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pátek 16. února 2018

Home » » Interview - USURPRESS - We are a death metal band first and foremost.

Interview - USURPRESS - We are a death metal band first and foremost.

Interview with death metal band from Sweden - USURPRESS.

Answered Stefan.

Translated and questions prepared by Petra, thank you!

Hello USURPRESS! How are you guys? A new year is here and in the following days, your upcoming record will be released. How do you feel, what are your expectation regarding the new album?

We really don’t have any expectations in terms of sales figures, good reviews, lots of interviews, gig offers etc. You know, the business end of it all. I doubt that this album will lift us to an entire new level in “popularity” and I don’t think it’s gonna sell considerably more than our previous records. We have made our best album with the best songs, best performance and best sound/production. That was our expectation on the album and we have fulfilled it. What other people think about it I can’t really influence. I don’t really care either. 

Till now, two songs from the upcoming record are available for the free listening. “The Iron Gates Will Melt” is a track with a slow rate, but it sounds more death metal than the other one “In Books Without Pages“, which includes parts sounding more rock, psychedelic. What we should expect from the new album? Will it be more death metal or more rock?

Yes, you’re right. The two songs that are more traditional death metal are “The Iron Gates” and “Interregnum”, the other songs all have elements that are quite alien to death metal. I would say that they resemble “In Books” more in the actual compositions, although no one of them sound like it. One is a pure prog song, one is more inspired by goth rock and the other two are longer songs and could be described as dark 70-ties hard rock inspired by death metal. However, I do think we are a death metal band first and foremost. 

As you mentioned in the recently released short film, Stefan Hildman, who is actually a jazz drummer, recorded the drums. Why you decided to request him instead of some metal head? Is there any purpose for that? How he joined in the writing process and how he was able to switch from jazz to death metal? Of course, he actually not switched, because the jazz features are really evident. Is he now only the session musician or you count with him into the future as a regular drummer?

The entire album was already written by myself, Daniel and Påhl when we started to rehearse with Hildman. We had made a demo with programmed drums and we felt like we needed a different kind of drummer to make the songs sound the way they sounded on the demo. We were afraid that a straight metal guy was not able to replicate our ideas and would just smash them with double bass and two-beats so we went for someone that we knew would understand dynamics and bring his own flavor to the songs. When we started rehearse the songs, they changed a bit as the guitar and bass had to play the riffs a bit differently to suit the drumming style. It made the songs better in my opinion.

We are very happy with Hildman, he’s obviously a great drummer and also a very nice man and a musician that is easy to work with so we would love to keep him in the band. He thinks it’s extremely fun to play this sort of music so he definitely wants to continue with us. The only question is if he has the time for it, as he’s quite busy with 3 kids and a job where he travels a lot. Time will tell, I guess. Our plan is that he will play on the next album and also be involved in the song writing. If he’s unable to play live with us then we have another drummer that is willing to do roadwork. Another excellent drummer, I might add, and also probably more known to your readers. 

In this video you also declare that the writing process at the previous album The Regal Tribe was a bit different in comparison with the recording of Ordained. How did you mean that the first riff you wrote represents the first riff on the album and so on? How is possible to write music in such consecutive manner? Could you more clarify it?

The Regal Tribe is a concept album, it’s more or less one long song divided into 10 parts. I had made some sort of primitive synopsis for the story where I had written down what would happen story-wise in each part (or song, if you prefer that) and we used that as guidance when writing the music. That was the only way to make the story coherent and it was quite fun and challenging. It was like “Well, this next part must be slow to represent the mood of the lyrics, how do we go from this part to this part in a seamless manner?” Actually, it’s just like writing an ordinary song, except that instead of 4 minutes, it is almost 40 minutes. We might try this approach to song writing again sometime in the future. 

For linking to previous question, if I understand right, the new album was written according to ordinary approach, I mean that you wrote song after song, optimized them and arranged into the final order? Which differences have you noticed between these three kinds of writing music and which one was the best? 

This album was also written in a way that was new to us, as we never rehearsed the songs until the entire album (demo version) was finished. There is no method that is better or worse than the other I would say. Each album kind of demands its own approach that suits the writing process best. For the next album we have talked about going back to a more traditional “garage band” way of writing, where someone comes up with a couple of riffs and we jam on them and make the arrangements as we go along. As Hildman most probably will be part of the writing process from the beginning next time, we believe the songs will benefit from this treatment. I think you’re making a mistake if you write every album the same way, that is not challenging, that is not creative. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”, well, fuck that. Having said that, I don’t think we’ll ever work like we did on Ordained again, writing and recording half the album first and then the other half. But it was definitely the right approach at the time and I don’t regret it. 

I am very interested in the title of the upcoming release Interregnum and whether the title has some connection with the cover art/photo. Who is an author of the cover art now? Since, every one of your albums has the totally different cover. As if you have not been satisfied with previous artist or… you only want something new and unique for another album?

We decided very early on in our so called career that we wanted a new artist for every album to make the album covers have their own unique feel and look and not just looking like “the new Usurpress album”. As we have had paintings on all the previous covers we thought that maybe it was time for photograph now. A nature photographer called Johan Söderkrantz whom I am a friend with took the picture; I saw the picture on his private Facebook page and asked if we could use it, as he hadn’t published it “professionally”. The cover has really nothing to do with the word “interregnum” but rather with the song “Ships of Black Glass”. I was also, for some reason, quite inspired by water when writing the lyrics for this album so I wanted some sort of water on the cover. The Regal Tribe is much more about earth and dust. 

You play a very specific kind of death metal. Are you really such interested in the 70s rock music, psychedelic rock, etc.? Such musical features make you different and unique. What inspires you the most from the past and present music?

I don’t know, maybe we do sound a bit different than your average old school HM-2 worshipping death metal band but in comparison with a band like, say, Lugubrum we sound very streamlined and by the numbers. Well, I guess every band do…

Yes, we listen to a prog rock and hard rock from the 70-ties and we always have. This music have always influenced the way we write our riffs, even when we played more punk influenced death metal, but now we have the courage to incorporate more striking features of it into our music and I think it’s working well, we are a better band now because of it.

When it comes to metal, we have always been impressed by original bands like Celtic Frost, Voïvod, early Paradise Lost and so on. The difficulty is to just remember and think about what makes these bands great and not trying to rip them off which would be pretty pointless in our opinion.

We listen to all sorts of music and even if it might inspire us on a mental plane it’s perhaps impossible to hear most of it in the actual music of Usurpress. Thankfully. 

How would you characterize your music in general, the development of everything, the style, sound and direction?

As I said earlier, we define ourselves as a death metal band but we try to incorporate elements from other sorts of music to make our (death) metal more dynamic and varied because that’s the way we like music to be. As a band, you must evolve or you will just end up making stale copies of your two first albums. Obviously, you can’t keep writing the same song over and over and expect it to be better than the first or second time you wrote it. I think Interregnum is a good record and our mindset is to make the next one in a similar style but focus on the parts that we feel we can develop even more. After that album, maybe it’s time to change direction a little bit again to avoid boredom and complacency. Every new album is just a preparation for the next one. True progression is constant evolvement, ripping off old Genesis albums are not very progressive, despite the name of the music. 

Could you reveal us what is the background of the lyrics at the latest album? Are they somehow different in comparison with the previous records? 

No, they are not. Not at all. Over the years I have gradually constructed a little “Usurpress world” where all the stories that we tell take place. I said “stories” because that’s what they are, short stories condensed into some sort of, well, poetry, in lack of better words. A couple of the songs are follow-ups on some of the key characters from The Regal Tribe, others are developments of earlier songs that chronologically takes place before The Regal Tribe and some are new stories that I thought needed to be told to be able to expand the boundaries of the “Usurpress world” and be able to go back to them later. People may think that you limit yourself when you’re dogmatically sticking to this concept but as a lyricist I find it quite the opposite. 

As I have mentioned before: we are a Death Metal band and we we’re not going to write songs about universal love and wonderful birdsong like generic progrock bands do. 

Sweden is the birthplace of the death metal how we know it from ENTOMBED, DISMEMBER, and so on. Also, the HM2 sound is associated with Sweden. Have you registered the new wave of young bands sounding as let say “old school”, which are inspired by Swedish death metal? They are all around the world. Do you know some of these bands like Gravebomb, Gatecreeper, Black Breath etc.??

Hmm… I don’t consider Sweden to be the birthplace of death metal (I don’t consider Sweden the birthplace of any music. We are great atisans, not great creators. The only Swedish band that has created a new genre is Bathory. Unless you count symphonic disco as a genre. Then we have ABBA) at all but “we” (my countrymen) did create our own variation of the style very early on, so you do have a point. Yeah, yeah, this new wave of “old” death metal has been around for something like 10 years now, it’s almost become a sub-genre of its own. It’s crazy. I love old death metal, that is one of my favorite types of rock music, but I think most of the newish OSDM-bands sound too much death metal, hahaha! I prefer death bands that, perhaps unintentionally, have elements of thrash and hardcore punk in their music because that’s what the original bands had. We did try to use the HM-2 on our first full-length album Trenches of the Netherworld but in retrospect it sounded like shit, that kind of guitar sound was very unsuitable for Påhl’s more dissonant and elegant guitar playing. 

I know of all of the bands you mentioned, Black Breath was quite popular in Sweden some years ago, and I think Gatecreeper are the best one of them. I actually listened to them last week. I don’t know, I really really liked the EP of Expulsion (US) and also Gruesome are cool as hell, but otherwise I mostly listen to the ancient masters that created the scene in the first place. 

Honestly, in this short video, I have noticed that your guitarist Påhl on the photo has BETON t-shirt. Immediately, I texted to Tomas from BETON, whether they sometimes played with you. And in this way, I found out you had two shows in Slovakia back in 2012. Unfortunately, 6 years ago I did not know anything about USURPRESS, so I didn’t attend these concerts… And then you visited also Obscene Extreme. How do you remember that, the atmosphere, and the people in Slovakia and Czech Republic?

Beton are great people that play in a great band, that’s it. I see obvious similarities both in music and musical influences between them and early Usurpress. What I most remember of our 2012 tour was that a heat wave had struck all of Europe (well, not Sweden, in fact it was a quite cold summer) and we had played southern Europe for a week or so and we were longing to go to Czech/Slovak because we thought it would be colder there. When we arrived in Bratislava it was apparently the hottest week in decades and the van and Barbarian (also great band/people) took off to go to record stores or some other suicide mission in the scorching heat and the venue was not open so we were looking for shade and found some cellar where it was cool and we ended up sitting in some dilapidated sofas for hours listening to some funk/jazz band rehearsing and drinking boiling beer. The actual gig was one of the best of the entire tour with the audience throwing big pillows on each other and us. We also had a Slovak potato salad called “grandir” or something like that for dinner. It was outstanding.

On the whole, Czech/Slovak are probably my two favorite countries to play in, I first played the Czech Republic back in 1996 with my old hardcore band and I have always enjoyed every visit, also as a regular tourist. I have played OEF 3 times, one with Usurpress, and it’s the best festival I’ve ever been to – and I don’t even like grindcore! Everything is just perfect. Perfect. The venue, the staff, the audience, the outlandish atmosphere, everything. The organization runs so smoothly and as a performing band you don’t have to worry about anything and if there is a problem; King Curby and his crew will fix it right away. 

And what about concerts now, are you planning a tour to support a new record?

No, we have nothing planned right now. Not one single gig. We haven’t played live much at all the last couple of years because we’ve had trouble with drummers and my fucking bone marrow cancer that has made it impossible to plan anything and we rather turn down gigs straight away than cancel them later. However, now we have a stable line-up and I’m also on the road to recover from this very annoying disease so we’re more than ready to go out on the road and “tear shit up” like the cool guys say. Unfortunately, our band and the music we play are not that popular and we don’t really fit in anywhere so I doubt that festivals and tour promotors are interested in booking us when they can book another Swedish band that can give them their invested money back. It’s just common sense. There is a new metal/hard rock outdoor festival this summer in our home town Uppsala, it’s just down the corner from where I live and not even they seem to be interested in us, hahaha! 

Thank you very much for the interview. I wish you a many successful concerts, happy and satisfied fans and many sold albums. I am looking forward for one of your show; I hope you will also visit Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Thanks a lot for your support. Every interview is an honour and a privilege, it means that someone has taken their time and effort to spread our name and make us visible. A tour of central Europe would be totally awesome and I’m hoping like fuck that it is possible this year. Don’t count on it though. If anyone wants to get get in contact with us, even if you just want to talk, don’t hesitate to mail us at: or send us a message on Facebook. Heavy metal is the law. 

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