Maximumrocknroll, december 2004 Issue #259. Interview by Albert Fichter. The unabridged version.
Massgrav, an amazingly crushing power trio hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, totally blew me away with their raging debut-EP ”Hatfylld och nerpissad”. Released on the small underground label Escorbuto Recordings on New Year’s Eve 2003, this piece of blackest hate is a soon to be modern classic. Short, fast, loud and always on the verge of destruction, this is Massgrav in the flesh.
Ok guys, who are you and what do you do in Massgrav?
Johan: I’m Johan and I play guitar
and do some kind of shouting. I’m the oldest and therefore the most
wise and hateful of the tres puntos. I’m kind of the Big Enos Burdette
Since you’re a new band, could you please tell us the usual band history crap?
Ola: See, me and Johan were unfortunate
enough to get mixed up with Distortion Records sometime mid-nineties and
somewhere around that time we found ourselves constantly getting totally
shitfaced on Kir all the time, passing out to the A-side of “Why”
(I had – and still have – it glued to my record player) and
somehow, for some reason we decided we’d start a band. We forced
a guy named Erlando to play drums and wrote a bunch of songs and recorded
our first demo “Total jävla masslakt” (some call this
“Spräckt skita i piketen” but that wasn’t the official
name) which was very popular among the people that happened to get to
hear about it (this was before Internet made it easy to become known everywhere,
you had to tapetrade and other shit we’re too lazy to get into).
This was in 95 – 96 sometime.
You’ve been around for so long, how come we haven’t heard anything from you earlier on, and why so few releases?
Indy: As for the few releases thing, we
are not Human Waste.
Any friends or bands in the scene that you hang out with?
Johan: No, we stand alone… (laughter)
You seem very inclined to scorn and ridicule other bands, people and parts of the scene. How come? Isn’t that a bit against what punk is all about?
Ola: For me, punk is not about unity. Unity
with whom? Crusty kids with studded jackets worth a fucking fortune but
still trying to scrounge a buck off you, with no-brain “alternative”
propaganda pre-fabricated views of life? If we like people, it’s
because of who they are, not what lifestyle they claim to be part of.
As for other bands, I feel no need to be “loyal” to anyone
just because we play music that others may perceive as similar –
if I think a band sucks and someone asks me about it, I’ll let them
know what I think. Sometimes (quite often, actually), you don’t
even have to ask me, I’ll just start random rants unprovoked. To
loop back to what punk is about, too me it’s basically being sceptical
against pretty much everything people are trying to tell you, whether
it’s what to buy or what to think and it’s also, importantly,
a collective name for various types of music I like. To me, the music
is what makes a song punk. You can have the world’s most radical
lyrics but if you sing them Woody Guthrie style it won’t be punk,
it will just be more of that lame-ass singer/songwriter crap that the
world has had more than it’s filling of by now so give it up already,
In reviews you’re often compared to Mob 47, Krigshot and Protes-Bengt. What do you think about that?
Ola: Mob fortyfuckingseven… it’s
one of my favourite bands so in a way it’s the biggest compliment
you can get but at the same time we don’t sound THAT much like Mob
47. Someone said we sound like they would have sounded if they had been
around now, that’s probably closer to the truth. I can understand
the Krigshot reference but I think we’re more focused, have more
of an edge and write shorter (read: better) songs. And our vocals are
better. Our biggest similarity to Krigshot is probably that we’re
old and uncool looking just like them.
Let’s say you were forced to live the rest of your life with only one item each of the following: book, album, movie, magazine, woman and man. What would you choose and why?
What do you do besides play in Massgrav?
Ola: I have an old car and I’m thinking
of joining some kind of weapons club to get to shoot stuff. And I collect
things. I like driving.
What got you into punk and playing in bands in the first place? Why aren’t you elite gymnasts instead of punk rockers?
Johan: I was a total thrash/death metal
fan until I was 15 and then a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to form
a punkband. I said yes, but I was hoping that we were going to start to
play death metal – but it didn’t happen. Instead my friend
gave me some punktapes and the rest is history. I’m still into death
metal, though. The politics is of no interest to me, I’m only in
it for the money.
What are Massgravs opinions regarding George W. Bush and the politics of USA today?
Indy: I can only speak for myself as I detest
most kinds of political organisations, sects and communities where everybody
fool themselves to agree on the same issues. Massgrav consists of three
individuals and we do not agree on everything. Personally I fucking loathe
that scumbag and his allies. I think he and the present government is
a major threat to the whole world, the way that they, as the most powerful
country in the world, are dealing with the problems of today. Saying that,
I don’t agree with any kind of fanaticism, wheater it’s christian,
islamic or sionist etc etc… I’m not a big fan of Bush’s
“worst enemy” Michael Moore either, even though I find his
stuff very entertaining at times. He’s more of an entertainer than
a politician, I guess. I’m a big fan of Noam Chomsky, though. That’s
my man. Anyway, I think it’s pretty obvious that the Bush administration
terrorists are just as evil as the terrorists they claim to wage war against.
However, I really love your country. Such a rough mixture of everything
good and bad, it’s almost unbelievable. But Bush’s gotta go.
Fuck him. But then again, it’s not just Bush the individual who’s
the problem, it’s of course a lot more complicated than that…
And to make things a bit clearer I detest fucks like Saddam Hussein and
Osama bin-Laden as well.
Do you rehearse a lot? A lot of bands claim they write all songs in the studio – how does that work in Massgrav?
Ola: Rehearsals depend on what condition
we’re in. It’s generally better when we’re hung-over,
otherwise we drink too much and end up not learning very much. We have
just moved from a place we rented from a shady German guy, the ceiling
was so low that Johan had to stand completely still where there was a
hole in the ceiling and it was so small you had to stand still or you
would knock things over. We have a better place now and better equipment
too. We never, ever write things at rehearsal; “jamming” is
something I don’t understand – it’s for hippies! Me
and Johan write the songs at home (he writes most of them although I’ve
started to do more lately), and sometimes Indy comes up with some lyrics
and gives them to us. I tried writing music to a song in the studio once,
a song called “Tunnelbanan” and it turned out crap, one of
the worst songs we’ve recorded actually – way too pop oriented.
We generally only rehearse if we have a gig or recording coming up.
Tell me about the label Escorbuto Recordings and how you got the deal.
Indy: It’s a friend of ours named
Johan Wallin (guitarplayer in Scurvy, Repugnant, General Surgery and Bombstrike)
who runs this label and distro that mainly focuses on underground grindcore
and death metal. He heard some old demo and got totally psyched. We got
a really good deal and he did a great job so he’s the king. The
EP “Hatfylld och nerpissad” was released on New Year’s
Eve 2003 and was limited to 525 copies. It seems like they’re all
sold out now.
Future plans? I heard something about an album on Sound Pollution, is that correct?
Johan: Yeah, sweet, isn’t it? Ken
Pollution got hold of a copy of the EP and was totally blown away. He
emailed us and offered to release something down the road. And since we
already had booked the studio to record a bunch of new songs we gave two
tumbs up to Ken. The fullength will, hopefully, be out in late autumn
Have you played many gigs so far? Tell me about them. What is a Massgrav-gig like?
Ola: No we haven’t, for two reasons.
First of all, we’re too lazy, we only play when people ask us to
and they don’t do that very often. Second, Indy is such a fucking
weakling, he keeps breaking down and asking for breaks in the set, it
gets embarrassing. I don’t know if us releasing a CD on Sound Pollution
will change things but Escorbuto-Wallin has been really great about paying
for hotels and taxis and shit when we play out of town. But if anyone
wants to arrange anything, we can rough it a bit, as long as we don’t
have to stay with crusties and eat vegetarian food.
Since your lyrics are in swedish can you explain what Massgrav is all about lyricwize, and what does the title of your EP mean?
Johan: Massgravs lyrics deals with everything
that makes us feel hateful. But we try to approach the different subjects
with humour. The title “Hatfylld och nerpissad” could be translated
into something like “Filled with hate and pissed on”. It’s
about the state beyond hate. You know, when you’re so filled with
hate that you just have to piss in your pants.
Who’s responsible for the album layout and stuff like that?
Ola: So far, we’ve made everything
ourselves except for our logo – Ubbe in Regurgitate/Nasum made that.
There was a guy from Cuntsucking Cannibals who was going to make one but
we never heard from him and Ubbes logo is perfect, so we’re not
sorry. But we’ve made the EP-cover ourselves, we’ll make the
upcoming CD-cover even though it seems to take forever, we have no ideas
for the cover at the moment… Indy designed our webpage himself.
No, he’s not blind. We try to make everything ourselves so that
no one can fuck things up for us. Plus we don’t have anyone that
has offered to do things for us. Minions – get in touch!
Name the best punk album ever made!
Indy: I’d say G-Anx “Flashbacks”,
but since that’s a discography album I might have to say Libresse
and their amazing “Krystvärkar”-album. The worst has
to got to be every damned “trallpunk”-album that’s ever
been recorded with bands like Dia Psalma, De Lyckliga Kompisarna…
I hate that shit from the bottom of my heart.
What else do you listen to besides punk?
Johan: Well, the three of us differ a lot
when it comes to musictaste besides the obvious punk/hc-thrash shit. As
I said before I’m into the good ol’ thrash/death-metalscene
- all time favebands: Brutal Truth (old), The Crown (everything), Kreator(old),
Carcass, Anthrax( old), Dismember.… but I’m also really keen
on fast rock’n’roll like the New Bomb Turks and Supersuckers.
Oh, I almost forgot Elvis.
So what are the future plans for the almighty Massgrav?
Johan: As I mentioned before Sound Pollution
Records will release our debut-CD “Napalm over Stureplan”
in the autumn, it’s a must-have! Then we will have some old tracks
featured on a french comp-CD and some swedish compilations as well. Other
than that we’re really keen to tour the states and Japan so please
feel free to book us.
Shout outs?Indy: Shout outs to Johan Wallin/Escorbuto Recordings and Micke Nordström (the producer) for doing such a great job with our first EP, and of course to Ken Pollution for releasing the upcoming album. It’s amazing to have stuff out on the label which has released G-Anx. Assück, Hellnation and Krigshot! Also thanks to friends and enemies who support us in either way, both through love and hate. Hails to our friends in General Surgery, Arsedestroyer, Regurgitate, Gurra from Sub Vision, PP7 Gaftzeb, Repugnant, Erik from Watain, Sayyadina, Krigshot, Kontrovers, Pollution-Jonas, Uncurbed, Javelins… Also thanks to zines for reviewing our music.
Ola: Don’t think he reads MRR but Tomas Birnik has helped us a lot, recorded stuff, tried out as a singer, lent us equipment, money, drugs and let us sleep on his floor when we didn’t have a place to live.
Johan: My turn? I just want to hail these bands because they are some of the few swedish bands today that really deserves to be kissed in the ass: Diskonto, Sayyadina, Kontrovers, The Vectors, Victims and of course Krigshot. And thank you, MRR. We love you.
Ola: I thought you said it was fucked up with bands that just keep sending hails to each other?
Johan: I did?! Ok, fuck ‘em all…