Interview with Morbus Chron
By Chris Brown
Photography by Michelle Murphy
Before embarking on a month of dates across Europe to promote their new album ‘Sweven’, along with Swiss black metal giants – Triptykon and fellow Swedes – At The Gates, we were able to chat to Morbus Chron on the opening night of the tour at the HMV forum in London.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. So, Morbus Chron have just come from playing a few days back home in your native Sweden with tonights headliners: At the Gates, how do you think the crowd will compare here in London tonight?
Probably a bit smaller… The venue is bigger than even the biggest in the Sweden shows (we played three of them, one of them was in Stockholm), but at the same time that’s like both our home country and our home city, so maybe less people know about us here. It seemed that we have a good following in Stockholm; here maybe a little bit less, we’ll see.
With this being the first night of a European tour, how do you feel it will develop and what are your relationships with the other bands so far?
They seem like really nice, polite guys from the three Sweden shows. We really looking forward to working to this. I think it’s going to be really good. The Triptykon guys we haven’t really been able to get to know yet, we just shook hands downstairs but hopefully when things aren’t so stressful we may be able to have a chat with them or whatever and get… acquainted.
Your band describes themselves as one of the most unique extreme-metal bands out there, what would you say it is that most helps you achieve that?
We said that?!
The bio on your website does make that claim.
Ah ok, this is not actually written by us…
Well what would say most defines your sound? What drives the music writing that you do?
We don’t aim for a certain sound. We did when we started but… It’s hard for me to answer that question but we aren’t very influenced by any other music at all. I mean, it’s all unconscious. So where before we listened to stuff and we wanted to sound like this, on this new album it’s been written without any other music in mind. We’re just trying to reach something that we can call our own, you know?
So since 2010-11, when the band has arguably began to make a name for itself, can you describe what kind of journey you have been on?
It’s been very like up and down in activity because during some periods of time we have pretty much not, at least outward, made a sound of ourselves, not playing any shows. We’re not a band that updates our Facebook page every time we go rehearsing and stuff like that, and sometimes it probably seems like we’re not doing very much outwards, but we’re doing more behind the scenes. And this time is like the first time we go on an actual, proper tour so this is kind of new to us as well. But judging from the three Sweden shows it seems like we’re really, for the first time pretty much, going together as a touring band, or at least a band that’s playing live, and it seems like the puzzle pieces are falling into place with this one.
I read that in your early days, the band preferred to do more work towards refining your sound as opposed to playing live shows. Do you feel that now you’ve got to where you want to be and are able to move forward from that?
For me personally, the live part is not as important as the writing part, but that’s just my opinion. I think that sort of shaped how we all felt about the live situation. We didn’t play that much because I didn’t want to, but we’ve sort of grown used to it. I would have never gone on this tour two years ago but it feels better now and that sort of opens up a new world to us. And at the same time, it’s not like we’re not the band that would play your local pizzeria like, you know, a rock band would.
The few one-off shows that we have been doing during the previous years has been like when we really felt ‘this is it’ – not only a good opportunity but when we felt secure in the situation. It could have something to do if there is a good promoter working with it or it feels like a really good situation to go out and do the show but we don’t go out to do shows for the sake of it.
So lets say a few words about the album then. The album title ‘Sweven’ is nothing to do with Sweden, as most people seem to think, but is a term to do with dreams and visions. The opening track of the album ‘Berceuse’ is again a term used to describe the musical composition of a lullaby and I think the track really opens up an atmosphere to this end. What kind a feeling were you trying to create with the album and what does the title mean to you?
Hard questions… The word could be translated as like a dream and is kind of a thread through the songs both musically and lyrically. All the lyrics are kind revolving around a dream, a really trippy dream. If you look at the cover and at the song titles and the booklet and the pictures and listen to it, the whole thing makes something…extraordinary.
The point with having the album start off with ‘Berceuse’ is because it is music that you’re supposed to fall asleep to. Then the record, with the lyrics becomes like a dream sequence. It’s all along the same subject.
You’re on tour with Triptykon who have again collaborated with HR Giger to provide artwork for their album. I see that you’ve also collaborated with artist Raul Gonzalez on yours. How does a collaboration like that come about and how does it contribute to the overall feel of the album?
We bought something of his for the first record, he had already done it and it was for sale. On the Sleepers in the Rift album, it wasn’t a painting commission by us to do artwork for an album, it was something he already made and we found it and it was perfect. This time around, we commissioned him to do the album and we did some demos from a rehearsal space where we had the music and almost had the lyrics with me singing and he got to interpret those two factors into this rendition of the artwork.
So, last question. Where do you go from here? What have you got planned for next year?
Wembley?! [laughs] Nah! As we said before, this time feels really good to be out on tour, to do this with At the Gates. They asked us to come along for it, we were very honoured by that and at the same time we were really happy with the outcome and the reaction to it as well. So this time it feels really good to be out on tour and, as I said, its our first major one. But this probably doesn’t mean that we’re gonna be out 200 days next year, we will see if it takes us to another opportunity where we feel we are comfortable to do the tour otherwise, we will see.