Hey guys, welcome and congratulations for that first album you’ve recently released. How has been the response so far? I'm pretty sure it had to be mostly good, isn't it?
Jonathan: In Putrescence has divided the water for sure. Some people seem to not be able to cope with what we are doing, and others are celebrating our first opus. It is intriguing to observe, and it feels as if it somehow reflects our music and ourselves as a band.
Though being a bit typical, I’d like to know about the origins of Stench. Why two guys from Tribulation started a new project and how long ago did it start? Was it like an exit for ideas that didn’t fit Tribulation’s style? Which were those ideas?
Jonathan: When writing for Tribulation I encountered a vein of tonality and spirit, which was too Black Metal-related to fit in Tribulation (which in my opinion is more Rock´n´Roll rather than philosophical or spiritual). It did not came to me as the usual riffs, but as melodies and harmonies based on the three tones-chord (This is also Stench’s ground structure and what makes it unique; The bass and the two guitars rarely plays in unison – in order to evoke harmony). Johannes and I had been playing together for many years in different constellations, and he had always been a very talented drummer but had never played in a serious band before. So when we met Mikael, who was a furiously exceptional singer who had quit his original band some years back, we clicked at once. Our musical path forward was obvious, and involved us all with passion for our common art.
How did you end up signing with Agonia Records for your first album by the way? You released an interesting EP entitled “Reborn In Morbidity” on Soulseller Records and then quickly went on the ranks of that polish label, which is working harder than ever to release interesting albums. How has their promotion been working until now?
Jonathan: Agonia contacted us in exactly the right moment and offered us a deal and a formality and approach, which we were searching for at the time. The mentality, their way of relating themselves to this business and to see its potential is inspiring and keeps the cooperation fresh. I am actually not really aware of whether the promotion is working or not, and I do not consider it as very relevant either. My personal intention is not primarily to sell; it is to be given the opportunity to create.
Starting to dissect your music, I’d like to know your opinion if I tell you I’ve found influences especially from Swedish bands from the beginning/middle of the nineties, like the first At The Gates, Eucharist, Unanimated, maybe some Grotesque/Liers In Wait and all the Death Metal that didn't sound like just typical “Sunlight Studio sound”, without forgetting some technical stuff from the US. What do you think about this? Which would you name as your influences and how important was it to keep yourselves far from the most usual tendencies in Death Metal?
Jonathan: The music utterly reflects ideas and emotions we harbor within ourselves, reproduced in the context of one bass, two guitars, drums and Micke’s voice. The mix was then adjusted to in best possible way put emphasis and focus on our given directions and intentions. Thus, we did not actively took distance from anything in particular when we “chose” our sound – we simply derived it from ourselves. What was most important was that the vision was being realized according to its original form. Whatever anyone thinks it reminds him or her of, it is a personal matter. I have actually not given any of the given examples you mentioned above a single thought throughout the making of In Putrescence. This is just us.
So, which would be, in your opinion, the biggest differences from what you do on “In Putrescence” to what we can find on Tribulation's “The Horror”? I'm definitely seeing a much more technical approach, as I was saying, with more ambitious guitar parts, full of weird details and chaotic but intricate riffs.
Jonathan: In a way, you are right. However, the technical aspects are not in any way intentionally emphasized from our side, they are more like a natural necessity to perform the compositions. In Putrescence is based and built on certain ideas and principles, which are imbuing everything about the album. A concept from the beginning to the end, uncompromised. The Horror on the other hand, is the fruit of our teens and our perception of the world from that time - a little more black and white generalizations (which however seems to be an advantage in extreme art). These conditions shine through when comparing the two albums. To me, In Putrescence stands more for a search, a voyage into the unknown where nothing is a matter of course, while The Horror is a more direct experience, not concealing anything to the listener in a more of a Rock´n´Roll mentality. This difference characterizes every inch of the albums if one looks closer, and will obviously attract different audiences.
Still about the same subject, what's your opinion about the high amount of “old-schooled” bands appearing nowadays and the real effect they're having in the innovation or refreshing of ideas in Death Metal? I'm not obsessed with absolute innovation, but it's always cool to do something at least personal. What do you think about that? Do you mind or you like to hear a new copy of Entombed and Dismember every month?
Jonathan: It is somewhat amusing actually. Though I should not value the phenomenon, people may do whatever they want. But I believe that the reason people are starting bands in that spirit are doing it because they need some kind of reconnecting with something raw and primeval in their lives. There might be nostalgic reasons involved as well. Anyway, my point is that the reasons why one decides to start a band are crucial for how long the band in question is going to last. A band whose fundaments are based on a puberty/40 year old-crisis does not stand a chance against visionaries with strong wills - actually in any possible aspect. Build a tower on sunken ground, and it will collapse sooner or later.
Let me know what you think about these acts and their last releases:
- Repugnant: Jonathan: Their latest is indeed already a classic.
- Kaamos: Jonathan: I generally equal the adjective “brutal” with bad taste, but Kaamos is one of the few who can be brutal in a purely positive manner.
- Evocation: Jonathan: Never heard of them.
- Necrovation: Jonathan: The rawness, the blackness… It cannot be found somewhere else with the same nerve.
- Entrails: Jonathan: Never heard of them.
- Maim: Jonathan: Haven’t given them a proper listen.
- Miasmal: Jonathan: A bunch of decent guys and decent music, no more nor less.
- Interment: Jonathan: Never really caught my attention.
- Mordbrand: Jonathan: Never heard of them.
- Morbus Chron: Jonathan: Haven’t looked it to these guys properly yet, but somehow I find them interesting.
Going to the lyrical part of Stench, it seems to be focused on the classical Death Metal subjects, just like death, darkness, rotting... Could you let us know what do your songs speak about exactly and what does that reflect from Stench's members? Are you speaking about personal feelings or more about horror subjects, just like Tribulation?
Jonathan: In Putrescence differs from The Horror particularly on this point. Stench is much about what it seems to be, and how the depth in the texts varies depending on the person who is reading. The texts of Tribulation on the other hand tell you a story, a determined course of events. It is mystique contra in-your-face. But about In Putrescence; If read only as lyrics or poems it could appear as, as you put it, classical Death Metal lyric. But if experienced in the bigger context of the music and artwork, the whole might reveal itself as greater and more extensive than one first could imagine. Or you might still think it is just your everyday Death metal-lyrics, who knows?
What's your position about Death Metal lyrics? Is there any place for other subjects (war, social, politics, satanism, sexism, hate, racism...) or should they be focused around death, as some people claim? Could you give me an example of a “classical” styled band which lyrics you dislike and a band which isn't into that kind of lyrics but still does a great job with them?
Jonathan: I cannot say that I really care so much about what lyrics generally “should be” about, I can only speak for myself on that point - people may do whatever they want. But as a matter of fact, I have almost never found a Death Metal text I actually find interesting in any way. Of course it depends on how it is presented, but my perception of Death Metal is that it is not very important what the lyrics are about, or its actual meaning. And I could not disagree more on that point with my own writing in consideration. What appeals to me is when the author is actually trying to express something that I some way find important to myself, something that I can relate to and makes me think. Therefore, I more often find Black Metal texts in particular more interesting than the lyrical content in other metal genres. And maybe it is not even about the contents, perhaps it is more about the tone - how the lyrics is treated and its relation with the music.
You've done a great work with all the visual part of “In Putrescence”. The cover is really original in all its simplicity and symmetry, and the same goes for the logo. Who was in charge of everything? Maybe Jonathan and Adam, just like in Tribulation's case?
Jonathan: That is correct, I am responsible for the visuals through Necromantic Art (a one man movement nowadays). The visual part is tightly related to the music and the lyrics in a sort of triangle – to get the true experience of the record, all of them should be equally represented. If one is not in possession of the LP (which provides the whole in the best way), visit necromanticart.se to widen your mind.
Just as for the music, what do you think about album artworks and logos in Death Metal? Which bands/albums influenced you in the past as examples of smart artworks and personal artworks? Do you like gory ones, just as most of Brutal and Gore bands use?
Jonathan: Overall I think that Death and Black Metal over the years have represented a tastelessness unprecedented; the only really good covers I have seen are those who are stolen from the old masters of art from the past. That is partly why I got in to the business myself with Necromantic Art – I saw such an untouched potential. The perfect logo to me is rotten but not gory, unique but not weird. Powerful, yet in a morbid sense, with a certain dose of symmetry as well. These thoughts and ideals of equality and taste echoes in my head when I create, but how they are interpreted differs from each assignment, depending on the occasion and the given directions.
So, you're playing in Tribulation, and then Adam (your other guitar player in that band) plays in Repugnant and Enforcer. All of them are quite different bands, and it specially surprises me to see how all of you can play Death, Thrash or Heavy Metal without any problem, which doesn't seem to be what a lot of deathsters like. What do you think about those walls people build between those styles, Punk or Black Metal?
Jonathan: I don’t think it really matters which particular genre you are in to. Instead, what really matters is if you can identify yourself with what you get yourself into. As long as you are available to express that you need, the things that are unique for you without being someone else but yourself – do what the hell you want.
I think most of people, just like me, are surprised with how easily swedish bands do side projects which are still very seriously working. How do you manage your time with everything? Which are your priorities at the end of the day and where does Stench find its place?
Jonathan: Stench was never a side project and is at least equally serious Tribulation. We have just not established ourselves yet, as we are a relatively new act (half as young as Tribulation). When we grew up in our hometown playing music was a way of hanging out, and to start new bands (projects) at that time was a way of meeting new people. I guess this “tradition” lives on in our lives as grown-ups, more or less. Anyway, Stench put an end to my time of starting new bands every week. Now it is just the two of them.
What about Stench's live activity? Have you already done some concerts or do you see Stench more like a studio project? I haven't seen any dates announced on your myspace profile...
Jonathan: As already stated, Stench is not a project. Present day we have only played live a few times, but in 2011 we will hit the road for a tour and festivals. We are yet merely in the beginning of our existence.
So, to end with this interview, I'd like you to let us know about the upcoming news around Stench. Is there a future for Stench beyond “In Putrescence”? Have you already started working on new songs? Any other release already planned for the coming future? Maybe you'd like to have a split EP with some band you like? Let us know please...
Jonathan: There will be another fullenght for Agonia within a period of two years from November 2010, new material is already formulated and there is nothing in our way.
Thanks a lot for your time answering these questions and good luck with Stench's future, as I really think your band deserves it. Last words are yours...
Jonathan: Thank you.
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.