EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DARKANE’S CHRISTOFER MALMSTRöM
Darkane guitarist Christofer Malmström defines dedication. So considering the Swedish melodic death-thrash quintet’s great fifth record Demonic Art (Nuclear Blast), a direct support slot on a grueling tour with Soilwork, and his band’s place in a burgeoning thrash metal renaissance, it’s clear he has cause to be in high spirits. Even a doom-obsessed interviewer couldn’t dispirit Malmström, who was battling a cold on his way to rock Portland when MetalSucks phoned up to chat about their brand new singer Jens Broman, playing 50 shows in 52 days, and not listening to new music.
So you’re en route to Portland at the moment. How’s the tour so far?
Christofer Malmström: It’s going really well. We have the feeling that we’re conquering the crowd almost every night.
When this tour was announced, fans immediately noticed how brutal the routing was.
Yeah it’s like 50 shows in 52 days. So it’s pretty massive
It’s unsurprising that you caught a cold.
Yeah. We don’t have a lot of time to rest, right? We’re playing every night!
Can you enlighten us as to how a tour schedule ends up being so strenuous?
It’s because of the promoter who booked it. He filled up every day! [In fact,] the only reason we got the first [of our two days off] is because of the Super Bowl. They wouldn’t book a show on that day. [laughs]
I guess the Super Bowl is good for something: You guys might’ve been doing 51 shows in 52 days.
So touring with Soilwork must allow Darkane to play to a really receptive audience, right?
Definitely. It’s great! It feels like people wait for us, and have been waiting for us when we play. So it’s a great situation.
The other side of that is maybe the crowd for a different headliner may be populated with more new fans. I mean, Soilwork fans know, and probably love, Darkane.
Well, yeah, a lot of them. Not everybody. I have heard a lot of comments from people who haven’t heard of us before, or weren’t fans, and after that night they were fans for sure. We’re definitely reaching out to new people.
That’s great! So you must be really happy with the new singer, Jens Broman. I think everybody is!
Absolutely. He is what we needed right now and for the new album.
I don’t exactly agree with this, but a criticism I’ve heard about Darkane is that the singing sometimes got lost amid all the instrumentation. This is prior to Demonic Art.
[laughs] Of course!
It’s written by the musicians in the band. So we focus a lot on the instrumentation and then we wanna fit the vocals in. Personally, I don’t think it’s ever been a problem. I know Darkane might be pretty hard to get into because of everything that’s going on. In a way, we want it to be a little tough to get into, but once you get into the music, it lasts longer.
So it’s like the music is challenging to make, and challenging to appreciate?
Yes of course! We like that challenge. It keeps things interesting.
To what extent are you challenged by other bands? Do other records make you feel competitive?
Yeah we definitely feel that competition. I don’t listen to new music that much anymore for some reason. I don’t know why. I just put on old Meshuggah records. That gives me the energy kick or rush or whatever.
Sounds like some of that energy ended up on Demonic Art. Now, some sources describe it as a concept album.
No it’s not. The title track’s lyrics are a sort of continuation of a song from our previous record, Layers of Lies.
Yeah exactly. The rest of the [songs] are about everything. A lot of different things, anyway. [laughs]
Does the state of the recording industry kill the excitement of making a new record?
Making a record is always exciting. You just never know what it’s gonna sound like. You write new songs, but they sound way different when they’re recorded. It’s interesting to see people’s reactions; a lot of it is done for the satisfaction of making something. I mean, we’re not making a lot of money [laughs]. But we like it, and people like it. So that’s enough.
Being successful as a band was an uphill battle already. Does it seem even harder now?
Yeah a little bit. It feels like … you wonder how it will be in just a few years. Will people be buying CDs at all? We don’t know what the future looks like. That makes being a band more insecure.
I miss the old days of going to a record store. [sigh]
Yeah those were good times [laughs].
At the same time, there seems to be some incredibly strong and creative music coming out. Maybe these factors amount to some extra motivation for bands.
Well for us, we’re just working as hard as possible anyway.
Oh yeah — speaking of working. Your co-guitarist Klas Ideberg had to leave the tour right?
Yeah. He had work to do back home. He couldn’t really be away from work for more than a few weeks.
And the rest of you guys can be away longer?
No not really. We do work while we’re here. We’re very responsible. [laughs]
Anso DF is a former music journalist whose cliffhanger series HooM! Year in Metal 2008 concludes this week in the daily Metal news column Hipsters Out Of Metal!