Adrien Begrand of MSN‘s metal music section Headbang recently conducted an interview with drummer Tomas Haake of Swedish Swedish experimental extreme metallers MESHUGGAH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Headbang: When I interviewed you four years ago you mentioned how physically challenging the song “Bleed” was. Is there a song on “Koloss” that’s been just as difficult to pull off?
Haake: Not technically. As far as stamina-wise, we haven’t even tried to play “The Demon’s Name is Surveillance” as a whole band. It’s a quirky one for everyone, not just because it’s challenging physically for me as a drummer and for them as guitar players, but also because of the waltz feel that song has, it’s something a lot of people aren’t very used to playing. Playing those 16 triplets every other bar you’re leading by playing upward with the pick instead of downward, so it’s a quirky song to play for that reason, and of course for pure stamina reasons. I hope we can pull it off live, but we haven’t even tried to play the whole song through. We’ll see. [laughs]
Headbang: Aside from the sheer immensity of the music, was there any reason you decided to use the title “Koloss”?
Haake: It’s not so much like a theme, like you said it’s kind of how the overall album is more towards something heavier than anything that we’ve ever done. We wanted something that had that sound to it, something monolithic, something huge. Also a few things that tied into that was the stress and anxiety that a few of us went through up until we started recording this album because of previous sessions where we felt we were doing things the wrong way. That lingers with you, you don’t want to do the same mistakes again, you want to save the mental health of a few in the band as well, try to do things another way. So it felt like a colossal thing to get out of the hat this time, even though it went smoother in a lot of ways. Also once we knew what artwork we were using, because it’s not artwork that was designed for this album, it was an existing piece of art by this Russian artist Luminokaya, we just fell in love with the piece and we found out it hadn’t been used for anything, so we could buy the rights for it. Once we saw that, and we already had the title “Colossus”, we had that song in there, we just felt like this creature on the cover looks like, is it a god, is it a devil, what is it? The work Koloss just fit for some reason.
Headbang: How did you find that artwork?
Haake: I don’t even remember, I think I was just looking through random art online probably three or four years ago I saw this guy’s art the first time. I got in contact with him, and initially he was supposed to do something for the album but we trailed off into other things and we didn’t stay in touch for a while. I just took for granted that the piece had been used for something already, but when I finally asked him he said no, it was up for grabs. He’s done a lot of additions and renditions and versions of it for the whole layout, so he’s spent a lot of time on it too, and we’re really stoked that we ended up using this art.
Headbang: Was it digitally made?
Haake: Yeah. It’s a photoshop document of some 500 layers that took him nine months to create. [laughs] So there’s a lot of detail. It’s a shame you have to release things in CD format and not in the format of, like, a door. [laughs] There’s so much detail. So once we print real posters of that stuff, there’s so much detail you can keep zooming in and new things come up. It’s quite a mind-blowing piece when you see it in full resolution, for sure.
Headbang: So do you intend to have that artwork sort of be a fold-out in the CD?
Haake: Yeah, that’s the idea. It’s going to be a fold-out poster, but I don’t love the idea because you get the creases there, but at least you can get into the details more, so that’s kind of what we’re aiming to do.