Graveyard are back from the dead. For good. More connected, healthy and eager to explore new sounds than ever before. In this interview with Truls Morck we’re touching on subjects such as ongoing wave of retromania, dynamics within the band, Midsommar and Greta Van Fleet.

You’ve just came back from the US tour, how was it?

It was great! We had good time playing in some cities we’ve never been before. We were there this spring with Uncle Acid and felt there were some, so to say, uncharted territories, so we wanted to go back and do some more cities we couldn’t do that time around. We went to some new places, did the round on the East Coast and the South, went through Texas and Florida and Luisiana, Michigan, stuff like that, it was fun.

Do you remember your first US tour? How different it was?

The first US tour I was on, we were opening for Clutch and Mastodon, we did like the bigger cities, LA, New York, stuff like that. This time around we played in much smaller cities and venues, this time we had Black Mountain opening for us and it was tour through the smaller clubs. When we opened for Clutch or for Mastodon, we were playing for their audience and lots of people never heard of us before. This time we were headlining and all the people that came were there for us, they were our fans.

Well, this is the exact subject I wanted to touch – you’re kinda felxible choice to be paired with, you opened for Clutch, Mastodon, but also for such acts as Iron Maiden or Soundgarden. Did you notice if and how perception of your music changes when you play in all those different environments?

The big thing is if you play for people who aren’t there for you only, there’ll be an element of surprise. I think most people appreciate our music, we’ve never had an experience when audienec booed at us or anything, but that could have been the case if we’d play for the metal audience and they’d think we were too soft or something. But we never really had that. We’ve played some metal festivals and noticed confusion amongst the people.

Yeah, I can well imagine someone who’s never heard of you before, sees the name GRAVEYARD on the poster, goes to the gig and meets… you.

Honestly, I can often tell from people’s faces they were expecting something else, but usually, we win them over in the end. I can’t really think of any unpleasant experiences, confusion is common, but often paired with appreciation. Furthermore, when we’re playing metal fests I feel like people can appreciate our sound as sort of a relief from all the extreme stuff, you know? They have this sweet, softer moment to catch a breath and then they get heavy shit anyway.

Let’s hold on to the past just a lil’ bit longer. When you started as a band, the distribution of music in the Internet already was a thing, actually you were noticed by Tee Pee records after someone from their staff found you on MySpace, if I recall correctly. Since then a lot has changed. How was your experience with digital distribution of music growing more and more?

I’ve never really been releasing records back in the day when you actually sold albums, but it seemed to be cool in terms of making a lot more money form that. Nowadays we got fans from all over the world and that may be a thing that comes from these streaming services, the global distribution. We’re reaching out to people in Indonesia, Australia, all over the world, there’s no limits where one can hear our music. And that’s a cool thing. We went to South America this spring and maybe that wouldn’t be possible in the earlier days, without the digital distribution, before the Internet, etc. So yeah, the more people get to know you via streaming, the more people will come to your show. But I miss buying albums. It was cool thing itself and I think today’s kids are missing out on these days.

About making a lot of money – do you think it’s still possible as upcoming rock musician, or the era of rock heroes is now long gone?

Yeah, I think that’s possible. With a hit record, feature in the movie or something like that you can rapidly reach huge audience, play huge venues and porbably make tons of money too. Unfortunately, we’re not on that level yet.

But you’re heading that way?

Hopefully.

The movie feature – do you think any soundtrack of the movies that came out recently could benefit from Graveyard’s music?

Umm, that’s a good one, but let’s come back to it later, I need a while to think about it. 

It’s been almost a year nad a half since your last album, Peace, came out. You got some perspective on the album now, any reflections?

Ugh, it’s so complicated, looking back at your own record! It’s one of the weirdest things. I don’t really listen to the records I’ve done after they ARE done, with all the recording, writing, mixing and stuff. 

But you’re playing them live.

Yes, some of it. I think I like it, I’m still proud of it. I feel like it was a good step forward for us, very fun record to do too. There’s parts of it I would keep just like we did it, methodically, how they were recorded and written. But there are also parts I would switch up a bit, stretch it out a lil’ bit more, the instrumental parts that’s just something I’d like to have more of when I think about the next album. 

You feel like they were too brief?

Rushed, sometimes. I feel like some songs could have been a little bit longer, have some space of them. They’re just too short, kinda rushed. 

By this point you’re probably sick of the question I’m about to ask, but nevertheless I have to. It’s been some time since the reunion, the dust has settled now that you’ve released an album and done some touring. Are you back for good?

Yeah, I think so. The setting right now is working really good. We don’t have that kind of friction that we used to have within the band. The chemistry is much more easy going right now. I can’t see us like breaking up any time soon, we’re having a good time right now playing and hanging out together. Feels like we’re on a good path right now.

Did you see it coming the last time?

Yes, I could see that coming for a while. Some other guys known each other for a long time and there’s been a lot of baggage from the past, you know, that would cloud the vision of the band. Yes, it was very clear before it happend that we’re going to split up. That was a long process leading up to that. But right now I can’t see any of these signs and I don’t think that’s gonna happen. Maybe one day, but not anytime soon.

Do you think, even though it was quite brief, the break-up helped you grow as a band in terms of recognition but also as a band members? It’s quite a different comeback, but I have in mind e.g. your fellow Swedes, hc punk act Refused. 

I don’t think it helped us. It was in fact very different scenario than with Refused, when they went away for a long time and became a group with cult-following status over the years during their absence. Our case was very different, it helped mostly us as a band members to grow as people, get perspective at what we’re doing, take that time off… We didn’t expect aftter just six months to come back get much bigger all of a sudden. That would be kinda crazy.

I didn’t suggest calculation.

For us it was really good move to have that time off and work out the whole setting, find a new drummer that could work with us on all the levels we needed him to. Musically, but also musically. It really helped us. I cannot imagine how we could still exist to this day, doing what we’re doing if it wasn’t for that break-up. We’d be just craszy to go on with some random drummer, or a gun for hire, that wouldn’t work for us at all. Some band maybe would just hire someone for a short period until they find someone else, but it’s just not our style. I could not do that. I needed to feel some sort of mental closure, like, we’re done, fine, now we can start it from scratch.

How do you find new dynamics with Oscar? As a bassist, you act sorta like a translator between him and guitars.

It’s good! Me and Oscar, we’ve know each other for some time, played together in some bands, so I knew him both muscally and personally. I know his style, what to expect, etc., so it was easy for me to connect with him, obviously. The other guys, they never played with him before, but they knew him on the personal level through me. So yeah, I knew our guitarists and our drummer and acted as sort of a middle man first, to help everyone connect smoothly and get things working. It was really fun and painless transition, it worked out pretty good.

What do you think of Greta Van Fleet?

Oh, you know, there’s something about them that really makes me… Let’s say that I don’t wanna listen to them. I don’t know why, I can’t pinpoint it. Like there’s too much image, too much of the Zeppelin stuff, which is really disturbing. No, I don’t like them.

And retro in a general sense? Don’t you think there’s been going a wave o retromania in the popculture for a while?

I don’t think it’s wrong. I like retro, it’s great if you can use good stuff from the past and update it a little bit – it’s something we always try to do, at least, as a band. You know, to pick the best parts from the past, fit them in with something of our own. The thing is, not to get too cought up trying to sound exactly like someone else because you need to be aware of who YOU are and what YOU can do. If you’re really into some old records, you’ve been listening to them your whole life, it is only natural to pick up on some of that stuff. But going back to Greta Van Fleet – and to be honest, I haven’t heard much, so perhaps I shouldn’t talk that much about them – there’s a lack of something of their own in “their” music. There’s too much repetition of the past, you need to maintaint balance between these things, put in a lot of your personality in that. But retro itself – I have nothing against it, it’s cool.

In one of the interviews one of you, I believe it was Joakim, said he’d be offended if someone called Graveyard classic/ retro rock band. Yet reviewers, journalists, etc. often depict you as one. What is your stance?

Well, we don’t have any collective statements written for such occasions (laughs). I believe he was just fed up hearing this terminology all the time. Sometimes it overshadows what we’re doing, people put that label on you and that’s kind of annoying, you know? Sure, there’s a lot of classic rock in our music, but we have more than that. I wouldn’t call our music 100% vintage rock, there’s more stuff going on, many different styles. But myself, I’m not that annoyed when people call us that. 

So you listen to the new music too?

Sure!

Could you share any recommendations or shout-outs of what you’ve been listening to recently? 

There’s this guy who produced Innocence and Decadence album, Johan Lindström. He’s in a band called Tonbruket, we’re into them a lot. They’re instrumental band with a pinch of jazz. Then, I’ve been listening to Cass McCombs, more of a indie artistAnd the Black Mountain, the guys that were touring with us. They’ve been developing their sound lately, doing some interesting thing, trying to push towards lot of new things.

So, last but not least – let’s get back to that soundtrack thing.

What about Midsommar? Did you see it?

Yeah!

Why not put a Graveyard song in there? Some mellower tunes or whatever would fit the picture.

By the way, did you like the movie?

Yes, but being from Sweden I’ve been celebrating Midsommar my whole life so it’s a bit awkward to see that strange version of it… 

Oh, I get it, I remember that Hostel movie, pretty cool itself with lots of creative gore, but it depicted slavic countries like some otherworldly hellholes.

Yes, I was laughing a lot watching Midsommar, even during the part I probably wasn’t supposed to… But you had these gbits with people talking a little bit of Swedish and I was just… (wheezing). I enjoyed it, it was a fun movie, even if it was kind of silly.

Interview by Piotr Kleszewski