Interview: Had (2020) / From The Bowels Of Perdition

Conversation with

Had

As a band comprised of individuals that all have at the very least one more creative outlet for playing the same style of music already, what precisely was the reason for founding Had as a brand new entity?

M.F: The first idea with this new entity was between my brother and me, we wanted to start a new devilish death metal band. This is what came out of it I guess. It was supposed to be a new band with a drummer we hadn’t played with before.

Does Had have a different purpose compared to your other bands? Do you perhaps see it as a vessel for expressing ideas and ambitions that for some reason you couldn’t fulfill through them?

M.F: Yes, I think what I composed here didn’t suit any of my other bands, and with a drummer that has a different way of playing than in any of my other bands, it has a more ghoulish and devilish feeling to it. Also, this is the first time I’ve tried writing and singing in Danish. So yes, Had is a lot different to me than my other projects.

Speaking of that devilish disposition you have already mentioned twice, Had is not only a simple, short word that sounds good and is easy to pronounce and remember, it is also a word with a strong and direct meaning, that carries a certain message and reflects a certain attitude. Did you name the band after it because of its semantic or transcendental qualities, or because of both?

M.F: I think I came up with the name because I wanted a Danish name that could be interpreted as powerful and had a lot of anger and aggression in it. You could probably say it’s both semantic and transcendental in some ways to me. The meaning of the name should be very clear. Hate, nothing more, nothing less.

With only four songs worth of material, do you like to think that Had is already its own band with its own sound, despite the fact that this EP is your very first official recording?

M.F: I think of Had as more of a project. Not sure if I will ever play live with Had, but I will for sure produce more music and release more songs. I haven’t really found a distinct sound for this entity yet. But let’s see what comes up next.

One could argue that the raw and primitive sound of the EP doesn’t seem well suited to accentuate all the interesting ideas and musicianship showcased on it and that cleaner and sharper production could have given it a completely different edge. That said, would you deem the sound of the EP a deliberate regression to something more primal and organic or was that particular sound something that shaped itself spontaneously in the studio, without much upfront planning?

M.F: I’m actually not that fond of the sound and how it turned out. There were some problems with the testpress sound, which hopefully will be changed at a later time, if we ever do a repress. The raw and primitive sound was made by the guy who mixed and mastered the record. I think for the next release I will have a different approach to the sound and choose someone else for the mixing part. The sound on this record is probably a mix of the way the J. mixed it and has got something to do with T. of Deiquisitor recording the drums and me recording everything else. Learning by doing.

There is something deeply ominous and destructive about your sound, a sense of sincere anger, frustration and acrimony that most bands struggle to channel through their music with enough authenticity. Had, on the other hand, sounds genuinely enraged and infuriated, like a band that refuses to project a certain image or sound a certain way just to meet the expectations of the general public. Do you feel that having the urge to express absolute honesty through music, no matter how disturbing that expression may seem to some, is what separates genuine artistry from mere entertainment?

M.F: Thank you very much for those kind words. That is what my intentions are when producing music. I don’t care about what people think or how they put what I compose in a certain box of this or that type of death metal. I guess when writing and recording, I put all my effort into the songs to give the music an abominable and furious expression, full of dread and scorn. I wouldn’t call myself a music critic, but yes, there is probably a big difference between bands playing a genre to be a part of a hip scene where there’s money to be earned, compared to bands playing a style of music that they love and live for.

Speaking of dread and scorn, have you ever tried to track down the origins of those intense negative feelings your music serves as a vessel for? Is that destructiveness directed outwards or innards, are you a self-destructive type of person?

M.F: Hmm, that’s a tricky one. I guess while growing up I had a lot of shit happening in my family, which I probably never really got processed. But who doesn’t carry stuff like that in their luggage? I would say that I’m a self-destructive person, turning most stuff inward. Probably not the best idea, but don’t we all got flaws?

An animal evil desire towards everything and everyone, Laughing in deadly pain, Life worn out through bodily pain and To dispel the tormenting cries of the dying are the rough English translations of the original song titles in Danish. Presuming that their meanings have been more or less preserved after this inapt translation, what would you say are the overarching lyrical themes that keep the songs inseparable? Are lyrics as important as the music in your book, or do you see them merely as a necessity?

M.F: Yes, those translations seem more or less right. The overall theme of the EP is inspired by the old Danish literature, by darker and more depressive age where superstitions were overshadowing the perspective of mankind. The ominous times where evil forces thrived and took hold of all the weak and wicked. The instrumental part of music has always been the most important aspect of creating music for me, but I can also see the importance of lyrics and that it can be powerful.

The image that can be seen on the cover of the EP, is it the front wall of some church or cathedral, and did you write the band’s name all over it in order to express some kind of religious sentiment?

M.F: Yes, the cover is the photo of a cathedral that I took while touring with Taphos in Mexico. I thought it looked very ominous and would work aesthetically well with this project. The band logo I drew was put on top of the picture by a friend who did the layout for me, and it worked very well with the shape of the cathedral’s entrance. No, there are no religious connotations here.

Speaking of front covers, what does the one that graces Sulphurous’ debut Dolorous Death Knell represent?

M.F: The painting I chose as the cover for Dolorous Death Knell is an old painting by Francis Danby called The Funeral Procession. I thought that the whole vibe and atmosphere were very suitable for that release, especially the back of the record where you can see the procession walking down a dark and very ominous path.

Have you ever written a song by simply going through the motions, without challenging yourself mentally and emotionally? Is writing music a long, painstaking and stressful process in your case, or something that comes out of you effortlessly?

M.F: I think it depends on my mood and working flow with the music. Sometimes it takes weeks to make a song I’d deem good enough, and then again, I can occasionally make several songs in a day that work well together. I guess the stressful process is when I must capture the essence of the music I want to record onto tape. That is the hard part.

From the outside-in perspective, one could argue that your music doesn’t represent only you and your band, but also the entire Copenhagen death metal community, all those interesting bands of which many share mutual members. When you look back at the music created by all those bands over the last couple of years, and the recognition and appreciation that music has been getting, how does that make you feel, do you believe that by being a part of that scene you’re actually a part of something truly special and worthwhile? Do you feel self-accomplished in that sense?

M.F: I hope that my music and what I create isn’t just a copy of all the other bands that started sprouting up in Copenhagen. But yes, it is hard to argue that the sound and vibe of many of the bands playing here is sort of the same due to us sharing members in almost every band here. I’m very happy to be a part of this cool scene here, of course. There are some really great and talented people involved in our death metal scene. I have never thought about the self-accomplishment side though, I just create music that I enjoy playing.

Speaking of the Copenhagen scene, are you just a bunch of good friends who like the same type of music or do you tend to do together a whole lot of different things outside of music?

M.F: We are a big bunch of people who are into the same type of music yes, but a lot of us have very similar other interests as well. However, a lot of those other interests are still circling around music in one way or another.

Considering that, besides Had, you play important role in Hyperdontia, Taphos and Sulphurous as well, is there a certain hierarchy between those bands in terms of their importance, which of them you consider your main priority? Are all those bands your own bands, so to say, or are you more of a hired gun in some of them?

M.F: Hmm, don’t know if I play important roles in the bands, maybe. I think the bands that have a full, stabile line-up and which I have played in for many years are my highest priority. Still, I try to treat all my bands equally, which can be a bit difficult sometimes, with six different bands (laughs).

When a riff is written, how do you determine which of those six bands should use it? Is it a matter of feeling or do you use more tangible criteria to base that decision upon?

M.F: That can change from time to time. When I try to make a riff or song for a certain band, for starters I use the guitar with the right tuning for that band, and then it can be a specific feeling or vibe that makes me use it for that band which I’m trying to compose for, or put it aside for one of the other bands. At other times it can be some of my band members saying that a riff doesn’t sound like it could work for that band. Then I try and use it for somewhere else.

With regard to the meaning of the band’s name, when you take a candid look at yourself, would you deem yourself somewhat of a hateful person? Is that particular feeling something that predominantly influences your private life and to what degree it affects your social relationships?

M.F: I don’t see myself as a hateful person, rather a person who is friendly and respectful towards other people when shown the same behavior in return. When not spewing out the madness in the music form, I have a family with a lot of kids which I love. So no, there’s not hatred all the time here (laughs).

Are you a kind of person that lives life day by day and surrenders to the comfort of aimless existence, without much upfront planning, or do you know precisely where are you going and how much time it will take you to get there, both in terms of making music and your private life?

M.F: I’m not sure, probably both. It can be a bit difficult living without any planning, with a family and a bunch of kids, and a lot of bands with adults often acting like they are the same age as my kids. I like to keep things planned and know what to expect of my time, but sometimes I also tend to lean toward not planning anything and just enjoying whatever comes next.

Would you say that the term career is the one that properly describes the nature of your association with all the bands you’re associated with or do you feel that there’s maybe something too formal and sterile about that word? How would you define this thing that you’re doing musically, is it a career, an artistic endeavor, a psychological outlet for all the accumulated aggression and negativity, or maybe a spiritual pursuit?

M.F: I would definitely not call what I’m doing a career or a job. That would take out all the fun. Of course it would be nice if what I did could make my earnings and pay the bills, but again then I would have to be a slave to that system and I do not want that. But this is much more than a hobby. Playing and creating music is my life and what I love to do.

 

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