” I’m an atheist, so I consider all religion fiction”
Interview by Jason Guest
Thank you very much for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on Remnants of Forgotten Horrors (reviewed here). Your first EP, Arcane Secrets, appeared in 2010. Why the long gap between that and your first album?
Martin: Well, for starters we spent almost two years writing and arranging the songs for Remnants of Forgotten Horrors. After that the recordings were completed fairly quickly and the album was mixed, mastered and done around the end of 2012. We had, regretfully, signed a deal with an American label and waited patiently for them to release the record but it never happened. After more than a year of nothing happening we managed to get out of the contract and decided to start our own label instead. A couple of months of hard work later the album was finally released on Triumvirate Records.
How have the band developed between those two releases?
Micke: The three songs on Arcane Secrets are the first songs we wrote for Astrophobos. When the EP was finished we took a look at its overall sound and built from there when we started writing Remnants. So the album was more of a way to further explore the sound we ended up with when we wrote Arcane Secrets.
Who are the bands influences? And how have they informed your music?
Micke: We probably take most of our influences from the bands we started listening to during our formative years: Rotting Christ, Darkthrone, Satyricon, Marduk, Dawn, Naglfar and Dissection, to name just a few. We all like the Swedish and Norwegian black metal scene, but none of us listens exclusively to black metal. We write this style of music for Astrophobos, but we also listen to heavy metal, pop, singer/songwriter, electronic music, crust punk and lots of other stuff. It can sometimes be tricky to decide to play a certain style of music and then avoid just repeating old clichés. I think having a wide set of influences can improve your creativity and help bringing variation into the music you write.
Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to achieve with Remnants of Forgotten Horrors?
Martin: We wanted to make a really good album. That might sound obvious, but that was truly our main goal. No filler songs, no lazy shortcuts and no covering up of poor songwriting with an overproduced sound. Just 45 minutes of solid, classic black metal with memorable songs and a fitting production. If we succeeded or not is up to others to decide, but we are very satisfied with the result ourselves.
How do Astrophobos approach writing? Do you work separately and bring complete songs to the band or do you collaborate on ideas?
Micke: It’s a very collaborative process. We bring some riffs and melodies in different stages of completion and sit down and piece the songs together with input from everybody. Sometimes an idea or a riff takes a completely new direction or shape from how it was originally envisioned, but in the end, this process is what makes it sound like Astrophobos. As for lyrics, I usually write them after the music and try to make them fit well together with the structure and atmosphere of the song.
When writing, do you discuss how you want the songs and your albums to sound or do they take shape as they are being developed?
Martin: Both, really. Usually the starting point for a new song is an idea or a vision that one of us has, and the we collectively try to realise it. Sometimes the initial idea prevails and sometimes the song takes a completely different direction.
What are the lyrical themes? And where does inspiration come from?
Micke: They are more or less little pieces of occult horror fiction, and the inspiration comes mainly from writers like Poe and Lovecraft, but there are lots of other writers I like as well, like Stagnelius and Runeberg. None of the lyrics touch upon Satanism, and it’s unlikely that they ever will, since we’re not very religious. I’m an atheist, so I consider all religion fiction, but if I’m going to write lyrics with any sort of occult themes, I prefer to not draw inspiration from sources that some people take seriously. That’s a lot less appealing to me.
Can you tell us about the artwork and what it represents?
Martin: The cover art was made by a Polish artist called Michał Karcz. We bumped into his work online and felt that it was a really good fit for our music and the concept of the album. As to what it represents, I can’t speak for the artist, but to us it’s pretty much a visual representation of the album title and the lyrics.
Any plans for live performances? If so, will we be seeing you in the UK?
Micke: We’ve played the first two gigs with Astrophobos this year, and we’d love to get out and play more. There are no confirmed shows yet, but we’re working on it and we’re open to suggestions.
On the subject of live performances, what would be the ideal setting and/or venue for a Astrophobos show?
Martin: If Wacken Open Air were to offer us the main stage we would not complain.
What does the future hold for Astrophobos? Early days I know as the album’s just been released, but is there more music in the pipeline?
Micke: We’re just about to start writing new material. Next release will probably be something shorter than a full-length album, because we’d like to get something new out relatively soon. It might be another EP or a 7”, but that remains to be seen.
Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Micke: Thanks to our fans and all the people who support us! It’s great to hear your response to our music.