Roger "Rogga" Johansson: An extreme metal legend
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to: Roel at Vic Records for the help and thanks to Vic Records
for providing promo pictures of Bloodgut and Ribspreader
Roger “Rogga” Johansson is a familiar name within the extreme metal genre. Roger is a very busy man with numerous of releases in his back catalog. His latest release is the first album from Bloodgut called NEKROLOGIRUM EVANGELIKUM PT 1 ZOMBIE REIGN 2666 AD. Other band projects that he is involved in include Ribspreader and Paganizer etc. Johansson was kind enough to make space in his busy schedule for an interview with Metal-Rules.com. As you can see, the interview became pretty long and despite that had we only time to scratch the surface. Here is what mastermind Johansson had to say.
Hi Roger! It was really nice of you to take the time off to do this interview with me and metal-rules.com. It’s a true honor to be talking to you who are a legend within the extreme metal community.
Legend huh? I wouldn’t say that ha ha, I’m just a guy who’s released rather too many albums I guess.
I thought we could begin with talking about your new project Bloodgut and the debut album that came last year. How long did it take you to write and record the album?
Actually Bloodgut isn’t a new project at all, I recorded the album in 2004. Due to the label having some issues it didn’t come out until recently. I actually recorded the second album in 2005, so maybe that one will come out in seven or eight years from now… As for how long it took to write the album, I think I wrote and recorded the album during a few days, I didn’t really have any songs when I started to work on it, I just wrote stuff as I recorded. Its not one of my best albums for sure, but it was fun playing that low tuned, it was a challenge really as I didn’t bother to get thicker strings for the guitar or bass.
Why call the project Bloodgut?
I don’t know really, I seem to remember that 2004 was one of the years when I lost like 30 kilos in just a couple of months due to some bowel problems Ive had for years and years. Some tears the guts are OK, and then sometimes they fuck up deluxe and I cant really eat anything but soup for months. So I guess the name came from having this shit to deal with, Bloodgut sounded like something fitting.
What are the lyrics about and where do you find inspiration to write lyrics?
The album is mostly a huge zombie story really. Its sort of an open concept based on a post apocalyptic world where zombies are the new rulers of the world. Very simple and cheesy yes, but I love zombies stuff just as much as most people do, and it was fun to write about.
The debut album is called NEKROLOGIRUM EVANGELIKUM PT 1 ZOMBIE REIGN 2666 AD, why on earth such a long title?
I like long titles, thats why ha ha. And as its sorta concept I think its even more fun with a long semi-pretentious and overly cheesy title like this.
Who besides you are involved in the project?
On the album, or albums, theres just me on everything but drums. The drums are actually unused outtakes and parts of outtakes for Paganizer songs through the years. So its Matte Fiebig who plays the drums on the songs, even though when he recorded the stuff it wasn’t intended at all for this purpose.
Who’s done the cover art-work and what do you think of it?
The guy who did the art was Peter Sallai, a Hungarian guy. I like it very much, I think it totally fits the feeling of the music and the overall concept of the album as well.
With its 30 minutes of music, the album pretty short, was that the original thought?
Well when I recorded the stuff I didn’t even think it’d be released as an actual album, so I didn’t really think about the length of it. Sure the album could be ten minutes longer, but then again the sound is very downtuned and dirty so maybe 30 minutes is just perfect so people wont get fed up or bored with it.
It’s pretty expensive to buy an album in stores today (at least in Sweden) do you think the buyer gets his money worthwhile when he buys your album?
Well thats not for me to really think about, I just make the music and then if someone doesn’t think its worth getting when its released thats cool with me. I agree that 30 minutes might be on the shorts side compared to what albums cost these days, but then again albums overall are too expensive no matter if they’re 30 or 40 minutes long.
In retrospect are you happy with the outcome of the album?
Very much so actually. I didn’t have any huge hopes for it when I recorded it, I just wanted to make something very fucken dirty and ugly and I think I managed to do just that. Also I think some of the songs are very groovy and even catchy despite their sound and thats something I love when it works out. Brutal ugly music doesn’t need to be atonal or technical, it works just as well with basic punk or rock’n'roll structures if you ask me.
How would you like to describe the kind of music Bloodgut plays?
I would say its primitive death metal, very low tuned and ugly death metal. I don’t know if theres any other bands sounding similar, most other bands are better songwriters I guess and use more riffs and skills while my stuff is really on the more primitive side of it all.
Have you read any reviews in the media yet? What have the critics had to say about the release?
I cant remember really ha ha, I think Ive come across a few reviews so far but I don’t remember what they thought of it. I don’t care too much really either. I’m happy if someone likes my stuff, and if someone hates it thats rather fun as well. Maybe the reviews I read was neither good or bad and thats why I don’t remember them, I don’t know really.
Do you care about what press and media write about your projects and albums?
Not much really. Sure I am happy when people really like what I do, its a positive feeling when someone really gets into your music and appreciates it and listens to it over and over. then again as I mentioned above its also cool when someone really hates what you do, then you’ve succeeded as well I think.
What does the fans think of the new album?
The release has passed by rather unnoticed I think ha ha, but the mails I get now and then is only from people who think its a cool album. Then again if anyone hates it I don’t think they take the time to tell me about it, I suspect they just delete the album from their computer.
I’ve read somewhere that this album is going to make the listener think of bands like Carcass, Autopsy, Abscess and Impetigo, do you think you have managed to do that with the music?
As usual thats stuff the label has written as sales points or whatever. Carcass and Autopsy are great bands, while my stuff is very simple and primitive. Maybe people into the more basic and dirty stuff like Impetigo and Abcess will like Bloodgut though, so I guess those bands were the right ones to compare Bloodgut too.
With "PT 1" as part in the title, I guess you have plans on releasing a second part?
As I mentioned earlier I recorded the second album not long after the debut, and its pretty much a part two in all ways possible. Same concept but expanded really, and same sound and songwriting.
Do you think that fans of Ribspreader going to like this album?
I don’t know really. Bloodgut is very much more dirty and basic, while Ribspreader is more classic and we try to write really good songs. I would guess anyone into death metal could like Bloodgut really, its up to if they like the sound and overall dirtiness of it all I guess.
Production and Studio Work
Where was the album recorded and who has produced it?
It was recorded in my kitchen actually ha ha, and I recorded it myself as well as mixed it.
You play all the instruments except for the drums, wasn’t it hard to do everything on your own?
Ive done it this way since I was a teenager really, recording most stuff myself when Ive done projects and demos. Its fun as well, writing and recording stuff on your own I think. Sure you need other people too but doing most stuff yourself is more fulfilling I guess.
I know Dan Swanö was involved in the making of the album what was his part?
Dan Swanö mastered the album. I’m assuming he had a hard time getting it to sound better ha ha.
How was it to work with Swanö?
Ive known him for many years now, hes a great guy really. Not only great at the musical stuff, hes also a very good friend and one of the nicest guys I know.
How long did it take in the studio this time?
I think I spent a few days on writing and recording the album, hard to remember as it was six years ago and it was very spectacular at all ha ha.
The biography says that the album is “under-produced on purpose” why?
Does it? Well I don’t know if its done on purpose, its just done for fun and this is how it came out. I guess its something a label writes for some reason, so I cant really answer that.
Was it hard to get a record deal for Bloodgut?
Not really, no. I played some of the songs to Roel at the label and he loved it and wanted to release it.
Were there many labels that was interested of signing the project and how come you chose to sign on for Vic Records?
Actually I only played it to Roel at VIC Records I think. The project wasn’t meant to be something I did an album with I think, I just recorded it for fun and then it happened that Roel really liked it.
A few of your other bands such as Ribspreader and Paganizer are also signed to Vic Records, are you happy with the work that the label have put into the bands?
Ribspreader is still signed to VIC, Paganizer has been on Cyclone Empire for the last two albums though. Roel at VIC Records is a good friend and I’m very happy with the work hes done through the years for my bands.
You have been on many labels…now what do you think of Vic Records?
VIC Records is a smaller label, and Ive been on many small labels as well as some larger. I think VIC Records does great work, they’ve had some issues with delays though, but thats how it worse in this rather small scene I guess. Sales these days aren’t too good either for this sort of music so when thinking on all that VIC is a really good label.
Is the album released worldwide and is it available to download?
I have no idea really… I think VIC has distribution outside of Europe but I couldn’t say through what labels. And as far as downloads go, I think its on a few sites like that.
What bands did you listen to when you grew up?
As a kid it was stuff like Kiss, Iron Maiden, Helix, Krokus, Accept, WASP and many more that got me into heavy metal. After that it became heavier and heavier through the years, pretty much like for everyone whose into death or thrash metal I guess.
Did anyone of those bands inspired you to become a musician?
I don’t know really, I guess all of them sold me on music. I cant remember one band though, that made me wanna make music.
You play guitar and bass can you play any other instruments?
Not really no. I have always since a teenager been using samplers as well, Ive always liked industrial music too.
You also sing but what do you like the most, sing or play instruments?
Actually neither ha ha. What I like best is to write music and then record it, and make it all come together and be a finished song. So its a combination I guess. Playing guitar is fun though, when you’re in the right mood but then again growling is fun as well.
What was the name of the first band you either joined or founded?
Hmmmm, Putashriek I think. It was in 7th grade I think, and we played industrial music with sampled guitars as none of us could play guitar back then yet.
You have been involved in numerous of different projects and bands which one have been the most fun to participate in?
Really cant answer that in a good way, most stuff has been fun so far. Maybe doing vocals for Edge of Sanitys CRIMSON II was something of the most fun. Recording the thirds Paganizer album at Sunlight Studio was also a very cool thing.
Are you currently involved in many bands or projects?
Compared to most other people I guess I am. I have my "main" bands Paganizer, Ribspreader, Revolting, The Grotesquery and Demiurg. Then I have some other stuff I do now and then too, maybe not stuff that will be released but just small projects I do and record a few songs with.
You have become one of the most influential person in the extreme metal community how does that feel?
I don’t think thats true at all really, I feel I’m still very much just a guy doing some music and having the luxury that labels wants to release it for me. I’m happy though that people appreciate my music, its nothing I try to accomplish at all but its always fun when people like what you do.
What’s the status on Paganizer?
We are going again, new album just out on Cyclone Empire. The original drummer from the 90s is back in the band and we just did the debut show with almost the original lineup a few weeks ago. everything feels cool, and we have loads of fun again.
Which one of your albums are you most proud of having done?
Maybe Dead Unburied with Paganizer, or the latest Demiurg album Slakthus Gamleby. Theres many more I’m very proud of but these two might be the ones I feel the most for. At least right now ha ha.
How much have you play live and do you like to play live?
As Paganizer is the only band I play live with and the band has been on ice though the years many time, there hasn’t been too many gigs really. Ive done a few tours and a few handfuls of other gigs and its been fun mostly, but I’m not a huge fan of being around people so its not something I love doing at all really.
Are there any albums that you’re not that proud of having done?
Not really, the Paganizer debut where we changed from death metal to more retro thrash was maybe a bit stupid. And also Ive done a few albums with really shitty sound, often demo collections or stuff like that, which I’m not too proud of nowadays.
What do you like the most of recording albums or performing live?
I love recording stuff, so thats easily what i prefer compared to live gigs.
You participated on a bunch of albums during last year where do you find the time to do everything? I mean the day have only got 24 hours..
Ive been unemployed for some years, and that time is used for music. And when I have work I usually spend the weekends instead on beer and music, so theres no real lack of time for music I guess. But when I have work I tend to write less music of course, but then again I have lots of unreleased stuff laying around made years ago so theres never any shortage on materials to release ha ha.
When I searched you on the internet not much of interest came up, you are a pretty anonymous person for the un-invited, have you chosen to have it that way?
I am not very interesting no, ha ha. I don’t try to get out there, or to be available on the net really so anything you might find is surely uploaded by other people than me, and I’m happy if theres not too much stuff out there either.
There are a few MySpace pages with all of your bands but not one of them have got a proper website why?
I’m not really into the whole website thing, I’m not too good at web design and also I’m very lazy. I prefer to do music and not to promote the bands online all days. Sure that might be stupid but then again I’m doing music for fun, not to be available everywhere.
Do you get a lot of mail from fans? What’s the most common question you’ll get from fans?
Not a lot, maybe a few every week or so. It depends on if theres a new album out or not I guess, then sometimes theres lots more. The most common question? Hmmm, I guess its why I left Bone Gnawer ha ha. And also when a new Bone Gnawer album might be done.
Ribspreader has got two MySpace sites which one is the “right” one?
One of them is an older one I think, not updated since years and years. And then theres the VIC Records one, they did MySpace pages for all my projects I had on the label I think.
Ribspreader has also released a new album and the last album came back in 2009 why so long in between releases?
VIC Records have had some issues with delays, so we just had to wait really.
Why isn’t drummer Ronnie Bjornstrom featured on the new album?
Ronnie only did the drums as we had no drummer, like a favor really as hes a good friend. For the last album we asked Brynjar instead as hes a killer drummer, and Ronnie didn’t have much extra time either as hes busy as a producer these days.
How long took it to get THE VAN MURDERS ready for release?
I don’t know really, I think a few months but we didn’t work on it every day. we usually spend a few months writing stuff, me and Andreas, and then we do all guitars and bass one day and then maybe a month later we do the vocals one day. The mix took a week or so as well.
You and Andreas Carlsson is co-operating on the new Ribspreader album. How is it to work with Carlsson?
Hes been in Ribspreader since the first album, then he wasn’t on the second album but now hes back since a few years. Andreas is one of my very best friends, we’ve known each other for maybe 16 years or more and we have fun when we write music together. Its usually more drinking than writing, thats why Ribspreader albums takes a bit of time really ha ha.
Where does the name Ribspreader come from?
I just came up with it onetime in 2002 I think, then I checked it out on the net and was surprised that no other band had taken it, so we just had to use it.
Where was the album recorded?
As usual we recorded it at The Rotpit, the home studio we have and then the drums was done in Norway by Brynjar Helgetun.
Who has done the mix/mastering and where was it done?
Patrick Bruss from Crypticus did the mixing and mastering, and he also did most of the solos on the albums as well which was really cool.
Why the title THE VAN MURDERS?
Its a concept album about two serial killer who travel by a van. Cheesy and all that but its fun and fitting a basic ugly death metal album.
Are there any plans of take Ribspreader out on tour any time soon?
No theres no plans like that. Me and Andreas play in Paganizer, and the current Ribspreader drummer lives in Norway so theres no plans like that.
Do you think that the old Ribspreader fans is going to like THE VAN MURDERS?
Yes I think so, so far the reviews have been great and people seem to like it very much. Sure the sound have changed a bit but its more our own sound now I think, since the last two albums. The debut and the second album was more classic death metal while the newer stuff is more dark and groovy.
Do you think that the band have gone through any musical developments on this album if you compare it to the previous one?
As mentioned above the last two albums are where we found a bit more of our own style I think, more groove and more variation on the vocals than before.
Is Ribspreader a band or a project?
Its a project, but we always talk about it and say that one day we will get a local drummer and get the band rolling. Don’t know if that will happen tho ha ha…
What’s the plan for Roger Johansson during the remains on 2011?
Not much really, maybe finish the vocals for the next Revotling album.
What are the plans for you and Bloodgut during 2012?
I think the second Bloodgut will be out 2012 actually, licensed on an American label if I’m not wrong.
What do you have to say to the unlucky ones who haven’t discovered Bloodgut or Ribspreader yet?
Well if they like ugly and heavy death metal with some groovy or catchy stuff thrown in, they should surely discover it. They might like it.
Well, the interview has come to an end do you have any final words of wisdom for the readers and fans?
Not really ha ha, be safe and use double condoms maybe?
Thanks again for taking the time off to make this interview possible. I wish you all the best in the future.
More info about the band