Entombed A.D. is ready for the front

Hard times for Entombed! Now led by vocalist and only remaining original member L-G Petrov, the band was looking forward to release their new album, Back To The Front, six years after Serpent Saints. But in the end, they had to wait nine more months for said album to see the light of day, due to grim legal affairs opposing the band and their former guitarist Alex Hellid regarding their name. Little is known regarding the reasons and circumstances that led to the musician’s departure. So when we called Petrov on the eve of the album’s release, we tried to shed some light on the matter. “It’s strange!”, he kept repeating regarding the former guitarist’s attitude. It’s quite obvious he bears him a grudge and cannot quite understand the situation himself.

In any case, Entombed A.D. (for such is their new name) is now back in fighting form. This new album shows a desire to go forward – and quickly, at that – and to explore the death metal essence of Entombed once again. Petrov isn’t the kind of man who likes to quibble and waste time on sterile considerations. For him, things should be done instinctively or not at all. We grilled the vocalist about his vision of music, and more – which he explained good-naturedly and with some humor.

« If you’re not ready to tour and do it quickly then you have to step aside. And if you still want to be a hundred percent a part of it, decide and be a “tyrant” in some way having the rest of the guys just waiting around with nothing happening… We have to act! »

Radio Metal: Back To The Front was supposed to come out in October of last year but is finally released beginning of august, which is nine month later. Plus knowing that your previous album was six years old… What is your state of mind right now? Are you relieved that the album is finally being released?

Lars-Göran Petrov (vocals): Yes, of course! I mean, it’s been a frustrating long year but the love for music, making music and touring was too strong. It had to happen. I mean, last year was definitely time to do an album. I mean, six years! It’s ridiculous! [Laughs] So we decided let’s do what it takes to get the album out. Not only had we got frustrated, but other people too: fans and people who were waiting for the album; it as already six years and they had to wait one more year. It’s what we do: playing music. So now we are Entombed A.D. and we’re going for it! Like you said, it was nine month ago, some people work really slowly… It’s a year that we have forgotten, you know. Now we just look ahead and do what bands do: making album and go out touring! [Laughs]

It was originally announced that the album was pushed back due to « unpredictable technical problems. » Can you tell us what happened?

Over a year ago we sat down with the whole band and said let’s do an album. We had meetings and stuff, made a plan to make songs and record and release it, but all of a sudden, one of the members (note: guitar player and founding member Alex Hellid) back then said that “Oh no, we had no meetings! We had no plan!” Although we were sitting there with producers and record label and everything… So that was kind of strange. And then there was a little bit of a band name struggle. It was all weird. It’s pretty hard to explain! [Laughs] [This guy] didn’t want to step aside and wanted to stop us, but now we’re going for it. The music is what’s most important and we hate to sit home! [Laughs]

Is this actually how Alex Hellid left the band?

Yeah or whatever he did. I don’t know! I mean… It’s strange!

Was it his decision actually?

I don’t know! He just disappeared! When the rest of us were making songs and stuff, he disappeared. I guess he had his own plans but they usually take a hundred years, so we decided to concentrate on what we planned and make the album. And it’s been ready for a year, so it was definitely time. We’ve worked efficiently, fast and professionally, and that’s the way it has to be done! Then you release it and go on tour. There’s nothing more to it, you know. [Laughs] If he wanna sit at home… I mean, you have to tour; you have to be away from your family. You’re in a band! If you wanna sit at home, then there’s nothing that we can do!

You changed the name of the band to become Entombed A.D. while Alex’s been playing concerts using the name Entombed…

Not really, I mean, right now nobody can use the name Entombed (note: the name is now own by the four original members Alex Hellid, Lars-Göran Petrov, Uffe Cederlund and Nicke Andersson) and he’s definitely not touring! [Laughs] I don’t think he ever wanted to tour. You can ask him at a later point but I think that he prefers to sit at home. This is really strange, really strange… But all that we care about right now is the music. But I understand that people want to know and eventually they will, but it is strange. But we proved that would could do an album at least and we’re ready to go for it. We’re older but if you’re in a band there are some things you just have to do and I love it! [Laughs]

But how comes you had to change the name?

Since there was a lot of hassle with the name and Alex was objecting every time we were doing something, then we put the AD to release the album. And you’re gonna see us on the road a lot! But as it is as of right now, we don’t know how it’s gonna be when this interview is going to be published because things change fast. [Laughs] A.D., it can stand for whatever you want. It’s up to everybody. [Laughs]

« We took the MH2 Boss pedal again, just like on the first albums. I hope we’ll get more of that sound in the future, because it makes me happy! [Laughs] »

Is it going to be a permanent change or do you intend to come back to the original name in the future if that’s possible?

We don’t know yet. It’s uncertain right now, but Entombed A.D. is the part of the old Entombed that wants to make music, make it quick and make things happen. And things are happening, so that’s really, really cool. And it’s gonna be good! [Laugh]

The band had to handle some important line-up changes eight years ago and now again the band had to face some line-up and even legal issues. Aren’t you exhausted by all that?

Yeah, but if you’re not ready to tour and do it quickly then you have to step aside. And if you still want to be a hundred percent a part of it, decide and be a “tyrant” in some way having the rest of the guys just waiting around with nothing happening… We have to act! And we acted by doing the album. But, I mean, lineup changes are bound to happen, people grow older, get kids or lose interests and stuff, they quit or they get sacked… But the Entombed spirit goes on and we’re here today. The guys from Amon Amarth have kids and family but they’re constantly touring! So that’s what you should be prepared to do. You’re wife knows who she married! [Laughs] She married a musician, take it or leave it!

Haven’t you thought at some point that this would be the end of the band? Haven’t you thought at some point: « Ok, I give up »?

No, I mean, there was only one way to go, it was making an album again. This is what we do, it’s our lives. So if you fight for your life, you do it. And it’s frustrating to sit at home and see other bands making album, touring, have fun, meet all the people, drink beer and headbang together. We missed all that just because one guy wanted to sit at home but still have control. It doesn’t work.

Being yourself the only original member of the band, how did you manage to make Back To The Front still sound so much like classic Entombed?

Me, Nico (Elgstrand), Victor (Brandt) and Olle (Dahlstedt) we were… I mean, they have also been in the band for almost fifteen years. So for me they’re as original as any member because they’ve been in the band for a long, long time as well. They’re equal. I’m just one part of the band! [Laughs] And I think it’s the music that has to be the most important and I think that the record sounds great. We went into the studio in May and we started to do the songs maybe five or six months before. Of course we had some riffs and stuff from before which we incorporated in the new material we wrote. When we entered the studio, we had many songs ready by 80%, did some improvisation, made some spontaneous decisions and recorded it. The writing process was not that complicated. We put the songs together, we listened to it and we felt that it sounded great. We didn’t think too much. We like when there are quick decisions, because otherwise you can go on basically forever [laughs] with only one song or one idea, you know what I mean? We went for improvisation, not total improvisation but we didn’t have to analyze every riff, we didn’t have to dissect it a hundred percent: if it sounds good, take it! Before that, it took a hundred years to make one simple song, but it’s not the case anymore. We just went with what we had in our guts. And I hope that people will like it!

Do you think that the best music is the one that comes out without forcing it?

Exactly! If you make plans – “How are we gonna do this record?”, “We have to do this kind of style”, etc. – it gets boring. It should spontaneous and fresh. We don’t have to say: “Oh, with this album, we’re gonna play hard rock!” We’re a death metal band and we play death metal! [Laughs] That’s what we did!

Do you think there have been times in the past when the band has put too much thought into the albums?

Not really. But with some of the old stuff it took too much time. Like with Serpent Saints, it took forever to make the songs. There was a lot of discussions but in the end they turned out to be simple songs and they were not that good for what I remember. So this time we went for it and it sound a hell of a lot better! It was kind of amateurish, because one guy wanted to hold all the pieces whereas now we really work as a group, and things went much easier.

You made a post in January to reassure the fans about the fact that this album was pure Entombed. But was it actually important at this point to come back with a pure Entombed record, maybe leaving out some of the more rock elements and be full on metal?

That also something that happens when you don’t think too much: your true self comes out in what you do. Before we had this death n’ roll thing, but we actually didn’t come up with that name! I don’t know who did. But sometimes we just skip the rock parts. I mean, there should be grooves at some points, but not too much [he sings a rock guitar part] rock kind of stuff. More heavy metal distortion pedal!

« We didn’t try to make deep lyrics. […] If we have « death » or « hate » sometimes, it’s cool for me. [Laughs] I myself am not a really deep person. »

How was it in the studio actually? Do you think you somehow came back to how the band was working at the beginning?

Maybe, yeah. I mean we should work with each other and not having one guy taking full responsibility for everything. If someone has an idea that fits the songs, there should be no problem, we’ll take it. We don’t have to spend a whole day recording one riff! The recording itself went pretty fast. You have to be well prepared while entering the studio, so you know what you’re recording. But there’s always that element of surprise. Actually we were living in the studio for five weeks, so we had no other distractions. Then we could wake up in the middle of the night and run down, on the next floor, in your underwear and record a riff. Then you went back to sleep, listen in the morning to what you have recorded [with the other guys] and it sounded great! [Laughs] It was cool! It was great to just know that the studio was only meters away in case you had a new idea. It went pretty fast if something needed to be rearranged or something, it was fast and quick decisions. And I think you can feel it and hear it on the album as well. It’s just a smooth ride. The goal was to record the whole thing at once, and that’s what we did. We spent five weeks there, totally concentrated on the songs and slowly we built them up and recorded it. It wasn’t that hard actually because, if you record two songs at a time, then you go home in between… I mean, there’s too many distractions around and then you lose the complexity of the feeling. I t was better to be in the same house as the studio and just concentrate to get it on tape. We haven’t worked that way before, I think. It was good to be away from home so you can fully concentrate when you’re there in the studio and get the thing done. Otherwise we would have done it in three month while we actually did it in five weeks [laughs].

Roberto Laghi has been chosen to be the producer of this new record. Where did the idea come from, since he is very identified by people for its recent works with In Flames?

We listened to a couple of producers. We listened to what they’ve done so far and we liked this guy. And we actually went in a couple of month before to do a test recording. We went there for four days and recorded a version of the second track “Bedlam Attack” and it felt great, he’s a great guy, he’s professional, he takes care of things. So when we went back we knew how he was working: he was getting into great details with the drums and how things were going to sound. And he knows where Entombed comes from, so he did something that was significantly Entombed, you know, the fat guitars, we actually used the old distortion pedal back from the old days [laughs]. For us it was the gutiar sound [that was important]. There has been different guitar sounds on the various albums, some were good, some weren’t that good. And I think that what people remember is the guitar sound. With lineup changes and stuff, every record was bound to sound different and that’s fun, but people also get confused. [Laugh] If you look at Motörhead, AC/DC or Deicide, people know what they get. So we took the MH2 Boss pedal again, just like on the first albums. I hope we’ll get more of that sound in the future, because it makes me happy! [Laughs] And also, Roberto Laghi knew what we wanted and we knew how he wanted it, and it all emerged in one single unit. He’s a great guy in the studio, and outside as well. [Laughs] He has an open mind, you know. When he went with us, he knew what Entombed is and what we were after. He wasn’t a dictator but he had a strong opinion about how it would sound. And now, when we listen to the record, it sounds exactly how we wanted it. He’s a guy that I could work with again, definitely. It was a really smooth recording and I actually don’t remember that much of it! The recordings of the vocals went so fast!

Did you also try to inspire yourself from the lyrical content you had in the old days?

We just went for classic death metal lyrics: war and zombies! [Laughs] I myself am not that much of a lyrical person, you know. When I listen to an album, I don’t read the lyric sheet and try to follow it to the music. If I’m at the front row during a concert of a band that I like, I sing with the words like [simulating being at a concert] « death! » or « execution!! » [Laughs] You know, standard, normal, death metal lyrics. We didn’t try to make deep lyrics, because I myself am not that interested in deep lyrics. After all, it is death metal: you don’t have to hear every syllable or word when you sing. If we have « death » or « hate » sometimes, it’s cool for me. [Laughs] I myself am not a really deep person. It might sound simplistic, but it’s how it is. I like to listen metal, drink beer and headbang. [Laughs]

You rather enjoy simple things in life…

Exactly! It’s not that hard. If you go in too deep in stuff, you only get confused and lost somewhere. Open that beer, make sure it’s cold and let’s have a party! [Laughs]

Does the title of the new album, Back To The Front, refers to a musical return to the origins of Entombed or does it rather mean that the band is back on top? Or both?

Yeah, we have returned after six years and now we’re back to the front to fight the metal fight [laughs]. I think we did a solid metal Entombed album, looking forward to releasing it, do some touring and what’s expected from a metal band. We’re really happy to have made the choice to do an album now and not wait one more year [laughs]. So I think that Back To The Front sums up pretty well where we’re at now. We’re back to fight.

Did you take advantage of the time you had between the original release date in October and now to compose new music?

Yeah. I mean, the thing is that now we’re a great group of musicians together, so we put new riffs into our computers in our rehearsal room and make new music all the time. So we definitely have many ideas for a future album. I don’t think it’ll be out in six years! [Laughs]

« If you go in too deep in stuff, you only get confused and lost somewhere. Open that beer, make sure it’s cold and let’s have a party! [Laughs] »

The Swedish Metal and Rock scene has kept going up, years after years. How do you currently perceive this very rich and successful scene? What is for you the most striking change you witnessed if you compare to when Entombed went abroad for the first time?

It’s basically the same, but there are new bands, new kids, the younger kids that are starting bands take influences from the older bands and they keep the spirit alive. In Sweden everybody loves music, so I think that’s why there’s a strong development of new bands. We call it the new wave of Swedish old school [laughs]. It’s great to see young people with old Nihilist (note: pre-Entombed band name) and Entombed patches, they’re taking over the legacy.

You’ve been one of the bands originating the swedish death metal success in the world. Do you rather feel pride or do you rather feel envy regarding all the new bands knowing great success in the world, such as Ghost, In Flames or Opeth?

No, I’m just happy for the guys. They do what they do. I appreciate all the success they have, they’re all our friends and we have the same interest in drinking beer [laughs], especially in Sweden. It has nothing to do with envy, I ‘m just happy for everybody. We’re good friends with everybody. When we meet we don’t talk much about music, we talk about the taste of a beer [laughs]. It’s good. It keeps the Swedish flag alive and up on the top.

You’ve been also working for another project this year, a band called Fireborn. How did you get involved in this project?

It’s just that we know each other really well. You know, Stockholm is not so big. I think we decided that over a beer: “Ok, let’s make some songs!” I t didn’t take much time. Did you hear the songs?

Yes, the two songs that have been put on the internet…

Yeah, they were easy to record. We did it in a couple of hours. So it’s cool. But you know, Entombed A.D. and Fireborn won’t interfere with each other, they’re two completely different bands. But yeah, if something comes up, then that’s cool. We could do some shows. Actually, I wouldn’t call it a project: it’s a band. But we take it as it comes along and I think it sounds good.

How did you manage to find the time to work for both bands?

Fireborn doesn’t take much time. We went with a couple of beers in the studio on one Saturday afternoon to record it. [Laughs] So it’s just a couple of hours here and there. It’s the same with Entombed A.D., actually. When you work with great guys, things get done quickly and you don’t have to spend a week in a studio or a rehearsal room to make it sound good. What we did before in ten weeks we can now do it in one day, basically, because they’re professional guys.

Do you have a release date for the album?

No not yet. It’s in the early stages, but we have 13 songs already. But Entombed A.D. is our priority. But stay tuned about that one!

Ok, now to end this interview, can you tell us about your upcoming tours and shows with Entombed A.D.?

We have some festivals in august. Motocultor, you know it?

Of course!

So yeah, we’re gonna play there. Then we have Party San, Bloodstock and a couple of more. Hopefully we’ll go to Japan and then a big tour with our metal brothers in Grave, and I think we’ll come by France on that tour. That’s how it should be: touring, touring touring…

I remember when you came to Lyon and did a free show in a smaller venue because the original venue didn’t sell enough…

Yes, I know, it was great! I don’t know who did it, but I think that the ticket price was a little bit too expensive. But it was great that they made a decision to do it a free show. There was a packed house, they were selling a lot of beer and we had the greatest time. It was a great show. Tiny stage and a lot of energy [laughs]. I hope the people felt the same. So fucking hell, it was great! Everybody made something of that night. It would have been a shame to let it go to waste. I don’t know if we’ll play in Lyon on the next tour, but we can always go back and do the same thing. I’ll ask the promoter! [Laughs] But yeah, I looking forward to come back to France and when we meet I’ll buy the first beer!

Interview conducted by phone on September, 9th 2013 and June, 25th 2014 by Spaceman & Metal’O Phil.
Transcription, introduction & questions : Spaceman.
Photos : Niclas Brunzell.

Entombed A.D. official Facebook page : www.facebook.com/EntombedAD

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