Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview With Johnny from UNLEASHED

Here is an interview with Johnny, the leader, singer, and bassist of Swedish death metal band Unleashed. The band has recently celebrated 15 years and released their new seventh album SWORN ALLEGIANCE. Unleashed are one of the groundbreaking bands who launched the Swedish death metal scene at the beginning of the 1990's and they still hold a steady grip on the fans.

By: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Century Media for the promo pictures of the band

What do you think of the older albums today? 

I like them very much of course, we still play many of the old songs "live" and always will.



Which one of the albums are you most satisfied with? And which one can you recommend to younger fans who want to explore Unleashed?

I guess it's natural for any musician to answer the latest album. Sworn Allegiance. That's what we sound like and that's what our fans can expect in the future as well. But our older albums are still something we like to look back at and we don't sound all that different to day. The production is better and the songs are a little bit stronger now days.



Do you have any plans on re-releasing any of the old albums? 

It's already done as re-issues by our record label Century Media rec.



How were the older albums received by the press back then? 

Extremely good. We built our brand back then and still have a good solid fan-base because of it. But what really counts is to be faithful to what you do for a long time and not just for a few years.


Where in Sweden do you guys live? 

In Stockholm.



Have you gone through a lot of member changes through the years? 

One before the first record was even recorded and one change of guitar player in 1996-97.


Have you done a lot of touring? 

3 Us tours and how many European tours I don't know. Probably 5-7 bigger ones and many smaller ones.



Your lyrics are a lot about Vikings and the Swedish ancient Viking mythology. What is so interesting about Vikings? 

It's our past, present and future. It's who we are. There are many values in the Norse mythology we appreciate and like to promote.



How does it feel to be the leader of such a ground breaking band as Unleashed? 

It feels just fantastic thank you! We have been around for 15 years and still keep a solid ground. I'd like to think the band is better than ever before both on record and live.



You celebrate 15 years in the business and with that in mind are you planning to do something special for the fans? 

We are working on an DVD for next year with lots of cool material in it. Both live stuff and backstage stuff…… Also we plan to do some touring to promote the new album of course.



I think you're playing Swedish old school death metal. How would you describe your music? 

Death Metal. Period. But I have no problem with the Swedish death metal label either.



Do you have any favorite band amongst the bands today or any favorite amongst the metal bands from the 90's? 

I still like bands like Dismember, Grave, Necrophobic and Cannibal Corpse. Newer bands I like are among others…Grand Magus, Dew-Scented and more.



What do you think of the Swedish metal scene today compared to in the 90's? 

I think it's growing just a bit since many people these days would pick up a death metal record…..who normally would just listen to heavy metal.



Many of the old death metal bands from Sweden still live today after such a long time. I'm talking about bands like Grave and Dismember that today play the same death metal as always. What do you think of that? 

I think they are brilliant!!



You have been on the same label during all these years, how does the co-operation work? 

It works out just fine. We have a good relationship with our rec. label.



How big of a fan base do you have today do you think compared with the fan base during the 90's? 

It's much the same, but also growing since new people are checking out our music, like normal metal fans but also Black metal fans are picking up our new record.



Your have recently released your new album SWORN ALLEGIANCE. How long has it taken to write and record it? 

About 2 years.



Who has written the music and lyrics on it? 

Fredrik about 70% of the music. Johnny 30%. Lyrics = Johnny about 95%. Anders - 5 %.



What are the lyrics about? Have you written about anything special? 

We always do a number of different lyrics because life is so vast it comes natural. I couldn't stay with just one issue all the time. In some of them you have to have a sense of humor to understand or even get into. But they are not lyrics for the masses…only for people strong in faith. We don't aim to please everybody. Only metalheads.



In which studio are the album recorded? 

In Fredrik's own "Chrome studio".



Are there anything on the album you feel you could have done different or are you satisfied with it? 

We are extremely satisfied with everything!



Do you have any particular favorite song on the album? 

All of them, I'd be nuts if I didn't like them all. And we have so many to choose from before the recording so it's never a problem have "only" strong songs in there.



Personally I think you have put too many songs on the album, why 14 tracks and not 10-11? 

Most bands have a clause in the recording contract saying how many minutes or songs you must put on the record. And so it is for Unleashed as well. But we might just renegotiate this in the future... we'll see. On the other hand many people and journalists think it's lame to spend so much money and only get 10 songs or 30 minutes of music.



How has the media greeted the album? Have you read any reviews yet? 

Yeah and seriously, it's probably been the best response the band ever had in its entire career. Especially if you think about the competition in the press these days. We have top reviews in every country worldwide who have review our album so far. I can't think of many bands in my collection that gets their best reviews after 15 years and 7 records…..so I'm very proud about this!!!



The phrase "death metal….by fans….for fans…" that's on your info note what does that mean? 

It means what it says right there! The band members of Unleashed all listened to Death metal when it started in the 80's and still do. It's not a job to us. But a way to live.


Why the title SWORN ALLEGIANCE? does that mean anything special to you?

15 years of Death Metal faith. That's how long Unleashed has been around and still are. That's how long our fans have been with us…..We have all sworn allegiance to the most noble form of art….Death Metal !



Who has done the cover of the album? And what do you think of it? 

I love it! It is done by Stefan at Century Media but the idea came from the band. A very good job indeed.



Were you well-rehearsed when you went into the studio to record? 




You have chosen to salute your fans in the song "METALHEADS" how come?

 Because we have some of the most faithful fans in the world! They deserve a special song for this!



Are there any plans on going out on tour? 

After the summer festivals Unleashed is very eager to hit the road again. Our agency is currently working on the European dates and they will be on our website www.unleashed.se as soon as they are ready and booked.



If and when you go out on the road are you going as a support or a headliner act? 

Probably a headlining tour. If there is a much bigger band to support that could be an alternative but they will have to be "big".



Do you see any problems in both playing bass and taking care of the vocals? Isn't it hard to focus on both things? 

Not at all.



Do you have a special artist or band that you look up to or that have inspired you in any way? 

Cronos of Venom and Tom Araya from Slayer have both been early influences. Today I wouldn't try and be influenced at all by others since I develop my own singing and musical performance. But I think Cronos and Tom meant a lot to brutal music and it's many bands in general.



Are there any plans on doing a follow up? 

We work with new material all the time. Around the clock. We have songs ready for the next album as we speak.



What are the plans for the rest of 2004? 

To play more shows in Europe, meet our fellow friends and fans and to have a blast on the road.



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

To watch out for new tour dates on our website and keep up the spirit! Unleashed will always return!

And many thanx Anders for the interview! Hell Odin! Skål! Johnny/Unleashed

Read 3 reviews of the new CD  SWORN ALLEGIANCE

Band Website:  www.unleashed.se

Label Website:. www.centurymedia.com