The new Swedes on the block, Cult of Luna, refuse to pigeonhole
themselves into any specific music genre. Despite guitarist Johannes
Persson's declaration that the band is not metal, we run this feature
with the understanding that metal is as metal does. Their latest output
'The Beyond' sees the band spewing forth heavy futuristic sounds, via
their electronics-laced metal. Will there come a day that it is
impossible to pigeonhole a band in the metal category because the term
is simply too broad? Not until bands who are pushing the boundaries
realize that they can make any kind of metal they'd like. Where would we
be had Kerry King, Chuck Schuldiner or Ihsahn claimed that they were not
metal? In the meantime, Cult Of Luna isn't a metal band, but we
interviewed them anyway. . .
METAL UPDATE: So Cult Of Luna was formed from the ashes of a band called
JOHANNES PERSSON: Yes.
MU: And you were in that band along with the vocalist, correct?
MU: Now what did that band sound like?
JP: At that period I was really influenced by the San Diego scene. So I
was really into bands like Unbroken and Swing Kids. The band's sound was a
similar thing. When you learn to write songs you try to copy. It was a
nice period in my life and it was a great band.
MU: How well known had you guys become?
JP: It was more of a cult band. It wasn't that big of a band because we
broke up before things took off so not that big actually.
MU: What was the reason for the split?
JP: Many. Because we had people quit and start new bands. Klas wasn't
the original singer. He came in during the late stages of the band. We had
decided to change the music direction a bit, so everyone was unpleased
with that. So we wanted to continue and just moved on basically.
MU: You two had the same idea musically of what you wanted to do?
MU: How did the rest of Cult Of Luna take shape?
JP: It was more of a progress. I got in touch with a guy from a town 2
hours north of here and he started out as a drummer but now he's the keyboard
player. He knew a guy who knew a guy. You know how things go. It took
like 9 months before we got the regular setup.
MU: When was Cult Of Luna officially born?
JP: Actually, we recorded the demo in January of '99 I think. But that
was before the lineup got decent.
MU: What was the goal of the band in the beginning?
JP: We wanted to do something. It sounds like a contradiction. We wanted
to do something with more exploration. Something more obscure than what we
had done before. That is why we formed the cult.
MU: How old are all the members of the band?
JP: Between 25 and 21.
MU: 25 and 21? Still fairly young I suppose.
JP: Oh I don't feel young.
MU: Yeah, who does. I'm 27 so I feel really old. How did you become a
part of the Earache roster?
JP: We got a good response from the first record. A lot industry people
got in touch with us. A lot of people liked the record. Earache was one of
them. We just discussed things for a while. They made an offer. We weren't
happy. We negotiated for a few months until everyone was satisfied. There's
always a compromise. That always happens with everything in contracts.
MU: It's definitely good promotion and tour support for the most part.
Things like that you have to take into consideration. How was the recording
experience this time around?
JP: It was killer. With the first month, we spent 16 hours a day. On top
of that, it was the warmest summer in Sweden. So it was killer. I was both
mentally and physically destroyed by that. We didn't sleep well and we
were really tired both mentally and physically.
MU: So you guys produced the album while Pelle Henricsson co-produced?
JP: Yeah. He came into the mixing process. He did a great job at mixing
and he produced a few things. He had some good ideas.
MU: How was the band qualified to take on the producer's role?
JP: Magnus was the technician. He works at a studio. He's got the
technical know how and we know what we want the band to sound like. We told him
what we wanted to do and of course he had opinions himself. He made it happen.
MU: Was it recorded digitally or analog?
MU: Yeah. That's usually how it's done.
JP: I'm not sure but I think we recorded the drums analog.
MU: How long did the whole recording process take?
JP: All in all about 2.5 months. We had a few weeks off to listen to
what we had done.
MU: Are you happy with the results?
JP: Yeah. I love it. Actually, you always want to change things or do
something different but I'm really happy with it. Even if I got to do
everything the way I wanted, I would probably still want to change
MU: It's a pretty heavy record. It turned out great. Is there much of a
difference in sound from your past release to this new one?
JP: Soundwise I would say it is a more diverse sound now. But it's not
that big of a difference. The biggest difference is the songs, the structures
and the thought going into the songs. On the first album, we always took the
easy way out. We knew it was an easy record to write. That's the biggest
MU: How do you think you've grown since your formation?
JP: I think that we have grown as far as our tastes and are more willing
to experiment with other forms of music than before. If we continue much
longer, we will probably test our boundaries even more.
MU: Your bio states that you really have no influences in terms of your
writing. Is that really the case?
JP: Not really. When I began writing music, as I told you, you try to
copy things. That is how you learn. By copying things. The way I am writing
music now, I don't have anything in mind, except writing good songs. In that
sense, I don't have any. But on the subconscious, I don't know. That is
for other people to decide. The only thing that I really try to capture
is the atmosphere in the future movies of the '80's like Blade Runner,
Terminator 2, and all those Alien and everything from the late '70's to the early
'90's. Itis a harsh view of the future. It's a feeling of man creating
something that might be self destructive, that might even control a
human being's life. That is the atmosphere I try to capture in my
writing. I don't know if I have succeeded.
MU: How would you define your music?
JP: I wouldn't.
MU: It defies categorization?
JP: I am against labeling music. If I wanted to describe our music. . .
it's hard, it's heavy and it's slow. That's pretty much it. And it's not
always hard. Sometimes it's pretty soft but it's dark, heavy, slow
music. I'm against labeling music. I don't want to label my music
because it limits your artistic output. If we were to say that we are a
metal band, we would have to live up to certain things that we might not
want to. Many reviewers are labeling us as a metal band. I am not saying
that they are wrong, but that is their interpretation. People are
telling us that we are everything from a doom band to a goth band. I am
not saying they are wrong. They are entitled to their opinions.
MU: What is the most common comparison that people are making, that
you've read so far, bandwise? If they were comparing you to one band, what has
been the main one so far?
JP: On the first record, everyone seemed to compare us to Neurosis. I
think that's a lazy comparison because it doesn't say anything really. There
is not that much intelligence behind it, just dropping a name which I
don't think our first record sounded that way. People hear electronics
and then they draw their comparisons. They're entitled to it, but it's
not an intelligent way to. . . I wouldn't say that but it doesn't take
that much of an effort really. It's a lazy way. Besides that, we haven't
been compared to Neurosis that much actually; we're really compared to a
lot of bands that I haven't even heard of like the Swans, God Speed You
Black Emperor, St. Vitus - stuff that I haven't heard but will gladly
check out because they seem to be amazing bands.
MU: Those are all fairly accurate. And the thing is, the critics have
to. . . they don't have to, but it's always an easy way out, or a decent
way to steer somebody. I would say that it sounds similar to Neurosis as
well as Isis and possibly even Mastodon. That's my take on it, but
that's just steering people in a certain direction. You definitely are
very original in your own way.
JP: Someone I did an interview with today did that comparison to
Mastodon too. I have never heard 'em so it'll be another band that I have to
MU: Definitely. It's real good stuff.
JP: Is that the band with members from Today Is The Day?
MU: Yeah. From the 'In the Eyes of God' album.
JP: Is it that crazy drummer?
Yup. He's ridiculous.
JP: So it doesnit sound similar to Today Is The Day?
MU: No - a lot different. What are your live shows like?
JP: I don't know. I haven't seen us live. (laughs)
MU: Yeah. I hear ya.
JP: We are beginners.
MU: You just get up there and rock out?
JP: Exactly. We haven't played that much live. But I hope we'll be
playing out more in the future. We are going to be playing live as much as
MU: Who would you most like to tour with?
JP: Hard question. It depends. I don't know. I am into very different
kinds of music. Everything from singer / songwriter stuff like Johnny Cash and
Nick Drake to heavy bands like Morbid Angel. I don't know. Tool would be
cool - to tour with or Queens Of The Stone Age or Black Rebel Motorcycle
Club. . . There are a lot of great bands out there.
MU: Are you guys more so connected to the hardcore scene or the metal
scene because it seems as though you might appeal to both?
JP: We are not connected to any scene actually. That feels really good.
We are from the hardcore scene but we are aren't a part of that anymore.
Right now there is more of a crust thing going on - a lot of grindcore stuff.
Every band sounds the same, and I'm not just saying that. Everything
sounds so similar. We are not part of that scene and we definitely are
not part of the metal scene. I donit know. We don't need anyone else. We
are just getting by.
MU: Do your thing and see what happens. What bands have you been
listening to lately?
JP: Right now I've been listening to a lot of Nine Inch Nails actually.
I've been missing out on them for a very long time. Everyone has been telling
me how great they are. I just borrowed a few records from my brother and
started listening to them. I am really into them right now. I've been
reading new books from Michael Moore actually.
MU: Here's a pretty cliché question you've probably been hearing too
much of, but has the war in Iraq affected you in any way?
JP: Yeah. Well not directly. Of course it's affected me because I think
it is a wrong and unjust war. I could go on and on for hours on what I
really think about it. The thing is, in Sweden and Germany, the
population is against the war for obvious reasons. I think the
government in the United States. . . Let's face it, you have chosen an
idiot. I'm sorry, you haven't chosen an idiot. You have elected him. I
mean he's elected by like 23% of the country. He's too stupid to hide
what is really going on. America has been doing this since World War II
but has been smart enough to cover it up. First off, I talked to another
guy about the war, and everyone here laughs about the connection between
Al Quaeda and Iraq. I asked him if someone believes that in the United
States. And it seems like, not that you do, but a lot of people do
believe that's a war on terrorism. That's just a joke. You have to think
what is the motive behind the war? The motive is. . . You could say it
is a lot of things, but one thing is for sure: the people who are in
charge of this war, it's the hoax from the old Bush era. George Bush Jr.
He's not clever. I'm not the kind of person to have a grudge on someone
just because they are not geniuses, but it seems like he's a puppet for
someone else. I could go on and on about this, and this is just one
argument. We got back from the UK last Friday. I got a glimpse of how
the media works there. I mean I thought the Swedish media was biased.
Its nothing compared to British media. It's like watching a football
game and if Sweden is playing another country, I am going to be upset if
you are not cheering for Sweden. It's just a football game. But when
people are getting killed and the media don't discuss whether it's a
just war or if it is a war that should be fought. They are discussing
how our boys are going to win the war. I would imagine it's much worse
in the States.
MU: Oh yeah. I think it is disgusting.
JP: It is disgusting. I don't know how people and reporters actually can
look themselves in the mirror and say that they are doing a good job if
the motivation behind being a reporter is a just and neutral perspective on
what is happening.
MU: That's not the way it works unfortunately.
JP: There seems to be a lot of Americans that are against the
government. There are a lot of protesters in America too. Don't get me wrong, it
seems like a cool country with a lot of great people, but the government sucks
a major ass.
MU: Yeah. Definitely. I'm basically neutral myself so you're not
offending me by any means, but I know some people take things way too
seriously and it's kind of crazy.
JP: One of the things I have to say. . . It's so unnecessary really, but
just because you are against the war doesn't mean you are cheering for
Sadam. He is a criminal and he should be prosecuted for what he has done
but the argument is brought forward that he is gassing his own country.
When he did that, America first off gave him the weapons to do it. They
gave him the means to do it. They even gave him a loan after the massacre in
Halabjah. After that America was supporting Iraq in the war against Iran, and Iraq
accidentally shot a missile into an American cruiser and America did
nothing. If that were to happen today, they would probably be nuked. The
people here in Sweden are starting to view America not as the world
leader, but the world gangster. Everyone has seen that America and the
UK have wanted this war from the start. So I could go on and on and on
MU: Thanks for your insight on that. What are some future plans for the
JP: We want to just tour as much as possible. Last year we played, I
don't know how many shows. Probably not more than four, and three of them were
in December. So we are pretty eager to get out and play as much live as
CULT OF LUNA - OFFICIAL
Interview: Scott McCooe [ email@example.com ]
Metal Update Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
Webmaster: RED [ email@example.com ]