“All of them have had something unique in their approach that they have brought to Marduk but the argument will be something similar to that of Iron Maiden. Some people will always prefer Paul Di’Anno over Bruce Dickinson.”
Marduk is a timeless black metal act. When other pioneering groups break up or become hell bent on reliving the past, Marduk marches on. They never lose touch with the reality that has made them famous and that is why their following is so strong.
Although I can honestly say that I’ve been a fan of the band for years, the ferocity in which I followed them increased after I interviewed Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson (Guitars) during the Serpent Sermon tour.
Morgan was not at all what I expected. He is a passionate musician with a devotion to his craft that is more than admirable, it is praiseworthy. When I heard Marduk was playing through my city in support of Frontschwein, I knew I must attend.
The road is no friend to a touring musician. The conditions, delays and endless controversy are only scratching the surface of an album Marduk has been out supporting since 2015!
Please enjoy some excerpts of my 8/25/17 interview with Morgan of Marduk where we talk Frontschwein, Concert Cancellations and Marduk Vocalists.
David Halbe: Last September the band was supposed to tour the U.S with Carach Angren, Rotting Christ, and Necronomicon but was forced to drop out due to some visa situations. What happened?
Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson: Actually it was not a problem with authority or something like that, it’s that when we tour the states (US) we need to have a visa. Specifically a P1 paper, (P1 Visa for Artists and Entertainers of Internationally Recognized Entertainment Groups), it came from a lawyer in the states but our record label over here made an error. We needed it a long time in advance because it usually takes a long time for the paperwork to process.
Dave: For sure.
Morgan: It might take two weeks extra, you never know. They kept telling me it will be fine and I kept saying it’s not going to be fine and of course it took longer than expected to get the documents over here. I got notification the filing papers in late August and the tour was in September. You get that paper and you book your dates with the Embassy, it can be a few weeks ahead since we didn’t do it a long time in advance it got to be a problem because we were already two weeks into the tour, so we have a different plan for the future. I don’t believe it will be an issue anymore but in regards to this issue we decided to divide the tour into two parts, mostly because we had other dates outside the states planned in between.
Dave: Have you included some of the places you missed on the first part of the tour?
Morgan: We tried to include most of those places but as you know it’s not possible to go to all the exact places you had originally scheduled.
Morgan: But I’d say we are playing them more or less.
Dave: Ok, I got a couple of Fronschwein questions. Is the Frontschwein album title making reference to front line soldiers (WW2) or more of a direct translation, ‘Front Pig’?
Morgan: It’s more of a reference to the whole theme of war, cannon fodder maybe that’s what you can call it. It’s making reference to those people who are always at the forefront of war. They are the ones who always seem to end up dying, those at the front.
Dave: Ok I think I get it, causalities of the battlefront.
Morgan: The frontline soldiers. That’s the idea, I think that concept has a lot to do with it. If you think about a lot of the songs are relatable on that album.
Dave: Was it an intentional decision to tone down the use of religious concepts in Frontschwein?
Morgan: No. I mean, we don’t sit down and plan things ahead of time. That fact is, we always do what we want to do. We’ve done that quite a lot in the past and we’ll likely revisit that in the future but sometimes you have a different aspect or different theme you want to express. Marduk has done thirteen studio albums and all of them have served a different theme. Right now we are thinking about the future, different themes in our heads for upcoming albums and we’ll see which one of those comes first.
Dave: Ok. Music critics have drawn correlations between Frontschwein and Panzer Division – citing battle themes and songs titles like (‘502’ & ‘503’), was this intentional or just a nod to your roots?
Morgan: Not really. I mean music-wise it’s not a continuation of something from a past Marduk album. As we discussed all of the albums are different in their own way. It has of course the same theme, a war theme, we kind of played around with that idea because 502 is for heavy panzer battalion and 503 is also a heavy panzer battalion so possibly there is some kind of a link there too.
Dave: That’s badass! I never knew that. Frontschwein is the 5th album to feature Mortus on vocals. Is he the best Marduk vocalist?
Morgan: For me yes, but everybody will have different opinions on that. I like all of our vocalists, we all worked well together at that time. All of them have had something unique in their approach that they have brought to Marduk but the argument will be something similar to that of Iron Maiden. Some people will always prefer Paul Di’Anno over Bruce Dickinson.
Dave: That’s a great point!
Morgan: They will always like what we have done together but things change and when you replace a vocalist, you don’t want to replace them with somebody that sounds exactly the same.
Morgan: That’s what I like about Mortuus’s voice, he uses it so much as an instrument.
Dave: Fuck yea, that’s totally the truth. When can we expect a follow up to Frontschwein or perhaps is this the right time to take a break? You’ve been supporting this release since 2015.
Morgan: Yes, we’ve been touring since the album came out (January, 2015). We’ve done a lot of traveling and after this current tour we’ve got a couple more festivals to do and then we are off the live cycle. We will go back to the bunker and work on things for the next album. We haven’t really thought about recording yet because our main focus is this tour and these upcoming shows.
Dave: So you have discussed working on a follow up, where exactly are you at in the process?
Morgan: We have ideas, a lot of ideas. We really haven’t been working together on anything yet. When the touring is done we will get back together and brainstorm some ideas. When we finish the tour we will decide.
Dave: Will you use the studio of (Devo – (Bass) Marduk) again?
Morgan: Yes, that’s the plan. Of course, that’s the best way for us to work. We don’t have to fight any nine to five traffic. We have a studio owned by our bass player and it’s very close to where I live. We can go down there and work three days in a row then go home for a week. We can work day and night, really, whenever we want to. It’s the perfect way to work because you can focus in a different way instead of sitting in traffic trying to fight your way to a specific studio. With Devo a part of the band he knows how we want to sound so it’s a win, win situation for us.
Dave: That’s really cool, with the three days on, it also gives you a chance to go home and think about things individually then come back into the studio with a new idea or approach.
Morgan: You have the opportunity to rethink whatever you want to.
Dave: Marduk had a concert canceled last year in Oakland, California (Metro Opera House) because of a misleading Facebook post that stated: “black metal band with known white supremacist ties from Sweden that profit off of glorifying Nazi imagery and songs about Nazi SS officers and anti-semitism.” Do you have anything to say?
Morgan: Every circus has it’s clown.
Dave: There you go!
Morgan: They’re doing this and they’re saying that. Why do you even give a fuck? If the protestors wouldn’t have given a fuck, if media wouldn’t have given a fuck then it would be nothing. With those kinds of people it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire to even give them any attention. You go on anyway and if those kinds of people come, you solve it. It makes them very happy if they feel like they are winning at something, you know?
Dave: I agree.
Morgan: You have done nothing but given them the attention they want because the more they are exposed the happier they are. Trouble makers that should just run away. It’s too bad that they have to target music. I find it insulting, they should find something else to do. That whole situation got blown out of proportion. We were like, what? What is this all about?
Dave: I’ll bet.
Morgan: People just ought to just concentrate on doing something good with their own lives.
Dave: Did this cancelation hurt or help the group? Is any publicity good publicity in this case?
Morgan: Not really. I mean, we don’t really care.
Dave: It is what it is then?
Dave: I hear you.
Morgan: Really, it’s the same with everything, I don’t really follow media. I think I work much harder if I don’t think about all those things.
Dave: I agree. The shit is beyond your control. How important is it for the band to have a strong following in North America?
Morgan: I don’t know, for me it is important to do what you believe in. Something that works in one place may not work in another.
Dave: I think you’ve concentrated on North America these past few years.
Morgan: Maybe, but I find it’s equally important to play in Japan and South America as well. I believe in the power of the music and I believe that I will be able to perform it in all parts of the world. For me it’s important to play out in Idaho (USA) if we’ve never been there.
Dave: You just wanna keep marching?
Morgan: Exactly, I like to play places we have never been and I believe it’s important to reach as many places as possible because that’s the way it is.
Dave: Do you think metal draws negative stereotypes?
Morgan: Not really. I remember back in the ‘80s about this guy who listened to Judas Priest and ended up killing himself. The band was accused but music can’t be held responsible for an individual’s actions. There’s scum everywhere, no matter what form of music there will always be people making trouble.
Dave: Hell yea. I like the way you think man.
Morgan: (Laughs) It’s just logic to me. Common sense I would say.
Dave: I agree with you. Thanks so much for your time tonight.
Morgan: No problem. Thank you.
- Morgan “Evil” Steinmeyer Håkansson – Guitars
- Fredrick Widigs – Drums
- Mortuus– Vocals
- Magnus “Devo” Andersson – Bass