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Interview

Grand Magus Drummer Ludwig Witt Discusses Latest Album, "Wolf God" And More

Sweden's long and rich history of music has given the world so many classic bands and groups. From Abba to At The Gates, the Scandinavian country has produced a library of legends many other countries would be jealous of. Despite the pop successes and house anthems, metal music is where Sweden has always excelled. Whether it be in the form of death metal like Entombed, In Flames or Dismember, the black metal stylings of Dissection and Shining or doom icons like Candlemass, Sweden has a lot to be proud of. Traditional heavy metal as its place in the nation though and in the modern day, perhaps no band captures that magic better than Grand Magus.

Currently promoting their ninth album, "Wolf God," the band has gone from strength to strength over the past decade, becoming one of the most popular traditional metal bands of the day. During their recent UK tour with Wolf, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Grand Magus drummer Ludwig Witt to discuss this latest opus, as well as traditional metal's place in the modern world and the band's longstanding association with wolves. You can watch the interview in full below.

Diamond Oz: Right now you're still promoting "Wolf God," which has been out for just shy of a year. So far, how would you say the reception has been?

Ludwig Witt: Really good. We were talking about it yesterday actually and according to JB (frontman Janne "JB" Christoffersson) it's our best selling album. So it's cool.

Oz: And compared to other Grand Magus albums, how do you feel this one fits in the overall catalogue?

Ludwig: I think really well actually. Obviously I didn't play on "Iron Will" or "Hammer Of The North" which really are classic albums for us but out of the ones I've played on this is my favourite. I think it really fits in with the others well. It definitely sounds like a classic Grand Magus album.

Oz: I saw that the album process this time was a little bit different. It kind of has a more lived in feel. I think the idea was to record during the day and go home at night but I heard it often turned into drinking sessions.

Ludwig: *laughs* Yeah, not for me. It was a different process from the last two, definitely. The main difference was that we actually got together, like you used to do, in a rehearsal room, so you write most of the songs together. Obviously JB writes most of the riffs and the material but if you actually get into a room together you can solve things so much quicker rather than sending files and stuff. It takes ten minutes to try a song three times, but like a week to send files back and forth with phone calls saying "Try this or that instead." So we did that. We rehearsed the songs before we entered the studio properly and we just recorded the three of us together in the studio, which also made the feel of the album quite different. It was more fun, it was quicker, so it's a win win.

Oz: Yeah, it's a very natural sounding album.

Ludwig: Yeah, we didn't use click tracks or anything like that. When you start recording the drums first and then the guitars then bass, you kind of have to have a click track otherwise it's going to be really hard to do. There's definitely something to gain by just playing together and letting the groove set the tempo.

Oz: Obviously one of the things people always associate with Grand Magus is the imagery of wolves. Could you tell me why wolves are such an integral part of Grand Magus?

Ludwig: Well, I guess that comes from JB obviously. He's very into nature and animals and that sort of stuff. I guess, there's a long history in Sweden of wolves being bad and people are extremely frightened of them, even though I would say the chances of being harmed by a wolf are pretty slim. I remember seeing something on TV one day, people were being interviewed when they started hunting wolves in Sweden again and they were like little old ladies who were terrified of wolves. I'm pretty sure they'd never seen one, it's something parents used to scare the kids with when they were young, people are really afraid of them, even though a wolf would probably be more frightened by a human.

Oz: Sweden has a very rich history of death metal, yet Grand Magus are more traditional heavy metal. Where do you see this style's place in the current day?

Ludwig: The smaller bands seem to be very small, but then you still have all the classics like Maiden and Priest, some of the biggest bands in the world. So sometimes it feels like that there should be a lot of people out there who could like Grand Magus and there is. People love Black Sabbath and Priest and all that stuff. I guess we need to get out there more *laughs*

Oz: Once again, this album was released through Nuclear Blast. How's the relationship with that label been so far?

Ludwig: Really good. I mean, all the albums I've been on have been through Nuclear Blast.

Oz: And just finally, what's the plan for the rest of the year?

Ludwig: Well hopefully finish the tour! Then we have some festivals in the Summer in Europe and the Ramblin' Man Fair in the UK. I've heard a lot of good things about that one so I'm looking forward to it. Also Lynyrd Skynyrd are headlining so hopefully I'll get to see them.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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