Ahead of the release of their brand new album, Dawn of the Damned, Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life had the pleasure of chatting with Sebastian Ramstedt (guitars) of blackened death metal band, Necrophobic. What follows is a transcript of some of the talking points from the interview. The full thing can be heard on YouTube, Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
You can read our review of the brand new album, Dawn of the Damned here.
Hi Sebastian. It’s a pleasure to speak with you. How are you today?
I am very fine. I am actually. It’s a pleasure to be here.
How have you been coping throughout 2020 and the COVID times?
Well, strangely enough, it has been working in our favour because usually we don’t have this much time to do the promotion and get all the things just right for when you release an album.
When the virus struck, we had just recorded everything and we had so much time for mixing and getting the details right and doing interviews and videos and layouts. And so, it has been a less stressful release than ever as usually we are on the road trying to do these things at the same time. But this has actually been quite great. And of course, in my personal life, I had so much time to spend with my family, which is never wrong.
So I will not complain. We were sick, actually, but it was not bad. It was like a flu for a couple of weeks.
You’ve had it?
Absolutely, yes. My whole family had it.
Wow. Incredible. I’m glad you feel better then.
Yeah, it really wasn’t bad. It was like a flu or a cold or something. It was. But we were tested for antibodies so we are free to go, so to speak. I’m kind of happy that we went through it because now we don’t have to be afraid anymore and stuff like that.
You know, it’s life is pretty much back to normal. Even if society has these restrictions. You know, you don’t fear for your life anymore. I think we were sick this summer in June, and then they said the virus wasn’t that aggressive then. So maybe it was a good thing to not have it in like February or March because those people got really sick.
It’s interesting that the positive side is, as you say, it’s almost taking a lot of pressure off the Necrophobic project and the new album.
Absolutely. We have had so much time to think this through. It’s going to be a very special album. I mean, how often is there a pandemic? I mean, it was a hundred years ago last time. So, I think for us to be able to put out this strong kind of concept album about death and change during a pandemic. That is something I will probably remember most of my whole career. I mean, it’s a very special thing.
To see how it lands with people that are still isolated, to be able to give them some new music during this kind of depressed times is also a very interesting thing, because normally when you put out music, you meet them on a stage and when you’re on the stage, you’re entertaining. Even if you feel that you are doing a ritual or whatever you say as a band, it’s still entertainment and people are there drinking, having a great time.
In these times, it’s only the music. With a message that we wanted to give away that meets music in the true environment. To be captivated, so to speak. I mean, this is not music for dancing or for having a party for your friends. This is music for contemplating and listening to on your headphones or while you’re walking in the woods.
It’s coming quite soon after Mark of the Necrogram, released in 2018. Is your inspiration and work ethic something that right now is really strong?
Yeah. Work ethic for sure and also inspiration. I was away from the band for a couple of years. I gained energy during this years but actually when I was back in the band, I was also having a couple of more kids, starting a new relationship and had so much things going on.
So I had to make a schedule on how to manage a music career and all the other things you need in life, you know. I decided to go to bed quite early and get up at four o’clock in the morning, which I did from like 2016 until now. That was every day of the week, I never slept in. So, when I had written the music for Mark of the Necrogram, I kept on writing, you know, so for me, it’s not about two albums. It’s one long, intense period of writing for like four years that ended last fall.
What drives your passion for this writing style, this current crop of music that you’ve been putting out with these two albums?
That’s, I think, the diary of a mad man. I don’t mean the album, it’s me. Sometimes I actually think that I’m a bit like a lunatic or something because I get, like, these hallucinations. Feelings or kinds of melody lines that I almost hallucinate. Then it’s like if I don’t get this out through my guitar and I make some kind of music of it, then I stop to function. You know, I become this crazy artist that just has to create because otherwise I cannot do the normal things in life. I don’t choose to create, I choose to make time for my brain to work.
I never sit down with empty handed or empty ideas. I always have things going on in my head that I cannot control. The only way to make it quiet, to make the voices stop, is to finish them in song form.
It’s a curse, you know, because it makes you go quite crazy. You know, I don’t feel that I write the music. I feel it’s like I’m a madman and the music writes itself and forces me.
You describe it like almost like an exorcism, an attempt to exorcise.
Exactly, exactly like that. That’s what it is.
How comfortable are you with the modern part of being in a band, the social media, the live streams, those sort of things?
Actually, I kind of got used to it. I refused social media up till like 2014 or something.
I was very late into this world. I didn’t want change but when I went back into this band, I realized that this is the way you have to do it, because this is the way you can interact with fans.
I think I kind of profile myself on the Internet with what I like. I like guitars. I like collecting. I’m nerdy about guitar albums. I like all kinds of heavy metal. I’m very clear that I don’t make a difference between Morbid Angel or Motley Crue. To me, it’s heavy metal. Everything is heavy metal that is heavy metal. I don’t care being true. It doesn’t matter to me at all.
I find because I’m that open with this, people are open back. So we get a kind of good conversation going on about these topics that I find interesting. When I collect bands or try to find out things about guitars and stuff, there’s so much new knowledge from the fans.
I think I think it’s quite fun, actually.
So you’ve found a nice balance between what you enjoy and what you need to do.
Exactly. Exactly like that.
Do you worry, though, that it can remove some of the mystique around yourself?
Absolutely. Especially for the black metal side of the band. It’s a really bad thing to do it like we do. But I you know, I’m 48 years old. I mean, doing this for my whole life and and to just stay in the shadows and only speak about the dark side of your mind. I find I have done that enough. I kind of made the decision to to not stay in that corner and that I’d rather be a musician with all kinds of layers.
I mean, all human beings have a mass murderer inside of them. But also have someone that likes pancakes or cinnamon buns.