Heart of Steel: Interviews

Bassist Mikael Hedlund

Interview by Lord of the Wasteland

I always get excited when a new release from Hypocrisy is looming on the horizon. Peter Tägtgren is one of the most prolific musicians in metal today and after forming Hypocrisy in Sweden in 1991, the band has continuously released one amazing album after the next. In mid-January, the band made a difficult decision and asked original drummer, Lars Szoke, to leave the band. Just as quickly, Szoke's replacement was named and it was none other than ex-Immortal skinsman, Horgh!

Just days after this announcement was made, I had the pleasure of speaking with bassist Mikael Hedlund from his home in Sweden, where we discussed the band's new CD, THE ARRIVAL, the lineup changes and "runka!"

Before we talk about the new CD, THE ARRIVAL, Hypocrisy has just become a 4-piece band. You have an "official" second guitarist as well as a new drummer. Can I ask why Lars Szoke left the band?

We've been touring for pretty much the last two years and he was tired of doing that. If you're not 100% into the band and touring, then it doesn't work. We had to make a decision and we had a meeting-the three of us-and we came to the conclusion that it was better that he left the band. Of course it was very hard to make this decision.



Especially to lose an original member after 12 years of recording!

Yeah, absolutely, but this is what we're doing. It was hard but this is positive.



Are you still on good terms with Lars and still friends?

Yeah, we are still friends. I'm glad that we are.



So now you have Horgh from Immortal behind the kit!




Does he play on the new CD at all or is it all Lars?

No, Lars. Like you said, we have a new guitar player, too, Andreas. He was a session guitar player for us for one year and we were thinking it was better to make it clear that we are four instead of having a session guitar player all the time. It's not that stable. It's more like a team now that there are four in the band.



Did Andreas play on THE ARRIVAL?

No, just touring.



Was that who you had on the North American tour?

Yeah that was Andreas.



How long did it take to record the new CD?

It took 2 months to record it. We always do it like this. We have no songs finished before we enter the studio. We used to have the riffs done and then sit together in the studio when it was time to record and arrange the songs as a band. Then we would record a demo before and when we have all the songs and are satisfied with them, then we start recording.



Did you record at Peter's studio, The Abyss, again?

Yeah, it was at The Abyss.



Are there any guests on this record?

No, it's all us.



The reason I ask is I know Silenoz from Dimmu Borgir co-wrote a song and I was curious if he also played on the track?

Yeah, he and Peter wrote the lyrics for "New World."



How did you team up with Silenoz? Was it a song that was written while you were on tour together?

(Laughs) Well, there's a story behind that! We were on tour in Europe in October and we hadn't finished the record yet. We had no lyrics on that song and we had a listening session three weeks later while we were on tour in Vienna, Austria, so we had to enter the studio in Portugal three days before the listening session so we could complete the album. I think he came up with the idea that he could write the lyrics for that song so we said, "Why no t?" and it came out very good.



Did Peter write most of the tracks himself or was this a band effort?

This album was more teamwork between Peter and I. Lars came up with two riffs or something like that, but the rest was me and Peter hitting the studio, putting riffs together, where he'd come up with one, then I'd come up with the next one. It was like teamwork this time, which felt very good. I'm on six songs on the album.



You re-recorded the track "The Abyss" for the new record. What made you choose that one?

Well at first, people where asking on our website where they could find "The Abyss" because they had heard it once and thought it was a great song. It was a bonus track on THE FOURTH DIMENSION. Also, we like it a lot, so we thought why not do a re-recording of that song and put it on the new album with much better production and everything.



That was 1994 when that came out?

Yeah, '94.



So this is a 10-year anniversary for it then (laughs)?




I understand there is going to be a bonus track on the Japanese version of THE ARRIVAL. What is the name of that song?

We don't know yet which song it will be. We haven't decided yet.



Are there a lot of tracks left over from the recordings for the new CD?

Yeah, we've got some songs, but I don't know which one will be the bonus track.



Are there plans to do a video from the new CD?

Yeah, we've already done that! A couple weeks ago we had a shooting but it's not finished yet. We have to put it all together. It should be done in about 2 weeks.



Which song is the video for?

The second song, "Eraser."



Is it going to be a concept video or live footage of the band playing the song?

It's going to be more, not a concept, but with a science fiction thing. It's hard for me to say, though. I haven't seen it yet, but as far as I know, that's what the director told us. I think it's going to be pretty cool!



You mentioned the science fiction theme and Peter is obviously a sci-fi fan, but is the rest of the band as into it as he is?

Not as much as Peter! I mean he's an alien freak, but of course I'm watching the documentaries and stuff. I think it's very interesting and fascinating to know what's going around.



Did Peter get you interested in that or did have an interest in it yourself before Peter?

I don't know. I think I've always been interested in that, but of course it was more after he started saying, "Have you seen this?" I was into it before, too.



There were a few songs that really jumped out at me from the new CD, especially "New World," the intro to "Born Dead Buried Alive" is pretty cool, too. Do you have any personal favorites from the new CD?

Hmmm…favorite track? Many people ask that and it's hard to say when you're involved with the songwriting. Of course, I like all the songs on the album but if I HAD to choose, I'd have to say "Eraser." We did a video for that song and I think the song represents Hypocrisy very well.



I've read that on this album, the band has said that you went for a return to the traditional sound of Hypocrisy. What made you want to return to the sound of older albums?

On the CATCH 22 album, we tried to do something different with the vocals and have more guitar riffing songs, but…I don't know. Of course we listen to what people say, to.. Some people said they didn't like it at all and wondered what was going on, so we thought maybe we should go back to our roots and do what we best--the more mid-tempo, melodic songs. It also comes natural, too. That's where we were at before we went in to record the album.



Were you disappointed at all that the CATCH 22 album got such a negative reaction from fans?

For me, personally, I can't understand it. I mean, if you like the previous ones before CATCH 22, it's not that much different.



I agree! I think that CD was a natural progression for the band and I didn't really understand the feelings people had towards it either.

Well, it was something new and fresh, so I don't know. But, oh well…



Things happen! You can't please everyone (laughs)!

(Laughs) Right!



How many more Hypocrisy CDs can we expect from the band before you decide to call it a day?

Well, right now it feels very good, so I would not be surprised if we were still around in ten years. We'll see!


Yeah, but right now it feels perfect.



Why doesn't the band ever include the lyrics in your CDs?

Because we've never been 100% satisfied with the lyrics and if you're not 100% satisfied, I don't think you should put them on the album. I think on this album, THE ARRIVAL, I think we should have done that, now that I look back, because it's not that bad! Maybe we just look for pity and say, "Oh, it's not good enough!"



Do you think that you are your own worst critics?

I don't know, maybe. I hope we can do it. Maybe on the next album because of course it's more interesting when you buy a CD and you have the lyrics.



Then you can sing along!

(Laughs) Yeah, you can sing along.



I'm calling from Vancouver in Canada…




…and we saw you guys for the first time back in early December on the Dimmu Borgir tour.

That was a great show! It was very nice to play there. The crowd was excellent. It was a very nice club. Everything was perfect.



The Commodore Ballroom where you played was actually voted the best live venue in all of Canada for several years in a row actually!

It was such a nice place and I really hope we can come back to Vancouver and play again.



I was just going to ask if Hypocrisy is planning to come back soon! I saw that the Cannibal Corpse tour is going to Seattle but not Vancouver, unfortunately.

Yeah, I was a bit disappointed when I saw that there were no shows in Canada at all.



I talked to George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher from Cannibal Corpse about 2 weeks ago and he absolutely LOVES Vancouver! He wants to come fishing up here, so he was pretty disappointed that they weren't coming, too (laughs). He said they might come through on the next leg but not this time. You're also going to South and Central America on this tour. Is that the first time Hypocrisy has played down there?

We have played twice in Mexico before but not down in Colombia and Chile. This is going to be the first time and I'm very curious to see how it is down there. I've heard that it's crazy and they are very good crowds. So we're looking forward to that.



Have you got a setlist put together yet?

Yeah we have.



Can you give me a hint of any songs we might hear?

(Laughs) "Roswell 47" (laughs).



I figured that one might be on there (laughs)!

Well, from the album we'll do "Eraser," "War Within" and "Born Dead Buried Alive." On the last tour, we only had a half hour set, but we can play longer this time. We try to play songs from every album, so that's what we're going to do.



Are there any surprises, maybe songs you haven't played live before?

Many songs, so it's kind of a challenge for us to rehearse them again because it was a long time ago!



You asked for fan input once again on your website to help select the setlist for this tour. Were you surprised at all by what requests people had?

Well, of course we looked there, but we have tried to add them to the setlist we have now. I think that's very important that you have good contact with the fans. I see them as a part of the band, too.



I have a few questions about the band's past and some historical stuff…Hypocrisy was originally called Seditious. Why did you change the name?

Seditious was Peter in the beginning when he came over from America and started up this band. He did two demos with Hypocrisy before, but I can't remember why the name changed. Our old singer, Masse Broberg, came up with the name Hypocrisy and we must have said it sounds better…I don't know (laughs).



Now that Masse is in Dark Funeral, are you still in touch with him?

Yeah, we are very good friends. I used to meet him very often.



Was it strange when he first left the band to be down a three-piece with Peter singing?

Yeah, in the beginning it was different because everything was new and we didn't know what was going to happen in the future, whether it was going to work out or anything. Then we did a record and we were very satisfied with it.



How did Peter end up as the one who went behind the mike? Are you a singer yourself or was Peter the only singer among the three of you?

The first demo he did had him singing on it. He was used to it before, so it was very easy to pick the new singer (laughs).



When the band was recording THE FINAL CHAPTER album, did you know then that it was going to be the last Hypocrisy album?

That was more rumors than facts. In the magazines you'd read that it was the last album, but it wasn't that serious within the band. Of course Peter was tired of doing everything in the band…interviews, music, lyrics. Then we had a meeting and he said that we had to be more involved with the band and we had to work as a team. Of course, me and Szoke were into it because that's what we wanted too, but the focus at the time was only on Peter, like Hypocrisy was JUST Peter. It still is like that, too, but after that, things have been going better and better. Right now, it can't be better! We aren't happy all the time, but I can understand Peter. He doesn't want it to be "Peter is Hypocrisy."



That's what Pain is for (laughs)!

(Laughs) Yeah, that's what Pain is for. He's not the kind of guy to say, "Oh, I'm Hypocrisy!" He wants to work as a team and I think that's the way to do it.



For Hypocrisy's "best of" CD, 10YEARS OF CHAOS AND CONFUSION, how did the band decide which of the older songs from the albums to re-record?

We were not that satisfied with the production or how we played. Of course we are better musicians now, so we decided to re-record them because of that.



What made you choose the songs you did, though? Was it just a band choice?

We asked our fans to vote for the songs they wanted to hear on the compilation. It was both actually.



I was glad to see "Death Row (No Regrets)" on there. That is one of favorite Hypocrisy songs!

Yeah! That's a good song.



The band recorded two CDs under the name Abyss in the mid 1990's. Is there any chance of the band doing another Abyss CD?

No, there's no time to do it. That's it I think. There's just no time. I'm very proud of those 2 albums.



What made you all decide to change instruments on those records?

(Laughs) Just for something different. We had the riffs before and they didn't fit in anywhere with Hypocrisy, so we said that we would change instruments. Peter is actually a drummer from the beginning and Szoke is a good guitar player, too. I also played guitar and did the vocals. It was a fun thing to change the instruments!



That makes it ever more of a separate thing from Hypocrisy, too.

Yeah, we didn't want to play the same instruments and just change the name.



I'm a big KISS fan and I just wanted to know what made you choose to cover their song, "Strange Ways," on the MAXIMUM ABDUCTION E.P.?

That was the first metal band I started to listen to. Peter is a BIG KISS fan! He collects things. He's got the gold records in the studio. He's got ten or something hanging on the walls. He's got EVERYTHING! (Laughs) He's a huge KISS fan, absolutely!



So what do you think of KISS carrying on with other members in the makeup?

I don't like it. It's not the same thing anymore. Gene and Paul were talking about how changing the member is like a baseball team changing a player or something like that. I don't think it's that easy in a group. If you use the makeup on somebody else but pretend it's the same person, I don't know. It's a bit too much.



Have you seen the symphony thing they did with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra?

I haven't seen it, but I've heard the album.



It's pretty good, I think!

Ahhh…I don't know. I was disappointed to be honest (laughs). I didn't like the arrangements with the orchestra.



You have to see the DVD. The CD is one thing, but the DVD, where you can see everything, is pretty cool.

I'll have to check it out!



I have a couple questions about the bio the band has on your website. What is "runka" and please forgive my pronunciation (laughs)!

(Laughs) No, that was good! "Runka" means "jerking off" (laughs).



***At this point we both had a laugh because Mikael was pronouncing it "yerk off" and it took us both a minute to figure out exactly what each other meant! I thought he said "golf" at first then we corrected each other's pronunciation and had a good laugh.***

(Laughs) How about "knulla pa?"

"Knulla pa" means "fucking" (laughs).



(Laughs) I'm beginning to sense that there is a theme here!

(Laughs) Yeah, knulla pa!



(Laughs) How about the thing that says you played half naked in Seattle? How did you end up on stage naked?

It was the last show on that tour with Soilwork and the last show is always like that. You always do something like that, something special for the other bands. We had done some things for Soilwork and we wondered what they were going to come up with. If they'd throw things at us or do something very weird. We ended up on stage just wearing underwear (laughs)! It wasn't that funny though and I think we'll only do it once (laughs).



It's not going to be a habit (laughs)?

No, once was enough (laughs).



You also have some photos on the website of some fans with Hypocrisy tattoos. What goes through your mind when you see someone who has got a tattoo of the band on themselves?

Of course it's an honor to see that but I'm always shocked, like "OH SHIT!" (laughs) I don't know, though. It's an honor.



I saw the one picture of the guy with his entire back covered!

Yeah, he's got the cross on there (laughs). I was shocked the first time I saw it! Very cool.



So how many albums is this now with Nuclear Blast?




How many albums do you have left with them?

Well I think we can go on until we say it's over. We've been on Nuclear Blast and we have a very, very good relationship. It's like a family and we are very satisfied with the company. For us, there is no reason to change to another company. I think we are going to stay there until we are done.



Has Hypocrisy been affected at all by the file sharing programs and mp3 usage that has affected CD sales of so many other bands?

Of course! Was it in December or November you could already have the new album (laughs)! I see it as both positive and negative. You can look at it in different ways. If the record company doesn't get the money for CDs, they don't get paid and they don't have that much money coming in, which of course affects the bands. If they don't have money, then they can't put money in for tour support for example. If they have a new band and they want to go on tour, they have to say, "Sorry we have no money. You haven't been selling that many albums, so we can't support you on the tour." In that way, it's negative but I think it's more positive. You can go out and check out new bands and the new album. For me personally, I'm into that people can check it out.



I saw Peter's posting on the website that people who had downloaded it got an inferior version that was from before the album was mixed?




Didn't the band go back into the studio to do another mix, because you weren't happy with how it turned out at first?

We had sent it away to the mastering room before we went away for the American tour with Dimmu Borgir and we didn't have a chance to listen to it after the mastering. We got it back when we got home from the American tour and we were not satisfied with the sound. Then we decided to remix the whole album and do the mastering again.



Well the final product is out in North America on February 24th.

I think so and the 16th in Europe.



I'm really looking forward to getting the CD. I heard the promo from Nuclear Blast and it sounds great. I hope to see the band on tour again for this album.

Well, we 'd really like to see you, too!



Any last words for the Metal Rules readers?

I really hope we can come to Canada and play and I hope you will enjoy the new album.



Thanks for the call, Mikael. I appreciate it. Good luck with the new album and the tour.

Thank you very much.

***Thanks to Hannah at Nuclear Blast for setting up the interview for us.

***Check out the official Hypocrisy website at www.hypocrisy.tv