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 of Massgrav.
Ola: Fourfingered fury and raspy screams. That means playing bass and “singing”. I’m also the chief graphical designer (I think) and I own the Massgrav tour car.
Indy: Mattias here, nicknamed Indy because I look like a misfit-Indian. I play the snare and the ride, and that’s about it. Oh, I do some lobbying and financial business as well, but that’s just politics really.

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.
Now, Erlando was never any good and had a lot of problems with drugs so we had to get rid of him. That was just the start of all kinds of messed up shit. I had to move to Stockholm to stay sane, Johan had to stay behind to stay alive and for the longest time we could only rehearse in my one room apartment when Johan came to Stockholm and it wasn’t very popular with the neighbours (hey, at least we didn’t have a drummer – bad for us but good for the neighbours). Not much happened until we found Conny Slägga, a smelly, constantly pissed off crustie (the only real close encounter with crusties we’ve had so far – thank God) that we met during the riots in Gothenburg in 2001. Now Conny was fast as hell and we recorded the “Fast i skiten” with him and it turned out ok, but then he just got way out of hand. I think it’s safe to say now after things have calmed down that once again it was drugs that made us lose the drummer, drugs and a totally unpredictable psyche – Conny could go from calm to frothing insane in seconds. And he smelled bad. Then, in April last year we went to see Genocide SS and Johan cornered Indy since he knew he plays drums and likes fast music (and fast living) and when he heard the “Fast i Skiten” he was blown away and asked to join us. We let him. We recorded “Hatfylld och nerpissad”, Escorbuto released it, it sold out, we played some gorefest up north, were invited by General Surgery to destroy a club in Stockholm and Indy’s arms got completely fucked, so now we have another drugged-up drummer to deal with but he’s alright as long as he doesn’t mix the painkillers with too much cheap wine, I guess. Anyway, as you can see, we’re not a new band exactly, you just haven’t noticed us before.
Johan: Ehrm… just for the record. The Genocide SS gig where I ambushed Indy was held in november 2002. It’s a funny story, because me and Ola didn’t know him at all, but I’d read somewhere that he used to play drums and thought that this might be our chance to go down in history. I was drunk as hell and saw him standing all alone and fucked up (as always), and Ola was even more drunk ‘cause he left the gig before the mainband got on stage, I think it was Dismember. But I jumped Indy and started to sweettalk him and somehow I managed to convince the guy that he should play with Massgrav, and here we are now - the ultimate Massgrav-line-up – true ‘til death!

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.
Ola: Thank God, hahaha!
Johan:Yeah, I hate those bands that just keep pumpin out records. Quality, not quantity, if you ask me. When it comes to Massgrav there are actually some old demos out there, and if you haven’t heard of them, you’re obviously not down with the scene, loser!

Any friends or bands in the scene that you hang out with?

Johan: No, we stand alone… (laughter)
Indy: The scene and most of its victims don’t interest me. It’s filled to the brim with lowlife scum who claim to be punk this and punk that, but all they really care about is their hairstyle, patches, pins, tattoos and their so called unity. Most of these people are just punkishly correct, secteristic assholes who have found a place to dwell where they don’t have to care anymore. They think they are so fucking true and involved in political issues, and that they do so much for the scene and so on, but in reality they are just egoistic cunts (no sexist remark!) who work only for themselves and nobody else outside their hypocritic scene. It’s a “scratch my back and I’ll scratch your groin”-situation. They’re pretty much like the narrowminded christians.
But of course we have friends in the scene and hang out with some bands, but why pat them on the back when we could use this space in MRR to stab fake people in the face instead?

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, ok?
Indy: I’d prefer more beef and conspiracy theories in the punk scene. I am Tupac, you are The Notorious B.I.G. – let’s kill each other!
Johan: I agree. It’s soooo boring with bands that just keep hailing each other. I really can’t see why I should sweettalk someone that I don’t give a shit about and whose music sucks, just because they’re in the so called punkscene. You know, a little rumble in the jungle has not hurt anyone.
Indy: Ali bomaye, for fuck’s sake!

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.
Indy: There’s a few lyrics on the EP that are truly inspired by Krigshot, but that’s more of a tribute than a ripoff, I think. By the way, the real Massgrav was founded in 1977 by the infamous Rolf Revålt. Or so they say…
Johan: Actually, it’s no problem for me. Mob 47 and Krigshot are some of the best bands that ever existed and we sure have stolen a lot from them. I can’t really say that Protes-Bengt is a big influence nor a faveband of mine but they are ok. As long as you don’t compare us to Totalt Jävla Mörker I’m fine.

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?

Book: “Startpistolen” by Claes Holmström (a swedish American Psycho, filled with hate and humor – just like Massgrav. I’ve read it at least ten times and it’s so damn good. Too bad that it ain’t translated to english cause it sure is worth reading).
Album: “Örebromangel” by Krigshot (this is a tricky one, but it’s gotta be “Örebromangel”, I just love that record, every chord and every word of it – teach your children to worship Örebromangel! If I got to chose one more I’d go for “Destroy oh boy” by the New Bomb Turks).
Movie: “True Romance” (Well, it’s my favourite movie so it’s an easy choice).
Magazine: Sika Äpärä #4 (Old swedish fanzine, funny as hell, created by Jallo and Finnen, two legendary crusties who also ran the label Finn Records).
Woman: Liv Tyler (I heard that she’s really into Krigshot…)
Man: Elvis (He’s the king so why pick someone else?)
Ola: I think I’d choose a woman.
Indy: I’d chose The Holy Bible any day because it’s by far the sickest shit I’ve ever read. It’s a neverending well of bliss, hate and insanity. As for album, I’d probably go with something from The Beatles, but then change my mind and end up with Public Enemy’s “Fear of a black planet”. Movie? Maybe “Naked” by Mike Leigh, I love the harshness of that one. When it comes to magazines I just love issue number ten of the mighty Norwegian Slayer Mag! It contains a huge amount of metal, madness and mongoloid minds, and that’s all you really need to get by these days. Woman? There’s an amazing swedish actress that I adore, Mona Seilitz. She’s 61 years old, but looks like 20 (laughter!). Man then… Well, if Hitler was alive I’d spend the rest of my life asking him really annoying questions, like “Aren’t you really a Jew?”…

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.
Indy: As you can see, Ola is totally americanized. I’m unemployed, which means that I have time to do everything cool that others can’t fit into their tight ass schedule. I do some freelance writing for Close-Up Magazine and some other magazines, run my own fanzine called Ny Moral, run a film club which deals with east asian movies only, create some sick noise music together with my computer under the monicker Jacinth… I’m also into photography and dating old women, preferably a combination of the two. And then there’s too much fun shit to mention. I wish there were 96 hours everyday.
Johan: I work as a producer for a television company, and I’m gonna start to play golf. Then I’m into investment in the stock-market and real estates. I like hangin out in fancy bars and dating fancy women.
Indy: Johan also likes horse… (laughter)

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.
Ola: I thought it would make me cool. I was wrong. I’m too fat to be an elite anything.
Indy: And I’m too weak. At first, I was only attracted by the album covers, since I’ve always been into war photos… Gradually I got into the music and politics as well, mostly thanks to the guys in Counterblast and Warcollapse who arranged so many great gigs at a place called Eldslandet in Jonkoping.
Johan: It’s funny that you mention gymnastics since I used to be one of Sweden’s leading athletes in the flying rings… but then I sold my soul to rock’n’roll.
Indy: You actually did fly through the rings? Hoho… I’d love to see that now with your six feet mohawk and all.

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.
Ola: I’ll say this only – it’s a clear sign that something is very wrong in the U.S. when Bush gets enough votes to win even a rigged election. On the other hand, I think it’s virtually impossible to become president (or any kind of successful politician) without being a lying, scheming scumbag. Ok, I’ll say one more thing. It’s very fashionable in Sweden to be anti-Bush at the moment; can’t people think of more important things to be agitated about? I sure as hell can!
Indy: But in this case the anti-Bush-thing is totally legitimate. I only wish that some of these people who are anti-Bush just for the hell of it would care about other issues as well. Trendies, fuck off!
Johan: I have nothing more to add, although I’m a big fan of Michael Moore.

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.
Johan: Or if we’re bored.
Ola: Or if we have nowhere else to drink.
Indy: Or whatever…

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.
Johan: Wait a minute now! Wallin is a greedy and stingy motherfucker. I mean, have you ever heard of a record deal where the band has to buy drinks for the company? In the case Massgrav-Escorbuto it happens all the time.
Ola: An now he claims he’s pissed about us abandoning him. If he just hangs on to a couple of those EPs, he’ll make a fortune on Ebay in a few years, just wait and see.
Indy: Nowadays he’s totally into Tiamat (the new gay shit) and hip hop and pretty much hates the underground scene, so we can’t support folks like him. Drop outs suck.

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 2004.
Ola: The album will be called "Napalm över Stureplan". That means pretty much what you'd expect it to mean, napalm over a place called Stureplan -that's the part of Stockholm where all the rich and beautiful meet to go to trendy bars to kiss ass, take drugs and listen to crap music. The title track is an old song that we didn't have time to record for the EP, it's one of our classics. The entire EP will also be included on the CD, but remixed and remastered and slightly altered to make it more raw and brutal and desperate. The rest of the tracks are brand new and they kick ass! Total fucking hate and extreme desperation - I honestly don't think anyone will be disappointed, we've got some fat fucking songs waiting for you, can't wait to see what people think of them. We've played a few of them live and that went really well. We still haven't decided the order of the songs but there's a track called "Va ere för fel på socialen?" that I think will be the first track on the CD which is Massgrav at its very best!
Johan: Yeah, the new tracks are all fast and raging but still catchy as hell. It’s Hc-thrash in the classic swedish style, no endless riffing here, thank you very much. We’ll try to squeeze in +25 tracks, all recorded and mixed in the same old garage-studio that we always use.
Ola: We were really happy with the way we sounded on the EP and have tried to keep everything pretty much the same. We're still working with Micke Nordström, he's really good and is great to work with. Apparently, other bands have contacted him about recording stuff just to get "the Massgrav sound", hahahaha!

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.
Johan: When we played in Orsa, (a redneck hood in the north of Sweden) the hippies who arranged the gig offered us some kind of veggie-stew. We told ‘em to fuck off and went down to the local smoke-house for a nice piece of meat. That’s Massgrav in a nutshell…
Ola: Massgrav gigs are short and loud and we talk a lot of shit in between songs, Johan insults the audience and calls them a bunch of politically incorrect stuff. Indy asks us to wait a bit before starting the next song and I just huff and puff into the mike. As the songs are hard (for us) to play, we can’t move about all that much – no matter how big we get we will never be one of those bands who have platforms and walkways to run around on.
Indy: I’d love to see you two guys running around like some fucking Van Halen-geeks on stage, posing for the masses. I myself would enjoy one of those 360 degrees spinning drum kits from hell, with hundreds of tom toms and thousands of cymbals. Of course I would only use the snare and the ride. Monsters Of Rock – here we come!
Johan: To me it’s all about the show. Since we can’t afford fireworks I have to go for the insults to get the audience in a good mood.

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.
Indy: We do that all the time. Bed-wetting is an artform seldom practised by the multitude…

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!
Johan: We’re so damn D.I.Y that we even write our own songs!
Indy: As for the webpage I promised myself to finish it within twenty minutes. I was held up by a phone call from one of my ladies, so I guess I did it all in five. It’s pretty smashing, I think. I’m proud of it. It’s been awarded with some mighty fine design prizes in almost every east european state I can think of…

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.
Johan: Krigshots “Örebromangel”!
Ola: Changes all the time, right now I like Mob 47 ”Garanterat Mangel” and the Limp Wrist album.

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.
Indy: I listen to everything that’s good, and if it sucks I might even listen to that as well. A man or woman can never own too many records. Top five has got to be old Public Enemy, The Beatles, Dinosaur Jr, Amebix and Plastikman. I’ll throw in Darkthrone as a bonus.

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.
Indy: Mmm… Japan I like.

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…