Visibly tired from the journey from the UK to Ireland, Mat suggests that we have a drink away from the venue as he needs to get a little relax time in before the doors open. Sounds good to us!!
OD – We have to talk about the demise of Beastmilk and the creation of Grave Pleasures, how did that come about and what was the story from the end of the last touring cycle as Beastmilk?
MAT – I think the thing with Beastmilk was that we never really felt like we were a proper band! We started it almost as a reaction to bands that we’d been in in the past and just wanted to do something that wasn’t really a band if you know what I mean. It was the intention of not wanting to make it a proper band, so we got together with a bunch of guys that didn’t intend to be “road dogs”, to go out on tour with. It was just to put together a really raw tape of music. So I think that the intention really set the course of the band.
I had always said in interviews “anything can happen with a band”, we’ll probably fall apart tomorrow”, we’re only gonna make one album”. I think everyone thought that we were only gonna make one record! We almost didn’t make the album, so when we put it together and calling it Climax, it was a very conscious thing. We thought that it was the end, but something happened when we started playing live and the rest of the band started to come together. We got Linnea (Olsson ex-THE OATH), in on second guitar and the tour that we did with In Solitude really felt magical to us. We really started to come together as a band: me, Linnea, Vallteri (Arino – Bass).
This real band formed within this anti-band thing. Johan (Snell), the other guitarist was kinda out of that picture. He didn’t like touring, didn’t really want to make it a proper band, he kinda resisted all the other things that we wanted to do. We started writing for the second record and we got pretty close so signing a deal and he suddenly pulled out, and leaving us in a bit of a bad situation, because we’d already started writing. The record was already in my mind and that’s what became the “Grave Pleasures” album. We just wanted to carry on – we didn’t wanna leave it where it was, so we approached Uno (Bruniusson, drums), because we’d heard that In Solitude had broken up. We already had a good connection together from the tour that we did with them so it was a really good social situation that had already formed which made things comfortable from the get go. Also, musically, Uno was just the perfect person to complete the Grave Pleasures picture.
OD – How was the writing process with the new members of the band?
MAT – There were a couple of songs that I’d written intentionally for the Beastmilk record – a song called New Hip Moon, would have probably ended up on the follow up Beastmilk record had we actually recorded one. At this point I had started to write with Linnea as well and she was bringing stuff to the table on the guitar side of things. I think we sat down and thought “OK we’ve made this a one-album band; how do you follow up with that?” – I think the idea was to do something very different. It had already started going in a different direction with my ideas of what we could be doing. The thing about a band is: when you split and when you change your name to something else, people define you by your output: they don’t think about the fact that it probably would have expanded and progressed and moved on and opened other avenues musically, and that’s what that album is – the Grave Pleasures album. It’s not a difficult album – I still think it’s very catchy, but it’s difficult for people to come to it with Climax in mind. It’s much better if you look at it as a “next stage” in mind and as a different band.
OD – Since the band name and line up changes, you have been signed to SONY. Has this made a huge difference to the internal production of writing, touring, exposure etc.?
MAT – Not massively. I think the potential is there now; that there is a chance of sticking our heads out from the underground, but we’re kinda difficult in that we don’t wanna play the major league ball game, that other major bands do. We’re still quite underground-minded, so I think they might be disappointed, or have been disappointed that we didn’t wanna do things a certain way. We made the deal in a way that gives us a lot of freedom and we can keep doing things the way we like doing them and I think that’s the right thing for us and for the fans. It would be ridiculous if we started to behave in a way which courted that. I think if we get it on our terms, it would be really good, but the odds are pretty much against us and that’s the fun part. If we’re gonna do this, then it has to be on our terms, let’s see if it carries over. There have been some things that have come away that have been like “wow – we’d never have gotten that if we’d stayed on Svart Records. They’re really behind us – they’re really supportive. They were really good around the name change and all our ideas about the record, but we have to see if we take that jump from being an underground band into something more.
OD – There is a very distinct sound from Grave Pleasures and formally Beastmilk, where do you draw your influences from when writing and how much of what you listened to in the past has contributed to the sound you have now?
MAT – I was into heavy metal and punk when I was younger and that was really the start of everything. If I go back to it now and think about it, a lot of the things I was listening to when I was growing up, are sort of unconscious influences, like Duran Duran, which really blew my mind when I was a kid, like the Wild Boys video and things like that. It was really something else. Siouxie and the Banshees; my sisters were really into goth at a certain point in the ‘80’s, so they would be playing Siouxie and the Banshees, Sisters of Mercy, definitely The Cure and that was a really big thing for me. My sisters had this Cure cassette tape and I stole it and listened to it to death. I didn’t know that they had more than one record. I was this kid that didn’t realise that bands have this huge output. I keep discovering stuff about The Cure as I get older – they’re an endless source of inspiration for me personally.
OD – You have already released videos for New Hip Moon and Crying Wolves, will there be any vinyl single releases coming off Dreamcrash?
MAT – We’d love to. We have four or five unreleased tracks that we gave to the label, but I think they’re gonna have to see what’s gonna happen with the album and how well it does before something like that. We do have a lot of plans for 7-inches and a deluxe edition of the album and things like that, but the problem there is that we have this staggered release. It’s out now in the UK, Ireland and France and they’re waiting for products in America to come out in the shops. It’s officially out but it’s only on digital. They’re still waiting on CD’s to come out over there. We’ve been working on that license and it just took a little too long, so I think we’ll have a look maybe after the summer at releasing some 7″ vinyl singles.
OD – Can you talk about, how you came to name the album “Dreamcrash” and the reasoning behind it?
MAT – If you think of it on terms of the other album, it’s kind of the anti-Climax, it’s kind of like a come-down. If you look at the concept of the songs, it’s a bit of a break-up album of sorts and the mood of the album is that of a come down. Climax is “coming up”, and Dreamcrash is “coming down” and it became this term that we found synonymous with so much around the band, because we felt that the band was cursed, you know? Everything was going wrong and we just couldn’t make it happen.
Finally after changing the name and drawing a line under the mess of the Beastmilk demise, it felt like a real ‘dreamcrash’, such a downer for all of us. Uno had just come out of In Solitude and that was a really, really big blow for him. Linnea had just joined Beastmilk, just as we started exploding and she had just come out of The Oath break up. She was like “oh fucking hell!, I just came out of one band break up and now you guys decide to break up!” She was really mad about it, but it was me and Johann not being able to see eye-to-eye. We wanted to do it and he was like “let’s not make another album”. For me that’s not an option, because Climax was really a milestone album and it would be ridiculous not to continue that legacy. I wanted to go out and play those songs because they’re very close to my heart. So, the Dreamcrash title came from a multitude of things that involved all of us collectively.
OD – Where do find your main influence lyrically coming from and do you deliberately put yourself in certain situations to experience a certain emotion or feeling for the sake of inspiration?
MAT – I have never approached writing from that perspective or by doing an exercise like that, but I think that on the grander scheme of things, putting a band together, who you bring into the band, who you work with, who is your muse, who you reflect off, that for me is a huge factor when it comes to writing as the chemistry between people and is inspiring. This sounds really bland, but it’s down to your management, your label, and everything else. It’s the characters of the people that you meet and the situations that you’re in with your band-mates. That’s something that I think is a real live influence. A lot of my lyrics are biographical on this record, so it’s kind of like, they are very real and not just writing a love song. It might be about something I felt, or something I’m going through. But yeah, I should make a conscious effort to do something like that once in a while. It would be very interesting.
OD – What has been the most memorable moment for you since you have been performing live, has there been any moments that you have wanted to give it all up, or something that has inspired you to move forward with even more enthusiasm?
MAT – Both ways! It can be such a very small thing that can turn a situation. For instance, it could be feedback in a monitor, or something and it just throws me out of the zone, which makes me furious, because it’s really hard to get it back. One of the really nice things about the gigs that we have been doing on this tour, is that the crowds have been very small. It’s almost like we’re back to the real fan-base, the people that really like the band, that really like the songs, that really wanna see it continue, not the rest that are like “oh there’s this band – lets go check it out.” I really like that, because we might have a gig where there’s 20 people and they’re all singing along and they’re loving it and it really feels like you’re having this experience with them, because they come up to you after the show and they’re like “oh this made my week!” or “this made my month!” It’s so fucking good to hear that sort of thing and it just makes it all worth while.
It’s just as important for me to get involved with sharing a feeling with the audience as it’s my job or sorts it’s not like some other bands that I have seen before like Satyricon, who are like “We’re the band – you’re the audience! Well done!” That sort of thing. It’s much more like – “Let’s dance – c’mon I’m looking like an idiot here – you shouldn’t feel any shame”and that’s really nice when you come away from a gig feeling like your driving the atmosphere and are responsible for what takes place.
OD – What will be happening with Grave Pleasures for the remainder of 2015 and into 2016?
MAT – We hope to head to America soon and I think we’ve got one gig in Japan after this tour followed by a little downtime in January. It’s been a really busy year so far, because we’ve been recording and we did all the summer of gigs / festivals, then we have this tour – which is sort of a long tour. We’ve got the Japan thing and then we’ve got the tour with Tribulation, but it’s only about two or three weeks. We are gonna consider some shows in some different regions as well, because there were a couple of places that we didn’t get to go to on the tour of Sweden and maybe Poland or something like that. Then it’ll be some summer festivals and hopefully we’ll be able to squeeze in America somewhere there. It just depends on if something good comes up. We just wanna do things that are really cool for the band in a long term capacity. So if we can get out with a band that we can get excited about, that would be really cool.
The offers are coming in (for summer festivals) and we’re looking at which ones we wanna do, but I think we can be a bit more selective than what we did last summer. We did a lot of festivals – we took all the offers and just went out and played as much as we could to keep the name going and keep the songs out there.
OD – If there was any band that you would like to tour with, who would it be?
MAT – Oh there’d be loads of bands like that, Killing Joke, The Cure, I don’t know why I nearly said U2!( ha ha) I don’t know why that came into my mind! I said the other night to the crowd “It’s so good to be here! It’s so good to see you!” and they said “you too!” “We’re not gonna play any fucking U2! Fuck off!!” I hate U2. ha ha
OD – If ther was any one thing that you could chance about the way the music industry is being run at the moment, what would it be?
MAT – I think the problem for me more than anything else is that the internet has opened up so much, so young people can get into all these different bands in a heart beat without following the natural organic process of finding new music. It’s a bit sad because it’s taken me a lifetime to build my collection that another kid can get in an afternoon from the likes of Youtube and knows all about it! It kinda devalues your entire life thinking that this was worth something, but you have to think on another level about it. What we went through was kinda unique, because we didn’t have easy access to all these bands, all the knowledge about these bands. It was what we remembered.
We’d have to remember the members of the bands, song titles, lyrics and all the additional information on the liner notes of the album. You knew all these facts because you had to -because there was no other way. “Who was the guy playing bass again?, Oh yeah it was that guy!”. I recall having to memorize all these things, because it wasn’t there to Google. I think the problem for me is everyone thinks their fucking opinion is important! It’s good to have a dialogue with the fans, and that the fans can have access to the bands, but the problem nowadays, is that people think that they own the bands. “Oh I’m a fan of you – I gave you my money, so you should do what I want you to do!” It reduces the value of the artist.
I think the music state right now as a culture and as an art form, has been reduced it to the lowest level it could be and musicians don’t get anything – they’re sort of laughed at when they think that they should get something. I think it’s kinda sad. I mean obviously there’s a lot of desperate bands out there that would love to make it and don’t deserve to make it, but there are also a lot of people out there that work really hard and they don’t get anything. Producers and studio engineers as well as all the people at the record labels, still get their money while these same labels are still making money out of musicians whose value has been dramatically reduced. I’d love to see a change where musicians can actually make a living out of it doing what they do.
OD – Are you a band that is constantly writing and demoing ideas whenever you can?
MAT – We’re writing stuff here and there, but we’ve had so many live shows, that it’s been a hectic non-stop schedule and that makes it pretty hard to sit down and find the time to write something proper. But there’s lots of ideas floating around which we discuss and jam when we can. I feel, the writing process is always like 50% you’re talking about it, so you know the discussions we have about life and where we wanna go with the song and things like that, is big portion before you sit down with a guitar or before you sit down with a pen. Things go round and round and then I might think about a conversation that I might have with Linnea and like, that turns into a song. So that’s like the first part of the song – the things that happened to us, or the conversations that we’ve had. It’s like something’s forming and taking shape for the next collection of songs.
Dreamcrash is out now via Sony / Columbia and can be purchased on this link.
For more information on Grave Pleasures, select the following links below:
Interview – Oran O’Beirne
Transcription – Shaun Martin
Photography – All images were taken from stock resources.
Interview contents © Overdrive 2015
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