Bass player David Butolen – Existenz
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Rob at Heptown Records for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Heptown Records for the promo pictures of the band.
Promotional pictures taken by: Kristoffer Granath
Additional promo pictures provided by the band
Punk/hardcore act Existenz from Helsingborg Sweden is releasing their debut album…37 years after they were formed. In the 80’s the band released two EP’s and now it’s time to unveil the debut album which is titled MELTDOWN. I had the pleasure to have chat with bass player David Butolen about the bands past and their comeback in 2016. The band have managed to keep almost the original line-up intact since 1984 and me and David talked about the making of MELTDOWN, the come back, their new label and also the guest appearances on the album in the shape of Jake Lundtofte from The Headlines (which also produced the album) and Ida Svensson Vollmer from VA Rocks. Enjoy!
Hi David, thanks for taking the time making the interview today, how are you doing?
No signs of covid 19 I hope!
Let’s take it back to the beginning, when and where was Existenz born?
Existenz was born end of 1981-beginning of 1982 in Helsingborg Sweden
Was it punk music that was the only option for you to play from the start?
For sure it was, 14 years old and just ran into punk, there was not any other options
Which artists/bands inspired you to begin play punk music?
The bands who made a big impact to us was The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Damned, UK Subs
Where does the band name come from and does it have any special meaning to you and the members?
It just came up as a cool name and it was just like that
The EP LISTEN 7 was released back in 1983 and the following year came the EP LET’S GET DRUNK BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, do you remember what critics thought of the EP’s?
Can’t remember thatJ just know that both records sold out quite fast!
Does the band still live in Helsingborg Sweden like you did when the band was formed?
Yes, the whole band still lives in Helsingborg and around
Existenz have gone through some changes in the line-up through the years, is the current one a solid line-up?
Actually we are the original line-up since 82-83 and I think that’s quit unique!
In 1986 the band was put to rest, why?
A lot of things came around such as work, Stefan moved to the north of Sweden for some job and it just ran out for us.
Existenz’s songs have been featured on a string of compilation albums from the 80’s and 90’s, were the songs in mind taken from the EP’s?
For some of the albums the record company contacted us and we decided the songs. Other albums they just took some of our songs even before asking us to participate on it
What made you put the band back together again, what has been the driving force to once again put the old line-up back together?
2016 Heptown Records contacted us and wanted to re-release our album Let’s get drunk… on vinyl and digital. So we decided to meet up and quite fast we felt that we should start the band again and we never regret it
The band has been performing live since 2017, what’s it like to play live today compared to what it was like back in the 80’s?
Back in the 80’s it was more DIY, some gigs you get booked and some gigs people around Sweden help each other out with the gigs. Today we still get some gigs through DIY but most gigs are booked by our booking agency RMP Music
Why haven’t the band released an album until now?
Actually we made a 12” split April 2019 with our friends The Nilz from Ireland, called They can’t control it with 4 songs each
They Can’t Control It Official Video (single/video 2018)
Which one of the shows you done so far since 2017 has been the most memorable one?
Do you have a favorite show so far? The first one supporting Sator at The Tivoli Helsingborg of course was amazing. Second one was in Germany Hameln together with The Headlines in a full small sweaty club called Mad Music club. That was really awesome!
Have the fanbase increased since the last time you were active?
Clearly more people have discovered us now and it’s more easy to reach out to people all over the world
New album MELTDOWN
When did you start to work on material to MELTDOWN?
We started the work January 2020 and worked on it until few days before we went in to the studio in October 2019
Are all of the songs on it newly written or have you used some of your older material as well?
All the music and lyrics are brand new
Who does what in the band, who writes the lyrics and who writes the music?
Stefan just write lyrics and we other writes lyrics and music. So on the album we have contributed with 3-4 songs each
What are the lyrics about this time?
What inspire you to write? We write our lyrics a lot based on our lives and values. Social problems, global problems and on..
After 37 years it’s finally time for the band to release its debut album, what does it feel like?
It feels fantastic that we could put an album together and we are really proud of it!
Zombieland Official audio
MELTDOWN is quite short with a playing time on about 25 minutes, was it your intention of creating a short hard hitting album or was it just a coincidence it became quite short?
We have always written songs that is about 2 minutes long in average. Fast hard songs with attitude
What are the shortest songs “We Don’t Care” (1,57) and “Zombieland” (1,36) about?
We don’t care: is about we always do our music in our way, never compromise in any way. Zombieland: is about people who just follow with no own opinion in any matter
Who did the cover artwork to MELTDOWN?
Our friend Kerry Bomb did all the artwork and we are really satisfied with it!
Who came up with the title of the album and does it have any special meaning for the members?
I think Stefan came out with the title. All the right winds blowing today was unthinkable about 10 years ago is normalized today and it´s important for us to fight it otherwise it will be a Meltdown
What did media and critics think of the first single “Zombieland”? Do you and the band care about what critics write about your work?
We got some comments “it´s really sounds like Existenz” so for us that’s a good. Of course you got more pleased if the reviews are positive, but in the other way it’s that persons opinion and you have to respect it
I guess you all are more skilled on your instruments today compared to what you were back in the 80’s, who is the musical genius in the band?
I can’t say that anyone is a genius. We all got our skills in different ways
Do you think old hardcore fans of Existenz is going to like MELTDOWN?
We hope so, it’s a devolepment of our sound of course, but you still here it’s Existenz
How would you like to describe what kind of music Existenz play today? I have hardcore and punk what do you think is the best one of this two.
For us is always just been punk and nothing more
Which other bands do you think you have musical similarities with?
Hard to say but some of our influences during the years are GBH, Minor Threat, English Dogs
Jake Lundtofte from The Headlines and Ida Svensson Vollmer from VA Rocks makes guest appearances on the album, how did they end up on MELTDOWN? On which songs do they contribute?
Jake and Ida is really good friends of the band. Jake actually wrote the song Street Rock Heroes and plays the guitar on it. He also contributes with some guitar and backing vocals on few other songs. Ida sings some backing vocals on Street Rock Heroes and Hatred.
Is Existenz fans of The Headlines and VA Rocks?
First of all we are really good friends with both bands on a personal matter. We also played some tours with The Headlines and some gigs with VA Rocks and fore sure they make music that we really like.
Were there any other musicians that you wanted to guest the album that couldn’t make it?
No, we where fine with Jake and Ida
What do you think of the following notes that can be read in the biography – Existenz is back with their to this date, strongest release?
Is not the latest album your strongest, we hope so
The release of the album was celebrated with a party in your rehearsal room, how was the party? Were there many people that watched the party on facebook? Did you perform at full show or how long did the band play?
We actually just put on an video from the rehearsal that evening with one song and some chat and a lot of people looked at it!
Are there any differences in how the native press and media writes about the band compared to how the foreign press treats you?
The reviews we have read we have been treated good from both sides!
I think MELTDOWN is a brilliant album, are you happy with the outcome?
Thanks! Yes, as I said before we are really proud of it and it’s a continuation/development of the Existenz sound from the eighties!
Studio and production
MELTDOWN was recorded in the small town of Klippan in the southern parts of Sweden, how come you chose to record in Studio Popfabriken?
It’s a classic studio with all that you needs and we worked with Anders Nilsson before and really liked it in all ways!
Which bands besides Existenz have used the studio?
It’s a legendary studio where a lot of cult band such Kriminella gitarrer, Torsson and on used the studio in the 70’s and 80’s
What was it like to record MELTDOWN, was it harder than you thought it would be or was it only fun?
It is very inspired to create new music and a lot of fun during the process. But also some press to do well
Jake Lundtofte from The Headlines produced the album, what’s his strongest feature as producer? How come you wanted him to produce?
Jake works with the details on a very good way and he really have the ears to find something special. We felt that he knew what we wanted and he really contributed in every way
Anders Nilsson mixed the album and it was mastered by Stry Terrarie (Ebba Grön, Imperiet etc), were any of the band members part of those processes?
In the mixing process we were involved together with Anders. The mastering we left completely to Stry
Terrarie is a very well known figure in the Swedish punk scene, was it hard to convince him to work with you?
Not really, he said yes pretty fast and we are really happy with the result!
How long did it take to record MELTDOWN?
Studio time was 4 days and I think a couple of months with mixing and mastering
Label and management
Are you happy with the work your label Heptown Records have put into the band and the album so far?
Absolutely, a small company that has set up for us in every way!
When did you sign a deal with Heptown Records?
We signed the deal 2017 with Heptown Records
Two years ago the label re-released the EP LETS GET DRUNK BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, did the EP find new listeners this time around?
I think we hit both old and new listeners, so that was really positive for us!
Are there any bonus features on that version of the EP?
No, it’s just like the original album but on red vinyl
Heptown Records is a smaller label, what’s the pros and cons with being signed to a smaller label?
Easy and have a close contact with the guys.
Is MELTDOWN available in North America and Asia?
If so who distributes it over there? Yes they are and it’s Sound Pollution that distribute it all over.
Is MELTDOWN featured on Spotify and Itunes?
You can find us at all streaming services, so just go to your favorite streaming service and listen to us!
How come the vinyl version of the album only is released in 300 transparent blue copies? Is it going to be released on black vinyl to?
We just wanted to do a limited version. When they are all sold out we will release another 300 in a different colour
Are the band members fans of the vinyl format and what do you think of the fact that vinyl is gaining more and more ground?
We like vinyl and Stefan is a real vinyl collector. That you have something physical you can pinch and feel and not just listening to spotify
Is MELTDOWN going to be for sale at your bandcamp site?
Don’t really know, it’s up to our record label
What are your opinion towards bands and artists that sells meet&greet to fans for an enormous amount of money? Do you think Existenz is ever going to charge fans to meet you?
Nothing that appeals to us! Haha never!
Do you currently work with any management?
Yes we were signed by RMP Musik back in 2018 and Jake Lundtofte is our booking manager.
Past present and future
Why doesn’t the band got a website?
Don’t really know, nobody have the power to start something and has not been our priority
Besides Facebook and Bandcamp are you active on any other social forums?
Yes we are on Instagram to.
Do you get a lot of mail from fans?
What’s the most common question they ask you? Not so much really, if we are going to play in their town I think
The band got 1300 likes on Facebook, what number would you like to be standing there or are you satisfied with 1300?
130000 would be better for sureJ We are a quite a small band and of course you always want more
Since a few weeks back covid 19 made organizers and clubs close their venues, the band had to cancel the releaseparty you had planned to host at Plan B in Malmoe Sweden, are you going to re-schedule it?
We don’t know for the moment, we have some gigs in the pipe for the autumn so we have to see if we have some time and most important if everything is back to normal again.
Were there other dates that you had to cancel or postpone due to covid 19?
We had booked gigs in Gothenburg and Helsingborg in April and 2 gigs in London and Brighton in May
Screaming Meemie Official Video
What’s your opinion towards this current covid 19 situation, do you think Sweden have handled the illness the right way?
Yes we feel secure with our authorities
If anything goes like it should you’re going to open for Exploited in Stockholm at the end of October, are you excited?
We are really excited to play with them and play some major venues
Is it only one date you open for them or are there more shows?
We have to wait about that answer
Any ideas on when the next Existenz album can be out in stores? I hope it doesn’t take you another 37 years to unleash a new album
If we have the hunger and motivation probably in a couple of years
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the music of Existenz before?
If you want old school punk rock grab your copy before it’s too late!
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy MELTDOWN?
Punks Not Dead
Well, that was all for me and metal-rules.com this time around, once again thanks for taking the time making the interview. Stay safe and do you have any final words of wisdom to share with the fans and readers?
Only one thing Stay Punk!