Interview by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Agonia Records for providing the promo pictures
Promo pictures taken by: Lasse Jango
Live promo pics taken by: Solle Siirtola
Jonas Ohlsson is the the drummer of the Stockholm based, death metal act Mr. Death. The band has just released their debut album DETACHED FROM LIFE. Ohlsson was kind enough to take the time to make this interview possible. If you are a fan of old school Swedish death metal will love the music of Mr. Death.
You and your band Mr. Death is maybe a new acquaintance for the readers of metal-rules.com. Could you tell us a bit about the band?
I met Alex (guitarist) at a gig with Death Breath in early 2007. He told me that he and Jörgen “Juck” Thullberg (Bass) needed a drummer who was into old-school death metal. And since I play the drums and worships old-school death metal so I said…Fuck yeah!
According to my bio the band was founded back in 2007 but wasn’t considered a proper act until the year after, why?
Well…for a couple of months we didn’t have a singer. It was only me, Alex and Juck creating some death metal the way we think it’s supposed to sound like.
Juck had been playing in a hard core act called Photo Parade for a couple of years. The singer in that band (Jocke) was the one he mentioned could be “the one” and no doubt about it…Jocke was and still is the man to do the vocals.
So with Jocke as the vocalist we did 2 gigs and then we found out that a second guitar would be awesome.
In January 2008 Treblinka had a reunion gig at café 44 in Stockholm. Original members of Treblinka is: Johan Edlund, Jörgen “Juck” Thullberg, Stefan Lagergren and Anders Holmberg. Johan Edlund wasn’t there so he was replaced by the “Nifelheim brothers” Pelle and Erik Gustafsson. Anyway, I was the one who asked Stefan if he was interested in playing some death metal guitar with us. The week after, he stepped in to our rehearsal place and that was it…Mr. Death was born!
The band members have been part of acts like Tiamat, Treblinka and Expulsion. Which members have been involved in which acts?
Juck and Stefan played together in Treblinka who became Tiamat. Stefan played guitar on the first Tiamat album SUMERIAN CRY. Juck did the bass on the second one as well THE ASTRAL SLEEP before quitting. Stefan is the one who was playing guitar in Expulsion.
In my bio it also says that the members in Mr. Death have been involved in different constellations together, what bands are we talking about?
As I mentioned before: Stefan and Juck are the original members of Treblinka who became Tiamat. Stefan went on to do his thing in Expulsion. Juck later on formed a hard core band called Photo Parade with Jocke on vocals and that’s it.
Who writes the music and the lyrics in the band and what are the lyrics about?
The music usually starts with an idea (riff) from either Alex, Stefan or Juck. Then we just take it from there. Our way of making Death Metal is try to keep it simple, raw and not complicate the music too much. Just trying to get that primitive brutal feeling to it, the way Death Metal sounded like when we grew up in the late 80’s, that’s still the way we think it should sound like.
Most of the lyrics is done by Alex but Juck and Jocke has contributed as well.
Horrified lyrics with a touch of Satanism I would say.
How would you describe the kind of music Mr. Death plays? In my opinion you play old school Swedish death metal in the vein of Entombed, Grave and Dismember..
You said it, Thanks! This is exactly how we think real death metal is supposed to sound like. Primitive, Raw and Brutal !!!
Was it a given from the start that the band was gonna play this kind of music?
ABSOLUTELY!!! NO DOUBT ABOUT IT!!!
Your first demo was recorded in 2008 in the famous Sunlight Studio with Tomas Skogsberg as producer, and you recorded it during the short period of 4 days. How was it to work with Skogsberg?
Working with Tomas Skogsberg was and always will be a primitive pleasure.
How come you ended up recording in Sunlight Studio?
We wanted an old school analogue recording,to get the real old school sound. Nowadays there are no other option than the man, the myth, the legend Tomas Skogsberg. Juck and Stefan are the first one’s ever to have recorded with Tomas (Treblinka), so we wanted the best…we got the best !
You are also a part of the band Point Of Existence, are the other members in Mr. Death involved in other acts besides Mr. Death?
Stefan used to be involved in a sludge core band called Voldet, but not anymore. So it’s just me (Point Of Existence) and Alex who plays bass in a sludge core band called The Mothgatherer.
Do you consider Mr. Death as a serious attempt of being an established metal act? From what I have heard I definitely think you have got what it takes:)
First of all I must say: Thank’s a lot! Death Metal is and should be an underground act! Not for the masses, only for the one’s who really are in for it. Therefore we’re not in it for the money, just for the fun and our believes in true Death Metal! But…sure we are DEAD serious! It would be awesome to be an established Death Metal act. No doubt about it!
How long did it take you to get DETACHED FROM LIFE ready to record?
Since every one of us has ordinary daytime jobs. We could only record on weekdays. So it took us like 4 weekends to do the recordings.
You did record the debut album in Sunlight Studio which was where you recorded your demo as well, what’s the best thing with recording in that studio?
After we did our demo we all felt that working with Tomas in Sunlight was absolutely the right thing for us. After all he is the inventor of the famous “Sunlight death metal sound” and that was exactly what we wanted.
What do you consider is Skogsbergs strongest feature as producer?
Tomas Skogsberg is like a totally cool hippie-like guy who is easy to get along with. I think Tomas is the master of creating the ultimate death metal analogue sound. Especially the guitar sound. That’s his trade mark. Totally awesome!
Why did decide to call the album DETACHED FROM LIFE? Does the title have any special meaning to the members?
Juck came up with the title. And we all thought that it suited just fine for a Death Metal album title. So, it has no special meaning , it’s just a perfect title.
Who did the cover art-work? What do you think of it?
The cover art work is done by a guy from Philadelphia, Mike Hrubovcak at Visual Darkness. I think he did a hell of a job. In the same vein as the old classical Ed Repka cover art (Death SCREAM BLOODY GORE for instance).
Did you feature any of the demo songs on the album?
Yes, we re-recorded “Fin” and “Muse of chaos”.
Do you think that the band have gone through any musical development though the years? If so in what way?
Well, we haven’t existed that long. But I think we are constantly developing. The songs we’ve made after the album are quite different from the one’s on the album. We have for instance adding some old-school thrash metal riffs and beats for some songs and over all, we have been taking a lot more time in the creating process. But it still sounds like Mr. Death. Only BETTER!!!
It can be read in the biography that DETACHED FROM LIFE will be the long sought after energizer that the death metal world has needed for almost 20 years, what do you think of that statement?
Well…I really don’t know who’s to blame for that statement ha ha. But I guess what we really meant was: Many of those who are into listening to Death Metal today have grown up listening to this American, hyper-fast, super-technical style of it. Nothing wrong with that, but we want people to discover the origin sound of Death Metal. The early, energetic, hard core influential style of playing it like the early bands did. For example Chilean band Pentagram, American band Repulsion and of course the Swedish Death Metal pioneers like Nihilist.
You threw a release party for the album at the famous Kafé 44 in Stockholm where you did a live show together with Torture Division, how was that?
That was so fucking AWESOME!!! Stockholm band Insision played there as well. A total killer evening!!!
Did you play any of the songs from the new album? What did the fans think of the songs?
Yes of course! We played most of the songs from the record and we got a fantastic response from the people who was there.
There are 11 tracks on the album that lasts for about 30 minutes, that’s really fast, was it your intent to write short and intense songs?
It just turned out that way. We wanted to re-record “Fin” and “Muse Of Chaos” from the demo. Then we just started to make some new songs and when we’ve got 9 songs we just said: 9 song + the 2 old ones. Let’s hit the studio.
The album lasts for about 30 minutes, but…it lasts longer than Slayer’s REIGN IN BLOOD, that one is “only” 29 minutes.
Have you read any reviews from the media yet?
What have the press to say about the debut album?
Yes we got quite a lot reviews from all over the world.
Most of them have been very positive.
Some examples are:
Rock Hard Magazine (De) – 8/10
Sweden Rock Magazine (S) – 6/10
Pavillon (Fr) – 8/10, so we don´t really have anything to feel sad about. All in all – Pretty good reviews .
Does the members read everything that’s written about the band in the papers?
Did you send out your demo to labels in order to get them interested in your music?
No not really! After we did the 4 track demo, we just put them on our MySpace site and it didn’t took very long until different kind of labels became interested in getting a deal with us.
You inked a deal with Agonia Records which is based in Poland, how come you signed on for them? Were there many labels interested in Mr. Death?
Yes, there were some labels who really wanted to sign us, But we simply thought that Polish label Agonia had the best offer for us. And they definitely hasn’t made us disappointed.
Do you see any problems in the fact that the labels isn’t based in Sweden or in Scandinavia?
No, absolutely not these days when you have the internet and all. No problem at all.
The demo has also now been released as a 7′ Vinyl, was it you or the labels wish to do that?
Since all of us (except Alex), has grown up listening to vinyl, it was our own decision of doing that.
Is the vinyl avaliable in stores?
Well…this is quite embarrassing. The demo is not available yet. It still doesn’t exists in physical form.
Different kind of shit going on with the one’s who are supposed to do the pressing and shit (some eastern company). But, the last thing I heard from Agonia is: it will be released in the next couple of weeks, so let´s hope they´re right about that.
When was DETACHED FROM LIFE released and where was it released? Is it released world wide yet?
It was a world wide release on October 30th, Halloween you know.
What other acts are signed to Agonia Records?
You can check out all the bands at: http://www.agoniarecords.com
Some of them are: Impiety, Necroblaspheme, Die Hard and Adorior.
For how many albums are you signed for at Agonia Records?
Just this one (and the demo “Unearthing”). That was a big part of the dealto just sign for 1 album. We didn’t want to take any risk of being “screwed” by a record company. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Your debut album is also gonna be released on Vinyl, has the vinyl version been released yet?
Yes, of course.
There’s also gonna be a limited edition version of the album, what is the limited edition gonna feature?
The limited edition is printed on a black CD and the case is in A5 (digibook) just like a DVD case.
Is Agonia Records taking care of the promotion of the album as well or are you co-operating with any management that takes care of that?
Agonia has really been taking care of everything when it comes to advertising and promotion for the album.
Are you happy with the work Agonia Records have put into the album so far?
We all think Agonia has done an amazing job, nothing to complain about at all.
You began 2008 with playing a lot live in the Stockholm region, how did the shows go? And why have you mostly played live in that area and not in other parts of Sweden?
The shows went very well. They have become better and better for each time we have played. Simply because we all live here in Stockholm so we have done it the easy way I guess.
Last year you did a live show at Club Maiden in Oslo on a three days festival how was that? How did the Norwegian audience treat you?
That was just amazing. A totally fucking awesome festival. The Norwegians treated us like kings, we really had a blast there.
You did 6 shows during 2008 and 4 shows during 2009, why so few live performances?
We do it like Venom did in the 80’s when they did their 7 dates tour. Just a few, but exclusive gigs.
It suits us fine at the moment. But hopefully in the near future we are going to play some more gigs, we’ll see how things are going.
Do you co-operate with any booking agency at the moment?
No, we don’t have a booking agency or anything like that.
We are getting the gigs on our own which is not so easy at times, but we’ll see what happens. It would be great to have a booking agency.
You did a show far up in the north of Sweden in Umea this year, how was that?
That was really cool. It was a 1 day festival called Dawn Of Dead,
a sort of tribute festival to the legendary singer in Morbid/Mayhem Pelle “Dead” Ohlin. The festival was on his birthday on January 16th, we were headlining and got a fantastic response.
Are you gonna try to land any gigs as support act this year?
Yes, I think going as support act would be perfect for us.
Supporting a more established band would be totally awesome.
Do you have any festival gigs booked so far for the summer?
No, we don’t have any bookings at all at the moment but hopefully we will get the chance of playing at some festivals. Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore U.S would definitely be the ultimate festival, that would really be so totally fucking great.
What can we expect from a live performance by Mr. Death?
Mr. Death live ISN’T like those ordinary metal bands who stands and shake their heads while playing. We are trying to do it with as much energy and intensity as it is possible to create. We are like a hybrid of a zombiefied hardcore band who plays death metal in an old fashioned kind of brutal way. A total experience you won’t regret seeing, and hearing of course.
Are you active on internet? Do you have a MySpace site?
Yes we are pretty active on the internet.
Of course. http://www.myspace.com/misterdeathsweden
Do you have a webmaster or do the guys in the band take care of the sites?
We are our own web-masters.
Do you think MySpace and Facebook is a good way to promote your music and the band?
Yes I think so. It’s much easier nowadays with internet and all that comes with it, to get information and for instance promote your band. All you had back in the 80’s for example to get in touch with new bands was, underground fanzines and tape-trading basically.
Do you get a lot of mail from the fans? What’s the most common questions you’ll get from fans?
Yes, not a lot but some once in a while.
I think the most common questions are the Treblinka/Tiamat related ones. I know both Juck and Stefan are pretty fed up by those questions and I totally understand them. After all, that was like 20 years ago.
Where in the world do you have your biggest fanbase?
I guess it’s here in Stockholm, since it’s here we’ve been playing the most.
With thought of that Mr. Death is a fairly new act what part of the world are you gonna try to conquer the next time?
Well…a total world domination would be awesome, South America would be real cool and Eastern Europe. Metal in general always had a strong fan-base and lots of bands over there.
Give me three reasons why the readers should buy DETACHED FROM LIFE?
Detached From Life is made by all us to ALL of you: the few, the true DEATH METAL maniacs out there. The 3 reasons for you to buy it is:
1.YOU are into real old-school death metal.
2.YOU want to support the scene.
3.YOU want your death metal to sound like it did in the old days, with a different approach and a new name on the cover.
Well, that was I for me know, thanks a lot Jonas for taking the time to answer all of my questions. I also would like to congratulate you and the band to your brilliant new album. I really hope that you’re gonna turn up in the southern parts of Sweden really soon, finally do you have any words of wisdom to the readers?
Thank YOU! It was a real pleasure from my point of view to put an answer to all of your questions. Thanks a lot. We really appreciate it. Yes, I really hope we can make it real soon. It sure as hell will be a real blast when we enter those southern parts of Sweden, that’s a promise!
I hope everyone of you who really are in to Metal will take your time and check us out, hopefully you’ll find it worth it. Live as well as in your stereo, or whatever.
“Bang your heads as if up from the dead – Mr. Death Metal is all that you need”