This interview is published in the Bulgarian webzine Rawk'n'Roll. I am posting the English text here so it could be useful both for the band and its fans outside Bulgaria.
The debut album of Graveyard from 2007 has sunk in the underground of the Swedish heavy rock but if you have come across on it you could hardly remain indifferent. Obviously, somebody from Nuclear Blast has heard the CD because Graveyard are coming this month with a second album under the wing of the leading metal label. For the path from their first steps to this moment, for the music at all and for the Swedish scene, the drummer Axel Sjöberg speaks for Rawk'n'Roll.
RR: Hello, Axel! How are the final stages of the release of “Hisingen Blues” going?
AS: Hello! Quite well thank you, we're getting good feedback from all over.
RR: Hisingen is an island in Sweden which forms the Northern part of Göteborg but why “Hisingen Blues”, what does the title stand for?
AS: Rikard wrote the lyrics for the song while he was having a down period. Hisingen has a lot of rough areas with a melancholic atmosphere. And we thought that the song was a good representative for the album as a whole.
RR: The artwork is amazing; it brings memories of fantastic fairytales like Peter Pan. Who is the author and how the concept was born?
AS: Haha, thank you! We wanted a sort of lurking evil feel to it. It's the bass player from the excellent band Bombus from Gothenburg that did it from scratch. We took pictures against a green screen and then he built it in his computer. It was supposed to be a different press picture from the beginning but when we saw it we had to use it as the cover.
RR: Speaking of fairytales, what kind of books is everybody in Graveyard into?
AS: Oh, that's very different depending on who you ask. Myself I like Joseph Heller and Douglas Coupland, Joakim mostly reads comics, Rikard likes war history and Svala is into biographies and conspiracy literature.
RR: How did you decide to work with Don Alsterberg? He has produced artists like José Gonzales who is quite far from Graveyard’s sound.
AS: We worked with him on our first album and we were very satisfied. Don is amazing, both when it comes to sounds and input on the songwriting. I think it's not so much a matter of musical style rather than a mindset. If you've got the magic touch, you can work with many different types of music.
RR: Can you give us a few details on the album song wise? I mean the sound, the lyrics, the groove of the tracks in it, to tell a bit more of what is “Hisingen Blues” from your point of view.
AS: Well... I think it's a more worked through album. We had more time, had become better at playing and more tight because of all the touring. It's much more of an ALBUM than our first was. Lyrics deal with everything and nothing, inspired by daily life. Maybe they're mostly melancholic or pissed off. We write most of the music together in our rehearsal space where we jam a lot. In my point of view, Hisingen blues is a good album, haha.
RR: How did an underground heavy blues/psychedelic rock band sign a contract with a giant metal label like Nuclear Blast? Have you used some dark rituals, hehe?
AS: Haha, no I think it's a combination of a lot of things. Word of mouth - people have talked about us. A good persistent manager that made the connection. And NB will to expand a bit musically.
RR: How do you feel with the NB guys in terms of support?
AS: I have nothing but praise for them. They've been excellent.
RR: Don’t you fear they would need you to change your approach to music?
AS: Nope. They like us like we are. Actually the album was already finished before we made the deal, so they knew what they were buying if you could say so.
RR: The music from your first album brings the vibe of the glorious past of the rock and roll; it bears the heritage of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Janis Joplin and all that was magical and real in the late 60’s, early 70’s, yet it holds signature that is clearly you and can’t be mistaken. Which old bands are favorite to you, guys and how often do you listen to classic rock, compared to contemporary bands?
AS: That varies from week to week. Right now I listen a lot to Muddy Waters album Electric Mud. A new band I listen a lot to is Bombus. And today I feel like listening to Jerusalem and Black Keys.
RR: I see and hear parallels between your music and the records of other great Swedish bands today like Asteroid, Siena Root and Witchcraft, just to mention few. Is there any big rock movement in Sweden and how do you find the fact that there are so many rock bands there who have embraced the classic rock and the analog sound?
AS: I think there are always a good amount rock bands. It's just a matter of how much attention they are getting from time to time. In the case with Asteroid the bass player there is Joakim's little brother... But other than that I don't really know...
RR: Of the above bands, you have blood connection with Asteroid. Do you play together and do you know if they have split due to Elvis’ departure or Hexan is just a side project?
AS: No idea. But good drummers are hard to find.
RR: Since the Swedish rock scene is so strong in the last two decades, I guess there are many influential bands there from the 60’s and the 70’s. Could you point out some of them?
AS: November, Träd Gräs och Stenar, Råg i Ryggen, Kebnekajse, Charlie och Esdor, International Harvester and of course Hansson & Karlsson which made the song Tax Free which Jimi Hendrix did a cover of.
RR: The lyrics of some Graveyard songs remind of the occult themes from the early Black Sabbath. How much are you in this kind of theme?
AS: It depends on who wrote the lyrics. Different from day to day and from person to person.
RR: Is it possible for you now to live from playing in Graveyard or you have to work? And if so, what do you do for living?
AS: Myself I've worked with a lot different things from taking care of children with autism to being a sort of mason, building stone roads with small square stones. But now it looks like we'll be able to rely on Graveyard only.
RR: If you could choose, with which two other bands would you go on tour?
AS: Friends’ bands - Spiders, Bombus and Horisont. To support bigger bands - Black Keys, Black Sabbath, Neil Young... I don't know....
RR: As we all know, the light (and sometimes heavier) drugs have been going hand in hand with rock and roll from ages. What is your drug – weed, hash, tea, beer, whiskey?
RR: With whom would you share one of the mentioned above?
AS: Anyone that is nice and interesting to talk to.
RR: And just to warn you – you are the fourth Swedish band I am making an interview. The previous three have split a few months after they talked to me, so if you feel worried from the “Bulgarian curse”, I will understand you, haha!
AS: Haha, no worries.
RR: Cheers, guys, wish you all best with the new album and I hope I will catch you on the road (I see you are playing in Vienna with Pentagram on 21st of April)!
AS: See you there then, thanks and goodbye!