"The Candle Is Burning Down..."

 A Interview with LEIF EDLING from CANDLEMASS

By Earthdog

Candlemass are an influential Swedish doom metal band established in 1984 by Leif Edling (bass), their leader and songwriter. The band is originally from Stockholm. After releasing five full-length albums and touring extensively throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Candlemass disbanded in 1994, but decided to reform three years later. After breaking up again in 2002, Candlemass reformed in 2004 and have continued to record and perform since then which takes us to 2012 and their new album "Psalms For The Dead". The band has had one very colorful career. Leif Edling started the band with vocalist Johan Längqvist, guitarist Mats Mappe Bjorkman, and drummer Matz Ekström. Their first release, "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus" (1986) is regarded as a doom classic. Längqvist only recorded that one album with Candlemass, however. His successor as frontman, Messiah Marcolin, joined the band for their second effort, "Nightfall", in 1987. Two other new members appeared on this album: lead guitarist Lars Johansson and drummer Jan Lindh. The bands next two albums were "Ancient Dreams" (1988) and "Tales of Creation" (1989). In 1990, the band released a live album simply called "Live." Shortly afterward, a dispute between the band members resulted in Messiah Marcolin's departure.

Thomas Vikström came into the band and recorded "Chapter VI" in 1992 but by 94, the band had called it quits. However in 1997/98 Leif recruited a new line-up and  the band recorded the album "Dactylis Glomerata". In 2002, ex-memebers of Candlemass line-up reunited. They performed some well-received live shows  and released another live album. Other albums released by the reformed band were remastered versions of "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus", "Nightfall", "Ancient Dreams", and "Tales of Creation". A DVD called "Documents of Doom"was released as well. The band was working on a new album and recorded some new songs while searching for a record label when differences arose again, resulting in Candlemass disbanding a second time. In the meantime, Leif Edling started a new project, Krux, with former Abstrakt Algebra singer Mats Levén and two members of Entombed. A second reunion happened for the band in 2004 and the band even won a Grammy for their self-titled album released in that year.

In 2007, Candlemass had found a new vocalist in Robert Lowe who recorded with the band for their ninth album "King of the Grey Islands". On March 31, 2007, Candlemass celebrated their twentieth anniversary. To commemorate the celebration, original singer Johan Längqvist appeared live with the band for the first time. The event was recorded for a DVD. Candlemass worked on a tenth studio album in 2008. It was intended to be titled "Hammer of Doom", but they renamed it to "Death Magic Doom" because the name clashed with a German festival of the same name. The album was scheduled to be released on March 27, 2009, but it was delayed until April the 3rd 2009. On October 2011, Candlemass were signed to the Austrian label Napalm Records, who will release their final studio album "Psalms for the Dead" and so here we are.

I was very honored to get the chance to interview Leif Edling so I hope you enjoy it....

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: First up, thanks for the chance to conduct this interview, much appreciated and congrats on the new album. In my review I wrote I thought it is the best album the band has done since the "From the 13th Sun" album. Any thoughts on that?

LEIF EDLING: Thanks...i’m glad you like it! We are very proud of the album and I think it is one of our best ever myself! It’s not an easy thing to top “Death Magic Doom”, but by not even trying I think we did a good enough job. The album contains everything that is Candlemass and  there’s not a bad song on it!

WC:  I read once that the recording process for "King Of The Grey Islands." was via FTP which sounds like a really awkward process to go through but then you got together in Sweden for the "Death Magic Doom" album. How did the recording process for this album come together?

LE: I wrote for about 5 months before we started the pre-prod process in October. We rehearsed in the same studio that we were going to record the album in (Bauman Audio Media), so we could listen to good recordings of the rehearsals, which helps when you are still writing and arranging the songs. Then we started to record December 3...did that for 3 weeks + a nearly month in January for the mix. Robert was in town for about 2 months so I had plenty of time to work with him on the vocals.

WC:  Also in my review I wrote that the new album seems to have a stronger emotional element. Do you feel this is true and if so, do you think the thought of splitting up fueled that emotion?

LE: Don't know...maybe...”Psalms for the Dead” does have a strong emotional element...some kind of epic feeling to it. But some of the songs are about farewells and goodbyes which maybe is natural on your last album. I like the vibe of the has got a certain atmosphere.

WC:  Speaking of the splitting up of the band. Do you have any more to say about that? On the one hand if the band does split, it is great that you are going out on such a great album but it is also sad to think about how many more great albums could have been recorded.

LE: We’re not splitting’s just the last album. We can’t go on forever and record and record. Somewhere along the line you have to stop, and the time is now, before we start releasing semi-good albums and lose some of the respect we gained over the years. But we will still tour and play live so we won’t disappear just yet.

WC: The title track from the new album sounds like a "farewell song" to the fans. Am I understanding that right? I am getting that feeling without the help of a lyric sheet but the message is coming through to me that this is a goodbye song.

LE: Both yes and no. It’s not directly about us, it’s about the fact that you can’t take anything with you when you go. You only got your honour and reputation, and a lot of people don’t think about that. Or maybe too late.. It’s one of my personal favourites on “Psalms”...and can also be interpreted as a farewell song, I guess.

WC: A lot of people including myself call Candlemass the most important traditional doom metal band of the last 25 years and one of the most influential metal bands since Black Sabbath. Do you ever think about that and does it put any pressure on the band to create something special each time you record?

LE: There’s no pressure when we record. Just from ourselves. We can’t put out an album that is not up to par with what we’ve done in the past. “Death Magic Doom” for example is regarded very highly among our fans. so we have to work really hard to make a follow-up. A Candlemass album takes 9 – 12 months to do from idea to finished product! That’s just how it is....Would be easier for us (and me) if it was only 3 – 6 months....But it has to be better than good, so the pressure is on us and me to take it to that level. I think we did it with “Psalms”.

WC:  What has the band got planned in regards to the split? Is the band embarking on one of those never-ending world tours that so many bands end up doing or are you just going to do some low-key dates and call it a day? And by the way, any chance of US shows?

LE: We will hopefully tour with Angel Witch in the fall and i’m sure there will be talks about more touring next spring. The album is late, so we miss all the summer festivals, which kinda sucks, so we concentrate on the autumn + spring and summer next year. I’m sure we will visit the States sometime soon in the future.

WC: What are your feelings on the world music scene in terms of performance? So many bands have pushed the United States to one side to focus on European tours only. Is the United States really such a horrible place to tour? It seems that there is no incentive to tour this country unless you are Iron Maiden or someone of that magnitude.

LE: Well...if you’re not Opeth or on that level, it is difficult to tour on your own in the states. On our last US tour we had OK crowds in 75% of the cities, but some shows were just ridiculous, with a pretty low attendance. Sure...maybe we're not popular in every city..that’s just how it is...but some venues didn’t advertise our gig at all and it’s not easy to pull let’s say 300 people via the asphalt telegraph alone. But we love the States and would very much like to come back. Maybe a good package with 3 or 4 cool heavy bands!

WC: When you look through the history of the band since its earliest days, what do you see as the big turning points in the band's career?

LE: The breakthrough with “Nightfall” after “Epicus” had bombed....the Dynamo Open Air Festival in 1988 when we were superstars overnight...the grammy award for the white reunion album 2005...”The massive success with “PSALMS FOR  THE DEAD” hahaha!!

WC:  I have also read that at least one or two guys in the band are not really interested in the doom metal scene and certainly not the mainstream metal scene and don't spend much time listening to other bands playing similar styles. I would think if this is true it would help in keeping the band unique to a certain degree. So if you are not being influenced by much other metal, where does the inspiration (musically speaking) come from?

LE: Lars mainly likes and listens to 70’s hardrock and blues, but even though Jan does not follow the current doom scene, he loves metal and Pentagram and listens to a lot of heavy stuff like Priest, Rammstein, Sabbath, Queensryche, Manowar etc. The big metalheads in Candlemass are me and Mappe, and we go to see gigs frequently. I think Mappe saw Nifelheim and Volcano a couple of days ago, and I went to see Jex Thoth last night!

But in general, the C-mass influences are Venom, Sabbath, Anvil, Angelwitch, Pentagram, Trouble, Warlord, Rainbow, Heep, and a bit of early Accept.

WC:  It is true to say that doom metal is a "slow" scene in more ways than one. Some bands can have years between album releases while some bands hardly play live at all. I know in Candlemass there have been some circumstances that has prevented certain things from happening in the past but has Candlemass ever had a game-plan of sorts in terms of releases and tours or do you just do things as you just feel like it?

LE: We try to plan things a year at the time. You need a bit of game plan, but you can’t obviously not know what’s gonna happen in the future. A new album takes a year to do from idea to finished product, so that’s a very complicated plan in itself. But when you’re done recording you need to sit down and think...hmmm...what's gonna happen next? Right now we are planning for the autumn. Hopefully a tour in Europe with Angel Witch.

WC:  Outside of Candlemass, there is Solitude Aeturnus, solo projects and other band projects that most people might not know about. Can you fill the readers in on what all the band members are doing and what they have planned for the future, especially if Candlemass does split?

LE: I have absolutely no idea, man. Maybe Lars will finish his blues album, and perhaps Robert will do the Solitude Aeturnus record he and John Perez have been working on for a number of years now? But since C-mass will still be in operation I don’t really know...I have no other plans than continuing doing this until people don’t wanna see us anymore.

WC: Do you have any specific expectations for the "Psalms For The Dead" album? Do you want to achieve anything with this album that you might not have got before?

LE: Yeah....tour territories we havent been to before, like Australia and Japan. That would be so cool to go down there and bring the Doom circus to town.

WC:  Back to the new album for one more question. What are your personal highlights of the album? What are your favorite tracks and can you explain what they are about?

LE: I love all the songs on the new album! But right now i’m listening to the title track which gives me goosebumps the way it turned out. It’s beautiful and heavy, and has a certain epic atmosphere to it. I love the organ on this one and Rob's vocals are amazing! It’s about leaving and what you can take with you when you die. I also dig “Prophet” very much. Maybe because of the old school metal speed and the double guitar harmony part in the middle. Great opening track to this album! That one is about false prophets. We are surrounded by them...

WC: I guess that is all the questions for now except one more, just for the fun of it. Have you got one funny moment in the band's history you would to tell us about?

LE: The studio slippers perhaps? The studio owner didn’t allow any shoes in his shiny studio, so we had to put his slippers on. Very colourful red, blue, yellow, pink, green slippers. Not very doom, hehe....I think somebody took a shot of us in those slippers...oh dear...

(NOTE: Shortly after we received this interview, we learned that singer Robert Lowe had left the band and been replaced by Mats Leven--Dr. Mality)