Christofer Malmström of Darkane Speaks to MetalUnderground About Recording "Demonic Art", Touring, Sickness, and More
I caught up with Christofer Malmström, guitarist for Swedish melodic thrash metal band DARKANE, for an interview in the midst of their intense North American tour. On the road with SOILWORK, WARBRINGER, and SWALLOW THE SUN, they have been trekking through North America since January 30th in support of their latest album, "Demonic Art", released in North America on February 10, 2009 via Nuclear Blast Records. The North American version of the album contains a bonus track and a bonus DVD.
Progressivity_In_All: Metal hails from Metal Underground!
Christofer Malmström: Hey hey, how are you doing?
Progressivity_In_All: Pretty excellent, how about yourself?
Christofer: Pretty good, I just woke up. –laughs- I’m fine.
Progressivity_In_All: Ah. I had read that you guys just played San Antonio, TX last night. That’s a hometown crowd for me. How was that?
Christofer: It was great, I must say. We enjoyed playing there a lot. We had some shows before that with less attendance, but in San Antonio it was really good. We played the Key Club in Hollywood, and that was sold out, so now San Antonio was the best crowd since Key Club.
Progressivity_In_All: You guys have a new album out, “Demonic Art”. How did the recording process go?
Christofer: Well, we have our own studio called “Not Quite Studio,” so we recorded it there. We started out by the usual, putting the drums down. Then guitars, bass, then we worked with the vocals together with Jens (Broman), our new vocalist. I think we recorded between February and June last year.
Progressivity_In_All: The former Not Quite Studio was flooded out, so you guys had to find a new location, right?
Christofer: Yeah, exactly, we found a new location about a block away from where the old location was.
Progressivity_In_All: I watched the DVD that came packaged with the new album, and the “making of” clips, and it looks like you guys put up a LOT of mics on Peter’s [Wildoer] drums. For the audio nerds out there, could you tell how many mics you threw up on those drums?
Christofer: I don’t remember how many we had on this album, but I remember we had forty-eight channels of drums when we recorded the “Insanity” album, and that’s the most we ever had. –laughs- I think we realized that that was a little too much to handle. I mean, it doesn’t get better because you have many channels. –laughs- But, I don’t really know. It’s a big drum kit, and Peter wanted to mic the drums from the up and the down sides, so to speak.
Progressivity_In_All: How long was the recording process for “Demonic Art?”
Christofer: I think it was between February and June.
Progressivity_In_All: It was really pristine and heavy. For the audio nerds, what’s your secret, what’s your favorite gear for the studio?
Christofer: Recording-wise? I dunno, I think good preamps. We have Focusrite preamps. If you have very good preamps and very good microphones, you’re in for a good start. I’m not the main sound guy in the band, so I can’t speak that much for it, but that’s what I’ve come to learn. If you have good instruments, good microphones, good preamps, and good knowledge, then you’re set to go!
Progressivity_In_All: Peter [Wildoer, drummer] headed up the recording and mixing, this time, right?
Christofer: Yeah, mostly, and also Klas [Ideberg], the guitarist. Peter did most of it, but Klas helped him out.
Progressivity_In_All: Excellent. I was reading through your lyrics while listening to the album. Are there any subjects you were exploring, specifically, with your lyrics on the album? I had read that “Execution 44” was inspired by a woman in a Polish concentration camp.
Christofer: Yeah, a Swedish woman. She had written about her time in a Swedish concentration camp. I read it and I just… I wrote the lyrics about it. It’s been done before, but it’s an important topic, so I thought I’ll write something so it won’t be forgotten, hopefully.
Progressivity_In_All: “Wrath Connection” was also inspired by a Dean Koontz novel?
Christofer: Yeah, exactly. I don’t know the title of it in English. It’s been a long time since I read the book, but it’s like where two people can see each other’s visions, so to speak. One is a serial killer and one is just a normal guy. The killer sees the normal guy’s stuff through his eyes, and the normal guy sees what the killer is up to. –laughs- Kind of weird, but I liked it a lot.
Progressivity_In_All: The symphonic elements are coming out more and more with every album you guys do. Are there any plans for an epic Darkane symphony album?
Christofer: Hah! –laughs- Probably not. It takes a lot of time. Did you see the recording of the classical instruments on the DVD? Yeah, it takes a lot of time to put all the musicians together and things like that. It’s a lot of work. I think it’s very fun to have intros like that, but if we didn’t have the intro, the album recording would go so much smoother. –laughs- Yeah, I think we had classical intros on the first two albums and then the third one didn’t have one, and now we had two classical intros again. Maybe we won’t have any on the next album, I don’t know. It depends.
Progressivity_In_All: Either way, it sounded fucking UNHOLY in the best sense.
Christofer: Cool, cool, thanks. It’s very fun to do, but it’s very time-consuming at the same time. I’m not a pro. It takes me a lot of time to figure out all the instruments and what they’re going to play and how to arrange them. If I was a pro, I could have done it much easier, I think, but I’m not as experienced with it. It’s time consuming.
Progressivity_In_All: You guys had a new addition to the band for this album. How was it working with Jens Broman?
Christofer: I think it was very good. He sings the way we always wanted to sound like, vocal-wise. Huge range, and a lot of energy in his voice. And a lot of aggression. Yeah, we were very happy with him. He works very fast in the studios, as well, so, I think we did the vocals in something like ten days. That’s very good, because we were arranging the vocals at the same time we were recording them, so it was not like they were already prepared.
Progressivity_In_All: Very nice. What elements, do you think, does he bring to Darkane, as compared to Lawrence [Mackrory] and Andreas [Sydow], your two previous vocalists?
Christofer: Well, he sounds like a mix of them, which is good, because that makes him part of the Darkane sound from the history as well. It’s important that we don’t change the style totally, you know. I mean, if you are a Darkane fan, you don’t want to hear a totally new band, so I think Jens sounds like the previous vocalists, only better now.
Progressivity_In_All: Congratulations on making it to the #104 spot on the US Billboard Heatseekers chart with Demonic Art!
Christofer: Yeah, yeah, that was cool. We’re happy about that! Thank you.
Progressivity_In_All: That’s interesting that that’s your first chart position. Has it been hard crossing the sea, getting known in America?
Christofer: Yeah, of course, but we’re touring here right now as a way for us to promote ourselves. The US market is our best market, because we’re not well-known in Sweden, and a little bit in Germany and south Europe, but I think the US is our best market.
Progressivity_In_All: You’re on tour now with Soilwork, Warbringer, and Swallow the Sun. How have the North American crowds been receiving you?
Christofer: Very well, I think. We felt very welcome. We have enjoyed the tour a lot. I think we’re doing our forty-second show tonight in a row, without a day off. –laughs- That must be some kind of a record. When I’m in the states, I always feel that there are people out there that have been waiting for us, and it’s a good feeling.
Progressivity_In_All: I saw you guys at the Nashville, TN show at a small fucking venue called The Muse. Incredible show, Jens’ live performance is huge. Are you guys happy with his addition so far?
Christofer: Yeah yeah, definitely. Absolutely! That Muse show, since then, we have played EVERY DAY. So yeah, it’s been kinda rough. –laughs- That was February 2nd, right? So that’s a long time ago. Yeah I remember that show. Very small place, but it was cool to play there.
Progressivity_In_All: On your latest statement to the fans, you posted you guys all got sick. That sucks, have things gotten better or are they shaping up for you guys?
Christofer: Yeah, we’re on the last day of our antibiotics right now. We’ve got bronchitis, all of us. Yeah, there were some weeks where we had a rough time, we were coughing a lot. We didn’t have any energy, but things are getting much better right now. I feel very good right now, so it’s much better now.
Progressivity_In_All: Speaking of things getting better and new additions, you and your wife had another daughter about a year ago. Happy early birthday to her and congratulations to you and your wife.
Christofer: Oh, thank you very much. Yeah, she will turn one year just four days after I get home. So I’m very happy that the tour ended in time for me to get back home and to celebrate her first birthday. –laughs- She will be much bigger when I get back. She was ten months when I left, now she’s twelve when I get back! That’s a big difference!
Progressivity_In_All: You’re set to wrap up this tour in Baltimore on the 22nd and then play the Tivoli back in Helsingborg. Are there any further tour plans for you guys?
Christofer: Plans. There are plans, but nothing’s confirmed. But we have some summer festivals in Europe, like Roskilde festival, which is one of the biggest festivals in Europe. It’s in Denmark. We’re gonna play there, and that’s like a dream come true for us. There’s usually like 90,000 people at the festival.
Progressivity_In_All: Any countries you’d especially like to play in?
Christofer: Countries, well, yes, yeah I mean we love playing in the US because we always feel very welcome, but Japan is great country to play in. It’s like traveling to the future or something like that. –laughs-
Progressivity_In_All: How is the beer in America?
Christofer: The beer? You know what, I don’t drink beer actually, I drink whiskey sometimes, but I never liked beer. I’ve seen the guys, they’re drinking a lot of Corona, so they’re probably happy about that. And San Miguel, I guess.
Progressivity_In_All: Peter Wichers from Soilwork has said before that the beer in America is too watered-down.
Christofer: -laughs- I don’t know about that because I don’t like beer, but I’ve seen that some guys in the band drink a lot of beers, so it must be good! –laughs-
Progressivity_In_All: Back to gear and new things, I read last year you received a new guitar from Ibanez and you’ve been endorsing Ibanez for years now, as well as Engl amps. For the gear junkies, would you like to explain your main guitar setup and rig?
Christofer: Yeah, we play straight through Engls in studios, but on tour we actually have line guitars. It might sound weird, but we use Behringer V-amps live, because it’s very cheap but it’s very good-sounding. So we have, live, we have our own in-ear systems so we can hear ourselves perfectly wherever we are on stage with an in-ear mix, so we can hear the other instrumentalists very well, and the line guitars. I think it’s very good. People think of Behringer as cheap stuff, and it is, but it sounds very good. More or less, we plug the guitar right into the Engl and play in the studio. It’s what we’ve always played, so there’s no reason for us to change.
Progressivity_In_All: Any plans for a Christofer Malmström Ibanez guitar in the future?
Christofer: Yeah that would be cool, but I don’t know. –laughs- I don’t think there are any plans for that so far, but yeah, that would be cool! I love Ibanez guitars, they fit my style perfectly.
Progressivity_In_All: Any last words to the US audience?
Christofer: Yeah, thanks a lot for the big welcome when we came to the states. If you haven’t seen us yet, we have a few dates on the East coast and Texas. And check out the new album!
Progressivity_In_All: Definitely, our MetalUnderground review of Demonic Art gave it 4.5/5 skulls because it’s an essential listen.
Christofer: Great, thank you very much!
Progressivity_In_All: Lastly, do you see any plans in the future for another Non-Human Level (Christofer’s side project) album?
Christofer: It’s very hard to tell, I would love to do it but it’s also very time-consuming. I don’t write music very fast. It takes me quite a lot of time and right now I feel it’s most important to have another Darkane album out, so I will focus on writing material for that. But who knows? It would be great, I do think that Non-Human Level would like to do another album. Maybe I’ll find some time to write it. It took me five years to write the first one. We wrote three Darkane albums inbetween, also, so maybe that’s why.
Progressivity_In_All: Metal hails from Metal Underground, have a great rest of the tour!
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