PRESS Interview...

Grand Magus - Aliens, Pasta & Sabres


Grand Magus - Aliens, Pasta & Sabres (Janne ''JB'' Christoffersson) - Online Jul 2006

WES: Hails to you from “The Metal Observer”! To start out, could you let us know your name, your position in the band, and well, how you're doing on this fine day?

JB: This is JB, vocalist and guitarist in GRAND MAGUS. It’s nine o’clock in the morning here in Stockholm and it’s really pissing down, I’m happy!

WES: So, I'm curious, who exactly is the GRAND MAGUS?

JB: We’re a Metal band from Stockholm, Sweden and we’ve recently released our third full-length album and finally gotten some attention after years of hard work.

WES: Your new record, "Wolf's Return," is definitely a step in a different direction for the band. In fact, it seems to be that way for each album you guys record. What's your motivation for this?

JB: That is a correct observation; we’ve changed throughout our career. I think our albums have been reactions to what we’ve done before. When we’d done our previous album “Monument” we kind of felt that it was as heavy and slow as we wanted to make an album and decided to try and do faster and more aggressive stuff for the next one. We’re not afraid to take chances and we also need to keep ourselves interested. I’m sure the next one will be different from “Wolf’s Return” even though I feel it’s our best one by far.

WES: Everything about this album - the music, the lyrics, the artwork - just screams "Metal!" What led to this absolute Metal attitude?

JB: It’s always been a huge part of my life, bands like PRIEST and ACCEPT from the old days right into more modern bands like IMMORTAL and the whole Stockholm Death Metal scene.

WES:The lyrics on "Wolf's Return" can be pretty abstract at times. How do you go about your writing? How important are the lyrics, in your opinion?

JB: The lyrics are extremely important and they have been dealing with the same things throughout all the albums. They mostly deal with things going on in society today, but using my personal philosophies and opinions expressed through things I’ve picked up from history and literature.

WES: What about the songwriting process? How do you guys come up with these tunes?

JB: It’s a fairly disorganized and intuitive process really, no strict regimen or method. We mostly toss around ideas in the rehearsal space and try different things. Sometimes we come up with something that doesn’t really go anywhere, file it away and then pick it up as a part of something else. Sometimes I have a very clear idea about a type of rhythm or melody that I want to explore and sometimes things just happen.

WES: What are some of your favorite parts of the record? Any tracks turn out particularly well?

JB: I’m very pleased with the way the instrumentals turned out, like “Järnbörd” and “Blodörn”. The title track was the one that kind set the whole overall approach so that one is special too.

WES: Any disappointments, or things you'd like to change?

JB: There are always things you feel that you could do better, but I find it pointless to look back. The album and the performances are what they are and if you think something wasn’t 100% they way you wanted it; you take that lesson to the next album. The main reason to keep on doing this is really the feeling that you can improve. It’s a great creative feeling to listen to something you’ve been very pleased with, feeling that it’s quite good, but you could certainly do it better. If you felt like “oh, I’m so pleased with my performance and the whole thing” when you hear tour own stuff some time after the fact, then there wouldn’t be any point continuing.

WES: Do you feel that "Wolf's Return" is the most representative of the GRAND MAGUS sound, or does that title belong to either of your earlier albums, or none of them?

JB: “Wolf’s Return” is certainly the album that for me best represents what the band is about. It’s heavy, aggressive, melodic and dark.

WES: Any idea where you'll take the band after this? GRAND MAGUS has been in a constant state of evolution, and one can only be curious to see where you'll go next.

JB: Me too, ha-ha! At the moment I really don’t know. The battle plans have not yet been drawn. It can go in many different directions. It will certainly be very heavy and aggressive, but the melodies and catchiness will always be an important part of our music. “Wolf’s Return” is really the first of our albums that combines this in a way that I feel is together.

WES: So, other than music, what influences you guys? Do world events, films, anything like ever work their way into your music?

JB: Yes. We don’t live in a bubble and as I hinted at earlier most of the lyrics actually deal with things going on in the world today even if they are more layered than just political propaganda. When speaking about influences, there are no rules and no automatic recipe for inspiration, you can get inspired by looking at an empty parking lot or reading a book. It’s really all about your state of mind. I will never write about trivial stuff though. I like doing trivial stuff, but it’s not very interesting for someone else (i.e. “Rock lyrics”).

WES: I really enjoy the two quotes on the album insert, the ones from Huxley and Russell. There's a definite theme of social commentary running through them. Care to elaborate on this?

JB: Glad you noticed them; you’re actually the first interviewer that mentions them. Yeah, they reflect some of my feelings toward society and religion and I think they do a nice job of boiling down huge issues into easily digestible messages. This has to do with all the stuff I mentioned previously, they tie in with the album lyrics and my worldview. Furthermore I think that a lot of people should read what both Russell and Huxley have written, they were quite bold an honest. Too many people today shape their lives and opinions via Oprah Winfrey and the ridiculous “news” they see on television. Read a fucking book! Learn from people who have actually sat down and critically examined our western civilization. Who makes the decisions? Who tells you what to think and do? Is it really reasonable to start every sentence with “I want to thank god…”? Use your brain…

WES: What about the current Heavy Metal scene? Prosperous or preposterous?

JB: Ha-ha! That’s a very good way of putting it. Well, both I guess. Some bands and trends are certainly preposterous, but then again if you look at the eighties when Metal was really big and topping the charts, you had quite preposterous things going on as well. Remember WARRANT? STRYPER? SLAUGHTER? I think it’s great for the kids to get the chance of growing up with Metal just like I did, even if some of the music is extremely polished and doctored. There is certainly more “cross-over” going on today than what was the case in 1982-1985, but I’m sure that some of the kids will get into good stuff as they progress in their listening. I mean there are many kids that are into MAIDEN who weren’t even born when they started.

WES: Given the current state of music, where would you say the future of Heavy Metal lies?

JB: You gave me a free kick there: GRAND MAGUS of course! No, I don’t know. I don’t really care either. I do know that the more underground and unpopular Metal becomes, the stronger it gets. IT WILL NEVER DIE! HAHHHAHAHAHAHHA!!!!!!!

WES: Off of the top of your head, what would you say are the top five most essential Metal albums of all time?

JB: OK, that’s a bit easier than “what are your favorite albums”. These are not necessarily the albums that I prefer, but rather the milestones and those that have shaped the whole “concept”. They are all very obvious. This is an attempt to be as objective as possible and using my vast knowledge of the history of Metal - In some kind of chronological order and watch out for number five!

1. Black Sabbath – Paranoid (the first “Metal” album, it’s more than the sound or songs. extremely influential and impossible to overlook)

2. Judas Priest – British Steel (Leather, studs, unity, anthems. Most bands wouldn’t exist without this one)

3. Iron Maiden – Number Of The Beast (everything around this, it was like the essence of the early eighties and the pinnacle of all things merchandise, denim vests, fanatical followings and huge commercial success)

4. Slayer – Reign In Blood (hugely influential to this day)

5. Metallica – Metallica (Yes, I know… Not my favorite, but probably the biggest Metal album ever and it had a huge impact on both the mainstream and the Metal community)

WES: Any predictions on any current releases that are going to end up being one of those "essential" albums later on?

JB: Hmm… No, ha-ha!

WES: Let's play a little word association...

WES: Aliens:
JB: yes of course, you’d be daft and arrogant to think that there is no other life in the universe.

WES: Antichrist:
JB: Still Christian propaganda, it’s all bullshit.

WES: Doom:
JB: hmmm…. fucking difficult! I don’t know, ha-ha!

WES: Spaghetti:
JB: I like a good pasta now and again, very filling!

WES: Pirates:
JB: Beards, earrings and sabres

WES: Stoner:
JB: out of tune…

WES: Vikings:
JB: Silver and fire

WES: Wolf:
JB: The most beautiful animal. The epitome of instinct combined with intelligence.

WES: Thanks much for the interview. Again, many hails to GRAND MAGUS! Anything you'd like to leave us to ponder?

JB: My pleasure, enjoyed that quite a bit. Remember that in life, a sacrifice always demands a sacrifice.

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