UNDER THE CHURCH - interview with Erik Qvick and Lars Henriksson.
Under the Guillotine… Urghh, sorry, no that was Kreator’s song… Under the Church – here is the name of one of the best and most impressive death metal bands around in Sweden these days. For sure they’ve impressed me A LOT with their debut demo – just read my review on this blog and you’ll see exactly what I loved about them. Obviously the fact that Under the Church has some ex Nirvana 2002 members was one of the major factors, which ignited the interest, but even if they weren’t and were more anonymous musicians, I would still love this music… as it is simply KILLER. Please read my interview with Erik Qvick (drums) and Lars Henriksson (bass) and support the band. I am now waiting for their vinyl release, which is supposed to be unleashed through Blood Harvest. 666!
Welcome Erik! I guess I should start with the beginning, but I don’t wanna ask you about the whole history of Nirvana 2002, etc, because there’s no point in doing so. If I can only ask what did you feel, when you played live with N2002 so many years after the split up of this band? Would you ever expect that to happen, after so many years?
Well, not really. When Daniel Ekeroth’s book was released we were asked to play at that release party and that was actually the first gig we ever played. We couldn’t really say no to that gig, it was a historical thing that we had to do. Shortly after that Relapse contacted us again and wanted to do the compilation album.
How many gigs have you actually played after the reunion of Nirvana 2002? How was the feedback on them and especially when Relapse released the compilation of the demos? I guess this was a good way to pay tribute to this band but maybe also to bury it for good, right? Finally I must say releasing a compilation was more than killer decision, as those old demos of yours were damn impossible to get anywhere!
OK, it wasn’t really a reunion... it was much more like a one off thing with the release party for Daniel’s book. We managed to squeeze out 5 gigs with N2002 before we put the corpse back in the coffin. All the gigs with N2002 were a lot fun but each under very different circumstances, the response was overall very, very good... There was of course the occasional issue with the Nirvana name but otherwise great response.
Nirvana 2002 certainly is considered as cult, classic Swedish death metal band. How does it feel that something you did as a youngster, something maybe not completely serious back then, has gained such a status? Would you ever expect that to happen and that your songs will survive so many years and will be cherished like a treasure 20 years later?
Of course it’s great that something that we did so long ago still is valid, but we never expected the music to live on for such a long time.
You started a new band recently, Under the Church. I must say that I feel a respect for you, that you’re not doing a demo under the Nirvana 2002 name, but started something completely new… You know, it would be damn easy to just do a couple of songs and call them a new Nirvana 2002 demo. So, tell me why have you decided to do it this way? And when this idea to do Under the Church started?
Well, that’s an easy one, it’s because this is a new band and we wanted to start from scratch, it would be the easy way out to call ourselves N2002 but that was never ever an option, it would've been wrong on so many levels to do that, we started to come up with new ideas and songs in the summer of 2012 and soon we had a lot of new material, we had around ten tunes that we worked on but we settled on these seven that we wanted to finish for the first release.
What is the aim of Under the Church? I mean obviously you wrote me it is a fun project, mainly, but the things go quite fast and the feedback is enormous for it… I bet there will be many labels, which will start fighting for Under the Church to have you in their roster, because of the past, but also because the demo you released is so damn awesome… So, can it still be treated as a fun project or do you think Under the Church will actually go further now and the full length LP is also possible?
There wasn't much planning or thought behind the band at first, we just starting writing songs and it came out this way.
At the moment we are gearing up for a 12" vinyl release on the Swedish label Blood Harvest Records, it will be seven tunes of raw death metal and then there is a lot of things happening in the nearest future, possibly a full length early next year.
You and Lars came up with three song demo… and well, I feel like this is just an extremely good, old styled death metal. I really like the feeling of this music, the production, excellent riffs… Tell me, what was it like to compose some new death metal tunes so many years since you did that the last time? I understand they are the first death metal songs you both wrote since the early 90’s?
Writing death metal has never been a problem for us since we don’t really know how to write anything else... The first 10-12 tunes came naturally, so the Writers Block should kick in soon we guess.
Was it easy for you to capture the feeling of traditional death metal for you? For me your music sounds very naturally and when I hear these songs I have the same impression like when I listened to bands like Death Breath, Maim or Bastard Priest, if you know them at all… It is just something almost impossible to describe… great music with amazing mood of old horror movies… You know, “Haunted by Demons” is a possessing song!
We don’t really see it as traditional death metal or "old school", it’s death metal, plain and simple as that. "Haunted by Demons" turned out really well, maybe we're contradicting ourselves since that song is ”homage" in some ways... but let’s just leave it at that.
I think that musically Under the Church is a bit different to Nirvana 2002; it is maybe more obscure and filthy and more influenced by the old Autopsy, Repulsion and such bands, plus it obviously also has a strong dose of the crust / punk music. What would you say are the most significant differences between both bands?
Probably we still have the same influences as back when we had N2002 but maybe now they are a bit more obvious? We think that there isn’t really a difference when it comes to the music since we write the same way as we did back then, we just write tunes that we think sound good. If anything we're happy if Under The Church doesn't sound like N2002 since it's a new band and riding coattails isn't really our thing.
Sure, I certainly think that Under the Church doesn’t sound like N2002, surely not. Ha, I bet that releasing the demo on a cassette, with simple, Xeroxed cover and old type writer texts was totally intentional! And it is so cool… What was the purpose of doing so? A pure nostalgia or it is just the only way that the demos should be released – on cassettes, not on CDr?
Well, it was less problems and more fun doing a cassette than a proper CD, also the format of a three track demo is perfect... Also being broke made the cover turned out the way it did, haha!
Hehe, I like it anyway! Mik Annetts did
the vocals on the demo and did them really well… I’ve never heard about the dude and his previous activities, so can you introduce the man a little? As far as I know he’s Australian, but he played in some Icelandic bands before, right?
Mik is from Australia and moved to Iceland a few years ago, he was a part of the early Aussie death metal scene. I met him a few years ago and we decided to try him out for the demo, he's a really cool guy and he did sing in some local band here in Reykjavik for awhile... We just ran through the tunes 2 times in the studio but the versions on the demo are all 1st takes, he's that good.
What is Under the Church up to next? You reside in Reykjavik, if I’m not mistaken, while Lars is still in Sweden, so how usually the whole songwriting and everything does look like? I guess it is not too difficult to make the distant projects, thanks to the internet and all the communication possibilities we have nowadays, right?
These days it’s not a problem having a band in two different continents, we send song ideas back and forth until we have written something that we are satisfied with. We have something like 12 tunes almost ready for the next recording so we're quite efficient these days.
I have no doubts that Daniel Ekeroth’s music ignited the whole interest in the old school Swedish death metal. I wonder what do you think of this book and what was it like when you played with Nirvana2002 on the release party of “Swedish Death Metal”?
The book is really good and it did spark a lot of interest at the time it came out and it was great playing at the release party but I don't think it was the only reason that "old" death metal came back in style. Since it was the first time that we played live as N2002 it was not like a reunion in that sense since we never got the chance to play live when the band was active, maybe that’s the difference from N2002 and other bands from the same era. We didn’t see it as a reunion or a comeback thing when we played at the book party, we just had to play in order to get to the party ha,ha!
Do you listen to any of the new old styled death metal bands at all, have any of them impressed you? I wonder how much are you interested in the current death metal underground; do you get a chance to listen to some of these new demos and albums, do you maybe collect some vinyls or CDs, or maybe it’s actually the opposite and in your every day you usually listen to something completely different?
As far as death metal goes we pretty much listen to the same stuff as in 1989, we don’t really keep track on what’s hip these days, Autopsy still sounds killer and the new Darkthrone is great, Tormented and Bombs Of Hades are good and then Peter Stjärnvind’s new band Black Trip is cool.
And finally, did you have the chance to see live and hear new albums from Autopsy already?!
We saw Autopsy at Maryland Deathfest and they delivered the goods alright! I haven’t heard the latest Autopsy but that one track that Peaceville put up, but it sounded really good.
Can I also ask how did it happen you live in Iceland? I mean I thought you’re still in Sweden, but meanwhile my tape came from Iceland, so I suppose this is where you live at the moment?
I moved there to work at the music conservatory as a teacher in 2000 but Sweden is almost always on my mind, especially the months from September to May! haha!
OK that would be all Erik, thanks for your answers and all the best for you and your band!!!!
We wanna thank you for taking your time to do this interview and your interest in our band, expect more raw death metal from us very soon.