Lefay’s guitarist – Tony Eriksson
Interviewed by EvilG, April 2000
For those of you with your head up your ass, Lefay now have a new CD out entitled …—… (Morse code for S.O.S.) and it’s a must own for any fan of METAL. Tony Eriksson along with Charles Rytk?nen have been plugging away in (Morgana) Lefay throughout most of the 90’s and are still gaining momentum. I jumped at the opportunity to get to speak with Tony about the new Lefay CD, touring and even some info on Lefay’s home-base – Bolln?s, Sweden. There must be something in the water there…
Hi, this is Tony from Lefay.
TONY! How are ya doing?
Fine thank you, how are you doing?
I’m doing great, glad you could make the call.
No problem. It’s a little bit cold and windy, but I’m fine anyway.
Yeah it’s still cold here too. I’ll start out with the new CD which was recently released. I’d like to tell you that I’ve had it for about a month and it’s TOTALLY blown my mind. What has been other people’s reactions, have they been as excited about it as that?
We are totally amazed by the response actually. It’s been, I dunno, mind-blowing for us as well.
I guess it’s a concept album, or so I’ve read – why did you decide to do a concept album?
I don’t know, it just happened. Everything went so fast before the studio stuff and when Charles (vocalist) had the songs he said lets do a concept because he had the idea for some time and then we started.
I’ve read the lyrics a number of times but the story is not something that is obvious or in your face, you don’t know what it’s immediately about, it’s kind of obscure. Maybe in a nutshell you can give me a general idea of what the story is about?
Yeah, it’s about a guy who is in a coma and he’s having this weird nightmares. The lyrics are about the nightmares. He’s in some kind of (maybe) future world that has been destroyed by stuff and all these people who are left there, they have this kind of Morse code as a religion. They hear it from some kind of box that was left over from some broken ship or something. So they worship that, it’s their religion. This guy who is in the coma, he just wants to get out of that place. In the meantime he has this very weird/strange feeling, sort of dreams. You know how it is to dream – one be time you are there the next time…you know. It’s very deep actually.
Yeah, so how does Jesus fit into being on the album cover? Is he they guy that’s in the coma?
No, he is just symbolic thing. If you noticed he’s hooked up with this atomic clock – it supposed to be.
He looks like some kinda cyber-christ with the tubes…
Yeah, but he’s just like symbolic for the S.O.S. signal, so to speak. It’s nothing religious.
That leads into my next question. Lefay and Morgana Lefay have always used religious imagery and references in your artwork, and in your lyrics. what then is your stance on religion? Are you trying to make any point or is there any reason why you choose this for your imagery?
No, I think…all of us are totally atheist. We don’t believe in nothing. But we are very interested in all the things like life beyond death and beyond beyond and fantasies and all that kind of stuff. Then the artwork is made by Kristian W?hlin. He had totally free hand to do whatever he wanted. We just tell him the name of the CD or concept or whatever then he draws the cover from his own mind so to speak.
And he did a very good job, as he usually does.
Yeah, I think he is an excellent artist.
Another question regarding artwork, not just for the new album, but for all your albums. You’ve been using the hourglass symbol. I’m curious, does this represent anything besides the obvious passage of time?
It’s just a coincidence from the first CD. Kristian (also) painted that one. We thought let’s have it as some kind of logo for the band. Then again, time is like…if we die, time still goes on and never ends, time rules actually (laughs).
“Time is God” (in reference to their song of the same name)
Inside the S.O.S. CD, the picture in the back looks like a live shot – is that what it is?
Yeah, it’s alive shot made with PhotoShop actually. It’s a live shot from Holland somewhere, I think, the Netherlands.
I assume then that’s Charles down on the floor with the fans?
Yeah, he’s going haywire sometimes.
So with regards to playing live and touring, what countries are you lining up to be playing for on this tour?
This tour, I think all of Europe. That’s all we know of so far. But they are working on South America. And the Nevermore guys…
You’re going to tour with them again?
Not in Europe, but we talk to each other over the phone and stuff. They are about to release a CD soon as well and they want us to come over to the states and do a stateside tour with them. That would be awesome because those guys are great.
You haven’t been to the states or North America yet have you?
You’re going to Mexico City in July or June or sometime the summer aren’t you? That might be a good stepping stone to come up north.
Where did you hear that?
I read it either on (I think) the Noise website.
Oh…I haven’t heard anything about that.
OK…well it’s supposed to be some kind of festival in Mexico City and Lefay are listed as one of the bands that are going to be there. I read this about a week ago…
I’ll have to talk to Noise then.
Oh..well I’m giving you the news then, I’m telling you where you going to tour haha yeay!
With regards to North America, it seems there are a lot of people here who don’t really know who Lefay are – which is quite a shame. Does that bother you that you are not as well known in North America as you are right now in Europe?
Yeah, a little bit actually. I think Noise is really working on that because Black Mark did nothing actually – while we were on that label. So I have my wish that…so lets hope Noise does some good work.
It does seem they are doing pretty good. The last two albums have been available here so people have been hearing about it. So it’s turning around hopefully.
The last album, The Seventh Seal, you and Charles both wrote that album together right?
On the new one, was their more input from the other guys?
Yeah there was and it was very intense in the studio because 10 days before we went in the studio we actually heard from Noise that we were supposed to go into the studio if we wanted to go on a tour. We had no studio time at that moment so we said ok lets try to do this and fuck it was hard (laughs). But it came out really good and it’s really spontaneous and everything. All of us really set down and did a lot of brainstorming and things. It was a pretty cool experience actually.
So what was the writing process like – you came up with riffs and you jammed them out with the band, or you all sat around together and worked it out?
I was in my rehearsal room with a portable recorder, day in and day out around the clock. The other guys listened to that and we sat down and figured out the lyrics and stuff and that’s the way it was done. Most of it is done in the studio. Kind of NOT Morgana Lefay, it was very stressful.
It was more stressful writing with Morgana Lefay then it is now you mean?
I meant this time it was totally stressful, not the way it used to be.
It was stressful, and it wasn’t like that for The Seventh Seal?
No because we had more time, we knew that in a few months we’d enter the studio. But now (for S.O.S.) it was like two weeks or something. That was REALLY stressful. But it’s good to work under pressure I think.
Well something good came out of it because I think this album is better than The Seventh Seal, even though I liked The Seven Seal allot, I thought this was amazing.
I’m pretty satisfied as well. I can’t be fully satisfied because then I have nothing more to work for.
The guitar sounds came out really good this time especially. I was just wondering what type of effects or setup your using for your guitar?
We use the Line Six amplifiers and EMG pick-ups and that’s about it.
Do you use any distortion or do you use the natural amp distortion sound you can get?
In the Line Six amp you got like many kinds of amps. It’s a 24 byte digital guitar thing. They are really good actually. You’ve got everything, you’ve got effects and everything in this amp. You should check out their homepage www.line6.com.
Will do, are you sponsored or endorsed by them?
Yeah from the Swedish distributor. We’ve got a 50% deal with them, but not from the Line Six company in (I think) California.
Regarding two former members of Morgana Lefay, namely ex-drummer Jonas Soderling and ex-guitarist Danial Persson. I saw their site on the net a while ago (user.tninet.se/~cbh474w/), there’s some band they are in now called Spoonful. I was wondering if that band is still together and if you have any contact with them anymore?
Yeah, we talk to each other on the phone and stuff, we keep in contact. They are still around.
The band Spoonful?
I’m sure you don’t want to talk too much about this, but I’m sure there are people who don’t know and might be confused…that’s regarding the release in 1999 on Black Mark by a band claiming to be Morgana Lefay. I know it was some of the former members, but can you explain to people what happened there and why that was called Morgana Lefay?
We had some “options” left on Black Mark. The other guys who went to Stockholm had to do it. I think they are kind of like puppets on a string from Black Mark because they didn’t want to do it. They only wanted to do the Spoonful thing. If they did this one, they should get out of the contract and continue with Spoonful I think – or so I’ve heard anyway.
Do they have the rights to the name or something, or was it just one album left and then no one has the rights to the name?
Before they went to Stockholm, the five members of us signed a contract that the three other members should have nothing more to do with the name Morgana Lefay except for royalties for the CD’s that have already been done. But then Mr. Black Mark himself must of done this because this has been totally weird like a soap opera (laughs) and it’s still continuing actually.
So it’s still up before courts or legal action could be taken?
Yeah. I know that the Morgana Lefay was stopped in Germany for example – due to this name thing.
I’ve never seen a copy if it anywhere besides being mentioned on the Internet.
I think Black Mark is getting hurt by that and the other guys for sure are getting hurt by it. It doesn’t even remind me of the old Morgana Lefay, it’s kind of like more Pantera-ish.
One Pantera is enough I guess.
Yeah, I think so too.
With regards to the new members that were brought on board for the last album and now again for S.O.S.. I remember reading they were in a band called Fantasmagoria. Is this a band that is still together, or are they now 100% Lefay members?
They are 100% Lefay members and they are 100% Fantasmagoria members – so to speak. They are actually writing material for a CD right now.
And what kind of music is Fantasmagoria?
Pantera-ish. You know what I think…haha….But they sound really good and very aggressive. So hopefully they will get some more feelers out or something.
Does it interfere at all that they are in two bands? Or is there enough time for both?
So far it’s time for both. They go for the Lefay thing 100% because in either way it’s good for Fantasmagoria as well.
Well I wouldn’t of heard of that band unless these guys were in Lefay, so it must be doing something for them.
Lefay is based out of Bolln?s, Sweden. I was just curious about Bolln?s – how big a place it is and do you guys get to play live there or anything like that?
It’s a very small place actually, like 30,000 people or something. But there are LOTS of bands, it’s almost amazing. This rehearsal room that we got, it’s an old small school. There is 13 rehearsal rooms and 18 bands and I think 11 of them have some kind of contract or something. It’s only metal in this (rehearsal) house and there are more houses like this in Bolln?s, it’s totally amazing but there is nothing else to do here.
SO they are ALL metal are they?
Is Lefay kinda like local metal celebrities where it’s a smaller town?
No mmm…in a way maybe but no one really cares here.
No one cares?!?! I guess in Sweden it’s kind of different then here in Canada where we can count our bands on one hand, or at least the good ones.
So when you’re not occupied with Lefay what other kind of stuff, in a typical day, do you do?
Oh…not much actually. We rehearse sometimes and just try to have fun and sometimes I help friends with…I used to do some brick laying and stuff, so if someone needs my help I can help them. I live by the social welfare or what do you say??!?
So you’re not making a full-time living out of Lefay yet??
No, not yet, not at full-time.
Too bad…soon hopefully.
Yeah, I hope so too. It would be great actually.
Can you tell me the story about what happened to your luggage the last time you went to Germany?
You can ask me after how I came to ask you this haha…
I was on my way to Arlanda, Stockholm and I had a few hours to wait there so I went into Stockholm and went out to some bars and pups with some friends and then we were supposed to take a cab to Arlanda but we stopped at one of my friends places because they were supposed to come with me just for fun. Well when we stopped, we changed the cab and I didn’t change the bag (laughs). I forgot it in the fucking taxi. Charles was in Milano, Italy at that moment and he was stuck at the airport so it was kind of chaotic and everything. I turned up in Germany with a toothbrush.
And nothing else?
Nope, luckily I had my tickets and passport in my jacket.
Yeah I got an e-mail from your drummer, Robin, and I told him I was going to be interviewing you so I asked him if there was anything funny that I could ask you. He said that I had to ask you about the luggage…
So with regards to the album again, what songs on there would you say are you particularly proud of or are there any that you really like a lot or does that change daily?
Yeah, it changes daily but I think that may be due to the thing that all of the songs are our small children you know? You can’t hate any one. In my opinion I think “Cimmerian Dream” and “The Choice.”
Cool, I like the part in “Cimmerian Dream” where the drums and guitars follow each other with this very cool tight rhythm.
Yeah, that’s the part I like as well.
Well that’s good, maybe you’ll write some more stuff like it! I also like the mixture of stuff with heavy stuff like “Cimmerian Dream” / “Where Gargoyles Fly” and and moody kind of stuff like “The Choice”…it’s just a really good mixture.
Well, thank you very much.
So is this your favorite CD that you’ve recorded so far, or do you think you have yet to top your personal favorite?
Of course this is the favorite because it’s the freshest. But I think that this feels as if it is the most complete, so to say. Every song has it’s little thing there I think.
Besides this album, what other album can you listen to or appreciate the most?
I think, Maleficium, Morgana Lefay.
Yeah? Well that’s the only one I don’t have in my collection and it’s on the way in the mail, so…we’ll see!
One other question, I guess is kinda typical, but I know a lot of people would be interested in, what bands have influenced your song-writing and guitar playing?
Whew…A LOT of bands I’ve got to say. I think foremost, maybe Pantera, early Metallica, Anthrax, Forbidden. But then again I listen to almost everything from pop music to… but I don’t pop music CD’s. But you can’t escape it, it’s everywhere. So I listen to everything actually and I think I get my inspiration from all that and everything I experience and see.
Do you consider the style of music you playing to be just metal or kind of borderline power metal? Or do you not like those tags?
I really don’t like those tags but we used to say home made metal.
Home made metal?? As in?
We do it at home! (laughs).
It’s a kind of metal anyway but I dunno power metal nowadays seems to me to be kind of Stratovarius, Gamma Ray thing – that kind of metal. I don’t consider us to be in that way. I call that kind of metal “happy metal.” (laughs).
Yeah, and you call yours angry metal?
No, just metal.
Yeah I can hear the difference, bands like Strato are somewhat more keyboard orientated and I guess “happy” whereas you guys fit more into the Nevermore vein.
Well that’s the questions I had for you…
All righty then.
Is there any other news or Lefay happening you can tell me about?
Not for the moment I think.
Are you starting your tour soon?
No, we will do some festivals the summer and I think in August the tour will start. It’s stupid to tour in the summers now, I’ve heard…
Yeah, because of all the festivals going on. There’s almost a festival each and every day.
So you could tour to the festivals really.
Well thanks for your time.
Yeah, no problem.
And thanks for putting out such a great CD!
Oh!! Thanks you for listening to it!
Keep up the great work and is there plans for another CD next year again?
It’s already done (laughing). No, I’m joking. Yeah, I think as soon as possible actually, after the tour.
I was surprised actually that S.O.S. came out so soon after The Seventh Seal and The Symphony of the Damned (re-release/re-recording). It’s great to have a band that’s actually working and not waiting three years between albums.
No…that would be boring!