I don’t usually go about recommending albums these days but something drew me to this Swedish release for a few reasons. The first of which was the ‘man against the world’ attitude of its songwriter, bassist and mainman, Mattias Reinholdsson. So many great bands from the Foo Fighters to the Wildhearts to Avantasia have been formed around one person’s strong vision aided and abetted by their most talented friends.
Words: Chris Dale
On Dead Kosmonaut, Mattias has recruited singers Pelle Gustafsson (The Haunted) and Johan Langqvist (Candlemass), bass player John Shamus Gaffney (Sinister Realm) and guitar player Per Broddesson (Year Of The Goat) to realise his personal Metal vision.
Secondly the music eventually proved the worth of all those efforts. It is a brooding and powerful conclusion. I was hooked and contacted Mattias for more information on his project. His story and music should inspire us all.
I first asked Mattias what had inspired him to put this project together?
“I wanted to do Metal in the fashion and style of late 70s and early 80s. When bands could do acoustic songs as well as really heavy stuff. But all with melodies and hooks. I have played all sorts of rock music over the years but never the sort of Metal I grew up with.
“I have had Metal songs laying around for many years, some of the oldest ideas are twenty years old, but the idea to actually do something about it came some twelve years ago. It’s been a long way coming. I found Metal in 1983 but it took until now to release an actual Metal album.
“Hopefully I will make another one a bit quicker the next time.”
How did you go about getting the different musicians together to play on his record and can you describe the best contributions?
“I asked friends for favours. People I have played with and people I admire. I know some very talented people, I am glad to say. The hardest was to find a singer.
“At one point I thought I would have to sing myself for a long time until I found some one that I had known for almost twenty years! Pelle Gustafsson usually sings in a black Metal band but I got to hear him sing with his normal voice and I was floored so I asked him to sing on the album and he agreed. His vocals the on acoustic track House of Lead are amazing.
“Guitarist, mixer and eventually co-producer Fredrik Folkare also made some crucial contributions. He mixed my rehearsal room recordings with a wonderful result. He came up with some backing vocals arrangements, keyboard stuff and guitar solos that really lifted the album.
“But everyone playing on the album made it so much better. I am so glad that they all gave their time and talent to make it come alive.
“I have Johan Langqvist singing on last track Grey Hole. He sang on the first Candlemass album and is just someone I admire. Before I found Pelle and I planned to do all the singing myself I thought that it would be nice to have a proper singer singing at least one song. Johan is one of my favourite singers and I was lucky enough to even be able to ask him, he is not a public person, and even more lucky that he said yes!”
Did the other collaborators help in the songwriting?
“I wrote everything myself. Music and lyrics. But of course the different players had their input. I have been open for suggestions. When it came to the vocals we had some heated moments but like Pelle told me while recording: ‘We are not done until both you and me are satisfied’. I gave Fredrik Folkare the credit of co-producer since he came up with so many ideas.”
Has Mattias been involved in similar collaborations before?
“I’ve been in several bands and projects over the years including Book Of Hours and Onda Radio, a band that does whatever it feels like doing. It’s commercial suicide, I know, but you have to do what your heart tells you to.
“Me and Henrik Johansson, who is also drumming on the greater part of ‘Expect Nothing’, also did a unique Iron Maiden tribute album a few years back. At the time there was a lot of so called tribute albums coming out, that to us seemed more as cash-ins.
“I thought we could do a much better and proper tribute ourselves and that thought stayed. Could we really? Ideas started to flow and in the end we had nineteen songs recorded by us and a whole lot of friends and people we asked. The versions range from camp fire acoustics, to disco, to death’n’roll, to synth, to 60s rock, to techno, to funk, to bossanova and more. We also explored the idea; What if Motörhead had done ‘Wildest Dreams’ and what if AC/DC had done ‘Futureal’? Or the even siller idea of: what if you played, say ‘Be Quick Or Be Dead’ as if it was Skunkworks song ‘Back From The Edge’. Yes, the album is still available at bookofhours.net/fft.
The name Dead Kosnomaut intrigued me. Was it a reference to the former Soviet space project?
“Dead Kosmonaut was actually the third name for this project. The two previous names I found were already used. I never thought anyone would come up with the name Astrakaan but me. But apparently there are more weirdoes out there!
“The name comes from a song I wrote about declining mental health and there is a line in the song that refers to a dead kosmonaut floating in space. I plan to feature the song on the next album. I am not a nerd but I do have a bit of a fascination for things Soviet.”
Many bands these days have fluid line-ups; do you think that is the future of rock bands as traditional approaches are challenged?
“When it comes to Dead Kosmonaut I had the intention to do it as a band but the people I wanted to be in it were all in bands, sometimes multiple, so the Dead Kosmonaut project came more out of necessity rather than choice.
“Doing gigs will be hard. But we do have a gig at the Muskelrock Festival in Tyrolen here in Sweden this summer with Girlschool and Raven, and we have been offered some more. This sort of music is meant to be played live.
“Anyway, back to the question. I think the band as a ‘gang’ is becoming rarer in the future. Musicians work at home on their own. These days you don’t need anyone else to play stuff for you.
“But to get up on a stage, playing rock, is a different thing. For me that’s the power of rock music. A good band on stage. So in that sense Metal will prevail, but maybe the line-ups will be less fixed and the audience will have to accept that.”
Dead Kosmonaut: ‘Expect Nothing’ is available from TPL Records at tpl.se.