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Ambush's Oskar Jacobsson: "It is very important to know what can happen when people base their lives on irrationality rather than sound internal moral compasses, and that applies to modern politics as well."

Interview with Oskar Jacobsson from Ambush
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 09 April 2020, 8:45 PM

If there is one thing that appears even more logical right now is why become a religious extremist if you have Heavy Metal at your side. If one has no idea, it should land on him/her link a ton of bricks. Surging as a force to be reckoned with, one of Sweden's Heavy Metal mighty warriors come through with an album that is bound to bang some heads and raise some eyebrows. Ambush have been of the old guard ever since their inception and with their new "Infidel", nothing really changed, and honestly, it was good to hear that. Steinmetal had a talk with Oskar Jacobsson, the masterful voice of the band, about the ideas behind the album, musical achievement, Covid-19 and more… 

Hello Oskar, it is a pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing mate? Everything is smooth sailing?

G’day mate, thank you for having me! We are doing great thank you, sailing very rough corona-weather at the moment, but we are very excited about the release of "Infidel"!

I missed you guys after the “Desecrator” album. So what happened was that after the album’s support you buried yourselves in the rehearsal room and simply wrote a pack load of songs? Five years is quite a period of time; you probably came out with a mega compilation of material I gather

Haha, no not exactly like that. After "Desecrator" we toured quite a bit, and in 2017 our bassist Ludwig got really sick and couldn’t play live anymore. One can say the main focus was on our best friends' health for quite some time, and when we realized he wouldn’t get better we started playing festivals here and there with live members. Our fans deserve a good lineup for our third album, and we had to wait until we felt 100% to record the songs we’ve been creating during that time. We now have a perfect lineup to burst some eardrums in 2020!

“Infidel” is coming out storming, retaining the, now to be referred as nostalgic, sensation of the European 80s Heavy Metal spirit, simply a continuation of what Ambush has been doing since day one. Nonetheless, “Infidel” feels a little bit more attacking with its philosophies, and not merely due to its sort of con-religion. What changed your perception in order to come up with such an approach on this release?

We consider ourselves a heavy metal band, and we act freely within the borders, or outside them if we want, to create music that we can stand for and that we feel contributes to the Heavy Metal scene. We are satisfied with our first two albums overall, and we had no intention other than to build upon our existing discography and strengths to create a good album.  I would say the anti-dogmatic concept, or rather a fist in the face to authoritarian political/religious belief systems has been a part of ambush since "Firestorm", but on a subtler level. I agree that "Infidel" is more “straight in your face” in that aspect, but contains multiple layers of thought behind them. Otherwise we would probably be considered a punk-band, haha.

The title “Infidel” on its own, along with the artwork that accompanies it, is either to show the disgrace of the mark of religion on history or it is coming to show something that has been disturbing you in real life and you chose to put it under a different setting for others to understand. Is that the case? As for the artwork, who made this fine piece of creation and how did the end result meet up with the vision behind it?

The point is that the mainstream belief in “good” in this case is very evil, and the other way around. The song “Infidel” is about the inquisition, which obviously takes the prize for being one of the most idiotic religious bullshit ideas ever. It is very important to know what can happen when people base their lives on irrationality rather than sound internal moral compasses, and that applies to modern politics as well.

For the artwork, we wanted to incorporate polarities like warm/cold, good/evil, Night/day, beauty/beast to further highlight the points made on this album. Master Alexander von Wieding, who also made our previous artworks, painted it for us in a very expressive way I think.

With the lyrics circling mostly within a morbid circle, how do you find yourself personally within the written word?

The wise Frank Zappa once said that words are only words, and should not be regarded as such. Humanity but a written word is more than a written word. A controversial subject tend to attract human beings either out of disgust or pure interest, and that’s where the real interaction starts. In these modern times, you can’t successfully censor people’s opinions or views, so we might as well talk about them and come to rational conclusions together. The same goes for taboo subjects like mental illness, which is a recurrent subject on this album.

As mentioned, Ambush remained constant in its musicality in general. However, I did find a little rise in your Hard Rock ambition within some of the songs, creating ultimate arena style hitters. From your perception, although being a stick to your guns' kind of band, how do you see the band’s musical development on “Infidel”? Perhaps Ambush became a rather varied band with its outputs within the classic Metal spectrum?

We see our development as strictly organic. We basically want to build from the roots of the music we grew up on. I think we’ve always had the gene of classic rock in our music, but I guess we let that branch flourish a bit more on a couple of songs on "Infidel", which I personally appreciate a lot. I love albums that have a dynamic between the songs, and we’ve strived towards that in every album we’ve done so far.

Talking about sticking to your guns, I really wonder, what energizes you while you write material, gives you motivation to continue with this path forward, album after album?

Haha, I really don’t know for sure, and all the guys in the band would probably answer this question in different ways. However, it sure is very satisfying to create something that you’re proud of whatever it might be. As we put so much time and effort into this band, releasing an album is like giving birth to a little child. When other people like what you do it gets really exciting and sure gives even more purpose, as lots of good and interesting stuff comes out of it. We’ve enjoyed the pleasure travelling and meet new friends with the possibility to create social bonds with our music, which is a very strong motivation to go forward. Some might say that it is an egoistic way of self-fulfillment as well, and I guess they have a point… To summarize it, music is a way of life for us, and without it I guess we’d all be very miserable, so we keep on grinding!

What is your definition to sound relevant to the scene nowadays? If Ambush is an old school band it is a part of its own scene, which is still substantial, not really on the same page with the modern Metal wave.

Relevant is of course subjective. Our dream as music lovers and musicians is to bring real music back to the kids of the new generation. We want to preserve the long lost tradition of listening and respecting music by creating something authentic and of good quality. I think we’re on the right track!

This one is a little tough to digest, but I trust that you pull through it. There has been a revival for at least a decade of Traditional / Classic Metal. That revival stage created a massive sea of albums, all in the name of old school Metal. What do you think that makes “Infidel” special in light of these mega release waves? And you can brag all you want, because you should be proud of your album

To me, "Infidel" stands out with its hard and rough melancholic yet melodic feeling. All the instruments and voices on this album are very thoughtfully orchestrated and executed by guys that are very tightly bonded by friendship and a shared passion. All guys put their heart and soul into the recording of this album, and I specifically love the combination of Burning Fire’s bass and Linus’ drumming. They are such quality musicians! I think "Infidel" is the overall best album we’ve put out this far.

How can you describe the songwriting process of “Infidel”? Were there any chances of the methods of how you approach the material in order to create a song?

The songwriting has been going on for the last five years, and we’ve been writing quite a lot of stuff during this time. It usually starts with Olof writing some riffs that we build upon. I usually put some melody and a concept to what subject the song is going to circle about, and then we finish it all step by step. For "Infidel", we’ve been working a lot more with arrangements in the rehearsal stage before the recordings, and I think it payed off.

First time I listened to “Iron Helm Of War”, it was like being struck by lightning, especially with the opening tasty riff that carved itself on my skin. The song itself flows like a waterfall, moves across the board so fast. What can you tell about this track and your appreciation of it? In what stage of the album was it created?

Cheers, glad you liked it as it is one of my favorites on this album as well. The story behind “Iron Helm of War” is that I read a poem by William Blake called “A war song to Englishmen”. I found the poem to be somewhat of a satiric “call to war” written out of love for English soldiers, supposedly for the war against France after the revolution. The poem ironically treats religion, death and war in a way I found very suiting for an Ambush song. The actual lyrics of the song ended up containing fragments of the poem with the intention to create a war song for heavy metal warriors out there. I guess the idea for the song popped up a couple of years ago, but the actual song was finished around summer 2018. We’ll make sure to play this song live, as it has a lot of energy to it!

In the last several months we have been reminded that the term Metal Gods might be slowly fading away, especially with examples such as Ozzy Osbourne releasing probably his final album in his career, Neil Peart’s departing, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest probably in their last steps in the scene. The question is do we have Metal Gods next in line to remain after the ones that most of us grew up on will fade? Does the term Metal Gods even still relevant?

One of the good parts in creating music is that your life’s work is pressed and preserved on 12-inch plastic polymer discs to be enjoyed forever if kept away from UV radiation. I’ve never met Halford, but it feels like he’s been like a best friend for a long time because of all the soul and different emotions his voice has expressed on all these fantastic records. Heavy metal is God, and may it rule the earth with an iron fist for centuries to come!

One of the main issues nowadays is the spreading Coronavirus, it is already a pandemic, and it means that when it comes to tours and live shows, a larger sum of those will either be cancelled or delayed to unknown timetables. What is your perception of the mania going on? Is this virus overrated, as it is a form of a flu or are we in for something serious?

Anti-resistant bacteria and virus seems to be the only threats to mankind nowadays, not including our beloved megalomaniac world leaders… Of course it is a serious matter that should be treated with respect and caution as people are dying right now. I have a grandfather that is 95 years old, and I wouldn’t want some Chinese virus take away the pleasure of celebrating his hundredth anniversary. When it comes to touring most of it will most likely be postponed for now, which is very sad and bad timing. However, in these times of crisis one must take care of family and fellow neighbors first, which might end up in a lot of positive results ahead.

With the Coronavirus being the main challenge of bands going live, even in clubs, what do you think are the main challenges of Ambush in the coming years, and not merely the support of “Infidel”?

The challenge for Ambush is the same as when we first started the band. To focus on the track in front of us, make the right decisions and to keep on building step by step without taking unsatisfactory shortcuts. We owe the band that respect!

What are your expectations from the “Kings Of The Underground” tour coming in May? Other than not being forcefully cancelled or delayed

There are obviously very high expectations on this trio to deliver heavy goods to European venues in May. If this won’t get postponed, we are looking forward to playing our new material for the people out there. We have an amazing set and line-up now, and we are stronger than we’ve ever been.

Oskar, I wish to thank you for this interview. Thank you for the mega bomb of “Infidel”, I trust that the fans are going to get crazy over this. Cheers mate.

Cheers my friend, thanks for having me!


 



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