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How The Haunted have been healing their wounds


The Haunted was badly hurt when vocalist Peter Dolving, drummer Per Möller Jensen, and guitarist Anders Björler left in the space of just a few months. But the wound had appeared even sooner than that, with the commercial failure of their album Unseen (2011). In the following interview, guitarist and founding member Patrik Jensen confesses: “We really tried to do our own thing and it didn’t work”, probably because of a “the metal scene that is very narrow sighted”. The band was commercially stuck in a small box, which, according to Jensen, must have created frustration and eventually led to the split.

But The Haunted have come back from the ashes, and adapted so its members no longer have to rely on only one band to make a living. They’re now back with a new, aptly-titled album, Exit Wounds, and a new line-up. Or maybe not that new, since the band welcomes back their first drummer and their second singer.

We talked with Jensen about all this, from the departures, their circumstances, and the replacements, to the music itself. This highly instructive interview clearly highlights the difficulties a band can have along the way, no matter how established it is. But although the guitarist remains pessimistic regarding the music industry, he underlines how strong a motivator the love of music can be.

 » We still think that Unseen is a great album but people didn’t accept it as much. So financially it was getting really bad, we didn’t have money to pay for things that people with jobs take for granted. »

Radio Metal: In 2012 The Haunted saw successively the departures of three members. What were your thoughts at this point? Did you think that it was the end for the band?

Patrik Jensen (guitar): Peter left maybe six month before Anders and Per left the band too. So I think that we kind of got used to not being a functioning band, but then when Per and Anders left, three out of five people were gone. So of course, Jonas and I were like : “ok, what are we going to do? It’s only us left!” So we did have some bad thoughts about the future and everything. But the thing that Jonas and I always have had in common is that we’ve listened to metal all throughout the years; the other guys not so much whereas Jonas and I always talk about “have you heard the latest Saxon or Behemoth albums”, or whatever. So we thought that we can do something if we have that common ground and that’s why we decided to continue.

How can we explain this sudden wave of departure from the band? I mean, three departures from the band in just a couple of months, it mustn’t have been just a coincidence…

The Haunted have never been scared of trying new paths. We’ve always played what we wanted to play, but we’ve been professional musicians for thirteen or fourteen years and… I mean we need to sell CDs and people need to come to shows so you can pay for your rent and your food and everything. We still think that Unseen is a great album but people didn’t accept it as much. So financially it was getting really bad, we didn’t have money to pay for things that people with jobs take for granted. So that put a lot of stress on the band. I mean, I don’t think there were really any personal differences or musical differences. It was just that we really tried to do our own thing and it didn’t work. And I think that we were all frustrated and disappointed. Peter is an artist; he likes to break and try to break new grounds and so on. I think he was frustrated with the metal scene that is very narrow sighted. So I think that’s why he left.

But actually Peter Dolving had published a very bitter and passionate rant explaining his departure. He talked about emotional « dysfunctional bullshit » speaking of the Björler brothers. Is this something you also felt or agree with? How did you welcome these statements?

I’m sure you have had relationships with girlfriends – or boyfriends, I don’t know, I don’t discriminate – and if you’ve been in a long relationship and you break up, and sometimes one part doesn’t know that the other one wants to leave, and then a lot of feelings bubble up and rise to the surface and you’re disappointed and angry and… You know what I’m talking about! I’m not saying that a person doesn’t feel this but it comes from frustration and anger. I mean, we really put so much work in this together. I realize and accept that he’s angry and frustrated by a lot of things. I think it comes from disappointment.

Didn’t you ask Peter to come back when Anders left since, according to what he was exposing in his message, he seemed to be one half of the problem?

I think that Peter wrote everything… He removed us from his Facebook friends, so I don’t know what he wrote actually. I heard from other people that he wrote a lot of stuff. I think he did that to… (Thinking) Because he left once and he came back, so I think he wanted to really make sure that he was not going back. He wanted to move on in his life. It might sounds dramatic, but I think he wanted to burn his bridges, like: “Ok, this is a new start in my life, I’m not turning back.” Which can also be put in the perspective of having a relationship that you’ve been back and forth , thinking : “No, I need to move on, it’s not good.”

You talked a little bit about this earlier, but what really pushed you and Jonas to hold on and not let this band down?

Nicolas, we put so much time and efforts into it, and we have a lot of great memories. And we also thought that we still have good music left to give. Whatever albums we’ve put out – Revolver, Unseen, The Dead Eye – have been [made as] a functional group. We got everyone together and we started writing songs together. Exit Wounds, what it sounds like, is what came out, it’s not something that we said we’re going to play. So I still think that we have a relevance to be around. It’s not like it’s a bad version of The Haunted or anything. So I think that it was a wise decision.

The album is called Exit Wounds, is this really what this album represents after all the band’s been through?

It depends on what you put in the meaning of the title. Exit Wounds is a bullet living the body, right? Losing three members out of five, it’s like losing both of your arms and one leg. And Exit Wounds kind of fits with other terminologies that The Haunted have had with Live Rounds In Tokyo and so on. But it’s meant to be pronounced or said with a point, like “Exit. Wounds.” So the people that left aren’t the wounds, they were great people and great musicians, but what they left behind are wounds in the body of The Haunted. But now we have two new arms and a new leg, so we can put out albums again and we can do live shows, so we’re not wounded anymore, if you know what I mean. If these people hadn’t been very important to the band, it would have been like: “We found three new guys and it was nothing.” But the band really hurt when they left. So that’s the meaning of it.

« The people that left aren’t the wounds, they were great people and great musicians, but what they left behind are wounds in the body of The Haunted. »

The new The Haunted line-up was revealed in june 2013 and one year later the new album is coming out. Things seemed to flow pretty well. Was it important to work fast this time and have a new album coming out pretty quickly?

I think so. Again it wasn’t something that we planned on, like we needed to hurry. It was just that things fell in place really well. Back when The Haunted was started, my old band Seance and At The Gates had toured together and I became really good friend with Adrian and we said that we should form band together. I moved to Gothenburg but he was always away with At The Gates for the Slaughter Of The Soul tour. He called me one day, July 26 1996, and said: “Anders just left At The Gates and At The Gates is no more. Do you still wanna make that band?” And I said: “Of course!” The following day, July 27, we had the first The Haunted rehearsal. So having him back in the band is a really big thing for both of us, because him and I started the band. Jonas was the member number three. And… I’ve done so many interviews, so I forgot your question! [Laughs] Sorry!

It was that things seem to flow very well since the line-up was releaved…

Yes, good people, good friends, good musicians, everything works pretty easily actually. I don’t think the next album will take much longer either. I hope we’ll have a new album out next year, as well.

This new line-up includes two musicians that have already been members of the band in the early days. Was it important to ask people who were already part of the Haunted family to rejoin rather than audition a drummer and a singer?

We did auditions, first thing when Peter left. We put out three songs where we had the vocals removed and we got so many audition recordings, both from men and women and from known and unknown singers. But nothing really felt in place. Just like I told you, Adrian and I formed the band and he and I have always been friends, so it was a natural thing to ask him. Same thing with Marco, he knows the songs already and Jonas and I had heard the Resistance recordings, and I think that he sings better now than he did back old the old The Haunted albums, because he’s found his voice even more now. So getting them both back is beneficiary for The Haunted, as a band, but these are genuinely good people as musicians as well, so there was no compromise just because they had been in the band before.

Did they actually accept you offer easily?

Adrian shouted over the phone! [Laughs] He was pretty eager. Marco told me later that I asked him at the exact right moment, because he was in The Resistance and everything was going good and he was happy with that, he really liked getting back out there and playing. When I asked, he thought: “Oh, I can do this, this is easy!” Now he realize that maybe he was a bit optimistic and that there’s a lot of work. He still loves it, but it’s a lot of work. So that’s why he says that I asked at the exact right moment. And he’s happy to be in, and I’m happy that he’s in.

Ola Englund is the only one who hasn’t been part of The Haunted previously. How did he end up joining the band?

Are you a guitar player?

No I’m not!

Do you know what Ola does for a living? If you’re a guitar player and you go to You Tube to look for a new guitar amp or pickup or anything, you’ll find Ola Englund. He’s the guitar player that has the most hits online. Last time I check I think he had 22 million hits. It’s insane. I mean, for kids… We’re getting older, but kids that are fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years old, they sit a lot in front of the computers and they play they guitars through the computers, and they’re checking You Tube and everything. For them Ola Englund is so big that it’s The Haunted that joined Ola Englund! Just go to You Tube and you’ll see him. That’s just what I did, I just checked for a few guitars and then asked myself: “Who is this Swedish guy that’s on every clip?” I mean, he knows how to play, his riffs are really good and I started to write to him and he responded, and we talked back and forth before I really told him who I was. One thing led to another and he wanted to join the band. We were really fortunate to find him as a new member.

So this is why he put up these play through videos of you two playing “D.O.A.” and “Tresspass” together…

Yes and he has everything setup in his room and we needed to give the fans something. So we said: “Ok, let’s just do a play along.” And it was so easy, he just presses play, he has the cameras already up and the lights and everything. We recorded it and he edited it and it was fine! It’s really good to have someone that skilled in the band.

« What will probably make the band suffer more is that we have now been forced to get jobs. »

How’s the chemistry between him and you? Is the musicianship comparable to the one you had with Anders?

Ola comes a little bit from a different school and he’s a lot more of a solo guitar player than Anders was. I’m mean, he’s not fast solo guitar player, we had to actually force Anders to play solos. He relies a lot more on mood and melody, which is great. Me and Anders have molded together from playing in the same band for so many years, so it will take some time for Ola and I to reach that point, obviously. But it’s cool to have a new guy in the band with new inputs. He’s listened to other albums than what we had, so of course our sound will be affected by that, somewhat. But it feels good!

Exit Wounds comes back to the more traditional The Haunted style like what we heard on the first albums, especially compared to Unseen. You even asked back Diaz to do the artwork. Was it something natural, having Marco Aro in the band to go back to that style, or was there a conscious effort behind that?

No. It’s the same thing that we’ve always done with The Haunted. We’re used to writing stuff and see what happens. I mean, The Dead Eye wasn’t planned to be like The Dead Eye or Unseen wasn’t planned to be like Unseen. It’s just how it evolved, and it’s something that I think is pretty exciting. If you’re Yngwie Malmsteen and you write everything yourself, you know how your album is going to sound like. I think that it’s more exciting when everyone has an input and you don’t know yourself what will come out. So that was the same for Unseen and it was the same for this album too. Me and Jonas have been on every album, if you take the drummer from the first album and the singer from Made Me Do It and One Kill Wonder, I think that it’s inevitable that you’ll get something that sounds from that era, actually.

The album opens with a one minute and thirty second instrumental. Was it a wink at Made Me Do It and One Kill Wonder, the two albums that Marco Aro sang on before and had that kind of instrumental opening them?

Well, both of those albums are my doing, because I love intros that just riff along. So maybe that’s me getting too much room, I don’t know. [Laughs] But it wasn’t like we needed to copy the way those albums sound or start. It was just like: “I have this great intro, I really want it on a song!” [Laughs] And it happened to be in front of the first song. But I think it works and it’s cool.

And what is the meaning of that number “317”?

[Thinking and hesitating] I don’t know if I should say it! [Laughs]

Why?

It’s something Adrian came up with. It’s pretty cool.

Ok, you don’t want to tell me? [Laughs]

No!

Unseen was a very different album from The Haunted that really opened new doors artistically for the band and felt really creative, especially with the vocals blossoming to new ranges. So didn’t it feel like abandoning what might feel like an unfinished or aborted musical evolution?

I understand your question, but I think what has to be taken into consideration is that three members aren’t in the band anymore. And our albums become what members make it to be. In my mind, we’re still doing the same thing that we did with Unseen. So, this is what came out now. Next time we will try new stuff and it won’t sound like Exit Wounds. It’s just like: “Ok we’re on a different step in the staircase and we will see what the next step after Exit Wounds is.”

But making an album that sounds like trademark The Haunted, wasn’t it a way to reassure the fans as well, after all these changes?

Maybe but there are also a lot of people that say that “Oh, you don’t sound like Unseen anymore or The Dead Eye…” When Peter first left and Marco joined for Made Me Do It, people were “Oh, Peter, Peter!” But then, when Marco left and Peter joined again, all the people were saying “Oh, Marco, Marco!” So, I think that it’s inevitable that you can’t make everyone happy. We just play what we play and I’m glad when people like it, and if they don’t like it then I’m sorry.

The last song on the album called « Ghost In The Machine » has a bit of that more open and melodic musical orientation. Is this some sort of leftover from the Unseen sessions?

No, I think that’s Ola! So maybe that will lead into how the next album will sound like! I don’t know. [Laughs]

And is this because it’s feel maybe a bit apart in the album that you had put it at the end?

We put it last in the album because I think it’s important to us how you play songs. I think that an album needs to be a journey. I listen to whole albums and not just one or two songs. So I think that it has the best outro of the album. I like albums that leave a kind of… It doesn’t have to be a pleasant feeling but with “Ghost In The Machine”, I think it leave a pleasant feeling with the fade and the nice harmonies and everything, so I think it works perfectly as the last song.

« Now you have three or four times the amount of bands that want to play Thursday, Friday, Saturday… And what does the guy that has the club do? He just takes the cheapest band that can fill the night. So money for shows is going down as well. »

Marco Aro sings in the band The Resistance, Jonas Björler is still is in At The Gates, Adrian Erlandsson plays with Paradise Lost and At The Gates and you’re in Witchery. Don’t you think that The Haunted will suffer from having its members scattered in so many different other very active bands?

The Haunted and At The Gates have co-existed for quite a few years now. I think, for me, personally, The Haunted is the priority band. I think everyone in the band puts the priority in The Haunted as well, but what will probably make the band suffer more is that we have now been forced to get jobs. That was one of the things with Unseen, the fans didn’t understand it or whatever and it sold poorly and not a lot of people came to the shows. That has put a lot of strain and stress on the band, which led to disappointment and people leaving. So I started educating myself: I went three years to the university, so I’m now an IT consultant. Jonas is now a financial accountant. Marco’s always had his job: he’s a foreman in a construction company. And so on. So we won’t be able to do the six weeks tours anymore. I mean, everyone likes to have a house to go to and food to eat, so do we. That’s why we need to do this. But we will try to play everywhere, but it won’t be long tours. I think that the fans should be aware that if we come somewhere close or pretty close, maybe one or two hours, then you should drive there, because we won’t always be coming back six month later to a place even closer. We will still do a week or two in Japan and Australia, we will do Scandinavia, then we will do festivals. And at festivals, we will be able to play to a lot of people at the same time. So, hopefully, people will be happy with that.

Do you mean that before Unseen you didn’t need to have regular jobs and that you could make a living with music?

Yes. For thirteen years! For all bands the CD sales have gone down, which also affect us. There’s less money coming in and when less people come to shows and buy merchandise, that’s when you really start to hurt. It’s not like we want a million dollar house or anything. I think that all of us more or less live in a rented apartment. I was 35 when I came to buy my first car. Not many people might know such a thing when you’re in a band that have toured the world but that’s the reality. And then things just got worse and worse, and that’s what I think put too much strain on the band and why people left.

Many bands have been touring much more to be able to make a living from music, and you’re actually doing the opposite!

Well, the thing is that people say that with downloading and Spotify more people will hear the music and discover the band and that’s true, and I also have Spotify, so that’s cool. I don’t know where you live, but how many places to play in your city were there in the year 2000 and how many are there today? I’m thinking it’s roughly the same. But now you have three or four times the amount of bands that want to play Thursday, Friday, Saturday… And what does the guy that has the club do? He just takes the cheapest band that can fill the night. So money for shows is going down as well. So it’s a lose/lose situation. Yes, bands do need to tour more. I mean, if you’re 22 you can tour for 8, 9 or 10 months a year because you don’t have a family, you don’t have an apartment where you live with your girlfriend, but we are well beyond that age. So, what can we do?

That actually sounds like a dead end!

For music in general or for us?

For both!

It was for us and that’s why we had to make the best of it. Now we have jobs so we can still play to people and still do albums. I’ll be festivals and things. It’s not because we chose to do it, but because we were force to do it. And I think that a lot of other bands suffer from this as well.

For the fourth time in a row Tue Madsen produced the album. Did you want to have somebody who you were familiar working with?

Yes, like I said with Adrian and Marco, it wasn’t because they had been in the band before. It was because they brought something great to the band as well, so does Tue. But he also put a sound on [the album] that will make people realize that this is The Hanted, regardless if we play Unseen stuff or the Exit Wounds stuff. Having him on board also helped to cement the feeling that this is The Haunted that you’re listening to. The same with using Diaz to do the artwork. Again, it feels like a traditional The Haunted cover. This is a The Haunted cover and I think people will feel that.

You have Jed Simon and Chuck Billy guesting on the song « Trend Killer ». How did that come about?

The first US we did with The Haunted was with Testament in 1999, they had their Gathering album and we had our first album. So we’ve always been really good friends with them. The first band that Chuck Billy went out to see after he had his throat operation was The Haunted, so we’ve always been good friends. And asking Chuck to be a part of this new album and him saying yes immediately, it was like a childhood dream come true actually. I think that Chuck Billy has an amazing voice, an incredible range, from the melodic end to the harsh, almost death metal, vocals. I also personally think that the song “Trend Killer” is one of the absolute best songs on the album and I think it will be a really good thrash to play live.

Interview conducted by phone on July, 15th by Spaceman.
Transcription and introduction : Spaceman.

The Haunted official website: www.the-haunted.com



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