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As Long As The Crowd Is Great, We Wanna Play There


Архив интервью | Русская версия

Swedish power metallers Bloodbound, which have been around for 15 years, delivered their eighth full-length record this year. It is called “Rise of the Dragon Empire” and touches upon the range of topics and themes started in their previous recordings; on top of that, it has some references to the infamous “Game of Thrones” TV series. In order to learn more about the new album, as well as about the band’s recent European tour and their thoughts on the creative processes, we reached out to keyboardist and original member Fredrik Bergh. Despite living in the 21st century it took us a while to find a working means of communication – Skype broke down and the Facebook messenger refused to switch on the microphone. However, in the end we mastered the art of Facebook calls, and you can find the resulting conversation below.

We succeeded in our battle against all the technical problems! I never before made calls through Facebook, but I’ve heard people do that, that’s why.

Yeah, I only accidentally called people on Facebook, but never really talked to them. But yeah, I think it works fine.

I think it should be okay. My first question. There seems to be quite a few cinematic allusions in your albums, starting from your very first album “Nosferatu” (2005) and finishing with the three latest ones, which have some references to “Game of Thrones”. That’s why I am interested what your relationship with the cinema is, what movies you generally watch and which ones you like.

To start with "Nosferatu", when we made this album, we were very much into horror movies and stuff like that – old movies, like “Nosferatu”, you know the very old one?

Yeah, have you seen it?

Yeah, I’ve seen some of it. I think horror movies and metal are very fitting to each other, you know, the lyrical themes. I guess that’s why we also on the last three albums focused a little bit on Game of Thrones – because Tomas (Olsson), our guitarist, writes most of the lyrics and he’s very much into “Game of Thrones” and fantasy movies and books. He wanted to write about those themes. I used to write lyrics on the first albums more than now, now it’s mostly Tomas who’s doing the lyrics.

But do you share this fascination with horror movies?

Yeah, of course, I like it a lot! It’s all only about who is doing what and on the last 3 albums Tomas had a very good picture of the “Game of Thrones” and all this fantasy stuff, so we wanted him to focus on the lyrics, cos he knows the best about it.

Right. And coming back to “Nosferatu”, I was wondering – I don’t know, maybe I am just digging too much here, but “nosferatu” from what I remember means “undead” and back than you were doing the whole corpse paint thing and that’s also kind of “undead” thing.


But also it is associated very deeply with black metal, and I wouldn’t say you ever played black metal. So were you just interested in this theme as a story, I don’t know, as a mythology – what was that?

I don’t think it was that planned to be honest. We were a new band then and we wanted to do something to stand out from the rest of the bands. So we said, “Yeah, we play power metal or heavy metal or whatever it’s called, but let’s do something over the top. Who cares. Just to shock people or make people talk about us”. And we dressed up like crazy on the photoshoots: with make-up and lots of crazy clothes and stuff like that. And of course some people were pissed off, “Oh, they’re not black metal, they can’t dress like that”! (laughs) But we got what we wanted. People started talking about this crazy band playing power metal, traditional metal and dressing up like a black metal band. I think we should have stuck with the make-up and going over the top in terms of the image – I think we would be a much bigger band today if we were still going for that image.

But you’re still using make-up quite a lot!

Yeah, we do, but not that crazy make-up from the first album. Look at Powerwolf! They’re also power metal band dressing up like black metal band in some way, you know. So it’s the same crazy thing!

Maybe it’s not like that, I don’t know. If there are few groups of people having the same approach, it is different. It is almost a new genre then.

Yeah, of course! It’s gonna be something new. But old!

And your most recent album, “Rise of the Dragon Empire” (and I’ve seen on Facebook of AFM Records that it is doing very good in the charts), continues the themes of the previous two albums. Did you plan it initially as a sort of evolvement or did it just happen so?

Yeah we wanted to go on with this theme that we have started on “Stormborn” (2014) and “War of Dragons” (2017) and to continue in this fantasy way with “Game of Thrones” references and this style. Because people seemed to like both “Stormborn” and “War of Dragons”. I think we got lots of new fans with those albums. And this one continues the theme because we just came back from our second headline tour a couple of weeks ago and we had lots of people at the shows and we sold lots of merchandise and we see that the band is growing, we can pull our own audience, you know. The tour was very successful for us. In the past we’ve been doing lots of support tours with Sabaton and Hammerfall and U.D.O. – you know, all those bands, but two years ago we said that now we wanna go out and headline, we want to do our own thing. And we did a tour two years ago for the “War of Dragons” album and now we did a tour for this album as well. And the tour went very good!

Do you ever get some new knowledge or new experience from touring? Was touring something that kinda taught you something?

The knowledge is: you need to work very hard! (laughs) If you wanna make this your living or whatever – you need to tour all the time more or less. But we don’t wanna do that. It may sound strange. But four of us have small children and we have day jobs and stuff like that. Yeah, we don’t wanna be out on the road all the time, because that’s what it takes to be able to make a living out of it. And I don’t think we wanna pay that price. We wanna have both things - families and kids on the one hand, and also go out for a couple of weeks every year and do festivals and things like that. We all are very happy about it. So that’s the knowledge. If you wanna live off it you need to sacrifice everything – family, friends – everything! Because if you wanna live off it you can’t do it half-way.

Yeah, it kind of takes a lot of time.

Yeah! But we love it! We love to play live and make records.

But that’s just the beginning, right? Are you planning more touring this year?

Yeah, we’re gonna do festivals now in the summer and then we are hopefully going out on another tour after the summer.

Any plans of going to Russia?

Do you have any good places where we can play?

Yes, sure. Plenty.

Clubs and stuff?



Festivals too, yeah. Well I mean you should definitely come, that would be amazing!


And I think that this tour, which you just finished, it was with Dynazty, right?

Yeah, it was with Dynazty and the band called Manimal. Swedish bands!

Had you been on the road with them before or was it the first time?

Manimal – we played festivals with them a couple of times. So we know those guys since before. And Dynazty, you know the singer Nils (Molin)? He’s from the same area as we are here in Sweden, from the up north. So I know him as well because we did a recording with him maybe about 8-9 years ago. So we were familiar with him but we did not know the other guys from Dynazty before. But they are great guys and a great band. We did not have a single argument through the entire tour and everything went so smooth! It was perfect, it was a fantastic tour.

Great, yeah. I have a lot of friends actually who were seeing you playing, so I’ve heard a lot of good reviews.

Oh yeah? So you have friends who went to the gigs on that tour? Cool! Very nice.

I might be wrong, but I have the feeling that the new album has a bit more of folk, Nordic folk sound than the previous ones.

You’re not wrong.

What is primal in your approach – music or lyrics, what do you write first and how do they influence each other?

It’s always Tomas, Patrik (Selleby, vocals) and myself – we write everything in the band. I would say we work on ideas on our own and it always starts with very basic music – you know, only the chords and then the vocal melody. That’s what everything starts with. Then we develop it and try to work on it until we are happy with the result. Then we send the ideas to each other. We say, “What do you think about this?” We listen to each other’s ideas and then we start with the arrangements and everything. The very last thing is the lyrics as a matter of fact. When we have all the melodies and all the arrangements, everything – then we write the lyrics. So we work in the same way – three of us. But we never sit in a room and try to come up with things together. The three of us always write separately, collecting ideas on our own. And that’s how I’ve always done it. It works for us.

So you can work from different places.

Yeah, we do, you know, small demos. The three of us have recording equipment at home. We do very small demos and then the other people can add their thing to the demos. That’s how we do it. And regarding the folk influence it was not something we had planned before. It was just something that happened. I had some folk influenced songs, and Tomas had some, and Patrik had some. And all of a sudden we had 4 or 5 songs with folk influences for some reason. But it was not planned. We never said, like, hey, “Let’s do something with more folk influence”, it just happened!

So you were just thinking alike.

Yeah-yeah, I think so! And I always liked folk music in hard rock and metal. Like Gary Moore and stuff like that.

What was your way into music? How did you start?

At the very beginning I think I started to play violin when I was like 7 or 8 years old. But I don’t think it sounded that great. (laughs)

So you do not play it anymore?

No-no-no! Then I started to play trumpet a few years later. And when I was like 13 or 14 I started to play keyboards and guitar. Then I discovered rock music and from then on it’s been either hard rock or metal. But I work in all kinds of music styles – not only in Bloodbound, but with some other orchestras as well. And they are all different styles.

When you compose do you also use keyboards?

Yes, all the time. I think it’s a very good instrument, because it’s very logical. You see the music in a different way from when you are sitting with the guitar or something. Because on the piano you have… it’s easier to arrange things when you see everything. I don’t know how to explain it… I think that even a band like AC/DC for example – they wrote songs on the piano. Even though it’s only guitars they use.  I think they were starting on a piano or something, just with a basic song – and you never think that when you listen to them.

Yeah, I never thought about it actually. That’s interesting. But a melody is a melody, so…

It’s all about melodies. That’s what matters.

Do you have any classical education or did you just learn by yourself?

I learned by myself. The little things I know I’ve learned by myself.

Except for violin. Which you don’t play anymore! (laughs)

(laughs) Yeah-yeah!

I saw the announcement on Facebook that you are going to Japan. And that it’s the first time you are going there. That must be quite a strange feeling if you never been somewhere but you know that the people listen to your music there. Do you know what to expect?

Not really, but I can imagine, because we have friends, who’ve been there. And we’ve heard stories about Japan. I think it will be very different compared to the European crowds, for sure. We’ve been to America, we played there last year and it was not really that different from Europe I think. But Japan will be.

Do you have any other places geographically where you’ve never been to as a band, but would want to go to?

We always wanted to go to America and to Japan. Because these are two very big markets for music. I don’t know, it’s been like a dream to go to Japan and play there. And we are really happy that it’s gonna happen now. But I don’t know other countries. As long as the crowd is great we wanna play there – it does not matter where it is. In a club or at a festival – it’s not important. If you have any good festivals in Russia we would love to be there.

Only festivals? You’re not talking about a solo gig?

In Russia? Do we have that many people there who want to see us at a solo gig?

I don’t know, why not?

We never played there so it’s hard to know. Also, it is hard to know how many records we sell there and…

Well. I mean, can you really count on how many records you sold to understand the popularity nowadays…

No-no, not at all. But I mean the market – it’s difficult to know how many fans we have there.

Yeah, I don’t have the statistics. We need to find out! Okay, the last question. We spoke already extensively about the whole “Game of Thrones” thing, but specifically, there are a lot of dragons – dragons are mentioned very often in your albums’ and songs’ titles. Is there anything specific about dragons?

You need to ask Tomas about his fascination with dragons! But ever since I was a kid metal bands have been singing about dragons – like, Rainbow, Dio. So it has a connection with metal I think. The dragons are connected to metal music. These mystical creatures. (laughs)

Yeah, they’re probably made of metal as well.

(laughs) Yeah! And I remember when I saw Dio live a long time ago, they had a dragon on stage. And it was very cool. I think I was like 14 or something when I saw one of the first shows. I saw it here in Stockholm. I think it was fantastic, you know. There is really something magical about the dragons.

I totally think that the decorations count when it comes to creating a show.

Yeah, the image is very powerful. And we also always have our little monster with us on every cover. The monster man! We have a kind of a theme with every album.

Bloodbound on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bloodboundmetal/

Special thanks to Irina Ivanova (AFM Records) for arranging this interview

Interview by Olga Stebleva
Promo photos courtesy of AFM Records
Live photos by Natalia "Snakeheart" Patrashova
April 29, 2019
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