Interview mit Johnny Hedlund von Unleashed

Deutsche Version lesen

With their eighth album „Midvinterblot“ UNLEASHED can already look back on 15 years of band history. The Swedes prove again in 2006 that they are one of the most influential death metal groups. Singer and bassist Johnny Hedlund wants to raise his horn to another 15 years, but first he and his bandmates will go on „Master Of Death“ tour in November, and will provide crushing death metal to their fans along with Grave, Dismember and Entombed. In Germany the Vikings can be seen live in Essen, Saarbrücken, Chemnitz, Adelsheim and Hannover between November 8 and 19.

Deutsche Übersetzung…

Hey Johnny, first off I’d like to thank you very much for taking time to do this interview with! How are things going with Unleashed?
All fine and well thank you!…..working on the release of the new album and preparing for the upcoming „Masters of Death“ tour in November.

Undoubtably to my ears the Unleashed-Sound didn’t develop very much since the beginning. Are you afraid of making too much changes, as the die-hard fans could be scared?
I do think the sound has developed through out the years…..if you compare the production now to what we made in the early 90-ies it’s way better these days. The engineers technique have improved and the producers technique have certainly improved alot. But if you mean the style of death metal that we play I totaly agree….we are Death Metal band. Always was and always will be…….Unleashed don’t change by the wind. We are true to what we do and have a vision for this band way beyond 2006. We don’t need to change style or add female vocals or synthesizers to develop. Death Metal is as vast life and death itself, there’s lots of inspiration already within this style of music.

As I heard your new Album „Midvinterblot“ for the first time I was really impressed. In comparison to „Sworn Allegiance“ it seems to be a little faster and somewhat more aggressiv. You said in your news, that this will be the best Unleashed album ever. Why do you think so?
Thank you……what you just mentioned is excactly what we aimed for. Just a little more speed and harshness over all. Both musically and productionwise. The best production we ever made in my opinion, and hopefylly the songs are the strongest ever. At least this is what we hoped to accomplish.

What does „Midvinterblot“ stand for? I found out that it’s a old custom in northern mythologie. Could you describe it more closely and why did you chose this title?
Midvinterblot is more commonly known as Yule time. The time of the year for great feasting, excanging gifts with family and friends and to raise a glas for our dead ones. We also raise a glas for a better future, for prosperity in the coming year. The day of the midvinterblot is the day of the wintersolstice, about 21 st of December, when nature’s new year begins……the shortest day and the longest night of the year. We celebrate the fact that mother nature is breaking the spell of winter and bringing light again… nature starts to awake……although it’s still many months to come before springtime.

To be honest, not everything stayed the same in my opionion. The sound-quality of your records improoved step by step. Is this only caused by better studies, etc. or are there some more reasons?
We all have gotten better at what we do in the band, gradually of course……but the main reason is that we have Fredrik (lead guitar) who not only have an education as a producer but has also become more skilled through the years. He is our producer and engineer the last three albums.

Midvinterblot will be released worldwide over SPV. Why did you sign up with them? Are you satisfied of your partnership with them so far?
Unleashed have been on Century Media for about 15 years. Our contract with them ended last year and we felt it was time for a change. We had a good number of record companies interested in this new album and one of them was SPV. We knew SPV had a proffessional crew and organisation and are very serious. They also had the best offer for our future adventures. Only 5 weeks in this cooperation I feel very confident this was the right choice.

Going back in time to the Warrior Album. Did you expect the song „Death Metal Victory“ becoming such a big success, when writing it?. It’s definitly your band-hymn!
Thank you! ……and frankly I did. And you are right……that song is getting louder and louder responce every show we make…..fantastic to say the least.

To what band do you listen besides heavy metal? Does this influence you, during the song-writing-process?
I try not to get influenced by other bands at all. But off course we all do get influenced one way or another by what we listen to. We will have to try and stay focused on the Unleashed way of making songs and lyrics so we don’t copy others.

You have been playing in front of 10.000 people at big open airs as well as you have been playing for only about 300 maniacs in small clubs. What do you like most? Could you describe the different atmosphere for you?
Playing bigger festivals is aways fun because it also gives us the chance to reach new people….and also it’s a great feeling to have 10.000 screaming „death metal victory“ and other choruses we have………on the ohter hand there’s more of a close kind of feeling to pålay the clubshows…….more sweat and blood so to speak. I enjoy both just as much actually……..

Won’t there be any problems with the setlist, as I think you want to play a lot of new Songs and some of your classics? How will you solve this problem?
Yes we have that probelm constantly……we know people want older hit songs but many of our fans also say our two lates albums are our best so we need to play newer songs too……but it’s a nice problem to have really.

The „Monsters of Death – Tour“ has a dream-lineup with with Grave, Dismember, Entombed and of course, if you like scandinavian Death Metal. What are your expectations when you think of this tour?
Well, it’s „Masters of Death“…..and my expectations are total mayhem. We will give all we’ve got and have a fantastic tour, just as can be expected….take no prisoners what so ever. Our fans are worth nothing but the very best in Death Metal. And we will deliver. Mark my words.

Do you have any friendships with one of this bands?
We are friends with all of them since mid 80-ies. Live in the same city, got to football, gigs and parties togeather ever since.

The songtext of Unleashed often deal with viking-tales, etc. Do you take it very serious and belief in ancient gods or do you just think it fits perfectly to your stile of heavy metal?
It does fit for sure. But off course it’s a serious belief or I wouldn’t do so many of them in our songs. We are not your typical pagan organisation though, we all have our own ways of practice and beliefe.

I heard of some plans doing a Live-DVD and you already filmed some shows for it. When do you think it could be released?
We have lots of material and we hope to release something in the spring next year. We shall see. Lots of old material from the old days………both Europe, Mexico and the US. Lots of party stuff too………….will be cool as fuck.

Why don’t you sing in Swedish? Was it ever planned to have any swedisch lyrics in your songs?
We have some in the song „To asgaard we fly“ but we don’t plan lots of it. We’ll see, our normal language will always be English to sing.

Especially in scandinavia Metal seems to be more accepted than in the other parts of europe? Do you think that there is any particular reason?
I honestly don’t know.

August has been a very sad month for metal. No less than 5 people left their lives because they committed suicide or became involved in an accident. Jon Nödtveidt (Dissection), Otto Wiklund (Setherial/In Battel), Kvarforth (Shining), Jesse Pintado (Terrorizer) and Devilpig (Bestial Mockery).
What are your thoughts of these tragic losses?

Those who die of desease or accident I feel very sorry for indeed. It’s always a tragedy. Suicide I have no understanding for whatsoever, unless you are extremely sick/ill and can’t see another way out from pain.

You had a long break between 1997 and 2002, but luckily you came back for more. What do you think of all the reunions happening at the moment like Emperor at this year’s Wacken Open Air or Immortal?
I try and focus on Unleashed only……..Immortal are way cool, will be great if they are back.

How long will Unleashed’s Death Metal Victory last. Can you think of 15 more year’s?
15?…….at the very least. Mr. Lemmy Kilmister is still rocking…….

Let’s come to the end with our little word game. Hope you will enjoy answering it.

Technical Death Metal: Fine, although I prefere classic structures like vers, chorus, vers, chorus etc. Songs you can remember.
Pippi Långstrump: Haha…..well, djurgården football?
Germany: The Death Metal warriors of Germany are extremely dedicated!!! Which is why we always come back there year after year.
Religion: Don’t need one. Our faith is called tradition or ancient way. To be used adn practiced the way we see fit.
Summer: The time of great indulgence and sex. And drink to Frey and Freya.
Winter: The time of the midvinterblot and Yule.
Love: Only to those who deserve it. A kick ass online magazine!!!

A massive thanks to you for taking yourself some time for answering my questions. Whish you a lot of fun at the „Masters of Death – Tour“ and a lot of more years of Death Metal Victory! The last words are completely up to you!
Major thanks for this killer interview!! See ya‘ on tour!
Hail Odin

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