Kollapsed interview (10/2023)
|With:||Kristoffer Karlsson, Magnus Strigner|
|Conducted by:||Netzach (in person)|
In a case of good-old-fashioned nepotism, I had the pleasure to sit down with vocalist Kristoffer Karlsson and guitarist Magnus Strigner from Linköping-based sludgers Kollapsed to talk about the music, concepts, and inspirations of their recent debut album (which I reviewed here), their surprisingly long (might I say ancient?) history, the inner workings of the band and its short-term and long-term goals for the future, among other things. Things such as ideas for a band logoed mankini, the origin of the band name, selling your kidneys, combining family life with band life, and other perfectly reasonable talking points between perfectly sane individuals. This interview was transcribed from an audio recording of our half-hour long conversation in Kristoffer’s apartment over one or two cups of coffee. Have a read and find out what Kollapsed is all about!
Joel: I’m here with Kristoffer and Magnus from Kollapsed; a band from my hometown whose debut album An Altar In Mind I reviewed quite positively a few months ago. I was also at their release gig and had a very good time, and it looked like the band had a good time too.
Joel: Classic question: how would you summarise your band in a single sentence? The essence of Kollapsed.
Kristoffer: In one word - less serious - it would be “party sludge”, kind of like Dissection is “party black”, but on a more serious note I would say: an easy-going but still grinding, atmospheric soundscape.
[Note: Hey, that's two words!]
Joel: Sounds about right… Which one emotion do you primarily strive to convey with your music, then?
Magnus: Basically, everyone can make up their own minds - what they make out of it, what they feel - very subjective. I don’t like to push things onto people but let them make up their own mind.
Joel: That’s a good way to avoid a question…
Kristoffer: We’re not influencers; we don’t try to convey or sell a “package” or whatever. What’s important is not that we convey an emotion, but that the listener experiences something, be it good or bad - It’s An Altar In Mind.
Joel: Yeah, and that leads into another question I had: the title of the album - An Altar In Mind... What’s the thought behind that, is it basically what you just described?
Kristoffer: Not at all…
Magnus: Yeah, that’s a question for you.
Kristoffer: …I was unfortunately the one who was responsible for doing that, so the entire blame lies on me. Long story short: the album concept, or theme, would be somewhere around “an altering mind” - the changes of the mind. Then, I realised that “an altar to the mind”... “An altar in mind”... You can always praise the brain’s plasticity - the way it can adapt to different traumas or changes or injuries.
Joel: Neuroplasticity. That’s how we all grow, right?
Kristoffer: Mhm. And keeping that growth in mind is An Altar In Mind.
Joel: So, themes about evolution, change, adaptation…
Kristoffer: Yeah, the first song is the end - or actually, the first song is after the end, which makes sense if you listen to the album on repeat, right? The first song describes a basically post-apocalyptic landscape - or a post-civilised landscape - basically: there are no humans, there’s no corruption, there’s no war…
Joel: Yeah, like, “No remorse / The trees grow old / Reaching forever / While men fought for gold”.
Kristoffer: Yep. The first song is basically the consequences of our own actions.
Joel: Greed and egoism, and…
Kristoffer: Yeah, all that good stuff.
Joel: …and all that remains is the law of the jungle, if I interpreted the lyrics… I had a read through them right before here.
Kristoffer: Absolutely. If that’s your interpretation, I’m gonna leave you to it.
Joel: Sounds good, that’s the best way to do it. So, since I listen a lot to lyrics, I’d like to ask about - continuing on this track - the inspiration for the lyrics, is it you who are writing most of the lyrics?
Magnus: I have nothing to do with the lyrics. I do the music, part of it.
Joel: Alright, so your inspiration comes from…?
Kristoffer: Is it too edgy to say “misery”?
Joel: Not at all, this is metal.
Kristoffer: The fucked up situations that people experience or enforce on one another. Some bits and pieces are either taken from or inspired by things I have experienced myself, and others are things that I have witnessed and then tried to add a poetic touch to.
Joel: Yeah, they seem to be a mix of existentialist thoughts and more personal stuff, like, “Ashes” seems to be a very personal song about a failed friendship or relationship, for instance. You mentioned that you write the music, not the lyrics. Do you jam the music together or does somebody… Are they more complete songs when you start?
Magnus: No… Normally, there has to be like one or two parts before we come to rehearsal, because we are not that good at jamming songs together. We can do it when we have half a song or something like that, and put some small bits... But usually it’s me or the other guitarist who comes up with some ideas and then we build on that. I don’t think there’s even been a complete song directly into the studio or to the rehearsal, ever.
Joel: Yeah, but that makes sense since you have to see what works, what doesn’t work…
Magnus: I just usually do the riffs for my part and then everyone else puts in their parts, and that’s why the music is kind of pointing in all directions sometimes.
Joel: Yeah but that also makes it more interesting, I think.
Magnus: I’m not a bassist, so…
Joel: …so it’s additive synthesis, so to say.
Magnus: …I can’t play drums, so…
Kristoffer: When you guys come delivering a package, so to speak, it’s more like a skeleton or framework, and then everyone just evolves into the music by themselves, or creates their own parts and adds their own personal touch, like you said.
Magnus: Basically, that’s why we take such a long time to do songs.
Joel: Yeah, and that’s also something I wanted to ask…
Joel: …why did it take so fucking long for you to actually release a debut album? I mean, I saw you live in - when we played together, when I was in Chaliced - it was in 2016, 2017, something like that.
Kristoffer: Something like that.
Joel: Something like that; it was another lifetime ago, and now, five, six years later you finally released the debut album. Was it that you didn’t have enough material or didn’t have enough time to go into the studio, or…?
[Note: It turns out it wasn’t actually that long ago - it was in 2019 - I realised in hindsight, but who keeps track of time, anyway?]
Kristoffer: A mixture of…
Magnus: We had all the songs, but no one to take control and make us go forward, to actually do it.
Joel: What made you “actually do it”, then?
Kristoffer: I was nearing the final year at university, and finding a job is a little bit iffy, so I was kind of preparing to leave my hometown and I wanted something, basically, to show for the many years in Kollapsed, and I pretty much tried to get a feel for whether or not the others were up for it, and in the end, they were. There’s been a lot of swearing, but we finally got here.
Joel: Yeah, and it sounds great. Where was it recorded?
Kristoffer: Lowland Studios.
Joel: Where is that?
Kristoffer: The guitarist of Siberian.
Magnus: And it’s been replaced now so it’s in Mjölby. When we recorded it, it was in Linköping.
Joel: About the artwork for the album… It looks like a bunch of Cthulhu cultists awakening some sort of ancient monolith. Who did the artwork?
Kristoffer: That was William Persson Öberg from Creeping Flesh. He has done some stuff for Nekrokraft, and I’d seen that and was like “alright, looks like he knows what he’s doing”, and, well… I contacted him, sent him some inspiration, told him, basically, “this is my thought, the essence of the album” and then it was an iterative process from there, where he sent us sketches and we were like “yeah, that’s cool, not sure about that”, and so on.
Joel: Yeah it’s cool so it seems like a good choice. So, the band has - though you recently released a debut album, you have quite a long history. Exactly when did you start playing together? You’ve been in it from the beginning, right?
Kristoffer: It’s a bit of a complex question. I’m the new guy and I’ve been with them since 2014.
Magnus: I think the band Kollapsed first started in, like, 2005…
Joel: Oh shit, that’s a long time ago.
Magnus: …or something like that, with some small recordings but nothing big, nothing ever put out. But it started then and basically it became a “real band” when Kristoffer came into the picture, because I tried to play guitar and sing at the same time, and it didn’t really work out. So, we put out an advertisement and searched for a singer, and then came “Krippe”.
Kristoffer: Mm, that was the good old days when Facebook was actually useful.
Joel: Yeah, and now it’s full of shit.
Kristoffer: You guys have played together basically forever.
Magnus: Me and the drummer have been playing together since ‘96, ‘98 or something…
Joel: Oh, I was barely born then. Have you changed any members except for that, or has the line up remained stable since 2014?
Joel: That’s a long time to stick together.
Magnus: Yeah, we’ve added an extra…
Kristoffer: Yeah, we, well… We accidentally recruited another guitarist, so…
Joel: You can never have too many.
Magnus: Well, we’ll have to see about that when the next album is out.
Joel: Tell me about the next album. Will we have to wait another decade?
Magnus: Probably. No, we are in the beginning of doing some more, some new songs. It has been a really long time since we did that, but I’m feeling quite motivated to do something new, actually.
Joel: Something a bit different maybe?
Magnus: It will still sound like us, but I’m having some ideas, and the drummer and I are jamming together right now, trying some new stuff. It’s not a big surprise that our band name is from Breach’s Kollapse album, and I really like Breach, so I’m trying to put something of their kind of spirit into the music.
Kristoffer: You really succeeded. Remember when I was there and you and Johan just jammed out - that sounded really good.
Magnus: You should have heard it with the weird touch afterwards.
Joel: Weird touches, we like those. I have to ask, these songs on the album: which ones are old as fuck, which ones are new-ish, or are they all old as fuck? Because I remember I heard “With Eyes Wide Open” back when we played together, and…
Kristoffer: So, to answer your question about which ones are old as fuck and which ones are new, our official response will be “Yes”.
Joel: Fair enough…
Kristoffer: The material has kind of evolved over time, so even if a song is old as fuck, and we find different parts of it, basically, every year we play it…
Joel: So maybe next year if you’d play this release gig again, it would sound a bit different?
Kristoffer: Hopefully. We’re all on a journey, right?
Joel: Yeah, and that goes in line with the album title as well: constantly evolving, progressing and adapting.
Magnus: I actually like the “new” song - “Red Sea” is the newest, but half the song is from 2007.
Kristoffer: Oh, right, yeah.
Magnus: …and we just made up some new endings to it, so it’s old as fuck as well.
Kristoffer: Well, you can cheat if it hasn’t been released before.
Magnus: Exactly. It’s been recorded before but never released, so that’s okay.
Kristoffer: Intellectual property as well…
Joel: My favourite song is probably “Tracing Steps”, with its chugging, almost danceable heaviness, and these little disturbing atmospherics in the later half. Um… So, what’s in your present, do you rehearse a lot right now? You had this release gig a few months ago, have you been on hiatus since then?
Magnus: Heh, no.
Kristoffer: A little bit, I would say, but only for a month or two, maybe. Then there’s been like “on and off” - we have another gig in November.
Joel: Oh. Where?
Kristoffer: At The Crypt.
Joel: Oh, right, I’ll make sure to be there. Nice. You said you have some new songs; can you tell me a bit about the direction you’re going with these new songs - except for adding “weird touches”?
Magnus: I think it will probably sound something like before, but because we have an extra guitarist, we can play some more with the bigger atmosphere and some more melodic stuff, so I hope we will go in that direction, and won’t be afraid to do some more… We used to just go for “this is the heaviest we can do, yeah, let’s do more heavy [stuff] like that, but, instead, try to do some parts that are brighter in sound, but will “pop” better.
Joel: More dynamics?
Magnus: Yeah, more dynamics, I’m hoping for. But I don’t know since we only have half a song or something, so it’s hard to say - For my part, I don’t think we are going for an album, I’m thinking more of an EP.
Kristoffer: We’ve been talking with Linus from Lowland and he mentioned he was eager to record us again, so fingers crossed.
Magnus: Like, basically, three songs from us is - one is over five minutes anyway, so…
Joel: Yeah, sure. You mentioned Breach - I’m not familiar with that band, I’ll have to look them up…
Kristoffer: Yes, you do.
Joel: I will, what reviewer wouldn’t? But also, of course, I hear lots of Isis, Cult Of Luna, stuff like that. Any other inspirations that might not be that obvious?
Kristoffer: Ghost Brigade...
Magnus. It’s kind of obvious.
Joel: Well, you market yourselves as inspired by them, so…
Magnus: Me and the other guitarist really like bands like Hatebreed and stuff like that, and you can hear this in the chugs, we do a lot of - it’s not beatdown/breakdown music, because the drummer isn’t playing it like that, but there’s still those chugging parts we really like.
Joel: Yeah, like in “Tracing Steps”, this kind of ebb and flow.
Magnus: Exactly. Because I’m from the hardcore scene from the start, like Skylten, so I really like that sort of hardcore stuff as well. And our bass player is really, really punk. And Guns N’ Roses, but we don’t talk about that…
Kristoffer: We don’t talk about that.
[Note: Skylten is an old and well-renowned venue for music and arts in Linköping where many later-to-be-famous artists trace their beginnings.]
Joel: I’ll have to edit that out then.
Joel: We’ll just call it The Spaghetti Incident. So, that’s kind of what I had prepared, is there anything that you would like to add? I have to say your album was quite well received, on Metal Storm at least.
Kristoffer: I’m very happy to hear that.
Joel: The comments were mostly positive, so I hope you might have gained some new fans that way. They might not be able to travel to your gig, since they’re from all over the world…
Kristoffer: …but maybe they could arrange a gig where they are?
Joel: Yeah, maybe they could. Hint hint.
Kristoffer: Hint hint, nudge nudge.
Joel: Have you been playing in other cities?
Kristoffer: Only a little bit, but mostly in Östergötland, I think. Of course, we wanna get out of Östergötland, because, well, yeah…
Magnus: We want to play live, we want to play a little bit further away from our own town.
Joel: Where half the audience isn’t just your friends and family, right? Maybe go on a mini tour, something…
Kristoffer: If we can get the family man to…
Magnus: Yeah, there are a lot of dads in the band. That makes it kind of hard to do some things, like touring.
Kristoffer: But with a bit of planning…
Joel: Get a babysitter…
Magnus: Well, most of them are getting older, so it’s not such a big problem anymore.
Kristoffer: Yeah they’re gonna move out of the house soon, she’s like 8, right?
Magnus: Yeah, and 12.
Joel: So, maybe in 5-6 years, you can go on a tour.
Kristoffer: Yeah, about the same time when the next album comes out.
Kristoffer: We could have a chat about the theme of the album, if you want?
Joel: Of course. Tell me more.
Kristoffer: I was going on about the inspiration to the lyrics being “misery in general”, and this record is basically about the things we do to each other, where we cut people out of our lives, we behave like shit and treat other people in ways they shouldn’t be [treated], and then this escalates and… The high point of it is in the last track, “Red Sea: Karma”, which is kind of the beginning, one could say - or a prelude to the beginning.
Joel: There’s also a track called “Prelude”, but it’s in the middle.
Kristoffer: That’s kind of a prelude to the prelude. We begin in the end, or after the end, and then work our way back to the start. Basically, to the crescendo of bullshit and abuse.
Joel: So there’s sort of a story, but it’s being told backwards?
Kristoffer: No, it begins with “this is the consequence”, and continues to “Red Sea: Karma”, where that final line is crossed - along with the realisation that you cannot take back what you’ve done. It’s a little dark, which is not very weird, because it’s metal, but one could say it is not only about going across the final line as about how you treat other people, like domestic abuse, and that the physical body can heal, but the trust and everything - that won’t heal. That’s pretty much where the record ends: in a big fuck-off explosion, and all that remains is a post-apocalyptic wasteland - “oh my god, we have started the record over again, almost as if it were planned!”. So it’s a little journey through human misery.
Joel: And how we affect others around us with everything we do, right?
Kristoffer: Yep. Both how we affect others and how others affect us.
Joel: That makes sense, now that you explain it that way. Alright, anything more you’d like to add?
Kristoffer: Buy our merch.
Joel: I already did.
Kristoffer: Oh yeah. Buy more. We need to do more merch. What would you like to see as merch? I’m thinking a mankini with the Kollapsed logo which could also serve as an ad for Viagra, I guess.
Joel: Well, that’s a bit niche, but I’m sure somebody would buy it. Do you have it on vinyl?
Kristoffer: No, no, I’m just doing a bit of market research - what would you like to see?
Joel: Well, vinyl?
Kristoffer: Yeah, us too. That would be cool…
Joel: …to put on the wall, frame it. I have to buy more vinyl frames, but it’s a cool cover art so it could definitely go up on a wall somewhere.
Kristoffer: It would be fun to have it on vinyl indeed, but the lead times as well as the cost were basically out of the window.
Magnus: At the time, I think they… By now, the times are…
Kristoffer: Right, it’s not a one and a half years lead time.
Magnus: No, it’s just a big cost when we don’t have a record label.
Kristoffer: Well, you have two kidneys, don’t you?
Joel: How many do you need?
Magnus: But I think you earn more money than me, so…
Kristoffer: Alright. That makes sense. Speaking of supporting the band…
Kristoffer: …you have two kidneys!
Joel: Yeah, right, maybe I only need one.
Kristoffer: Support the band, support the local scene!
Joel: I have two balls as well.
Kristoffer: I don’t wanna… Okay, let’s leave it at that.
||Posted on 13.10.2023 by 100% objective opinions.|
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