pondělí 21. února 2022

Interview - SARCASM - Music means everything to me.

Interview with Swedish death metal band - SARCASM.

This interview is made by Heval Bozarslan, thank you!

Translated Duzl, thank you!

Questions prepared Jakub Asphyx.

SARCASM - Stellar Stream Obscured (2022):

Ave SARCASM! Before we begin the interview, let me say : „ thank you“. You know, I'm an old metal dog and I listen to music not only with my ears but also with my heart, and your new "Stellar Stream Obscured" literally charmed me. It was as if I were looking into the darkness far to the north. It's a very chilling and special album. How was this album created? What is SARCASM's recipe for so many emotions, moods?

Thank you very much. Yeah, it’s a special album, it has this apocalyptic atmosphere surrounding it, I think it’s the most epic and complete album we’ve done so far. The creation of it was actually much easier than some people think. We didn’t even thought of making a concept album before I heard all the songs. When I got all the songs from Peter, I listened to them a zillion times like I always do before I even have any ideas for the lyrics, but this time the songs were just perfect for a concept album, it just made sense, the mood, the variety, the choirs and eerie keyboards etc. I just divided all the 8 songs into two “chapters”, with 4 songs each, and came up with a story. Actually, a part of the story I had in mind years back, but I built upon it, and added sci-fi elements and a twist to it. Hard to believe perhaps, but this album is the easiest we’ve ever made, both the composition and the lyrics took perhaps one year to complete. We recorded and mixed it the spring of 2021 and it went very fast, compared to our past albums. The recipe is very easy, to create music from the heart without rules and boundaries, we’re fans of extreme metal, both slow or fast metal, and you can hear it clearly, to say “Let’s make 8 songs that are really fast” is not what this band would agree upon. Before making an album, the only thing that is said is “Let’s make another album that is just as dynamic as the one before”. We don’t discuss further than that.

To be honest, even though I'm a big fan of the classic Swedish death metal scene, I just like you that you're completely different. The basis of your music is also death metal, but you can also hear a good portion of black and this year even doom metal. At least that's how I hear it. It seems to me that you let the cold and darkness stand out even more on "Stellar Stream Obscured". I love the sound of the new record! I found out that Christian Wallgren was signed under the album. Tell him I praise him! Where and how did you record?

Ok, I’ll send your praises to Christian, although he didn’t record or mix it, he mastered the album. Alvaro did all the mixing together with the band. We recorded it in the same studio as our two previous albums, at HSH in Uppsala, the studio is run by our drummer Alvaro and our friend Philip, they both do all the recordings and mixings. Yes the album is varied in a healthy way, we’re fans of extreme metal in general, so we try to blend to create dynamic albums, variety has always been the most important thing for SARCASM. If we want to add a doom song on an album, we just do it without giving a rip what anyone else thinks. As long as it’s heavy as shit, interesting and memorable then it’s good for us. I have noticed some reactions toward our new doom song “Ancient Visitors”, some people seem surprised that we’ve included a doom song on this album. But we have doom songs on every album we’ve recorded, so I don’t understand why it’s a surpise, it’s nothing new to us. Although “Ancient Visitors” is a bit slower than those previous ones.

You are also loyal when it comes to cover and graphics. I really like Rául González's work. What was the assignment for the new album? Last time it was a frozen gate and this year a pile of the dead with one figure who probably won. How does the motif relate to music and lyrics? What is it really supposed to represent?

The concept of the album is basically the annihilation of our planet, although there’s more going on as the album evolves. I wanted something that represents that atmosphere on the cover, you know, lots of death and decay. I showed Raul the original artwork for one of our old demotapes, the one with the pile of bodies, and told him to do an new version of it, with even more corpses and decay, and also add our mascot “Sarcor” on top of the pile, so he did and we liked it a lot. It’a also very old-school looking. The pose of “Sarcor” symbolises a victorious conquest that is revealed at the end of the album, that’s why the gasmask is off his face.

I've always liked that you don't neglect lyrics. I don't have the original CD with me, but I'm already looking forward to "read it". Most death metal bands have such ordinary, classic lyrics. About what are those at "Stellar Stream Obscured"?

Thanks, that’s nice to hear. The lyrics are extremely important to this band. There is always a theme on each album we do. This new album is the first one with a cenceptual story telling unlike previous albums. And unlike previous albums this new one has nothing to do with my personal thoughts and views. Both previous albums were very metaphysical and philosophical in nature, expressed through channels of the non-physical part of me. I wanted to do something different this time and tell a simple sci-fi/post-apocalyptic story since I’m a big fan of the genre. The album has actually two stories, but both interweave at the end of the album, and you can see the whole picture and know why the first chapter ends so abrubtly. It’s a dark tragic tale about us as species, and how far we can go to survive. If you want a happy ending, don’t read the lyrics, go watch a hollywood movie or something. Yeah, I try to avoid all the clichés of death metal when I write lyrics for this band, we try to stay away from all that gore and horror stuff that has been done a million times anyway. Even if this story is very dark, I try to make it interesting and with a twist, without putting together tons of cool words from the dictionary of death metal.

As I wrote, you are an original band. The guitar signature is unmistakable and the pieces are composed with ease and elegance. Am I right? Was the process of creating new material easy? Will you please tell us something about the process of creating a new songs? How do SARCASM compose?

As I said earlier, it was easy. It’s Peter only who writes the music, everything comes from him, he’s extremely talented, one of a kind and one of best actually, and yes, he has his own signature. His solos are not only excellent, they’re also memorable. The process is very simple, he composes the songs, the riffs just comes to him while he’s working or doing other stuff, he memorizes everything till he gets home to record the stuff. It’s incredible. I have to write my shit immediately, otherwise I forget my stuff like minutes after. Peter has been very inspired the past seven years or so, he lets the gates of creativity always stay open. So this band don’t rehearse or jam or collect riffs from the others, or we don’t go back and re-arrange songs or discuss them, when they are written, they are written, it’s just as easy as that. Then, Peter records them and sends them to me. Then it’s up to me where and how I should put the vocals, I listen to them many times like I said until I hear everything with vocal patterns in my head. Then I just write the lyrics. When the lyrics are written, I listen to the songs many times with vocals in mind to make sure all the words and screams are where they should be. We don’t rehearse during this process and I don’t come up with new stuff or change stuff in the studio. Everything is ready and complete before I record the vocals, even the smallest scream are carefully detailed and planned, just like our guitar solos. Actually, the band has never rehearsed once before recording of an album. The other guys, like me, practice the songs at home until it’s time to go in and record them. I’m very lucky to have all these talanted people around me. And this is the third time we work like this. Rehearsing is unnecessary.

You are a band that dates back to the 1990s. It's been a long time and a lot of things have changed. SARCASM also suspended its activities for a long time (1994 - 2015). Wasn't there time or money? Or musicians? What happened?

We split up completely, it had nothing to do with time or money. We just got tired of the band, and went separate ways. We were also very unfocused as a band and very young, drunk and stupid most of the times and didn’t think forward like many other bands. We neglected a lot of things. And I was tired of the whole underground scene of that time. I didn’t play in bands for many years. But we recorded an album right before we broke up, the “Burial Dimensions” album, we didn’t even care to seriously send the album to labels, it was recorded and then nothing happened, it remained unheard, unseen and unknown for 17 years, gathering dust in my drawer. In 2011, it was finally released, and since then been released several times. But I don’t regret anything, I did a lot of other things that I needed to complete during those years. It was a good thing actually that the band broke up back then, the 2015 reformation wouldn’t have been that strong otherwise. I remember in 2007 we talked about getting back together again, but I said no way. The time wasn’t right.

When you returned in 2015, I was very happy. You know, I immediately went to the basement and spent almost the whole weekend there to find an old tape "A Touch of the Burning Red Sunset." No original, just an ordinary copy, but it was of great value to me at the time. How do you remember the old days? You were young, you had more time, sometimes I wonder if it was not better without the Internet and various new technologies. Although, life is maybe easier now, more comfortable? How do you see it and what has changed for you as a musician?

The old days were fun most of the times, partying and rehearsing a lot, especially 92-93 when the band was extremely creative, it was wild and crazy times, a lot of youthful hunger and anger. But I prefer this new age and its “new” technologies, everything goes faster and you reach people much faster. I don’t have to wait a month for a mail to reach me, and thousand times easier to promote my bands. I’m not the nostalgia guy who praises old days all the time, that’s stupid and pointless and waste of time, but mostly probably because I’ve experienced the old times. It’s done, and you can’t turn back! No matter how nostalgic you try to be in your words and feelings. The present now will also be the past in the future, so just focus here and now and feel the well-being of the now instead of the past which is just a memory. But sure, metal music was better in the past in my opinion, it was new and exciting, there were fewer bands and they all progressed rapidly, and most bands had their own sound and identity. But there are many good bands today also, you just have to find them in this huge metal jungle of today. Internet changed everything, some changes were very good and some really bad. But the good things always win.

When I interviewed Heval from DEATHSWARM, he wrote a beautiful sentence at the time, "Extreme metal generally means freedom and self-confidence to me, both musically and in a way of life." I thought about it a lot and found that I was just the same. I always take the band as a whole. How band works at concerts, in interviews, I have to trust their music. SARCASM really gives the impression that your music goes straight from the heart. No poses, just "pure art". Do you think that this can be learned? What does music actually mean to you?

I believe I wrote “For me, extreme metal in general means freedom and self-empowerment“. But yes, it is pure art and no posers are allowed haha.. You just have to be true to yourself, and don’t follow any rules or listen to anyone else. Just follow your heart and everything will manifest in the truest form. Music means everything to me. I can’t live without it, I’m addicted. The first thing I do when I get up every morning is putting a record on, before I even have my first coffee. Silence is not allowed in my home, I listen to music like 12 hours a day. When I don’t listen to music, I watch movies or I’m at sleep. But I sleep very little, it’s just a waste of time, why sleep when you can listen to more music or watch more movies or be more alive. Sleep is death every night, and I hate it!

Now, thanks to the pandemic is a strange situation, but when everything calms down, I would love to see you at the concert. Are you planning a tour of the old continent? Do you play a lot and do you like it? And how do you perceive a live presentation of your music?

No we haven’t planned any tours. No one knows how this year will turn out, but the plan is to record the next album the end of this year. We actually haven’t had many gigs after the re-formation, but sure, when we play those songs in front of people, it feels great, if everything works properly with the sound and stuff. We play songs from every album, songs that work really well in a live situation, like Through Tears Of Gold, From The Crimson Fog etc. From the new album we’d perhaps play 3 or 4 songs I think. Apocalyptic Serenity will work really well live I think.

Returning to the DEATHSWARM interview, Heval also wrote that you have cold weather and expensive beer in Sweden. You should come to visit us in Pilsen, we have Pilsner Urquell here, I live not far from the brewery:). I wonder if you have a regular beer meetings with SARCASM too? Are you a group of friends who will go for a few pints after the rehearsal? Seems to me you are a band when chemistry between members work well. Or am I wrong?

We drink beer every weekend here, that’s a ritual you just can’t break, that’s what unite us. The chemicals make the chemistry work I guess lol. Yeah, we go out to pubs sometimes or hang around at friends and band members places. Metal from the speakers and alcohol in the bottles, that’s what I have been doing almost every weekend for the past 35 years. Live fast die old! Yeah I know you have great beer in your country, I’ve been there, and it’s cheap too. It’s expensive in Sweden, but we have lots of beer from all around the world in our liquor stores. I’ll give you a call when I’m there next time so we can visit the brewery.

A classic question at the end. What are SARCASM planning in the upcoming months? Would you like to say something to the fans?

We will prepare for the next album these coming months. All the music is already written but I’ll be writing some lyrics and make sure all the songs work in my head. We have written 13 new songs, 8 of them will be on the next record. It’s going to be our strongest album with lots of variety, speed and heaviness. To our fans, yeah, hope you enjoy the new album as much as we do. And if you do, make sure to buy a copy.
Also expect another album next year.

You don't even know what this interview means to me. I really appreciate it. Both bands - SARCASM and DEATHSWARM are very frequent guests in my player. Thank you both for the answers and especially for your music. May you prosper as musicians and also in your personal lives! SARCASM rules!

Thank you very much man! It’s nice to know that we have fans like you, it means a lot to us too. We all co-create, us and our fans, this energy stream is always flowing in both directions.



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