With one successful band, many musicians would be completely satisfied – and busy. Not so Sebastian Ramstedt from Necrophobic: During the pandemic he founded IN APHELION, a project which is no less worth listening to. In our interview the busy Swede reports what the attraction of this project is for him, why he “had to” work together with his Necrophobic colleague Johan Bergebäck here as well and why he actually doesn’t listen to Black Metal at all.
How are things going with Corona in Sweden at the moment?
It kinda died as Russia decided to do what they are doing. No one talkes about it anymore anyway. I have been sick twice but never really bad.
You had to cancel many festival shows and tours with Necrophobic – do artists in Sweden get financial support from the state to compensate for this?
If we would have had an income on a regular basis from the years before I think it would have been possible. But for us who live from hand to mouth so to speak there were no money to get. You gotta have a pretty good organization around your band and probably rely on the income to get some. But we all got daytime jobs so for us it was no issue. But I know friends in band that are a few step up that they have got compensated.
Obviously you spent the Corona time very productively – in 2020 you started the project IN APHELION. Was that a direct consequence of the pandemic and cancelled shows, or did you have this plan for a long time?
I wanted to do this for long but there never was any time. Or I wanted to do something for long. Not exactly this. I realised that I would have a lot of spare time all of a sudden and that I needed to put my energy into something of I would not get depressed. And when I started to write there was no stopping. It was like opening a flood gate. So I wrote constantly for almost a year. At first I had no intention of releasing it. But after a while I saw the potential in the songs and thought that I would give it a try and se if any labels were interested in this. But the process of writing music with no commercial goals in mind was fantastic. Just the way I created when I was young before record contracts. What you dream is not limited by budgets or strategies which was nice for a change. When Johan came into the picture we started to work on it like a band and talked through the songs and arrangements with new eyes. Johan contributed with the titel track an completed the whole thing with his talent. We ended up with 70 minutes of music in the end and upon that several video clips and artwork.
Stilistically IN APHELION is different, but not completely different from Necrophobic. What was your motivation to form this project besides your main band – especially with Johan, with whom you already play together in Necrophobic?
I have my signature melodies and solo style. You will always know it is me who has written the songs. I can not escape from myself in that way. But to me it is very different than Necrophobic. Some of the atmospheres we could probably have used in Necrophobic but the rhythms, tempos, arrangement and progressive parts wouldn‘t have been possible with Necrophobic. If you analyze Necrophobic, you will see that 90% percent of the songs are in 160bpm. Almost the same arrangement and in the same key. We want it that way. But IN APHELION is totally different from that. We dive into another territory of riffs, rhythms and harmonies. There are also more than „evil“ and „brutality“ to IN APHELION. Yeah, Necrophobic also got a share of diversity, but not nearly as much as this. Johan is a part of my or „our“ sound. We work as one. My guitar playing needs his to sound good. We are totally different but we sound like one unit combined. At first I started of without him but I soon realised that there was no way doing this without him! And when I heard the first songs with his guitars on I was stunned. It did so much to have his style on this. He adds an untamed energy that I cannot create myself.
How would you distinguish IN APHELION from Necrophobic, what are the main differences for you?
Except from the above I would say that Necrophobic is Blackened Death Metal and IN APHELION is heavy metalized Black Metal. There are very little Death Metal influences in IN APHELION but a lot of Black, Thrash and Heavy. And I think mine and Anders vocals are very different. He is a Death Metal vocalist for sure but my vocals are much more Black Metal. The lyrical themes are different. Gone are the Antichristian themes for a more serious dark poetry that reflects my inner thoughts and turmoil. I would say that IN APHELION lyrics are much more personal.
When you have several projects, you always have to decide at some point for which one you are writing songs. Does this result from a temporal separation, i.e. did you write specifically for IN APHELION in certain phases, or do you have a common pool of riffs from which you then fished out the right ones for IN APHELION?
Yeah, I can not write for both bands at the same time. I had in a very short time written most of „Mark Of The Necrogram“ and „Dawn Of The Damned“ by my self and I needed to do something else. At a few points there were riffs that would have better fit Necrophobic so I saved them for later. But my main focus on this was to write exactly whatever I wanted and not try to make it fit this or that band. I really did not have a clue how IN APHELION would sound so there were no rules. The songs are untamed and it was deliberating to just let it flow without thinking of the final product.
Currently you are active as a trio – so for a live realization you would need at least one additional musician as a bass player. Do you have the plan to expand the band – maybe with only one session member – and bring IN APHELION on stage?
We are going to bring this to the stages. Big news coming up soon! We are really excited about this. We are going to use Dennis Holm from the band Avslut as a session member. At this time we have not been talking about creating a full lineup. But we will see what will happen. But 2022 will definately be the year we start to take IN APHELION out on the roads.
At the end of 2021 you released your first EP, “Luciferian Age”. Why did you want to introduce yourselves to the world with an EP instead of putting all time and effort into an album right away?
Because that was the way all bands did back in the days. First you released a Maxi-Single with a few tracks from the album and a few exclusive ones. Then came the fullenght and the another EP or 7“. I wanted to recreate that flow. It builds up the expectations and for those who likes to collect physical releases it is a cool thing to have. For the rest that just listen to Spotify it probably makes no difference but I am old school.
You cover Kreator’s “Pleasure To Kill” – why this song, what do you associate with this track and German Thrash in general? After all, on the current Necrophobic album you also have a feature by Schmier from Destruction.
I love german thrash. That is what put me into the extreme metal scene. I prefere Destruction, Kreator and Sodom to the American Big 4. I always wanted to straighten up „Pleasure To Kill“. It is a fantastic song but when you analyse it it is kind of hard to swallow. Ventor, Mille and Rob almost seem to play different songs. When Kreator got better to play they made a much more controlled version of it live but the agression was gone. We wanted to see if we could do a tight version but keep the fury and agression. I think our version capture the best of two worlds even though we don’t come near the original of course. No one can beat that.
Two of the songs are now also included on your debut “Moribund” – why did you decide against “Wrath Of A False God”?
Because Johan don’t like the opening riff! (laughs) It is probably one of my and Marcos favourites but Johan is not that fond of it. So we decided to have a killer song exclusivly on the EP. Not a filler but one of the songs we like the most. If someone is going to put their money on a EP that contains a lot of the album songs we need to give them something special. I think the Kreator song and „Wrath of A False God“ is a strong reason to get the EP.
In 2006 your Norwegian colleagues from Koldbrann had already released an album entitled “Moribund”. Were you aware of that? Why did you decide to use this title?
No, I almost never listen to Black Metal. Especially not from the second generation and on. I listen to Bathory, Venom and a few more bands but I don’t follow the scene. And even if we had known it we would have gone with it anyway. It is just a word. You can’t name an album „The Number Of The Beast“, but you also can’t stop using words just because some band has used it. And it is a damn good title. So I salute Koldbrann for choosing such an epic title. Also I have met the guys a couple of times. I think we had a wild party in norway at the Hole In The Sky festival more than ten years ago. We share the same fashination for eastern european metal and I got their single with their Bombardier cover! Great stuff. They are really cool! But I never checked them out more. Mayby I should! We could do a „Moribund tour“! (laughs)
Is “Moribund” just a title, or is there also a concept behind it that relates to the lyrics? What are your lyrics about and how important do you see them as part of your art? More like an accessory or an equally important part of the songs?
The lyrics in IN APHELION are really important. They are at no point just words to fill the songs. I always start with something I wanna say. Could be of anger, pain or just philosophical matters. But it is always something I feel that I need to say. A great friend once said, „if you have the opportunity to put some lyrics out for the world to hear then you better take the chance to speak up!“ I always think of that. This is my moment to make myself heard. Better not waste it on bullshit lyrics! Then I use a myth or theme that can carry my thoughts to the listener. There is always a double meaning to the lyrics. Often I quite down to earth and personal theme and something that will match the concept and feel of the song.
Thank you very much for the interview. Let’s wrap it up with our traditional brainstorming:
Last album you listened to: Ozzy Osbourne – Ultimate Sin
A food that always makes you happy: Lasagna
Sabaton: Not interested
IN APHELION in 10 years: Hopefully still alive and kicking!
Once again thanks for your time. The last words are yours – is there anything left you want to tell our readers?
Keep calm and listen to metal! Or just make a fucking riot. Both will do!
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