1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording of the new ep?
Actually, not much, haha... Well, we recorded that EP in 2016 and by that time I had joined 'Shining' on a permanent basis. I have to say due to internal and external situations regarding Sterbhaus - Of which I might tell more of later once we have released our final studio album in 2020, I did a lot of soul searching concerning how or even if I wanted to proceed with the band. After the digital release of this EP in 2016 and after having ran around Europe on the Shining/Taake tour putting up posters I felt I didn't want to do absolutely everything for the band anymore and I explained that to the other guys. Unfortunately that meant the band sort of went into an unplanned hiatus. But during that period we did write a lot of material for the coming album as well as recorded preprod demos. I have been planning and preproducing in my juicy little brain like crazy and after the recent decision to end things even more so... So since the summer it's been much time spent getting an idea of how this last period for the band should be, setting things in motion etc.
2.In December you have a new ep coming out, musically how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
I think it probably differs a lot. I mean, "Angels for Breakfast..." from 2012 was as polished as we could do it, but it wasn't necessarily exactly the right path for us. "New Level of Malevolence" in 2015 was therefor a concious step from that and focused on raw feel and an approach which was more original and intensive. The EP we are now releasing isn't really inteded to be a step in some sort of evolution and I think that's quite important to keep in mind. I mean, it's a "Christmas EP" and it's not like we're evolving into a "Christmas band" of some sort. The EP was recorded as a kind of promotion gimmick and I say this in no way to cast shadows on its quality, since it is a bloody good release. It was a great thing to record this EP when all those tours got cancelled on us back in 2015/2016 instead of just doing nothing. So we put it out and made it available free for download annually during the month of December.
Regarding how it differns I guess it is more varied musically and - dare I say it, accessible. It is not as "thrashy" and raw as "New Level..." but still aggressive and progressive with some humoristic touches - I mean, the ass-whipping to the thrashy version of "Hall of the Mountain King" in the title track is both rippingly great and hilarious! We did set out to do something that still in some distant way could feel Christmas related without losing any of its Metal appeal, and I think we accomplished that. I myself find the song "Krampusnacht" to be one of the very best songs we've ever done, which is why I re-produced it in 2019 prior to this first time physical release.
3.The lyrics on the ep are a concept album based upon 'Krampus', can you tell us a little bit more about the songwriting?
It was pretty much written while rehearsing, musically that is. Usually we write all the music first while I stand as main arranger always keeping in the back of my mind how I want to put the vocals. Then I start writing lyrics, we re-arrange and re-write until the very last moment when I can sign off the lyrics and vocals and we feel that the song is great. And I guess this EP was no different. Well, I should say that the song "Krampusnacht" was no different, since "Santa Claus in Satans Claws" is instrumental and "Christmas with the Devil" is a cover of a Spinal Tap song. And for covers you don't rewrite, you just re-interpret regarding how heavy things should be. And the instrumental track was quite fun putting together at first as a laugh, but then on a more serious level. I think that instrumental one can actually have been partly written while intoxicated.
4.You have also covered some satanic and anti Christian themes on a few albums, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in these topics?
Oh, this is a quite heavy topic actually. And it is only relatable to me personally. I have studied this my whole life artistically, religiously and philosophically. But just to come clean, I am definitely not Satanic in religious terms. I may have considdered myself so during some brief months as a teenager but I rather quickly grew to understand I don't believe in any god what-so-ever. I am enormously anti-religious and can not for the likes of me understand why people older than the age of 10 can be so prone to accept anything just to ease their worries for what happens when we kick the bucket. And the last fifteen years I've been delving into that question more and more and find myself more or less detatched to any aspect of mankind that can be interpreted as religious. I don't respect any of it, and I think the biggest crime mankind is currently involved in is "respecting" peoples beliefs. They shouldn't be respected. People should be educated. I never refer to what I am or what I do as being affiliated to satanism. I guess satanic outlines have helped defining and realizing whatever individual I have become or mental wellness I have embraced, but I only care about truth, art and scientific curiosity. What I do in my lyrics is using satanic themes slightly to ridicule Christianity. Humor is a potent weapon, and the bible and the fact that people believe in stuff written in it is hilarious, but also sad... Because it shows how little mankind is currently worth. So I guess a general misanthropic view is a major subconscious part of what I do.
5.What are some of the other lyrical topics and subjects you have explored over the years with your music?
If we are sticking to Sterbaus and not my own previous bands/projects, then it's fair to say the very first songs when the band was a five-piece had a quite different agenda as there was another lyricist. Daniel was the vocalist at that time and he made a huge point of "not taking oneself too serious" - which we all embraced, and that indeed came off in his lyrics. When I took over the microphone in 2012 I noticed it was a bit hard for me to perform the songs he had written lyrics for because I couldn't really connect to the topics, even though I was probably partly responsible for coming up with some of them. I started rewriting lyrics for "Angels..." and from then on they usucally sticks to an honest theme of some sort although the end result might come off either more or less humorous. But aside from religion in general, I tend to sing about other things that tick me off in some way. I am probably quite the bitter prick as I get annoyed by so much around me... haha. Examples of that that have made it into topics in lyrics are from the top of my head: "Metal" Girl-bands that clearly can't hold a candle to their male peers but gets all the coverage solely because sex sells, the conformaty of every day life and the fear from deviating from it (or the imposed life of the avarage Joe that is a subconscious standard in our society and culture), the old Swedish DDR mentality of the 80:s, The state of Metal and its many dubious spawns... Hmm, actually there are quite a lot of topics. They mostly stem from disappointment on my behalf.
6.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Sterbhaus'?
The name basically refers to a dwelling where the previous owner died. It's a borrowed word from German to Swedish and is also referred to as Sterbhus - "Sterb" being "to die" in German. Funny thing is though, in German it apparently makes no sence and would probably be "Sterbe haus" or somthing, but regardless of this, I got the name from actually buying a "Sterbhaus" in Stockholm at the time we started the band and I saw it written in the contract. I am partial to band names that are original and also not necessarily gives away exactly what the music is like.
7.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the ep cover?
Ah! Cool... I'm glad you asked! Fact is it is enormously special to me to be able to have Gerald Broms artwork. I have personally been very interested in dark fairytale (and dark fantasy) art my whole life and Brom is the absolute nr 1 on my list. I contacted him around 2004 regarding commissions for my Elvira madigan album "Regent Sie" and he was really interested. Nothing came to fruition back then but when the Krampusnacht EP was being written I just felt that his Krampus art - he has released a fantastic art novel called "Krampus", would just be a perfect fit. And I was beyond extatic he agreed. Brom is well known by his own merits and with his many stunning novels including his art but he is also involved in the Diablo 4 video game, and was involved for the box cover art for Diablo 2.
I kinda feel this whole EP project stepped up significantly with the inclusion of the artwork. An album for me is an entire experience, I mean, I still sit down with vinyls and read the lyric sheets while listening, looking at the artworks etc and just soaking up all the impressions at once. Since the downloading and streming era began this is lost at a large extent. And that's a pity. Music consumption today is like drinking a perfectly balanced and aged wine from a plastic disposable bottle while chugging down on a Big Mac, instead of in a proper glass to a fantastic steak dinner... I think much of how you experience the experience itself lies in how you choose to consume what's on offer.
8.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
I would say many of the shows we did on tour in 2013 as support for Vader and Melechesh and later also for Shining definitely helped us hone our live performances. They are enormously energetic and "in-your-face". I can't see the point of doing a live show if it is not genuinely entertaining and just blows people away. And I honestly think it should be ALL positive vibes. Thrash as a genre in general provides so much energy in itself and we have been known for going all in basically all the time. Until a couple of years ago we rehearsed 2-3 times a week year since almost a decade and that rubs off on how good a performance is. It makes everyone just bloody tight! I am very proud that we are actually putting out one of our best shows we ever did on live album and also in video format next year. We had our release show of 2015 professionally filmed with 7 cameras and it looks fantastic. I've been editing and cutting it for years on and off, but I don't know yet if it will be only uploaded for streaming or if we will release it in some other way as well. I'm not sure people care about DVDs or BluRay anymore.
We have always sported real stage props (not just side-ups and back-drops) and you can see that on live pics from the past. Quite a few venues couldn't handle stage props so we used to have 3 different stage size productions and in the end, almost no show we were booked for could accommodate the largest one.
9.Do you have any touring or show plans once the new ep is released?
No, no plans what-so-ever. We basically stopped playing live this year when we made it official the band disbands in 2020. If something really interesting comes up for our farewell (as a tour or just a special last show) we might consider it but at this point it's doubtful.
10.The new ep is coming out on 'Killhead' can you tell us a little bit more about this label?
It's basically the label I started in 1999 which was then called "Northlore Records". I released Elvira Madigan through this label but later changed the name to "Killhead" because it was a drag saying "Northlore" on the phone. Haha, actually that's the case. Today it's a label I use to enable me to record, release and produce albums as well as videos, merch and stage productions. I would have preferred not to have to use it all the time though. It is a terrible thing how Sterbhaus timing has been so horribly off with the age of how labels in general had to be run. We've never been properly signed. First there were no funds cause the labels sold no albums and hadn't sorted anything out at all regarding streaming, and then when there were funds it was all about Black Metal, orthodox old-school things and basically bands that are adopting a well tried formula. And it's a damn pity cause it hints towards that Metal in itself has nothing more original to give unless we pick up on something someone else tried and succeeded in. And I think that's wrong. Some exceptions to this rule exists of couse, but in general this is the case. But damn... I tell you, if I see yet another illegible white logo with a pentagram stuck in there I fell I'm just going to vomit. It's getting to the point of bands being disrespectful towards the originators as the offsprings don't seem to grasp anything at all about what Metal is about in spirit and heart. It's not about slapping on some corpse paint or dressing up like whatever band you found on the back side of your parents vinyls. This is what labels choose to focus on and Sterbhaus doesn't fall within that racket. Ah... screw it, this was about my label and not so much about the climate of Metal, so yeah I have had to use Killhead cause I basically had no choice.
11.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of extreme metal?
As long as they hear us they love it! It doesn't seem to matter where people live. But the difficulty is to Get people to actually hear it... We've been branded at times as less serious due to the humoristically spiced videos and approach - like when we were booked as support for Shining... Maaaan that raised a lot of eyebrows. We didn't understand why people saw that booking as a weird fit, cause we knew it was perfect. And just a few shows in we were proven right. People get stuck by thinking in stereotypes I guess. For me there is little difference in the Hard Rock/Metal of early Saxon and Pretty Maids compared to early Morbid Angel. It's all Metal and as long as the heart of the music is there, and the attitude... then how "heavy" or how much growl is used is irrelevant.
But yeah, I feel there has probably never been any real bad response to what we're doing.
12.What is going on with some of the other bands or musical projects these days that some of the band members are a part of?
For me (Marcus) there is ofc everything Shining has cooking atm, but we are right now at a point in time where we can't really make much official. There're always alot of things done behind the scenes but whenever things are ready to be revealed in that camp it will be done so through official Shining channels which now also includes the newly founded TSI (The Sinister Initiative). But I can definitely say that the coming years will hold quite a lot of surprises and dark activities concerning Shining. Other than Shining I am working on film projects with Martin Strandberg (whom I always do Sterbhaus videos with) and I am in the early stages of outlining that which will replace Sterbhaus musically and creatively for me. And... ah, it sucks, but I can't say much about that atm either.
Jimmy Ahovalli has his "Häxprocess" which is much in its infancy right now but that is what he spends a lot of time exploring. Erik is releasing a new album with "Ondskapt" in the near future and I don't think I am at liberty to speak much about that right now either. But as you can hear, it's not like things are stagnating. We will keep everyone posted through Sterbhaus websites the coming years even though Sterbhaus ends 2020.
13.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Well, I guess we should only focus on the inspirations from 2012 and on - since the bands first direction has little to do with what the musicians since cared about (I myself actually never cared much for that Gothenburg modern thrash stuff that was part of the bands early days). There are no particular bands to list... honestly. It's not like we're looking on some acts and: "Wow! That sounds great! Let's do that!!". It's more a case of being inspired by attitude, creativity and approach. The professionalism of one band and the sheer bloody thrash onslaught by another... And then the creativity of a third. It's not necessarily very heavy or fast either. It might as well be Jethro Tull as it is Dead to This World, Megadeths "Rust in Peace" or Iron Maidens "Somewhere in Time". It's pointless to namedrop really, since the three of us in the band have quite specific personal tastes, which all come together in what naturally becomes Sterbhaus. But when writing we tend to look at what the song itself needs. You either have an outline of a song or just a riff or two you're tossing around with. And from that things flow rather naturally.
14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Yeah, don't be a two-faced son of a bitch. Don't on one hand be sad that Metal press or your favourite bands are being put to death and on the other refrain from buying publications or music at all and uphold this nonsense belief that everything should be accessible at no cost - or that 10 bucks per month through a streaming service covers anything. As a musician this is the proverbial minefield to even adress... Yeah I know... I'll just be one of those that come off as backwards, or bitter, or whatever. But thing is I'm damn tired of keeping my mouth shut regarding things that really matter. All musicians know this and are more or less forced to shut up cause we can't risk alienating an eventual "customer" or market. We're all supposed to be jolly, happy and thankful while everyone around us butt-fucks us constantly. It's just not agreeable for a musician to even bring this up... But truth of the matter is, the arts and the scene is going down the drain right now. We just lost our most important Metal publication "Close-Up" in Sweden and a lot of people not even owning one single copy of the magazine at home expressed their sadness and disappointment in the scene. What gives?? I don't get this.... If you never buy anything then you are basically not even allowed to have an opinion... I could actually do a seperate interview just concerning this topic, cause there isn't enough space here. But go support your band or/and publication. It IS more fun experiencing music through physcially media because otherwise you miss out on at least 50% of the art and the expression.
So, now that I've made a few more enemies tapping into that last thing, I wish you all Merry Christmas... Or should I more aptly say: Freuhe Krampusnacht!!