|Meshuggah was formed in 1987 in Umea, Sweden. Guitarist Fredrik Thordendal, bassist Peter Nordin and vocalist Jens Kidman all played on the debut-EP of 1989. At that time Jens Kidman played the guitar as well. Umea has a healthy scene, and a lot of people are involved in rock music. According to Jens Kidman there are a lot of good bands from Umea, "probably because there is not a lot to do". The fact that there is a university in Umea might also strengthen the rock-scene. A lot of people play in bands, but few of these are known outside the town. The majority of the musicians wanting to get anywhere with their music leave town. Many of the session-musicians in Stockholm are from Umea, according to Marten Hagstrom.
It is quite easy to hear some of Meshuggahs early influences on their first release, "Psykisk Testbild" from 1989. (The title translates to something like "Psychological Test-Picture".) Metallica definitely was a major influence. The music of this EP is simplier and more "straight-forward" than their more recent material, but some of their more progressive elements are present in the form of time-changes and polyrythmics, and Fredrik Thordendals lead-playing stands out.
Tomas Haake joined on drums before Meshuggah recorded their first LP,"Contradictions collapse", which was released in 1991. The band had signed a recording deal with the German record-label Nuclar Blast, which specializes in metal-releases. The songs on this record are much longer and ymore complicated, in both structure and rythmics. The record company did nothing to promote the album, which consequently sold badly. Between this record and the next one guitarist/vocalist Jens Kidman decided to concentrate on the singing and left the guitar duties over to Marten Hagstrom, who had played in a band with drummer Tomas Haake already when they were in sixth grade (!). Marten Hagstrom feels that the song-title 'Building a big building' from that time accurately characterizes that band ...
The new line-up recorded the EP "None" in 1994. It was not until now that the record label realized that the band has a certain sales-potential, but a couple of accidents forced the band to remain silent for the rest of that year. Fredrik Thordendal managed to cut off the tip of his left middle- finger (He is a carpenter).The finger tip is sewn back on, and he is able, to a certain degree, to play with it again. As if this wasn't enough, Tomas Haake shortly after mangled his hand in some sort of grinding machine. Several months passed without much practice. the EP "Selfcaged" was recorded in April and May 1994, but the release was delayed with one year due to the accidents.
January 1995 saw the band returning to the public, when they left off for a short European tour organized by the record-label. Short after returning back home they recorded the album "Destroy, Erase,Improve", and then they were off again on a two month European tour supporting the american band Machine Head. Halfway through this tour bassist Peter Nordin became ill, and got problems with the balance nerve in his inner ear - he was chronically dizzy, consantly feeling like he was falling! He had to go back home to Sweden, leaving the band on tour without a bassist. The bassist of Machine Head offered to help out, but Meshuggah decided to try out as a 4-piece again. On some shows Fredrik played the bass through his guitar rig, on others they went with just 2 guitars - with Marten playing through a pitch shifter - shifted one octave down. When Fredrik handled the bass he even played his leads on it - taking care of tapping etc. ! "Destroy,Erase,Improve" was released in May 1995, this time with a more proper marketing by the record label. In the autumn of 1995 they did a short tour with Clawfinger, through Scandinavia and Germany. The first couple of shows were done without a bassist - Peter Nordin having now left the band. A replacement bassist joined the band for the show in Hamburg, this was Gustaf Hielm (formerly of Charta 77). During that fall Meshuggah also went on a month tour with Hypocrisy.
During 1996 Fredrik was busy working on his soloalbum. He also apperared on the debut album of Swedish super-duo Mats & Morgan. Meshuggah did record a demo in the summer, the tracks on this demo are unbelieveable (as always) - but the tape seems to have gotten lost somewhere... Early in 1997 Fredrik was still busy on his soloalbum, which was released in March through UAE in Scandinavia, and in Japan in April. The occasional gig was done, a couple in their hometown Umea. Swedish Television SVT recorded the Umea gig in February, and one track from the concert was broadcast the following week. In May the band relocated to Stockholm, to live closer to their management and the record industry in general. A new EP was recorded, with one new track - SANE - and 3 versions of the opening track of their latest Destroy Erase Improve album, Future Breed Machine.