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Interview With THEORY IN PRACTICE & MUTANT

MUTANT & T.I.P.
By Luxi Lahtinen

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...

T.I.P.

—>While 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 of music."

—>Peter 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'."

—>According 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!"

—>And no 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."

—>Are there 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...<—
MUTANT "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."

—>You're 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."

—>How 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 pleasing!"

—>Do you 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 far 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 about them?<—
"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!"

—>When you 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."

—>Death 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."

—>How would 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..."

—>Moving 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 is history."

—>So would 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?<—
THEORY IN PRACTICE "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."

—>Do you 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."

—>What are 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."

—>If you 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!"

—>In your 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."

—>Motivation 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..."

—>What 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 books...<—
"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..

—>"The 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."

—>How would 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!"

—>Still 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."

—>To get 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."

—>What about 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."

—>You're also having your very own homepage for THEORY IN PRACTICE (http://hem.passagen.se/theory) 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: http://hem3.passagen.se/mutant1 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."

—>How 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 as well...<—
"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."

—>It's 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!"

—>I want 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!!!<—
"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!!!"

T.I.P.'s web site!
MUTANT's web site!

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