THIS HAVEN

Back

TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE

This interview with Patrik Karlsson, Tobbe Jacobsson, Johan Berglund and Nicklas Keijser of This Haven was done face to face by Maud on September 27th, 2005.

"Is this possible?" Three little words loaded with implications of wonderment and new discoveries. In a forum post by This Haven's Nicklas Keijser, the question referred to his band's unique alchemy of musical influences: Kyuss, Tool, Neurosis, King Crimson, The Haunted, among others. For those familiar with This Haven's amazing recordings, the above inquiry into the unfathomable takes on two added meanings: "Is it possible that these are just demos?" and "Is it possible that this band is still unsigned?" (Hopefully that last condition will be changing soon.)

On 27 Sept. 2005, shortly before the release of their third demo, A Soul Open Wide, the entire band--vocalist/guitarist Patrik Karlsson, guitarist Tobbe (Tobias) Jacobsson, bassist Johan Berglund, and drummer Nicklas Keijser--were kind enough to participate in this interview in their hometown of Örebro, one of Sweden's most vibrant music hubs. Check out what they have to say about their music, their collaboration with the iconic Dan Swanö, and the secret to making great hamburgers.

How would you describe your music?
Nicklas: Should I answer?

Patrik: Yeah.

Nicklas: It is thoughtful, ass-kicking metal with feeling and integrity.

Cool description. You seem to place a lot of importance on maintaining your own uniqueness. How much of a creative challenge is it to be influenced by other music but keep what you're doing really fresh?
Patrik: I think it's quite easy. It comes with ourselves--we don't think about it.

Nicklas: We don't force it; it comes naturally.

Johan: I listen to a lot of music and get inspired by other bands, but it doesn't mean what I write needs to sound like that. It can be that mood it inspires more than how to play it.

Tobbe: I think the idea in the beginning was heavy music with -

Johan: Melody and thought. And normal vocals.

Patrik: No screams or shouting and stuff like that.

Why did you decide to avoid having extreme vocals?
Patrik: Everyone else is doing that.

And you wanted to try to avoid anything anyone else was doing, as much as possible?
Patrik: Yeah, trying something new.

Johan: It has been done so long now, with the screaming and growling. But really heavy music with clean vocals hasn't been around as much.

Nicklas: But I wouldn't say it's intentional, like we thought about this great plan.

Patrik: Naah.

Nicklas: It was more like -

Johan: We wanted to make music WE like.

Nicklas: Exactly, and keep it heavy but still keep the melody. And that clean vocals thing came naturally.

But you all like varieties of music, some of which do have extreme vocals. You in particular, Patrik, are really into death metal, or have been.
Patrik: Yeah.

So you do like a lot of music that doesn't really sound like you.
Patrik: Yeah, but I'm quite tired of growling.

Johan: The thing that connected all of us when we were younger was death metal. That's what brought us all together at one time. So I still listen to a lot of it.

Nicklas: Still, I would say we also listened to a lot of bands with normal vocals. One thing doesn't have to exclude the other.

Would each of you tell me more about your individual musical backgounds, both what you've listened to and what you've played before in other bands, and how you think that might have contributed to This Haven's sound, either by bringing elements to it or by showing you things you don't want to have in it. Johan, why don't you start.
Johan: The first real band was the three of us, Tobias, Nicklas and me, with death metal. And another guitar player named Richard and a singer called Andreas. We played one or two years. And then we got tired of it. There was a problem with the singer appearing at rehearsals and everything. And I think we wanted too much too early with the technical part of it. And then the next band was with Patrik and me and Nicklas. The songs were heavy but [with] clean vocals. That was back ten years ago. And then Patrik and me had a band with two other guys; we were pre-numetal--Korn-like, Deftones. Then we got tired of that. And I didn't play in a band till This Haven. So all the time I [listened to] lots of progressive metal, like Dream Theater; that's always been a favorite music type for me, combined with death metal, and in later years Muse and melodic, heavy rock, British bands and prog symphonic rock--King Crimson, who Nicklas introduced me to, of course Pink Floyd and all that stuff.

My latest band is Asphalt, which I think helps me more with This Haven [rather] than just [making me] distracted from the band. It helps me develop as a musician because all the songs I write are written on guitar, so as I'm becoming a better guitar player with Asphalt, I'm becoming a better songwriter with This Haven.

Are you doing some of the writing for Asphalt too?
Johan: At the moment, all of it [laughs].

Do any of the rest of you have side projects going on?
Patrik, Nicklas, Tobbe: No.

Nicklas, would you like to touch on your own individual background?
Nicklas: I've played in shitloads of bands. I'm not sure if I should go through them all. I started with a punk band, and then I got tired of that. It was when we were in high school, me and Patrik. [Then] we started playing together in a band, uh, we changed names like every week, roughly. We started out like a hard rock band and ended up like a death metal band. And then lately I played in some hardcore bands and stoner bands. I played in jazz bands. I did military service as a drummer. So I played drum corps and that kind of stuff. I played in a drum corps five or six years and so on. So I've done that also.

Is that kind of regimented playing something that we hear in This Haven?
Nicklas: Yeah, definitely. Many of my drum corps things are incorporated in the drumming--like the rolls and so on. They come from that.

That's not a background everybody has.
Nicklas: Eh, but many, especially American drummers, quite good ones, have this background. Danny Carey has this background. It's sort of a special technique you learn. And you can work with the drumming in a different way, I think.

My musical inspirations? I'll keep it short: King Crimson, Kyuss, Neurosis, and Strapping Young Lad.

Tobbe, what about your background? As Johan mentioned earlier, you were in a band with him and Nicklas before This Haven.
Tobbe: Yeah; we were about 16 or 17.

Nicklas: The band was called When Glory Ends.

Tobbe: Aside from that band and This Haven, I haven't been in a real band.

What about your own musical tastes and how they relate to This Haven?
Tobbe: I always liked bands that had great and original lead guitarists, so Megadeth with Marty Friedman was a great inspiration, mostly because of his guitar work. And Alice in Chains and At the Gates.

Patrik, do you want to jump in here?
Patrik: I started playing quite early [referring to the band described earlier by Nicklas]. And then we had side projects with different kinds of music, where we were like, "What should we play," and stuff like that. And then after a few years I started playing with Outburst. And after like half a year Johan joined the band--we needed a bass player. And we played two or three years.

Johan: Two and a half years.

Patrik: We were good, but we were too young, I think, because we weren't really ready for being a big band. So we didn't take the time for it. And then I played in a lot of bands. I played in a rock band, with older guys, for like two years. And then . . . nothing, and then This Haven.

Some of your early promotional announcements for This Haven described the music as a stoner-metal-prog blend, and a cross between Tool, Kyuss, Neurosis, King Crimson, and others.
Nicklas: I wouldn't say, like, we copy the riffs--it's more the vibe of the music, more like a mindset than a frame. It's like if you eat a hamburger without garlic, it doesn't taste as good, but just a hint of garlic makes it burst with an extra thingy.

Do you think some of these influences are being phased out of your music now?
Nicklas: No.

Johan: I think the one channel that's being pushed a bit away is the stoner part; it's not as obvious as on the first songs. There's still some of that vibe, but not as much, I think, as it was in the beginning. [Now] it's a bit more metal and less stoner or heavy rock.

Nicklas: I don't know. It's like you don't want to make the same song twice. Maybe the next song we write will sound totally different.

Songwriting is kind of a group effort with you guys, right?
Patrik: Yeah.

What is the writing process like in this band?
Tobbe: Mostly Johan and Nicklas have some ideas that they show, and we put those ideas together as a band.

Johan: Everybody has to like it and think it's a good song or a good riff, that it makes sense, that it sounds like us. Nicklas has more of an approach with [bringing] a bunch of ideas, and maybe just works out the form for a song, while I like to make the song ready before I show it to anyone else, put on drums and everything and just have a goal for it when I write it.

Nicklas: Then he shows it and then we change it completely.

[laughter]

Johan: Sometimes. And then when we have shown it, Patrik and Tobias have a lot of say in how we should change it. If they [hear] what I think Tobias should do on the guitar, [and] he says, "I can do this" and it sounds better, we should let him do it. So everyone's involved.

Nicklas: They add the garlic to the hamburgers.

Patrik: Yeah, we rewrite a lot of riffs and stuff.

Nicklas: And the whole arrangement is a group effort. We try different approaches, different ideas.

Johan: And Patrik and Nicklas [are responsible for] most of the lyric parts and the vocals. Because Nicklas also writes the lyrics, and he has ideas about how they should be performed, and Patrik [might] say, "No, I can't sing this in this way," and they have to rewrite it. And then Patrik may have an idea for a chorus or something, or Nicklas has one, or sometimes Tobias might have an idea.

Patrik: So everyone is involved in everything.

Do you consider yourselves perfectionists?
Patrik: Yes, definitely.

Johan: Yeah.

[a little self-conscious laughter]

Patrik: In a good way--not extreme.

Tobbe: We do compromise.

Patrik: But yeah, we're perfectionists.

Nicklas: I hope it doesn't sound cocky, though.

Not to me.
Nicklas: But you know, we want to do our best all the time. We don't want to release any crap.

In your pursuit of perfection, do you ever think too much about a particular song or work on it too much?
Patrik: No, we don't. I think if we work too much on a song we leave it.

Johan: If a song has too much time [put into it] we don't play live it as much anymore. The one we spent the most time on is "Reduced Below Nothing," and it is not on the setlist anymore.

Tobbe: We tried a lot of verses.

Johan: Everything was redone. The second verse and the chorus are the only things remaining. I think we had problems with getting the verses right, and everybody wasn't happy with all the parts of it.

Even in its final recorded version?
Patrik: Yeah.

Johan: It's a good song, but we recorded a few more that were better, that felt right earlier.

Nicklas: Still, a riff needs to be catchy. I can't describe it in science terms. But it's easy to tell if "this is a good riff" and "this is a bad riff" just by listening to it.

Sure.
Nicklas: And if someone can show up with a good riff, you know it's an ass-kicking riff [immediately], and we keep it. Then we sort of work around the ass-kicking riff to make it more . . . like, you know, twice as ass-kicking.

[chuckles]

Tobbe: But I think "Disexist" and "Reduced Below Nothing," two songs we don't play live anymore, are two of our best songs.

Nicklas: I disagree.

Tobbe: "The Following" we don't play live anymore.

Patrik: No.

Tobbe: That's no loss.

Patrik: Wellllll.

[laughter]

Is that a song that's generally not popular or is it Tobbe in particular that isn't crazy about it?
Patrik: Generally, I think. These [i.e., "The Following," "Reduced Below Nothing," and "Disexist"] we don't like anymore. Maybe in half a year we'll like them again, but for the moment we're tired of them. "Reduced Below Nothing," we worked so much on it, so that's why we're tired of it and not playing it, I think.

Johan: But I agree with what Tobias said, that "Disexist" is a great song, and I think maybe Patrik could appreciate it more if we re-recorded it.

I wondered if you had thought about doing that with some of the earlier songs. "Disexist" does seem like one that's going to become more important, especially live, down the road. Nicklas was saying recently that if you were doing a longer show, that's the kind of song that could be really effective to throw in. And maybe that will happen sometime.
Nicklas: But the riffs we're going to write tomorrow, the songs we're going to write tomorrow are even better than the ones we write today, so eventually we're going to kick out the old songs. Because one day we're going to write the best song in the whole world.

Tobbe: A tribute [eliciting chuckles with this Tenacious D reference].

How important is playing live to you guys?
Johan: Great fun.

Patrik: It's very important.

Nicklas: I love it.

Patrik: We all love it, and we . . . I'm not sure how to express it better. We love being on stage.

Johan: And it's been increasing, that love, since we've been more and more on stage, and are getting more comfortable on it. So it's been becoming more fun to play live also.

Why is it that haven't done a whole lot of gigs so far? Is it hard to book them? Is it the time involved in getting gigs arranged?
Nicklas: The first one: getting them. It's hard to get them.

Is it difficult locally, or is it in general hard to book gigs in this country?
All: In general.

Johan: It's sad, because this is a pretty big music city and there are lots of bands, but there's really one place to play, and at the moment they just have garage bands and punk bands, so it kind of sucks.

I had the pleasure of being at your second show ever, and was very struck by how tight you guys were, even though it was only your second show, and that makes me wonder if your rehearsals and band practices are extremely intense and thus had you so prepped for it.
Nicklas: We rehearse shit-loads.

So it's the frequency of rehearsals that has primed you so well?
Patrik & Nicklas: Yeah

Nicklas: I think that's also part of us trying to be perfect.

Patrik: Yeah, the perfectionism.

Nicklas: But we try to sound really really tight. And when we're in the rehearsal, if there are some parts or one song we're rehearsing, we do it over and over again until it becomes perfect.

Johan: One thing that has been developing is that, like the gig you were attending, I was aiming for playing everything perfect, and I think what was lacking for me was the movement, being active on stage. I think that was lacking.

You're looser now?
Johan: I'm looser now, and after watching the videos that my father recorded of the shows, I hear more mistakes, but I think it's much more fun on stage instead. So the experience is a bit more important than playing to perfection.

Patrik and Tobbe, I would like to hear more about your roles and interaction as the band's guitar players. You have a nice dual attack going on. How is it decided who is going to do the lead?
Tobbe: I think we try to split the songs. Unfortunately "Disexist" and "Reduced Below Nothing" were my lead songs, and we're not playing them anymore.

[laughter]

Patrik: But we try to share it, because everybody likes playing lead guitar. But in the newer songs, Tobbe's playing more of the lead stuff. Because we're -

Johan: Compensating for the old stuff.

[laughter]

Patrik: In the earlier songs, I was more like a guitarist who also sang. But now I'm more like a singer with a guitar. So it's not so important anymore for me to play the lead parts.

Tobbe: And the rhythm parts I think we split, so it's more easy for Patrik to sing and play at the same time.

Patrik: Yeah, I can just take a chord or something, and make it a bit easier for me to play and sing at the same time.

Tobbe: And we try to layer the guitars, so we have one heavy guitar part and one melody part on top, so you can hear the chord a lot more on top of the riff.

Johan: Like in "And the Devil in Me Smiles," in the verse parts, I think Tobias plays a more full chord thing and Patrik has the lead tones, so they both do an equally important part in it, but Patrik's part is much easier to play, so he can sing.

Patrik: Some parts are very difficult to sing and play, but you've gotta rehearse, and it works.

Johan, you are a multi-instrument guy. In addition to your superb bass playing, you've added some other musical touches. Can you give some examples of those?
Johan: On the first recording I played acoustic guitars on "Disexist" because Patrik's guitar was tuned wrong, so I think I was the one who had the easiest time playing it in the wrong key. Also, in "Lying," I had written it, and Tobias felt that why should he learn it when I played it well. And Patrik or Nicklas had the idea to put a mellotron on it. And I'm definitely not a skilled keyboard player, but I think the most skilled one in the band [with a little self-effacing laugh, joined by the other guys]. I think I have pretty good knowledge so that I understand what I SHOULD do. So that's the parts I've been doing [aside from] the bass. And the lead guitar on "My Year Zero" in the interlude. That part we hadn't recorded one day in laying down the guitar, so Tobias had to record it and solo produce, and I said maybe we should add another octave guitar melody. And he said, "You can play it," so I played it. So I even play guitar on that one [adds a little laugh].

There are a lot of interesting sound effects in your music, and I was wondering how you guys come up with those and what is producing them.
Johan: With the mellotron, I think it's you, Patrik, that has the all libraries with the sounds.

Patrik: Yeah. I think the main reason why we do that [i.e., add sound effects] is that if we listen to [a song] when we're pretty done recording it, and then anyone goes, "something is missing here," like a feeling, like we should have something more here, then we'll try some guitar stuff, and . . . "nah," and then we'll use sound effects, like mellotron.

Tobbe: Like in "The Fallen" -

Johan: The synth pad.

Patrik: We do a lot of stuff; we like to experiment.

Johan: We had some ideas for samplings and stuff to put in the new songs also, but we didn't feel this time that it was needed. So we had ideas but we didn't put them in. And I think the funniest sound we have on the whole recording is Patrik's falsetto part in "And the Devil in Me Smiles."

Tobbe: In the intro of a couple of live shows, we have Nicklas screaming into an electric guitar.

Patrik: Yeah, through the microphone.

Nicklas: Yes, but that was just some freak accident. [laughter] But I don't know; it was pretty cool. [then, to Patrik] I think it was you and me in the studio -

Patrik: Yeah, on a late night.

Nicklas [while Patrik laughs]: And after a take, I said something to you, like "I'll scream something else for fun." And we just accidentally heard it and were like, "Fuck, that was cool."

Patrik: The sound was really crazy, because the guitar amp was miked.

Nicklas: It was just outside of the room.

Patrik: Screams came into the microphone and into the guitar pick-ups, so it was totally crazy. And that was [used] in the intro.

Nicklas: But this sound was also incorporated in "Run Out of Tears." Just before the last verse you hear this strange thingy coming in there [which Nicklas later described to me as a cross between "a feedback and something very evil"].

Patrik: Yeah, it's reversed.

Nicklas: It was probably Tobbe's voice, screaming something. And it's come backwards and [that] put some distortion crap on it. [As Nicklas later explained to me, once they realized the possibilies, they did quite a few takes, with varying band members screaming into the guitar, and "the coolest sounding" results were chosen.]

So screams are one of your favorite sound effects, then?
Nicklas: One of them.

Johan: Most are probably things with voices.

Nicklas: Well we've tried many ideas.

Your drum kit, Nicklas, has been described as a monster.
Nicklas: Yeeaaahhhh [while the other guys chuckle].

What are some of its special features?
Nicklas: I have one thing called a zilbell; it's sort of like a high-pitched bell. I like small cymbals so that it generates a sort of short sound instead of like the big crash cymbals. And I have different short cymbals that [makes a high wooshing sound to illustrate]. And then I stack cymbals--I have a thing called a Filter China that I have stacked a splash on top--or put a chain on the cymbal. On "Disexist" I actually play with a chain on the ride cymbal. [A couple of these details were conveyed to me via email at a later time.]

Patrik: There's also chimes.

Nicklas: Yeah. And on "The Itch" I have root toms, where I took out the heads and play them on metal. . . . And a rain stick. And, uh, what more . . . ?

Tobbe: Spring drum?

Nicklas: Yeah, and I have a cymbal with short screws inside of it, and . . .

Patrik: You have a lot.

Nicklas: I like sounds that sound different.

Johan: And he keeps adding things all the time.

So this monster is growing?
Johan: Yeah, it's never-ending.

Nicklas: Let's say I'm a painter, and if you just paint in black and white, the pictures become boring. I seem to add more and more colors to them. And I start with the green and the yellow, or let's say blue and yellow, and then I discover that I can mix them to make green. Something like that: a percussion painter.

Tobbe: Envision the size of our rehearsal room.

Nicklas: Well, that is the problem we have now: that our rehearsal space is too small for my drums.

[laughter]

Patrik: Yes, we're growing out of it.

Nicklas: But it's fun to have more and more sounds; it makes the experience good, more colorful.

And your bandmates seem to have a very indulgent and appreciative attitude towards this monstrous kit.
Johan: The only bad part is when we are playing [live] and he has all the stands for the cymbals, and it weighs a ton to carry them.

Patrik: And it takes some time to put it all up. But it's fun.

Nicklas: It's worth it.

Tobbe: Yeah.

In the studio, you've worked with Dan Swanö almost from the beginning. What has your collaboration with him been like? What sort of contributions has he made to your sound? What kind of working relationship do you have?
Johan: The first one [for Disexist] was a rescue job. [laughter] When we tried recording everything by ourselves, me and Patrik were very disagreeing on how it should sound, how to make it sound good. So Dan asked if he could help.

Nicklas: But we had recorded everything on our own.

Patrik: Yeah. He mixed it.

Johan: I think it sounds really great [considering] what the original sound was like, so he did a great job on that. And then he asked on My Year Zero if he could be there from the beginning, miking up everything and just having his way with it, how everything should sound at the beginning. So he came to the studio last summer [2004] together with us in rigging up the drums and the guitar amplifiers and everything. But he wasn't there when we recorded it; we did all the recording by ourselves. And when we were finished he mixed it.

Tobbe: And the recording took about four or five months.

[laughter]

Johan: Nicklas' drums were finished in a couple of days.

Patrik [chuckling]: Three or four days, I think.

Johan: And then it was very scattered out through three and a half months of getting the guitars and the vocals.

Patrik: Yeah, it was terrible.

Tobbe: I had some tuning problems with the guitars.

Johan: We had to re-record every guitar and the bass. But it sounds good. To my taste it sounds really good, but I think the other guys think it's maybe too clean in its sound.

Nicklas: I think it sounds nice.

Do you think it's cleaner than Disexist is?
Johan: Yeah, I think the guitars sound, in my world, better. But it's definitely an impression of taste. I think it sounds great. I'm very happy.

Your most recent recording was done without any involvement from Dan Swanö. Why did you go it alone this time, with the recording and the mixing as well.
Tobbe: I think it was a combination of things; he didn't have any time.

Patrik: And we wanted to try.

Johan: And Patrik has a lot of knowledge in recording, from having recorded other bands. So we gave it a try. And we managed to stay friends all the time. So the experience was really good.

Patrk: It worked really good, and I think the result became excellent.

Johan: It's a bit rougher, but is more a smash in the face.

Patrik: More power.

Johan: A bit more raw.

More what you've always wanted?
Patrik: That sound we've got there is the sound we always had in mind that we should have. I don't think the earlier sound is bad, but I think it's a bit too clean maybe.

Johan: It [the earlier sound] lacks the real power when you play it on the stereo, but for me it's equally important that you hear everything and that it sounds good. So I think the newer recordings are more that you get afraid when you play it loud.

Patrik: That's the whole idea [adding a slightly wicked laugh].

Tobbe: And I think the key to the sound [on the new recording] was working together and not fighting.

Johan & Patrik: Yeah.

Johan: Writing the [new] songs came pretty easily. When we had them finished, we did a pre-recording of them and then played them live a couple of times, and then we did the real recording. So we had the tempos; we had everything figured out.

Nicklas: It seems like the more friendly we got, the heavier the results. So the day we write, like, a Bryan Adams album, we're having fist fights and stuff.

Who are some of the other bands you've been recording, Patrik?
Patrik: I've been recording Asphalt.

The other band Johan is in.
Johan: In three weeks we're scheduled for a new recording.

Patrik: And then some local bands like Sketching Tides, Red Sun, a lot of bands. No famous bands, unfortunately.

Not yet, anyway. Is that technical work something you want to pursue more in the future?
Patrik: Yeah, sure. Now I haven't got the time to record too many bands: a few bands each year. But maybe in half a year I'll try to get more in--like maybe once a month record a band, something like that.

With each of your three demos, what you feel you achieved artistically? What satisfies you the most? What do you feel you learned with one that helped you with the next?
Tobbe: I think the difference with the newest one is that the songs were finished before we started to record them, and we had played them live. With Disexist and My Year Zero we wrote some of the choruses and verses in the studio. And afterwards, when we were playing them live, we had to play them so much faster and to add half a verse in there, and re-structure them.

Johan: With Disexist a lot of vocal parts weren't written when we recorded the tracks for drums, bass, and guitars. We had some ideas that we changed when we were recording it.

Patrik: We're quite open-minded when recording. If I'm putting down vocals and I feel like this is not the right stuff we're recording now, I'll say "stop. I can't record it." It's better to rewrite it. And everyone says, [using a very laidback tone] "yeah, ok." We try a lot of different stuff before we put it down for the final record.

Anything you want to add to that Nicklas?
Nicklas: I would say we started to learn each other better as musicians; we know how to work better with each other, so things go faster and smoother now. Knowing how someone plays and how someone performs makes it easier to incorporate. I think the main thing now is that everything should be finished before we enter the studio, so that when we're in the studio there shouldn't be any question marks in our minds. Well, maybe later, to put the garlic in the hamburger.

[laughter]

You're making me hungry.
[laughter]

Johan: Almost all the songs on the first two demos are too slow on the recordings, because we didn't try them out live. It's always a different tempo when we play live, always a bit faster, and we feel that is the real tempo they should have had. So the new songs are the first two that don't feel slow.

Patrik: But we play them a lot faster live.

Johan: A LITTLE bit faster [as he and Patrik laugh].

Do you think that's just an unconscious surge of energy that makes you play them faster?
Johan: Yeah.

Patrik: I think a lot of bands do that.

Yes. With Disexist you had three songs that were very distinct from one another, and to the listener it sounded like a demo that was designed to show your versatility as songwriters and performers. Was that accidental, or were you actually trying to put out three songs that showed three different sides of you?
Johan: They were the only finished songs.

Patrik: I think it was a bit of both. We wanted to have something to show what This Haven is.

Nicklas: But [when putting a recording together] you shouldn't think too much about it; you shouldn't over-analyze it and not go by your heart and miss what seems to be the right choice. And it [Disexist] just happens to be three different songs.

With My Year Zero, which has six songs, were you experiencing some big creative burst in songwriting that led you to have that much material at the time?
Tobbe: I think we recorded Disexist after [being together] two months.

Johan: Yeah, it was pretty quick. And after we were done with it, we thought we needed more songs that were as good. So we wrote a lot of songs, and some of them didn't make the cut [for My Year Zero].

The new demo, A Soul Open Wide, is a two-song demo. Do you feel particularly strong about these songs, moreso than anything else you're working on right now?
Patrik: Yeah, we had a lot of songs to pick from, but we chose these two because we think--

Johan: They have the most energy. My Year Zero took so long to record, and during the recording we didn't write anything. Nicklas and I were working on ideas, but we didn't want to start on any new songs while we were still recording. So when My Year Zero stopped, we had lots of ideas, and most of them were very energetic, but these two were definitely the best.

Nicklas: Yeah, I would say . . . I like to talk in pictures, so -

Johan: The garlic in the hamburger.

Nicklas: It's like a boxer, with two forceful fists. We wanna smack the audience with a hard right and a hard left.

Johan: While still maintaining the very melodic part of it, which I think is especially shown in "And the Devil in Me Smiles." It's really heavy, but it's still melodic at the same time.

Patrik: There's a lot of energy in both songs, more than in our previous recordings.

Nicklas: It sort of grips hold of you and shakes you.

You've also described these two songs as "the perfect couple."
Nicklas: Yeah. We're going to record an album, and we want to make ten ass-kicking songs, so we'll have five perfect couples.

A video has been in the planning stages for awhile. What's the status on that right now?
Patrik: It's still in the planning stage.

Johan: We discussed it a lot before we began recording the new songs.

Patrik: A friend of mine is really good at making videos. He's gonna make one when we've got the time for it. Hopefully this winter or something like that.

Have you begun thinking about a concept or approach for it?
Patrik: We've got some ideas. But I think we'll talk to him about what he can make. But definitely we're going to make a video.

More and more people have become aware of you lately. What kinds of impressions are you getting of this growing fan base--how have they discovered you; where are you finding that you have This Haven fans, geographically?
Nicklas: Some people see us at a live show or see our web page.

Patrik: Different forums and things. There are fans all over the world. And we've been played on local radio all over the world too.

Johan: And especially word of mouth.

Nicklas: And we've got quite good reviews and that's generated some interest.

What kinds of things are fans saying to you about the music--in your guestbook, writing to you, or coming up to you after shows?
Johan: It's very positive: "well performed, well written."

Patrik: "Tight band."

Nicklas: "Unique sounding." And we really apppreciate that.

Johan: We are listed on a web page for musicians in Sweden, and they have a guestbook also there, and everybody's very wowed. A pretty much positive response there also.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Patrik: Beware of This Haven [then laughs].

Nicklas: Check out our web page for some ass-kicking music that will be the garlic in your hamburger.

Since this interview was conducted, This Haven have entered into negotiations with a record label, and are preparing to begin recording an album this spring. In the meantime visit their website, where all three of their demos are available for download -- that's full tracks, people: savor the bounty!


Links of interest:

This Haven