Interview with Joakim Sterner (Necrophobic)

This October, black-metalheads from Sweden – Necrophobic, released their newest Down Of the Damned. Metal Addicts, got the chance to speak with the drummer and founder of the band – Joakim Sterner, about band’s unique sound-formula and collaboration with Schmier, about songwriting and energetics, about concepts and Iron Maiden.

Your newest “Dawn Of The Damned” just came out – how it feels actually and how long it took for you to get this work completed?

It feels great that it’s finally out. It got a little bit postponed due to the global pandemic situation, so instead of a release in August it came out in October. We recorded it during a couple of sessions this time, which we felt was more time efficient and more convenient for us, rather than hanging in the studio from 09.00–16.00, day in and day out. The producer thought this was best for him as well, for the same reasons.

One of the things about “Dawn Of The Damned” stressed by all the members of Necrophobic is your collaboration with Schmier of Destruction. How everything came about with this?

Well, when we finished writing the album – and that particular song
“Devil’s Spawn Attack” was the last song we wrote – we felt that the song had a vibe and feeling from the very early days of this extreme music. As we have had guest appearances on most of our previous albums, we felt that this song would be cool to have a special guest singing on it together with Anders. Someone suggested that we should ask Schmier if he was interested in guesting on it, so we contacted him and after he had heard the song, he got excited to do it. He told us that he also got that same vibe from the mid ‘80s style of extreme metal. The result was killer! We are really honored that he participated.

Following your own words, at the beginning of your career you basically have been searching for a sound. Listening to Iron Maiden and Accept. Trying to figure out what to do. When did you got an understanding of what and how you should approach your work?

Development with the sound is a process with studio work and experience and also talent and interest. But to make some kind of “mark” of where we thought that we really found something, I’d say when we recorded “Hrimthursum” in 2005 (released in May 2006). From there on, the sound has continued to develop and form into what we sound like today. The funny thing with that is that when we recorded that album, it was the first time we (the band) took care of everything ourselves and handpicked the people that we wanted to work with.

Unlike typical black-metal bands, within each record of yours you’ve been demonstrating different kind of progressivity you put together within your music, establishing the basics of progressive black metal. Whether this is “Darkside” or “Death To All”. But where did it came from? Is it your desire to expend the borders?

The thing with this band is that we are fans as well. We grew up with metal in the early ‘80s and saw all the new styles rising up from the underground to slowly getting bigger and getting more attention. At the end of the ‘80s, death metal was new and we decided to start a band. With influences from black metal of the ‘80s and the darker sounding death metal, we started to create our own music. Dark and evil sounding melodies was something we wanted to build our songs around. During all those years, our music and sound has developed and so have we, on our instruments and in our songwriting. Adding to this is also the fact that we, at a very early stage, wanted to have an image to visualize the music and that has also been an ongoing progression. With that said, I want to make clear that we did not feel at home in either the death metal scene or the black metal scene. We are a mix of both and that has made us non-typical. Both on albums and in live shows.

There have been some lineup changes in the band. What can you say about the current version of the band – does it has a different kind of chemistry, for you?

It’s quite natural to have changes in the lineup, especially as this band
celebrated 30 years of existence last year. The lineup of today fits very well
together, both with the chemistry and as musicians. We work hard and share the same visions and ideas on what to do next.

One of the key features of all your records is incredible atmosphere you’ve
managed to create and re-create each time. Lyrically. Musically. Conceptually. What helps you build it all the way through?

First, I want to evolve this with a recent answer, on why we sound the way
we do. Most easy is to make the comparison to a band we love: Iron Maiden. Iron Maiden have released a huge number of albums, but you instantly know it’s Iron Maiden when you hear it. They don’t sound repetitive, yet they tend to make something new all the time. This is what we have liked and what we have been trying to do throughout all years. That’s why we are still growing all the time instead of the other way around. That’s my guess, at least.

While writing, when there’s no record yet, just a bunch of songs you’re putting together – is it important for you to have a certain kind of concept?

Nowadays I don’t contribute with the music in the same extent as I did
back in the day, so I cannot answer this in a 100% correct way. It’s Sebastian that writes most of the music, but I know how Sebastian’s creativity works. It usually is the first new song written that sets the standard on how the rest of the album will sound like. More or less.

You said once that playing live, you want to sound just like on the record. Isn’t it hard to achieve such type of musical energetics?

We rehearse together on a weekly basis, usually, when the world is free
from the pandemic, but we also encourage each other to practice on our
instruments individually. Playing live is a performance. We want to play together as great as we possibly can and at the same time also put in a show to give the paying audience something extra to look at. With that said, we admit that sometimes someone can make a playing mistake or an error. To risk that, we rather do that while putting on a show for our fans, instead of standing still on stage, just looking at our instruments.

For MetalAddicts readers, could you please pick your top 5 favorite records?

In no particular order:
1. Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast
2. Metallica – Ride the Lightning
3. Bathory – Under the Sign of the Black Mark
4. Entombed – Left Hand Path
5. Mötley Crüe – Shout at the Devil

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