It is time again to talk to one of the members in the Swedish Death and Roll band Hearse. This time I had the pleasure to talk with drummer Max Thornell about the band. We talked about all things you need to know like the band, live shows, the new album, label and much, much more.
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks so much to The Boss of Vic Records Roel van Reijmersdal for help with the interview
Thanks to Vic Records for the promo pictures of the band
Hi Max, your band Hearse has recently released an excellent new album and I hope you’re ready to answer questions about the band, the past and the future of Hearse?
You bet and thanx for the compliment!
The title of your new album is SINGLE TICKET TO PARADISE and I was wondering how long it did take you and the guys to record it?
If you count in plain recording time I guess we were pretty fast. I’d guess for less than two weeks. But the recording sessions were pretty much spread out over a long time, so it felt like we were recording forever, he he! A fucking “Van Halen recording”, he he!
Why did it take you so long to follow up your previous album IN THESE VEINS?
I’ve actually thought about that too. Can’t believe it took us three years to have another album out! Time flies (but airplanes crash).
I guess it had pretty much to do with the fact that we changed labels. It took some time to get free from Dental and then to deal with new contracts with Vic. Then we also had to record the new album two times as the first recording got lost, which more or less robbed us of an extra year.
Who has written the music and lyrics to the album this time? And what are the lyrics about?
Me and Mattias stand behind the music as usual and Johan came up with the lyrics.
Were there many songs that weren’t featured on the final edition of the album?
I think we recorded 13 or 14 songs and as usual a couple of them turned out like played by 13 years old beginners, he he! Then I guess that two or three will pop up as bonus stuff somewhere, don´t know where yet.
Hearse usually features a few covers on the albums but this time you haven’t featured any cover, why?
Well, the trend so far is that every second album has a cover so to follow that trend next album will definitely have one! Already have some ideas. My idea of making covers always is to take some song you like from another genre and sort of making it your own. So far we’ve done covers from Kim Wilde and Sator Codex. Also tried to make a Leathernun cover, but it really sounded terrible so it was put to rest before it ended up on any of our albums. But expect one for the next album!
This album is also available with a bonus DVD called LIVE IN HOLLAND, what can you tell us about that DVD and the bonus things on that?
I’ve actually just seen the DVD and I can say that I’m very satisfied with it. It’s edited by Maurice, vocalist of Legion of the Damned and he has done a terrific job if you ask me.
The DVD contains one live show recorded in Holland some years ago supporting Dismember. The recording more or less got lost when our former label Karmageddon Media put down their activities. So it’s so about time it’s finally released!
I think you have always got quite interesting cover art-works on all of you albums and this new one is no exception, who has done the new cover art-work to SINGLE TICKET TO PARADISE?
This one was made by a Dutch designer called Ivan (Deadhouse). Yup, I think it turned out pretty cool! We gave him pretty free hands to do what he felt like. Only thing was we didn’t want any cliche death metal cover art.
What do you think of the cover?
I think it looks great! Ivan is very good at what he’s doing. Then it differs pretty much from the other album covers too which I think is a good thing. Every time we’ve changed labels we’ve also changed cover artists.
And does the title of the album have any special meaning to you and the rest of the band?
A single ticket to paradise to me is actually death. So the title refers to death, which also the song does. It contains of a lot of words and sentences taken from radio and TV that sort of tells us about today´s world which isn’t actually such a brilliant place to live.
This time you have recorded the album in different studios like The Black Chapel Studio and Studio Gubbsjuk, why different studios?
Most of the recording is as usual done in The Black Chapel, the studio where we’ve recorded all our albums so far. Jonas, who owns the studio was quite busy at the time so we also used other studios where we could record at short notice to get the album finished.
Did you use any other studios for the recordings besides mentioned above?
Nope, only the three ones mentioned in the booklet. I’d love to say that the drums were recorded in LA, the guitars in France and the vocals in…well…S. Africa. Then it was all mixed in Abbey Road Studios. Too bad it was all recorded in Stockholm, he he.
According to your blog on MySpace did the first recordings of album got “fucked up”, what happened?
The thing is that it was all recorded (everything except for the vocals). Then I got a call from Jonas who runs The Black Chapel Studio who told me there was a computer crash, which meant the whole recording was ruined. Back-up? What’s that?
So we had to record it all again. One good thing about it all is that the new recording actually turned out better than the first one. But at the time it just felt like “fuck it all! This is a sign to kill Hearse for good!”
Dan Swanö has produced the album, why did you chose to work with him?
If I’m not mistaken it was the Dental boss who wanted us to use Dan for the last album. He was actually supposed to do the third Furbowl album back in 1994. Then Johan quit the band, so it was pretty much about time to finally work with Dan! So it was about time I guess 12 years later.
What is Swanö’s strongest feature as producer do you think?
Hard to say actually. Dan is extremely easy to work with and like the nicest dude on earth. Was a pleasure to work with him. The thing is that him and me have pretty different views on sounds which could mean a lot of trouble, but in this case it was a real good thing. We ended up with a sound that I guess both me and him were real happy with.
Do you think you’re gonna work more with Swanö in the future?
Definitely, we’ve been very happy with the result both times now so… Then you never know, you might wanna try something new next time. We´ll see. But as it feels right now Dan is the man for the next album too if he has the time and will to do it!
Why did you change from working with producer Jonas Edler to Swanö?
We still work with Jonas as he runs the studio we recorded the album in. The thing is I’m so god damn tired of the mixing and it felt just great to send the whole recording over to Swanö. Besides I’ve noticed that it gets much better if I’m not too involved in the mixing, he he!
When I spoke to your lead singer Liiva back in 2007 I asked him who played the bass on your album IN THESE VEINS but he wouldn’t tell me. So I once again ask you who plays the bass in the band, no one is listed on that position?
Oh, Johan being the mysterious dude, he he! Well, it’s actually Gene Simmons from KISS that plays on the new album. Know it sounds weird but it’s …not the truth, he he!
Nah, I’ve actually played the bass on all our albums so far. I usually record two rhythm guitar tracks too and then Mattias records two ones. We have a pretty different way of attacking the strings so it usually turns out pretty cool. Mattias plays with precision and I´m more chaotic and blurry I guess.
Do you think you have developed music wise through the years, if so in what way?
I don’t know really. Most likely we’ve developed in some way, but in what way? The thing is that it’s nothing that is planned from my side. I just make music and this is how it turns out. I don’t think in terms of development, guess it’s more up to the listener to make that judgment.
I think your music have changed a bit, I think you still play death’n’roll but today you have got a more hardcore/punk influences compared to earlier, and I also think that you have slowed down the pace a bit, what do you think?
I actually don’t think much about what our music sounds like and what turns it takes. The ting is that I never really plan anything for our albums ad the music on them. When we have like 15 songs or so we record them and pick out the best 40 minutes of them. So I have actually no idea about what the next album will sound like. It might be the fastest one so far. Time will tell.
How would you like to describe what kind of music Hearse plays today?
I guess it’s pretty much some mix of what we listen to and like. As a solid ground you have metal and hardcore, then I guess it’s mixed with rock, hardrock and some pop. Well, what to call that. Someone called it a rock´n roll adventure in death metal land. That’s a description I like!
I grew up in the 70´s and was fed on Alice Cooper, Kiss, Sweet, Angel, Runaways etc and I still listen a lot to these bands. Then add death metal, black metal, hardcore and grindcore to the influences and I guess you’re pretty close.
You have recently shot a video to the song “Sundown” tell us about that video?
I actually begin to wonder if it’ll ever be finished. We had an edit that wasn’t… that fantastic and… well, we’re still waiting for an update.
Also on your MySpace blog it can be read that you sing on the album, do you sing on many songs?
Well, my beautiful voice can be heard on some of the tracks actually, for example the chorus of The Moth. Mostly I just grunt here and there and on many of the tracks I’ve laid down my vocals to guide Johan and then we’ve kept some parts of it.
Have you read any reviews on the album yet? What have the media said about the album?
Both ups and downs actually. And of course some that say that we sound just like Arch Enemy, he he!
Have you get any responds from your fans about this new album yet, if so what do them think about this?
Yup, I’ve had quite a bunch of e-mails from people who really like the album, which of course feels just super! Many of them have also been excited about that bonus live DVD.
Are you happy with the outcome of the new album now that you look back on it?
The thing is that I’m never that satisfied with our albums. Seems like I get bored with them already a long time before the release. Guess it might have to do with the fact that I’m quite productive when it comes to making new music. I always use to have like at least half the next album finished even before the one before is released. The same goes for this one. Already have 6-7 songs finished for album 6! So to be honest I’m more concentrated on that one right now.
Your last album IN THESE VEINS came 2006 and was released by Dental Records, but you aren’t signed to them now? Why did you leave?
It’s actually a pretty long story. Let’s just say it feels pretty good not being on Dental anymore. To make the story short we didn’t want Dental and Dental didn’t want us, so we agreed on going separate ways.
When did you take the decision that it was time to leave Dental Records?
I actually had some contact with Vic just after the In These Veins album was released. When the Vic boss heard that we weren’t that happy with Dental he told me that Vic was very interested in having Hearse on Vic Records. He’s a genuine Hearse fan which actually didn’t make the decision harder. The thing is that I still have the same attitude towards music as I had back in the days. I don’t play to become a superstar or anything, I’m happy as long as I have a nice label I can trust and that actually like what we’re doing.
Were you without a record deal for a long time when you left Dental Records?
Nope, as soon as Dental let us go we signed to Vic. The deal was pretty much finished already when we got free from Dental.
You signed on for Vic Records which is based in The Netherlands, how come you inked a deal with them?
It really felt like the right thing to do. Vic’s a pretty small label, but the label boss is really into it. I wanted a dedicated label, that’s pretty much it. As I said, I’m not into this because I wanna make Hearse the biggest band in the world. I’m a humble man, satisfied with the little. I knew that the label boss was a true Hearse supporter and that made the decision pretty easy!
Are you happy with the work Vic Records have put into the new album so far?
Guess it’s a bit easy to say yet, but so far everything feels just great!
Do you see any difficulties in the fact that the label isn’t based in Sweden?
Of course it’s easier to work with a Swedish label as it’s basically easier to communicate in Swedish. But it has been no problem so far and besides our publisher is situated here in Stockholm, Sweden so if any problems pop up we can always go through them.
Is Vic Records releasing the album worldwide or do they have any distribution label that do that?
Vic works with the UK situated label Plastic Head and I guess that they more or less take care of the distribution. So my guess is that it will be spread all over the world.
Do you know anything on how the distributions of Vic Records albums are in Sweden and Scandinavia; I haven’t seen their albums out in stores?
Hmmm…I think that Sound Pollution takes care of the distribution in Sweden. I’ve seen Vic albums in a couple of stores here in Stockholm at least. Then I guess that Hearse isn’t really their priority no 1, but it should be available in stores around. Also the Swedish net record stores has got the albums.
Do you have any idea on how many copies your previous album have sold worldwide?
A couple of thousands I guess, no major figures, he he!
Why did you postpone the release of the new album for about month?
I’m not sure, but I think it had to do with delays at the pressing factory.
What have you been up to in between the released of IN THESE VEINS from 2006 and your brand new album?
I’ve actually worked on the new album, recorded it twice and been trying to get rid of Dental and been dealing with Vic and then signed to Vic, had a daughter, played with other bands, started up another band etc etc. Always something going on!
Did you any live performances on the last album?
We played the Up From The Ground Festival in Germany. That was pretty much it.
When I talked to Liiva in 2007 I asked him if Hearse was a band or a project and he said it was a band, what do you think? With that I mean you do not tour so much and only release albums.
What is the difference between a project and a band? I can’t say that I have the perfect answer. So I guess that Hearse is a band.
Is it possible to purchase IN THESE VEINS and your older albums today? Or are them out of print to day.
About In These Veins I have no idea actually. But our first three albums are supposed to be released again with bonus stuff on them. Have no idea about when though. Who lives will see.
It says in the bio that was provided to me along with your album that Hearse are definitely one of the highlights of the death’n’roll metal sub genre, how would you comment that statement?
Well, I haven’t actually written that, he he! Guess it’s a typical record label thing to write. On the other hand I pretty much think that the label boss really means it. He seems to be a genuine fan, which of course feels just super and is a main reason for us to sign to Vic in the first place.
I don’t even know if we play death n´roll, perhaps we do!? I never think that much about labeling our music.
Are there any current plans on doing a real live DVD or a live album with Hearse?
Nothing planned right now, but of course that would be awesome! On the other hand I’m not that interested in live DVD:s myself (even though I have a bunch of them). Well, if it isn’t my old heroes…you know like Kiss back in 1975 or something like that. Live albums though can be really cool if you manage to capture the intensity and energy from the show. Some faves are (of course in this case also old heroes) Kiss –Alive I and II, Deep Purple –Live in Japan, Cheap Trick –Live at Budokan, The Runaways –Live in Japan, Uriah Heep –Live. Then I actually just bought a live CD with the classic UK punk band Subhumans that sounds just awesome!
Your website hasn’t been updated for a while, how come?
I haven’t actually had much to say, to be honest. Then it feels like the MySpace site has felt more natural to update with some new blogs now and then. But the plan is to fix a completely new website pretty soon and then also update it more often.
The band also has a MySpace site, are you active on MySpace?
It’s not that I’m out there trying to add a lot of people. I’ve noticed that some people seem to sit up all night just adding people. You know “the one with most friends on MySpace wins!”. I haven’t been that interested in that. But of course I add people who wanna be your friends and I sure really appreciate that people care about the band.
Then I try to write some blog updates now and then if I feel that there’s something to report / put up new pics etc.
You have your own blog on your MySpace site, how did you come up with the idea to begin to blog?
Don’t really think of it as a blog. It’s more my way of spreading news concerning the band. I guess it’s what I should do on our website instead, he he! But OK…I gotta admit that I’m a total idiot when it comes to websites (and most like a bunch of other things too, he he), but when it comes to MySpace I know how to update the site, he he!
What’s the most common question you get from fans?
Most likely “When will you come playing in our country?” or “What do you think of Arch Enemy nowadays?”
“Sundown” is out on MySpace have you had any reactions from fans on the song? What do the fans think of it?
So far I’ve just had some good reactions on it, which of course feels super. Guess that´s why I´m so fond of MySpace too. You can easily upload new songs. I know you can on a website too, but I ain’t got a clue about how it works!
Who plays the bass when you perform live?
A dude called Jocke is handling the bass in live situations. He’s an old friend and me a and him also play together in a band called Satanarchy. He’s also in a cool band called Rise and Shine.
Do you think you’re gonna do more live shows on the new album?
To be honest –No! But personally I’d love to gig a lot more than we do right now. The thing is that everything was so much easier when you were 19. Now it’s so difficult to get everything together without loosing a lot of money every time. I don’t mind not earning a single dime on the gigging, but I’m not that interested in losing a lot of money either.
But anyway, I sure hope for some more cool gigs in the future. In the meantime check out the bonus live DVD that comes with the new album!
Your albums have also been released in Asia, is it going well for Hearse in Asia?
Depends on what you mean by well. We don’t sell that many records anywhere actually, but sure, we get pretty much response from over there which feels just great!
I’d really love to tour Japan some day! Would be just awesome!
Where in the world does the band has its biggest fanbase?
I’d guess for Germany and the BENELUX countries and perhaps USA and Japan too. In Sweden I guess we sell like 10 copies of every album, he he! Sweden has never been a market for us, unfortunately.
Are there any plans on trying to conquer the American and the Canadian market with this new album?
Well, the album is released over there too and hopefully we’re at least getting more and more supporters over there! It has actually never been my plan to conquer anything. I just play the music I like and then if people like it it’s a big bonus!
Are any of the members in the band involved in other acts than Hearse?
Yup, I think we all are. I’m also in Satanarchy and Uncut Version of Life. Then I have like a million of other projects going. Have so many ideas but unfortunately so little time. Mattias is also in a pop band called Fröken Underbar and I’m pretty sure he’s got some other projects going too. About Johan I have no idea right now, but I’m pretty sure he also has something going.
It took you quite long to get out SINGLE TICKET TO PARADISE, do we have to wait as long on the next Hearse album?
I really hope not! I have like 5-6 songs finished already and as long as Vic still wants us we can hopefully have some new stuff out next year. That’s at least my plan!
For those unlucky few that haven’t discovered the best damn death’n’roll act yet what have you got to say to them?
Hmmm…isn’t this a Hearse interview!? Why should I promote Entombed here!?
That was all I had for know. I wish you and the band the best of luck in the future and I really hoping to see you on a stage near me in close future. Do you have any final words of wisdom for the readers?
Puuuhh! That was the longest interview I’ve actually answered! My fingertips ache and my eyes are blurry, he he!
But thanx a freaking lot for your support! I totally appreciate it!
Check us out at www.myspace.com/hearsesweden and if you feel that “Hmmm…this is a pretty damn cool band, even though they look like idiots!”, then go buy the new album, cos´ it’s also pretty cool!
And remember –heavy metal is the law!