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Metal/Prog Metal Interviews


Interviewed by Mike Korn
Interview with Alex Hellid of Entombed from 2004

This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 3 at

Alex, by my calculations, Entombed has now been around for about 17 years. Does it feel like it's been that long to you? And to what do you attribute the band's longevity?
t's a crazy long time when you look at it but since we're all goldfish luckily it don't feel that long cause that would mean I'm old, right? And that can't be the case now, can it? I think that actually answers both questions but the longevity of the band I would also attribute to the fact that we're stubborn beyond belief and actually enjoy what we're doing. Like any marriage (don't you hate it when people start talking about their band like a marriage?) there's ups and downs (so what else is new?) of course, but, (here it comes) when it's good it's great, and when it's bad it's still ok (I even made myself puke with that one. But it's true just the same!).
MSJ: Was there ever any time in the last 17 years when you felt like giving up the fight?
A lot of times, but we never had brains to do it. And the more you fight and stand, the less you want to give up and accept that you've been beaten down by the powers that be. Giving up would mean that someone else is gonna benefit from the work we've put in while we're back at McDonalds flipping burgers which would be sad. Instead of leaving with nothing we decided to turn Threeman Recordings (the Entombed label we've used since 1996 for licensing our albums) into a real record company and try and gather all our work under one roof, including side-projects and even to take on outside talent (The Mighty Nimbus and God Among Insects being the first two).
MSJ: How frustrating has it been getting Entombed's product into the American market? Do you think your association with Candlelight will finally enable you to reach all your American fans?
VERY! The last album being properly promoted in America was Wolverine Blues which I think ended up selling around 80,000 copies stateside, so working with the right people makes a difference (duh!). Hope was on low and trust on empty after the last four albums were promoted by clowns (Yeah, but you didn't tour that much either! Yeah, I know, I know. But still it was "pretty far from ok" (hey, that's outta Pulp Fiction! Yeah, I've seen it too many times and can't help myself now and again). With Candlelight, hope and trust is back on full tank though! We'd almost forgotten what it feels like to have somebody care about a release and work it like they do.
MSJ: I hear you recorded "Inferno" in the same studio Abba used to use. Could your feel their spirits screaming in pain when you recorded the CD? (Don't tell anyone, but I liked Abba when I was a kid).
Yes, and the neighbors too. They came down almost every day to see what the hell was going on. We told them the proper word was "inferno". And by the way, I'm gonna tell everyone you like Abba, and still do, like everyone else. Me and my soon-to-be-wife actually ended up at the Abba musical in Vegas beginning of the year so maybe I should shut up after all. Yeah, I think maybe that's a good idea (if you as a fan just read that I, Mr. Death Metal, went to a Abba musical in Vegas know that's it's a lie and has been added by the editor because I called him an Abba fan. He might even say I bought a T-shirt.)
MSJ: "Inferno" was produced by Per Gunnerfeldt, who has done The Hives in the past. What was it like working with him? Did you get the sound you wanted on this record?
It's something that we've been talking about doing for a long time and not just because he had some success with The Hives (Yeah, yeah). We toured with his band Fireside in 1996 and since then, it's been in the back our minds. The stars and the planets all lined up right and this time around, it finally happened. We didn't want to go in and just do it ourselves like we did the album before and which we know is a safe way to do it. Some people say, stupid, if it ain't broken. But we ended up doing something we've never done before, record live in the studio, and actually learned a thing or two in the process that we now can use the next time we record.
MSJ: "Inferno" sounds really analog. Do you guys pay any attention to advances in recording technology or do you keep it as basic and low-tech as possible?
Inferno sounds really analog because of the way it is recorded but we use computers too as any other tool. The trick is to not have the computer make your sound something that you don't want it to be. Per Gunnerfeldt wanted to record in the Abba studio because of the analog equipment and microphones they have there but also used computers as a complement where it makes things so much easier, like when it's time for vocals or guitar solos or something. It's magic the way you can have analog and digital equipment sync up and be used together.
MSJ: Motorhead has just released an album called "Inferno" as well. Is it just a pure coincidence or is there some cosmic connection between Entombed and Motorhead? Both are working the same general area.
Cosmic connection no doubt. I got a Motorhead Inferno shirt the other week and I love it! We ripped off the classic Motorhead design with our Uprising album artwork a few years ago and it's a top seller for us as a T-shirt. We gonna call our next album "Bomber" or "Iron Fist".
MSJ: "Inferno" seems to be a bit more rock and roll than the previous record "Morning Star", which had a bit more of the death metal feel. Do you agree?
Inferno feels like a darker album to me. To Ride Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth to me is the rock and roll album. Morning Star is our attempt at making a straight metal album (we'd been on tour with Slayer, which explains the less than usually hidden homages to the Masters) without confusing the listener too much. Uprising, the album before Morning Star was really raw and punky and we wanted to have a cleaner sound on Morning Star. It's more produced. Inferno to me is a mix of everything we've done. You have the metal, the punk and groove songs with an added touch of massive gloomy doomy darkness. On Inferno we tuned back down to C again, like on the first four albums, which together with the live approach also explains why it's a darker and not as clean sounding album.
MSJ: Looking at lyrics, "Flexing Muscles" is directed at the muscle-bound egomaniac jock, a character most musicians know and despise. What was the inspiration for this song and does it have anything to do with Arnold Schwarzenegger?
It's one of the last songs to get lyrics on the album. Don't really know if Uffe had The Governator in mind when he wrote it but probably someone who looks like him. Arnie rules (California) btw! If think it deals with the fascination of pumping yourself full of steroids and jerking off to your own mirror image.
MSJ: The lyrics to "That's When I Became a Satanist" are pretty interesting. Is this really the way most of the guys in the band feel? Or is it just pure satire?
Uffe again describing the moment when he (I think) realized that you have to look out for yourself on this planet. We call it Satanism, some call it humanism, some call it stupid. Guess it's a mix like everything else, and we love it, plus it makes great song titles.
MSJ: There are a lot of bands now trying to recreate the classic Entombed sound from the early days. Bloodbath and Chaosbreed are just a couple. What do you think of this trend? And do you ever have the desire to return to the pure ripping death of "Left Hand Path"?
I think it's great, but we leave it to those bands. We're still on the path, but further down. I love the energy on the first two albums and that's something that I'd love to capture again and again and again. At the same time we don't want to repeat ourselves either, so that's the struggle.
MSJ: Do you have any side projects outside of Entombed that keep you busy?
No time for side projects yet. Have a hard time treating anything like "side". The Threeman label, my own Muse Entity label, and doing videos and artwork takes up pretty much every waking hour of my time, and I don't sleep much.
MSJ: What can we expect from Entombed's next record?
Something in-between Morning Star and Inferno production wise, I think, and the songs will be crazy good!
MSJ: Any touring plans for the states?
It looked like we were gonna join Arch Enemy and two other Swedish bands for a few weeks in September/October but unfortunately that now looks like it's not gonna happen. But we hope something will come our way soon. We toured with King Diamond last October, but before that, it was 1998 so we definitely want to come back.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought just for your own enjoyment?
Bought the new Lenny Kravitz in Norway last week, but I didn't enjoy it much. The store didn't have much, and I had to buy something. I'm hooked on buying albums and get the shakes if I don't get the plastic fix. I buy a lot of records all styles - metal, rap, country, hardcore - anything I find remotely interesting way or the other. I'm looking forward to the new Morbid Angel now that Vincent is back supposedly.
MSJ: What was the last gig you went to just for your own enjoyment?
Metallica and Slipknot in Gothenburg, Sweden this summer.
MSJ: Do you have any good "Spinal Tap" stories from Entombed's past you'd like to share with us?
Every day on tour is a Spinal Tap story in itself. That movie is a little too close to reality. There is not a lie or exaggeration in sight. On tour you're bound to live through every scene in Spinal Tap. We've never had a drummer explode, literally, but when we toured with Hatebreed in 1998 they showed up every other gig with a new drummer. Having busses fall to pieces while you drive down autobahn in Germany is pretty Spinal Tap. On a tour we did with Napalm Death in 1994 we changed busses something like eight times because they just fell apart and on one occasion was driven into a low bridge by a driver with very thick (but not thick enough) glasses. On the last tour we did in America the bus broke down even before picking us up and when it showed up it turned out to be an airport shuttle van with no shocks and a TV that fell off the wall and hit Jörgen (bass) in the head so hard that the screen cracked. We can't wait to tap back into America.
MSJ: Alex, thanks a lot for answering the questions and we hope to see you soon in the U.S.!
Thank you. We can't wait go back. It's my favorite place to tour!
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