Marduk: Back to the Frontschwein
Marduk was formed in Sweden by guitarist Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson in 1990 and released their first studio album, “Dark Endless” in 1992. Since then, despite many line-up changes they have been spreading evil and recruiting new legions of loyal followers to the black metal scene. The brand new release from Marduk is their 13th full-length studio album, “Frontschwein”, released by Century Media in January 2015. I caught up with Morgan, founder and soul of Marduk, during their UK tour to discuss the new album, the tour, life on the road, music, Satanism and also to find out the Marduk’s plans for future.
HMA: ‘Frontschwein’ was just released in 2015; can you walk me through it?
Marduk – Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson: It’s our 13th full-length album, it’s not a concept album in that perspective that everything is a story of something, but it’s a theme around the album. It’s based around World War II, and different chapters, different stories, different theatres of war and different angles. It has 11 songs with different stories from World War II. But we have written the soundtrack too. We have written in the past about the concept of WWII, for me, it is an inspiration that never goes away. I always read a lot about it, so it comes naturally just to write soundtracks to those happenings to me once and a while. I read a lot of history. I read every different aspect of history, but it’s just that some of them work better to create music more than others.
HMA: Even if it has been out only since January how do you think the response has been so far or is it too early to tell?
MSH: Yeah, I mean… We get good reviews… The reviews are good; I think they always are in a way. It’s like okay, you know… media. I mean it started higher than albums we’ve done before, but I don’t know what that means these days. The most important thing as a musician, I believe, as an artist is to be proud of what you do and feel strongly about it. We feel strongly and proudly of the album, so for us, it is a great album. That is what matters to us. It is great to have it out and be marching across the world again.
HMA: How involved are you in the creative process of your albums covers?
MSH: We’re involved… we are a band that do everything ourselves. The album is recorded in a studio owned by our bass player, he also does the mixing. We do the music and lyrics and nobody knows better how to do sound than us. We also have all the ideas for the layout ourselves and it’s being put together by our vocalist and he and I share a lot of ideas. We do everything by ourselves so we don’t have any input by anyone else. We have done it and we know how we want it. I don’t like the idea of working with somebody who will tell you “maybe you should do like this, maybe like that.” We already have all the ideas for it.
HMA: How do you approach writing?
MSH: I did write the lyrics for this album, I am the most nerd when it comes to World War II, so I wrote most of it. It is also being redefined by our vocalist. We write together, it’s hard to say who wrote this, who wrote that, we don’t really think about that, for us, it’s about working together.
HMA: Lyrics definitely are an important part, if not an essential element for Marduk’s music?
MSH: In some bands, you will obviously see that they do music and then they put lyrics on it. For us, it’s equally important the lyrics so we work together to get the song. Music and lyrics reflect each other to become a hard-hitting force. So we put a lot of energy into that. We even have a lot of lyrics that aren’t used because they didn’t work with certain songs. It’s about the gut feeling when it comes to creating.
HMA: In your songs, you explore themes that go from Satanism to, as we talked about, WWII. How involved are you in the satanic creed and philosophy?
MSH: Yeah, It is my religion, so of course. It’s not how much I am devoted to it; it’s a way of life. We still write about both themes, lately, it just felt natural to go back to the WWII theme, should I say a naturalistic thing? But it is not less spiritual. You will see for the future.
HMA: Marduk as a band has already achieved great success but is there anything else you would still like to accomplish in the studio and live?
MSH: Yeah, of course. I have a version of how it should sound, how it should be. That keeps inspiring me to go ahead. I don’t know if it should be about success in other people’s eyes. For me, it is about doing what I feel is genuine, what really comes from within. We still have a lot of inspiration, so I still think we have a lot of things to come.
HMA: What is your biggest musical inspiration?
MSH: I don’t know, it is hard to say. In the past, we were really inspired by a lot of other bands, but I think over the years we’ve come to a point when no real music really inspires you anymore. I think it’s more a question of feelings… It’s hard to describe what really inspires. I would say a lot comes from within. But I think my biggest inspiration is probably more Wagner and Bach, probably. I listen to a lot of music; it’s hard to say what really inspires me to write music myself. When I was a kid I went from Kiss, Iron Maiden into harder stuff, harder stuff all the time. It’s a tradition of a long way of being a heavy metal guy from the early years, from the school years. I still listen to everything I have done in the past as well, for me its still good old stuff. Nothing gets better than Kiss and Iron Maiden and things like that.
HMA: Do you listen to any new bands?
MSH: I always try to keep checking bands out but I cannot really think of anything real brand new that I’ve heard that really impressed me. It’s mostly the old bands still delivering.
HMA: What is next for Marduk, what are your touring plans? How long are you on the road for?
MSH: We started out right before the album came out, the same week we started out in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Now we are doing three and a half weeks in Europe, and then we go back to Sweden, for I think two and a half weeks and then we go off and do another European tour. Shorter, but it’s only focusing on the German-speaking language, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Right after that, we are home for one day and then we fly down to South America for a three-week tour. After that, we are into May, and we are going to come back and rehearse and go out and do a lot of summer festivals in Europe. At the end of August we are going to start a third part of the European tour, focusing on Poland, Baltic States and Central and Eastern Europe all the way down to Turkey, I think.
HMA: Oh wow, you are on the road for a very long time.
MSH: Yeah a very long time but it is divided, as well. We are home between, I believe in still doing that. I don’t want to be on the road all the time. We have more plans after that, as well, probably in the States and more shows in Asia. We’ll see, time will tell.
HMA: Do you like touring?
MSH: In a way. It is two sides of the sword. It’s great to be able to perform your music in front of people in Vietnam or Huston, Texas, or it’s South America, or Germany, or whatever, it’s great. But it’s not always a pleasure to travel and just be on the road just to play for one hour every day. That can be a bit boring. But it’s great to see different cultures. I try and explore as much as I can, I go to a lot of museums and things when I have time. From that perspective, it’s great. I have a few hours here and there to do things, but sometimes you also not in the mood, sometimes you are just tired and pissed off. Whatever you do, it’s not every day that you are in the mood. When it comes to playing live, even when you are sick, when you get ready for it you are always ready for it and then it kicks in. Then it is a pleasure.
HMA: We are out of time, thank you so much and see you inside.
MSH: Thank you.
Interview by Manuela Mattera – Copyright 2015 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.