Johnny Hedlund, bassiste et chanteur du légendaire groupe de Death Metal suédois Unleashed, a répondu à mes questions à l’occasion de la sortie de No Sign Of Life, leur nouvel album.
No Sign Of Life review – soon
Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Would you please introduce yourself and the band Unleashed without using the label “Death Metal”?
Johnny Hedlund (vocals/bass): We are four guys into heavy music, enjoy drinking with friends and having a good time. We set out to be a live act first and foremost. And tried to create music people would appreciate and stick to for a very long time so we don’t change by the wind.
Do you remember why you picked this name up at the beginning of this journey?
Johnny: Because Death Metal is live music. And unleashing all you have inside and give it all you got is a very special feeling. It can’t be replaced by anything.
Your new album No Sign Of Life will be released in november, are you satisfied with what you’ve done?
Johnny: Very much so. And we had both the time and experience enough to make it the perfect record we aimed for. So I’d say it came out exactly how we wanted it too.
How does the composition process happen for this album? Is it different from the earlier releases?
Johnny: No, we worked exactly like before. The process takes around two years. Normally, we send stuff back and forth for a long time and then we decide which songs to go with. I try and fit them to the storyline, make the song melodies and then the lyrics. I mean I already have the script. When Fredrik creates a song we all listen to it and then I try to see where it fits into the story line. The melodies take some serious time and then I do the actual lyrics.
You decided very early to focus on Viking/Scandinavian history and heritage, is it easy to still find inspiration on those topics after all those years?
Johnny: Of course. It is my way of life and I don’t see it ending any time near soon. The source of inspiration feels eternal and I can only look at our forefathers who created tales that lasted for a thousand years. We shall see if I will be this lucky but it still is a good solid source of inspiration. The past, present and future of Viking traditions and values feels endless.
Unleashed’s music is made of solid riffs, in which you inject cold and hooking melodies. What can inspire you to create riffs?
Johnny: I guess Fredrik should have answered this question but I’d say any and all things are possible. Much of the influences can be bands you listen to off course. And combined with some Death Metal wisdom, the influences can come to life even if they are from music of the past.
My favorite songs from this album are No Sign of Life and It Is Finished, on which it seems to sound a bit darker. Do you also feel this more weighing atmosphere?
Johnny: Perhaps you are right. It Is Finished is a bit of unlikely I guess. I’d say it is the least classic Unleashed sounding song on the album but we feel it has its place.
During more than thirty years of career, Unleashed always released albums on a regular basis. Do you have a secret to be this productive?
Johnny: We determined very early on what Unleashed should be all about. And we agreed on how to do things. Everybody has a say in the band and everyone helps out with any and all things. We also did a marketing plan for the band early on, It may sound a bit non-band-like to do but it helps out determining what should be done and what should not be done in the name of Unleashed. And, I think we have stayed good friends also which really helps out in the long run.
As we all know, Covid-19 crisis fucked a lot of things up since last year, how did you face the situation as a band? Did the crisis have an impact on the album itself?
Johnny: It actually didn’t. The band is as before the pandemic. Of course we are very displeased like all other bands that we couldn’t play live for a very long while but there was nothing we could do about that off course, We kept on working with the new album and just let things have its way I suppose.
Even if there are still a lot of doubts about the worldwide situation, maybe you already have plans for the band’s future?
Johnny: Yes that stays the same for sure. We hope to play the festivals booked since long and promote our new album starting in December 2021. Then I guess fingers crossed for a continuing of going back to normal ways.
I was lucky enough to see you before the pandemic in Cernunnos Pagan Fest, which seems to be your last show to date according to the internet. Do you have memories from this show?
Johnny: Yes it was good times in France of course. Indeed it was sad that it all stopped after the Cernunnos fest, but at least we did get to our 30 years anniversary show in Stockholm too.
How do you feel before getting on stage in general?
Johnny: Excited and prepared for battle. It is always a good feeling just before the show, wondering what the crowd’s going to be like and hoping for everybody to go nuts.
Do you remember the first time you tried to play an instrument? When and how was it?
Johnny: Ahh I think it was a bass guitar really. Don’t remember the exact moment though.
When did you realise you wanted to become a professional musician?
Johnny: I don’t think I did. I never thought about it that way, I wanted to be in a grim band and play live, bang heads and drink beer with my friends that’s about it haha.
What was your first Metal album? Bought by yourself or offered by someone.
Johnny: I think it was something we talked about in school way back then. I am guessing 1981 or so. I think it was Motörhead’s Ace of Spades or perhaps AC/DC’s Back in Black.
What do you love about your music that you cannot find in other band’s music?
Johnny: The connection with the Viking tradition and values combined with Death Metal. Could this be found in other bands? Yes perhaps, but Since you asked, naturally I feel we do this in a special way bringing the past, present and future of Viking tradition into the music.
Do you have hobbies aside from music? Do you also have a job, or does your music income allow you to live?
Johnny: I am a Finance Manager for a Swedish company where I live. Other than that I am also a football goalkeeper coach 4 times a week.(my son 11 years old plays in a football team). I’d say that takes up a big chunk of my time.
Maybe you already heard about the french Metal scene? Which French bands do you know?
Johnny: That would be Massacra for Death Metal.
What if I ask you to compare Unleashed’s music with a dish? Which one and why?
Johnny: Haha oh well, barbed wire with napalm sauce!
Are there some musicians or bands you would like to collaborate with on a song, or more?
Johnny: This might actually happen soonish, we shall see. Can’t give that out just yet but it is in the plans for late this year or early next year.
Last question: which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour with Unleashed and three other bands!
Johnny: Grand Magus, Marduk and Bolt Thrower.
That was the last question for me! Thanks a lot for your time, we hope to see you in France really soon! Last words are yours!
Johnny: Thanks a lot for the interview! See you in France hopefully soon. Hail Odin!