Spreading the Disease
CoC chats with Peter Tägtgren of Hypocrisy
by: Jackie Smit
It's always easy to dismiss a musician or a band as yesterday's news, following a record that hasn't quite cut the mustard. What critics (and I include myself in this) often lose sight of, however, is the increasingly difficult challenge that these artists face when attempting to create something that is fresh and vibrant, pleasing to existing fans and capable of reaching out to other quarters as well. Place Peter Tägtgren into that equation, and the dilemma is heightened exponentially. A self-confessed workaholic, Tägtgren's musical endeavours are, and have always been, multiple and manifold, covering a broad spectrum of instrumental and technical duties and a veritable smorgasbord of musical styles. With so much on his plate, you can hardly blame the man for running short on inspiration from time to time, and as it happens, the last few Hypocrisy records weren't quite up to par. Far from being out for the count, Tägtgren and his cohorts have answered the call of their detractors with _Virus_, a record which very easily stands alongside the best that the band have offered up thus far. But where did this newfound venom and intensity come from? How does a band still manage to deliver the goods after no less than ten trips to the studio?

Peter Tägtgren: A large part of how _Virus_ turned out was in reaction to _The Arrival_, which was an album that I thought was good, but it was missing some fast stuff, I think. There was a lot more mid-tempo and slow stuff on that album, and I missed the brutal stuff -- there should have been a lot more of that on that album. I guess also having Horgh [ex-Immortal drummer] in the band influenced me right away to write "Warpath", because he knows how to blast and he knows how to play double-bass, and that just made me go bananas and I started writing riffs that could include that sort of drumming. It was definitely an inspiring thing having him in the band for me.

CoC: This was the first time you were in the studio recording with Horgh -- as a member of Hypocrisy, at least -- and there's a very definite strain of black metal running through several tracks on the record. Aside from what you've already mentioned, how much of an influence did he have on the musical direction of this record?

PT: He wrote a couple of riffs, but his drumming is very unique in the way of you being able to tell right away that it's him playing the drums. That gave me flashbacks of recording Immortal in my studio a couple of years ago. Anything he does has "Horgh" written all over it. So, like I said, he wrote a couple of riffs, but the main thing was that he influenced us just by being there, you know? I know that there are a couple of sections on the album that do sound a bit black metal-ish, but it does feel good to have a great black metal drummer in the band, and it's a case of one thing feeding the other.

CoC: What made you decide that he was the man for the job when Lars left?

PT: It was the only choice, to be honest. I mean, I recorded three albums with Immortal, so I know the guy, and he has been playing live drums for Pain for a couple of tours now, and also we have done tours together with Immortal and Hypocrisy, so the rest of the band know him too. And he's just a really dedicated drummer, who just gets better and better, and that's what we needed. Lars' highlight was around '93/'94 and it just went down from there, whereas Horgh is a much more dedicated drummer. Lars is more "Nintendo and beers", and Horgh is just like "drums, drums, drums" all the time.

CoC: A bit more focused on the music, in other words.

PT: Absolutely.

CoC: So a lot like you, then.

PT: <laughs> Yeah, probably.

CoC: You are perceived as being somewhat of a workaholic -- you have all your side projects, you're starting to record again; do you ever feel like you're going to get burned out?

PT: Not right now. If I do, I'll take a break. Actually I'm going to take a break in October for about a week or two weeks; I don't quite now how long. I actually have a film role coming up. I'm going to be a hitman, killing people legally! It's just cool, and it's something different for me. So that's going to be really exciting.

CoC: How did that happen?

PT: Well, they asked me if I wanted to do the music for the film, and the guy said: "I know you're keen to be in movies and stuff", and I said: "Yeah", and he was like: "Well, I have the perfect role for you -- you're going to be the bad guy." There's not many lines to say; it's just me being bad.

CoC: Is this the start of another Peter Tägtgren endeavour?

PT: I hope so, man. I mean, I've always been keen to get behind or in front of the camera, and I was hoping to become a porno star, but if they offer me something else, that's even better!

CoC: Just touching on the question of you being burned out, I remember that back around the time of _The Final Chapter_, you had said in interviews that you wanted to cut back on things and you closed the studio and so on. Another highly publicized part of all that was your admission to suffering from depression. How are you feeling these days?

PT: I feel great. You know, everybody runs into a wall sometimes, and I was just so tired of the music industry -- everything from record companies saying that they didn't want me to produce, but that they'd like me to record the band. Then I'd do that and when I get the CD, I'd flip it over and it would read: "Produced by Peter Tägtgren". I was just so pissed at everything, and I'm a nice guy, so all this was just building up until one day I just said: "Fuck you all", and I decided that the studio was only going to be for me. These days I help out friends more than anything else. I just did the new Destruction album. I recorded Dimmu Borgir's new stuff, which we'll be mixing next week, and I'm going to do the new Celtic Frost. Things that I want to do, I'll do. It's not about the money, you know -- I'll do it because I'm excited about it.

CoC: It's quite something to be able to count a band like Celtic Frost among your friends. How did your involvement with the new record come about?

PT: I don't know. I never thought to do it. I was on tour in America and I got a message asking whether I'd like to co-produce the new Celtic Frost, and I was like: "Are you kidding me?" And then they said that I'd need to fly from America to Zurich and have a meeting with them, which I didn't really feel like because I had just been on tour for five weeks and I was fucking exhausted, but I couldn't let an opportunity like that go. So I went down and met with him for a couple of days and listened to the new stuff, didn't really say all that much about it, and then they called me again a couple of weeks later and said that they really wanted me to do it. And that was great. Now I just feel a lot of pressure, but I'm going to try and do the recording the way I'd want to hear it as a fan of Celtic Frost, and we'll just have to see how much they will accept my ideas. People will hate it and people will love it when it's done -- it will be a fucking circus. But that sort of thing is great; it wakes you up and makes you think straight.

CoC: Coming back to the new album, you had started to become tagged with the extraterrestrial themes that you explored on records like _Abducted_, and this album is obviously a huge step away from that.

PT: Yeah, it's just all blood, gore and stabbing. It's like being reborn.

CoC: Did you feel that way writing the music as well?

PT: Absolutely. I mean, the way it feels for us, it feels like we're putting more into the songs than we ever did before. It just feels fresh. It doesn't sound like another band or anything like that; it still sounds like Hypocrisy. I was actually listening to the album again the other day for the first time in a while, and there's a lot of thrash influence on the record that I didn't think about. There's a lot of chugging and stuff like that -- I love that shit, and it was great to be able to see our roots coming through on the album. I'm a big death metal fan as well, and I was one before I started Hypocrisy. I don't see Hypocrisy as death metal though -- there's a lot of gothic and black metal stuff on there as well. To me, it's just metal.

CoC: We mentioned Pain earlier, and you have two releases coming up, one being new material and one being covers. Care to let us in on a few secrets?

PT: The covers aren't 100% decided, but it's going to be maybe "Stormbringer" by Deep Purple, maybe something from Björk, something from Ultravox, and ELO. It's going to be a bunch of different, weird stuff -- everything from songs in the '60s and '70s to recent songs. I don't want to do anything that I've done before, like a Slayer or a Kiss cover.

CoC: How do you feel about Pain these days? I remember when the first album came out, that was a project done out of necessity more than anything else, to give you a gateway for the ideas that you couldn't use for Hypocrisy; but it's evolved into a completely separate entity.

PT: Well, it's hard when you have a shitty label, you know? That's all going to change after this cover album though. In Scandinavia it works fine with Universal, but I haven't even had a UK release since 1999. Same thing in America -- I've never had a release there. And the label doesn't give a fuck. Even though the album has done well in Scandinavia and Germany, they don't care. The last record had no advertising outside of Scandinavia. The bands they consider to be priorities get advertising and the rest don't get shit. It pisses you off, because you work hard and it takes two years to make an album. I'm putting in blood, sweat and tears to make an album, and what do I get in return? Nothing. At least the label could let people know that the album is out. _Dancing With the Dead_ came out and got great reviews from critics everywhere and the press were calling Nuclear Blast [Pain is -not- signed to Nuclear Blast Records -- Jackie] to get interviews with me for that record, which should tell you that something is really wrong. Universal don't send out promos, and they don't respond to journalists asking for interviews, so people have to call Nuclear Blast because they know that they will help them. They don't even make sure that the CDs are in stores, so for people to find a Pain album, it's pretty hard. And to have that from one of the biggest labels in the world is pretty fucked up. They're digging their own grave with all the other shit they do though for the other bands, so fuck 'em. I hope they burn.

CoC: The first Pain album was released on Nuclear Blast though; why move to Universal?

PT: <laughs> Yeah, wasn't that stupid? Actually at that time the next album I wanted to do with Pain was going to be in a more industrial direction and at that time there was really only death metal on the label. They didn't even have much black metal -- this was in 1996. So I said to them that I'd be taking the record to another label because I didn't feel that they'd be able to do a very good job on it. I did _Rebirth_ and it exploded in Sweden, and Universal did a good job there and an OK job in Scandinavia and Germany, and then decided that they didn't want to release it anywhere else! It was like a maximum of five countries that they released it in. You know -- what the hell?! Then with the next album, _Nothing Remains the Same_, they were like: "OK, if you go on tour, you're going to have a release in every country you go to." So I went on tour, and they put it out a little bit here and there. It's just a nightmare.

CoC: I take it that a return to Nuclear Blast is a definite option for you after the covers album then?

PT: Possibly. It depends on whether or not we have the same vision for the band.

CoC: Outside of the things we've spoken about, what are your plans for the next couple of months? Are we going to see Hypocrisy on tour anytime soon?

PT: We haven't decided whether we're going to do a headline tour or whether we should go with a bigger band. We'll probably be sorting that out very soon and letting people know. We're going to go out in November or, at the latest, January for this album.

CoC: Will we see you do any more work with Bloodbath?

PT: If they want me to. I was just a hired gun in the studio, really. They had everything done and they just threw me into the studio and let me do it in my own style, which was great. They gave me a bit of direction in terms of how they wanted it, but it was really great and the album is fucking killer.

CoC: Peter, thanks very much for your time. Do you want to add anything as we conclude this chat?

PT: No, just hope to see everyone on tour and hope that people are enjoying the new album.

(article submitted 12/8/2005)

9/1/2002 P Schwarz Hypocrisy: Ten Years and Still Humble
7/7/1999 D Rocher Hypocrisy: The Hypocrite's Arising Realm
1/1/1998 A Bromley Hypocrisy: It Ain't Over 'Til the Fat Lady Sings
3/14/1996 G Filicetti Hypocrisy: Hanging With the Hypocrites
7/23/2005 J Smit 8.5 Hypocrisy - Virus
1/25/2004 J Smit 7 Hypocrisy - The Arrival
4/12/2002 A McKay 10 Hypocrisy - 10 Years of Chaos and Confusion
8/12/2000 D Rocher 8 Hypocrisy - Into the Abyss
7/7/1999 D Rocher 10 Hypocrisy - Hypocrisy
6/15/1999 A Bromley 9 Hypocrisy - Hypocrisy
5/19/1999 A Bromley 9 Hypocrisy - Hypocrisy Destroys Wacken
11/17/1997 P Azevedo 9 Hypocrisy - The Final Chapter
5/10/1996 A Wasylyk 4 Hypocrisy - Carved Up
2/9/1996 G Filicetti 8 Hypocrisy - Abducted
10/20/2003 J Smit Dimmu Borgir / Hypocrisy / Norther One Step Closer to Armageddon
7/3/2002 P Schwarz Immortal / Hypocrisy Northern Darkness Descends
7/3/2002 P Azevedo Immortal / Hypocrisy / Holocausto Canibal The Night After the Night Before
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