Drummer – Max Thornell
Interviewed by Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Vic Records provide the promo pictures of the band
Thanks to Roel van Reijmersdal at Vic Records for all the help
The innovators of the genre death’n’roll, Furbowl, have currently re-re-released their long lost treasured debut album THOSE SHREDDED DREAMS. Because of that I felt it was time to check out what Max Thornell, drummer and founder of the band, had been up to since we last spoke. In this interview you will read about what really happened 20 years ago when Furbowl released their debut and why Vic Records has now decided to re-release the item. We also spoke about Max’s other band Wonderflow that he founded after Furbowl and his newer act Hearse that he has together with Johan Liiva. Here comes an in-depth interview with one of the genres true icons Max Thornell.
Hi Max, nice to talk to you again, are you once again ready to take on metal-rules.com?
You bet I am! Here we go!
This time we’re gonna focus on your act Furbowl. When was the band formed?
My guess would be some time around 1991. Hmmm… 20 years passed by pretty quickly, didn’t they!?
Max Thornell back in 1994 here
How did you meetJohan Liiva the singer in Furbowl?
We met first time at a Subhumans gig back in 1984. The day after we decided to start a band together. Back in these days it was all about punk. We couldn’t play at all but we had a lot of fun and we had just a great time!
What did you do before you and Johan formed the band?
Johan and I started the band Max & The Chainsaws that played some kinda punk back in 1985. Then Johan got more and more into speed metal and stuff and finally ended up in Carnage. I continued with Max & The Chainsaws and two other bands called Dom Där and Jesus Exercise and…well, some more bands. Then we came together again in 1990 in a band called Devourment.
I know you recorded quite a few demos, how many did you do?
As far as I remember we only recorded 2 official demos. We also recorded some songs in a studio down south that never was released. But now it ended up as bonus tracks on the re-release of Those shredded dreams. Then we made quite a lot of porta recordings just trying out new songs.
Was it easy to write songs for the demos?
To be honest I don´t remember. But I think that we had quite a lot of ideas at the time. And we also knew that we didn’t wanna make the ordinary death metal songs.
Was Furbowl supposed to be a duo from the beginning?
No, I don’t think that we ever really were thinking about that. At the time we started it felt quite natural just being us two. It was also easy to work that way. But when we felt it was time to begin playing live it´d be a bit hard performing the songs just being two members. So at the time we felt it was necessary to add more members.
Did you do any live shows between 1991 and the following years?
Yep, we did a bunch of gigs around Sweden. We did a small Sweden tour with Therion and we also did a small tour in Germany and Belgium with Therion in 1993. Cool and very nice band to tour with by the way!
Anders Gyllensten and Arild Karlsson are featured on the live shows. Why aren’t they also playing on the albums?
They sort of popped up between the albums. We did a couple of shows with them and also a demo recording, but I guess we really hadn’t the same views when it came to music or basically anything else either. Great guys though, but we weren’t exactly the perfect match!
Had Gyllensten and Karlsson been part of any other known acts before they joined you guys?
At the time they were in a band called Trashholes, sooner changed the name to Corrosion. Nowadays Gyllensten is in a great band called Violent Work Of Art.
How did the fans and media respond on the demos, do you remember that?
As far as I remember we had good response on the songs.
Was it given from the start that Furbowl were gonna play the kind of music they did?
Pretty much, yes! As we both listened to such a variety of different kinda music I guess that this came out pretty natural and I guess it still does in our current band Hearse. It’s more or less a natural mix of the stuff we listen to.
How old were you guys when you formed the band?
I guess we were both 20. Young and handsome!
Liiva had played with Carnage before he started Furbowl. Had you also been part of any acts before Furbowl?
I started my first band back in..like 1980. I was 10 and just wanted to rock like Kiss! Of course it sounded terrible! After that I’ve been in a bunch of bands. Released some 7”s with the bands Max & The Chainsaws, Dom Där and Jesus Exercise before Furbowl was a fact.
Where does the name Furbowl come from?
From Johan’s sick mind.
Let’s talk about the debut album of Furbowl that’s recently been re-released called THOSE SHREDDED DREAMS.You wrote the album in 1992 but do you remember how long it did take to record it?
It took exactly two days (mixing included). These were the days before death metal came to be about precision, perfection and polished disco productions. We just went in and nailed the songs.
Michael Amott is also participating on the album, how do you know him?
If I’m not mistaken I met Michael first time back in 1986. He was in a just brilliant and extremely underrated band called Disaccord. Well, we also shared rehearsal room back in these days. At the time we recorded the first Furbowl album we hung out quite a lot and Michael asked to join us in the studio. Guess he was in between Carcass tours and got restless.
Is it Liiva that plays guitar, bass and sing the lead vocals and you that play the drums and keyboards? Do you play anything else as well on the album?
Yes, that’s the way it was.
Amott makes a guest appearance on two songs, why didn’t he play on more songs?
Well, Michael was never a part of the band and I guess that it would be a bit strange if he’d play a lot on all the songs.
Who came up with the idea to feature satanic violin of doom played by Lach n’ Jonsson?
Lach’n is the dude that runs the studio and as he was playing the violin we thought it was a good idea to have him on the recording. Turned out pretty cool and at the time it wasn’t exactly common to have a violin on a metal production. He had also played the violin of some of my former band’s recordings so I knew what he could do and was pretty sure it’d turn out cool.
The album was recorded in The Forest in Linkoping Sweden, what do you remember the most from the recording sessions?
I had been there 3 times before (with Jesus Exercise and Dom Där) so I was pretty thrilled about the studio. Extremely nice and laid back place with loads of strange instruments everywhere. So not metal! Remember we had a great time, me, Johan and Mike. The studio is right out in the big forest so it was a bit like camping, he he!
You, Liiva, Amott and Jonsson did produce the disc, how was it to produce together with those guys?
I guess we didn’t have that much of a clue about what we were doing to be honest and I think that it was pure luck that we got everything together. Michael was of great help. He’d been in the studio a couple of times and pretty much knew what it was all about. Me and Johan knew like nothing. Guess we were just looking for a bit of an Entombedish sound.
The debut was originally released by Step One Recordings, was it easy to land a deal with them?
Sigge who ran the label contacted us after hearing the first demo and wanted to release a 12”. As this was the time when CD was making an entrance in the music world it turned out to be a Furbowl CD instead. Hmmm…I always wanted to see that album on vinyl. And now it seems like there will also be a vinyl re-release of the album. Finally!
Who ran the label and what other acts did they have?
A dude called Sigge. He also arranged quite a lot of cool gigs in Sweden at the time. I remember he also had Morpheus and The Robots on his label. And probably some more that I’ve forgotten about right now. It was a pretty cool label at the time and Sigge was real enthusiastic about everything and really helped out a lot!
Do you remember how the album was treated by press and media?
We had really good reviews on the album back in the days! Only really bad one I actually saw was the one in the local paper, he he!
Now is the album re-released by Vic Records, how does that feel?
Well, it’s nice that someone still cares about Furbowl. I know the label boss is a true Furbowl fan, so it feels really nice!
Was it your idea or the labels idea to re-release the disc?
The label boss contacted me and asked to release it. Then he also signed mine and Johan’s current band Hearse.
Mike Wead have done remastering of the disc, what do you think of his job?
The funny thing is that I still haven’t heard it as I still haven’t had any CD:s. So…ain’t got a clue!
Were you and Liiva in the studio when Wead did the re-mastering?
Nope, I’m pretty sure it´d sound a lot worse then, he he!
There’s quite much bonus stuff that’s featured on the re-release like two videos and a bonus album with demos and live songs as well as two covers, where did you find all the material?
I’ve dug deep in the Furbowl vault. Some years ago I actually transferred all old demos and stuff I’ve done to Wav files and organized it pretty well, so it was no problem at all finding all the stuff.
The video to the song “Desertion” as well as a live video to “Razorblades” are featured on the album, what can you tell us about those videos?
Desertion is definitely the best Swedish metal video ever….not, he he! God dammit,what were we thinking!!? OK, we were young, he he!
About the live clip it’s filmed in a way that makes it look like there’s 2 people in the audience, he he! All you see is us and Tompa (At The Gates) and Wallenberg (Skitsystem) going mad in front of the stage.
Both you, Liiva and Amott have written liner notes on what happened during the original recordings which is fun to read, can you share any fun recording memory with the readers?
Well, it was 20 years ago god dammit! I just remember we had a great time in the studio. Then we had a long long night in the car on the way home as Michael read the map, he he! He made us drive like 3 hours more than we should. I assure you he’s a better guitar player than a map reader!
Who’s done the cover art work of the album? Is it a new one?
It’s a dude called Ivan. He’s done a lot of work for Vic Records and he also made the new Hearse cover art. Very talented if you ask me!
In my bio it says “A true monument for the most underrated Swedish death metal band from the early 90′s” how do you comment that statement?
Well, what can you say! Record labels are pretty good when it comes to writing good things about their bands, he he!
If you look back on the time with Furbowl what has been the most fun to do with the band?
I guess playing at Hultsfredsfestivalen (Sweden’s biggest music festival at the time) was a highlight. After being there like every festival since the start 1986 it was great to finally play there in 1994. Then the tours with Therion was great fun of course!
How does the co-operation with Vic Records go? I know that your act Hearse also are signed to Vic Records.
It works out just fine. Vic´s a pretty small label and Hearse and Furbowl are pretty small bands and I guess we share a lot of ideas when it comes to music. Vic isn’t the label you sign to if you wanna be rockstars, but as that’s never been our goal Vics real cool to us. We just want a label that likes what we do and release our stuff.
Did you do a lot of touring after the release of THOSE SHREDDED DREAMS?
As I mentioned we made two tours with Therion. All fixed by our current label Step One.
Did you do any shows outside of Sweden and Europe?
We also played in Germany and Belgium. Don’t remember much of those gigs to be honest. Went around in a small van (us and Therion) and played small clubs.
When did you end the deal with Step One Records?
When it was time for the second album to be recorded we signed with Black Mark instead. There were absolutely no hard feelings between us and Step One. The label manager actually advised us to sign with BM instead as that label had more resources and could do more for the band.
You did release your second album THE AUTUMN YEARS in 1994, how long did it take to write and record that album?
Guess it took like a year to get all the songs together. The recording actually took 4 days this time, he he! In four days we recorded the whole stuff and mixed it. Guess that a lot of death metal is a bit too overworked today if you ask me. I’m more into the old rough stuff. Death metal nowadays often sounds a bit too “nice”.
Do you think that the band went through any musical development in between the two albums?
Definitely! When Nicke joined the band I’d say that we really found the style that felt typical for Furbowl. Nicke is a great musician. He plays like any instrument there is and does it well. Guess we turned even more away from ordinary death metal when he got involved in the song writing.
I guess that THE AUTUMN YEARS isn’t avaliable in stores, do you have any plans on re-release that album as well?
Vic wanted to release that one too, but the original label Black Mark didn’t want that, so… E-bay is the deal!
Liiva left Furbowl after a festival show at Hultsfred, why did he leave?
Guess he got a bit freaked out when we were talking about fixing some more gigs. So at the time I guess it was all for the better so that we could move on, even if it felt really sad parting ways. I mean Johan was (and still is) one of my best friends. But at the time we had such different views on the band that I don’t think that him staying in the band would had worked out.
Was it an expected departure from Liiva?
Pretty much yes, as he was really holding us back at the time and something really had to happen. So I guess that a departure really was necessary at that moment. To be honest we were a pretty dysfunctional band, with me and Nicke wanting to go forward and Johan…well, to be honest I never really understood where he wanted to go. So I guess that a departure was the only way to keep our friendship at the time.
Who was the other members in the band at that time?
That was me and Nicke (nowadays in a band called Melody Club).
Is it correct that Furbowl was active in between 1990-95?
Pretty much, yes! I guess we begun planning for Furbowl in the end of 1990. We were both in a band called Devourment, an ordinary death metal band and I guess we wanted to do something that felt a bit more fresh.
Furbowl have a MySpace site that’s unfortunately aren’t up to date, do you have plans on making a proper website to Furbowl?
Hmmm… I think that our MySpace is pretty much up to date, I guess that your talking about Johan’s Hearse MySpace site, that is not…up do date, he he! Check out www.myspace.com/hearsesweden
Who runs the MySpace site?
I do and I try to update it once in a while.
I think that Furbowl are the inventors of the genre death’n’roll, what do you think?
Well, that wasn’t really anything we were thinking about back then. I mean, at the time mixing styles wasn’t that popular. You played ordinary death metal and if not you were “untrue”. I guess we never really cared about what we played. We never really had a plan. This is just the music that came to be when we put together a band.
The funny thing is that our current band Hearse always gets compared to Arch Enemy and I find like no similarities. To me it´s just a natural development from the Furbowl days.
And how does it feel to be the founders of an entire genre?
Well,I know that there are a lot of people out there saying that we invented death n’roll, but I don’t know really… Anyway I guess mixing death metal and rock wasn’t a big thing at the moment.
At the end of 1995 you did change the band name to Wonderflow why? And who was in the band at that time?
We got ourselves a new vocalist and the whole band sort of changed and it just didn’t feel like keeping the name Furbowl was a good idea. I mean the music may not have gone in a complete different direction, but the vocals sure did. Check out Wonderflow at: www.myspace.com/wonderflowsweden
What kind of music did Wonderflow play?
Well, some of the songs were made during the Furbowl days, but the vocals was completely different. So to make it easy I’d say Furbowl music with (hard)rock vocals.
Did the band ever record an album? And did you ever do any live shows with Wonderflow?
We actually recorded a whole album that then was released as a CD EP by the legendary Swedish label MNW. We also did a couple of gigs around the country. Then our contact at the label began acting like a fucking idiot (with a lot of lies and strange behaviour) and I guess that all the fights with him just dried us out.
Did you and Liiva have any contact after he had left Furbowl?
What did you do after Wonderflow had been put to rest?
Yes, there were no hard feelings or anything. But Wonderflow moved to Stockholm and Johan stayed so, well…we didn’t hang out like every day.
At the end of the 90′s did you and Liiva reunite in the band Hearse, how was that? And what’s the story behind Hearse?
In the end of 1999 I was (and still am by the way) in a band called Satanarchy, a band that sucks energy from Motörhead, Discharge, Venom and Slayer. I also ended up with a bunch of songs that didn’t really fit in like anywhere. So what to do? Start yet another band of course! Then I needed a vocalist and the only growler I knew was Johan. He was just kicked out of Arch Enemy, so he was on! There you pretty much had it!
Could you say that Hearse took over where Furbowl ended?
Well, that’s pretty much what I think! I mean, we still make music in the same direction if you ask me. People make it easy and say that we sound like Arch Enemy, but I think that’s bullshit to be honest. If Johan would have no connection to Arch Enemy I’m pretty sure that no one would even mention Arch Enemy in a Hearse review.
I sure think that Arch Enemy is a great band, but I can’t really see what our music has in common with theirs.
Give the readers three reasons why they should buy THOSE SHREDDED DREAMS?
Well, I’ll give you one reason: It’s actually pretty charming. It’s an album made with no boundaries, no rockstar dreams, no jävvla modernt dansbands-sound
(no fucking modern dance band sound), no perfection, no precision, no money, no promotion, no nothing!
It’s all just about the pure fun and the good feeling!
Max, thanks once again for taking the time to doing this interview with me and metal-rules.com. I wish you the best in the future and I really hope that Hearse is coming to a live stage near me soon.
Thanx a lot for the support! I really appreciate it! God dammit, longest interview I’ve ever answered! My finger tips ache, he he!
More info about the band
Johan Liiva home page
Max Thornell Myspace page
Johan Liiva and Max Thornell new band Hearse