Interview with bassist, guitarist, keyboardist and backing vocalist Goth Gorgon
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: August 23, 2020
Swedish black metal veterans Mörk Gryning were one of the bands that released albums on the legendary underground label No Fashion Records, with a total of five between 1995 and 2005, at which time the band was put on hold due to a lack of motivation. Many remember these black metal stalwarts for their first two albums, Tusen År Har Gått... and Return Fire, both of which are said to contain the true essence of the band's distinctive, unforgiving and fierce sound.
Fifteen years passed and many assumed the story of Mörk Gryning was over, and then the band played a gig at Kraken in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2017 and felt it was the right time to continue the band's glorious saga.
The band eventually signed to French label Season of Mist and the band's sixth studio album, titled Hinsides Vrede, will see the pitch-black darkness on October 23, 2020.
The Metal Crypt contacted the band to find out the reasons behind Mörk Gryning's comeback, what triggered it and when and much more...
How are things? Are you fed up with this virus situation and its many restrictions?
Goth Gorgon: Personally, I can't complain much. I'm in the countryside and not as affected by the restrictions. Of course, for the band it's a different story with a lot of gigs cancelled (like Steelfest in Finland), which sucks.
It's been 15 long years since Mörk Gryning's last self-titled album was released in 2005. What were the reasons you decided to put the band on ice for so long? The album was well received, so obviously there were some more profound and justifiable reasons behind the band's silence from 2005 on...
Goth Gorgon: I just wasn't motivated anymore at that time. I think it's important to give things up sometimes if they don't fulfill you, even if they might be a big part of your life. At that time, it was the right moment to quit the band, just as it's the right moment now to restart it.
THE TURNING POINT: KRAKEN 2017
What kind of process was it for you to start writing new material for the band's sixth studio album, titled Hinsides Vrede, after so many years? Were you inspired or perhaps even a bit scared if you could still do justice to your own, distinctive sound after this 15-year-long break?
Goth Gorgon: I always had some Mörk Gryning music ringing in my ears from time to time over the years. I did some recordings but there was never enough inspiration for a whole album. It was after the gig at Kraken in Stockholm we did in 2017 that we definitely felt it was time for a new album. You never know if the songs are gonna be good enough until you've written them, but we would never have recorded the album if we didn't feel the material was strong enough. It's like we've been thinking little by little about a new record over these years and finally it all came out in one big rush.
Recapturing the sound of your "early glories" isn't an easy task if you haven't set your mind in the right mood and feel truly inspired by things that made those miracles happen in the past. Do you feel it was easy to recapture the band's original sound because all of you had the right mindset?
Goth Gorgon: With all the years that passed, it was quite easy to get some distance and clearly imagine how a Mörk Gryning album should sound, to our ears. Back in the day, we always wanted to break new ground with each release, whereas this time we decided to focus on developing the essence of what Mörk Gryning is, and that is something brutal and melodic, but also fresh, sharp and straight to the heart.
HAVING THE RIGHT FEELING
It's been said that this new album is back to the band's roots, which undoubtedly will make many old fans happy. Do you feel that you managed to capture the same feel and vibe that you had on your first two albums, Tusen Är Har Gått... and Return Fire?
Goth Gorgon: When it comes to capturing the same vibe, I think it's a lot about the directness and the feeling that the songs have as well as a good flow with nothing superfluous to them. I think we managed to do that this time, probably because the songs were written intensely over a short period of time. We also had a very clear idea of how we wanted it to sound. In the past, we wanted to break out of the box, but this time we had a very clear box to work within and I've come to realize that this is very important for the creative process.
How did you share the songwriting for this new record? Did you work the same way you did with your previous self-titled album or did you change roles in this crucial process a little bit?
Goth Gorgon: Mörk Gryning was much more of a band construction where we rehearsed regularly and put the songs together in the rehearsal room. What we did this time was back to the way we worked on Tusen År Har Gått..., which generally meant that Kimera and I would meet up and present riffs to each other. This is very good because you listen to the music in a different way when you present it to someone, rather than just being your own judge. It pushes you to do your best. Maybe I'd have a song almost ready and then he'd come with some input or "lend" me a riff of his. Or he would have a chord progression and I'd put a harmony on to it. "Sleeping in the Embers" is the only song we wrote together from start to finish.
How did you pick Hinsides Vrede for the title and does it have a deeper meaning behind it?
Goth Gorgon: The title was the hardest thing to come up with, actually. Normally we always had a title quite early on but this one took a long time to figure out. We make a big thing about our titles, it's important to us. It has to capture the album but also sound cool. "Hinsides" is old Swedish and mean "otherworldly" or "the world beyond", so basically it means "otherworldly rage", or "rage of the world beyond".
The album has 12 songs, but I assume you wrote more and just picked the ones that best fit together. Do you have plans for any remaining songs?
Goth Gorgon: Not really, actually. Normally I would have one riff as a starting point and work from that. Then you might come up with a second, and a third, then suddenly the first riff doesn't fit anymore. So I might scrap it or put it in another song, or simply make two new songs out of it. So in the end you don't have that much extra material. There are a few riffs that might be used for later, but normally the albums are written in a rush of creativity so even if there's a good old riff lying, chances are it won't be used because it doesn't fit at the moment.
What made you decide to go with Season of Mist for your new album?
Goth Gorgon: Season of Mist is one of the few big independent labels still out there and we are very pleased to have signed with them. They are professional and very easy to work with. We still have the best relations with the Sound Pollution people but it was time to move to a bigger label.
NO FASHION RECORDS AND PAST TIMES
If we go back in time, do you still remember the years when you were signed to No Fashion Records? The label released albums from some incredible Swedish Black Metal bands (Dark Funeral, Dissection, Allegiance, Lord Belial, Mistelstein, etc.) back in the day, truly being an important auteur there when the Swedish Black Metal scene was getting built up with an outstandingly high-quality profile. I imagine those were pretty cool times for Mörk Gryning as well...
Goth Gorgon: They were great times for sure. There was so much new and different music coming out and the creativity was enormous. Everyone would either play in a band, do a fanzine, or run a label. A lot of times all three of them at the same time. It was all new, so everyone had to make it up as they went along. How do I remember the years? I don't remember the years that much to be honest, apart from it being fun haha!
It was Tomas Nyqvist who started No Fashion Records in the late eighties/early nineties. How well did you know the guy, and did you ever have any conflicts with him regarding his way of thinking about the business and stuff?
Goth Gorgon: No, we never had any contact with him. He had already sold the label to House of Kicks when we were signed.
The band's fourth album, Pieces of Primal Expressionism, was a very different effort from the band's previous three albums with a more experimental and progressive approach, which made some fans of the band a bit worried, to say the least. What do you think of the album nowadays, as a part of the band's repertoire?
Goth Gorgon: I have mixed feelings about it. I'm proud of it for sure but, at the same time the songs could have been better structured. There are parts which I find extremely good, but I would have arranged the songs differently today. Sound-wise it's incredible, perhaps a bit over produced, but still really fucking massive, I love it. The eerie piano parts, the mellotron and violins, I like that a lot.
You did a bunch of gigs after the Pieces... album? Was it a fun and enjoyable time for the band or did it cause some inner conflicts within the band due to other commitments in each of your personal life?
Goth Gorgon: Those times were just fun and enjoyable; we were a very close team. C-G and Aeon from those days are part of our live line up today and I wouldn't want to play with anyone else.
LEMMY IN LOVE WITH SWEDISH BLACK METAL
What's the proudest moment so far that you have experienced with the band?
Goth Gorgon: It was probably shortly after Tusen... was released and this small, local newspaper had a reporter with Lemmy in a bar. He wanted to listen to some Swedish black metal, and they put on us and he said, "louder got damn it!". The coolest gig we ever did was probably at Sweden Rock 2003, which was massive.
How eager are you to return to the stage again and promote this new album?
Goth Gorgon: Our fingers are itching to play, and we are keeping them crossed that the gigs we have now in November will happen. Hopefully, we can tour the states as well as Europe next spring.
It's a pity you had to reschedule your gig dates on American soil until 2021, but the safety issues come first, naturally. Have you anything concrete put on paper regarding the band's possible US dates or is everything still wide open as far as these plans are concerned?
Goth Gorgon: I don't even know if the postponed dates are fixed or not. To be frank, everything's uncertain so it doesn't matter if we have something set or not. All we can say is that as soon as it's possible, we will come to play.
What do you expect from 2021 if we are strictly talking about the band's comings and goings during that year? I assume your plan to play at Steelfest in Hyvinkää, Finland, in May 2021, is still on the band's to-do list, right?
Goth Gorgon: Yes, it is. We hope we can do at least a US tour and a European tour, followed by festivals in the summer. That´s all we can wish for at this time.
I think that's all I had in my mind for this conversation, so I want to sincerely thank you for your time and wish the best times ahead with the band. Feel free to add any closing comments...
Goth Gorgon: Thanks a lot man, it's been a pleasure. We are really, really satisfied with our new album Hinsides Vrede and we're looking forward to seeing your reaction to it, so check it out. See you out there somewhere!
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