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Interviews

My Own Grave - Mikael Aronsson

15/08/06  ||  Lord K Philipson

My Own Fucken Grave Mikael Aronsson is the vocalist of Sweden’s My Own Grave. He’s also a frequent visitor of the GD-forums. His band might not be all that known but there’s a huge possibility that’s about to change since their “Unleash” album captures pretty much everything that Swedish metal is about without being the usual Soilwork/In Flames/whatever thing. My Own Grave is heavier than that and hopefully this interview will grab you by yer balls and make you check them out, coz they fucken deserve it. If you want some opinions on their sound, make sure to head over to the Audio Autopsy edition for August 2006. I have to hand it to Aron, this interview is killer. Good work man, I hope you get herpes.

First of all, what the fuck kinda name is My Own Grave? You guys consider that a good moniker for the band? I can seriously say that the name alone made me stay away from yer music until I was “forced” to listen to it since you guys are included in the August-edition of Audio Autopsy. That name just doesn’t do you guys justice. Ever thought of changing it?

First of all, My Own Grave is probably the best name for a band you´ve ever seen… No, I´m fucking with you. I believe it´s taken Mikael from one of the band’s first songs, named (yeah, you guessed it) “My Own Grave”. According to Anders, one of our guitarists and main lyricist, the name stands for taking hold of your own destiny, making your own decisions or something like that. I don´t know, he´s the intellectual, I´m not. I´m the first to say that it´s far from the best bandname out there, but on the other hand, I really don´t think it´s that awful like you´re making it out to be. While it might not do justice to the music we play, it sorta sticks in your head. Changing it is not an option for us, we´ve worked with this name for some six years now and it would just be stupid to do anything with it. So, we´re gonna stick to it.

Further on when it comes to your name, it’s a mixture between English suckfest My Dying Bride, Swedish legends Grave and some band with “own” in their moniker, still you sound nothing like them. Why?

Allthough I like both My Dying Bride and Grave a hell of a lot (and I know for a fact that the rest of the band enjoys some good old fashioned Grave from time to time too) I just can´t picture us with violins and keyboards and that sort of shit. As for why we don´t sound like Grave, well, I guess we´re just not old school and/or cool enough. Sounding like other bands isn´t exactly something we strive for either, allthough various reviewers like to think so (no, we don´t want to be the new At The Gates, and we sure as hell don´t want to be the new The Haunted either!). I wouldn´t want to say that we have an “original sound” or that we offer something new and fresh to the scene, that´s not our thing, but I would like to think that our songs have something of a My Own Grave-feeling over them, whatever the fuck that may be.

In the signature on our forums there’s a banner for the band and some quote from somewhere insinuating the way you talk to the crowd in between songs at yer gigs is retarded. What is this based on? Give us some examples as for why this has come up and more importantly, are you proud to have someone labelling you retarded?

Hahaha… Yeah, that quote kills me. It´s from a local newspaper here in Sundsvall (where we´re based) where the reviewer of a gig we did had some problems with my, simply put, moronic speeches inbetween songs. I think that guy had some problems with us being a band singing about horror movies, death and destruction and so on, having some kind of self distance and humour. You see, while onstage I try my fucking best to put on a show for the dudes and ladies who´s paid to see us. That includes both being a raving madman during the songs, jumping and headbanging and sweating like a pig, and inbetween songs try to pull of some lame-ass jokes, make people laugh and make them understand that I´m there for them, not the other way around. Make no misstake, this band and its music and lyrics are dead serious to us, but I want to be able to have a laugh onstage, and this guy didn´t seem to appreciate that. And while I´m not proud of being labelled a retard, it´s probably correct to assume that I am one. I sing in My Own Grave for starters, that has to qualify as being retarded.

Getting interviews from countries such as Peru, Mexico and Leif Edling is quite interesting as they hardly speak English and leads me to this: Where did you have founded the band? What do you want to communicate with your sound? Those are 2 questions I got from somewhere for God Among Insects. Answer it and do it in very, very bad English.

In band My Own Grave we start in town call Sundsvall. Is town in nortthern swedish land, we live. Wit´h sound of band My Own Grave we liek poeple to know of darkness of life, not God such and shit. Yes?

I have no idea who you are really. I just know your latest album kinda impressed me and therefor thought you guys deserved some exposure at the leading site in metal, namely this one. Who are you? And more importantly, why?

I´m fucking glad to hear that you somewhat like our shit! Well, simply put we´re just another band that tries our best to make some damn good metal and hopes that our best is enough. We´re Anders not coming with some special message about this or that, our music isn´t original or ground-breaking, we just want people to hear our shit and go ”- Fuuuuck, this here is some fine piece of metal!”. We make music you can drink beer to, headbang to and, most importantly, drum on your knees to! We want people to sing along to our lyrics in a drunken haze! Why we are is a bit trickier to answer. I guess in this town there´s not much things you can do besides starting up a band. We all have different backgrounds, Stefan played in some punk-band a bunch of years ago, and so did John. Max and Anders were pretty much into hardcore, and I believe they had a band called Osmose (I think John played with them too) that made a couple of gigs here in Sundsvall. I come from more of a black metal background, singing in various totally unknown bands who´s only merits are that we once shared rehearsalroom with Blackwinds, a Setherial sideproject… hahaha… Ehm, what was the question again?

By the way, I can’t let go of the name-issue just yet… Have you ever thought about changing moniker to My Own Penis? That’s fucken metal for you, bitch.

As metal as that name is, I have a few other suggestions up my sleeve that I´m thinking of introducing for the guys in the band. How about:

My Own Grape or
My Own Ass or
Maj On Äs or
Onkel Kånkel?

Since you guys don’t play black metal, what’s the best black metal band in the world? If you say something from England I’ll pee in your butt.

“Best black metal band in the world”-award goes to Immortal. They have it all: Hilarious bandphotos, corpsepaint, stagenames, incomprehensible lyrics about snow and frost-demons and so on. Most importantly, they kick fucking ass, and I´m stoked about them getting back together. My inner teenager leeps with joy, Wacken 2007, here I come! Bluärgh!

So, on a more serious level now… Can death metal end poverty end world starvation? By the way, do you guys even play death metal? Describe your sound to someone who’s half-deaf. Or half-dead. Whatever.

Death metal is the solution to all of the world’s problems. If everybody just sat down with Obituary´s “Slowly We Rot” and/or Bolt Thrower´s “War Master” and shared a beer and got drunk, this world would be a better place. Hell, even Six Feet Under and a glass of lemonade would do. I´d like to think we play death metal, but as much as we draw influence from Morbid Angel and Deicide and hot stuff like that we also try to plagiarize as much Slayer as we possibly can. If Slayer is the best band in the world, and we steal as much as we can from them, we should at least be listenable, right? Describing ones’ sound is allways a bitch, but okay… As I said, we draw a lot of influence from the death metal scene, but also from the thrash, black and even HC scene. Not everything is noticeable at first glance, especially the HC stuff, but it´s there, I promise. As stated before, we´re not trying to be ground-breaking or anything, we´re just doing our thing and hopefully people will fucking bang their heads to it.

Rate these Swedish bands on a scale from 1-10, and describe them with one word and one word only:

Death:
7 – Essential.

Emperor:
8 – Symphonic.

Korn:
1 – Teh Suck.

Slayer:
10 – SLAYER!!
!
Impaled Nazarene:
6 – Madmen!

Leif Edling:
9 – Candlemass!

Sodom:
7 – Hitler-country.

Morbid Angel:
8 – Classic.

Lacuna Coil:
3 – Chickflick!

Scarve:
0 – Unheard.

Naturally this is a very crucial question without which this interview would be Teh Suck: How much of a disaster is it that fucken Carolina won this year’s Stanely Cup? Are you even into ice-hockey or is figure-skating more your thang? If you are into the NHL, who’s the best player in the world? What team do you root for? If NHL is not what gets yer juices flowing you can talk about the use of internet-porn and George W Bush at great lengths.

Unleash the fucken fjååååri!! Internet-porn is the best thing that have happened in the last 20 years. The feeling of having quality fuck-flicks just a click away is simply overwhelming. Internet-porn has without a doubt made me into what I am today, and for that I am eternally grateful. George W Bush looks like and behaves like a monkey. We´re all monkeys, and that´s that. As for my interest in NHL…

Is it right that Terrorizer releases a new album and Oscar Garcia is not doing the vocals on it?

I saw something about that at the GD-forums the other day, and it´s obviously correct. That sucks. It also seems that the new album isn´t really quite meeting the “World Downfall” standards. I guess I´ll download the stuff and check it out when I have the time. As long as Pete Sandoval is drumming it can´t be all sucky-sucky, can it?

It can, and it is. More moniker-related questions: Your name is a rip-off of Grave and the album-title is ripped off from Swedish band Unleashed. What’s yer next album going to be called? “Dismember”? Seems like someone in the band never visited Imagination Land. What’s with the boring-ass titles and shit?

Well, our next album is going under the name “Morbid Dismember Of The Immortal Project Hate Machine Head Death Burzum… Charles Bronson”. I don´t think it´s a rip off, though. Actually, the name of the album, “Unleash”, is something that really meant something to us when we came up with it. At the time, we were fucking fed up with absolutely nothing happening with the band, or just bad stuff happening. We hadn´t had a gig for about a year, which was a disaster for us being a band that is all about being on stage and best experienced live. The recordings of the album was taking forever, not due to the studio or our producer though, but because of us writing music exceeding our ability to play and also financial disaster (we payed for the recording ourselves). When everything was done and it was time for Anders to start with the artwork and stuff, the name “Unleash” came to us quite naturally, ´cause we really felt that on this album we unleash all the shit we had within ourselves at that time. The fact that it took the fucking label one and a half year to get the fucker out on the street is nothing but irony. A very slow unleashing, so to speak.

Did I also mention that your logo is ugly as fuck and quite unreadable, at best? What exactly are you trying to do as far as giving a first impression? As said, I stayed away from you guys thanx to all this, but the music eventually caught me when I had to listen to it. Don’t you think this happens quite often?

“Because first impressions… last.” I totally agree about the logo, it´s got that whole melted cheese-thing going, don´t you think? I don´t think it´s “ugly as fuck” though, but yeah, we´re actually in the process of geting a new logo. I don´t know yet who´s gonna do it, if Anders is gonna take care of it or if we´re gonna hire someone but changing it we will. Only problem with that is we´re gonna have to make a new backdrop. Having to do things suck. I really don´t know if these things have made people stay away from us, but I seriously don´t think so. Of course, being on a shitty label we don´t have any salesfigures, but I can´t see how a logo can scare people off. Look at Immortal´s old logo, it´s not easy on the eyes so to speak (yet it´s charming in a bizarre way) yet they came to be one of black metal´s biggest names. Not that I in any way think we´re gonna be a “big name” but I also don´t think it´s down to the logo.

In the background of yer site, there’s a picture including some skeletons and shit… Isn’t that the cover for Merciless’ “The awakening”? If so, you guys are fucken retarded. If not, what the fuck is it about?

This one had me making some research as I´ve never looked as hard at our site as you obviously has, and fuck me sideways and John call me Eva if you´re not right. Once again it´s Anders who´s responsible for the site (and all other artwork related to us), and my guess is that he´s never heard or looked at that Merciless-album. I do however believe that that painting is not an original artwork for that Merciless album, but rather some old shit, and that Anders found it while googling for “Skeletons” + “cool dude in cape”. If not, he is retarded indeed. By the way, I think I allready stated that we´re retarded, did I not?

Have you even sold any albums, seriously? Any nice royalties coming in at any point? What’s the biggest amount of cash you ever got for your music? What did you spend it on? McDonalds?

Yeah, I think we´ve sold a couple. We´ve been selling alot at gigs and at our releaseparty, but other than that, I haven´t got a fucking clue about sales. As stated before, our ride with the label hasn´t exactly been a smooth one, so I doubt we´ll ever see either sales-figures or royalties. With the insane amount of PR and advertising the label has done for us, I´d be fucking surprised if we even got 10 copies sold. That´s something I´m ever so pissed about, we have this (pretty fucking decent in my opinion) album out but people don´t know about it. We do the best we can trying to promote this fucker ourselves, but without a label backing us up it´s pretty darn tough reaching out to people. Hell, we even had to print our own promo’s. That´s fucked up right there! Needless to say, we´re done with this label. Sure it´s got a good distribution, but what the hell does that matter when people don´t know it´s out? Argh…

Rate the guys in the band on a fuck-scale (from 1-10) and explain what their individual duty within the band is. Who’s in charge of writing music, who decides that you should go with cheesy titles and logos, as well as a cheesy moniker? Who’s generally the bitching bastard whenever it comes to rehearsing? Small things like that. Oh, and who’s the best musician in the band?

Ok, here goes:
Anders Härén (founding member) – Guitar and lyrics. Fuckability: 10. Anders is somewhat of a driving force of the band. He´s mostly in charge of artwork, dealing with subhuman labels, sending out promos and, back in the days, demos. He also writes the majority of the lyrics, he wrote all of the lyrics on “Unleash” except for “Soulstorm”, where I came with some input, but in reality, he wrote that one as well. When he´s drunk he plays the bongos.

Stefan Kihlgren (member since 2002) – Guitar. Fuckability: 10. Stefan is the one who, before he decided to be a one-woman’s-man, took down the ladies. All of them, much to our dismay. He comes up with some seriously fucked up riffs, this man. This is the guy who got up an hour before everybody else when we were in the studio just so he could stand in the guitarbooth with no shirt on and shred some Slayer. He also invested in porn for about 1000sek while we were there. Respect!

Max Bergman (founding member) – Bass. Fuckability: 10. He is the grim reaper, he is the bassplayer! Started out as a guitarplayer, but switched to bass when My Own Grave started out, and that´s where he belongs. Along with myself he´s the one wrecking the most havoc up on stage, being the old school HC fan that he is. Machinegun-bass is the way to go! Oh, and he drives a Puch Alabama to rehearsals. That´s fucking metal!

John Henriksson (founding member) – Drums. Fuckability: 10. This here is the best musician in the band, and that is undisputable. Whatever the fuck we come up with, he can play along to it. He may not be the most technical dude out there pounding drums, or the fastest, but he´s got a groove and a flow that makes me damn proud of being in the same band as him. He´s also the rockstar of the band nowadays, as he´s been recruited by the band Angtoria to play drums with them. Boy, are we gonna use that on one of those despicable round stickers on our next album. “Featuring members of bla bla bla”. Hahaha…

Then we have me. Mikael Aronsson (member since 2003) – Vocals and lyrics. Fuckability: 10. I´m the fat, bearded fuck of the band. I´m also the worst musician. Can´t take a note on anything except the almighty skinflute. I´m the one doing nothing on rehersals besides drinking coffee and reading old metal mags. As of late, I´ve been starting to write lyrics, and it feels mighty fine to have something to bring into the band that is “mine”, so to speak.

When it comes to writing music, it´s very much a team effort. We´re not a band where one guy sits at home and makes a whole song and then brings to the rehearsals for us to learn. Sure, we make stuff up while not in the rehearsalroom, but it´s there that everything comes together, so to speak. We´ve tried the other approach, but it didn´t work out, at all. Everybody just started to dissect the song and soon enough there were maybe just one riff left from the original. Of course everybody doesn´t put as much into a song, but a little piece of us all can be found in there. Wow… Didn´t that sound fucking pretentious? Haha… Anyway, I´d say that Anders and Stefan are the main composers of the band while I´m the one making close to nothing except point out stuff that suck or stuff that´s so fucking awsome we should repeat it forever.

Imagine you are Oprah Winfrey for a day. What would be your first words waking up?

A: Holy shit, I’m black!
B: Holy fuck, I’m fat.
C: Holy penis! Let’s fuck! I’m hot!

So, what is it, bitch?

All of the above, and in that particular order. An’ if ya gonna call me bitch, then talk to da hand ´cause da face…hmph… ain´t listenin´!

Tell us your biography. In the meantime I’m going to shoot myself coz biographies suck cock.

I truly hate biographies, and more so having to tell them so thanks for the question, bub.

Anyway, I believe it all started out in 2001 when John, Anders and Max decided that metal is the law, and thus formed the band. A couple of rehersals later they realized something was missing. A vocalist! Their good friend and fellow drinkingbuddy Ramin Max Farhadian got the question, and for the first time in his life he picked up the mic and started to let out some steam. A rehearsal and a demo (“New Path/Same Path”) was recorded. The sound of that demo is pretty fucking far from how we sound nowadays, but you can hear some fragments of what is yet to be. After that demo, they realized they needed another guitar-wanker, and John´s classmate Stefan got the question. At this time, Stefan was playing in a punkband called Skandera, so naturally he took the offer up immediately, and quit that other band. Some time passed and yet another demo was recorded (“Dissection Of A Mind”) which got some pretty decent reviews in various zines. Some gigs ensued, but nothing really big.

Some more time passed, Anders moved to Luleå to study (or was that earlier? I can´t remember) and both Ramin and Max joined the army (again, don´t know if that´s earlier in the career but fuck that) so nothing much happened. However, they at least got their shit together enough to take the time to record yet another demo (“Blood And Ashes”) which, incidentally, I made the intro for. This demo sports a truly horrible sound, but the songs were the strongest so far. Some more gigs were made, and the overall response to the demo, despite the horrible sound, was actually quite good.

Somewhere along the line singer Ramin grew further away from the rest of the guys, which ultimately resulted in him being fired from the band. The band made some statement on the site about this, saying that although he had a pretty good voice, he had to be let go. He is still a good friend to the band so there´s no bad blood. The very same day as Ramin got the boot (or actually, the day before), it was decided that I was the one to take over the mic. We rehearsed like motherfuckers, and soon we had our very first song ready, “From the ashes…”. This song marked the start for something new, and pretty soon we had the demo that would land us a (in retrospect somewhat questionable) record deal, “Progression Through Deterioration”. That demo held the strongest material from My Own Grave so far along with the best sound, and a lot of the songs on that demo (everyone except “Alcoholocaust – Seven Voices Of Hate”) made in onto the album, “Unleash”.

Now stop shooting yourself!

I was kidding about the bio-question, but thanx for answering it though no one read it. Anybitch, let’s ponder for a while here… Due to some weird shit you only get to listen to 2 songs for the remaining part of your life. It’s only going to be played at insane volume between 3 and 4 in the middle of the fucken night and one of those songs has to be a My Own Penis tune while the other is one by yer choice alone. What songs is it?

I´d have to go with our newest tune, “Beneath Dark Waves” but I guess you want one from the album, eh? Fuck, it´s a tough one. I guess I´ll go with “Strangled By Life” as there´s no blasting in that one. Blasting at 3 A.M is bound to be annoying. The other one would be, ehm… Edge Of Santiy´s “Crimson”, seeing as that fucker is long as fuck it´s gonna take more time to get annoyed by it.

Do you know any rockstars? Seriously, like real rockstars? Any rockturds as well? Who’s the biggest fucken idiot you ever met when it comes to one being in a band? We love some shit-talking here at GD, don’t pussy out on us now…

No, I don´t know any rockstars, because real rockstars wouldn´t mix with scum like myself. But sure, I know some people here and there within the “scene” (fuck, I hate that word!), but I´m not going to namedrop anyone. As for morons and all-out idiots, well, can´t say I´ve run into anyone, not yet anyway. Sure, there´s the occasional wanker you meet when you´re out doing gigs, but none worth mentioning.

For how long have you been screaming in a band? Has it rendered you any chicks (with dicks?)? Rate the following Swedish grunters and then tell us who’s influenced you the most when it comes to vocals, not necessarily among the ones I’ll list. If you say anything like “I have my own style and was never influenced by anyone” I’m going to so fucken puke on you.

I´ve been screaming my lungs out for about 9 years or so. I really can´t remember exactly when I started, but it should be something like that. Unfortunately, all this screaming and shouting has rendered me way less chicks than I would want to. Even the ones with dicks seem to avoid me. When I first started out it was mostly grunters like Will Rahmer of Mortician that I tried to sound like, but over time I´ve grown away from that really low, Stefan mumbling way of vocals (fortunately) and nowadays I would say that dudes like Glen Benton, Jörgen Sandström and so on have influenced me the most, at least when it comes to the low end of my growls. As for the high-pitched shrieks I don´t really know who has influenced me the most. I didn´t start to use that kind of vocal-style seriously until I joined MOG. The only time I´d use it before was in an old grindcore band named Cavevomit, and I remember listening extensively to bands like Anal Cunt, Nasum, Regurgitate and old crust punk and then tried to mimic what I heard the best I could. I do however hope that I do not sound like a rip-off of any other vocalist, but that´s up to the listener to decide. Who cares about originality, as long as it sound good, right?

So, rate these fuckers on a scale from 1-10:

Jörgen Sandström (The Project Hate):
10 – His stuff with Grave is easily some of the best, if not THE best, work I´ve ever heard. I really like him in TPH also, but it´s his stuff with Grave that rates him a perfect 10!

Ola Lindholm (Grave):
? – I´ve heard about zero material with Grave post-Sandström, so I can´t rate this one.

Matti Kärki (Dismember):
6 – He gets the job done I guess, and I somewhat like his shouting style of vocals, but I´ve never been a huge fan of Dismember.

Johnny Hedlund (Unleashed):
? – I haven´t listened to Unleashed for ages, and I don´t remember how he sounds, so no rating here.

Rogga Johansson (Ribspreader):
5 – Not bad, not excellent. Nothing that sticks with me.

LG Petrov (Entombed):
7 – Once upon a time I thought he had the coolest vocals. Then I heard Grave.

Kam Lee (Meshuggah):
Kam Lee? Kam Lee? Who the fuck is Kam Lee? Anyway, I´d rate Jens Kidman a 4. I don´t like Meshuggah.

Mike Poggione (unfortunately needs no introduction):
I´m not worthy to rate this genious.

You guys have a guy in the band named Max Bergman. Have you ever seen him running around yelling “I’m Mad Max, drunk to the max and I play bass in My Own Penis!”? You have to have some seriously retarded stories about being drunk, so share the best/worst one. Who’s generally the one in the band getting most fucked up?

Hahaha… No, I´ve never seen him running around screaming that, but now when you´ve said it, I´m sure it will happen every time we´re drinking. Thank you, I´m sure I´ll enjoy it. Well, now you´ve touched upon a topic that very much interests all of us in the band: heavy drinking! There´s lots and lots of stories about us getting fucked up beyond all reason, and of course with heavy drinking comes retarded behaviour. Picking just one story is next to impossible, but we´re known to, among other things, fly from Italy to Sweden with puke-dreadlocks, having conversations with policemen while urinating, doing the lambada on tables with nothing on but underwear and so on. Hmmm… Did I mention we´re retarded? I did, didn´t I?

What’s the biggest highlight in the career of the band? This interview?

This interview may be a highlight, but not the biggest. That would have to be when we still were a demo-band and got an offer to fly over to Italy for a one-gig thing. The gig itself wasn´t really big, and we played like crap, but we got a whole house for ourselves, food and travel paid, sightseeings of Bologna. Oh, and the house had a winecellar. Another big higlight was of course when we got our contract, and got to record our first album. But the biggest higlight for me was when we had the releaseparty for “Unleash” here in Sundsvall. The place was packed with people, we moshed like hell, a bunch of people came up on stage and shared the mic with me and the afterparty will go into the historybooks.

I was trying for 30 questions for this one but now I’m bored as fuck and honestly don’t feel like promoting you guys anymore. Without cheating, can you say how many questions I managed to make? Thanx for your precious time, you can thank me now for being awesome and then type yer last bla bla bla bullshit.

Hmmm… It feels like 30, but let´s say you got 26. Am I right?
Thanks a lot for letting us take up some space on the GD-site, I really appreciate it! And sorry for taking a hell of a time getting back to you with the answers. I´m a lazy bastard, that´s what I am.
For anyone interested in us, check out My Own Grave’s website and My Own Grave’s MySpace.

Cheers!