“Tower of the Morbid“, the upcoming album from Swedish Death Metal act Paganizer is their 11th full length album. The album was highly rated by our writers who reviewed it recently. One writer even wondered how Rogga Johansson managed ‘to churn out all that amount of Death Metal and actually live a life aside from it too?’
We caught up with the noted musician to ask him about it and a lot more.
Hi Rogga, you are easily the busiest man in Death/Extreme metal. How are you going today?
Hey, well I don’t feel very busy haha. I never push anything, and I’m rather lazy too when it comes to rehearsing and stuff, but I guess I just tend to write music fast. Today it’s ok, been under the influence of germs from the kids school the past weeks. School flus are the worst haha.
First and foremost, how did you come to meet Kunal and get involved with Transcending Obscurity Records. Seems to be a perfect fit from an outside perspective.
It was not ages ago really, but it’s been moving fast and works ace indeed. The first thing we collaborated on was the mini CD from Paganizer he released and then it just sort of went on from there, as working together was so smooth. A perfect fit indeed.
The general consensus among our writers is that your upcoming album The Tower of the Morbid tops the previous one Land of Weeping Souls. Can you tell us a bit more about the album and what may have inspired it?
Thank you very much. From one point of view it’s really different too than the previous album, so I think we were both thinking that people could either like it more or just think wtf… and not enjoy it as much, as the previous one did immensely well. What I can tell you about the new album is that we really tried to make it more diverse than before, having both simple and epic and very brutal songs on it, and also this time we went for a less polished sound, especially for the guitars that are rawer than ever. We just really wanted to do something that had everything on it, but held together nicely too, and I think we managed to do just that, and it seems like most people agree too which feels great.
Another observation our writers made was that the album is a brutal counterpart to your solo release Entrance to the Otherwhere. Do you agree? Was that a conscious decision during the writing and recording process?
It’s indeed sounds like it is. The solo album had been finished for over a year before the Paganizer album came into the making process actually. But as it came to be with coinciding release I think both albums complement each other very well too, I mean from my own point of view as I’m on both albums.
The album artwork by Dan Seagrave looks great. What was your brief to him?
Haha yes it’s a real killer artwork indeed. To us it feels like we won big time, as he made us one of his best works for a long time if you ask me. Our input for him was very simple, we sent him the album and the album title, and we told him that the best work he’s ever done is Benediction’s “Transcend the Rubicon“. That apparently was all the input he needed haha, as he came back with this awesome piece of art for us.
The band line up has been stable for approximately the past 5 years. Has this had an impact on the writing process and overall sound?
Not really, it’s me who does most the stuff as usual, both music and lyrics. But it’s nice to have the same guys to play with though, so in that way it’s a good thing. Now Kjetil is replaced by Dennis, who was the one Kjetil replaced on lead guitar haha. So it’s been a bit of a shift again, but not much.
During the writing process, how do you decide which riff/song fits in which band/project?
That question I always get haha, and I don’t really know what’s the best answer really. Or actually mostly it’s simple, as I tend to feel what band I want to write for, and then naturally those sorts of riffs come out. But every now and then I just write a song too, and put it aside and then a while later I realise where it fits best. So it’s one of those two ways I usually work.
How would you describe the “Paganizer” sound?
Not like Swedish Old School Death Metal haha. I mean we don’t sound Stockholm or Gothenburg much, not if you ask me. We put a bit of everything in there instead. Not maybe that you can hear it but the two biggest influences on Paganizer’s sound would be Vomitory and Hypocrisy, that’s the way we think anyway when writing, that we need some epic parts some groove and some crusty d-beat stuff. Then it all sounds just like Paganizer in the end anyway.
Paganizer is your oldest band. What motivates you to keep making and releasing new music over 20 years later?
Oh I don’t know… It’s just a need I think. Sometimes you get tired of it, and take a break, but then after a while you start riffing again as you come up with ideas even though you didn’t think you would. Lots of times I’ve thought that I’m empty on riffs and melodies, and felt like maybe it’s time to stop now and I’ve done so much anyway. But it’s never more than a week, and then I sit there again as I have come up with something that I want to play.
Inspiration is a pretty standard interview question, but one that a lot of people like to hear about, so what truly inspired you to start making music. Any specific artists or albums you’d care to share with us?
I grew up on stuff like Iron Maiden, Accept, Judas Priest and Twisted Sister so I’ve always been a Metalhead, but then I also got into Industrial music a bit and that made me want to try making music myself, when I was just a kid. And naturally then I also wanted to try to play metal as well, especially since I listened to harder and harder stuff as I got a bit older. I always come back to Massacre’s “From Beyond” album, when it comes to what made me want to start my own Death Metal band though. That’s a classic to me and I never get tired of it. The riffs and vocals are just perfect, and that to me inspired me to want to make my own version of the music kind of.
Do you have any opinions on the current state of the metal scene in general or do you prefer to just focus on what you are doing and to hell with the rest.
I’m very much out of the loop I would say when it comes to new bands. I listen to the old stuff, and I check out new stuff from old bands. I think that’s the way you get when you age haha. A bit full in the head, as you’ve already heard so much great stuff, and especially if you also make your own music, you tend to spend much time listening to what you do yourself while you work with it.
If you weren’t a metal musician what would you be doing? Do you have an interest in other arts forms eg. painting, sculpture etc.?
Good question haha, I have no fucking idea. My other interests are the usual stuff you would guess, movies, food, beer, family. Maybe I would do like Felix from Crematory though, he has his own hot sauce company Heartcore. And makes some of the best stuff there is, maybe something like that would fit me too haha.
Surely a man as keen on music as you must have a massive collection of albums etc, is it truly huge requiring several rooms or not as big as we may think?
It’s just a wall in the living room haha, a few thousand albums, and as I’m not rich I tend to trade and sell albums from time to time when I want something else. I used to collect more back in the day, but as you make music yourself after a while the more fun collection is your own stuff haha. I try to own a copy of everything I release myself at least.
What are you currently working on at the moment if we may ask?
There are finished albums coming up of Revolting, Eye of Purgatory, and To Descend. I’m also finishing up new material for The Grotesquery and Ribspreader, and the next Rogga Johansson album is also almost finished, just drum recordings to take place before mix. Watch out for them on Transcending Obscurity Records.
Do you have any shows planned in the coming months?
No shows booked, but we have started rehearsals again, after being hibernating a bit. So we aim to get a live set ready with old as well as new songs, and want to start playing clubs and fests again by next spring.
What are your plans for the rest of the year, more music perhaps or maybe a well deserved break?
As mentioned rehearsals, which are fun stuff, and I’m always working on new stuff so I have a few other things I’m working on the remainder of the year. Working on music is having a break haha.
Thanks for answering all our questions. Do you have any final words?
Well thank you for asking them. Cheers!
Excellent stuff. Excellent new album. What else needs to be said!