Interview with Doc of Below
Below is a newly formed doom metal band from Sweden. Recently they released their debut album, ACROSS THE DARK RIVER, an incredible doom metal anthem. It’s an album that surprised us with its emotional, icecold, epic doom metal. After their form in the fall of 2011, they were ready to sign with Metal Blade, and the debut album is out. This is an unbelievable success for a new band. Doc, the drummer, answers our questions, patiently unveiling some of the doom mysteries behind their album, the relation with the mighty Andy LaRoque, the direction this new act – which is challenging the stagnation of a genre too molded by its interpretation of fan expectations to be anything but stagnant — takes as it tackles the question of 21st century epic doom metal.
Metal-Rules.com: Hello Doc! It’s Hellias Papadopoulos from Metal-Rules.com. I am very happy for this interview and greetings from Greece! First of all, how are you doing? And where are you checking in from today?
Hey! I am doing great, I am checking in from my living room in Sweden after a day barbequing in the sun.
Metal-Rules.com: Congratulation for your debut album, ACROSS THE DARK RIVER! What are the main influences on Below? Black Sabbath (especially Tony Martin-era), Candlemass and maybe Mercifyl Fate are the obvious ones. I am sure that there are some other secret influences on you.
All those you have mentioned have absolutely influenced us, I would like to add the atmospheres of King Diamond to that list as well. The secret influences is hard to find, everyone in the band has got their own influences. So when everyone is writing parts for the songs different influences might be involved in the mix. I am sure there are hundreds in there.
Metal-Rules.com: Have some of you played in other bands already before? And if yes please give some information till the day Below were formed.
We have all played in different bands before, but never on this level. We have known each other for quite some time, and some of us have even played together before.
Metal-Rules.com: I have beholden that Below bandmembers don’t reveal in which bands they played before. Why is that?
Well it´s simple. We want to focus on the present and the future.
Metal-Rules.com: What does the Below name mean for you? Is there any potential message behind it?
We wanted a short and easy to remember name. I personally think that the word Below sums up our dark, slow, heavy, moody music really nice. And at one point or another we will all end up in a dark place somewhere BELOW the surface of this world.
Metal-Rules.com: What’s the new thing that Below offer by that new release to epic/doom metal genre?
I would like to say the mixture of the really heavy riffs, the grand melodies along with the sometimes ghostlike atmospheres and the melodic harmonies. All of this might have been done before but perhaps not all put together into one.
Metal-Rules.com: Can you tell us some words about the production and the songwriting session?
Most of the time someone presents a part for a song, we all pitch in and twist and turn to get it just right. I think that´s one of the key elements to our songwriting. Everyone is involved with the process. We spend a lot of time trying different parts for different songs to make sure all the arrangements got the right feel to it.
Metal-Rules.com: What do you do when you are not playing with the band?
Apart from working. I try to spend time with my family, listen to music and doing a whole lot of other stuff regarding the band.
Metal-Rules.com: What’s your opinion on other kinds of music?
I listen to a whole lot of different music. Well 99% of the time it´s some sort of metal but on occasions I find my self relaxing to some classical songs. Of course I listen to a lot of Doom, but I also enjoy some old school Death metal, Thrash, classic Heavy Metal and so on.
Metal-Rules.com: What are the plans for Below in the future?
We will continue to work our asses off. Keep trying to make the next song we write the best one, and the next gig we perform even better than the last one. Actually we have already started to write new material for the next album. But only time will tell what the future will bring.
Metal-Rules.com:What’s different about this latest album compared to the previous one? Please tell us about the approach that you have chosen to create this album and production of the album. What’s the feedback for the new record?
Do you mean compared to the old 4-song EP ? Since this is our first album. Well we wanted this album to be really heavy, we wanted it to have strong melodies and an atmosphere that really tell the listeners a story. The production of this album went really well, we made sure that all songs were written and done and well rehearsed before entering the studio. Once there we all knew what to do, and Andy LaRocque (Yes, that one) who produced it did an amazing job in capturing the atmospheres of the songs and really making us perform at a high level. I think the feedback for this album so far overall have been really good, and it´s a great feeling to have the album out and hear what different people all over the world think of it.
Metal-Rules.com: Can you tell me a little more about the lyrics, did anything in particular inspire you?
It´s different things. A lot of the time we write about mythology, horror stories, history and sometimes our own tales. I would like to say that our music is a big part when it comes to the lyrics. We want the lyrics to really capture the atmospheres and the feeling of that certain song.
Metal-Rules.com: How important is it to you that people pay attention to your lyrics, in addition to listening to your music?
I think it´s important to pay attention to every part of our music. Every word, every beat of the drum, all the different bass notes and all the pounding guitar riffs has been put in there for a reason. They are all pieces of the puzzle.
Metal-Rules.com: Heavy metal changes throughout the decades. Heavy and Thrash metal dominated the 80’s, Death, Black and Power metal in 90’s, and Metalcore and Nu Metal in the 00’s. 2010 was the beginning of the new decade. What do you see for the future?
It´s all going to be about the New Wave of Swedish Doom Metal! Haha, well to be honest I don´t know. There seem to be a whole lot of bands with a 70´s feel surfacing right now, but there are also a whole lot of really technical Death Metal bands as well.
Metal-Rules.com: What’s your opinion on downloading?
This is a tricky one, more people that hear you the better. However, I´m not the kind of guy who downloads an album. I listen to a lot of music via spotify. When I hear an album I really like I just have to go out and get it. Both to have a copy in my collection and to support the band who made it.
Metal-Rules.com: If you could pick one musician to collaborate with, who would that be and why?
Just one ? I could easily create four or five different bands, haha.But if I were to say just one, and he doesn´t have to be alive I would say the great Dimebag. It would be awesome just to jam and hang out with him.
Metal-Rules.com: Could you respond to the following terms in just one word or sentence:
Doom metal: Hell yeah!
Football: Crap, since we missed the World Cup.
Politics: Professional bullshitters
Best TV series: Family Guy
Mickey Mouse: Killer falsetto!
Most underrated metal band ever: Nevermore
Metal-Rules.com: You recently signed with Metal Blade Records. This is your chance to make it! I wish all the best. I know that Tobie is also playing with another great metal act Noctum. He was the guy who helped both bands to make the deal with that major label?
Thank you for your wishes of luck! Well Tobie is our manager, we recorded a 4-song EP and he sent it to a lot of different labels. We got a fair amount of contract offers but we felt straight away that Metal Blade was the perfect home for Below. It´s a great honor to be part of and work with such an iconic and influential record label. Thanks for your time!
You can read the Below’s debut album review in Metal-Rules.com.
See also the Noctum review here: