Interview done by Burt Wolf with Rogga, singer, guitarist & main song writer for PAGANIZER. Interview done on November 26, 2002.
I'M A LITTLE FAMILIAR WITH PAGANIZER, BUT FOR MY READERS THAT ARE NEW TO YOU GUYS, COULD YOU GIVE A LITTLE OF THE BANDS HISTORY? Well, we started out back in 1998 as a whole other band with a different line up & music, etc. Back then I was only the vocalist & we played some kinda retro Thrash shit that was so popular then... After releasing our debut the band pretty much crashed due to some severe differences within the group & as I came up with the band name I simply reformed the band after a while with new members & chose to play the music I always been into...Death fucking Metal!
WHY WAS THE NAME PAGANIZER CHOSEN FOR THE BAND? When we started up the band we were considering a bunch of names & I thought we should have a brutal name, but none of my ideas fit to the music the guys wrote. Then I just mentioned the name PAGANIZER which I thought would be appropriate for a Thrash band just as a joke & our drummer back then just loved it! So you can easily say that we wouldn't have this name today if I had gotten to choose, ha ha! Anyway, after having the name for some years I have gotten used to it & now for the first time I actually like it a bit... We will never change name though, since that is probably the most stupid thing you can do if you have released three albums under the same moniker so now we'll definitely be sticking to the name.
WHO OR WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR INFLUENCES IN CREATING YOUR STYLE & SOUND? I'm totally into the old Swedish Death Metal still after so many years. I simply can't find anything I'd like more to listen to or play. Bands like GRAVE, GOD MACBRE, EDGE OF SANITY, CARNAGE, ENTOMBED, DISMEMBER, VOMITORY, etc, is exactly the way I like music to be played. However I enjoy much other music & other forms of Death Metal, but the old Swedish sound is what inspires me & makes me want to create my own music.
HOW WOULD YOU BEST DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF PAGANIZER? I'd say old school Swedish Death Metal...haha! That's the only thing I can think of & actually the only style we have been compared to as well.
PLEASE TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT EACH OF YOUR RELEASES YOU HAVE OUT? The first album "Deadbanger" is not really a PAGANIZER album anymore, if you ask me, it's a retro Thrash album like WITCHERY or so. However it's a good album if you like that kinda shit... Our second album "Promoting Total Death" is the album I wrote after the original line up split up. This album is still very important to me as it was written & rehearsed in only weeks & then recorded in like four days. The out come still sounds fucking brutal, if you ask me, even if some songs are way better than others... My fave tracks on this album are "Brutal Way To Die", "Only Ashes Remain" & "All Hope Is Gone". These three songs are total back to the roots Death Metal as I write it. Then we of course have our new album "Dead Unburied" which we recorded in Sunlight Studios in March. This album is by far the most worked through & brutal stuff we've ever done & I'm totally amazed every time I listen to it as I can't believe it's actually we who play...haha!
HOW DID YOUR DEAL WITH PSYCHIC SCREAM RECORDS COME ABOUT FOR YOUR "DEADBANGER" CD & THEN YOUR DEAL WITH FOREVER UNDERGROUND RECORDS FOR YOUR "PROMOTING TOTAL DEATH" CD? We recorded a demo back in 1998 & sent it out to some people I was in contact with & Eric at PSYCHIC SCREAM was one of them. We got a couple of offers, but Eric was cool to work with so we decided to let him release the album. However he got into some censorship trouble later on & had to shut down his label. After the band was reformed we recorded the "Promoting..." album & just let it lay around as the label was inactive, but then we were tipped off about FOREVER U. by a friend & sent them the songs & they were happy to release it for us. Our deal was initially for two albums, so we'll see what happens in the future.
THESE ARE THE ONLY TWO RELEASES OF YOURS I HAVE & I LOVE THEM BOTH. HOW WELL WERE THEY RECEIVED BY THE UNDERGROUND SCENE? So you don't have the new one? I have to send you a copy then! Anyway, both releases were received very well by both listeners & magazines. However the distribution wasn't really great on our first album, but for "Promoting..." we still receive both reviews & interviews even though it was released quite a while back. The overall rating in the reviews of that album has been from good to excellent with almost no exceptions, which is great if you ask me!
HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU'VE IMPROVED & PROGRESSED SINCE YOUR DEMO "STORMFIRE" TO PRESENT DAY? Haha, we are not the same band at all! The "Stormfire" demo was recorded in some hours just for fun & turned out cool enough to get us a record deal & that I'm glad for, but the music & playing on it is nothing I really like to listen to nowadays. I can only speak for myself & Dea since we are the only ones left from that time, now we have matured of course as song writers, & back then I didn't know how to play guitar properly, but that has improved as well over the last years. However, I will never become any guitar solo master, but that isn't needed when you play basic Death Metal!
WHAT PAGANIZER SONG DO YOU FEEL IS THE BEST REPRESENTATION OF WHAT THE BAND IS ALL ABOUT & WHY? Apart from the fave songs I mentioned before from the "Promoting..." album, I will have to say "Landscapes Made Of Human Skin" on the new album "Dead Unburied". This track is totally Death Metal in every single atom & we also have the old GRAVE singer Jorgen Sandstrom on co-vocals on that song, which is totally amazing!But, I would be unfair to the album if I didn't mention that all the tracks on it represents PAGANIZER, the album turned out fucking amazing & all who have heard it thinks it's the best Swedish Death album of recent years, so I'll just let you check out what track you think is most representative. You can find the track "Beyond Redemption" on our site & that's the slow track from the album & then you can find "Lobotomized" on the www.xtreemmusic.com site & that's the melodic track on the album...haha! Also if you're interested at the same site you can find an advance of the song "Shallow Burial" from our next album...
WHO WRITES THE MAJORITY OF THE MUSIC IN THE BAND OR IS IT A WHOLE BAND COLLABORATION? I mostly write the music & the lyrics in the band. Sometimes our other guitarist comes up with a riff or so & then i incorporate it in a song if it fits with the concept. He usually writes more melodic stuff than me (he wrote half of "Lobotomized") so a couple of riffs on every album is enough if you ask me...haha! Anyway, I'm pleased with writing the material myself since then I can more easily get my vision of PAGANIZER's sound across.
I READ THAT PSYCHIC SCREAM RECORDS HAD SOME CENSORSHIP PROBLEMS WITH THE RELEASE OF YOUR SECOND CD, WHAT WAS THAT ALL ABOUT? After we had recorded the "Promoting..." material we sent it off to PSYCHIC SCREAM & almost at the same time the label was drawn into legal matters by the government in their home country of Malaysia. Apparently it's illegal there to release music as PAGANIZER with anti-religious & death glorifying lyrics... So the label was arrested by the police & put in jail for at least a day or so. Apparently they don't like Death Metal in Malaysia... However as the album was already recorded we just waited & when things didn't get better we let FOREVER U. release the album which proved to be very good for us in the end, so you can say that everything worked out well for PAGANIZER anyway. However, I haven't a clue what happened to Eric at PSYCHIC SCREAM after we last spoke maybe a year ago...
WHAT IS THE LYRICAL CONTENT OF SOME OF YOUR SONGS? I've taken the decision that if we play Death Metal we will also have lyrics about death & related matters. It's an easy topic to cover as there is virtually thousands of ways to slaughter a person... Also, I don't care much about bands that write about their personal fucking problems or the environment or shit like that. Death Metal is about death & the darker aspects of being trapped in this rotting existence & that's what we'll keep on writing about as well.
DO YOU GUYS PLAY OUT A LOT? WHO ARE SOME OF THE BANDS YOU'VE PLAYED SHOWS WITH? WHERE ARE SOME OF THE PLACES YOU'VE PLAYED? No! Hahaha! we live in fucking Sweden & here the live scene is veeeery slow & small. Also we don't get many offers to play in Europe since the costs for our gas & ferry tickets would be huge for any small club/festival. It's mostly the bigger bands from around here that gets to play & the smaller & medium bands are mostly forced to pay their travelling costs themselves & we refuse to do that since we are all very poor social rejects in the band...haha! The last show we had was in February just before going to Sunlight Studio. We played in Gothenburg together with PAGAN RITES which is a side project from NIFELHEIM. The show was cool & lots of fun so I wouldn't mind playing live as often as possible, but as I said that won't happen as long as we're not a bigger band...
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR MOST MEMORABLE SHOW & WHY? That would be a show from last year when I was a session vocalist for DERANGED on their European tour with IMMOLATION & DESTROYER 666. We had two shows in France on different occasions & both were fucking brutal! People in France seem to be some what crazy, haha! Those shows were really killer & also the show in Croatia was cool as the fans there were totally devoted to Death Metal. On the other hand I once did a show with my other band CARVE in Stockholm last year as well & I was so drunk I played totally other stuff than the other guys in the band...after two songs I just stopped playing, told the audience to fuck off & feel off the stage...haha! That was a memorable show, haha!
I HEARD THE GOVERNMENT IN SWEDEN HELPS FUND THE TEACHING & LEARNING OF MUSIC THERE. IS THIS TRUE & HOW DO THEY HELP OUT? I suppose it's perhaps better here than in other countries, but it's not as great as it sounds. Mostly the help is in the way the cities & towns provide rehearsal places for bands to low costs & also provides equipment to some extent. This is really good for new bands & people who want to learn to play, but for us who's been playing some years there's really nothing much they do. PAGANIZER is also part of a local music network so we receive maybe 400 Euro a year for recording purposes & so on which is not much, but as I said, other countries maybe don't help their bands at all, so I'm glad there's some advantages for us anyway.
THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS I FIGURED THERE IS SUCH A GREAT MUSIC SCENE IN SWEDEN? Yeah, probably! It's very easy to start your own band here since you don't really have to buy any of your own equipment in the beginning. The winters here are fucking harsh too, so maybe that's why people want to stay in & play as well...haha!
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE SCENE THERE IN SWEDEN? WHO ARE SOME OF THE BETTER BANDS, LABELS, MAGAZINES, ETC... IN YOUR OPINION? The scene is great here, apart from the live scene which is totally under developed compared to for example, Germany. Good magazines are for instance, CLOSE-UP & METALWIRE which are both written in Swedish & pro released so you can find them almost anywhere. When it comes to bands I think Sweden was & still is the best country in the world for Death Metal. My personal faves are bands like PRIMITIVE SYMPHONY, KAAMOS, NOMINON & many more in Swedish underground. One of the great things are that when you read the demo pages in the Swedish magazines you find shit loads of good unsigned bands which you can get demos from & that is more fun than ordering the latest CANNIBAL CORPSE album or what ever.
HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE THE SWEDISH MUSIC SCENE TO THE AMERICAN MUSIC SCENE? I think the US scene is totally into that fucking DYING FETUS/CRYPTOPSY shit. On our label FOREVER U. you can finds heaps of those kinds bands & I can't really say that I understand shit of that music... Apart from that I don't really know much about the US scene anymore. I love the first stuff by bands like MASSACRE & DEICIDE, but apparently that music isn't played much over there anymore, which is too bad.
WHAT DO THE MEMBERS OF PAGANIZER DO WHEN NOT DOING WORK FOR THE BAND? Me & the bass player are non working fuck ups, the lead guitarist works at a bakery & our drummer works at a cheese factory! I used to work there as well & I can tell you that it was no fucking game, haha! It's like working in a steel mill or something & everyday when you get home your body was totally fucked up, so I can't really say I mind being unemployed...
DO YOU LISTEN TO ANY OTHER STYLES OF MUSIC BESIDES WHAT YOU PLAY? WHO ARE SOME OF THE BANDS YOUR CURRENTLY INTO? Well as I mentioned most old Swedish Death bands spin in my player as well as more relaxed stuff like LAKE OF TEARS & SENTENCED. I also like earlier American stuff as well as the Polish gods VADER. As for other music than Death Metal I'm totally into the American singer/song writer Roky Erikson, which is a fucking amazing guy & I also like all the old CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL albums & the solo stuff by their sing John Fogerty. The solo stuff by Dan Swano/ex. EDGE OF SANITY is also great like NIGHTINGALE, MOONTOWER & STEEL. To be honest, me & our drummer are quite taken by stuff like SHAKIRA, BRITNEY & DESTINY'S CHILD as well...haha! I'm a sucker for girls who sing AND look sexy...hahaha!
DO YOU REMEMBER WHERE YOU WERE & WHAT YOU WERE DOING WHEN YOU FIRST HEARD ABOUT THE 9-11-01 ATTACKS HERE IN THE U.S.? WHAT WAS THE RESPONSE LIKE THERE IN SWEDEN? ANY THOUGHTS ON THIS TRAGEDY? My parents had recently moved from their house into an apartment & I was there cooking dinner together with my father when he turned up the volume on the radio. Then we turned on the TV & watched the pictures & then we just kept watching all evening as more & more pictures were shown. I'm not really easily shocked, so I thought it was quite interesting that something finally happened of these proportions, but of course the reaction in Sweden was as in most countries, on the news people speculated on who was responsible & so on. Any thoughts on this for me? Haha, that would not be very nice ones! Anyway, I really hate Arabs, so that this happened was maybe a good thing since now the USA can begin to wipe away these creatures from the earth. I really hate religion in all forms, but I think that Muslims are the scum of the earth since they mainly live for war, terror & oppress their women. So even if I imagine the affected of this tragedy feel grief maybe this was meant to happen to set off the igniting spark that is needed for the west to terminate the Muslims.
WHAT IS NEXT ON THE HORIZON FOR PAGANIZER? We have already recorded half of the next album at Soundlab Studios together with Mieszko/NASUM as producer. Sometime in February we'll be recording the final material as well as mixing & mastering the album. Then we hope to get it released in April. Apart from that we are taking it slow & are awaiting the response on the current album. Hopefully some live shows will be set up next year, but we don't count on it...
THAT'S ALL THE QUESTIONS FROM ME. THANX FOR DOING THE INTERVIEW, WOULD YOU LIKE TO ADD ANYTHING ELSE TO CLOSE OUT? My standard answer is & will always be...ONLY DEATH IS REAL!!!