It’s a sunny Saturday in February. I have taken the train to the Swedish town Karlstad, and my day is fully booked! I will finish the day with Sparzanza, doing a special show to celebrate 20 years as a band.
It’s also the day when I’m about to my first real interviews! Earlier I have done three or four interviews via e-mail, but today I will meet the band Incarnit, face to face
So I park myself outside the pub Heaven & Hell on the main square in Karlstad and wait, with a little tense nervousness on the band and their manager Jimmie.
When we’re gathered inside Heaven & Hell, I’ have to start with:
Alright, we have to this together, this is my first interview, so I could use some help! About 30 seconds later that problem is solved, as they (Incarnit) say, “Well, we’re not so used to this either…” and then the talk is on!
Me: If we start with the album, I think it’s really damn good! It’s been spinning at home a lot!
INCARNIT: Thanks! That’s so awesome!
But if it sucked I might not have been here with you guys obviously… I added… And that was the start of the first derailment of the conversation…. To summarize everything that the guys said, the outcome was like this:
INCARNIT:” Although, it could be kind of fun, and like go to a band that you think sucks, and like…. “What the hell were you thinking….!” HAHAHAHA!
Anyway, when things kind of settled, we continued:
Could you tell me a little about the band, who are you guys, background and stuff:
Erik: I’m 25 years old, played the guitar since 2004. I’ve known Robert earlier when he played in another band, I kind of slipped into the band, and in some strange way, that was the start for me Robert. Then we struggled to find members to the band, it took a couple of years.
Rikard: We’re all about the same age, 25 – Robert is 26, but we’re all born in 1990. I ended up in the band when I went to a parallel class as Erik, and he asked me, you wanna join? Apparently, Erik had a gig, but were lacking a drummer. So I got the question, do you want to do a gig? It was three days before the gig, and like, Yes I can!
We did one rehearsal, the day before the gig… And it was an OK gig, on a community youth center, but we decided like 5 minutes before we hit the stage… let’s do Enter Sandman!!
We completely ruined the intro! I didn’t know when to start, it messed everything up. And really, it wasn’t good! But the fun part, afterwards the audience were like, “Damn, that was a great Enter Sandman!” 🙂 Hahaha, it was the worst gig ever! So that was our first show! 🙂
And just after that gig, think it was in 2008, Robert says: OK, when do we rehearse the next time then? I was like, “So I’m in the band? Or?” So officially, I’m still not a member of the band!
Robert: That got me thinking about the way you entered the band Erik… We had another guitarist that had been ill or something like that, and when we had a gig, we said, let’s take Erik – and then we didn’t tell the other guy… And he got better! So at the next rehearsal he likes, get in to the room and like sit in the corner, playing the mandolin, and then he goes home…
Erik: But it’s Robert that is the foundation, it was he who started it all.
A bit more on the personal level, I’m guessing that you’re not full time musicians?
Rikard: No, we aren’t. I’m working nights in home care services, and as a temp in the pre-school. I have studied some, media and communication, which I can use a lot in the band, when producing things and working with social media. I kind of like the temp-job, it gives me the option to have some days of and take whatever gig I want. Sleep is the Enemy!
Robert: I work as a personal assistant, and jump into different bands now and then, but it’s not the creative thing that you get out of Incarnit.
Erik: I’m a school photographer from time to time, and a roadie and put up some sound and light and works with little Nöjesfabriken (big place in Karlstad with bowling, conferences and shows.) here in town. And then bit of my own, freelancing with photography and stuff.
Rikard: Ehhh… Or, well not that interesting! But I still get laid sometimes anyway!! Hahaha!
And that was the start of an approximately seven-minute talk, were most part is works best if censored, and culminated in “Well it’s a really good album!”
Me: Speaking of the album, how do you get the music out there today?
Incarnit: Well, yes…!! That’s hell to do!
Rikard: We promote Spotify a lot right now. With different commercials videos. But music isn’t something people pay for these days, not the artist anyway. But we know that you can make some money by playing live, and that is the road we would like to take. Do a lot of shows, sell albums and really talk to people.
Erik: Try to be seen, be out there – that’s the goal.
Rikard: There’s no substitute for live-music, but there is substitute for albums, with streaming and so.
The first promotion-video for Spotify:
So how is it then, have you been able to play a lot of live shows?
Erik och Rikard: Not so much as we want, but still, pretty much. Some youth centers, sometimes for only 3 people… But at least we played, got a lot of experience. But today we’re much pickier, you want some reward for that time you put in with rehearsals, travelling, carrying everything, take all of our stuff out, play, and then put all stuff back into the car.
We’ve done some competitions as well. Amongst other Studiefrämjandet and two Wacken Metal Battle. It was hard competition both times. Bands that we’ve been following afterwards, really great bands, like Vengha, who won the first year we entered. We became friends with them. And we grew as a band by joining these competions.
We were really close to win the last time, we came to the big Sweden-final, and it felt like we had the audience on our side. In the end, we didn’t win, but best of all was the fact that we got feed-back from people in the business, people from bands like Lillasyster and Hammerfall. But apparently, the most of the criticism was that we had a really ugly name for the band!
How is the audience when you perform? At home people only stands with their arms crossed….
Erik: That’s how it looks in all of Sweden, everyone is a music-expert.
Rikard: In our hometown it’s different. We know people, no stiff upper lips here. But of course there’s still people that doesn’t move….
Erik: That’s what I mean, some stand still and so, and afterwards, they’re like “Awesome show man!”
Rikard: That’s our story, after every show, people are like surprised that we’re actually a good band! People doesn’t count on us being good…
But it is perhaps a little positive?
Rikard: Absolutely, it’s a good quality.
Erik: And then when people realize that it’s thrash metal….
Rikard: We’ve might have a label on us that isn’t all that correct, you can’t decide if a band is good or not on a genre. We don’t stick to any rules, we create stuff. It’s gonna get what it is.
Erik: We have the influences, and we evolve from that.
Rikard: On this album, Robert and Jim did all the writing by the way.
Role models, what are yours?
Erik: All of the thrash-part actually. When Robert started the band it was all about Metallica, and I also got into that. We started out as a Metallica-cover band when I joined.
Rikard: Your riffs and your way playing the guitar is like from that.
Erik: We’re maybe a bit more melodic, we’re leaning a bit more towards Megadeth, more heavy metal than death metal.
Have you guys ever gone to music-school or something?
Robert: I started playing the violin when I was like 5 or 6 years old, that’s how I came in touch with stringed instrument, and I did that for like 5 years. Then I ended up in a music-class and then it wasn’t about the instrument, so I sang for a couple of years, and somewhere along the road I picked up the guitar, and it was in that class I formed the band in the beginning.
Then I started a musical high school, and from that day and forward, for me it was all about the guitar and the singing. And I flunked the singing… But mostly, I’m self-taught.
And then follows yet another five minutes’ discussion of the importance of be able to sing, and comparisons with the Graf-sisters() and she-males and the fact that a mouth is a mouth…. And I don’t think we need to print it here… J
Do you have a lot of collaborations with the bands here in town?
Erik: We try to. Some are willing.
Rikard: We’re good friends with everybody. And that’s damn good! We go to each other’s gigs. It’s mutual.
Erik: In some way we are contestants, but we try not to see it in that way, we’re not there making a fuzz, it’s better to try to see the positive in cooperation instead. We think we all gain from it.
Rikard: We went to Denmark with Inferior, it was a Grizzly Nation (a Facebook community for a lot of bands) and they arranged a gig with us and Inferior in Copenhagen. Grizzly Nation also have been able to take Inferior and Deception (also a Karlstad band) for a tour in California and Mexico, so that’s a really good cooperation, because it could lead to the opportunity to play in very distant places.
Erik: It’s a trade off, not abuse of each other. We get a gig here, and you could get us a gig over there.
Yeah, I thought about that, you haven’t thought about do like a mini-mobile-festival or so with the other bands here?
Erik: Yeah, I think it would be easier, as a package.
Rikard: It’s something we’ve talked about, something we would like to evolve.
Robert: And a lot more fun as well, going with a bunch of idiots, rather than going alone…
Rikard: Cooperation might be the shit actually.
Yeah, coz when unknown band comes to my hometown (Eskilstuna), well there’s not a lot of people coming to that.
Erik: Well no it isn’t. And it’s the same everywhere. There’s no interest, people want to know that “Oh this is familiar”. Swedes are playing hard to get. It has to be like In Flames, and then it’s a full house. Backyard Babies, well not so much!
Rikard: But this town is kind of interesting. Every god damn time there’s a gig in this town, it’s always two gigs you want to see, in different places… Like this week. Raubtier Thursday, at the same time Paper on the boat, and Titiyo, and tonight it’s the 20 years’ anniversary for Sparzanza!
It’s a fun town for a band today, it’s always something going on. It’s fun being interested in music here.
Yeah, about that, it’s a lot of heavy music from Karlstad these days, am I right?
Erik: Yes, it is.
Jimmie: The average quality is really high, very few bad bands.
Rikard: I think we feed each other. People that start bands know what it takes, know what you have to measure up to, which give a positive spin, everybody tries to be better than the rest.
Erik: We’ve been called small Gothenburg; we’ve also got our own sound.
Robert: There’s this place called Strandvillan. It’s just a big place where a lot of bands can rehearsal, which is interesting. Sparzanza rehearse there.
Rikard: And so do we, we’re close to Sparzanza and a band called Knogjärn and bands like Mothership, Primal Instinct, Lancer. Lancer has got it going, doing their third album right now. Powermetal with an ostrich as a logo! It’s so cool!
But we know a lot of bands on their way up, and that could be really positive, and you don’t want to underestimate that thing, getting friends.
Any gigs on the way?
Rikard: We’re playing a wedding this year! It’s actually true, a buddy’s getting married. But right now we don’t have anything booked, and we have some stuff to figure out, and stuff to record… and stuff…
Here it got kind of a blur, but Jimmie (manager) phoned me the week afterwards telling me that the bass player was about to drop of the band, and because of that, there weren’t that many plans, focus lies in finding a new bass player.
So, instead it became like this:
Me: OK… Ehhh… [Very loong silence] So, what should we do now then?… Ahhh… THE ALBUM!!! Eehhhh… What can you tell me about the album??
INCARNIT: IT FUCKING GREAT!!
Erik: Our debut album… It’s a big leap.
Robert: It’s huge! It’s something one dreamt about since 2001…
Rikard: The crowning after a couple of EP:s. First time in a studio where we didn’t do everything ourselves.
Robert: Right, we’ve done exactly everything by our self. We like that.
Rikard: We’re kind of do-it-yourself-band really! We’re… well I shouldn’t… YEAH I SHOULD… We’re so damn real! When you attend our shows, you hear us! The only help we have is eventually a PA!
Robert: We have some different talents and experiences of recordings. We write all of the stuff our self’s, and this dude (Erik) is one hell of photographer, which we can use, he’s also grate with editing.
Rikard: We use the resources we have. And the recording of the album is the first time we got professional help, by Big Balls Productions, which is our studio.
Robert: Think we gave them a hard time, but I think we got what we wanted in the end.
Rikard: Mats, Fredrik and Több (Tobias Gustafsson, ex Vomitory. Now in Amon Amarth) is a great team to work with.
What else about the album? The title of the album says it all I think – The Grand Cult.
Robert: The title and the lyrics talks about the human being, which is a bit crazy and do a whole lot of self-destructive things.
Rikard: Yeah, the self-destructive side of man is a pretty good way to see it.
Robert: Exactly, that’s what I been searching for, you could find it in the title, all the lyrics are written with that same thought, maybe one song hanging out there.
Rikard: We go from the end of the world to school-shootings.
INCARNIT: AND WAREWOLFS!! – HOWL – That’s the song that don’t follow the theme! And we’ve gotten great response for that song. People like it. We’ve gotten great response of the album of course, but Howl is special!
Jimmie: We hit the jackpot with the cover as well, I think it symbolize the whole album!
Rikard: We’ve gotten a shit-load of good reviews about the way the album looks. The fact that we did a sleeve with holes in it, that’s what people really likes!!!
Rikard: And it’s only some people that said that our logo looks like cock, they just don’t see the skull! 🙂 Theme of the album: Death, werewolf, penis!
Robert: One could think that it’s all about the same, but the songs are really individual with their lyrics. It did get really good and interesting. For those enjoying reading lyrics anyway.
Rikard: I’m extremely satisfied with the album. I think everybody is very happy about the way it sounds, and I’m for one is looking forward to making the next album!
Me: fiddling with my papers… Well, you’ve answered all my questions I prepared, before I asked them… Hahaha!
Rikard: We could talk a little about the actual recording of the album; We started with the drums. Day one I got my drums tuned by Tobias Gustafsson (, ex Vomitory and now Amon Amarth). He has a close relation with our studio. Damn it was cool to meet him!
Robert: Well, the beginning of the recording started off really good… We tried to do it live. And we planned to start the 5:th of January. And, at new year’s eve I thought that, what the hell, I will ram my fist through a wall, and of course I broke my hand, and later, in the ER I think, I have to tell the guys about this…
Rikard: We kind of hate Robert, a bit…
Erik: Yes, we do….
Rikard: Because, everybody knows that we are about to record our debut-album January 5:th, so it’s really great that our rhythm-guitarist and front man goes breaking his damn hand!
Robert: So we had to re-schedule some stuff… I had to sit there and go like… Do it again! Had to wait to do our guitar-stuff for last.
Jimmie: But it did alter the sound of the album a bit….
Erik: Well, some of the songs would have been hard to do live anyway.
Rikard: We don’t know what the alternative would have been, but we’re really happy about result today!
Jimmie: But I think that the selections of songs got altered.
Rikard: So, actually the wall at Robs place has a great influence of our sound! Fun fact: In our booklet, Robert gives credit to his wall for being an influence on our record!
But I really sound that you are really pleased with the outcome?
Robert: Yes… really! It’s like… finally…
Erik: It was a lot of ifs and buts, but it all fell into place…
Do you have favorite song on the album? I really like “…and so shall you reap”.
Erik: It’s really fun to hear that you like that song. It was a song that I thought that, this will take a long time before people appreciate this song!
Rikard: It’s a special song when you think what it’s all about.
Robert: And it’s the last song we wrote as well. It was me and Jimmie, trying to find the last demo version. I finished the song in November. And in December we went into pre-production, and I always write the lyrics when we record the song… I have a feeling where I wanna go with the lyrics, and a couple of sentences that fits the theme. Apparently, not many people work that way. But it’s not the same sitting at home and sing and play, so often I’m ready when it’s time to record the song.
So, I sat and were thinking that this song sounds like a school-shooting in some way, and that’s the outcome. And written from the perspective of a school-shooting.
Rikard: Do you guys have a favorite song?
Robert: Since I write the songs myself, I might have some strange angles to it, it varies. Of the songs, I worked the most with the last song (The last of us), I really like the song there.
Erik: That one is really different compared what we’ve done earlier.
Robert: The chords are really special, a lot of dissonance, but still the most melodic. I think that’s my favorite! And, as everybody were telling us, we can’t have two 7-minute songs, but I always thought, why not…? And then I didn’t say that much, but when we sat ourselves down to decide which songs to have….
Erik: Damn, we were quick! Thought it would be days, discussing songs.
Jimmie: And, it took 30 minutes or so!?
Rikard: We had 14 songs to the studio, we had to remove four. And we were damn fast removing the songs. I don’t think my favorite is on the album. But I have started to like the song “The Grand Cult” a lot. It’s fun as hell to play!
Erik: Then we have “I am Chaos”, which was the first song we recorded.
Rikard: If it weren’t for the fact that I’ve heard it so many times, I would have said that one. It’s so strong. It gets me lifting more weights at the gym. It get me wake up with a harder…..
(the rest of the band, in the background): HARD ON!!
Rikard: Not really the word I was looking for… But what did I mean…? … I don’t want to answer this question!!
But it seems that still have some material to record?
Robert: Material… for some reason it seems that we have a lot, and we’re far into the song-writing-process. It feels like we got a great starting-point with this album, and it’s going to be so much fun working with that.
Erik: It’s hard trying to find out which way to go, but I think we don’t give a shit, what happens, will happen.
Is there something you would like to have done different?
Erik: There’s always something! To put it like this, I fairly satisfied with the things we’ve done It’s as far as I could go at the time!
Rikard: I have to remind myself that I’m proud, coz you’ll go insane if you start to think about all the details.
Erik: I can actually listen to the album without thinking “Oh, we should have changed that”.
Robert: That’s something we’ve not been able to do with the EP:s from before…
Erik: The package that’s on the table (pointing on the album that I received as a gift!) feels rather complete, it fits with theme and cover.
Rikard: It was a pretty smoot process, as when you take a dump and don’t have to wipe you know… It hasn’t been “some kind of monster”- situation really.
Robert: It’s been smoot, but I’m always my biggest critic. There’s been a lot of times when I haven’t been satisfied, but it has been important to take some time off. Some of the song’s been around for quite some time, and sometimes I get a bit bored by them, and then it’s great to have a break.
Erik: But I think it’s cool, I haven’t been bored with the songs. I’ve like heard them, recorded them and rehearsed them for years, and that should really mean that it’s good songs!
Rikard: Musically, I really think we’re on to something!
Jimmie: The album isn’t the end of something, rather the start of things…
Erik: We’ve laid the foundation.
But I really think that you found your own sound, which for me is very liberating.
Erik: It’s a road, not easily found.
Rikard: In all of the genres, bands get stuck in tracks and never evolve. Can you keep count on all the bands sounding like In Flames, but worse? It’s a goal, not ending up there!
Erik: And then comes a band sounding like Metallica, and get shit for that!
Robert: In every new song you do, you go one way, and it’s nice not knowing which way, just going your own way.
Rikard: In the beginning people compared us with Metallica, today not so much.
Robert: We’ve been compared with all of the metal bands.
Jimmie: But, thinking of the first review we got, which was very bad, he compared us with bands like Slayer, Machine Head, Pantera and Sepultura… Still, it’s kind of cool being compared with bands like that!
Rikard: Of course, it’s nice to be compared with such great bands. Reviews are always fun to get. It’s always good, even the not so nice ones. When it’s real feed-back and you can see the truth in that, then it’s something to work with.
Robert: Well, it gets to you, and you start to think and want to know what people like and what details they like, so you can keep doing that, and then maybe you can find your own way. Find what you do best, and in the end, do it to the max, and that’s what you try to do. But it takes some time, but it’s a fun process.
Erik: You have to see the advantages and try to evolve from that, instead to shut out. That’s just band. But you can’t listen to everything!
Robert: But you have to like the music as well. I have a hard time thinking that you just write music for other people. And again, you want to make some money of it…. But apparently we don’t want to make money….!
Rikard: Money can’t buy attitude!!! And my purpose in life is what other people think of me!! Hahaha! 🙂
Do you have some spare time?
Rikard: Well I use to play curling, and what’s it called when you jump over things with horses….? No, what do you do? Well, on my spare time I play with 3 other bands! And I’m not joking, it might be the only thing I said today that is true!! 🙂 I see that I actually become a better musician playing different genres of music, but my heart is with Incarnit.
Robert: Well, what the hell… most of all I think about music. Write music. And play some video games, and hang out with my girlfriend. Attend gigs and stuff.
Erik: I do a lot of photographing. That’s my biggest interest besides music.
Robert: There’s a lot of music…
Rikard: In this town there’s so lot of people in so many bands. But all bands now that I disappear when Incarnit calls!
Rikard: Oh! The weirdest gig ever, now it’s time for me to ask a question! We’ve found ourselves in strange places… What’s the weirdest gig we’ve done? We’ve played biker parties, lorries. We can talk a long time about Uppsala… really long… but it might be talking about some crimes as well….
Robert: Well, I could mention, (Erik: But he defected!!). I’ve gotten into my head that I punched a dude, and that I got fired from the band, and I decided that I would walk home from Uppsala to Karlstad (well it’s about 300 km /peps) and I thought, how far could it be, like 30 km or so…. (which he wrote in a sms, with a lot of strange words…), and then I passed out in a sauna….
Rikard: The same night I was almost blinded by a six-year old, trying to put a finger into my eye, and it bled, and after that Robert tried to punch me in the face and after that he thought he was fired from the band!!
Erik: And that was before we tried to get drunk… Hahahaha!!!
Robert: Drank a couple of gallons… And THEN we would do a show! I remember two set, the third is just gone!
Rikard; The moral of this story is that we’ve had some really strange experiences together, and it has helped us as a band. We’ve done a lot together, and we’re I tight group of people.
I really don’t have any questions left now… But what do you consider to be the best Swedish metal band of all times?
INCARNIT: Ohh… Ahhhh…. What the hell!
Robert: There’s so many, but I really like Opeth. They never lost their way in old tracks, and it’s inspiring as hell.
Rikard: One of my favorite bands during my childhood is of course Skumdum… I’ve actually been able to play with the front-man of Skumdum, and do some chit-chat with him.
Erik: I’m just going through a lot of bands in my head right now… there are so many….
And somehow we ended up discussion how Jimmie got himself thrown out of Sweden Rock Festival… A story we will ask Jimmie about later…
Jimmie: Well it’s hard to say what band is the greatest, but we’re at least second best!! Hahaha!
Could we get a cheers to your fans?
Rikard: Damn, how are we not going to let this be cheezy…? Hello mother! (Robert: yup, that’s our fans!)
Thanks for being there, all you guys listening and supporting us, it means a lot!
Erik: Everyone willing to take some time and listen to us, it means a bunch!
Rikard: If don’t like Incarnit, well then your mother plays synthesizer in Hammerfall!!
Jag: That’s a good headline for the interview!!
Erik: No kidding!
Rikard: Thanks like a mother! Thanks for the interview! Now let’s get drunk!
And that’s the end of my first real interview! Damn, I had a blast! Then the boys wandered off and I stayed to have a chat with The Generals, but that’s a total different story that I will tell later on.
I would really thank the guys of Incarnit, making this so easy for me. I had such a great time sitting down and just listen to them, and it’s going to be a pleasure to follow them into the future!
I also want to thank the owners of Heaven & Hell who let us do the interview inside the pub despite it was closed and Sparzana was rigging the stage! And an extra thanks for the nice price I got on beers that evening! 🙂
Here’s where you can find Incarnit:
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