DATE OF INTERVIEW:
16th June 2016
METAL DISCOVERY: The new EP, ‘Death Thy Lover’, has been touted as celebrating 30 years of doom, and a very fine celebration it is, as it sounds amazing. After previously announcing, in 2012, there’d be no more new Candlemass music, I gather your main motivation for the EP was to give something to the fans for the 30th anniversary of ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus’, as well as wanting to record some new stuff with Mats Levén?
LARS: Exactly, it's a mix of telling our fans that we are still kickin', but also celebrating 30 years of doom and putting Mats in print.
(Lars Johansson on bassist Leif Edling and the future of Candlemass)
"He is slowly getting better and hopefully he can join us on a couple of gigs next year and, of course, if the spirit and joy is there and he is feeling better, it would be possible to make a full length album."
Interview by Mark Holmes
Official Candlemass Website:
For full Candlemass discography:
Candlemass bassist/songwriter Leif Edling declared four years ago that 2012's 'Psalms for the Dead' would be the band's final album and, although they would not be splitting, fans should expect no new music... ever. Well, it seems the Candlemass mainman succumbed to a never say never mindset, took a U-turn, and opted to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their debut album, 'Epicus Doomicus Metallicus', by writing four new tracks. 'Death Thy Lover' is the result, a musically majestic, doom-drenched EP that heralds a mighty return for this seminal Swedish troupe, and the first recordings to feature the singing talents of Mats Levén. Purveyors of the world's finest doom, it reasserts their hegemony of the subgenre they've helped to shape and define over the past three decades. Metal Discovery quizzed guitarist Lars Johansson about this unexpected new music, what other plans the band might have to celebrate 30 years of doom, bizarre items of merch, and the state of play with his side-projects...
Candlemass - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2015 Beatrice Edling
Official Candlemass Facebook:
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview.
MD: You seem to have captured the classic Candlemass sound, but also with a degree of progression in some of the music, particularly on the title track. Do you feel the same, that it does have that classic Candlemass vibe, but also moving forward a little?
LARS: You’re putting the words in my mouth :) Yes, I believe that Leif wrote the title song just to be a little more accessible, but still keeping riffs that always reminds of Candlemass.
MD: From the new songs, ‘Sleeping Giant’, in particular, sounds very much like vintage Candlemass, almost like it’s right out of the ‘Nightfall’ era. Does it have that kind of nostalgic feeling for you too?
LARS: For me, it’s the best song on the EP. I just love the way it molds down in your brain, and the yawning when the giant sleeps is so cool.
MD: The instrumental track that closes the EP has a very peculiar name, so is there any story behind calling it ‘The Goose’? Listening to the track, it doesn’t invoke images of geese for me. Maybe it’s supposed to be a slang use of the word “goose”, for which the dictionary definition is “a poke between the buttocks to startle”?! But I guess that’d be weirder…
LARS: I never ask Leif what his song titles are about, and this one is an instrumental, so it's hard to guess, really...
MD: The EP seems to get doomier and more down tempo as it progresses through the four tracks – was it deliberate in placing the tracks in that particular order, or just a random doom descent?!
LARS: I think it was deliberate, ‘cause it gives a kind of flow when you listen to it.
MD: Mats has been your live singer since 2012, he sung on demos in 2006, and you’ve known him for many years anyway, but he’s now been announced as Candlemass’ new permanent vocalist. Did he take a lot of persuading to make the arrangement a permanent one, or did he jump at the chance?
LARS: He has been busy in so many other projects and is still involved in a couple. But we wanted it and he agreed, or if it was the other way around... :) However, it works fine and he is doing a good job.
MD: I guess now that the new EP is out there and people are starting to realise that Candlemass are as strong as they’ve ever been, and still have the ability to make such great music, there will be even more calls for a new full-length album, but I gather that’ll depend on Leif’s health? How’s he doing at the moment?
LARS: He is slowly getting better and hopefully he can join us on a couple of gigs next year and, of course, if the spirit and joy is there and he is feeling better, it would be possible to make a full length album.
MD: As part of your 30th anniversary celebrations, have you discussed the possibility of doing a special show or shows? I guess it would be difficult to coordinate and work out, but how about getting back all of your old vocalists to sing various songs from their own eras of Candlemass?
LARS: That is an idea that we were working on but one of the vox dudes didn’t wanna follow our plan, so it went south, you know. But we might have something up our sleeve, anyway.
MD: Looking back at the past, is there a specific era of Candlemass you have particularly fond memories of, or do you like to live more in the present rather than wallowing in nostalgia?
LARS: Of course, there are a lot of fun or crazy moments in the memory bank, but I like to live in the present and doing my best where I am right now.
MD: While on the subject of the past, I remember the ‘Candlemass – Live’ album from 1990, and Messiah asking the crowd: “Stockholm, are you ready to go doom dancing?”, which I think, for some people, kind of became as iconic as Bruce Dickinson’s “Scream for me, Long Beach”. Out of interest, do you still get people “doom dancing” at your shows? Are you much of a doom dancer yourself?
LARS: Sometimes, when a really heavy/slow riff comes, you can see some people in the crowd doing some “doom-dance”. Mats can do some heavy “troll-steps” sometimes, but I’m not a dancer at all.
MD: One of the stranger items currently for sale in your merch store is a BBQ doom apron, so where did this idea come from, and do you own one of these? Can you cook up a decent BBQ?
LARS: We used to space out a little and trying to come up with some crazy/cool ideas. Mappe is really good on coming up with fun ideas. And, yes, who cannot make a BBQ??
MD: Have there been any ideas in the past for particularly strange items of merch that have never come to fruition, maybe because they’ve been considered a little too bizarre?
LARS: We've been thinking of certain spices for BBQ and other cooking. Also, new tastes of jam to pancakes and waffles :)
MD: How’s it going with your blues/rock side-project, Fat.Mo.Mac? Are you planning a follow-up to last year’s debut album?
LARS: I have 6 or 7 new songs for that project, so I’m working on it in my spare time :) Glad you asked.
MD: Fat.Mo.Mac is such a departure, in one sense, from Candlemass, so do you have any other musical ambitions left unfulfilled? Can we expect any other side projects from you in the future? Any interest in resurrecting Creozoth?
LARS: Same answer here, I have some stuff swirling around in my head. I think I have 5 songs that go into the heavy metal bag, but I don’t know if it’s gonna be a Creozoth 2 or if I call it something else.
MD: Finally, you’ll be returning to the UK later this year to headline one of the days at the Doom and Stoner Sheffield Trip, so can fans expect a special setlist for the occasion, with some older, rarely performed tracks, perhaps?
LARS: Of course, it will be a mix of older songs topped with “hits” from newer albums as well; a good live set that is made with a flow that keeps you rockin' through the whole set. It's gonna be great fun.
MD: Thanks for the interview, much appreciated, and here’s hoping for another 30 years of doom!
LARS: Thanx, my pleasure, we’ll keep the flag up, you know.