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Into The Beyond: An Interview With Sweden's Cult of Luna

By Chris Hawkins, Contributor
Friday, June 13, 2003 @ 1:33 PM

Cult of Luna Introduces Themse

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There is definitely a buzz swarming around the peripherals of Swedenís latest import, Cult of Luna. Freshly signed to Earache records, to say they have caused a stir in the underground would be a vast understatement. It seems that Cult of Luna has caught the attention of all with their groundbreaking sound, incorporating the best in Experimentalism, Hardcore, Metal, Doom, and everything in between. To classify this band is simply impossible, but fans of Neurosis or even Opeth would definitely be interested in picking up their latest, The Beyond. The success of this disc is evidenced by its cohesion; all tracks seem to point to the common goal, a mesmerizing journey where ambience is off-set by brutality. Enter the Cult, and prepare to go into ďThe BeyondĒ!

KNAC.COM: So you guys just came off your first UK tour?
CULT: Yeah, we did one show in Nottingham in December, but this was our first real tour over there. We have just been writing new songs and recording so the touring starts now.

KNAC.COM: How did it go?
CULT: Well, the shows did all right, more than all right, it was really fun, but we had some problems with bookings and stuff like that.

KNAC.COM: You guys toured with Isis?
CULT: Yeah, Isis and 27 and DJ Speedranch. We did four shows with them and three on our own.

KNAC.COM: How was it going out with those guys?
CULT: Incredible! On a personal level, everything just clicked. I really loved hanging out with all those guys. Isis and 27 are really amazing people.

KNAC.COM: So what is Cult of Luna up to now?
CULT: I donít know really. (laughs) Weíre playing a festival in Sweden soon, and weíre planning to do as much touring as possible next year. We didnít play any shows last year so we were really excited to come out and play. Thatís the plan, actually. About one and a half years ago, we had a meeting and decided we were going to focus on writing a new album and werenít going to play any shows. That was the plan.

KNAC.COM: You spent over a year on the album?
CULT: No, it took probably 7 months to write, 3 months to record, and some months of just waiting for the record to just be released.

"I donít like playing the same riff all over again. Iím trying to do something to give the song identity."
KNAC.COM: Itís a mammoth of a record. It takes the listener through the gambit of emotions. Were those peaks and valleys intentional?
CULT: Thank you. Yeah, in the songwriting, we try to capture certain emotions and try to amplify them as much as possible. The tool that we try to use is dynamics as much as possible, and taking those different emotions to an extreme. The Metal part is really Metal, etc.

KNAC.COM: Do you think bands miss the point when they play on 10 the whole time?
CULT: Well, if youíre on 10 all the time, youíre on 0 really. Nothing happens. Iím not judging bands that play like that. I wouldnít do it because I donít like playing the same riff all over again. Iím trying to do something to give the song identity. We try at least.

KNAC.COM: Youíve definitely been successful in capturing those peaks and valleys. Itís an album you can put on, listen to straight-through, and be taken to so many different places.
CULT: Actually, that was the intent with the album because after we finished the first album, we already had all the songs done, so that album became some kind of discography of what we had done until then. We tried to mend all the songs together as good as possible. I think we did quite a good job. With the second album, of course I hope you can listen to it one song at a time, but the dynamics and everything are done in a sort of way that it can only be seen as a whole. Thatís really the intent. I think thatís how we will write music in the future, too.

KNAC.COM: I think Pelle Henricsson did a great job with capturing you guys on tape.
CULT: Actually, didnít. We did all the recording ourselves, and Pelle came into the production in the mixing process. He and Magnus (samples) did the mixing and did a great job. Pelle did a few amazing things for the record. He always had something good to say.

KNAC.COM: How did you guys hook up with him?
CULT: Actually, Magnus works at the studio. He works all the time. Right now theyíre working with a band called Poison the Well.

KNAC.COM: Describe the scene in Umea, Sweden.
CULT: Where we come from is from the east coastline in the north of Sweden. It has always had a strong music scene and had a lot of different bands and clubs, everything from Jazz to Folk to our music. During the beginning of the 90s a big Punk scene grew and it spawned to be a Hardcore scene. A lot of great bands have come from here. Iím sure you have heard of Refused. Thatís the scene that we grew up in and the scene that this band comes from. In í94, every band sounded the same. There were a few exceptions, but mostly every band sounded the same. As time moves on, bands found their own identity. We come from the same background so you can hear how far the scene has grown apart. Weíre all from the same seed. We have a lot of great bands from here like Meshuggah, Refused, and Naglfar.

KNAC.COM: Coming from the Hardcore background, what was the spark of creativity that made you want to search deeper.
CULT: I donít know, actually. (laughs) I can only say from my musical writing. It was just a personal thing. It was what I wanted to do. What we are today, the music I write today, itís something that held up through those years. I was into that San Diego Hardcore scene for a long time, and still am, actually. My all-time favorite band is from San Diego. Listening to them taught me how to write songs.

KNAC.COM: What band is that?
CULT: Unbroken. If you ever get a hold of their record ďLifelong RegretĒ, you should buy it! Thatís THE record! (laughs)

KNAC.COM: Throughout the record there seems to be a theme of self-explorationÖ
CULT: In some extent, there is. The theme is I would say more of a self-exploration in the sense that you get to know your own faults. Actually, itís the journey that takes place when you understand that you are not the master of your own actions. In a sense, youíre absolutely correct.

KNAC.COM: What kind brought you to this theme? Where did you have to visit within yourself?
CULT: Well, I just realized that I was under the illusion that I could control my own destiny and my own choices. I can choose between different things, but I canít decide what Iím going to choose from. You can choose between Sprite, Pepsi, and Coke. Thatís your choice, but you havenít chosen those products. You make choices that others have presented for you.

KNAC.COM: Do you think that you have to go down a dark path to see the light?
CULT: Yeah, but I donít think that Iíve seen the light yet, actually. Well, as soon as you think youíve seen itÖI think I read somewhere that the light at the end of the tunnel is an out of control freight train. (laughs)

KNAC.COM: Itís definitely a dark record, but there seems to be an element of salvation present as well.
CULT: Yeah, it depends. Youíre on the right track, but weíll see what will happen with the next record. You never know. When you think youíve reached salvation, something just strikes you and fucks you up again.

"...we got a response from Iran. [A fan] said if he gets caught listening to our music, he gets punished. Thatís so cruel."
KNAC.COM: On a different note, how active are you on your web site?
CULT: Not as active as we should be. Actually, weíre constructing a new one that will be launched in the near future. Itís done by the same designer who did the artwork for the record so it will be the same theme as the record.

KNAC.COM: Isnít it an advantage being a band from Sweden that someone in Singapore or Argentina for example could check the band out?
CULT: Yeah, thatís the plus side to it. Actually, we got a response from Iran. He said if he gets caught listening to our music, he gets punished. Thatís so cruel. I donít want people to get hurt. Thatís really cool, though, and thatís a positive side to the Internet. I do see a negative side to it. Iím not Metallica with their fight against Napster. I just want people to understand that creating music costs time and money. As a musician and a struggling musician, you really need every little bit. Actually, music should be free, but thatís how things are right now. I just want people to know how many thousands of hours that have gone into this album. Itís cool that people that donít have the money or live in other countries get the opportunity through the Internet.

KNAC.COM: In Iran even!
CULT: Yeah! (laughs) Doesnít their hand get cut off or something?

KNAC.COM: What rig are you using to get the guitar tone so up front and heavy?
CULT: Weíre using like 5 different amps. We found a little-known Swedish-made amplifier and some obscure Blues pedal that we used for most of the parts to get that right guitar sound. We spent a lot of time figuring it out.

KNAC.COM: Do you find yourself constantly experimenting with different amps and effects?
CULT: Yeah, and youíre never satisfied. (laughs)

KNAC.COM: Itís the unending quest for the right tone! How would you describe the scene in Sweden as compared to your impressions of whatís going on here in the States?
CULT: It depends on what scene I guess. People categorize us as a Metal band, and I have no idea whatís happening in the Metal scene. I donít know about the Metal scene at all.

KNAC.COM: How about the Hardcore scene?
CULT: I donít really know about that either because everything here in Umea sounds the same. Thereís so much stagnation. Grindcore is not my cup of tea. Every band seems to be Crust-core or whatever. I donít like it. In general, the music scene in America, it seems like the younger public seems to be more receptive to harder music. We donít have that New Rock or Nu Metal scene here in Sweden.

KNAC.COM: Youíre lucky!
CULT: Yeah, I mean I must say thereís a few good bands, but 80% of the ones Iíve heard are shit. It seems like a lot of Hardcore bands are being signed to major labels so it seems like the American public is more receptive to that music than here in Europe. As long as itís not Power Metal. If itís played by the 80s bands, then Iím ok with it, but those bands like Stratovarius, Hammerfall, they do reach a big audience but those of us who play Extreme Music are struggling still.

KNAC.COM: Yeah, but youíre doing something new and fresh so you should definitely have a sense of artistic reward and satisfaction.
CULT: Yeah, I mean we get a lot of emails, dude. People are really into us, and thatís reward enough to me. People come up and say the albumís meant a lot to them. Thatís more than I could ever expect. Iím so honored by people that say stuff like that.

KNAC.COM: It looks like you guys have a promising road ahead. Are there any plans on coming over here?
CULT: Weíll see. I think by the end of the year, I wouldnít be surprised if we would come over. Weíve had a few offers, but we havenít decided anything yet. I think weíll come over sooner or later.

Be sure to check out www.cultofluna.com

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