Interview with Rogga Johansson (guitar/vocals)
Interview conducted by Scott Murray
Date online: March 4, 2003
Greetings! Congratulations on Dead Unburied, it is a fantastic release!
Thanx a fucking bunch! Itīs always a total egobooster when someone likes your work.
What has the general response been to the album?
I must say it so far above expectations Iīm truly stunned. In all reviews Iīve read I havenīt found a single one that rates the album below 7 out of 10, and I canīt really say I have seen that happen before. At least not when it comes to underground death metal like we play.
Do you feel this is your strongest material to date?
It sure is. Iīm totally satisfied with the production of the album and even though the playing/writing could be improved, Iīm 90% satified with the songs too. The preceeding album Promoting Total Death was written in just a couple of weeks and recorded during four days at a friends studio, but this time with "Dead Unburied" we got the time both in writing/rehearsing the material as well as a full week at Sunlight Studio and I think it brought out the best in us.
What were the major influences (musically and lyrically) that went into the writing and production of Dead Unburied?
Quite hard to put into words. We have a very simple writing process that weīve used since the second album. I sit my ass down at home and crank out a bunch of riffs and after messing with them itīs pretty much a complete song after fifteen minutes or so... After that itīs kinda the same process with the lyrics, but most of the time the lyrics are written aeparate of the music and then I use the pieces that fit and rewrite other parts. As I write 99% of the material this process suits us perfect, and I donīt think the music would benefit from bringing more people into the writing or spending more time on each and every song. One of the strongest parts of Paganizer is, I think, that the music is very basic and straight forward as in the heyday of death metal.
If you could go back now, is there anything you would want to change on the album?
Definitly thereīs a lot of stuff that couldīve been done better! Some of the songs could benefit from a bit higher tempo and there are some parts that arenīt a hundred percent tight sometimes, but thatīs only stuff we hear ourselves. To be totally honest I canīt find those places myself anymore...haha!
How did you guys end up hooking up with Dan Swano for production and Jörgen Sandstrom for the guest vocals?
Actually Dan was supposed to do guest vocals on the album but was forced to decline since he hasnīt used his death voice in quite a few years. Anyway, then I simply asked Kentha from Project Hate (in which Jörgen sings) for Jörgens phonenumber and called him up. He thought it was a cool idea and then came down to the studio after Iīd done my vocals and did his parts in an hour. Our other guitar player Dea has a project called Another Life going where Dan plays drums, and also he nowadays works at a big music store where we usually get our stuff, so thatīs where we know Dan from.
Youve gotten many comparisons to the big names of the Swedish death field. What do you feel sets Paganizer apart from the rest?
Yeah, I havenīt read a single review that doesnīt compare us to the old Swedish bands and a whole bunch suggests this album was what Grave have supposed to release as their comeback, which of course feel very honouring. If you ask me I think there are quite a few things that makes us different from other bands, but I canīt really pinpoint anything...haha! I have to go for the cliché answer here, that I simply just write the riffs that come natural to me and thatīs it. We have no urge to sound like the old Swedish bands but we simply do. I would love to be able to write stuff like Morbid Angel or Immolation but I simply canīt conjure those kinds of moods and riffings so we just do what weīre good at.
If youve heard them, what do you think of the latest albums from Grave and Bloodbath?
I bought the Bloodbath as soon as it got out since I love the mini-cd "Breeding Death", and I must say that the album is almost as good. Maybe a bit more scarse in the amount of riffs in every song compared to the mini but nevertheless a massive album. To be honest, I was utterly disappointed in the Grave album, but I didnīt expect anything really since the preceeding album wasnīt that good either. Letīs put it this way, the Hating Life album had the trademark Grave music but totally hiddeous hardcore vocals on it and the new one has somewhat better vocals but doesnīt really sound like Grave music-wise anymore. I heard their drummer refuses to play faster parts nowadays and that they might have kicked him out now. If they want to make another classic, I think they have to get another drummer and hire me to do the vocals for the next album...haha!
Could you tell me about how the band was formed?
It was formed in ī98 from the remnants of two other death metal acts, Terminal Grip and Genital Grinder. However, after the demo that got us the contract, the music switched into some kinda retrothrash crap that was so in back then. Back then I only did the vocals so I floated along but eventually the band split due to different opinions as usual and I kept the name and reformed the band into what it was on the first demo. Nowadays itīs me and the original guitar player again in the band but the drummer and bass player are new guys.
What is the meaning behind the name Paganizer?
I wanted a name in the vein of Terrorizer and such bands and since weīre from the ultimate North we thought Paganizer would fit just fine. None in the band are satanists or anything like that, weīre just fueled by a pepetual disgust for organized religion in whatever form, so labeling ourselves pagans seemed like a good thing back then and still does.
What kind of music-related experience did you have before Paganizer?
I started out in Putashriek which was kinda industrial deathmetal like Godflesh with brutal vocals and then moved onto Terminal Grip together with Dea, which was simple straight forward death metal. The original drummer played in Genital Grinder and Hellminth which both were really early deathmetal bands here in Sweden (he was a bit older than the rest of us) and our current drummer used to play in Dark Rites which was a black metal band back in the mid nineties. As for our bass player heīs a total grind/crust freak and has played in a shitload of bands of that sort, none of which I can remember the names actually...haha!
Tell me how the band ended up signing with Forever Underground records.
We released the debut on Malaysian label Psychic Scream which also payed for the recording of Promoting Total Death. When it was due to release the label got into some censorship trouble since brutal music apparently is concidered illegal down there. Anyway, the album was put on ice as we played in another band called Carve and then Bill at Forever U. heard a track on a complilation album and offered to release it for us. After that things picked up quite a bit and the band was quickly reformed for like the second time.
Do you think theyve been doing a good job of promoting the band thus far?
Yes and no. The no part of the answer is simply because theyīre an American label with not many European connections which leaves us totally without tour/festival support and such. Thatīs a main drag I think but on the plus side is that they promote the band very well and the budget for the Dead Unbuired album was well within the limits of what I think bands on bigger labels get so thatīs a really positive thing. Also, we had the possibility to choose an artist of our choice for the cover art, which wasnīt too cheap I can tell you...haha! So overall I must say that Forever Underground has been really good to us and to complain would be very ungrateful of us.
Are you or any of the other band members playing in any other bands at the moment?
Yes, as youīve noticed in the other answers Dea our other guitar player has a project going with Dan Swanö called Another Life which is kinda in the same vein as Danīs Nighingale or Katatonia. Me and the other guys also play in Carve which is a more non-Swedish death metal act and Iīm also involved with a project called Ribspreader together with Tobben, the drummer of Vomitory. Fiebig our drummer also plays full time in Portal and Blodsrit which are bands from around here aswell. But Paganizer is the main band for all of us and all other bands except for Portal are concidered side projects and are given time when time is available.
What albums/bands are you listening to as of late?
That would be the latest shit by Bloodbath, Vomitory, Vader, Burial, Enter Self, Abbadon Incarnate, God Dethroned, Driller Killer and Immolation. Iīm still totally addicted to the three first Grave albums as well as most early Swedish death as well. Iīm not too fond of the so called US death metal of today when itīs too technical, however there are superb bands of that sort that are a bit different and not too speed fixated like Reprobation and Enter Self.
What comes next for Paganizer?
Weīre releasing a new album for the European market through Xtreemmusic on April 1st actually. Itīs a bit unorthodox to put out a new full album so close to the last one but we really want our name to get out there and as long as the material is 100% focused I see no problem in releasing albums in ultraspeed, haha! As always weīre looking out for any chances to play live but without tour support thatīs kinda hard.
Thats a wrap! Thanks for your time and keep on thrashing!
Thanx for YOUR time man, itīs always a pleasure to answers questions as long as their not asked by the local police. Only death is real!
|Other information about Paganizer on this site|
|Review: Dead Unburied|
|Review: Murder Death Kill|
|Review: Promoting Total Death|
|Review: No Divine Rapture|
|Review: Scandinavian Warmachine|
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