Wednesday 12 September 2012

Interview with KONGH

Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing David Johansson (Guitarist and Vocalist) from Swedish Sludge Rockers - KONGH.

KONGH are one of the finest Sludge/Doom Metal Bands that has come out of Sweden over the last few years or so. Since their inception in 2004 they have released two full lengths which have been acclaimed by fans and critics alike.

They have toured and shared the stage with such as heavyweights as YOB, Minsk, Lair Of The Minotaur to name just a few.

KONGH are known for their epic and heavy pummelling riffs that gives their music a brutal edge. That's why I love these guys. Their releases are full of epic songs with great vocals to match.

Well David from KONGH has kindly agreed to do an interview with me.

Q1 – Hi Guys. Firstly, thanks for doing this and taking the time to talk to us at Sludgelord. We really appreciate it.

No problem mate.

Q2 – For People not in the know – Can you tell them how the band came about, When you formed etc...

Me and Tomas (drummer) got together back in 2004 with the ambition to start a really heavy band with no artistic limitations. We had been trying for a long time to find other likeminded (and fairly talented) musicians who shared this vision and when we finally did, it was great. So we spent every friday night rehearsing and drinking beer, jamming away on endless journeys through the riff filled land of heaviness. 

By 2005, we had reached a pretty distinct idea of how we wanted our music to sound, so we wrote 4 songs, got a bass player and recorded our first demo in 2006. That one got us signed to Trust No One Recordings and one year later our debut album "Counting Heartbeats" was released. For a more detailed biography, check out our website.

<br />Kongh

Q3 – How would yourselves describe your sound.

It's a combination of a lot of stuff. Some of them would be the riff-driven heaviness from doom and sludge metal bands, the harsh darkness of black metal bands, the brutality of death metal bands and the versatility and experimentation of classic progressive rock bands.

Q4 – Which bands influence you on your music.

As I wrote in the last answer, we draw inspiration from many different sorts of music, resulting in influences from many different bands. It's hard to say which band influenced us more than other ones, as we don't really think about that while we write the music. However, we listen to lots of different kinds of music, not just rock/metal, and I think most of it influences you more or less. So does movies, books and life in general. So naming just a couple of bands wouldn't really make our music justice as it draws from so much stuff.

Q5 – Is the band a full time project or do you have full time jobs to contend with.

I quit my job last year so I have much more time to spend on making music now. At the same time I'm studying so it's not like we're making a living off of Kongh. However, the band sure feels like a full time project at times, like when we're working on an album or doing a tour or taking care of all the other stuff that comes with playing in a band. The one detail that keeps it from being an actual job is that we're barely making any money.

Q6 – What is the song-writing process like in the band. Is it a whole band collective or individuals that write the music.

In the earlier days, we spent more time in the rehearsal space, working on the music together. But for the last few years, especially after parting ways with our long time bass player Oskar in 2010, we've spent less and less time creating music while rehearsing. The creative work of the band is being done by the two-piece that is me and Tomas (as it basically always has). But the music on our new album, which we recorded last month, was written in a kind of new way. 

I'm the one writing the guitar riffs and stuff, so basically I've been coming up with riffs and song structures by myself, then I've recorded the guitar and bass ideas in my home studio, sent the recordings to Tomas, and then he works out the drumming parts in his home studio. Then occasionally we meet in the rehearsal room to play the songs we've created and then they usually change a bit or we get some new ideas that we want to try. Maybe this sounds like an unusual ways of creating music together for some people, but for us it has proven to be the most effective way yet.

Q7 – You have received a whole load of praise for your work. It must be quite satisfying for yourselves as a band to have a great reception from fans and critics alike.

Yes, it's a very nice feeling to know that people appreciate your work.

Q8 – You have a fearsome reputation when performing live. (And I can vouch for that as I seen you guys live at Leeds The Well in Oct 2011 when supporting YOB). Is it hard work to match the fury and intensity of your albums onto the live stage. As you totally blew me away especially when using another band's equipment. (WIHT – Sadly no longer with us).

I'm glad you like the Kongh concert experience. The only agenda we have with our shows is to play the songs in the most raw and intense way we are capable of. I guess that, combined with the loud volume and physical presence you get while playing the music in front of an audience adds up to the experience you just mentioned. We love to perform live and our music lies on the right level of dynamics and heaviness that, in our opinion, makes it fun and rewarding to play.

Q9 – Is there a scene for Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal bands to perform on a regular basis. Or do you have to travel further afield to perform on a regular basis.

It depends on which band you ask, I suppose. During the last few years we have gathered a decent fan base which has made it easier for us to play shows more often, arrange tours etc. It's been over 3 years since we last released anything now but we're still getting offered to play a lot of shows. 

However we have kept a relatively low profile for the last two years (apart from the tour we did with YOB one year ago, and the occasional one off show) to focus more on song writing. But after the next album comes out I guess we'll be a more active live band again.

Q10 – Are your family and friends supportive of what you do. How does this affect your family life.

Yes, they like the music and support what I do. The only time it's affecting family life is when we're touring. That can be quite hard at times, especially if it's a very long tour, but my girlfriend whom I live with understands that a musician sometimes has to go on tour now and then is very supportive. It's not like we're doing 250 shows a year anyway but our last tour was 5 weeks and being away from home and your loved ones for that long is a little bit of a struggle. Just need to hang in there.

Q11 – When you started the band what were your original hopes and dreams for the band. And have they been met yet.

When we started the band we couldn't have dreamed of recording albums, playing live all over the world and touring with bands we love. So our dreams and hopes have been exceeded by far! They were reached several years ago and every new achievement after that has just been a bonus.

Q12 – We all know that Sweden has produced so many brilliant bands at whatever genre like Opeth and In Flames for one. For Sludge/Stoner Metal we have – Truckfighters, Graveyard, Grand Magus, Signo Rojo, Odyssey and Greenleaf. Well you get the idea. What is Sweden's secret for these great bands.

I have no idea. What's UK's secret? Black Sabbath and The Beatles for christs sake. People need to stop putting Sweden on a pedestal, ha! Seriously, I don't know how to answer this, I think there's good bands coming from everywhere in the world.

Q13 – What are your favourite bands around at the moment. Do you listen to modern day rock/metal or do you just listen to the classic era of Stoner Rock/Hard Rock

I listen to music from the 60's until modern time, out of many different genres. Some of my favorite genres are doom/sludge metal, heavy rock, black metal, psychedelic rock, progressive rock, kraut rock, Berlin school progressive, ambient, and old school electro. I'm also a huge enthusiast of motion picture scores as well as vintage synthesizers.

Q14 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band.

Most rewarding is to create and record music that you are really happy about, along with playing it live, followed by the feeling you get when people are appreciating your work. The least rewarding aspect is probably all the travelling and time away from home that comes with the touring. But at the same time, touring is usually very nice and a lot of fun in the evenings, when the people are there and you're playing the show and drinking beer. So touring is a phenomenon towards which I'm having a very fragmented attitude.

Q15 – You are busy recording your eagerly awaited 3rd album which is being mixed and mastered by Magnus Lindberg of Cult Of Luna. How did that come about.

We were looking for somebody suitable to work with and Magnus felt like the right guy. We like his work with Cult Of Luna for example and we were curious to hear what kind of results could come out of a cooperation with him.

Q16 – Can you tell us what we can expect from the new album or is it all top secret at the moment.

It's four songs with an average length of 11-12 minutes which we are tremendously happy with. It's got many of the classic Kongh attributes but some new ones as well, and I can honestly say that I haven't been this satisfied with an album we've done before.

Q17 – Does it surprise you when people buy your music and merch?

Yes. That's their problem?

Q18 – What is your view on blogs and websites giving music away for free. Some people are for it and some some people against.

I guess that's the way the world works these days in terms of music distribution. It doesn't bother me very much. I think it's great that you have very easy access to music nowadays and I don't think anyone should be thrown in jail for sharing or downloading an album. But at the same time I think its important to support artists in one way or the other.

Both bands and the labels needs some kind of income in order to keep doing what they're doing and that needs to be respected. I like the idea of Spotify too, paying a settled monthly fee which in return lets you listen to all the music you want. However, the way it works today doesn't bring in very much dough for the artists even if you're getting thousands of plays there, so they should be raising the user cost or something to get more money in.

That would probably piss like 90% off the user range off though, making it a bad move anyway. So it's a bit complicated, however I like the basic idea. The music industry is weird right now with the internet changing the rules completely. It's gonna be interesting to follow the development.

Q19 – What are your views of blogs reviewing your records, as opposed to mainstream music magazines? Has your music reached the mainstream mags, at home or around the world?

It's cool. People are spending lots of time using the internet, so blogs and such are probably very helpful in promoting bands and releases. I used to run a webzine myself back in high school doing reviews and interviews.

Yes, our music has been reviewed, and we have been interviewed, in many print magazines in several countries. They are important as well, people are still reading them.

Q20 – Lastly, Thanks for doing this. Do you have anything to say to your fans

Thanks for your support. And be sure to check out our new album. It's coming out on CD/LP/Digital in early 2013 on Agonia Records. Cheers!

Well guys thanks for answering these questions. Can't wait to hear the new album. All the best from all of us at Sludgelord.

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