Interview Mats Björkman (Candlemass) – “Johan is the final piece of the puzzle”

GRIMM: wonderful to hear. You mentioned you kept in touch with Johan over the years. Were you the only one?

No, he was around as far as music goes. We did some anniversary shows, and he had to replace our singers a few times. We could always rely on him. There have never been any hard feelings towards him, since we respected his initial decision not to be in the band. He would be willing to help us out whenever we needed him, but that’s where he would draw the line. Nevertheless he was always part of the Candlemass family.

GRIMM: How does he fare with the old songs he did not initially sing? How do you enjoy his performance of those songs in particular?

He’s doing a fantastic job there, because we let him choose which ones he was most comfortable with or which songs he preferred. We talked about it, and that’s when he told us he had no problem doing ‘Bewitched’, ‘Gothic Stone/The Well of Souls’, ‘Mirror, Mirror’ etc. It was better to do it this way than the band deciding which songs he had to sing and him telling us he can’t do it. We’ve got such an extensive discography that we need to narrow it down. I would love to play a song from the Robert Lowe era, but we’ve got a new album now. And we need to play the classics from ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus‘, ‘Nightfall‘ and ‘Ancient Dreams‘. So when you’re playing fifty-minute sets, it’s not easy picking the songs. So we’ll just start with playing the ones that all of us are comfortable with.

GRIMM: Now, ‘The Door to Doom’ was a critical hit. It has been well-received by the newer generations, just as much as the old-school fans. I noticed that you’re also drawing crowds from all ages. How do you feel about that?

Well, that’s one of the reasons we did the Ghost tour. Tobias (Forge) and I being good friends, we always talked about going on the road together. The interesting thing is they have a completely different audience than we do but still somewhat like-minded. They tend to draw the younger crowds and, when we would open for them, we would get really positive reactions from their fans too. Since these young metalheads are always looking for new music, they’re bound to come across our records. I mean we have fans listening to records that came out way before they were even born. That’s pretty crazy if you really think about it. I mean, ‘Epicus Doomicus Metallicus‘ came out in ’86. Can you imagine?

GRIMM: Yes, I wasn’t even born.

You see? You weren’t even born then. Back when we recorded it, we’d never thought we’d reach this kind of immortality. We didn’t believe anything like this was possible. This is the greatest honor for us. It’s one of the big reasons why Candlemass is still fun. When I see kids singing along to our songs I think “Jesus, you weren’t even born when we wrote that” *laughs*. I don’t like to boast, but that’s quality assurance right there.

GRIMM: Mats, thank you so much for taking the time to chat. I’ll see you on stage.

You’re very welcome. See you out there!


Wim is an avid enthusiast of any form of extreme music that ranges from ridiculously profound to profoundly ridiculous.

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