I got a message in my inbox on Facebook recently and I thought I recognised the sender Erik’s surname, the drummer in Swedish/Iceland based raw old school death metallers Under The Church, when I first glanced at who it had been mailed from. Soon enough I realised it was Erik Qvick the ex-drummer in legendary Swedish death metal pioneers Nirvana 2002 getting in touch with a link to music by his new band, which he’s formed together with ex-Nirvana 2002 bandmate Lars Henriksson. Musically and aesthetically the band are staying true to their old school death metal roots and they have recorded a few very fierce sounding songs, which should appeal to anyone who likes their death metal raw and stripped down to the bone and sounds like it could have been recorded in 1989/1990. They have a great mix of tempos from crawling doomed Autopsy sounding passages to all out ripping death. The band are generating quite a b
it of a buzz already it seems, not surprising given the members previous involvement in such a legendary band, so I thought it was the perfect time to grab ahold of Erik and ask him about his new project . This interview originally appeared on the Terrorizer magazine website in an edited form back in May and since that feature went online good old Fenriz made them a "band of the week" ( I had a feeling that might happen once he had heard their raw death metal onslaught!).
Hi Erik! When did the idea of forming a new band happen?
-Hi Kat, thank you for doing this interview! Well, the idea came after the final Nirvana2002 gigs in 2012,me and Lars started talking about playing together again, it was such a good vibe after playing together as Nirvana2002 that we wanted to do some more playing but as a new band and starting completely from scratch.
Did you have a clear idea of what style you wanted the new band to be in...what was the inspiration to form Under The Church with your old Nirvana 2002 band mate Lars?
- Not really, we didn´t have a set idea when we started but it didn´t take long until it sounded like Death Metal since it´s pretty much the only music that I can write, haha! We did however not want it to sound like Nirvana2002, that was maybe the only rule or limit that we decided on, we didn´t wanna do a "part 2 of Nirvana2002", As far as inspiration it only took a case of beer and us playing some riffs back and forth to get the ball rolling. We just wanted to play raw Death Metal.
You recently recorded and uploaded a Demo which is available via bandcamp, how and where was this demo recorded since you moved to Iceland a little while ago, I guess that makes it kinda difficult for you and Lars to get together personally to rehearse and work on songs but in this modern internet age it is very easy to send music files etc back and forth across the world in a matter of seconds..Typically how is a UTC song born and then created?
- I just started coming up with alot of riffs on guitar and writing stuff in August last year, somehow it just clicked and soon I had pretty much written 10-12 complete tunes and then me and Lars started sending ideas between Iceland and Sweden. It didn´t take long to work out how we wanted the tunes to sound,thanks to the internet it´s not a problem working that way and by october we had 7 tracks that we felt were good enough to record. For the recording I was extremely picky about getting the right sound, I ended up tracking the drums at a studio here in Reykjavik that only records Dub and Reggae, which was perfect because the engineer had absolutely no clue about recording drums for metal, haha! The last thing I wanted was the superclean and protools gridded sound because that´s not the way I sound when I play, we then recorded guitars and bass in Sweden around christmas. We added vocals in april this year and then we made a little bandcamp page to send around.
Please tell the readers what to expect from this demo and the music in your own words
- It´s Death Metal, no more or less ,it´s as simple as that.
What is your intention with this demo, any plans to have it released in a physical form...do you hope it will lead to an album deal of somekind? The response I have seen from people online so far seems to be VERY positive and welcoming!
-Yeah, the response so far has been very good...at first I just put up the bandcamp page to have something to send to friends, but that backfired when so many of them started sending the links to people and friends of friends ,so after a while we had make it a "official" page. We will probably have some tapes for sale late may, we´re getting patches and tshirts made as well because we want people to look good for summer y´know? My guess is that by autumn we should be able release some more music,don´t know yet if it´ll be vinyl or what not.
Do you have much new material in the pipeline? Any plans to do any new recordings in the not too distant future?
- Yeah, we have 7 tracks already recorded and we working on finishing another 4-5 tracks, maybe we´ll be able to record them sometime this summer.
Why the band name Under The Church?
Actually the name comes from Jörgen "Sigge" Sigfridsson, I nicked it from him in 1988! . Jörgen was to say the least a very influential character in the early swedish thrashscene, he had a zine in the late 80´s and also later the label that released the Nirvana2002 7" split...he was the main reason why I started my own fanzine Hang´em high, I figured "...if he can do it,how hard can it be?" hehe! I remember one time talking to him on the phone discussing bandnames and he said "Under The Church, that´s a cool name for a band!", the name stuck with me through the years and it´s a little tip of the hat from me to him....he really opened up the whole scene with tapetrading,fanzines and demos for me by sending alot of stuff for me check out.
Your music sounds classically old school, what bands shape and influence the sound of UTC? I love the mix of tempos too from slow crawling Autopsy style doomed passages to uptempo ripping Swedeath parts.
- The inspiration is the usual suspects: Venom,Motörhead,Bathory,early Slayer,early Death,Autopsy,Sadus,Repulsion,
Master..that kind of stuff...last summer I also had a huge Accept period listening to all the records up to Russian Roulette, that had a impact on my guitar playing as well, not writing wise per se but just by playing Wolf Hoffmann riffs I discovered alot about the guitar.
The artwork for your demo looks typically old school and quite rough looking..is it very important to you to have that old school vibe asthetically aswell as musically?
- I don´t wanna call it old school since I don´t want it to come across like just a like a retro thing but you´re spot on that the aesthetics of old Death Metal is something that´s close to my heart, haha! I specifically wanted that ugly,nasty look and Fannar who did the artwork did a perfect job. I did the logo and yes, it´s your typical Nihilist style logo but it works.
What do you think of the resurgence and renewed interest in old school style death metal again in recent years? Any newer old school style bands that have caught your attention? Why do you think this style of music has become so popular again when old school style death metal bands couldn't get arrested back in the late 90s/turn of the 2000's!!!?!
-Hard to say really. I can only speculate, it could be that since every genre forms it´s essence in the beginning so to speak, maybe people got tired of bands taking the music too far away from what the original idea was all about? Of course styles evolve and progress but there´s also the possibility of the music then getting watered out. The main thing I noticed personally is that many are getting tired of the superclean and overpolished sound of contemporary metal, it´s strange because all those great tools that should help musicians and enhance modern recordings actually weakens the overall sound and becomes a crutch for bands and musicians. Triggering,Amp modeling,Autotune,
Beatdetective, all those tools that should make a recording sound really tight and crushing far too often works in the opposite way. Voivods "War and Pain" has still today one of the heaviest drumsounds i've heard! I´ve been out of the loop as far as keeping up with new bands for a long time, but "current" bands that I dig are Tormented,Bombs Of Hades,Bastard Priest and Bölzer. I also really liked the Death Breath records, Nicke is a musical genius.
Lyrically where do you draw the inspiration from for the lyrics?
Horrormovies,HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe....again, the usual stuff.
Describe the band in 5 words only!
Death from Under The Church!
Is there any bands to play live at some point with this band or will it remain a studio/recording orientated band? I think this stuff would be killer in a live environment!
- We´re definitely gonna play live, that´s actually the main reason why we started the band...we don´t have a fully fledged lineup yet though, so far it´s just me and Lars but our friend Mik Annetts have been kind enough to help us out with vocals on the first demo we did, Mik is from Australia and was a part of the early Aussie deathmetal scene, he´s a great guy and he understand this style as well so it´s a match made in hell! As for now we´re just concentrating on finishing the recorded material but hopefully we´ll be ready to do some gigs later this year with a full lineup of the band.
If you compare the death metal scene now to that of late 80s/early 90s what are the fundemental differences that you notice? Anything you prefer and really miss about the old days?
- The main difference is that today there´s like 10 million bands! There´s just a insane amount of bands now and the mainstream Metalscene is huge. The paradox with all that is that I don´t hear enough diversity,but that however goes for all styles and genres of music today. Now I might sound like a grumpy old guy but that´s the cold hard truth. In the 90s the scene was small and one might think that made it very polarized but listening to that stuff today it comes across as very vital and diverse.
I think that people who are now discovering the old scene might be baffled at first...it´s almost like ...Ok, lets say that you're really into Blues...but image if you have only listened to John Mayer trio and then one day you discover Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers, you would probably at first go "wtf is this!?, sloppy playing,strange solos?" but then you would start to hear the energy and the genuine vibe from Hounddog and be knocked out by it because up until then you've never heard anything like it! You can transfer that kind of analogy into todays metal and use, say...Nile as John Mayer trio and Repulsion as The houserockers and get a similar result.
I´m definitely not saying that it was all better back then and all new bands like Nile are crap, there's a risk with the whole nostalgia thing of getting too romantic about how things really were in the early deathmetal scene. Gustav Mahler said "Don't pray to the ashes,pass on the fire" and to me that's the essence if anything about the old scene, I´m not stuck in the year 1991 y´know but there was a passion and fire then that we want to tap into as a band.
What are your thoughts on the ability to seemingly promote bands much easier via the modern internet/social networking ways?
- Good question,its great to easy be able to get in contact with people, I however don´t participate in any forums or that kind of thing,I just don´t have the time.
Inevitable question here...Is Nirvana 2002 now officially dead and buried and will never be resurrected or....? What are your thoughts on the response to the Relapse compilation/remaster CD of the old demos etc...also how was it to play MDF in USA? The reunion activity didn't seem to last so long..was that the intention anyway?
- We´ve nailed that coffin shut and it looks like it´s for good. But it was great to be able to do those reunion gigs since we never played live when the band was active back in the days, the Relapse compilation went really well, I think it actually sould out. Maryland Deathfest was fun but very chaotic but that´s usually the deal playing festivals, short set,lots of technical problems but we pushed through and I think it went ok,I still haven´t seen the movie though, MDF Part 2? I got to finally meet Chris Reifert though so I´m happy.
What were you doing mostly in the days after the band split up? And how does it feel to be creating new music again all these years later? Do you feel a renewed sense of energry and inspiration to create some new old school vibes again?!!
- Well, when Nirvana2002 called it quits in 1991 I went to music conservatory for an awful long time studying drums and percussion and then I just started playing in a shitload of different projects and bands around Scandinavia and Europe.Those years at musicschool are in hindsight very weird and I got confused musically for many years. My main problem is that I like to play so many styles and genres of music, it can be quite schizophrenic sometimes but the past 20 something years i´ve been a "professional musician" making my living playing and touring all kinds of music,the time at Conservatory wasn´t all bad though, I learned alot and had a great time. Funny enough, Vvornth from Bathory was also studying at the same school for the four years I was there! It was mindblowing hearing him tell stories about Bathory and Quorthon.It´s good to be in a band again, I don´t think we are doing anything "new" in that sense with Under The Church, it´s just Death Metal.
Thanks for answering this small interview Erik, please feel free to add anything/post links to where people can listen to your music etc...
Thanks alot for the interest, feel free to check out some tunes over at http://underthechurch.
bandcamp.com or www.facebook.com/ UnderTheChurch.