With their latest album, My Darkness, Darkness, Beseech have made a triumphant return to the music scene after an absence of over a decade. Well, I’m certainly glad they’ve returned, as in many ways their new album is their strongest yet. I caught up with singer/songwriter Klas Bohlin who brought me up to speed with all things Beseech…
For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!
Beseech is an gothic metal band from Sweden, or perhaps a melancholic rock band is a better description these days. We are back after ten years in silence with our brand new and 6th album ”My Darkness, Darkness”, which probably is our most gloomy album ever. So if you are into dark music, not only metal but melancholic music in general, you should probably consider to continue reading…
But the history of Beseech goes way back. We are one of those bands, that from the beginning started as a death/doom metal band in the early 90s, that later on transformed into the gothic genre after some musical experiments using classical instruments like violin, cello and flute, lots of keyboards, but most important, we started to use the characteristic beauty and the beast contrast between the male and female vocals. Even if our musical direction has changed over the years it feels great to be back with an album that we really like ourselves. This time we have managed to find a way back to our roots and the sound on our early albums “Black Emotions” and “Souls Highway”, but with adding a little twist of vintage rock.
Give us a bit of background to Beseech
Beseech was founded in our hometown Borås, Sweden in 1992 by Klas Bohlin/me (guitar back then, today vocals) and Morgan Gredåker (ex drummer) and Jörgen Sjöberg (ex vocals). Three ambitious teenagers that were aiming for a record deal, that barely couldn’t play our instruments and didn’t know much about the music industry. Deeply influenced by death and doom metal but also driven by the creativity to write our own songs at an early stage. Soon after, we released our first demo tape ”A lesser kind of evil”, which also became an introduction for Beseech to the underground scene. Then it took us a few years, to finally have our first album ”…from a bleeding heart” out on the market, that was released in 1998 by Metalblade Records. During those early years, some people joined and left the band because of several reasons. Eventually Robert Vintervind (guitar) joined the band and together Robert and I developed the melancholic core within the Beseech sound. Then Beseech kept on playing for eight more years, five more albums, a tour together with Lacuna Coil and Theatre of Tragedy, festivals here and there until the farewell concert in our hometown in 2006, which was supposed to be the last Beseech concert ever.
What are your influences?
When we began to play, we were much more influenced by music from other bands in general like At the Gates, Morbid Angel, Candlemass, Pestilence, Entombed, Dismember etc, but also from other dark bands like Type o Negative, The Doors, Danzig, The Teaparty, etc., something that slightly has changed over the years, especially since the release of our first album. At that time I pretty much got an overdose of the gothic stuff. Being a listener is one thing, but to be in a band like Beseech as the main composer and a listener/music fan as well, became too much for me. At that time I discovered dark country music as well as the golden era in the history of music (according to me) – the late 1960s. During the years 1966-1972 there were a lot of important and innovative things going on within bands like The Moody Blues, Mc5, The Beatles, Love, Big Star, The 13th Floor Elavators, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Beach Boys, Arthur Brown, Hawkwind etc. If you listen carefully to our new album you will probably find the connection, but also in some of our early songs like Sunset 28, Little Demonchild and Neon Ocean.
Today I get much more emotionally affected from certain events in life, than from music. Our influences also varies, depending on who you ask in the band since we are quite different from each other… but Beseech’s roots is definitely within death metal, that’s for sure.
What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?
The latest album I’ve bought is Silver Season by Israel Nash, an amazing album that sounds a bit like Neil Young. Recently I have also realized how much I admire the American legendary singer songwriter Townes Van Zandt – Damn, that man knows how to write decent and dark songs! Check out ”Waitin around to die” to get an glimpse of what great dark country music is all about according to me.
In general I consider myself to be a true music lover that enjoys vinyl records and watching new bands at local concerts. Mostly I’m attracted to dark music, it really doesn’t matter what kind of genre, with an exception of rap and hip hop. Bands like The Soulsavers, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Big Elf, Midnight Choir are some more recent bands that I really can recommend as well. I also enjoy some rather new Swedish metal bands as well like Ghost, Graveyard and Spiders.
How do you feel that you fit into the wider Metal scene?
I think that Beseech always has been treated like outsiders within the metal scene, perhaps because we always have been a band in progress, that have experimented with different kinds of musical directions.
Give us a bit of background to My Darkness, Darkness – any particular concepts or ideas you want to discuss?
Once we were sure about the reunion of the band, we all agreed that we didn’t want to make anything hasty or sloppy because of nostalgia. Therefore we have spent a lot of time and effort in making this album, more time than ever.
My lyrics for this album is about our daily darkness, ordinary events that people like you and I go through in life. Tragedies, losses and eventually death. Somehow we are always happy bragging about all our good deeds, while we are silent about something like a cancer diagnosis within the family. Why I don’t know? Maybe we are afraid to get out of our comfort zone while the shame sneaks up on us. While I was writing the lyrics for this album, it came out natural for me to reflect over the darkness that I’ve been through as well as some deeper thoughts concerning the future. Somehow I think that the world as we know it, soon will come to an end. Hopefully not while we are alive. Call it a mid-life crisis, from a pessimistic point of view:-). But you can’t think like that everyday, without going insane. Somehow we have learned to live in symbiosis with the darkness and the light, to deal with both aspects in life. The only thing that we can be sure of, is that we only live once. Therefore it’s up to each and everyone to do our best with the short time we’ve got on this planet. I decided to fill my life with music.
As you’ve previously alluded to, in some ways this album seems to have a bit less of a Gothic Metal influence and more of a Rock one, care to elaborate on this?
Yes definitely. I also believe that this little twist with adding vintage rock, perhaps has taken our music to a new level that feels more relevant in 2016. Nothing revolutionary, but at least we have given the gothic genre something that might be a bit different.
Today I don’t know much about what’s going on within the gothic genre, which from a creative perspective might be a good thing.
How do you go about writing your songs?
It depends on who is writing. Today we are three composers in Beseech that writes the music. For this album I have written three songs together with Robert, two songs together with Manne Engström (guitar) and few entirely on my own, except for Highwayman which is a cover written by the American songwriter Jimmy Webb. This time I also got the confidence from the others to write all the lyrics, which probably was a smart move since there is a close relation between the singer and the songwriter. Since we live in different cities today, we usually send rough demos to each other as a start.
When I do the writing, it often starts with something that makes me emotionally touched, like an unforeseen and tragic event in life. Then I try to recapture that feeling with words and music. Here it often starts with some chords on my acoustic guitar and rough vocal melodies, sometimes I also do a rough sketch for the lyrics at the same time. Soon after, I usually record some demos that I send to the guys in the band.
How did the recording process go?
Once we entered the studio another creative process began, in which our new bass player but also our co-producer Johan Örnborg did an amazing job with creating the basic sound for the drums and the rhythm guitars, but also some important arrangements concerning the basic structure in each song, like tempo/click, breaks and bridges. It’s a feels great to have a guy like Johan in today’s edition of Beseech, that besides being a great musician also is a professional producer. Johan is also known for being one of the guys at Fascination Street Studios.
Later on our guitarist Manne, did an amazing job with engineering and producing the ”perfect takes” on almost all the guitars and some of the drums. Today Manne is also the main owner of StudioMega, which of course has been a great asset for us. Once we were done with the basic stuff, there was a lot of things going at our personal home studios. Håkan Carlsson (drums) did some percussion, Manne was busy at the studio with some additional guitars, Johan recorded all his bass as well as some audio editing and pre-mixing.
Since I had written the lyrics, it also came out natural for me to produce, write and record most of the vocals. I did almost everything at home since I have the proper studio gear for this, which according to me was a great thing. Since we didn’t have any deadline what so ever, there was a lot of ”trying new ideas”, but also space left for breaks and distance, something that I value during a creative process. For this album I did lots of experiments with using vocal background layers, that has given an extra dimension within our new sound. In some songs there can be over 20 channels with me and Angelina in different harmonies. As an old guitarist, even if I don’t play live these days, it was impossible to stay away from the guitar entirely. Most of the acoustic, but also some clean Fender and additional reamp stuff are actually recorded by me. The heavier and the main guitars were of course recorded by Robert and Manne, since they are much better than I at heavy guitars. The most time consuming part for me during this recording, was to record and write keyboard arrangements and adding sound FX, something that also Robert, Manne and Johan did as well.
It actually took us nearly three years to complete everything, divided into many visits at StudioMega (the classic Beseech studio since 1995), but like I said, there was also lots of stuff that were recorded at other places.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
This is something that keeps changing. Today I would vote for the title track of the album ”My Darkness, Darkness” since I’m in a mood for some western movies later this evening.
What does the future hold for Beseech?
At the moment we will look into our possibilities to get back on the road. To release an album like ”My Darkness, Darkness” was one of the things that we wanted to come true. At the moment it seems to be well received by the fans and media. To be honest, most of the reviews have been amazing. So hopefully we can make an impact with our new album, strong enough to open some important doors to the future.