Ahead of Sterbhaus’ excellent show at The Lomax in Liverpool, we caught up with the band’s frontman/bassist Marcus Hammarström to discuss the band, the idea behind their brilliant video for Frogboiler, and even crates of puppies and beer hats!
Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about the band?
We started off in 2007. We have a pretty different age range in the band – I’m the “old guy”, so I had a lot of shit going on before that, but we started out more for fun really. But then we noticed that being a band means more than just playing together, you have to find a nerve in what you’re doing and we found that pretty early. But then we had some issues with members and some people had to leave. We’ve just come up with a catchy term for us because we’re a bit tired of hearing people referring to our music in different ways. It’s always thrash, black, death and heavy metal all at the same time and you have four genres going on.
That’s quite good though, not limiting yourself to one genre.
Yeah! So it was like “how do we define our music” but we’re more about the genuine essence about metal. We don’t care if what it is, and we have the entertainment value and also humour is pretty important for us. We’re guys who basically like to have a laugh and it’s always like, when we go out travelling like this, we always have a great time. Naturally this comes through in the music live and on the album as well. It’s never ridiculous.
Professional but fun?
Exactly, that’s it.
By the way, congratulations on your album Angels For Breakfast…And God For Lunch being awarded two top listings in a Swedish metal encyclopaedia, that’s awesome. So with that in mind, what are your biggest aims for the band in the future?
Thank you! And honestly, I think the whole scene needs us. There are too many bands and there are some bands that I don’t see a reason for them existing. It’s quite easy to start a band, record something and then release it on YouTube or Facebook or whatever. I don’t think we can imagine not doing this, that’s why I’m so fucking old! It’s a lot of work, it’s step-by-step a lot of the time. I wouldn’t like to have the hugest breakthrough right away because it feels more genuine to work with a band like this, like going on different tours because the live situation is what’s interesting.
Do you prefer playing live to recording, then?
Absolutely. Recording stuff is rewarding in a different way because you work your ass off with a couple of songs and when the recording is finished, it’s finished, and you’re so fucking proud to have the songs and album. And a whole new chapter opens as soon as you release an album but there’s a lot of work and a lot of it isn’t really that fun. But when you go out playing, that’s basically why you do it. With live music, you get to look people in the eye and you believe in what you do, and that’s why a good show is a good show.
You’ve been on the Razors Over Europe tour for just under two weeks now. How’s it been going, are there any interesting tales from the road?
I’d say there’s always interesting stuff but generally I’d say the most interesting thing was prior to us going on tour. It was like some people were questioning the fact that Shining and Sterbhaus were going on tour together, and that was the hilarious part because that just goes to show what little people know because we all get along extremely well. There’s a lot of assholes back in Sweden that contacted us and said things like “be nice to these guys” or whatever, which is pretty ridiculous because they do this shit for real as well as we do and we get along extremely well.
One of the most important things I’m going to say, because I’m not gonna give “scoops” on other bands, is basically the fact that the Norwegian guys on the tour dropped out. I’m not well-informed about the situation but the day we played in Belgium, they were having some issues in the band and before we knew it, they’d just packed their stuff and left with no notice whatsoever. So we were just left in a little bit of a weird situation.
Even though it’s kind of boring to hear, the only real thing that happens on tour is that you go to sleep in the morning and you sleep until two or three in the day! Then you wake up and the bus has arrived, and you have to unload your shit and set up. It’s a lot of work, actually, so the time off is after the show. Then we basically party, either in pubs or on the bus or whatever.
What’s been the best show so far?
Wow, that’s pretty hard to say actually! I’d say one of the gigs in France, either Lyon or Paris, because everything was well organised. The thing is for us, whenever we go onstage, most people in the audience have never heard of us, so that means we have to convince everybody from the first song. And when you have everyone on board, you feel accomplished because that’s what we aimed to do. But in Paris and Lyon there were a lot of people there and the venue was great. I think one of those, probably.
Were there a load of good vibes there then?
Yeah, absolutely, there can be good vibes in smaller places as well. Like in Dresden, it was the second time we’d played there and it was a little bit like coming home, so that was an extremely nice evening as well. There’s still a few dates left to go yet though!
Is there anywhere you’d like to play but haven’t yet?
Oh yeah, we’d like this tour to go on for another two weeks! It would be cool to play…I’m tempted to say further south because it’s been so fucking cold and each night has been fucking horrible! Like during the Paris gig, there was a mix-up because the venue turned into a club at a certain point in the night and we had to get all our shit out but the bus couldn’t arrive for about three hours, so we had to sit in the middle of the street in the freezing cold! So I’m tempted to say somewhere warm, but I’m not sure where that should be.
On the other hand, some of the eastern countries we toured during the spring with Vader would be cool to revisit but unfortunately none of those countries are on this tour. Scandinavia would be good, at least Sweden would be kind of fun to play! We play Sweden every now and then, but to go on tour with a fellow Swedish band would be pretty cool.
I thought your video to Frogboiler was brilliant – how did you come up with the idea for it? (Note: You can watch it below!)
Thank you! (laughs) It’s always the same things…I don’t really recall how everything started but the general idea was that we had some sort of dish situation; we wanted it to have something to do with food. For some reason, it started out with the guitar. That’s a working guitar, by the way, and we use it live, but unfortunately not on this tour. So it started out with that but then we had to get it into the story. When we cut the song, we noticed that we had too much material, so unfortunately the guitar didn’t end up being used that much.
We all hang out privately a lot as well, so whenever we drink and come up with stuff we’re like “hey, that’s a cool idea, we’ll keep that” so the meal situation was something like that. I think it went that each of us had to be served one meal.
It’s actually quite a hard question to answer. I mostly do all the directing and stuff for it, and all of the stuff for the House Of The Dead Dwarf video as well. We didn’t have that much space so we just came up with the idea of having an environment that affects what we are doing and it had to look metal. And because we liked to push that fact, it almost became ridiculously metal but we still stand for it because it’s a fun thing to do, with all the stunts and shit.
I don’t really know how to explain how we came up with it but most of our ideas like that are formed when we drink! Then we develop it a little more seriously after that, to make sure that people can watch it and understand what’s going on.
When you’re a world-famous band and can have anything on your rider, what would it be?
A crate of 25 puppies! We actually discussed this, and we’d also like Iron Maiden high-fiving us as we went onstage as well! We have all these cool ideas but I think the Iron Maiden stuff would probably be the best one.
And finally, if Sterbhaus could put their name to any product, what would it be?
Shit, we were talking about this the other day! I used to have this one-man project that released four albums, it was called Elvira Madigan, and we discussed there should be an Elvira Madigan gun, but for Sterbhaus…hey, Jimmy?
(he calls to one of the band’s guitarists sat at the bar across the room, who subsequently comes over and joins the interview)
Marcus: We discussed the whole merchandise situation once, didn’t we? You know, the Elvira Madigan gun and shit, but what would it be for Sterbhaus? That’s the question – what merchandise could we get done for the band, anything at all. Our dream item, what would it be?
Jimmy: Like a beer cap?
Marcus: That’s old, man. That’s no fun! Okay, let’s say…I would like a pacemaker.
Marcus: It would blink every time the heart beats and it would eject small amounts of cocaine. Just off the top of my mind, but there you go!