The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




When Meshuggah came to Australia with Lamb Of God in 2013, the fans were treated to a killer tour that was really a perfect tour package of 2 great modern metal bands. For those that did not catch the band on their world tour for "Koloss", fans can now experience the ultimate Meshuggah show experience with their latest DVD release "The Ophidian Trek" which captures the band from 2 different shows from that tour. We spoke to guitarist Marten Hagstrom to discuss the release and the live experiences of the band.

Andrew: It's Andrew from The Rockpit, how are you?


Marten: Hey Andrew how you doing? I'm good up here, cold but good!


Andrew: So what's been happening with Meshuggah in 2014 so far?


Marten: We've finished off the touring cycle for "Koloss" and then we were supposed to go into writing and do what we always do when we finished off an album but this year was kinda special. First of all we had the DVD project to finsh off and that was quite a lot of work and took quite a lot of time to finish up. We worked with that one up until basically the start of the summer and then somebody came up with the brilliant idea that we should commemorate us being totally outdated fossils nowadays so we could commemorate our 25 year anniversary which makes us pretty ancient in this business haha! So we thought that would be a pretty cool idea so we put an anniversary setlist together and then we did a couple of weeks of touring in the States and Canada. After that we've been coming back and plan the re-release for "I" and we've pretty much administerally been mopping up a lot of stuff that needs to be done after 2 years of touring. And then we're getting into planning the stages of going out again in December doing this 25 year anniversary and finish off in Europe. So that's basically it and just a couple of weeks ago we just started writing a little bit for the next album slowly.


Andrew: As you said, 25 years and you guys are still busy as ever. How does it feel to still be going strong like this?


Marten: I don't know man haha! It's cool man. When we started planning for this, I was like fuck man it's been 25 years! Even though it's the first release which we were barely a band...I wasn't even in the band back then in the early days...But it seems to go by pretty quickly and you're in your own bubble and things just roll and you make an album and you tour, make an album and then tour and you don't realize that, fuck man we've been around! So I think that more than anything it's been a good experience 'cause we've been able to do this for fucking ages now and I don't think any of us really foresaw that when we were kids so it's great.

Andrew: Now you've got the new DVD coming out "The Ophidian Trek". I've read that the particular show you filmed it at was co-headlined with Devin Townsend in London. How was that experience?


Marten: One of them. There's footage from 2 shows, one is from Wacken Open Air in Germany and one is from the Brixton Academy show where we co-headlined with Devin Townsend Project. I mean that was awesome! The shows were awesome but I don't know how many times we've played with Devin. The first back in 2004-2005 we toured with Strapping Young Lad, he opened up for us in the U.S, then I think we played I don't know if it's 4 tours we've done with the Devin Townsend Project in different places on this planet. So yeah it's always been good, the band is great, he's great. I mean they're friends of ours that we love going out with guys like that, good hang time and good music so no worries and no friction so it was great.


Andrew: And filming the DVD, was there any plan to do it at those particular shows or at a certain venue? What was the idea behind where you wanted to do it?


Marten: There were a number of places where we felt it would be a good idea but these places only had for technical reasons...we only had that particular tour to choose from because of the setup we were travelling with as far as audio goes. So what we felt was that would be a pretty massive show and also we felt that it was kind of a full circle kind of thing because the first real proper tour we did in Europe in 1995 was opening up for Machine Head and the last date on that tour was at the Brixton Academy. So when the last show on this tour this many years later, happened to be at the same venue, it was like OK we know what it looks like, we know what it's like playing there and we thought it would look really cool on video.


Andrew: So it worked out good, you've come full circle with your first show and last show. It seemed to work out really well.


Marten: Yeah we are happy with it. It's hard, I think personally to sit and evaluate whether it's good or not. I hate seeing us live, that's one of the worst experiences I know. I don't know why, it shouldn't be a problem but I've never been comfortable watching a live show with Meshuggah on tape. But that said, the reason for us making this DVD is we wanted it to be kind of a way of showing what it would be like seeing us live for people who never got the chance to see us live. It wasn't something we wanted to put out to show people what we play or have a lot of closeups on us, we wanted it to be the entire package of the representative of what our live show is like nowadays.

Andrew: And I suppose when you're picking the setlist for the DVD, you wanted to capture basically everything that you guys are about live?


Marten: Well we wanted to at least capture what we're about right now. Not saying that anything from the old days is bad but what I'm saying is that setlist we didn't put together for the DVD, it's actually the same setlist that we played on that entire tour. So what it is, is it's leaning pretty heavily on the newer stuff, "Koloss" and "obZen". But I mean if the DVD was for the 25 years anniversary, the setlist would look different. Then we would play a lot more old stuff. But how we wanted the lights to be designed, the way we wanted the stage to look and especially the way we wanted the set dynamics to work out. Those were by far the best facts to present.


Andrew: So it was really more about the visual aspect and what fans can expect if they wanted to go see you live if they hadn't seen you before.


Marten: Exactly.


Andrew: So last time you came to Australia was last year with Lamb Of God, how was that tour?


Marten: Oh Awesome! First of all we always enjoy playing Australia, you guys are always really good to us. We always enjoy coming back and this time was no different, maybe even a little bit better so it was really cool. And second of all, it was a pretty good package. Lamb Of God are a really cool band and they are really nice guys to be around so. It was a really good tour because it's 2 bands that have been around, who have been building a fanbase and know what everything is about. So it was a really cool tour to be (a part of), we enjoyed it a lot.


Andrew: Yeah it was a great combination of both bands. Both bands individually have come to Australia numerous times over the years so it was great to see you guys put together like that.


Marten: Yeah it was something and the thing is like I said, we've been around for a while and that tour package has been on the table before, not for Australia though but for other territories. But it never was good timing for either one of us so when we finally got around to do it, it was really cool.

Andrew: Obviously you guys have toured with a lot of different bands over the years. Is there any particular band or a list of bands that you want to tour with someday?


Marten: Well I want to tour with Tool again 'cause that was such a blast and a lot of fun touring with them! Yeah I mean there's a lot of bands I would love to tour with, I would love to tour with Mr Bungle but they're not around anymore. There's heaps of bands but we've been lucky, we've toured with quite a few of the bands...we've been fortunate like that. But it would be cool to go on the road with Metallica just because it's Metallica.


Andrew: What do you consider the best tour that you ever did?


Marten: That's a tough one. First of all, we've had quite a few pretty cool tours, package-wise. And 2nd of all, they have been good in different ways. Some tours have been just more best party tour ever and some others have been just the coolest tour to be on. And I could mention a lot of bands that we've been out with that's been good, we've been like I said very fortunate but I mean the tour we did with Strapping Young Lad back in 2005 I think in the U.S. and Canada was a really, really awesome tour and like I said, touring with Tool was fucking tremendous so those 2 stand out a little bit. But I mean we've rarely had any bad tours, we've always been getting along with people and having a lot of fun.


Andrew: That's good to hear! So what's next for Meshuggah for the rest of the year and into next year?


Marten: Right now we're just slowly starting to write a little bit and see where that will take us. But we got this 25 year anniversary run to do still in December so we're preparing for that. So that's going to be it for the rest of this year and come next year it's going to be all writing in the first half and then we're gonna go out and do some summer festivals, just a few in Europe. And then it's basically back into writing and studio mode I guess and we'll see how long that will take us.


Andrew: So 2015 we would see a new album then?


Marten: Probably 2016 if I know us correctly haha!

Andrew: How is the writing process for you guys? Do you try to take your time or how do you go about doing it?


Marten: We try to take our time but it's not like we deliberately try to be slow, it's just that we have learned through the years that for things to turn out the way we want it to, we need to have this slow starting period. It starts slow like trickling and then all of a sudden it grows and then all of a sudden it snowballs in such a way then it's like 24/7. So we know that it's important for us to let the creativity breathe so we can have fun with it again. So we're going along on whatever the flow is like at the moment, we're trying not to force stuff but at the end of the day some of the process has to be forced otherwise we would never finish an album.


Andrew: Yeah a lot of your songs are quite complex and technical so as organic as you want it to be, sometimes you probably have to try to put 2 and 2 together I suppose.


Marten: Yeah definitely and sometimes I guess it's like that with all things in life. Sometimes things just fall into place, sometimes you write a song and it's done in 2 days and it's just the way you want it and the other guys in the band say this is perfect, this is the way the song is supposed to be and this is going to be on the album. And then another song might be you come up with 3 parts in the beginning of the song, then you're stuck for 6 months so it's something you go back to over and over again and then all of a sudden, something happens that makes you untie those knots and then it clicks into place. So it's very, very different depending on what track it is and what album it is, it depends a lot on the circumstances.


Andrew: Well we are looking forward to hearing that when it comes out! So I got a question that we try to ask everyone and if you could answer it, that would be awesome. If you could be a fly on the wall for the recording of any classic album in history, what would it be?


Marten: Oh OK a fly on the wall...any album?


Andrew: Any album.


Marten: I would go with "Pet Sounds" by The Beach Boys. I think that is the album where they set the studio on fire to create the right environment for the song. So I would want to hear how the fuck they came up with that and I would want to be around to know what they took to get into that mode.


Andrew: Haha yeah interesting idea. So are you a Beach Boys fan?


Marten: Ah well yeah not that I listen to them nowadays but my Mom used to listen to them a lot when I was a kid. Those imprints can stick with you as a kid. It's like whenever I hear the Beach Boys, it's childhood to me.


Andrew: Yeah makes sense because Meshuggah and The Beach Boys don't really go well together so was wondering where the influence would come from haha!


Marten: Haha na it's not at least the obvious connection, I'll give you that haha!


Andrew: Haha! Well it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you. We are looking forward to the new album when it does come out hopefully in 2016 and the new DVD is looking and sounding great so good luck with everything!


Marten: Thank you very much, it was nice talking to you.



Marten spoke to Andrew Schizodeluxe October 2014





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