UNLEASHED Mainman On New Material, Music Video, DVD And Upcoming Documentary

June 3, 2008

Lucem Fero recently published an interview with UNLEASHED frontman Johnny Hedlund, conducted by Welsh interviewer Anthony Morgan. Topics of discussion included the band's ninth studio album "Hammer Battalion", its lyrical content, freshly written material, the music video for "Black Horizon", plans to issue a DVD, and plans to celebrate the group's twentieth anniversary. Several excerpts from the interview follow:

On "Hammer Battalion":

"When we started to pen the lyrics and music in support of the album, 'Hammer Battalion' was the rough idea we had. We wanted to translate our ideas into a concept, and that concept would be a battalion in some respects. At that time, we hadn't really stretched towards the hammer theme. We just wanted to create something which would symbolise the feelings of metalheads against the world. Therefore, we said, 'What would be more reasonable than to have a battalion, and to form a battalion somehow?' Since our symbol has always been Thor's hammer, naming the album 'Hammer Battalion' suited the record pretty well. In terms of the music and lyrics, it's very much an UNLEASHED-esque album in many respects. We haven't really kept away from anything, and we're not really famous for doing that either. We just try to make stronger tracks all the time, and improve the production values. When people listen to 'Hammer Battalion', that is what they'll hopefully hear."

On music penned for the follow up to "Hammer Battalion":

"Given the fact that the rest of UNLEASHED hasn't really seen those lyrics yet, it'd be strange to go into any detail as regards their content. We've written the entire music towards four new songs though. Right now, I'm writing both the melody and vocal lines for those songs. They will be very much like the tracks featured on 'Hammer Battalion', and the lyrics will also remind listeners of this album. We feel very strongly that 'Hammer Battalion' is likely our best album so far, so we don't see new material opting towards a major change. We don't want to walk away from 'Hammer Battalion''s concept, at least not a lot. Small, developmental changes will always occur, although these new tracks will remind people very much of 'Hammer Battalion'."

On UNLEASHED's time with Century Media:

"I would say that UNLEASHED was one of the few groups which built Century Media, given the fact they had virtually nothing. When we signed with Century Media in 1991, they had no money and a very small office (laughs). A lot of the money which came in from the success of UNLEASHED in the early nineties was kept by Century Media to build Century Media, and the problem was that they didn't really want to give anything back to the group. If you sign a contract when you're aged between roughly sixteen and twenty-two, which the bandmembers were, and you don't really have any experience of the music industry other than the fact you really love to go on tour of course, then you're going to get fucked. It's obvious. We signed a deal that was very very long, and can almost be described as a slave contract. The problem is escaping from that contract, and that's very, very difficult. Even in order to receive some kind of money back, we had to negotiate every year. Who am I to complain? Every group has these kind of problems, although there are better and worse labels. If I compared that to our relationship with SPV, for example, I don't have any of these kind of problems today with SPV. I have no problems like that whatsoever. If I compared how SPV treats us to how Century Media treated us for fifteen years, then it's ridiculous. I think they took advantage of the fact we were very young, and very anxious to go out on tour. I'm not going to say I regret it, as we embarked on tours very early. Century Media definitely helped us tour, and they kept their promise. In that respect, they were pretty good. The business side of the music industry isn't something that you think about during the early years though; you think about that when your guitar breaks down, you think about that when you have to pay the rent when you return home, and you think about that when your amplifier stops working. You start to think about all those problems, and wonder, 'Who the fuck takes my money?' You're selling two hundred and fifty shirts a day, and you're not receiving any money. That's what happened to UNLEASHED during the early Nineties, and you start to think about those issues after awhile. You move forward, and you have to learn the hard way. That's what we did, I guess. Obviously, these are a few of the reasons why we left the label."

On the music video for "Black Horizon", to be recorded in Belgrade during June:

"I know the script will revolve around the lyrics to 'Black Horizon', and those lyrics concern a Viking travelling home from a battle. When we travelled home from North America during early 2007, the idea for the lyrics was conceived. The North American tour felt like a battle in some respects, even though we were very, very happy with its outcome. We were worn out somewhat following a month travelling on the tour bus, despite the fact it's pretty normal to feel a little bit tired after that period of time. 'Black Horizon' concerns a victorious Viking, and that Viking has been in a victorious battle. He's returning home, and will have to bury the friends who have fought with him in battle. We'll see what the exact details actually contain. I read the script for the first time, and I really liked it. I just don't know if every single element from the original script will be kept there'll be a discussion between us, and the director of the music video. We'll see. The music video will definitely feature a battle of some kind, and I'm sure it'll include Viking ships, and craziness of all kinds (laughs). I just don't know the exact details of how the music video will take shape, though it'll be really interesting to view."

On UNLEASHED's twentieth anniversary:

"We're making plans to mark UNLEASHED's twentieth anniversary right now, although nothing has been decided yet. Of all the possible ways to mark the occasion, thus far, the only thing that I think will happen is the release of a twentieth anniversary album. We're working on new songs at present, so that twentieth anniversary release may be a new album of original material. That might be the case, though we'll see. I'm not going to think too much into the future. I'm sure the twentieth anniversary might even be marked by a DVD release actually, since we're working on that also."

On UNLEASHED's upcoming DVD:

"We're still missing one full main show so to speak. We have documentary material stretching as far back as 1990 on VHS and so on, and material recorded as recently as 2008. We've recorded a lot of material for the documentary, but we also want to record live performance footage from one major festival. A lot of good cameras will hopefully be used, and things like that. We'll see though, since we're getting there."

On his time as NIHILIST's bassist:

"That can be better classified as partying as opposed to serious music (laughs). Of course, I had a nice time as part of the group. These days, I don't really think about my time in NIHILIST too much. A lot of people acknowledge the fact that I was the bass player in NIHILIST, so I get reminded about my time in the group. That period was my youth. Back then, the scene started growing. I sent some mail to many people. I exchanged demo tapes and T-shirts with people from all around the world, items which you've never ever seen, you know (laughs)? The positive aspect about signing a contract and embarking on tours is that you can actually meet all those people, something which was fantastic. We never felt that would happen. NIHILIST didn't really perform live that much; we never embarked on a tour, and only performed a few shows."

Read the entire interview at www.lucemfero.com.

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