Wolfbrigade: Band Of The Day

By on 30 April 2014


I first heard Wolfbrigade back in the mid 1990’s when they were still known as Wolfpack, and their then unique and pioneering mix of raging käng / D-beat punk and Swedish death metal immediately made a huge impression on me, coming across in places like a musical offspring of Anti-Cimex, Discharge and At The Gates (the obvious death metal influence is no surprise given two of the original members previous involvement in the underrated underground death metal band Obscure Infinity).

The band have not deviated much from their original musical path over the years and their sound has remained very consistent overall, with furious punk riffs and tempos mixing with Swedish death metal style guitar melodies. Wolfbrigade were one of the first punk bands to incorporate such heavy death metal influences into their sound and have been very influential on countless bands since. The band (which features Jocke (Guitar), Erik (Guitar), Dadde (Drums), Johan (Bass) and Micke (Vocals)) will be making a long overdue return to these shores and unleashing their live death infused käng punk attack at Temples Festival in Bristol this weekend which should NOT be missed – it’s their first live appearance in England since 2007 and since their latest album ‘Damned’ was released by Southern Lord in 2012. It’s also the perfect opportunity to make them band of the day. Drummer Dadde Stark and guitarist Erik Norberg answered my questions…

WORDS: Kat Gillham

WHO ARE THEY: Wolfbrigade
WHERE ARE THEY FROM: Stockholm, Sweden
FOR FANS OF: Anti-Cimex, Discharge, Tragedy, At The Gates, Disfear, Poison Idea, Doom, Skitsystem
LATEST RELEASE: ‘Damned’ (Southern Lord, 2012)
WEBSITE: Facebook

Your latest album ‘Damned’ was released by Southern Lord. How did that collaboration come about? I presume Greg had been following the bands activities for quite some time… How do you feel about this deal and also the latest album? please tell the readers a little bit about  it in your own words.
Erik: “It feels great to work with Greg and Southern Lord. We wanted something new to happen so it was right in time. This album has been very important for us. We had come to a point when we felt something new for the whole band was a must. We felt that we could not continue to just do another record – it has to be “the record”. Not a ‘Comalive’ 2. After touring a bit with ‘Comalive’ we took a long break, we needed it. We had to regroup and see what we wanted with the band. We agreed that we had to take it to a new level. Actually, we tried to make some songs after the ‘Comalive’ touring but none of us had the inspiration. We needed a goal. We had to go one step forward and two steps back to make the progress! Some small new music elements to entertain ourselves, but back to the well produced sound that we had on ‘A New Dawn Fades’ and ‘Lycanthro Punk’. And also back to how these two records were made. Me and Jocke just sitting together and playing. We have played together in bands since 1988 so we have no problem to have 100% open conversation.

“This time we also had Jocke’s studio to work at, so that we could record all that we did. At first, everything sounded too soft, not as rough we wanted this record to be. Then we said that our moto should be less is more. Not to overwork things. It takes away the agression. We started all over again. The first song we wrote was ‘Ride the Steel’. Then ‘Feed The Flames’, ‘Road to Dreams’, ‘Damned to Madness’ and ‘From Beyond’. We recorded demos of the songs and played them to the others. They liked the sound and then all started contributing in the songwriting process, tweaking things and adding riffs and ideas. But still in the studio so we could record and listen to it next time we met. The songwriting process took quite some time, mostly because we only rehearse a few times a month at most. In the end we are very pleased with the record, but there are always things you should have done different with the songs if you could turn back time.”

How long did it take for this album to come together material wise? How does a typical Wolfbrigade song come together from it’s inception to completion?
Dadde: “Normally someone has a riff or an idea for a song. It can be anyone and either it’s put together in the studio by a few of us or by Jocke and Erik. Then we give it a spin together and start tweaking and arranging and adding/removing stuff. Even if it might be “someones” song from the beginning we all add stuff and make it a WB song. We have really started to work with our songwriting since ‘Comalive’.”

You recorded the album with well known producer Fredrik Nordstrom, why did you decide to work with him for this album? What qualities as a producer do you think he brought to this latest Wolfbrigade recording?
Erik: “The production and working with Fredrik was great. For the first time in a long long time you didn’t have to worry about the production, you knew it would be good. So instead we could focus on recording. Fredrik insisted that we must record all songs live, this was new to us. We vere a bit anxious about that. If someone else should have suggsted that, we would have refused, I think. But we trusted Fredrik on that and that was the right way for us to record –  we will do the same next time!”

There definitely seems to have been more widespread interest in crust punk style music in recent years, some years ago for example it might have seemed quite an impossible idea for a label such as Southern Lord to be signing so many crust punk bands but now their roster is dominated by such bands and they are bringing crust to the masses, so to speak, with their mainstream distribution and albums by bands such as yourselves and Martyrdod now being available in big store chains such as HMV. Metal Hammer even did a large crust punk feature a little while ago! What are your thoughts on the current scene and it’s increased popularity and exposure?
Dadde: “I think it’s nice that it gets some recognition. For me it’s not a teenage rebellion thing anymore, even though I’m proud to think and act “fairly”(it’s more or less impossible in “our” world today) independent and alternative, but I do not care if anyone who isn’t afflicted with the so called scene listens to the music. Why would I? If someone can get inspired and get into socialism/politics or animal rights or whatever through listening to music that has that as one of it’s corner stones, it’s just a good thing in my book.”

Who is responsible for the design work for the band from album covers to logos?
Erik: “Band logos such as the lycanthro eagle, the snakes and bombman have we done ourself with the help of people that can draw our ideas, Alf from At the gates drew the Lycanthro punk logo for example. About album covers, most times we have a plan how we want them to look like.”

Do you consider Wolfpack and Wolfbrigade to me more or less the same musical entity just different names? Was it a hard decision to change the name after building up a following and name for yourself under the Wolfpack banner? Who came up with the name Wolfbrigade?
Erik: “When we started Wolfpack the whole idea was not to sound like the other d-beat bands. We simply wanted a mix of death and d-beat, and with a touch of the death metal guitar melodies. At that time many didn’t understand what we vere doing. ‘Allday Hell’ was supposed to be a very straight forward fast and raw record. Unfortunatley the mixing didnt turn out the way we wanted. After that record, we changed name to Wolfbrigade. I dont remember who came up with the name. Maybe just because how the songs were on ‘Allday Hell’, we started writing more melodic songs just to not sound as on the record before.”

Is there much in the pipeline on the live front this year or next?Any touring plans?
Dadde: “Unfortunately not. There will be a few gigs, but then there are baby wolves coming and other priorities. Like writing new material.”

I know you guys have recently been confirmed for the Temples Festival in Bristol for 2014, will this just be a one off show or do you plan to do some UK headlining dates around this festival? What can people expect from your set at Temples and from a Wolfbrigade live show in general?
Dadde: “We always aim to do the best gig we can. We are a bit competitive in a good way. We want to make the best gig we can, and always change the setlist from tour to tour to make it better. We have been gearing up for Temples for a long time and will play a mixed set from the first album to the latest one. We are bringing a good friend of ours, Johan from Victims to make our sound, he works as a professional sound engineer so if anything sounds fucked up, it’s our own fault this time, haha!”

You played a set full of old Wolfpack songs last year – why did you decide to dedicate a whole set to that era? What are your personal fave songs to play live from those days and also out of the WB material?
Dadde: “It was a wish from our Italian friends at Agipunk. We have played around with the idea before, but have just recently washed away the stamp that we are two different bands, so we were a bit scared that it would create two legions of fans again. But we went for it anyway. It was fun, but a one off. Maybe we will do something more when we turn 20. To celebrate, but who knows. Everyone have their own favorites. I like the rawer songs from ‘Allday Hell’ a lot, but I also like the more death metal oriented songs of the first 2 albums.”

I know you guys have played metal orientated festivals in the past such as MDF aswell as plenty of crust/punk orientated festivals. Do you find a big difference in playing both types of fests or gigs? Crowd wise, organisation wise etc… What do you like about playing both metal and punk fests/gigs? Do you have any preference?
Dadde: “I like both, but of course I like playing when the sound is great, there is a good organisation with catering etc. You get that more at metal fests, but on the other hand, I like playing raw club gigs too. The combination is probably the best. Metal clubs with Squat Punks in the audience 🙂 ”

Lyrically what inspires you to put pen to paper?
“Life. Sounds like a cliché but it’s the truth. And then we make some kind of pinky poetry of it. It has to sound right, we’ve stopped with the longer rambling.”

Is there any new material in the pipeline? Or any plans for any kind of other release (like an EP or Split) or will you just be soley concentrating on writing the next album?
Dadde: “Yes. We have some left over songs from ‘Damned’ that might be released in one form or another, but if I know us well enough, we’re gonna aim to make another album in a not too distant future.”

What other bands are you guys also currently involved with?
WB: “Most of us have side projects. Jocke has a band called Razored and also spends a lot of time in the studio, Wolfden, recording other bands, Johan has a band that plays more melodic punkrock, Micke has an Oi!-band where he plays bass instead of vocals, Dadde is drumming for Asta Kask. Erik is the only one who only plays in WB. Maybe we will resurrect Today’s Overdose one of these days (the band we had between 2004-2007).”

What is the local scene where you live currently like? Any bands you could recommend to the readers out there who you like or feel an “affinity” / “bond” with? Also what is the local scene like venue wise?
Dadde: “Not really. There are good bands, but we’ve kind of grown out of the scene so to speak, we keep mostly to ourselves… At least there aren’t any bands that we have a special bond with. We’re friends with a lot of the other big and smaller names, but I consider them friends, not bands.”

Sweden has always had a strong crust/d beat/käng whatever ua wanna call it punk scene since the 80’s with bands like Anti Cimex, Bombanfall and then later like yourselves, Disfear, Skitsystem etc… Why do you think Sweden has been such a hotbed for this kind of music for so many years? Are there any newer Swedish punk bands in this style that you really like and could recommend?
Dadde: “Every kid gets to try out instruments in school and there is a strong tradition of classic folk music in school, which I think have been one reason why there is such a good rock, metal and punk scene. But also pop music. Right now I have more insight in the metal and pop punk scene than the rawer punk scene, but if there’s one that needs some light it’s Infernöh.”

What are the plans for the rest of 2014?
WB: “Write new music, play a few kick ass gigs!”

Wolfbrigade will play Temples Festival in Bristol on Saturday, May 3rd.

About Kez Whelan

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