Monday, May 20, 2013

Interview with Axel Grim | Les Fleurs du Mal (2013)

Only 3 years have passed since the new decade started, and gothic rock music is giving us great music and great projects. Les Fleurs du Mal is one of those names that are writing gothic rock history in the new decade. One EP, two singles and recently released a stunning debut album, Les Fleurs du Mal has become in a very short time one of the most important bands of the scandinavian goth rock. Concrete Ravings has all the elements required to make this album a classic. Time will tell. Meanwhile Axel Grim answered to a few questions for This Is Gothic Rock.

Oskar Terramortis

Hi Axel, how are you?

Axel Grim:  Hi Oskar, well I’m fine, thank you. I hope you are too.

The first question is always a must, how and when was the band born? How were those first steps?

Axel Grim:  Les du Mal was born out of emotional chaos and destructivity as a way of trying to deal with negative emotions, heartbreak and such. As it happened it became a band in the spring of 2009 when I recruited a good friend and forced my brother along. That friend is no longer a part of the band, however still a good friend, and my brother became a inseparable part of the musical output. It all started out with me writing awful poetry as tragic in form as it was in content. I then started putting music to it and got better at writing lyrics. But the first attempts are locked away in digital drawer and I hope they won’t ever see any public light. I would be very embarrased, if they did. And to all you desperate bootleggers (as if we had some of those): My door is locked and so is that drawer!. But then the songs got better and we found a sound that both me and my brother were comfortable with. And so ”I” was born.

One of the things I would like to know is, what bands have influenced your sound? Some friend told me long time ago that you´re somekind of son of Dr. Arthur Krause but i don't agree with him.

Axel Grim:  The good doctor would have to be a very young father. I guess there are a few rather obvious bands that have inspired us. There’s of course the traditional 80’s goth rock bands, but also less dusty bands that we might have stolen a couple of ideas of like the White Lies and maybe the swedish Kent. It would have been interesting to hear you and your friend’s discussion about Dr. Arthur Krauses paternal guidance. The truth, however subjective, is that we were doing our stuff before we heard or met Dr. Arthur Krause. But he has become a good friend of ours and he has given us a lot of input and feedback, but you know what children are like, they never listen. In truth he has been a valuable critic and supporter of the band and has given us a lot of useful technical advice. 

A few days ago your debut album came finally on sale, after some delay the album is finally available, tell us a little about how the journey was,  from the compostion to when you received the cd´s

Axel Grim:  Oh, the process of making an album can be very troublesome. I wanted to put out an album as our first release, but I was held back. Now in the aftermath I am very happy I was and thank my brother for his good judgement. Anyway by the mini-ep och Maxi-single ”Knife In My Back” came out time all the songs on ”Concrete Ravings” were practically already written, but we just hadn’t the time to work them over properly. Neither me nor my brother are full time Les Fleurs du Mal professionals. We had to take care of our day time jobs and educational duties which also delayed the release. We felt in 2012 that the material needed more time to be properly worked through, so we had to postpone the completion of the album. Apart from these more tidious aspects of the production the journey has been marked by the increased participation of August in the song writing. We have become more comfortable with working together and his way of rethinking the material I put forth has been invaluable. 

Is there any explanation for the title of the album or just was a simply a choice from the tracklist?

Axel Grim:  The ”concrete” in ”Concrete Ravings” should be understood both as in the building material and as being the opposite of abstract. As far as the composite of cement and water it refers to the album being influenced and written in the concrete suburbs of Stockholm, where normal people live, normal as in not very rich. It is, I guess, both a political statement as well as a geographic placement. The ”ravings” part demands a bit of tidious explaining about the state of Sweden today, and I suspect the state of most of modern day europe. We live in times where there is one economic system that rules our lives, a cruel system where the strong, or mostly just rich, tread on and live off the not so powerful and not so rich. Where governments and advocates of this system has done a good job making alternative, less parasitic and more compassionate, ideas of arranging society seem unthinkable and the promoting of alternate systems are dismissed as the ravings of lunatics. Ravings are mostly incoherent jibberish, but the message I try to get across is concrete. At least in my mind. This idea of opposition against official policy of truth is what this album is about, hence the title. Now, isn’t that pretentious?

One aspect that caught my attention is that you go out on every cover, Do you want a visual atmosphere to accompany your music? The truth is you look like a classic film character of the 40's

Axel Grim:  Bingo!

I guess one of the questions required by its own weight is about Jörgen Oscarsson, he was your bassist until recently. How did he come to be a part of the band, and how did he leave? 

Axel Grim:  He was fired, because he didn’t love me anymore. No, he left the band because he wanted to put more effort and time into his own musical project and his family. He joined the band as live bassist, in his words, because he liked the band and wanted to support us. He was much cherished and appreciated and we miss him. But we are also very pleased with our new bassist Luger Haptén, who also plays on ”The Storm” on the album.

Continuing with the debut album, I think it is an album that will touch many people in a good or bad way. It's a full album, full of melodies and songs that grab you from the first listen, songs like "Nothing" or "Celebrity Gala" represent the perfection of the band. That said How has been the response from the fans so far?

Axel Grim:  Thank you for those nice words. We are very happy that you reviewers like it. We are also very happy for the enthusiastic response we have had from those who supported us before the release. With this album our hopes are to reach out to an ever bigger, and perhaps wider, audience. 

You have created your own label called "Maliciuos Release", what can you tell me about it?, Do you have plans to release music from other bands or just the Les Fleurs Du Mal music?

Axel Grim:  It’s not very much to tell. It was created and continue to function as a vehicle for getting Les Fleurs du Mal’s music out there without greedy record company hands medling with the product. It’s a good path to creative freedom, a not so good path to money.

In my humble opinion, some of your songs like "Stay Awake", "Knife In My Back" are songs that would pass into history and now I can include the song "Nothing", I think they are classic gothic rock  anthems of the new millennium, What is your point of view?

Axel Grim:  I think my response to this must be an attempt to be humbler still. It would be slightly megalomaniac to proclaim your historic value at this point, however should your predictions be true, it would of course be nice. 

I'll say it again, you have a special ingredient in your music that few bands today have, and this ingredient puts you in a status of a classic, what is the secret formula?

Axel Grim:  According to my brother it is a combination of attention to detail and being true to ourselves. According to me it is: drying the malt with a moderate amount of peat, distilling it twice and letting it age in american bourbon casks for at least 5 years, sometimes longer.

A few days ago our friend Fondas Sumerson sent me the boots of your digital singles, i think he made only 5 copies of each one, do you have plans to make an official version of them, maybe both singles in one cd?

Axel Grim:  No, I don’t think so. But one never knows. However it is nice to have your own bootlegger. 

Almost at the same time i received the vinyl version of  I, which is wondeful, do you have planned to release Concrete Ravings in vinyl? Do you think vinyl is good for this kind of music or is it just a romantic thing from the bandmembers and just a few fans?

Axel Grim:  There were plans of releasing Concrete Ravings on vinyl, however we ran out of funding. It’s a shame, but it is definitely not unthinkable that sometime in the future when all is well, it will come out the way it was suppose to be. I really love the vinyl format. Not only does the artwork benefit from the larger format, it also comes with a clearer sence of tangibility.  

This is someking of bad question but i would like to know, which is your fave LFDM song and why?

Axel Grim:  This is always shifting. Mostly the newer songs are my favorites, because they are new or maybe because you are progressing. This is hard to get a perspective on yourself. But some of the songs I have heard, and performed live, so many times that I am practically sick of them. At this moment I think I’m most satisfied with ”Concrete Ravings” and ”Nothing” from the new album. I think the first one because of the lyrics and the other because of some sort of attitude that we managed to capture. My brother however prefers ”Idolatry: In Vain”. 

What are the next steps for the band?

Axel Grim:  I had plans for an increase in gigging but our guitarrist just had a baby, so we have to stay cool for a while. But I have started to work on new material, maybe it will be for ”II” or it will be for a new album. One never knows at this stage.

ABOUT the Third Wave

Can you tell us what are your favorite albums of the new millennium?

Axel Grim:  I just heard the latest album from those turkish guys ”She Past Away”, that sounded good.  I also admire the courage to sing in your mother tongue in a genre dominated by english. Apparently their doing it good aswell. 

Do you have any favorite artist or band in this new millennium? 

Axel Grim:  I listen to a lot of bands in various genres, I can’t really say that I have one particular band I would like to mention. I don’t want to blacken their reputations by being associated to me.

What do you think about the revival of old school and the new third wave?

Axel Grim:  Well, it’s a good thing that people are going back to the roots. I think our genre got a little lost there for a while. I hope for this third wave to also go back to the more reality oriented lyrics theme. I can meet you half way. You can keep your contact lenses if you take out the prosthetic teeth. But mostly I would like a growing movement and wider interest for what we are doing. 

Anything you want to add?

Axel Grim:  No, I think that covers it. Thank you very much for the attention, we are flattered.