It’s all about having fun together: Interview with Brothers of Metal
At the Sabaton Open Air Festival this year, I had the chance to sit down with Brothers of Metal – and it was pretty clear from the start that when interviewing this band you can never know what to expect – except a lot of chaos, finishing each others sentences to the point where it’s impossible to keep the answers separated, but also a lot of fun and laughs. And it’s obvious that the band name is a perfect one, because this truly is a bunch of great friends who just simply love spending time together.
You have now performed at Sabaton Open Air for a number of years – are you planning a festival takeover?
– Yes, we are taking over and we will rename it Sleipner Open Air. This is all a part of our three step plan… no, just kidding!! But it’s the 6th time we play here – no show in 2015, otherwise we have played every year since 2014, and 2017 even two times. So yes, six times now – congratulations to us!
– Yes, and we have done six shows in total, haha!
(which of course isn’t true, but still funny)
From the outside, since there are people that haven’t known about you for that long, it might seem that it has all gone fast, with festival shows, album, record deal…
– Well, yes – it might seem that we just popped up out of nowhere, but the truth is that we have been doing this together for so long, but without being visible. I guess this process isn’t the typical one, we haven’t played that much live. It’s more like we are a bunch of friends who just like writing cool songs, spending time and drinking beer together, just because it’s fun…
And then ”suddenly” we made an album out of that, which is really great, and we are truly happy and proud of it, but we haven’t done any ”album touring”, which might be expected. We were only doing this for fun, for us, says Ylva.
– Step by step we ended up with more songs, and talked about it and decided to record an entire album, and then we wrote a few more songs to make it complete. That process took almost three years, because there really was no ambition to do anything except a few live shows every now and then, and just simply have fun. And when we were done, we actually held on to it for like one and a half years, talking to different labels, but there was like no proof of our existence, nothing on Youtube except for some demo songs, so the labels didn’t know about us and couldn’t see if this would work or not.
So we did a lyric video that got a lot of views – and then there was talking with different labels and dealing back and forth, but then it was like ”Fuck this, we are releasing this album ourselves!” So we did, and about a year later we signed with AFM Records and re-released the album, with proper promotion and all – we had no money to put on that bit and didn’t really know anything, we just did it…. But it kind of worked out pretty well anyway.
Yes, looking back you can say it has gone well so far…but how did you get here?
– We are all friends from the start, and have played together through the years, in different constellations and various projects, just for the fun of it all, just spending time together and recording stuff because it’s been so easy to do, with home studios…so that has always been a way of having fun – and writing songs, no matter the genre, as long as we liked it and enjoyed working on it. And occasionally throwing things out there..and then this kind of stuck…something like that, so – a little, no.. a lot of luck and simply good timing.
And there are eight of you in the band… (counting pause)
– Haha, yes, sometimes even we have to think and count ourselves – ”are we all here?”. Like at the Dalecarlia Music Awards last year, where we won the award for best live experience, and Mats stands with the microphone on stage, and asks if everyone is present, and gets ”yes, we are all here” as an answer…and then it turned up that one was in the bathroom and one had gone to the wrong stage…so no, we don’t really know all the time either.
…being that many has to be somewhat unpractical sometimes, right?
– True, it is. We need so much space, and all has to be thoroughly planned, like with logistics and such. But it’s also great to be this many, nobody needs to work their ass off, we can all do a part so it doesn’t get too hard… But well, going on tour as a support band is not the easiest, like if there is limited space in the tour bus. And sometimes, if the stage is small, then someone has had to stand on the floor or on the side, or all in a row…
On stage, yes – does it ever feel a bit too crowded?
– Well, I’ve gotten a bass head in my face, punched in the stomach and Mats all over me, so yes – it happens, laughs Ylva.
– Yes, stuff happens all the time, but that one I have no memory of…
– I think I was going forward and you turned around, and then there was a collision and I fell to the floor, and you after, Ylva continues.
– But it’s not easy to always keep track of where everyone is, so there has been hits and punches and stumbling, it takes a lot of improvisation sometimes. It can be totally dangerous on stage, but at the same time it’s fun when things happen all the time. And yes, maybe it’s a bit too chaotic sometimes, but it’s good that everything isn’t too well organized and corrected, because our music isn’t…
Like a stew where you throw in whatever you happen to find right then and there.
– Exactly, herring and jalapeños is a very tasty mixture… (more laughs)
I seriously doubt that…
But what about the wills – do you all get to decide about things?
– Definitely. We all have a say, and often it goes to a voting, just because it’s easier when you are many, but it’s truly a democratic process. And luckily there is no one in this band gliding in on a high horse and putting themselves on a pedestal…well, sometimes that might happen, but then there are seven others that will quickly pull you down to the ground (laughter).
– But it is a puzzle finding the way to work as well, we don’t all live close and have jobs, so the biggest issue is to find the time to hang, to write together, have meetings and such. The most of the smaller decisions we make online, but writing music is best done in the company of great friends and good beer. That is how we want to do it, that is how we make the music ours, the way we get OUR sound.
– Some songs might from the start be question marks – ”is this really US?” But then we work with them, and get Ylva’s and Jocke’s voices on it and suddenly it truly sounds like us. It is a bit like we can take any song and mould it into ours if we just work with it. And from time to time something might sound a little too much, too out there, but then again…that is US. As long as we like it, we just go all in!
And the new album, ”Emblas Saga” will be released December 6th…
– Yes, we have just finished the recordings – and this time it actually went pretty fast. Again, one of the good things about being more than one person that writes the music, so when we started it went pretty quick. With three people writing the music and coming up with ideas, you get a lot of material to work with, and we all get triggered and inspired by each other, so no – this time it wasn’t as hard.
– And we also find inspiration in a lot of different music, especially on the new album – there is everything from adventurous power metal like Twilight Force to 80’s California feeling, doom metal, Dimmu Borgir…and a bit of Disney, of course! And still, it all really sounds like us, which is cool.
What has been the biggest experience for you this far?
– Sweden Rock Festival this year, without a doubt. It truly was a dream come true, and just simply amazing with all those thousands of people in the audience, we never expected that. We were counting on maybe a few hundred, and then there was just people everywhere, all singing along with us…that was so special. Yes, truly a childhood dream coming true, and we all cried a bit afterwards, and had friends in the audience who cried, such a mind-blowing and cool experience.
– Everything that is happening is just truly amazing, because all in all, we truly are just a bunch of friends who like having fun together.
Late addition: Brothers of Metal have just announced a co-headliner tour in Germany, The Netherlands, France and Switzerland together with Elvenking in January, starting in Hamburg on January 9th.
Brothers of Metal are:
Ylva Eriksson – Voice of the Valkyries
Joakim Lindbäck Eriksson – Battle Cries
Dawid Grahn – Guitar
Pähr Nilsson – Guitar
Mikael Fehrm – Guitar
Emil Wärmedal – Bass
Mats Nilsson – Tongue of the Gods
Johan Johansson – Anvil and War Drums