Interview and photography by Robert Williams
Candlemass recently embarked upon their first tour of the U.S. in seventeen years playing 16 dates stateside in support of the “King of The Grey Islands” album. The last time the band had toured the United States in 1991 they were accompanied with Texas Doom Metal icons Solitude Aeturnus. < ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
How fitting it is, that after the bitter split from longtime vocalist Messiah Marcolin, Candlemass returned to the Lone Star state with Solitude Aeturnus vocalist Robert Lowe as the new singer for Candlemass.
The band played a 90 minute set draped in fog and lights that featured a broad repertoire consisting of the vast treasure chest that is the Candlemass back catalogue, and momentarily dipped into last years “King of The Grey Islands” album. There was a small crowd of ecstatic fans and well wishers gathered to see the band in an intimate club setting.
After the concert I had the opportunity to catch up with Candlemass bassist and figurehead Leif Edling and talk metal with him for the better part of twenty minutes. Leif was in an incredibly optimistic mood, given that his past vocalist troubles are behind him, and confident that upon the next visit overseas Candlemass will be playing to a packed house. After the awe-inspiring set from the Doom Metal legends, I would definitely have to agree…
Being that this is your first United States tour in seventeen years, I have to ask, how are you enjoying playing to your fans in the US so far?
We’re enjoying it a lot. It’s great to meet people that you haven’t seen in seventeen years. We have a lot of fans over here and you know, we haven’t been here for a long time. It’s good to see familiar faces and shake some hands, sign some albums.
Some shows have been really good, some shows may have been not such a good turn out, but the people that were there will not leave the place disappointed.
We’re a pretty good live band and I’m sure you know, with the next album that’s gonna come out, they will bring their friends and it will be packed next time.
We see it like promotion, we go out there, we say hi to people, we sign stuff and….you know, it’s promotion for the band.
Can you say whether or not you will come back to the US for your next album? We all hope you will tour here more frequently.
I certainly hope so. The next album will be recorded in August, it will come out in March or April next year, so hopefully if everything works out as it should do, we will play some festivals and after that a European tour and an American tour.
So, that is the plan. To come back here and play some more shows!
What is the current legal status of Mats? The last I heard he was planning on appealing his theft conviction in the fall to avoiding serving time in prison. Are there any recent developments in this matter?
No, I mean, there will be a hearing when he comes back from tour, but it was totally ok for him to go on tour and things in the papers have been so exaggerated.
I feel really sorry for him. It’s really unfair to him, what’s been said in the papers and on the internet. I’m pretty convinced you know, nothing will come out of this. He will be totally freed and we can go on and record the album and continue with Candlemass.
I don’t see a problem there. If there was a problem he wouldn’t be allowed to go on tour. He wouldn’t be allowed to go abroad. That’s how it is, you know.
Candlemass will release the Lucifer Rising EP in the fall through Nuclear Blast, the EP will contain two studio tracks and some new live tracks. What can we expect to hear with the two new songs?
You can expect to hear a pretty fast one “Lucifer Rising” is three and a half minutes, a double bass drum blaster, and it’s a fucking metal anthem!
I don’t think people do metal anthems anymore. I don’t hear many “Angel Witch” songs, I don’t hear many, what should I say “Hail To England” songs.
So we got this one, it’s pretty cool, pretty fast.. .pretty Satanic. It’s cool stuff. I think it will be played on the radio and people will dig it.
If your into Death Metal, Black Metal, Power Metal, Hardcore or Doom Metal or whatever, I think everybody will like that track. It’s a good song.
Last year Candlemass released the very cool 20th Anniversary Party DVD featuring a guest appearance from Epicus Doomicus Metallicus singer Johan Lanquist. Not only was this show unique in that there was an onstage reunion with Johan, but it also marked the first and only time the band had ever performed live with him. Had you kept in contact with Johan all these years?
Yeah, well we’ve seen him occasionally, we haven’t been hanging out but you know, sometimes we see him on town, we see him at clubs and we have mutual friends so we’ve been kinda in contact with each other. He’s doing his thing, we’re doing our thing.
I think it was cool to bring him to the show, for him to do the “Epicus” stuff. People were fucking shitting themselves at the show. People came from New Zealand, from Australia, from South America, from England, Finland, Germany, Holland… and it was a blast!
The show was a total massive success and I’m pretty glad we had a couple of camera’s there, you know. It ain’t the most fucking high budget recording but people wanted it and we released it, so… and people like it.
Also, as a huge Black Sabbath fan you must have been really thrilled to have Tony Martin onstage with Candlemass. How did that collaboration come about?
Well, we’ve known Tony for some time and he’s been knowing about Candlemass for some time. When we didn’t know what to do with Candlemass, like in 2004, we were talking to him, we were meeting him. We were considering doing something with him. Maybe not for Candlemass, but (to) have a collaboration with Tony Martin.
But, you know, then we kinda restarted Candlemass. We did the reunion album, the “White Album” so the Tony Martin thing didn’t happen. But we kept in contact ever since because he likes us and we like him.
So we were like emailing back and forth and Mappe had played a show with him in Sweden. I think Mappe had played Heaven and Hell or Headless Cross onstage in Sweden with him.
Yeah that was cool, that was really cool. I seen the footage from it, it was really cool and you know, maybe in the future we can do something together with him. I like him, I like his voice and he’s a real cool guy… super guy.
Given that you are all on good terms, is there any possibility Johan may ever make a guest appearance on an upcoming studio album?
No, I don’t think so. Studio albums are studio albums and should be kept studio albums. I don’t like when there’s a lot of guest performers on a studio album. To me studio albums are sacred, they should be one singer, great songs and stuff.
But, I could do a show with Johan, a live show where he does the “Epicus” stuff, you know. Do a special thing, we play a show with Robert (Lowe) and then we do the “Epicus” stuff, you know.
The 25th year anniversary is coming up so… I can’t rule that out. I’m pretty sure we can do something cool in the future with him, I think we’re good friends and everything. Yeah I mean there’s always a possibility man, always.
Speaking of Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, whatever happened to your session guitarist Klas Bergwall after that album? I can’t find any information on his current musical activities if any….
He played in a band called “Arrow” for a while, a Swedish band called Arrow. They were from Uppsala, I think, in Sweden.
If you search for Arrow, Sweden, like 1986, or 1987… ’88 sometime. I’m quite sure… I think they actually released a single or a couple singles, I’m not sure about an album, but I’m pretty sure they released something as Arrow.
I haven’t seen him for a while. I saw him a couple years ago and he was fine, you know. He still played in a local band and stuff. He’s cool, he’s a good guy, and he’s a good guitar player. He’s super sweet that guy.
Little is known regarding the details of the split between Messiah Marcolin and Candlemass, but it was recently stated that there is "definitely a much better atmosphere in the band" working with new vocalist Robert Lowe. When did you first begin having problems with Messiah?
All the time man, all the time. If you had Messiah in the band there was a problem, so… He is that kind of guy that if everything is great and positive he will find something to nag on and he will find something to make a fuss about and cause a problem so… It’s never easy.
To work with Messiah is like walking on thin ice all the time. A huge problem that ain’t really a problem, but he will make it a problem. I’m just so fucking glad that we have Robert now and we have peace in the band, you know.
I think we deserved some peace because we’re a good band and nobody deserves taking a lot of crap every fucking week. I don’t, I’m too old for that.
What was the last straw with Messiah, what convinced you that it was time to move on and find someone new?
No, it was just too much, too much, too much all the time. I mean, we were in pre production stage of the new album and here he is demanding, demanding, demanding more and more and more… (we were like) “Oh fuck, shut up!”
We told him if he cannot fucking behave we’re gonna record the album without you. He was like turning to us and saying “Fuck you!” So, ok… bye bye!
Were you guys already fans of Solitude Aeturnus prior to working with Robert?
Yeah, absolutely. We toured with them in ’89… ah, no it was ’91. I have all their albums and I’ve always liked Solitude Aeturnus. I even have the first LP “And Justice For All” I think it’s quite rare.
I like the band a lot, you know. Good songs, heavy, heavy stuff and Robert sings like a fucking god on it.
To actually get him to sing for Candlemass was like “Yep, thank you. Amazing”.
I imagine you had quite a few singers coming at you from all different directions, did you know right off the bat that Robert Lowe was the man for the job? Did he actually audition?
We auditioned like a hundred vocalists, I think there were a couple of good ones but none were the ideal choice.
When we heard that Robert might be able you know, might be interested, we thought “Fucking hell, this is the best solution.” So then there was no fucking question about it. Robert was the man.
He didn’t audition at all. When we knew that he was interested we were like “Ok, thank you. He’s in the band.” It was like that, you know.
He didn’t need to audition. If you have released albums like “Adagio” and the first album, you don’t have to because we know that he’s got a God gifted voice. His voice is just fucking incredible! So… you don’t need to audition…
To me all of the Candlemass albums are unique and individual of each other, yet all carry that distinctive trademark sound. For your upcoming release this fall, musically what direction will you be heading in?
I think you will have a conclusion of the “King of The Grey Islands” but a little bit better I think. I really like the reunion album, the “White Album” I think “King of The Grey Islands” is a tad better, and this one will be a tad better actually. We went through so much problems during the period with the Messiah shit and everything, so we couldn’t really concentrate on the album, so now this time we will concentrate on the album, and we’ll work for it this upcoming autumn.
I’m pretty sure that will be one hell of an album, so….I can’t wait to do it. I can’t wait to fucking start to record it, play it in the studio, work on it, you know, and hear the tunes take shape, take form. That’s gonna be a blast.
Two studio albums ( Dactylis Glomerata" & "From the 13th Sun") and one live album ( "Live") from the nineties will be reissued soon. Will the reissue have any additional bonus tracks or expanded artwork?
“Dactylis” has been out for a while. That will be as it was. As it is. “From the 13th Sun” it will have the single, and the Japanese bonus tracks on it. I wanted to have a live show that I got on DVD ‘cause I wanted it to have a bonus DVD, but I think Snapper (Music) thought it was gonna be too expensive to do that.
“Dactylis” came out on Snapper, the newer reissues are coming out on Snapper, they’ve been released this year. The first four came out like half a year ago, so now these come out.
The “Live” album will have the live show from Dynamo ’88 I think it was, as a bonus. So, that’s gonna be a cool one. I’m looking forward to the “Live” album, that we will re-release, because it has been out.
You’ve been with Nuclear Blast now since 2005, how do you enjoy working with them and do you see a yourselves continuing to work with them in the future?
They’re good. I mean, it’s a good company. They get the records out and they have a really good distribution. They get work done. So I don’t think we could be on a better label, actually.
Being with Nuclear Blast is like being on a major label. The good thing is that the guys that work for Nuclear Blast, they are big Candlemass fans. We know that they are doing a good job because they don’t wanna let us down.
Even if we’re not the biggest act on Nuclear Blast, I’m pretty sure they work hard to get the records out and to promote our band. Yeah, I’m very pleased with Nuclear Blast man.
I’d like to thank you for taking the time to chat with me today, is there anything else you’d like to address or promote before we wrap this up?
Yeah! Fucking hell man, fucking hell! You know, San Antonio tonight, I don’t know, maybe a hundred people perhaps, I’m pretty sure we did a good show and next time I am convinced that people here, you know, the people that came out tonight, they liked it a lot, I’m pretty sure we played a good show so…
Hopefully next year they will bring friends and we will have some good reviews of these shows and next time we will have five hundred people there. I’m pretty convinced.
You know, they will come back and they will bring other people and the word will get around, and you know, that’s how you promote. You play a good show and then you come back.