For those of you who have followed this blog from its inception, you’ll know about its origins and where its name hails from and whilst the translation may not be one hundred per cent exact, Domkyrkan felt right! Why is this relevant for this interview? Well the name was taken from a short interview in Zero Tolerance with a band that has come to dominate my thinking and my attention, that being Swedish Sludge Doom four piece SERPENT OMEGA! With their debut self-titled album released on vinyl via English label Mordgrimm the band are on the promotional trail and as you’ll know from my review it really is the full package from the eye catching artwork to the filthy sludged out tunes that lay beneath said cover, waiting for you to sample and feast upon its dark, aggressive delights! Now though I feel it is time to move beyond the music and get to know the four individuals who have collectively created something truly outstanding and so I put together some questions and these amiable Swedes very kindly unloaded their thoughts.
Hails to you all and thank you for taking the time to speak with me. First of all I’d like to discuss the band’s name.
How did you come across and decide on Serpent Omega?
Your artwork and logo have very serpentine characteristics, are snakes and serpents something that means something to you all, or is it just a damn cool name for a Doom band?
Brief: Me and Jonsson decided on this shortly after we started the band, we wanted a name that meant something to us and reflected our music and we both immediately thought of the Ouroboros, but in our own words Serpent Omega wasn't far away after that.
You are pretty new onto the scene under this moniker having formed in 2011. Can you tell me what other projects you have been a part of and what kind of backgrounds, musically speaking, you all come from?
Brief: I have played heavy metal, stoner and punk since I was 13 in different constellations. i'm still involved in a few other bands but we don't rehearse that much.
How old were you all when you first got into the heavier side if music and which bands popped your cherry as it were?
Brief: When I was a kid I was really into heavy metal and I listened to bands like kiss, sabbath and judas priest. However, I was totally blown away by the rising stoner-scene that emerged in the early 90's and one album in particular made me realise what heavy was all about and that was sleep's holy mountain. I still listen to that record every day. when the Jerusalem bootleg came out that was it for me, nothing could top that I thought. but then sleep released dopesmoker a few years later.
Pia: The same goes for me, but you can cross judas priest and kiss off the list. I've always listened to heavy music in different forms, but it was Sleep and Sabbath that changed my world.
What bands would you say influence the Serpent Omega sound? Are you conscious of the influences that work their way into your sound and do you embrace those influences or are you always aiming to be as original as possible?
Brief: I wouldn't say we aim at sounding in a particular way, the sum of our separate influences create something grotesquely swelling and overpowered. as you probably can guess from the previous answer my biggest influence is sleep and just sheer volume you should not only listen to music, you need to feel it.
How did Serpent Omega come to fruition? Were you all friends who decided to start a new project and see where it took you or was there a structure in place from the start where one person decided to start a band advertised accordingly?
Brief: Me and Jonsson has know each other a long time and we used to play in a few bands together before. I had an idea of starting a drone/sludge/metal-band when I moved to Stockholm in 2008 but the circumstances wasn't right at the time. I did have Jonsson in mind then already because he called and asked if I wanted come to Gothenburg and lay down some vocals for a crust-project he was involved with. Anyway it didn't happen then, but I went to visit him in the summer of 2010, we got really drunk and we said that we were going to start a band and that he had to move to Stockholm eventually he did and we started out with another drummer who was involved in the first three songs (warmachine, red sun and smoke ritual) but that didn't work out and he left. we were rehearsing in this small place with really crap gear so we decided we'd go all in and turned every coin we literally had and bought lots of huge amps. With all the gear and right sound in place we tried out some vocalists but none of them felt that special. Jonsson knew Pia from before and she came to our studio to try a few songs. Eventually she pulled out something fierce and raw which we were really impressed by. We had no drummer at that time and since good drummers are exceptionally rare and Sakke is my brother in law we decided we'd give him a try and everything fell in place.
Moving on to the album, you decided to keep things simple by making it a self-titled record and also you made the decision that other than MP3’s which seems to be the standard these day, the album would be released on vinyl only. Can you explain how both decisions came about? Why not some long fancy name that involved witches serpents and all manner of doom related words? With regards to the vinyl only release, were you not worried that album sales will be lower as a lot of people tend to only listen to CD’s in this modern age?
Brief: I wanted it either to be self-titled or called volume one, the only options really.
Pia: Not having a name on the album was something we just felt was right for our debut. It would have been too pretentious to call it something, and at this point we want the music and the artwork to speak for itself. Can't explain it more than that really... And since vinyl is THE best way to experience an album (expect for live of course), both when it comes to the music and the album art, it was a simple choice. However, the album will be released on CD later on this year. As far as "sales" goes… We don't think in those terms…. But I believe that If you're into this kind of music you support the scene, and you will get it on vinyl because you know vinyl kicks ass. So no, we are not worried.
The album has been released via Mordgrimm from here in the UK. How did contact with the label come about and how soon was a deal done? Were their other labels interested and how is the relationship with Mordgrimm?
Brief: Mordgrimm contacted us, and they really liked what we were doing. A few other labels were interested but they were too slow and the deal with Mordgrimm was very generous we felt. The relationship couldn't be better i'd say.
You have played live with bands such as Grand Magus and more recently the increasingly popular Hooded Menace, what live show that you have been involved with stands out for you as you’re most enjoyable? Do you have a set track list for live shows or do you go with the flow and mood of the night?
Brief: For me, definitely those two shows you mentioned. the first one for sheer energy since it was one of our first shows and the latter one for the great support and atmosphere we got from sharing stage with Hooded Menace.
Pia: Same here. I think the gig with Grand Magus probably was as good as it gets. Everything was just perfect that night, and the bookers at Club Deströyer are such cool people. The sound was wicked and really - really - loud. The Hooded Menace show was amazing too... mainly because they kicked ass and we got along really well drinking mead in the middle of the night in some shady pub.
From the photos I've seen from your live shows there is often an eerie ambiance to the lighting and the mood on stage, helped by the antics and appearance of front lady Pia with her maniacal stares and corpse painted antics! Is there a lot of work and thought that goes into your live appearance or is it once more very much a go with the flow kind of attitude?
Pia: Everything that happens on stage is just an extended part of our music. It all goes together. I wouldn't say we put a lot of effort in to it, it's not like we have pyro or stuff like that. Haha! It all comes natural really, and we just happen to have a very primal and raw appearance live I think. It comes with the music and it rubs off on both us and the crowd.
Going back to the new album what kind of response have you had locally and also in the international press?
Pia: We're a bit blown away by all the positive response we've gotten so far, especially from international press. We've been well received in Sweden too, but I think fewer magazines and blogs have picked up on us here.
Now that ‘Serpent Omega’ is finished and out there you are able to take a step back and with the weight of creating and recording your first album now lifted from your shoulders how do you honestly feel about the music you have created? Are you happy with the album as a whole or is there parts and moments you’d like to change or tweak for next time?
Brief: It feels good, like something has landed but there are always things you want to improve, small things here and there, but I think that since we did all of it ourselves, it has a really cool dynamic to it. I think we need to always record and produce our own stuff, not let someone else do it, then we will lose energy and momentum.
Pia: I totally agree. Even though the DIY thing is fucking hard work, it suits us. I don't think anyone understands what we want to do better than ourselves, and it would be seriously difficult for an outsider to be a part of that and try to interpret the undercurrents of the band… Having said that, who knows what the future holds.
How did you find the recording process? I understand that Andreas [Guitar] did all of the production and mastering for the record, did this add extra pressure to get things perfect or did things go more smoothly having one of your own at the helm?
Pia: You know, for us it's natural to do everything ourselves, and since Jonsson has real hands on experience in both recording, mixing and mastering, it was an easy decision who would record our album. But since we're all perfectionists it took us a while to get it right. We were looking for a heavy but raw sound that was well produced but not slick. Jonsson spent a great deal of time, with us hanging over his shoulder, to make it sound the way we wanted it to. We think it turned out really well.
Finally, what plans do you have for the band now that the album is out? Are preparations for a new release in the pipeline and how about a tour of the UK? Any plans?
Brief: haha, we just released our record! so, no. the next record will take as long time as it needs to feel complete as well. the plans right now are just to play and write new stuff when and if we feel like it. The uk-tour is planned for 2014 in the spring!
Pia: Yeah, I think the music gets another layer of heaviness to it when we play live, so the primary thing is to get out and do that as much as possible. Bookers out there can feel free to contact us.
Serpent Omega's debut self titled album is out now through Mordgrimm!