čtvrtek 3. března 2022

Interview - GENERAL SURGERY - A classic chainsaw massacre!

Interview with death gore grind metal band from Sweden - GENERAL SURGERY.

Translated Duzl, thank you!

Questions prepared Jakub Asphyx.

Recenze/review - GENERAL SURGERY - Lay Down and Be Counted (2021):

Ave GENERAL SURGERY! Greetings to Sweden. I hope everything is fine with you. The first thing I noticed when I started listening to your new EP "Lay Down and Be Counted" was the change in image. I have you fixed as "boys full of blood" and suddenly you are elegant in face masks in promo photos. Has the pandemic really affected you so much? Was it the main inspiration for creating new material?

GS: Greeting from Sweden. Things are like they are in the world … but fine! We haven’t been rehearsing a lot lately – living in different cities, life situations etc – and when we did rehearse it was usually for live shows and not to write new material. Suddenly there was no live shows, so we started rehearsing – still seldom though – new material. And we also picked up some tracks that was written but never recorded the last few years. That was a lot of fun! But I wouldn’t call it a change of image – we could call that our rehersal outfits.

The change occurred not only in the promo photos, but also in the sound. If I'm not mistaken, you've always been loyal to Swedish recording studios, but this time you chose Dan Randall from the USA. Personally, the sound seems even more raw, darker to me, but at the same time it has a "face" of GENERAL SURGERY. Why Dan Randall?

GS: Well, the basic sound is not something I would blame Dan for! He did the mastering – and it sounded great! But this time we were actually just making some demo recordings in the rehearsal room while playing the new songs and it sounded really good. So we decided to give the world a sneak peek at some new music – it’s been awhile since we released anything. We picked a few of the new songs, gut some recording equipment and made the recording ourselves. In the rehearsal room. The (other) guitarist Dr Carlsson, spent a lot of time learning mixing stuff – he never did that before – and mixed everything himself. And we wanted a rawer, less polished sound. And we think he did a great job on that! And then Dan finished things up with a great mastering.

Anyway, GENERAL SURGERY are one of the bands that has kept its clear expression and style since its inception, you are unmistakable. The only original member is Joacim Carlsson. Does this mean that he is the main author of the music and has the last word? How do GENERAL SURGERY actually create new material?

GS: It has a lot to do with his playing actually – the added harmonies etc. And also the vocal phrasing makes a huge difference. Joacim does write a lot of the music, but not all. Maybe 40 - 50 %. Adde, the drummer, writes a lot too and the rest of the band throws in the rest. But having rehearsed the new tracks I would say that the “magic” happens after the basic song structure and the riffs are in place. The songs without the vocals and without the added guitar harmonies etc usually does not stand out as very General Surgery sounding to me.

On the lyrics side, your band can't be overlooked either. Pathology is, of course, a very important science when I was working in the civil service at the hospital, but I didn't like going there at all. I like similar themes in music, but it wasn't very pleasant to me live. The smell, dead bodies, I felt really bad at first. What about you? Have you ever really been to an autopsy for example? And what are the lyrics on the new album about?

GS: Of course we go to autopsies all the time!! Haha … no, not really. I sure haven’t been to one live in person. And I am not looking at stuff like that in videos either. I did watch a fairly long internet course in human anatomy where they used real bodies, but that was all about anatomy and very interesting! I am interested in science stuff, but not gross stuff. The lyrics are always with a humorous touch and could be about anything really – but with a lot of medical terminology. Most often the thesem are related to death, corpses, autopsies and such, but we have one song about eating porridge as well!

Speaking of those lyrics, you'll probably agree with me that for most people, the themes of your records are still disgusting, sometimes shocking. Surely you are fathers too. How you explain this to your children. That's when you come to kindergarten for your daughter and you're wearing your corpse T-shirt. You pick up a child with a plush unicorn and the teacher looks at you like a murderer :)). I wouldn't ask if I didn't experience it first-hand. Have you ever had problems with texts, covers, etc.? Sweden is probably free-spirited, but you must have played somewhere where they didn't see it the same way.

GS: Maybe we just don’t put corpse t-shirts on our kids when they go to kindergarten! J Like you say, for the most part it is not a big deal in Sweden though … all kids love Halloween, and there are lots of kids clothing with skulls and skeletons. GS merch usually aren’t gross over the top corpse stuff, so it wouldn’t really stand out. As far as playing live – we don’t do that a lot in Sweden. But I don’t think we had any issues with the albums or lyrics. People that would be offended never heard about General Surgery anyway.

I saw you last time in 2016 at a concert. It was in a small wooden club: Modrá Vopice, where you totally chopped us up. You may not remember Prague, but how do GENERAL SURGERY perform concerts in general? Do you enjoy them? Do you normally play without restrictions in Sweden? And aren't you planning a concert tour to promote the new EP?

GS: That was a cool place! Totally remember that – I think General Surgery played there more than once, but I have only been there that time. And I also remember standing outside in February trying to wash the blood off with some cold rain water from a barrel in the yard. That’s how glamorous it is! Ha! That was a very, very small tour (3 shows … or was it 4 maybe?), but usually we just play one off gigs. So we might go to Spain early Saturday morning – arrive at the venue in the afternoon, do a quick soundcheck, have dinner, watch some bands, play, have a beer, sleep a few hours and back early Sunday for the flight back. And back to our jobs on Monday. And we mostly play smaller venues and smaller festivals and we don’t like getting midday time slots – our image and outfits don’t go well with playing under a burning sun. So we prefer an evening slot at a smaller festival to a crappy after lunch gig on a huge festival. And playing live is a lot of fun! Otherwise we wouldn’t do it. When I joined I was a bit sceptical about the dress code and the blood and all that … but actually that is a lot of too! And it looks good. But it is messy.

We haven’t planned anything for the EP – since it was recorded and released under restrictions, it was just a small life sign from the band. A teaser for the next album.

You will probably agree with me that GENERAL SURGERY is a band that is more or less from the same hatchery as DISMEMBER, CARCASS. Who actually influenced you in your beginnings? I ask because you don't play "typical Swedish death metal". Please remember for us for a moment and guide us through the history of your band.

GS: Well, speaking as the new guy in the band I can only guess! But I knew all the guys in the band back then anyway and I would say it was a typical “Swedish death metal musicians want to have their own Carcass/Napalm Death influenced band” and play a bit of grindcore/gorecore. That is how Nasum and Regurgitate started out as well more or less. But the project bands lived on. Sure there were some changes in the lineup, but the grindcore bands turned out to be more interesting than the death metal bands that preceded them. The first lineup of General Surgery had members from Dismember, Afflicted (Convulsion) and Crematory (which was the band I was playing in at the time) and just did some demoes and the classic Necrology EP that Relapse picked up. I saw them live once in Stockholm, not sure how much they really gigged back then.

But generally I think the Swedish Death Metal shines through here and there when you listen to all the (older) Swedish grindcore bands.

I'm always interested in how it goes underground in the countries where the bands come from. How do you perceive your scene? Does the death metal and grind core somehow intersect? Do death metallers and grinders coming to your gig together? Do fans support a lot of bands in Sweden? And when you compare it for example, with other countries where do you liked it the most?

GS: Back in the early days there was no separate grindcore scene. The same people went to see Death, Slayer, Napalm Death and Carcass. OK, not all that liked Death liked Napalm Death, but for the most part it was the same people. The punk / hardcore kids didn’t go to a Carcass gig. Nowadays I think the grindcore scene in Sweden is separate from the metal scene though. General Surgery, if we play in Sweden today, it is more likely we play with metal bands I guess. But we don’t have a huge following in Sweden – I feel it’s still a bigger scene for grindcore in the Czech Republic (of course!), Germany, Netherlands etc. There is nothing like Obscene Extreme in Sweden for sure! The Czech Republic has always been a favourite, for me at least … both festivals and playing in smaller venues has always been great!

Did some latest record get you attention? And what kind of music do you listen to in the band?

GS: Oh … that’s a tricky one. In the band I would say there is everything from old school death metal to jazz and electronica playing in a normal day. For me … lately I have been listening a lot to old sound track stuff. John Carpenter (also his new albums!), Goblin, Christopher Young. I love the latest John Carpenter album (Lost Themes III)! But new metal / grindcore … not so much. I like the old stuff and new bands that sound like the old stuff. Boring, I know. As for new music that makes me seriously interested it is in different genres – stuff like Hidden Orchestra or Jaga Jazzist is far more intriguing than a new Carcass album. Been listening a lot to Reek of Putrefaction lately though … but that’s now very new I guess … haha …

What are GENERAL SURGERY planning in the upcoming months?

GS: We want to finish up writing stuff and start recording a new album, so that’s the plan right now!

Thank you very much for the interview and especially for your music. I really appreciate you taking the time to make this interview. I wish the new EP "Lay Down and Be Counted" the biggest sales, crowded concerts and you know what, I'm going to play something from you again. Have a nice day!

GS: Thank you very much for the interview! And hopefully we can get some new music out fairly soon!


Recenze/review - GENERAL SURGERY - Lay Down and Be Counted (2021):

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