March 24, 2016 Interview – Klas Bohlin of Beseech
Life is unpredictable, and just when one thinks one door has closed forever, it reopens without warning. Never more true for Sweden’s Beseech, it seems their story had all but ended back in 2006 when the band decided to say goodbye following the release of an independently distributed double DVD, The Drama Ends. With each respective member going on to other endeavors, surprisingly, their paths led them back to Beseech, and in 2012, the band began rebuilding themselves. Looking to recapture the magic of their past, with angelic, dark, melodic Gothic Metal textures, co-founders Guitarist/Vocalist Klas Bohlin and Guitarist Robert Vintervind re-enlisted Guitarist Manne Engström and brought on a new team for the second generation of Beseech with Vocalist Angelina Sahlgren Söder, Bassist Johan Örnborg, and Drummer Håkan Carlsson. Now a cohesive unit, the band look to let the world know they are back with their first studio album in a decade, My Darkness, Darkness. Recently we sat down with Bohlin for a talk about the band’s history, the decision to resurrect the band, the process behind the new album, and more.
CrypticRock.com – Beseech began over two decades ago. Over the course of five studio records, the band’s sound has really morphed in different directions. First tell us, what were those early years like for the band?
Klas Bohlin – When we started to play, the Gothic Metal genre was not developed yet. In the beginning, many reporters and fan described us as a Doom Metal band with an impact from Death Metal and other relevant stuff that was going on in the early ’90s. Then, someone suddenly said, “Oh you are into the Gothic Metal kind of music.” We thought, “Ok, maybe we should shake that out further.” We were quite new with this music when it all started. The underground scene back then was also a lot smaller I believe.
CrypticRock.com – As I said, the band’s sound definitely changed from when you first started. As you went on, one can assume this was a natural progression?
Klas Bohlin – I think that Beseech has always developed a bit from each album. When we started out, we were mixing kind of Death and Doom Metal with a lot of acoustic stuff as well as Classical instruments. For the next album, 2000’s Black Emotion, we developed into the more Gothic stuff. There has been progress from each album. Now we are on our sixth album, My Darkness, Darkness, I think that we have moved back a bit to the 2002 Souls Highway album.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed completely. Now this new record, My Darkness, Darkness, is the band’s first studio record in over a decade. Were these songs ideas that collected over the time that Beseech was not active, or did you put them together with the new lineup?
Klas Bohlin – Some stuff was written during the years when Beseech was down. About half the songs are developed together with the new lineup. When it all comes down to the studio, each member had their own impact on their own instrument and efforts.
CrypticRock.com – This record, it really seems to pick up where Beseech left off a decade ago. It does have a lot of similarity to the Souls Highway record, like you had mentioned. It can distinctly be heard. Was that something that you noticed during the recording process, or was it intentional?
Klas Bohlin – When we decided to put Beseech back together, it was Robert Vintervind and I, of course, that took the initiative to restart. We have, for many years, talked about doing something creative with music. Then, when we finally met up together with a cold beer, a couple of riffs, we started jamming again. It sounded so much as the old Beseech again. Perhaps we are doomed to the old Beseech sound (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – (laughs) Well that is not necessarily a bad thing, because the record did come out very well. It flows well from beginning to end. What was the recording process like for you in the studio for this new record?
Klas Bohlin – To start with, we did the recordings in two sessions. The first session included “The Ingredients,” “Darksome,” “The Symbol,” and “One Last Call.” It was kind of a good thing to start the recording process with a few songs and then, later on, pick it up again with seven more songs. Then the overall sound created some kind of variations between the songs. Then, for the last seven songs, we also decided to pick in Christian Silver that has been producing Beseech since 1995. He was very involved during the mixing process.
We have also, as you know, made a few changes in the lineup. There are three old members that have been in Beseech before – that is me, Manne Engström, and Robert Vintervind. Then there are the three new members – Johan Örnborg, Håkan Carlsson, and Angelina Sahlgren Söder – who have added their own kind of creativity into the process. The biggest help, we got from our new bass player, Johan Örnborg, who has previously worked for StudioMega as a sound engineer and technician. He, later on, also has been a part of a lot of albums for Fascination Street Studios. Adding Johan to the band, we got ourselves not only a bass player, but also one of the better producers in Sweden. He is a great guy to have in the band.
CrypticRock.com – Well it seems like the new lineup is working well . As you said, it is three former members of Beseech, yourself and Robert have been there since the beginning. Why do you think the chemistry has worked so well with yourself and Robert through the years?
Klas Bohlin – I am not sure. Perhap because we are different to each other. I think that when we are together, we sort of influence each other. The ideas I come up with, will not be the kind of ideas Robert put into it. Another guy who has made a lot of good work on the album is Manne Engström on guitar. He has also been involved during the recordings and also made an impact contributing with songs. This is the first time we have three guitarists writing music for Beseech.
CrypticRock.com – That is very interesting. Manne has had a lot of experience as well. He has been in quite a few bands – Cemetary 1213 and Sundown; those are all very good bands as well he was involved in. Obviously, with Beseech, one of the dynamics of the band is the contrasting female and male vocals. It has been like that for a long time now. You added a new female vocalist with Angelina Sahlgren Söder this time around. What has she meant to the band?
Klas Bohlin – I’m really proud of having Angelina in the Beseech family. She has a more soft accent to her voice, almost a bit trippy, 1960s sounding. When we started over, with the new members, we were trying to pick members that were good for the present sound of the band. Of course, this is the third generation of singers in Beseech. It came out natural during the writing process that it was time for me to pick up the microphone instead and sort of put down the guitar. Angelina and I, together, have developed some kind of harmonized vocals.
CrypticRock.com – Right, and it works excellently. As you have said, you picked up the microphone more on this record. Obviously, Erik Molarin, who is part of the band for five years, is no longer on lead vocals for the male vocals. How do you feel back on vocals again?
Klas Bohlin – It feels great, I think it’s unavoidable. There is a special relation between the songwriter and the production process. So for me, this time I had a chance to record and produce almost all vocals. Now, with me singing, I could also do it my way 100%. I am very proud with both Jörgen Sjöberg’s and Erik’s effort in the earlier editions of Beseech, but for this record, it was not what we are looking for. That’s why we decided to let me handle the vocals this time.
CrypticRock.com – Right, and you did a great job. Erik, he has his new project, The Mary Major, so he is doing well. What I want to know is, Beseech came back around 2012. What inspired the band to come back?
Klas Bohlin – If someone would have asked me half a year before, if me and Robert met up together again, I would have said that a reunion with Beseech was impossible. Since we both wanted to do something creative music-wise, we decided to jam again and show each other a couple of riffs, then we took it from there. It just sounded so much Beseech, so we thought, “Well it’s time for Beseech again.”
CrypticRock.com – Well that is great that you did. When everyone started to learn that the band was back, some people were a little skeptical because it was a different lineup. Although, once you hear the songs, there is no doubt about it, it is Beseech. The sound is there and it is wonderful.
Klas Bohlin – I have not heard anything bad about it. Perhaps because the music is not made by the individual musicians. I think it has more to do with the chord that comes with the songwriting.
CrypticRock.com – It all worked well and My Darkness, Darkness is a fine record. Will Beseech be touring North America at all?
Klas Bohlin – It is sort of on our to-do list to make it to America. Hopefully we will make it possible.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent, well that would be great. It is always hard for a band to travel, and it is expensive to come abroad to the United States. You want to make sure that you have a following to come and see the show of course.
Klas Bohlin – Yeah, it has to be a couple of gigs in one trip for it to be worth it. To just make a large two or three gigs, it is just not enough really.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely. In your off-time from Beseech, what were you doing creatively?
Klas Bohlin – When I decided to sort of take a vacation from Beseech in 2003, after the Souls Highway album, I wanted to do something different. I decided to, music-wise, do something totally different. I founded another band called Depressive Art that was more like late 1960s kind of music. We made an album with that. Also Manne and Robert developed another band called Lavett after the Beseech era. All these projects are now not active though.
CrypticRock.com – Very interesting to hear all that. Since you have been involved in music pretty much your whole life, one can imagine you are a massive music fan. What are some of your musical influences?
Klas Bohlin – The band that made me a music lover was KISS; since I was around seven years old. I also have early memories from my neighbors when I discovered 1975’s Sabotage from Black Sabbath for the first time,; I think I was like six years old. From the family I come from, no one really listened to music where I grew up, so I’ve always been searching for music myself. I am also a record collector, mostly vinyl records from the late ’60s and early ’70s. I also like to discover new music as well, I am a music lover.
CrypticRock.com – That is great to hear, there is nothing quite like physical format music. There is something special about a vinyl record or even a CD that you can actually open it up and read the liner notes. It is the presentation of it all.
Klas Bohlin – You also own the record, the feeling of streaming can’t be comparable with owning the physical form.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed, it is a shame that things have gone the way they have, where the physical format is kind of obsolete in the mainstream.
Klas Bohlin- I see streaming as a way to pre-listen to music, then, the music that I really like, I usually buy on vinyl.
CrypticRock.com – That makes sense, of course. My last question for you is pertaining to films. On CrypticRock.com, we cover a broad range of music and movies, particularly Horror and Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of those genres, do you have any favorites?
Klas Bohlin – I am actually fond of some ’80s Sci-Fi like V, the 1983 TV series. Of course Star Wars (1977). Movies are a great influence actually, it’s a better way to get inspiration than from music I think when I write. The old Star Wars is something that has been a part of my life when I grew up. I can’t think of any other films that have made such a strong impact on me.