Interview by Adrian Hextall:
Pictures: Robert Sutton Photography
Bloodbound; a ceremony involving a blood oath where individuals swear allegiance to each other through the sharing of blood, often through a cut on the hand followed by a handshake between each of them. It’s also the name of a Swedish metal act, known initially for their corpse paint, almost death metal look, although their music follows a clear power metal path.
The band played the UK recently in support of fellow Swedes, Sabaton and Adrian Hextall spoke to founder and keyboard player Fredrik Bergh following the band’s excellent and well received set.
MGM: Thanks for taking time to talk to us Frederik, tell me, have you all done the ‘blood oath’ thing given the name of the band?
FB: [laughs] No. We haven’t.
MGM: Was it tempting to do? I mean bands like Manowar for example have obviously done that. Was there a temptation to say you know what? Cut and shake, cup and mix? Did you ever talk about it?
FB: The history of the band has been little bit up and down, you know? With Urban Breed and all this lineup changes and stuff. So from the beginning, if we would have done the ritual, it would be be just me and Thomas, you know? No one else would be a Bloodbound rather because it’s always been like, you know, problems within the band. Until we met Patrick [Johansson ; current vocalist who has now delivered several albums and helped solidify the line-up after what had become a bit of a revolving door for vocalists].
MGM: I was going to say, since you met Patrick everything seems to have settled down.
FB: We can say, the three first albums were, problematic. We couldn’t get the direction, we couldn’t get the band working, and we had different small labels and stuff, but since 2010 when we got Patrick, and when we signed to AFM Records, it’s been the same line up until today, it’s been the same line up for six years.
MGM: What created the problems in terms of you guys being able to tour that line-up, because again you’re missing one member, last year was just yourself and one more?
FB: We all had day jobs, and four of us has small children, so we can’t just say “goodbye families, now we’re gone for five weeks, goodbye jobs”, you know, what we really wanted to do is the Sabaton tour, it’s very good exposure, we sold it this way. It’s not the best thing to do for the fans, to be having different members and stuff but this time, this was the solution.
MGM: I was going to say, this time we get you [Frederik] back as well, because last time when I saw you in April 2015, at the Underworld you we’re missing, you had no keyboards live. It must feel really good this time being able to tour with the two other bands as well, and you played to big crowds every night.
FB: Yeah, the reaction’s been fantastic in the UK.
MGM: Before you came on stage the place was full, they got everybody in through the doors. Everybody is making the effort to come to see you.
FB: It was fantastic, especially here in London, it was like, everyone knew the lyrics, we could see people singing along everywhere in the hall, and I’m sure they’ve heard this before and were fans.
MGM: It didn’t take Patrick long to get people to get their fists in the air and everybody getting in to it.
FB: It’s been like that in the UK tour, you know for the first two songs people were all a bit like…., just looking at you wondering who we are you know? But then when we come to the fourth, fifth song everyone is shouting and jumping and clapping you know, and we sold a lot of the merchandise and stuff in this tour. It’s an all-time high almost, on only ten gigs.
MGM: The best decision ever was to take the tour and come out with the guys?
FB: It’s perfect tour for us.
MGM: It’s been a while now since Stormborm as well came out, I mean you were touring it last year was the new release. You come off the back of this, is that it you then looking towards the next release?
FB: We released the live DVD last month. But that’s just a middle release, and we’re working on new songs now, and the next album will come in the early ‘17.
MGM: More live shows to finish the year off?
FB: It will be festivals during the summer, of course, and we have some plans for the autumn, but nothing is written in stone yet but we will tour later.
MGM: You’re hoping to tour abroad or is it going to be mainland Europe, you think?
FB: No, it’s not gonna be the States and Japan and stuff like that, so it will be Europe. But I’m not sure about some of that. It depends on many things. Also I think the good time to go out is the head line would be when we have a new album to push that long in us.
MGM: Let’s go all the way back to 2005, Nosferatu. Nosferatu is the album that grabbed me and many other people. That was the album, you know the blood red face of the demon on the cover, I think it came out through, AOR Heaven wasn’t it?
MGM: I was at that time buying a lot of music from AOR Heaven and this album just comes out of nowhere and you were saying, obviously the first three albums you haven’t really found your focus \ style, but the album Nosferatu, what an impact.
FB: Music-wise it’s almost looked upon as a classic album now. What I meant when I talked about the struggle within the band, it was like personal rise, you know? Because the music on the first album is…
MGM: It’s almost been three stop starts, I should say, for the last five years now, that stability’s been there hasn’t it?
FB: Yeah. When we started the band, me and Tom [Tomas Olsson] said “Hey just for fun of it, just make, let’s write some traditional metal anthems or metal songs and that’s how it started and we knew a hoping a little bit and we asked Urban [Breed – original vocalist] to come and sing on a couple of demos. So when the first album was released, we weren’t a band, we were more like a studio project. But then we had to build the band and find members.
MGM: Why is it now working so well with Patrick and the band? What has the last five years’ given you that given you that stabilized you so well?
FB: Patrick, he has no big ego. He is a great guy and a friend and everyone in the band, we are friends. We work together and if you’re going to tour you can’t set one person that is on the moon or, you know….?
MGM: They’re a band of one?
FB: Yeah. Or weird things happening you know?
MGM: Going back to that point as well, if look at the early press photos, a little bit more white, a little bit more corpse paint.
FB: I remember when we did Nosferatu and have the album finished, someone said that we need to do something really striking here to make us stand out from the other bands. So one day I came to his apartments and we were taking band pictures and stuffs and he said, now we have to put on the makeup and stuff like that and chains and crosses. It was just like a quick idea and we just did the photos, but on the first album we were putting on makeup every night.
MGM: When you’re playing live as well. It worked well didn’t it? It caught the attention of people.
FB: Many people say oh they’re you know, a demonic metal band. We have corpse paint like a death metal band there were a lot of talk you know, in the forum sites between fans and stuffs so it was good…
MGM: If nothing else, it triggers the conversation in which people talk about it, yeah doesn’t it? So you get that increase in profile. What made you decide to drop it?
FB: I think it was our drummer, he didn’t want to do it and some other people in the band says, “Ah no let’s take it off,” and it takes too time consuming before shows and stuff like that.
MGM: As much as it takes a while to apply, lyrically your albums, they lend themselves to the makeup, so it could easily stay.
FB: But now we have sold it with the mascots, Nosferatu he is coming out on stage.
MGM: That was a neat touch because I have not seen that before with you guys.
FB: No, it’s the first tour now and we’re using it.
MGM: And of course you got Patrick’s horns as well, and it’s so good. He was saying the people are asking him if they are implants.
FB: It would be hard to sleep if they were.. [laughs]…
MGM: The style and direction the band are facing continues, what are you writing or thinking about writing at the moment off the back of Stormborn?
FB: We really like, we’re pleased with Stormborn with the album, we have the ideas now coming, and it’s more or less in the same style. Maybe we’re taking it one step further from Stormborn in to the bombastic and…
MGM: Making it a grander scale…
FB: Yeah, that was kind of bombastic itself, I think it’s going to be more or less the same style.
MGM: You started out with another band, Street Talk. Have you done a lot of other work as well as Bloodbound?
FB: Yeah, I worked lots with artists at Frontiers, Wreckers, Revolution Saints, Steve Overland, Harry Hess you know, writing with all those.
MGM: Would you ever use any of them as guests on the album?
FB: If we should have a guest it would have to be worth it you know? It’s not something we normally do.
MGM: If you’re going have a guest, make it somebody big.
FB: Yeah, look at Bruce and Iron Maiden, they never had a guest you know, it’s the band, so I think even if we could find you know, a very good friend with Annette [Olzen] for example, from Nightwish, former singer, I’m writing for her with Harry, yeah get her as a guest, but for now we just want to stick with the band.
MGM: Tell me a little bit about working with Steve Overland, I mean I’m a massive FM fan, so that gets my interest.
FB: It was, Khalil at escape music, he asked me if I want to co-write with some stuff with Steven, for the Epic album. Oh yeah, so that’s how I get to work with him, and I met him this summer in Sweden, after we’re playing in the same festival.
MGM: Was that Sweden Rock?
FB: No, a smaller festival but we had a shot at working with this very nice guy.
MGM: One of the gentleman of music, isn’t he?
FB: Yeah, the whole band is very nice and, I would like to work with him again, if it’s possible.
MGM: You say the band have families and day jobs as well, and addition to this, is your day job on a musical front?
FB: I go to school, I go to university now. To become a Medical Administrator. I’m going away for two weeks now and it’s in a middle of a very difficult course, so I’m gonna be f*cked when I get home you know, perhaps to do with so much catching up.
MGM: But from a fans point of view, and from a music point of view, you couldn’t miss this could you? Especially with the live release doing so well.
FB: We charted in number two, in the official DVD chart in Sweden, for the last release.
MGM: Excellent. And we can look forward to an album in 2017 from you guys?
FB: Yeah, I can’t say which month but, it’s going to be next year.
ONE NIGHT OF BLOOD (CD and DVD) IS OUT NOW AND CAN BE BOUGHT HERE: