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Haunted | Made Me Do It | interview | Anders Bjorler | metal | Lollipop

The Haunted

Made Me Do It (Earache)
An interview with guitarist Anders Björler
by Scott Hefflon

I didn't interview you when you quit At the Gates to start The Haunted, so take me through the thought process...
As At the Gates, we did six months of touring with no breaks, and I just grew tired of the whole thing. It was too much work and we weren't getting much money. We didn't... or at least I didn't realize we were getting big, because we were just doing support gigs and being treated like dogs. Plus, Tomas (Lindberg, ATG vocalist) wanted to turn more punk rock, and I refused. I wanted to do more death metal. And there were troubles between Tomas and myself. We just didn't get along... And I was fed up with the music scene in general, so I took some time off. That was the summer of '96. I heard Adrian (Erlandsson, ATG drummer and original Haunted drummer, now replaced by Per Mor Jensen) and Patrick Jensen guitarist (ex-Seance, also in Witchery) had an unnamed project going, so I checked out some rehearsals and I really liked it. It was much more laid-back, no pressure, just playing for fun.

So it wasn't just the style that changed, it was also the attitude.
In both ways, it was a returning to roots. There were no demands from record labels, and we could let the creativity flow much easier.

But by this point, The Haunted probably gets the same pressure...
Yeah, but it didn't start out like that. In the beginning, we played for fun in the rehearsal room. We had eight to ten songs, but we had no singer... We found Peter (Dolving, original singer), and he agreed to do a demo for us, just two songs or so. Then things started to get serious. There was never really a plan, but me, Adrian, and Jonas (Björler, Anders' brother and bassist of both ATG and now The Haunted) were still under contract to Earache.

How many records did you owe Earache at the time?
After Slaughter of the Soul, we had three more to do. So with the two Haunted records we've done for them, there's just one to go. When I left At the Gates, I just needed a break. Bad things had come up... The other guys could've kept playing, but they chose to terminate the whole thing. One thing we've come to understand in this band is that we have to negotiate our own deals. But the most important thing is to have fun. The day I wake up and it's boring, I quit.

Tell me of switching singers from Peter Dolving to Marco Aro.
Peter decided to quit the band after a short UK tour with Napalm Death. I think he'd grown tired of metal. It wasn't really his bag. He had been in Mary Beats Jane, and they weren't really metal, more alternative hard rock. When he joined The Haunted, I think he was not very comfortable singing in that style. He's a singer and songwriter, like a 21st Century Bob Dylan. I like him. He's eccentric and has a lot of ideas...

How did you meet up with Marco?
I've known Marco since '96 or so. At the Gates was on tour and Marco was in a band called Face Down who opened the show. I thought he was good. When Peter decided to leave the band, we tried some local people, but it wasn't really what we were looking for. So I had the idea to call Marco. He was surprised when I called him. He liked the band, especially Peter, so it was strange for him to fill his place. We did some rehearsals and it worked very well.

You sound tired, have you been doing interviews all day?
I don't usually do the interviews. It's mostly Jensen and Marco. And while it's only 8:20 pm, I've been up since 5 am. making Volvo cars...

You keep a day job?
Yes, I can take leave whenever I want, so it's perfect. It's a recruitment agency. You may call them temp agencies... It's different from week to week. I need small changes in my life.

What's your favorite part of the whole band thing?
Starting out with a new band, not having a contract and just playing to play. It's more business now... It makes me feel stressed out all the time. But I still enjoy the feeling I get from The Haunted onstage and it's part of my daily life, so I don't see the end any time soon.

Do you listen to a lot of other new bands?

(pause) More into the classic metal bands?
I'm into '60s music. And late '80s thrash, of course. I grew up with the early Metallica and Slayer albums. And Accept, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, the usual... I like '60s rock like The Doors, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkle and '70s hard rock like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath. I also like the progressive bands like King Crimson and Genesis and old Rush.

I'm always curious about what musician's daily lives are like. Do you live in the city, in a house in the country, are you married, do you have kids, any animals?
I live in a small apartment in the middle of Gothenburg and I watch movies and hang out with friends. I have a girlfriend. I have no pets.

Do you come from a large family or a small one?
It's just me and Jonas.

Did you come from a musical family?
Well, my grandfather was a music teacher.

The two of you being in touring metal bands and being a music teacher are two different things.
When you're 18 or 19, you want to get out there and play music and party, but by the time you're 25 or 30, it's not so fun anymore. When we started out, we didn't think that much about being in a band, we just wanted to play music. But then we heard Accept on the schoolyard - I think a song off Restless & Wild - and we wanted to learn about more bands. We heard Mötley Crüe's Shout at the Devil and some Iron Maiden, and then we got more and more extreme. We got Ride the Lightening and Master of Puppets, and then onward to Reign in Blood and Carcass and Autopsy and early death metal records. We played along with the records, sometimes putting our solos over the riffs.

Which brings up an important issue (for me): The lack of riffs in today's metal. Or nü metal, if you even consider it metal. I think it's mostly an American thing...
The guitars are mostly bass parts, and the vocals are more based in rap than metal. I don't listen to much of it.

I feel bad for young guitarists. Unless they dig, metal is giving them nothing to aspire to. Any first-year guitarist can play along with nü metal, so where do you go from there?
Our music is very riff-based, like early Metallica. We play all over the world and good bands open for us, but I have trouble keeping all the names in mind at a time like this.

One of the most popular riff-based bands besides you would have to be In Flames. You say you've toured with them?
We go way back. They used to have the rehearsal space next to us when we were At the Gates. Between songs, we'd hear them in the next room playing At the Gate's songs. They were just kids at the time. So yeah, we know each other quite well. Sweden is a small country, only eight million people. In America, you have that many serial killers...
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