Graveyard (Axel Sjöberg)
Ballads, synthesizers, a new lineup and totally new sounds: Graveyard are ready to overwhelm us with their fourth studio album "Innocence & Decadence".
Article by Riccardo Coppola - Publish on: 09/09/15

Your fourth studio album "Innocence & Decadence" will be out in September. Can you give our readers a brief introduction to it?


Well, I think, there's a lot of new stuff on the album, but if you listened to Graveyard before, or for a long time, I think you will instantly recognise us at the same time. We always try to expand our musical universe every time we make an album and write new stuff. We try to develop ourselves, to keep it interesting, to keep hungry. There are slow songs, fast songs, synthesizers... a little bit of everything!

Can you tell me something about the album title? Does it have a connection to the lyrics of the album? What are the topics you deal with?


The title comes from the song "The Apple And The Tree". Innocence and decadence are words that often come together. There's a lot of meanings to these words. There's something about the journey we've done as a band. As for the lyrics for the album, there's social issues, there's love songs, there's personal stuff, the problems we face in life. Maybe the lyrics are written from a more personal point of view on this album. Sometimes it's hard to tell until a bit of time is passed and you can distance yourself from the lyrics, to know what actually they're about.

What does the album art represent?


We just described moods and vibes to the artist that also did for the cover for "Hisingen Blues". And we just let him loose. So he kind of interpreted what we told, without a specific direction. We were just giving moods. We feel very confident with him, we know that he delivers good stuff, he's very creative and an extraordinary person.

Did you want your music to take a precise direction when you started recording the album?


It's not always on a conscious level. It's that when you write songs stuff may come up and you're like "Oh! Hey! Yeah! We've never done this before! Let's try it!". If we have a song we try to find different ways to play it. For instance, if you pick the last song in the album: it's really low key, with mellotron, vibraphone... There's Truls singing in "From a hole in the wall", very weird and new to Graveyard. And a bit of synthesizers... we're stepping in kind of a new direction, I think.

Do you feel confortable with the label "classic rock" that's often used to describe your music? Do you see it as a limit for your experimentations?


Yes and no. If you don't give people anything, they'll be confused. You want to put in words what you hear and see around. If you went to your best friend and say that you've been to a show yesterday and that you have seen a great band, and he asked you "What do they sound like?", you have to say something. In that sense, I think that maybe classic rock is fair, but in another sense it doesn't sum up all the parts that Graveyard are. But you have to put some label on your music, and I prefer classic rock to retro-rock or vintage rock or stoner rock or whatever. I don't like those titles. "Classic" is fair, because to me something that is classic is something that stands the test of time.

You're publishing your third album with Nuclear Blast, which is a label that's linked principally with extreme metal bands. Didn't you see it as a strange association when you signed with them?


It might be but I think that it also had to do with the changes in the landscape of music and record labels. In early 2000s a lot of record labels went defunct or disappeared, because they weren't selling any records, since people were getting music through internet. Nuclear Blast was one of the record labels that was big enough to still be standing as this was happening, and when small record labels started to disappear they could expand in new territories because they had less competition. I think we were one of the first band that signed with them when they wanted to expand in new directions. If you look at their roster now, they have a lot of bands that don't play extreme metal or classic heavy metal or whatever. I think that the musical landscapes for record labels is changed. Once again, you need covers, but you can't always judge by the cover.

graveyarditw01Whereas today's rock music is strictly tied to music from the Seventies, a lot of musicians sort of forget what happened in the Eighties. Do you think there's been some valuable music in that decade too?


I listened from a lot of bands from late Eighties and Nineties, like the Swedish death metal scene. I listen a lot to bands like Dinosaur Jr and stuff like that. All of that, probably, is somewhere in our music too. But some of our influences are more obvious than others. As for early Eighties, I don't know... there has to be good music from that era too! (laughs, ndr) I guess it's probably more a matter of taste, I don't know.

You worked with a new producer and in a new studio this time around. Was it a good experience?


Janne Hanson owns the studio... his experience, and his long time in the music business, and how kind he is as a person, made us feel both honoured and very welcome to his studio. It's been great to play in a big studio, a classic studio full of great gear. It was a very pleasant experience to record with both Janne and Johan Lindstrom, and in that studio. It really developed our sound, and the way we record our songs.

Rikard Edlund left the band last year. Was it difficult for you to move on, and for Truls to fit in the band?


Of course, it was a bit difficult because we've been friends. He and Joachim have been friends and played in bands together since they were 15 or 16, and I've played with him since I was 21. It's a long journey and we have a lot of memories together. But at the same time, I think it's what he needed to do, 'cause he didn't really felt comfortable for a while. When you face a change, it's always both an opportunity and scary, at the same time. But when we started to work at the new album, Joachim and Jonathan didn't want to play bass in the demos, and we were hanging out with Truls and we knew that he had time to play bass on the demos. Things kind of evolved from there, and in December we asked him to join the band again. He was happy to do so. It worked really fine, and it's nice that he was in the band in the beginning and he came back. He is a Graveyard guy.

Do you have any passion outside music that inspires you?


At the moment I like to build stuff. I pick up wood that has been touched by the ocean... I've built a shelf for my records, I've built a bench for my balcony. Right now, I'm building a wardrobe in the form of an outdoor toilet... because in the wardrobe is where keep all my shit (laughs, ndr). I like movies, too. I tend to focus on one thing at a time until I find something else I'm interested in.



Is there something (maybe really far from rock) that you'redigging these times? And, on the other hand, is there something that you can't stand?


I think I am too old to not stand stuff. I just stay away from it if there's something I don't like. I'm not the one to tell people what's right or wrong. Everyone has his rights or wrongs when it comes to musical tastes. As for bands, I like a new band from Gothenburg, called Nightpiper, they make really fast metal like Judas Priest... Oh, we have a rock band from the early 80s, Judas Priest! But they were active in the Seventies too... Mostly, when I'm home, I try to go to as many shows as I can and see what's happening in Sweden and Gothenburg. And of course we see many bands when we are touring. I'm listening to a lot of experimental electronic music lately... a band called Suuns. Their latest album is very good.





What's your attitude towards new technologies of delivering music to listeners?


I like phisical albums, something that you can hold and look at the cover. But it's kind of pointless to be negative against new technologies, because the new technology will come, whether you like it or not. I mean, I listen to music on my phone when I'm on the bus or on the subway, on when we're touring, I can't bring my record collection. Even though the sound might be worse. Instead of complaining about stuff, I try to make the best of it. As many record labels weren't able to handle that transformation, it gave more power to the musicians theirselves. As with most things, there's upsides and downsides.

You're turning 10 next year...


That's insane, I haven't thought about that! That's true! I have to think to something to do!

What are the best and the worst experiences you lived with Graveyard?


Oh... there's really bad ones. Bus breaking down on tours. There was one time when we were still a young band, when we lost a lot of merch money in the US. I lost my passport, my computer and a lot of merch money... it wasn't a good day. One of the really good moment was when - I think it was last year - we played together on stage with Hellacopters. It was great, because I listened a lot to Hellacopters when I was younger and they're a really influential Swedish rock band. And one time Jimmy Page came to see our show in New York. It was kind of interesting too!

What's your ideal audience like?


These days we have a very varied audience. I like it when I see really old men or women, along with kids of 11-12 years old, and everyone in between. It means that music has smoething universal in it. To me that's like a sign that we made something that a lot of people can relate to, no matter what it sounds like. And the vibes in the crowd are usually really good when we have a good mix of people.

Any plans of playing in Italy in the near future?


Yeah, I think that November 11th, we'll play in Milan again. At the Circolo Magnolia.

Do you have some messages for the Italian fans coming to the shows?


If you come to the show in Milano, please get me scamorza and I will buy you beer.

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