(Comrade Aleks brings us this e-mail interview with Mats Levén, the new vocalist of the legendary Candlemass.)
Everyone knows Candlemass and I bet that all of you know that the band is returning with a new EP, Death Thy Lover. The date of this release is already set – it’s today, the 3rd of June. With Mats Levén on vocals, the band is active, now awakening from slumber and returning on the road. Well, I’d like to surprise you with the astonishing live interview which we planned to do with Mats, but he didn’t find the time for it in his tight schedule, so with all my respect this foreword is as brief as his blitz answers I received by email.
Hail Mats! What’s going on in the Candlemass camp now that the Death Thy Lover EP is already done?
We just did a Latin American tour in six countries and a Norwegian festival. We start doing summer festivals in June.
I bet that now you live through a pretty intensive promo company and do a lot of interviews. What kind of questions do you tire of answering? What kind of interview questions do you hate the most of all?
Don’t hate any questions! Sometimes it’s hard to answer though when only Leif knows the answer.
The new Candlemass EP Death Thy Lover consists of four tracks. Didn’t you think about adding some of the old Candlemass songs with your vocals?
No, we thought of maybe adding a couple of live recordings from 2013 (of old songs) but didn’t.
“Death Thy Lover” is an extremely emotional song, and you know it’s said that any vocalist should live through the song’s lyrics, to walk in those shoes and get used to the role. Do you get in a certain state singing the songs with different bands, or did it turn out to be a job where you can sing everything now?
I try to put myself into the situation/lyrics and then it’s up to Leif (in this case) to give me his feedback.
Candlemass – Death Thy Lover
Candlemass looks rather like a project now. Do you plan to record a new full-length album or is it only to play gigs occasionally?
Candlemass is very much a band. Candlemass hasn’t really toured for the last 8 years though.
Mats you recorded the King of the Grey Islands Demos album back in 2006, because the label just needed that demo. Did you think even in that period that it would be excellent opportunity to join the band?
No, I already played with Leif in Krux and I was pretty busy with Therion.
Ok, then why did you decide to join now?
I wanted to try it out for a couple of years first since there have been so many singers in the past.
When we started talking about the 30-year anniversary, I thought it was a good time to join!
Is there any chance that those demo songs will be released one day?
They’ve been released since 2010.
You’ve known Leif at least since 1994 when you were a part of Abstract Algebra. Why didn’t you join Candlemass back then? Was there an opportunity to play with the band?
There was no Candlemass then. That’s why he did Abstrakt Algebra.
Candlemass – Psalms for the Dead
Do you feel it as a challenge to replace Robert Lowe after all the work he has done? And what about the songs that were recorded for Marcolin? I mean, do you sing all of these songs as Mats Levén or do you keep in mind for whom these songs were written?
Sure, there’s a big difference between Johan, Messiah, Thomas, and Robert. I try to respect the original vocals very much but still add a bit of myself.
You recorded vocals for Death Thy Lover in your own studio. Why did you choose to work this way?
Basically because it’s much easier for me when I also have a wife + 2 kids to split the time with. Also, I’ve recorded 95% of all my vocals in the last 10-15 years by myself.
The band celebrates the anniversary of Epicus Doomicus Metallicus this year, and you’ve already played a few shows on a South American tour. How was it? What’s your overall impression of this tour?
Very, very good! We hope to go back next year.
How many countries are in your tour list?
This year you mean? So far in 2016 we’ve played Greece, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Norway. We’ll also play Poland, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Canada, Belgium, USA, UK & Japan.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but you sing in a few bands at the same time. How do you plan to combine such intensive work with Candlemass activity? How will you plan the tour schedule and other things?
I only do shows with Candlemass and Gus G.
Mats, how do you see your mission in Candlemass? And how do you understand the essence of the band? What’s its core for you?
My mission is what I do now together with the guys. Candlemass have never sounded better live and the band has never been happier.
Mats, you sang on the Abstrakt Algebra album released back in 1996. What are your best memories of that time? What was most interesting for you in the band?
We had a great time in the studio and it was my first chance to sing some heavier stuff — great memories!
Have you ever sung Abstrakt Algebra songs when playing with Leif in Krux?
Yea, we did “Shadowplay” a couple of times.
How has your experience in Krux differed from the ones you’ve gotten in Candlemass and Abstrakt Algebra?
Abstrakt was a bit more industrial. Krux was pretty close to Candlemass except for the keyboards I guess.
Krux’s third album III – He Who Sleeps Amongst the Stars was released four years ago. Does the band plan to work on new songs?
Not at the moment no.
One of your latest works is the Aeonsgate project. What’s the story behind it? Does Jondix plan to continue the project?
Jondix contacted me for the album and now I proudly wear some of his tattoos — fantastic guy.
Mats, you have uing in more than twenty bands and projects. What were the most difficult periods for you?
Probably after the Yngwie years, I didn’t really know what to do next. Krux and Therion was a great way to kick off again in 2002-03!