Dissolving, as if born again…for the first time in nearly 20 years, on April 16th 2016, melodic death metal band Eucharist will reunite for a very special live festival (PTD3) in Sweden with several other cult Swedish melodeath bands.
After their 1997 sophomore album Mirrorworlds the band split and remained silent – until now. Former Monolith contributor (and long-time Eucharist fan) Chris Warunki chats with founding members Markus Johnsson (vocals, guitar) and Daniel Erlandsson (drums) in what is the most extensive interview in the band’s career as they delve deep down into the blackened night of the worlds within Eucharist.
Part two covers the band’s ultimate breakup after second album Mirrorworlds, looking back on their work nearly two decades on, and how they came to reunite for PTD3.
There seemed to be a trend in the mid to late 90s of Swedish melodic death metal bands releasing a brilliant album and then disbanding shortly afterwards. Did you feel like you were going out on top after releasing Mirrorworlds? What was the reason for dissolving?
Markus: No, really I never thought of that to be honest. At the time of our post-Mirrorworlds disbanding we were okay with the album; happy with its result but not very proud. However, as the years has passed, or decades rather, I have become proud of it. It has grown to me because I have such a distance to it nowadays as if somebody else recorded the album so it is easier to appreciate it as the piece of work that it is. Today we are very proud of Mirrorworlds because it is a great album.
But I never thought of whether we left off on top or not. I was too drugged up to reflect on such matters. Today I can reflect and reconnect to that time in the past. I also enjoyed recording the album very much. We were fully free to do what we liked and this time the producer Fredrik Larnemo, who fucked up A Velvet Creation (his first metal album ever) was a lot more relaxed and had obviously gotten more experienced and worked more professionally, and gave us the freedom to use the mixing board and analog tape recorder – he went away sometimes a full day and me and Daniel were alone with the studio for ourselves and that particular day Daniel handled the board and recorder while I did all the vocals. It was nice and a relaxed atmosphere and no stress.
I made the intro to “Demons” along with a guy called Staffan, we brought in Martin Karlsson on bass and Kenneth Grönberg on oboe as mentioned before. So to sum it up I guess we left on top as far as Eucharist went but we had a short life and only two full albums so our legacy wasn’t much, but what fascinates me is that people still remembers us to this day! We get such a positive response on social media that it is quite unbelievable that we aren’t forgotten. And now someone has awoken the corpse and you know what characterizes the undead, don’t you? You can’t fucking kill them again! Unless you knock their heads off with a shovel – but please don’t do that to us!
When the band split, was it a relief to you?
Daniel: Those were different times to say the least, and I also had lots of personal things going on plus I was getting back with Arch Enemy. I wouldn’t say it was a relief but at the time I needed to make the space in my life.
After Eucharist disbanded, Markus you kept a VERY low profile personally. Daniel went on to play for several other well known bands, but you kept quiet. What is the reason for your seclusion from music or “the metal scene”? (Hell, there hasn’t even been a Eucharist Facebook page until just recently!)
Markus: I know. I have been miles away mentally from the music scene and business. After Daniel joined Arch Enemy I felt there was just no reason to even try to do something because I can only work with him, or so I thought/felt, thus no production from my part. I actually had a period where I was planning to make a new album with musicians that didn’t exist yet but I figured I’d find them when I’m done with the material and so I contacted W.A.R. and promised a new album. BUT, could I get a new guitar, please? Yeah sure, no problem; cool, new stuff from Markus. So I ordered a new BC Rich Warlock, this time. I ended up selling the guitar for 50 Euro to buy some weed and pills. Since then I haven’t spoken to the ex-label owner. I am not proud of what I did but I know I am guilty. Too bad I didn’t do anything. I had lyrics and some new material but it needed to be arranged and musicians needed to be found so it could have been an album.
So what have you done with your post-Eucharist time then?
Markus: I totally buried myself in bizarre literature written in English because all the interesting stuff isn’t translated into Swedish and I was mainly in to French, Czech, British and a mix of various literature. I started to write myself. I wanted to write and publish novels. I wrote a lot of poetry during six or seven years in which I dedicated myself completely. I wrote and wrote and wrote, night in and night out but I only published some of my stuff on the web and never actually tried to get a deal with a publisher.
Too bad, I still wanna release poetry but it is almost all written in Swedish but I guess I could translate it since I never bothered to do rhyme. It was expressing myself that was important to me. I rarely talked to people, I lived (and still do) in a very isolated spot outside Norrtälje, about one hour north of Stockholm. I had serious health issues also, I was extremely sick for years and medications fucked my life. But they also made me turn and come back again and now I am as stable as I have ever been. I started doing drugs at the age of 14 and from there it went on and I guess life took its toll.
Your two studio albums were both remastered and remixed on the reissues many years ago. One thing that I did notice is that the “guide me out of this nightmare” line is completely missing from the reissue of Mirrorworlds on the song “Bloodred Stars” – as if forgotten in the remixing process. Markus, your name was also misspelled in the liner notes. What do you think about the re-issues? Do you prefer these or the originals?
Markus: I most certainly prefer the originals and you are quite correct about that line missing in “Bloodred Stars” (which is the voice of our tortured producer by the way).
Well, I do prefer the originals anyhow. I don’t think you can hear very much difference, actually, but it was nice to put the two compilation tracks from ’94 “Wounded and Alone” and “The Predictable End” as bonus tracks and I also think it was lovely to release them on vinyl! That is definitely the way metal should be played. The sound won’t be better than on vinyl. I prefer it although I don’t even own a turntable. Guess it is time to buy one.
Wolfsbane Records also released a smaller amount of collectors edition of Mirrorworlds with only 500 copies incl. 100 copies with clear vinyl and a 7″ with “The View” on clear vinyl as well. Great release! Thanks Ronny and Jigs!
Daniel, looking back are you proud of the drum tracks on both Eucharist albums? What would you have done different now?
Daniel: Those albums were both very important to me as a drummer, as they were some of my first steps into this life. I am proud of both of them, both generally and also in terms of drums. Knowing what I know today after 20 years doing this, there would surely be things I would do differently, however since they are both snapshots of their time, and I know we gave 100% making them I actually wouldn’t wanna change anything!
From what I know those smaller labels like W.A.R. all went under. So, who owns the masters of your studio recordings now?
M: No-one because they are either destroyed or on their own journey somewhere, where perhaps someone knows about them – but I’d bet they’re thrown away unfortunately. Eucharist now own the rights of all its material. That is great and soon you’ll know why!
What is your personal favourite Eucharist song and why?
Markus: Hard question. Seriously! But I do like “Into The Cosmic Sphere” from the demo because of its powerful drive and the riffs and its cool structure and the demo is actually what I consider the best production Eucharist ever got on a release. But I enjoy “The Eucharist” a lot and “Fallen” too. I find them quite unique in every aspect, and “Fallen” is also so full of anguish and despair that I get drawn into it each time I listen to it, which isn’t very often.
Daniel: It’s not easy to choose one song, but I am personally very proud of the Mirrorworlds album, and I like all the songs on that album, especially “Demons“!
The only other Swedish metal band I’ve ever heard that reminded me of Eucharist, even in the slightest, is Cromlech. Is it a coincidence that you are personal friends with this band and also playing at the PTD3 festival?
Markus: Well, we all lived in the same small town city Varberg or in its vicinity and most of us were in the same age, add or take a few years, and we were all into the metal scene and some of us went to the same high school so it sort of came of itself because there was only one building where they offered rehearsal rooms. Many bands got together there but Daniel, Thomas, Tobias and I – the lineup from the demo-era – all lived a couple of miles outside of Varberg in small villages called Kungsäter, Veddige and Derome.
We started out rehearsing in Veddige Youth Centre around ’89 and stayed there until around ’93 then I moved to Varberg as a 16-year old young man and we started to rehearse in Varberg but not in the same place where all the other bands were hanging but we got to know each other anyway you know, on weekend nights out on the town while partying. They gigged together – Eucharist never did a gig in Varberg ever, only in Veddige, Falkenberg, Gothenburg here in Sweden – and we went to the gigs and so on. Also, I went to senior high school with Manne Engström from Fatal Embrace.
But as for Cromlech, I got to knew them when I started to hang out with Henrik Meijner from the band. We met on a community service workplace for unemployed youths. We became instant and great friends and has been ever since. We met around ’95, and I also hung out a bit with one of their vocalists, Fredrik Arnesson, a damn great guy. I am also familiar with Jonas Eckerström a bit, however we never hung out together except for a party or two and on nights out. Same with their drummer Matthias Beck. I only got to know them so/so. Did you know that I came up with the name Cromlech for the band? I did. I got it from the Darkthrone track “Cromlech” from their first CD “Soulside Journey”.
How were you approached for PTD3 festival and did it take much for you to agree with it?
Markus: Evelina, the main arranger of the festival, contacted me but was unfortunate the first couple of times. Eventually she caught me because I had recently opened a Facebook account and there she found me. At first I said “No. There is no way it will happen!”. Then she told me that Daniel hadn’t said no. So I asked her if she’d asked him and he told her “maybe”. And so it was.
Then I got unsure so I got into contact with Daniel again for the first time in a very long time apart – I moved 600km north from Varberg in 2002 which didn’t make it easier for us to bump in to each other any longer – and he told me that he had had plans for a reunion on his mind the last year but this hastened the process and made our contact a bit premature than to what was planned.
Anyway, we decided to go for it, as you know. As soon as I heard that Daniel was positive so we agreed to take part of it.
Daniel: To be honest I had been thinking about reuniting the band, but hadn’t come to any conclusion yet when the call came. To me the reunion is a return to where my musical journey started!
Will you have the time to play most of Eucharist’s catalog live at the festival? Any new songs you’ve been jamming?
Markus: Well, without revealing too much, I can let you know that, since we headline, our show will last for approximately 60-70 minutes. There will be no new material. The thing with this gig is that it is supposed to gather bands that were active back during the mid ’90s, and it is desirable if it is possible to use the same line-up as of that era as well – even if the line-up today would be different. But as far as I know, all the bands were inactive when being asked about this so I suppose there were no current line-ups. I think most of the bands has been able to do this. I know that some are to play new material even if it is said as a rule that it should be strictly ’90s material. I know of three bands that will perform new songs, but Eucharist will not. Only old classic, known songs from our back catalogue.
How does it feel to play these songs again for the first time in many years?
Daniel: We just rehearsed once and it was lots of fun. It was really a trip down memory lane, and very cool to revisit those old songs and ideas once again!
What are the chances that this could lead to more shows or even another studio album? Hey, if At The Gates can do it then anything is possible right??
Markus: It is possible! ATG showed us exactly that, as you say, but they were far more known than we were and they also had an extensive back catalogue compared to Eucharist. However, we have decided to go through with the this gig and feel what it feels like; will it feel good? Will we perform well? Will it be appreciated? Do we have what it takes to please the audience? Those are questions we can answer after the gig is performed and we know of just how successful it was.
Our goal with the gig is to make the audience feel that they recognise the songs as they are performed on the albums; that is the songs will be performed as they are recorded on the albums except for the sound. Unlike some of the other bands we have not made any changes to the songs apart from some subtle details.
One problem is that I decided consciously to buy a guitar without a Floyd Rose bridge and with no whammy-bar and almost all the solos on Mirrorworlds are made using this. I knew it would be a problem but I decided that I didn’t want one so I have to adapt the solos as well as I can to my Schecter guitar’s capability, playing the solos differently. That will be hard but there is nothing to do anything about and it won’t completely kill the songs, so to speak. It is not that important, but the bends do bring a certain character to the solos for sure. I wish there was a way of explaining this for the audience before the gig so that they will know why I play the solos differently, but it will still be the same tunes, of course, so they will not feel alien to you.
I am sorry, I lost the track here and went away from the subject. Will we stay alive? Well, all four of us are extremely excited about this gig and this reuniting and surprisingly, at least to me, is that Daniel seems to be almost the most positive of us and that fires me up as well and thus all members are blooming as individuals in this familiar vehicle, so to speak. And what I meant before with that if we succeed in reaching our goals at this festival there is certainly a chance that there could be a continuation; as I said, those who have risen from the ashes are hard to kill and if that will apply on Eucharist, which is my personal wish, then there is a good chance that we will continue. We are actually very curious in creating new material and I can promise you that I will play my part in trying to keep this ship afloat – first we use the gig to see if the ship even sails. There is a good chance Eucharist will stay reunited but don’t forget that Daniel has Arch Enemy which is a band that is touring probably as much that is possible year after year and that leaves little room for the man to rest and utilise Eucharist. It is, of course, a question of how bad my friend wants this to be reality. If he is in, I too am in, and then nothing can stop us. So keep your fingers crossed if you wish for it to happen.
Daniel: If we are to release new music or not, it’s only gonna happen if the new material is up to par. At this moment it might be too early to say. We have kind of said between us – lets see how the first show feels and take it from there. I could imagine making some new music would be cool too, so lets see what the future will bring!
What are your thoughts on bands like At The Gates having major come-backs?
Markus: Well, as for At The Gates I feel stronger for them since Adrian Erlandsson is Daniel’s brother and we are familiar with most of the guys so I, for sure, am very happy for their fantastic success that followed their return to the scene.
And they did it with pride and glory too. They fucking rule live! I saw them in Sweden in September last year. They are gods on stage. Very high energy and extremely tight performance. Congratulations to you, guys! As for other bands that have returned from the dead I think it is just fun that they pick up the instruments again or go back to their old setup if they are active in new projects or other bands. It adds to the scene a certain quality. It is not only death metal bands that are coming back; everyone does it! The last decade thousands of old bands have reunited with or without success in many genres.
Of course I am happy for those who succeed. It is only natural. We want these bands back! Many fans are fans of dead bands and so many are lucky to get to see their favourite band reunite and go watch them perform live. I remember back in the ’90s when Black Sabbath reunited with its original lineup, I almost cried, man. That was unbelievable to me because I never even thought about the possibility of them reuniting, you know, and this is quite soon after Kiss reunited; after that there came a boom and bands all over the worlds came back to the scene with new albums and performed live their old gems to the peoples amusement.
Kiss sucks but they started a trend, obviously. No, I can’t see anything negative about it if they do it well! It is very sad with those who try but they have lost their touch and feeling and thus they fail in producing new music that can follow up their back catalogue with dignity.
How does it feel to be reunited after all these years? Did you ever foresee this happening?
Markus: It feels awesome! I’m very excited and very much looking forward to this gig to begin with. The other guys are feeling quite the same, as far as I can tell. We are very focused and each member has been rehearsing on his own as good as he can. We began to rehearse for real within mid-March and went real intense the last two weeks.
No, I never thought this would happen. It’s a very natural feeling about it, but never in my life had I thought this would happen but I adapted to the fact very fast. It has been an expensive wake up, though, being completely out of equipment. But now, soon fully equipped, I feel very satisfied and calm about the whole thing. I do not worry – I believe there will be a continuation. At least I can tell your that I at least won’t stop here, or after the gig, no matter what!
Name 3 metal albums on your playlist.
1. Mayhem – De Mysteriis Don Satanas
2. Darkthrone – A Blaze In the Northern Sky
3. Celtic Frost – Morbid Tales
1. Dissection – Reinkaos
2. Judas Priest – Sin After Sin
3. Metal Church – Metal Church
Name 3 non-metal albums on your playlist.
1. Black Sabbath – Volume 4
2. The Velvet Underground & Nico
3. Anita Lane – Dirty Pearls
1. Captain Beyond – Captain Beyond
2. Goblin – Roller
3. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
What would you like to say to all the Eucharist fans who thought you were dead and gone?
Markus: I would like to thank each and one of you for your tremendous support on social media and for showing so much interest in our reunion and especially those who will travel from far abroad to the little Swedish city of Varberg on April 16! Coming all the way from Australia, Russia, USA, UK, Ireland, Germany, Holland, France and Slovakia – you are awesome!!
And all of you who still remember us and buy our records and support us and like our music – thank you! You are the reason that Eucharist now reunites and possibly continues to stay reunited. I am eternally grateful to all of you, including you Chris Warunki – thanks for this fantastic interview! It has been a pure pleasure answering your great questions.
To all of you who can’t make it to the gig but would like to see Eucharist perform live, I hope as much as you that we will one day come to a place near your town in the not so distant future; hopefully to represent a new album? You are the means that keep our metal from corroding, so to speak; you are the reason we once again exist. Thanks for keeping us alive during the decades instead of forgetting us and our metal – you fucking rule!!
Daniel: That it’s great to hear that there’s still people who remember us! Makes me humble and grateful! Hopefully we’ll see you all somewhere out there!
You can also help fund the Live Festival DVD; details here.