Per Karlsson of Heathendoom Music / T.A.R.

August 21st, 2005
by EvilG

Per Karlsson of Heathendoom Music / T.A.R.
Interviewed on September 27, 1997 by EvilG

Hopefully by now some of you have heard of Heathendoom Music, a great indie label from Sweden. Bands such as Memory Garden, Fifth Reason, and T.A.R. all call this label home. Per Karlsson who is the drummer for T.A.R. and a Heathendoom Records representative recently took the time to discuss, at length, his label and band.


HEATHENDOOM MUSIC

Metal Rules!!
What does the Heathendoom name itself imply? To me I first assumed that I’d hear allot of doom metal bands but it seems like what I’ve heard from the label is actually more melodic and power metal influenced.

 

Per:
Heathendoom is to me just a very good name for a record label. Especially as I do live and come from the northern part of Europe. I took the name for this company from an old song by Memento Mori. I don’t care whatever people like the name or not, or if they think/assume that Heathendoom only work with Doom metal bands. We work with any quality Metal band available around the globe, I would say. If the first release would have been a Black metal release, then the label had being labeled as a Black metal label. Ehh.. Something like that, to me it is just a good name, no more no less!!

 

Metal Rules!!
When was Heathendoom formed?

Per:
I got the name for it late 1994, and we started the label officially in May `95.

 

Metal Rules!!
Who founded the label and why? Was it to showcase Sweden’s underground metal scene?

Per:
I came up with the idea of starting a CD-label after a few 7″ EP/compilation tape-releases throughout the years in the underground-scene. I wanted to grow and do even more than just that. No, it wasn’t to showcase the Swedish underground metal scene, it was to showcase the worlds underground scene to all stupid fuckers who donut even do something about their own situation. Hehe… Well, it was simply because I wanted to grow and show the world that if you have the guts, you can do something on your own and you donut need any large amount of money to do it, the contacts is more important for a start than the money.

 

Metal Rules!!
How many bands are on the label?

Per:
Right now we have, let me see, five bands on the label. They are: Memory Garden, Darklands, Fifth Reason, Serpent and T.A.R, that’s about it. We donut have more time to sign any more bands at the moment.

 

Metal Rules!!
Are the current bands on the label exclusively Swedish? If so does the label look at bands from other countries, or is it strictly for Sweden?

Per:
Yes, we only sign Swedish bands. Are you kidding me?? Of course NOT. We donut care wherever the band might come from as long as they are alright communication-wise! We want to work with all the GOOD bands out there!!

 

Metal Rules!!
What are the plans for the label – will it remain an independent label or are there hopes for it to go big time?

Per:
I just want to survive personally and to get our bands further known in this bizarre world. I hope that we always will remain as an independent label, a good one.

 

Metal Rules!!
How does an independent label manage to produce such amazing CD’s with state of the art professional layouts and amazing sound?

Per:
You ask me? Well, to be honest. I do not even believe it myself sometimes, but all our products so far has turned out killer, both productionwise and everything. I would say that it is because we mainly have quality producers and lay-out people working for us and our products. Some of `em do cost a lot of money, but so far it has been worth it.

 

Metal Rules!!
Briefly – how and where does the label promote its bands?

Per:
We have so far promotion-people working for us in Germany (Andreas Reissnauer), who is also taking care of Austria and Switzerland. In Italy (Gentile Emanuele), he will do his first promotion job for us with Fifth Reason and T.A.R. In Holland (Mike De Coene), he also does Belgium, plus myself worldwide (at least Scandinavia and the South/North-America). How? Together with our promoters we mail out approximately around 650 promotion-records to all important media. We fight to get interviews in quality magazines, radioshows as well as fanzines, especially as we do know where the fuck we started out ourselves. Later on we hope that we will be able to send out videoshots and get our bands on support act-tours, but we have not managed to get that kind of budget for our productions yet.

 

Metal Rules!!
Do all the bands on the label have something in common musically? Or is the label also interested in different styles of music?

Per:
Yezz, they all have something in common, they are Metal. From the Doomiest riffs in Serpent, Gloomiest and Darkest riffs in Darklands, Most Fucked-Up riffs in T.A.R, Greatest Metal riffs in Memory Garden to the Quality and Well-played riffs in Fifth Reason. I love allot of different music styles, so as far I am concerned, I donut care if we someday change drastically. But as I have been a Metal-fan for the past 24 years, I think it will stay that way.

 

Metal Rules!!
What exactly is your role at the label? Can you describe your typical tasks.

Per:
I own it, it is like my own child. I can destroy it or I can raise it and see how everything turns out. Right now I am responsible for almost everything that has to do with the Heathendoom label and one thing in particular: Paying the bills. My Godess, Petra, is taking care of the Heathendoom Magazine, which so far has been issued three times. From now on it will be brought to all the Scandinavian Metallers and Occult interested like at least 2 times a year. It is written in Swedish, by the way. Of course I would also like to send my special Heathen regards to you Geoff for this very good interview, if there is anybody who would like to know more about the label, or if any cool and Real Metal bands that want to became more known than Guns `n` Roses and Metallica or maybe Aerosmith, then please contact me at the address below. Take care & Stay Awesome!!


T.A.R.

Now onto your band…T.A.R.!!!

This interview is Answered by both Torbj?rn Sandberg and Per Karlsson.

Metal Rules!!
Seeing as how its likely that not many people have heard of T.A.R. I guess for the record you’d better tell everyone how the band came to be (also what does T.A.R. stand for?).

Torbj?rn Sandberg:
On a cold dark rainy November day in 1993 there was a telephone call made by guitarist Juan Gauthier to a vocalist named Torbj?rn Sandberg. When they first met a couple of days later in a cramped rehearsing studio in central Stockholm the band that today is T.A.R started breathing. Original members where: drummer Tommi Sykes, a bass player from Seattle named Preston, vocalist Torbj?rn and Juan on guitar. A year later bass player ?sten took Prestons place as a new member, and second guitar player Conny joined the band besides Juan.

With this setup the band which was called at this time Vulture King played all over Stockholm. First demo recorded by Vulture king was called ?Breaking the chains? it was recorded in a basement on an eight track that belonged to guitar player Lasse Christmansson from Lion Share. Second demo (and the first real demo by the band as far as T.A.R is concerned) ?Act II? was recorded at Montezuma studios in Stockholm by engineer Rex Gissl?n. Now with new second guitar player Stefan Sj?berg. This demo contains 5 songs and it received great reviews in magazines such as Close up, Akasha, Backstage etc. Now the gigs became bigger and Vulture King played with rather well-known names like: Dismember and Face down. Tommi Sykes left the band just before the third demo was recorded, so unfortunately a drum machine had to be used. This demo was called ?Are you deaf?? under the new name T.A.R. The band again received great reviews from Swedish and European mags. Current drummer and new member is Perra, formerly of Suffer (R.I.P) and Serpent, joined the band in January of this year (1997). Now T.A.R was a complete band with an understanding on how it wanted the music to sound. It is a combination of progressive and basic music, the idea is to make music that anybody can listen to without having to concentrate to be able to understand what is going on, yet complicated enough so it doesn’t?t sound too basic. Another important part is that each band member has a say in each song. T.A.R stands for…………..(secret).

 

Metal Rules!!
When the new CD “Fear of Life” was recorded I assume you (Per) were already working at Heathendoom? I guess that helped the band get signed to the label eh? Haha. You were also the latest member of the band to join in January 1997 – how have you been fitting into the picture?

Per:
It was like this. We were very interested to sign T.A.R to Heathendoom, and to release their debut album. At the time we had a bloke working for us with the distribution-side of Heathendoom, named Johan Kirketerp. He called the singer Tobbe and told him that he wanted to meet him to discuss if there was any chance for us to working something out. So, Tobbe showed up and told us that T.A.R was going to release their debut album by themselves. But they were in need of a drummer, since their old drummer quit before the recording of the demotape “Are you Deaf?”. And as I am a drummer they decided to give me a chance to do an audition with the band, that’s the way it turned out. So now we have decided to work together, that’s why we call it T.A.R productions and Heathendoom Music.

 

Metal Rules!!
I think that you would have a unique perspective on the Swedish metal music scene considering that you see it from both ends – from the performance side of things by being in T.A.R. and from the industry side of things with your work at Heathendoom Records. Considering this, what trends do you see taking place in the metal realm in your country or in Europe?

Per:
Any of us in the band or at The Heathendoom office has ever cared about trends or whatever. I’ve personally seeing so many trends come and go. But I’ve also noticed that if a band is good, then they will survive.

 

Metal Rules!!
What are the musical backgrounds of each member of T.A.R.? By this I mean where are they coming from musically – such as their influences.

Per:
We all have different backgrounds when it comes to music. We listen to anything that we think is good.

 

Metal Rules!!
The idea of having a two page mini-autobiography inside the CD booklet is unique. Why did you decide to do this? Was the creation of the fictional character “Jacob Werner” (the main character in this storyline) based on any of the band’s real life experiences?

Torbj?rn Sandberg:
There is much of Jacob Werner in me, but he is in first hand a Fictional character. And as far as if there is any happenings in Jacobs life that can be linked to my own…yes.

 

Metal Rules!!
On the topic of the album’s theme – All the songs on the CD are taken from the life experiences and feelings of the fictional character. Because of this are you calling the CD a concept album? I get the feeling that someone is VERY pissed off at the world and the idea is put forth that earth is actually HELL. Is that how you personally feel. For example, what is the song “Jesus is Dead” about? I assume by this you believe that religion is dead or pointless??

Torbj?rn Sandberg:
I am “pissed”, yes, and I actually believe that this is hell, yes. “Jesus is dead” has nothing to do with religion, it is a metaphor for: “Hope is dead”. And as far as I’m concerned it is.

 

Metal Rules!!
So far has the CD been getting good response locally or abroad? How many copies are you hoping to sell?

Torbj?rn Sandberg:
The response so far is overwhelming, it seems our music actually can be listened to. The most important thing is not to get our hopes up.

 

Metal Rules!!
Per, What comes first – T.A.R. or your job at Heathendoom? I would assume that would come down to which one is paying the bills and keeping you alive right? :-)

Per:
Both things has to work out well, because if one of `em goes down, they both will.

 

Metal Rules!!
How long have you been playing drums?

Per:
I have destroying the kit for about 15 years now.

 

Metal Rules!!
You were once a member of both Suffer (R.I.P.) And Serpent. How did these bands work out? I assume Serpent are still together? Why did you leave each band?

Per:
Suffer worked out 4 years, then the members dropped out one by one. The singer wanted to continue with two other old members from a band called Kazjurol, but I didn’t want that. So I decided to quit. I am very glad I did, because I had never got the opportunity to play in T.A.R if Suffer would have continued. I am still with Serpent, though. We have our second album “Autumn Ride” coming out on Heathendoom Music later this autumn. But this act do not work as hard as any other band I’ve being a part of. It is more like: Hey Guys, lets do a heavy fucking record.

 

Metal Rules!!
Who were and are you biggest influences both as a drummer and as a band overall?

Per, Torbj?rn:
As a drummer I am influenced by: Tommy Lee, Mike Mangini, Mike Portnoy and Cozy Powell. The only singer worth mentioning is my god: Robert Plant.

 

Metal Rules!!
Is T.A.R. using the Internet as one of its main promotional vehicles? I’ve seen your nicely designed website (http://hem1.passagen.se/vdesign/). If so then what type of response have you been getting through the webpage?

Torbj?rn Sandberg:
Since the page just got out the only response is the amount of viewers.

 

Metal Rules!!
My favorite songs on the CD are “True Violence” “Kiss of Death” (real nice drumming on the beginning of this one by the way!) I also like the song “In Control” especially where the verse starts with the line “Pull the plug…” the machine gun riffing sounds cool. What songs go over the best for you live and what are your picks form the CD?

Torbj?rn Sandberg:
If we get the chance (time) we play the whole fucking thing live, there is actually not one song apart from the others that sound better live.

 

Metal Rules!!
How big is T.A.R.’s brand of music over there? Is Black Metal as big in Sweden as it appears to be in Norway? What do you personally think of that whole scene anyway with bands like Emperor and Dimmu Borgir?

Per, Torbj?rn:
We can’t answer that question on the grounds that our answer may incriminate us.

 

Metal Rules!!
What would be your advice to a new band coming out of Sweden?

Torbj?rn Sandberg:
Get off your asses & Work!!!!!!!

 

Metal Rules!!
What do you do to create your own sound and give people something different? Is it a conscious effort or do you just play what feels and sounds good?

Torbj?rn Sandberg:
The latter, it sounds different because we are different.

 

Metal Rules!!
Any closing words?

Torbj?rn Sanberg, Per Karlsson:
See us live!!

____________
The end. :-)

Addresses:
Heathendoom Music: heathendoom.music@swipnet.se
T.A.R.’s Homepage: http://hem1.passagen.se/vdesign/

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