Interview with Jonas Arnesén (Drums)
Interview conducted by Cluedo
Date online: October 19, 2005
It has been said that WITCHCRAFT were born 30 years too late. On their self-titled debut, they recreated a sound long lost on fans of contemporary music and jumped to the forefront of the Doom Metal Scene. Since then they have added their own touch, carving a niche of their own with their sophomore effort "Firewood", defying naysayers who wrote them off as derivative. Drummer Jonas Arnesén was kind enough to share his time with us…
I take it that PENTAGRAM is your main influence. Coming from Sweden, a country noted for having many noticeable sounds (e.g. Gothenburg Melodeath, Stockholm Death Metal), what made you choose to play a totally different style of music? Was there a deliberate decision on your part to detach yourself from the usual Swedish styles of metal?
I wasn't in the band back then, but I guess they were blown away by old rehearsal tapes signed Pentagram, the sound of Sabbath and who the hell knows… The urge to capture that old ragged crappy sound and mix it with Sabbathstyle riffs and sad melodies took over their lives.
When the self-titled debut was released, it was seen as a band breaking away from trends. Is it possible now that WITCHCRAFT have started a trend of your own?
I hope we inspire people to play music or whatever that is positive for them. But I don't think we are starting any trends.
Would it be fair to dub WITCHCRAFT a 'retro' or 'tribute' band? What are your reasons for embracing/shying away from these terms?
Retro maybe but not tribute! I would like to say 60's and 70's heavy rock is like a frame for our music, but not the law. I think the words "retro" and "tribute" is limited in the expression for what we are doing.
Your band's name suggests an interest in the occult. Is this true? If so, what draws you to the occult?
It's far from the truth to say that we are running around casting spells, maybe curse words.
What was the reason behind choosing the title "Firewood" for your sophomore album? What does "Firewood" connote?
Ola came up with the name. I think it was a feeling he had when he listened to the songs.
Would you care to comment on the themes which appear on both the self-titled album and "Firewood"?
Magnus is the one writing the lyrics. But I can sense a bit of anger, frustration and broken hearts.
One of the most striking things about your work is the fuzzy production reminiscent of sixties Classic Psych-Rock and Proto-Doom. How do you achieve this sound? Do you manage to recreate this sound when you have live performances?
People who have heard our records and come to our concerts are often surprised by how we sound live. We are way heavier live.
It has been said that WITCHCRAFT was 'born at least 30 years too late'. Do you feel downhearted that you did not grow up in the late sixties and early seventies? What are your reasons for keeping the legacy of this era alive?
I feel quite comfortable the way things are in 2005. Maybe John (Hoyles) would like it better back in 1968? I don't think he listen to music that has been made later than 1980, though I've seen an early Iron Maiden album at his house.
Do you ever feel tempted to play more 'modern' sounding music? Are there many contemporary bands that you enjoy and derive inspiration from?
It would be fun to play something else, acoustic guitar maybe, something easy to carry?? I played the drums in a punkrock band called The Pricks a couple of years ago but they "cut me loose" from the burden so to speak, I was totally uninspired so they did the right thing. "Fireside" "Tool" "Soundgarden" "Dwarwes" "Eva Eastwood and the major keys". These are some of the more contemporary bands that I like.
As Doom Metallers, do you have a positive attitude towards drug use? Do drugs have an active part in your songwriting process? What other elements go into your songwriting?
This might sound weird to you people. The members of Witchcraft do not use drugs!! My contribution to our songwriting is finding the "beat" and tempos for our ideas. I'd love to come up with some lyrics but I never do, I don't think I have the poetry in me.
You're signed to RISE ABOVE, Lee Dorrian's label. How does it feel to be signed to the label of one of the biggest names in Doom Metal and to a roster filled with well respected Doom Metal bands? What is your relationship with Lee Dorrian like?
It feels pretty fucking good. We have been treated really well. Lee is our friend, boss and sometimes host when we are in London. Ola and Magnus are fans of Cathedral since I don't know when.
BURNING SAVIOURS have recently released their debut album. Along with "Firewood", many critics have hailed BURNING SAVIOURS's first album as the Doom album of the year. What are your thoughts on your countrymen? How long have you been aware of each other? Is it a coincidence that both bands share a similar sound?
We are actually living in the same city. I have heard a couple of songs and it's alright. Andrei- (vocals/guitar) he's an amazing singer and a great guy. I have seen Micke (guitar) around in different skinhead/oi kind of bands, I think the bassist has been with him for a while but I'm not sure. You have to ask the saviours about the coincidences!?
The band started of as a tribute to Roky Erickson and Bobby Liebling. Since then, has the vision for WITCHCRAFT changed? Are you content with recreating a sound of years past or will you take WITCHCRAFT to a new level?
Witchcraft has been through several linups before the 7" on Primitive art records. We hooked up with John (again) during the recording of the debut. And that spring my brother Mats asked Ola if he would take his place and he did. A lot has happened since then, a couple of gigs in England, a 5 week tour with orange goblin and grand magus and so on. What we are going to do in the future is writing good songs and continuing the development of our witchcraft sound.
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