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26th April 2017
METAL DISCOVERY: 'The Bedlam Overture', I gather is about the crazy state of the world… which, I guess, has become even more pertinent since the album’s been released, what with Trump and all the fascist chaos he sees fit to inflict on the world.
THOMAS: That goes on everywhere in the world.
(Thomas Jansson on Wolverine composing and playing only what feels right)
"...we don’t make anything complicated just because it has to be complicated. If it feels unnatural and fake, it’s no fun. It could be deadly complicated, but it has to feel right."
Marcus and Thomas at The Bodega, Nottingham, UK, 26th April 2017
Photograph copyright © 2017 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
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Thanks to Karl Demata for arranging the interview
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MD: It’s become more prevalent in the Western world.
THOMAS: That’s what they feed us in the news… speaking of the machine. But true, of course. That kind of insanity, you find it in everyone, in different shapes. And we are malleable, as Orwell would say… easily led into doing stuff; believing stuff; thinking stuff; for whatever reason. But it’s not only about that. ‘The Bedlam…’ is about…
MARCUS: …chaos and the madness of the world.
MD: It’s still a beautiful piece of music, so do you see Wolverine's music as an antidote to all the madness, rather than reflective of it?
MARCUS: I think that the chaotic things in that song lie in the details, not so much in the whole picture. It might sound beautiful but, under the surface, it’s boiling.
THOMAS: Yeah, it is, but it’s a sad song. It’s very subtle in that respect, too.
MD: Beautiful melancholy.
THOMAS: Yeah, exactly. I regard it, in one way, as a sad, reflective tune… especially the verses.
MD: It was quite a surprise having a long song to open the album, so did you have any apprehensions about that?
MARCUS: My only thought about that was - it’s our music, we’ll do whatever we want! We don’t play Top 40 music. We’re never gonna make money on this, anyway, so we can put a fifteen minute song first, if we want to.
THOMAS: And I think it’s a great start because I’ve never felt it to be a fourteen or fifteen minute song.
MD: It doesn’t feel that long. There are so many movements in that song that naturally progress in an easy going kind of way, it doesn’t feel like I’ve just listened to a fifteen minute song.
THOMAS: I agree. We just built and built and built, and then we ended up where we ended up. We had to sort of wrap it up… it could be a bit shorter, but that’s what you get right now, and maybe there will be a part two… who knows!
MD: You have two versions of ‘Pile of Ash’ on the album… obviously, one is a bonus track, so did you think both were as awesome as each other and you couldn’t decide on which one to include?
MARCUS: Yeah, a little bit like that because, originally, we had planned to release this on vinyl, and to have one track as the official track on the digital version, and one as the official track on the vinyl version.
THOMAS: This wasn’t supposed to be released on CD in the beginning.
MARCUS: No, we didn’t want to release it on CD. But they’re American, of course, Sensory, and they like CDs in the US, for some reason.
MD: And Sensory were your first choice, I read somewhere, for a new label?
MARCUS: They were our only choice, actually. Originally, we wanted to release it ourselves.
THOMAS: The whole thing is, pretty much, do-it-yourself. We recorded the whole album on your laptop.
MARCUS: Yeah, on my laptop. The whole album, miked and tracked by me.
MARCUS: But not mixed.
THOMAS: No, of course.
MARCUS: And not mastered, either. But the rest is just me.
THOMAS: And Per [Henriksson], obviously.
MARCUS: Yeah, he records his keyboards at home.
MD: You seem to be building a bit of momentum with the band now, dare I say - with Intromental acting as your management and booking agent?
MD: Did you feel the time was right to get things moving a bit more, with Wolverine?
THOMAS: With the album, yes.
MARCUS: And we always want to go out and play, somehow…
THOMAS: Well, depending on the conditions, obviously… but we had to do this and see…
MARCUS: We have to see the misery in the eye!
THOMAS: Exactly!
MD: You feel the momentum’s there now and you’re going to try and maintain the momentum?
THOMAS: Yeah, we’ve said that we’re going to try and, at least, release something new… not within five years…
MD: Three years…
THOMAS: Yeah, three years is, perhaps, more realistic than two.
MARCUS: I have had thoughts of, you know, I still want to stray away from CDs and, maybe, only release it digitally and on vinyl.
MD: There’s a big vinyl boom, currently.
MARCUS: Yeah, just to have something to sell at the gigs and then the rest is digital.
MD: The vinyl boom is weird as I know people who buy CDs to play and they buy the same album on vinyl to keep and never to play.
MARCUS: It’s more like a form of artwork, you know.
MD: Yeah, like it’ll become a relic of history over time.
THOMAS: Yeah, and it’s more of a ritual to throw vinyl onto the turntable, compared to just flipping in a CD. It feels wholesome.
MD: The 20 year anniversary of Wolverine came and went in 2015, so were there no plans to celebrate the occasion?
THOMAS: We’re too slow!
MARCUS: We’re too slow, so we’re aiming for the twenty fifth!
THOMAS: Time flies. It’s like, “oh, we should do this”… and then there are only two weeks left and nothing happens. We don’t meet very often. We don’t even meet once a month to rehearse or anything like that.
MD: The final thing, then - with Wolverine being an anagram of “wine lover”, do you see the band as having matured like a fine wine over the years?
THOMAS: Yeah, it has, because I would regard the music as more mature.
MARCUS: We are focussing more on the core, now. We don’t think about strange parts, or complex stuff anymore. It’s more about the core song.
THOMAS: But you throw in some stuff.
MARCUS: Yeah, but it’s more a part of the beat or the melody.
THOMAS: To me, I don’t write much of the music, but I can speak for the band as a whole… we don’t make anything complicated just because it has to be complicated. If it feels unnatural and fake, it’s no fun. It could be deadly complicated, but it has to feel right.
MD: Do you regard old Wolverine albums as having matured like fine wines, when you listen to them now? I think they’ve all stood the test of time… with the exception of ‘The Window Purpose’.
MARCUS: Yeah, that’s quite fragmented.
MD: I think it’s a great album, but every album after that one seems to have matured and has a life of its own beyond its own time.
THOMAS: Part of ‘The Window Purpose’ continued, the spirit of that one, but ‘Cold Light of Monday’ is a turning point.
MD: It’s timeless, I think.
THOMAS: And ‘Machina Viva’ isn’t unlike…
MARCUS: I see some parallels with ‘Cold Light…’, actually. I noticed that after we’d recorded everything. It’s a bit like it, in some ways.
THOMAS: It’s not thirteen years later… we change, and the music changes, and the processes change.
MARCUS: We get older and the music gets older!
THOMAS: More tired and slower music!
MARCUS: We play less and less.
MD: You’re playing more and more now, with this tour!
MARCUS: Well, yeah.
THOMAS: But it’s gonna be doom metal… or drone, even!
MD: Get out on tour with Sunn O)))!
THOMAS: Or Earth.
MD: Right, thank you so much.
THOMAS: Yeah, cheers.
MARCUS: Thank you.