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Interviews   

Red Hot Crucified Barbara


The four ladies that make up Swedish band Crucified Barbara are women of character. They’ve proven it from day one, with their full-blooded hard rock and their first album In Distortion We Trust. Character is just what you need to follow in the footsteps of those all-female bands with guts who won’t let anyone walk over them in a predominantly male – and often macho – world, like Girlschool or the Runaways. The audience was quick to follow, and a substantial fanbase has since gathered.

Here comes the band’s fourth album, In The Red, which not only proves that these girls know how to rock, but also that they have serious things to say. Last May, they released a video for their song “To Kill A Man”, the subject of which is rape. In the following interview, singer/guitarist Mia “Coldheart” Karlsson talks about the album, obviously, and about the band’s awareness regarding the problems experienced by women.

« The whole thing about being a band is to feel stronger and have a bigger meaning. »

Radio Metal : You recently signed a deal with Despotz Records, which isn’t a very well-known record label. Can you tell more about this record label and the deal you have with them?

Mia « Coldheart » Karlsson (vocals/guitar): It’s a record label based in Stockholm, so it’s pretty good to have a label close to us so we can have meetings and meet face to face. We’ve known about them for a few years and then we’ve heard about their great work with other bands that we like. They wanted to sign us and we thought they would be a great label to be with. They’re also a great label in the way we always want to work with people who don’t want to change us in any way or promote our band in wrong ways and take the band for what it is and take the best out of us. I think we have found the right label. It feels really, really good to work with them.

What was wrong with your previous record label?

Nothing was wrong.We wanted to try a new things and to work with the one label. We just wanted to go this way.

In the promotional biography provided with the album it is said that you have always been shocked by injustice and oppression but that this time your opinions have taken a bigger place in the songwriting. Was that triggered by some events that happened in the world recently?

I think during the last years and for the album work, we’ve been more aware of things outside and things that made us angry and sad. It became more and more important to talk about things and not just rock n’ roll and party and so on. I think we write songs about what you have inside, what you need to take out. The first single is about rape. We have another song that’s called “The Ghost Inside” that’s about the lack of self-confidence and the fashion industry, how it makes people [feel bad]. So we just tried to write about what we feel about.

How did it affect the songwriting? Do you think having those powerful lyrics about the themes you feel concerned about can make a better music and a better song?

Yeah, I think that the whole thing about being a band is to feel stronger and have a bigger meaning. It’s not just about banging your head every night; we can actually deliver some kind of messages to our fans. And I think that every lyric is for everyone to read and express the way they want to read it. First of all, the main thing is to write good rock music and then I usually write the lyrics after when I have a feeling about what to write about. So we were very careful with the beat and the songs, and then the lyrics come into effect.

(About misgyny) « It really scares me and makes me sad to see that it seems to go even worse now I think. »

The song “To Kill A Man” is a very special song and definitely your darkest song, both musically and lyrically since it talks about rape, like you were saying. Was it important to you as a female hard rock band to talk about this particular theme?

I think it was important to talk about it as human beings, actually, because this problem is going on in the world everywhere and every day. You read about it in the newspapers every day, see it in movies and TV shows to the point it’s becoming normalized. I think that it’s a big problem that we feel very strongly about. Actually, the song is about a special case in Sweden; a police chief who was widely known for his work for women’s rights. He was always on the women’s side working hard to take care of rape victims. His colleagues were making a joke of him because he was so much on the women side so they were calling him “Captain Dress”. It ended up that he was a rapist himself and abused the women on his free time and he was really the most evil person you can think about. He’s been in prison since many years now for these really bad crimes. To know that it can actually happen with every kind of people who can have some dark sides and behave like that…. It’s even worse when you’re working against these kinds of things and then you end up doing these crimes. So that was the main inspiration for the song but we wanted to show the everyday sexism that is going on.

Can we expect you to write about darker and darker themes in the future?

We’ll see how I feel at that time [laughs]. If the world changes for the better, maybe not. I think that we have some songs on the album that are not that serious or that deep, but we still always want to write songs that have a meaning in the lyrics. Even if maybe one song feels a bit playful or with a not that serious subject, there’s always been a thought behind it. Whether it’s a dark or light subject, I think it’s important that the lyrics mean something in one way or another.

One of another important theme you wanted to talk about is misogyny. There’s actually a lot of misogyny in metal and hard rock scene. Do you still feel that even if you’re a well-known and appreciated band?

When I grew up and started playing music I was never affected by this. But I was really against the word “feminist” or using it, because I thought “why can’t you just do your thing?” I have never had any problems being a woman playing music. I never went on stage saying “I’m here because I’m a woman” because I was just there as a musician. The more we play and the older we get, we just see more of it all the time, but as a band we don’t have any problems with that, maybe because people take us seriously. I see what’s going on around with how other people are being treated. I opened up my eyes a lot. It’s easier to find online with Twitter and Facebook and see the bad comments. It really scares me and makes me sad to see that it seems to go even worse now I think.

« It doesn’t mean we’re angry feminists who want to kill a man. It’s not the case. We love men [laughs] but we love the good ones. »

So would you consider yourself as a feminist?

Yeah I do now because I realize I have to speak up for that case. I think it’s really sad also to see that people, just because you call yourself a feminist, they say like “oh I am so disappointed that you present yourself as a feminist speaking about rape, for example in the song ‘To Kill A man’.” How can that be wrong? I mean…. It doesn’t mean we’re angry feminists who want to kill a man. It’s not the case. We love men [laughs] but we love the good ones, you know. It shouldn’t have to do with if you’re a man or a woman. Just behave! [Laughs]

You said you did a lot of jamming for this album. Has it always been that way?

Yes. In one way or another we always liked to jam. It’s like the other girls are calling it jamming, I think I call it hard work [Laughs]. For the other albums the songwriting seemed to be different for every song. Some songs were written at home or at the home studio alone by me or some other members, and then we rehearse and arrange it. And other songs were written together. For this album, we wrote all the songs together in the rehearsal room. We were very focused. For about six months we met every day, for a couple of hours. We wrote songs, arranged them, changed them and we talked about them until every song felt like we reached the point where it was perfect, and then we could go on with the next one. It was a great work to have everybody there all day. And during the weekend we were playing in gigs, so we saw each other a lot this fall!

Can you tell more about the artwork? Who designed it?

It was designed by a Swedish artist called Erik Rovanpera and he’s based in Stockholm and we’ve seen his work for other bands like Candlemass. We all thought that he was great and we were like “I think we should work with him.” And for this album we asked him and he was up for it. So we gave him some stuff like the title of the album and told him what kind of style we wanted. He gave us this as a suggestion and we liked it immediately. It was so great to work with someone that can put out an idea that everybody liked immediately. [Laughs] It feels really amazing to have this [artwork]. We feel so proud of that album and the music. It feels great and we can now be proud of the album cover too.

Last year you did your first tour in America. Has this motivated you to try and go there more often?

That’s our wish. We haven’t got any plans yet for America but I really hope we can go back soon because we have a great fan base there. We were there for 6 weeks and it was a really hard but fun tour. We met so many new people and got a great following immediately so I really hope we can go back there soon and do our own tour.

Interview conducted by phone 16th, july 2014 by Metal’O Phil.
Retranscription: Thibaut Saumade.
Traduction and introduction: Spaceman.

Crucified Barbara Official website: Crucifiedbarbara.com



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