Meshuggah have announced tour for The Violent Sleep of Reason release. Photo Contributed
Meshuggah have announced tour for The Violent Sleep of Reason release. Photo Contributed Contributed

Meshuggah announce tour in conjunction with new album

The Swedish Metal Juggernaut that is MESHUGGAH are today announcing that they are to grace Australian and New Zealand's shores in 2017, on the back of their 8th studio Album.

"The Violent Sleep of Reason" will be released through Nuclear Blast records and takes the band back to their heavy, technical roots.

The March 2017 tour is being presented by MJR presents and goes on fan-presale tomorrow Tuesday 6th September and on sale to general public this Thursday 8th September.

We spoke to Marten Hagstrom about the new album and what fans can expect when they tune their ears into the latest slab of djent-heaven.

Marc Stapelberg: The new album is full of energy, aggression, focus and really feels like you guys got a firecracker up your arse and sound like a fresh new band with something to prove. Did it feel like that going into the record?

Mårten Hagström: Yes and no. I would say that it wasn't like we had a set plan how this album would sound. We never do. We just try to come up with some new and cool stuff and see where it takes us sort of. I would say that going into this we knew there were going to be a couple things that were going to change. First of all quiet early on we decided that we weren't going to record it in our studio. We weren't going to use anyone to record it and produce it with that we had used before. So first of all we were just finding new ground, new territory to have our sound set. That was one of the things and the second thing was Dick came into the writing process which he hasn't done before. So on this album it was me Tomas and Dick writing, and Frederick focused on doing some of his own stuff. So he was like very involved in everything and he had opinions about the rearrangements and stuff like that on the actual recording and he worked his ass off as well like the rest of us, but he didn't take part in the initial song writing process. We knew that is was going to turn out a little bit different, but I would say what you are talking about is 1) the sound and the way we recorded it, you know actually going down and plugging into amps and playing as a band and letting things be a little more rugged and raw and more about taking the Meshuggah soundscape to a Chaosphere soundscape. I don't know - somewhere around there. And the second reason is normally we let all of our songs breathe, it doesn't matter who writes them, and we go through the process of letting everybody have their say and really rearranging stuff a lot. This time we actually skipped that a little bit. Of course we changed stuff through the process, but say that Thomas and Dick wrote a song, they had the basic veto as to what the song was going turn out like. I might have an opinion but it didn't matter and normally we would go 'Ok, what do we think and what does everybody think?' and then we vote and then we come up with something everybody can live with. This time we just let the hook off and just went with every idea that came up. If I thought something was cool I would write it and then that was like the end of everything and I think it is more a spontaneous album that way.

MS: There are a lot of bends, and slides on songs, and the strings sound really dissonant and almost loose. There is a real dark and sludgy vibe to this album. And obviously the bass has a certain production as well. Can you tell me about this?

MH: We use in quite a few places a low kind of dissonance or a low harmony playing. Basically certain chords down low on the eighth string to create not so much as a clear cut chord or harmony as more of a sound or vibe. That is something we have incorporated a lot more than ever before on this album. We've done it before but just on one or two instances. At certain points it is just a matter of choosing the sound. It's not like every song is mixed the same way. That's also something - we've always tried to find the perfect tone for the entire album. This time Tue Madsen of Puk Studios mixed it. He tried to go for what was best for each song. It was kind of a different way of going about it. We've done it before but that was years and years ago. To let the sound accommodate a bit more of the song. So it was an overall general approach where we tried to bring out. I don't know if we perceived it as dark, but where it is sludgy and more raw and rugged.

MS: I read it is the first time you have recorded live in something like 20 years?

MH: Dick and Tomas were in the same room but Dick's amp was out in the corridor and Thomas had his drums set up in the big room. Unfortunately for me I couldn't record each song live because of the simple fact I have pretty bad arthritis in my left shoulder so I was rehabbing at the time and for the last couple of songs. But when I came down, me and Freddy were sitting actually in the control room playing and then having all the different guitar amps setup in the amp room which was to another side of the building. And then Janis was actually singing along to a lot of takes live in a different room in the song booth. So we were kind of spread out.

MS: Who drives the intricate timings? The drummer or the guitars?

MH: It's the one who writes the song. Sometimes it's me, sometimes its Frederick and sometimes its Thomas. I mean it's hard discussing it from that perspective because basically there are no strange time signatures. It is all just 4/4. But we have what I guess you could call odd groups. So the riff is moving on top of the 4/4 beat and coming back and restarting on 8 bars. Tom has always talked about it as odd groupings when he is going into technical language with his drummer friends and nerding out. But from a writing stand point you going to have to hold all of us accountable for that. For instance I would say that Dick coming into this one has nothing to do with the polyrythmical aspect of it because most of what he and Tomas wrote was stuff that he wrote over Tomas' drum skeletons sort of. The way me and Tomas used to work back in the day, Tomas would have half a song as far as rhythmical ideas and then I try to apply the way I see guitar riffing on his stuff. But basically you could say that Tomas being a drummer, is by nature originated out of a more rhythmical or more percussive standpoint. He is prone to be more all over the place on drums if he gets to write his own stuff. But it is not like we impose stuff on each other.

MS: There are some amazing guitar lines on the album. Which were yours and what are you're particularly proud of?

MH: Here's the thing - every time we release an album it takes at least a year before I know if I like it or not. And that's an honest answer because the thing is you write stuff for a year and a half or two years and you throw away so much stuff and you rearrange so much stuff so by the time the whole band has actually decided 'ok here is bunch of songs we are going to rehearse and record', and then you go into the place where you have to deliver, you have to actually play the songs as best you can, and sometimes you get it coloured. You think that something is going to turn out a certain way and it might not and then your quiet disappointed by that fact and then you realise two years later that is was actually all for the better. It is really hard to second guess what you have been doing. So that's why I always go 'ok, album finished. I'm never going to listen to it again. I'm done. I can't do anything about it. ' But having that said, there is a lot of stuff I am happy with on this album both from the stuff I wrote myself and the stuff that Dick and Tomas wrote. Whenever you throw in a bunch of people and try to create something, whether it is cooking food or building a house, it depends on who's building it. And the dynamics we produce between Thomas, Dick and me, (I wrote four of the songs, and they wrote six together) - I am really happy with how the dynamics came out. It was a pretty long album and I was kind of reluctant to have the album be that long - I wanted it to be eight songs, but the rest of the guys wanted ten because they thought all the tracks were so strong - and I can't argue with that because I like all the tracks. I'm just saying I had a different vision, but now listening to it, it really was a good thing, because I has the proper dynamics for who wrote what. I think that's the strongest thing, there's not a part that I am particularly proud of - like this part was so cool or this song really turned out awesome- it's how the general flow from the first note to where it ends, it's how that journey turned out. That's what I am proud of.

MS: Do you feel pressure to reinvent yourselves as a band with every album?

MH: No, I think the simple answer to that one is, because this has happened in the past, because you toured and you start finishing up the tour and it's time to start thinking about writing new stuff. And you can sit down and come up with stuff, but if it feels like it's some place you've been you know, if it is just a continuing on what you've just released then it is not interesting. Say we release 'Nothing' in 2002 and I come up with a pretty cool riff but it is just a typical 101 Meshugga song, well I've done that already. And it's not something you really think about. It's more like 'this doesn't cut it' and then you keep at it and you keep writing till something comes along and it makes you feel that this is cool. It's a cool part, it sounds like us, but it has some vibe to it that really we haven't had before. And then you starting latching onto that and you keep writing and after a little while it's a beast of its own and it starts snowballing and it takes a direction, it is not a direction you choose.

MS: What about tours to Australia?

MH: Next year sometime, I don't know when, but it's in the planning right now but we will definitely come to Australia. We love Australia. It's always nice. It is not a lot of shows, but it is a beautiful country, nice weather and great crowds. Even thought the travelling is a f***ng b***h it is one of the highlights of the touring cycle.

MS: The album title links to a Goya artwork - who found that and made the jump to base the album off it? Was it lyrical or musical inspiration?

MH: Thomas and I think it was kind of an act of desperation. We had a couple of album titles that we have been toying around with and there was nothing wrong with the titles themselves it was just that we came up with them quite some time ago. It really didn't feel like it was something we were doing right now. We like something that ties into both the lyrical aspect as well as the music. Thomas spotted the 'Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters' and kind of adapted that to what we were doing and is both a comment on some of the lyrics, not all, and themes on tracks where it was pointing to where we are at as a species, as humanity - how we are lulled into sleep buy propaganda and politics, and the general information flow and how people tweak that and choose to relay information and how people choose to interpret information and even more important - how much of the information you actually can take in because it is kind of an overload deal. And how that produces a society where everybody is kind of aware of a lot of things but nobody is acting because there is just too much and it lulls you into a sleep that has a lot of violent consequences. So that's how it ties into the lyrical theme of the album. I also like to think of it as our violent sleep of reason. I think it is the most violent album we put out since Chaosphere. It is a bit over the top, like you said, it is sludgy, raw and dark and energetic and aaarrgh. There's a lot of angst in there and a little bit of that has to do with the fact that we didn't censor ourselves. We did not run it through the Meshuggah censorship machine. So it is our musical violent sleep of reason.

MS: Were any of you good at maths at school?

MH: I would say no. I wasn't. But then again I was barely at school. I was skipping class most of the time. So I don't know if I am good at maths or not. We don't view our music as anything related to maths at all. I know there is a way of always counting things and breaking things down as if it were a formula, and that is doable and understandable from a theoretical standpoint, but there is nothing about it that is supposed to be mathematical. All music is mathematical. If you listen to an AC/DC song it is mathematical.

MS: Last question - There is one beer left on the tour bus and you are all armed with a drumstick? Who wins the beer?

MH: Frederick because he doesn't drink anymore. So while we are fighting he is snatching it and throwing it out.







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