Konkhring the Weak
CoC interviews Anders Lundemark of Konkhra
by: Paul Schwarz
The story of Konkhra was, until about a year ago, a familiar tale: Scandinavian band grows in popularity (and in this case also in live reputation) and becomes 'known'. However, in Konkhra's case things took a strange turn in late '96 / early '97. With the departure of all of the players on _Spit or Swallow_, Anders Lundemark was left without a band to speak of. This was not a particularly strange occurrence in itself, but replacements in the form of Chris Kontos (ex Machine Head) on drums and James Murphy (ex take your pick: Testament, Death, <add bands here>) on guitar, along with new bassist T. Christensen, were anything but run of the mill. With this impressive lineup, the band recorded and released _Weed Out the Weak_ to mixed reviews. With a remixed version of _WOtW_ soon to be released worldwide, the original only seeing the light in Europe and excluding Germany (one of the biggest buyers of heavy metal on this side of the Atlantic) and a tour necessarily imminent, I talked to vocalist / guitarist, chief songwriter and sole original member Anders Lundemark about the past present and future. Enjoy.

CoC: Since you're the only member of Konkhra remaining since the last album, do you feel that Konkhra has become more of a personal project than a band? Do you still feel you have the band ethic?

Anders Lundemark: I think there is more of a band ethic today than there was with the past lineup. I am very determined to keep people involved and not make it a one person thing and I am very determined to go out on the road and play. It [Konkhra] is run like a band for sure and the reason why there have been a lot of lineup changes in the band is that in Denmark there are maybe 50 people that are seriously working with stuff like I am and most of them have their own bands and their own ideas and the other half are maybe a little too unserious about the thing, so to me it was very difficult to find a new lineup or run the band with people from here because they don't look at stuff the same way I do.

CoC: How do you feel _WOtW_ differs from previous releases? In what way is it different?

AL: I think it's much better and I think that one of the reasons is that now finally we are professional enough to acheive what we want and the people that are now involved in the band, especially Chris; he's got a very high level of professionalism with his instrument and the whole recording process and everything -- we just had to make it work this time. So we were very determined to get a better output and a better result and I think especially with the production we have acheived something that was better. We've just remixed the album and we had Vinny Washnu and Michael Rosen to remix the album for release in the States and for reissue in Europe and, when that was done, the things that they said to us and stuff that was there on the raw tapes just gave me a lot of confidence and a lot of belief in the future.

CoC: So what would you say to people who think that _WOtW_ is not as good as the previous Konkhra albums? I've heard varied responses: a lot of people have said that it's amazing; you got great reviews in Kerrang! and Terrorizer, but some people have expressed concern that it's not as good as either your previous work, or Kontos' work, or Murphy's work. What would you say to these people?

AL: I think the new mix will offer much more comfort to people that have that opinion because one of the things that is wrong with the mix that we released in Europe was that the levels set on it were a bit confusing and the riff guitar was low in some places and even muted out, because the people we worked with on the first mix were not professional enough and Murphy's solos are very loud on the first mix -- and honestly I don't think that they should be that loud, I think they should be more like at the same level as the rhythm guitar, just to mix in. And I can tell you a little secret about the drums: the people that made the first mix for Europe told us that there was so much of a high-hat lead in the snare drum that we had to trigger the snare in order to get the right levels on the drums, but that was a lie, because Michael and Vinny have just mixed the album and spent 2 minutes doing the eq on the high-hat and I promise you the new mix is blowing the old mix away 10 times. I hope that people will be able to check out the new mix and for sure that will show much more about what was going on with the rehersals and with the whole process of making this record.

CoC: Do you continue to write most of the music (most of the songs on _WOtW_ are written by you individually and some with other band members)? Do you think in the next album there will be more band writing?

AL: Yes, I hope so, because every time Konkhra have released an album people [in the band] either wanted to do something else with their life or just stopped writing stuff. I had to write everything, pretty much, for _Spit or Swallow_ and everything, pretty much, for this album and to tell you the truth that is not my goal at all. I don't want to turn out as some kind of tyrant that is writing everything. I have been talking both to the label and, of course, to Chris, and I think we are going to take as much as 3 months to write next time. This time we wrote everything in 3 weeks to a month before we went into the studio. That's pretty quick, everyone else takes like a year and they even write stuff on the road and we couldn't do that this time, since I started collaborating with Chris in November last year [1996] and we only had February. We had correspondence going on with tapes and stuff in December and January, but we only had all of February to rehearse the entire album. It's needless to say that when we went into the studio people weren't 100% confident with what they were doing. Next time we will surely take a much longer time and also integrate people's ideas much more. All the songs that were written have bits and sequences from drums like a drum machine and we followed that pretty much this time around, because we didn't have that much time. That's the thing when you play music: you're always 6 months ahead of everyone else, because the album gets out 6 months after you started working on it. We finished this process in March and now it's getting out in the States in January or February, so it's almost a year old for us when it gets out. I think next time everything will be set better and we'll have a global release date and try to work everything on a better schedule.

CoC: Do you think working with Nicke Andersson [(now ex) Entombed] on the Daemon project has changed your outlook on Konkhra's music (I heard you're a big Entombed fan and you try hard not to rip them off), so did doing that project help you get out all your Entombed riffs?

AL: I think Entombed is the greatest band, but I am very concerned not to do stuff that's similar to Entombed. But let me put it this way -- Nicke has a really good way of saying this: everything has been written, the only thing that is left is ripping off people. The thing with Entombed and Nicke's whole concept of playing music is that he's ripping stuff off that everybody else forgot because he is totally into the 70's scene and stuff like that and you have to be very careful not to take stuff that is contemporary; creating something which is contemporary out of something which is old is maybe a good way of perceiving music these days. I wouldn't say Daemon changed my outlook on Konkhra's music, but it pretty much changed my outlook on how people should be collaborating in bands. When I was in Sweden hanging out with those guys, I saw that they have a very close relationship, like a friendship-based thing, going on in the band. That is much more than you could say about Konkhra at that time, and at the time it made me sad because I was hoping some day I would be in a situation similar to that. Now it turns out that I got really good friends with Chris, Thomas and Murphy as well -- he's just a guest, though, the nucleus of the band is really friendship-based and we spend a lot of time doing everything else.

CoC: Do you think with Nicke leaving Entombed this is like the end of an era for Entombed?

AL: I don't know, it's not something I should comment on, because I am totally just a fan. I don't want to, in a Konkhra interview, comment on stuff that's going on in Entombed. I will always have 100% respect for the band and if that's what they want to do... I can imagine that Nicke may want to build his career on Hellacopters now and if he wants to do that... it's more about the music and feeling good about what you are doing than anything else.

CoC: How much emphasis does Konkhra place on touring and playing live?

AL: 300%, because we are totally dying, we are pissing our pants to get on tour now. The release [of the album] has been a little bit difficult this time, because they [Diehard] had a change of distribution in some of the most important territories, like Germany. Now they are finally getting distribution for Germany and as soon as that's done that'll be the spine of the tour in Europe -- and we can't wait. That's the goal right now, to go out [on tour]. We just have to figure out how. We are signing a new deal with an agency on Friday this week and I have very high hopes about what they can do for the band and what we want to do. I think we will try to go out by ourselves and just hit smaller clubs and do a headlining thing instead of spending a lot of money going out with somebody else, where we get only 25 minutes for a set and half the people aren't there yet. So I think this time we'll try it by ourselves. So, for sure I think we place a lot of emphasis on that and I think we are going to spend at least four or five months of the year on the road because these days that's the only thing you can do as a metal band, if you're not hip or trendy. We'll slit our wrists, but we'll go.

CoC: Do you prefer to be on the road or to be writing albums?

AL: I like everything, pretty much, I always look forward to the next part of what I'm doing and that is maybe the curse of it. I like it but when we're on the road I'm like "let's go back and write", 'cause the band gets so tight after a couple of days on the road and that creates a lot of ideas for new stuff and how tight new stuff can become. It's just a big circle that just moves on and it's been a while now since I have been touring, so I think it's about time we got out and this time I think we are going to increase the luxury budget a little bit. We toured Europe in a van and Chris did some tours in Europe and the States in vans when he was with Verbal Abuse, but, with the tours he did with Machine Head, his levels have moved up a little, so we're going to try to match that a little bit and have a better bus, etc.

CoC: What do you think of the music scene in Denmark?

AL: I think it's stupid, I think it's very energetic and it's pretty good. There are a lot of bands, but people don't have enough confidence, they always lean towards something else, and in Denmark there is a national thing called yentilob and that means you can never think anything of yourself, you always have to be more than modest or else people will slap your face. That's pretty much on the agenda for Danish behaviour even in really successful companies. In the States people are like "why don't those guys like themselves?", because Danish people are always holding back on achievements and holding back on what they can do, and I think that hurts the scene a bit, because a lot of people really have a lot of skills and a lot of good ideas -- but it never really amounts to much, because people are just standing in bars and telling their friends "well, I think I can do..." this or that and they'll go "uh huh, watch me", and that's just weird, you know, that creates a stall for bands.

CoC: Apart from Entombed, what sort of music do you listen to, what music influences you, or what music influenced you to start Konkhra and to get your music out there?

AL: Originally, I think like many people of my age, Metallica and Slayer pretty much set the ball rolling. Then my mom gave me a guitar for my sixteenth birthday and that was the start of what I have been doing for the past 7 or 8 years. That's pretty much what got it on the road but, aside from that, these days I listen to a lot of different stuff than I did a couple of years back, maybe because everything is having a peak moment and every scene or every brand of music has a peak moment to it and I look for that in everything. I pretty much listen to anything.

CoC: Any particular bands or scenes you're particularly impressed with or into right now?

AL: I just recently discovered Transport League. That's something I listen to a lot. It's like a rocky... do you know the band?

CoC: Transport League? No, I don't know them.

AL: It's released on Mascot Records, I think. They have a very rock n' roll type of sound but the singer is still putting a little bit of terror into it. It's got a very hard edge even though it's still a rock n' roll band and I think that's very cool. I've really got into a couple of those records recently. Right now, I am listening to the new Metallica. I think I must be on my fourtieth listen, but I still don't get it.

CoC: I haven't got it, I wasn't really into _Load_ myself. It's one of the first bands I got into when I first started listening to metal and now I have got so much other shit to listen to it's kind of like "If I get time..."

AL: Yeah, I think it's a good record -- if you have to drive for 60 minutes, you can just put the record on and get on the road. It's not a record like _The Black Album_. When I first heard that album, I was very disappointed with the first song, "Enter Sandman". I heard that on a subway train here in Copenhagen and I couldn't believe that was supposed to be the new Metallica, but after listening to it a couple of times you could tell that this was going to be something major. I still think that they haven't written better tracks since songs like "The Unforgiven" and "Nothing Else Matters".

CoC: Yeah, they really sharpened up their songwriting on that album.

AL: Yeah, I think it's really good songwriting.

CoC: Anything particular you want to talk about?

AL: The only thing that's pretty much on my mind right now is that people give the new mix a chance because, to me, the album is just a million times better now and it sounds like it's supposed to. There were a lot of things I had to swallow in the first mix. It wasn't so bad that I was totally pissed off about it, I just had a couple of really really bad things that I had to swallow and this time everything is really set straight and really sounds good, so I hope people will give this mix a chance.

CoC: What is you inspiration for Konkhra's lyrics?

AL: This time a couple of songs were written because some bad things happened and it is really easy to write lyrics when you're pissed off and it's really easy to write pissed off lyrics, but I think next time I'll put a lot of emphasis on other stuff. Maybe have more of a positive angle because I'm realy getting tired of people who complain all the time and I'm tired of the general "I'll fuck you up!" agenda in metal, "I'll beat you up" and "I'm a hard guy", shit like that. I am totally fed up with that and I also think that on _Weed Out the Weak_ there are lyrics which have more of a positive outlook and more of a 'believe in yourself' structure to it. I think, without preaching, there are a couple of messages in that, that I think are important to deliver, since I have the chance to do that.

CoC: The song "Time Will Heal" displays positive way of thinking.

AL: For sure, even though the song is about being fucked over by somebody, fucked over by a friend, and, even though that happens, you can always move on and just learn from that. I put a lot of emphasis on lyrics and I think it's about time that people write about stuff that is a little deeper than "I'll beat you up", and stuff like that.

CoC: Anything to say to the readers of CoC?

AL: Not much, actually, except thanks for taking your time and talking to us. I hope we meet very soon and maybe we can come to England. Where are you from in England?

CoC: London.

AL: We played there once, but there weren't many people there.

CoC: How long ago was that?

AL: That was in '95. We played in the Cameden Underworld. Hopefully we'll come back and maybe we can share a beer or something.

(article submitted 5/2/1997)

12/9/1999 P Schwarz 5 Konkhra - Come Down Cold
7/7/1999 P Schwarz 4 Konkhra - The Freakshow EP
9/14/1997 P Azevedo 8 Konkhra - Weed Out the Weak
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