Bloodbath. There’s a good chance that if you are even remotely acquainted with the deathly end of the metal spectrum then you are familiar with a band that comprises members of Opeth and Katatonia and has, to date, unleashed three monumental studio albums, two EPs and a blistering live set, ‘The Wacken Carnage’, which documented the band ripping up the famous festival stage in 2008.
Here, now, Bloodbath are about to make their UK debut – a debut that has been hotly anticipated in the months since it was first announce that the band would be blessing Bloodstock with their presence, and we have somehow managed to organise an interview with ‘Sodomizer’(better known as Per Eriksson, the band’s guitarist since 2008) whom we find relaxing backstage in a tent which also contains Mikael Akerfeldt, and it is not with a little trepidation that we approach our interviewee, a sense of nervousness that is not aided by Per’s colleague boldly stating “hopefully these guys will have some interesting questions for you!” before leaving us to our fate.
SA: Hi, well we have a few questions but I don’t know how well we’ll succeed…
Per rearranges himself in his seat, look at us before smiling slightly.
Per: We’ll try and work something out
We laugh, hoping that his sense of humour hasn’t been evicted by an endless parade of journalists and launch into our first question, which, in all fairness, sounded perfectly reasonable when we wrote it and now comes out sounding just rude…damn!
SA: So first thing, to what extent do you view Bloodbath as a real band as opposed to it being just a way to satisfy unfulfilled creative urges of it’s various members?
A brief silence follows us while Per looks at us carefully. I consider grabbing my co-conspirators and running for the exit…
Per: It’s not a real band, obviously. It is a band, but it’s more like a side project thing to release some anger, stuff like that. I don’t know – it’s something that we love to do.
SA: where did the initial idea come from – who broached the idea of Bloodbath?
Per: I don’t know, I wasn’t in the band form the beginning so I don’t really know but the first time the guys really got together to do anything was to try out the studio – Dan Swano’s studio, so that’s how it all came together. It was a fun thing then, it’s a fun thing now, so basically the same thing.
SA: Why did you make the decision to tour this summer?
Per: It’s all a matter of schedules actually because everybody’s really busy – they’re doing Opeth and we’re doing Katatonia and it’s like full on, so…we’ve been talking about it for a while though and it just came together.
SA: So Katatonia’s on a brief break between albums then?
Per: Between shows really
SA:…because you’ve just had an EP out, following the last album…
Per: yeah – we’re on full tour mode actually, so this is like my one off weekend – I can do this – I worked for Opeth last night so I’m pretty busy.
Sa: and you were here with Katatnoia last year…
Per: yeah, yeah I was guitar teching for Katatonia back then so I was here, yeah.
SA: So why the decision to do festivals this year rather than your own, headline tour?
Per: Well – it’s easier! It’s a lot of…you’re doing a tour, it’s a lot of planning and stuff like that…doing a festival is mostly showing up and playing.
SA: So what main influences are there, musically and lyrically, for Bloodbath?
Per: For me, it’s mostly older stuff – Dismember stuff, Morbid angel stuff like that…
SA: Do you have any sort of game plan when you come to do a Bloodbath album – do you think about what you want to project?
Per: Um, yeah kind of…We write…everyone writes songs separately, at home and it all comes together in the studio so…we talked about it from time to time, you know…when you come to do an album we ask what kind of direction we want…stuff like that. We all got basically the same influences: we all love the old Morbid Angel stuff, you know David Vincent stuff and stuff like that. Basically, when we came to do the last album we wanted to do something a bit more modern I think and for the next album I think we’re probably going a different direction, more older stuff…dirtier…
SA: Are Peaceville quite supportive, then, of the fact that you just release albums very occasionally?
Per: That’s a good question, I don’t know! I don’t think we have a contract right now but.. I don’t know – I just play guitar man!
SA: The Swedish scene seems to be quite incestuous – there seems to be quite a small group of musicians that move around between bands…
Per: yeah, I know, yeah
SA: …does that ever become more of a hassle than a benefit?
Per: [after an uncomfortably long pause] YES! [laughter] I don’t know – I haven’t had any problems yet…
SA: Does it ever come to the point where you’re just looking for some outside perspective…some new blood maybe?
Per: no, not really because in Bloodbath everybody are professionals, you know, easy to work with. Yeah – people can be inexperienced or whatever so it’s very easy with us. Everyone knows their part and, you know, Bloodbath doesn’t have a lot of time to do stuff…like last time we went into the studio we had like two songs which weren’t even finished and we had to finish them off in the studio, but it works and everyone’s got good ideas so…it’s easier that way, you know.
SA: But you did have problems finding the right vocalist…. Was that not a big issue for you?
Per: Yeah it was, because we had Mike first, then we had Peter [Tagtgren] both very, very good vocalists, then we had this other guy that actually came to the studio and started to record and it was like “yeah…this…is…not going to work out…” so yeah there were desperate times…
SA: That must have been difficult, having to explain that in the middle of a recording?!
Per: I didn’t do it [laughter] but yeah that was actually really difficult. It was me, Jonas and Anders – we were at the studio the whole time…it was like…yeah it was really hard because we had to go from the studio and we had to sit down and say “yeah, this is not working out so what are we going to do about it…?”…you know, we were very happy with the material we had written and we didn’t want to destroy it with some bad vocals.
SA: And this was for the “unblessing the purity” EP?
Per: “Unblessing the purity, yeah”
SA: …because some of the frustration came through in the liner notes to that – it must have been a really difficult time for the band…
Per: yeah, it was, it was, but we called Mike…desperately really – “would you please do this?” – we were running out of studio time as well so… and he agreed to do it…
SA: Did I understand correctly that you’re recording tomorrow’s show?
Per: yeah, yeah! We’re doing a DVD tomorrow yeah.
SA: …and do you already have plans for that?
Per: I don’t know when it’s going to be released but hopefully soon I think… It’ll be a kind of follow on from the Waken CD.
SA: so the fact that you’re touring now, does that in any way signal a new album? (We hope!)
Per: errr, we have been talking about it you know, but nothing ahs been planned or anything yet…but we have been talking about it. We’ve talked about what direction we want to do…maybe next year, if we get some time to do a record… we’re gonna do it… Yeah, hopefully, because I love doing it. It’s not that much work.
SA: So how’s it different, do you think, from what you do with Katatonia?
Per: Well, I don’t write material with Katatonia, I’m just a session guy you know…but from what I’ve heard, they put a lot of work into their stuff, it takes months to record…with Bloodbath it’s much easier, it’s just fun.
SA: …and what about Bloodstock itself, are you happy to be playing here?
Per: Yeah, it’s going to be great I think…it’s our first UK show and I think this is a great festival to do it in.
And with that, plus a brief discussion of the band’s playing BOA, we leave Per hoping wildly that we didn’t entirely put him to sleep with our questions!