‘I think black metal is a better genré to actually have things said…’ – interview with Sebastian Ramstedt of Necrophobic

Please find the Hungarian transcription here.

The first question is a warm-up. Your last album appeared in February of 2018. What about the feedbacks, and what about the acceptation?
It has been really good feedback, way over what we could expect. So we’re very happy with that, and we have been touring ever since, doing weekend shows mostly, mostly in small tours. The reception has been very good, and during this one and a half year, it has been bigger and bigger audiences, so it’s really successful actually.

Are you working now with any kind of new material, and when can we expect it?
We have like six songs already for the next album and a couple of more are… I’m working on them right now. So hopefully we could start to record this autumn and record during the winter. That’s the plan, but not set yet.

Are you working on new songs while touring, or at home?
At home actually. I write in the mornings… I get up early every morning at 4:30 before the family awakens. Then it’s quiet and then I sit and play guitar and record some demos and stuff. So that’s what I do: I write every morning until six o’clock, I drink coffee and play guitar.

What’s your way of writing, so are you working together, or everything is rising in your mind?
It is rising in my mind. I can get the ideas from everywhere. Usually a theme comes up in my head; I hear some airy melody or something and then I build a track on that. Very often I get an overall idea of the song and then I have to transcript that feeling into riffs. So it starts with a feeling, what kind of song I want to do and how it should sound, which emotions it should go into it, what it might be, then I just try to find the riffs that fits nicely.

Do you have any kind of musical education, or you are a native player?
I started to play classical guitar when I was 9 years old actually, and I played in guitar school until I was 15 years old. I don’t think I was very successful at it…

…come on…
…but it was a good experience and then I started to play electric guitar when I was 12 and then I had no one to show me how to palm mute or anything, so I had to figure all that out myself, even how to get the distortion. It was hard because if no one tells you there are distortions, you know, ‘what the fuck did you do with that song and how do you solo and stuff’. So I started off with trying to do Twisted Sister songs and Iron Maiden songs: easy soloing and stuff like that. But it was a steep climb because no one told me how to do this. So it took quite a while to get it right. I didn’t even know what power chords are, you know, it was a classical school, so I took whole chords, open chords, ‘doesn’t sound like Iron Maiden, even this is a D, but why does it sound wrong?

And then what about the other guys?
They write also, but usually I do most. And then I show them my ideas, which is pretty well worked out when I have done it. And then they give me the inputs, we change stuff, they put in riffs, and they are ‘can we change that’, or ‘can we do it like this’, ‘this is going on too long’, ‘maybe that should be the chorus’ and stuff like that, and we will rearrange it.

Where your main inspiration is coming from, so what’s inspiring you when making music?
Lyric wise and atmosphere wise, a lot of things that pisses me off. You have a feeling ‘I have to get this out’, that sets the atmosphere. But also themes and melodies and stuff comes from movies or anything. Actually, I try to learn a lot of the solos of the old Los Angeles scene bands like Rats, Van Halen and stuff like that, because they did more on the guitar. The guitarist were not only power records, and they used to whole instrument, and they were not afraid of any kind of expression, it was full on – full out. So I tried to look into bands like Rats or Van Halen, what they did, how they used the instrument, and how they didn’t care about boundaries, and I try to incorporate that in my riffs. I should be able to use my full capacity as a musician to express myself because a lot of… they have rules within black metal also, and I’m against that. I mean you don’t mix Fun Core or stuff with Necrophobic, but I mix everything into these songs that sound pretty straightforward but I use a lot of inspiration to make this pretty straightforward music.

Ordo Inferus is still running?
No, I don’t think so. It’s not a working band, it’s a project by Henrik (Brynolfsson), and the drummer (Janne Rudberg) was in tragedy with his family, so he more or less stopped doing that, so I think it’s on hold. We haven’t said it should not be anything more, but for that band I am only the lead guitarist so I never played a riffs at all, so I just did the leads.

You did share your efforts doing Necrophobic and also Ordo Inferus as it happened in the past. When you allocated your efforts on Necrophobic, and when were you interested in Ordo Inferus?
In Ordo Inferus, I was only in when I was out of Necrophobic for a couple of years. So when Henrik asked me to do this, I had no other death metal band to lean on, so that was a good thing. But since I started with Necrophobic again, we haven’t done anything with Ordo, so it’s full on Necrophobic, that’s what takes my time.

If I’m right you are married. Is your wife coming to participate Necrophobic gigs?
Very-very seldom. We have two very small kids. The youngest is only six months old, so she will in the future, but right now someone has to take care of the kids.

Have your older sons participating your gigs?
My two older sons are 17 and 15 years old, and they have been to a couple of Necrophobic gigs and also in the past to Nifelheim gigs when I was in Nifelheim.

What kind of situation is for them to see dad in a different style, in different clouths to staying there…?
I think they were in quite of a shock when they actually realized we had an audience, because you know, I’m their father, and they don’t think about me as a rock star or anything. I’m just their dad, I’m old, I have silly clothes, you know, everything is wrong. So when they saw I was onstage and we actually did a good show and the audience liked it, they were like ‘well, fuck, daddy, people like your music, and you made albums!

Do you have the chance or time to participate the gigs of other bands in your private life?
In my private life, I am a record collector, so I listen too much music and I buy a lot of albums. The latest years mostly I have been into bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden, the big shows. I see a lot of bands glimpses of it when we’re all touring, but usually we do interviews, we warm up, it’s not that much time to see full shows. But the last… there was a couple of weeks ago, there was a band called Distillator which I saw, and I was blown away. There was so much fun to be a metal fan, to be in the audience like ‘this is fucking good, I have to get their album to support it’. I think I’m more of a metal fan than an artist… it’s in my blood to support metal.

How often people are recognizing that ‘yeah, this guy is probably Sebastian of Necrophobic’?
No, no, no, not in Sweden, no no, not very much. In Sweden, people don’t approach you. It’s not like they say or they came like ‘oh, do this signing’, not like that.

Do you listen any kind of music which is non-metal, or are you influenced by anything which is coming from a non-metal genré?
I used to listen a lot to like Tricky and Massive Attack and stuff like that, it’s very atmospheric and you can translate that into black metal. So I like that. I like everything… I listen to pop music as well. It’s not like… it has to be a mood or something in it. I don’t listen to music for amusement or enjoyment or to dance. If it’s a good song then it’s a good song and then I’m not ‘ohhhh, it has to be metal’, I don’t care about that. I’m too old to be ashamed of things to like I don’t care about that.

Considering your stage performance and clothes, there is a quite of an anti-religious and anti-Christian attitude. But what is the problem with the church and Christianity?
I think, to go back to the roots, the biggest problem if you read the Bible, is that God was dictator and Satan came up to him and say ‘hey guy, I want to rule too, can we share some ideas?’ ‘No fucking way, go down to Hell, you cannot’, and Satan took his revenge, got the people with him, and I think it’s in normal people mind to be against the dictator, and God is the dictator itself for that. I think that’s part of the human nature to embrace what you feel. Of course, it comes with responsibility. You cannot do just whatever you like and don’t expect anyone to give you shit back. But I think in a Satanist way to live, you don’t stop by rules. In some way, you make your own rules. You take this world, the way you want, regardless of what other people say. So… I’m not a Christian, I’m not a believer, so I don’t believe in Satan and I don’t believe in God, it’s not like that, but I think religion, as the power to suppress people, is wrong. I think it was probably the easiest way to get things going in society way back when people were superstitious and stuff like that, but now I think it’s should just go away, it’s all. We don’t need it anymore.

What the extreme metal music, what the black and death metal music means to you as a musician?
I was always impressed by the bands that still have the rock&roll attitude. I mean… when Elvis started, he was the worst, he was the coolest guy, he wear leather, he had long hair, and he was dangerous! And then everything becomes mainstream, and you have to push the boundaries. Then in the 80’s I loved WASP, and I loved the bands that put on a good show. They had an image, what my parents didn’t like of course, and when death metal and black metal came, that was just an extreme form of actually what WASP did or Venom did. Now I’m 47 years old, therefore it’s not that important to me anymore to be free, but that was the way I liberated from grown in the society. For me it’s a very important part of my childhood and doing this long… it is also important for me to keep on doing this, because this is what I stand by, and I don’t want to left my beliefs done. So I cannot think of another music style to play, to say what I want. If you have the opportunity to do albums, someone gives you time and money to do albums, and you have something to say, you should say something that means something to you. Don’t waste it on nothing. So I think black metal is a better genré to actually have things said than like gore grind or heavy metal music… they are about partying and stuff like that, have a good time, fine, but it doesn’t give the audience a piece of your actual heart. So for me black metal is perfect to have an opportunity to say what I want.

I did many interviews on that, and usually the general feedback was that black metal is a kind of genré which is simply honest.
Yeah, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. It has to be honest to the artist, and that’s the important thing. If it wasn’t honest to me, I would do something else. I think black metal that is done purely for the image or for the corpse paint or for the cool looks or stuff like that, is pretty shallow. I think black metal must be backed up by black hearts if you see what I mean.

Written by Á