Interview with Joel of Entrench 2012
Hells! I know it’s a bit booooring, but can you give the readers a little bit of the background of Entrench? Why did you make the transition from playing powermetal like Blind Guardian to an intense style of thrash? What appeals to you about thrash and in the end, what draws you to metal?
Boring as hell, let’s go.
Entrench started out in 2005 for real when the line-up was ”soon to be” completed with two guitarists and a drummer. Actually the idea of Entrench was set in motion earlier as a brain child of Fredrik Pellbrink and some garage rehearsing with Hannes Lindkvist. After Victor Holmström joined the ranks in 2005 it started to get serious, and they did some small recordings plus a four track demo in 2006 that wasn’t released properly. They also did some local gigs and I saw them at one and was amazed that there existed a thrash metal band this good in our boring little town, so right after the gig I told Fredrik I was a bassplayer and that I was interested to play with them. So after some rehearsing I joined the band in January 2007 and later we did the Into Oblivion demo that became the first one to be ”released”. After that we did Trails of Death in 2008 which apart from being released on a poor shitty CD-r by us also was released by the great label Rites of Violence in Chile on tape. But then Victor decides to quit the band in order to straighten out his life.
After some embarrassing rehearsals with different drummers we finally found out that an old friend to us, Joel Gustafsson, who helped us record Into Oblivion, wanted to join. Said and done, in 2009 we recorded a new demo with two new tracks and three live takes and after sometime Iron Fist Productions contacted us and said that he wanted to release our debut and Blood Harvest also showed interest for a Vinyl edition. But as time went by Iron Fist folded and we came in contact with Dan from Abyss Records who was very eager to pick up were Iron Fist left. So in 2010 we recorded our debut album that later got released on Abyss Records and will soon hit the market on Blood Harvest as well.
When the album was done Hannes Lindkvist decided to leave the band and travel the world. We did a pre-production demo as a three piece with Joel still on drums but eventually Joel left the band as well and we brought back our old drummer Victor who hadn’t been in a band since he left us and was very hungry to thrash once more.
And that’s where we are standing today.
About the power metal issue, I don’t think it's strange at all. Early power metal is just harder heavy metal in my opinion. Early Blind Guardian is amazingly good, up tempo thrashy hard songs with catchy choruses, what’s not to like? I don’t think that thrash metal necessarily has to be more intense than power metal. The main reason why Entrench transformed into a thrash metal band was because there weren't any good heavy metal singers around at that time so Fredrik took on the task handling the vocals and the sound became rawer naturally.
What appeals to me in thrash metal is that it’s simply the most damn aggressive metal style ever to crack the skulls of virgin music lovers. Fredrik and I listens to all kinds of metal - heavy, speed, thrash, doom, death, black, doesn’t matter really what label you put on them, if the band is writing really good songs worth listening to, why not do so? One good thing about thrash is that it has so many faces, within its own genre bands can sound completely different but still have the raw element we all chose to refer to as thrash. I can’t imagine a life without metal, I’m not playing music as a musician craving to work my craft, but as a fan. It’s not enough just listening to metal, I have to write music as well and be a part of the scene as much as I can, live it. To me it’s sacred. Not even half the people calling themselves heavy metal fans deserve that title. False metal people, leave the hall! It’s too hard trying to understand why you’re this deep into something, it’s just something you can’t live without basically. The way I am and act is proof to myself that metal is greater than anything to me and I don’t have to question that.
Inevitable Decay is your Debut album! Can you tell me about its creation and your method for creating a song? Also, since you aren’t jaded to the process, how does it feel when you give “birth” to an album? Does it fill you with excitement and apprehension? Was it frustrating to have to wait a whole year from the time the album was recorded until it was released?
No not really. I just write riffs put them together trying to make a good and interesting songs and Fredrik does the same. We don’t come up with anything in the rehearsal, we write our stuff separately and when we think the song is right we rehearse it. We don’t mass produce stuff, rather the other way around. We can work on one song for months, years, until we think we have something good and are ready to play it to an audience or record it.
It’s always a thrill to record some new stuff, you don’t really know how it will turn out. As for Inevitable Decay we were quite excited since it was going to be our debut. I’m very happy how the record turned out, some things could have been better, but you always feel that way, under the circumstances it turned out well. Many people have complained about the production but that isn’t something new to us, the same shit goes for our demos. Raw productions keeps the unworthy away. We agree that it is a little thin, but it doesn’t sound ape shit. Like ”Juggernauts” second LP ”Trouble Within” from -87, horrible and strange production but still a great album. I mean deny ”Vengeance” and you’re just a prick. I would like more albums to sound crappy.
The waiting was of course very frustrating but at the same time we understood that it’s a hard time working with a label, especially since Abyss is quite new and on its way up. Dan is a hard worker and a very good guy and we are glad to have our debut under his mark even though it took some time. There was some uncontrollable mishaps along the road that postpone the release, no one was dragging his legs behind, it just didn't go as smooth as we all hoped for.
Since it is important to only write songs for things you feel strongly for, what do you feel strongly about? Do you have any strong views on religion or politics?
I think religion is politics and to some politics is like a religion!? We write lyrics about rights and wrongs, mostly, and that -of course- includes politics and religion sometimes because both are tools of power which have been abused several times in the history of man. I hate religion, especially christianity since that’s what we have over here. But I think most Swedes are atheists and that's a good thing, almost no one believes in god, our churches stands empty, but still collect money from our taxes and that's a bad thing. It's sad how Scandinavia was raped by this power of true light, forced to believe in another god. If you wouldn't change your faith you got killed as always when the good christians march through history… and then the witch hunt around 1600, just horrible and stupid. The fear of a greater knowledge and powerful women, oh. And it is so much more.. I say being a christian is as fancy as being a Nazi.
I know some people don’t have that fond of memories of old school Swedish thrash, but as an insider I was wondering what you thought of the Legacy of old Swedish thrash (Agony, Kazjurol, Merciless, Melissa, and some others). Any bands that you really like? Or do you in general dislike the old Swedish scene?
The Swedish demo scene was very good. I think most bands that released albums and got attention maybe wasn't the best ones but of course the bands you mention are very good (except Agony maybe). Merciless is our best thrash metal act and will always be!! I like bands such as Hexenhaus, Maninnya Blade, Morgana Lefay and Destiny as well - and smaller ones like Atrocity, Pentagram/Tribulation, Desecrate, Amentia, and Rabbit's Carrot. One of the absolute best demos I've heard is Attempt the Life by Hyste'riah, listen to that one or die a poser! But later on when they "switch" name it went downhill, sadly. There are a lot of good Swedish bands, they are just a little hidden. Throw away your Fallen Angel vinyls and start digging in the tape section!
Even though many may think that the Swedish thrash scene was a little faint I think we're excused with bands such as Bathory, Mefisto, Treblinka and Obscurity TO MENTION A FEW! And our Heavy Metal scene was sublime! You could say that today’s thrash scene is making up for the past here in Sweden, we have many good thrash bands right now.
One of my favorite things about album artwork is the Photo collage. I noticed you guys included one in your album. Why? And what is essential to include in the photos you use?
A photo collage is always fun and that's why we have one. Fredrik and I like this sorts of thing very much so of course we had to include one for our own release. Many old albums have one and I think it's sad that it isn't more widely used now days. In our collage we used live pictures, some "good memories" we've had together and of course people we respect and love, kind of like an extra thank you. Another good thing about having a collage is that it might seems like we have some sort of life outside the band… But that's just scam.
In an interview I saw that that you wanted to Destroy the modern scene. How do we go about this? What do you actually consider the “modern scene?” And how is the modern scene “trying to kill the good name of heavy metal?”
Yeah.. It's kind of wage just to say "modern scene"… But of course I mean "modern metal" or rather new shit claiming to be metal.
Heavy metal is something I feel very strongly towards and I don't want it to be touched by idiots and such. I don't want ordinary people coming up to me when I'm at the pub saying "hey man, I think we are alike, I'm a metal fan too, I love X-shit-band, high five! That’s not fun at all! Maybe I'm just a shit head, but I think that there are bands that experiments with the genre or "evolve it" (stupid argument, evolution is for apes!) to the point that it have lost it's true meaning and doesn't belong to the heavy metal genre anymore and is rather just commercial radio music with distortion. It's impossible to "destroy" this scene, but I would like us real heavy metal fans to take the word metal back and save its meaning. It's a good thing the underground is still puking venom and hades fire. True metal will always live.
I'm just sad that people hear this kind of false rock music and thinks; aha that's what heavy metal is about!? I LOVE T-SHIRTS AND IRON MAIDEN GOD DAMN IT!!! Not down toned crap riffs and ass licking choruses!!! Fucking repulsive...
Looking at your influences I notice that they are all the rawer, harsher thrash metal bands from the past which I think is reflected in your music. What about these bands appeal to you versus the cleaner Bay Area style? Are there any bands that you feel more respect than others in regards to influencing your own artistic output?
Yeah it's a good question. I like thrash metal with high pitched vocals and some bay area acts, but when it comes to really extreme bands it's just something pure and convincing about them. The hatred and disgust that many of those bands provide makes you feel good. It's almost impossible to put your finger on what makes you like one thing and dislike another. It's just something you feel. Music ain't math there are no logical explanations. As for most bands of the bay area I think there is too much joy, life and humor in it. And to base almost a whole album on mid-pace riffing can get pretty boring. I think Kreator’s four first albums tells us very well what real thrash metal is all about both in title and music. When it comes to influences it's a lot of bands, but we are not trying to be like a single one of them. We just come up with riffs influenced by different shit, thrash or death, doom and heavy bands and just put it together into a stew we think is Entrench. Of course some bands have influenced us more than others but we will tell them that personally when we meet them.
I read that your aim when performing live is to musically “run people over!” How does one achieve that? And what sort of sonic violence are you trying to inflict upon people? What would a “normal” person think if they witnessed Entrench live and survived the experience?
First off, I hope no "normal" people would survive, or at least that they would need some medical attention after the concert. I would like to think that people who don't get this sort of music think that we sound crappy and can't stand the heavy vibes that we unleash upon them (so that they have to go and puke or something) and that people who appreciate it feel enlightened and kicked in the stomach. We want the crowd to express or channel their hatred/unhappiness through us. Just to discharge themselves from all the negativity from work or other shit that has happened through the past week, scream and fight with us a couple of minutes and then just chill in the bar with a beer. The main concept is to have a good time together! We like raw thrash, so that's what we play and we hope that people who goes to our shows like that too so we can enjoy some madness together.
As one of the few countries that still has a royal family I was wondering what you thought of the Swedish royal family? Should they be abolished and the whole concept of royalty eliminated? Or do you think it is a vital link to Sweden’s medieval heritage?
They don't bother me. But I do think that the king shouldn't be above the law, that's some crazy shit. Our king has done some tiny bad things but he is untouchable. It's mostly just speed limit issues, who cares, let the little man have some fun. Haha, just kidding, put him in jail. I also think that they should pay for their own bloody weddings themselves, not us taxpayers, like they don't have the money!? When our king leaves the throne his daughter will take his place and that might get kind of fun, she seems quite bright. But (again) I think the royal blahas is kind of passé, we read about them in the newspapers like if they were in some kind of reality show, I don't give a crap about their personal lives, just wave you morons! And besides, if we didn't have a king, what face would we put on our Swedish Kronor!?
Ah… That's just a load of feces, so to sum-up: I don't give a damn if they exist or not!?
When it comes to songwriting what aspects of a song do you think are most important? Do you think varying the pace or writing really aggressive passages or some other aspect is most important? And when you are writing song what are you thinking about? I know some bands want their songs to sound really good in a live environment while others just want the song to be so raw and aggressive on the album.
I thing all aspects is important. Of course we are a lot into variation, both in riffing and in pace and I hope you can tell that when you’re listening to our record. We want our songs to be aggressive and hard but at the sometime interesting and memorable. We never have in mind if the songs we write are more suited for a live performance or a studio album when we come up with our songs. We just write stuff that we like and figure that some few other people will do the same. Thinking of such things is too over analytic, some parts are real headbanging moments while others are perfect for just standing with your fist in the air drinking beer and looking cool. When I'm writing a song I try to get a picture of how I want the song to sound like, what I want with it and how it can differ with the other stuff I write so I'm not just copying myself trapped in an predictable pattern. It's not science or especially interesting for that matter. If you'll buy me a beer I can be more precise. But I would probably just bore the hell out of you. Maybe because I really don't know what I'm doing. I just do it.
What way do you want to die? Do you want to die quietly in bed, or fighting hordes of Islamic insurgents, or what? I know your countrymates in Grave “want to die in a brutal way!”
Haha, actually I have no idea. This is not something that I walk around thinking about. Probably quietly in my bed of old age. But I would most certainly die for metal if necessary!
What are your Upcoming plans for Entrench? I understand you are working on songs for a new album already. What will the songs be like as compared to Inevitable Decay? Any special concerts planned?
First off we are going to do a split with the death metal band BOMBS OF HADES, we are currently recording three songs for that release. After that we're going to start rehearse new stuff and try to put together our next album which will be called "ENTRENCH II"… Or maybe something cooler, we haven't really decided yet. Well we have actually, but I can't tell you, sorry. In between that I hope we play a lot of shows if people are up for it and can take the pain.
That final words do you want to impart on us humble thrashers before you head to where only ruins remain?
Don't buy our album if you're not into thrash metal, you will be so disappointed.
I'm very happy for all your kind words Brad and for doing this interview, a true metal warrior.
Like Primal Fear once said in a cheesy but very true way… METAL IS FOREVER!!!
//Joel Sundin - Entrench