Intervista Dismember (Robert Sennebäck)
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Hi Robert, first of all, I think this is Dismember’s first interview since you announced the reunion, so thanks for taking the time.
How are you doing?
Fine, I’m very happy to do this show in October, I’m really looking forward to it.
Let’s start with the reunion, of course: how did it all happen? Can you talk me through its timeline?
Well, it’s been around for quite a long time, but not all the members were into it at first.
I mean, we are in different stages in life, I’ve been away from the band for a long time, so for me it was more compelling to do music again.
Maybe two years ago we started saying, “Maybe we should do something, play music again”, but it didn’t happen then.
Me and David [Blomqvist] started doing music on our own, we started a new band with Tobias [Cristiansson] – he was the bass player in Dismember – and Olle [Dahlstedt] from Entombed A.D., yeah, it is kind of Dismember-like music.
At the beginning of summer, last year, we finally all wanted to do some kind of reunion show, and that’s what we are going to do!
Was it you who approached Scandinavia Deathfest, or was it the other way around?
I’m not quite sure about that because the promoter [of Deathfest], Evan, he has mainly had contact with Fred [Etsby], so I don’t know if Fred contacted him or he contacted Fred.
I guess he has been in contact with Fred for several years talking about, “Dismember should do a reunion here in Maryland” and so on.
Because not all of the members were into it back then, several years ago, it wasn’t going to happen.
The reunion is already a success, the first show you announced, Scandinavia Deathfest, sold out in 24 hours and you were “forced” to announce a second concert the following day. Were you expecting this kind of reaction?
Both yes and no.
We kind of had a hunch that it could be sold out and maybe the place was a little bit too small, but you’re never sure.
Now you can see in the comments on Facebook, people are travelling from all over the globe, but I didn’t expect so many, maybe a couple coming from Australia, or the USA, or Germany, but now it seems like a big part of the crowd will be from other countries.
When we realised that, we asked Deathfest if they could change the venue…I want to do this for the fans, it’s really important that they get what they think they are going to get, and it is kind of frustrating if not everyone get a ticket, even if it’s really cool that it’s sold out, but if more people could get to see us it would be much cooler.
Of course, now people all over the world are hoping for Dismember to play near their town. Are you planning to go on tour anytime soon?
We haven’t said anything about the future except this show, and that is mainly because you don’t know how everyone feels.
I mean, now we are doing this because it’s fun, because we like to do it, we have this spark like in the beginning and that’s kind of cool, and we want to keep it that way.
We said, “we do one step at a time”, we concentrate on this show…the only reason we do two shows is because it’s sold out, otherwise it would be only one, it’s like the 20th anniversary gig we did here in Medborgarplatsen [a square in Stockholm], that was a one-time only thing and that was the cool thing about it.
So, maybe there will be more in the future but at the moment nothing is certain.
I wanted to ask you if you thought of writing new music, but I guess the answer is the same…
Yeah, I mean, me and David have been writing music for our other band, Legioned, so it’s not like we’re not doing music, we could do Dismember music also, and I guess the members also could do that, but we haven’t talked about that.
I know some of your albums today are not very easy to be found, are you working on reissuing them?
Fred is working with a record company to kind of gather everything in one record company and sort everything out with bootlegs and records not available.
Do you have any idea of when they could be released?
I’m not really sure, it’s mostly Fred who handle this kind of business because the record company is in the US.
I’d like to go back to the early days of the band, now: the early ’90s were an extremely creative time in Scandinavia, so many albums now considered Death and Black Metal classics came out in a very short period of time. What are your memories of that period?
We were very young, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen when we started out, and then in 1991 I guess I was eighteen, nineteen and everything was wild and crazy: you don’t have the obligations that you have when you grow up, now I have kids, own an apartment and bla bla bla.
At that time we all lived at home with our parents, we could do whatever we wanted, we could rehearse every day several hours.
We were just hanging out with friends, and all of these bands, Entombed, Grave, Unleashed, we were just hanging around, partying, living life like young people do.
Dismember are now regarded as one of the “big four” of Swedish Death Metal together with Entombed, Grave and Unleashed. Was there some kind of competitiveness where you were all trying to be heavier than each other?
In the beginning I don’t think it was competitive, I mean, everyone wanted to be heavy, wanted to be more brutal and everything, you wanted to have your own style, but still you listened to everything, “Oh, I love this, I want this sound, I want to sound like him when I sing”.
So, I don’t think it was competitive, it was more a friendship.
Everyone was…when Unleashed was playing we were in the crowd headbanging, and vice-versa, so in the beginning when Johnny Hedlund from Unleashed was in Nihilist, pre-Entombed, he was standing in the crowd headbanging when Dismember played, then Dismember would be in the crowd.
It was a small community in the beginning, there weren’t many people that were listening to Death Metal, it was new, some people we laughing like, “What are these guys doing? It sounds worse than…Venom”.
It was a cool time, it was not competitive, I wouldn’t say that.
Something people from outside often don’t realise is how few inhabitants Sweden has, how the Metal scene is small and everybody ends up knowing everybody; you yourself were in Unleashed for a while, David was in Entombed for a bit too, and I think people don’t realise that, no matter how important those albums are today, it was just a bunch of kids, of friends hanging together.
No, they don’t realise that it was like a mesh of people.
Like you said, when Nihilist and Dismember split up, in the demo era, I started Unleashed with Johnny Hedlund and David, he was supposed to join Unleashed with me, but he joined Entombed, and later joined Carnage.
So, Carnage, Dismember…you know, there are a couple of Dismember songs on the Carnage album and even riffs that I made for Dismember ended up in Carnage songs that don’t have a Dismember connection, it was like a merge, everything was merging together.
Of course, the was another big Metal scene in Sweden, the Gothenburg scene: what was your relationship with them?
My relationship was mainly with Tompa, the singer from At the Gates, I met him a couple of times, he was in Stockholm partying, we celebrated New Year together.
This was way back, I don’t think it was At the Gates at the time, I think he played in Grotesque, he was really cool.
That’s mainly my connection with the Gothenburg scene, but I like the sound, I like melodies and Dismember had a lot of that.
And was there some competition between the Stockholm scene and the Gothenburg one, or was it again just a friendly relationship, when there was one?
Not during my time, at least.
I don’t know how it was after ’97, maybe it was competitive but I’m not sure.
Today a lot of bands are inspired by what you did back then. Do you remember when you first realised Dismember’s impact on Death Metal? And how does that make you feel?
I think I realised that sometime when I was not in the band anymore, two thousand something, when Dismember was still playing.
I saw it from the outside, there was this band called Deathevocation after our song, that’s kind of cool, internet was growing, you started to see YouTube clips, people playing my riffs and it’s totally awesome to think that they really liked the music that I was creating in my own room back home.
That’s just like, I adored Metallica, “That’s really cool, I want to do the same thing”…
And they were doing the same thing with your music.
Yeah, and it’s really flattering, totally cool.
Do you keep up with new bands and releases? What do you think of the Death Metal scene today?
Some bands, but I kind of listen to the whole spectrum of music, I kind of find new bands like Lik, they are really cool, they sound really, really great.
But I also like melodic new bands with female singers, like Nightwish and everything.
Yeah, a broad spectrum.
This was my last question, thank you again for taking the time, and if you want to leave a final message to our readers this is the right time.
As long as Dismember lives, Death Metal will reign!
Interview by Davide Sciaky