DATE OF INTERVIEW:
14th August 2010
MARTIN "AXE" AXENROT
METAL DISCOVERY: Bloodbath are frequently referred to in the media as a ‘supergroup’ but I’ve always found that an odd term to describe a band. Do you regard yourselves as a ‘supergroup’ or are you just a bunch of friends having fun?
MARTIN AXENROT: It’s more having fun than a supergroup, I guess. Many people see it as that because we have members from other active bands. That’s why maybe, but we try to just have fun with it. It wasn’t a plan to be the best death metal band ever…[laughs]
(Martin Axenrot on the essence of Bloodbath)
"It’s more having fun than a supergroup, I guess. Many people see it as that because we have members from other active bands...but we try to just have fun with it."
Martin "Axe" Axenrot in the catering tent backstage at Bloodstock Open Air, Catton Hall, 14th August 2010
Photograph copyright © 2010 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Official Bloodbath Website:
Official Bloodbath MySpace:
Resurrection Through Carnage (2002)
Nightmares Made Flesh (2005)
Thanks to Matt Vickerstaff for arranging the interview.
The Wacken Carnage (2008)
Formed as a side-project in 1998 by a group of friends - namely Opeth's Mikael Åkerfeldt, Katatonia's Anders Nyström and Jonas Renkse, and Nightingale's Dan Swanö - with the sole purpose of paying tribute to old school death with a bias towards the sound of early Entombed, over the years Bloodbath have transformed into a monolithic metal beast on their own terms, progressing their style to forge a more distinctive identity away from their original intentions. Such progressive death sonics could be heard on 2008's 'The Fathomless Mastery' album, their latest to date, in a year that marked the return of Åkerfeldt to resume vocal duties after Hypocrisy/Pain mainman Peter Tägtgren temporarily filled his shoes from 2004 when the Opeth mastermind departed to channel all energies into his primary band. Ironically, 2004 was also the year when future Opeth drummer Martin "Axe" Axenrot would join Bloodbath. Now existing exclusively of Opeth and Katatonia members, the Swedish death crew, with little free time available due to their busy schedules in said bands, have only ever played a small number of live shows, although 2010 sees them make five select festival appearances. The final one of these, at this year's Bloodstock Open Air, signifies their UK debut and only eighth live performance ever, so it's something of a rare opportunity to catch their brand of death metal first hand. Headlining the first day of Bloodstock with Opeth and performing on the last with Bloodbath, drummer Axe spoke to Metal Discovery on his off day...
The Fathomless Mastery (2008)
Breeding Death (2000)
Unblessing the Purity (2008)
MD: Well, you’re pretty damn good!
MA: If you like it, that’s good! [laughs] But, yeah, it’s just death metal so…
MD: Bloodbath seem to have progressed from…I gather originally the band was a tribute to old school death metal like Entombed…
MA: Yeah, that’s right.
MD: But you’ve kind of progressed into more of a band with your own unique identity. Was it always the intention to progress in that way?
MA: I don’t think so, it just happened. I think it was more like a tribute to old death metal bands in the beginning and then we just developed and the last record is more technical than the other releases also. So, yeah, I don’t write any of the songs so I can’t say how it’s happened but you can still hear it’s the old style, I think.
MD: Absolutely, yeah. The most recent full length release, ‘The Fathomless Mastery’, is a great, great album, but how pleased are you with how it turned out?
MA: I’m pleased. We recorded it quite quick; I put down the drums maybe in three days or something. It went pretty fast so it was hard to know exactly how it was gonna turn out before it was finished. When I heard it, I thought it was very technical and a bit difficult…is anybody gonna like this?! But if you listen to it a couple of times you like it more and more, and there’s something there to discover as well.
MD: I read it was recorded over a four or five month period – did it take a long time because of the other commitments with Opeth and Katatonia?
MA: Yes, sometimes it’s hard to have a schedule and get everybody together. If Opeth is touring, we usually tour for two years, and when you’re home for one month or something, or a couple of weeks, you don’t want to go into the studio. So, yeah, it also depends on how many songs, of course, and when they write the songs and everything. But it worked pretty smooth, I thought.
MD: Scar Symmetry’s old vocalist, Christian Älvestam, appeared on one of the tracks – how did he become involved in doing some vocals?
MA: I don’t know actually! [laughs] I had left the studio by then so I don’t know. But he’s a good singer, so…
MD: Oh yeah, a very good voice. Are you a fan of Scar Symmetry?
MA: Yeah, yeah, of course.
MD: I preferred them with his vocals rather than the two new guys actually. I guess Bloodbath have a ready-made audience with Katatonia and Opeth fans but, from any feedback you’ve had from fans, are you aware if you also attract the general death metal crowd as well who maybe aren’t into Opeth or Katatonia?
MD: Or do you think it’s mainly Opeth and Katatonia fans who check out Bloodbath?
MA: Maybe, but I think it’s a very different kind of music. Of course, some fans like both but if they only heard Katatonia and like that and go to a Bloodbath show they’re maybe gonna be a little bit shocked by it, by the difference! [laughs] But, yeah, hopefully they like it. Some songs have a bit of melody in them and stuff like that.
MD: You’re only playing five shows this year, all festival dates, is that right?
MA: Er…yeah, we played…I don’t know how many…
MD: I think I read it’s five shows and this is your fifth show.
MA: Yeah, it could be.
MD: Do you ever find it difficult to get into the vibe with so few gigs or does it click as soon as you walk out on stage?...I guess when you’re on tour with Opeth you’re doing it night after night so it must be easier to get into the vibe…
MA: I think it’s more fun to do it almost spontaneously and not so many times either so you get the hunger for it and the energy.
MD: Yeah, I guess it must be quite exciting in that sense. What’s been the best show so far from the five this year from the band’s perspective?
MD: Or have they all been good?!
MA: Yeah, the crowd has been good at every show but, usually, you have your own opinion on each of the shows. If one guy doesn’t like it, the other guys think it’s the best…[laughs] It depends if you’re looking at it as the whole band or if you’re only looking at your own performance.
MD: Do you get much rehearsal time as a band before each of the festivals?
MA: We rehearsed a couple of days before the first festival and then we rehearse one time before each festival.
MD: All very kind of quick and snappy then.
MD: Does it take you back to being sixteen again, maybe when you’re starting out in a band, have band practice, then go and do one or two shows?!
MA: Yes! [laughs]
MD: I understand you’re filming tomorrow’s performance?
MD: Is that gonna be for a future DVD?
MD: Marvellous. Why did you decide to film Bloodstock?
MA: Because the English crowd is very good usually and we like to play with both Opeth, then Bloodbath. Also, it’s the last festival with Bloodbath so we could do maybe the best performance.
MD: You had a Bloodstock t-shirt design competition running on your website…
MA: Yeah, I heard that.
MD: Did you get to see any of the submissions?
MA: No, I didn’t know that they had one until someone told me! [laughs]
MD: I was gonna ask if any were too graphic to be put on a t-shirt as I guess you’d have a few fans who’d submit something that’s too gory maybe.
MA: I don’t know, I haven’t seen it, but it’s a good idea, I think, to involve the fans in the band and then carry forward the design and everything…and to see how they think it should look also! [laughs] It’s interesting.
MD: What would you place in your top five death metal albums of all time? You can choose any of the Bloodbath albums if you want!
MA: [laughs] I would say almost every Morbid Angel record is good. Yeah, maybe the first Morbid Angel, the second Morbid Angel, the third Morbid…[laughs]
MD: So you’re a big Morbid Angel fan then?!
MA: Er, yeah! I’m a big, big Morbid Angel fan. Entombed also – the first five or something.
MD: Chuck Schuldiner? Any Death stuff?
MA: Yeah, I like the early Death, but I’m not that keen on the…
MD: …not ‘The Sound of Perseverance’ then…
MA: No, no. I mean, it’s a different taste maybe…
MD: Apart from playing and doing interviews, how do you plan on spending your time at the festival? A bit of drinking?
MA: Yeah, yesterday we played so late so we went back to the hotel after. But today, maybe a couple of beers.
MD: Are there any bands you’re gonna try and see? Like Devin Townsend maybe?
MA: Yeah, Devin Townsend and maybe Fear Factory. I would love to see Twisted Sister tomorrow.
MD: Are you a fan of Twisted Sister?
MD: You have quite eclectic tastes in music…wide tastes…
MA: Yeah, yeah…[laughs]
MD: Would there ever be the possibility of a Bloodbath, Katatonia, and Opeth joint tour or would that be too tiring?
MA: I would be able to do it, I think, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen because…I don’t know, maybe it’s too tiring for Mikael to sing very much. It depends maybe on how long the set is also. I don’t think it’s gonna happen but then hopefully…
MD: It’d be a very interesting billing.
MA: Yeah, yeah.
MD: Finally, do Bloodbath have any plans to record any more music in the future or does that become increasingly difficult as Opeth and Katatonia seem be getting increasingly busier the bigger the bands get?
MA: I don’t know. It depends on if they have started writing songs. We are a bit freer now because we have a year off but I think the Katatonia guys are touring. They’re going to the US soon, Australia and everything. I would be able to record a new album this year, I guess, but it depends on how they have time to write new songs. Hopefully we can release something next year.
MD: Yeah, you’re all very busy people though!
MA: Yeah! [laughs] It’s good though! It’s good to have things to do and that you love and do.
MD: Well, thank you so much for your time. Much appreciated.
MA: Okay, thanks.