2011. január 10., hétfő

Raging Steel interview with Dan and Dave

Old school thrash metal (and the '80s as a whole) a favourite music of mine. In the recent days/months I discovered a very young and talented Swedish outfit Raging Steel. Their awesome effort Guilty As Charged rooted in the '80s thrash, that I recommend for the fans of that genre. Enjoy this interview.

Dan, around the early ’2000s seemed in Sweden a kind of thrash metal boom, a lot of bands started popping up, such as Leprosy (they became Caustic Strike), Oppression, Corrupted, Hazard, Terror etc. were you familiar with those bands?
Hey David, and thanks a lot for doing this interview!!! Well David, when I moved to Sweden back in 2005 I had no idea at all who those bands were actually. Mostly due to the fact that I didn’t have any connection to the Swedish underground scene when i lived back home in Norway. Hehe, I remember the first time I heard Corrupt. It was their Born of Greed demo... I was literally totally blown away by their aggression, their speed and the way they played their thrash. They played like back in the ’80s! With all those riffs, the crushing „grabs your balls” bass, those pounding drums, the raw hateful vocals, the sound, how they changed the tempo and beats in every song. And especially, with something most bands lack of today, feeling and the spirit for playing pure metal. Now that was thrash! It was thrash with a fistful of „Fuck all them shitty asshole wannabe new age metal rapers” if you know what i mean. As with Oppression, Lethal, Caustic Strike, Divider, Immaculate and Entrench to name a few, they all shared that same spirit and some still carry that torch!
Not like most of todays bands. Today all you see are these cookiecutter fuckers who absolutely have to have the cleanest production, absolutely need the biggest drumkit, absolutely need to have the most cash, and not to forget their total ignorance of actually having a sound thats unique and personal... Shit did i just go berserk? Well, anyhow, that was how i became familiar with the Swedish bands and the scene over here.
What made those guys playing in the vein of early thrash outfits, such as Kreator, Destruction, Slayer, Testament etc.? Was their goal keeping the ’80s thrash scene alive?
Good question! I think what made them play in that vein is as with the rest of us... the urge to get out there and headbang, be able to play and let the aggression, feelings or whatever just rip out through the music without having to be affected by commercialism and bullshit. Besides that, its just pure fucking neckbreaking metal haha! As to think of such a goal, hell yes! I believe their goal was to keep the ’80s thrash scene alive, but in a new face so to speak. We live in the 2000s now, and things will obviously never be the same after all them moneysmoking cocksuckers (Yeah you know who you are!) milked and raped the thrash scene back in the ’90s. I think the old school metalheads just got sick of listening to shitty popfuck metal. So then in the end, they took shit in their own hands and the goal became to show that real metal still exists...
How about Swedish thrash bands, such as Merciless, Agony or Mezzrow? Why did it fail them to break through? I mean, it failed them to make a name for themselves…
Man its hard to tell actually... Bands as Merciless, Agony and Mezzrow all deserve the respect they never got. The biggest reason in my opinion, is that they never broke through because there mainly never was any larger thrash scene in these parts of Europe, and still there ain't such a big scene here. But back then you had the black metal hailing from Norway, the famous death metal from Sweden and on top of that I dont think the Swedes, Norweges, Finnish and Danish really could appreciate their thrash metal at that time. EVEN though it was in the ending phase of the ’80s. Look at these bands today, now most metalheads who dont have their head up their asses knows who Merciless, Agony and Mezzrow are! And totaly love the music! Bad timing perhaps?
Would you say, that the Swedish thrash bands never played an important role during the ’80s, like the German or American ones and weren’t so influential? Were they overshadowed?
Id say the contrary, of course the Swedish bands played an important role man! Maybe they didn't get heard of too much globally, but id bet my ballsack that a little underground guy named José was hanging out in his friends basement over in Brazil or wherever, smoking some shit, drinking some beers, moshing and headbanging till his eyeballs fell out of his ass, WHILE listening to Merciless, Fallen Angel etc etc!! But to compete with the German or the US bands on the other hand was most likely really hard at that time. I mean, those two scenes grew fast as hell when the wave first started. They have some of the greatest bands and was also the „introducers” of thrash/speed metal... So if i would say that the Swedish scene was overshadowed? Yes, but that doesnt necessary decrease the quality of the Swedish thrash! And where would todays Swedish bands be, without their predecessors? Probably having just a hard time as those back in the ’80s.
Let we speak about your current outfit Raging Steel, how did the band get together?
Hehehe... By satans will!! No im just kidding! Or am i? Well... its a real fun story actually! To begin with, Vitja and I have known each other and have played together since ’05. First time i met him was when i was auditioning to play guitar in Electricution hehe... I thought he was a maniac who was ought to kill me or something haha! But the audition went as it went, i brought some whisky to the rehearsal and it ended with me getting in the band and Vitja hugging my toilet later that evening hahaha!! Now, it was the summer of 2008 and Vitja and i was hanging out at my place for a month where we partied and got shitfaced everyday like normal people... But in addition to that, I had already started to think of a new band since our former band Electricution was starting to loose motivation. During that month I wrote most of the songs thats featured on our debut album with Vitja, we still cant remember any of the writing process though hahaha! Nevertheless we recorded test versions on some of the tunes in the apartment, which ended up sounding pretty awesome. After that i called Emil (Braindead), since we both was in the same class in college and asked him if he wanted to play bass in our new band. And without hesitation he was there! As for Dave, I met him at random parties back in the days. What year i actually cant remember, but he was a cool guy with long hair who was into old school death metal. And i knew he could play guitar really well, plus he never said no when i offered him beer! So after a few calls and he had listened to the test versions, he too didnt hesitate to join. With that done, we started looking for a rehearsal where we could start working some more on the songs. From there on we have all grown together as a band, a unit, but mostly as really good friends! Which i think is very unrare these days...
It seems, Raging Steel isn’t your first band, since you are involving or were involving in other acts, such as Electricution, Torn Apart and Chainsawtan, how about these acts? Is Raging Steel the most important for you?
Yeah Electricution was a fun time. We thrashed around the city and Sweden playing our asses of without mercy, even did a gig in Norway with none other than Pentagram from Chile! Which was totaly bad ass! But sadly in the end of ’Cutions time, some of the guys lost motivation, and i think their passion for playing music just quite didnt grow as it should have. Now, i dont carry any negative feelings against those guys at all, we split up as friends and they still are really good mates of mine (I even live in the same apartment as the vocalist/bassist haha). I just think its a shame that such a raw, old school speed/thrash band dont exist anymore in these dire times of Swedish thrash metal...
As for Torn Apart, that was Daves former band so il let him talk about that himself.
Dave: Well, Torn Apart was formed around 05 with the notion that no brutal bands were active in Umeå at the time, at least that I was aware of. It was mostly melodic stuff around so I wanted to just slaughter and brutalize Umeå in the way I deemed fit! So I got 4 other guys together and we started playing around in Umeå til’ we recorded the first demo that was later released as a 4 track EP on Pathologically Excplicit Recordings, titled Craving Pale Flesh around 06. Then we continued writing stuff and playing live now and then til’ around 08 when the singer left the band. At the same time I had jumped on the Raging Steel bandwagon so I myself started losing interest in continuing playing with Torn, as I consider him the best Death Metal vocalist in our town and it would be hard replacing him AND that I had some downhill spiral with my inspiration in writing riffs and wanted a fresh start. So as all that shit was flying Torns way we had plans on recording our first full length album, so we did that even though the singer and I had quit the band, but it turned into a 9 track Death Metal album that has yet to see the light of day as it hasn’t been released, shame, as it is one brutal album! After the recording was done we parted ways as friends and I moved on to play with Raging Steel.
Dan: Chainsawtan on the other hand, is a new but old school black metal band where Vitja and Emil featured as session members for their first gig. The gig was actually on Forlorn Fest this year, Swedens only black metal festival that was held here in Umeå. Check it out if you are into black metal!
To conclude for me personally, Raging Steel is the only band I want and its one of the most important things in my life. Its the place where i go when i need to exert my aggressions, when i need time off from todays fucked up society and its people. I think, the bands chemistry alongside the musical freedom (take this sentence as you will) and passion to play old school metal, not for money and not for any one elses sake but our own, is what a band should be all about.
Do you take the band seriously by the way? I mean, what are your goals that you wanted to achieve, to reach Raging Steel with?
Haha of course, metal ain't a joke! And maybe thats one of the goals we have, to show people that you don't fuck around with it... But i couldn't say that we have any other concrete goals more than playing our metal, crush, kill and headbang around. Hopefully someday though, we might be able to go on a tour and have a fucking ball with metalheads around the world!
Who came up with the band name? Would you say, that it speaks for itself considering your music and stuff?
Another great question haha... As with the writing in ’08, i still dont recall if it was me or Vitja who came up with the name. The name for itself does speak for our music, I mean, we are raging and we like cold bloody steel. No but the music itself is Raging all the way.
You are from Umea, the home of Swedish outfits, such as Naglfar, Bewitched or Guillotine, what can you tell us about the metal scene of the town? Are there clubs, shows in support of metal?
The metal scene here in general is really big actually, theres always new bands in all kinds of genres evolving and popping up. Back in the past Umeå was mainly a punk city as I've learned its story, and id say it still is, but now its even a metal city. Umeå has even been proclaimed culture capital of 2014! When it comes to the thrash scene in Umeå there really ain't so many bands, you have us, Lethal, Evolvator, Electricution and Guillotine... I hope someday that the old school metal scene in Umeå will grow even further. As for clubs, there are a few that dares to have metal bands live and then on the other hand theres mostly underground punk/hardcore gigs. But as time passes I've noticed that more and more clubs are leaning into the old kind of metal.
What about your influences? Do all of the band members have a common musical taste or do everybody have an own fave? Do you listening to other type of music besides thrash?
Yeah totally, we all listen to old school metal! Creative wise, our lyrics and music are influenced from a personal perspective in terms of madness, death, satan and hell. Ive always said that lyrics are personal and flexible, and should be written from your own view on things and experiences. How people choose to see the meaning of our lyrics are up to the ones that listen to it. Some may understand them, some may not... As for the differences in the band regarding genres, i myself listen to ’80s thrash and death. But I also listen to NWOBHM, speed metal and good old heavy that goes all the way back to the 70’s! Other than that, i also like Jimi Hendrix haha!
I know Vitja is moreover a ’80s death/thrash, punk and hardcore fanatic while Dave originally is an old school death metal guy, but he also digs the old ways of thrash. Emil on the other hand is pure ’80s thrash and heavy metal in his choice of music, if you want metal, hes the guy to be thrashed by!
In 2009 you released a rehearsal tape, titled „Pits Of Hell – Rehearsal Tape #1”, can you give us details regarding on this material? How long did it take for you guys to write the material?
That tape is actually the first demo on the tunes that evolved to be the ones on the „Guilty As Charged” album! The material as i said earlier in the interview was written in ’08, it took about 1-2 months to finish up every song before we started rehearsing them. When we recorded the tape we had just been rehearsing the songs for about 1 month or so, and the only recording equipment we used for it was a friends old tape recorder from the ’80s haha!
Did you promote this stuff at all? Did you try to make a nme for the band with the help of this material?
We did some promotion for it, but we only sold it to some friends and around the people we hang with. Other than that, we didn't actually think to much about making a name for ourselves with it, it was mostly intended for the band to fine tune the songs before we were going to record it in the studio. Eventually, labels became interested in the material and wanted to hear more.
It was followed by the three tracker „Guilty As Charged” in the same year, was it a promotional material? Was it shopped around to attract label interests?
The three tracker that we released was actually a promo that we gave to people at our gigs, to labels and any that wanted it. Many have been confused that its a demo, but it originally was a promo with raw mixes on some of the studio version songs.
August 2009 you entered the DimRakk studios in Umea to record your debut record „Guilty As Charged”, how did the recording sessions go?
Hehe, studio recording.. what can i say? For Me, Vitja and Emil it was our first time ever in a real studio as Dave had been in studio with Torn Apart earlier. But studios are studios... One guy who sits and tell us we cant play this kind of music and the other telling us our equipment is outdated... Fuck that, people who cant see music and its way of life for what it is shouldn't be in studios. Anyway the recording sessions went really good regardless, we only had 2 weeks time to record all the 9 songs and we had been rehearsing them now for 3-4 months and did our first gig during that time too. The drums took about 2 days to record, the guitars about 3, the bas 1-2 days and the vocals about 1 day i think. We did actually have some time over when everything was recorded, but on some mysterious occasion the guy who engineered us said theres was no more time... So we did it all in a total of 1½ weeks.
Did you have a decent budget to record the album or did you pay the studio costs by yourselves?
We paid for the studio time ourselves, and we didn't have any budget since we all were really really poor and unemployed at the time. To afford it we had to sell some of our shit and borrow from our families. In fact we didn't even have a dine over after we had paid for the studio time... Couldn't pay for rent and shit and had to live on almost no food or beer for a month.
Were you prepared to cut the material?
No, we didn't want to cut any of it. Before we started the sessions we had chosen all the songs we wanted to keep, and thus the fact that all the songs we recorded contained something special which we had worked our asses off for.
Why didn’t make up new tunes on the record? Did you simply re-record the „Pits Of Hell” material or…?
We already had a lot of new tunes before that recording came to life actually, but we wanted to keep the „old” songs exclusiveness, history and raw feeling. So we chose to re-record the „Pits of Hell” tape, but with the finished versions of the tunes of course!
I for one would say, it’s a very cool thrash metal album, rooted in the ’80s and similar to early Slayer, Metallica or Merciless, how do you view it? Would you tell us more about the album?
Thanks a lot David!!! Id say the album speaks for all the individuals that understand metal and its aggression, the hate, passion for real music. The album itself is fast paced all the way through with riffage and solos, raw vocals, pounding drums n bass, but in a contained chaos straight from hell. We aren't trying to be the fastest or anything like that, music ain't about trying to be someone but being yourself. And the record expresses just that, i mean we are four poor guys that just want to play metal as we see it! Soundwise most modern people will most definitely hate it, but for those who still loves the feeling and punch in the ’80s sound it will hopefully be enjoyed with a beer and lots of headbanging haha!
Do you agree with, that your vocals are a little death metal influenced?
Yeah i have to agree to that, and not just a little haha! Singers such as Jeff Becerra, Mille Petrozza and Ventor, Pat Lind, Darren Travis, Paul Baloff, David Vincent and Anton Reisenegger to name a few have been a really great inspiration to me. Ive always wanted to be able to expose my aggressions in a really hateful way besides just playing guitar, so naturally a kind of an evil streetwise death/thrash vocal evolved.
How would you offer the record for those, who didn’t listen to the record or aren’t familiar with the band?
To those kind of people i would offer it as a very raw, aggressive and diversified old school thrash metal record from a band that puts the music and headbanging as priority one. Not money or fame but with the urge to want to break some necks live. Easy said, if you like 80’s thrash/death metal you should give our record a chance!
The album was mixed at the RR Studios Umeå, by Robin Rehnstrom, was it his first experience as mixer? Were you satisfied with the end result?
It was his first experience in mixing a full length album yes, but he had been mixing a lot of other stuff before this as personal projects etc. But we chose to go with him cause frankly, id hate to see some all knowing modern fag make a „default fabric” cookie cutter sound to our record. And with Robin here i knew he understood what we wanted to achieve and the meaning of our music, which ended in us being very satisfied with the result.
By whom was it produced and engineered?
The record was produced and engineered by Hans Johansson at DimRakk studios, but the producing was with our directing.
What type of reviews did you get on the record? Do the thrash fans like it?
So far we have had only a phew reviews on the record as I've seen. But the reviews we've gotten have been in good favor of the record, makes us really glad to see that our record is being appreciated! Yeah totally, it seems that people like our music. So i certainly hope that they'll stick with us till the next album, if „Guilty as Charged” was from ’84 then the next will be ’85!
Though it was not until the year 2010 that you signed with Bay Area based label Reinig Records and managed to release their first full length, how did you get in touch with them? Weren’t other label interests in the band?
Yeah there was a few other labels that showed interest. At first, we were going to release our record through a Swedish label, but communication between us and the label wasn't good enough so in the end we chose not to release it through them. During that time JoJo from Reinig Records had sent us some mails and we started talking, he showed a lot of interest in our music and the band. So we were talking to a few other labels after that but in the end we chose to go with Reinig Records since they were the ones that cared the most for the musical aspects of our metal, the rawness of old school metal and the knowledge of how a metal record should sound! Plus JoJo is the one of the coolest metalheads I've talked to ever, so it felt natural to let him and Reinig Records release our record since he know that sound and spirit also has a meaning to a record!
Does it mean, that the reason of the delay was, that you hadn’t any label? Didn’t you think about to release it as a self-financed/self-released material?
Hmm both id say, we had lots of bad luck and the fact that we had a label with bad communication; delay was inevitable. And self finance was in our minds as well, but if we were to release it on our own the record might never have gotten released with us not owning a penny and no one wanting to employ us for regular jobs. So when Reinig approached us with the papers to sign, it was like a dream come true for us haha!
How much support, promotion do you get from the label? How many copies were sold from the album?
From the label we have gotten lots and lots of support and promotion. They've been spreading the word over in the US and the rest of the world! But they've also helped us personally when we have had rough times over here, which in my opinion is what a label is about. Bringing forth the music and caring for the bands that they sign! How many copies that have been sold i don't have any numbers on actually. I just know that we finally have gotten a chance to share our metal with the rest of the world, and hopefully we will be able to share the stage with like minded metalheads in the future!
Over time, the band has played on festivals like the Norwegian Raise the dead fest alongside Sodom, Asphyx, Angel Witch, Manilla Road, Ram and more, as well as on the House of Metal festival in your hometown Umeå, which is one of the biggest metal festivals in Northern Sweden, can you tell us more about those gigs? Were they your first live experiences by the way?
Raise the dead fest was actually our 3rd or 4th gig i think, we had a really good time over there! Despite the fact that half the band was sick with fever, we drove for over 13-14 hours to get there, we had to pay for our hostel when we were promised a free staying place (we were the only band that didn't get it for free mind you) and that we didn't get the promised time to soundcheck properly or eat anything before we had to go on stage. But nevertheless we did our gig the best we could and we got our fun, also we saw bands that we never thought we would see live or play live with even!
The House of Metal show on the other hand, we had our best time and gig ever id say. They gave us all that was promised, beer, food, good times and an audience that knew how to fucking let hell loose.
Were there still other shows in support of the record besides those two festival appearances?
Yeah, we have been playing around Sweden on clubs and pubs at various occasions now. We even did a „mini-mini-tour” with Immaculate for a weekend that was totally heavy mental man! Haha, we partied, played, headbanged and just had a ball! The last gig we did was at the UmeMetal open air festival here in Umeå, had a bad sound live and didn't even got the time to pre party since we were first out of all the bands. But it was fucking fun!! As for now we are planing a lot of gigs for the coming year and a proper release gig for „Guilty As Charged”, its going to be a blast from the past here in Umeå when that gig opens the gates!
In the future, Raging Steel will continue to burst aggression, play fast as hell, worship satan, when do you plan to record and release the second album? Do you already have some songs written?
We don't have any date for when we will start recording our next album. Our schedule as for now is that we have... without spoiling to much, the whole next albums songs ready actually. For the time being we are rehearsing them new songs and keeping a steady fine tune for every time we rehearse them, making sure they come out the way we want it. Hopefully, we will be done rehearsing in the beginning phase of next year and already started the recording. So keep your eyes open for our next record, it will be even more evil and raging than the first! Trust me!
Dan, thanks a lot for the interview, your closing words are coming…
The pleasure is all mine David, hope to talk to you again when the next album hits the lights! As for final words, don't try to be someone else but yourself. Thats when the real music is made! You cant cheat metal, and metalheads deserve real fucking metal! Metal till’death!!

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