Heavy Metal Maturing: Interviewing Graveyard's Axel Sjoberg
  • TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2012

  • Posted by: Andrew Gruttadaro

Believe it or not, this generation's Black Sabbath is from Scandinavia. Gothenburg, Sweden to be exact. Since their debut album in 2008, the band Graveyard has been captivating the metal and rock crowds with their hard-hitting sound. Drummer Axel Sjoberg's intricate and often heavy percussion paired with Joakim Nilsson's howling vocals makes for a classic metal fan's dream, and the groundswell is building. Graveyard's sophomore album, Hisingen Blues topped the Danish charts and landed on Billboard's Heatseekers chart for new artists, and last Tuesday, the release day of their third album, Lights Out, the band saw the record climb to the top of iTunes' metal chart. We called Sjoberg on Election Day, in the midst of their instant and growing success, to talk Lights Out, Sweden, and facial hair.

Hey, Axel. Congrats on the iTunes news, that's awesome.

Oh yeah, I just heard.

Must be nice. This time around you guys had a pretty quick turnaround from your second album, where'd that outburst come from?

When you get people's attention, why not try and get them to listen a bit more? If you've got the ball rolling you might as well kick it again.

What do you think is changing for the band this time around?

It just feels like things are getting bigger. It's gotten so big so I feel further away from all this stuff that's around. Like back when we started out we were the ones who did everything ourselves. But I also think we as musicians might have matured. It's a boring word, especially in music, but we know what we're doing now. I mean there's still a lot of shooting in the dark, but we're clear over what we're doing and what it is we want to do.



On that note, a review I read of Lights Out called it "the most patient" music you guys have written.

I think in a sense it is. Lights Out, I think, is broader musically. Like I was saying before, it's more thought through what we want to do. You can compare it to a speech that has a climax and then it has those parts where you're more effective and parts where you're just trying to arouse the people you're talking to. I don't know if I'm making sense.

No, I think I got you. Can you tell me why you guys named it Lights Out?

I think we decided on the album title before the song titles were done. I guess you know, it's just a sense of -- especially where you're at right now, it must be kind of gloomy with all the devastation after the hurricane, and it all really seems like sinister. And the election that you're coming up to. I guess it draws on those themes and moods.

You've got songs on there like "An Industry of Murder" and "The Suits, The Law & The Uniforms" -- can you talk more about the social statements you guys are making?

Some days when I'm doing interviews I kind of regret that we did that because it's really hard to talk about stuff you write about. Even though I'm not from the U.S., there's been a lot of attention on the election, the way your electoral system is constructed and the laws for money donations. And I'm not saying either candidate is right; it just feels like a very cynical game. You know, it's not "one man, one vote," it's "one dollar, one vote." It's the feeling that you're constantly part of somebody's trap, from the second you put on your underwear to what you do at night. When you think about it, it's fucked up. (Laughs)

On a lighter note, the Swedish musical landscape is a pretty diverse one -- where do you guys see yourselves fitting into it?

It's easier to answer that looking at it from the outside. Sweden has quite a long tradition of bands that have been quite good in rock music but also in dance, from ABBA to Robyn to Lykke Li. But I guess we fit into a long line of Swedish rock bands that have been pretty good but they didn't ... I don't know.

Yeah, it's a pretty thinky question.

I think inspiration often has a lot to do with how life evolves. So I think the music scene in Sweden is constantly an example for other bands to take inspiration from. We've had many bands to take inspiration from, hopefully we'll be a band for others to take inspiration from.



Alright before I go, I gotta say -- you have one of the best mustaches in music right now.

(Laughs) I come from a long line of mustaches. There's a lot of reviews saying that my mustache is the one making all the decisions in the band. People like to comment on it.

You think maybe you're starting a trend?

Maybe, I don't know. We're not the first long hair, facial hair rock band. And I'm pretty sure we won't be the last.



Lights Out is out now on Nuclear Blast.

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