Hey Tim, how are you doing? Is this cold winter passing away up there or still not? Everything is right in Switchblade's front? How has been the response on the new album since its release? I saw a 2xLP version was just unleashed, so there seems to be some demand.
Hey man, all is well up here, thanks for asking. The cold and snow is finally giving in and the spring is coming our way. The response to the latest album has been really good in terms of reviews and stuff like that. Sales have been ok but not fantastic. But that’s how it usually is I guess. Since we don’t tour that much, we don’t sell that much records. But I’m not complaining. Yeah, the vinyl turned out really nice thanks to the nice people over at Denovali Records in Germany.
The biggest news concerning Switchblade is that we´re a duo since a couple of months back. So it’s just me and Johan now. Johan is playing both his two guitar amps and Anders’ bass amp with an octave pedal so the overall sound is still intact. We’ll be playing some shows as an instrumental duo and some shows with guests.
So, there was a stop of three years between the last two albums and not much info about the band except for some live shows. What happened during that time? Did you need to free your mind from the ideas of the past and search for new ways of inspiration?
I guess that it was a combination of the three of us live pretty far apart, me becoming a father for the second time and the fact that we work very slow when it comes to writing new material. We have never been a band that tour that much and we do things at our own pace. There was 3 years between the 2003 and 2006 album as well so at least we’re consistent.
By the way, before going deeper into Switchblade's sound, I'd like to clear up the reason why all your recordings are simply entitled as the moniker of the band. Do you want to make it more difficult to people like me who do reviews and interviews? Is it that there isn't any clear message or whole concept under Switchblade that needs to be expressed through words or you simply wanted to keep some mysterious atmosphere around the band?
Well the main reason for us having all selftitled albums is that we feel that the latest album is always what represent Switchblade the best. This is Switchblade now. And since we do this band only for our own sake and not to try to please other people, we don’t feel a need to make it more accessable to people outside the band, but on the other hand, it’s not like we’re trying to make things hard for people or trying to make it more “mysterious” either. It’s just our way of working and expressing ourselves.
When it comes to your music, I'm quite surprised about its evolution, as I discovered the band with the 2006 album, which is already really heavy and atmospheric, but then bought the one from 2003 and it’s quite different, closer to Post-Hardcore/Sludge and not so doomy/droning, just as other previous stuff of yours I heard. Were you getting bored of playing that style or did the music simply evolve that way? Are you discovering your taste for noisier stuff with the pass of years?
Well, of course the music evolves over time. When we started out over 10 years ago, our music was very chaotic and quite fast in tempo but I still think you can see/hear a red thread running along all our releases even though the tempo has slowed down. We have always had the same mindset when approaching our music and songwriting so the evolution of our music has come naturally. It’s not like we have sat down and deceided to make something very different from the previous album. But I would say that we were a lot noisier earlier on.
It seems you come back darker than ever with this, once again, self titled recording. The 2006 album was already a true nightmare of the deepest Sludge/Drone heaviness, but 2009's reaches a new level with the blackest atmosphere Switchblade has ever delivered. It gave me the same kind of feelings we can find on an atmospheric Black Metal recording even if it doesn't have any relation with that style. How would you explain through words the kind of vibes a person can find on this recording? On which degree do you see it different from the preceding ones? What was your goal for this recording when it comes to the atmosphere, as well on the technical level as on the feeling result?
Yeah, we’re very satisfied with the way the recording turned out. We have been aiming for this production for a long time and we finally got it exactly the way we intended it to be. We always want the production to sound natural and huge. Daniel Lidén knew exactly how to get the sound we were looking for. We will continue to work with him for sure.
Well, we listen to quite a lot of black metal so I guess that shows in the atmosphere of our music even though we don’t use any of the classic black metal attributes we often get similar results.
By the way, I've seen many labels applied to your music, from Sludge or Drone to Doom, but how would you define it? Is it simply Doom or you like to keep closer to the Hardcore way of thinking saying it's Sludge? It's seems more and more complicated to label a band nowadays, but is it good, because of a higher variety of musical styles, or simply a matter of words?
To be honest I have no idea myself and people can call it what they want. Yes, we’re from a more hardcore background and have always tried to keep away from adding any typical metal elements to our music but I guess that we have incorporated a few metal attributes lately. But I think we’re a mix of a whole bunch of different styles. And yes, genres is something that media has invented to be able to place bands in to make it easy for themselves.
It always surprises me to see how the power trio line-up works always so well, and Switchblade shows that once again. You sound stunningly heavy and at the same time everything is quite clear to be able to listen to those crunchy notes, feedbacks and vibes. Have you ever thought about getting a second guitar player, or will Switchblade stay like this? I guess it’s a lot simpler to get the exact sound you want that way, isn’t it? Especially when it's a simple one (technically speaking).
Well, we have worked pretty hard over the years to really find a way to really get the overall sound just how we want it. And a big reason to why the sound is pretty clear is that we don’t use any distorsion pedals and we keep the guitar sound pretty clear and dynamic.
We have not been interested in adding a second guitar player but maybe someone playing some Hammond and piano. So Daniel Lidén who recorded the album will probably join us on stage from time to time. Lately me and Johan have been working pretty hard with getting the sound perfect as a duo. And I must say that we how found exactly what we’ve been looking for. Very focused and powerful but still very dynamic.
So, enough about the music and let’s dig into the background of it, the thoughts and the words which built the foundations of this new album. As there are no titles, no words to identify each track or the whole album into some concept, I’d like you to explain us what does it hide on a global level. Do you still use lyrics or simply some words that fit the mood of the songs? How much importance do words have, in your opinion, in the music of a band like Switchblade?
How do you mean…? The are vocals on all three tracks and all of the lyrics are written in the booklet… Anders wrote all of the lyrics so I will not go too deep into them. But there is definitely a lot of thoughts and meaning behind the lyrics. A big part of the lyrics are about coping with death. I think that lyrics have a certain importance in our music. Somehow the actual lyrics are more important the vocals. But we have always put the music first and vocals second.
Is the magic of number three a way of understanding this album? We find three tracks and a three armed candelabra on the cover, apart of the three guys playing in the band. Do you see your music as some kind of magical process, from the writing of the songs to the recording, because of the effect they have on you? Isn’t music a spiritual travel to others thoughts?
Well, the number 3 does appear a lot on the album on different levels and is what ties a lot of different things together. No, I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it’s a magical process. Our music is of course very important to us but we’re just regular people who enjoy playing music together and sometimes we’re taken in directions and places we didn’t intend to go.
Still about the magical side of your music, on which way do you conceive playing in Switchblade as some kind of ritual? Do you see that kind of effect on people when you play live? What’s the reaction from people into your sound and the ones who are not? Which feeling or energy would you like to fill them with your vibrations?
Well, to us it’s more of a personal ritual when we play our music, no matter if it’s just the 3 (2) of us in our practice space or a show with a small or big crowd. I hardly look at the crowd while we’re playing but I hope the crowd are standing still, concentrated and engulfed by the music. We do not preach a message or a certain feeling. Our music is open for interpretation for anybody interested. Those not interested usually just leave the room I guess…
Tim, you're also the owner of Trust No One Recordings, the label who released all Switchblade's recordings since the 1998 EP until now, as well as stuff from Kongh, Isis, Khanate, Old Man Gloom... Why did you decide to work that way? Was it important for you to keep the whole control of Switchblade’s releases?
Yeah, it’s a good feeling and a nice way to work since we have full control over every aspect of our releases. And honestly, we have not been approached that many times by other labels either so I have just continued to release all our recordings.
How hard is it for you to choose what you want to release nowadays, between this huge amount of bands emerging everywhere in the globe? Do you think, as some people, that the quality decreased because of the hype in these styles or there’s simply a wider range of possibilities? Which recent discoveries would you like to see on your label’s roster? Any recent signing you want to announce us?
Well, I usually just approach bands that I really like and find interesting so I usually don’t have any problems to sort out what the release or not. And also, TNO is a small label with very limited finances so I’m usually able to release just a couple of records each year. But I like it like that.
I recently bought the first album of All Hail The Transcending Ghost, your other project together with the talented soul of Henrik Nordvargr Björkk. How did it start and what was your main idea when the project was formed? Did you know Henrik before? What do you think about his career? How it to work with him and what is was the global interest between both of you?
I’ve known Henrik far quite some time from the recordstore where I work. So we came to understand that we had a lot of mutual interests and musical preferences. So we actually got the project together to be able to open for Khanate at their show in Stockholm in 2004. So the basic tracks for what became album was recorded in 2004.
That album is totally focused on Drone/Ambient sounds, with music samples and a noisy atmosphere. In which way it expresses a different kind of mood from Switchblade’s music and what kind of landscapes were you searching for? Did it have any relation with apocalyptic visions or darker introspective human feelings? Will this project release more recordings or you only worked together for one release?
Yeah, I guess you could say that it’s dark ambient/drone stuff. The mood is not that far from Switchblade actually. But in AHTTG I do my best to play the guitar and not the drums like in Switchblade. We are slowly starting to work on new material. We’re not in any hurry as you might have noticed…
Chose among the pairs and give me your opinion about these other Swedish acts please:
- Bathory or Entombed: BATHORY. Even though Entombed has also done great records are are very important in the Swedish metal history.
- Candlemass or Count Raven: CANDLEMASS. I have too little knowledge about Count Raven.
- Cult Of Luna or Suma: CULT OF LUNA. Both bands are nice guys though.
- Kongh or Pyramido: KONGH. Both bands are nice guys though.
- Watain or Shining: WATAIN. Both bands are nice guys and are both important.
- MZ 412 or Puissance: MZ 412.
This is the end Tim. Thanks a lot for your time, I hope the interview wasn’t too long or boring. Good luck for the future of Switchblade and please keep on punishing our brains with your music. If you want to add anything else, go on…
Thanks a lot for your interest in Switchblade. More music to come.
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.