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

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GRIMM: Sounds like he’s in it for the long haul.

Oh yeah. He’s really our first fully fledged singer since Messiah. All other singers were hired. They were great people, but they were either session or temporary, or mainly live artists. No, no. Johan is completely in.

GRIMM: Could you say Candlemass is more Candlemass now than it has ever been?

I would say that, yes. Of course Candlemass was great with Messiah. He was a full member and we put out some great albums with him. Robert (Lowe) also did some great work with us. ‘Death Magic Doom‘ is to this day one of my favorite Candlemass records. The problem we had with him were his live performances, despite him being a really nice guy. Mats (Levén) is an amazing, very professional vocalist, but he’s not a Candlemass singer. Johan is the final piece of the puzzle that was still missing before.

I’ve noticed that when a singer makes a return after calling it quits for a few years, it’s often more of a nostalgic thing rather than a true addition. It’s cool and it’s fun to have him or her back. That’s why you see a lot of them making a return, but it’s not as good. They’ve either changed or don’t match the music as well anymore. With Candlemass it’s not the case. I mean, of course there’s that nostalgic element, but there’s also something entirely new to Johan‘s return. After doing a few shows, touring during Summer and opening for Ghost, we’ve noticed we’re drawing bigger crowds now than ever over the course of thirty-two years. Something has changed and we feel like there’s a bright future awaiting Candlemass.

Mats ‘Mappe’ Björkman

GRIMM: I attended your show with Ghost in Antwerp, and I must say I think you’re right. The show didn’t feel like something purely nostalgic. It felt very refreshing to see you perform with Johan. And the camaraderie is clear.

Oh you were there? Okay, cool! Yes, you’re not the first person to say this. I’ve heard it a lot along the way. People came up to me and said “Mats, now this is Candlemass“. We’re glad to hear the magic is there.

Look, we’re not getting any younger so we’re doing this because it’s still fun. That’s been one of Candlemass‘ driving forces. It has to remain fun. And with Johan there it’s more fun than ever. He’s just such a nice guy and more importantly, he’s the same type of person we are. This is almost a first for the band. There’s so much respect for each other, everyone listens to each other, and it all comes down to five friends and brothers with the same mindset doing it all together.

This interview continues on page 3.

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