Saturday 4 June 2016

To Doom Or Not To Doom!! - An Interview with DEMON HEAD

This doom rock band from Copenhagen is well known amongst worshippers of retro styled hard music. They have remarkable vintage sound, memorable vocals and songs choruses. Besides that Demon Head debut full-length “Ride the Wilderness” has the striking artwork!

There was not much news from the band since the album was released in 2015 alongside a split-record with their country mates Alucarda, so I’ve took the bold decision to get in touch with someone at Demon Head. Their drummer Jeppe Wittus found some time to answer questions with some sudden help from Marcus.

Hi Jeppe! How are you? What's new in Demon Head camp?

Hey Aleks! Thanks for getting in touch!

Everything’s great in the Demon Lair. Copenhagen is starting to get a touch of spring and the sun is coming out, which means you can ignore that and hide out in the rehearsal cave, making your ears bleed from exhaustion. Then we're getting ready for a tour through Scandinavia this summer. Good times…

Your latest record is still the split with your mates Alucarda released by Kontrafon Records in autumn 2015. Do you already have new songs for the second full-length album?

Yes! A great co-operation I think. Alucarda has a massive sound and we are very happy with that split. We spend the first couple of months of 2016, in a cabin in the woods, recording a whole bunch of songs for the next album. And we actually completed it in April, so new Demon Head adventures are about to unfold in the nearest future. We're currently trying to find a label to work with for the release.

Photo by Alex Sjöberg

Some people still label Demon Head as a doom metal band; does this definition make any sense for you?

Well, it does make in some way if you draw parallels to what doom rock or metal was, back when bands like Pentagram started out, and Pentagram is no doubt a great source of inspiration.

The thing with music, is that people interpret it very differently, and if our music gives people a feeling of doomsday approaching, that’s just great. In lack of vocabulary describing the music ourselves, we just call it HEAVY THUNDER at the moment. Make of it what you will.

What are your main hard rock and doom metal influences? Who did you like to become when you were in school?

When I was in school I wanted to be Jimi Hendrix or Ray Manzarek, but then I realized that couldn’t play either guitar or the organ. Then I wanted to be John Bonham… That didn’t work out either haha…

Marcus: New and old, metal, rock and blues. The Doors, Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate, Judas Priest, NWOBHM, punk from the Stooges to Discharge, Neil Young, Janis Joplin, Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, MC5, Girlschool, Dust, Cirith Ungol, Bathory, Son House, Rolling Stones. Guess that's not all hard rock and doom metal, but you get the idea. Lots of good newer bands too: Danava, Witch, Night Viper, Antichrist, Korp, Electric Wizard, King Dude.

How long did you argue with the guys when you fight for the rock and doom balance in “Ride the Wilderness”?

In the process of writing, I don’t think we’ve ever argued about if a song was more one genre than another. It’s more important that the songs bring out a feeling that we can relate to. We usually start out with a riff, and jam with it for a while, until it ends up a whole lot different from what it was in the beginning. Sometimes they end up slow and boring, sometimes fast and annoying.

Can't avoid the question about artwork of your debut album “Ride the Wilderness”, how and why did you choose this one?

We all share an appreciation of nature and beautiful scenery, and photography more than graphics. Birk took this picture in Ireland (West Cork). And amongst a bunch of photos, this one just seemed perfect. Things don’t always need to look or sound sinister to actually be so, and those mountains looks like a wilderness you want to ride your bike through.

What level of sound did you want to reach on the album? Why did you choose this lo-fi sound?

Well, initially we wanted to reach a sound level of the sun imploding and the world freezing over, leaving humanity to only keep warm from the heat of amplifiers turned to 11. But seeing as we couldn’t get our hands on the technology, and that most amps only go to 10, we resolved to recording on an old 16-track reel tape recorder that Birk and Thor has.

Tape recorders bring out a warmth that digital recordings can’t really do in the same way, so the way that Ride The Wilderness sound, is a result of us recording and mixing everything ourselves, on this wonderful machine.

Photo by Alex Sjöberg

Jeppe, how did you get in the band?

The other guys had been jamming and writing for a while, with Birk on the drums, who also plays the drums in Øresund Space Collective.

We have all been playing together in other bands earlier, so we know each other quite well, and at some point they asked me to come a rehearsal. Then we just kept going with that.

Oh, and one more standard questions – why did you name the band just Demon Head? Sounds bloody old school indeed.

Marcus: We were discussing back and forth for some time, half crazed after spring's festivals some years ago – after seeing a myriad of old and new bands play, and we really wanted to play some heavy rock that was about loud, sinister music and wild live energy. So in an old auto-camper we were throwing back and forth names for this project. I remember that LSDemon and Demonlord 3000 were on the table... And eventually someone came up with Demon Head. Which fits the lyrical universe perfectly, and sounded like someone who could've been on a poster with Diamond Head or Iron Maiden.

What does the band give to you and how much of time and money do you spend into it every month?

Playing with Demon Head does a lot of things. For instance, it cures hangovers! And personally I get a lot of anger and frustration of humanity, out of my system when we play. Then you don’t need to be angry and kill people in your every day life. We all put a lot of time and energy into this band, as we do everything ourselves, with a lot of help from our friends off course. But it makes perfect sense to spend this energy, since we all kind of love doing it!

Your bandmate Ferreira Larsen plays in Alucarda mixing doom rock with punk, how do you like this idea? Don't you want to add more anarchy in Demon Head sound?

Marcus: Actually Jeppe plays drums for Alucarda on the split. A very good job indeed! We like to think our approach is punk in general – doing it ourselves, taking chances, valuing adventure over money.

Jeppe: I think Alucarda is fucking brilliant, and a gives new approach to rock music. In terms of Demon Head and anarchy, I think the strength of the music is in the details of all the layers, more than the soundwall itself, but there is a lot of individual anarchy going on individually when we play live, things get wild!

Let's sum it up - what's the message of Demon Head?


Words by Aleks Evdokimov and Demon Head