The Haunted went through a real member turmoil a few years back when three of five members decided to depart the band. However, the band was rescued as two new old old members returned to the fold and a new guitarist was recruited to the ranks as well. The Haunted returned back to the daylight after being on the edge with the strong and pretty furious EXIT WOUNDS album. Metal-Rules.com sat down and talked to the singer Marco Aro about his return to the band, working on the new album, and finally, a little bit about Swedish thrash(?).
Here we go, welcome to Finland.
Thank you very much.
You have been to Finland so many times. Have you ever tried to calculate how many times you have visited ?
Well I was born here and I moved to Sweden when I was five years old, so I spent every summer up until I was 15 I believe. Every summer for about two, three months with my relatives here. So, it’s been a few times.
You have been here several times with The Haunted as well. Presumably you have really good memories from touring here in Finland.
With all my bands, with Face Down, The Haunted and The Resistance everything has been really, really good. Finland has always been good to us, it doesn’t matter which band. Finland is a great country to tour, because everybody is so grateful that you are there.
Have you noticed the difference when touring with different bands, The Haunted or Face Down, when it comes to the reception and how many people have attended your shows?
Of course The Haunted pulls a lot more people than Face Down or The Resistance. But the response has always been the same more or less, because the music is kind of similar, sort of same kind of people show up. So, it’s the same.
BALANCING TIME BETWEEN LIFE AND BANDS
You still have the Resistance band?
You have a family, three kids as far as I know. How do you actually balance your time with bands, with kids and your day job?
It’s a very fine line, you have to trade. But the thing is The Resistance is not too busy because we don’t do too many shows. It’s sad, but we don’t and we are trying to work out how to make more shows. The format for The Haunted now is that we pick and choose what we want to do. We don’t just grab anything and just do it. So, I had a lot of discussions with my family and stuff. So, she didn’t buy the pig in a basket. She knows what it’s about. I had to make sure that she was onboard before. So, it’s not that big of a stretch anyway because my employer, where I work, is very understanding because he’s been through this about 10 years ago. He knows and it’s kind of fun for him also when the customers ask where I am, “He’s just out there playing rock star again.” It’s fun for him to start nagging a bit, but it’s okay.
When you pulled out of The Haunted in 2003, I guess one of the main reasons for why you left was a family thing.
Family’s and drugs, yeah.
The Haunted used to tour a lot back in the day, but you are not touring that heavily anymore ?
No, no. We are not. Because as I said we are going to pick and choose, so we are going to pretty much do anything that makes sense, we are not going to do the crazy four week tours, just to be out touring. We are aiming for the festivals on a week here on week there and do some weekends and just pick and choose. Because I believe that that’s the best to keep the exclusivity a bit, that it’s a bit exclusive. You don’t just saturate the market with just being everywhere. So that’s what I think.
Have you learned your lesson from the past that you are kind of wiser and you are not doing things in the wrong way?
Yeah, definitely, definitely. Now after a show we just want to go to bed, because we are old men now. There is no party left. Well you’ve been probably drunk many, many times since you were 13, 14 years old. So, what’s new? There is nothing new in it.
You have never abandoned your music when you left The Haunted, because you started Resistance and re-activated Face Down. Is music your life?
Yeah, it is.
Without it you would collapse?
Probably, I would just be really, really bored. Because I love music in any shape or form. I can just go nuts by listening to the radio, because music does something to me. I can’t do without it, because I have the possibility to play music, because I’m blessed because not everybody has that. So, I’m blessed with enjoying music and playing music and making other peoples enjoy it too. So, it’s fine. I love it.
It’s basically easy for you to restart working with The Haunted doing the new songs?
Yeah. Because I never really stopped, I just took it down a notch.
RETURN TO THE HAUNTED
Was it kind of an “out of blue call” from Jensen asking you to rejoin The Haunted?
He called me up and he said, “You know what I’m going to ask you.” And I said, “Don’t even ask, because I’m not interested.” And he said, he laid out the format for me and for The Haunted because him and Jonas have been discussing. Because Jonas has a job now and Jensen has a job now as well. So, there is not that time anymore to do all that stuff that we did and it sounded appealing. So, I decided yeah I’ll give it a try. I talked to my wife and my employer and The Resistance and everybody. I had to know that everybody was on-board. It was out of the blue, but it was kind of expected though anyway. Because I have been playing around with the thought, because I really missed the guys, because there was one thing that we never had a lack of was having fun. We were always having fun, but we have maintained our contact because were really good friends then, we were really good friends even though when I wasn’t in the band. I kept in touch. So, I was a bit happy though that he called, but then again I wasn’t sure I would be able to say yes. So, here we are now.
When Peter Dolving left the band, did they even try to find a completely new guy?
Yeah. They had try outs, I guess they had three songs that they sent like without vocals so people could sing in and pick and choose. They found a few guys, but apparently it didn’t work out and I don’t know why. And then Anders left and then Per left. So, I guess they ran out of steam. And then they met up when Jonas and Anders turned 40, they met up at the party and they decided that we should maybe put this shit back together and make an effort. So, that’s when Anders actually said, “Call Marco.” And so they did.
Did you ever follow the whole drama about The Haunted as a side watcher?
No. Because actually I actually lost track on the band, because I had so much other stuff to do. Of course I was aware of the whole mess going on, but actually I was not to even bother, because I know everybody involved and it’s not for me.
When Per left the band and then Anders left, Dolving was already out, but I was kind of sure that The Haunted was done.
A lot of people were, so was I. When I heard that first Anders left, but he’s done that before. I wasn’t too concerned about it because I know one of Anders’ ideas again and then Per left and I was surprised that Per left. But then again I thought it’s just Jonas and Jensen left, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to die and Jensen probably going to start up Witchery again. And Jonas’s got At The Gates, so I guess everybody is okay. But then the call came.
OLA JOINING THE HAUNTED
Did he work with Six Feet Under?
Yeah, he did.
How did he end up to The Haunted.
I don’t know, because the thing is he’s got…
He’s younger than you.
Yeah, he is and the thing is that Jensen picked him up online on YouTube because Jensen is also guitarist nerd and he was looking around and just for new effects and new stuff. This blond guy kept popping up all the time in every video, so he started looking into him and the guy was Swedish and so they started chatting a bit and it turns out that guy has 23 million views on his YouTube channel. It’s more less like The Haunted joined him. And it turns out he’s the coolest guy and he’s a perfect fit for the band, because we are back to 1999 up until 2003 fun. And so, we are having a great time.
He has a lot of writing credits on the new album. Is he one of the main driving forces behind The Haunted right now ?
Yeah. Because he writes in a fan perspective, the way he interprets The Haunted. So that’s really interesting and that’s why a lot of his songs are really, really haunted with.
Does he have some kind of eye on how The Haunted is supposed to sound because he has a producer background as well as being a guitarist ?
Yeah. There are a lot of discussions, a lot of discussion and he’s usually right also. So, him and our engineer tutor they had a lot of discussions about the guitars because he’s main a guitarist, that he’s really nerdy about and he knows a lot about it.
Was it difficult for Jensen to have Ola beside him, because Jensen used to play with Anders as he was a wingman for Jensen for several years ?
I think they are still figuring about it, but it’s going really, really well. Because they compliment each really well. And they have the same kind of technique as well. I guess they are working out a few kicks and wings about who is doing this and who is doing this. But we are getting there, it’s really, really good actually.
SONGS FROM EXIT WOUNDS – JUST EXIT WOUNDS
Regarding new album, Exit Wounds . I guess it has some kind of symbolic meaning for what happened to The Haunted ?
It is. The thing is that it’s more of a tribute to the people who left, because The Haunted has always been a big family. Everybody knows each other and then you have a few persons that leave that family and they are important people, and of course they are going to leave wounds behind. It’s a tribute to them that Exit Wounds and hopefully we got out of it touching those holes and maybe got a bit stronger also. This album was supposed to be called “Songs From The Exit Wounds” and then all over sudden “ Oh Yeah Napalm Death Has the one”..
Did you know Steven Seagal has a movie called Exit Wounds?
He does? That’s really cool actually for Steven Seagal, it’s really cool.
The stuff on the new album is more straightforward and more aggressive. Did you want to make completely upside down in the direction, writing more aggressive stuff based on thrash and a little bit hardcorish ?
The thing is that we didn’t actually decide in the beginning when we started rehearsing that this is the way we are going to sound. It actually came about when Ola wrote one of the first songs that we ever wrote, was a song called Killer Life and he wrote that song in a pure fan perspective of BNF. Because he’s the only member with no history in the band, and he is just complete outsider to write one song; this is The Haunted for me and that’s when we all just said, “Yeah. We are on to something.” Because if he as a fun writes a song like this, I guess the fans want to hear this. As the road went on and Jensen started writing songs and Jonas started writing songs, and I guess we just like go and just let it come, whatever comes will take.
Does the front cover of the album have some kind of meaning to the title as well ?
That’s actually a question for Jensen, because he was involved in. We took back the old art director that we had Andreas and him and Jensen has been brewing that thing, so I don’t really about. I haven’t concerned myself too much, because I think it’s just beautiful album cover.
Tue Madsen, the Danish producer, who was worked with The Haunted before. Was it easier for Jensen and Jonas to get him behind the desk, because he has worked with the guys before and now The Haunted was caught within a new situation with the old new members in back to the band?
There was no problem at all because he asked to do it. Because he’s pretty much the sixth member of the band, because he’s been so involved in creating the music and everything. So, there wasn’t even a question, “Who else is going to do it?” I got a text from him when he heard the news that I was in the band again and he said, just” I’m glad to hear my friend, it’s going to be great to work together again”.
As far as I know that writing music was like exchanging files through emails and Internet, because you live in Stockholm, Jensen in Linköping and Adrian in England ?
Jonas lives outside of Orebro, me and Ola we live an hour drive apart. But if I was to take the boat I would be there in 10 minutes. But the thing is that it turned out this way this time, because the only one that actually entered the studio was Adrian. Ola did all his guitars in his house because he’s got a studio at home, Jonas did all the bass and Jensen did all the guitars and I put down the vocals in The Resistance rehearsal room in Stockholm. So, yeah. But I guess we are not going to do this thing again.
Did you long for an old rehearsal place where guys could gather together, writing the songs and jamming?
Yeah. That’s what we were talking about once this album was done; we were just like really convinced that we are not doing this one again. Because I think this album would have been a lot, lot better if we had jammed it together and worked out all the quacks and everything. Because even though you might not hear it but we hear it a lot, this stuff, we should have done this, we should have done that. But this album, we are proud of it but we know in our hearts it could have been a lot better.
I started thinking that this one way to minimize a budget – traveling, picking a place to sleep – they all take a lot of money actually ?
Yeah, I know. That’s what did with Resistance as well, we minimized everything and that’s we do because half of the band of The Resistance is Gothenburg and half of it in Stockholm. So, we do with Gothenburg stuff in Gothenburg and Stockholm stuff in Stockholm. It’s also just to cut costs and I don’t think, because studios nowadays are struggling. So, they are not that expensive anymore as it used to be because when you had the studio that was the only place you could record anything. But it’s not the case anymore, the studios have been dropping prices. So, it’s a lot cheaper now.
STRUGGLING – BUT NO SURRENDER
As you are on Century Media, there is always a huge promotion campaign going on and of course someone always leaks something out.
Yeah. They(Century Media) are really good at it, because they just released like one song or two songs and then when they release it to the press I guess they have some kind of a blackmail thing. I don’t know.
Okay, they are watermarked. Yeah. The only way you can listen to the album is by logging into their page. That’s a smart thing too. So, you can’t leak it. But I think they are really, really good because I have never have been with Century Media to do before. I was just with The Haunted, it was the Earache and now with The Resistance we have earMusic in Germany. So, Century media is a new partnership from the album, and it’s better than before.
It has been said that it’s really hard even to make while touring nowadays – bands are struggling as people are not buying even the merchandize because prices are getting higher all the time.
Yeah. The thing is that the prices, because a lot of the venues take commission and they are really expensive usually. And also, there is no money left in metal. There is no money left; it’s this well that’s dried out. There is nothing left. So, that’s why we decided that are going to do… This time around we are going to do it for the right reasons, just to have fun, because our lives don’t depend on it anymore. We don’t need it to make money. So, that’s why we don’t like, “Shit, they are just paying. That’s all.” No, we are not doing it, if it sounds fun and it’s a fun place even though it pays shit will do because our lives don’t depend on it.
When did you have to sit down and start making calculations – both Jensen and Jonas realized “ I need a day job – the band is not making the money with the music” ?
I believe that was a long time ago actually, because when I was in the band we were on the rise and we were still making really good money. But when I jumped off and Peter jumped in, I believe they were making good money. But I guess there is just a few bands anymore that really, really make money in music, in metal or in music in general. You can consider the metal scene as a small pond with just a selected few fish, and then you have the fishermen are all the bands and fish are the fans. It’s just a few fans and there is tons of bands, and it’s hard. That’s why it’s a lot better to do it for fun, for the right reason.
Even though metal has got really big in Finland, Sweden and Europe in general. somehow I have instinct the climate and it has come in some kind of crossroad right now because the success has gone a little bit down. Have you noticed that and what’s going to happen with the metal thing, because old bands are pulling the plugs ?
I know. I’ve noticed that a lot of the new music that comes it’s a lot more, it’s hard to explain. It’s not my cup of tea at all. But it’s a lot more metal guys dressing like Sleaze rockers. Yeah. You have all those bands of what we call Asking Alexandria.And they are all looking like the Sleaze Rockers did in the ’80s, but they sound metal. So, I guess it’s about fashion nowadays and the trends and it’s not too much about the music as it is like selling T-Shirts. So, it’s a sad thing for me. And I really don’t care if we come to that crossroad and we take a wrong turn, I don’t care because I’ll still be doing it. Because I believe I have good ten years left in me.
BEING NUTS ON STAGE
Peter Dolving has his own audience and you have your own audience.
It was that even though when I left and Peter came in, there has always been a Marco camp and a Peter camp. So, it’s always going to be there.
Is it a little bit challenging for you that are Peter Dolving fans in the audience and then Marco Aro fans in the audience?
It’s not. Because the only thing I have to do is convince them, that’s what I do. That’s what I try every night and if I don’t convince them, I’m sorry. I try anyway. But I guess it’s mellow down a lot now, because Peter he has his band called I’m Fire and so I guess a lot of those fans moved over there to, Peter fans, because it’s the same thing as the Marco fans started looking at The Resistance. So, I guess it’s just a natural progress and then I don’t really care about the comments on Internet, because if I was to care about it I wouldn’t do anything. I would just sitting there and now he wrote that – I don’t care.
When you played at 70000 Tons and Summer Breeze, there were a lot of people watching your show. You were completely into the gig especially at 70000 Tons, because your head was bleeding. Is it a normal thing that you are going insane?
Yeah, it is because I love it so much. It’s the best feeling in the world and you can tell tonight also, I’m just screaming I can’t stop smiling because it’s the best feeling in the world. And sometimes I get a little bit too excited and stuff, that just happen.
It’s more like a hardcore thing.
Yeah, it is. Because I am, first and foremost I came from the hardcore scene because the hardcore punk rock that’s where I started.
Are you more into the Swedish hardcore thing or in general UK stuff, as you are not into the soft punk stuff ?
The thing is I enjoy because Europe has a really strong hardcore base and the American bands are not that exciting anymore actually. I tend to look more to the European hardcore scene and Swedish hardcore scene, but I don’t generalize or just put myself in this one small box if this is just what I’m listening to. I’m listening to everything; I have a lot of new bands that just came out. We have this one guy that works in a supermarket where I live and he’s in charge of the milk, and he has a great band called Smothered and they fill out the gap where Dismember left off and it’s amazing. It’s really, really good. And there are just 25 year old guys and it’s very interesting, so there is hope for the future. So that’s what I’m going to now, like the younger bands coming in and they actually pick up where some of the old left. So, that’s what I’m aiming for and looking up now.
So, you still keep your eyes open on what’s going on there?
Yeah, definitely. But it takes a lot more to get my eye to it, look at that direction.
Do you think it’s more difficult to find absolutely amazing band because there is a lot of tools?
Yeah, I know. Because if you get the studio version you know that they have been sitting in pro tools, but like the band Smothered -You can tell that there is no machines involved at all. It’s just the old Stockholm death metal vibe; you can hear when they are changing chords. It’s fantastic.
FUELING THE ANGER TO LYRICS
What feeds your anger in your lyrics?
Past life experience. I’ve had a pretty wild youth and I’ve always had an issue with anger, being Finnish also helps. But the anger is still there, but I don’t get physical anymore. But I’m an angry person at times, but it’s not when I’m writing. I’m not angry when I’m writing, it’s when I remember how angry I was that’s when I’m… And then also its metal, it’s supposed to be… Lyrics, it’s not a therapy session. Okay. It’s just fun.
You are channeling your anger onto the paper?
In writing the lyrics?
Yeah. And performing as well and screaming, because I really, really scream on the top of my lungs when we record. My vocal coach records my vocals and he’s always like, “Man! You are going to hurt so much. You are going to hurt so much if you don’t stop doing that.”
Have you ever gotten problems with your throat?
Once I got like a bleeding vocal chord and the doctor alerted me to, because I did the whole tour with no voice. So, the funny thing was the low register was there, the high register was there but the middle part was gone So, I could talk like a normal person and I could yell really high and I could like roll really deep. But the main tone that I use was gone, there was nothing. It was just air coming out. So, I had to change the pitch a bit and we did the whole tour, and then I came home and I went to the doctor’s and they gave me six weeks rest. You need to rest six weeks. And I tried all the witch doctors cures that you can find. I got three weeks of rest, then the US tour starts. So, I was a bit shaky when I was standing on CBGB in New York. I was just doing some warm ups and it felt okay, it felt okay and then I got out on stage and that’s it.. So that’s the only time I actually lost the voice.
How do you take care of yourself nowadays because you haven’t stopped having a party nowadays and you are older?
The party is still there but it’s not as rough as it used to be, but no. I have my ritual, I do my warm ups and then I have one or two Jack and coke before I get up on stage and I have been doing that for 20 years. It’s just to take the edge off and I have been doing that for many, many years. One thing that I have picked up later on now is doing warm ups, because before I was just having a cigarette and whisky and I was out. I didn’t scream before, I just went out and started and it worked. But I’m older now, so it’s working.
SWEDISH THRASH BACK IN THE DAY?
About Haunted a little bit more – Haunted started in ’97
Yeah, ’98. Yeah, ’97 was great.
I remember when getting a hold of the first demo of The Haunted and in the late 90’s there was a retro thrash boom. Well you are from Finland, you know the Finnish metal background back in the ’80s with the huge thrash metal movement…
Yeah, I know that.
There wasn’t any.
Yeah, but there were a couple Hexenhaus Mezzrow,
Yeah, there wasn’t many.
How is it possible that the thrash metal thing was non-existence in Sweden and what made you play the thrash?
I don’t know actually, because the metal scene was so big and it took all the space. There was nothing left for thrash at all, and I believe Jensen he wanted to start a band that played music that he loved. Because he was also involved in the death metal scene.
Yeah, in Seance.
Yeah. And I was just doing punk rock and hardcore, and he got a hold of Adrian and Adrian was also in the same mood. Because he’s an old thrash metal drummer as well, but they started a band and mainly decided to focus. Because Jensen’s first format for The Haunted was a mix of AC/DC and Chris Isaac. That was the main idea and it turned into this. So, I think that’s… Because a lot of bands, when The Haunted came out, the first album. A lot of old thrash bands started going back together again.I guess it was a breath of fresh air, because it’s not traditional thrash it’s like a neo-thrash kind of thing in my opinion anyway.
I remember one female thrash metal band from Sweden called Ice Age.
Ice Age, yeah.
But we got shown and stuff like that here in Finland, that the whole thing was completely opposite and…
And you still have good thrash bands here, Dead Shape Figure
Yeah. I remember back in the days the Finnish people used to say, “You got Europe, that’s why you don’t have thrash.” hah
Okay. But I thank you for time and the interview
Thank you for taking the time with me.