NECROPHOBIC, the Swedish legends of the death and black metal underground, return to Athens - Greece after 11 years!
Joakim Sterner, drummer and founding member of the Stockholm blackened death metal veterans, answers our questions on their most recent release “Dawn Of The Damned” (2020) as well as comments on their previous legentary albums.
Read below our interesting chat and be sure not to miss this rare opportunity to watch them live!
A true black metal experience!
RockOverdose: First of all we would like to learn if you are fully satisfied with “Dawn Of The Damned” or if you would change anything on the final result. It has been rather warmly received to say the least. How do you see it almost two and a half years after its release?
Joakim (Necrophobic): I am really satisfied with that album and the promotion videos we did for it. I am also happy to see all the good reviews it got when it came out and if you think about it, it’s rather strong to have this one out as our 9th studio album and still deliver such high quality music that still appeals to our fans.
The one thing I am not so happy about is that it came out during the corona pandemic, so we were not able to play live shows around that important time for a record release.
Rockoverdose: After long gaps between albums and the line up changes, this time you returned faster than expected, something not done since “Darkside” and “The Third Antichrist”. Was the momentum ideal for you to release something new, after the success of “Mark Of The Necrogram”?
Joakim (Necrophobic): I can’t really give you an explaination of why there is longer gaps between albums sometimes and minor gaps sometimes, but sometimes music comes to you easier and faster. Sometimes in life happens and since we are band, it includes more persons. Sometimes line-up changes delays the creativity and so on. We are also a band that does not live from our music and we don’t have the pressure to make albums every year or every second year, to have a new album out to tour on to make a living. We do this from heart, and because we want to, and love to do music. We are metal fans, creating and performing metal. That can also be an answer on why, excuse me for saying so, always put out albums of high quality. No fillers, so to speak. Quality instead of quantity.
Rockoverdose: I believe your last two albums have put Necrophobic strongly back to the first line of interest of metal fans. “Mark Of The Necrogram” sounds like stepping strongly on your feet again and “Dawn Of The Damned” sounds like establishing yourselves with a more multi-layered album. Do you agree with this?
Joakim (Necrophobic): I agree. We are at this point in our career when we know exactly how we want our music to sound like and how to deliver it. We are older and wiser, haha. We have all got better as musicians and songwriters, even though Sebastian is the main composer, we all have a saying about structures and arrangements, so with all the experience we have from everything we have got from being a part of this music industry, we have better knowledge now on everything than we had ages ago and that, sort of, comes through in what we do and create.
Rockoverdose: You remain up to today the only member featured on all albums. Does this fill you with more responsibility in what regards the band, or is it something that comes up naturally when it comes to decisions and plans?
Joakim (Necrophobic): Yes, I am the only remaining member from the very first day of this band. Back in the day, I sort of had a higher responsibility, but nowadays, this band is running like an oiled machine. Every member has his responsibility to make the machine move forward. We seldom argue and I think that is very rare for being such a long running band as we are. As I see it, we are well organized, compared to many other bands at our level. Maybe I have had something to do with that from the beginning and the early days, but it is nothing I think about, really. It’s mostly fans that see it that way and think it’s cool that I am the original member and they really appreciate that this band has an original member. I guess that is of great value, respect and credibility of our music.
Rockoverdose: How did you decide about the change of sound after your debut “The Nocturnal Silence” in a more black-oriented approach? How do you feel that many people still consider it your best album and how much important is for a debut to stand the test of time?
Joakim (Necrophobic): Well, “The Nocturnal Silence” album was music written between 1991-1992 and we were still trying to find our way to write music. The melodies were there, but not as developed as they are today and is a great important part of our sound. The “Darkside” album was mainly written during 1993-1994 and at that time, we were more distinct on what we thought a Necrophobic song shall have. A combination of the rawness of death metal and the cold, dark melodies of black metal. We were aiming for that combination and we were one of very, very few bands that did this kind of music at this early stage.
Rockoverdose: I see a connection on the covers of the last two albums and the one of “Darkside”, like things go full circle. Is it like a tribute to your past? Do you believe that you can “listen” to the cover before you actually listen to an album?
Joakim (Necrophobic): It’s true that we made a connection with the artwork from “Darkside” for both the two latest albums and all of them were painted by Kristian Wåhlin. It has an important, great recognition value. I don’t believe that an album cover really tells how the music sounds, but we think it’s really important to have a great looking cover and a design to go with our music.
Rockoverdose: What do you think is the fact that makes you Swedes so productive and so great on all genres? Is it a matter of how you grow up where music is in your life from early on? Which are your favorite albums released from bands of your country?
Joakim (Necrophobic): We have 4 months of darkness in Sweden (November–February). I think that has to do with it, really. I have many fave albums from my country and the list will be too long for this article.
Rockoverdose: Necrophobic have lasted quite long for 34 years. Did you expect to come this far when you formed the band? Were the good times more than the bad ones all these years? What gave you the motive to form the band and which have been your major influences?
Joakim (Necrophobic): I did not think in that term back in those days. I think it proves that we are for real and that we are as dedicated to metal as we have always said in interviews over all these years. I have had great times, mostly, during all these years and still has. I still think this is fun, so to speak. Some parts are not fun, but it comes with the fact that you are a band.
We were three friends in school that listened to metal, went to underground shows, bought demos, traded demos, bought underground fanzines and along that way, we thought we also could form a band, as we were so dedicated and passionate for the music. In the beginning, we were influenced by Death, Sodom, Sepultura, Venom and Morbid Angel to name a few.
Rockoverdose: It would be interesting to know how a song of yours is born. Does the music come first and the lyrics follow or vice versa? In terms of your drumming, you still keep the intensity alive after so much years, which are your favorite drummers of all times and why?
Joakim (Necrophobic): The music comes first. It sets the feeling. Regarding my drumming, yes, I believe so. My drumming has never been about skills. I play simple and hard and by doing so, I let the music come through better for the listener. It’s easier for the listener to hear the music with the melodies, harmonies, leads and so on, if I just play simple and clean, so to speak. My playing style is “groove”, not “machine”.
Rockoverdose: “Devil’s Spawn Attack” is like a return to your roots. Do you think that no matter how much bands evolve, it is their essence coming from the past that sometimes prevails? How was it to have Schmier sing for you and how did you get in touch with him?
Joakim (Necrophobic): You are probably right there. Well, the song had a Destruction kind of vibe, so we asked our manager, that knows Schmier, if he was interested in doing split vocals for that song, as it, like I said, had a Destruction vibe to it. He said yes and felt honored to do it. He also did the video with us for that song. Really cool, if you ask me.
Rockoverdose: We will see you in Greece after 11 long years. Do you have any memories from the previous time in our country? What should we expect from your show this time? Also, many people would like to know if you will have the re-releases of your old albums on the merch, as it has been difficult to be found for years.
Joakim (Necrophobic): Yes, it was quite some time ago. I remember it was really hot for us north men, haha. No, but I remember we had time to walk around and see stuff, cultural stuff and so on. I don’t really remember the actual show so much. Yes, we will bring as much merch as we can. The show will be killer! Don’t expect anything less!
Rockoverdose: We would like to thank you for your time. Is there something you would like to highlight that hasn’t been mentioned? When should we expect a new album and which are your plans for the future? Take care and stay safe.
Joakim (Necrophobic): Thanks for taking time to talk to me. I feel happy to return to Greece with Necrophobic, so spread the word to not miss this show. We don’t come to Greece that often, you know. Cancel dinner plans with your family or other stuff. Necrophobic will be in Athens! Be there!