Ronnie and Mattias, photography by Lisa Magnusson


This interview with Mattias Holmgren and Ronnie Björnstöm of the Swedish progressive death metal band Embracing was made by Lisa Magnusson in December 2003.

It’s cold outside, really cold and I’m walking towards the dwelling of Ronnie Björnström, the guitarist of Embracing. With a big cup of tea in my hand I sat down and started to talk with two very enthusiastic guys. Since the fall of 1992 Embracing have produced two albums, three demos and two promo CDs. After some slumber Embracing are back and ready to show the audience what they can achieve.

To keep a band together through twelve years and through eleven member changes is an exploit. Why all the member changes and how have you manage to keep the band together?
Well regarding all the member changes I guess we should have made better choices from the beginning. Back in the early days we joined up members for the wrong reasons, they had spent a lot of time in the rehearsing studio or sometimes the reasoning was like “I know a friend of a friend…” It’s not like that today, when Ronnie joined up he had to prove himself. He made a cover and well… he’s here today and it has worked out really well! Still we’re missing one base player and one guitarist but we have a good idea of potential candidates so hopefully we will have a full setting soon. It’s pretty easy to keep a band alive when you love to produce and perform the music.

Have you ever considered discontinue?
No. Maybe we should have changed name now when we released the new material because it’s so different from the earlier stuff but we don’t think our audience will be disappointed and it’s easier when you already got an established name like Embracing is.

What are you hoping for releasing the “The Dragon Reborn” demo?
To get a good contract, but we are almost certain to get a new release with the company whom are re-releasing our two albums and some bonus tracks soon. We have got a good deal with them. The re-releases has got new covers and readable lyrics…[laughter…] The lyrics was the most important thing back then, often we wrote them before the music, so it’s important for us that people can read them…

Your nearest plans and goals for the future?
To get big enough to get really drunk and throw bowls of snacks around us all the time!!! No… [humph…] of course not! To come out and promote our self’s. Make some more live appearances, right now we’re too much of a studio band. And hopefully play outside of Sweden. It would be nice to finally get to play some old songs because we never have… We have always had some new band member and then it’s easier not to play the old songs. Our new year promises are to rehears more!!!

Mattias, your brother Niklas recently joined up, how has that worked out?
Every rehearsal is a big drum lesson. I have always put a big pressure on myself but that is nothing compared to what I put on him! When we’re going into the studio next time it is going to be a lot of pressure on Niklas, that’s for sure.

How and why did you choose him?
I threatened him with a knife, Mattias calls out. Of course he wanted to join an already established band and he is a good drum player with potential to be a great one, so it came natural.

Not so long a go you had some gigs, how was the audience response?
It was good! The audience was great and all of the merchandise was sold out!

How does it feel not being behind the drums any more Mattias? What’s the biggest difference?
Not being drunk behind the drums… Now I’m drunk behind the keyboard instead!

Where would you like to play if you got to choose freely?
Dynamo and Wacken festival, South Korea and Japan! You’re big in Japan irrespective, cause you are always taller than them! [big laughter]

Every band has role models. Whom has been yours and how has they changed through the years?
From the beginning, the influences came from death metal bands, then evolved into more progressive music and now we are back in the death metal swamp. Personally I (Mattias) like Pain of Salvation a lot and Symphony X, well Symphony X counts for the both of us Mattias continues, but Ronnie is more in to 80-trash metal and since 2000 he’s mostly listened to death metal.

Which is the best concert you’ve been to?
Meshuggah live at Umeå Open! (Ronnie). The expectations had been so high before and everything was perfect, good sound, good audience etc. Mattias says Pain of Salvation live in Globen for the same reasons as Ronnie.

And finally guys, make up a question for yourselves!
Hum, aaaöööö...öö… and then Mattias says –Why do we have to drink huge amounts of alcohol before gigs? You have to answer Ronnie, Mattias says with a big smile. And without a doubt Ronnie says: That’s because we are so thirsty!!! It all ends with a big laughter and its time for me to say thanks and head out into the cold again.

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