Interviewed by Anders Sandvall
Promo pictures are taken from the band´s homepage
Thanks to Max for letting me to use the pictures in this interview
The Swedish death’n’roll trio Hearse has recently released their long-awaited fourth album. I hooked up with the lead singer, legendary Johan Liiva in order to know more about the new album, the band and some other things in general.
Hi Johan, it’s really nice to talk to you again; it was a while since we last spoke (2004). Are you ready to answer some questions again?
Yes, it was a while ago…sure, I’m ready for this bombardment pronto!! he, he
Let’s talk about your current album IN THESE VEINS which by the way is totally brilliant, how long did it take to record the album and in which studio was it recorded?
Thanks, it took us about 4-5 weeks I guess + mixing. Yet Swanö was damn “hot on the porridge” so we had this blaster-piece ready to roll in about 1½ month. We recorded it in the same old studio (which we adore btw) – yet it changes name so often I am not even able to recall the last one. Let’s say Dog Pound then, hehe..;)
All members are a part of the songwriting process, but who does what? Is there anyone that focuses entirely on writing only music or lyrics etc?
Basically it’s Max who composes the music, and then I am there with my mighty goose-pen of death to put the words into place so to speak. After all, all 3 of us participate in the creation. For good and worse
Have you written about anything in particular this time?
You mean lyric wise? Well, as far as I know it’s the same old story. Still, it’s all changed since I am nowadays in a better mood than ever before. Damn, maybe the lyrics will be too happy??!? Let’s hope for “the best” shall we…
You chose to work with producer Jonas Edler once again, how come and what makes him so special?
First and fore skin he is such a brilliant musician, and then to be taken into consideration he’s also one hell of a “demon” in the studio. All of us truly enjoy the time we spent recording. He’s a great guy – and that is damn important to achieve some great results, indeed…
The legendary Dan Swanö has mixed the album, did you knew him from earlier and what do you think of his work on with the album?
Yes, he is a damn talented musician, so this sort of “cleared the path” for us, as he knew our kind of music… and knew what we aimed for. I met him once or twice before, very nice guy – and it’d be great to let him be in charge of mixing and so on in the future as well, undoubtedly.
You have a guest appearance on the album in Jugga from Swedish cult punk rockers Mob 47, how did he end up on the album?
Yes, well he and the whole of MOB 47 have become good friends of ours. As they are Swedish punk legends we just couldn’t resist our own desire to have him screaming like crazy on this album. I personally think the result is outrageously intense!
As usual you have also featured a cover, this time it’s a cover of the song “Crusade (Gonna Start a Fire) by a Swedish punk/rock act called Sator, why did you do a cover of that song?
While in our teens, we saw this band live many times back in the 80’s in our dear old hometown Växjö. That particular song is a pure classic. The choice was easy for us.
Whose done the cover art work and does it have any special meaning?
It’s made by a guy by the name of Pär Johansson. I’m not sure if there’s any special meaning behind it all, yet it looks damn nice anyways…
No one is listed on bass, who plays the bass on the album?
Well, it’s not me anyway, he, he… Max dubbed the bass lines. He knows the songs like his own back pocket, so…it was the smoothest way to go.
How would you like to describe what kind of music Hearse plays? I’d say that you still play death’n’roll but with a little more attitude and speed than before.
Death’n’roll sounds like a good description. Our aim is to combine death metal with groovy elements, then to sum it all up we add a major pinch of punk rock/hardcore.
Do you think that Hearse have developed musicwise through the years? If so how?
Sure. Looking back at the debut in particular there’s been a huge improvement in every corner and wing of this “me(n)tal asylum”, hehe… still, it’s the same idea basically, yet the skills and determination to create better and more interesting stuff has increased immensely.
How do you manage to keep your voice in such a good shape, I mean you sound just as good as ever?
Hmm, thank you very much! I try to keep my voice in shape by combining singing in the shower, lots of whisky and 2 packs of cigarettes every day. This of course is not true..;)
Do the members in Hearse have any role model or idol that you look up to or are inspired by?
No, not really… not that I know of anyway. Maybe Mattias have some guitarists out there, it’s quite common for guitar players to have these “fretboard icons” I guess.
Have you read any reviews in the media? What have the press to say about the album?
Mainly positive things. The media has been quite tender with us ever since we released ARMAGEDDON MON AMOUR really.
Is the album released world wide yet?
Yes… or at least I hope so!?
What do you see in the future for Hearse?
We will keep on composing and recording good music. Then we’ll play some shows every now and then. We are heading East during this upcoming fall. It will be damn nice.
Is it still as fun to sing as it was when you began?
It depends. Sometimes I am so sick of it, especially in the studio. However, I truly love what I am doing and it’s a great boost and overall feeling to be naturally skilled at something in this competitive and greedy world we live in.
Where does the band name Hearse come from?
The very idea for it came from the Rudimentary Peni 7” EP called “Farce”. One helluva cool anarcho band from the U.K.
(MAX: Well, as I’m the besserwisser around here I’d just say that the song Hearse is on the first EP, not on Farce! Otherwise the dude is right. Rudimentary Peni was/is the shit)
You have always had promo pictures that looked a bit different. Last time there were shots of you guys doing the laundry and now you guys are being arrested by the cops, who comes up with those photo ideas?
I am actually doing laundry right now haha… yeah, I am aware that it’s a little on the odd side of things. Maybe it’s cause we’ve seen too many of those “standing up looking angry with black t-shirts”-kind of pics?!
What did the media think of your last album THE LAST ORDEAL?
If they’ve heard it I am sure they love it. Still, the question is how many copies of that album actually reached the magazines. And stores too?!
Are your previous albums still available in the stores today? And who own the legal rights to the albums to day?
I have no idea my friend.
Why did you leave your previous label Karmageddon Media?
Mainly due to their financial problems. Other than that they treated us just fine. At least that’s what I think personally.
You are now signed to Dental Records, are you happy with the job the label have put into the album and the promotion etc? What are the difference between this label and your old one?
They are OK I guess. I don’t know what they’ve done for Hearse really except for releasing the album. Solly…
How many albums are you signed for at Dental Records?
It’s a standard contract; you know… good sales and they want to release the next one etc.
Do you have any idea on how many copies you have sold of all your albums?
No, not any exact amounts or figures, yet I am sure we’ve sold 50.000 at least.
(MAX: must be at least 500.000 if you look at all the money rolling in here every day!)
You are very restricted with playing live, should Hearse be considered a project or a band?
Hearse is a band, not a project. A project for me is a bunch of hot shots getting together and making one album. So, it’s up to each and everyone to judge.
Is there any plan on playing live now that the album is out?
Yes, there is.
What’s the most common question you get by fans?
Personally it’s “What happened with Arch Enemy?” and for Hearse I guess it’s about those weird photos, ha, ha…
You guys works really fast, when can we expect to see the next Hearse album in stores?
Very soon indeed.
Any plans on releasing an EP in between this album and the next like you have done before?
No, not that I know of right now. We are aiming for the full length album number 5.
I’ve read that you are again a part of the band Nonexist, is that true and are you going to do a new Nonexist album anytime soon?
Yes and no. I am cut in ½ as for this band, not sure that it’s something I really want to do again. Let’s see what happens.
Are Max and Mattias involved in more bands than Hearse?
Yes, D-Minus and Satanarchy (http://www.myspace.com/satanarchy)
Finally I’d really like to thank you for letting me interview you again, good luck in the future, is there anything you’d like to say to fans and readers?
Thanks a lot man. I’d like to grab the opportunity to thank all the people out there for their support! You all rule! Cheers!!
More info about the band:
Read the CD review of Hearse´s albums in Metal-Rules.com here