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HYPOCRISY: "A Taste of Divine Extremity"

 

Interview by Dr. Abner Mality
                                                 
 

Peter Tagtgren isn't human. This may sound obvious when you hear his inhuman roars and screams on the records he does with his main band Hypocrisy, But when you find out how much work the man does in all sorts of endeavors, it becomes even more abundantly clear.

He is the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for his long time death metal band Hypocrisy. In addition, he also fills the same functions in the popular cyber-metal band Pain. He is also in high demand as a world famous producer and mixer,,,some of his recent triumphs include the latest albums from Overkill and Dark Funeral. He is a full-time father. And, believe it or not, he functions as the "mayor" of the tiny Swedish town of Parlby, located far off the beaten path. Truly, Mr. Tagtgren must be the cyborg he is portrayed as on the cover art to the latest Hypocrisy release, "A Taste of Extreme Divinity".

Actually, Peter sounds like a 100% regular guy and "His Honor" was gracious enough to speak to me recently on the occasion of the new Hypocrisy release, which sees the band blasting back to life after a 5 year hiatus. So you can add probing interviews with metal-crazed mad scientists to the lists of things Peter does.

Here we go...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Hypocrisy has been out of action for quite a while. What was it that triggered "A Taste of Extreme Divinity"?

PETER TAGTGREN: Good question! We didn't really feel it was time before. We were burned out , to be honest, from doing five consecutive tours on the previous "Virus" album. We were really tired and we also had some problems with management and shit like that...that took the edge out of us. We just wanted to get away from everything.

WC: Was there a time, then, when you thought there wouldn't be any more Hypocrisy? Or was the band always going to be there?

PT: Yeah, for sure, we never had it in mind to do anything else but Hypocrisy. We just needed a lot of time to recoup and recover. It wasn't fun, for a while, you know? When it's not fun, it doesn't make sense to do it at all.

WC: You're known to be a real busy guy, anyway. And there were probably family considerations to be made.

PT: No, not really! I was out extensively with my other band Pain. But also, Michael had just become a Dad and Horgh started playing with Immortal again, which took up a lot of his time. So it was just a good time to take it easy.

WC: Once you made the decision to do a new album, did the songs come together pretty quickly or did it take a while to come up with them?

PT: To be honest, I've been writing since the last album came out in 2005!

WC: I'm intrigued by the title of your new album. What's the meaning behind "A Taste of Extreme Divinity"?

PT: It's actually about the song itself, not us. People were thinking, "oh shit, now they think they are larger than life!" (chuckles) The song is about this crazy mass murderer who has this fetish about making people look him in the eye before he turns them off. He thinks he's God...

WC: So it's a religious kook...

PT: Yeah, exactly!

WC: Is there any sort of theme or link running between the songs on the album?

PT: Every song has its own story. A few songs have somewhat of the same theme...there are some about extraterrestrial stuff, some about mass murderers, some about religion. There are a few different ideas in there.

WC: The song "The Quest" sounds like its got some pretty advanced ideas behind it.

PT: Not really. It goes back to the Bible and how people rewrote it for their own benefit. In the New Testament, suddenly God told you to look for The Sign...and that's the Cross. Where was the Cross in the Old Testament? They messed things up because today's Bible is not the same one that was originally written.

WC: It's constantly editing itself.

PT: Yes, exactly, and always for the benefit of the religion itself.

WC: You definitely have some good old sci-fi lyrics in there. "Solar Empire" sounds like a pretty big tale. You've always had a fascination for the paranormal. What is it that keeps you interested in that subject?

PT: That we don't know! It's not anything more than that. That's what triggers me, that we have no clue what the hell is going on.

WC: Is there one specific area of the paranormal that drives you? ESP, UFO's, time travel?

PT: Roswell I already did long ago. On the new album, "Global Domination" is more speculative science fiction. It's about mixing alien and human DNA to find the perfect species. There's crazy ideas that I have. "Solar Empire" has the same kind of feeling as "Stargate"...how you can travel around the universe using wormholes.

WC: I'm also fascinated by it. I'm interested in cryptozoology...creatures like Loch Ness Monster, sea monsters, yeti.

PT: Yeah, that's pretty interesting as well!

WC: I feel that all this stuff is linked in some way and that we only see a small part of what's going on. Now it's been a lot of years since the first Hypocrisy album "Penetralia". Are the same things that motivated you to do Hypocrisy then the same things that motivate you now? Or does it feel completely different?

PT: I feel its still the same thing. To write good music, brutal music, and get something out of it. That feeling...to be proud of what you're doing, not just to get another album out there.

WC: The music business itself has changed pretty drastically...

PT: Yeah, it's pretty sad, how it is today, but what can you do? You can't do anything about it.

WC: I was going to ask you if its as much fun now as it was then and it would seem the answer is "no".

PT: Of course, the album sales are bullshit, but then music and business together has always been bullshit to me. I would be happy if I could survive money, but I can't. I get so much pleasure from playing the music and working with it every day.

WC: I think more people hear the music now than ever before, but there's no profit in it.

PT: Exactly. But people will still go to a concert.

WC: You lived in the glory days of the Swedish death metal scene. Sweden is still cranking out a lot of metal. Do you think it's as vital now as it was in the early 90's?

PT: I think the Swedish scene will always be strong as long as we keep producing great bands.

WC: Why have there been so many great metal bands from Sweden for such a long period of time?

PT: I have no clue, to be honest. Maybe there are more people that are interested in playing and writing music here than elsewhere.

WC: I heard a long time ago that maybe it's because Sweden seems to have more music education than the States or England. More people just know how to play...

PT: Yeah, but if you know how to play, you still have to know how to WRITE good music. You see a lot of fantastic musicians who don't have a clue how to write music. There's not so many good musicians who know how to write good music. A lot of times, it's the not so good musicians who write the best music! They think differently, they think more simply and then it becomes easier for other people to get into it.

WC: It's been quite a while since Hypocrisy has been on the road, especially in the State. What can we expect this time around?

PT: Right now, we're getting ready to come over and do a tour in November with Ensiferum. We're gonna go all over the States and up into Canada. Then we come home and tour Europe. After that, we might come back and do a headline tour in America, we don't know yet.

WC: With so many good albums under your belt, how hard is it to pick out a setlist for a live show?

PT: Yeah, I know, that's gonna be a bitch. Especially when we open up, we only get 45, 50 minutes. We're just gonna have to cram the hits and some new stuff in there.

WC: Do you have any thought of reviving the old black metal project you did, The Abyss?

PT: No, not really. If I get some more ideas about that, we'll put it into Hypocrisy because now we have a good drummer that can play that shit. Lars wasn't able to play the stuff I did on The Abyss albums.

WC: He couldn't keep up the speed...

PT: Yeah, exactly. He was not a blaster. He had some Suffocation style blasts but not the sustained black metal blasts. Whereas Horgh is as strong as a bull.

WC: Anything coming up for Pain or will that take a hiatus for a while now?

PT: We're gonna take it easy. I'm going to start writing some songs and see what the hell comes up. Hopefully we can release the next album directly to America and then release the back catalogue along with it.

WC: It seems that America has lagged behind as far as Pain goes.

PT: I got offers from different labels but it never felt like they were genuinely into it. They wanted to use it as a product of a guy from Hypocrisy. I would rather have somebody who really likes the Pain stuff release it. Then you know they're gonna do a better job, I think.

WC: Do you keep up with the metal scene or do you keep yourself kind of separate from it?

PT: I'm just as into it as I've always been, you know. I'm not the type of person that goes out and checks out new stuff constantly...I've never done that...but I want to follow my own heart when I write music and not be influenced by other bands.

WC: What are some of the other projects you are involved with? I';ve heard you're working on the new Overkill album?

PT: Yeah, I actually just got done mixing it. It's pretty cool to do that, I think.

WC: It's a bit different working with a band like that. To me, those guys are like America's answer to Motorhead.

PT: Yeah, that's right. And I think they've gone back to their early 90's sound on this new one. It's going to be one of the strongest albums they've done for decades.

WC: That's great. I'm a huge fan, I've talked to Bobby Blitz a couple of times and he's one of the funniest guys I've ever talked to.

PT: I've had some conversations with him when we were mixing the albums and he seemed really down to Earth, a really cool guy. The most important thing for me, as far as that album goes, was to try and get back to the old days.

WC: Any other bands you are working with?

PT: I also just got done with the new Dark Funeral album. That also came out really good. I really didn't like their last album...not because I wasn't involved with it....but it was just not as good as the old stuff. The new one is very good, though, and Caligula is singing much better than the last album. On the last album, he almost sounded like a hardcore singer.

WC: Are they mixing up the tunes instead of just a constant blast?

PT: Yeah, definitely. There are three real heavy songs on the album. This album has ups and downs, which is necessary. When they started out, it was full blast on every fucking song. After a while, yeah, it gets kinda monotonous.

WC: If you had the chance to ask any three people from history to be your dinner guests, who would they be?

PT: I think I would aks all the original members of Kiss.

WC: Have you heard their new album?

PT: A little bit! It doesn't sound too bad!

WC: That was the band that got me into heavy metal music.

PT: Same here. The 80's was not really that fun.

WC: I still really like the album "Lick It Up" and I thought "Creatures of the Night" was really underrated.

PT: That one had a really good production. They really tried to get back into heavy metal after doing stuff like "The Elder".

WC: What was the last CD you got just because you wanted to hear the band?

PT: Ummmm, lemme see. I think I got the "Best of Johnny Cash".

WC: What was the last gig or concert you went to just to check out the band?

PT: Shit, that's a good question! Only thing I remember was the last KISS concert I saw.

WC: In the long history of Hypocrisy, is there any kind of Spinal Tap moment that you wouldn't mind sharing with the fans?

PT: I think every day is fucking Spinal Tap with us. One time, we had Michael playing on stage and there was no sound. He keeps on playing and he looks at me with his panic eyes. Then, after the song finishes, you hear a big "WHAAAANNG"....he had just finally turned the bass on! On the last hit! (laughter) Things like that happen all the time.

WC: Are you pretty happy with the style you've staked out on "Taste of Extreme Divinity" or do you see Hypocrisy evolving more?

PT: I don't know. Everything starts with one riff. That's the only thing I can say. If we start riffing in a radically different way, then the music will change. You never really know what's going to happen.

WC: You've never been afraid to try different things in the past.

PT: In the 90's, we were searching for our thing. When we finally got it, we started searching again and we put out "Catch 22" and people flipped out. So I don't know.

WC: As time goes by, do you think "Catch 22" will be thought of as misunderstood?

PT: Now today people complain when I did the remix. They thought it was good the way it was! When it came out, people were flipping. They were surprised at what they were getting. You can't win!

WC: It's better to give it a try and find out...

PT: "Catch 22" is our "Elder" album, I guess! (chuckles)

WC: Any final words for fans in the States?

PT: Yeah, look for the tour dates on our homepage and we'll see everybody out on the road!