“This time we tried to hold it back and give it a more bleak and depressing thing. Climax was sort of sexy and passionate.
This one we wanted more bleak.”
Let’s just start with the list of band members: Mat “Kvohst” McNerney –
Vocals, Valtteri Arino – Bass, Linnéa Olsson – Guitar, Uno Bruniusson – Drums,
Juho Vanhanen – Guitar (live/studio)
Yes, Grave Pleasures are a cult rock supergroup of sorts for people who follow
post-punk, death rock and underground metal. Formed in the wake of the passing
of not just critical darlings Beastmilk but also The Oath and In Solitude, the
void yawned and out of the chaotic aftermath was birthed the titanic output of
creativity and the right mix of personalities locking together that gives us
this new amazing band, Grave Pleasures.
Dreamcrash is that guilty pill you want to slip yourself, a dark and sensual trip via Sony/Metal Blade through the shadowy Lost Highways of Hell, but much more fun that nightmarish in the end. The band slink, rock, groove and emote down corridor after corridor of pitch perfect post punk guitar dissonance and the unbeatable tribal pounding of Uno Bruniusson’s often tom heavy beats.
The dual guitars and crooning vocals evoke a dalliance with the dark but a
sense of self worth that makes you long for immortality than a thirst
addiction, but the record is addictive as a vampire’s kiss nonetheless.
For a talk with astounding Swedish musician Linnéa Olsson of Grave Pleasures,
Hello! Pouring black coffee into my mug and we will be underway!
Linnéa Olsson – Alright.
.Ok, so…my first question is…now that Grave Pleasures is a band…do you
feel less guilty about all the people who wanted to commit suicide when The
Oath and In Solitude and Bloodmilk…I mean, Beastmilk all broke up? I
accidentally said Bloodmilk like the artist, haha. She makes awesome rings and
is on Instagram.
(laughing) Well, I don’t know if …I’m not so present on the internet.I don’t
have a Facebook account or anything like that.
That’s what people tell me. I certainly got my fair share of emails after The
Oath break up. And I know a lot of people were super disappointed with
Beastmilk disbanding. But I mean, c’mon. It’s just a band. People do this
thing where they think they own bands. Like they are part of it. It is such a
personal thing, music. It’s supposed to be. But it’s not your band. Though
with the internet everyone feels offended and obliged to let you know. I get
it completely, but it’s not like anyone took the easiest way out and chose to
end these bands because of spite for our listeners.
.It was all a trick.
It was a super difficult set of decisions, all these break ups. So, yeah. I
have a band now but who knows how long that will last, right? (laughing)
.I’ve had mixed feelings in the past…I think Steve Albini said bands
shouldn’t last forever or they get worse. (laughing) I also hate writing about
a band and then am just excited and spent time promoting their record and they
implode. It deflates the balloon. But also, a band or even making a
record…all those bands who have members in Grave Pleasures…you all made
powerful art which can take a lot of energy or even estrange people sometimes
in the process of expression. It’s harder than people think. I’ve made amazing
music with people and had the bands explode because we were all exhausted with
Yeah. I’m in awe of any band that manages to stay together for a serious
amount of time. All these things need to click. Creative chemistry. Personal
chemistry. The same goals or somewhere in the same direction. Time.
Willingness to put time in. Even a bit of money to spend on the rehearsal
space. It blows my mind there are bands out there.
.Yeah, I’ve dealt with different urgency levels or focus points of the time
people can devote in my bands. But let’s talk about something more fun. Your
record is awesome! How did it feel adjusting into this new project’s skin?
Thank you. Glad you like it. We didn’t really have any time to adjust. When
the break up with Beastmilk happened and everything was still on a time
schedule, once we decided we wanted to go forward there was a tight timeframe
to do an album. When we got this line up together it was, let’s fucking do
this. Rather than “let’s sit down and analyze.” That was really good because
it was really fucking intense. We sort of skipped the honeymoon phase and went
straight into this…”
.New Hip Moon!
We were sort of forced to share our vulnerabilities and get out of our comfort
zone quickly. We all knew each other but there was pressure and the conflict
of Beastmilk sort of lingering in the air. At least for Mat, who was really
affected by that. And Uno came from a really recent break up with In Solitude.
Speaking of bands that actually had a long career, they were together for 13
.Yeah, I didn’t realize they had been together so long. My friend Rebecca from
the fantastic Sub Rosa she got me into them. But only a few years ago. So I
didn’t realize they had such a history.
Yeah, they got together when they were like kids. They learned how to play
with each other.
.Wow, that’s like losing brothers.
Those kinds of bands are pretty rare these days. But yeah, we just went for
it. Speaking creatively it was a lot of fun. We put ourselves in this very
intense space where anything was allowed. It was very rewarding that way. And
like any sort of intense experience afterwards when you have a chance to
reflect, then that’s when it sort of hits you and we were faced with the
difficulties of maybe not having time to adjust. A very real situation of an
album and band being made and a label.
It’s an ongoing adjustment, I think.
.You know , I love it though. The urgency is in the record but it doesn;t fel
rushed. Some stuff like “Taste the Void” or “Futureshock” reminds me almost of
T.S.O.L.’s great Beneath The Shadows. That West Coast punk band. Or “Crying
Wolves” has this like haunted rockabilly sound, like X on Halloween or
Cool. Thanks. It was really cool. Part of the appeal or whatever for what
people have been telling us is sort of the different musical
aspects…constant…sorry, sometimes I lose my English. All the different
influences. We didn’t sit down and decide to make a post-puk album or anything
.Sure, but a lot of the guitars sound more stretched out than some of the
stuff I’ve heard in the past from different members of the band or a bit
darker , maybe. More expansive, though. “Crisis” in particular. A cool
I didn’t play on the Beastmilk album. Neither did Uno. There was only one
guitar and then I learned those songs when I joined Beastmilk and we were two
guitarists for awhile. This album was WRITTEN for two guitars. So we made an
effort of trying to accentuate the guitars in a way that they wouldn’t get
drowned in lots of effects. We wanted them to sort of be clear and you could
hear all the weaving going on with the two guitars. With heavy music or metal
or punk, at least for me in the past, it’s really easy to just step on the
distortion adn turn it to eleven and sort of blast it. While we allr eally
love that as well it was part of putting ourselves in an uncormfortable space
to maybe dial that down a little bit and accentuate the guitars in a way they
would be aggresive but still sort of held back. This was really scary in a
way. I’m used to masking mistakes. Make up for the guitar and sloppy playing
hides in lots of effects.
.I’m a singer and just played guitar on a solo record in my project Walking
Bombs, so believe me, I understand! I suck at guitar (laughing).
(laughing) Yeah, stuff like that. This time we tried to hold it back and give
it a more bleak and depressing thing. Climax was sort of sexy and passionate.
This one we wanted more bleak.
.Dreamcrash has that tension but is well performed and the tribal drum
tension. Plus like you said a bit more exposure.
We produced it ourselves and it was sometimes like we were a new band and a
bit in the dark. We only had a month to write and rehearse. I think it turned
out pretty well. It was cool to take on that role of supervisng the whole
project in that sense ourselves.
.It’s awesome you had that much trust from Sony and Metal Blade to do that
Yeah, I’m glad you like it.
.It reflects well on them to stay out of the way and trust you.
We had an engineer who was supposed to produce but you know what it’s like.
You hang out for a bit and work and it doesn’t take too long before you sort
of know where you stand with each other. He’s a great guy and was really good
at engineering but was not the really type of producer we were looking for. So
we took on the role fairly quickly in the process.
.Are you in Helsinki today?
I live in Berlin, actually. The band is based in Finland but there are only
two Finnish people in the band right now.
.Yeah, I know you are Swedish but PR said it was on Helsinki time. I have to
go there next year to take my dad’s ashes to Estonia and take the ferry from
Helsinki so I was wondering if you knew if the ferry was a pain in the ass.
Oh, wow. Sorry to hear about your dad. I don’t know.
.I’ll figure it out. So you are in Berlin? My friend Yasmine from Tearist was
there and she said she loved it. She did some shows over there. I hear the
architecture is stunning and it is a great place to invest in real estate.
That’s what people are saying. It’s on my mind as well (laughing). Berlin is a
.I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately based on what happened with my
family and you get seduced by the temporary nature of life and the weight of
each choice you make. But you can’t let it hold yu back from creative
decisions or even, what do I do with my day. To ask a philosophical
question…I think it makes you respond to the songss in your own blood when
you realize mortality but free will gives us immortality in choosing what to
do in every moment. Does that ever go into your own music? This band seems to
have a death fixation but not in an UNHEALTHY way. I feel like you dance on
These topics of life and death in a life context or small things happening
around you, this is something we discuss a lot or is very present in our
collective personal lives. It’s becoming more and more prevalent and I think
about it a lot. Ultimately as a musician you have this sort of struggle with
why you’re doing what you’re doing and don’t want to conform to normal life or
the other expectations people have of you. You know that. You’re a musician as
well. And a writer. Any sort of creative field I think people think about
this. What has been so good with this band is the sort of knowlegde that
nothing lasts and this too shall pass, y’know? Universal law. In a way allows
for a lot of relief and freedom ultimately. I don’t know if that answers your
question but it s ultimately about freedom. Once you embrace that as good as
you can, it’s not easy at all, but once you embrace that things around you
seem to open up.
.Very well said. Sure, or you even I feel…weird magnetism happens like
people show up in your life who are like minded, if you are lucky. Maybe.
Exactly. I believe that too. But you’ve had a personal death in your life.
I’ve talked about it a lot but don’t experience it. Maybe it will be different
once I have a personal grasp.
.Well, I hope that doesn’t happen for awhile to you. But it’s part of
acceptance. You go through mood swings but realize the precious nature of
time. So…I lost my train of thought…someone told me you toured with Peter
Gabriel! I was like, huh?! Is that true?
(laughing) No. Wait, I think it is probably this cello player I will have to
kill one day. I get these questions so much. (laughing) Like, she’s way more
succesful than I am. She’s huge.
. I thought it sounded to metal to be true to tour with Peter Gabriel and then
be like ,”Fuck it. I’m joining The Oath.” (laughing)
(laughing) Man, I wish…no, I don’t wish it was me. But it’s somebody else.
Sometimes I get her emails! Cuz I’ve been working as a music journalist just
like you. That was my day job for fourteen years.
.Oh, so you are also a …masochist?
(laughing) Yeah, exactly. So I decided to focus on music. I’m on the email
list of all these labels by default still. Sometimes people confuse me and I
get her email. I wonder if she will ever get mine and gets asked heavy metal
.It’s funny because I was going to say that seemed like a more high pressure
thing. I mean, Beastmilk had a lot of buzz, but…this must be a breeze
compared to a Peter Gabriel tour you didn’t do.
(laughing) No. I’m not used to any high pressure. Bring it on.
(laughing) Bring it! Being from Europe, were there subcultures growing up you
thought were kind of crazy? America is always crazy. But I’m learning about in
Sweden they have like people really into hot rods? American hot rod fans?
Yeah, up North in Sweden for sure. I was never part of anything like that. I
started listening to this music like most people through my older brother. I
wasn’t allowed to go into his room or touch his cds but I would do it anyway.
It was this sort of feeling like kind of scary music but you check out the
death metal CDs and get sort of frightened but really excited. It hit home
with me and stuck with me for the rest of my life. It wasn’t until late 20’s
when I felt like I finally found other people who were into the same stuff.
.Or then when you want to play it, there are so many sub genres in metal and
noise music and punk that you might have to settle for the closest thing. Like
you want to play grindcore but there is just the one stinky death metal guy in
town. “Uh…I don’t know if I want to hang out with him…umm, cool Carcass
(laughing) Yes, exactly. As a teenager, I grew up in a University city
Linköping. There was an alternative scene. And lots of hardcore. It wasn’t
until I moved to Stockholm when I realized the music they’d listened to was
.(cracking up) ahaha. You just made me get a cramp!
(laughing) Like , like Stockholm they had everything and it was better.
.Do you have a lot coming up for 2016?
I know we are going to be busy but that’s all I know. We are going to do a
Euro tour in January with Tribulation and Vampire.
.Oh! Those bands are both so fucking good. Swoon.
Yeah, so that will be cool. They are both Swedish bands so we can speak some
Swedish on the bus. That will be nice. We just got home from a month long
tour. I’m probably gonna write some new songs and we are gathering up again in
January. We’re hoping to come to the States next year.
.Yeah, come to the East coast so I can come see you play!
.Though, I wish I was on the West Coast. Hey, do you think it is easier with a
great Train system in Europe to tour? In America it is harder for bands to
live in different States maybe. Like you said you live in different countries.
We don’t take the train but it’s not such a big deal to fly. Berlin to Finland
is an hour. That’s not really a big deal. Even if we’re in a big city we’re
not that kind of band that would go and rehearse every week. Uno lives here in
Berlin and we can jam if we need to. When we all do see each other it is
really intense and we focus on the shit that needs to get done. And it is a
lot of fun when we see each other.
.Exactly, and you get tight and have fun. I wish more bands would focus on
working models like that. I probably sound bitter. But people are often focused on what is wrong or pulling things apart instead of “how do we make this work.”
(laughing) Are you having problems with your band?
.Mmmmm, I just want the drummer to finish the damn album mixes. It is driving me fucking crazy.
He’s a drummer. That’s his job.
.It’s true, they are all crazy (laughing). Every one I ever worked with. Well, thanks for your time today and rescheduling.
I’m sorry for last time. It was my fault.
.Oh good, I thought it was my fault.
Thanks very much and see you around.
.Thanks. Loved the record!