Interview: GRÁ

Interview: GRÁ

- in Written interviews

Swedish black metal act, Grá, is back with a new album called Lycaon.
About the new album, its meaning, cover artwork, sound, touring plans, and others, I had the pleasure to interview Grá’s mastermind, Heljarmadr.

Welcome to Antichrist ‘zine Heljardmadr, is my pleasure talking with you again. How is everything going?
Thanks for the time and interest, all good over here. Heatwave coming this weekend.

Before getting into more ”serious” talk, you’re now living in Chile, how’s life there, besides being warmer than Sweden?
Well, I live in the “world”. Right now I am in Chile, enjoying the summer, from March to June I will be living in a tour bus around Europe and North America, from June to August I will live in Sweden and have that as my headquarters during the festival summer. After that, who knows, I am honestly extremely sick of the northern European winters and as I have been able to, I’ll keep avoiding them as much as I possibly can. I take +30 degrees over -30 degrees any day.

Lycaon is the new Grá album, first of all, why it took nearly 5 years to release a new album, following 2018’s Väsen? Was the Covid pandemic as well a reason for delaying the release or the recordings of it?
It took that time simply because it wasn’t ready before. If anything, the pandemic has allowed us to put down even more time on it, perhaps it’d have been a 2024 release without the pandemic, who knows? The first demos for Lycaon were actually in existence at the time Väsen was released. We believe that things must take the time it needs to become as good as it deserves. This is not what put food on our tables so why release something that is less than perfect in our own opinions, just to please the eagerness of others? As a listener, would you rather hear half-done albums more often than well-thought-through ones with some time apart?

What does ”Lycaon’’ mean and what is the connection with the album artwork?
’’Lycaon’’ was a king in ancient times, he pointed his middle finger to authority by serving the flesh of his own son to Zeus, the king of the Gods. Zeus obviously found out and was pissed off and turned ”Lycaon’’ into the first werewolf. The symbol of the wolf in man was what we wanted to bring into our album. To connect it to the cover artwork, I guess we will all have to draw our own conclusions, it’s art after all.

There’re 2 cover songs on the album, one of them is Bathory’s ”Chariots Of Fire”, and the other one is Cursed 13’s ”Torn Asunder”. Cursed 13 is your other band, and I’d like to ask why did you particularly choose to cover a Cursed 13 song and feature it on Grá’s new album.
Cursed 13 was what existed before Grá (1998-2018) and in the end, we decided to lay Cursed 13 to rest. It had, by then, the same lineup as Grá and it was just weird to separate them. I think that Grá has, slowly, grown into being both bands combined, and as Torn Asunder was written and recorded by me and Vediger in 2002 and both of us now in Grá, it doesn’t really feel like a cover, but us bringing our old song into the present time. Historically, songs like ”Offerrök’’ (from our self-titled debut) and ’’Dead Old Eyes’’ (from Väsen) also comes from old unreleased demo tapes from our old bands. You’ll find the original version of ’’Dead Old Eyes’’ on my Youtube channel under the name “Diabolic Lust – What is the Meaning”.

What I like about Lycaon is not just the usual black metal sound, but it has some heavy elements, and then there’s the heavier and ”doom(ish)” sound on ”Brännmärkt”, which is also one of my favorite songs. How did you approach this variation of elements?
If anything, we have been a bit extra inspired by 80s heavy metal on Lycaon. There’s a Black Sabbath vibe on ”Brännmärkt’’, a Dio-AC/DC vibe on ”Ett Avskedsbrev’’. Lots of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest in the guitar harmonies. I also hear a bunch of Motörhead brutality in there.

Guitarist Maugrim decided to part ways with Grá,  yet he’s guesting on a few songs of ”Lycaon”. Was his leaving a surprise to you?
Yes and no, he needed to focus on other things and that left us in a situation where we decided to go separate ways. The show must go on.

How is it for you to share your time for both Gra and Dark Funeral, then travel to and from Chile, is it difficult?
I find working 9-5, five days a week, year after year, and having to be a slave under a big corporation extremely difficult. I decided to walk another path and yeah, it’s hard sometimes but for me it is also extremely rewarding to be my own boss and create my own destiny. I rather eat noodles under the sun than freeze in a house that I don’t have time to see anyway.

Do you have touring plans with Grá in order to promote the new album?
We have hopes and dreams, let’s see which ones can become reality. Hoping for a lot of concerts in the future.

To end the interview, is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for taking the time, I’ll encourage you all to give our new album Lycaon a spin or two, you might like it. Cheers, Heljarmadr!

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