About Me

Interview with Svärd

Tim Nedergård and Björn Pettersson, both in IN MOURNING, teamed up with their former bandmate Pierre Stam and drummer Cornelius Althammer, of AHAB, to start this new and heavy music adventure that is SVÄRD. After extensive jam sessions in Sweden, the collective recorded a first EP and have signed a worldwide deal with Italy's powerhouse label Argonauta Records! SVÄRD's debut “The Rift” contains 5 tracks, combining metal with psychedelic elements. The EP was mixed and mastered by Jonas Kjellgren (Sabaton, Hypocrisy, In Mourning, October Tide, Amorphis, and many more) and the digital release happened on July 3rd 2020. Björn and Cornelius answered a few questions from Metal Imperium. Learn more about SVÄRD, a funny and interesting band.

M.I. - How did the idea of members of AHAB and IN MOURNING getting together, in 2017, to start a new band project come up?

Cornelius: When my dear friend Timpa visited me the year before he approached me with this idea. It was an extremely bad idea, because we live so far from each other. But I´d never say no to him (only in musical terms). And sure, over more than ten years we had developed such a great friendship that it was almost clear that it would end up in some musical collaboration, in the end. There are enough drummers in Sweden, I frankly assume, but the boys wanted me for personal reasons. So, I thought this was fucking cool and this became one of the coolest bad ideas ever. 

M.I. - It started off as a fun music project but evolved into something more serious. What’s SVÄRD importance to you these days?

Cornelius: Svärd were founded to become a touring band, in the first place. Which totally didn´t work out, so far. All members were not satisfied with the amount of touring their other bands do. So, let´s hope we find a vaccination soon, we wanna rock-ah! Svärd is the musical manifestation of our friendship, so I assume we will be a quite energetic thing once we´re on a stage. Planning, composing and other band stuff has become a light in the dark in those unpleasant days.

M.I. - Where does the friendship of 3 Swedish guys and a German one come from? Does living in different countries complicate things for SVÄRD? 

Cornelius: Bella Italia! In 2009 Ahab and In Mourning met on a festival in northern Italy. Immediately after we met, we started talking and drinking. We only stopped to play each of our bands´ shows, obviously. After several hours of talk we suddenly realized that we hadn´t introduced before. So, if you feel so much attracted by each other that you dive right into a conversation even though you have never met before, it might be a sign for at least something. Half a year later I took some friends of mine to Sweden to spent some happy days in summertime. That’s where it started.

M.I. - What are the main differences between Ahab, In Mourning and SVÄRD? 

Cornelius: The Music and the people. And the lyrics, of course... No, seriously, I hope there´s nothing in common, at all. That would be like a catastrophe, in my opinion. The world totally doesn´t need "Ahab II”, made by the original Ahab drummer and Swedish friends nor, "In  Mourning II”, a love story of In Mourning members and a German guy". 

M.I. - All your photos are quite funny… you guys seem to be having a blast all the time… is this a project that lets you show your true self to the world?

Cornelius: Well, whiskey sour plays quite a role in our workflow. We just didn´t think so much. It was just clear that Björn would bring his camera and take some pictures outside our rehearsal space. So, it happened that we got some pictures that give a pretty exact glimpse of how we are in private. Luckily, we don´t have to hide ourselves, Svärd is a band (or let´s keep it a project until we entered the stage for the first time) that can handle us as persons, seen from the musical and the lyrical perspective of Svärd.

M.I. - Why the name SVÄRD? How was it decided? Just a word that sounds good or does it have a deeper meaning?

Björn: Timpa and I actually discussed this just the other day and, to be honest, none of us can recall why and how the name first came up. But I mean, we want to have fun with this, good vibes, and to me naming the band Svärd kind of reflects that. It’s got an appropriate amount of irony and yet I think it’s an alright band name, which we will have trouble presenting in most countries except Sweden. Svärd is Swedish for sword by the way, so it should be all cool and metal approved.

M.I. - After extensive jam sessions in Sweden, you’ve recorded an EP and have just signed a worldwide deal with Argonauta Records. What can SVÄRD offer to the scene? Do you think the deal got inked for your quality as SVÄRD or for your background as musicians?

Björn: I sure hope it’s got at least something to do with the quality of the band, I’d be pretty bummed if it didn’t. But I guess, of course, us being active in our other bands does play a role in it too. I mean, as both Ahab and In Mourning are long runners, if anything I guess at least it gives a label some kind of assurance that we’re actually capable of doing this for a longer run. We don’t really have the mindset to invent something brand new with Svärd, but we want to have a band consisting of exactly these people and we want to do a bunch of stuff that we have longed for and that we haven’t been able to do with our other bands. We want to become a live band and we want to play unpolished and really heavy rock music. I think a lot of rock and metal that gets put out today is polished and edited to the point it’s not even fun anymore.

M.I. - Titled “The Rift” the debut contains 5 heavy-as-hell, stomping metal tracks combined with crushing Sludge Rock with an extra dose of the psychedelia. Do you agree with this description of “The Rift”? In your opinion. what can the listener expect soundwise?

Cornelius: I am totally happy with this description. In fact, I hope that we can raise the dose of psychedelia in the future. The sound became way more exactly what I hoped it to become, than I expected. It´s super heavy and not polished. That was the most important issue for me. I hate polished productions. I prefer very old Darkthrone over Sabaton, if you know what I mean. My drumsound is totally in your face, but not modern sounding. 

M.I. - What inspired “The Rift”? Which topics are addressed in your lyrics? 

Cornelius: The lyrics for "The Rift" initially were merely an excuse. How to combine the picture of woodsmen (Timpa wanted to have four woodsmen in there) and the actual lyrical goal to go sci-fi (which all of us agreed on)?... So, in the end, we started in the woods and then shot the guys up to some strange place in the universe in the closing song of the EP "the Portal".
Even though this exactly is the story, what came out is rather a display of resignation. Fear of things that are different and new is an ancient inborn reflex that has been protecting living creatures for billions of years. Facing the human species, we obviously never have refined or improved this one. No matter if we went through the enlightenment or have developed great ethics and moral about how to live together... If people show up as a bulk those instincts take over in their purest form. Confronted with something new or strange this species will get nasty instantly. Therefore, the lyrics surely contain some kind of criticism. But you can still enjoy is as a turbulent story full of action and drinks!

M.I. - “The Rift” was mixed and mastered by Jonas Kjellgren (Sabaton, Hypocrisy, In Mourning, October Tide, Amorphis, and many more). Why have you opted for him?

Cornelius: He´s a friend of the Swedish ones in this band and he kicks ass! 

M.I. - You’ve said that: ““With Palaeocene Flames we are ironing the shit out of the maiden, really melting our differences together.  It’s four minutes of fast, no holding backish heavy rock music in the name of Svärd.“”… The lyric video for this single got over 1000 views on YouTube in just 2 days. How does that make you feel? Are things working out well for the band? Did you expect this kind of reaction?

Cornelius: Well, in the first place it feels absolutely great. You never know how it is being perceived by the people if you start something new. So, this is specially uplifting. But, due to this shit situation with this pandemic, it feels merely like "totally fucking great on hold". Without the pandemic we would have gone on tour in autumn, either way. So now everything seems to point out these plans would have worked big time but got cancelled. I try not to think so much about that and stay positive. Just finish writing the songs for our full-length, play drums and not think about I´m not coming to Sweden this summer and I´m not going to meet my buddies for another whole year, or so...

M.I. - Your album cover is quite psychedelic with its wavy lines all the way through… the dominant colours are green and brown… where does the rift lead to? Where is the man with the axe heading? What’s the symbolism behind all the details?

Björn: So many questions... who knows? Yeah well, we actually do. It’s all part of an elaborate story which Corny mentioned some things about earlier. This story will be described within the vinyl version of the EP which will come out later. Let’s just say it includes woodsmen and space portals, what more can you really ask for? The artwork is made by Emy, of the French art duo Arrache-toi Un Oeil, don’t make me pronounce it. Their art is amazing, I’m a big fan and I’m super stoked that we could collaborate with them. We gave her the concept, lyrics and some demos along with a few pointers, mainly just to go for a trippy feeling and to use a lot of bright colors. This is her interpretation of it all. Amazing!

M.I. - This EP is a “super tasty appetizer of a full-length album to follow in the not so distant future”… have you got any material prepared already? Any idea when it might be released?

Cornelius: Due to the pandemic we absolutely can´t tell. But be sure, we have a lot of songs in the making and they will be way cooler than the EP!

M.I. - Is SVÄRD your top priority now… how will you deal with all the bands and tours?

Björn: Sure! I’d say that it shares top priority with a bunch of things, but yeah, I’d say it’s up there. Definitely on the toplist. I do also like my kids and my wife of course, In Mourning guys, my work, stuff, but you know... sure!

M.I. - Care to leave a message to Metal Imperium’s readers?

Björn: Take care of each other, keep the distance, keep safe, eat your greens. Also, I just recently re-discovered the greatness of Powerslave by Iron Maiden, which feels like an important message for everyone. Oh, and yeah our EP comes out on July 3rd, which is actually THIS coming Friday when I write this, so feel free to check it out – we’d be super, super grateful!

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca