Henrik Ohlsson, one of the brainchild of bands
such as THEORY IN PRACTICE and MUTANT, could be considered as
a dead serious man when talking about his invincible world for armageddon
theories, how to create a true "smash hit" on the terms of sparkling creativity
and his total dedication towards deathly serious music. And above all, how
to stay calm and unruffled through fire and ice when attacked by some poor
Mr.Interviewer's tacky, yet poignant (and so pompous!) questionnaire. Keep
reading on, a Swedish antichrist(!) speaks out about the armageddon theories
and some other really lovely topics as well...
I'm listening to "The Armageddon Theories", it sounds to me like you
want THEORY IN PRACTICE to be like a lasting marriage between an
extreme technicality and the brutality. I think one could easily take such
bands as NOCTURNUS and DEATH in comparison... Agree?<
"Too a certain extent, I agree. But I also see a lot of differences between
us and them. First of all, I think we're more technical and more devoted
to really confuse the listener. That was one of the reasons we started this
band; to fuck with people's heads and make them say: 'How the hell do they
do that?' But then again, I'm definitely a fan of the bands you mentioned
and I guess their existence have inspired us a little bit to play this kind
Lake, your second axemaster, is mostly responsible for all your music and
musical arrangements and you're credited for the lyrics on "T.A.T.".
I was wondering what kind of things resulted in you sharing both your musical
and lyrical contributions this way? Was this all kind of predestined before
going into the actual recording sessions?<
"Well, Peter has come up with the music and I've done the lyrics since
THEORY IN PRACTICE was formed. So we're used to working like this.
With Peter as the main songwriter and me as the main lyrics writer from
the start, we laid foundations for how we work today. So we have done our
individual contributions to the material before we actually started recording
it. It was all predestined that Peter would do the music and that I would
handle the lyrics and lyrical arrangements. By the way, Peter isn't our
second axemaster, he's our only guitarist since Johan left after the release
of our first album 'Third Eye Function'."
to the lyrics of the album, it seems like your texts vary between 'from a
collapse of mankind' to 'the end of the world' to 'a new alien lifeform'
sector. Are you telling us that you're damn worried about the existence of
humankind as its own species and overall, how the human race is going towards
its own grande finale of death and destruction in the longrun? Some hypothetical
pondering here, but how would your favorite end of the world be like? How
would you like to die indeed?<
"You got the basic idea of the lyrics right, eventhough there's also some
deeper stuff hidden in them. Of course, I am worried about humankind when
I see the leaders of the world act like they can't think further than a week
ahead. Not to mention the religious fanatics that are everywhere. I also
feel that maybe it is for the best that our species become extinct. The reason
I say that is because I don't see an end to the general ignorance and stupidity
that is implanted in people's heads; the unwillingness to develop the mind
is horrifying. This may sound a bit misanthropic but I think that I would
rather see the end of humanity instead of the end of the world, because we're
the reason for all the bullshit that's going on. At least the end of humanity
as we know it and the rise of... well, read the lyrics of 'The Armageddon
Theories'. As for my own death, I think I die very other day only to
rise again. But the final and ultimate death of my being should preferably
take place during ejaculation with my mind in total bliss!"
individual thinking allowed, these so-called "standard people" want to see
the worst kind of people becoming their leaders... What's even worse, they
stick to them like fucking bloodsuckers from fucking hell, hoping for a
better day to come. They kind of mix their utterly positive
illusions and dreams with reality (which obviously is something else than
what these poor people were thinking of...). As a result (if you're allowed
to use such word in this matter?), all they get is even more sorrow, pain,
bitterness and despair for their hopes. To prove it to yourself, you just
have to watch the daily news from TV once a day and you have got the proof
that the planet Earth is completely infested by fools, or as some of us are
used to call them, our "leaders"... Chosen by us! Another bunch of fools,
too, who believed in them since they passed by their very first chalk lines
of approval and glory splendidly. Pathetic fools! The Planet Earth, a world
of justice... and total chaos... HMM, I guess I touched those "deeper"
topics a little bit better this time around, which were hidden in your
lyrics on "T.A.T.", didn't I ...?!<
"Sure, but the really deep stuff lies within certain beliefs that are displayed
in the lyrics. Like the fact that energy never disappears or dies, it just
takes new forms, you know. Belief in the existence of the soul, which is
a basic fact for me but not to everyone. Some people believe that when we
die, we just disappear and all our deeds die with us, which I think is absurd."
any special methods as far as the song writing process of THEORY
IN PRACTICE goes, where its whole richness is concerned? Now Henrik,
let's go into some well kept details, the space is all yours...<
"Oh, you want the secret T.I.P. process of creation? Usually, it all
starts in Peter's head at his place, where he experiences the blessing of
inspiration at a given time. After presenting the stuff to us and maybe alter
some things here and there, we start learning it. Real slow I might add,
to get the hang of it. After playing the stuff a million times (that's what
it feels like), we reach the glorious light speed and no one understands what
the fuck is going on when they hear it for the first time. By that time,
I've figured out what this song should be about lyrically and I start coming
up with arrangements for the vocal part. It's important to know the song
inside-out when you're doing vocals for this extremely technical music,
otherwise you're lost pretty soon... The rest of the band usually don't
get to hear how I've arranged the vocals until we actually start recording
'em in the studio, so it's always a surprise for them! There you go! A couple
of months has passed and we have a new T.I.P. song."
saying that the rest of the band usually doesn't get to hear how you've
arranged the vocals until you actually start recording? Don't you find it
a bit dangerous, because when you're doing the vocals in the actual recording
session, it may cause a change to the whole song structure. In some cases,
the vocal parts may overpower the basic stem of a song so much that at
one point it starts taking over the whole atmosphere and leaving other
instruments way behind... As you know, vocal patterns, well done and really
powerfully dynamite-like, can sometimes cause some major harm and serious
damage to the health of a well crafted song structure. On the other hand,
you can hardly do the vocals first, ever...<
"Right, it's impossible to do the vocal arrangements first. At least in our
kind of music. But we know what's going to be verses, we just don't know
how they will be done rhythmically until I've come up with something. So
I know there's going to be vocals on this or that riff and I just work
from there. We seldom have problems with that. The other guys hardly ever
disapprove with my vocal arrangements, it's quite the opposite really. They
think it's killer! However, if they feel that something is totally wrong
in their opinion, they'll just explain why and if we agree, I just change
it a bit. But as I said, we usually don't have that kind of problem."
psychologically is it actually important for you to know that you have come
up with something that is both pleasing and mind lifting for the fans of
T.I.P... And particularly to yourself? In order to please your audience,
do you first have to be pleased with your music and what you are doing?
Could there be no other way to do it?<
"Yeah, pressure is always built up when we're supposed to start working on
a new album, since it has to be better than the previous one. However, it
comes out as it comes out, regardless of how much we worry about it
because in the rehearsal room, one thing leads to another pretty naturally.
When we rehearse, we're not really thinking about the fact that the stuff
we're doing will eventually become an album... We just fool around with our
instruments in the most insane way possible. We have a certain mentality
in rehearsals that ensures us and our audience that technicality and brutality
is what will come out, no matter what. And that sure is mind lifting and
consider it as an advantage or a disadvantage to work under pressure with
new material? From what I have heard, working under conditions of an intense
pressure has helped bands to push things even further, like getting the
maximum 200% out of yourselves in a recording situation and in the very end,
the final result has been very much a soul burning experience (in a positive
aspect of the word, of course!) for everybody involved...<
"Well, since the new stuff comes up pretty naturally, we're not really worried
of how it will turn out. We just concentrate on doing the most out of the material
we have and really try to make it as interesting as possible. Our real
problem is time... Getting the songs ready in time, I mean. We're always
under pressure in that aspect because it takes a couple of months to get
a new song finished and there is supposed to be like nine songs or something
on an album. Using some fairly simple maths, you'll see that we don't have
time on our side, if you know what I mean. I guess the answer is rehearsal,
rehearsal and more rehearsal. As a far as the recording situation goes, if
we have rehearsed enough, it will be no problem. It's all about being familiar
with the songs."
as I know, your deal with Singapore's Pulverized Records was just for two
albums. Were you satisfied of how things were working out with them? Did
they sort of fulfil your expectations when it comes to lay-outs, advertising
and general promotion of all kinds? Anything positive or negative things to say
"We could have released three albums through Pulverized Records if we wanted
to, but since Listenable Records wanted to sign us, we didn't have to. And
I'm really happy because of that. Before we released our first CD 'Third
Eye Function', we had a really good contact with Pulverized through
faxes and some phone calls, but that started to deteriorate pretty soon.
First of all, the debut album was delayed as hell and when it came out, we
received very little promotion for it; no interviews were set up and any
kind of touring was out of the question. I respected them as long as they
did what they could for us, with a small budget and their odd location. It
wasn't easy but when we were ready to record our second album, we went to
the studio without even knowing if they could pay for the recording! Simply
because we couldn't reach them through phone, fax, e-mail or anything! It
kind of worked out in the end after a very delayed payment to the studio.
The Abyss Studio demands payment in advance before any Pulverized bands start
recording there nowadays, all because of that embarrassing payment situation
we had. Hopefully, such problems are out of the way now that we've signed
to Listenable. The contact we have with Listenable's label manager is really
good. And I've done more interviews before the re-release of 'The Armageddon
Theories' on Listenable Records than I ever did for the two albums on
Pulverized Records! So things are definitely looking up!"
were met by this kind of an embarrassing situation, while recording your
second full-length at the Abyss Studio, what kind of lessons did it teach
to you as far as a contract between the band and the labels was concerned?
Never trust a hippie or what...?!<
"We learnt to never trust a label, basically. We were so tired of dealing
with idiots (excuse the expression...) and that's when I decided I never
wanted to release anything on that label again. It would be better to just
quit than having to go through that shit one more time. I just hope that
signing to Listenable Records will make things work better. It's important
to have a regular communication with the label, to really know what's going
on at the moment. We didn't have that with Pulverized but so far Listenable
has been great."
is and has always been a nice topic to deal with. Probably one of the most
favorite subjects ever in the history of Heavy Metal music. How do you think
people saw this concept differently in the 70's, in its period of a heavier
music, now that you see yourself over to the present times and take a glance
over through lyrics of some bands from both eras?<
"The only 70's band I've really listened to is KISS, which were my
first idols. You don't find much death in their lyrics; it's more like love,
drinking and fucking. A great start for a seven year old boy, hehehe! BLACK
SABBATH was more about death, eventhough their lyrics are wimpy compared
to today's extreme lyrical approaches. I think it has become more and more
extreme. BLACK SABBATH was blasphemy incarnated in those days but
it requires more and more to shock people; I mean 'Entrails ripped from a
virgin's cunt' is a bit worse than 'He was turned to steel in a great magnetic
field'. Bands have explored death as a topic for many years now. From the
innocent death approaches of the 70's to the more extreme forms of satanic sacrifices,
ritual suicide, gore, the after-life, armageddon (of course!). I think we'll
see a deeper understanding of death in the future. As a matter of fact,
I think many bands are enlightened on that subject today."
you see THEORY IN PRACTICE develop and progress from "The
Armageddon..." to your next album? Is it actually still possible to
progress into something more complex, yet tricky than what you're
having now for "T.A.T."? You certainly can't develop just for the
sake of development now, can you?!<
"It may be hard to become more complex but I think we'll stay about to this
level. We'll just try to write better songs and outdo what we did on
'T.A.T.'. Maybe do some more insane stuff and also some more melodic
parts. More of everything! The complexity will always be there, that's for
damn sure. No fucking compromise, we will always try to confuse the listener
one way or the other. We'll see what comes out..."
on from T.I.P. to MUTANT now: As you mentioned, it's a creation
consisting solely of you and Peter. Music-wise however, you're wandering
more on the paths of the 'traditional' Swedish Black/Death Metal approach,
reminding me of such great heavy wrestlers as NAGLFAR and DAWN.
You have this very epic feeling stamped all over your music. What were
the reasons that made you start MUTANT in the very first place?<
"We were waiting for Pulverized to release T.I.P.'s second album,
which took quite a while and we were very frustrated by that. Peter told
me he'd written some really intense songs, probably grown out of that frustration
and that's where it began. I wrote and arranged the lyrics for the songs
and we recorded them immediately with our own studio equipment. The rest
you claim that MUTANT's first seeds were kind of sowed around purely
coincidentally? All based on the ultimate frustration that Peter had at the
time when "The Armageddon Theories" got delayed due to Pulverized's
fucked up schedule with their releases? As I see it, frustration ain't that
bad a thing after all; it's like a driving force sometimes, when the timing
and the place are both at the right stage, agree?<
"Yeah, I guess you could say that. We had some discussions about starting
a Black Metal project when we were recording the second T.I.P. album.
But then, we were drunk and it wasn't that serious. It's great that it actually
happened though! In this case, frustration became a driving force but sometimes,
frustration is just destructive for the mind. I can tell because we had a
lot of it."
take it as a huge challenge to run these two completely different outfits?
In fact, does running both T.I.P. and MUTANT really shouldn't
put you that much into a position where you kind of start to wonder how the
hell you'll kill your time from now on?! Spare time problems, you obviously don't
have 'em at all, right?<
"MUTANT was just a project in the beginning but due to the incredible
response we got, it became very serious. Now we have two equally important
bands and that wasn't really planned from the beginning. It is of course
very time demanding to run two bands but I hope we'll manage to put out quality
stuff from them both. We're signed for three albums per band, so we really
haven't got much of a choice."
in fact the most challenging elements from both MUTANT and THEORY
IN PRACTICE, from your own point of view? Doing lyrics for both bands
must be a hard task by itself, but when you look at this matter with a slightly
deeper view than just merely scratching off the surface, you could
go on and add something like...?<
"In MUTANT's case, I guess the hardest part is coming up with cool vocal
rhythms and, of course, good lyrics. And it's no pic-nic to record the vocals
either, I can tell you that! It takes a few weeks of screaming; you could
call it an awkward kind of singing lessons, before the throat feels alright.
With THEORY IN PRACTICE, the situation is a bit different. First of
all, we have the drumming part, which forces me to push my limits all the
time because of its intensity and technicality. So that's what I mainly
concentrate on, getting the drum patterns right and so on. Then there's the
vocal part again. Now I must not only create cool vocal rhythms, I must also
make them fit those weird riffs! That's about as deep as it gets as long
as I don't get carried away and start rambling about on how I come up with
the weird topics for each of the bands' lyrics."
were put in a position where one of the band should die due to your limited
use of time, which one would it be? MUTANT or T.I.P.?<
"I hope we can avoid that situation. Of course, the band who sells most
albums will get priority. No seriously... IF that happens, I think that
THEORY IN PRACTICE would get the priority since the band has existed
for almost five years now and MUTANT has only been present for little
over a year. That's the way I think it would be right now but that may change
later on... I don't know. Of course, great reviews and good sales figures
does miracles for the inspiration. We've received great reviews for T.I.P.
through the years but the MUTANT album isn't out yet, so it's hard
to tell. What a hard question!"
opinion, how much does doing music for MUTANT differs from the song
writing process of T.I.P.? Are there actually any drastic differences
to be found from both bands' box of creativeness?<
"There is a huge difference! MUTANT doesn't require as much rehearsal
time as THEORY IN PRACTICE does. Therefore, it is much easier to
come up with new material for MUTANT. With THEORY IN PRACTICE,
it takes a couple of months to write a new song and rehearse it into an
acceptable tightness. MUTANT is able to come up with a new song within
a couple of weeks if the inspiration is there."
and influences... I bet that without these two essentially vital elements,
you can hardly be neither a musician nor keep your lyrical pencil sharp when
it comes to song writing. What motivates you to sit down and come up with
your very best efforts for music/lyrics and what could you say about your
influences (outside of music, too!) when putting these tiny pieces together
for a MUTANT song? Is it hard to stay focused all the time regarding
the whole process in creating music?<
"Sometimes, it is impossible to come up with good ideas and then, there's
times when we're just exploding with creativity. It varies a lot. It's all
a matter of using those creative periods in the best way possible. I am
influenced by a lot of things, probably too many to mention them all but
all I can say is that an idea can pop up at very unpredictable moments. It
has a lot to do with day dreaming actually, listening to the thoughts that
whirl in the mind and making something interesting out of it, which is not
an easy task sometimes! Just to go outside and watch the night sky and think
can do wonders for the creative side of a person. Peter also has extreme
ups and downs in his process of creating music. Sometimes he won't come up
with anything for a couple of months and then all of a sudden, he has material
that blows you away. As you surely see, it's kind of a mystery altogether..."
about your musical background then, before T.I.P./MUTANT?
I wonder if you could lift the veil of secrecy a little on your old history
"Yeah, sure. I have played in several constellations, ranging from Thrash
and Death Metal to Folk music. In the early 90's, I formed a band called
ADVERSARY and we played what is now known as old school Death Metal.
Three years and three demos later, I joined a Thrash band called LEGIA
and we recorded a self-financed CD. But I quit the band, which ultimately
collapsed before anything happened. Then T.I.P. was formed in 1995.
Of course, there was also a lot of projects of different kinds in those
early years as well. I think Peter started playing in some Punk band and
later, he was a part of the locally well-known SORCERY, which is
also an old school Death Metal band. He quit that band to form his own band
called RIVENDELL, who played some sort of Yngwie Malmsteen-Metal at
that time. Mattias hooked up with them but after several years with nothing
really happening for the band, both Peter and Mattias wanted to do something
different and they got together with me to form T.I.P..
Aeonic Majesty", as the title of MUTANT's debut goes, will be
released on French Listenable Records in February 2000. How did you end
up choosing Laurent's label instead of some other known and established
label around? Was it all that clear right from the beginning that it was
going to be Listenable Records and no other labels that could even have
been open for a serious discussion, whatsoever? Was all this more or less
a matter of Laurent's good reputation in the Metal scene too, making your
choice rather easily after that?<
"As I said earlier, MUTANT was merely a project in the beginning
and we sent out some demos to a bunch of labels just for fun, you know!
Then all of a sudden, Samoth from EMPEROR mailed us and told us that
it was the best demo he'd heard in years and he wanted to sign us to his
label Nocturnal Art Productions. We were shocked! But that was only the
beginning. In the coming weeks, we received interest from Listenable Records
and Necropolis Records, which aren't the smallest labels in the world after
all. By then, we had received replies from more interested labels than we
had ever hoped for. In the end, we just chose the label that gave us the
best deal! I didn't even know who Laurent was at that time."
you place MUTANT on the map of Swedish underground Metal these
days? As we are all aware of, you already have this famous 'Sunlight Sound',
that 'Göteborg Sound', etc. in there and it's also known that people
are talking about a concept called 'NWOSDM', globally and infernally indeed!!
Could the Swedish Metal scene get any better than it already is at
the very moment? I mean, bands tend to come and go but one thing, however,
has this strange tendency to remain the same: The Swedish superior-like
stronger-than-any-known-steel Metal scene! How could you explain this to
a poor Finn just like me?<
"Oh, you poor Finn! But Finland has a bunch of good bands too nowadays,
haven't you? Anyway, I can't really relate MUTANT, or T.I.P.
for that matter, to any of those 'sounds'. I guess it's up to others to
decide if they really have to. The Swedish scene has a good reputation for
sure, eventhough I'm not particularly fond of IN FLAMES and those
bands... Is there a 'Sunlight sound' nowadays? All the bands that did belong
to that category have changed studio or changed their musical direction
(or simply split up). I think the scene can get better as soon as MUTANT
and THEORY IN PRACTICE belong to the horde of the biggest bands
in the country!"
regarding the Swedish Metal scene (which still is beyond my belief, no doubt
about it!), I bet you're filled with fervour to tell something about your
fave "red-hot-and-heavy" bands for the readers of Soundscape... Those that
have been inspirational and influential for you personally for quite some
time now. You also mention Finland for its good bands too, which made me even
more curious about the whole matter...<
"Swedish bands that has influenced me? Every band Snowy Shaw ever played
with, like MEMENTO MORI, ILLWILL and NOTRE DAME. Watch out
for NOTRE DAME by the way! They will kill you all with their sick
and twisted music. Check it out! In the beginning of the 90's, I was very
much influenced by a lot of the Swedish Death Metal bands; ENTOMBED, LIERS
IN WAIT, DISMEMBER and all of them... But nowadays, there aren't many I
find interesting. You Finns have (even if they're not any personal favorites
of mine) some really successful bands over there. To mention a few: AMORPHIS,
SENTENCED, IMPALED NAZARENE and well... GANDALF. You probably
know more about those guys than I do. HURRIGANES was one hell of a
band too! No, just kidding."
things going on, one needs to get into the right mood in order to create
something as far as any artistic vision is concerned. What's that period
of time where you are met with that very best side of yours and where that fabulous
little monster inside yourself can turn the world upside down if you want
to? When are you at your best in the mentioned process?<
"Early in the morning or late in the evening, I feel that my creative abilities
work the best. After having some coffee at those particular moments and
knowing that I'm going to have to create some ripping shit for the audience,
that's when I feel that my batteries are charged to maximum. It helps if
the label has given us some good news about something regarding the band(s)
too. That makes you feel that your work is accomplishing something. The same
goes for good reviews, interviews and impressed fans that consider us to
be a great band."
self-criticism? When you're put yourself in the middle of the song
writing process, do you think that you are much too severe or unforgivable
towards yourself, as you really want to push things further and further
and aren't quite satisfied with the results that might turn out? Di you have any
experiences like that?<
"These are worries that constantly cross our minds. It's impossible to tell
if a new song will be appreciated by the fans until they actually say so.
In the end though, we just go with the stuff that comes up and there's not
really much we can do about it. Self-criticism is essential for the process
of creating new material. Without it, we would be working with blindfolds."
also having your very own homepage for THEORY IN PRACTICE
and I'm pretty sure you're about ready to serve the fans of MUTANT
by opening a bold & brave homepages for the band relatively soon...
What kind of things will it contain or, if it already exists, go right into
some specific details?<
"We do have a homepage for MUTANT. It pretty much contains the usual
stuff, like news, mp3's, pictures, guestbook and such things. Oh yeah,
you can vote for your favorite song, which is pretty cool... So do it!
Here's the address:
There's also a voting poll at the T.I.P. site, so vote there as well.
The news sections for both homepages are updated every month by me."
necessary do you see the internet for bands in the business nowadays and
how much do you use it daily to keep in touch with the people around you?
The importance of an internet access is just becoming more and more
emphasized these days, when people want to act quickly to the surrounding responses
they get through it... It will surely continue to be that way in the future
"The internet is very important, especially for the Metal industry since
all other media more or less reject Metal. I use it everyday to get in touch
with people regarding T.I.P./MUTANT and basically to find out
anything that goes on with our bands. If it wasn't for the internet, I think
that the whole business would be much lamer. At least it feels like
Metal is vital when I get responses from Metal fans from all over the world
that are very much into the music."
obvious that you've also got to have some kind of expectations towards
MUTANT and especially for "The Aeonic Majesty" by the time
people get to hear it for the very first time. What do you suppose all
these so-called die-hard Black/Death Metal maniacs will react towards
MUTANT; reality hitting them hard as they realize the music that's
being played on "T.A.M." has been played by humans and not aliens?<
"You think the music on 'The Aeonic Majesty' was played by humans
and NOT aliens? Partly true. Aliens have basically taken over our bodies,
filling them with aeonic knowledge, so it wasn't thanks to us that the album
could be done. It was thanks to the higher observers. We're just insects
doing their dirty work. The die-hards will either accept or face their doom,
this is the future and the past shall be washed away with the aeonic tide!"
to thank you Henrik for all the precious time that you sacrificed for this
interview. It was a real pleasure to chat about things with you and hopefully
the experience was mutual. If you still have something in your mind that
you feel is necessary to mention, then don't hesitate as the rest of the
space is intentionally left blank just for YOU!!!<
T.I.P.'s web site!
"Oh shit, I'm totally exhausted by this cleverly thought out interview.
I think we covered most things for now. I just want to thank you and the
readers for the support you've given us. Thanks and hail!!!"
MUTANT's web site!
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