Interview With Mikael Nilsson of The Bereaved
Unfortunately, we are living in an age when many metal fans are lamenting the dilution of the Gothenburg sound. Let's face it, Come Clarity is no Whoracle, Stabbing the Drama is no Predator's Portrait, and even Fiction (as awesome as it is) is no Mind's I. Fortunately, there are up-and-coming Swedish bands, like the Bereaved, who bring back the famed Swedish sound that has shaped the face of modern metal.
The Bereaved was formed in 1998 when bassist Mikael Nilsson and lead guitarist Henrik Tranemyr recruited drummer Tobhias Ljung and vocalist Jonny Westerback, adding keyboardist Tony Thorén later on. They released their debut album Darkened Silouhette with Black Lotus Records, before being released from the label last year and subsequently signing with Vic Records. The current incarnation of the Bereaved includes Denny Axelsson taking over vocals for the departed Westerback and Per Berquist on guitar.
Mikael took the time to answer some questions for me. Here is how it went:
darkstar: So what's going on with the new album? Are you all finished with it yet?
Mikael: We’ve been introducing our new vocalist Denny and our new guitarist Per and they will perform on our new album.
We are currently recording vocals and solos, and the mixing process to be done by Mr. Dan Swanö, of course. We also have made it official that we have signed with VIC Records. And some guest appearances are in the works too.
darkstar: What's the deal with Black Lotus?
Mikael: They called me and said that they’ve had financial problems for a long time and had to close down. They left us in quite a tough situation, just when the studio time had to be paid. Fortunately, Pelle (at Studio Underground) understood our situation and supported us through this mess.
darkstar: What is your new album going to be called?
Mikael: It’ll be called Reborn Rebuild Reconstruct and will be released later this year on VIC Records.
darkstar: How does the new album differ from Darkened Silhouette? What can we expect from it?
Mikael: The new one is more solid than Darkened Silhouette. It shows that we’re older and more experienced songwriters. You can expect that it sounds like an upgraded The Bereaved and is a bit slower than Darkened Silhouette.
darkstar: It seems that nobody takes a bulk of the writing responsibility in the band. How do you guys go about the writing process this way? Does it change when you are in the studio?
Mikael: Henrik is the main songwriter, even though everyone contributes. When it comes to arrangement everyone does one hell of a job. Usually, we play new riffs when we rehears and test different things. Then, we discuss what we need in the song and see if anyone has some kind of idea. But sometimes one of us has written a whole song and only some small adjustments have to be done. It’s the same thing when we are in the studio, there are only small adjustments.
darkstar: Describe the album cover for Darkened Silhouette. What is the meaning behind it?
Mikael: HAHA! I would like to know that too! BLR kind of choose if for us. So the easiest way to find out is to ask Seth, who’s responsible for the artwork.
darkstar: What made you guys come together and form a band in the first place? How did you all know each other?
Mikael: Henrik and I went to school together and decided that we wanted to start a band. Tobhias played in Henrik’s other band. Jonny is Henrik’s cousin and they also used to skateboard together with Tobhias. Tony and I were friends way back and also had a band together earlier.
darkstar: How did you get into metal?
Mikael: It was when I saw Metallica’s “Sad But True” video when I was nine years old. I’ve been into metal ever since!
darkstar: Who or what inspired you to play the instrument you play in the band now?
Mikael: I started playing with Tony and another guy. I had never played any instrument so I got to take care of the bass. In the first rehearsals I even used a guitar with clean sound. Haha! It wasn’t until the first gig, a few weeks later, that I held a real bass in my hands (we had to borrow it). Those who have inspired me are Cliff Burton, Steve Harris and Flea.
darkstar: Why did you change the band name from "Clone" to "The Bereaved"? And why choose the name "The Bereaved"?
Mikael: There was a thousand underground bands called “Clone” (techno, etc). We wanted a name that no one else used at the time and something that reflected us as a band. Our first singer Jimmy fell/was pushed (no one really knows) off a cliff one night in Spain and was found dead the next day.
darkstar: What was it like to work with the late Mieszko Talarczyk (Nasum)?
Mikael: He was a really skilled guy and he knew what he was doing. I have never seen a guy so fast in setting a great sound. He was a fun and a great guy. R.I.P.
darkstar: How did you connect with Mathias Färm of Millencolin? How did his engineering style contribute to your sound?
Mikael: He co-owned Soundlab Studios together with Mieszko. Usually Mieszko was the engineer, but he was recording another band in another studio so Mathias help us out when we had problems. The only thing I did was to set the guitar amp. When Mieszko returned to mix the demo, he said, “The guitar sounds like shit. Have you guys done this yourself?” So that is what he contributed. Haha.
darkstar: I can really feel your influences in your music and writing style. How do you think the Gothenburg scene shaped your sound?
Mikael: We’ve been listening to it ever since it was created, it feels like it runs through our veins nowadays.
darkstar: What are some of your influences outside of melodic death metal?
Mikael: Our influences are everything from hard rock to heavy metal, death metal, black metal, and even music that can’t be referfed to as metal.
darkstar: What are your predictions for the future of Swedish metal? Do you think it will still be as strong as it is now?
Mikael: I hope it will be even stronger. There are loads of potential here. The last couple of months, I’ve heard many bands that can reach quite high. Watch out for our friends in “Dead by April.”I tell you, these guys will go far!
darkstar: Thanks so much for the interview. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Mikael: Thank you, Peggy! Check our Myspace and homepage for latest news. Don’t miss our upcoming killer album and keep on supporting us so we can meet up on tour!
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