Nuclear Blast USA caught up with guitarist / vocalist Joakim Nilsson and drummer Axel Sjöberg of the classic rock band GRAVEYARD on the band's North American release day to ask ten questions about their soon-to-be-classic new album, Hisingen Blues:
While touring North America in 2008, you played 3 songs (twice!) that weren’t on your debut album. Did any of these make it onto Hisingen Blues? If so, what track did the one you called “Funk Blues” turn into?
Joakim Nilsson: Yes, I think we played them more then twice though. You can hear two of them on Hisingen Blues; the one called “Ungrateful Are The Dead” and the one ending the record called “The Siren.” “Funk Blues” or “Punk Blues” as we called it then is now on the backside of the “Hisingen Blues” single and is called “Granny And Davis.” All the songs sound pretty different recorded than what they sounded like live.
The story line in the album opener, “Ain’t Fit To Live Here” and the closing track “The Siren” seem to be related. Are they & was it intentional?
JN: No, they are not related at all. The first one is a reflection of life and “The Siren” is about a nightmare of Roky Erickson. They where composed at completely different periods.
When listening to “RSS” on headphones, it sounds as if the snare work actually MOVES. Can this be attributed to Don Alstelberg’s in-studio mastery or is it simply tinnitus trickery?
JN: Yes, it is Don who pulled out some of Jimi Hendrix's old studio tricks. You move the sound from speaker to speaker, I don't know what the term is called in English [panning]. ‘Panorering’ in Swedish. Maybe it is some phaser on the drums too, I don't remember.
Hard not to think of spaghetti westerns with “Longing” and it’s tempting not to even call it an instrumental due to the whistling. Who is GRAVEYARD’s champion whistler and how many takes did it take to get the entire song recorded?
JN: Champion Whistler aka JJ Red aka Joakim aka me. It was a lot harder to whistle than we ever imagined. It was really hard to hear the pitch of the tone when I whistled, so it took a lot of takes to get it right.
Yes or No: Would Mr. Holden ever eat at a Waffle House?
JN: He used to love it, but he ate too much. He's more of a Dairy Queen guy.
The line “I’ve been leaving you since the day we met / And it feels like you have, too” from “Uncomfortably Numb” can resonate with ANYONE whose ever been in a relationship that needed to end long before it did. Congratulations. Who wrote this exquisite lyric and did they know they hit the lottery when they wrote it?
Axel Sjöberg: It was me. I'm glad you like the lyrics. It's a hard topic to write about without sounding very cheesy. Don't know if I hit the lottery, but I got out of that relationship and into a great one.
Joakim’s homemade cabinet has become somewhat legendary. Is there really a cigarette lighter & a bottle opener built into it? What new features have been added onto it since your debut album?
JN: It's a small combo amplifier that I wanted to use as a very expensive distortion box. A friend of mine named Jonatan built it for me and we actually had to buy a customized transformer just for the cigarette lighter to work. It doesn't have a bottle opener yet but that is a really good idea, so I have to get that.
Would you ever consider playing an H.P. Lovecraft or Neil Young song at a GRAVEYARD show?
JN & AS: Of course. We love both H.P Lovecraft and Neil Young.
What’s the story behind the Black Sabbath poster in the video for “Hisingen Blues”? Is it an original or a reproduction?
AS: It's an original from the English pressing of Master Of Reality. There's also a poster of Alvin Lee. The posters are a sort of tribute to some of our heroes.
True or False: You are nothing without a Pentagram shirt.