POLARIZED – Under Hypnosis
A life within the underground metal community is one of perseverance. You expect a lot of bumps in the road, trials and tribulations that need to be overcome to make you a stronger person. Bassist Lars Lindén embodies that survivor lifestyle through his twenty five year plus recording career between acts like Rosicrucian, Slapdash, and Carnal Forge. Given the opportunity to participate in numerous tours across the globe, he’s also a seasoned producer beyond his musical output.
Polarized is a newer band that he’s also a part of, an international project that aims to be a potent player in the semi-technical power thrash scene. After being very impressed with their debut album "Western Hypnosis", reaching out to Lars to discuss his musical history and thoughts on the scene seemed like a no-brainer. Enjoy this fascinating discussion as you will learn more about what the future of Carnal Forge holds as well as Polarized, including the challenges of tour life and surviving lineup/ record label shuffles.
What can you tell us about your first musical memories growing up as a child- early bands you listened to, how you made the progression into hard rock/ heavy metal, and when you first picked up an instrument and started playing in bands?
My first musical memory is listening to Gilbert O’Sullivan in my dad’s brown Ford Granada in mid-70’s. Maybe 5 years old. Then influenced by my older brothers there was a lot of Pink Floyd and The Police, and then The Beatles was one of my first own musical discoveries. I remember being home from school one day I explored my brother’s music cassettes and was going through just to see what I could find. There was this one tape with Frank Zappa and the mothers on one side and some hard rock band on the other that sang about Frank Zappa… It was kinda weird I thought. Of course it was "Machine Head" and "Smoke on the Water" with Deep Purple that grabbed my attention. That was the band that really got me into hard rock. With that followed of course all the seventies and eighties bands like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Rainbow and Kiss and so on. I had every inch of my room decorated with Kiss posters and pictures when I was around 11-12.
One of my older brothers played guitar in pop bands in high school and I got interested as well and wanted to learn how to play. I wanted him to show me but he wasn’t really interested to show his little brother so I had to find out myself. Then when I was 15 I bought my first electric guitar, a Maya replica of the Gibson V. I was kinda embarrassed when I ran home with the strange looking case through down town. (I actually used it in the video for Rosicrucian "Naked Face Down").
But then in the summer of 1986, I had just turned 16 (the same year Dino was born) some friends started a band and they said; you gonna play the bass. Well so I did, even though I wanted to play the guitar. That’s was when I really got into the thrash scene and the harder stuff. Slayer, Metallica, Exodus, SOD, Megadeth, Testament, Anthrax etc. We used to watch the Combat The Ultimate Revenge video before we rehearsed like every time so I don’t know how many time I’ve seen it. This next song ain’t about no goldfish!
The band was called Headkillers.
Most know your work through the years because of Carnal Forge, so can you update the listeners on what has been happening behind the scenes since your last full length release "Testify for My Victims" in 2007? I know you’ve released a single and an EP, but people have been wondering what’s caused this long break between releases?
"Where to start, it’s a long uninteresting story…. "(an) ordinary life" it’s called I guess. That comes in between all the time. It’s a lot of things that have happened in our members personal lives, and as we never have lived on our music, work is number one priority for everyone.
After "Testify for My Victims" Jari was pretty tired of the whole band thing and left the band he started 10 years earlier. Jens got a new job that he really much wanted but that kept him from touring. So it didn’t not work out so they both left.
We got Peter Tuthill in (now in Despite) on vocals and Dino Medanhodzic on lead guitar (now in Polarized) and we did a single with the song "Blood War". Ready to go and kick some ass again, did some shows with this new line up everything felt fine, but then Stefan had problems in his life that finally forced him to leave the band.
So then we got in Chris Barkensjö (now in The Resistance and Lik) on drums. Ready, set go… We did one show with Chris then my life totally fell apart with an ugly divorce that more or less ruined my life. So I could not handle the band for a while and we kinda put everything on hold because I had to sort my shit out.
But I never saw CF as dead, my intention was always to put up a new line up of the band, and I was speaking to Ricky Evensand (now in Demonoid & Reignsaw) but he was in Australia and while I was waiting for him to get his ass home to Sweden cause he was delayed several times, Jari finally called and wanted to start up CF again and wake up the old corpse… but he introduced Lawrence Dinamarca (also in Loch Vostok, Aeckel, Nightrage) as the new drummer. Petri and Jari had a project with him that never really took off.
So bam, in April 2013 we had this meeting and then we were back again. Did some shows and started the work with "When All Else Fails" that was a 2 song EP just to say "Yes we are alive". It took a year to get it together as we are genuinely slow and we live in different cities so it’s hard to get it together sometimes between jobs and kids. And as we all can’t stay away from music every one of us were also involved in several bands and projects recording albums and doing shows. So it’s sometimes tricky to work our schedules. So even if we had a "GO" on Carnal Forge there was and are still different projects that deserves our members’ attentions and efforts.
So all these changing members, starting up again, over and over, is very time and energy consuming. Gone over the same live set with so many lineups, we now want new songs to play live.
It will take some time to get the new Carnal Forge album out there but I hope it will be worth the wait."
CARNAL FORGE 2013
What have been your favorite memories or benchmarks as far as Carnal Forge’s career? Are there particular goals you set for the band or is it more a take things as they come situation?
"Well as I get older I take things as they come. I’m not in such a rush anymore, I know we are pretty fucked anyway. Right now my only goal is that we will record and release a new album with Carnal Forge that we five individuals are all extremely satisfied with as a united group. That is not an easy task. Then what comes out of that, we’ll see and it’s second right now. It’s a fucking lottery business anyway and you never know what’s going to happen. I want to play huge festivals and drink beer in the sun with the boys, not go on endless shitty slave tours for no fee on a broken bus in snowy February with a drunken bus driver and a stoned opening act that eats your rider.
There are a lot of good memories and great and not so great experiences, for example like doing my second show for Carnal Forge on the main stage at Wacken Open Air was a wonderful start and the weekend after we played in the small village of Avesta for 5 people, or maybe it was the opening band, there was not enough catering for everyone, and it sucked big time and we probably didn’t get paid. It’s been like that all the time with CF. It’s been a rollercoaster, it goes up and it crashes down, some golden moments and some stabs in the back and people ripping you off. Some crazy adventures…
When we released "Aren’t You Dead Yet", the live DVD "Destroy Live" and did our first tour in the USA with Halford and Testament among others, the same year it felt like we were on it, but then shit happened, shit got cancelled and we still owe Century Media for that tour support. But it was a great ride as long as it lasted… Going to Japan was also a great and different experience. But now we haven’t toured properly for a long long long time.
Doing "Testify for My Victims" was really tough work as we like always did everything ourselves. For me that is my fave CF album. We got a good deal from our new label at that time, plus we did 2 videos and the reviews were great. But the label did not work for it and were very unprofessional compared to what we were used with Century Media, we did not always agree but they know what they are doing. So that label kinda killed it… It’s a damn waste, but it’s an amazing fucking album."
Polarized is another band that started in 2013 and is an international project with the band members spread out across the globe. How did this act develop and can you give us more insight into the songwriting and recording for the debut album "Western Hypnosis"?
"Dani contacted me in the end of 2012 and asked me if I was interested to join his band and I sure was, as I was still waiting for the Carnal Forge guys to wake up from the dead. So it was an easy yes. Not only for the music as well as for the possibility to work with Dani and Marco again which are really cool and sweet guys. I met them many years ago when I worked in Studio Underground as an engineer and producer and was part of the recordings of their albums "Sweatshops" and "Das Capital" with Italian thrashers Node.
Anyway, Dani asked me if I knew any good lead guitarists that we could involve in the project and I felt that Dino Medanhodzic would be extremely fun to work with again. He was in Carnal Forge a couple of years but we never really did record anything together more than the single & video "Blood War".
First Dani wanted us all to come over to the US to rehearse and to go into the studio and record like we used to back in the 80/90’s, to record more or less live. But I saw the problems with the logistics, time, daytime jobs and money and so on. After discussing this back and forth we decided to do it where it was most convenient for everyone. Dani put down his tracks in New Haven in the US, Marco then recorded the drums in Milan, Italy. Dino has his own studio Radionika in Stockholm, Sweden and works as a producer, so it was an easy choice for me where to record the bass.
But I think it was the first time since 1990 that someone else recorded me. I mean the punching in and out. I have always been doing this myself since all the years working in the studio as a producer. Chopping up people’s efforts and forcing them to play better and better and better. It was quite an interesting and humbling experience to have some "new kid" slicing me up telling me "What the fuck are you doing take it again!!!". Hahaha! I know that Petri (of Carnal Forge who is also working as a producer) and I are extremely picky and zoom in on the wave forms to make sure they "look good in close up". But Dino was "The Real Dr. Nano". God damn! But it was great not to have to do it myself! I would love to record my bass on the next Carnal Forge album with him.
Anyway, Dani came over to Radionika where we recorded the bass, the vocals and the lead guitar, re-amped the rhythm guitars. We worked with the vocals and the bass together, and Dino then added his solos and mixed and mastered it all.
It’s Dani’s songs but we all have had the chance and opportunity to work with the final outcome of it all. For example Marco just got the click and the guitars and the instruction; ‘Do whatever you want’. So that’s cool and must have been very interesting to Dani to see how his songs grew and developed.
And then I took some shots and made the graphics for it."
Are there any hopes for Polarized to perform live- even if it’s on a selective, case by case festival basis – or will the band remain more of a studio project?
"Well, I don’t think that will happen in a while. It is kinda tough as we are spread out in different countries and everyone is working. I think Polarized will mainly be a studio project because of the logistic side of it. If we would get filthy much dineros we might consider it but it would cost so much just to get together and rehearse for it. But we’ll see, you should never say never."
Have your views about music changed now that you are in your mid 40’s versus your 20’s and 30’s?
"Nah, not really. I listen to all kinds of music, always done that. From classical, pop, hard rock, metal, thrash, death, industrial. My view is that there is good music and bad music. Styles I don’t care about. Buy I’m not a musicaholic like I used to be, with head phones in my ears all the time and waking up and falling asleep with music playing. After 15 years in the studio I enjoy silence a lot."
What would you say are a couple of your most memorable metal concerts / festivals that you took in purely as a fan through the years? And what are your top 5 albums (metal or otherwise) that you need to listen to on a regular basis?
"First big concert for me in 1983 with Kiss was of course special and I was 13, and the year after 1984 and maybe even more when Deep Purple returned with the mark II line up in 1985. Others I remember as special is Slayer at Fryshuset 1988, Clash of the Titans 1990, Hultsfred 1995 with Pantera & Slayer, Black Sabbath at the Roskilde Festival 1998.
Don’t need anything anymore, but if I look back on albums that I feel meant a lot for my interest in playing music in the beginning for me I could for example mention "Bonded by Blood", "Master of Puppets", "Reign in Blood", "Speak English or Die", "Cowboys from Hell", "Dragons Kiss", "Alive", "Alive II", and "Made in Japan"."
You also work at LL Production as a graphic designer, photographer, producer, and management. Have you always enjoyed juggling responsibilities with these different hats, and what have some of your favorite albums/ bands that you remember working with in these endeavors?
"LLP is mostly the umbrella name for all of my own projects through the years and of course also helping out other bands and friends. But I don’t really have time for that anymore. But yes it’s been great and I have always been interested in the whole line of the production process.
Since two years I work as a graphic designer for a company called Azzcon Group that sells promotional stuff and merchandise of all kinds.
There is one release that I think is a complete killer and that deserves more attention, it’s the Leech album "Cyanide Christ", with members from Carnal Forge. This album was recorded just for the fun of it in 2003 when there was free time in the studio and then we never got it out cause we were so busy with CF, but then we decided to release it ourselves in 2013. It’s awesome, completely great thrash!"
Check it out here:
LEECH "Cyanide Christ" coverart
Where do you see the state of heavy metal in 2015? What areas need to be nurtured or improved upon to keep the scene healthier for the next generation of fans, bands, promoters, etc?
To be honest I’m completely out of the loop and I really don’t care about what is going on, who is doing what or why, what is trendy or not. I make my music for myself and if others like it and it gets released I’m happy with that. But it seems like it is a lot of thrashing going on that is great for an old thrasher."
Do you have any outside hobbies or interests away from music that you like to get into when you have the free time to do them?
Not really, it’s all about music in some way or graphic design and photography. It’s all nested together. I really enjoy my work at Azzcon as a graphic designer and it’s taking a lot of my attention today. But of course, travelling, spending time with my family and friends, going to our house in the country, even if it’s too seldom. I love reading, skiing and running and working out. But I only do it in periods."
Do younger musicians seek you out for advice, and if so what types of wisdom do you try to impart? And what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received- either within the metal realm or outside of it?
"Not as much as when I was working in the studio. Then I helped a lot of bands with the deals and contracts and getting their stuff together. Do your own stuff, practice a lot, don’t care about anyone else, and never give up! Can’t remember any advice from anyone really. Maybe I was a bad listener… or maybe I just don’t care for other people’s opinions."
What does the rest of 2015 and early 2016 look like for Lars in terms of music activities either as a performer, writer, or behind the scenes?
"At the moment I’m writing and finishing of a lot of songs. I have maybe 18-19 songs and I am just working without a specific target band. I just want to get rid of a bunch of different ideas that’s been spinning around in my brain, some since "Testify…" to completely brand new stuff. I need to get them out of the system and I don’t want to limit my creativity to write in a certain way for someone else. What comes out comes out, and then we’ll see if there is a home for them. So we’ll see where they end up, if some might suit CF or Polarized or if I have to release them myself. If he dies, he dies!
Main goal for the rest of this year and 2016 is to get the Carnal Forge album together, rehearse a lot and get the band ready for new adventures. The rumor says drums are to be recorded after the new year."