A couple of days after the premiere of their new outstanding 4th album “Vatten” (“Water”), sludge rockers from PYRAMIDO check in on IDIOTEQ to break it down, discuss 10 years of the band’s existence and a lot more. “Vatten” blows a forceful and unforgiving wind of, opens a new chapter for the band and proves PYRAMIDO’s impressive progress they have made since 2006. You can easily acknowledge it by covering yourself under their thick blanket of low-end tonal swamp and diving into the depth through the player below. Play it loud and scroll down to read the full interview with the band’s guitarist Dan Hedlund.
Top photo by Festival Photo.
Hey guys! Many thanks for taking some time with IDIOTEQ! I’m so glad you’re back with a new record and more fancy sludgy anthems for our listening pleasure! How does it feel to have it almost out?
Dan H: Hey Karol! We´re glad to be back as well, it feels like it´s about time! We took a while to finish this one off and have been really picky about every little detail. So yea, right now we´re dying to get some response on the new tunes. And we can´t wait to get the finished product in our hands!
Can you share some thoughts on the title and the concept of the record? After reading ‘Water’, one of the first associations that come to mind is the philosophy of Lachrymology, the (myth?) science of crying as a therapy founded by Ronald P. Vincent and further concept developed by TOOL and Maynard Keenan’s mystic lyrics. Is there a deeper meaning to your ‘Vatten’?
Dan H: I had to google that actually, haha, and it has something to do with the concept of growing to a higher level of being thru physical and emotional pain. What Maynard means I guess is that only thru the pain and suffering of having to sit thru an entire record by TOOL you will automatically grow as a human being.
With that said, I have to disappoint you, there is no deeper meaning to the title. It was a word we liked and I guess it sprung some sort of creativity for us.
Haha, amazing! :) What’s the story then? Do you like to inject meanings and messages into records or at least single tracks? Or is it really only about music for you guys?
Dan H: Of course, since we have vocals and lyrics. Ronnie writes a lot about everyday struggles of just being a human being in this society, about death, politics and hardships. So sure, we have meanings and messages. But the music is all about music. I find it really hard and kind of boring to lay out a bunch of words to describe the songs. Isn´t that the good thing about music? You listen to it, and if you feel it you get it – it´s direct. I don´t think anyone in this band is into intellectualizing our music.
Cool. So what were the most difficult parts of completing this record?
Dan H: Knowing when to stop messing around with the structures of the songs. We have been so far up the asses of these songs that it´s scary. It was necessary, but it was a great relief to finally go into the studio and just be done with it!
What were you hoping to capture on ‘Vatten’? Do you think that was achieved?
Dan H: We were hoping to capture four guys with instruments and one singer playing the same song together in kind of a tight fashion. And it´s my humble opinion that we achieved to do that in a successful way!
Were there any tracks or parts that you had to cut, that you wish you could have included, but couldn’t for some reasons?
Dan H: No there rarely is. We have it pretty much figured out when we go into the studio, meaning we´re properly rehearsed and don´t leave much to chance. It could be that we figure out some stuff that needs to be rearranged in the studio, but mostly that´s minor changes. We have never been a jam-band, maybe it comes from roots in hardcore punk who knows?
Photo: PYRAMIDO 2010 by Jens Nordstrom.
Ok, so you’ve been around for 10 years. How do you think the band and you personally have evolved over the years?
Dan H: When I think about it I guess it´s quite an achievement to have kept it together for so long. Being in a band is sort of being in a relationship, only that here it´s five and not two personalities. A lot happened in 10 years. When we started I was working odd jobs and had (or took) the time to go on tour four times a year. Now it´s a bit harder when you have a job that you can´t call in sick to once a month, all of us are in relationships, there´s a few kids in the mix and so on. It´s a lot harder to find the time in between all of this but it´s all about planning your time. Haha, what a fucking BORING answer!
The band has evolved a lot! From this kind of generic stoner doom/sludge-band to what we present on “Vatten” is quite a musical journey. I really think we have something special – a special combination of high energy and a lot of melancholy. As we said before, it someone compare the new material to EYEHATEGOD they´ll get a slap in the face.
Do you remember what interested you in composing and performing in the first place? How have you inspirations evolved?
Dan H: For me it was punk rock and hardcore music. I started to listen to mostly a lot of Swedish and American punk/hardcore music when I was about 13-14 yrs old and a couple of years later me and some friends formed a band inspired by MINOR THREAT, THE MISFITS, Swedish bands such as OUTLAST, REFUSED and some youth crew-stuff we were listening to at the time. And since then it has kept going. Me and PYRAMIDOS bass-player Dan W had a sludge-band early 2000s called MURINUS and we played a show with Viktor and Wendels old hardcore-band APOLOGIA. I guess all of us has the same story about being in bands from an early age.
As to inspirations, it evolves with age and how your taste in music changes and stuff like that I guess. I actually have gotten deep into many of the indie bands I used to listen to as a kid and maybe that makes an impact on our music. I think it´s nice to grow older as well. I feel a hell of a lot more comfortable in myself and since were all past 30 and in some cases 40 you don´t feel the need to like fit in to a standard of how you´re supposed to be to be involved in sludge music.
Are there any rules which you follow in your work that you feel won’t be changed? Also, which ingredient do you think is most essential in making your style the way it is and keeping it up for such a long time?
Dan H: There are no specific rules, hmm, but there´s some boundaries that you don´t cross and that comes pretty natural when we write the songs. Let´s put it this way, there´s a slim chance that we could write something that sounds like DOWNSET but the chance of us going for it and actually putting it on a record is way much slimmer. Oh I dunno. We know what we like and what PYRAMIDO is supposed to sound like.
And the ingredient you´re asking for is our very acquired taste. Hehe.
What has been the most challenging thing that you encountered with PYRAMIDO?
Dan H: Playing the UK.
Isn´t it much more fun to just leave the answer like that? :)
Haha, fair enough. I’ll do some research on that ;)
Most of modern day artists focus a great deal on digital methods of distribution and online marketing. How do you think modern digital times will further help to fuel distribution of independent rock artists’ music? What’s your take on the current online models of running a band, promoting it and communicating within its community of followers?
Dan H: Well, so far the digital methods have helped us to have the record leaked on about 15 Russian file sharing sites…
Jokes aside. I think it helps but I also believe that the internet just swallows up a lot of good music in an ocean of mediocre stuff. I remember when every band had a myspace-page and I remembered feeling kind of blasé about music in general (still do often) cause there was not much mystic about music anymore, it was like scrolling thru my facebook feed. I don´t know anything about the new generation of kids and how they market themselves and I´m pretty uninterested as well. Guess I have become one of those old guys wearing his own band t-shirts and mentioning bands that were relevant 15 years ago as inspiration… I think we use both instagram and facebook in quite a funny way with a lot of dry sarcastic humour though. With all that said I´m much rather offline and in touch with people, promoting the music thru playing live than having a million likes on facebook and still being a crappy live act.
Yup. There are still hundreds of independent music labels doing their best to spread the word about noteworthy artists. You yourself have once again decided to distribute your new record through a number of different labels. Given all the online streaming services, do you think it still makes sense?
Dan H: For us as a band it makes sense to get a physical product in our hands, be it vinyl, cd or tape. And it seems to make sense to a lot of other people buying records as well.
I personally listen to YouTube, CDs and vinyl in that order and I don´t believe there has to be this big distinction between online and offline music – it sounds basically the same anyways right.
So how hopeful are you about the future of independent music?
Dan H: Of course, as long as there is shit bands around there will be independent music and as long as we have capitalism there will be corporate shit bands around. So no, I´m not that worried. And the day there won´t be a need for a counter culture anymore I’ll gladly retire and smoke e-cigarettes on the patio.
Haha, ok, so with the upcoming record release, are there any other developments you have planned for the upcoming months? Can we expect massive touring this year?
Dan H: We will play a couple of shows in Sweden to promote the album and then we´ll head over to Germany to do four shows. After that we´re going on a short hiatus cause I´m having a kid in late June. We´ll hopefully play shows again during the fall. Would love to tour the US as well and to go someplace warm would be nice.
Wow, congratulations! First kiddo in the family?
Dan H: Nope, a sibling.
Does being a father effect your art?
Dan H: Nope, not at all.
Haha, ok thanks so much for your time. Do you have any advice for people just beginning with their bands?
Dan H: Thank you Karol! If you’re thinking of starting a band, don’t make it an occult retro metal band.
Thanks! It’s been a pleasure talking to you!