20.04.07 text: Martin & Sobi pics: Tom
· SOUND OF APOCALYPSE· This Swedish band astonished me by their show on OEF last year. I was even more astonished after I had listened to their last album STIGMATA and read the CD booklet. This album that is full of raw music totally ground me by its energy and power. So, I have asked Fred Wallenberg for several answers.
When I wrote my review of your show on OEF an incomplete, shortened sentence describing your style got on the web and at once several fans let me eat it pretty hard and I received some reproaches that Skitsystem do not play grind core... I found out though that everybody tends to define your music in a different way. So, how would you define the music Skitsystem play?
Hahaha. Well, I guess we never thought of that when it got down. Anyway, yeah, people seem to very rigid these days, it seems it more important to belong to a certain genre than to really like the music. To me there is a simple philosophy: There are 2 kind of music: Bad music and good music. The only good description from me is that we play harsh, dark hammering music, a soundtrack to the apocalypse we´re heading for. I guess some people define it as punk, some as metal, some as crust and some as pop... It´s really not a big thing, those claiming to „know“ what it is for music style are pretty much too occupied defining everything that they really never hear the music...
Quite often one can hear terms "Swedish metal crust" or "Swedish crust school" concerning your style. Is there anything like this or is it just a label for music critics?
Well, maybe today you can find it like that, if you compare bands like DISFEAR, SKITSYSTEM, WOLFBRIGADE etc you will probably find the metal elements more than in bands like MOB 47, ASOCIAL and even ANTI CIMEX. But claiming that there´s a whole „hype“ or „special sound“ behind the swede scene is an overstatement, like SWEDISH DEATH METAL, or THE GOTHENBURG SOUND etc. Also, alot of the bands in Sweden palying this genre shares members also, so that can be a reason for the wider succes/spreading of the word, if a new band carries a member from, let´s say WOLFBRIGADE, people might be more eager to pick it up because they like W.B.
The main feature of your music is a punk wildness and you write in your history yourselves that the need to play more of a raw punk was the main reason for creating Skitsystem. Were you influenced by the old punk bands as Dead Kennedys, Clash or later GBH or The Exploited creating this style or by the later wave of younger bands moving this style further. What does punk simply mean to you?
Well, punk is more than you can simply put down in words; it´s the scene, the people, the bands, the flyers, the protests, the lyrics, the actions etc. The urge to play raw, heavy music, influenced by our heroes at that time, ANTI CIMEX, ASOCIAL, DISCHARGE, DOOM, DISRUPT etc was more of an expression of getting together to drink etc, we already pleyed the instruments, we were already alcoholics, we were already bored, what the fuck better could we do besides forming SKITSYSTEM, hahaha! But ofcourse all these bands mentioned had an impact at us, I mean, I saw the CLASH on the London Calling tour back in ´81, my freaking mom took me and I were merely 8 years old man! At first we really had no goal with the band, I think alot of bands start like that, even THE CLASH, but at the same time its a continous struggle of getting out of the trap called society, forming somekind of norm for you and your friends as we all belonged in the same situation. Weekends, weekdays, all days were more of a fluid filled drunken hell than an well thought future or agenda, which sometime might seem a bit sad. People usually say that we sounded more vital, angry and real back in ´96 than today, as we more or less never put any thought behind what we did write etc, today we put alot more effort into creating songs, writing lyrics and that might have taken us a level too high to be „true“ for some, but hey, how many punkbands are true to their standards??? Wealways get accused of beeing „rockstars“ because our music sells more than 200 copies. No one ask if it might have to do about quality.
Do you think it is good for punk to interfere into the musical mainstream and bands like green day get into a wider awarness? That people can say to themselves that there may still be something on punk...
Well, as far as Im cocerned GREEN DAY was never about punk, It might have been what they were trying to persuade each other that it was what they were doing, but to me its clear it was all about a breakthrough from day one! Anyway, GREEN DAY, AVRIL LAVIGNE, BLINK 18-fucking-2 only took the clothing style and Mohawks etc, and they they commercialized it to the max, and at the end, how punk is it to have your own pool in the backyard???
The fact I appreciate a lot on your "Stigmata" album is that you succeeded to transfer the live show energy to it. I suppose your are more like a live band or am I wrong? What is the priority to you? To play a lot of live events or release albums?
Hahaha, first time I heard anyone mention us as a better Live band than recording artist! We totally suck live most of the times I think, but I might be wrong. The cool thing about playin live is that no show is liek the other! Sometimes you put down a leadguitar in a chorus atc, and sometimes you forgot a vocal line. But most important is that you get eye to eye contact with the people buying your music, the fans, and get to talk to them, maybe have a beer or something else ;) and just talk some shit, you know. But to be honost I prefer to record albums, even if we are Soooooo lazy!
There is relatively a lot of metal elements in your music. Who accepts your music better? Orthodox punkers or metalists? You played at a pure grind core event regarding OEF (but it is kind of a special occasion I guess). Have you come accross an utterly negative reaction that you told to yourselves:“ Fuck we should not have played here“?
Well, to this day we actually seem to be able to stay 50/50 in the scene, and Im pretty sure we draw about the same amount of metalists as „orthodox“ punks, haha. But playing at OEF was no „mistake“ or feeling of beeing misplaced, more the other way around, I felt that we were actually exact at the right spot! Alot of people even seemed a bit relieved to hear some good ól D-beat from DRILLER KILLER, SKITSYSTEM and PISSCHRIST that night man!
Skitsystem were actually created as a side project of two members from the cult At The Gates. To what extent did this fact influence you in the beginning? Also the first recordings could be done thanks to them actually. Would Skitsystem have existed without that?
Well, as both Tompa (DISFEAR) and Adrian (Ex-Cradle of filth) were mebers of SKITSYSTEM and AT THE GATES it had to be a fact that witout them we would NOT have existed in that form. Now it happened to be that ATG had a rehearsal space, they were eager as hell to start some side project, and they craved D-beat! So, when I moved to gothenburg back in 1994 Tompa called me up to ask if I wanted to be the bassplayer. As I only had a guitar I said Yes and then we were two guitar players, hahaha, then came Alex and hey, we had a band. Also, of course it helped our drunken broke souls when ATG offered us to record the first 7“ on their paid studiotime, hahaha! What most people dont know is that the 10“ is actually recorded with the EXACT same sound ATG used for the pre-production of their all fame SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL album, hahaha! Its hard to tell. And Anders, guitar of ATG (nowdays THE HAUNTED) actually helped produce the first 7“! So, ofcourse ATG played a big roll somhow, but never ever to the music and lyrics of SKITSYSTEM i would say. But people litening and reading the lyrics of SLUGHTER OF THE SOUL might find the darker elements and thoughts that also came to be SKITSYSTeM.
The band went through a very hard period at the end of 1996 when it nearly came apart. I appreciate that you overcame it. The tendency is rather in such a case to shut the door and start something new. What was the thing that kept the band together?
Well,this is a somewhat untold story in our history as a band. After the break up of AT THE GATES after their successful US tour some things led to the fact that we also splitted up. Due to the fact that Tompa back talked some of the dudes in ATG, probably due to the fact that THEY quit ATG, among them Adrian, who still was in SKITSYSTEM I had no other choice but to call it a day, man. So, what actually happened the following days were that me and Alex wrote 17 (!) new songs in 3 days October 1996, of which only three or four saw the light of day in the end, but what really happened was that we decided it would not kill the band if Tompa no longer was in the band. So, we kept on rehearsing for a while, Adrian got more and more occupied with his new band THE HAUNTED so for a year and a half we more or less stood at the same spot. Then Mats from Distortion called us up and wondered about the 3 leftover songs from the 10” saved for a split. He asked if we didn’t wanna do a split 7” with WOLFPACK, and then the trains started to roll again. Somehow Tompa had the weird idea that he would bring together some other dudes, forming a new SKITSYSTEM, but being nice enough to offer me the place as guitar player. I told him clearly that Alex is still as much as an original member as me and without him there´s no SKITSYSTEM. Adrian had by this time left the band for his new success! Anyway, after a couple of drinks (as always…) we decided to give it a try and of we went to the states for a 3 week US tour, after that we just kept on going man, hahahahaha!!!
After that Adrian left for The Haunted. Sort of a posthumous At the Gates. It would not have been that strange if he did not finally end up at Cradle of Filth (he left them recently). CoF are nearly the opposite of Skitsystem both musically and on the lyrical side... How does it come that someone ends up on the other side of the barricade during couple of years?
Adrian is by far one of the most talented musicians I know, and will know probably. He´s is also one of the nicest people I know, and the choices he´s made is based much on a basis of being able to live of music. I agree, CoF is nowhere close to SKITSYSTEM, hell, CoF is not even a good band in any way, but I still respect his choice to the full and I guess he´s happy with it. The bggest mystery of all to people is that he actually played WITH SKITSYSTEM back in the days, hahahaha!!!
You sing in Swedish. Why did you decide so? Did you decide on that right from the start or were you inspired later? I noticed your colleagues from Splitter do that too. Who influenced whom?
Well, we used to have some English lyrics back in the days, but it flet more comfortable to sing in native tongue, you can express so much more singing in Swedish, also it sounds a lot more brutal than English ;) As for the SPLITTER connection I presume we influenced them, not the other way around as they haven’t existed for that long! But I guess that they are mostly influenced by NASUM…
You interpret the texts in the booklet though but the fan is deprived of the lyrics. Would not it be better to have a literal translation of the lyrics? Or do you think it is better to explain it clearly so that no one might get it wrong?
Well, If it wouldn’t sound so stupid to translate the lyric directly we might have done both, but as I said, there are so many things getting lost in the English language, so I prefer to try to express what the lyric is all about rather than translate the lyric.
It is obvious from your comments on the booklet of "Stigmata" CD that your lyrics deal with current social problems of western civilisation. They are very critical towards the values and the life style of most of the western population. The topics you touch and describe are very interesting. Where do you get the inspiration from? Do you try to draw the attention to tangible things or are you just pissed off by the current status?
I´d say both in one way. Today new focus a lot on material standards in the west and in Europe in particular. It’s a scary vision that we already use more than the earth can produce and that if we continue to be this productive we will need 2 earths to be able to fill the demand of things… So, people mostly feel the need of material stuff before the security of an safe environment of the future offspring for an example. The same thing is this hysteria about HOW TO LOOK!!! It’s is crazy that we eat ourselves to death OR starve ourselves to death when there’s starvation in so many countries. The struggle to fit into today’s society brings a lot of pressure on today’s kids and many feel so useless that they take their life’s. What kind of world are we really creating here??? I mean, off course the world won’t change because of our lyrics or awareness but IF only one or two people change their ways of looking at things we have already won! We have to start in a small way to finally conquer!
The way you deal with the topics and the way you write about them is great in my opinion and I appreciate your involvement. Have you come accross a negative reaction or misundertanding?
Well, not really, some people throughout the years have accused us of not living up to the standards that we are speaking of but that is up to them to be accusive, we really don’t give a fuck! This is who we are and always have been man!
I can feel a big scepticism regarding the values and thinking of the whole western world from your comments. Do you think modern society will decay as it did in the era of the Roman Empire or do you think Western culture will continue to dominate the world‘s civilizations in this global period?
As long as capitalism rules this side of the world there can be no other solution than to fade out and disappear, people will start to crave other values in life than money and wealth and I will not be surprised if it will be a reversed industrial revolution within the next 100 years. In the end it´s all about the earth we´re living in, if its not there anymore, whats the worth of producing chairs, cars, shoes etc?!? Pollution is ripping and shredding through our children’s chest already, who will take the responsibility of the diseases spreading through our demand for a luxurious living!?!?!
Do you not think it is a kind of paradox that SkitSystem can afford such sharp and critical attacks aginst the rich western society just because you come from this rich society? You can play this music, release albums and spread your thoughts in the world thanks to it. Were you e.g. from Sudan and had the luck not to fight every day for something to eat I still doubt you could present your ideas and attitudes just like now. Some might argue it kind of feels hypocritical....
Of course, the whole punk scene in general is in many ways hypocritical, BUT without a start in the western world the world can’t change. There is no one in Sudan tat can tell of the overflow of food, the overproduction of crops, meat etc in “our” world so we have to do it ourselves! Not necessary to the people of Sudan, but to our own people and try to open at least some eyes to what’s wrong etc. And also, there are always systems ´that fail, the Swedish is no exception, there is a lot of violence from cops, hired by the state here as well, and we are totally against the “right to use violence”. How can any state allow this? Fuck that, fuck the police and fuck the power!
I very much like the topic of the title track "Stigmata". I myslef have a two year old daughter and the longer I live the more I appreciate the meaning in the lyrics. Don’t you think that it has not only to do with the desire of the children to be attractive and successful but it also depends on their upbringing? As the parents try to earn more money and secure their children they do not have time for them and their upbringing.
It very much depends on their upbringing, of course, but there are other elements in society that we cant protect our children from, standards and norms that are set by the press, the media etc. I have hard times some days thinking of the future of my daughter, soon to be 1 year old. I often find myself already figuring how to explain WHY some women don’t cope on living if they don’t get an “boob-job” or collagen filled lips, or don’t look like porn stars, or don’t fulfil every mans desire and demands, that IF you DON’T do all these things you might not be successful and a worthy human being. This is of course a bit unexaggerated but who sets the standards today?!? It will not help if you say that Barbie is no good role model…
You write in the comments to "Blood Shame" you work in an orphanage. Do you work in a social sphere? Why did you decide for that and what exactly do you do? Sweden and other nordic countries have set an example due to their advanced social system. Is it really so good? Is it because Sweden is a rich country that can afford to invest more into this sphere or because there is more empathy in your country and Swedes are more willing to deal with this problem?
I worked the last 7 years in an institution for families and children driven by the state. To put it simply, it´s an orphanage, but a lot has happened, at least in Sweden, since the last 50 years. We deal with parents hitting their kids (forbidden in Sweden), parents who are abusive in other ways, drunks, junkies, refugees among others. I found this work really satisfying at the beginning but now I feel a bit overloaded… I think I need a break from human misery to be honest! Some things are to horrifying to believe man. Anyway, Sweden has one of the best social security systems in the world, this has become a model of other countries around the world. Still, things can always be better. Nowdays the state has found out that it might be better to keep children with their parents rather than to split them up, which is good. But also, sometimes some parents get their children back way too easy as well. And concerning the empathy thing I think you Czech people are as empathic as us, It might more be a money issue. Sweden puts hundreds of millions of dollars of tax money (remember that Swedes pays the highest taxes in the world!) into the social security net! It’s all from nursing homes for handicapped children and institutions, the state EVEN provides you with money if you don’t have a job, they pay for your apartment, it’s against the law in Sweden NOT to get every citizen an own apartment etc. So, yeas, its great in many ways, at the same time you have to be little of a good Samaritan sometimes, because they never pay people good money for taking care of “human garbage”
There are complete albums for a download on your website. Are you not afraid that someone could misuse that? ...or a more likely situation: than to buy your disc someone will download the songs for free. Why did you decide on that and what does your record company say to that?
Well, we took this decision a long time ago, back in the 98 actually. We always felt that we wanted the music to be free for people to download, in example Indonesia of Philippines, Poland or Albania, or whatever, people that maybe could not afford to buy one album. I really don’t think we loos big sales numbers because of this as we are such an small band. Also, we do not (!!!) put our lyrics on the website, so If you want to understand the whole concept, THEN you have to buy the record. So, that’s the business plan, hahaha! Also, so many people down load stuff theses days, so It really feels good to be pioneers in the scene!!! The record company might be a bit angry or misunderstanding about this, but with STIGMATA we only put 3-4 songs up at first, then, after almost 9 months we put up the whole album, and by then the record company got it´s money back = win-win situation!!!
This question relates to that topic too. You record at Fredman studios. As far as I know it is quite expensive studio costing hundreds of euros per day. Where does the band that offers songs for free on the web raise money for that?
First off, we are good friends of Fredrik Nordström who owns the studio, he recorded the infamous first 7” and 10” on borrowed time from At The gates, remember, hehehe! So, we were quite lucky and got a really good package deal as they were about to move to another area etc so we got a really fair deal! Also, the studio cost is never our problem as the record company pays for it, that’s a part of our demands, also another demand is that we choose the studio, and as long as the company are willing to pay… But, to clear things, we did not pay hundreds of Euros each day anyway!
How often do you play and when can we look forward to having you in our country?
We really hope to be back, we were supposed to play the Obscene Insanity something fest, but it collided with my daughters birthday and with Micke (guitar) sons birthday, and the children comes first, right ;) But, hope be back, really want to play the 007 club in Prague one day…
Have you got a word from SKITSYSTEM for the readers of The Suffering?
Thanks a lot for the interview, if you want to download our songs FOR FREE (!) check out our website: www.skitsystem.net or check out our: www.myspace.com/skitsystemband Peace out, up the punks 2007!
PROFITHYSTERI (7" 1995, Distortion Records)
DOLORES RECORDS GBG SWEDEN (comp. CD 1996)
ONDSKANS ANSIKTE (10" 1996, Distortion Records)
DEFENDERS OF THE OPPRESSED BREED (comp. CD 1996)
LEVANDE LIK (split 7” with Wolfpack 1998, Distortion Records)
GRÅ VÄRLD/SVARTA TANKAR (CD/LP 1999, Distortion Records)
PUNKSTAD 2001 GÖTEBORG (comp. CD/LP 2001)
SKITSYSTEM / NASUM (split 7" 2002)
MORE WORLD-LESS BANK (comp. 7" 2003)
ALLT È SKIT (discography CD/LP 2003/2004, Distortion Records, Havoc Records, Barbarian Records)
HJÄLP SNUTEN - SLÅ DIG SJÄLV (comp Cass/CDR 2005, Halvkass Produktion)
STIGMATA (CD/LP 2006, Havoc Records, Iron Fist Records)
Alex - Bass and Vocals (1994 -)
Fred Wallenberg - Guitar and Vocals (1994 -)
Micke - Guitar (2004 -)
Kalle - Drums (1997 -)
Tomas "Tompa" Lindberg - Guitar and Vocals (1994-2004)
Adrian Erlandsson - Drums (1994-1997)