By Goth Gorgon (Mörk Gryning)
I had been a metal freak for a big part of my life. It started nice and sweet with Europe, but soon went down/uphill when my brother bought New Jersey by Bon Jovi. Soon followed Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row, Mötley Crüe, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween, Anthrax, Metallica, Kreator, Slayer, Nuclear Assault, Megadeth, Sepultura, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Entombed, Dismember, Bathory, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Tormentor… All in two-three years, so at 12, I was already hooked on black and death metal. There was not really anywhere to go after that, so I started regressing in a sense; going back to thrash and then through the different styles from the ’80s. I went rummaging through second-hand stores, hunting vinyl. I wasn’t a fanatical vinyl fan to be honest — true, it was much cooler than a CD, but often the scratches could intervene with the experience. It was more for practical reasons. There simply were more LPs of old metal bands than CDs, and they were often cheaper. After the ’80s came the ’70s, with bands like Magnum, Uriah Heep, early Judas/Scorpions, Riot and so forth, down to Sabbath, Purple, and Zeppelin. Through those bands, I started coming across psychedelic and bluesy stuff, which took me a while to get into but once I did, it opened new doors to me. And this got me connected with more modern bands in the same vibe such as Tool — or Kyuss — and this made me wanna do other things than play metal.
So, here are the Top 5 Things I Did After Mörk Gryning disbanded in 2004…
I had had enough of Stockholm; it was too boring, too square. I needed to get out, so I went to Berlin. To pay the bills, I started DJ-ing again, but I wanted to get back to playing, so I joined this noise/garage band called Lolita Terrorist Sound, run by a guy who was actually a great drummer, but here he was a singer, which, to be honest, maybe wasn’t his strongest side, but he had a great charisma on stage and was a big talker, so he got in contact with all these famous people. We could rehearse for free in this incredible rehearsal room with every amp and effect pedal you could possibly want. Apparently, it would normally be rented out for 200€/h to huge bands on tour. To enter the room you first had to pass through this ritual hall where they would perform satanic rites. There was an altar with a pentagram and a cat(!) on it and satanic priest robes and shit. It all looked straight from some ’70s horror movie. We did two shows opening up for Anna von Hausswolff (she was incredible) and on one show in Berlin, where the guitar player of Swans — Christoph Hahn — joined us. Unfortunately, the guy was a better talker than a doer, so not much more happened after that. But who knows for the future, I think he’s still working on it. I wish him the best of luck.
I was into this a lot when I was younger, but lost interest as alcohol and women came into my life. When I was living in Berlin, I heard of an American shaman who did drum journeys, so I went to participate. This takes you to a trance-like state where you can float off into different worlds. This was another reason I wanted to go back to the jungle on my second trip to South America, to see shamans. I had already done ayahuasca one time during my first trip, but this time I wanted to go deeper. The first two times it didn’t have much effect (apart from shitting and puking my lungs out), but the third time it blew me away. Ayahuasca is a healing agent that makes you work on yourself, whatever issues you have and this might not be easy all the time. One moment you’re in a beautiful place where you feel all safe and good, and the next you’re in demon land. But as long as you don’t freak out and stay with it, not trying to flee from it, you’ll feel much better afterwards. For me, this opened doors to my subconscious or spiritual world, and it has helped me since. During the time I wrote the songs for our new album, I consulted it a lot through drum journeys and meditation.
I’ve always found it hard to settle down somewhere. I wasn’t very happy living in Stockholm; it bored me. During Mörk Gryning’s 15-year hiatus, I traveled a lot, and to South America twice. I’ve always loved the woods and had a big passion for nature in general. Now, sightseeing in cities is about the most boring thing I can imagine. Instead, what gets me going is meeting interesting people and great nature scenery. In South America, you have plenty of both. Like the mountains. Although we do have majestic mountains in Sweden, it’s not quite the same as those of the Andes. These canyons and waterfalls, or volcanoes covered in snow, or ascending into the clouds, just leave you speechless. But even so, what called me the most was the jungle. Just as the mountains are not quite the same in Europe, so are the forests. When you enter the jungle, your senses get razor sharp, ’cause you know you’ll need them. One time, I was walking in the jungle in the middle of the night with this indigenous guy I’d known for a while. As we’re walking around he tells me that there is just one animal we really need to fear, and that’s shushúpe (bushmaster, a pit viper). He can get very aggressive if you shine your flashlight on him. “If this happens,” my friend tells me, “we must cut down a small tree or a branch to kill him because he’s too fast to kill with machetes. He can jump up to two meters and bites multiple times. And if he bites your arm, for example, we got 30 seconds to cut it off.” I tried to reason with him that maybe we could just carve up the wound and suck out the poison (a guy I met in India who was bitten three times by cobras had told me that’s what he used to do), but he said it was not possible, the arm’s gotta go. Luckily, we did not see any shushúpes that night. However, the next morning we came by a village, where a family that my guide knew lived, so we paused to say hello. With a monkey roasting on the grill, they greeted us warmly and gave us bowls of chicha de yuca (mashed manioc they mix with their spit to make it ferment quickly. It sort of tastes like alcoholic yogurt). After a while, the father takes us down to the river to show us something. He walks away and comes back with a headless shushúpe that had attacked him the night before. It was about two and half meters and almost as thick as a thigh. Eight years later, when I returned to Peru, I visited my guide in his village outside of Iquitos. It was very nice to see him again, and I stayed for about a week. When I got back to Iquitos, I was told that a woman had just been killed by a shushúpe in the village I had just came from. Apparently, it had happened right after I left on the boat. Moral of the story, better keep your senses sharp in the Amazon.
2. Klubb Gås
Klubb Gås (‘gås’ means ‘goose’ in Swedish; also slang for a ‘joint’) was a music club that me and a friend started up in Stockholm in 2008. We were sick of the glam and sleaze scene, and wanted a place with (what we considered) proper rock. We had no idea if there were more than a handful of people into this in Stockholm but we talked a bar into letting us try it out one time and printed loads of posters for it (Facebook was still not a big thing). Luckily, we almost filled the place, so we got a deal to do Thursdays. At first, we focused on stoner and ’70s rock, but as we got to meet new people that came to the place, we were introduced to loads of bands and styles we’d never listened to before so the spectrum broadened. After a while we found another place where we could arrange gigs and soon a third place where the weekends were available and so for a while we ran four nights per week. It was too much for just the two of us to handle so we recruited some of our young regulars to sit at the door or DJ for us. Soon, we could do live bands at the weekend place, so we skipped the others and kept going there for two years with two-three bands every Friday and Saturday. In the end, they closed down and we kept arranging things at four-five other locations for about a year until it was time to give it up. There are, of course, a thousand stories I could tell from those days, but I guess it goes without saying that we had a pretty good time.
1. Port of Saints
Me and Aeon (keyboardist in Gryning, guitarist here) started the band immediately after Mörk Gryning split in 2004. We were into bands like Kyuss, Masters of Reality, Clutch, Soundgarden, Stooges, Sleep, Dozer, Big Business, etc., and wanted something psychedelic, dark and heavy, but with a rock ‘n’ roll vibe to it. Stoner rock, basically. The band had numerous line-up changes and struggles over the years but in the end we managed to record one album called No Sleep Forever. An album I’m still very proud over today but by the time it was out, I was weary of managing a band with all the troubles it comes with. Also, in those days, sleaze and glam rock was a huge trend in Stockholm, and that didn’t help us much. Stoner rock had had its days in the late ’90s, so we didn’t time it very well. Facebook
** Mörk Gryning’s new album, Hinsides Vrede, is out October 23rd on Season of Mist. Pre-orders for CD, LP, and t-shirt are available via the label’s US store (HERE).