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31st May 2010
METAL DISCOVERY: How was the show for you tonight?
PATRIK JENSEN: I had some problems with the guitar and we had to place the drums on the far right, as you saw, but I think the crowd was really good tonight.
(Anders Björler on The Haunted frontman Peter Dolving)
"...he’s a controversial guy that tests the boundaries, always. He’s more like a verbal prankster. That’s the way I see it. He’s a very nice guy."
Anders Björler & Patrik Jensen at Rock City, Nottingham, 31st May 2010
Photograph copyright © 2010 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Official The Haunted Website:
Official The Haunted MySpace:
The Haunted (1998)
Made Me Do It (2000)
Thanks to Sarah Lees at Century Media UK for arranging the interview.
Live Rounds In Tokyo (2001)
One Kill Wonder (2003)
rEVOLVEr (2004)
The Dead Eye (2006)
Versus (2008)
Warning Shots (2009)
Road Kill (2010)
Since forming in 1996 after the demise of melodic death metal pioneers At The Gates, The Haunted have similarly become exemplars of contemporary extreme metal just as the Björler brothers, Anders and Jonas, managed to achieve in their previous guise. The Swedes' groove-infused gutsy thrash, coloured with progressive flourishes and Peter Dolving's hardcore vocal attack, has remained a winning formula over the course of six studio albums, albeit Dolving only appeared on four of those after leaving the band in 1999 before rejoining in 2003. And 2010 sees The Haunted with an opportunity to present their music to new ears as, after a couple of false starts in November 2009 and March this year, they are sole support band on Slayer's European tour which is finally going ahead following Tom Araya's recovery after back surgry. Originally scheduled to interview the band's frontman, it is guitarists Anders Björler & Patrik Jensen who show and speak to Metal Discovery shortly after the Californian thrash legends finish their set at Rock City in Nottingham. Chatting by the back stage doors during load-out time, it becomes a game of "dodge the Slayer roadie" as we talk...
ANDERS BJÖRLER: Yeah, one of the best responses so far so we’re very happy.
PJ: The average age of someone who goes to a Slayer concert is slightly higher…
MD: ...than someone who goes to one of The Haunted’s shows…
PJ: …or Hannah Montana…[laughs] They might be into it even if they don’t move much and we could tell that, tonight, people were into it so it was cool.
AB: Yeah, we’re pretty used to a Hannah Montana crowd!
PJ: She’s often in our crowd!
MD: How were the first four shows of the tour?…obviously you said this one has been the best so far.
PJ: They’ve all been really good actually.
AB: We’ve been treated very well by Slayer. It’s been beyond our wildest dreams actually. We all grew up listening to Slayer, so just being here is…
PJ: You know, getting off stage and having Slayer ask you - “So, was it hard? How was it?” It’s like, hey, that’s very cool.
MD: Do you find it takes a couple of gigs to get back into the touring mentality or are you ready to go from the first date?
PJ: Touring mentality would be just shutting off numb, you know, but I think we’re ready to play shows from day one. Playing isn’t the issue.
AB: I think we’re getting better socially because back in the days when we couldn’t control anger, or something like that…but nowadays we talk a lot to each other and it’s more relaxed in a way.
MD: Obviously the Slayer tour got postponed twice because of Tom’s back surgery but you’ve maintained your support slot the whole time - was it that you were going to do this tour at all costs and did you have to turn down any other offers of tours?
PJ: It was actually at all costs we wanted to do it. But it has cost us a lot because the postponing of the tour has been just two weeks prior to the tour, so…
AB: Cancelled buses, flights, everything.
PJ: We haven’t been able to book anything else and it’s cost us everything else.
AB: I think we’re ten thousand pounds down but we like Slayer, so…! [laughs]
MD: How’s the experience of being on the road with Slayer and has it lived up to your expectations?
PJ: They’re like any other band, actually. So I don’t know if that really was my expectation or not, but they’re very nice people. They’re just as goofy as everyone else.
MD: Are they fans of The Haunted?
PJ: Kerry is, very much, yeah.
AB: We’ve met them in the past when we played a support show in Switzerland in 2001 or something.
PJ: Kerry came to our show in 1999 in LA.
AB: We were support to Testament when Dave Lombardo was playing.
MD: You’ve toured with a lot of cool bands over the years - what’s been the best and worst experience? I seem to recall reading once that you had a hard time touring with Cradle of Filth…
AB: Not the band itself but everything surrounding it. That was pretty much a nightmare. Bottom line, it wasn’t our tour to begin with so it was just a bad decision I think.
PJ: The best tour was sharing a bus with Mastodon, maybe. That was fun. They were a lot of cool guys. A good band actually.
AB: One of the more drunken tours we did!
MD: I’ve heard Peter say in interviews that he has a very different persona offstage to onstage. When he gets onstage is it a case of getting lost in the moment for him?
PJ: Would you want to see a band who looks like they’re waiting in a line at Tesco?!
MD: That’s what he looks like usually?!
AB: Actually, he looked like that today!
PJ: I would hope that people have a different persona onstage than they do just walking the dog or something.
AB: Yeah, it’s some amount of escapism. He was more like that in the past with a lot of substance abuse but today he’s a more relaxed, stable person. He feels more comfortable today.
PJ: I think, actually, he understands today that being onstage is like a theatre or something.
AB: In the past it was more like a personal sacrifice for him, every time he went on stage.
PJ: And now he knows he can just go crazy and scream, and people will scream back at him, and it’s a normal thing.
MD: When you finish a show, do you always reflect on what went well and what you could have done better perhaps, when back in the offstage mentality?
AB: The first thing we discuss is good or bad and then it goes into details…like a pyramid.
PJ: It’s not always like that. Sometimes you can just say - “yeah, some of that song was fucked up but the crowd loved it”. And there’s no finger pointing because everyone in the band knows if they’ve done something bad.
AB: I get all the shit! [laughs]
MD: Peter seems to divide metal fans into a love/hate dichotomy where some people say he’s the best metal frontman ever and other people seem to say “hey, this guy sucks”. Do you think that’s a measure of success when you get so big and garner more attention, good and bad?
AB: We’re not very big but he’s a controversial guy that tests the boundaries, always. He’s more like a verbal prankster. That’s the way I see it. He’s a very nice guy.
MD: I’ve read you have an abundance of songs written for the next album…I’ve read something like forty songs?
AB: Forty ideas. Right now we’re maybe at four or five songs.
MD: With so many ideas and so much material, how do you go about whittling it down into songs for the album? Are there arguments in the band or is it always pretty unanimous?
AB: It’s a very difficult process because we’re five very different people. Musically very, very different as well. It’s hard but we will get there. That’s always.
PJ: In the studio it’s already prepared. You can’t argue while it’s costing you 500 dollars an hour.
MD: The ‘Road Kill’ DVD has been recently released. How pleased are you with the final package, and how does it feel watching the concert footage compared to the actual lived experience of playing the gig? Do you feel quite detached watching it?
AB: I feel quite detached from it because I’ve been working on it for so long.
PJ: I see it as a vacation movie, like you’ve been to Ibiza or something…“oh yeah, I remember that, yeah!”
AB: We’ve got a lot of good comments from other bands that kind of relates to a lot of the spare time you have on tour. You play the show for one hour a day but the rest of the time is just spent waiting.
MD: [To Anders] What with this one and the At The Gates DVD, that’s a future career in documentary music videos maybe…
AB: I think I had the advantage of knowing the story so it was an easy story to tell. I don’t know what the future brings but if I have something interesting that I want to portray or tell then I’ll do it. But my main priority is music so it’s hard to find the time.
MD: I’ve noticed on Peter’s MySpace page that he has a donation button and a disclaimer saying that it’s nothing to do with The Haunted, but he gets people to donate towards his side-projects. Is that quite prosperous for him do you know?
AB: Not prosperous but he needs it! He gets some strange feedback from Japan. It actually works. People are generous.
PJ: He can’t hold onto money so he needs people! I think he actually reasons that if people download, and they like it, just skip the whole record industry and give it straight to the artist.
AB: I don’t think it’s so much about giving him money for nothing. If they pay they get a t-shirt design, or a tattoo design; a personalised drawing…
MD: The analogy I draw is the busker on the street who passes the hat around at the end of a performance, and there’s a lot of dignity in that.
AB: That’s where it all started, before all the commercial aspects came in. I don’t think it’s going there again, but I don’t know.
MD: When people look back at The Haunted in fifty years time what would you want to be best remembered for?
PJ: Fifty?!
MD: Okay, thirty…or just in the future after The Haunted are long finished?
PJ: They dared to go their own way.
AB: The biggest rip-off band out there, you know! Not afraid of playing the music they wanted to do and not afraid to explore music within metal.
MD: [To Anders] I guess a final, final thing…can we expect anything else from At The Gates in the future?
AB: That’s finished. The DVD was the final thing. We had a good time and we became friends again but that’s the most important thing.
MD: Is that a never say never, like in ten years time if Wacken offered you a hundred thousand Euros to headline the festival…?
AB: We got five million Euros last time…just kidding! It’s not about the money actually. It sounds strange but…the band is so hard to get together and perform a show, it’s not worth it. We had the time of our life in 2008 and we want to leave that memory.
MD: What was the best show in 2008, out of interest?
AB: Tokyo, Wacken and Sweden Rock maybe.
MD: How does Bloodstock rate in there as that was a pretty awesome show…apart from the rain?
AB: It went okay.
PJ: We played Bloodstock last year with The Haunted and the wind was blowing so strong that, all of a sudden, my guitar disappeared out of the monitors, and I turned around, and my amp was on wheels and it just blew away! I was like - “What the fuck?!” [laughs]
MD: Right, thank you very much for your time in what’s been quite a random interview!
AB: Thank you.
PJ: Yeah, it’s been fun!