Interview by Connie Bach
Heavy and intense, Swedish Melodic Metal Disdained ’s lyrics, pacing and style are distinctive and they draw you in, holding your attention. Let’s give in with the interview with Thérese.
Hi, Therese. How was your summer?
Hmm…Very busy indeed! My summer has been fantastic, thanks! I have been spending a lot of time in the studio recording Disdained‘s debut album “Kill My Only Enemy” that are to be finished before the end of this year.The recordings consumed almost all spring and summer but the result is stunning! We also did a few smaller gigs and participated in the music competition “Emergenza music festival”, which is one of the biggest music festivals/competitions around, besides Idol, hehehe. We did really good and won the Stockholm finals and reached the second spot in Sweden as best live band. We also, or I mean Niklas and Johan H, received a really cool price for best guitar performance and won a fat Marshall rig! We also performed at the festival “Sweden Rock Festival” which is one of the biggest rock/metal festivals in Sweden at the moment. We had a really good time hanging out with fans and other cool people and the gig went really good. We received a lot of appreciation and respect from the audience, both directly after the gig and through e-mail the weeks after. It was a great feeling and we feel very humble to get that kind of response, also it makes us really on fire and we want to give more! Except that I enjoyed hanging out at Sweden’s best metal festival, Metaltown!
So everyone, why choose metal? What is the background each of you brings to the band?
Therese: Since childhood my mum and dad raised me in to a world filled with rock and metal music. I feel lucky to have parents that listened to bands like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Queen and so on. So as a child I had no choice, it was rock that was played in the house, no escaping there! As a teenager I started to explore a heavier and different side of the music I was raised up with. I started to listen to bands like Alice In Chains, Nirvana, Korn and Meshuggah and these bands still means a lot to me. Today I’m really fond of bands like Rammstein, In Flames, Slipknot, Disturbed and Katatonia. These bands really give me the rush today and they are also important inspiration when writing music. There is however another part of my musical side that really loves folk music and pagan tunes, this is something special to me and it always make me completely happy. Actually Disdained is my first band I’ve been in. I have a little different background compared to the guys in the band. My musical background started in my early years when I sang in a choir and also had musical-theater as a subject in school. After moving to Stockholm I started my theatre and musical studies, later I took a higher course in the musical subject at Kulturama, which is the biggest center for aesthetic educations in Sweden. This led me to work at a theater in Stockholm for three years. After a long break I met with Micke “INK” Östling, the guitar player of Lizette &, and I started to do troubadour gigs with him. After one gig I met Henrik and Niklas who asked me if I was interested in joining there new project as the female singer. I accepted and this collaboration led into the start up of the new band Disdained, the rest is history.
Niklas: I’ve been in love with the metal music genre since the early teenage ears. At 15 I started to listen to bands like Metallica, Sepultura and Megadeth and not shortly after I started playing the guitar since I wanted to be like them, you know, rocking on stage. Metal music gives me a kick, or a rush even, that feeling can’t be compared with no other music genre. This intense feeling for the music also brought me to playing in a band, at first it was a struggle of course with different constellations and learning the instrument and such. Later I joined the power metal band Insania (Stockholm) that I came to stay in for almost 10 years. After my power metal journey with Insania, I wanted to go back to my roots with heavier music. I started up the band Disdained together with Henrik Juhano (Insania, Stockholm) and Therése and today I feel that we are indeed fulfilled, both in regard to constellation and sound.
Tomas: The metal music was something that really attracted me from a young age. The first album I bought was a vinyl version of Twisted Sisters “Stay hungry”. I listened too much of the bands that were popular back then like WASP, Motley Crue, Skid Row and Kiss. I started playing guitar at the age of 13 since my younger brother had started taking lessons, so I got influenced by that. I did fast become better than him and he did eventually stop playing. I didn´t end the more I learned, the more I got determined to learn and play songs like my idols did. I started playing with a few smaller bands that were not that skilled and at some point I joined a band that needed a bass player. From that point I did basically stick to playing bass only. After a few years my musical taste had changed a bit and I listened much to bands like Helloween and Iron Maiden. It was more technical and I did evolve as a bass player playing these kinds of songs. At the age of 19 I joined the first constellation of what was to become Insania (Stockholm). We called ourselves Purgatory and played Helloween and Iron Maiden covers. After a year or so I was fed up with it since the same songs were played and no new were written. I played with a few other acts during the years that followed and then in May 1997, at the age of 22, I rejoined the mates from Purgatory that now also changed their name to Insania (Stockholm). During the 11 years I stayed with the band we released 4 records worldwide and played at many greater festivals. The peak of the career was when we went on a European tour in December 2007 as a supporting act to Ensiferum. Before I went on the tour I had also received an invitation from the guys in Disdained where former Insania members Niklas and Henrik played. They needed a bass player and they asked if I would like to play with them also. I was curious about this since it was something new for me musically and also that I had to play with a 5-string lower tuned bass. Back then I didn´t see Disdained as my main act and I gave them the time I could when not playing with Insania. In February 2008 we decided in Insania to take an indefinite break from playing and that led me to play more with Disdained. As I saw that Insania was not about to start playing soon again I decided to leave Insania and chose to see Disdained as my main act. That is something I do not regret today and here I am today creating history with Disdained.
Johan H: It all started by looking up to the older guys that were cool skaters that listened to bands like Accept, Tank, Saxon, Motörhead and Iron Maiden. It wasn’t though until later when my brother’s friend told me about the “worst band ever” that sounded like pure thrash that I had to buy my first full price album, which was very expensive, just to check them out! That’s how I came in contact with Metallica’s “Master Of Puppets”. I had just started to play the guitar and Metallica opened up a whole new perspective since the songs were more complex and had no real boundaries. And that’s what I really love about metal! It’s the musician’s ultimate playground. You can make music without thinking about the form and go from a sweet lullaby to all hell breaks loose in the same song if you like. My path to Disdained is quite long and we have now known each other for little more than more than a year. To make a long story short I started playing guitar when I was 14 years old. For roughly a year I explored my limits playing by myself in my room to “find my own style”. My brother, who was a lead singer, then asked me to join his band. After a few years my brother left the band I took over the vocals, we changed the name and became more and more progressive exploring different types of rhythms under influences from bands like Dream Theater and Pantera. The magical breakthrough never came and the band was split up. For years I kept wandering about playing in band playing different types of music just for fun, but one day I saw an ad that Disdained was looking for a new guitarist. So I listened to the music on MySpace and what I heard appealed to me. I’ve finally found kindred spirits that share my musical point of view to make the best melodic metal with rhythmic and progressive elements.
Johan P: Ever since I started listen to metal back in the late 80´s, listening to bands such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, I have been a sucker for metal bands with interesting drummers. I mean, Nicko Mc Brain doesn’t disappoint anyone, does he… Anyhow these days I tend to listen more to bands like Dream Theater, In Flames, Soilwork, Korn and such and I think all the drummers in each of the bands are awesome. Metal music really appeals to me because of its intensity and the energy it delivers. My musical background is slightly different than the others because I attended Eskilstuna municipal school of music at the age 8 to 18. Through the years I got to play everything from marching band and concert band to blues. Later I moved to the southeast of Sweden playing mainly rock music influenced by Sabbath, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. If we at occasions didn’t have a singer we went on playing instrumental improvised rock/metal/whatever until there was a new constellation. Playing and making music with Disdained and hanging out with the guys is really a special honor and I’m glad I had the guts to apply to their add a few years ago.
Why did Disdained call this release “Longing for Serenity”?
Niklas : The name “Longing For Serenity” reflects nicely Disdained‘s over all lyrical content. Since the songs often are very personal and rather dark, the wish or struggle for peace of mind, sort of got summarized in that song title. Also at the time of the recording of that particular song, we thought that “Longing For Serenity” was the best song we had recorded at the moment. The song itself was written to send a massage and to make people stop for a moment and think of what is going on in the world with trafficking and organized transnational crime.
Therese, can you tell me a little about the band’s history before this release?
Since the start up in 2005 we have been trying to find the right sound and the right musicians to work with. Today we have the best constellation and with our upcoming debut behind us I feel very confident and positive. As any new band we have been working our asses of to get recognized or at least seen in this “noise” of thousands of bands. But with hard work you sometimes get rewarded, often not in money tough, hehehe. In the past we have released one demo that contained tree tracks. This demo was used for different purposes but mostly for promotion on MySpace and for concert booking. Thanks to that we received different great offers that led to several gigs both in Sweden and Finland, in the later we were the headlining act two years in a row at the outdoor festival “Harvester Rock Festival” that among others have had acts like Paul Di’ Anno, U.D.O and Machinemen. In 2008 we preformed at the Swedish festival “Vadstuck”, there we opened up for the Swedish gammy winner Mustasch. One other important gig for us was actually this summer where we preformed at the “Alarm Stage” at “Sweden Rock Festival”. This gig was especially fun since this stage was for femme metal bands only. It is really fun to see that interest and commitment in Sweden indeed. Disdained have during the years received a lot of radio time both in the USA as well in England. We have done a few interviews that have meant a lot to us. For example we did one for Muen Magazine (USA) and another big interview with an Venezuelan magazine where one of our songs got featured on a compilation CD included in the magazine.
Disdained contributed the title track from “Longing For Serenity” to “Beauty And Brutality”. Why did you choose to contribute this particular song, in comparison with the others on the album?
Niklas : As said in the earlier question, this was the song we wanted to use because we felt that I it had a strong message, also, at that time, we thought that “Longing For Serenity” was a good song that represented the band’s musical style well. We really like the other songs but we feel today that this EP marks a earlier sound of Disdained, even if the EP was released just recently. Today we have evolved and have some nice surprises in our sleeves for all the ones who like Disdained’s metal.
What’s up next for Disdained?
Niklas : Conquering the world of course! Hehehe… Seriously, we have been working hard all spring and summer recording our upcoming full length debut “Kill My Only Enemy” and the process is not over yet. The album is in this writing moment in the mixing and the mastering process and so far it sounds awesome! We are also working with the amazing digital art artist Lady Symphonia which is doing the album cover art. Then of course we will try to find a suitable record label so we can reach the femme metal-fans in a wider scale than earlier. We will also start to look into booking some concerts and festivals for 2011, we hope that all will go as planned.
“Longing for Serenity” is the EP available on American Amazon. Is this part of the original album “Kill My Only Enemy”, or has this plan changed in any way?
Niklas : The EP is available on American Amazon, yes. The track “Longing For Serenity” will be on the full length album “Kill My Only Enemy”, however with a face lift.
Do any of you have any side projects, or hobbies that are important to you outside of the band? A little about them…
Johan H: At the moment I don’t have any musical side projects. There is unfortunately no time for that. I spend my spare time with my wife and children unless I’m playing floor bandy, watching movies or partying with the band!
Therese: Besides Disdained I do a lot of troubadour gigs both for fun and for an extra income. When I’m not working with music I am a person that loves being out in the nature and I do not hesitate, if there is time, to go away fishing for a while. Another big hobby of mine is attending to my orchids or watching movies. I often watch between 2 to 4 films every week. I also enjoy reading a good book or just hanging out with my friends and have a nice tasting beer or a smoky single malt whiskey.
Johan P: Right now I’m studying business development within retailing so the days are really filled for me. But I try to get out as often as I can to ride my mountain bike. I also take the time to hang out with my kids. It’s a real treat.
Tomas: Disdained is my only band I play with right now. Seeing I do not have all time in the world having 2 young sons and a family to attend to. In my spare time I really enjoy watching sports, football foremost and I also enjoy going to gigs with my favorite bands. I am much into computers and play an online game from time to time. Weekends I do often go and meet my friends for a drink or just do something fun. It is not seldom that I go to Niklas‘s place and we listen to good music, have a bunch of good ales and single malt whiskeys.
Niklas: Well besides the music that takes almost all of my free time, I have a strong interest in the nature. I’ve been studying biology and earth science for some years now and I really love being out in the green, it gives me peace of mind and a lot of happiness. I also like going to concerts, watching movies at home or at cinema, reading, Photoshop stuff, gaming horror games on my PC, Single malt whisky and American ale, this last thing I share with all the guys in the band, surprise huh!!!
Therese, what is your dream performance? What venue, what bands would you play alongside, and what would make it stand out as the single best concert ever?
I would really like to perform at the Swedish festival Metaltown. Besides all the awesome bands that perform there it is a really cool environment to be in. It’s located on a pier in the metal town of Sweden, Gothenburg. Everything in the surrounding environment is made of concrete and steel! Another cool festival would be Wacken Open Air since it is one of Europe’s biggest festivals and of course Metal Voices Fest where I think we would fit in nicely. There are a few bands that I can’t get enough off and I would die to support them on tour or just a single gig. These bands would be Rammstein, Katatonia or maybe In Flames. I’m not comparing us to be at the same level as them of course but a Disdained concert is not only about the music itself and then nothing more to it but we also want to give the audience an experience where we are acting and interacting with the music we deliver. Rammstein is that kind of band that always delivers a complete genial and carefully prepared show and therefore is a band that inspires us.
Where would you say your lyrics come from, on an emotional level? Which song would you say exemplifies this the best?
Niklas : Our songs are often, almost always, about emotions on a very personal level but the lyrics can also be about real life experiences, personal or seen from another person’s perspective. We seldom write fictive lyrics, like fantasy stuff but of course a feeling or a dream can be put in another context than the actual feeling itself, that is one of the great things when writing songs. The best songs to exemplify this would probably be the dark songs “Numb” or “Trust” on our upcoming album, but if we have to mention a song from the EP it would probably be “Until My Last Breath”.
Why has the Internet been an asset, or a detriment, to the spread of your music and the income it creates?
Tomas : Since we are not a big act (yet) in any way we really benefit from the internet. It is a great channel for us to advertise ourselves and let people from all over the world get in touch with us and our music. We use web pages like MySpace and Facebook frequently to inform about the latest news from the band. The songs are distributed via Spotify, iTunes and other MP3 downloading sites, so that spreads our music also and creates a small income.
To wrap things up, is there one thing each of you would like to say to all your fans?
Niklas: Thanks for giving us your time reading this interview and I hope it was of interest. Hope to see you on a future gig or tour. Cheers to you!!!
Tomas: I would like to thank all of those that have been to our gigs supporting us, also those that has written to us and given us praise for our work. Since the record is not released yet I can´t say thanks for buying it but I will urge you to give it a shot and listen to it since I truly believe that it is something you may like if you are into bands that are in our genre. As a last thing I wish all of you a great time and remember all: Metal is the law!
Johan H: If you like heavy and melodic metal, check out our debut “Kill My Only Enemy”. Cheers!!!
Therese: Live each day as it was your last!
Johan: I’m really grateful to everyone, supporting us in the way they can.
Photos by Malin Nyberg – Mindflow