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Grave Interview

A Conversation with Drummer Ronnie Bergerstahl




Century Media Records
Updated August 18, 2012
The latest release from the long-running Swedish death metal band Grave is Endless Procession Of Souls. The band has a couple new members since their last album, with guitarist Mika Lagren and bassist Tobias Cristiansson joining Grave within the past couple of years. The man with the second longest amount of time in the group behind founder Ola Lindgren is drummer Ronnie Bergerstahl. He fills us in on the new album.

Chad Bowar: This is your third album with Grave. How did the songwriting and recording process for Endless Procession Of Souls compare to your past albums?
Ronnie Bergerstahl: It was very different, as this was the first time since Back From the Grave we actually wrote, rehearsed and arranged the songs as a whole unit in our studio. I had a blast! Also, we didn't use any kind of metronome when I tracked the drums. I clicked the sticks together and off we went. It was a very refreshing way to record actually, as the songs got a more lively feel to them.

This was the first Grave album for Tobias and Mika. How have they fit into the band since they joined in 2010 and 2011?
Like a glove! This lineup is the strongest since I joined, and we have so much fun when we're out touring these days. We could not have found better guys to join us! I think it shows at our shows that we love to play together. I've seen some footage of former tours, and we look like a tired band most of the time! Tobias and Mika added the much-needed energy that Ola and I have kind of lacked for a couple of years, but now we sure are stronger than ever!

What inspired the album title?
Ola was up late one night, watching some TV show about ghost hunters or something like that, and some medium or whatever said that sentence: "endless procession of souls." He told us and we all agreed that it would make a kick ass title for the record.

What has the early response to the album been like so far?
Overwhelming, to say the least. I've only heard good things and we've scored very high in different big magazines, so it feels really good! Century Media has done a killer job promoting it also, and that helps of course. Both Ola and I have been doing tons of interviews. I can't wait to hear the fans’ opinions about it.

How was your South American tour earlier this summer?
Awesome! It was first time for us in Chile, and the fans and promoter over there made us feel very welcome. I can't wait to go back. We played Brazil before in 2008 and that ruled, but this time it was even better. Everything was so organized, and the hospitality over there blows any other country away.

You're coming back for a North American tour next month. What are your most and least favorite parts of touring over here?
My most favorite parts are of course the fans and shows, the food also. Other than that, it really sucks to tour over there. Long travel hours between cities, crappy catering, etc. I could really go on forever, but I won't.

What's the craziest thing that's happened to you on the road?
We've been spared crazy things, but I remember one thing during the first Nile tour we did in 2008. We were on our way to Bucharest from Budapest and our bus driver drove the bus straight into a bridge. A loud noise and a bright light woke me up since I had my bed in the front of the bus, upper level. I really thought I was gonna die, but it was only the hatch on top of the roof that came off, so nothing serious.

How did you get started in music?
I was basically breast-fed with music as both my parents play instruments. My mum plays guitar and my dad plays the accordion. I got my first drum-kit when I was 6 years old, so I've been playing for a long time. When I think about it, I'm a terrible drummer for playing that long. (laughs)

Who were some drummers who inspired and influenced you?
Mikkey Dee (Motorhead), Ingo Schwichtenberg (Helloween) and Steven Adler (Guns N' Roses) were the first hard rock/metal drummers I got into. Ingo, with his fast double bass playing, especially made a huge impact on me. Both Mikkey and Ingo are still my two favorite drummers.

What was your first band, and what type of music did they play?
The first people I played with were actually a gospel choir, since basically my whole family is born-again Christians. I was like 9, and kept on doing that until I was 16 years old, but the Reverend in the church (who also was the leader of the choir) didn't like my choice of shirts when we rehearsed. I wore Helloween and Iron Maiden shirts, and we actually got into a fight after a service. He didn't have the guts to talk to me face-to-face, so I quit the choir and church.

I joined my first metal band in 1995, and we kept it going officially until 2005, but we did our last gig in 2003. It was called Julie Laughs Nomore, and if you haven't heard it, you can listen to it on Spotify or YouTube. We released two full-length albums in 1999 and 2001, plus some other stuff, and we're actually going to do a reunion album as soon as I get some time off from touring. We have all the songs written for another full-length album.

How did you come to join Grave?
I used to play in a band called Centinex, and the guys in that band knew Ola and company since the early days. When Pelle decided to quit Grave, they rehearsed with a guy, but apparently it didn't work out as they'd hoped for, so Ola phoned Johan Jansson (vocalist in Centinex) and asked for my number. Johan called me and told me that Ola wanted to talk to me and I said sure, tell him to call me tomorrow as it was really late on a Sunday.

Ola then called the day after and simply asked if I was interested in firstly doing some rehearsals, and of course I wanted to do that. The thing was, I didn't know any of Grave's songs as I'd never listened to the band. To that, Ola just responded, “Cool! Lets rehearse on Wednesday.”

I went to see and hear them rehearse with Pelle for the DVD recording, and I sat there, watching, listening, and thought, “Hey, I can do this.” The first rehearsal we did went so bad though that I didn't think they'd hire me. But Ola heard something in my performance and here I am today, six years later.

Who are your top 5 Swedish metal bands of all time?
Madison, Candlemass, Morgana Lefay, Dark Tranquillity and Craft.

The band released a DVD back in 2006. Any plans for another one?
There are, but I can't tell you any details at the moment.

What's currently in heavy rotation in your MP3 player?
The new album, of course, as we're gonna learn the whole album for the upcoming tours. Hell – Human Remains. That album's been spinning ever since I first heard it, amazing stuff! Lots of Candlemass and Taake. Even Jerry Reed. It's a mix of everything.

Anything else you'd like to mention or promote?
Make sure to check out the new album, which will be released Aug 28th in North America! See you all on tour in the near future. Cheers!

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