Since 1995 Swedish Viking Folk/Black Metal band MANEGARM have been intoxicating many with their epic and historic sound and message! Now I had the chance to catch up with the Erik via email and discuss their impressive career!
Thank you for taking the time out to answer a few questions, firstly I notice that you started out under the name Antkrist before changing to Manegarm which for our readers means a wolf that lives on the blood of dying humans and at Ragnarök hunts down and swallows the moon. Can you advise why the band decided to change it’s name and what significance Manegarm has for you and the rest of the band?
It’s was so long ago so maybe I don’t remember the whole story…We started up with the name Antikrist but after just 1-2 months Jonas found the name “Månegarm” which we thought sounded much better and it also was perfect for our type of music we thought. At that time our interest for Northern mythology was growing, especially for Pierre and Jonas I guess, and since we wanted our lyrics in Swedish, we thought that a Swedish name like “Månegarm” sounded promising.
Your music is rich with words and themes of your countries heritage, Paganism and the history of the Vikings. Are these lyrical themes and musical moods something you wanted to be part of your music from the start or did it creep in gradually as you worked to find your bands identity?
No, the ideas and themes for our music were there from the start. When Jonas , Pierre and Svenne (1st vocalist) started talking about starting a band, the idea was to play some sort of Nordic primitive black/death metal with Swedish lyrics and since that day we have kept on going with what we do. Everyone can hear that we have developed our music and style but I guess most bands do that in some way…? We started in the end of -95 and in the beginning of -97, when we recorded our 2nd demo; we tried out violins and female vocals in our music for the first time. I think that our music already had that “nordic touch” with folk influenced melodies but when we added violins to it, it got so much cooler and better.
Manegarm was created in the mid 90’s when Black Metal was still all the rage in Scandinavia, how hard was it to go against the flow of the Metal scene at that time and to strive to create something different?
I can’t remember thinking that it was hard at all to do something different…but you know what? We didn’t give a shit back then! J We just wanted to play our type of music and try to come up with new cool songs. I guess we noticed at some point that we were quite alone in this “new genre” but that didn’t bother us, we just thought we were the coolest band around ;)
Of your six full length albums released to date, which is your favourite and why? What were the inspirations behind it’s creation and was the writing/recording process arduous?
I’ll pick our acoustic EP “Urminnes Hävd – the forest sessions”. We have made a lot of metal albums but this one is different. It is Månegarm, you can hear it in the melodies and arrangements, but it’s different from everything else we’ve done. This acoustic piece was something we had wanted to do for a long time and finally we got the chance to realize it. We were about to release our fifth and final album on our former record label and we asked them if it wouldn’t be cool to do something special. Said and done, we went to Studio Underground for a couple of days and got some great songs on tape. We had some great help of Jannes friends; Stefan and Stebbe who played drums/percussion and Umer who did the female vox. We only used acoustic guitars and bas, clean male and female vocals and also violins, flutes, jews harp. I’m really proud of this album. The writing and the recording process wasn’t arduous at all, it all went nice and easy and was very fun. Me and Jonas came up with the songs and we did most of the arrangements in forehand but I remember that we also improvised and came up with some cool things in the studio. I think it’s a good album and I’m happy that we pulled it off in the way that we did and it really shows a different side of Månegarm.
In 2010 your original bassist Pierre Wilhelmsson left the band. Can you please explain the reasons why he departed and what effect that had on the band?
It’s a long story but I can tell you that there had been lot of problems, bigger and smaller, during the years. You probably can’t find a band with more patience than Månegarm but finally we realized that things weren’t going to get better. You can’t be in a band when you are not present…at all!! Probably there were bigger personal problems behind all that, this is my good guess anyway. BUT; this hasn’t had any negative effects on the band at all, the other way around actually; we have never sounded better. It was quite natural for me to take over the bas on permanent basis. I have played all the bas on our previous albums so that was no bigger problem. The only thing that bothered us for a few minutes was that we needed someone to write the new lyrics (since Pierre wrote them before) but Jonas and I grabbed the pencils and suddenly we had solved that problem too ;)
Also Janne Liljeqvist who played the cello, flute and violin left the band after eleven years and appears not to have been replaced. Was his departure due to a change in the bands sound? Have you made a decision to keep things on a more simple and raw Metal basis without all of the extra sounds?
Yes, he left the band for pretty much unknown reasons in April-May this year. No one has talked to him since so I actually don’t know what really happened but I guess he lost the motivation for playing with us. He started whining about the way we composed and arranged songs and in the end he was just in a bad childish mood when we all met. At first I was a bit disappointed because of how he handled this matter but today I really don’t care about him leaving. Now we have a great time when we meet for rehearsals and gigs and everyone in the band have the same vision and motivation. We also found a guy that helped us out with the violin on our upcoming album that we are now recording. He’s just an amazing fiddler and did an awesome job. For now he’s a session fiddler on the album but who knows what happens in the future. The music will pretty much stay the same. Janne didn’t write any songs for Månegarm so that he left the band hasn’t had any impact on our sound. It’s still me and Jonas who compose the songs and mostly me that come up with the melodies and since we found a new violin player who did such a good job in playing all those melodies, everything is like it should be!!
Do you have plans for a seventh studio album and if so when should we expect it? Can you give us a clue if it has any specific themes?
Yes! I guess I said too much in my previous answer… ;) We are recording our new album right this very moment. We have already recorded drums, guitars, bas and violin and right now we are doing the vocals and some clean/acoustic guitars. We have our own studio and we try to find as much time as possible for all the recordings but it takes some time though…but we’re getting there!! We will hopefully do the mixing and mastering in the end of December so probably the album will be out in spring next year J
From the countless shows, festivals and tours you have played on, do you have any humourous stories you can share with our readers?
There are many funny stories of course, mostly drinking stories, where some are better than others ;) One funny story is when Janne got pissed off drunk after a show at the Ragnarök festival in Germany some years ago. We grabbed a shuttle from the venue to the hotel and Janne was just so enjoying and drunk. We carried him from the shuttle bus and in to the Hotel reception. At that time he had passed out so we wrapped him in a really big rug, just like a big French hot dog, and then the rest of us went to our rooms. In the morning I suddenly woke up remembering the night before and came to realize that this could have been a death trap….he could have suffocated in that rug!! He was a live though so he must have gotten out of there somehow but he was to drunk to remember, hahaha!!
Finally, what does the future hold for Manegarm?
Next year around springtime our new master piece will be out, buy it because you won’t be disappointed! Shows for next year are so far; Rockstad:Falun in Sweden (16-17-18th of August) and Heidenwahn Winterfest in Austria the 2nd of November. We will hopefully do a tour around the release of the album but nothing is booked yet.
Rock n’ Roll // Erik – Månegarm
Interview by LUKE HAYHURST