Backstage after a short but very well received set, Grand Magus sit sweaty and relaxed in their dressing room. Enigmatic frontman JB Christoffersson relaxeswith a bottle of Badger ale and sporting a beard that has braved many Swedish winters. He is relaxed, amiable and above all a true metalhead
So…apart from the debacle with Ireland last night…how’s the tour going?
It’s been great – a smooth and efficient operation – just the way I like it!
We were due to meet earlier and I was going to ask you if you were playing much new stuff, but having just seen you I can see the new stuff is going down really well – particularly the title track?
Yeah, I mean the new album seems to have struck the right chord with people – we are really pleased with it and playing the songs live really works.
I was fairly close to the front – both people who know your stuff and those that don’t seemed to be really getting into it.
That’s cool – that’s nice to know.
The latest album, to my ear anyway, seems to be something of a return to a more ‘metal’ sound – whereas The Hunt sounded more…
Yeah – very much so – was it a conscious decision then to change tack on this new album?
Erm…I think all of our albums have been very honest reflections on what we were doing at the time and what we were listening to at the time. We have never really had any grand plan – our music is very honest and I think around the time of “The Hunt” I was listening to a lot of AC/DC and having come off the tour from the “Hammer Of The North” album which was very much ‘Heavy Metal’ I just felt the need to do something different. Then again with “Triumph And Power” it felt right to go back to true, pure heavy metal you know.
Did you previously have more of an outlet for writing rock stuff with Spiritual Beggars? Did you write a lot with them or was it mainly Michael writing the music?
It was definitely mainly Michael – I think I only co-wrote two songs with them, but yeah absolutely it was an outlet to do that kind of hard rock stuff.
Do you get chance on tour to do much other than sound check, play, back on the bus, sleep – do you get to see any of the cities you’re in?
It depends – it’s very rare to get chance to do anything other than what you just mentioned. This is what you see – the dressing room – and the stage and the back of a van or a bus, but sometimes you do get a chance to get a feel for where you are.
Is the weather here better than at home or even worse?
I’m not sure – I think what happened the last couple of days is on its way to Sweden just now so it’ll be pretty terrible when we get back – we’ll get it twice.
What happened that stopped you getting to Ireland, for those who don’t already know
There was a “weather bomb” (laughs)
Errr…..it was simply that all the ferries were cancelled. We were in Glasgow – the gig the next day was in Dublin – there was just no feasible way to get there. Behemoth managed to get flights at the last minute but we did not have that option financially, unfortunately – but hey – you cannot control the weather.
You’re here in Birmingham tonight and Birmingham very much likes to claim its title as ‘The Birthplace Of Heavy Metal’….
Rightfully so, yeah…
But you guys are from Stockholm?
Well we’re from close to Stockholm but we live now in Stockholm.
Because to my mind there’s probably just as many classic metal bands from Stockholm as there are from here – Candlemass, Bathory….Entombed, Dismember
Dismember, yeah, Unleashed…
So many…did you get to see much of that growing up and getting into metal?
Yeah, I mean I was into Bathory a lot but not so much the local metal scene when I was growing up – I was into Priest and Saxon and things like that,, but when we got together and started playing there was a very strong death metal scene in Stockholm so we have always been very much connected with that and the bands that you mentioned
Most of your lyrics are in English – some of your early stuff had the odd Swedish title – is it difficult in the music scene these days to write in your native tongue.
I think it’s pretty essential to write in English. If I wrote Swedish lyrics it would really limit the audience – if you’re playing death or black metal you can maybe write Swedish or Norwegian lyrics but the type of music we do – the lyrics are important and it would be suicide to write Swedish lyrics.
Having been to Sweden Rock festival a couple of times – most people in Sweden seem to speak really good English.
You’re right – we start having English lessons in third grade so most Swedish people are really good at English – which is both good and bad. I think both musically and culturally in Sweden we are really good at emulating things.
You talked earlier about English bands that have influenced you – are there any newer English bands you listen to or are you rooted fairly firmly in the classic era?
Very much the old stuff but when we started out both Cathedral and Electric Wizard were hugely important to us and huge influences. They’re not ‘new’ but they’re not as old as Priest or Saxon.
What about the new Electric Wizard album – I’ve been a fan for years but the new one hasn’t really clicked with me…
Oh definitely – I’ve been on something of a Wizard trip lately and been playing that a lot – it’s really really good. It captures that occult feeling so well. They’re the real deal.
You got much booked for 2015?
We have some festivals in Sweden and Germany and then we have some plans….that are not diclosable right now – but it will be really good.
So, we are coming up to Christmas…ST Lucia’s Day is tomorrow and I understand that’s quite big celebration in Sweden – but you’re going to be spending it in Manchester?
Ah yeah – I am perfectly happy with that because although it is a big thing in Sweden for some reason – which is weird – some saint got beheaded you know – and I don’t really know why we all celebrate that., Most Christmas things in Sweden are just based on the original Pagan and Heathen celebrations of light during the months of darkness and most Christian traditions just took over what we were already doing before Christianity got a foothold in Scandinavia. Where we live in Stockholm the sun is up at 10am and goes down at 2:30pm. The further north you fo it barely comes up…you really do need some light!
And do you have anything written at all for the next album – any ideas or is that too far ahead?
That’s the undisclosed plans (laughs)
So do you use twitter or Facebook or what’s the best way to keep up with you guys?
I don’t really do twitter so I guess the Facebook page is the best way, but when stuff happens we will make sure people are aware.
Well thanks for taking time out to talk to us
(Raises beer) No problem!