Hello Mikael (& Apocalypse Orchestra)! Thank you for according me this interview! First of all, I think there are not so many persons who know you. Could you please introduce yourselves and introduce the band ?
Mikael: Thank you for having us! We’re a five piece band from the town Gävle in Sweden. We formed about four years ago because we wanted to play really heavy, doom oriented medieval metal since no one else was doing it.
Our lineup is:
Mikael: Hurdy Gurdy, Bagpipes and backing vocals
Andreas: Drums and percussion
Erik: Main vocals, guitar, mandola, lute and bouzouki.
Rikard: Bass and backing vocals.
Jonas: Guitar and backing vocals.
Could you explain what does mean the name “Apocalypse Orchestra” for you?
Mikael: The word apocalypse derives from old greek and means “To uncover”. So there’s more to it than just a violent end to things, we choose to interpret that there’s something new born from the ashes. Both despair and hope in the same word.
Your band was formed in 2013 by you and Erik. I guess you are long-time friends, but are you also “long-time musician friends”? Did you already play together in a music band before Apocalypse Orchestra?
Mikael: That’s correct. Me, Erik and Andreas have been playing together in various folk rock project prior to AO. Our first band was called Galder, modern acoustic Swedish folk music.
The second was Slingerbult, a slightly heavier electrified band with more emphasis on medieval ballads.
When did you start to play hurdy-gurdy? Why did you choose this instrument (which is not very common in metal scene, except for Eluveitie, to name the most famous)?
Mikael: Back in -98 I heard a swedish group called Garmarna. They’ve a lot of HG in their music and I was immediately hooked. Drones, melody and rhythm in the same instrument!
What about the writing process? Who’s writing songs in the band? I’ve also read that you cover some old melodies from 11th century. Is it true? How do you get them (Internet? Research in national archives?…)?
Mikael: It’s mainly me and Erik who writes the songs, but the whole band contributes in different ways. Our drummer Andreas came up with the main riff and lyrics for the song Pyre for example.
Yes it is true that we use old medieval melodies in our music. Some of them I’ve known for years since I’ve been playing medieval music for a long time, others we find on youtube, cd’s or books.
Personally, are you passionate by Middle-Age? Do you consider Middle-Age as a rich era or a dark era?
Mikael: Yes I am. I consider it to be both dark and rich. Life back then must’ve been tough, sickness, poverty, famine and ever present death. As a parent myself I can’t imagine the pain of losing several of your children before they reached adulthood.
At the same time many beautiful things were created. Music, art, science, poetry to name a few.
After some demos and singles, you just released your first full-length “The End is nigh”, from which you received a lot of positive answers. Are you surprised by these reactions?
Mikael: Yes! I mean, we were very happy with the result and we’re very proud that we managed to make the record the way we wanted it. But the amount of praise has been overwhelming! We feel very fortunate to have such great fans.
What is the particular meaning of the title “The End is nigh”? I hope it’s not the end of the band, right? 😀
Mikael: It certainly isn’t! 🙂 Again it is a reference to the apocalyptic theme. The end is near, but maybe only the end of the world as we know it? The ones who rises from the ashes will build a new world, hopefully with the experience and insight of what ended the old one.
When I had a look on your Youtube channel, I’ve seen that you perform live with Gävle Symphonic Orchestra. How do you succeed to play with them (for a metal band, performing live with a real orchestra is extremely rare…)? Do you have some contacts with this orchestra?
Mikael: The short answer is, we won a competition where first prize was to perform with them. Truly the experience of a lifetime! We’re acquainted with one or two of the musicians but not with the orchestra as a whole.
I was surprised by two things about the same song (performed with Gävle Symphonic Orchestra): The End is nigh. The melody was supposed to be composed by a French musician Grégoire Jolivet. How do you know him? Why does the song not appear on your album which is called in fact “The End is nigh”?
Mikael: Good question! Since I’m a hurdy gurdy player I’ve known his work for a long time. I learned the song from Johannes Geworkian Hellman, another Swedish HG-player (and the best one in the world according to me) and we liked it so much we decided to incorporate it into our song.
The reason that song is not on the album is because we felt it wasn’t good enough. It’s the first song we ever wrote for AO and it didn’t feel representative of our sound.
If you know Grégoire Jolivet, maybe you could know the French countertenor singer Luc Arbogast. Am I right? Would you be glad if you could do a featuring with him?
Mikael: Oh yes we’ve heard him. Angelic voice for sure! We’ve never thought about doing a collaboration with him but it would be a cool thing to do.
What about your influences? Which metal bands influence you? And of course, which “not-metal” bands/artists do so?
Mikael: We have some common denominators in the band. Most of us like Paradise Lost, Type O Negative and Amorphis. Personally I have a few favorites that comes to mind: Garmarna, Anna von Hauswolff, Ghost, Myrkur and Wardruna to name some of them.
If someone propose you to tour with a “big” band (I mean extremely famous), which band would like to choose?
Mikael: Ghost, Myrkur and Paradise Lost I would say.
Do you like “medieval” movies/series? What are your favorites? (I got the feeling that Game of Thrones will be quoted… ;))
Mikael: Sure, sadly there are not that many good ones. We all love GoT off course, and the LOTR trilogy. Our bassist Rikard really loves The seventh seal by Ingmar Bergman, a Swedish movie made in 1957 that takes place during the reign of the black death. I myself like Excalibur by John Boorman and the extended cut of Kingdom of Heaven (even though Orlando Bloom might not be the best actor…).
If you could so, in which fantastic beast would like to be reincarnated? Why?
Mikael: So many good ones to choose from but I will go with an ichthyocentaur. Part man, part fish and part horse. Just because it is very silly indeed!
What are your next plans for the future? Any European tour, music videos…?
Mikael: We’re getting some gigs booked, but it’s a slow process. Our next music video is in the cutting room as we speak and we’re working on new merchandise.
A last word before conclusion?
Mikael: Awesome questions! Take care and stay folk!
Thank you Mikael for answering my questions!
Version française : http://valkyrieswebzine.com/fr-interview-mikael-lindstrom-apocalypse-orchestra/