Interviews : Hypocrisy
With Peter Tägtgren
Playing their unique brand of epic melodic death, Hypocrisy has always been a band that's a little left of center, in all of the best ways. Metal legend Peter Tägtgren, headman of Sweden's legendary Abyss Studios, has been around the scene since before I was in kindergarten, and I recently got the chance to sit and chat with him about music, life, and philosophy. He's an interesting fellow, to say the least, and an amazing vocalist. Enjoy!
You've been quoted as saying that music is everything for you, and you've been in the business for so long, have you ever been close to burning out?
Yeah. Yeah, in around 2002 I totally burned out. That's why I stopped recording so many bands. Then I just started to tour more, because it's easier.
What makes it easier?
Well, it's not easier, you know? But when you sit in the studio all day long and record and record and try to produce, sometimes you have good bands and sometimes you don't. You burn out much easier on that, I think. On tour it's not the same day everyday.
What is the appeal of your new album to long-time fans versus new fans?
I think it's pretty good. I think that the old fans got what they wanted and new fans as well, because it's kinda mixed up. I mean the album is definitely Hypocrisy all the way, but it's got a little bit of the old stuff and a little bit of the new stuff.
What influences went into making the album a combination of the two?
I don't know. It's been like "Ok, let's go a little bit more brutal," and now that we have got Horgh in the band we can push on a little bit more blastbeats and stuff. And then you automatically start thinking in that kind of way, and then you get influenced.
What would you be doing with your life if you weren't doing anything music-related?
Nice! Just be a male whore over in Sweden, fucking old ladies for their money?
Oh yeah. Definitely.
That's one of my hobbies as well!
Oh! Well that's always good!(laughter)
What's your motivation to keep going?
Just to try to get better. Try to write better songs, just try to do everything better, you know?
Do you think you've done that throughout your career?
Yeah, I think it gets better and better. Definitely. The music is still interesting. If you compared us to other death metal bands that started around the same time, we're still climbing. We're still going up because a lot of the time we renew ourselves without leaving the roots totally. I think that on our albums, you can definitely tell it's Hypocrisy. Even if some albums are more epic, and some are faster, it's still Hypocrisy.
I had the privilege of reviewing the re-recording of Dimmu Borgir's Stormblast, and the differences between it and the original are striking. How much of an influence did you have in the change?
Not so much, because they wanted to stick with the old stuff, just trying to get a better production. But I wish I had a couple more days to mix it, but everybody was on a deadline, and there was no chance to mix it again. I'd like to put up the drums a little bit more.
That's actually been one of the things that I've heard about it was that the drums weren't present.
Well, at least get the kicks louder, so that you can hear it a bit more.
Double bass is always a good thing.
What are the differences between Horgh and Lars being in the band?
Well I think that Horgh comes up with his own stuff. Lars was much more of an AC/DC kinda drummer, like just going with the flow. Horgh thinks and creates and puts in his stuff and that's what makes him unique.
So there's more of an actual musical input?
Yeah. His style is different than a lot of drummers. I can write a riff and then he'll write his drums around it, or sometimes he'll come up with some crazy drum-beats and then I'll write the riffs after that.
What is the process behind changing between the mindsets of bandmember and producer?
I don't know. When you're a producer for other bands, you've just got to push them to the limit of what they can perform. You've got to be a psychologist also. When you're playing in the band, you just go with what you're doing, and when you're producing, you see the whole picture.
Is it tough to motivate bands to do things?
Well, not really. Most of the bands come into the studio ready to do the best that they can do, so it's usually no problem with motivation. Sometimes there are differences, so you've got to give and take more when you record.
You've worked with so many different bands as a producer, what was your favorite band to work with?
Oh, I don't know. I've got so many favorites. It's been a lot of fun, the whole career. It's hard to say who's been more fun than others, because everybody has something crazy.
A lot of nights of drunken debauchery in Sweden?
(laughs) Well, not when you actually record, but on weekends you sit and record until 8:00 and then you start drinking while still recording! And then the next day you go out and you have to redo whatever you did.
That's how Finntroll got started!
I couldn't say that! I can't just go "that band sucks!" and shit like that, it's my little secret.
So with your lyrics dealing with aliens and the paranormal, I was wondering if I could get your take on Xenu and the Scientologists. Are there any aliens in our volcanoes? If so, is it a problem?
I don't know. (laughs) I mean I have no idea. I just write my fantasies, like writing a book, not a novel, but crazy stuff, like what could happen. I think we were planted on this earth, you know, like seeds, and they're just checking on us all the time. Like once every hundred years, they just fly by and see what we're doing.
Do you think that aliens have had an effect on our society to date?
I think so. I don't think that we were fishes, and then we started crawling on land and stuff. I think that we came like this. Except not so advanced, like cavemen. And then I'm sure we got a little help to get things started.
Why did you change the subject of the lyrics?
It's got to be interesting to sing what I sing. I always feel stupid. On the old songs I had some ideas, and that was what I was writing, and the new stuff I have ideas that I write. But when I'm onstage and I sing the old and new stuff, it works fine. You've got to keep on going, you can't sing about the same thing on 15 albums, or else it gets really boring for yourself and for all of the fans.
Your old lyrics were dealing with Christianity and stuff...
Some of the new ones too...
True, is there any less contempt for Christianity from you now?
No. Same as always. As it should be.
Would you align yourself with any other religion?
Sex. We've been out for too long now. (laughs) No, not really. I try not to think about stuff like that, it's not worth it to think about it, for me. I'd rather concentrate on the music, and my life around it, that's the most important thing.
Describe your experience in making the video for Eraser...
It was pretty fun. We had some naked women there.
Naked women are always good.
Oh yeah. The more the merrier. It was good, we didn't know what to be expecting, we knew that they'd do a lot of stuff with the blue screens and stuff. We basically got in a room where it was just a... green screen actually, so we didn't know what to expect, so it came out really good.
How was it different than the other videos? Besides the hot naked chicks of course...
It got so much better, I think. When we did videos before, we had a budget of like 2000 dollars, and now we had a lot more money, and we could try to do the best we could.
2000 dollars is only enough to get one hot naked chick for a night!
Yeah! Exactly. It depends on where you are though.
True, but you usually don't want to spend less than $2000 really, it's one of those gambles that you don't want to take.
You never know! I always try to spend $1500 on booze, and then see what happens.
Booze and roofies!
Now plug the shit out of the new album so that everyone will want to buy it.
Oh, shit. I definitely think that the new album is the most interesting album, because you have all of the elements of the past. It's got a "best of" kind of feeling, you've got the brutal shit, and the epic shit, and you've got the mid-paced shit. So I think it's a pretty good combination. Maybe the next album will be a little bit of the same, so you'll have the slow shit, and the mid and the fast stuff, but we'll still try to make it better and more interesting. Better riffs and crazier stuff.
Any final words?
Yeah, I hope we can come back and do a headline tour in a half a year or so. We're working on it, we've got some shit going, a nice package.
Who would you like to tour with?
I dunno. Slayer can open up if they want. (laughs) I have no idea, we haven't gotten that far. We're at the point where we're like "OK, let's do major cities, like 3 to 4 a week, for a half a year, headline all across, try to sell them out, and play for one and a half hours a night.
Is there a band that you haven't toured with that you'd like to?
I dunno. I have no idea. I could say "Yeah, KISS, or whatever," but nothing really realistic.
And, as you all should know by now, Peter Tägtgren is a godless heathen, in the truest and most complimentary sense of the word. And, as so many other metal musicians, he's humble, approachable, and supremely talented. After the interview, the band went out and completely destroyed onstage, easily but not surprisingly eclipsing the headliner, Fear Factory.