Vocalist Kacper Rozanski, Guitarist Mike Wead and Simon Johansson
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to The Boss of Vic Records Roel van Reijemersdal for all the help
Thanks to Vic Records for the promo pictures of the band taken by: P. Hellström and K. Alutoine/Seance
THE BLACK SWAN EPILOGUE is the name of the excellent debut album that comes from the Swedish progressive doom metal act BibleBlack. The band consists of some very well known Swedish musicians like Mike Wead (King Diamond, Mercyful Fate) and his partner in crime Simon Johansson (Memory Garden, ex- Steel Attack). They have joined forces together with Tobhias Ljung on drums, Jonaz Bulund on bass and Kacper Rozanski on lead vocals and this is what they came up with. A brilliant debut album. I had the pleasure to have a talk with Kacper, Simon and Mike about the band, the future as well as some personal matters with Mike.
Hi everyone, thank you for taking the time to answer all of my questions, I have a bunch of questions lined up for you today. Are you ready to kick off the interview?
Kacper: Damn right! Bring it on!
I thought we maybe could begin to talk about the origin of your band BibleBlack, is it Mike and Simon who are the band leaders?
Kacper: Mike and Simon were the ones who initiated bibleblack, they were “the beginning”.
How did it all begin? How come you formed Bible Black in the beginning?
Kacper: Well, Mike had a bunch of thrash metal riffs that he wanted to bring to life with a band. So he and his close friend Simon started to look around for musicians that would be appropriate for that kind of music.
Was it given from the start who the members were gonna be?
Kacper: The first two given members were of course Mike and Simon. The third member to join their forces was Kacper. He met Mike and Simon during an album recording of Kacpers other band, Nattas. After some time of working on the new material Jonaz (Nattas) joined the band to play the bass. The last member to join was the drummer Tobhias. He parted ways with bibleblack after a while and his place was taken by Staffan Lundholm, a very talented drummer.
Almost all of the members are involved in other acts besides BibleBlack, what do you think of that? Do you see any problems in that?
Kacper: No, it’s not a problem at all. Although it does take some careful planning from all the members.
Is the line-up a solid one?
Kacper: This line-up is definitely a solid one. We are one evil!
Would you say that BibleBlack is an all-star act with thought of all the well known members that are involved?
Kacper: You are right saying that some of the members are famous musicians but we don’t focus on that…we focus on the music.
And was it given from the start that BibleBlack were gonna play the kind of metal that we can hear on the album?
Kacper: The thrash riffs were there from the beginning so you could say that the thrash was there from the start, but a lot of the other dark and twisted vibes came through the creative process.
Where does the name BibleBlack come from?
Kacper: Well, it’s spelled bibleblack with lower-case letters and written as one single word. It’s an adjective representing a colour…or a shade of black if you will.
Have you performed anything live before you recorded the debut album?
Kacper: No, the first gigs were performed after the album recording.
Do you consider BibleBlack being a band or a project today?
Kacper: Bibleblack is most certainly a full blown band with a solid line-up…and very sharp teeth
Have you felt any kind of pressure to deliver outstanding material? I mean maybe the history of Simon who played on the legendary debut of Abstrakt Algebra and the famous Mike Wead and his history with King Diamond and Mercyful Fate etc made you feel any kind of pressure?
Simon: Well, not really. Of course it´s always Important to write and deliver great material but it´s not like what´s been done in the past made us think in a certain way. With bibleblack we wanted to do something a bit different from what we have done in the past and to us it was just important to deliver an album that we thought were great. Hopefully people into the stuff we´ve done and been involved in before also likes it. Bibleblack is a new thing and will create its own identity so what´s been done before isn´t really that important as I see it.
I read that Mike won a Grammy in 2007, tell us about that?
Mike: Nope, we did not win the American Grammy but King Diamond was indeed nominated and that is in itself a great honour and definitely a highlight of my career.
Do all of the members live in the same city or are you spread out in Sweden?
Kacper: All the members of bibleblack live in Stockholm. Although our former drummer, Tobhias lives in the south of Sweden which was one of the reasons to why we parted ways.
How would you like to describe what kind of music Bible Black plays?
Kacper: We play thrash metal with a heavy cloud of darkness hovering over the whole thing. There is also a twisted touch to it that could make some people feel uneasy
Simon, you normally plays more melodic metal what do you think of taking on a more extreme form of metal in Bible Black?
Simon: I think it really fun to play this kind of music. I listen to extreme metal a lot and I have always done. It´s not like it´s the first time I do it but I haven´t released an album with this kind of music before.
I read the line “Join the legion, become Bible Black” in your paper, what do you mean with that line?
Kacper: It’s inspired by one of our songs, “I Am Legion”. The line is an invitation to “our” legion, to the legion of bibleblack!!
You recently released your stunning debut album THE BLACK SWAN EPILOGUE, how long did it take to write and record the album?
Kacper: It’s hard to answer that question, since we didn’t work under any time pressure and did one thing at a time. The members joined the band gradually and the creation of “The Black Swan Epilogue” was more an organic process that maybe stretched over a period of 12 months.
Who’s written the music and the material?
Kacper: The music is mostly written by Mike Wead and the lyrics are mostly written by Kacper Rozanski.
Is Bible Black a democracy where everyone has got a saying about the material?
Kacper: Yes. bibleblack is democratic even though most of the material was written by two of the members. Everyone is welcome with contributions.
What are the lyrics about?
Kacper: The lyrics are about the dark and mystical side of man. The song “Mourning becomes me” for example is about a man realizing that mortality is his only true strength in life and his eager to unveil the truth hidden beyond death. The song “Bleed” is a meant as a beating towards all the weak human beings that are afraid of living to the fullest due to their insecurities. It’s a middle finger to those who live through the lives of others who are strong and not afraid of shedding their own blood. The song “I Am Legion” is about a man who meets his inner demon in real life, an event that ultimately consumes him. These are some of the themes on “The Black Swan Epilogue”.
You have featured quite a few guest appearances on the album from Ronny Hemlin, Kristian Andrén and Matthias Ljung, how come they ended up on the album?
Simon: Well, those guys are all close friends of ours. There were certain parts in some songs where we wanted a special vibe or feeling or you can call it what you want and what they do fit very well to what we wanted. So basically we needed what they can do to get the result we wanted and we ask them if they could help out, which they all did.
And where does the title of the album THE BLACK SWAN EPILOGUE come from?
Mike: It was me that came up with the title and it was also I who penned the lyrics for the title track. I thought it would be fun to have a debut album with a new band using the word “Epilogue” I also think it has a nice poetic sound to it.
Who has done the cover art work of the album? What do you think of it?
Kacper: The covert art was made by Gyula Havancsák a brilliant artist. We think it came out really great and are very pleased with the result.
What’s the thought behind the cover?
Kacper: The cover art is inspired by the “Codex Gigas” which a biblical text handwritten on calf skin. It is also known as the Devil’s Bible because of a large illustration of the devil on the inside and the legend surrounding its creation. The book is kept in the Swedish Royal Library in Stockholm.
Who did produce the album and in which studio was it recorded?
Kacper: The album was produced by Mike Wead and bibleblack and recorded at the Solnasound Recording Studio by Simon Johansson & Mike Wead. The album was mixed by Fredrik Groth and Mike Wead.
Did you throw any release-party for the album? If so where and when was it held?
Kacper: No, unfortunately we didn’t. We were thinking about it but we couldn’t find an appropriate place to throw a release-party at, at that time.
No one is listed on keyboard but you have used quite a lot of keyboard in the music, who plays the keyboard?
Kacper: The keyboards were played and programmed by Mike.
Were there many songs that didn’t made it on to the final edition of the album?
Kacper: There were some that didn’t make it for practical reasons.
Do you think that fans of Mike Wead and Simon Johansson are gonna like Bible Black and the album?
Simon: Yes I do think so. I have heard a lot of great response from different people. Of course some are not at all into the kind of vocals we have in bibleblack but the music scene today is much more open to different styles etc so I think most people into what we have done before can also enjoy bibleblack.
Does Johansson and Wead share the lead guitar parts on the disc?
Simon: No, on the CD only Mike plays lead. We had on guest lead done by Marco Nicosia on the song Walk into Light. I play that part live.
You shot a video to the song “Bleed” what can you tell us about that?
Kacper: We shot it in Stockholm during one weekend filled with long, repetitive sessions of headbangning in darkness. We put a lot of blood, sweat and beer into that video!
Are there plans on shooting any video to anyone else of the songs?
Kacper: It may happen, but we rather keep that information to ourselves at his time.
Owe Lingvall directed the video, what was it like to work with him?
Kacper: Owe is a great video producer that really knows how to deliver a solid product which meets the customer demands. He knows his trade well which lets us musicians to focus on our job. It was a pleasure to work with him.
Simon: I have known Owe for quite some time and also done videos with him before and as Kacper say he always deliver a high quality video. I really like what he does.
The disc is released in two different versions, one limited edition digipack with additional art work and one regular jewel case with a bonus DVD, what can you tell us about those two editions?
Kacper: We thought it would be fun with variety. The bonus dvd contains material from the recording of the album as well as the video “Bleed”.
Are you happy with the outcome of the album now that you look back on it?
Kacper: We’re very satisfied with the final version of “The Black Swan Epilogue”.
Simon: Yes, it turned out really great.
Have you read any review in the media yet?
Kacper: We’ve got quite a lot reviews from around the world, a lot of them are very positive. The Black Swan Epilogue became the album of the month in Belgium (Hellspawn) for example.
Was it hard to get a record deal?
Kacper: No, Vic Records was interested of releasing the album from the beginning.
You chose to ink a deal with the Dutch label Vic Records, why them?
Simon: I first got in contact with them when they bought the rights to release my other band Memory Garden´s first 2 albums. That the turned into the signing up Memory Garden for the next full-length album as well. I have really good contact with Roel who owns Vic records and think they do a great job. Then Mike also have done some work for them with different releases so it was really no hard to decide to work with them when they wanted to release bibleblack.
Are you happy with Vic Records?
Kacper: We think that it’s a good label with a genuine interest in our music. We’ve established a good communication and our cooperation is really working out well.
Do you know if it’s possible to find the new album in Europe? I can’t find it at all here in Sweden.
Kacper: You can find the album in many European countries or you can order it from our Myspace profile.
Where in the world is the album released so far?
Kacper: The album has been released in most European countries, Japan and the U.S.
Mike: A deal for South America is also in the tubes at the time of writing.
Are there any plans on taking on the American market at the moment?
Simon: It is released there on license through Candlelight Records.
Are you happy with your co-operation with your management SSG Management?
Kacper: Working with SSG has been working great so far and we’re looking forward to the gigs they’ve planned for us.
When did the idea to form BibleBlack first occur to you?
Mike: I’m constantly writing and recording songs and at some point it just came to me that I had enough songs in the same style to form an entirely new concept/band around those.
You have played on so many albums through the years, which are the top three of your favourite albums you have worked on?
Mike: This is a very difficult question depending on my mood of the day…but I like these somewhat more than others:
Hexenhaus – Dejavoodoo
Mercyful Fate – 9
King Diamond – Give me your soul…please
The Project Hate – The Lustrate Process
Abstrakt Algebra – Abstrakt Algebra
What have you been up to in between releases this past few years?
Mike: I’ve been recording/mixing and Mastering lots of other bands. I’ve also played on records with bands such as: TPH,Elvenking,Kamlath,Sinners Paradise,Kryptillusion to name a few.
You are also in King Diamonds act, have you talked to Diamond recently?
Mike: Yes, I talked to him something like a week ago.
What is happening in the King Diamond camp at the moment? It was a while since the latest album GIVE ME YOUR SOUL PLEASE came out? Any plans on recording anything new soon?
Mike: King has been suffering badly from two herniated discs in his spine so that has put a stop to all activities for a couple of years. He’s now feeling better even if not entirely cured, we hope to be back in the studio and on the road soon.
You are also featured on the new Project Hate MCMXCIX album, how did you end up there? Are you friends with the guys?
Mike: I’ve known Jörgen Sandström for many years but it was Lord K who contacted me and asked if I wanted to participate. Since I’ve liked his stuff for a long time I gladly accepted. I will join TPH on the next album as well.
You are also working as producer and have your own studio, where is the studio located and what do you think is your strongest feature as producer?
Mike: I’ve worked in a lot of different studios over the years but the home base is Simon Johansson’s studio located in Solna, Sweden. It’s called “Solnasound Recordings” I think one of my stronger sides is the Mastering part, I have a good sense of the overall sound of an album.
Which bands have you produced?
Mike: Up till this time I’ve worked with lots of bands but this would be a few of them… The Gathering,Meduza,Memory Garden, King Diamond,Steel Attack,Misanthropia,Reset to Zero,Vörgus, Chainsaw,Nattas,Furbowl,Electric Mayhem…and the list goes on.
Some albums I’ve produced and/or mixed and some of them I’ve just mastered. I would guess I have worked with around a hounded different projects/bands over the years.
What do like the most, producing or playing in a band?
Mike: It’s like comparing apples and oranges, I like to do both. The two situations are completely different but since both contains the element of creativity it’s great fun to be on either side of the mixing console.
You have a MySpace page but not a homepage, why?
Kacper: Myspace is a great forum for interaction between people. That’s why we focused on that. We like to stay in touch with our fans and to be able to reach out to them as well. We have a regular homepage registered where you can order the album and merchandise.
Are you active on MySpace? And do you think that MySpace is a good way of bringing out your music to the world?
Kacper: We are most certainly active on Myspace and feel very comfortable with the communicative possibilities it offers.
Are you also active on Facebook?
Simon: Yes, we have just recently started a Facebook profile. Not had that much time to work on that though.
What’s the most common question you get from fans?
Kacper: We get tons of different questions, but one of the typical ones would be to describe our music, which is hard.
You are gonna do a few shows in Finland and Sweden in November, are you gonna do any shows outside Scandinavia?
Kacper: Of course! We are currently preparing to play in Finland and are counting on playing all around Europe.
Who is gonna play the keyboards on stage?
Kacper: The keyboards are going to be played as a backing track.
Are there any problems with getting the other members avaliable to tour? I mean they are all involved in other acts besides Bible Black.
Kacper: No. As we stated above, all it takes is some careful planning from every member.
Are there plans on doing a proper tour with Bible Black?
Kacper: Well, there’re lots of plans, but we don’t have anything confirmed at this moment.
Simon: As Kacper says there´s a lot of plans. Hopefully we will get out on the road in the fall. But as said, nothing is confirmed so it can pretty fast change and not happen. This business is kind of unpredictable in that way.
The shows you’re gonna do in November are they as support or as headline act?
Kacper: The shows we played in the fall of 2009 were both as headline as well as support. We opened for The Haunted in Gothenburg for example. That was a show to remember!
Simon: In Finland we toured as support to Scar Symmetry. We will get back there in May for one show with Onslaught and then a festival in Tampere.
Are you only gonna play Bible Black songs on the gigs or are you also gonna do songs from your other acts?
Kacper: Besides the bibleblack songs, we play one Hexenhaus song and we’ve also put together a Mercyful Fate medley for the fans.
What are the plans for BibleBlack during the remaining part of 2009?
Kacper: We’re planning on playing a lot of shows and hope to play even more during the 2010.
What do you have to say to those who haven’t discovered Bible Black yet?
Kacper: If you‘re a twisted individual with a predilection for the dark and the mystical. Then get your ass to your local record dealer or visit www.myspace.com/bibleblackofficial to get your copy of the bibleblack incantations!
Give the readers three good reasons why they should buy THE BLACK SWAN EPILOGUE.
1. You get hard and heavy thrash music that comes from the
2.You also get a good variety of songs that are quite different from one another but still have a dark and twisted sound in common.
3.You get fantastic covert and a window into the world of bibleblack, especially if you get the bonus dvd!
When do you think you’re gonna unleash the second BibleBlack album?
Kacper: We have no release dates confirmed yet, but we assure you that you will notice when we unleash our second creation.
Do you have any new songs finished for an upcoming album?
Kacper: There is material that we’re working with, that’s all we can say at this point in time.
Mike: I have embryos for 4-5 new songs that could easily fit under the bibleblack moniker.
Well that’s all I had for now. Thanks for delivering an outstanding album and I wish you all the best in the future.Finally, do you have any words of wisdom for the fans and readers?
Kacper: Stay true to yourselves and to the metal scene people. We’re looking forward to see you all on the road and to bang our heads together! Cheers!