The Graviator’s third album Motherload (review here) is released on March 31st, and ahead of the release guitarist Martin Fairbanks and bassist Johan Holm spoke to Swirls of Noise about the new album.
Hi guys, thank you for taking the time to talk to Swirls of Noise. Your new album Motherload is absolutely mind blowing, one of the best doom metal albums of the year. First off can you tell us how long you’ve been together, and give us an overview of your sound?
Martin: Me and Niklas started out in late 2007 and recorded some demos. Johan and Henrik joined the band a little bit later and we got signed by Transubstans Records in 2009. We are down tuned to C to create a heavier and thicker sound and we mostly use vintage equipment. But in the end it all comes down to the flesh on the fret board, Niklas roaring vocals and Henriks magic touch on the drums!
Your music has a real early 70’s feel, with obvious influence from Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, and a smattering of Diamond Head and your compatriots Candlemass. But given that your sound also has a fresh modern sounding production to it, are there any more modern bands that influence The Graviator’s sound?
Martin: No, not really. Production wise we love the old 60’s and 70’s recordings. There are of course bands today that have a great vintage sound but I wouldn’t go so far to say that we are influenced by it.
Following on from this, how have you managed to maintain that warm 70’s sound, while still sounding modern and fresh, are there any production tricks you used to achieve this, and do you use modern or more vintage equipment?
Martin: The record was recorded with analog equipment and caught on tape while me, Johan and Henrik played together live in the studio; drums, bass and guitar, all in one room. I did some overdubs but most of the solos were recorded live as well to give it a more natural feel. After Niklas had put down his vocals and Petrus his keys, it was all done! It took 8 days. We can’t take credit for any special production tricks because it all has to do with our producer Berno Paulsson working his magic.
The band’s performance on this album is incredibly tight, with Johan and Henrik making up your rhythm section, sounding not only influenced by, but as tight and awesome as Geezer Butler and Bill Ward. How strong is the chemistry in the band for you guys to sound so together, and have such a tight performance?
Martin: Me and Johan started play together in the late 90’s and Henrik and Johan had a band together as well for a short time. So we have known each other for a long time but not played that much together. Then when we started The Graviators we began to rehearse a lot and put in some really hard work to make us possible to sound like we do today. Nothing comes for free!
From Motherload it’s clear that the band has a real penchant for long epic solos, with Druid’s Ritual being almost 14 minutes in length. In live performances do you stick to the songs as they are on the album, or delve into jams and improvisations?
Martin: We improvise a lot but we don’t extend our songs on stage because we just don’t have time for that. We haven’t done a headline tour yet so we usually just get like 40- 50 minutes on stage, which is a shame really. The songs are longer on record instead, but if we would have more time we would of course extend the songs on stage as well!
Sweden has a lot of great doom metal bands kicking about, is there a strong close knit scene there, or are there just a lot of good bands springing up on their own?
Martin: No, not really. The bands just pop up on their own. Many of us come from different cities.
What are some of the lyrical themes running through Motherload? Narrow Minded Bastards has the band calling for a revolution, do you have political views which influence the album?
Johan: A call for revolution, yes please, it´s needed. I grew up in a socialistic Sweden where nobody where to rich and nobody to poor, or at least that’s what they taught us in school. If you go back 40 years in Swedish history a rich person could earn 9 times more money than an ordinary worker, now 40 years later a rich person can earn 127 times more money than an ordinary worker. What’s gone wrong? From 1946 to 1975 the Swedish politicians tried decrease the gap between the classes, but 1975 was the year when the Swedish socialist´s turned their back on the people, they bought the idea that a high productivity with low wages would create a lot of jobs in the future. It has gone 40 years and every year the unemployment and poverty rises. So you can say from 1975 up till now the rich people have taken back everything and more! The rich people give us a choice, to work really hard for piss poor wages or to starve to death, that’s nice of them. So we need to put real pressure on our politicians, we need to stalk them as they stalk us with their big brother society, it seems to me that you can’t trust politicians, they are all liars and thieves. A couple of songs on this album are inspired by politician’s greed and stupidity. Power to the people. Viva la revolution.
Motherload will be released on vinyl as well as on CD. Given the warm, old school sound of the music it must sound phenomenal on wax. How do you feel about the recent vinyl resurgence of the last few years, is it a flash in the pan, or is it here to stay?
Martin: I think it’s here to stay. Why would you buy a CD when you can get digital music of the internet? Vinyl is the real deal; they are bigger and nicer and sound a whole lot better!
You’ll be doing a short tour in April/May, playing Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Are there any plans in the pipeline for you to play in the UK at any point?
Martin: No, but that would be great! We played in London on our tour with Saint Vitus in 2010, so we have been there once. We would of course like to play all over the world but we don’t get any offers so… If you want to hear us you have to come to our rehearsal space in Karlshamn, Sweden. J We hope that Motherload will change this but you never know in this day and age.
Thanks for your time guys. Do you have anything else you’d like to mention at all?
Martin: If you got money, then please give us some so we can record an even better album than Motherload and tour the world! Cause everything costs money these days; recording and even touring. When the guys in Pink Floyd were young they could get a couple of months in the Abbey Road studio just to play around and do what the hell they wanted. We want that too! No wonder they did Dark Side of the Moon after a couple of years of experimenting.
And finally, Tony Iommi or Jimmy Page? 😉
Martin: We have different opinions about this one, but the majority will go for Tony! I started out listening to Led Zeppelin and found Black Sabbath later. Jimmy has written some of the most amazing songs there is and his acoustic work in Led Zeppelin is just pure beauty. But Tony is the riff maestro above them all and his solos just makes my soul tremble.
Motherload will be released March 31st 2014 on Napalm records
You can now stream Motherload in full for the next week here (do so, it’s brilliant!)
And you can watch the video for Narrow Minded Bastards:
21.04.14 SE – Stockholm / tba
22.04.14 SE – Lund / Hemgarden
23.04.14 DE – Berlin / Jägerklause
24.04.14 DE – Wiesbaden / Kulturpalast
25.04.14 NL – Groningen / Vera
26.04.14 DE – Berlin / Desertfest
27.04.14 DE – Köln / Underground
28.04.14 DE – Dresden / Ost Pol
29.04.14 DE – München / Feierwerk
30.04.14 DE – Dresden / Ost-Pol
02.05.14 DE – Jena / Black Night
04.05.14 DK – Copenhagen / Heavy Days Doom Town
Thanks for Andy Turner for setting up the interview