Antihero Magazine’s Davide Sciaky recently had the opportunity to chat with Markus Andé and Jacob Hallegren of Swedish Viking/black metal group Månegarm when they played a show in Stockholm.
ANTIHERO: Hi guys and welcome to AntiHero Magazine, how are you doing?
Markus: Very good…a little bit tired, but that’s how it should be when you’re touring.
ANTIHERO: I’d like to start talking about your upcoming album: a few days ago, you posted on Instagram an update from the studio and, if I’m not mistaken, that’s the only information you have given so far about the album, can you reveal us something more? What’s the name of the album, when is it coming out?
Markus: The album’s name… [points at Jacob]
Jacob: We are not sure yet, perhaps it will be a concept album, but we haven’t really decided yet.
Until today it’s just the drums that are finished and recorded.
Markus: Yeah, we are going back to the studio in March to records guitars, then we will, during the Spring, we will record everything else at our own studio so, hopefully, we will be done by the summer and the album will come out in…November, maybe.
ANTIHERO: In that Instagram post you said that you recorded the drums for nine songs; is this the number of songs you’ll have on the album or there’s more that you still need to record?
Markus: No, it’s nine songs recorded, and we will do some acoustic stuff also, so maybe ten songs on the extended version.
ANTIHERO: Bonus tracks…
ANTIHERO: Can you describe the songwriting process for the band? Is it a shared effort, or is there a member who takes the lead and does all or most of the songwriting?
Markus: The songwriting is, I would say, 99% Erik doing almost everything, then we sit down in our home studio and we record digital drums and guitars and then we cut them, move them…it’s a process where Erik and I sit down in the studio and try to finish the songs.
Jacob is doing almost all the lyrics.
Jacob: Yes, right now. Like he said, first they make a pre-production for the album and…well, I think it sounds pretty awesome.
ANTIHERO: I was about to ask just that, the lyrics: I guess you’ll keep dealing with Norse religion, Viking history, and such topics, and you mentioned it could be a concept album, can you tell me a bit more about that?
Jacob: More than a concept, maybe, an album that uses certain saga materials that have not been translated into different languages in a very long time. It’s more like a genre of sagas that is the inspiration for the lyrics, it’s more like it’s the source material that we are interpreting right now.
ANTIHERO: Is it going to be in English, Swedish or a mix of the two?
Jacob: Most likely Swedish, I think, but we’ll see, we are just at the beginning of that process so it’s kind of hard to say how it’s going to turn out in the end. They are just thoughts right now, we are quite at the beginning of the process.
ANTIHERO: Having been around for more than 20 years, I guess the music that inspires you might have changed: are the bands that influence you any different today compared to when you started the band?
Markus: I think it’s the same. As I was saying, Erik is writing most of the material, and his idols have always been Motörhead and Running Wild, so [laughs] that’s a big inspiration.
Jacob: That what he says, at least [laugh], “It’s Motörhead and Running Wild!”
ANTIHERO: This album will be the third you release with Napalm Records, how it is working with them compared to your previous labels?
Markus: It’s very good, it’s a very good record company. The previous ones we had were [laughs], weren’t very good, I’d say. We signed a stupid contract with Displeased Records and the connection with them wasn’t very good; we tried to get rid of them and we ended up with Regain Records and, at the point when we were recording the album with them, they had economic problems, so… But Napalm is very good, very good.
Jacob: Yeah, the connection with the label is very good, we never had any problem, so we are really satisfied to be under their banner.
ANTIHERO: I’d like to go back to the beginning of Månegarm’s career now: you started in 1995 when Viking and Black Metal were very new genres, recently born right here in Scandinavia and on their way to spreading all over the world. What was the atmosphere like in the Metal scene here?
Markus: That’s a hard question…you didn’t have internet and stuff like that, so it was harder to get the music out, you had to make your own demo tapes. Not that many concerts, I think, we just did just a couple in the beginning. The scene was growing, but as we live about an hour from Stockholm we weren’t really part of the Stockholm scene.
ANTIHERO: Bathory had a very important role in the development of those genres, you even recorded a cover of his “Mother Earth, Father Thunder” for your last album. As Quorthon was from here in Stockholm, I was wondering if you were in touch with him back in the ’90s?
Markus: No, we weren’t.
ANTIHERO: Going back to the present, you haven’t had a violinist in your lineup in a few years, during the live shows you sometimes switch back and forth from the guitar to the violin; have you thought of getting a live violinist?
Markus: Well, since Martin is doing all the violins on the album, as you said he plays them also live…then sometimes we play with three guitars, and that allows Martin to do much more violin.
I don’t know, we will see in the future if we’ll stay with four people on stage, or maybe five, it depends. We are doing some shows, like Hellfest, with a full line-up of five people.
ANTIHERO: Tonight is the last show of this brief Scandinavian tour, and it finishes right in Stockholm which is almost your hometown: how does it feel to play at home, is it just another gig, or is there some magic added to the show?
Jacob: I think it’s always special to play in Stockholm, and this venue is great, very cool. I think it’s a little bit special since, when you are so close to home, all your friends come to the gig, people you do know and everything, so in a way it’s a little bit more special, it’s like you have to live up to the expectations of the people you actually know, your long-time friends, so it’s a bit special, it’s really fun. We normally don’t play that much in Sweden, and definitely not in Stockholm, so it’s special as it’s quite rare that we play shows here.
ANTIHERO: Is there a bit of anxiety, like “I don’t have to fuck up in front of my friends”?
Jacob: [Laughs] No, I wouldn’t say that, but it’s more like it feel like the connection is a bit more intense, in a way, I can’t really explain it better than that!
ANTIHERO: You mentioned you’ll go back to the studio in March, what are your plans for the rest of the year, much more touring, or will you focus mostly on the album?
Markus: We’ve got some gigs, after this one we will be hosting the guys from Grimner, they have a release show next weekend, so we will play there. Then we are going to Brazil at the end of April, then we have a gig in Norway and then Hellfest, and a big festival in Germany in summer. Other than that, we will focus on the recording, trying to get the album out in November and hopefully some kind of tour after that.