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Interview with Jonatan Ramm of Graveyard

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From the island of Hisingen just off the coast of Gothenburg, Sweden comes a band whose sound paints an exact picture of the gloomy and industrial surroundings of their homeland. Much like Black Sabbath, the band Graveyard has managed to put to words and music the vibe of not just their homeland but every day life. You can call Graveyard a working man’s band of sorts. You can even call them hard rock or classic rock. Any way you color it, it’s rock and roll in it’s most pure and raw form. I was lucky enough to have talk to guitarist Jonatan Ramm we discussed the magic that recording in analog captures, the origins of their new album title “Hisngen Blues” and his admiration for Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Greene. Sit back and take a load off as you learn more about Jonatan and his amazing band Graveyard.

 

Jonatan, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk with me today. I’m a new fan of Graveyard so this is a real treat for me.

Thank you Don. It’s my pleasure.

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For those that have never heard Graveyard, how would you describe your band?

It’s always hard to put a label on your own music but I think it would be some kind of classic rock with some blues in there. You can call it hard rock or heavy rock but it’s just hard to explain what kind of music we play to people. Usually we just say classic rock.

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With all the genres and sub genres sometimes it’s hard to narrow it down. I love it when I talk to bands like you guys who have a more classic sound and you just say, “You know, we’re a classic rock band.”

A lot of our sound comes from our producer Don (Alsterberg). He’s really into that kind of sound which is us of course. It was recorded on old stuff so maybe that’s why we have that sound on the album. The sound of that older era that used the same kind of equipment.

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How did Graveyard come to be a band?

The singer (Joakim Nilsson) and Rikard (Edlund; bassist) played together for a long time. They moved here to Gothenburg and started playing with Axel (Sjöberg) the drummer in another band called Albatros. They wanted to go in a different direction musically so they started Graveyard which was more straight forward rock. We rehearsed in the same building so we knew each other a little bit. I joined the band because their first guitarist (Truls Mörck) left during the recording of the first album. We’ve been playing together a while so we really know each other and we’ve matured a lot as a band since the first record. It’s going to be fun to get out and play the new stuff. We toured a lot for the first record so it’s going to be fun to get out there again and play live.

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“Hisingen Blues” was recorded in 100% analog which really captured a raw and spooky vibe. Was this your decision or was that your producer’s idea?

That was our decision. Don is an old friend of mine and we grew up in the same town and he always loved analog stuff. The first album we did was also recorded with Don so we knew what to expect. We really liked the warmer feeling to the analog sound. We really wanted to do that. It wasn’t just his idea.

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I’ve never seen you guys in concert but obviously it’s not going to sound much different than the album. The album has such a “live” sound to it. Was the album recorded live in the studio?

We tried to record everything live because that’s how they did it back then. I think that it captures the moments even if it’s not perfect with little flaws in it. We tried to make this live as much as possible and then we recorded the vocals afterwards.

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I was so pumped after hearing “Hisingen Blues” that I picked up your debut album and was again blown away. The albums are so consistently great. Is this a production style you can see yourselves sticking with?

Yeah absolutely. I don’t think any of us in the band would do it any other way. I don’t see why we should do it with digital. A lot of people when they use digital stuff to record they record as much as they can and take the best parts of each take like a chorus and just stick it in there over and over again. It doesn’t sound different. It’s pieces one after each other and that’s not what we want to do. We like music that’s not perfect.

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I feel the same way. When I first heard you guys I knew right away I’d love you guys live because it sounds live. So many bands are using digital recording where they cut and paste things and using auto tune on vocals but when you see them live, they’re not always as good as the album.

[laughs]. That’s why we do it the way we like. It’s more for real and it feels like it at least.

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Aside from the obvious Black Sabbath influence, I hear many other influences in there such as Captain Beyond and even some Cream in there. In the instrumental song “Longing” I even a small bit of old spaghetti western music. Who all do you consider to be influences on your sound?

[laughs] With that “western” song (Longing) we didn’t finish that song before we went into the studio so it just kind of turned out the way it did. When we were done recording it we could definitely hear some American influences but it was more just a coincidence that it turned out that way. It was fun to record it because we really didn’t have a clue how it would turn out. As for for the other influences, we listen to so much music. We don’t just sit at home and listen to one kind of music. We listen to everything from Howling Wolf to Slayer. [laughs]

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The new album is called “Hisingen Blues.” What exactly is Hisingen Blues?

Hisingen is a part of Gothenburg (Sweden) where we live. It’s an island just outside the city but it belongs to Gothenburg so it’s part of the city. It’s pretty rough and cold. There’s a lot of poor parts in this area. Rikard, our bassist, wrote the song “Hisingen Blues” and we thought it was a good representation of the album with the feeling and the vibe. I guess he was kind of blue when he wrote the lyrics so that’s where the ‘blues” thing comes in.

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Bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest always said that the geographic setting of the smoggy, industrial towns they were from was an influence on their overall sound. Would you say that’s the same thing with Graveyard’s music?

Yeah, I definitely think so. That’s the main part but it’s very much everyday life situations that we write about. If we were happy all the time I don’t think the record would have sounded like it does. Our surroundings definitely have an influence on us and how we live. Winters and fall are really long up here. Mix that together with gray industrial surroundings and you get into a certain mood.

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I’m a big fan of lyrics and by listening to your lyrics I can really get a feel for the kind of place Graveyard is coming from. There are some dark, even at time occult like undertones in some of the lyrics. Is this more for like shock value or is it something you truly practice?

We don’t practice any special religions or occult stuff but I think Rikard (Edlund; bassist) and I are both curious about it I guess it comes from why our system works. I think it’s mostly metaphors or more of description or feeling but it’s not something we really practice.

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I’m really looking forward to getting to see Graveyard live. You guys toured the US a bit for the debut album. Do you have any plans to tour over here in the US?

Oh yeah. The tour isn’t really set yet but we’re planning on coming back to the States this Fall.

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This will be your 2nd tour in the US. How did the first tour go for you guys?

Just after we recorded the first album we were playing SXSW in Austin so that was the first time for us in the US. Then we did two more tours in the states after that. It’s been really fun going to the states and the people seem to really appreciate the music a little more than the rest of Europe. It seems like you have a pretty big scene for classic rock and stuff like that.

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That’s really interesting that you say that because I hear the opposite from a lot of other bands. They tend to think the US audiences aren’t as receptive as European audiences. Maybe this is because you guys have a sound that’s easy to grasp on to here.

It’s been really great for us every time we’ve been there. Some shows we were out supporting different bands and sometimes the shows bill was a better fit than others. Pretty much every show in the US was a good one for us. We excited about getting back there. I hope that we can tour all over the US and spread our music.

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If Graveyard could tour with any band, who would it be?

Oh wow. That’s a hard question. We’ve been thinking about different bands that we’d like to go on tour with but it’s hard. I know that I would love to tour with the Black Keys. I like that band a lot and I think that would be great. I don’t know if we can do it but it would be fun to do. I also really like this band called Spindrift. They’re not a really well known band but they are based out of California. They are more like spaghetti western and psychedelic rock kind of stuff. I like that stuff a lot. It’s hard to mention bands when we are all into the old stuff very much. It’s hard to come up with someone we’d really love to go on tour with.

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When you come to the US and tour, what food do you look forward to having the most?

Oh wow, [laughs]. There is a lot of good food in the US for sure. We always tour in a van and we’ve always had too little time to enjoy a good dinner. We mostly just stopped at the gas station or Subways and other fast food stuff. I really like Cajun food. My wife is from America so she cooks me some Cajun food. The spicier stuff. I like that a lot.

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Is your wife from Louisiana?

Yeah, she grew up in Louisiana but she was living in Austin when I met her.

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It seems that over the past couple of years more bands are coming out and playing this very classic sounding style of rock and metal. What is your opinion on the current state of hard rock and Heavy Metal?

I hope that more classic sounding music gets made. I really hope that all that auto tuner stuff and music that’s made to be played on the radio I think that’s boring. I bet there’s tons of really good bands out there and I really hope they get the chance to get out there and show people that there’s more to it than just making commercial, um, what to they call it? Nu metal stuff?

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Oh yeah. Well, I call it it crap.

[laughs] I’m not into that stuff. It’s too obvious and it’s no fun really so I really hope that we can get this changed and that people will start focusing on what’s not on the radio. There’s a lot of good music out there and I hope that people find an interest for it instead of just listening to all of this radio music.

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If you could form a band with any artists alive or dead, who would be in it? You have to be in it as well.

Oh man [laughs].

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I like hitting you with the hard questions.

Yeah you do. [laughs] There are so many great musicians. I would love to play guitar with Peter Greene (Fleetwood Mac). Mitch Mitchel on the drums and the rest of the Jimi Hendrix line up [laughs]. One of my favorite guitarists is Peter Greene.

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That classic Fleetwood Mac stuff is so great. I have a few bootlegs from that era so if you come to Atlanta and play, I will give you free bootlegs!

[laughs] Oh wow! I would love that. We’ll be there! It’s amazing how good those first records were.

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Is there another kind of music we’d be surprised to hear that you liked?

We listen to a lot of blues and old folk music. I think we all listen to pretty much everything there is. None of us are fans of electronic music or classical music but we are very open about music. Much like you, I like to listen to the lyrics because here in Sweden the radio stations aren’t the best always but a crappy song might have a good message so we listen to everything.

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Jonatan, thanks so much for talking to me today. The new album is amazing and your music is so moving. I wish you nothing but the best!

Don, thank you so much. We’re looking forward to getting to Atlanta. It was very nice to talk to you. Thank you again and take care!

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For more information on Graveyard, check them out at:

http://www.myspace.com/graveyardsongs

http://www.last.fm/music/Graveyard

http://www.nuclearblastusa.com/nb/v2/bands/band.php?bandID=393

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Fear Factory at the Masquerade

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© 2015 Ann Bodan
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Fear Factory destroyed the Masquerade on September 4th with an amazing set.  Fear Factory was one of the first bands to pioneer industrial metal. It was great to see them back in Atlanta after a long absence.  Fear Factory is on tour promoting their new album Genexas, which lead singer Burton made sure we pronounced correctly (ha). Their show was great and I found myself singing along while I took pictures of the band.  The only thing I didn’t like was the fact I could hardly SEE the band.  Once again the Masquerade didn’t bother to turn up the stage lights for the bands.  This of course makes it very hard to photograph.  Nonetheless, I still really enjoyed watching this band play some of my favorite tunes live like Shock, Edgecrusher, Damaged, and Demanufacture!

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2015 Rockstar Mayhem Fest

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Photo: Ann Bodan
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The 2015 Rockstar Mayhem Fest visited Atlanta on July 26th, with amazing bands like WhiteChapel, and Slayer!

When I walked into Aaron’s Amphitheater at Lakewood it was like a ghost town.  In past years, the Mayhem Fest is usually packed with people, but this year was different.  The entrance I walked into had no venders, no food venders, and no people hanging out between band sets.  I walked clear across to the other side of the venue to find a much smaller side stage than the previous years.

After seeing, maybe a 1000+ people watching the side stage bands, I knew the Rockstar Mayhem was coming to an end.  Also, the beloved Metal Mulisha motorcycle stunt riders were not present at this year’s Mayhem Fest. As for the bands, some of them just were not for me, while a few were amazing to see perform.  It was a sad sight to see the Rockstar Mayhem Fest scaled down to almost nothing, but I still had a good time taking pictures.

Enjoy the pictures for the last Rockstar Mayhem Fest.  Hopefully, some brave soul will pick up the torch and revive the festival!

Victory Records Stage


Check out pics from the Main Stage on the next page!
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Friday @120 Marietta: Metal Invasion

Pathfinder Promotions and 120 Tavern and Music Hall Present MARIETTA METAL INVASION a night of Hard-hitting, in-your-face heavy Metal

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Photo: Adsila Chyann Atlanta Metal
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Pathfinder Promotions and 120 Tavern and Music Hall Present “Marietta Metal Invasion,” a night of hard-hitting, in-your-face Heavy Metal from Atlanta’s Rigorism with their special guests Paladin, and on tour out of Florida: Sons Of Ragnar and Lacerate!

Rigorism formed in 2012 setting out to make music that doesn’t have a million genres, Metal is what is written, played and the adrenaline at a live show is definitely a must see. Strong vocals, powerful riffs, odd syncopated bass and drums make up RIGORISM \m/

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