Heart of Steel: Interviews



Freternia Bassist Peter Wiberg

Interviewed by EvilG
Live pictures by Ludvig Isacsson


L-R: Martin Tilander (drums),
Pasi Humppi (vocals), Tomas Wäppling (guitar),
Peter Wiberg (bass), Tommie Johansson (keyboards)

 

PART I - History

I'd like to go through your history to date since the "history" only goes back to 1998. After the "history lesson" we'll get more into the band's future and other topics!

Let's go back to the beginning…how did you come up with the band name Freternia and what does it represent?

In the beginning the band was called Earthcrawl but nobody could pronounce that correctly and the name sucked anyway so we decided to change it. Obviously we wanted a name that wasn't already taken. The best solution was to make something up so Tomas came up with Freternia. The name is based upon the guitar frets which represents the guitar based music we're making.

 

 

Regarding your 1998 demo called "The Blood of Mortals" - is it still available?

Yes, it's still available - for ourselves. It was never released for the public, even though the songs were pretty good I think. We sent the demo to a couple of record companies but it never led to anything. Actually there is a good story about that demo who very few know of. It was originally promoted as "Warchants And Fairytales" but when it was time to name the debut album things were changed and since then our first demo is officially called "The Blood Of Mortals" to avoid confusion.

 

 

In the spring of 1999, before your first album (WARCHANTS & FAIRYTALES) was even out, you and guitarist Bo Pettersson left Freternia to form your own band. Firstly - why did the 2 of you leave?

Bo PetterssonFirst of all we didn't like the direction Freternia went musically. Patrik Lund was at the time heavily into neoclassic metal in the vein of Yngwie Malmsteen and we were more into classic heavy metal. But there were also arguments over other things. Some people didn't want to rehearse if there was no coffee in the rehearse room or if some guitarist had a bigger amp than the other. I felt I had to get away from that and when I quit, Bo followed me. But I have to say Freternia were a whole different band at that time, not very serious and not focused even though we thought we were all that. Personally I learned much from that experience.

 

 

Did you and Bo actually form a band or did that not work out? Was the music different from Freternia and was anything recorded, released and is anything available?

Yes, we formed a band called Unholy Wizard, a project based on 80's attitude and love theme lyrics. Musically we sounded like some sort of cross between Dio and Mötley Crüe. We recorded a couple of demos and I've heard they are available on the internet somewhere but that's about all.

 

 

The band found a replacement for Bo Pettersson in the form of Mikael Bakajev. With him in the band and you and Bo gone, Freternia recorded demo #2 "Somewhere In Nowhere" - so again I'll ask - was this released and is that still available?

No, like Blood of mortals it was never released except the tracks who went to be on the Swedish Metal Triumphators split CD with Persuader.

 

 

Next the band got word from the label Loud 'n' Proud and the album WARCHANTS & FAIRYTALES was recorded for them with newly recruited vocalist Pasi Humppi. Up until this point guitarist/bassist Tomas Wäppling did the vocals - why did he decide to step down as vocalist and just play guitar?

I think they all realized Freternia's sound would be better with another type of singer with wider range. That's why.

 

 

Pasi came to Freternia form the band Ironware. At first I believe he remained a member of both bands. Is that the case any longer or is he just a member of Freternia now?

I think you know more about this now, don't you? He's a member of both bands and their website is www.ironware.nu.

[Right after I asked I did more research and found that the band are newly signed to Limb.]

Sometime after the album was recorded guitarist Patrik Lund left the band (Guitarist Andreas Heleander replaced Patrik) for the often-quoted reason of "personal reasons" what happened, was it just a disagreement amongst friends?

The true reason behind his departure was that Tomas' coffee maker started to make bad coffee. Or maybe not. I can't speak for him but the problems started even before I quit, he just didn't want to rehearse with the band for these "personal reasons".

 

 

By April 2001 guitarist Tomas Wäppling and keyboardist Tommie Johansson decided to leave Freternia thus marking the end of the band at that time. Do you have any information on why they decided they'd "had enough"?

(Tomas played bass at the time.) We've talked about this many times in the band and I know they felt the band wasn't working like it should. When Patrik Lund quit, Tomas was the only one who came up with written material and he had to teach both guitarists how they should play his riffs. I can understand the frustration. In addition to that he took care of everything else around the band, like giving interviews, posting mails, answering emails, running the website and so on. On top of that he had a family to take care of and a day time job. Maybe there were too many lazy guys who didn't put their heart in the band at the time, maybe Tomas didn't give them a chance to assume responsibility, maybe there was a combination between these things. Anyway I think Freternia's most serious defect in the early years was the lack of communication. Nobody dared to speak their mind when something was wrong.

 

 

Thankfully not too long after the band's break up a reformation was underway sometime in 2002 I believe?

The reunited members were:
Guitarist Tomas Wäppling
Keyboardist Tommie Johansson
Drummer Stefan Svantesson
Guitarist Andreas Heleander
Vocalist Pasi Humppi
and yourself - bassist Peter Wiberg.

How did it feel for you to be asked to re-join a band you had quit back in 1999?

The reformation happened in the summer of 2001 actually. The break up only lasted for a couple of months. I had been waiting for that phone call so I felt very comfortable. I know it sounds like a routine answer but it felt like I never left and that's the truth. I've always felt like I've been a part of Freternia, even when I wasn't in the band.

This line-up is the one that recorded the album A NIGHTMARE STORY. In the liner notes of the album Tomas Eriksson is credited with playing all the guitar solos. So with two recording guitarists (Tomas Wäppling AND Andreas Heleander) why did you need to bring in someone else to play all the guitar solos?

Actually, you're wrong about the recording line-up. Heleander quit some month after we reunited. It just didn't work out, his heart wasn't into the thing and since then we've been short on one guitarist. Tomas (Wäppling) played all harmony and melody lead guitars on the album but the lead breaks were played by Tomas Eriksson. Wäppling doesn't like to play solos, he's a thrasher you know.

 

 

Tomas ErikssonAn obvious question is - who is this awesome lead guitarist, what band is he in, and why is he not a member of Freternia?

Tomas Eriksson is playing in Axenstar but he's more than welcome to seek the job. Anyway they are also signed to Arise and he lives in Västeras where we recorded the album so he became the perfect solution. And I have to agree - he did an awesome job. We gave him free hands to do whatever he wanted in the studio and he saved the day.

 

 

I know you played at Sweden Rock in 2002, how did that go over? Did it pay off as a big break for the band?

It was really cool to play SRF, nice weather and a great audience. I have a feeling we've become more well known in Sweden since then but I would lie if I said we broke out from the underground scene. The gig went well even though Pasi had a serious bad cold. He couldn't even talk in the morning but with some miracle medicine from the medic centre he became fit for fight just in time for the gig.

Who plays all the guitar solos live?

Our good friend Niklas Möller from Ironware helped us with the Sweden Rock-gig. (He also played the lead breaks on the "Murderer"-recordings for the Helloween-tribute.) We've also used a guy named Fredrik Jordanius who played in Conviction (with Martin Tilander) earlier and now in Rising Faith.

 

 

After this festival, your drummer since the beginning, Stefan Svantesson left the band - why?

You know he played in two hard working bands and for a drummer it's very tough on knees, arms and whatever limbs they are using. He joined Crystal Eyes at the time when Freternia was layed on ice and felt that he had commitments towards them and therefore he choosed them when the whole situation became too much for him. We respect that.

 

 

Do you keep in touch with ex-member Stefan Svantesson? 

Yes, we keep in touch, we have absolutely no reason to not keep in touch with him because he's our dear friend and brother. He, Tomas and Tommie are working at the same job so they can't avoid him, even if they wanted. But I ran into him the day before Christmas eve when we were both buying presents and he seemed to be the same as always, a really nice guy.

 

 

His replacement is Martin Tilander. Where did you find him and how have things been working out with him?

We've known him for a while, he used to play with a band called Conviction. He had a reputation around him saying he was the hardest skin abuser in town and since we always thought Stefan had this title we thought it would be a good idea to seek the truth in these rumors. I can't say who's the hardest hitter but Martin has been a shot in the arm for us with lots of good ideas and a creative force overall.

 

 

We mentioned about Pasi's involvement with the band Ironware above. Are any of the other current members of Freternia in any other bands right now?

Martin plays in a Judas Priest cover band with Mikael Dahl from Crystal Eyes. I think their name is Defenders Of The Faith. I'm still working with Bo Pettersson, but on a very casual level. We're writing and recording just for fun in his home studio. Check out our high spirit true heavy metal website at www.zageronline.tk.

 

 

To summarize, do you maintain contact or know what each of the above mentioned past Freternia members are doing now?

Let's see now if I can recall all ex-members…
Stefan Svantesson is drumming hard.
Bo Pettersson - best friend. He's living next door and works with different musical projects at home.
Patrik Lund will soon move out of town with his wife.
Mikael Bakajev - no contact with him unfortunately.
Andreas Heleander - joined a band called Plan 9 after he left Freternia.

 

 

This brings to a close the history questions and information about the line-up changes. How solid do you think the current line-up is? Are you confident that the line-up now is the one that will stick together for the foreseeable future?

You know we thought the A NIGHTMARE STORY recording line-up would be the final and ultimate line-up (except another lead guitarist) but then Stefan decided to leave all of a sudden so you'll never know. But I feel a good chemistry in the band and there are absolutely no need for changes in the line-up at this time. We would like to stick together, not have a change of hearts…

 

 

Part II - The Labels

As mentioned earlier, your first album WARCHANTS & FAIRYTALES was on Loud 'n' Proud Records. What happened with that label, do you know why they went out of business?

They went out of business due to financial problems. I know they signed like 20 bands in like 6 months or something and booked studio time for each band at the same time. It didn't work out and we were lucky to even have the album released. Some bands were not that lucky.

 

 

Did you retain the rights to your recordings and will it get re-released in the future?

We can't speak about this topic at this stage. Sorry.

 

 

How did you hook up with Arise Records from Spain and how many albums did they sign you for?

I think they distributed W&F in Spain or something like that. Anyway they knew who we were and they shown their interest immediately after when LnP went out of business. When we reunited we had them in mind and since the demo containing Grimbor, Arrival and Savoiur was already recorded we sent a copy to find out if they were still interested. And they were really interested in our music which was the main reason why we signed with them for two albums + one optional.

 

 

Is it hard for a label in Spain to promote a band in Sweden since most contact you have with the label must be by phone and e-mail?

There are few serious metal labels in Sweden so we had to cross the border and get a deal. But it has never been a problem since they always answer our emails within 24 hours. We have a very good contact with them besides the geographic distance. And I think they work really hard, from their conditions, to promote us.

 

 

What other touring have you done and has Arise Records promised to financially back you to be able to tour?

The problem is spelled l-e-a-d g-u-i-t-a-r-i-s-t, a problem starting to get really annoying. We can't go on tour without a permanent member, we simply don't have time to rehearse with new and temporary members all the time. Arise haven't promised anything but before we even think about tours we have to find a guitarist.

 

 

Besides the bands at the Sweden Rock festival, what other bands have you played or toured with?

We did a one off with Dragonland in connection to the album release but that's about all. Hopefully we will be able to hit the road more often in 2003.

 

PART III - A NIGHTMARE STORY

I read that there was at least one extra song that was recorded for A NIGHTMARE STORY that is not on at least my release!?! Is this the case, and if so what country's copy (probably Japan?) has this extra song and what is it called?

No, there are no extra tracks or bonus tracks. We had an idea of recording "Last Battle Of Freternia" from the Blood Of Mortals-sessions as a license track for the Japanese market but it didn't work out, mostly due to time pressure. Our label suggested that we could use "Requiem" as a bonus track but that would have felt completely wrong since it was a part of the concept and they understood our point. Then we said "ok, let's forget Japan this time" because we didn't want to record some weak song just for the purpose of getting a deal. It had to feel right and it didn't this time.

 

 

Is there a chance you would be allowed to make this track available for download for people who've bought the version of the CD without it?

If we record a bonus track for the next album we would consider that, if it's legally possible.

 

 

In the album's liner notes you personally thank "Jeff P for being a role model and a source of inspiration." Is this someone in your personal life? Is it Dokken's Jeff Pilson? Hehe…. Either way, if you don't mind me asking - what's the story?

Damn, I thought nobody would figure that out! Actually it is Jeff Pilson, who sadly for most Dokken fans found himself "replaced" last year.

He's been an endless source of inspiration for a while now, not only as a bass player but more as a professional overall. The way he handles interview situations, the way he interacts with his fans and his down to earth-personality is something I admire, besides his musical talent. The way he handled the Dokken-trauma or whatever you may call it was just purely amazing, and inspiring as well. Not a bad word in official statements, he just showed that honesty doesn't need to be the same thing as slamming. He won that battle easy without even fighting.

 

 

A NIGHTMARE STORY is a concept or "story" album. What was the inspiration for the storyline?

The idea of making a concept album some day is something Tomas always had. I know he's a fan of Savatage and their theme albums but I don't think their lyrics inspired him to write this particular story.

 

 

Have any particular books or movies helped inspire the story?

It's Tomas' and Pasi's story and I think they were inspired by many different sources. For instance I personally get a Never Ending Story-feeling with this "travel to another world"-thing, a theme which also can be found in the books of Narnia, and He-man and the masters of the universe for that matter. But we never discuss the lyrics, other than the general theme and moral of the story. (I'm pretty sure they were not inspired by He-man though …)

 

 

In a nutshell would you like to tell us what the MORAL of the story is?

If you don't believe in yourself you will never succeed. That's the moral of the story. Our hero falls in the end and now he's gone. That's the way life is, you always have to stand up for what you're believing in.

 

What are your favorite parts of the album?

My favorite story-wise is "The Dark Side" because I can relate to some events in my personal life. I really think these lyrics are interesting because the way I see it there are good possibilities to make your own interpretations.

Musically I like all the songs, they are all very good in their own way. It's a strong album.

 

 

Now that the album has been out for a few months, what is you opinion on the album in terms of the songs and the final mix - are you satisfied with how it's turned out?

We did the best we could at that particular time and we're all satisfied with the performance and final production. We knew the songs were good before we entered the studio and our goal was to accomplish the vision of the concept, to create a feeling. We wanted to make sure people would knew the songs were written with the lyrical concept in mind. I will always remember the often chaotic recording sessions with a smile. The producer Pelle Säther is a true original, there's no way to describe this guy. We had a really good time.

 

 

Do you know how has the album been selling?

I think it's selling as expected, maybe better than we thought. But then again I can honestly say I'm not interested in numbers. The thing that matters for us are all the emails we receive from all parts of the world, the feedback of the work. It feels kind of strange but it keep us going. Maybe we will start to care about numbers the day we're selling +100000 copies but at this stage we're just happy if our music is important for someone else than us.

 

 

Has the album and band been doing well in Sweden?

Definitely better than the last one, since W&F was, and still is, hard or impossible to find in record stores. But as I said before, we've felt a rising support in Sweden, maybe as a result of the SRF-gig. But as the saying goes: It's hard to be a prophet in your own homeland. There are few Swedish acts who are actually big in Sweden too.

 

 

What is your opinion on concept albums overall and what would you select as some of the greatest metal concept albums?

If the lyrical concept tells an interesting story it's good but the music will always be more important than lyrics.

Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime and Iron Maiden's Seventh son are two masterpieces. The Phenomena-albums are great too but I don't know if the second and the third are concept albums? The music rules though.

 

 

PART IV - Tributes

The Keepers Of Jericho IIHow did you manage to get a track on the Keepers of Jericho II Tribute to Helloween CD?

Our label asked us to participate and we thought it would be a good opportunity to reach a wider audience. Pasi is also a big fan of them so for him it was like a dream coming true.

 

 

Were you a fan of Keepers of Jericho I? I thought it was one of the better tribute albums I've heard so I have high hopes for part II!

I don't believe I've listened to the first part, just bits and pieces. But I hope you will like the second part, I think all the bands did a nice job. My favorite is Vhäldemar's version of "Gorgar".

 

 

Why did you pick "Murderer", could it have something to do with Pasi wanting to sing a Kai Hansen song as opposed to say one Michael Kiske recorded?

No, because I think he admires Kiske too. We decided to pick something from Walls of Jericho since that album has a rather "raw" sound which fits our style. We managed to agree on picking Murderer and in retrospective I think we did a good choice. I don't know if you've heard the album yet but be sure to listen to the last seconds of the track where we pull a little joke.

 

 

What do you think are some of the better tribute albums that have come out in recent years?

I'm totally off but I've listened to a Judas Priest Tribute and there were some really good versions from bands like Virgin Steele, Primal Fear and Blind Guardian. Nothing beats the original though, I'm a big fan of Judas Priest.

 

 

What other great classic metal bands would you like to pay tribute to? I read your bio online and you list some very cool bands that you might not see a band like Freternia list as "all time favorites". A band such as Dokken or even Ratt, for example…. Are there any un-typical bands that you'd like to pay tribute to on a tribute album?

We have a cover in our live set named "Free like an eagle" by the Swedish 80's band Talk of the Town. It's very different from our regular sound but we all like it for some reason.

Dokken and Ratt … Unfortunately I don't think Freternia will ever get the opportunity to cover those bands, not participating on a tribute album anyway…

 

 

PART IV - Swedish Metal

In the incredibly competitive Swedish metal scene what are you going to stand out from the pack?

It's really hard but I think we have the advantage of not put ourselves in a small box without being able to stretch out. We call ourselves a metal band which basically means nothing and everything, which is good - we have no limits sound-wise. But I don't know if we care anyway, because we just make the music we feel for at the moment and if it breaks, it breaks. If it doesn't break then we are at least satisfied with our work. I know the next album will be different from ANMS but you will always hear it's Freternia I guess.

 

 

Why is it that the term "power metal" has become to SOME a dirty word? Do you mind being called power metal and if so WHY?

Personally I don't understand that term because it's a completely useless term in my opinion, originally made up by record companies to mislead the consumers and let them think they were buying something fresh and innovative since the term heavy metal was considered out and cheesy in the late 90's. (Not saying Freternia is the most innovative and original metal act in the world, but we're really trying to do our own thing and I'm sure other bands do their best as well.)

What is power metal? Is it music with lots of double bass pedals? Well, Priest released Stained Class with Exciter in 1978 and Priest have always been labeled a Heavy Metal band. Is it music with high pitch-vocals? Ok, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin had a pretty high voice. Is it music with very melodic choruses? I would name Helloween in that case, and they were NOT being called a power metal-band in the 80's.

A better description of this so called power metal-wave would be New Wave Of European Heavy Metal or something like that. Maiden, Saxon and those kind of bands were as we all know labeled NWOBHM which makes sense. It wasn't a musical style since these bands often sounded different, it was a description of the underground movement which is similar to what we've seen in Europe the last couple of years. Enough rambling, I don't know if this make sense at all but hopefully I've answered the question. Oh, wait. Do we mind being called power metal? No … Let's worry about more important things in the world than just a musical term.

 

 

The Swedish scene is quite varied with big name metal bands ranging in style from HammerFall to, for example, The Haunted. It seems as if many cities from there have metal bands and even the "smaller" bands like say Freternia or Persuader are fucking excellent! To what do you attribute both the number of bands and the quality? (If you even agree with my "quality" assessment of many of the bands from Sweden? hehe)

I have no idea, but the metal scene has always been strong over here. Maybe we're too stupid to do something else, I don't know. The quality of the bands is often high as you say, and the musical range is wide. Naturally I don't like all Swedish metal, because of the range, but it's amazing how many bands there are and I'm really proud people all over the world recognize Sweden and associate the country with metal. Let's not forget it's a small country with only 9 million people.

 

 

How did you end up doing a split CD with Persuader, who now are on our very own release Metal-Rules.com Volume I by the way!? Are, or have, you been close with the band or was it something the label alone set-up?

It was a decision made by the label (LnP) to start the buzz before our albums were released. I believe this idea of making split CDs is more common in the thrash and death metal-world and I think it's an interesting way of promoting a band.

 

 

Part V - Closing

What can you tell us about the next Freternia CD? Has recording begun? If so - where is the album being recorded?

Also: Any album title? Song titles? Approximate release date? How the band's sound might again evolve for the next album? Etc…

The next album will be heavier, more riff based and even more aggressive, but without losing the melodies. I won't be surprised if people will sense some progressive elements too.

We've been recording some pre-productions, just to see how the arrangements work out but we will record the album probably some time in the autumn. We're planning on using two different studios this time, we'll see how things turn out.

I can give you one title: "The Remains" - what do you think?

"(Beneath) The Remains"? hehe...
Will it again be a concept album perhaps?

No, not like ANMS anyway. Maybe the lyrical themes will have some sort of connection but there will not be a story.

 

 

As I understand it, Freternia is still looking for a lead guitar player. Why do you think it's been difficult for the band to find a permanent lead guitarist?

It's all about how much you can offer. People in general aren't ready to move from another part of Sweden to our hometown if we can't offer something financially and since we can't make a living on the music yet it's a tough one. I mean, it's different when David Coverdale needs two guitarists for the Whitesnake-gig. And then there's the other thing about dedication. Even Metallica seems to have problems finding a new bass player and we want a guitarist who is 100% focused and dedicated to Freternia.

 

 

If no replacement guitarist is found by the time of recording the next album, will you use Tomas Eriksson for lead guitar again?

We would like to work with him again but I think it will be impossible since we're planning on recording the guitars in a different studio. But we will make another album with or without a permanent lead guitarist, that's for sure.

 

 

If you guys don't mind me asking…this is an unrelated question for you regarding Tomas….is he Swedish as in originally from Sweden? He looks like he could be Asian? Just wondering!

When you mention it … He looks a little bit different, doesn't he? The truth is he was born in Korea but adopted and raised in Sweden.

 

 

Is there anything else going on with the band that you'd like to let us and our readers know about?

I think you covered it all, thank you very much. Keep on defending the honour of heavy metal! /PW

Thanks!!!


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Freternia CD Reviews:
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- Warchants & Fairytales

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