Birdflesh - Squawk Box

Interview by Dr. Mality

Mr. Smattro Ansjovis is a jovial fellow who can find the humor in any subject. Especially murder, masturbation, drunkenness and Manowar. Smattro spends most every day chasing down free range chickens, strangling them and dressing them for gourmet chefs to prepare. But at night time, he really comes alive as a member of the Swedish grindcore trio Birdflesh. With his good friends Achmed Abdulex and Barbro Havohej, he slams out some fun ditties with tasteless lyrics sure to amuse as much as offend. If the 1000 mph mayhem of Birdflesh's brutal grind doesn't smash your skull to bits, you might find yourself smiling as you listen to their music.

The band's newest effort is "Mongo Musicale" and this is the first Birdflesh disc to have wide distribution in the States, courtesy of Candlelight Records. I think Smattro or one of his pals must have got pictures of the Candlelight president in compromising positions with a goat and a Girl Scout to get the deal signed. At any rate, there is no longer any excuse for you to miss out on the devastating but humorous grind of Birdflesh.

I managed to hook up with Smattro between bouts of chicken-chasing and mega-moshing to find out exactly what's going on in the twisted world of Birdflesh...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: First, a little background. How did Birdflesh come together?

SMATTRO ANSJOVIS: It was back in 1992. Me and some friends from school decided to start a band together. We were all into metal and stuff so it was metal we were going to play. We started with two guitar players but it sounded so shitty so one guitar player had to leave the band. We tried to play some cover songs but we were too lousy so we had to make our own songs.

WC: Why did you choose the name "Birdflesh" for the band?

SA: We thought it sounded like a typical name for a death metal band.

WC: When did you realize you were going to take a humorous approach to grindcore and extreme metal?

SA: We didn't really meant to do this as a fun thing. It was our bass player who decided to wear strange stuff on stage on our first gig because he was so ashamed of the band. The show went really good so me and our guitar player used silly outfits on our second show.The humorous lyrics are just something that came naturally. I am not able to write "serious" lyrics and I don't like it either.

WC: Is your approach a reaction to all the politics and gore in extreme music? Do you think fans are getting burned out on that stuff?

SA: I don't think people are getting burned out on it but maybe they are little bit tired of it. Our approach is just about wanting people to have fun while watching us live and listening to our music.

WC: What inspires your lyrics? Real life or imagination? Do the words and songtitles come to you quickly or do you really work on them?

SA: I get inspiration from everything. Real life, movies and my twisted mind. Sometimes songtitles just pop up in my head and I try to write lyrics for it and sometimes I just start to write some words that become lyrics for a song. Sometimes I need to work on the lyrics and the titles but most of the times it goes easily.

WC: Some of the songtitles really intrigue me. What are "After-Ski Obliteration", "Dear Driver" and "Handicapitation"  about?

SA: "After-ski..." is about getting really drunk while skiing. I came up with the idea after stealing Terrorizer's song title "After-world obliteration"."Dear driver" is about a guy who likes to drive his car really fast, listening to brutal music and he hits a deer on the highway. He gets out of his car to check if the deer is dead but it was not dead so it kicked him in the head and stole the car...And "Handicapitation" is a totally fucked up song. It's about a disgusting woman who is really disgusting. She masturbates on graves, worships the moon and sleeps with the vomit of her kids. (Sounds kinda like Anna Nicole Smith...Dr. Mality)

WC: I notice you each had solos on "Mongo Musicale" with dramatic names like "Drums of Death". Are you guys Manowar fans? Any chance you'll ever get to play with them?

SA: Yes, we are Manowar fans. Our solos are a tribute to the kings of metal. It would be an honor to play with them someday. Maybe at the Magic Circle festival in Germany. Manowar's own festival.

WC: How did you guys wind up on Candlelight Records and what's it been like so far?

SA: It's our Swedish label, Dental Records, who made a deal with them. I don't know so much about the deal really. The album hasn't been released in the U.S. yet so nothing has really happened. I've got some interviews so far but I hope more things will happen as soon as the album is out.

WC: You recently played the Maryland Deathfest in the U.S. What was that experience like for you?

SA: It was our second time at the MDF and it was a great experience again. The crowd was really crazy and we got great support from them. We met a lot of old and new friends and had a great time.

WC: Any chance you'll be back in the States soon?

SA: Well, we got some plans for next year. Hopefully a tour. We would love to have more shows in the States.

WC: Who are some of your musical inspirations?

SA: We like so many bands. In the beginning ,I listened a lot to Kiss, Motley Crue, Wasp, Twisted Sister, Metallica. Then I started to like bands like Sepultura, Testament, Kreator and Slayer. And after that I found more brutal bands like Death, Brutal Truth, Macabre, Napalm Death, Repulsion, Carcass and Morbid Angel. So when we started Birdflesh it was mostly these bands that were our biggest influences. Nowadays we get inspiration from both old bands and new bands that we see live or hear on cd. Some bands we stole ideas from are Dead Infection, Ingrowing, Bathtub Shitter, Exhumed, Rompeprop and Unholy Grave.

WC: There are bits of jazz and dance music on "Mongo Musicale". What are some of your influences and favorite artists outside of heavy metal?

SA: Dire Straits, Elvis, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Kim Wilde, Abba, Anna Ternheim, John Denver and the list is eternal. Not to forget the 80's movies including the music.

WC: Are the members of Birdflesh cartoon fans? I seem to detect a strong cartoon influence going on. What are some of your favorites?

SA: I like some cartoons. Especially Family Guy. I actually love it. American Dad and the Simpsons are cool too.

WC: You seem to be a very stable unit. What's the key to Birdflesh staying together without major changes for so long?

SA: That's a question we ask ourselves almost everytime we meet. I have no idea. I think it's like a obsession. Birdflesh is something that has been with me half my life. It's crazy really. Even though we sucked so much in the beginning we kept on trying, ha ha!!!

WC: How would you compare the extreme scene in Sweden to America?

SA: Well, it's hard for us to compare the scenes since we haven't done so much in the U.S. but from the two MDF shows I can say that America rules. The Swedish kids are so spoiled with all the "good Swedish bands". Ok, we have a lot of good bands but the scene sucks here. No extreme music festivals at all and if there is a show somewhere, about 40 people show up. Maybe it's the same in the underground scene in the U.S., I don't know.(It is in Rockford...but that's Rockford!-->
WC: What direction will your sound take in the future? Will it become rawer or maybe more refined?

SA: The new songs we have made are faster and maybe more melodic. I think we are gonna try to put more power to the sound on the next recording. But as always, it's all about the money. If we get a huge amount of money for recording we might sound like the Backstreet Boys on the next album. If we don't get so much money we will sound like Birdflesh.

WC:. Does Birdflesh have any videos? I think you'd be a natural at coming up with funny and clever videos.

SA: No, but we really want to make one. I think it would be really funny. A lot of blood, fire, crazy animals and super heroes in a mix with gore and insane violence, ha ha ha!

WC: Do you have any "Spinal Tap" moments from your history that you'd care to share with the fans?

SA: Every show feels a little bit like Spinal Tap. But I don't think we have had any catastrophies really. One time our guitar player had an accident at work. His foot was crushed by a fork lift. It was just days before a show so he had to sit in a wheelchair on stage. Maybe it's not like Spinal Tap but it sure looked funny.

WC: Any last words for the grind maniacs out there?

SA: Hope to see you all crazy grinders out there very soon. Take care and stay crazy!

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