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They’re back! After 5 years of wait Ambush is back with a slightly changed lineup and a brand new album „Infidel”. Together with Oskar Andersson we’re discussing the writing process, tours, parties and heavy metal in general.
Between Desecrator and Infidel there was a 5-year gap. Why did it take so long to release a new album?
It’s been quite a long time between the records, indeed. On the Desecrator we toured quite a bit and enjoyed travelling around. In 2017 our bassist got sick after our brasilian tour. He has a kidney disease (it basically stopped working), so that was a problem for the band as well. The focus was more on his health than on progress and making a new record. We wanted him to be on the new album, but he wasn’t able to get up from bed. We decided to write songs and play shows here and there featuring a live bassist – Oskar Andersson. No serious touring, though. At some point, when it was obvious that Ludwig is not going to get any better, we decided to record the album with Oskar. We recorded it more than one year ago.
Guitarist Adam Hagelin, who played with Ambush since the beginning, recently left the band. Could you elaborate on the circumstances of his departure?
We didn’t have a structured touring schedule, and apart from that we noticed that Adam’s dedication for the band degraded through that time. I feel like Adam came to a conclusion that he wanted to reach other goals in life. Being in a band is quite damaging for your personal life and health, so I think it was a combination of all those factors that made him leave the band. He’s still a friend a brother, though. – Still a part of tAmbush in some sense.
Do you personally perceive being in a band as a commitment?
It could be a commitment. We’re on a level that it’s manageable to have a band and still work full time. Things might get tricky, if we decided to take the next step in our career. In couple of years I might have a family, for example. It’s a problem I’m not quite sure how I would solve. We’re very dedicated to the band, though. We see it as more than a hobby. We really want to create something special about it. A individuals I think we’ve grown thanks to being in a band. It gives you so much more than just a musical satisfaction.
What was the most important thing you took for yourself then?
For me it’s an easy answer. We’re best friends since late teenager age. Travelling around with friends, sharing same goals – that’s the best thing about being in Ambush – the fact that we’re so tight together as a group. Of course we fight, but in the end we wake up in the morning like nothing really happened. The social life on tour is the best experience, then.
Was that hard for the new members to adjust to such a tight group of friends?
Oscar – he was also a very good friend. I didn’t know him that well but as soon as we started playing together we built a very tight friendship. We’re basically best friends now. Karl on the other hand was pretty much unknown. We didn’t have friends in common. I didn’t meet the guy until we met in a rehearsal room for the first time. We instantly “clicked”. He’s a fantastic guy with great sense of humour and a crazy mind.
The Infidel cover consists of many symbolical elements. It’s strongly connected with occult practices being hunted by christians, am I right?
Infidel is a story about inquisition. It’s about what happened in Europe in the 17th, 16th century, a play about who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy. In this case, what was supposed to be good was very evil. What was supposed to be evil was actually perfectly fine. – independent women, who probably didn’t follow the mainstream female behavior of that time. They sentenced them all to death for being witches. We think it’s fun to elaborate with those kind of subjects. Also, the cross is upside down. It’s a symbol of heavy metal – opposite to what’s mainstream, what’s called common beliefs. We want to focus on the change of attitude.
Would you like to change the whole mainstream into the heavy metal society then?
Yeah, sure, but then it will become mainstream (haha). If you make heavy metal mainstream, there’ll always be something else to pop up.We welcome that as well of course, as long as the new generations are able to go to live shows and listen to real instruments. Nowadays it’s mostly about digitized, robotized sound. That’s not real music to me. We want to preserve the old way of creating music, at least. That’s a very silly thing to say but it’s extremely important. – making it real.
I think it’s a question of ethics, whether you call digital sound true sound.
I don’t mind putting a lot of effects on stuff but only when it comes from a real instrument. I don’t mind synthesizers that much, either. As long as you don’t push the button and 10 thousand people are screaming for you, everything’s perfectly fine.
Alexander von Wieding has been creating you cover for a while now. How did you find him?
We came to contact during the Firestorm time. We didn’t have a guy to paint that, buy we were sure we wanted an artistically diversified artwork. Adam drew a sketch of what he wanted the album cover to look like. Then he reached out to High Roller Records. They recommended Alexander. He’s a great, humble artist and we collaborate a lot. He’s been with us for 3 albums now and I hope more is yet to come.
How did you come into cooperation with High Roller Records?
We were lucky. We released a demo on a cassette back in 2013 and just a couple of days after that Stefan offered us a deal. At that time we had 3 different labels with offers in our mailbox. We had the luck to choose. We loved the stuff High Roller does, how they promote new wave of the heavy metal. They’re huge part of our success.
On your Facebook page I read that you’re a bit frustrated that various new productions could not measure up to the old pure masterpieces? What is the thing that the new heavy metal bands are searching for then, it it’s not creating the new masterpieces?
It’s mostly what we talked about before – a strive for creating something that has a sense of human touch to it. We want oldschool vibes revamped, contesting all those digitized low-tuned guitars and autotuned vocals. 99% listening don’t have a clue how much bullshit is added on their favourite songs. You can actually make a cat sing like a Bruce Dickinson right now. It’s more the feeling of what is real and what is not. That’s the thing that makes us frustrated. None of us likes the new metal wave – we don’t like the way metal is perceived nowadays. We should take it back to the 80s.
There’s shit lot of other bands who also represent the NWOTHM wave. How hard is it to break through the countless bands and how far can you actually get with this type of music?
What was always important for us was always the support of friends. You should form an everlasting band – it should be constant, regardless lineup changes. We are authentic friends, who have other friends helping us out. You should have a good music, then a good PR management, you should know how to reach out to your fans via social media. You can’t lie about yourself. If you’re silly and light hearted in real life – that’s the thing you should show on Facebook as well as on the stage. People will notice that you are having fun.
Exactly, I think fun and party-societies are always drawing the attention of others.
At the beginning we had 20 close friends, who were supporting us. That was a big motivation for us, but also for other people who found it cool. Right now we have small groups of fans all around the globe. I think it’s safe to make an assumption, that if we gathered our fanbase we could actually invade Denmark. I hope we’ll do that.
Do you have a any favourites on Infidel?
It’s hard to choose, because they’re so very different. They mean different things. I like Iron Helm of the War and Lust for Blood. I’m proud that we managed to get this together and record the stuff we’ve been working on for such a long time. The song Infidel was written long before we released Desecrator. We didn’t think that Infidel would work on Desecrator. When we worked on this a little bit longer it became a natural title track for this album.
In May you’re going to hit the european stages together with Enforcer and Skull Fist (probably). How did that happen?
Are we really? It’s not cancelled yet but I believe it’s going to be. We’ll have to postpone it, however, it’s going to take place for sure, just not now. Enforcer and Skull Fist are great guys and it’ll be a pleasure to share the stage with them. It was organized via Dragon Productions and they basically hooked us up with Enforcer and SF. We agreed on coming along, this is going to be great!
This year you are also booked for the Trveheim Festival, and it’s not the first time you’re visiting that lovely place. I remember the last year’s Trveheim as one of the craziest and most drunk festivals I’ve ever been to. I’m curious to know your thoughts on this event and its mission?
It’s very unique. In Sweden we have a festival called Muskelrock, it’s a swedish Trveheim. It’s a great feeling being there. The bands are always quality and oldschool. Last time we had a great time, maybe even too great.
Do you party a lot on tour? Has your approach to this topic changed through the years of playing in a band maybe?
During the early years we had fuckups on the ground of partying. We didn’t have any jobs, we studied, we were living a weird lifestyle. We didn’t give a fuck about anything and drank too much. Now I want to maintain my voice. I’ve never been able to sing live before because of alcohol. At our release gig I promised that I’ll only drink 2 beers before the show – and in the end I only drank one. I think I sound better without it, but I might be more boring on stage (haha). It’s hard to stay sober on tour, especially when you have other guys throwing a party every day. Everybody’s expecting us to be those crazy guys. That’s a big issue for many bands – in the end they’ll always have health problems from touring. It’s mandatory to know where your limits are, other way you’re going to fuck everything up. But of course, I’m pretty sure some people might see me pissed drunk on tour. Let’s see how far I get. (haha)
Ambush can be translated as a surprise attack. Why did you decide to choose such a band name?
It’s an attack from hidden position or an unrecognized strike from the back. No one knew who we were and we were sure we had something good and new coming. It was just a suiting name. Then we found that there were many bands called Ambush. We didn’t do shit about it. One guy from LA threatened to sue us for stealing his trademark – he used to be a singer of Ambush in the 802 – a shitty sleaze band. We told him: go fuck yourself.
A lot of bands split up at some point, because they reach the point when tours are longer, you start spending more and more time working on music, rather than on full time jobs. You guys seem to be quite closer to this point than ever. Have you ever considered it as a problem – having to choose between a musician’s life, family and full time jobs? How will you deal with that when it comes to such a point in your career, that you’ll have to choose?
For me it’s a problem to take the next step, because then we’ll have to work half time. I work in facility management business, so I can work from a tour bus, but it’s not the same for other band members. We’d solve that, if we got an opportunity. All the girlfriends would have to understand too (haha).
I once hear from my friend, who is also a quite well known musician, that girls should never go on tour with their boyfriends, because it spoils the chemistry within the band. Do you feel the same way?
We’ve been joking about no girls in the tour bus. I think all of us managed to fuck that up (haha).