Interview: Ljubov Dzuzhynska, Elena Savlokhova
Photo: Yegor Honcharov
What’s it like to be you?
Elias: A pretty existential question to start out with.
Dan: Sometimes it’s pretty good. And other times it’s not that good. It depends. It can be in many different ways. I’m being as vague as possible.
And at this moment?
Jacob: At the moment, I think we’re all pretty tired. We all took a nap. I’m sure as this interview goes on, we’ll wake up.
Jacob: No, we’re glad to be here and feels pretty good with a glass of beer.
Elias: We’ve just been told that the radiation level in Kyiv is the same as Chernobyl so I think my brain is collapsing on the radiation. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.
Johan: I’m dormant. I’m slightly dormant.
If you had to choose between sex or music for the rest of your life, what would you choose and why?
Jacob: I don’t have to choose.
But if those were the rules.
Elias: I would much rather live without music. I think I would be ok without it. Sex seems a bit more existential to the human race than music.
Jacob: I’d say I agree.
Elias: Music makes no babies. It might help but…
Might it be the case that there is too much music in your life?
Elias: I don’t think we’re that way. I don’t feel deaf or tired. On tour, you can get a bit fed up or tired of sound itself but we always create, think and research music – we never stopped being hungry for it. I don’t think we have that kind of work damage where the music seems like a tired medium.
What excites you the most and what you do?
Jacob: A lot of things excite me about it. I’m always excited to travel to new places like now, for example. Writing the music itself is interesting and getting to meet people… Pretty much every aspect of it is interesting to me.
Dan: I guess the most interesting thing for me is playing itself. There’s a bunch of stuff that surrounds it too, but I’m always kind of aching or itching for the act of playing.
How would you describe your state while playing?
Dan: I’m always hoping for some kind of catharsis or something like that, but it doesn’t always happen but that’s what I aim for.
Jacob: When you’re on tour you spend all day sitting in a car, setting up, soundcheck, waiting all day for the moment you actually play. It’s just a release.
Dan: And a relief.
Elias: Like we were talking about before how the sex part might give you a release in an intimate way, but the act of performing live can be a very wholesome release in a bombastic sort of way that doesn’t really compare to anything. Also right now we are writing an album which is soon about done and that’s about the most interesting thing in the world – to get to go into the studio and give birth to something that you don’t quite know what is yet.
Casper: For me, it’s being around these guys, I think.
Johan: And I don’t know.
There are seven deadly sins, which sin would you allocate for each other?
Dan: Greed for Jacob.
Elias: Let’s make each other look bad.
Casper: I don’t have any sins.
Elias: I’m sure we hold all of them to certain degrees, just like all humans do.
Jacob: Gluttony is for you, Dan, and greed as well haha.
Elias: Johan gets sloth. Not because he’s lazy, but because he looks like one.
Jacob: That’s true. I think lust goes for everyone. Maybe some more than the others.
Dan: You should have some more.
Jacob: We’re not very angry people in general.
Elias: If we are, then in a quiet way.
Dan: Maybe once we’re done with this little sin game.
What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen or experienced in your life?
Elias: I’m going to go cheesy on this one but it’s the birth of my sister. You know, that’s when you realize that there’s something more important than you and it’s probably what saved me from being a complete asshole. But it’s so much more than that. I already hate listening to myself right now.
Dan: The light from when I was born.
That must be a very blinding memory.
Dan: Haha, yeah, it was beautiful.
Speaking of birth, when we asked First Hate the same question and Anton said that the most beautiful and at the same time disgusting thing he ever saw was the tape of his birth. [Interview: First Hate]
Jacob: We’ve all seen that tape.
Elias: I remember being at Anton’s place when we were teenagers and he said: “everybody come into this room, I want to show you something”. And then the tape starts and it’s from the early 90s, quite grainy. We all knew his mother so we slowly started realizing what was actually happening. Some people stayed in the room but I personally just went ‘argh, fuck off’.
Dan: I think he turned it off pretty fast.
Jacob: The videotape of Anton’s birth is the most beautiful thing I ever saw.
Casper: For me, it’s two things: when I listened to flamenco for the first time and when I see my girlfriend wake up in the morning.
Could you share the most bizarre, awkward, funny or even scary stories about ‘punisher’ fans?
Elias: We’ve had a lot of people that crossed the line from ‘punisher’ to a stalker and there had been really bizarre and long-going relationships with getting harassed by that kind of thing, but I don’t really want to deliver those people.
Jacob: And no giving names.
Dan: But punishers are punishers, you meet those everywhere.
Elias: People you can’t shake off. They manage to balance it in a way that you pity them enough that you can’t push them away and you don’t want to be rude.
Dan: The professional punishers know exactly what to do.
Casper: I just shut up in such situations.
What’s your definition of being punk in the modern days?
Jacob: You know, I don’t really define myself as a punk so I’m not the guy to speak about it.
Elias: For me, people who are into very defined punk scenes and they listen to hardcore, discharge or whatever, and they are very niche about it. They pick their colors in that way. But I think for us, punk is something that gets pigeonholed or boxed around us constantly, but we never really cared to be ambassadors for it. I don’t care what’s punk or not, I’m not bothered by it. I’d rather they stopped calling us it.
You’ve had quite the number of interviews, are there questions that you hate answering the most?
Jacob: ‘So what’s touring like?’
Elias: We’ve asked our publicist to ask interviewers not to use the word favorite. Any question with ‘favorite’. Or ‘what can we expect from your show?’ – I hate that one.
Elias, since you’re into literature…
Elias: That’s one of the other least favorite questions haha.
It’s not a bad one! What is something interesting you could point out or suggest to read? Maybe from what you’ve read recently?
Elias: I’m finishing ‘Demian’ by Hermann Hesse, recently I finished a play [“Sam Shephard – A Lie Of The Mind “] – fucking tragic. Casper gave me a book by Federico Garcia Loca [“In Search Of Duende ”]. I recently stole a book in a pub in England called ‘Governor’. I haven`t read a word but it has pictures of a very old English gangster.
What book, film or cartoon reality would you like to try and live in? Just in order to experience a certain world for as much time as you want.
Casper: I’ll say, Jurassic Park.
Jacob: I would say every book I read and every movie I watch. I can’t even make a choice.
Elias: What if you’re reading about the Second World War?
Jacob: Depression is depression.
Dan: Gibson’s “New Romance”.
Elias: I’m fighting every urge not to say Harry Potter but that’s got to be it.
What was the most memorable question you were ever asked?
Casper: “Who the fuck do you think you are?” That’s the most interesting question I’ve been asked.
Did you find an answer to that?
Casper: I stopped talking.
Elias: No one can beat that.
Dan: That’s a collective answer.
If you could travel in the future or the past, where would you go and why?
Jacob: I’m not so interested in going too far backward. If I would go to any time in the past I’d go to the 70s I think. But mainly I’d be interested in going far in the future. Otherwise, the 70s seem like the decade when most of the fun stuff happened.
Jacob: Probably the US.
Elias: I would probably go to late 1800s London, Jack the Ripper era, where it seems that it was constantly foggy.
Ripped by Jack?
Elias: I have the wrong gender for him but I prefer not to get ripped by anyone.
Dan: I’ll take ancient China then with some monks and that kind of stuff.
It’s a beautiful culture indeed. Why specifically China and not, for instance, Japan?
Dan: China’s older.
And has a tougher history.
Jacob: But going far back – people might have been miserable and I wouldn’t want to go back and be miserable. I just want to go to the future.
Dan: Where people are miserable? I’d like to see what’s up in a thousand years too.
Casper: I would like to travel to the 1920s and the 1930s to experience pure flamenco in its awakening.
Johan: I’ve been recently thinking that maybe Hollywood in the 50s. Just mainly the aesthetics of it, I think but there was a lot going on at that time.
What was the last film you’ve seen that impressed you?
Johan: We saw Midsommar in the movie theater. I was quite impressed by that.
Elias: We saw Joker the other day but five minutes into the movie for some reason they asked Johan to leave the cinema.
Johan: I’m not actually sure because there was quite a language barrier. But they didn’t want us to be in there. So they asked me to leave.
Casper: The Joker was really good. I’m going to watch it again.
If you could live forever what would your eternity look like?
Elias: I would like to be a vampire in that case.
Could you reference the type of vampire you have in mind?
Elias: Like Nicolas Cage in “Vampire’s Kiss” – a delusional fucking Wall Street maniac that has got an illusion that you’re turning into a vampire but you’re just half schizophrenic. I guess I won’t live forever then.
Jacob: But you will have a wonderful time.
Elias: Forever is too long anyway but maybe it’s better just to think that you’re going to live forever rather than actually doing so.
Jacob: Living forever doesn’t sound that good. I’d like to live for a very long time, but not forever. I’d say, give me 120 years and I’ll be happy.
Dan: I’ll choose a rebirth cycle then.
Elias: I’m okay with the temporary state of life and aging but ideally you get into heaven afterward.
What’s your concept of heaven?
Elias: A James Brown concert once a week pretty much.
Jacob: Morgan Freeman standing by the gates, he lets you in and you’re walking on clouds and have champagne. Greek robes and you have little wings.
Dan: You are fed grapes.
Elias: Angel dust everywhere. Not the drug, but actual dust of the angels.
Casper: I would be a little chubby angel. Naked, but you wouldn’t see the genitals. That’s a good thing about being an angel. You’re just mysterious.
Elias: You’re wishing an eternity as a fat baby with wings. Maybe that’s okay, I don’t know.
Dan: With the rebirth thing I would choose to be every single living thing and then just be that and then be the next thing, and then the next thing…
Would you want to remember all these lives as you start a new one?
Dan: No, fuck no. But definitely to have a choice for when you die and then you decide what you want to be next.
What technology do you anticipate the most?
Elias: None of it. Just stop it. But maybe the medicine stuff. Anything else is just meh.
Dan: There was a guy who crossed the English channel on a jet pack.
Jacob: I want to say this: I hate segways and I hate the battery scooters.
But on a more global scale?
Dan: I’m very interested in what’s going to happen and how it’s going to affect the world because it’s going so fast. I have no idea what things are going to look like in five years. So there’s not just one particular aspect to anticipate.
Jacob: The last couple of movies I’ve been rewatching when we were in Turkey, like The Terminator, and I just saw Matrix, and both of those movies are about how humanity is going to end and AI being the biggest thing. I’m okay with that.
Dan: It is a thing, it’s becoming smarter and smarter.
Elias: I hope humanity prevails no matter what. I don’t want to get too serious either but, you know, like in the fifth element, I kind of like how it looks with multiple levels of flying cars.
Dan: I just hope that technology can develop as it should and can, without all of it being about making money and terribly exploited. I hope it can help humanity.
Hoping it won’t become a threat.
Johan: It’s funny because the largest tech companies in the world, employ writers of science fiction so that they would write all day. You don’t need a scientist to come up with the future.
Just like a lot of sci-fi films of the past predicted technologies of modern time.
Elias: I just wish it would all stop.
Dan: I don’t think that’s the way.
What technology do you hate the most then?
Elias: E-mail is pretty smart. The rest of it is just… I appreciate parts of it but I also often wish for a world where everybody would be free from it. It just steals from the moment. I know that people who long for that real connection with reality can’t have it while being caught up in a device or something. I’m not really too worried about that but it just looks so dominant over most people.
Casper: Weapons is the technology that I hate the most. And smartphones.
If you could go back in time and change the course of history, what would you want to be changed?
Elias: Would I have divine powers?
Just the knowledge you possess now.
Casper: To turn religion into philosophy.
Elias: I’d then go and turn philosophy into religion.
Dan: I’d go back and do it the other way around again. I would maybe bring some stuff from the present and show people what animals we don’t have anymore and that kind of shit, and explain to them what to do.
Jacob: I’d go back in time to just on our way here and have one more shot of vodka.
Dan: And do it again and again and again.
What’s your idea of God in the modern world?
Elias: I think religion is extremely dangerous as much as it is a quintessential human need. I don’t believe the atheist connotation of ‘how can you believe these impossible stories about a big man in the sky’. I think belief is rooted in something more, even though logic will counter that in a big way. I think it’s quite pretty that we fundamentally have that need for something that’s bigger than what things might seem and it’s connected to imagination, and I don’t think imagination is to be underestimated. So I commend religion as a thing that is the root of how each and every society on Earth was built – I think that is to be respected as much as it also had led to disastrous genocide and war. There are very big positives and negatives to be found in it, but I can’t completely shut it down.
And the dangers of cults disguised as religion.
Elias: I don’t have too many cults knocking on my door.
Dan: All organized religion is just as dangerous as cults. I don’t believe in the Bible or the idea of God as some character but I guess I do believe in some kind of creation and that everything’s connected in one way or another. I don’t think that has to do with the modern or the ancient or the metaphysical. It’s just the world.
Casper: I think that God is nature.
Dan: I think I agree.
Do you believe in life outside of this planet?
Dan: Yes definitely.
Elias: I don’t care about that. There’s enough going on down here on Earth to deal with. Probably there are some aliens out there but they should just leave us be.
Could you share some fucked up, bizarre, funny stories from touring?
Elias: Hard to just pick one, we’ve been on the road for eight years or so, so there are hundreds.
Jacob: I can’t think of any right now.
Elias: These should come up naturally, otherwise it’s like asking a comedian to tell a joke.
Tell us something boring about yourselves.
Jacob: I can almost not see anything with my left eye.
Elias: I only got contact lenses, what? Two years ago? I was practically blind before that so I couldn’t really see the audience or any view for that matter. I’m the type of guy who likes talking about the weather. Boring things are ok. When I meet any of you guys I’m excited to hear what you have for breakfast, you know? So boring things are not that bad.
Dan: Fun fact about me is that I have perfect vision.
Jacob: That’s untrue.
Dan: No, it’s true, actually.
Jacob: When we were children, you were cross-eyed.
Dan: But then one day I went to my optician to get my glasses and had my sight checked upon. And he took off my glasses and said: “My Lord, you have perfect vision. You can see like an eagle.”
Elias: I remember being at Dan’s house when we were 11, we just started being friends. So he said he’s going to go and do something, and then he comes back having these freaky Tim Burton-y braces strapped around his head and I was terrified. Full head. It went from the teeth to the back of his head. I don’t remember exactly what it looked like but it looked mortifying.
Jacob: Like a strap on.
Who is or was your biggest teacher in life?
Dan: My grandfather. He taught me a good straightforward way of dealing with things.
Dan: Well being an elder, I have a lot more experience so I like to rub it off on the younger generation.
Jacob: We all have a friend Peter. He’s really good at playing the guitar. He taught me a couple of things.
Elias: He played in Denmark’s first punk band called Sods – a guitar genius. But also just a pariah of integrity and not bowing down to anything that interferes with what you believe in, while also just being a freak in the best sense of the word. He’s an idol in that sense. And he never bowed down to anything without being all cartoonish about it.
Casper: I don’t think I have one particular teacher, but rather, I like to listen to people, everyone. If there’s something that’s interesting, then I try to remember that. It could be from the Ancient Greeks to my family, to my friends, to the man on the street. It might sound pretentious but I just keep my ears out and don’t talk too much. Stay awake and aware.
Elias: And my mother. This answer is followed by texting where I suddenly burst into tears and they fall into my beer. Followed by screaming ‘why?!’ into the sky.
What was the wisest thing you’ve ever heard in your life?
Casper: I don’t know if I told you earlier…
Elias: Who the fuck do you think you are?
Casper: This would be the advice from my dad. He said: “Don’t hang with your head if you got shit up to your neck”. That was the most advisable thing.
Dan: I’ll stick with that as well.
Jacob: I have to go on Google before I answer.
Elias: I was once at a family gathering when I was probably around 12, where my grandfather was with all his brothers and apparently I had given somebody a limp handshake. I was sitting at the table and one of my grandfather’s brothers came up to me and said: “Please meet me outside”. There were five or six 70-year-old men telling me that that they’ve heard about me giving limp handshakes that night. I had to stand in a circle and give them all a handshake all around till they thought it was a proper one. Okay, that’s probably that’s not the best advice I got at all, but it’s what came to mind at this moment.
Johan: It’s not advice but my great grandmother who I never met her always said: “You can tell a lot about how a person carries the shoes”. So when I meet someone, I usually look at the shoes first. It’s not really advice, it’s not about how the shoes look. It’s how you carry them.
Last question, what question would you like to be asked in an interview and what would your answer be? Maybe it’s something you always wanted to share, but no one ever asked.
Dan: I’d like to be asked: ”What question would you like to be asked in an interview and what would your answer be?”. My answer would be the same.
Elias: I don’t think I particularly longed for anything to be asked about ever. I think what most interviewers get wrong is that it should be a conversation rather than a checklist off of your Wikipedia. I think all the questions and the answers lie in the music in the first place. Interviews are good if done right, but really it’s all there in the records. Whenever in need of anybody to ask us a particular thing, one can find the answers in the music.
Casper: I don’t know. You tell me.
Elias: Who the fuck do you think you are?
This should be our opening question for future interviews.
Johan: No more interviews ever again.
Dan: We quit the interview business.