As this character from Belgian comics, they also move in a fantasy world, embarking in the songs created by Ola Blomkvist they help to prepare for the trip.
Hi, Ola! We have here a very somber album… but completely fascinating.
Ola – Greetings, Cristina. I’m pleased to hear that Den Förste fits your taste.
How did you have the idea of dealing with the Middle Age and picking the poor people and their misery as your band’s main theme?
As far back as I can remember I have felt that this world/modern society, has nothing to offer me, and in my teens I (like many other youthfully romantic people in my situation) lost myself in fantasy literature and Metal. Subsequently, as I matured, the fantasy books were replaced by actual history books while Metal persisted. Through reading about times gone by while listening to Manowar, Candlemass, Dio, Maiden, Helloween etc. I built dimensions, or vessels, in which I could ”travel” through a world I loathed (the juvenile yet to-the point lyrics of Ancient Dreams comes to mind here…). Today I realize, when looking back at my development in this regard, I have actually not come that far from my younger self. I still have the need to build vessels for my imagination by use of history (and Metal) in order to endure in these modern times – I still dream ancient dreams! The fate of the hopeless romantic, I guess. But today I am more extrovert in the sense that I now try to construct worlds that suck people in, like Dautha (for which I use Cioran to keep the dragons at bay…). Candlemass and Manowar did this to me, they let me into their worlds, and if I, on a whole other (much lower) level can pay it forward I can die a little less bitter man. This said, and on the subject of bitterness, as a critically reading working class-adult it is impossible to keep it (bitterness) and cynicism and irony from invading my worlds, hence the focus on the harsher aspects of history-the crass reality of the trampled and meek. In a contradicting way, I try to create realistic dark escapism here. And what can be more dark, gloomy and more Doom (yet safely tucked into history) than the brutal reality of the lower classes? Hell, Metal was invented by the working class, and to a great extent it still is a working class movement, although sterilized, commercialized and made harmless by the industry. Also, how interesting is it, really, to keep on jerking off dead egomaniacs and mythological creatures in this day and age when everything has been said and sung already by various (ridiculous) power metal/heavy metal acts? Choosing this angle, this perspective (that of the trampled) is how I can justify to myself, a cynical and “socially aware” adult 42 years of age, to continue diving into otherworlds like I do with Dautha. Unlike in my teens though, I am not alone in the creation of my bubble as I share this work with Micael Zetterberg, Erik Öquist, Lars Palmqvist and Emil Åström. I could not ask for better travel partners.
Where do you find the information to deal with such interesting subject? I know modern History deals with everyday life, but heroes and political characters are still more favored than the humble and lower people.
Something that actually is great about these moderns times, as opposed to what I said in the previous question, is its abundance of information, if one knows where to look (Google scholar) and has th
e time to sift through the data. Also I buy books by chance at flea markets and just follow my curiosity. This said, I often end up writing lyrics that do not specifically deal with certain events and people (there will be one exception on the album though, one in which I deviate from having the small ones perspective also, and yet again, I don’t….you’ll see…), but more with mind sets, attitudes, atmosphere’s or purely existential matters-although I veil them in flea infested, murky cone caps and hoses…
I guess it is easier than in a long time for publishers and record companies to sell in war heroes, kings and dictators – today’s political climate does not exactly favor the meek, so to speak (unintended rhyme alert!). But everything worth doing is hard so we take the narrow road…
May I say you’re a kind of counterpoint to classical composers (such as, for example, Karl Orff) who deal with the people’s life but emphasize the happier parts of their everyday life?
To be mentioned in the same sentence as Orff is too much, really, but you are right, we have misery before our eyes when creating, not fortune. Hopefully though, we can reach up to the lower part of Orff’s ankles in terms of bombast with one of the songs on the upcoming album, a song that we aimed to make very, very epic (and dark, yet humorously acid) and which I consider to be the best Dautha song this far.
“As far back as I can remember I have felt that this world/modern society has nothing to offer me […]”
I suppose you’re the main composer in the band or even the only one. Which are your main influences?
I do the absolute majority of the basics for all songs, as well as all lyrics, yes. However the other members contribute greatly with their parts so it would be very wrong to look upon Dautha as the fruit of one person’s work. Each person’s contribution really is an unmissable part of the whole. Lars is, obviously, an extremely accomplished singer who has a great knack for creating vocal hooks but he also has huge arranging skills. In addition he and his father Bengt Arne Palmqvist are responsible for the violin parts of Den Förste that was performed by Åsa Eriksson-Wärnberg. Erik Öquist is only half my age, but about one hundred times better when it comes to handling a guitar and we use him as an indicator of whether or not we have over stepped the musical-rules-that-be in the process of composing. If Erik’s eyebrows joins in his forehead we know we are entering an area of dissonance (and whether we decide to press on or not is due to Erik’s level of indignation, he he…) – he has an almost perfect pitch and a theoretical and practical knowledge that adds greatly to our sound. Emil Åström is as enigmatic as his bass playing, but he is a skilled multi instrumentalist able to untie the musical knots we encounter no matter what instrument that is causing it. Add to this his broad taste in music-everything from jazz to Death mixes in his playlist-and you have a really composite character able to add that necessary little twist all bands ought to have. Micael Zetterberg is our steady pulse, and one that luckily very rarely fails-he has a great memory and usually knows a new song perfectly from start to finish after having played it through only a few times. Like Emil, he is able to give each song that little extra, switching effortlessly between double bass drums and more straight up drum patterns and so on, all depending on what the part in question craves from a dramaturgical perspective.
It is hard to really nail down a list of all our musical inspirations without writing a litany of tiresome length. The main/official sources of constant inspiration for us would however be: Count Raven, Candlemass, Scald, Pagan Altar, The Moon Lay Hidden beneath A Cloud, Paul Chain, Cathedral, Iron Rainbow, Fire+Ice, Sol Invictus.
How do you interact with the other musicians and especially with the vocalist to put this strange world on its feet?
I go through the idea of the song with them, trying to describe the atmosphere I want to create, giving them points of musical and historical reference. And as we all have different experiences and preferences no song ever come out as I envisioned it from start- it always exceed my expectations.
What does the title of this album mean? Which topics of your main subject are dealt with in it? How do you create the extremely dramatic music one can hear in this album by Dautha?
Den Förste means The First in English and stands for two things-it is our first utterance (Comus…) as a band and secondly it underlines the fact that DAUTHA, which means Death in ancient Swedish, is THE FIRST ONE.
The first song Benandanti deals with an ancient, traditional belief among rural citizens of Northern Italy that there exists two kinds of witches-the beneficent Benandanti and the evil Malandanti. Both kinds of witches were seemingly ordinary people that were able to leave their bodies during certain days of the year and meet up for battles outside the villages where they lived. The outcome of these skirmishes determined how the harvest would fall out that year. There’s more layers to this little witchy-onion though, because if one studies this custom, cause that’s what it really was until the authorities (the Catholic Church) came in and branded it an evil cult during the 17th century, one realizes that the supposedly pure/white and seemingly tainted/black colors of the night-time fliers blur and that they in reality existed in symbiosis. What’s more, there were never any real casualties due to these supernatural ”feuds”, until the Inquisition came… In Between Two Floods deals with the carnival mentality that started to spread over 14th century Europe in the wake of the plague and in it I also point a reeking finger to today’s end time consumerist craze/race.
The way we go about and do our songs…well, like I said, it is usually me that comes up with the basics of the songs (at home) and then I record and put together the different parts – intro, verse, refrain etc. in a cheap recording program I have. Then I present what I feel is a song to the others at rehearsals and more often than not they do not agree with my idea of what constitutes a song and I return home with it rearranged, disfigured and improved– the verse has all of a sudden become the refrain, the short stick has become the intro and so on…and it’s back and forth until no one has any real complaints. But to tell you where the ideas for songs comes from, the parts, is harder. I usually liken this process with chasing long tailed monsters only partially manifested in this realm. However pretentious this may sound it is really how I look upon my riff and lyric making. Anyway, a cloud or cluster composed of these vague monsters all of a sudden appear above my head, and aided by the tools I have-my guitar and my pen, I spend hours and hours trying to grasp and then hold onto their tails, tails that either gradually become more solid or evaporate. I pull the solid ones down and scrutinize them, and those too hideous to cage I release and the ones that really are not monsters at all I keep for me and the rest of the band to spoon feed with harmonies, drum patterns, bass lines and vocal havoc until they are ready for an eternity encapsulated in vinyl.
Where did you get the cover for the album? Did you find it in some medieval manuscript or writing on the Dark Age, or did you invite an artist to do it for you?
The strange thing is, a couple of years ago I found a book in the garbage room that I, at first, thought was just another old Bible-they are available in droves at flea markets in Sweden and I have a bunch already. So I thought this book would make a nice edition to my collection and took it in, but lo and behold, it was no bible, but a first pressing of a book, who’s name I do not care to mention, printed in 1554… In it I found Dautha smiling and I smiled back, scanned the fucker and put him on the cover… I feel it was a work of destiny that it was I, out of all people, who found this treasure. I also used this book to form the text for the lyrics you see in the booklet, extracting each letter by hand -this process alone took a month to do and almost drove me insane. However it had to be done since I wanted to transfer the books psychometric imprint onto the booklet, making the listener feel the age and decay of the book.
In Versus Magazine we often interview bands from Van Records. Are you as happy as the other about the attention Dautha is getting from the label?
We are very happy with Sven’s work indeed- he is too nice to his bands and everyone else for his own good, really. He always goes out of his way to release quality through and through, using the best mastering studios and pressing plants, making the underground a more noble and tasteful place to dwell in.
“[…] today I am more extrovert in the sense that I now try to construct worlds that suck people in, like Dautha […]”
How do they intend to promote the band and this album?
For the promotion of the EP they work with Wolf of Sure Shot Worx, a great guy that has been affiliated with Ván for a decade now. I believe Ván will use Sure Shot Worx for the album as well, and that would be perfectly fine with us, of course.
Although I come from a country far from Sweden (I visited Gothenburg some 10 years ago in a professional trip), I must ask you if the Portuguese fans can count on a visit from Dautha one of these days and if you know any Portuguese bands or promoters.
I doubt we will visit Portugal any time soon, sadly. The way things look right now, and for the foreseeable future, it is quite unlikely we will be able to do any live shows at all, due to the members other commitments. But nothing is to be ruled out, everything can happen in this universe of endless possibilities and pitfalls.
I can not claim that I have a file in my conscious mind reading ´Portuguese promoters’, no. Perhaps I should have. As for bands, Moonspell is the first name that comes up, obviously. I am a big fan of theirs, Anno Satanae, Wolfheart, Irreligious… Especially Wolfheart blew me away completely when it came out, really original, atmospheric and fresh in the midst of the Black Metal craze that ruled Sweden back then. Another name that come to mind is Heavenwood, whom I remember checking out a couple of years after Moonspell because someone told me they were a bit similar and came from Portugal. Ironsword, Ravensire (epic stuff, influenced by good old Tyrant, really cool!) ,and Midnight Priest (love that name!), and these are bands that play it more to my taste, to put it mildly. Oh, and Alastor and Decayed, of course.
This is your very first releasing. Which are your ambitions for Dautha? What do you have in the forge to fulfill those ambitions?
Yes, Den Förste is the first one indeed. Our primary goal and ambition with Dautha is to make the heaviest, darkest and most Epic Doom Metal album we can, and on the 16th of June we begin the recordings. It will consist of five, or maybe six, songs and we have been working on some of the material since before the recording of Den Förste. Right now, in the last trembling days before entering the studio, it feels like all parts are coming together and that we will be able to deliver according to our goal. After the album is done we will continue working on the rest of the material we have in store. Because there’s no shortage of ideas, we had to pick and choose what to put on the first album. Eventually, when awaiting the pressing of the album, we will print some t-shirts and maybe, if Ván is up to it, do a split 7” or something so that we keep the name of Dautha reeking and fresh in the minds of all ancient dreamers out there.