Monday 4 March 2013

YEAR OF THE GOAT ‒ Celebration of the Goat

Sweet Sweden, what would metal be without your bastard sons who since the dawn of mankind have haunted us with guitar-worship madness? Death metal, black metal, heavy metal – you name it, they deliver it. Straight out of Norrköping, there is another demon rising. Its devilish retro hard rock, or occult rock if you prefer, is bound to shake you all night long. Its debut full-length, "Angels' Necropolis", was released at the end of 2012 on Van Records. Humble goat's servant and guitarist Per Broddesson spoke to We Wither to reveal all.

How did Year Of The Goat get started? Were you in other bands before?
Thomas Sabbathi, our vocalist/guitarist, had had the idea of forming an occult inspired ’60s/’70s band since around 2006. Him and I first met through our other band Griftegård and once we got to know each other we realized we had the same passion for old, and sometimes obscure, rock music. At the time he was still playing in a band called Bokor and they were looking to replace their guitarist and I volunteered for the job. Without ever having one rehearsal we basically got started on writing new songs and Year Of The Goat was formed. From the beginning we had Fredrik Hellerström on drums so you could say that the three of us are the forming members. We have had a few different guitar players and bass players passing thru before settling down on our current lineup that has been stable for about a year now and we are a tight crew. Thomas is the main writer for both music and lyrics, and once he presents more or less complete songs we start rehearsing them all adding our own flavours to the mix, sort of like filtering through the rest of us.
Some of us are still playing in bands like the aforementioned Griftegård, Misericordia (Fredrik and Don Palmroos), and Tobias Resch and Poppe are also playing in different bands when given time and opportunity but our main focus lies with YotG. Previous bands are, to name a few, Wolverine, Bokor, Tor-Peders Kapell, House of Aquarius.

Who is the lyrics-writer for YOTG? Do you write them collectively? Is there a main-theme behind your lyrics? Is any of it connected to historical Swedish heritage?
Without question Thomas is our main lyricist. As much as I would love to be able to write lyrics I have tried and learnt that my strength lies with playing the guitar, and singing background vocals at best! Come to think of it I've always wanted to be a drummer as well... go figure.
I wouldn't go as far as saying that we have a main-theme per se, sure our basis is found in occultism, religion, movies, books etc so that's where our theme is, but it's nothing planned as such but more an extension of our personal interests and then we add our own imagination to the mix. In a way our latest album "Angels' Necropolis" is based on occultism/satanism but if you read the storyline you'll notice that it's a storyline that we (Thomas) came up with by ourselves. When he's writing lyrics, and to a certain extent music, he (who is the one of us most deeply involved with occultism) puts himself in a trancelike state and lets the ideas flow to him. We have no connection to any historical Swedish heritage, we let other bands write about Vikings.

Morgan of Marduk recommended your band to me and I'm curious if you ever played a show with Marduk or Death Wolf (ex-Devils Whorehouse), since you come from the same city?
And right he was about recommending us! Sorry, I just had to haha... We actually played a rather large gig last year along with Marduk, and Misericordia who was the opening act so Fredda and Don had to work double shifts that evening. It was in our hometown of Norrköping at an old theater and it was a blast. Initially we were a bit... not really nervous but we were wondering how we would be accepted between two black metal bands. Sure, if you know about us we have our occult side but musically we are pretty far from Marduk. We needn’t have worried one bit though, we had a great reception and a large part of the crowd were singing along to a lot of songs so it was great. There's quite a bit of footage of all bands that evening out on youtube somewhere.
We are indeed friends with Marduk (hell, my brother Lars is their current drummer) and also with Ofermod, Death Wolf, Nefandus, Sargatanas Reign, PG.Lost and a lot of other bands. With Griftegård we even used to borrow their rehearsal space for our rehearsals. We have recorded plenty of times with different bands in Marduk's bass player Devo's Endarker studio. Even if Norrköping is considered a large city by Swedish standards, it's really not that big and musicians of all the bands tend to if not know each other well at least know of each other. It's a healthy scene up here.

Norrköping is not the biggest Swedish city but apparently some very good bands are located there. Could you say how the metal scene was in Norrkoping 10-20 years ago and how is it at the moment?
Well, I didn't live in Norrköping 10-20 years ago and to be honest still don't but looking at bands that have come from Norrköping and it's surroundings over the years I'd like to say that it's always been a healthy scene up there. The city itself, like many other Swedish cities, is helping bands with rehearsal spaces and recording facilities so there's a ton of bands with a different level of competence. At the moment you have all of the aforementioned bands and a hell of a lot more that are really good. Let's hope that more get the attention they need.

Bands like Ghost, In Solitude, The Devil's Blood and Jex Thoth are all great but in my opinion the originator of the occult rock genre is Roky Erickson and his solo 1981 record "The Evil One". Would you agree?
Actually, no! But that's probably because I'm an old narrow-minded geezer who is always looking backwards in music history. As great as "The Evil One" is, so you definitely have a point there, you can look back to the ‘60s for Arthur Brown, Screaming Jay Hawkins who were perhaps more theatrical than genuinely occult and most media always point to Coven's "Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls" LP and even if they rather immediately toned down their image on later releases, for me this would be the starting point. Being an album that I myself have had with me for a very long time, I always point to this release. You have the imagery, song titles, even a black mass on the album and so forth. It's just great that we at the moment have Jex, The Devil's Blood (actually, just read the other day that they are no more). For me In Solitude and the likes are way more heavy metal and I would probably link them to Mercyful Fate and nothing wrong in that. MF were great!

What bands and albums or maybe books and films mainly influenced and shaped the YOTG style?
This is not an easy question to answer since the answer probably lies in all the accumulated musical interests all of us has had since early childhood. As we all know heavy metal and dark imagery has always gone hand in hand, so I think that, at least speaking for myself, with all this imagery and on occasions songs about the devil it was easy to spark a real interest in the occult. The same would go for horror movies, HP Lovecraft and other mainstream books and media. What we all have in common is that we all had music with us from an early age, be it The Beatles and old funk, ‘60s psych and whatever was around in our parents musical library. For me, I got my first Kiss LP at age 4 and quickly moved on to all kinds rock/metal through older friends and friends’ older brothers. I am a huge collector of NWOBHM and private pressed metal (readers: sell me your collections now!) so my own playing style is mostly influenced by Michael Schenker and other melodic guitarists over to technical progressive metal even if I also love some early punk and hardcore (as it was in the early ‘80s I should point out) all flavored with the darker side of things. Not saying that is what I sound like, but that is what inspires me. If you throw this in a mix with movies such as "Dunwich Horror", "Holy Mountain", occult writers and essays and our combined musical creativity you end up with YotG. It all comes naturally to us so we never set out to "sound like this or that", and I think this is our strength as well.

Do you think of YOTG as a modern band reinventing classic hard rock or rather as a pure homage to a style that will never be out of date?
Probably a little bit of both with the emphasis on a modern band reinventing classic hard rock. Perhaps not reinventing as such, but rather not afraid of playing certain riffs or ideas. In this sense we are perhaps closer to classic progressive rock. As anyone has probably figured out by now we are huge fans of the ‘70s rock genres, but we don't want to be limited to only that. We feel that that songs take us where they need to go. And great music will never go out of style, even if some productions make some albums seem very out of date by now haha...

To achieve that ‘70's/’80s sound that you have, do you use classic amps, heads and guitars? Is it more the gear or rather the studio production that make you sound classic?

Ah, we love vintage gear! Of course it's probably easier to achieve an instant vintage sound with vintage amplifiers, but what it comes down to in the end is actually your playing ability. We used a variety of vintage amps and new state-of-the-art amps for this recording but we also have a lot to thank our recording engineer for. One of the things we have realized is the usage of gain or for the recording purpose the usage of as little gain as possible. If you listen to old classic rock albums and think about it there's really not a lot of gain happening so that is something we were careful to use. And considering we are three guitarists, and at times doubling our guitar parts it could've ended up really blurred had we used too much gain or distortion for those who are not into playing the guitar. Based on the gear we use we tend to be a little heavier live than on record, which suits us fine. For what gear we use nowadays we have stepped away from using vintage gear because of one simple thing: reliability! Before I changed to what I use now my old amps (now sold) tended to spend more time being repaired than actually played so it was time to find a nice middle-ground. Both Thomas and I have now switched to Marshall 100W plexis (re-issues) which are absolute monsters when it comes to volume (not convenient when playing live but cool to have!) and the only way to make them distort is to push the volume, so we have boxes at our rehearsal filled with different overdrive pedals and what not... To answer your question, it's a combination of both.
You pay of lot of attention to how your album covers and t-shirts look, it's all very well designed, dark and killer. Do you have a specific person who does the designs for you or is it the work of many people?
Thank you. We mostly use two or three guys when it comes to executing our ideas, but a lot of the ideas come from us. Come to think of it we have a little crew of fans and friends who come up with ideas when asked for input as well, and our label has done some design as well. But, I should point out that nothing passes without being approved by us! Depending on how you look at it, I think it's important for bands nowadays to have a united image with thousands of bands existing, if you want to be noticed as a real band and not just a bunch of people being on stage for the fun of it. Take Ghost as an example - sure I really like their LP, but would they have had such an impact on the media without their image? Not saying that every band needs to look like Slipknot, but bands should look like rock stars. I know I know, we don't really look like that. I guess I need an overhaul... time to start fixing an Yngwie Malmsteen costume haha.

The Devil's Blood played a huge tour in the USA with Watain and Behemoth. Do you also like to play with very extreme bands or do you prefer to play with more classic hard rock heavy metal bands?
We take on everything thrown our way. Since we played with Marduk, we have also played with Necrophobic, which would be the most extreme bands so far, and we have not had any problem with this, neither image-wise nor crowd-wise so if offered a tour with any extreme band we'd gladly jump at the opportunity. From Muse to Megadeth and Morbid Angel, we'll be sure to kick some ass! Book us and we will be there.

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