INTERVIEW – PLUTONIUM

PLUTONIUM are one of the few bands that keep the industrial blackmetal sub-sub-genre alive. In fact they just released another exceptional album entitled “Devilmentertainment Non-Stop”, which in my opinion should raise a few (and more) eyebrows around. Dictator J. Carlsson explains:

Greetings J.! How’s the situation in PLUTONIUM right now as we speak?

Hi! The situation is pretty good for the moment, as the album is now released after 1 ½ years of delay and general problems. I got all the copies this week and I felt relieved when holding a copy of the album in my hand and listening to the final result. Of course it will be a lot of work for me the coming months since I release the album by myself, with promotion and stuff like that. Anyway, I don´t complain since I knew I had to take care of that, I´ll probably learn a lot by doing this by myself. I have a lot of new music written that hasn´t been recorded as well, so there is no lack of ideas either. However, I try to focus on the fact that the album FINALLY is released and it feels great. I hope the ones listening to the album feel the same way!

 

The successor album to “One Size Fits All” has been delayed for some time. Problems with the record labels? When should we expect it eventually?

This is a long story. Problems? You name it! I was in touch with some labels, and the one who definitely fucked things up seriously was the German label NIEDERRHEINTERROR. Everything seemed very serious, but after I sent them the layout and the master I heard nothing. I sent them like four or five mails, and got no response. So I decided to check with some other bands who were supposed to release their stuff on that label, and the answers I got made me realize my suspicions were true. None of the bands I heard from used any superlatives (rather the opposite) when describing the cooperation with this certain label. So I sent them yet another mail, and told them that if I hadn´t heard from them in a week, our cooperation should end immediately. Well, do you think I heard anything from them? So, there you go. I tried to get another label, but those I were in touch with didn´t want to or couldn´t sign PLUTONIUM. The most annoying thing was that I could  not get my master back from Niederrhein, and the studio that mastered the album had deleted their files, so I had to ask them to redo the mastering. Those are the main reasons, if anyone is really interested in the whole story, check out the blog on my MySpace-page! The album is out right now and I guess you, Chris, has got the album right now?

 

The new album is titled “Devilmentertainment Non-Stop”. Enlighten us about the message behind it!

– It is the title of the second song on the album and I thought it was a good title for the album as well, a bit unexpected and unusual for a band in the extreme metal field. The word devilmentertainment is a combination of “devilment” and “entertainment”. The lyrics to that song is mirroring some things that happened around the world when I wrote it (if you study the lyric there are certain keys to find…) and also my view upon the world and how it is portrayed by the media in the western society. I must say this is a hard question to answer, especially since you are the first one to ask me, but I will give it a try. Most of this lyric came to me pretty spontaneous, it is like some kind of stream of consciousness (or maybe unconsciousness?) from the cynical state of mind I was in. It is probably the most abstract lyric on the album. So, returning to your question, the purpose with the title is not to bring out a message, more like a mirror or a snapshot of a state of mind or state of the world according to my mind. I started with a slightly ironical and cynical indifferent view but slowly changed into a more nihilistic and misanthropic outlook (without becoming a misanthrope, since I do love the people I really respect). When I started with the album I thought of it as some kind of cathartic process, but as time went by, everything just got worse.

Three new tracks had emerged prior to the release of the album. I found a movement towards embedding more straight-forward industrial elements. Am I wrong?

I do not know exactly what you mean with “straight-forward industrial elements”, but I guess I can sense the essence of your question. And you are right: I have worked harder with adding different atmospheres and electronic sounds. I like a lot of electronic stuff ranging from softer ambient to harsh power electronics, and I think the electronic influences contribute and enhance the songs. When the album was finished it struck me that there were very few, if any, guitar solos on it! Anyway, I always write the songs with my guitar. I feel that if the song sounds strong enough when I play it alone without the other instruments, then it must be a great song.

“Devilmentertainment…” has a strong advantage for me and that is its dynamics. It starts with two more complex tracks with constant changes of pace within them, continues with an all ambient/drone track (“Peace Keeper”) and then it with “The Misery King” catches an almost straight rock vibe. This flow is certain to at least draw the attention of the listener. Would you agree that sometimes, especially in more exceptional forms of music, the flow of the sounds is in an abstract level more important than the actual notes?

Thanks! I definitely hope you are right. When I compose I guess I am pretty openminded. Like you say the title track is a bit complex with change of pace and lots of electronics and such, and “The misery king” is pretty straight-forward (and almost a tribute to early BATHORY). I´m satisfied with both of the songs and they are very different from each other, but I think it´s important not to repeat yourself too much. My wish is to create good music that both works as individual tracks and as an album. Many of my favourite albums have a diverse structure, for example “Sad wings of destiny” by JUDAS PRIEST…it contains both heavy metal, ballads, rockier stuff and pianos…

Would you ever consider doing a full ambient/drone album like the aforementioned “Peace Keeper”?

As a matter of fact I did record a demo of pure ambient/industrial music that was supposed to be released some month ago (it would not be released under the PLUTONIUM banner though, but a different name). Approximately 30 minutes of dark ambience that would be released on tape by an american label. Guess what happened: one week before it was going to be sent to the pressing plant, the worst tornado since 1953 hit the hometown of the label, and the guy who rule the label got his house totally demolished (as 2000 other houses and buildings were… another 8000 buildings were heavily damaged). So he had to cancel the release for the moment and he has to find somewhere to live….a bit of bad luck for me, but a big personal tragedy for him. However, I could definitely think of doing more ambient stuff. I think it is a vital and important part of the PLUTONIUM sound, but still only a part! So I guess a fullenght pure ambient album would be released with another monicker. The demo will be released in one way or another (anyone interested, just get in touch!), but for the moment PLUTONIUM takes all of my time.

Who are the “Unintelligent Design” of today’s societies?

Well, the whole universe is a fine example of unintelligent design! Seriously, the lyric to that song is about a certain group of religious people who during ages has opposed and dismissed science and scientific exploration, but now claims that the creation as described in their holy books can be proven scientifically. A very “intellectual experiment”, if there ever was one (Note: IRONY!).

Let’s go back to “One Size Fits All”. I found it a magnificent sample of black metal, because black metal for me has to carry some message, it’s more than “notes in the right order” so to speak. What made you deal with totalitarian future societies similar to those described in novels like “Fahrenheit 451” or “Brave New World”?

It did fit very good to the music, and since I like to read science fiction novels in general and about dystopian societies in particular. Also, when I started PLUTONIUM, the global holy warfare against terrorism begun, and I noted that the use of words and the language in general changed into something that reminded me a lot of newspeak as portrayed in Orwell´s “1984”. Strange laws were passed during the world, laws that could easily been passed in eastern Europe before 1989, and lots of other things happened which triggered my mind a lot and gave me inspiration. So to me it is an almost endless source of inspiration with lots of different aspects to elaborate. And as stated before, it fits the music very good! Maybe the totalitarian theme was more present on “One size fits all”, but I guess it will always be there…

Do you think that we do amuse ourselves to death in the modern human societies? If yes, could that situation continue forever or would there be a huge explosion of some kind? A new World War maybe?

It is up to everyone to decide which is the right path to choose. I choose to think. The amusement factor definitely make people more stupid and that is something I have noticed even in seemingly “intellectual” millieus. I´m not sure of a new world war, but I guess there will be harder to find intellectual stimulus among our so called fellow creatures. “Instant gratification” and “lowest common denominator” seem to be the core values of today. But I try not to focus on others follies, I rather pick up an interesting book, watch a movie, listen to some good music and shut off the idiocy outside. When I can´t shut it off, I fight it, and I have been fighting countless of idiocies the last two years…so I realized the only way to stay sane is to cultivate and educate yourself!


With all that turmoil in international economies, how are things in Sweden actually? Here in Greece, with our fucked up situation, we think of Scandiavian countries as an Eden to live in.

It seems like Sweden has done quite ok despite the international crisis. Of course we´ve seen the effects of it, but we also had a great recession in the early 90´ies and it was definitely worse back then as I remember it. And compared to Greece it seems like we have done quite well, although I know the swedish media don´t give us the whole picture of the situation in your country. I have some friends in Greece who tell me their situation, and I worry for them, definitely! I hope things get better, but I know some of you see no hope for the future.

Back to music, “One Size Fits All” seems as a genuine blend of the cold, harsh sounds made by THORNS and SATYRICON (“Rebel Extravaganza” era) with some post-apocalyptic tunes. But what truly astonished me was the production. It perfectly fits the music and gives intensity to the songs. Given the fact that it was made by you solely, do you believe that bands should not rely on producers that would maybe alter their identity?

Thanks! It was the first time I ever produced an album, and when listening to it today five years later, I am still satisfied although it is a bit too noisy at places. However, that was what I strived for back then, an ugly and hostile atmosphere. About my choice to produce myself: when I looked around for studios in my surroundings to record the first album, they all wanted loads of money. I figured out that if I used the studio budget (which anyway wouldn´t cover the costs) to buy myself some better home PC equipment I could gain much more. I didn´t have to pay for the time like I have to do in an ordinary studio, and also I could use it whenever I wanted when the album was finished. And I have used it when I recorded “Devilmentertainment non-stop” as well, and use it now for coming recordings as well. So personally, getting my own home studio is probably one of the smartest moves I´ve made. I learn new things every time I use it. It´s not the most fancy stuff you can find, and you get a more “professional” sound in a bigger real studio. But what the hell, three of the classic BATHORY albums were recorded in an old garage with definitely more primitive equipment than most people can get for almost nothing today, and they are still listenable and still classic! Maybe you are right:  there are a lot of great well known metal producers but I guess it easily leads to the “Sunlight-syndrome” that became a trend in the early 90 ´ies in Sweden. ENTOMBED and DISMEMBER recorded their stuff in Sunlight studios and all of a sudden, almost every band in the country (and many outside Sweden as well) went there and came out with an almost identical sound. I have to say I am not too fond of this modern metal sound that you hear these days, like IN FLAMES, SONIC SYNDICATE and such bands. It is of course very massive, but very predictable and generic. It is up to anyone to do whatever they like, but I think the metal scene in general would be more interesting if there were more individualists. And of course there are some as well!

Do you plan to continue PLUTONIUM as a one-man project? If yes, would you consider acquiring session members for possible live appearances?

Actually I tried to get one of my friends to play some guitar on the new album. He agreed and I sent him a couple of songs, and after some weeks he told me he had tried but since he had only played bass for the last six months his guitar playing was not the best and he couldn´t cut it. Kind of sad since he´s a friend of mine and since another person would bring another perspective and make the recording less predictable for me. I know he could have cut it with some practice, anyway I really appreciate his honesty! So I guess I will continue the quest on my own, but if anyone get in touch with me and would like to join me, I would definitely consider it. I have a lot of friends who know how to play, but they are all busy with other bands. As for the live appearances, I guess it would feel great to put up a great live show. However, since I don´t rehearse in a traditional way, I have to practice a lot and also decide what details in the recordings that should be incorporated. I will never enter a stage without knowing that everything will work out the way it was intended. But I know bands with programmed stuff can do great live shows, I saw ABORYM live once, they were awesome!

What made you grab a guitar in the first place?

It came really natural to me. My father listened to a lot of rock music when I grew up (late 70´ies and the 80´ies) and also played in bands and still does! So he played the guitar and piano as well so there were always music at home! My grandfather played the violin as well, and he came from a part in Sweden where the folk music tradition still is very strong. My brother (ten years younger than I am) plays the guitar in a post-rock band that´s been touring a lot in Europe last years. So there has always been music in my family. I liked everything I heard at home, but I guess it was when I heard KISS (and soon JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN) I found something that I could call my “own”.

And what made you tune your guitar to the more extreme metal chords then?

I suspect you try to find the next limit: what´s the next step? So after heavy metal I discovered METALLICA, SLAYER and KREATOR, the thrash bands. But then came the swedish Death Metal explosion in my early teens and then I discovered the underground and this was something entirely new. Everyone was in a band and I guess every town had like 2-3 death metal bands, and you could imagine that it soon became very watered down. However, I had laid my hands on a second pressing of the first BATHORY album, and I guess that album in one way is a milestone in my life. I loved MORBID ANGEL and stuff like that (and still do) but this was something entirely different… BATHORY is one of the most important bands for me, especially the six first albums…it influenced my guitar playing a lot. Nowadays I like to listen to a lot of different kinds of music, not only metal, but I guess the bands you discovered at an early age will always have a special place in your heart.

What does your playlist contain these days? Any new bands or artists worth checking out?

During the last months I have been obsessed by the movies of Kenneth Anger, and thanks to that I´ve listened a lot to the soundtracks to these films. I can especially recommend the music to “Lucifer Rising”, made by Bobby Beausoleil. It´s really fascinating music that both works in and separated from the movie. Also I´ve listened a lot to STEELEYE SPAN, an English folk-rock band that did some really good albums in the 70ies. For the moment I am not listening to metal that much, I guess the latest album I bought (one month ago) was “Revelations of the black flame” by 1349. I know it has received a lot of bad words, but I must say I like it! It is a grim album that differs a lot from the previous albums, but still a grim album. Newer bands I´ve come across lately which sounds promising are THORNGOTH and ZORORMR. Nothing new but definitely above the average. I think Greece has some real good bands which I long to hear new stuff from, like for example SEPTUAGINT, AENAON and of course my faves, ANGSTRIDDEN! Thank you for your support Chris!

Thank you too J. for the interview, I hope things turn out well for you and the band. Take care!

 

 

You can support PLUTONIUM by visiting the following hyperlinks:
http://www.myspace.com/thetrueplutonium

http://www.reverbnation.com/thetrueplutonium

http://twitter.com/trueplutonium

~ by antifleshnimbus on July 16, 2011.

 
%d bloggers like this: