With their dominant pace and heavy sound, Skraeckoedlan weave narratives shrouded in metaphor and trek through vividly orchestrated vibrant universes of mastodonic proportions. Elaborated aural tales with a melodic core immerse the listener into worlds of extremes: intense soaring vocals that drop to saturnine lows, a relentless, powerhouse rhythmic section (yes, bass guitar definitely included), moody, anodyne passages electrifying riff vertices, an escapist voyage into unexplored dimensions where moody lyrics ebb and flow.
Their first EP, “Flykten från Tellus” (“Escape from Tellus”), produced by Oskar Cedermalm from Truckfighters, was released in the spring of 2010 and made available both physically and digitally. The band followed up with their second EP, “Världarnas Fall” (“Fall of the Worlds”), released digitally in the summer of 2010.
Skraeckoedlans debut album, “Äppeltrædet” (“The Apple Tree”), was recorded by Cedermalm and signed with the Swedish record company Transubstans Records, released in the summer of 2011. In January 2012, the band released the 12″ vinyl “Mesozoikum”, and in February, the “Apple Tree” was released on 12″ vinyl by Transubstans Records and Gaphals.
Later in 2013, Skraeckoedlan began recording their second album, “Sagor”, with William Blackmon from the band Gadget as technician/producer for drum recording at the studio The Overlook in Gävle. They continued recording, with bass and guitars recorded by Joona Hassinen in Studio Underjord, and vocals were recorded together with Daniel Bergstrand in Studio Dugout.
The final touches, such as vocals and synthesizers/overlays, were added by the band themselves in their studio, where they met Erik Berglund, who then mixed the record. “Sagor” was released in 2015 by Razzia Records and earned Skraeckoedlan Band of the Year at the Dalecarlia Music Awards. Their lyrics, featuring themes of mysticism, fantasy, and science fiction, are written collaboratively with an emphasis on evoking a sci-fi story for listeners. Despite their creative independence, Skraeckoedlan aims to share their work with live show audiences and music lovers worldwide.
Their latest melodic expedition, “The Vermillion Sky”, is the first single from Skraeckoedlan’s upcoming 2024-release.
The interview was recorded at the Gramtone studio in Norrköping under severe giggling and joke cracking, setting an incredibly friendly tone for a fun and light-hearted conversation. The band’s creativity and humor will shine through in everything they say and do and even when the conversation turns more serious, their positive energy remains, and their passion for music and art is palpable. By the end of the interview, it’s impossible not to feel inspired by their infectious between-the-lines laughter and their complementary personalities.
APP – Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with All Access Pass. How are things in camp Skraeckoedlan?
Skraeckoedlan: It’s good! Yeah! It’s good!
Henrik Grüttner – Busy and good!
Erik Berggren – Specifically at this moment it’s exhausting. Because we’re two days a week in studio – the weekend. So now, tired, a little bit sweaty… feel a little bit gross. But on the whole, it’s good. We’re on schedule with the new album, we’re having lots of good, creative ideas here and it feels like coming here this weekend to work together is always making, you know, making new things happen and it’s fun and it’s exciting. So it feels optimistic.
Robert Lamu – Yeah, true. And it’s also been a few years of not too many things happening, with the pandemic and everything. And also people have gotten a bit older now since the last album. We recorded that in 2017, so that’s quite a long time ago. But I think that we are in a good place now for doing this, so everything is nice. It feels like the pandemic is over and we release a new album so let’s see where that takes us.
Henrik Grüttner – Yes. And it’s nice to do a bit more creative stuff in person. Because we generally just rehearse before gigs. Yeah, so it is nice to add to the songs together and come up with stuff together as opposed to doing it from home, which is what we usually do and then send each other the parts we made.
Erik Berggren – Yeah, we had to learn how to do that basically when the pandemic happened – as most bands probably did. It’s also very comfortable to be able to record demos at home and send it to people and stuff. And it is – I mean, for the place we are now in our lives – it’s a very efficient way to work.
Henrik Grüttner – And it’s basically a necessity because we cannot see each other all the time.
Erik Berggren – Yeah, because we live in different places, we have different family responsibilities, but this means that we can always keep working so that we can always be, you know, productive with the band. Which is a great feeling, cause I, at least for me, that’s a big feeling of freedom knowing that, hypothetically, no matter where we live we could still do the band, we could still write our albums and that feels really good.
Robert Lamu – And for me at least, that is what the pandemic showed me, what the true meaning of the band is for me. So now it’s much easier to choose your battles and I really understand what it gives me. And coming out of that into a new album is really fun, to really do it because you really love it!
AAP – Let’s meet everyone in Skraeckoedlan! And could you share a trait you have in common with your instrument?
Erik Berggren – My names’s Erik, I play bass and like the bass I am… tall ?! I dunno, bass is a long instrument (can’t say that I have four string and I’m made of wood!). I don’t know. It’s a very existential question.
Robert Lamu – My name is Robert, I am one of the vocalists and guitar players and what I have in common with my instrument is that I have found out now, doing my own vocals in the studio, that I am out of tune quite often. As a guitar is quite often. That’s me.
Martin Larsson – I’m Martin, I play the drums and I guess what I have in common with my instrument is that I am like a drum kit, made up of a bunch of parts.
Henrik Grüttner – My name is Henrik, I play the guitar and do a bit of backup vocals. What do I have in common with a guitar…
Martin Larsson – You feedback a lot.
Henrik Grüttner – Yeah, like the guitar I ‘scream’ a lot. Maybe.
Erik Berggren – Can I say something really cheesy? About seeing yourself in the role of an instrument, like the bass is a support instrument and in the context of the group dynamics it is like the support character? It’s a bit cheesy but that would be a good answer, I think.
AAP – Your latest single ‘The Vermillion sky” has just been released on August the 17th. What is the response so far?
Robert Lamu – It has been really good. It has been nothing bad and I am really happy about that. Because recording it ourselves and releasing it – it has been recorded, mixed and produced by us – what I didn’t want was for someone to say ‘ok, it sounds good cause you did it yourself’, or something like that. And there has been nothing bad about it and I love that. And also, we haven’t promoted anything but people seem to listen to it a lot. And that’s nice to see. It has a decent amount of streams already and that’s fun. And maybe an indication for how it’s gonna be when the album releases and everything, that the people are stoked for new music.
Martin Larsson – It’s nice to know that we could do it ourselves.
Erik Berggren – Yeah, it was a good confidence boost for the whole process because if that came out and the response had been shit, I think that would have made us reconsider the whole process, what we have done, is this a mistake…
Henrik Grüttner – Yeah, that would be a real crisis…
Erik Berggren – Yeah! But it has been like ‘we can do this! This is gonna be great!’. And that’s a good feeling.
AAP – You are now working on your next full album, scheduled for a release in 2024. What can fans expect for this new album?
Henrik Grüttner – Well, something new they can expect is more vocals from everyone. Which is a really fun thing, I think, because we are evolving a bit as a band. I mean it’s gonna sound like us, of course, but that is one specific new thing that is gonna be on the album.
Erik Berggren – Yeah, I think that is a good description. It is going to be unmistakenly us but it’s going to be… evolved. With a new, a kind of fresh spin, I think. We are trying different things with melodies, we’re trying different things with layering but at the core it is still unmistakenly Skraeckoedlan.
Henrik Grüttner – And more so than ever before we have written more of the songs, I mean more on our own and more together. Which is a real fun thing, I think. Like both the result and the process of doing that.
Robert Lamu – And also it’s a concept album, so people can expect a really weird concept that follows it, that we have written ourselves. Henrik is working on a book that we are going to release with the album and there’s gonna be video game coming out as well, where you can play a part of the concept and all the artwork is going to focus the listener into this world the we have created ourselves – of the Vermillion Sky ship going through Cosmos and questing. And we would like to invite people into this world, there will be a lot of fun merch and a book and let’s see… maybe a movie! So it’s gonna be a fun album, I think. I, at least, really love it when bands do that, when they invite you to more than just songs. So we’re gonna try to do that with a gate folded vinyl with a lot of artwork and posters and lyrics and stuff.
Henrik Grüttner – Yeah, goes the same for me. The process of doing all that is extremely fun and it sucks at the same time, because it is a bit stressful and you begin to doubt yourself… quite a lot. And sometimes you think, ‘holy shit this is the best thing ever!’. Yeah, it’s fun and you go through a lot of emotions.
Robert Lamu – Yeah, we have never worked so hard or focused on anything before, so I think this album is going to have that feeling to it, that it’s really worked through. I hope!
AAP – So the celestial leitmotif from your single will be the direction of the entire material?
Erik Berggren – Yes. But there will still be supernatural elements.
Robert Lamu – Yes, but it’s a space opera. It’s a sci-fi story actually. That’s what it is and based on the things, the sci-fi that we want.
Henrik Grüttner – Exactly and with that, with it being a sci-fi I think it’s more fiction than science. But in fun way.
Erik Berggren – We don’t know enough science to make it science fiction.
Robert Lamu – Martin is actually a scientist but he only does work on Earth.
AAP – The Vermillion Sky Tour that started in August continues until the end of year with dates in Finland with Craneium, you are lined up for the Fuzz Festival, Viva Sounds Festival in Sweden. Any other dates line up for you? (additional shows listed on the official tour page)
Robert Lamu – And Nordfest in Sweden with Graveyard and many other bands. So, I think we have a few but we haven’t really focused on getting so many shows this fall because we are trying to feel out where we want to go with touring and everything and people are getting the adult life now and finding a way for that… so, I think what we are planning is for the next Spring and from that onwards.
Erik Berggren – That’s where we put the most effort. Now it’s like, if someone has a cool offer – sure!
AAP – What is the writing process like?
Robert Lamu – I think we have really tried out different ways of doing it throughout these 15 years. Starting out it was trying riffs in the rehearsal space and, yeah this riff is cool, let’s write a refrain… and then we tried to make it in the studio, one album more… and now it’s a bit of everything I think. We try a riff maybe sometime and the develops into an idea Henrik has, then he writes something at home and he sends that.
Erik Berggren – Sometimes, someone writes a whole song from start to finish, sometimes we put it together from different people’s ideas. Yeah, it’s always different but it’s always a good creative environment to work in because, I think, I haven’t been in the band for as long as you guys have been (Erik joined in 2019) you’ve been here from the start. But the creative environment is pretty healthy, if you present an idea, people judge the idea on the merits of the idea and it’s never anything personal, it’s always like ‘is this a good idea?’, ‘is this the best for the song?’, yes or no and then it doesn’t really matter who wrote it, who came up it, it’s just ‘does this make the song great?’, then we move on.
Robert Lamu – Yeah, I really think we have come to that now, using these different kinds of tools and and processes in songwriting that everything is for the best for the song now and we have lot of different ways to do that. And now the songwriting has come to that we have a skeleton that we have decided that this is gonna be the song and it is not finished until the day we send it to the label. The song develops all the way through that.
Martin Larsson – The majority of the instrumental parts, I would say, are written in the cloud. We don’t have the time to go in and learn quite intricate riffs and try to come up with drums parts while rehearsing, so it is much more efficient and easier if you just actually get it done as a demo and send pieces to each other until we have something that sounds like we wanted to in its recorded form. And then, at some point, we would have to deal with trying to learn it. So most of the songs from the start, the way we usually do it, is that I program the drums for the demos and then we go and we record and then some things maybe become a bit too… enthusiastic, and we have to dial it down a little bit when you actually record it. So I would say the majority of the songs are written on a distance and then we might try something from those songs just for fun, when we are rehearsing for a show. But I don’t think we write that much. I think we’re too impatient with learning new parts, so that if we’re sitting together, all four of us, and those two guys (guitars) have to spend an hour teaching each others the riff it’s just a waste of time.
Henrik Grüttner – Yeah, I mean for me… personally, I am not that good of a musician to come up with cools stuff on the spot so I prefer to write stuff at home where I can really dig into it. I like that. It’s part of the writing process.
Erik Berggren – And that means everyone kind of ends up project-managing their own stuff. Like you have my bit and ‘Martin, can you put some drums on this?’ and then you guys put some guitars on it, and then you see ‘alright, does this feel like it’s going anywhere?’, ‘do we continue with this?’. Maybe we can put it aside and then six months later someone has an idea that makes this work or we’d be like ‘nah, we move on from that one!’.
Robert Lamu – Yeah, I think that process is ongoing, that doesn’t have any end date until we have a catalyst that requires us defining these as finished songs. OK, now we are going to try to record an album, what do we have and then just working on this parts.
Erik Berggren – I think everyone is always, more or less, thinking of ideas like ‘that’s a cool idea’ or ‘we should try that for the new album’, it’s like collecting a bunch of ideas, either complete songs or just small ideas and then when it’s time to go just see where are we, what’s cool, what do we want to do and then we see what fits.
AAP – So it sounds like there is a balance between writing impulsively and intuitively?
Erik Berggren – Yeah. It’s just about being open to both of these things. When an idea hits, we say ‘right, let’s follow this!’ until the creative high is over. And just work it slowly until, usually something external like the label says ‘guys there hasn’t been a new album for a while’, or maybe we ourselves will say ‘hmm, we should really start doing the new album now so it doesn’t take even more years between them’. But I feel like we’re also good at when we decide that, ok, after we do the weekend with the drums and we think it’s an album, then we know ‘right, now we are in album mode’, we are not just in the sending-songs-to-each-other mode. Now we have a skeleton for an album. Now we’re on a different part of the process. And that was one of those spur of the moment things. It just happened to happen that we got all those drums and then that became a catalyst into being like, ok, now we can actually just move forward with the album.
AAP – Are you your own biggest and ultimate critic?
Henrik Grüttner – Yes, I think so.
Martin Larsson – Until we release it… then everyone else is our biggest critic. But I think we have to trust ourselves. There is no external creative pressure. There is no one telling us there we should be doing more of this and this and that. It’s all up to us. We put pressure on ourselves to make an album that we’re proud of.
Erik Berggren – And I feel that we try to be that band that we wish existed, but doesn’t. Like, I wish a band existed that would do these things. They don’t exist, so we have to do it.
Robert Lamu – Yes, and like Martin said, I don’t think we have any external pressure. Not even to the fans.
Martin Larsson – No… that either. We never thought, ‘oh, we should do this because I know they’ll love this’.
Robert Lamu – Yes… it’s because I am more of a fan than a musician, I think. I see myself more as a music fan than a musician. I do this because I love listening to this kind of music.
Henrik Grüttner – That’s how I see you as well!
Erik Berggren – If we were to sit down and think ‘man, our fans really love that song “Cactus”, let’s write one that’s just like that’, then it will never work. It has to be because we like this. Because it’s interesting to us.
Henrik Grüttner – And should that happen to be, another (song like) “Cactus” on the album, then that’s it.
Robert Lamu – And that might be a thing that we explore as well, wouldn’t it be fun to try to make a song that people might like, then that might be an external reason for writing a song. So it’s never in a certain way. It’s always because it’s fun and adventurous and exploring. And I think that’s quite cool that we have kept that in the exact same way that it was from the first rehearsal fifteen years ago. Because I don’t think anything has changed, like that. It’s the same joyous, exploring of this genre that we like.
Henrik Grüttner – It comes from the same place as before. We might do it in a slightly different way and I think we’re way better than we were.
Erik Berggren – We’ve learned more notes on the guitar.
Robert Lamu – And also, we don’t do this full time and we have no ambition to do it full time, it’s only for our enjoyment. And I don’t think we would even want to live off of music. To put that pressure of what’s demanded of us. It’s (just) a really expensive hobby, that we love to do.
Martin Larsson – The more grown up we get, I think, it’s also gonna get harder and harder to make this into a career. Both because making a career out of rock music is incredibly hard, you have to have a lot of luck and perseverance, and also the older you get the more stuff you accumulate that requires your attention and your money, right? You grow up, you get kids, you buy a property, and all that stuff that you cannot just easily go like ‘oh, I’m gonna cut my salary in half now and go be a rock star!’. That would have to be a very long process of turning it into our job, then figuring out if that’s a good thing. And we’ve discussed about this and it’s very unlikely that we’ll ever try to make this into our job, and I don’t think it would be good for the music in any way to do that either.
Robert Lamu – And that’s what I love about this, post-pandemic, that it now takes so much pressure from what this band is supposed to be and now it’s only what we want it to be.
Henrik Grüttner – It’s completely on our terms.
Erik Berggren – And whatever happens, whatever development – whether or not the band stays at this level, grows a little, grows a lot – it doesn’t matter because we don’t depend on the band for anything else except it’s our creative outlet. And because we have this setup, we can afford to take our time. We don’t have to rush or to tour so much. We could take another fifteen years to grow. Because we don’t have the pressure of needing to be this. We want to do this, and it’s fun to go on tour and it’s fun to play shows, but we don’t need to. Of course, I’d love to headline Wacken, that would be great. But there’s no rush.
Robert Lamu – For me it’s the same feeling playing a basement floor in Austria on a small tour, it doesn’t matter. For me it’s the same feeling being in front of 3000 or 30! It’s the exact same thing. Just being out, playing our music with us as friends. Doesn’t really matter what level it is on.
AAP – It all started more or less as a project. How comfortable and stable do you feel with one another today?
Erik Berggren – For me personally it feels rock solid! I feel very comfortable in this constellation. There is nothing that would make me feel any other way.
Henrik Grüttner – Yeah!
Robert Lamu – And we have gotten into all these talks… like sometime, a few years ago someone might have thought ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’ and we discussed that and found a place for everyone to be comfortable with what level we’re on. So now when something is changing, like Martin says he’s going to focus on study that he is going to do with his work for six months, then everybody’s gonna be fine with it. OK, fine, let’s all not do anything for six months then. So it feels really solid and comfortable.
Henrik Grüttner – I think we have a good, open communication, there’s no judgements going on… that I am aware of… No, but I think it’s better than ever. I really do. And so much about this venture is the chemistry between everyone. When our last bassist left, we didn’t get Erik to play with us for like a year, because we didn’t want to bring anyone else into this. Because that matters more than necessarily being a four-piece. So, we played as a three-piece for almost a year before we thought, ‘this doesn’t feel right’ and then we got the courage. Erik had written us a year before asking if he could try out. And it took us that amount of time to feel comfortable with taking in another guy, because it is the most important thing to get some kind of longevity out of the band and that is the personal chemistry, I think.
Robert Lamu – And there’s also a weird thing I think about… we have been together since 2009 and realising that Led Zeppelin only was band for 10 years and we have been a band for longer than they were. It’s quite crazy. But I don’t see us as a band that has been around for a long time. It still feels exactly as fresh as it did on our first demo. And I think our fanbase also doesn’t seem to think of us as an old band. We haven’t released anything in five years and people are still coming to the shows. And that’s really crazy. It feels like it’s more about the feeling of the band and the chemistry than what we do and everything like that.
Martin Larsson – But who knows in the future, if it grows and stages get bigger maybe at some point we’ll decide to get someone playing keyboards, we have a lot of keyboard parts, like on (2015 album) ‘Sagor’ (Spotify link)… there’s a lot of keyboards that we don’t play live. I don’t think we need to play them live but it could be fun if we could meet the right person at some point. Who knows?
Henrik Grüttner – We have discussed it, semi-seriously at least, to bring someone in, but yeah, who knows? I don’t think it’s really necessary at this point, but yea, if that happens…
Erik Berggren – Only when and if it feels right.
Robert Lamu – But also, if we find a fifth member then we have to seat three people in the backseat of the bus. That’s the problem.
AAP – As artists and fans, what does it take for a band or musician to impress you?
Henrik Grüttner – Some kind of authenticity, I think. Like, people really digging what they’re doing. Then the style, the genre doesn’t really matter if it feels genuine. And, I mean, the songs have to be somewhat good. But if you can tell that ‘oh shit, they are really digging what they’re doing’ that’s infectious. And I appreciate that. Especially when stumbling on those experiences live.
Martin Larsson – Yeah, live I think you just have to believe in what you’re doing onstage and off – and I’ll like it. Record and songs just have to be good.
Henrik Grüttner – That’s a good point.
Erik Berggren – Because we’ve met bands that maybe we hadn’t been fans of, but then we meet them and talk to them and ‘these guys genuinely love what they’re doing’ and they go up onstage and they just kick ass, and you go back and listen to the album and it’s like the songs are better. Because you know that what they’re doing on that album, they believe in that 110% and they love playing every second of that. And then it’s just joyous to participate in someone doing what they love as well… so yeah, authenticity and being somehow artistically honest.
Martin Larsson – I mean it helps if it’s something a little bit unique, I think. I, personally, I don’t need to hear another Led Zeppelin or another Black Sabbath or another Hellacopters or another band that sounds like another band that already exists. I mean, all rock music shares similarities and I know that a lot people like to go and watch these bands that sound exactly like something else, but for me… it doesn’t give me anything. I’d rather see that band that sounds like no other band.
Henrik Grüttner – Unless it’s a tribute band. Specifically.
Martin Larsson – Of course, if it’s a cover band or a tribute band, that could be fun. Some of the bands… either they’re all dead or it’s really hard to go see them and the tribute bands fill their function. But then it’s all the way, right? There’s no disguising about what you’re doing or try to pass anything off as your own.
Robert Lamu – I think it has to be 90% old and 10% new, for me to enjoy new stuff that gets released. I need to be in the pocket, I need to know what I’m listening to, but it has to be somewhat new, can’t be only new stuff.
Martin Larsson – No of course not.
Henrik Grüttner – No, you have your preferences and stuff that you like and if it hit all of those notes with a little extra… then yeah, of course.
Martin Larsson – There’s probably also that the genres that I don’t particularly like – for me all the bands in that genre sound the same and that’s why I don’t like them.
Henrik Grüttner – Or maybe you just don’t get the nuances of that.
Martin Larsson – It could be that. But, I mean our favourite band – as a band – is probably Mastodon, that we could all agree on. It’s out favourite band. Not that it might be each and every person’s specifically favourite band, but as a unit. And I don’t think that there’s any other band that really sounds like Mastodon, I’ve never really heard of a band trying to sound like Mastodon, because I don’t think you can.
APP – When you write music, do you imagine how the songs would play out in a live situation?
Erik Berggren – No. Almost never.
Robert Lamu – Not at all.
Martin Larsson – The only thing I would say is that sometimes, maybe, when we write demos there might be drum parts there are not physically playable, so when we then record those, I at least try to make a point on making drum parts that you can perform, not that the parts are easier, but I only have two arms and two legs.
Robert Lamu – I see this as two totally different things. If I think about recording music I don’t at all thing about how it gonna play out live. Never had that thought I think. Then (at that moment) it’s only record thoughts.
Martin Larsson – Yeah, I think that we’ve become more and more that way. Even now we started rehearsing the single, “The Vermillion Sky”, and it’s already changed, we’re not trying to make it sound (in a way). We already took creative decisions about the way we perform it live. If live a song is too busy then we have to dub it down a bit because it just would not sound good.
Robert Lamu – How it feels when we rehearsed it, and that is not based on the recording at all. It’s based on how it feels playing, so it’s two different things.
Henrik Grüttner – And speaking more broadly, I love it when bands play and the live version isn’t the exact version of the album. And then if you see them again, ‘oh, they have changed it again!’. Some tweaks, here and there. I think that’s great.
Erik Berggren – Even songs that have been out for a while, like the way we play “Elfenbenssalarna”, it’s not the way it’s recorded. We’ve added parts, you know, we’ve changed things around… Live is live and you make the songs work live and then studio is studio. Yeah, it is frustrating sometimes, doing stuff in the studio and then thinking, ‘how are we gonna do this?’ (live).
Robert Lamu – Yeah, we have some songs on the “Eorþe” (Earth, 2919) album, that we’ve never even rehearsed, we have never played them live.
Martin Larsson – At some point maybe we’ll do a 10th anniversary tour, show or something and we have to come up with a way to represent that song as a live performance…
Henrik Grüttner – I think part of that is also that these songs might not be that great to play live…
Robert Lamu – Or they’re too hard to play live…
Erik Berggren – They’re too good to play live! People can’t handle them.
AAP – Personally I don’t believe in pigeonholing a band. I think that genre tags are somewhat helpful only to give an idea of the general sound or look of a band. What is your take on this?
Robert Lamu – I think it’s a necessity. People need to know, if you give a musical tip to anyone, they’re gonna ask about the genre. So, it’s a necessity. And I only think it’s fun – people trying to put us in a genre as well because it’s so broad, you know? They can say whatever they want about it. Like, it’s hard rock, or fuzz rock or it’s stoner… we do what we call fuzz science fiction… Rock is rock music.
Erik Berggren – I hate having to explain what genre we are… ‘Oh, what do you guys play?’, I just say hard rock. It’s just heavy rock. Because the musical palate is just so wide now that, sure there’s stoner rock, but there’s also weird progressive rock, there’s straight ahead kind of rock… that, you know, it’s just rock.
Robert Lamu – I think the most common one is fuzz rock.
Erik Berggren – There is a lot of fuzz!
Robert Lamu – Because it tells more about the sound but it also paints a picture for people, like fuzz rock, stoner says a lot about the sound.
Martin Larsson – But it’s hard. Especially with these very far down sub-genres, what is stoner rock? There are so many bands that fit under that umbrella that actually have nothing in common musically. They all have one thing in common, but that’s all the way up, it’s rock, up in the tree. You could go quite far up the tree and still be stoner rock so I don’t know… genres are weird.
Henrik Grüttner – Yeah… I am fine with people calling it what they want to call it.
AAP – Skraeckoedlan is very visual, just listening and watching a video makes you think of a well written book or watching a good movie. How did you manage that?
Robert Lamu – I think it’s just us having a clear concept from the beginning and then developing it. Because it’s so much fun to do it. I don’t know, but a lot of bands don’t have a concept at all. It’s just a few songs and that’s cool! But, this band started out with a concept. Before we had any songs we had a concept, ‘ok this is gonna be the thing!’. Skraeckoedlan is swedish for Godzilla and it was a Godzilla themed thing, and our first album had that concept, so it has developed as an adventure musically and it’s always been fun to have the artwork match the lyrics, and the lyrics match the concept and everything. Just because it’s super fun to explore it, I think.
Henrik Grüttner – And then we know a great guy for the artwork!
Robert Lamu – Yeah, we have worked with the same guy since the first album and he’s like a member of the band as well.
Erik Berggren – He gets the concept. I feel like this band has been real good at finding people who are onboard and then just continually working with them in different ways. You don’t have to work with them exclusively… we know that if we tell Johan (Johan Leion) who does a lot of the graphics, if we tell him ‘do this’, it’s almost like we can just let that go and focus on something else, and we know he’s gonna send us (what we need). You just tell him it’s album time and he just goes and does it.
Robert Lamu – And I think we might have a meeting on Messenger or something and we explain the concept and then he gets all the ideas and works with them.
Henrik Grüttner – And we send him the songs…
Robert Lamu – And I think it’s just surrounding yourself with great people that have a positive energy, then it’s gonna work out. And that’s what we’re trying to do. Work with the same people that we find fun to work with and then develop that relationship.
AAP – How do you choose the album title or for each song since the music is so moody and synaesthetic?
Robert Lamu – It’s just exploring different things for each song until you find something that fits. I think – for me. Like, now we’re working on our next single and that song is called “Night Satan”, and that is based on when we were on a show in Germany and we stayed at a Monastery, had a few beers and started to think about the concept, how it comes at night and just for fun we talked about this concept… and then I always had this title, I think it’s a really cool title… “Night Satan”.
Martin Larsson – It’s so corny!
Henrik Grüttner – Yeah, we just laughed about it.
Robert Lamu – Yeah, but I had that in my head and we started to work on this album and one thing that happens in this concept is that planets are dying in this Universe, for some reason. And then I incorporated that into the story. OK, so when a planet has died it’s called the “Night Satan”. For no reason at all, just to have this title. And for me, writing the lyrics for it, it’s also about what happens at night if you let Night Satan come. Like, what is the darkness? What is the Night Satan? The dark thoughts? Maybe your bad behaviour comes at night? So it fit a little bit. It was just exploring different things, thoughts…
Henrik Grüttner – But I noticed, speaking about the titles, and you can correct me if i’m wrong, but it’s a lot of things. Because I know that for you sometimes it’s important that they fit well together, like stylistically when you look at it, it has to look correct and feel correct… the same syllables and letters, they can’t after each other, there needs to be some variation, it needs to flow when you look at it.
Robert Lamu – Yeah, that could be another reason behind trying to find a title for a song. The first and the second song on this album had the first letter “C” and I didn’t like how that looked when I wrote that down so, OK, we need to find another name for this one. And then we choose another word that had nothing to do with the concept.
Henrik Grüttner – Yeah, that had a bit of an impact on what the order of the songs was going to be, we have to move them around quite a lot. And, of course, some of that has to do with how the songs fit into each other, But some of it has been, like… ‘OK, it doesn’t look right when we have this here’, so…
Robert Lamu – This word is long, it has to be here… so just exploring and trusting the process., that sometime you will get there, you will find an end result. As long as it’s fun and adventurous and silly and ridiculous, it’s super cool to be in it. and I think that’s how I like to write. We make this ideal world that we base everything on. And then you can explore existential things in this world.
Henrik Grüttner – And it’s more metaphorical than literal, which is how I like lyrics to be in the first place. Most times.
Robert Lamu – And that make the writing so much more fun if you set yourself up in a world and (think), OK, now I am gonna be in this world and write about things in this world, than just sit around thinking, ‘oh, I had a bad day at work or I have a heartbreak’ – that doesn’t work for me at all. But if I think about Cthulhu, Squidman world, and think about how was his day at work… or whatever… put yourself in another place. Escapism. It’s such a fun way to work on the concept.
AAP – What do you (still) like most and dislike about being a musician?
Robert Lamu – I don’t know, it’s like my whole identity now. I don’t have anything without it. I found that out during the pandemic when you had to hang out with other people than musicians, because, I have nothing except being a musician. I don’t have anything without it. I can’t talk about soccer, I can’t… I need to have this.
Erik Berggren – It’s hard to think of something that I don’t like, I mean, sure, there are things that are shitty about it, sometimes we have to drive really far, sometimes we gotta meet a deadline… but you get all these things in all aspects of life. So, I don’t really count them because they go towards doing something fun.
Henrik Grüttner – Yes, it’s become quite a natural part of life just to have it like this. I have been in bands since I was a teen, at least, and in this band, specifically, it’s all of my whole adult life basically, so it feels like a natural part of life. And stuff I don’t like might be, if we’re out on the road too long, then I miss my kid like crazy! But, I will get back! Yeah, that’s basically it.
AAP – What does Skraeckloedan find cliche on the current music scene?
Robert Lamu – I think people not exploring their thing as much as they can. I think a lot of things are quite dull.
Henrik Grüttner – I don’t really know the current scene that much. Yeah, drums, bass, guitar is a bit cliche…
Erik Berggren – Generic rock is a bit cliche…
Henrik Grüttner – I find blues a bit cliche.
Robert Lamu – I don’t really know, when I was in vacation, two years ago, and I was suggested some albums, like Billie Eilish, Harry Styles and Lil Nas X, last one I don’t really listen but I really love all the albums so I think that it’s me that is cliche… if I say something is cliche it is because of me that I have not explored it.
Henrik Grüttner – I don’t really know, that’s the final answer.
Martin Larsson – I don’t know either… the old Greta Van Fleet albums were cliche… because back then they were actually trying to be Led Zeppelin but on the latest one they turned into their own band, so they moved out of the cliche, I think. So there’s a lot of these bands that sound like other bands but I don’t know if it is because they are actively trying to sound exactly like something else, or it just happens to be that way, the music comes out that way when they write. and I guess it is a cliche then. If you feel like you have already heard it but it’s a new song. But it’s just me that’s not gonna listen to it. I am gonna turn it off if it does not do anything for me. But it also depends so much on every little part of it.
AAP – What piece of advice would you give bands who are at beginning of their musical road?
Erik Berggren – That’s hard…
Robert Lamu – No, I think it’s easy. Don’t put any pressure on yourselves and have fun. That’s all it’s supposed to be.
Henrik Grüttner – And also try to have an open and free communication… and maybe at the beginning even more. If you don’t like a song part that someone has written maybe explain that, ‘OK, I don’t like the part – love you’, I believe it is important to feel included and free and be able to express yourself.
Martin Larsson – That is important, really. You have to be honest with yourself and all the members of that band as to what you are all trying to do with the band, what’s the purpose of the band? Discuss about this so that the members don’t have a different idea of what you’re trying to do creatively and be honest with your own writing and your band mates’ writing. If you’re not satisfied with a part or with the musical direction you need to be honest. And if you don’t think that what you are writing is good enough then you need to write another song, until you are satisfied yourself with what you have produced. And you just have to keep at it. At some point you are going to find what you like to do and then you go for that.
Henrik Grüttner – And this might come in a later stage but if you stick together as a group… at some point you will have to make some kind of decision. OK, where do we want to take this? Are we satisfied with where we are now? Do we want to make a commitment to this and try to make it full time? Just make sure that everybody’s comfortable with where you’re at and where you want to go. I think it should be then easier to function as a group.
Robert Lamu – And to work on communication, to do it mindfully. It’s not supposed to be hard to tell (for example) Erik that, for me… I don’t think this bass line works, you have to write another bass line. In some bands that can be really hard to say, it’s like walking on glass. I think you should work on the communication to that point that you can be so honest with each other. And it’s nothing personal, it’s just ‘I like this more, let’s try this’.
Erik Berggren – And just be aware that it’s a process. It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. You’re gonna learn along the way and it takes time.
AAP – And how do you define success?
Henrik Grüttner – Monneeeyyyy! :))
Robert Lamu – The feeling I got after I’ve done something, it’s everything for me. Like even last weekend or two weekends ago, we went two hundred swedish miles (1 mil = 10 kilometres = 6.2 miles) for two shows and I felt happy when I got home. Even thought it was a long journey, but the feeling from it means that I am successful in what I want to do.
Martin Larsson – I would say success is reaching your goal and you have to know what your goal is. Playing bigger shows in front of bigger audiences might be your goal and then success is reaching that goal. That’s not my goal.
Henrik Grüttner – That is interesting. Because once you reach that goal, this means that you have to set another. Because I don’t think that you could be contempt.
Martin Larsson – Or you could. I am very contempt with never going bigger than we are now.
Henrik Grüttner – Or you could… true!
Martin Larsson – As long as we keep creating and can go out and play in front of people and somebody shows up…
Robert Lamu – I think that is the goal – being contempt – for me. Having this feeling that takes me through the work week. That’s what it is for me. If I have that then I feel like I am succeeding in doing this hobby.
Erik Berggren – We get to be creative, we get to do something expressive and we get to present that to people who enjoy it and so you get to participate in this collective community of enjoying this art. And it’s very satisfying to be able to say ‘cool, we wrote this, and people like it, it’s not just me’. It’s us being creative in a room together but we can also take it out and always have positive experiences with people from different places. That whole thing is really, really fun. And it feels really privileged to be allowed to have that. Because there’s a lot of creative people who don’t get to experience that.
Henrik Grüttner – Yeah, that is such a nice bonus to add onto just being able to be creative and express yourself in ways you want. I mean, I don’t think I need to be appreciated for it but I certainly like it!
Robert Lamu – I love everything about it. I love meeting someone at the local store that recognises me for playing in this band. I really love that. All the positive feeling from doing this is what makes it so cool and fun and inspirational to continue.
Erik Berggren – And the point is that because we have the setup that we have, we never have to entertain any offer. If an offer comes in and it’s bad, we have no reason to take it. Because we don’t need to. We would only take on an offer that we feel is good. We don’t need to. So that’s a real feeling of security. We could never be bought or exploited or put in a position where we need to – it would only be because we all felt collectively that, yes, we want to do this. And that’s nice.
Robert Lamu – And the reason might be whatever, but we have to feel it. If someone gives us a million dollars to play in a place, then if it feels right, OK, let’s o that. But it’s gonna be based on us having the option of choosing, because we don’t have to do anything.
AAP – Are you ever nervous before a show?
Skraeckoedlan – Yes.
Robert Lamu – Very much.
Henrik Grüttner – Most times.
Martin Larsson – Almost all the shows, actually. For different reasons. But not to the point where it becomes a problem – for me at least. But there’s always a bit of nervousness just before you go onstage.
Henrik Grüttner – Yes, it is exciting.
Erik Berggren – It’s scary – things could go wrong, you could fuck up in front of lots of people and you want to do a good show cause they paid money, invested their energy, time. I cannot go there and have a bad day!
Henrik Grüttner – Soundcheck maybe sounded like shit and you can’t hear yourself onstage and you thing ‘oh, this is not going to go the way I wanted to’!
Erik Berggren – And there’s this whole sense of inevitability, at 20:00 o’clock you go up – this happens inevitably. I cannot get out of this, I have to do this. But at the end of the day it’s never a bad feeling, it was fun… And I feel like if you get to a point where, for me at least, in which if before every gig I wouldn’t feel anything, I would just sit scrolling on my phone, then I am not in it anymore, then it’s a job… because I should be nervous – not in a bad way – but I should be excited because I get to play the songs, I should be nervous because I want to do a good job for the people who paid to come, I should care. And if I am not nervous then I don’t care and I shouldn’t be there, you know?
Robert Lamu – I have puked a few times before a show so… I am very nervous.
AAP – Do you have any “rituals” before and after the gig?
Martin Larsson – I have a very, very short ritual that has crystallised itself as a ritual, maybe in the last two years. We shake hands and then Robert says: ‘Remember to have fun up there!’ and then I say ‘No’ and then we go play.
Erik Berggren – And sometimes we say ‘Have a good rock’ – it’s sort of very mid-management, business like have/do a good job.
Robert Lamu – And also we have on our rider that we want four ice creams. So if we have that, if they have provided us with that… then it’s all good.
AAP – Are either of you involved in musical or non-musical side projects?
Robert Lamu – At this moment I don’t have time for anything else, this fills my whole time, everything.
Henrik Grüttner – Especially in the album cycle.
Erik Berggren – There’s no time. But sometimes, a friend will be like, ‘hey, our bass player is sick, can you play bass for this show’, this happened one time and yes, sure, I ‘ll do that. But that’s just a one off thing. This (Skraeckoedlan) is all encompassing and I also don’t really feel I have to go anywhere else to get… something.
Robert Lamu – No, that’s a fun thing, I think, about this band because a few times I thought I want to start a project that plays this kind of music or I want to do that but it can always be incorporated to this band. So maybe when I start to write and I listen to Gojira a lot and I want to play something really heavy and I after a while I think, no, this might work in Skraeckoedlan also. There hasn’t been any reason, creatively, to explore other projects.
Henrik Grüttner – No, music-wise… I think I get out pretty much exactly what I want musically from this band – I am writing songs that I would write otherwise as well. Fits very good into this band. I write a little bit for myself… when I have time I am writing a book kind of thing, but that is with no real goals other than just finishing it someday. Just to have written a book. And that (writing) only works when I feel like it. Yes, I do that a little bit.
Robert Lamu – And I paint a bit, between recording sessions, because the process of making music is so long. From writing the riff until it’s finished and released, it’s four years sometimes. So painting is nice process when it happens right now and then you can just let it go, when you need something creative.
AAP – Is there a leader in Skraeckoedlan or is it a full democracy band?
Erik Berggren – I’d say it’s a partial democracy, I’d say you (pointing at Henrik) have a ‘project-manager’ role…
Henrik Grüttner – I think so, but I mean the band was your idea from the beginning (pointing at Robert) so I think that comes naturally with that, from the start.
Robert Lamu – Yeah, but I really think it is a democracy, it’s a democratic dictatorship, because you can project-manage your ideas and everybody else will follow. So if I have an idea of recording an album then maybe I will have to take on that responsibility. If martin wants us to have this recording this week then we book this week and everybody else follows, so…
Martin Larsson – I think everybody has veto for any decision also. We would never do anything if one of us didn’t really want to do that. If three of us wanted to do one thing and one of us was like ‘I really don’t want us to do this’ then I don’t think the three of us would really make a big campaign out of trying to convince the fourth…
Robert Lamu – No, it’s always supposed to feel right and if it doesn’t then we don’t even explore that. But I think I might be leading in the sense that I don’t have a family or house so I spend a lot of time in the studio right now. So I am leading creatively.
Martin Larsson – We have different responsibilities and we trust each other to take the leading role and doing stuff that needs to get done. I think Robert might be the creative leader, Erik is logistics, I am economics and Henrik is…
Henrik Grüttner – Something else!
Robert Lamu – He writes all of the press things and handles communication, so…
Martin Larsson – Yeah, he’s the best at writing any text on paper or computer so whenever we need press releases and something like that, that is his job to make them.
Erik Berggren – It’s a matter of, who hates this the least, then they’ll do it…
Martin Larsson – When a thing needs to get done, it’s not necessarily fun but just needs to get done.
Robert Lamu – And we are all really four responsible adults who do these adult things besides the band as well. Everyone has a job so it’s nothing strange.
AAP – Computer game scores or movie soundtracks?
Robert Lamu – Movie soundtracks.
Henrik Grüttner – Yesss, I think so…
Erik Berggren – Based off my Spotify algorithm more computer game scores.
Martin Larsson – For me lately, the Doom soundtrack. The Mick Gordon soundtrack for Doom is what I’ve been listening to at work.
Robert Lamu – I actually had that as a reference when we were doing the final mix for “The Vermillion Sky” as well. So, maybe, a bit of both.
AAP – Which part of producing a track is the most challenging? Mastering? Structure? Knowing when it’s done and getting the feel of it?
Robert Lamu – Deciding that it is ready. It’s the absolute hardest part.
Erik Berggren – And then comes the easiest part – the mastering – we just send it to someone and they do it and then we get it back and go like ‘yeah, it sounds good!’.
Robert Lamu – Because now it’s sitting and recording your vocals and you’re like, ‘OK, this take was good, let’s move on’. It’s so hard to take that decision. You don’t really know if it’s good because my taste isn’t that good, I know… so how can I decide? So then you share it with people, ‘what do you think of this mix, and this mix, and this mix…’ until…
Erik Berggren – Until they grow tired! Stop sending me mixes! But it’s like that saying, that art is never done, until you cannot listen to another mix of the fucking song and you’re like ‘send it!’. When you’re sitting there and it’s midnight and you’re just tweaking one decibel of a shaker, if it’s at that level it doesn’t matter.
Robert Lamu – And that is also such a strange thing because you only trust your gut and if it is all gut based then one day I can feel like this is the best thing, that nobody has ever done, and the same day, after a bad take I can feel this is shit and it sounds so bad. And I can leave the studio, slamming the door saying I’m not gonna do this anymore and come back the next day and. oh, it’s fucking amazing! So it’s such a weird thing to be in – deciding.
Erik Berggren – Yesterday we got really excited about a vocal idea and then we came in today and we were like… ‘nah’, We just got really excited about the idea but, no…
Robert Lamu – So deciding that it’s finished it’s the hardest part.
AAP – Time for the last question, the Random Question. Please, share with us the best swedish joke that you know.
Erik Berggren – This is fun because it works in German as well. “Two hunters met each other. They are both dead.”
Robert Lamu – Ah, yeah… that’s not representative for the band though. It is only Erik. I have a joke, it’s a meta joke. You know the one with the two tomatoes crossing the street? Two tomatoes crossed the road, one got ran over and the other one said: ‘Hey, come on, catch up!’. In Swedish, this one is super bad because we didn’t understand the fun thing about it, because ‘catch up’ sounds like ‘ketchup’ so in Swedish we say ‘kom nu, ketchup’ and in Swedish ketchup has nothing to do with ‘catch up’ so we thought in Sweden was fun was that the tomato got crushed to ketchup (but not the actual wordplay). And it s such a weird thing because this is like the most classic joke in Sweden. That’s something I think about – it says a lot about Swedish people.
Henrik Grüttner – I have a bad joke that no one likes, it’s one of those ‘a man walks into a bar’ joke… A dyslexic man walks into a bra…
Robert Lamu – You’re right, nobody likes that.
Henrik Grüttner – I know, but I think it’s funny.