Deathstars announces its return.
Created in 2000 in Sweden by the fusion of Swordmaster and Ophtalamia, the band immediately anchored itself in Industrial and Gothic influences to develop its style. In 2023, Andreas « Whiplasher Bernadotte » Bergh (vocals), Emil « Nightmare Industries » Nödtveidt (guitar/keyboards), Jonas « Skinny Disco » Kangur (bass) and Eric « Cat Casino » Bäckman (guitar) unveil Everything Destroys You, their fifth album.
The album opens with the catchy This Is, a composition which easily blends motivating Industrial roots and dark Gothic sounds to create an accessible and martial rhythm. The band constantly incorporates hints of energy in their riffs overlaid by keyboards and other samples to lead us to Midnight Party, a track unveiling ominous sounds which perfectly fit the driving roots while creating an addictive contrast. Some female choirs sometimes join the singer’s voice, which becomes heavier on Anti All, which will reveal much more aggressive but also much more disturbing parts, reminding of horrific and anguishing tones. The sound also becomes slower and more haunting with Everything Destroys You, the eponymous track, which still keeps its heady approach with jerky riffs and modern keyboards, although lyrics remain quite pessimistic, then the band shows a more majestic aspect on Between Volumes and Voids, a composition which plays a lot on the complementarity between voices and orchestrations. Sweetness resurfaces on An Atomic Prayer, before being combined with a melodious and heavy sound, making the composition federative and heady, then worrying elements come to haunt a solid rhythmic again for Blood for Miles. Choirs are much more present, but they also know how to give way to more melancholic leads and a rather nostalgic atmosphere before letting The Churches Of Oil take us on a journey through a tortured and macabre musical landscape that we would easily associate with a modern Burtonesque aesthetic. The Infrahuman Masterpiece starts off very softly with a very gentle keyboard, but quietness will be quickly crushed by a driving martial rhythmic, completed by jerky guitars and ambient keyboards, but the album is already coming to an end with Angel Of Fortune And Crime, the heaviest and most oppressive track, which will come to put a climax to the darkness and the disturbing tones.
The absence of Deathstars was felt, but the band wants to reassure us: Everything Destroys You marks a return with pomp, with ten heady and dark compositions as we like them, diversifying atmospheres while keeping us out of breath.
Few questions to Jonas “Skinny Disco” Kangur, bass player for the Swedish Industrial Metal band Deathstars
Thanks to Raven for her help on the interview.
Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Deathstars without using the usual musical labels as “Industrial” or “Gothic”?
Jonas “Skinny Disco” Kangur (bass): Hi, my name is Skinny I play bass on the band Deathstars, and yeah Deathstars is a band from Sweden. We play some mixture between Industrial Metal and many Gothic elements, some people call it Death Glam. We say that, or maybe Dark Rock just to say it (What we think it is). We mention that name in an interview many many years ago (Death Glam) and we are kind of happy with it.
The band was created in 2000, which is more than 20 years ago. How would you now link the band’s name and the music you play?
Skinny Disco: The band was formed out of a band called Swordmaster which was more like Trash/Death Metal and when that band came to like an end we couldn’t really go any further there was an idea of starting to write music with more keyboards and everything like that so then we decided that we needed a new band name and that’s when that storm came up because we thought I’d like there are different kind of stars there’s child stars, pornstars and since we came from the Death Metal scene with the death star’s that’s how we came up with it then I think it explains kind of what kind of music we play you know it’s some people think it’s related to that stars at like Star Wars the movie but not really it’s more of a pun like words.
Deathstars is about to release Everything Destroys You, its fifth album, nine years after the previous one. How do you feel about coming back?
Skinny Disco: We never really left that’s the thing, it’s just a “this album” and all our albums have been taking quite a long time you know it as you say there is only five studio albums and we’ve been a band for twenty years so it’s always been about five years in between the albums but this one was delayed a little bit more because of the pandemic and also were little bit slower this time.
What was the creation process of Everything Destroys You? How does it feel to create something again after all this time?
Skinny Disco: Well after the last tour we end on the previous album The Perfect Cuts, we took some time off because we had quite a rough time after that stuff about 1 year and then we started writing new songs for this album and as usual the process is that Emile (Nightmare Industry) as he writes and lots of sketches lots of ideas and then he sent that to Whiplasher, and Whiplasher was trying to figure out some vocals for it and then more and more the songs are finished and some songs are good enough to stay on the album and some songs go into the bin so this time there was a closer process in between Nightmare and Whiplasher are writing .I myself was recording everything at home because of the pandemic but it is what it is like usual but a little bit different.
The band welcomed Cat Casino back, how do you feel reconnecting with him? Also, how were the drums recorded, as you’re now announced as a four-piece?
Skinny Disco: Well yeah we the thing was that Cat left when he moved out from Stockholm, he left the band and then when he came back here it just comes natural. We never replaced him so we thought that they are definitely he’s got to be back and that’s for a drummer we now have Marcus filling in and he’s been doing a great job we haven’t really talked that much and it’s very important to us just to feel that we are at a positive gang together and I think we have that now.
Deathstars’ sound has always been anchored in Industrial music, which means catchy sounds, but also a huge part of dark influences. How do you manage to create your universe between those two elements?
Skinny Disco: We don’t really think about it that much I think it’s in the DNA of that starts we want to we like dark music and we like kind of Pop music as well you know where we grew up during the 80s and 90s so it this that’s a lot to be influenced and but it comes natural I would say I will definitely it’s as I said growing up from the in the 80s this year you always radio was a normal thing and you could hear Sandra Madonna, you could hear Alpha Bell, you could hear Duran Duran, you could all that music so it will influence you no matter if you want it or not. Look at Depeche Mode, that’s like one of our favorite bands still, so you know it’s Pop music but it still has a death.
What is your inspiration to create your music? Whether it is for music or lyrics.
Skinny Disco: Well it always comes from within ourselves it like the lyrics are written about inner conflicts and about what you had to deal with daily and on sometimes it can also be reflected on a bigger level like yeah you can see whatever has it’s happening in society so but if it starts within yourself an end the conflict that you have to deal with it never help no matter if it’s mental health or just an obstacle you have every day or so that is a big inspiration and in the only thing we’ve always been writing about so and musically and it’s just… it’s just important to sit down and write I wouldn’t say there is an inspiration I think movies has been more than inspiration than other musicians were other artists so it like a lot of old horror movies or you know like the Hellraiser theme you know stuff like that very inspirational I would say.
As we speak, the band unveiled three singles, This Is, Midnight Party and Angel of Fortune and Crime. How do you decide which single to release first?
Skinny Disco: We decided that we want to like the hardest motherfucker we had you know, just like you don’t you want to come up with since we haven’t released something in a while we just wanted to punch, everybody wakes up there like “oh they’re back” though and that was still it’s kind of primitive song even though it’s not. Yeah exactly and then after that it felt natural to have it more as a song with bigger hook and maybe a little bit more commercial and popular song like Midnight Party but Midnight Party is still one of my favorite songs on the album I would think.
I felt a very pessimistic approach on the eponymous track, Everything Destroys You, could you please explain, what does this song mean to you?
Skinny Disco: Well I think it’s the song on the album that has the best hook, it’s really catchy so I really like that song and then the title I think it’s self-explanatory it’s everything destroys you in these days. I think we are more aware of it with social media or if it’s a war or is it I don’t know I’m conspiracy theories, everything, whatever you do, money, religion everything destroys you.
I also noticed the band developed a more majestic, nearly theatrical aspect on Between Volumes and Voids, do you also feel the same?
Skinny Disco: Yeah but we’ve always had that within us. I think it’s been a big part of our music but I agree that there’s more of it there’s more of like the theatrical, the more dramatic, the more the bigger parts that they have become bigger and maybe more dramatic than before and I think it’s just a natural evolvement month of the band it’s like that the fastest songs have been become faster that have your songs are heavier that you know if it’s just more of us I think.
Since 2020, Covid-19 crisis fucked a lot of things up, how did you face the situation as a band? Did it have an impact on the album?
Skinny Disco: Yeah the biggest impact is that I think you got really pessimistic and negative about the industry and you didn’t know when it would end them when you were going to be able to play again that I don’t think it’s what that was not the positive thing that was the biggest negative I think and then for the album I would say we maybe we benefited a little bit having some extra time because during that time we could rewrite songs and write some new songs that we thought were better so I think the album benefited from it but eventually you kind of went a little bit too negative.
Do you think you are still improving yourself as a musician?
Skinny Disco: I think that’s something you are fighting and biting all the time, and I think the answer is that as long as you keep on doing music then you are evolving because if you don’t have that hunger you you wouldn’t come anywhere you know maybe you could start playing a cover band instead, but that’s nothing wrong with that, but I think as long as you keep on writing songs you will be at evolving so like that there might be a day when I’m I could settle the way just playing some someone else’s songs or something like that but I’m not there yet which means I’m still hungry I think.
What led you to the music universe back in time? What was the very first album you ever bought?
Skinny Disco: The first album I bought with my own money was Europe‘s The Final Countdown and then straight after that I found Twisted Sister, Mötörhead, Motley Crüe.
Do you also remember how you chose your stage name, Skinny Disco?
Skinny Disco: Yes I do remember. It was Whiplasher, he and I we were out partying one night and he’s been saying because everybody called me Skinny, I’ll write it down so it was and that wasn’t a name that I had since long before but then he wanted to come up with the last name and we were out partying you tried so many different names and then he saw me dancing and he said I know what it is, it’s Skinny Disco!
According to you, how much does a band’s visual aspect add to its music? Do you think you could have the same stage presence without a special outfit?
Skinny Disco: I think for us it’s been very important that whatever we do with it if it’s the music videos, the photos we take with the band and the live performance it should reflect the music so I think with the music we play I think it’s yeah it’s that you should put some extra effort into it no matter what it’s like. I wouldn’t want to go see us if we were just standing there and t-shirts and shorts I don’t know.
While talking about visual aspects, how do you work on Deathstars’ live shows? What can we expect about the band’s live performances?
Skinny Disco: We don’t really think about it, I think it’s just in us where we just try to give it all when we’re on stage and we never hold back so it’s not that we have decided that all we’re going to have a mascot on stage, so we’re going to have a lots of fireworks I think we want to evolve and maybe I have good lighting and then we just give it all that’s been our motto the whole time.
The band was forced to cancel its European tour scheduled for early 2023, do you plan to reschedule the dates?
Skinny Disco: Yes we have new dates being confirmed very soon so yeah we figured that since we anyhow have been a while. If you’re just doing errands and you tour to be confirmed and we figured that since we anyhow have been away for so long we just wanted to make everything right and then the schedule we had didn’t work out economically and with touring wise the we decided together with a booking agency and the record company that we do a proper build up so the fans can get the best experience possible so we will be we will be confirming a new tour very soon starting I think it starts in October.
(ED: the new tour is confirmed for October 30th to December 17th, 2023)
Your last show in France was in 2014, do you remember these shows? Maybe you know and like some French bands?
Skinny Disco: Yes I remember you mean the show in Paris? I think I was DJing at a Halloween party to know it’s Halloween afterwards yeah. I don’t know many French bands, I know of course Trust, which is one of my favorite bands. Yeah and then we know Old Dead Tree was being with us to tour with, then Gojira if they are French. I do like I do like French music but yeah I know you know Jacque Brel, Edith Piaf…
A funny question now: what if I ask you to compare Deathstars’ music with a dish? Which one and why?
Skinny Disco: I would say maybe tapas because you could just test, you can get a little bit of everything yeah I think that’s that could be it may be something little bit spicy here and maybe something a little bit of everything, for everyone.
Are there any musicians or bands you would like to collaborate with? Whether it is for one song, an album…
Skinny Disco: Not really you know those things is usually the best if it just happens and and if you don’t force it so and you yeah I wouldn’t say one name but you know if it’s if we’re out in talking to someone and you just you know we could be anyone and then if you just meet on the same level that’s that’s when become the right thing to do I would say. It would be great to have I don’t know guest vocals from Danzig or whatever you know of course but I’m not sure it’s going to be good because it would just be you know…
Last question: which bands would you love to tour (or play, considering only one show) with? I let you create a lineup with Deathstars as opener and three other bands.
Skinny Disco: It’s really hard, we really enjoyed touring with Rammstein, I would love to do that again and yeah I would say maybe Sisters of Mercy would be fun to tour with if we are friends with some of the members there and also we will have some German friends that we’ve known for a long time, Lord of the Lost, they are super nice guys and they’re doing really well now so maybe we could benefit a little bit from them.
That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Skinny Disco: I want to say thank you very much for having the patience with us or for waiting all these years and I hope that you guys are as excited as we are to come out and play and to meet all of you and that to the French people, merci beaucoup.