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Interviews Candlemass

Interview with vocalist Johan Längqvist and guitarist Mats "Mappe" Björkman

Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen

Date online: July 8, 2022

Live pictures by Luxi Lahtinen

Special thanks to Ole Bang from Artist & Crew Management for setting up the interview with Johan and Mappe of Candlemass and all the Rockfest crew.

Swedish doom metal pioneers Candlemass have come a long way since the band's debut album, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, came out back in 1986. That album was perhaps a bit of an oddball when it was released in those days when thrash metal was peaking with albums like Master of Puppets, Reign in Blood, Peace Sells..., Darkness Descends and many others that were released the same year. Thirty-six years later, Epicus... is considered an iconic Candlemass album that dared to sound different.

The engine of these Swedish doom masters started firing properly with the band's follow-up album, Nightfall, a year later. They toured heavy and were featured in many cover stories in well-known metal magazines like Kerrang!, Metal Forces, etc. in 1987-88. The band played at the famous Dynamo Open Air Festival as well as The Marquee Club in 1988 and that was just the beginning of the band's successful journey that has lasted, with a couple of breaks, up to this very day.

Rockfest, held in Hyvinkää, Finland, June 4-6, 2022, gathered some big names to this year's edition of the festival. Bands like Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Nightwish, Megadeth, Black Label Society, etc. were some of the most well-known names on the festival's main bill, but Candlemass was among them, which was a nice addition, especially for those attendees who had a soft spot for the doom metal genre.

The Metal Crypt had the real pleasure of sitting down with original vocalist Johan Längqvist and guitarist Mats "Mappe" Björkman at the Rockfest, prior to the band's showtime and we covered many topics from the Epicus... era all the way up to the band's current touring plans, new album, and so on. Read on to learn what our beloved Swedish doom meisters had in their minds...

Good to see Candlemass as part of this huge Rockfest festival here in Hyvinkää, Finland, so feel yourselves warmly welcome, guys!

Mappe: Thank you! I can say that we're impressed with how great the festival is. This looks fantastic!

Johan: Yes, it's absolutely fantastic, well organized and I think this looks so professional, and we feel very welcome here. We should be happy!

The last time you guys were in Finland happened at the Jalometalli Festival in Oulu, back in 2015. What kind of memories do you have from that trip?

Mappe: I have memories from Oulu because I love that place, and that was the second time we played there. I think we played there in '89 or '90. It must be '89 with Messiah (Marcolin) and then we did 2015, right? I like to play festivals and gigs outside the cities when you come to places you never see.

Of course, Oulu is in the middle of nowhere, but that was good. What I remember was it was a good gig, and people liked it. Today it's going to be even better, I believe.

Is Finland a favorable place to play gigs with loyal Candlemass followers who show up whenever you have a gig here?

Mappe: It's a hard question but I think we see that in almost all the countries we have played with Candlemass over the years. We are playing the first album, Epicus..., and in Finland and all the countries we play we see younger and younger fans in the crowd. They are like between 20 and 30 years old. They weren't even born when we did the albums we're playing now. We're focusing on the Nightfall and Epicus... albums right now and it's amazing that people in Finland seem to appreciate those albums in such a great way. It is basically the same in all the other countries where we have played so far. It is fantastic to see people going crazy at our shows.

What's amazing is how many young people are metalheads these days, from fathers to sons, so to speak. Metal music is uniting generations.

Johan: Yes, you may see a child, a father and even a grandfather standing in our audience. That's awesome when you come to think of it. We have seen that at our gigs. We were told about people of all ages appearing at our gigs. Once there was father and his daughter crying together when we were playing "Solitude" at the front of the stage. It was really touching.

Mappe: Yes, that was touching. That's heartbreaking. Like Johan said, that's the most fantastic thing to see when you get a new generation of people who weren't even born when we did those albums. Of course, we have those long-time fans as well who have liked us since the very beginning. But I would say, roughly about 80% of the crowd that we have today obviously weren't even born when those first two Candlemass albums originally came out. It just proves how fucking old we are.


We are certainly not getting any younger, that's for sure.

Mappe: Yes, exactly, and we are happier and happier because the people are younger and younger at our gigs, but we're just getting older and older. Of course, that's the statement. I can't say anything else about that because when we recorded our debut album, nobody believed in us. We did what we thought was good at that time and we as Candlemass, have been a band like that all the time. We have always done our thing, always. No radio airplay for us. In fact. We have had none. It's just true metal, doom metal for the die-hard fans.

Without any compromises for your music that you have been creating...

Johan: Absolutely, no compromising at all.

Mappe: Indeed. No compromising at all. And the price for that is we have never been played on the radio.


Johan: Can we hear ourselves on the radio at least once? No, never. There could be a local underground station somewhere, though, that has played our music.

Mappe: That can happen that someone plays our music on the radio once in a while, but mostly all we hear is all the other bands getting played on the radio all the time. For example, in Stockholm, Sweden, they don't play Candlemass at all. No fucking way.

We are actually Grammy nominated in America. Only Candlemass and Ghost have achieved that as Swedish bands. We have two Swedish Grammys. We do not think that we should appeal to people who only listen to the radio. You see, they don't play our type of music on the radio. Our music is not radio-friendly. Besides, I don't want to be in a band doing some radio-friendly music.


Johan: Well, they could at least play our music sometimes...

That wouldn't do much harm, I guess...

Mappe: Sometimes would be OK, but that wouldn't do much for me. The radio-friendly music is that kind of thing that make bands go very big, and very good for a couple of years. Then they're gone. All the radio-friendly music that was played in the '80s when we released the Epicus... album, those bands are not around anymore. Well, just one band and that's Europe. That's it. They are the only band who play a radio-friendly music from the hard rock/heavy metal scene that can still make it and do festivals. We were the underrated band. We were the-- how should I put it? Nobody really believed in us, and these radio people just pissed on us, I think. But we are still here, just doing our thing and not caring what others might think of our music. We did everything from our hearts back in the day the same way we are doing our music today. That hasn't changed.

I also have to believe one of the reasons Candlemass has been around for so long is that you have not compromised with your music at all and believed in your own thing all these years. And what's the reward for all of this?

Mappe: Yes, that's what I believe, too, although it has taken lots of years to reach this point regarding our reputation. It feels truly fantastic, I can tell you that.

Speaking of playing live, there will be a few shows coming up for you guys this year, and you have chosen to perform the band's iconic Epicus Doomicus Metallicus album in its entirety as the album turned 35 years old in June last year.

Johan: Yes, we play all the songs but not in the same order as on the album.

What was it like to return to this album in this specific way and did you get some deja vu vibes about 35 years ago?

Mappe: Honestly, it felt great to return to this album in this way. Johan has been around and doing some anniversary gigs when we have had different singers. We did some 20th anniversary Epicus... shows, and Johan was invited on stage to sing those songs. So, yes, Johan has been doing some occasional Candlemass shows, but he wasn't our permanent singer at that time. This leads to 2018 and the Epicus... album because Johan came in. He can explain...

Johan: It was actually a perfect time when Mats called me up in 2018 and asked me if I wanted to join the band, listen to how their new record sounded, etc. and I said, "Yes, of course, guys. Now is the perfect situation for me." I've got four kids and eight grandchildren. I have a big family, but now they're all grown up. I don't have to take care of anyone but myself right now. So, I said, "Absolutely, if I like the songs, I'm in, for sure," and I went to the studio and maybe you read it somewhere else, but we actually started the recording right away. I said, "Yes, I like it. Can we start recording?" and so we did.

As you said, Johan, you became the band's vocalist on a more permanent basis in 2018 and, of course, you did the lead vocals for Epicus but didn't want to join the band at that time. What was the main reason for not joining the band permanently back in 1986?

Johan: Well, back in those days I had my own band going. I don't if you know about Jonah Quizz?

Only the band name sounds familiar to me, but I cannot tell if I have ever heard the music.

Johan: Cool, you've heard the name but that was actually my band at that point. We were pretty successful and actually about to get a contract with, I think the company was called Elektra.

Oh, I remember that being a big record company back in the day...

Johan: We were joking about that. I told them, "I would love to do the record with you guys, but I can't leave my own stuff. That's where my heart is right now," and we were talking about it, and they said that they want me to sing on the album anyway, and I did eventually.

Mappe: Johan was good friends with our drummer, Mats Ekström, at that time. We turned out to be friends with Johan, and he had his band, but he helped us out with Epicus....Nobody knew what's going to happen with that album 30 years later. The fact is I have always wanted Johan back. I've always been saying, "I want Johan back again," when the right time comes. It's not up to us, it's up to him. And it hasn't been the right time for him. We have had different singers and stuff, of course, but we have all made the Candlemass history and the quality of Candlemass. People may have said this era Candlemass is better or that era is better. When Johan said, "Yes," we had already recorded the album with Mats. That was finished. I said, "I don't care." Leif and I said, "We want to re-record the album with Johan."


Do you feel like a circle has been closed now because you reunited with Johan in 2018?

Mappe: Yes, 100% yes. That was exactly what I wanted to do. Now when I think about it, it was exactly the right time. We had all these other singers, and now we've been around for so many years, he wanted to join the band again. I don't know if the band would have been more successful if he had joined in 2005 or not, it's only speculation, of course.

Johan: Unfortunately, COVID came in between there. Things were going well, and everything basically stopped. But fortunately, now we have a lot of gigs, which feels great.

Mappe: We call it "The Curse of Candlemass" all the fucking time. We were Grammy nominated in the USA. I mean, that would have been a big thing for us, and I am afraid it's never going to happen for us again. We were coming back home, and we had great success, America wanted us and everything. Then COVID came and it stopped everything for us.

Johan: We had to cancel the tour. We had the crew. We paid several thousand dollars for the working visas and stuff like that, and then the tickets.

Mappe: It was chaotic.

Johan: Yes, we have to do it all over again now.

Mappe: It's the curse of Candlemass, but it's a good curse of Candlemass right now, not a bad curse of Candlemass. [*laughter*]

Do you think this so-called "curse of Candlemass" could be related to those few breaks during the band's career, like in 1994 and 2002. Do you think it's sometimes good to have these breaks because they give you a new perspective on things in this tough music business and allow you time to think about how you'd like to continue doing things with the band so that everything would make more sense in terms of the band's reputation, quality releases, and such?

Mappe: That's a really good question. That's exactly how it is. We took a break there in '94. The thing was that everybody was thinking of themselves and then in 2000 we started talking about doing one gig, like playing one show at Sweden Rock Festival and no more.

We have been around for 22 years now if you want to call it a reunion or whatever, [*laughter*] but it's not a reunion anymore. Now everybody is older and I would say wiser, too. We're not the same but we are still friends when we do this together, so I think it's easier to be in a band today than it was when we were in our twenties.

Johan: Yes, you can hold your feelings back if you get upset, stuff like that. [*laughter*] I don't have a problem with that. You're wiser, just like Mappe said.

Mappe: You're wiser and can actually understand other people's differences. That's very important because when you're in a band, if you're playing lots of gigs, it's like being out with your family. With your family at home, sometimes you argue with your wife. We have five people in the band nowadays and I've been in Candlemass for many years and I say it's never been more calm and good.

Johan: We're having a good time.

Mappe: We're having a fantastic time, and I haven't been through that for the whole 37 years I've been in this band.

Yes indeed, and there needs to be the right chemistry in a band in order to get things done properly and all that jazz...

Mappe: Chemistry, that's the word.

If there's one weak link within a band, someone always going against the grain and saying, "No, we can't do this, and we can't do that," then it's going to be very difficult to keep the wheels rolling smoothly...

Mappe: You're going to fail totally. You have to understand others' differences. We have a fantastic time together, and everybody is saying "We are happy about the situation right now," and I must say that I talked to Leif about it as well and said, "The reason we are here right now is because of Johan." That's for sure. You can ask Lars, you can ask Jan, ask me or you can ask Leif. We all agree about that.


So, Johan, how have you been enjoying being a part of this band again and in the spotlight since you joined back in the 2018 and have been playing shows around with fine these gentlemen again?

Johan: Yes, all I can say is that I love it. I have always had a good time. In all honesty, we have had just one gig that I didn't feel good about. We were playing in the middle of the night but the gig turned out well anyway. But I'm always happy doing gigs with these guys.

Where was this not-so-good gig?

Johan: It was on the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise in 2020.

Oh yes, those late-night schedules can be pretty tough on this cruise.

Johan: Yes, but we had a crazy time there you know. No sleeping and you play in the middle of the night. The gig turned out well, but sometimes you don't feel the same, and I felt, "My God, it doesn't feel the same tonight." I have to do my very best regardless, and I always try to do my very best, of course, but that's the only time I did not feel that good. In the end our gig turned out well, so I guess it was OK.

Mappe: I've had some gigs when I haven't felt that great doing them. It's the same for everybody. Sometimes it feels like, "Shit, this is not my best day...", or something along those lines.

Johan: The best part for me is that the audiences have been so nice to us these past several years. They're fantastic.

Mappe: How can you blame yourself for things that you may feel during low moments? OK, I may not feel that good today, but that doesn't matter. But the whole point for everybody is, it doesn't matter sometimes. It's small things that may make you upset with yourself, things that people don't see or hear. Each of us has the right to feel shitty sometimes when on the stage, but at the end of the day it doesn't matter if the audience enjoys your performance.

Johan: I agree. Everybody wants to be perfect for 70, or 80, or 90 minutes, but there are always a couple of seconds you may not feel too comfortable with.

Yes, that's very true. It happens to everybody from time to time, I guess.

Johan: I guess it should be like that so you don't always have pressure on yourself. You can just do the very best that you can and that's it.


When you originally recorded that album back in 1986, did you ever imagine you had a landmark album in your hands which would have a big impact on many younger doom metal bands to come? Do you see the Epicus album in that light yourself and its importance in the evolution of the doom metal genre? It seems nearly every new band picks this album from the whole Candlemass catalog as one of their favorite and most influential albums...

Johan: It's amazing to be a part of, how did you put it, "metal history," in a way, yes...

Hands down, it's such a landmark album, at least for the doom metal genre. Of course, Black Sabbath was there first, but the albums like Epicus... kind of reshaped the doom metal sound with its own identity and stuff...

Mappe: It is fantastic. Actually, a couple of years ago we found out that people voted it as one of the best doom metal albums of all time in America, in a big magazine. Black Sabbath's Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album was number one, Candlemass' Epicus... was number two, and that was like, "Shit, they can't mean this." That was amazing, of course, and like I said before, it's totally beyond everything that has come up so many years later. Many albums may not get all the praise the day it gets released because it's like I said before, we haven't gotten any airplay for our stuff over the years. These albums are called "growers," you know? Epicus... is a perfect example for that one. It was recorded with a low budget. We did it for fun. Nobody believed in it, and now it's considered iconic for that kind of music, which feels amazing to us. Nowadays many doom bands are playing a very slow style of doom. We are not about playing that slow, but we still influenced them. We have influenced them to do that kind of music.

Johan: Leif is an outstanding songwriter when it comes to this kind of music. Absolutely!

Mappe: He is a true professor in creating that kind of sound for Candlemass. There's no question about that.


Epicus... was originally released on a small record label called Black Dragon. I am curious to know the story behind how Candlemass ended up being on the roster of that company.

Mappe: Black Dragon was a French record company. The reason we were on Black Dragon was a guitar player named Mark Shelton (Manilla Road fame, R.I.P.). He was a very nice guy, and a very sad story, but he was at the record company because he was friends with Leif and they were signed to Black Dragon. We sent the cassette to them, and he was listening to it, and then he said, "Sign these lads...!" They said, "Should we do that?" Mark said, "You must sign this band. It's going to be good." Then Black Dragon signed us. It all happened because of Mark Shelton from Manilla Road. He got us on the label.

If you look back in the history of the band, you have released many highly praised albums that have gained a lot of success for the band. Do you have a favorite Candlemass album that is more meaningful to you than the others?

Johan: I can only pick from the four albums that I've done with these guys, but, of course, Epicus... is amazing and we still love doing the songs from that album, but The Door to Doom is also a very good record in my opinion.

Mappe: I think Epicus... is, of course, a milestone in Candlemass' history, that's for sure. Everything that we do now has a lot to do with this anniversary thing of the Epicus... album, getting us to play shows both in Europe and the States, which is amazing. Hence, I must put it near the top as one of the best Candlemass albums that I have recorded with the band. I think Robert (Lowe) was a good singer for us, too...

Johan: Yes, I totally agree. He's done a lot of great songs.

Mappe: I wanted to have Johan sing some of those songs, like from the Death Magic Doom album. It was the kind of period when it was hard for Candlemass, and we peaked a little bit on the songs and the production, I think. But then when Johan came back, we put his voice on The Door to Doom. And when that album was released, I considered it some sort of a milestone album for me personally as well. We were Grammy award nominated and stuff with that one. I don't think it would have happened if Johan wasn't singing on that one because it turned out to a real Candlemass album. So, in summa summarum, I would say Epicus..., Death Magic Doom, and The Door to Doom rank among the best Candlemass albums for me in the band's recording catalog.


I remember when your follow-up album, Nightfall, which is one of my personal favorite Candlemass albums of all time, was released in 1987, as the time when the band's career really started skyrocketing. You were making headlines on many known metal magazines back in those days, like Kerrang!, Metal Forces, Metal Hammer, etc. you name it.

Mappe: That's an amazing album, too.

Johan: That happened because when we also started playing live. We didn't do that on Epicus. We never played live gigs with Epicus... because we didn't do any promotion directly for it. After Nightfall came out, we start doing gigs. We played our first show at the Dynamo Open Air back in 1988, and it was a very successful gig for us. We didn't know how successful that gig would turn out for us eventually. There was a radio broadcast and stuff, and we played for lots of people watching us perform and after that we also played a show at The Marquee Club in London.

Lots of gigs happened for us back then. I remember the promotion for that album was really good. That forced us to be a band with real promotion behind us. We didn't have it on Epicus.... Of course, Nightfall was a big thing to us because at that time we did have a full band. We didn't have a real band on Epicus.... It was me, Leif and the drummer Mats. Johan came in and sang, and you see from the back cover of Epicus..., it's only me, Leif and Mats listed. Then after a while, Messiah joined the band...

The thing is that lots of songs from Nightfall weren't written for Messiah (Marcolin). Johan was still in the band. The songs were written when Johan was still doing Epicus..., well, some of them like the song "Bewitched," for example, and a song called "Battlecry." Nightfall is not a proper Messiah album to begin with. But like you mentioned already, Nightfall took us to another level success-wise. Absolutely!

What can you tell us about new Candlemass stuff that you may be working on lately? Does it pretty much follow the same musical path of some of the band's works released in recent years, like what you did on The Door of Doom and The Pendulum, or is this new stuff perhaps, in a way, a return to your early eighties' times, music-wise?

Johan: You do mean the one we are recording right now?

Yes, exactly.

Johan: I think it has something from the old times on it, but--

Mappe: I think the difference between that one and The Door to Doom is that album is written for Johan's voice. Leif is very keen on writing songs for the singer we're working with. He wrote some for Robert Lowe, and he said, "Now Robert Lowe is singing them, it doesn't matter now we can do this." The Door to Doom wasn't written for Johan. Johan came in and did over dub the songs from Mats. The songs were already written, but you can hear now that the songs are written for Johan because it's a more compact album. I think that the new album will be fantastic, too.

Johan: Yes. It will be. There will be a couple of tracks there that will blow your head off, I think.

Mappe: I would say so, too. That's going to be a really, really good album that has much more Candlemass in it. That's for sure. It's like a little bit of that The Door to Doom vibe, but it's going to be a more complex Candlemass album. It's heavy as hell sometimes. You still have those hooky chorus lines that are very beautiful.

Johan: Yes, very beautiful chorus lines.

Mappe: You will like it when you hear it, do doubt.

Is Napalm Records going to release it?

Mappe: Yes.

You have been on Napalm Records since your 2012 album, Psalms of the Dead, and your cooperation has lasted for 10 years now. All this tells me your cooperation with the label seems to be on a good level. What makes this label so optimal for Candlemass to work with anyway? Apparently, they listen to your wishes when it comes to certain matters between the label staff and the band and do not pressure you too much, but give you the needed time and space you may need, correct?

Mappe: You're totally right. They are doing a great job in the certain business matters they can do, but, of course, we would like to be on a major label, you know. But at the moment, we contracted with Napalm for those records that we have done from 2012 on. That's the way it is. This is the last one we have to do on that label. Now we've forced them a little bit to make some promotion for this forthcoming album and stuff.

They have their people who are working for us the best they can, which is a great thing, of course! I remember when we did the self-titled album for Nuclear Blast in 2005, it didn't get the promotion the album deserved. I mean, if you are on a label like Nuclear Blast and if Nightwish is releasing an album at the same time, you're not going to get the same promotion. It's Nightwish versus Candlemass. If Nightwish hadn't released an album, Candlemass would have been promoted more. That's exactly what happened. Nightwish came and they put so much money into promoting them, of course.

As for Napalm Records, this time we were more like, "If we are going to sign to your record company, then we should be number one." Still, they maybe don't have the whole team to promote the album as well as we possibly want. They do the best they can, and we're going to work together as well as possible with this new album and try to get the best out of it.


As you are older and more experienced when you compose new music for this band, do you get more selective and pickier toward what kind of stuff gets accepted as fitting the band's musical formula?

Johan: Yes. I think I can speak for myself and say when I'm in the studio, I always try out lots of vocal lines. I sing them one way then say, "Oh, could I try sing this way, too?" When in the studio, we may try out a lot of different styles with different vocal styles and such and try to find out what fits our sound best. We have a very good time playing together and it's very important to have fun when you are in the studio. When you get some good vibes and feelings and are trying out something spontaneously, you might say. "Oh, that wasn't good." Or perhaps, "Oh, it was very good. We have to keep this!" [*laughter*] I don't think we do anything halfway. We try to work out every single detail in the studio, sharing songs with each other while asking each other's opinions.

Mappe: Everyone helps in this process, but Leif writes the songs. It's all about his ideas, his songs, his lyrics and everything. He does all that very well. It's not that we change things all the time, but sometimes things can be argued about a little bit. "What do you think of this?" "We can do this a little bit like that." And so on. He's always open to ideas coming from the rest of us. He wants everybody in the band to be happy with his songs, sounds, everything. Leif is very, very good at that.

Johan: When talking about the songwriting itself, he really knows how he wants his songs to be in certain ways, but he can also change his mind sometimes and say, "I'm not happy with this chorus. I'm going to write a new one."

Mappe: I think we're working more like a group now. We do everything together even if he writes the songs and he's the main songwriter in the band. We've said that from the very beginning: If only one man is going to write all the songs in Candlemass, then that guy must be Leif. Every one of us in the band agree about this 100%.

Johan: He is the main songwriter of Candlemass, no doubt about it.

I think he's definitely got his own signature way of writing songs for the band.

Johan: Yes, we used to call him the professor because there was a time when we were recording The Door to Doom and he came to the studio one day saying, "Now, I know what it is. I've been trying to figure it out for three whole months now." Everybody was like, "What is it?" "There should be another guitar on that."

Mappe: It was one chord.

Johan: One second, and one chord. "I wasn't happy about it."

Mappe: "I've been thinking about this for days. Now I know there was one chord." I think it was one chord, or one song.

Johan: The guitar chord, and he played in a very special way. That was so amazing.

Mappe: It was fantastic.

Johan: It was so funny when he came to the studio at that time, "The Professor."

Mappe: [*laughter*] "The Professor of Doom."


OK, from Mr. Professor of Doom to some beer talk for a moment as I myself am a huge beer fan. You guys will have your own brand of beer launched at the Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer festival June 10th this year. It's called "Doom Lager." What can you tell us about the beer? Any idea how might taste?

Mappe: We have no idea as we haven't tasted it yet. It's a lager beer anyway. None of us is that much into those IPA beers and stuff, so we said, "Just do a proper good lager." That's what it is. It's called Doom Rock Lager. I think it's a bit dark, isn't it?

So, it's a dark lager then?

Johan: Yes. I think so.

Mappe: The color's going to be black. It's the dark lager. We'll have a chance to taste it, man.


OK, what about the future of Candlemass? What can fans expect in the next couple of years from you guys?

Johan: We've said that as long as we think it's fun and are having a good time, we will keep the wheels going on for the band. And, of course, we have to be careful with Leif because he's not in 100% perfect condition, but so far, he's been capable of doing everything with us for the past years. He is in a very good mood right now, I think.

Johan: He's happy.

Mappe: And that's a very good thing right now. I've never seen him so happy.

Johan: We're not 20 anymore. You never know what will happen. As long as we like doing what we are doing and are having a good time, there's no reason to stop.

Mappe: Yes, we will definitely continue doing our thing.

Johan: We haven't planned anything special yet, though.

Mappe: Then again, we do actually have a plan. We talked about it for this year, after COVID. We didn't know what was going to happen or when we could start playing again or whatever, nobody knew. We were supposed to release our new album this year before the summer or whatever. But then we talked to our management and they said, "Why? You have this anniversary thing to be done both for the Epicus... and Nightfall albums. Why don't you play those gigs in 2022? Then you release the album in November, and then you do the new album for 2023." That's the plan we have. Then we have a plan for how Candlemass should continue from then on. I love to do those anniversary things because it would be stupid to not do it now. You can't do it 2023, because then it would not be an anniversary for our first two albums.

Exactly. Then it would be too late to jump onto the Epicus/Nightfall train...

Mappe: Yes, that's very true. It's better to do it now.

Johan: There are, of course, some certain Candlemass songs that we have to do every single gig. We have to put more new stuff into our set list. And actually, we've done quite a lot of "new-old" stuff, too. Well, not maybe a lot, but we've done songs like "Battle Cry" and "Bearer of Pain."

Mappe: We do some stuff from the other records as well, but we are not focused on the new stuff now. When the new album comes out in late '22, then I think we're going to put more focus on the new album. But now this year we are focused on playing the old stuff, but the festival wants to have this type of set from us just like how it was in the States. We played three there a while ago and Chicago was sold out, which felt so great, of course!

Johan: The American audience was begging for some other songs from us, too. What could we say? We couldn't tell them, "No, we won't play those other songs, except only the songs off the Epicus... and Nightfall albums." We do still like to play some other songs as well. It's not a problem at all.

Mappe: Some days we do Epicus..., some days we do Nightfall, and some other days we do a combination of both. Today is a combination, right?

Johan: Yes. I don't just know how much time we have today.

Mappe: We play 65 minutes today.

Johan: Ah, OK. We are concentrating on the Epicus... album, plus also do a couple of additional songs this evening as well.

Mappe: Yes. I think it will be a combination of the old stuff. We'll play one song today that we released on the '88 album, Ancient Dreams.

I can tell you a story. I met Steve Harris yesterday. He told me that he's going to see just one band at this festival and that one band happens to be Candlemass. He'll be coming earlier to the festival to see us playing live. That was a pretty great statement for us. I talked to his drummer as well. He played with British Lion yesterday. Their drummer, Simon Dawson, is a huge Candlemass fan. He came to me this morning when we were having breakfast. I don't know him that well, I know the other guys, but anyway he's like, "Shit this is going to be a huge thing for me. I'm going to see Candlemass tomorrow. Are you playing any old stuff?" He told me that his first record was Epicus... He told me that when he got it from his brother. Then he asked me, "Are you're gonna play "Dark at the Veils of Death?" "Yes? No? I am getting goosebumps, I am getting goosebumps," he kept repeating.


Mappe: Then I showed him the set list and he was like, "No-fucking-way."


That was a cool story. I guess that is one happy and smiling man now.

Mappe: You bet he is.

Johan: He said, "I'm going to come there early." I think Steve is here already, actually. They're going to see Candlemass, which feels great!

Johan: It's pretty awesome. We were listening to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and stuff like that when we were kids.

Mappe: I saw them live for the first time in the damn eighties.

Johan: All those bands are a part of the reason we got interested in music in the first place.

Mappe: That's fantastic to feel like a little boy. When you are like 16, you get thrilled about music very easily.

Feeling like a little kid who's running like crazy around the candy shop.


OK, I guess my time is up, so thanks so much for your time guys and wish you all the best with your show here at Rockfest, Finland.

Mappe: Thank you. It was nice talking to you. Good questions. I really liked your questions.

Johan: Thank you. It's a pleasure.

Other information about Candlemass on this site
Review: Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
Review: Ancient Dreams
Review: Nightfall
Review: Tales of Creation
Review: Candlemass
Review: Candlemass
Review: Documents of Doom
Review: The Curse of Candlemass
Review: King Of The Grey Islands
Review: Chapter VI
Review: Death Magic Doom
Review: Psalms for the Dead
Review: Psalms for the Dead
Review: Death Thy Lover
Review: Sweet Evil Sun

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