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Ronnie Bergerstahl (Grave)

Interview with Ronnie Bergerstahl from Grave
by Yiannis Dafopoulos at 18 May 2008, 1:20 AM

The kings of old school Swedish Death Metal returned with a brand new album and a brand new label to help them. Since I jumped like a wild beast on the promo CD and took care of it like a mother takes care of her children, I thought it was time for an interview with the band's brand new drummer Ronnie Bergerstahl. I can say that he seems like a pretty talkative and kind person and he was more than willing to explain why they signed to Regain Records, as well as how he got the position behind GRAVE's drumkit.

Hello and congratulations on your new album! It is always nice to see that there are still bands playing Death Metal the old classic way.

Hey, Ronnie.. drummer in GRAVE here.

Thanks a lot! It seems like it’s been going down well as far as reviews and criticism goes so far.. only good responses and that feels good! I’d say it’s us and DISMEMBER that still do what we should do, play ugly and brutal Death Metal the true Swedish way!

Why did you choose Dominion VIII as the title for your new album? Is there a specific meaning behind this title?

Well.. it’s our 8th studio album and the word Dominion is very powerful, just like our music, so it’s a combination of those two I guess. Ola might have had some deeper meaning when he came up with the title but he’s not said anything about it to us hahaha..

Two years have passed since your previous work As Rapture Comes. Except from composing and recording the new album, what other things happened in the GRAVE camp?

We’ve had some line-up changes. Jonas Torndal and Pelle Ekegren left the band. Other than that we’ve been playing live a lot.

In October 2006 we did a US tour with DISMEMBER and in November we went out on the Masters Of Death Tour with DISMEMBER, ENTOMBED and UNLEASHED.. great fun!!!

Last May we did a massive tour in May together with IMMOLATION, KRISIUN and DAWN OF AZAZEL and that was an awesome tour. Plus of course many single gigs and mini tours.. Mexico among others.

Even though you are a band that always remained faithful to the Swedish Death Metal ideals and never disappointed its fans, you always made slight improvements to your sound. What differences does Dominion VIII have compared to your previous works?

In my opinion Dominion VIII is more back to the old sound, in the vein of You’ll Never See and Into The Grave and that’s what GRAVE is about.

When we began to discuss within the band about how we wanted this album to sound, we all agreed upon that we wanted it to be more straight forward and basic than As Rapture Comes and Fiendish Regression, still keep it aggressive and brutal but without blast beats and stuff like that.

Also the production is a lot different then any other albums released today.. no triggers and shit hehe.

The album was written very fast also. I think we had all the riffs done in a month or so and after we set a deadline when we came to the conclusion that we had enough riffs, Ola began to put the songs together… It’s a very spontaneous album!

Who drew the cover for your new album and what does it represent?

It’s a guy from Romania, Costin Chioreanu. He’s a very talented guy and has been doing plenty of covers for some of my former and other bands, CENTINEX, DEMONICAL, WORLD BELOW and TRITON ENIGMA among others. Me and Ola sat and discussed in the studio where we mixed the album about the cover issue. We wanted a very old-school looking cover which represents our music and I suggested that we should ask Costin if he wanted to do it. An e-mail was sent and we got one back very quick. I think we had a rough draft in just a day or so and that’s actually the cover that we used for the album, somewhat modified but anyway..

Your previous album featured an unexpected cover song. I am talking about ALICE IN CHAINS’ Them Bones. Whose idea was it and how did you manage to make it sound like a GRAVE song?

If I remember correctly, it was Ola’s idea and he had it for some years. That song isn’t that far from being a real GRAVE song. The arrangement and song structure are very Gravish. I think they did an awesome job with it!

This is your debut for Regain Records. Why did you leave Century Media in the first place?

We’d fulfilled the contract with Century Media, simple as that. The 7 albums were recorded and released and we felt that it was time to move on. Regain was one of the labels we wanted to work with and so far it’s been a smooth ride. Hopefully it’ll continue in the same pace.

Since you are the newest member in GRAVE, how do you feel being part of such a band? How did you manage to join the band?

It’s a great feeling and I felt like a part of the family at once. To be honest, the only thing I knew and heard from GRAVE before I got the job as the drummer was 3 live shows haha..

I didn’t know any songs or albums, so for me it was a really fresh start. I knew that they had been looking for a new drummer but as far as I’d heard, they had already found one. Then one day, late one Monday a friend of mine, Johan Jansson from DEMONICAL and CENTINEX phoned me and told me that Ola from GRAVE had called him and asked about me. I said that he should tell him to call me the day after due to the late hour. Ola phoned the day after and we agreed that I should come to their rehearsal room and just chill with them and listen to a rehearsal they did for the Enraptured DVD. I did, listened and felt that well… I can play those songs etc etc etc… I got a CD-R with 12 songs or something to learn.

3 weeks after that I went to the US to do a 16 date tour with them hahaha.. I didn’t realize how big it actually was to be the drummer in GRAVE! I’m still not sure that I do but I’m enjoying it to the full!

Really, do you know why Ekegren left the band?

He didn’t wanna go on tour, that’s the main reason. He didn’t like at all to be on the road, away from his family and work. He’s an amazing drummer and I know that he has some new projects going on.

I see you will be part of this year’s Wacken Festival and you will also play at VADER’s anniversary show in Poland. Tell us a few words about these two shows.

Wacken has been asking for GRAVE for some years now but the timing hasn’t been right. This time it is! GRAVE is celebrating 20 years as a band this year and we have a brand new album out so what could be better then to play at the biggest metal festival in Europe!?!

The VADER show.. well, we’ve been invited (together with tons of other amazing bands) by Mariuz which is the manager of VADER and the owner of Massive Music Booking And Promotional Agency. All I know is that each band is supposed to play like 40-45 min and then VADER play some special set. It’s gonna be a big party that day I guess hehe..

While taking a look at your Myspace page I saw only a few live dates. Why is that? Aren’t you going to schedule any tours? Will we have the chance of seeing your performing live here in Greece?

Yes we are, we’re just lazy with the updates haha. 2 days after the VADER show we’re heading out for a 31 gigs tour with NILE and BELPHEGOR but unfortunately no dates in Greece. We’d love to come and play in Greece though if anyone will book us.

Let’s talk about your current and past activities a bit now. Why did CENTINEX split up and why did you cancel your last show although you had said that it was going to take place as planned?

It was Martin’s (founder of CENTINEX) decision to split up CENTINEX and why, I’m not sure actually. I think he kinda got fed up with the whole thing that surrounded CENTINEX both musically speaking where the band was going and at a personal level. I mean, he’d been in the band for 16 years so that might have taken it’s toll. The vibe in the band at the time when the farewell gig was supposed to take place wasn’t the best so that’s why it never happened. Shortly after the split-up he, I and Johan that was the vocalist in CENTINEX formed a new band called DEMONICAL. We released our debut album Servants Of The Unlight last year and did some festivals and a short tour last summer with NUN SLAUGHTER. We also teamed up with DENIAL OF GOD this past autumn for a mini tour which was great. We’ve also done gigs with both GRAVE and DEMONICAL plus a mini tour in Finland supporting DISMEMBER.

Except from your more heavy bands you have a more ’melodic’ side, too. You used to play in AMARAN, a female fronted Power Metal band. I read that you split up because you couldn’t find a replacement for Johanna DePierre. Is it so hard to find quality female vocalists nowadays?

I love melodic music, HELLOWEEN is one of my all time favorite bands so hehe.. Well that’s a bit modified truth I’d say.

Kari, guitar player and main songwriter quit the band first due to differences in opinion with the others where to take AMARAN’s sound for the next album. They wanted to go in a more slow, soft and melancholic way and Kari and I wanted to take it more extreme in the other direction. When he quit, I had a meeting with the others and they asked what I wanted to do, quit or stay. I told them that I wanted to hear the songs they’d written before I decide.. I got to hear it, it was really good stuff but nowhere near the sound I thought was AMARAN so I quit.. They found a new guitar player and a bass player but as far as I know, Johanna got tired of the whole Hard Rock/Metal music so she left the band not that long after the new line-up was revealed.

I don’t know if it’s that hard to find good female vocalists actually, I have no idea. I do know though that we had a good time with the band and that I miss to play the bass in a band..

Are there any other news regarding your other bands? TRITON ENIGMA released a new album this year, too, so I suppose 2008 is a pretty busy year for you.

Black Lies, the debut album from TRITON ENIGMA has been out since 15th of April but it’s not a band, more a studio project. It includes me, Thomas Nilsson, who is a guy I have been playing with since 1995 in different bands.. and then there’s Kitty Saric, aka Metallic Kitty on vocals. I’ve allready written material for the next album and I know that Thomas also has some stuff written but I don’t know when we’re gonna record it.

With DEMONICAL we’re gonna do some festivals this summer, Obscene Extreme in Czech Republic and the Hungarian festival Rock Maraton among others. A new album will hopefully be recorded this coming autumn so yes… 2008 will be very very busy for me but you know what… I love it!!!

Have you managed to make a living by music or do you have a ’normal’ job?

I have some different jobs in between tours and gigs so it’s not to bad. I only work by the hour so to say, I work if the companies need me or I’m free to do it.

What are GRAVE’s plans for the time being?

To do as much promotion as we can for Dominion VIII, including touring, touring and touring.. We’ve also recorded a video for the song Bloodpath which we hope will boost the interest for the album. It’s gonna be a killer video I tell you.

Thanks a lot for your time and I wish GRAVE the best! Anything last you’d like to add?

It was my pleasure! Uhm, check the album out and look out for the video and keep up the support, it means everything for us!

Hopefully we’ll come to Greece in the near future and show you metal heads what true and honest Death Metal from Sweden is all about! Cheers and over and out from Ronnie B.


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