micko: Also we got free from our previous partners and label which was a condition we had to record anything ever again.



How long did it take to write and record the album?

Michael: We started to write the songs about 2 years ago and the recording took about 1 month, it took 1 week to mix it.

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debase_cover3.jpg (33510 bytes)The cover looks really nice. Who made it?

Michael: The band has decided that it should look that way.

Micko: I made it with some cooperation from a girl from the label, this way we got a cover that represented the music, that the band liked and the label was pleased with from a promotional point of view.



What are some of the lyrics about?

Michael: The lyrics are about the things that happen outside in the world and what the world looks like nowadays with war, religion and that kind of stuff.

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Personally I think you’ve made a really strong album. However, two songs are a bit weak: “Symphony of the Unholy,” and, “Unleashed.” Are you pleased with the album?

Michael: We are extremely pleased with the album, both the sound picture and the songs. We have come across what we sound like live, the raw and brutal that is Debase.



Is there anything that you’re not as content with?

Michael: We are content with everything on the album. We got out exactly what we wanted on this album.

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Why have you chosen to record the album in your rehearsal space?

Michael: Because Micko feels at home there and we could go and work when we wanted to. We didn’t have any schedule to care about, if we wanted to record something in the middle of the night we could.



Micko, you and  Jonas/Johan recorded the album. How involved have the other two guys been in the recording?

Micko: Not completely correct, I did all the recordings and the three of us did more or less produce it together.


Micko, you like to play with sound. Have you produced anything on your own?

Micko: I produced some demos that I have recorded. I have played enough and I’ve found my style. It’s difficult to explain but the sound on Unleashed is closest thing to the live-experience I think I’ve ever heard.

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You did the mixing in Studio Fredman in Gothenburg, Sweden. How was it to work with the demon producer Fredrik?

Micko: It was perfect, one of the reasons to go there in the first place was that we wanted someone from the outside to come with new input on the sound, and Fredrik’s skills was the other. He didn’t do very much with the sounds themselves but he had a different way to see the levels between the channels and that was very good and as I said, the reason why we went there.



How does it feel to be produced by a band member, compared to a producer? You have experienced both.

Michael: It’s a dream to work with Micko, he knows exactly how to take out the best of me and my voice something that no outside producer could do.



Have you got any response yet on the new album?

Michael: We’ve got extremely good respond from papers all over the world already.



Who has written the music and lyrics for the album?

Micko: Most of the music is written by me, Jonas and Johan. All lyrics are written by Michael except Unleashed, which I wrote.

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Are there any plans of doing a video for some of the songs?

Michael: There are some plans on that yes.



How eager is Debase to go out on and play?

Michael: We want to go out on tour REALLY BAD!

Micko: Yeh we’re really looking forward to the show at KB in March.

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Are there any plans on doing a tour? If so, when and where?

Michael: Nothing has been set already but we are going to do some festival shows during the summer, we are confirmed for Sweden Rock Festival.



I think that your voice has developed incredibly through the years. How is that?

Michael: By taking care of my voice and through a song coach.



If I say that you are the metal icons of Malmö,  how would you comment on that?

Michael: I bow and say Thank you Anders for that compliment.

Micko: There’s really no competition.

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What are the plans for Debase during 2004 -05?

Michael: First and foremost it is to play live as much as possible and later to write some new material to the next album.

Micko: And we’ll probably start working on a video pretty soon.



Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Metal-Rules.com?

Michael: Yes, I would like to meet and talk to so many of you as possible after our shows and then you are free to buy me a beer.

Micko: Buy the album and see for yourselves.



Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

Michael: It’s I who should thank you, Anders.

Band Website: www.debase.se
Label Website: www.noiserecords.com