Richard Cabeza (Unanimated) interviewed
** The original Decibel interview appeared in issue #58 (HERE), but since the Swedes are slower than Candlemass when issuing albums, we felt it was kinda cool to necro-post the full Unanimated interview. Also, Unanimated claims to be working on a new album without drummer Peter Stjärnvind, who left his stool post in February 2012, allowing for Unleashed drummer Anders Schultz to step in.
What’s different now compared to 1995-1996? Besides being older and, um, wiser.
Richard Cabeza: Wiser sure. Smarter? [Laughs] The scene is totally different today and everything about it. The spirit and purpose are gone.
Your bio mentions prison sentences. What’s that about?
Richard Cabeza: Well, we all have gone through a lot of different problems during the time period we were not active and Mike did time, I think. He was locked up for 1 or 1/2-2 years and it was a big problem for us to start playing obviously. We had to wait for him to be released and then get going. We all did crazy shit and you have to take the consequences of your actions. No big deal.
You reformed Unanimated. Seems like a lot of bands that dissolved in the mid-‘90s are reforming and rediscovering death metal again. Like Evocation. What were the primary motivators in Unanimated reforming?
Richard Cabeza: We never considered Unanimated to be dissolved. We put the band on hold due to the differences with in the band that lead to Jonas’ departure and the four of us needed a little break from the band. We never thought it be for 13 years though! We have wanted to do this album for many years but the time was never right. I was very busy with Dismember and Peter with Entombed, so it was hard. In 1997, when I came back from Norway playing with Satyricon, me and Jojje started to write again. But the heavy use of drugs and alcohol made it impossible for us to get anywhere. We were too busy getting fucked up. We wrote “Enemy of the Sun” and then put it on hold again until 2007 when me and Jojje started to talk about it again and this time Mike and Pete were available and both very eager to do it. We were burning and so focused on this. It was a great to experience this strong bound we share and play again.
What happened with Jonas? Why didn’t he rejoin?
Richard Cabeza: He was never asked. He was never in the picture to join the band again after his departure. We knew it was only gonna be the four of us…We are Unanimated! And always will [be]!
Did you guys set musical goals? Like, “The new reformed Unanimated must retain the old sound.”
Richard Cabeza: No, not at all. It all was very natural for us. We never had to talk about how or what we were going to do. We wanted to do an honest Unanimated album and the music and lyrics all came from the heart. This is how it sounds when the four of us work together. We wanted to do this album to satisfy our own need to do a third Unanimated album. [It’s] something we had in mind for a long time. Were you a bit rusty when pulling things together?
Just wondering what the first jam sessions were like. Did you pull out the old songs first? Cover songs? Just to get the blood flowing?
Richard Cabeza: The first sessions went over expectations. All of us were very dedicated to this and got the rust off before all of us got together. Truthfully, it sounded like we jammed the week before and not 14 years ago. Fucking freaky, man! We started to jam songs from the two first albums. We had the show at Party.San Festival last year booked, so we went from there. Jojje and Peter got together first and started to jam new material and putting the songs together. Then all of us start rehearsing the live setlist and after that we focused all [our] energy on the new material.
Was there a “Holy fuck! I’m feeling this!”-type moment?
Richard Cabeza: Yes, Many times! There were so many emotions involved when we started to play again and many times we went, “Holy motherfucking shit!” There were so many different feelings that got released when it all started again.
Was there an older Unanimated song that inspired you guys when writing In the Light of Darkness? I hear all kinds of things you were doing on the first two full-lengths. They’re more developed.
Richard Cabeza: Correct, they are more developed. Can’t say that there was any old songs that inspired us in the writing process. The development of the band has always been natural, we know what we like and what we want to do. I would say that Unanimated as a band inspired us when writing the album. What Unanimated means to us shows very well on this album and I thing it’s a natural step from Ancient God of Evil to this new album. 14 years has passed since Ancient, but it does not sound like it and that’s in a good way. It’s still fresh and the essence of the band is really captured. It’s timeless.
Any babies or virgins get sacrificed during the writing or recording sessions? Wondering if Tore Stjerna influenced you guys to get necro while invoking the old gods. Just kidding. Maybe.
Richard Cabeza: Of course, there were many virgins that got in harm’s way! Tore was a great help in the studio and stepped in with advice when needed. He really made sure we stayed focused and brought the spirit of Unanimated out. Awesome guy to work with and great support. We wanted to be rawer this timem, but still sound Unanimated. He did an awesome job with helping us get there.
How did the songwriting work for In the Light of Darkness? You’re in Texas while the rest of the guys are in Sweden.
Richard Cabeza: Before we even talked about writing new songs, we talked this through well and figured out what we had to do to make this work. We knew things were going to be hard and different than before. It worked out great in the end. We sent each other material and me and Jojje even jammed over the phone! We put it on speaker and were writing, arranging and rehearsing songs. [Laughs] That’s old school!
So, tell me a little bit about the new album conceptually. What is it about? You’re still talking about darkness, satan and all that jazz.
Richard Cabeza: In the Light of Darkness (The Covenant of Death) summon up what, who we are, stand and believe in. I’m not trying to preach or have any specific messages to shove into people. It’s my world! It’s our views and thoughts. If the lyrics have a meaning to you as a listener that’s great, it might not be what it means to us. But it’s for us we do this and to bring satisfaction to ourselves. Our views and feelings on the enlightning darkness and wealth that Lucifer holds for us. The lyrics are what makes the band what it is. The music is a great tool for us to express our views.
What’s different about darkness, satan and all that jazz now compared to the early to mid-‘90s?
Richard Cabeza: For me and the band nothing has changed in our views and how we see things. We see more clearer and are more convinced in our views.
Got a favorite song you feel transcends things? Hard to pick a song for me, but “The Endless Beyond” and “Serpent’s Curse” blow my mind.
Richard Cabeza: “Serpent’s Curse” was the first song we wrote after getting back together, so it’s has a special place for sure, but also the song grew and turned out much better than we expected. Well, “The Unconquered One” was the first one. We wrote that one back in 1995 right after Ancient God of Evil. The title track is one of my favorite ones. It’s different than anything we [have] done before. So heavy! Fucking great song! “Endless Beyond” is a very strong song too. It has such a strong and almost mesmerizing feeling to it.
Sounds like you planned to re-released the first two albums around the same time as In the Light of Darkness. Was that to say, “Hey, we’ve been around the block. Bow down!”?
Richard Cabeza: Well, we have been around, so fucking bow down!!! They were supposed to come out June ‘07! At the same time, we did our show at Party.San and officially [released] statements of us being back as a band again. But due to legal differences it got put on hold till now. We wanted to release them again since they are out of print since many years and really hard to find now days. We wanted give people a chance to get them again. They are two classic albums and deserves to be explored again! We decided to get them out at the time of the new release… Bow down!
In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead has like three different covers now. Is there a story there?
Richard Cabeza: [Laughs] Well, The original cover is on the European version. The cover on the U.S. version was fucked up by the retards releasing it here! Must be in Top 5 of ugliest covers ever! When we re-released it now we wanted to change it obviously, we wanted it to fit the album more than then the original cover. Erik Danielsson did the cover and had more or less free hand to do it, so we ended up using the original back cover on the front now. I think it looks much better and belongs to the music much better. Erik also did the new booklet for Ancient God of Evil and In the Light of darkness. He has been a huge help for us since day one of us getting back. He’s been helping us out with a lot of things.
Where’d the bonus tracks from Ancient God of Evil come from?
Richard Cabeza: What are the bonus tracks again?
Unrelated question: What do you make of the suicide/passing of Jon Nodveidt? From an outsiders point of view, it always seemed like there was a brotherhood between bands in the early to mid-‘90s.
Richard Cabeza: Yeah, there was and still is a very strong bound and brotherhood between the bands. I knew Jon since before Dissection, a good friend and brother! I think it’s irrelevant to analyze or discuss that. He is missed and never forgotten.
So, 2009 is like Unanimated’s year in the sun. Three records out, a live performance or two. What are you guys going to do in 2009? Freak out? Kidding. Kinda.
Richard Cabeza: The response on the new album has been great, way over our expectations. We are planning to do shows wherever we can. Set the world ablaze!