Saturday, July 6, 2019

an interview with Rogga Johansson

Does anyone have more bands than Rogga Johansson? Metal Archives lists an astounding 23 projects - and that doesn't even include the new one he announces at the end of this interview. Since there's a new Ribspreader album coming out through Horror Pain Gore Death, as well as an album under his own name coming out through Transcending Obscurity, I decided to hit the most prolific man in death metal up to find out more. Rogga was kind enough to answer my questions in record time.

Dreams of Consciousness: Please introduce yourself to those who may not know you - who are you, where are you from, and what kind of music do you make?

Rogga Johansson, from Sweden; do way too much death metal the generic way, according to a lot of people. Luckily enough, for me, there's also a lot of people that like the crap I do, and in all honesty, I do it because it's fun and to please myself.

DoC: You have a really distinctive growl. How did you develop it? Do you use any particular techniques to achieve such a low timbre?

Thanx man, that's a good compliment indeed. Well, I did as I guess most us us did in the Nineties: I went to a rehearsal space with some friends and made some noise, the first times it was indeed a sore throat and blood taste, but after a few times you get the hang of it, I guess if you're meant to do those sorta vocals. I mean I can't sing for shit, but growls come easy.

My good friend, and legend, Dan Swanö is the other way around: He can both sing and growl like a master, but each time he growls he blows out his voice and can't do anything for weeks; so that's why he just does clean vocals these days.

DoC: You have an album released under your own name coming out in July. Tell me about Entrance to the Otherwhere - where was it recorded? How does it compare to your other work? How did the Indian label Transcending Obscurity get involved with the release?

I have a couple more done under my own name actually, from before. One double album collection and also my first solo album called Garpedans, which came out on Chaos Records a few years back. This album is a follow up conceptually to that album, you could say.

As how it compares to my other work, I would say maybe there's much more melody involved; not that it's not death metal still, or that it is softer, but that it has more melodic parts and layers of notes here and there. We signed Paganizer to Transcending Obscurity, and Kunal at the label really jumped at the opportunity to then also sign a few other of my projects, including my solo album that was already made for over a year or so by then. I have two more solo albums already recorded, mixed and mastered...just laying around, haha.

DoC: In addition, Horror Pain Gore Death is putting out a new Ribspreader collection called Crawl and Slither, which compiles 2 previous EPs. How did this release come about?

Well one of the EPs was meant to be out on VIC Records, but it got delayed so much, and then we had this other one that we didn't even had planned to release laying around, [so] I talked to Mike and he was very interested in doing them both as one album length release, and I couldn't do more than agree, really. It's a solid effort, and it's material that otherwise might just have been laying around.

DoC: You've collaborated with Paul Speckmann of Master on a number of albums. How did the two of you decide to collaborate? Are there plans for future Johansson & Speckmann albums?

Well, we met many many years ago, but the idea to collaborate didn't come until I recorded the first Megascavenger album where I wanted to have different guest vocalists on each song, so I asked him and he agreed; and after that I think he thought it was really cool, so either him or me said, "Let's do some more stuff together."

Yes I think in the future we will at least do one more Johansson & Speckmann album - at least we have talked about it, but said that we might wait at least a year or so.

DoC: What is your songwriting process like? With so many different projects, how do you differentiate your style when creating music?

Songwriting process is just sit my ass down and pick up the guitar, and then mostly I write a song from start to finish. Either I have an idea for a riff or the first riff just comes and then the rest. And mostly, but not always, I sorta know what type of riff I'm gonna do, and what project it would fit into. But sometimes I can just make almost an entire album of material, and then just think, "Hmmm, what would this really be," haha.

DoC: You've worked with a number of notable death metal figures (including Dave Ingram from Benediction, Kam Lee from Massacre, and the aforementioned Paul Speckmann). Is there anyone you'd like to collaborate with that you haven't had a chance to work with yet?

Don't forget Dan Swanö, haha, that man is a legend. Well yeah sure, it'd be fun to collaborate with many different people, also not in the death metal scene.

But if I should mention one it would be awesome to write an album for Chris Barnes. The first three Six Feet under album are classics to me, and on the following output they also do loads of great stuff. But I'd like to write something like Warpath again for him: True neanderthal death metal that fits his vocals so fucken well.

DoC: Old school Swedish Death Metal is more popular than it's ever been - you can find bands in that style everywhere now, from Venezuela to Malaysia. How do you feel about this? Has the widespread popularity/ proliferation of the style affected the scene in Sweden?

I live between Stockholm and Gothenburg, so even if I listened to the music I was never part of one of those scenes, so my faves also differ I guess from what the usual crowd goes for. For instance I love Edge of Sanity, Hypocrisy and Furbowl, while I don't care so much for Entombed or for that matter anything really from the Gothenburg sound.

But to answer your question, which i apparently didn't do there, I don't feel anything about this really, I mean it's cool that more people like it and that more people incorporate that style in their music, but I don't think it is something that I've really thought about much. And as for affecting the scene, I'm so out of the scene its not funny haha, so I don't know man.

DoC: You've had a long career in metal, going back more than three decades. What were your goals when you started, and have you achieved those goals yet? If so, what keeps you writing/releasing albums?

It's been a long time yeah haha, and I guess I've achieved the goals I had back then as a teenager, which was doing demos, then albums and then going out playing gigs both in Sweden and other countries. I've done all that, and really grown quite tired of it too, haha.

The thing that keeps me going is that I just have a need to write music, I don't spend much time working on it: It just comes out, and it feels like a need, really. I'd do it even if it didn't get released; I still have bunches of old demo stuff and riff tapes from the Nineties in a closet that will never be used or come out, but it felt good doing them. I like to drink beer and I like to make really shitty music, haha. I guess thats what sums me up, besides hanging out with the kids, the dog and maybe the wife too, haha.

DoC: What's next for you?

Ah shit man, I don't know, haha. I think I have accumulated like 7 releases that will be out this and next year on Transcending Obscurity, so be sure to check out their Bandcamp or homepage.

Besides that, I have just released the Ribspreader comp cd, and an instrumental cd where I do my worst to not sound like Mortiis did back when I liked his stuff. I also have two finished solo albums just hanging around, and me and Håkan of Wombbath just today finished an album I'd call an homage to stuff like Impetigo - that will be out this autumn on HGPD too; it's called Ghoulhouse and I think you're the very first to know about this actually. Prepare for caveman grind, haha.

Rogga Johansson on Facebook

Rogga Johansson on Bandcamp

Crawl and Slither through HPGD Bandcamp

Dead Reign Rotten:

catching up
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