Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: February 17th, 2005
Jakob (Mercenary), I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk with our readers.
Tell us what your dreams were when you picked up your first guitar, and when you joined your first band?
Basically, when I got my first guitar at age 16, I just wanted to learn a lot of killer riffs and attempt to write a few myself. When I joined my first band something like a year later, we all just wanted to write some cool songs and start to play some concerts. I guess our ambitions weren't really too high at first, but of course, there was always the dream of ‘making it' as a band somewhere in the back of our minds.
Back in 1991 the band first started and you put out your demo "Domicile" in 1993, how has the band changed to the present?
Well, the band started out as a death-thrash band with just growling vocals, so a lot has changed. We've been through a lot of lineup changes, and our music has been developing constantly. In addition we've added keyboards and a lot of different vocal styles as well. I think we've always had an eye for the balance between aggression and melody, though.
In 1996, you put out a 4-track CD called “Supremacy,” produced by Jacob Hansen and your last 4 full-length CD's were produced by Hansen. How is it working with him?
He's great – which is why we keep using him, ha-ha. He's a really good guy, funny, easy to work with and very professional. He always has a sensible opinion if you need one. We'll use him again for sure.
Your last 3 CD's were all on different labels; First Breath 1998 Serious Entertainment, EverBlack 2002 Hammerheart Records, and now 11 Dreams with Century Media Why the changes, and how is Century Media working with you differently?
The first label was just Jacob Hansen's own, and he ran it entirely by himself. Naturally, he couldn't put a lot of time and effort into it, and he closed it after some years to concentrate on producing. Hammerheart was a step up, since they were able to do a much better promotional job, but we still missed getting some better support for touring. With Century Media, that should finally be possible. Moreover, we're much more in contact with them about everything and they're handling everything like the pro's you'd expect them to be.
The new CD's is just amazing. I did the review on our site ROCKEYEZ and gave it 9 out of 10. How long did “11 Dreams” take to record?
I think we spent something like 6 weeks recording it, partly because we worked a lot on different ideas and versions in the studio.
Let's get down to some of the tunes. "Into The Sea Of Dark Desire " you can lay back and mellow out. Why did you decide to start the CD off with a haunting Keyboard instrumental?
We thought it made sense to let that track introduce the vibe of the album and also build an expectation of something to come for the listener.
Don't lay back to much because track two your ears will melt. A heart-stopping tune: "World Hate Center.” Were you trying to give new listeners a heart attack on this one after laying back on the first song?
Ha-ha-ha, not really, but if that's how it seems to you, we're flattered! We chose that track because it is so intense; it just grabs you by the balls and doesn't let go for five minutes. Should catch the attention of most listeners!
Track-three, the title track, and my favorite on the CD called "11 Dreams,” this song is just Phenomenal; can you tell us about the making of this song?
Actually that's the first track we wrote for the album. We felt this was a new direction, more rock-inspired than most things we've done so far but also very catchy. I think it turned out as it did because we played it live a lot of times before we recorded it, so we had worked on it a lot by then.
Let's jump to track-eight "Music Non- Stop.” This track has Hit all over it. Is it that all the members of Mercenary have different tastes in music why the changing of styles through out “11 Dreams”?
Actually, that track is a cover of a Swedish pop-rock band called Kent, who Kral and I like a lot. So we preferred to keep it a bit less heavy than the rest of the tracks to add to the contrasts on the album. But generally yes, we listen to quite a lot of different music and I think our different backgrounds are an essential reason why we sound like we do. Kral, our drummer Mike and I have all listened to a lot of brutal stuff, thrash and death metal throughout the years, whereas our second singer Mikkel and his brother Morten on keys grew up listening to heavy rock and progressive metal bands – so when they joined, they actually had to spent a lot of time adjusting to our sound. And our new lead guitarist Martin has been playing and listening to anything from classical to blues, jazz and death metal. I don't think a lot of bands go through an integration process like this with new members with whom they might not share a lot with in musical taste at the beginning, but that we took the time to do so it's probably the main reason why we sound like we do.
The band started in 1991 and now it is 2005, fourteen years later and countless releases. How does it feel that "11 Dreams" can put the band in the superstar status?
Well, ha-ha-ha, there's still a long way to go before we become superstars, if we ever do! But we're definitely moving ahead in the world, getting a lot more attention than earlier with the competent backup and promotion of our new label, and that is very, very satisfactory after having spent so many years, trying to take the band to the next level.
Your going out on tour with Brainstorm in April/May, will Mercenary be touring in the U.S.A. ?
I'm sure we will at some point, but for now we do not have any plans, I'm afraid.
If you had a chance to open for another band if touring in the U.S.A. who would that be?
Oh, I haven't really thought about that before…I guess touring with a band like Megadeth who has always been a major inspiration for us would be cool! But also opening for a “smaller” European band like In Flames would rock – and be a dream come true as well…and of course there a zillion other bands out there who we'd love to tour with, if the chance arose…
Tell us whom you admire, not including any members of Mercenary
Bass – Sean Malone
Guitar – Chuck Shuldiner, Jeff Loomis.
Keyboard – Sverd from Arcturus.
Drums – Gene Hoglan, Hellhammer.
Vocalist – Mikael Åkerfeldt, Warrell Dane
favorite 1980 band - Metallica
favorite 1990 band - Death
favorite 2000 band - Opeth
In conclusion, I am going to say a few words. Tell us what comes to mind
War – Could be avoided if politicians all over were not so overly focused on short-term national interests and staying in power.
Religion – Perhaps a road of enlightenment and serenity for a few, but it is a certain path to a dogmatic and self-righteous view of the world and that is their role in the world for the most part.
Century Media – Our newfound family!
Groupies – Would be nice, if we didn't all have girlfriends and/or wives! (Who might stumble upon and read this, mind you….)
Recording - Can be just as fun, exciting, creative, exhilarating, and rewarding, as it can be demanding, straining, depressing and tedious...
Family – Should always be there for you, like you should always be there for them…they're the reason we are who we are, for better and for worse…
Power – Is essentially just the same as control over your surroundings. We all have it and exert it over the people we live and work with in our daily life to a greater or lesser degree, and as such, there's nothing wrong with it. As long as you're willing to recognize your responsibility for your actions and the effect it has on others.
Future – Who knows? It's what you make of it. And we'll be certain to make ours, as well as yours, as metal as possible!
Would you like to say anything in conclusion?
Yeah – please buy our album, bribing reviewers all over cost us a hell lot of money… no, seriously, we feel there's something for everyone with a genuine love for metal on the album, so be sure to check it out…