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Morgan Håkansson (Marduk)

Interview with Morgan Håkansson from Marduk
by Harel Golstein at 16 November 2015, 8:24 PM

Harel was lucky enough to get in touch with MARDUK mastermind, Morgan Håkansson, to discuss upcoming concert alongside rising stars Tribulation in Israel @ The Gagarin club December 5th; produced by the local Raven-Music. They talked about his experience on the road, MARDUK's latest LP “Frontschwein”, working under a major label, some music and black metal history, and obviously, what's it like to perform in Israel at a time when many call to boycott it.

Hey Morgan, How are you? Is everything ok?

Hey! Sorry, didn't hear you calling. And yeah, sure. I just had to sort out a couple of things. We're going out of Sweden tomorrow for a single show.

Who's your warm-up?

A Swedish death metal band called Deranged. We rarely do single shows, we prefer to do it with a full crew and everything, but we just got came back home so why not do it.

Ok so that leads me to  my first question. You guys have been touring constantly since Frontschwein was released, through the summer festivals and now straight into December.  How does it feel like to be on the road to much?

Well there are two sides to that coin. I mean I really do love the power of performing live, and on the other side it's relentless. But I also consider it work. And we sacrifice a lot just to be able to do it. We did tour a lot this year, January we went to japan then Australia, only then going aback into Europe; going into more rehearsals time. We did all the summer festivals and all that.

Have you had any time writing down new material? Has any of that started in between all those tours?

I haven’t really completed a lot of material. I've been recording a lot of riffs and I have written down a few things. But we need a clear mind and time for it to be possible. So not until we're back from the road. But the ideas are there. We need to complete a lot of things after touring, but we already have a lot of ideas. I don’t write that much on tour. I always have the intention but there's just so much shit going so it's hard to focus.

So Frontschwein has been out for nearly a year. Was the writing or recording process any different than it was in past albums?

Not really. We're kind of the same way when we record an album. We worked on everything more or less until everything's complete. So we make sure in the studio it basically gets polished. Frontschwein was recorded in it the same studio where we recorded the last album, it's the same studio we have in Sweden owned by our bass player in our hometown. So we went into a week in a row. And then we would go out for two days and went back to studio with absolutely no interference. We usually know how we want it to sound and don’t need any input.

So about Marduk's themes and lyrics. What's with your infatuation or interest in war? How did that start?

Well it's part of men's history. It's something that will always be there, it's just always there. Part of our history. Events like WW2.. Well some are more interesting than others. Going back to the roman empire..  WW2 is always a strong fascination for me.. The Roman Empire. The 30 day war for example is something that I was studying a lot when I was in school. Mostly European history. And also a fascination for weapons.

Would u say Marduk educates teenagers about war and history?

In a way we do. Whatever we have done related to war it's always been the way it happened. I never chose a side or condone anyone. I write about the way I study and see how It happens. Sometimes it's just a symbolical way, but I mean, it’s just a reflection of something that really happened. I find it fascinating to write about things that really happened.

I do so too. I think that’s the subtext.

Some people will never get an interest in these things.. I think it's important for people to know history, to know a lot of things.

So what drove you into black metal in the first place?

I grew upon the international wave, I just found my way. I don’t really know how to put it, but It's something that came into my life and I've been exploring it ever since.

You're one of the architects of Black Metal as we know it. How does it feel like to be considered a pioneer?

I don’t know. I mean there were quite a lot of bands before us as well. I mean, we do what we believe in and that’s the most important thing.

You have two more projects, Deathwolf and Abruptum. Is that a need for you? Did you ever feel like Marduk wasn’t enough for your musical taste at some point?

We have an album planned with Deathwolf the upcoming year actually. And well, not really. To me it’s a different kind of energy. Just on a different level. I know that when I write music to each band it’s a different feeling and I do it wholeheartedly. And I like doing a variety of music. At times it can even make me more focused on my main band.

Century Media recently merged with Sony. Can it affect the relationships the label has with some of its extreme metal musicians?

I don’t think about the label things in a negative way. That’s how it does work in some cases I guess. But I don’t interfere with their stuff they don’t interfere with mine. Their job is to push our work and that’s the way it works. Smaller bands find it tougher. But I don’t know if I believe in this major label stuff.

So they always gave you full artistic freedom?

We always had artistic freedom. That’s the way we work. I would never have worked with a label that tells me these kinds of things. We are very fortunate.

So how about your upcoming performance in Israel? It'll be your first time visiting here. Are you excited about it? Does Israel somehow interest you?

Of course. For us it’s great to be in new places. It’s a country we've never been in before and we like to expand, we believe in our music and we want to perform all over the world. It is interesting for us and I hope it will be so for u as well.

We have a bigger black\\death metal following than we do traditional metal.

Yeah I think I heard. It'll be great to be able to finally get there. We've been having discussions about performing there for at least 8-9 years.

Will you have time for sightseeing?

I hope so.

So about the political side of performing in Israel.

We got a lot of feedback from people that were angry because of the politics blah blah blah.. But I couldn’t care less about any countries politics or situation. I'm a musician, I’ll be there to play for metal people. We're not there for the politicians, we're there for the metal crowd. I never interfere with all these. I'm more than happy to read and I find interest in these things but I would never take a side and interfere. It's not my job to criticize it. There are so many places in the world with similar issues.

do you consider yourself a political person?

I am. But I'm not really involved. I like to observe and watch and read and see what's happening.  That is important for me. I also have so many history books in my bookshelf.

Ok so something lighter. Have you read anything good lately? Any recommendations?

I read so many books.. Literature, religion and history. Right now I am read a very interesting book about the darker aspects of northern mythology written by a Swedish guy. He's really done a lot of research. A lot of history. Lately I've been focusing on about 17th century stuff. A lot about that era. And about Estonia too, maybe 150 years ago. A lot of world war books. I have about 50 books about that I think.

Some say Black metal suffered quite a crisis near the year 2000, with musicians being incarcerated, dying, even just releasing obscure releases. How did Marduk survive that crisis, if there ever was on?

We never cared. And we never cared about other band's crisis and stuff like that. We were always focused on the music. We kept on playing. Some people for some time thought it was more important to deal with what was popular.

What about modern black metal? Anyone you like?

What's modern?

Let's say 1349.

I do. I do like them. And some of the younger bands I really appreciate.

What about Atilla rejoining Mayhem again? And overall them changing vocalist again?

I don’t know. For Mayhem It's good that he's still around. After Dead, he's the best vocalist they had. He had great impact on De Mysteris album. I think Dead would highly appreciate it.

not a big fan of the Maniac era?

Maniac as well. But I never thought that his vocals were comparable to Dead or Attila. He's a great person and great musician though.

I read in Wikipedia that Euronymous sent you a piece of Dead's skull. Do you still have it?

yes I have it. It's right in front of me actually. I'm looking at it right now. Maybe it's not the common thing to do. But I really appreciated Dead, and the thought behind it. I always kept it. I have it right here.

Have you heard Iron Maiden's latest album? What did you think of it?

Morgan: Yeah. I bought it as soon as it came out. I always do that with Maiden. They're were one of my favorite bands growing up. The era of Peace of Mind.. The first time I got it I just didn’t go to school. It had a major impact on me. I'd say that with all their albums, after 7th son they didn't reach the same level. But it's good. It's still Maiden. And I think Steve Harris is a driven guy. Some albums are a bit more boring than others. A Brave New World grew on me and I really like it. Some of the new stuff are too long. I like the old ones. Rhyme of the ancient mariner etc. But its still maiden so it's still good. Well there really is no one better than these guys; JUDAS PRIEST.

What about non-metal? What else do you like listening to?

Well I have so much. Robert Johnson, howling wolf, blues, old rock. Old hard rock. Richie Blackmore – I always appreciated him. I like old heavy metal, who doesn’t like Saxonand Accept? Death, black metal, a lot of ambient and industrial. But I guess the most I listen to is classical music. I feel really touched by it, like straight to your soul. I like music that generates something that I can feel. I want to feel the power that comes from it.

What would you say about the Swedish metal scene? Is it thriving? Are there any cool new bands?

I don’t know. I can't really keep up to date. When it comes to music, I never get tired of listening to the old shit.

Robert Johnson for example.

Well yeah. That feel. That sense of power, like in a Richie Blackmore solo that really grabs you from within. To feel THAT power. That's when it really means something.


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