Chants in Declaration
CoC chats with Leif Edling of Candlemass
by: Jackie Smit
"I am so fucking happy that this record turned out the way it turned out."

Leif Edling, bassist and the long-time creative driving force in Candlemass, is reflecting on his band’s recent turn of fortune. You can feel the proud exuberance in his voice too. Here is a man who had drawn the line under a labour of love, having achieved all he felt that he could; and now, after enough twists and turns to fill a reality show, he's about to start it all over again. Of course this would mean very little if it weren't for the fact that the latest Candlemass record is actually very, very good; but those who have already had the privilege of a sitting (or twenty) can attest that it sits comfortably alongside the likes of _Nightfall_.

CoC: It's a lesser known fact, but after getting together for the reunion tour in 2002, you guys actually split again briefly. Now that Candlemass has returned with a new album, does the sense of reunion feel different in any way to when you first got back together?

Leif Edling: We have kind of the same enthusiasm as we did when we did the first Candlemass reunion tours, because when we initially went on those tours we didn't realise that people would respond to it as strongly as they did. But it became a huge success, and it's the same thing with this. It was like: "Okay, let's do a record", and then we got the feedback and people really seem to like this record and that has filled us with a very similar kind of enthusiasm. And as far as the record is concerned, it comes down to that enthusiasm that we had when we were playing those shows; that definitely inspired me when it came to writing this new album. When you have a vibe and a chemistry like that, playing these fucking amazing shows, I think in a mental way that was with me when I was writing these songs.

CoC: So how did it feel to be back on stage playing the old songs after so many years apart?

LE: Fantastic! It was like when we first rehearsed, that feeling and that magic was there. We have something that we can not put our fingers on, but it just clicks and it just works and bang -- there you have it. Whether we rehearse, or whether we play clubs, or whether we play big stages, I feel like we always sound good. We don't have any preset plan or anything like that; we just put the chord in, turn the amp up and just go for it. And it works. Of course, it's great to have someone like Messiah [Marcolin, vocals] going berserk on stage, and he really gets the people going. I think it was a bit of a shock for people when we played our first show, because it was at a festival at three o' clock on a Saturday afternoon, and there were like 12 000 people there. We stormed through the classics -- we started off with "Well of Souls", we played "Mirror, Mirror", etc., etc., etc. People went nuts and the reviews were great, and all of a sudden after that show we were playing headlining shows and headlining festivals, and that whole incident there just came as such a surprise to us initially. It was amazing.

CoC: Why then the need to break-up after playing those initial festivals?

LE: Because we never said we were going to do the album. We said that we were going to tour to please the old fans. We released the re-masters in 2001, and people really liked those, and we also saw that the old records were appearing in writers' top ten millennium lists in various magazines all over the world. And that was also a shock, which resulted in one thing leading to another. So basically, after one and a half to two years' reunion shows, we couldn't decide how we wanted to go on and how to make the next record. We had so many different opinions on how to do it. When? Where? How? Those kinds of things. For me it wasn't a big deal really, because I had decided already that I was going to do another Krux record, which then didn't happen and that really disappointed me. So, I was feeling quite depressed and sitting at home and then I just started writing a bunch of new songs, which turned out to be the new Candlemass record.

CoC: Would you say then that the lack of direction after those shows and the frustration it brought it with it, was at least partly responsible for how this record turned out?

LE: Yes, pretty much so -- that coupled with the strength of the shows in the back of my mind.

CoC: Was there anything in particular that you guys couldn't agree on?

LE: We couldn't agree on how to make an album. It was everything from where we should record it, what studio to use in what country, how much it should cost to make, with what record label -- someone said that he didn't want to tour... Stuff like that. <laughs> So, I just said: "Fine, I'm going to do the Krux record." I'm too old to argue about things like that and I have no interest, nor the energy to be in playing in a band with people who can't make compromises. And it wasn't only me -- it was all five guys, who all brought five very different opinions along with them.

CoC: So, what was the catalyst that eventually made you all decide to put your difference aside and make a new album?

LE: I demoed some songs in the summer and I sent the songs to Mats [Bjorkman, rhythm guitar]. He really loved what he heard and he got in touch with me and told me that we needed to another Candlemass album, and that persuaded me to do it. So we contacted all the other guys and we sat down and had meetings and finally came up with a plan that covered when we were going to do the demos, when we were going to enter the studio and the mix the album and stuff like that. And then it felt like all of a sudden there we were, back in the studio, and we were all really happy, and having a great time. So, it was a total shift in attitude. We went from where we were to being five guys with the same goal in mind and that turned out subsequently to be a great experience. I personally have never felt so much positive energy in a studio since we did _Nightfall_ and _Epicus Doomicus Metallicus_, and I think that you can feel that on the record. It's a very alive album, and I think it just has so much electricity and so much spark.

CoC: The first thing that struck me about this record personally is how well it flows -- it's a very natural sounding album and the songs just seem to complement each other supremely well.

LE: Yeah, and it was a very, very important thing for me to create a flow on the record. I thought about that a lot during the summer and during the autumn before we went into the studio, and I actually had the demos on tapes which I had made for myself, and I tagged each tape with the name of a song. And I would look at those tapes and arrange them in order of how I wanted the album to flow; and then a couple of days later, I would change them around. I think that gave me a very good overall feeling of the album and the songs and how the album would flow. I was basically focused on this up to the point where I decided on the order of the songs in August [2004] and then we went to rehearse the songs in exactly the same order as they are on the album. And again, that way I was able to develop even more of a feeling for the album. In the studio we recorded them in the same order and we actually had a big note up with all the song titles and we'd tick them as we went along. I think it worked and I think that it definitely gave us all a great feel for the album and I'm definitely glad that you noticed. I think overall, the album is a bit faster than a lot of people are going to expect it to be, and maybe a bit more metal. But to be honest, we've always been a metal band; a heavy metal band that encompasses all sorts of different styles and ideas. If we were just a straightforward doom metal band, we'd create albums that are full of songs like "Spellbreaker". By mixing it all up and by trying out different ideas, I think one can keep the interest of the listener -- otherwise they'll get bored after four songs. That's the most common complaint you hear about albums these days: "The first four songs are great, but the rest I can't be bothered with."

CoC: Considering how passionate people can get about Candlemass, where you ever conscious of what your old fans might say about the new material when you were writing and recording it?

LE: Yes, absolutely, but in a good way. I never associated it with any kind of threat or any kind of stress. I was aware of the fact that old fans might hate the new album and it did cross my mind that some die-hard fans of _Epicus Doomicus Metallicus_ would think that it's too mainstream. But I've played the record for quite a few people now, and a lot of fans and journalists have heard it now, and even those die-hard fans have said that they really love it -- the response has been amazing. And that's great, because I write alone, so I never really have any way to judge the songs from an outsider point of view when I'm writing them. So, to get people telling you that this new material is as good as the stuff on _Nightfall_, that's fucking great.

CoC: You mention the response that you've been getting to the new record, but when you originally disbanded you said that you felt that the band had to bow out while they were on top. In retrospect, do you think you had more in you the first time round -- particularly given how this new album has turned out?

LE: No, no, absolutely not. In fact, the day that we quit after doing _Chapter VI_, we could not have done anything more. We were a band in chaos after the live recording, and in retrospect, we shouldn't even have done _Chapter VI_. We did some good shows for that album, but it's not very good, I don't think. It's okay, but at least we didn't do three really half-decent albums. We did one that may be okay, and I can live with that. A lot of people were obviously very upset when we said that we were splitting up around that time, but on the other hand, how long would we have been able to go on? We were together for seven years, which is a long time for any band. I was never that concerned about it, because seven years is a long time. I know that we had albums that were loved by a lot of people, and how many bands achieve that? So at that point, I was happy in the knowledge that I had done what very few bands can say they have done. And now to get a second chance to do something like this -- man, I think it's incredible. I'm still in shock and I still can't believe it when journalists come up to me and say that it's going to be the album of the month or that it's going to get five out of five.

CoC: Where do you think this new record fits in with the rest of the band's material?

LE: Well, we're only getting round to thinking about the album in that way now, because it was such a crazy time while we were doing the actual recording. You know, I sent an e-mail to Nuclear Blast and told them that the record is finished. They sent an e-mail back asking when it's going to be mastered. Then you send an e-mail to them saying that it's mastered and it sounds great, and they send you an e-mail asking when you're going to take photos for the album's promotion; and then it's the video, and it is pretty relentless. Before you know it, you're being told that you have two weeks' promotion booked in Europe, and then after that it's time to hit the road to start touring. So in a lot of ways we're now only starting to come to grips with the new album and what it means in a bigger sense, but even now we have not yet sat down as a band and got our bearings together, so to speak. What I will say is that there's a lot of work to be done, but I am extremely excited and in a way I feel like we've only just begun.

CoC: So, let's touch on one of the bones of contention you mentioned earlier: the label. What made you decide on Nuclear Blast?

LE: The thing was that we would have been happy on a small label too. We sent demos out and many record companies were interested, among which was Nuclear Blast, but we never imagined that we'd be able to get a deal with them. But they got in touch with us and told us that they needed to hear more, so we sent them a few more tracks, and they were just like: "This is fucking great." Shortly afterward they offered us a deal, told us that we'd get priority on the label and basically said that they hoped we'd take them up on the contract. And for us it was really a case at that point of: "Okay, where do we sign?"

CoC: Now for this album you went to Polar Studios, which isn't exactly a particularly popular studio in the metal scene. What made you decide on it?

LE: Well, we wanted to go to a studio in Sweden, and even though Polar Studios is really used as much in the metal scene, it's been used by bands like Abba, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and The Ramones, and so in Sweden it's legendary. And when you record there, you don't just hire the studio: you also get the know-how, and the guy who runs it recorded us and he helped us tremendously. I mean, this is the guy that got [John] Bonham his drum sound, and there he was helping us get ours!

CoC: Well, that's one of the things that I really love about the album -- I think it's sounds so unique and so punchy...

LE: Exactly. I mean, we could go into a place like Studio Fredman, but we didn't want to sound like any other bands, and we just really thought: "Fuck it -- we'll do our own thing." We were convinced when we decided to book Polar that it was going to be great, and then we decided to use our soundman to produce the album, and he's really good at getting the right sound out of guitars. So, as far as recording the album, I really couldn't have asked for an easier and more enjoyable process. We definitely didn't cut any costs either, that's for sure. There was a lot of experimentation on the record, and we really decided to give ourselves the luxury of doing whatever we felt like doing in the studio. And I love the result -- the sound is great and the overall impact of the record is brilliant.

CoC: So, what's on the cards for you and for Candlemass over the course of the next few months?

LE: Well, I'd really like to do another Krux record; that's something that I really want to do, but I'm not sure if I'm going to get round to it with everything that's going on with Candlemass. I mean, we'll be touring for most of this year and ideally I want to be able to start working on the next album as soon as possible. So, with what it looks like now, I don't know about Krux; but Candlemass will be taking up most of my time for the next year or so. One thing I should also add is that we're releasing a video for "Black Dwarf", which we recorded in March.

CoC: And I guess that pretty much sums up as to whether Candlemass is back for good?

LE: I don't know if you can say that we're back for good; maybe seven years is for good. <laughs> We're signed for three records with Nuclear Blast, and as I said, I'm counting on us doing the next one next year. And I'm really happy with everything at the moment. Everybody is in this for the same reason and with the same goal, and you can't ask for more than that.

(article submitted 3/5/2005)

12/24/2009 C Burton 9.5 Candlemass - Death Magic Doom
4/19/2005 J Smit 8.5 Candlemass - Candlemass
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