Interview with Black String – guitarist and songwriter
Interview by Kira Levine
Hey and thank you for your time. Please state your name and position in the band.
– Black String, guitarist
Vampire formed almost a decade ago. How did you guys all meet?
– Our singer Lars (“Hand of Doom”) and I used to be in touch by good old snail mail some 20 years ago, when we had other bands and ran our own fanzines. We first met in person in 2009 when I had moved to Gothenburg. The idea to form Vampire came in the summer of 2011 when we met up at his place just before the “big four” concert in Gothenburg featuring Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. Lars put on an old Necrophagia track and insisted we start a band in the similar vein, meaning mid 80’s, proto-death metal.
Shortly afterwards we asked Lars’ friend “Command” to join us on the bass guitar. In the beginning me and Lars used to switch instruments; we both played the drums for a while, but it became pretty obvious that he really wanted to play the drums, so I gave up on that position in the end. Our guitarist “Sepulchral Condor” hooked up with me by e-mail some days after we started a conversation at a Tribulation show in Gothenburg in 2014. It turned out that he’s a really talented guitarist, so we were happy to let him join us for a first show in Germany in the summer. About six months later we welcomed his equally talented brother “Abysmal Condor” to play drums in the band.
When did you first start getting involved in music and realise that you wanted to start a band?
– I remember walking past a local community center with my dad a long time ago – in 1991 probably – when there was a band rehearsing. I was amazed there were real bands doing music just a few hundred meters from my home. The seed was probably sown there, and a few years later I started my first band under the moniker “Darkness” with some class mates.
Were you given any advice from other musicians before starting out?
– If we’re talking about the early 1990’s here – no. We didn’t know any other bands and had to learn everything by ourselves. Lots of mistakes were done, and there’s lots of things to laugh about in hindsight. Upon forming Vampire we naturally had a lot of experience about “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to running a band.
What words of wisdom would you give yourself?
– Carry on!
You are set to release your third full-length, Rex in June. Is it a concept album?
– It’s partly a concept album about archetypes: deities, demons, fallen idols… you get it. Let me quote our lyricist from our press release: “A recurring theme in the lyrics for this album is the vanity of human endeavor in the presence of powers we fail to grasp or even recognize”.
What can fans expect from this record that is different from your previous ones?
– I think people will find the album slightly more harmonic, even heroic, than our previous efforts. All these traces have been there before, but they’re taking more space on “Rex”.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
– “Imagine early Metallica but with more screamy vocals”.
Are there any bands or musicians that inspire you as an individual?
– It’s bits and pieces here and there. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall in Mercyful Fate’s rehearsal room in the early 80’s, or hearing ROOT rehearse their third masterpiece, “The Temple in the Underworld”, in 1992.
How would you describe the current death metal music scene in Sweden?
– I don’t know much about it actually. I’ve listened quite a lot to the recent Sweven album and it’s fantastic. I’m not so sure if it should be labelled death metal though.
How has the present pandemic impacted Vampire as a band?
– We did our first “show without audience” the other day, which was a good experience. Other than that, the pandemic has had no impact on us.
Is there anywhere you haven’t performed live yet that you would like to in future?
– There are lots of places in Europe I’d like to visit with the band, like Spain, Italy, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Belarus, Russia, Romania, ex-Yugoslavia. Well, there’s just a very few places I wouldn’t like to visit really.
What has been your favourite track to perform live to date?
– Probably “Initiation Rite”, because we’ve just performed it once, at Wacken Open Air.
Where do you gain inspiration from when it comes to producing new music or lyrics?
– It’s hard to tell, I guess one could talk about a specific mindset at times. At the time when I was composing most of the material on “Rex” I used to wake up really early in the mornings and out came a few good ideas before it was time to shape up to go to work. Mostly I couldn’t let these ideas rest, but I had to return to them, change things and so on. Right now I’m not creative at all, so I can see the difference.
Is it difficult balancing out being in a band with the rest of your commitments in life?
– At times with conflicting schedules it’s hard to get the band together. Still I think we’ve found a good way to run a band in between a little bit now and then.
If you could pick 3 records to be stranded on a desert island with, what would they be?
– “Operation: Mindcrime” (Queensryche), “Cantofabule” (Phoenix) and “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” (Iron Maiden).
What are the negatives and positives of being in a band?
– Positives – it adds to a bigger sense of purpose. Negatives – it’s just a way of spending time anyway.
Do you think it’s important for a band to be signed to a label to be recognised in today’s society?
– It really depends what you’re after. A “label” could be anything – from a guy spending his income releasing 7” EP’s with local punk bands, to the major label with influence in the big scheme of things. I think bands should pick their labels with great care, because there has been so many good bands on bad labels in music history.
What genres of music do you like to listen to personally?
– I mostly listen to heavy metal and some old black metal these days.
Outside of this band, do you have any other creative endeavours or interests?
– Hand of Doom is running a horror podcast called “Vargtimmen” with a friend of his, Command is becoming a really good beer brewer and he’s also involved in Henrik Palm’s live act. The rest of us used to be involved in other bands too, but not anymore.
Do Vampire have any other plans for the rest of 2020?
– Hopefully we will begin writing some new songs at least.
Thanks for your time, is there anything else you’d like to add for our readers?
– Thanks. Hope to be back to the UK one day!
Rex is out June 19th, via Century Media Records.