I have to start with the obvious question. Does the band name pose any issues since there’s aMarvel superhero of the same name?
Marcus: Well, for people that have never heard about us before I guess there are some issues regarding the name considering the kind of impression it evokes. When we started the band we were a three-piece death metal band and by that time I guess the name was more fitting to the kind of music we played then. As time went by, the band evolved into something else so the name became more like a “necessary evil” in the the sense that it was something that people had started to identify us as. So our dilemma was “should we change our name when the name had started to spread or should we just stick to it and just see it as an identity?” It becomes a catch 22 in some ways. Then again you start to ask yourself, what is “a good name”, is there such a thing? Now I just see our name as something we have to live with and the music we have made is a kind of snapshot of who we were and what we were at that moment in time when it was written.
Stefan: When we started the band 21 years ago we were still teenagers and, as Marcus pointed out, played death metal. So I guess we all thought it was a really cool name back then. However, I don’t know how many times, since those early years, I’ve thought of changing the name but Marcus talked me out of it. I guess he has a point in the way he’s reasoning about it.
Thomas: I have no responsibility in naming the band after a Marvel character, but since the band was already established through two releases when I joined in on bass in 2001, I have never bothered to argue about the suitability of the name. Also, the Wolverine is in fact a lovely and impressive animal living e.g. in northern Sweden, so in that respect the band name shouldn’t perhaps be considered too weird. And I think it’s both funny and pathetic when people make these super hero jokes about us (like unnecessary posts on Facebook or wherever) – not that it bothers me, I just feel these people should do something more useful with their time. I’m not talking about our dear fans here, just so you know. I suppose the most prominent issue having chosen Wolverine as band name is that it can be a bit of a pain to find the info you are looking for when scanning cyberspace to see the band related stuff people write and post.
What are some of the musical influences for the band and individually?
Marcus: I am influenced by a lot of things, not necessarily music. As for musical influences for me, when I do listen to music which is not very common nowadays, I tend to listen to the old stuff like Kiss, Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Bruce Springsteen and such things. As for modern music I lean more towards electronic/synth stuff. In general it’s all about good melodies for me.
Stefan: I agree with Marcus that for me, in general, it’s all about great melodies. I don’t really confine myself to one style of music as long as I like the melodies. Just to mention a few of my musical influences I’d say Kiss, Bruce Springsteen, Richard Marx, A-ha, Queensrÿche (pre HITNF) and Fates Warning. I actually also think a lot of my vocal melodies are influenced by, believe it or not, the Bee Gees which I was introduced to at an early age by my mother who’s been a fan all of her life. I’m not necessarily thinking about their disco era but rather other material that they released both before and after those “disco years”.
Thomas: Since I’m not much of a composer I can’t really say my musical preferences have a real impact on Wolverine’s music. I listen to a wide spectrum of music, albeit quite selective, ranging from Monteverdi’s or Caccini’s Renaissence opera to grindcore bands like Gadget and Nasum, and strange death metal bands like Portal. When it comes to the bass work, I have a tendency to stick to fundamental, simple stuff (I don’t think I even have the potential to become a virtuoso… or the patience to practice for that matter). There are many great bassplayers that inspire me though, like Paul Chambers (played e.g. with Miles Davis), Paul McCartney (interesting melodies and stuff) and of course Jaco Pastorius (the master and pioneer of the fretless). I suppose a bass player needn’t
mention other, more commonly discussed heroes, like Flea, Steve Harris and Geddy Lee as
guiding lights and masters who can show the ways of the force?
Wolverine is often classified as progressive metal. Yet that always seems to be a bit limiting to me. How would you classify the Wolverine sound?
Marcus: I generally don’t like la belling things, though if I have to I guess we are somewhere in the Progressive/Alternative Rock spectra nowadays but I prefer to just call it “music” since we just write what comes out of us and this is how it sounds right now maybe it will sound like something else tomorrow, I don’t know?
Thomas: Yes, to label something as “progressive metal” can be quite limiting, especially if one has the stereotypical “progressive metal sound” in mind (whatever that is, but I don’t think it’s my cup of tea). Like Marcus says, we write and record the stuff that happen to live inside us at the time being – be it heavy or complicated stuff or not. I refer to our music as being “progressive” these days. I think it is interesting to try to reach “outside the box” so to speak. One way of looking at things is that a band that carries only the “progressive metal sound” is staying inside the box and is therefore kind of “non-progressive”, just as commercial ready-made pop music is indeed inside its safe money making box. This way of reasoning raises the question of what “progressive metal”
really means: is it a sound or style that is more or less “stable” or stereotypical, or is it a kind of metal that challenges the boundaries of a specific sound and style? Is music progressive just because it is technical, or do we want something beyond this before we are ready to refer to it as being progressive?
The band seem to take longer between albums than “typical” bands. Is there a method involved or does life just get in the way?
Marcus: It’s a combination of things. Life, as you say, is a part of it. Another thing is our strive for something that is close to our perception of perfection. We are a band with five totally different people that almost always disagree about everything and our albums are a result/compromise of that. I see it almost as a big filter. It all takes time and a lot of energy, but in my view, the end result is all worth it.
Thomas: We are basically arguing about everything, so it is a slow process. But we also live in different parts of Sweden, which means we don’t meet frequently or regularly for rehersals and even more arguing. But life also gets in the way I suppose. For me it has been a bit of a struggle to find time and energy for Wolverine and other bands due to my high school teaching job. Since I finally decided it is not worth to have this job consume so much of me and my time, I recently resigned from teaching in order to do something else.
How would you say that “Machina Viva” compares to previous albums?
Marcus: Machina Viva is in my view our most dynamic album to date considering the contrasts between the stripped down/fragile parts and the more complex/chaotic parts. We have incorporated and expanded our sound palette a bit I think with some brass and electronic stuff. It’s all evolving, one album would not sound the way it sounds without the one before it.
Stefan: I think a lot of Marcus more electronic influences show through on this album which isn’t that strange since he’s written the lion’s share of the music. Being the drummer he is I’d also say that his talent for rhythms show through a lot this time around. I had a hard time getting into some of the parts but I also saw it as my mission, when writing vocal melodies, to make the songs more accessible than what I originally perceived them.
Thomas: All of Wolverine’s albums have a sound of their own, if you compare them with each other. In that respect Machina Viva is just a natural continuation in the band’s progression, and as time flies and life changes I guess the music will continue to change and evolve as we evolve andnchange as individuals – for better or worse!
What was the direction both thematically and musically for the album?
Marcus: Thematically we generally write about our lives and our view of the world, things we experience, things we’re angry and frustrated about. This is a way of writing that we started working on the Still album. The general procedure for Machina Viva was me and Per sending ideas back and forth to each other and putting together complete drafts of songs that we then started working on and rehearsing together with the whole band and then writing lyrics for.
Thomas: Depending on how one interprets the lyrics, various themes probably show themselves. Part of the general theme (at least one I am prone to ponder) is the relation between the individual and society. I suppose it is mainly “Machina” and “The Bedlam Overture” that say something about this. I believe the sordid nature of humanity has led society to a point where we are, in many respects, encouraged or forced (or fooled) to become more machine-like and self-centered in order to make our way “forward” in what many nowadays refer to as life. Of course there are many caring people around us, but what I see is that we live in a world that is becoming less and less humane. One could argue our “sound” nature and real needs are in conflict with the nature and demands of the “societal machinery” (somehow I come to think of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis writing
this). This brings us to one meaning of the album title – The Living Machine (are we machine like?), or The Living Plan, which is also one of the translations you get from Latin Machina Viva. If you are into conspiracy theories Machina Viva may suggest there is a master plan brought to life – and there are several hypotheses on what this plan is about. My main point though is that overall we are gradually dehumanized, and there are so many interesting things that can be said about this – I better stop it now before this rambling turns into a novel. A final note on the musical bit, which could in some ways be considered symbolic in terms of the light infusion of electro components (the machines) in some of the songs of the album.
I love the album and the epic “The Bedlam Overture” and “Nemesis” are two favorite tracks. What are some of yours? I know it’s hard since you guys wrote them!
Marcus: As for now I think they’re all my favourites and they all have their place so to speak. I guess time will tell which ones that will stick with me.
Stefan: I’d say “Our Last Goodbye” and “The Bedlam Overture” are my favorites right now but as with all our albums my favorites tend to shift back and forth depending on the mood I’m in.
Thomas: All songs have different qualities and to me they are still “growing”, which means the way I relate to them has a tendency to change. So far the songs still sort of sink in more and more. But I have to say “The Bedlam Overture” is probably my favourite track – it has such a variety of moods in it, and both listening to it and playing through it at takes me on a pleasant musical journey. I hope many others feel the same way about this song. Another song that I am very found of is “Sheds”, so I guess the opening and closure of the album are my favourite spots!
How did you guys hook up with Ken Golden and The Laser’s Edge Group?
Marcus: At first we were planning to release this album ourselves but I eventually thought it would be too much work so I reached out to Ken for some advice at first and to see if he had any interest in us which he luckily had. I have known about Ken and The Laser’s Edge Group for a long time and I thought, if we should work with a label of some kind, he would be the one to try to reach out to.
What are you touring plans?
Marcus: We are in the planning of that right now actually. Stay tuned for more info on that real soon.
Thank you for answering my questions and best of luck with the album!!
Marcus: Thank you!
Stefan: Thank you very much!
For more info, visit: www.wolverine-overdose.com