Sunday, 8 June 2014

An interview with Wilhelm Lindh of The Gardnerz.

My new interview with Wilhelm Lindh of Swedish progressive death/doom band, The Gardnerz. Some of you are aware of this band, or some you may never have heard of before. Whichever it is, I hope that you find this interview illuminating and informing. They are about to create death metal in another way and have a lot to say.

I) I came to know about The Gardnerz by Transcending Obscurity, they are about to support and elevate deserving bands from obscurity around the world. How important are all these promotions to you/band personally? Besides, do you have a future plan or a strategy that should help your band to become more famous or successful? Or do you feel more comfortable in the underground?

Wilhelm: I think this kinds of promotion is very important, I mean that is how we get the name and the music out there. Especially since we are a small band that doesn't have the resources to take out ads in big magazines and such. We are going to continue using the same kind of promotion for our next album and hopefully that will take us to new heights. For us it has been great working with Transcending Obscurity since they have spread our name in a part of the world where we were not that well known. And Kunal at Transcending has done an amazing job for us! Besides this kinds of promotion we will doing some more competitions and such. I think we will always be an underground band, the music we make will never appeal to the masses and for me that is not an issue. I feel that I would rather make music that I enjoy and have a limited fan base than doing something commercial just to get a famous band. Don't get me wrong I would love it if The Gardnerz would become bigger of course, but I would never change what we do to get there. So to answer your question, I am happy in the underground.

II) Six years have elapsed since you started your band. I know it is not a great amount of time but obviously, you got older; and being this entity a part of your lives. One must always move forward because life itself is changing, the music is changing. The music is now more mature than before, musicianship improved that is distinct on Exiting Reality. Since 2008, how do you see the band’s evolution during the last 6-7 years? What has changed, what hasn't?

Wilhelm: - The things you mention of course comes to mind. But one of the biggest things for myself is that I have found exactly what I want to do. I look at our first album as an experiment where I was trying out things and trying to figure what I wanted to do. I mean I had an idea of what I wanted. But I feel that today that idea is crystal clear, I know exactly what I want the band to sound like and what I do not want the band to sound like. I started this band as a little solo playground for myself as I was very tired of being in bands and not being able to do exactly what I want to do. So I still approach writing the same way. What has changed, hmm not that much actually, some members has come and gone. I have been very fortunate to play with really skilled people and most importantly good people. I guess the biggest thing for me that was very important and still is very important is the notion of self. I want to create music that sounds like The Gardnerz, I don't see a point in playing music that sounds like a clone of someone ells.

III) Your unique and highly realistic way of thinking and profound musicianship is absolutely good. As a musician, as an artist, as an individual, do you think that this kind of music or the music you make for the band have led you into directions you wouldn't have expected?

Wilhelm: - First of, thank you very much. Most defiantly, and in many ways. I think listening to metal has given me many things. One thing that pops up is a large vocabulary of nasty and disgusting words ha-ha. Since lyrics, titles and band names in metal generally stretches way beyond most other genres I think metal is a great teacher.And if we look at it from the perspective of playing, the things I have gotten from playing is too many to mention. Meeting, both in real life and online so many people that I would never have meet if I was not in a band. I mean I have gotten many "holiday homes" all around the world from getting in contact with people through the band. So far I have my friend Nuno Ribeiro in Portugal twice. A guy I got to know when his zine reviewed our début album. I have many people to visit that I have meet through the band and music in general.

IV) The music of The Gardnerz is refreshing combination of technique, wary, candour and grace. Indeed, a death/doom metal with a different perspective. This kind of creative effort is what contemporary metal band needs today. But a track like “Transylvanian Hunger” is a nondescript in a first few listens but later I arrived at a profound conclusion that it’s a ne plus ultra. My question is, in what way can we say that The Gardnerz is very much your personal expression?

Wilhelm: - I would like to say that The Gardnerz is an extension of myself. I always strive to create something unique. I mean it is not that we are doing something that is totally new. But at least I want to try to create something that sounds a bit different. We are working in the confounds of the death /doom metal genera but I feel that just because we play a certain style. We do not have to check of every box. I think it is way more interesting to throw in different influences. In this band I have taken all my musical influences. Everything from Katatonia, Bolt Thrower, Broken Hope, Acheron to Jj Cale, Bob Dylan and John Prine. 

When I started this band I was so fed up with the asphyxiation of clone bands. The scene was and is overflowing with bands that are just a bland copy of other bands. And I see no point at all to do the same thing. I mean I took influences from the bands and artists that I mentioned, and others of course and mixed it all together. Besides the musical aspect, the band is filled with my ideas and thoughts. In the lyrics and cover art. I have not written all the lyrics but all lyrics are based on my ideas and thoughts.  

V) The Gardnerz music is not immediately liking thing as one must approach it with open mind. Yes, the transmutation of practice and true beliefs into music imbues the power and forces that the ordinary crowd cannot experience, but don’t you think that people will understand your concept and what The Gardnerz is all about, beyond the music?

Wilhelm: - I think that The Gardnerz is a band that you either get or you don't. I do not mean in an elitist way. But with a band name like ours you have to have an opened mind and drop your pretentions. I have read many comments where people have dissed us because of the name. And stupid as this might sound, that was sort of the point. I wanted to create something that represented myself, and I think a slightly dyslexic landscaping enthusiast is a perfect metaphor for myself ha-ha. If people get the message we try to get across? I don't know, if people do that makes me glad and if they are just in it for some slow tunes I am all for that as well. I personally don't care that much about lyrics when I listen to music. If the lyrics are good I see it as a very big plus. But if not it is not a deal breaker for me. Sure if the deviate too much from my core beliefs I generally stay away.

VI) The creation of your music is a very natural flow which you simply let happen. You have said “I create music that I find interesting, no matter what twists and turns it might take”, so the next record will be a new musical direction of your oeuvre? I am curious about how the next record will turn out, but methinks that it will top everything that has yet been created by you. People want their metal albums to be worth the money and time they spend on it. 

Wilhelm: - Well not really, we are still doing the same melodic offbeat death doom metal. I mean I try not to repeat myself to bad. But I am still using the same general idea for what I want to create. The new album contains song written from 2010 to 2013, so it will have a bit of everything in them. I have a few different ways I like to create styles, and those few tricks are still being used. I hope the new album will not disappoint. We had 15 songs and we choose the once we liked the best, and the once that worked best together as an album. I am very proud of the songs and I think it is the best we have done. I mean if I did not what would be the point in doing it.

The listener today is often very picky on what they buy. And I think that is fun and exciting. As you say that puts the pressure on me to create something awesome. I hope we have pulled it off. I think we are living in very interesting times for creating music. Because of the advances in technology anyone can create a decent sounding album in the bed room. This of course has left the scene over flooded with mediocre shit, that is the bad side but the good side is that the more shit there is the more nuggets of gold there are.

VII) It’s good to know there are some bands who aren't afraid to innovate and keep the music fresh. The mini-album “It all Fades” provides what I am talking about. It has surely a progressive and unpredictable approach. That stuff is worth more than just a full-length album and it is worth keeping close to my heart as it’s mollifying me a lot. Are The Gardnerz really about trying to be innovative and avant-garde for its own sake, or rather concerns your quest to reach the essence behind this music? And what Intentions and the mission you wish to pursue within your art and altogether?

Wilhelm: - I am not really trying to be anything, I just want to create music that I would enjoy myself. And also to have fun with music, I think the aspect of fun is what the most important part is for me. I see creating a song as laying a puzzle, I love that part of playing around with ideas and just see what happens. Since I am not a trained musician a lot of what I do is just experimentation and seeing if things work together. And how things work together. I have learned everything I know about theory through creating my music. After creating something that sounds nice, I have tried to figure out why and thus learning about harmonies and so on. 

My mission with the band was and is just as an outlet for my ideas. I find it very relaxing to just sit down and create my songs. I write music and demo the songs at the same time (since I have a tendency to forget otherwise) and that is if we take it to essence is what I want to do. It is also extremely cool to see the songs take shape and change when the other members add their parts to the song. To relate to what you asked, I think if you try too hard to create something it will generally not turn out that great. I mean if I sit down and go, OK now I am going to create something great and unique. The result will most often result in the opposite.

VIII) The song writing is so focused on “Exiting Reality”. Rather than just attempting to go for a straightforward death/doom approach. You did your devoir to please the listeners methinks. The lyrics deal with philosophical ideas which is another aspect adding to the total appeal of the band other than the music. More thoughts I get when I listen to the music and read the lyrics. How much of a role yours own personal philosophical beliefs play in the music? Don’t you have the intention to make your philosophical ideas comprehensible for everyone?

Wilhelm: - I would say that it has played a huge role. Both in the lyrics and the music. As I said before the lyrics all deal with my own ideas and thoughts. Sometimes written sole by myself and sometimes interpreted by Niclas. For example the title of our début album was "borrowed" from the main book that I used while writing my bachelors essay at university. So I think it is pretty safe to say that it is an extension of myself. The title of our EP "It all fades" was about my view on humanity and our place on this earth. I see us as a pest that will end up killing ourselves. And the earth will keep on spinning in space long after we are gone. And soon enough all traces of our existence will be erased.

Not really, I have no intention to do missionary work ha-ha. I mean I feel that the band is enough to get my ideas out. And for that matter I think there are way more intelligent and articulated people out there spreading the good word about for example atheism and the dangers of religion. I have always been a "whatever floats your boat" kind of a guy. So whatever makes someone ells happy why I should judge?

IX) You are a voracious reader I presume and that is such thing to be emblazoned your imagination for the band or to exalt your wisdom. Besides, which writers or persons have influenced you most and aesthetically as well as philosophically how do you want them to align with your vision and develop accordingly? And would you ever consider placing your ideas in a different context? Such as writing a book, blogs etc.? (Smile).

Wilhelm: - I read a lot when I was at university, but after that I felt a bit burned out with academia. And reading tricky books. I have more tried to live my life according to the principals of the Philosophers I read in my youth. I have been greatly influenced by Epicurus, Phyrron, Nietzsche, Diogenes the Cynic, Horkheimer/Adorno and Baron D' Holbach. I could mention many more but these are the once that I think meant the most to me. I have planned to re-read Thus Spake Zarathustra this summer while I am at holiday. One thing that bugs me about all the philosophy I have read is that I never seem to remember quotes. I would love to be able to throw around some nice Nietzsche quotes. But I can't. I always just remember general themes and such. But I guess that is better than nothing.

I have been thinking about writing a book, but I guess it would be a novel or maybe a thriller. I don't really feel like writing a gospel or something, as I said before I think there are way more intelligent people out there who has done that way better than I ever could. And regarding blogs, I hate them. So I would never get one myself. Don't get me wrong I think they can be a great platform for zines/bands and so on. But just as a place for me publishing my rants, I pass. I get enough keyboard time doing interviews and writing my songs. So I am content with that.

X) Many bands out there are clearly based upon Anti-Christian ideas and so forth. Do you think that Satanism and anti-religion themes (in Death Metal) are such vague concepts today as completely irrelevant in 21st century? And, this is an age of bands trying to attract people solely through cover artwork, bizarre lyrical themes or trying to be more Kvlt. A very few musicians like you have been able to break out of this mould.

Wilhelm: - I think that bands using this just for the shock value these days are on very thin ice. Since in my opinion the whole satanic things is so done to death it is not very interesting or provocative any more. If the band members are real Satanists, then I see why they should not sing about it. I do believe that the listener today is way harder to shock. So just using Satanism today as an image thing is something that is disappearing.

Regarding the anti-religious themes I think they are most relevant today. I mean with growing radicalisation on all religious fronts. I see a growing need for the anti-religious movement to grow and spread. But then again, if done purely as a shock thing. I don't see a point. Maybe I have a very Scandinavian point of view since our society is totally secularised and you are viewed as weird if you are religious. I mean here there is no shock value at all singing about that religion is bad. One thing I do believe is that the age of "Neanderthal" anti-religious lyrics are gone. I will not mention names, but there are many bands that I love with all my heart, but their lyrics are so corny, Satan this, fuck god that. I think the listener today is way pickier than before. Maybe I am getting old, but I remember a few years ago when one of my favourite black metal bands released an album (again I will not name the band since I am in no way interesting in making any fan boys wet their draws) I could not get in to it since the lyrics was just so weak.

XI) Are you guys more familiar with each other’s attitude? (I think not. that’s why Niclas left the band. A jokes apart). 

Wilhelm: - I think we know what we all think and believe pretty well. I mean I have known Niclas, Francisco and Vedran for a pretty long time at this point. Even thou I have not known our new vocalist Johan that long, he and I have had some very interesting and in depth conversations. So I am pretty sure I know what he believes more or less. For me it has always been very important to have members in the band that I like on a personal level.

I have played in many bands where we did not meet at that level. And that always lead to problems. So I said to myself when I started this band that I would rather just create demos by myself that no one would hear than use members I did not like at a personal level. He he well since he did not want to sing about unicorns like I have planned for the next album, he had to go ;-).

XII) I hope that the new album has some new twists vocally for Johan. And is it possible to compare Johan Berstrom with Niclas? Tell us about their nature and way of working on music. Niclas was a lyricist too.

Wilhelm: - I am sure the vocals will be absolutely sick on the new album, we have not started working on them thou. I have some ideas and I know Johan has some ideas. We have only spoken about the vocals in a broad sense. Johan said that he does not want the vocals to change too much, he wants it to sound like The Gardnerz. 

Obviously he sounds different than Niclas. But he wanted to keep the general idea and style of what Niclas has been doing. When it comes to vocals I give the vocalist total freedom to do whatever they want. I mean I want the main vocals to be growling but all ideas are welcome. If it works, great if not we will just try something different.

Johan has told me that he is not that used to do "black metal" vocals but that he is willing to try. And that is all I ask. One of the things I liked about working with Niclas was that he had a huge range so the vocals where very varied. And that is something that we are going to try to keep. Yes Niclas wrote a lot of the lyrics and a lot of the times we wrote together. I think that we will continue in the same way with Johan. We have lyrics for one song that Niclas finished. So I think we will keep it since Niclas gave his blessing.

XIII) Is Paulina Strihavka involved in other bands to uplift and enrich her artistic excellency? I love Paulina as she can manage to capture the emotion and vitality of the music you make, that is distinct on It All Fades. I wanted to express my desire to listen more from her in the near future.

Wilhelm: - She plays in a cover band called "Thoms Trio". Head over to and check it out. I heard her talking about some other projects. But nothing concrete. But don't worry she will be on the new album. As soon as Johan is done with his parts we will fill the rest of the album with Paulina’s amazing voice. And if you search Wilhelm Paulina on YouTube you will find some cover songs (plus pictures of my cats) she and I recorded around the time of It all fades. The idea was to create a band out of it. I hope these songs and news will hold you over!

VIV) I'm not so fond of all the new death metal bands out there but I am liking what The Gardnerz do as you will never stop evolving to new, unseen states of music. The Gardnerz are enfant terrible! Real music written by real people with unique ideas, who can express them thoroughly but that's lacking these days I think. With this we come to an end of this conversation. This is just another interview of The Gardnerz. But it’s my pleasure to interview a ripsnorter like you. Aurevoir.

Wilhelm: - Thanks a lot for taking your time to talk with me, and thank you for writing interesting questions. That is also something that is lacking today! Keep your eyes open for the new album that will be released late this year!

Thanks for the support!