Domkraft And The Magic Of Stoner Rock

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There’s a ton of really exciting Swedish stoner rock bands coming out right now, and Domkraft are not the least of that multitude. They have an awareness of the scene that gives their music a certain power that few of their peers can match. Their unique take on the genre is what pulls so many, including their label, Magnetic Eye into their clutches and brings us all together in some sort of weird unholy dance. Sitting down with them at Psycho was a blast, and though we were all pretty exhausted, we got to have an illuminating conversation about the potency of the genre. I hope you dig this as much as I did.

How the hell are you guys?

Martin Wegeland (MW): Good!

Martin Widholm (MG): Of course!

Is this your first time in America?

MG: No it’s not, but it’s our first time in Vegas!

Anders Dahlgren (A): It’s our first time as a band in America.

How does it feel to fly 5000 miles to play music?

MG: It’s surreal of course. This city is overwhelming. It’s not too different from what we expected, the vibe is quite similar but the environment is intense. It’s a really long flight, 18 hours in the plane so we didn’t sleep for two days but feel good now. Had a nice time yesterday, met lots of cool people.

Who are you looking forward to seeing this weekend?

MW: There’s the obvious bands like Neurosis and Sleep, we’d love to see Swans but we are clashing with them. There are a lot of newer bands that we don’t know who we want to check out too.

MG: We are meeting up with bands from our label who we never met before. That’s a cool thing to see that and meet for the first time. We’ve been hanging out with Elephant Tree.

There has been a lot of really interesting stoner rock and doom coming out of Scandinavia in the last few years, why do you think that is?

MG: In Sweden in general people are pretty good at figuring out what’s cool around the world and there’s a good support system to start bands funded by the government. Anyone can pick up a guitar and start playing. Once you get one or two successful bands people start to tag along. Quite a few of these bands are a bit older like we are. Vokonis are from a different part of Sweden and they are the youngest in their mid 20s but most are like us in their 40s. So many of these bands come to it at a later age. This is a good type of music that you can grow old in for a bigger extent than other kinds of extreme metal.

What do you mean by growing old in it?

MG: I used to listen to a lot of thrash, death metal and grindcore. I still enjoy it but I got exhausted from listening to too much. It got in the way of my rhythm of life. It’s a blues thing. Heavy metal and hard rock is so common in Sweden and lots of people who have been in bands have been listening to metal. That’s the thing. Lot’s of people playing stoner and heavy music today have been playing hard rock for many years. These are the people who really know how to play – they can play fast and technical but they don’t. You can hear the skill there.

MW: You can hear what direction people are coming from though. You can find these musicians who come from more extreme genres where you need to really have special talent or bands like Sumac who come from the industrial side. I used to play thrash and death metal. We had a band in the 90s that was more like noise and indie rock with a lot of droney stuff. This is summing up what we have been doing after years of playing. That’s one of the reason there’s a lot of bands playing this type of music, the sound is always different.

What attracted you to playing stoner rock then?

MW: I’m not sure actually. It’s always been with us. I like that there is space, there aren’t a lot of notes and there’s a druggy rhythm and feel. One of the reasons I like this kind of music is that it almost takes you on a trip. You really don’t have to do drugs to get into the vibe. You just get there by the music. The stoner rock and some of the doom stuff has that vibe. We’ve always been interested in playing being minimalists and most of the good stoner rock songs come from that same feel. We have a two chord foundation even though a lot of things happen. It’s music that you feel rather than you hear. When we write a song that’s pretty much the foundation. Verse/chorus stuff doesn’t work for us!

Having that bottom end gives it an additional emotional push…

MW: Oh yeah! Especially in a live setting with a good sound. There’s not a lot of genres that are as sensitive to the sound system of venues.

MG: We have a lot of improvisation and we use that a lot. We improvise live a bit too. There’s parts of our live show meant for improvisation and other parts from the studio we can’t just play live like when there are two guitars. I have to listen to songs after recording then pick up what’s there. It’s copying myself!

What do you love so much about music?

MW: It’s been a lifelong love for me. It’s always been an integral part of my life. I’ve always had this difficulty understanding people who can listen to music as a background thing. They get something to sing along to. For me it’s more like watching a film. There’s a lot of context. It’s not what you hear. If you listen to a good song it’s not jut the song I get a lot of images when I listen to music as well.

MG: It’s a beautiful way to have something in common with thousands of people you don’t know.

MW: To circle back, there’s one thing that is particular about the stoner scene in Sweden is that there is no competition. We know a lot of bands who have been doing this longer than we have but they are all happy that we are doing this. It’s like when the death metal explosion started. Every band is supporting each other. With indie and alternative every band hates the other bands. Here you meet a lot of people you share interests with, it’s a big community and once you enter the community it’s much easier to stay.

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  • GrumpDumpus

    WARNING: INCOMING CROTCHETY MCKRINKLEJIMMIES

    I’M SURE DOMKRAFT ARE NICE CHAPS AND THAT’S GREAT THAT THEY GET TO TRAVEL AND MUSIC BUT HOLY HELL IS IT JUST ME OR IS THIS RETRO ROCK CRAZE STALE AS STALLONE’S ACTING CAREER RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE THAT’S NEAT ALL THESE FOLKS HAVE MANAGED TO LEARN PENTATONIC BLUES IN 4/4 BUT “STONER” AND “EXCITING” ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE CONCEPTS AND ALL THE SWEDISH MUSICIANS GOT “TIRED OF DEATH METAL” BECAUSE EVERYONE EITHER TRIED TO COPY ENTOMBED OR DISSECTION AND DIDN’T FEEL LIKE DOING ANYTHING INTERESTING LIKE HOW ABOUT DOING YOUR OWN THING HOW MANY PEOPLE DO I HAVE TO TALK TO WHO KNOW BLOODBATH BUT HAVE NEVER HEARD OF EDGE OF SANITY FUCK MY DUMPLINGS

    • GrumpDumpus

      SORRY FOR GRIPE MY GEARS ARE CHAFED BECAUSE NO ONE WANTS TO DO A FRANK ZAPPA MEETS AUTOPSY WITH ME SO NOW MY DIAPER IS OVERWHELMED

    • PostBlackenedWhaleGaze

      WAIT THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO DON’T KNOW EDGE OF SANITY?!?!?!?! EVEN WITH THE MIGHTY, ALL-TALENTED DAN SWANö BEING IN BOTH!?!?!?!

      • GrumpDumpus

        I KNOW RIGHT I SHIT A WHOLE WEEKS WORTH OF PANTS WHEN I LEARNED THIS

  • Óðinn

    Great interview. Thanks, Matt Bacon.

  • Cockypock Aioli

    It’s true about the growing old bit. Metal is an all ages genre in general but stoney doomy stuff in particular you can be up on stage as an old dude and not be lame. In fact, you’re kinda cooler the older you are.

    • Óðinn

      Stoner Doom didn’t get too old for me. I’m mostly annoyed by the retro 1980s Speed Metal stuff with falsetto vocalist. Enough already. A few bands do 80s retro well but most of them suck.