Heart of Steel: Interviews

CANDLEMASS - Messiah Marcolin
Interviewed By Arto Lehtinen with the assistant help Jani Koskela

Candlemass - The real doom metal legend from Sweden - reunited with the most well-known and appreciated line-up which did three amazing cult doom albums in the late 80’s and above all killer live output. Even though the band’s most effective existence turned out quite short, they definitely set the entire new standards and milestones to the whole metal genre which several bands have desperately tried to adopt and plagiarize to their own sound world.

The Swedish doom metal heroes were for obvious reasons booked to the Sweden Rock festival to bring darkness to the metal paradise when the Friday evening was becoming nightfall. It was a real privilege and an honour to have an opportunity to talk to the charismatic frontman of Candlemass, Messiah Marcolin, about the era of his own career before and after Candlemass and of course the doom metal legends themselves.


Well the Swedish papers like Aftonbladet and Expressen have both given good reviews of your yesterdays’ gig at least I was told so ?!

We got four out of five in the national newspapers; Aftonbladen and Expressen and even the local press gave us four. I am born here and in Rönneby, where the hotel is. I was born and raised in this area, so it’s a fucking honour to be able to come here and play to thousands of people, singing, clapping, and having fun. It’s amazing. And they said that you can’t be a prophet in your own land, but they were wrong...haha


Are you kinda surprised the Swedish newspapers showed their interest in the reunited Candlemass?!

Yeah I was really surprised. I didn’t think they would write anything about us because Candlemass have never been any large band, I mean we have always been a kind of cult and small band. Well ok we sold a lot of albums in the past and we have these re-masters out which are doing pretty well. It’s very nice package with the bonus disc for the fans and Leif Edling put a lot of work into it and worked two months on them. There is demos, bonus and live tracks that people haven’t heard before and everything is digitally re-mastered and there is a booklet with comments about every song and a lot of pictures and I think it’s great for fans. And now the stuff sounds much better with the re-mastering.


Mercy - Axe - Black Room

Speaking of Mercy as you started your career as a frontman by doing some releases, ep and some album ?

Well I only sang just on two albums, the first and second ones. They did the ep before I joined. I talked to the guitarist the other day and he lives here in Sölvesborg and I used to rehearse in this town back then.

(All of a sudden a couple of guys showed up with the camera and the mic in the middle of the interview session)

By the way they are doing a documentary of us. Don’t be afraid now. They are filming a documentary and DVD stuff. So they just follow us everywhere. Just relax like normal. Maybe you will get on the DVD, who know ?! It could be cool

Yeah it would be very cool….

Are you now nervous ?!? Laughter….

Well, ehh.. Yes still about Mercy - what happened to the band, why did it split up?!

I wanted to go to the heavier direction. I mean when we did the first Mercy album I was only sixteen I think and it was LPs as CDs weren’t there yet. Someone called me and said “We have heard you can sing very good - We are going to record the album in two weeks - You want to sing on it?” I said “Sure, but I am not a singer really I am a drummer.” I started because no-one else had guts to do that. I used to play the drums and sing at the same time. I said them “Don’t you guys need a drummer?” and he said me “I am a fucking drummer, if you want to be on this record, you just sing” and I was like “Cool.” We went to Stockholm to record the first Mercy album and I had nothing to do with the songs. I made some vocal melodies and the stuff and it was a normal heavy metal album. But for the second album “Witchburner” I took the more doom and even heavier level. We all were inspirited by Mercyful Fate, you know this Satanism stuff. We all were Mercyful Fate fans and it was like “King Diamond sings about devils and that’s cool stuff.” I got into that stuff and bought a pocket book of Satanic Bible and I was like “Ohh yeah Satanism stuff.” I painted my whole room black and wanted to put the pentagram on the floor. I asked my father, we had just moved into a new house, that “Can I paint my room with any colour that I like to?” - “Yeah sure, what are you thinking about?” - “Black” - “The whole room?? Well ok” - “Can I put the pentagram on the floor ?” - “What’s that ?” - “Devil’s circle” - “NO devil’s circle in my house or I’m gonna kick you out then.” Well because he is from Italy and we are all catholic and that’s a little problem.

Anyway I am believing in god, but I am not very religious, but I am a believer. My father almost died during the operation and it was the first time ever when I prayed in my life and it worked. So now I believe. But I don’t fucking go around preaching, it is just personal belief. So I believe in god. Even though I painted my room black and had a blood red carpet and when I started doing this stuff like what Satanic Bible said that “do this or do that” - I did these things and I got so scared, I was shitting to my pants. I couldn’t sleep in my room and I decided this is not for me at all.


And you used to paint inverted crosses on your face?

Yeah - Yeah. It was like more cool with the devil stuff. It wasn’t any serious, but it was cool show though. We used to have gravestones that we did out of very thin paper. We got gravestones against Marshall amps and when someone opened the chord they would blow all over. So Spinal Tap was nothing…Laughter...

We had a huge two meter coffin where I crawled in from under the drumrise. I had an axe and we had a secret passage in the coffin where I could get in. And then we had a wooden thing at the end of the stage. And at the first shows the fans were putting their hands on the cap, on that wooden cap. And I came out, we had a big scream in the PA.. We had the same intro that we have in Candlemass and that was my invention “March Funebre” - The death march. And I came out (from the coffin) with my axe and I was so intended to put that axe into that cap just like we had rehearsed and I didn’t care if they (fans) had their hands there. If they would have left their hands there, I would have fucking cut them off, because I was so mentally prepared to cut that fucking thing. So we had no security, what so ever. Hopefully they took their hands off very fast, so that everybody got their fingers left.

But Mercy was cool, it was really heavy band. We did “Witch Burner” - which is, I think, a very classic doom album. It has some nice song titles, “I’m a Pervert Priest” and shit like that.


But have you ever been thinking of re-releasing those old Mercy albums?

Oh I leave that all to Andrija Veljaca (guitar player of Mercy). I talked to him on the phone a day before yesterday and asked if he is coming here. But he has to work, he sells donuts and the stuff now. He was like “Yeah I am doing the new Mercy album, I’ll send you some new songs, maybe you want to sing on it.” Well maybe if it is good, who knows.


The birth of the doom metal legend

Then Candlemass which I think has a very colorful backgound. You left for Candlemass, but before that Leif used to have this Nemesis band which is kinda pre-Candlemass which had the same kind of doomy stuff what Candlemass has on albums…

But as for Nemesis, has Leif ever thought about re-releasing the old album ?

I think, I mean the songs are fantastic, but I don’t think Leif sings very well and that’s my opinion. But it is cool for fans to hear because they are great fucking songs and I was the one who begged on him to put Incarnation Of Evil to Ancient Dreams, that song was called Black Messiah on the Nemesis album and I love that song, but he hates that album. I don’t know what he is thinking now. Everyone has the different taste. I have always been for slow and heavy songs.


Did he have to change the name of Nemesis because of the legal problems ?!

I have no idea about that.

When the first Candlemass album Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus saw the light of day back 86, sung by another singer Johan Lanquist and there were a lot of session members at that time as well so I can’t help asking if Candlemass was some kind of project band in the first place ?!

Definitely, well not members. When I heard Epicus, it was sent to me by a journalist on a tape cassette and I listened to it. I was so into the Trouble stuff, Trouble from Chicago and very heavy doom band. So he sent me this tape with Candlemass and I was like “What is this?” and he told me it is a Swedish band and I was like, no fucking way - Swedish bands suxx. Well I put it on and couldn’t believe it was a Swedish band, it was so fucking good. I love that music and I asked if they have a singer and I was told that “NO, I think it is a session guy.” I asked if he could get a phone number to the song writer of the band Leif Edlin and he promised and called me up and told he had got the phone number. I started calling him every night and I was like “Yeah I am your new singer and gonna join your band.” He thought I was crazy and he was right. Anyway I kept calling and playing my doom songs with the acoustic guitar for me. He really thought this guy is really crazy. And then he got tired of me and said “If you move up here to Stockholm where we have the rehearsal room and we can do the audition.” I called him up a week later and asked when the audition is.

I was determined and they hadn’t rehearsed since the debut album and the album had got really good press and it was the fantastic album. It was only Leif, the bass player and song writer and Mappe on the guitar and they were the original guys. And they had a drummer Matz Ekstrom, but he had a problem to play live as he was like “Oh I don’t wanna play for the people, I am too afraid and I get nervous.” We made clear to him that he has to make a choice he can’t be in a band if he can’t play for the people because that is the whole reason for doing this. Then he was out and we had to get a new drummer and a new lead guitarist in order to get this band together and start getting some gigs. We did a couple of gigs in Sweden like four or five or something, then the sixth or seventh gig was with King Diamond because I sent King Diamond our albums and asked if they want to have a good support band. I sent the Epicus album and he was like “Yeah of course you can support us in Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen.”

They got a real kick to their asses, they were so lazy. If I hadn’t joined the band probably nothing would have happened. When I did the audition I knew the songs better than anyone else because they hadn’t rehearsed since the debut album. I was very determined with the stuff and the band.


Then you went to the Thunderload studio to record another piece of doom classic called “Nightfall”.. I read Leif would have wanted another title for the album called “Gothic Stone” ?!

I think so if I remember it right, it was something like that.

And the title “Nightfall” was your idea ?

No, I don’t think so, it was Leif’s too. Not my idea. He is very good at that stuff, titles and lyrics and in general writing the songs. If we do a new album I would insist Leif to write everything because you shouldn’t change the stuff that is not broken. I mean the fans don’t wanna hear my songs on the new Candlemass album, maybe in the future if we do like another album after the new one. But if we should do a new reunion album it should be like the old times; Leif’s songs, me singing, the band playing and that way it should be. That’s way I think as a fan. I started out as a Candlemass fan and still I am. Not for myself, but for the music. I love Leif’s songs, I think he is a dick, but love his songs...hahahaha.

It went to the DVD …

Yeah I know… Heheh… I am only kidding.. Sorry Leif ..uppps.

What about Mike Wead because he was involved in Candlemass back then ?!

Yeah he was in Candlemass. When we rehearsed for the album he was in the band and he was the lead guitarist. But we rehearsed so fucking loud that we couldn’t hear anything in the rehearsal room, as we just played loud and heavy. When we came to the studio then we were able to hear everything clearly and he used to play his solos really fast. I told him that we play the slow music and if he could slow down or something, ‘cause it doesn’t fit that well to have speed solos in our heavy slow music. He got really upset of course and said fuck that and told he can’t change his style and he had own style. We understand that, but we had to have a different approach.

We are still friends. When I left Candlemass I made Memento Mori with him and we still call each other quite often. And when we both have time, we will make a new Memento Mori album, that would be cool.


The debut album came out on Black Dragon Rec whereas Nightfall came out Axxis and Ancient Dreams on Active, I guess both are the same label and Tales on Music for Nations. Did you have a lot of problems with these labels for example Black Dragon Rec as they are still printing the first album ?!

A lot of problems. Probably you should talk to Leif about that because he was the one who had deals with them. I remember that after Nightfall we were doing Ancient Dreams we still had problems with Black Dragon, Leif took personal loan to make the record and he had a lot of problems to pay it back.


Take a look, here some print of the Epicus made by Black Dragon.

What is this ?! Some bootleg ?! That’s cool, I don’t care. When people take songs from the internet I think it’s only good promotion, because if you like it you’re still going to buy the real thing. Now we have the rights back, so now we’re releasing “Epicus” through Powerline/GMR re-mastered with a bonus disc.


Then came Ancient Dreams which catapulted the whole band into another dimension of the incredible success and touring with several metal bands of that time around ?!

Yeah which is pretty strange, but Ancient Dreams… I think it’s pretty cool, but I think the mix could be much better and the recording could be much much better. We had a lot of problems when recording that album. We were supposed to record with the guy who mixed Nightfall, Max Lindfors. But he was totally booked. So, we had to move into a cheap studio and to work with a sound engineer who didn’t know what the fuck he was doing. When we were doing the Black Sabbath medley, I told him that toms are missing here and asked if they are recorded and he said “Yeah of course”. When we were doing the mix I said him that let me hear those toms he was like “Oh I recorded them with a gate and they didn’t get recorded “ and I had asked him before what he was doing. I asked him “Why do you record the stuff with gates, are you crazy?” Well you know gate is like a thing that let the sound (elected by the volume level of the sound -Ed note) come through. You don’t record with that thing, but you put it afterwards when you are mixing.

We had to get it done and then we had problems with the mastering of Ancient Dreams and we were getting out for the Christmas tour with Motörhead in Germany and they wanted the album out in Germany before the stuff was finished. You got the bad mastering and still they released it. But the songs are classic like Mirror Mirror, Bells of Acheron. A lot of great songs on it..


What about Tales then, what kind of relationship do you have with that album as I personally like the album a lot ?!

Me too. But during Tales we started having bad vibes in the band, ‘cause we used to tour so much and we never got paid, almost never and always out playing, sitting in a small van like cramped together. And since we never got any money almost, well we got some money to eat, but basically we went all around everywhere like we were asked if we wanna go to support Slayer and of course yes Slayer rules. Or wanna go to tour with Nuclear Assault, of course. We were sitting like shoulders to shoulders and got on each others nerves. It wasn’t anything personal, we just got on each other’s nerves and of course this discussion about the money came out because we were selling a lot of albums, we are talking about 200,000 albums in total, we never saw anything and I don’t live for the money, but it is just that we were selling a lot of albums, so c’mon could we have something too please. We had a manager who had never been a manager before, but we thought it was good because he was the English, from London and he was a good friend of the band and a nice guy. But to be honest he really didn’t know what he was doing. We played everywhere. When we recorded Tales Of Creation I was doing the vocals and I was doing Under The Oak, I remember this; Our manager was in the studio somehow and I asked “What the fuck he was doing here” and he said “You are singing wrong that stuff” and said him “What the fuck are you talking about ? I sang this song since I joined the band it was on Epicus. What are you doing here, go to count all the money what we don’t have or something!”

That’s the first time they tried to change my vocals or second or whatsoever and then after the live album we started recording the next album Chapter Six I heard from the manager that Leif wants to change my vocals and I said that I rather leave the band and he said that maybe you should and I was like yeah I do it fucking now. I went down to the studio and said “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you I am leaving the band here and now” and then I left. I was so angry for half an year I couldn’t almost talk to anybody. It was really emotional.


In the late 80’s Candlemass was one of the rarest bands which used to play heavy, doom and slow stuff because most of bands used to play the speed/thrash stuff and you used to play a lot of gigs with thrash bands like Slayer and Nuclear Assault and then this legendary UK gig with Dark Angel, did it bother you that you had to play with these thrash / speed metal bands?!

No, no it was good for us because all these fast bands had always troubles to get the good sounds, because they had double bass and had everything going fast, so it was easy to get the bad sound and hard to get the good sounds when everyone was playing so fucking fast. But for us we could have quite bad sounds but still we played slow and were playing melodies and people could hear what we were playing and the people liked us and these thrash bands liked us, the only guys who didn’t like us were death metal fans. We played down in somewhere in Berlin and Morbid Angel were headlining and people were uninterested in us, they weren’t clapping and they didn’t do anything… And when we played a cover track “Black Night” by Deep Purple no-one knew it.


But I guess the most idealistic bill would be Candlemass with Mercyful Fate?!

Oh yeah I would support them anywhere in the world I think they are one of my favourite bands. I used to be in the fan club. I have been to two fan clubs in my life: Kiss Army and Mercyful Fate Coven and that’s it.


Life After Candlemass - Memento Mori

Then you left Candlemass and formed Memento Mori.. Hmm.. It was some kind of all star band consisting of the well known Swedish metal musicians like Mike Wead, Snowy Shaw and you..

Yeah… We met Snowy for the first time during the Conspiracy tour with King Diamond and he is a really amazing drummer. I have never seen anybody who would do whirlwind and he does that with the bass drum. He is a great and fantastic drummer. So it was really fun to make the first Memento Mori album and I think it is good and I would love to do a new one some day.


You did a couple of albums and then left the band…

I did two albums, Rhymes Of Lunacy and Life, Death And Other Morbid Tales and then I had a bit falling out because I was doing all the vocal melodies, but I didn’t get any song writing credits it was like “Hello I wrote all those melodies that people are listening to, so could I please get my name in the writer credits” and they said “No noo.” Michael said “This is my song I wrote, I wrote this one on my guitar” and Snowy said the same thing “this is my song” and I told them “Keep your songs, until I get some credit, I am not doing this.” So I left the band and it wasn’t personal. It was just a business decision. You know why should I give my stuff away for free. If I do the vocal melodies that people are listening to, so I should get some song writing credits. So they did another album “La Danse Macabre”…


And they had a vocalist from Tad Morose

Yeah I don’t think it sold too well. And a couple of years later we had a meeting and took some beer and we just met like “You wanna make a new album?” and I was like “Yeah sure” as long as I get my song writing credits. I haven’t changed my opinion on that. They said that sure, fine and then we did a new album.

What made you sign a deal with Black Mark, every band which has done a deal with Black Mark has broken up like Cemetary because of the deal ?

It fucken suxx, I can tell you now. It is not good. I never saw any money from Memento Mori, never ever. You tell me about it.. I am not the only one..

Yeah indeed.. then you teamed up with a couple of guys from Stillborn ?!

I live in Stockholm and it is quite far away from Gothenburg, it takes 2-3 hours by train to get there. We had a hard time to find a good drummer in Gothenburg and we were doing the stuff and a demo stuff, but because of the traveling it didn’t work and especially we didn’t have a member drummer who was good in a band. It just fell away.

So the band was called Colossus already then?

Yeah we changed the name to Colossus. We recorded one song being on the tribute album to Metallica called “Sad But True.”


What about the demo tape of Colossus, cos I have some demo?!

Well I sent it out to some press somewhere. But the drummer on the demo wasn’t any good, so I guess nothing happened. Very cool songs, very different style, heavy but kinda unique it didn’t sound like Candlemass or Memento Mori. Pretty cool stuff because, I love the very first Stillborn album “Necro spiritual” - Fantastic album.


Is it true that at the same time with Colossus you had a solo band ?!?

No, no.. Now we are back in Candlemass and I put 100 % into Candlemass. Of course I wanna do the solo album some day, but I now put 100 % to Candlemass. But if Leif is doing the solo album, he can do whatever he wants, I mean I don’t force anybody to do anything. But sometimes I have to put my foot down.

Then the other former Candlemass guys had a band called ZOIC, what was that, what kind of stuff they used to play ?!

Yeah, it was the drummer and the lead guitarist. It was kinda like a bit Queensryche, the first Zoic album- Yeah. It reminded me a bit of Queensryche but with the heavier touch.



When Leif reformed Candlemass after Abstrakt Algebra., as far as I know they would have called all other members of Candlemass to ask to rejoin the band?!?

Never called me.

And never asked about your opinion what you think about the reforming of Candlemass?!

No opinion, nothing. I heard there is a new Candlemass out I was like “REALLY! Who is singing on that?” and no-body knew. I called Leif and asked “I heard you have got the Candlemass album out” and Leif was “Yeah yeah”… “So can I get a copy of it I wanna hear it cos the press is asking me about it.” And Leif agreed and sent a copy and I listened to it. But to me it doesn’t sound like the same band, I mean it has really great songs, but when I am not singing and Jan is not playing the drums and Mappe is not playing the rhythm guitar and Lasse is not playing the lead guitar, to me it sounds like a totally different band. Even though those songs sound fantastic and Leif is a fantastic song writer. I think I am ranking him as one of the best song writers in the world because I love the slow doom stuff.


There are a lot of Uriah Heep influences on those Candlemass albums, From the 13th sun and Dactylys Glometra…

Yeah I think. Maybe he started taking some drug, cos there is some weird shit hahahahaah.. I don’t know.

Michael Ammott was also involved in Candlemass…

Yeah that’s right. He is a nice guy and really good guitarist. But you know when the original Candlemass is playing together, we have a chemistry; it somehow works. We are not the best friends and we have arguments all the time and conflicts and everything and we have very heated discussions about backdrops. But we are playing the music, it works. I mean we met people yesterday and came up to me, now I am not bullshitting you, that they don’t like our albums, but they liked our show a lot and I think that is fantastic.


I can’t help asking if you still remember your old gigs in Finland in the late 80’s??

Yeah, never played to so drunk of an audience ever before in my life. When the support band was playing, half of the audience were lying down in their vomits, it was in Helsinki, they were very drunk and we were drunk as well. I remember when we took the Finnish boat to get to Helsinki. I woke up because the maid who had a broom was pushing me saying “Wake up Wake up, You’re in Helsinki”. Hahahahah…

So when is this dvd supposed to come out anyway?

I have no clue. I hope some day.

Some day?! What about the album then, is it completely speculation then?

We don’t know. We play these gigs this summer and maybe in Autumn we will play in Brazil, maybe three weeks or something. Then we have some Scandinavian gigs, Stockholm, Oslo. If we play in Oslo and Stockholm of course we have to play in Helsinki and Copenhagen. Now we are gonna play in London. After playing all these gigs, there we are going to have a meeting and see if Leif is gonna write songs and how he is gonna do this and are we gonna do this, do we want to kill each other, if it is better not to do it. So we will wait and see.

What do you actually think of all these Candlemass babies?! I mean bands which have been influenced by your music ?

I am very honoured. If anyone wants to be inspirited by Candlemass, it is the most respectable thing what a band ever can get. I love Witchfinder General which are very Black Sabbath influenced and Pentagram, which is fucking great. The first Pentagram album is great and of course Trouble is influenced by Black Sabbath and Candlemass is also influenced by Black Sabbath, the whole fucking world is influenced by Black Sabbath, but I mean when Candlemass made its own style, we don’t sound exactly the same, but the heaviness is the same, but the music is different. We created our own style, doom metal stuff and all the other bands which have taken it after, it is a great honour..


Like Solitude Aeturnus ? They used to support you...

They are fucking great guys, I love those guys. Yes they supported us in Texas. They played Well Of Souls and we filmed it. Pretty cool.


All right I thank you I really hope to see Candlemass in Finland and it was nice to meet you !

It was nice to meet you and I hope so that Candlemass will play in Finland..

Thanks to the GMR Music Staff Jeanette Andersson and Pia Helensdotter for arranging the interview: http://www.gmrmusic.se

The official homepage - www.candlemass.net