Patrick Wirén of Midas Touch / Misery Loves Co.

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 If you thought Sweden’s musical heritage could be measured by just one soulless stadium export, then think again. Since their inception, Midas Touch have been struggling for individuality within an often-anonymous Speed Metal scene. Inspired if never directly influenced by the heavenly Metallica, Slayer and a cast of many including industrial jazz and classical, this young Swedish quintet took three years to perfect their lyrical and musical masterplan. Careful in the selection of musicians, determined not to be lumped into the abyss of the mindless many, bassist Patrik Sporrong and his cousin Rickard were to prove that Speed did not have to sacrifice Soul. Formed in the summer of ´85, it wasn´t until 1988 that Midas Touch leapt to the attention of the European underground Radio and Press with "Ground Zero" – their first recorded works. Swayed by such roots groundswell, Noice International were quick to sign the band in the autumn of ´88 for a five year development deal. Midas Touch spent Christmas in Skytrak studio with producer Roy Rowland (Sabbat, Kreator). The results can be heard on the uncompromising debut album "Presage Of Disaster". Taking a cocerned lyrical stand against the arm´s race, drugs and apartheid, Midas Touch have succesfully married the intelligent to their brutal and complicated music. Think again. Presage Of Disaster was released in March 1989 on album, cassette and CD. – Noise International 1989


So Patrick, at which point did you find interest in music and metal in particular? How were you introduced into the metal scene back then?

I got into music really early in life. As a 6 year old I was totally into Kiss. And punk rock. My introduction to both Kiss and punkrock was through magazines – I would see a picture of a band and just think “woooooaaaaw!”. Then I told my parents I needed their records for my birthday or I would die.

What did you find so exciting in this music?

If you mean thrash metal, I think it was the connection to punk/hardcore. The bands had a totally different attitude compared to all the hairmetal bands that were around at the time.

Were you always into thrash/speed metal or…?

No, I got into it when I joined Midas Touch in early 1987. Before that I was into Metallica but that was really the only thrash band I was a fan of. Before 1987 that is.

When did you decide to become a musician and how did you end up being a singer? What were your influences to become a musician at all?

I think I decided when I was about 5 years old. I definitly wanted to be the singer. I didn’t have the patience to learn to play an instrument well enough, but I still wanted to be on stage. My influences were Kiss and punk rock.

What were the previous acts that you played with before being involved in Midas Touch?

Nothing special. I had a punk band with some friends, but it was nothing serious. I played the guitar and did some vocals about how society sucked. Like most people do when they’re 14.

What do you recall from the Swedish underground scene at this point? Would you say that you had a strong thrash scene, like in Germany, England, in the States, or was the Swedish scene ruled rather by death metal with acts, such as Nihilist, Grotesque, Mefisto, Obscurity, Treblinka etc.?

I’d say there was a pretty big scene in Sweden. We would play all over the country with bands like Meshuggah, Damien, Mezzrow, Kazjurol, Agony etc etc

What did you feel seeing that metal explosion in your area with quite a good number of outfits such as Mezzrow, Merciless, Agony, Ice Age or later Fallen Angel popping up from everywhere?

I don’t think we reflected on that too much. Personally I didn’t really stay in contact with that many other bands.

Was Midas Touch the first Swedish thrash act or…?

I really don’t know. But probably not. Though the Swedish magazine Sweden Rock wrote a couple of years ago that PRESAGE OF DISASTER was the first swedish trash album. But I think they were wrong.

The band was formed in 1985 by bassist Patrick Sporrong, guitarist Thomas Forslund and drummer Bosse Lundström and with the addition of you as vocalist the line up became complete. What about the musical past of the other guys respectively how did you hook up with each other?

The others had been playing together for a couple of years when I joined so I don’t know how it happened. I was just a 15 year old punk who was flattered that people who actually knew how to play their instruments wanted me in their band.

Would you say, that all of you shared the same musical interest? Did you know each other earlier?

I think we all pretty much shared the same musical interest, yes. We knew what we wanted to do. I didn’t know any of the boys when I joined the band.

Do you agree that Midas Touch have been always struggling for individuality within an often-anonymous Speed Metal scene? Did thrash metal have a strong background in Sweden back then?

Of course we wanted to do our own thing. There’s no use in sounding exacly like everyone else. I agree that most of the stuff was pretty anonymous. Yes, I think thrashmetal had a big following at the time. There was always lots of people at the shows and a lot of us would spend all day at the local record store listening to every album that came out on labels like Noise. PRESAGE OF DISASTER actually reached top 40 in the Swedish charts which was a very big thing back then. This was when people were still buying albums you know so you had to sell quite a few copies to make it in the charts. Today it’s a different thing.

What do you remember about your rehearsals? Did you start writing originals right from the start or were you jamming mostly on covers of likes, such as Metallica, Slayer, Exodus etc.?

When I joined the band they focused on their own material. We did a few covers though, “Fight Fire with Fire” was one of them. But we also did a ABBA-cover. Yep, it’s true.

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It took three years to perfect your lyrical and musical masterplan, since your demo was released in 1987. What can you tell us about this period?

It was a long time ago, I’m not sure I remember that well. But we fairly quickly got a record deal with Noise which was absolutely unbelievable. I mean Voivod was on Noise! We spent two periods in Berlin recording the album. First we recorded it in about 5 weeks and then three of us – Patrik, Richard and myself – went back to do the mix.

Do you still remember how was the demo recorded and why did you put ten songs on it? Can you give us details on this demo?

Don’t remember much. But making demos and trading tapes was a big thing back then. Today I feel that the idea of putting 10 songs on a demo is crazy. You  should go for your top 5 tunes or something. But, hey! It worked for us and we got our deal.

Was it your first studio experience or…?

No. I had been in two bands prior to Midas Touch and both bands recorded demos.

How much promotion did you make for this demo? Did you sell it at your shows or was it destined to be shopped around?

It worked both ways. We sold it at shows and people ordered it from us and at the same time we would send it  out to different labels.

Would you say that this tape opened some doors for the band?

Absolutely! I remembered it being reviewed in Metal Forces and after that mail kept coming in from people who wanted a copy. And also, of course, we got our deal.

Noise International were quick to sign the band in the autumn of ´88 for a five year development deal, do you still remember how did they get in the picture exactly? Were there perhaps bigger labels interested in the band as well?

I think Noise was the only label we were in contact with, though we sent it to some other labels as well. To us Noise was the biggest and best. It was one of the top labels for us. I don’t think we sent the demo to any majors at all.

Would you say that Noise was the supporter of the thrash scene back then, with acts, such as Sabbat, Kreator, Coroner, Tankard etc.?

I would say that Noise was a fantastic label at the time. Celtic Frost, Kreator, Coroner, Voivod, Helloween, Sabbat… We would listen to them all.

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Prior to recording the debut album Thomas Forslund quit and you drafted in Patrick Sporrong’s cousin Rickard Sporrong as replacement. What about Rickard’s musical background?

He didn’t have that much of a background. He was in a local metal band at the time but was pretty inexperienced. But he’s a quick learner and was very dedicated to the band.

What led to the departure of Thomas? Did you part ways with him on friendly terms at the end?

It was a friendly breakup. He felt that he didn’t have the time that was needed.

Was Rickard your first choice or were there still other musicians in mind?

Richard was our first and only choice if my memory serves me right. I can’t remember anyone else being mentioned. But I might be wrong.

You entered the Skytrak Studio, Berlin September 1988 to January 1989 to cut your first album PRESAGE OF DISASTER. Were you prepared to record the material? Did you have a decent budget to record the album?

Yeah, we were prepared. We rehearsed a lot and knew what we wanted to do. Midas Touch was always dead serious when it came to practicing. We had a well known producer and all the time we needed so, yes I guess we had a good budget.

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What about the recording sessions for the album?

It was a fun but also tough experience. At least for me – being only 16 when we flew to Berlin I had never had so much pressure on me and felt pretty insecure at times. But there’s a few good memories from the recording as well. 

The album contained nine new tracks. You put only one demo track “When the Boat Comes Down” on the record. Does it mean that you continuously wrote new material? Did you use all of the tunes that you had written for the record?

You know more about this than I do… But we wrote new songs all the time so I guess most of the album was written after the demo was recorded.

As far as the material as a whole, was it already written, when Rickard joined the band or did he also have a big hand into the songwriting?

Some songs were already written but he was involved in most of them.

Do you agree that PRESAGE OF DISASTER is one of those thinly celebrated and periodically spiraling slabs that had an aspiration to baste thrash’s old gold standard in a swirling, aromatic gravy meant to make things more tasteful than wastrel for the “other” thrash fans?

I’m not sure I understand the question. Sorry. But I feel that it’s an almost decent album. It says something about what was going on at the time.

Do you think, that musically PRESAGE OF DISASTER is heavily influenced by early Metallica and Slayer, making for a very enjoyable listening experience; or progressively active, this record sloshes through Sweden’s sleet with feet capable of running intricately slushy circles around the more pretensious  heat, the likes of Mortal Sin, Infernal Majesty, and Demolition Hammer generate made a fairly interesting entry in the technical thrash metal field with their only release?

Probably somewhere in between. We were influenced from different worlds.

PRESAGE OF DISASTER bears a strong resemblance to Coroner’s early albums though the clean vocals are quite different from Coroner’s style. What do you think about it?

We were into Coroner but there were probably other bands that influenced us more than them. While in Germany I became friends with Marky from Coroner and we stayed in contact for a couple of years. He was the one that turned me into Nirvana back in 1989. But that was a long time ago now…

Would you say, that technicality does not mean a lack of intensity here, as the music is about as heavy as anything out there while the songs have a considerable amount of variety in them, and on the other hand the band’s sound is a bit dry and not always so focused, but at least the music has a decent amount of originality?

I would probably say something less complicated than that. But, yeah…

I would also say, that PRESAGE OF DISASTER is a refined and even intriguing technical thrash metal album – not too remarkable or anything, but the music is quite well done, is that correct?

That is correct sir.

Taking a concerted lyrical stand against the arm’s race, drugs and apartheid, Midas Touch have succesfully married the intellect to their brutal and complicated music. Do you agree with that?

The lyrics were an important part of the band. Mainly Patrik, but also Bosse spent a lot of time working on them. I think they wanted to stay away from the whole rock cliché thing.

The record came out in ’89 and the maw of more advanced and complex metal was wider than ever. How do you see it?

I think we should have done things in a different way – less complicated. But on the other hand, then it wouldn’t have been the same band. This is what we did.

The album was produced and engineered by Roy M. Rowland. Were you happy with his work and was he the perfect choice for this job? Did he do good work?

We liked the stuff he had done and were happy to work with him. I think he was quite insane at the time though. He probably spent too much time in the studio and needed a vacation or something. I’m not a big fan of the sound of the album. The demo we did a year later sound better.

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What were the shows to promote the record like? What do you recall from the Midas Touch gigs?

We mainly did one off shows in Sweden, but we also did 2 weeks around europe with Hades. The gigs became better and better for each show we did.

As far as I know, you started writing material for your second record SO SHALL YOU REAP, but it was never released, why? What happened with the band exactly and what was the status of the band at this point?

Yeah, we continued writing songs and recorded some of them on a demo. You can listen to them at the Midas Touch MySpace-page that Patrik’s taking care of. If I remember it right, Richard wanted to quit and I think the rest of us were getting kinda tired of the music we were doing. It was time to move on.

Can you give us any information as far as this unreleased second album?

There is no second album, only 4-5 songs that you can find on MySpace. Have a listen, they’re actually quite good.

At which point did the band split up?

Summer of 1990, about a year after the debut came out.

How did you see the metal scene in general back then? Would you say that it was kind of dead and killed by grunge and pop/punk, or was it oversaturated and the crowds jumped from one trend to an another one?

I think there was something pretty healthy about the metal scene in the early 90’s. There was a feeling that anything can happen and people didn’t limit their music in the same way. Anyone could be influenced by everything, which bands like Faith No More proved.

After the demise of Midas Touch you and Patrick Sporrong formed High Tech Junkies. Then you formed Misery Loves Co. in 1994. Rickard Sporrong joined Peace, Love & Pitbulls, and he also operates with F. K. Ü., but what about Bosse Lundström and Thomas Forslund? What did they do after the band broke up? Did you stay in touch with them or…?

Bosse did some live shows with Misery in the beginning and has continued playing ever since, but on more of a hobby basis I guess. I have no contact with Thomas at all. Think I saw him last time about 15 years ago…

What about the acts as a whole you were involved with after Midas Touch? Can you tell us more about them?

High Tech Junkies only did a few demos, played a huge festival and got some interest from a label, but split up. This time it was my decision. I wanted to move on, to do things on my own. I had played with Bosse and patrik since I was 15, so… Time to grow up! That’s when I formed Misery Loves Co (1994-2000). We did 3 albums, toured the world, received a Grammy etc etc. We did all the things I’ve ever dreamt of  – even doing a show with Slayer in London.

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As far as myself, Misery Loves Co’s first album became awesome. Would you say that it was a modern thrash metal album?

Not really, even though there’s some thrash influences in there somewhere.

Nowdays you are in a band called Washoe with Entombed guitarist Uffe Cederlund. What about this act?

We changed the name to Alpha Safari and released an album in 2004. After that we did about 20 shows in Scandinavia but we haven’t done anything after that. Me and Uffe got to know each other when he was in Entombed. Misery, Entombed and Machine Head toured europe for two months in 1997.

Didn’t you think about reforming Midas Touch and playing some shows?

No, I can’t really see that happen. There is a time and a place for everything. Midas Touch had it’s time in the late 80’s.

In your opinion, did you succeed in reaching a cult underground status with Midas Touch? Is the name of the band still in people’s minds?

A little. It happens that people ask me about Midas Touch, but it doesn’t happen that often. They usually wanna talk about Misery.

Do you still keep an eye on what’s going on in the underground? Do you follow the developement of the underground scene?

Yes I do. I work as a music journalist and will always be interested in what’s going on.

Patrik, thank you for this feature, anything to add, that I forgot to mention?

You didn’t forget anything that’s for sure! Take care!