Originally posted in Valkyrian Music.
You’ve probably seen some of our posts about a Swedish new band called The End Of Grace. With roughly a year of existence, an extraordinary EP was released last month and this weekend they finally had their live debut. Perfect time for Renata to meet up with some of the boys and have a little chat with them.
Renata: Hello boys. Thanks for taking some time to talk to me. My first question is something I’ve been wanting to ask you since the band was formed… Why is The End Of Grace a Gothenburg band when the majority of the band lives in the Stockholm area? What’s so special about that city?
Jimmy (Bergman, guitars): Gothenburg scene is bigger than Stockholm’s…
Johan (Hagman, clean vocals/bass): I don’t agree with that. It used to be bigger. The metal scene in Gothenburg used to be “the shit”, the “Gothenburg sound”. There was In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates… But five years ago or so, the underground bands from Västerås, Eskilstuna… they started to pop up and the underground scene got bigger around here. Adept is one of them, coming from Trosa, near Södertälje, near Stockholm. So I don’t agree ‘cause Gothenburg has a lot of great bands but I’m not sure if the scene is better than in the rest of the country.
Renata: So now you’re going to change your location?
Jimmy: Yeah, I think we’re changing it to Stockholm/Gothenburg.
Johan: Anyways, who the fuck cares where we’re from? I don’t give a fuck. (laughs)
Thomas (Manell, drums): I say Småland (more laughs)
Renata: Yes, it doesn’t matter, but I was curious because until recently, only Kriss (Panic, vocals) lived there and yet your Facebook page says you’re from Gothenburg.
Johan: I guess it had something to do with them travelling to Gothenburg when they started out, as Jimmie Strimmel (former singer) lived there.
Jimmy: Yes, we were going there when we made the page so we adopted Gothenburg.
Johan: And people around the world know the Gothenburg sound, so when you say “Sweden, Gothenburg” it means that okay, this is a great sounding band… (laughs)
Renata: you’re a metalcore band, but you have your own special “genre”… how did “deathcore popcorn” come up?
Johan : Ha ha ha!
Thomas: Oh Lord…
Jimmy (smiling): Yeah, that was me again.
Thomas: It’s always you!
Jimmy: We have a thing like a pop band…
Johan: It came up during the recordings, while Jimmy was playing around. Since Kriss has a deathcore background and… I didn’t do the choruses in the first four songs but for “Lost In Transition” it was me who wrote the chorus on the spot, in the studio room, and i made it really poppy.
Thomas: along with me!
Johan: yes, but you did the uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhh and I did the chorus. It doesn’t matter. It’s all great.
Thomas: it’s all gay!
Johan: In our old band (Johan and Jimmy played together before, in Road To Repent) we’ve always said that we wanted poppy choruses. Not because we want people to like it but because WE like it. It gives the music another dynamic. And that’s why it’s hardcore / deathcore / pop…
Johan: yeah, deathcore popcorn!
Renata: Thomas, you joined TEoG by the end of March, replacing Marcus Rosell, but I know that you were Sulan (Von Zoomlander, guitar) and Jimmy’s first choice. They’ve asked you a few times but you refused. What made you change your mind?
Thomas: That’s a really good question.
Johan: He likes the tail! Ha ha ha!
Thomas: What can I say? I really wanted to give it a try, you know? This is a genre that I’ve never played before and I’m all about developing as a musician. To me that’s what music is all about. So if I can become a better metalcore drummer, that’s all good. And the fact that Jimmy buttered everything up and said that “hey, we’re going to play this stadium and this stadium and you’re going to get laid like every hour…” so I was like yeah, okay, shit, I’ll be there!
Johan: I’ve heard that before! He said the same thing to me.
Thomas: But seriously, I love working with Jimmy. He’s a great guy and he writes good music. And I’m really happy that I met Johan and Kriss and Sulan… and now Robert (Åkerlund, live musician temporarily replacing Sulan), as well… it’s a great group. I’m really happy to be working with these guys. ‘Cause that’s what music is – a team effort.
Renata: And you, Johan. You’ve joined on bass but you’ve never played bass before, right?
Johan: Me, Jimmy and Robert used to play in Road To Repent and there I was just a singer. We did a lot of shit together for about three, four years. I used to play guitar in the older bands but I haven’t played an instrument for a few years. And then Jimmy called me because their bass player had stepped down. And he just asked me if I wanted to be in the band. I said, “dude, I can’t play bass. I’ve never played bass!”. And he said, “first thing, I need someone I can trust”. Okay, no problem. “I need someone that can sing”. Yeah, no problem. “And then the bass… yeah, that, well… whatever”. And I said, yeah, I can do that! As long as the bass is “whatever”! So it’s kind of a leap of faith because I have to trust in my musical talent to understand how I’m supposed to play bass. But when I look at other bass players… oooooh shit! I say I’m only here for the beer and play the bass as good as I can. And singing. It’s different, because I used to be the frontman. I don’t give a fuck about being a frontman or not, I just want to sing. That’s the baseline.
Thomas: I just want to say that when we rehearse without Kriss, Johan steps up with the microphone and the bass and he does a great job. I really enjoy watching it, as he hasn’t a bass school background, and he still plays his instrument well and is able to sing the way he sings.
Johan: You have to remember that I’ve been playing bass for 3 months
Thomas: So this is a music guy from deep down in his bones!
Johan: thank you Queen!
Renata: Even before “Lost In Transition” was released, you were already working on your upcoming debut album. How’s that going so far? Is everyone more involved now?
Jimmy: We are working on the album right now. We have 8 or 9 songs, actually. And yes, we’re doing it as a band.
Thomas: There are a couple of songs that I’ve listened to two years ago, old songs that Jimmy played for me when we got to know each other for the first time. And that’s coming to light now. It’s really funny, really sweet to know that I’ve listened to these songs, I really felt that this was good at the time, and now he wants to bring them into The End Of Grace.
Jimmy: Also Johan is including a more hardcore feeling into the sound.
Johan: And that’s a problem! I only love hardcore and metalcore. I like metal but what I love is hardcore / metalcore. And I’m afraid I’ll ruin the sound of The End Of Grace. That’s the thing when I work with Jimmy. We went out to his family house and we sat down for a whole day working on a song. i wrote the song on the bus there and we started recording it and he was like “fuck this, fuck this, this is shit, this is hardcore shit” all the time. And then he got to write a breakdown. That’s the only thing he was really passionate about. He wrote other stuff but he was really passionate about this breakdown and four hours later… “dude, this is a fucking good song”. (Jimmy laughs). “Yeah, I’ve been telling you!”. But that’s the problem! They wrote four or five or whatever songs two years ago, they had a song in mind and then I get in and mix it up with hardcore sounds and I’m just afraid of ruining the sound. Hopefully I won’t ‘cause Jimmy’s always there spoiling my shit. (Thomas and Jimmy laugh) So I think we’ll find something halfway.
Renata: You’re adding a new element; I don’t think you’re ruining the sound, you’re making it richer, more unique.
Johan: We keep focused on that. As far as we know, there’s no real band in Sweden right now using the deathcore vocals and then doing the really really REALLY poppy choruses. Because you have Betraying The Martyrs and some things like it from other countries but in Sweden I haven’t heard any band that sounds like we do. Because we have this kind of happy riffing, this kind of happy breakdowns… I can’t explain it. But yeah, we’ve got some shit. A lot of shit. (laughs)
Jimmy: I have to say that it’s a lot more fun to write it all with these two guys and not just alone or with Sulan.
Johan: it’s more fun when we’re all on top of it. we can send our stuff to Sulan, because he’s living in Hindås now, instead of them doing it together. It’s more fun getting the input of everyone. Even if he (points at Thomas) hates my punk intros. Fuck you! (everybody laugh)
Thomas: Since Johan joined the band Jimmy’s like a little kid on Christmas Eve when it comes to writing and creating. Everything is exciting and I think these two are a great combo and they’re bringing it to the group. Jimmy has a lot of drum ideas for the songs but I try to make them some sort of my own. But since I’m not a metalcore drummer, I try to maintain whatever ideas he has and just make a twist or something with what I’ve got.
Renata: I’ve noticed it in the EP (review here), in comparison to the first recordings with Marcus.
Thomas: Yes, like the end of “Betrayer”. I’m more of a groovy drummer. I’m not that typical metalcore drummer that just keeps on hammering. I want to keep the beat. I really think the working combination between Jimmy and Johan is going to make The End Of Grace come to a whole new level. In a good way.
Johan: Hopefully… Well, the thing about him being “like a kid on Christmas” is about trust. He knows he can trust me. I will tell him when it’s fucking shit. And I will say when I see something that’s good and he will tell me… well, no, he will not tell me. He will be like this (crosses his arms and looks sideways). And I know him, ‘cause we’ve been playing for years, along with Robert. We know each other that well. I can tell when he doesn’t like something.
Jimmy: I stay quiet.
Johan: Yeah, he will shut up, that’s how he reacts.
Thomas: One thing I can say about Robert filling in for Sulan is you can really tell that they’ve played together before. It’s a thing of magic. It’s like kindergarten all over.
Johan: you have to keep in mind that we’ve played for so long and didn’t have a gig for one year and a half. In Road To Repent we were taking a step back, considering our sound. We wanted to go more metalcore, more like The End Of Grace but not The End Of Grace and so we didn’t have a gig for a year and a half or so in that band. So when we got together last night, it wasn’t just the first gig of The End Of Grace but also the first gig that Robert does in all this time. Last night was insane because it was like old times for us. For now it’s three parts of Road To Repent in this band. it feels weird but good. And we really appreciate that he could step in. We can’t wait for Sulan to get back , but we know that Robert’s a great guitar player and he can feel the rhythm like Sulan does.
Thomas: We miss Sulan in the group because of what he always brings but Robert does a really great job for the moment. That’s the thing with The End Of Grace – we always get by. The music comes first.
Renata: You’ve been talking about a video for ages. Is the idea still on? And I’ve heard that maybe it wouldn’t be for “Metal Mulisha” after all…
Jimmy: We’ve been thinking of maybe doing “Fist Face Bleed” if Martin (Westerstrand, from Lillasyster, guest vocalist on this track) can join us. If not,“Lost In Transition”.
Johan: It’s all a matter of budget. We were talking to Robert from Adept and discussing their videos and our videos and he told us it’s fucking expensive. I’m not sure that’s a number we can talk about, really. We’ll do it when we can do it good. We don’t want to put up shit on YouTube. It’s better to just post videos of us because poorly made videos… nah, not good enough.
Renata: You’ve played Rockbitch Boat yesterday, you have another gig in Göta Källare next Saturday… Can the fans expect a tour or you’ll continue to play random shows for now?
Jimmy: We are working on something but it’s not 100% confirmed, nothing we can discuss at the moment.
Johan: Of course we want to get out there, so stay tuned.
Renata: The gig yesterday was The End Of Grace’s first ever (report/gallery here). What did you think of it? Did it meet your expectations?
Jimmy: It was amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing!
Johan: It was awesome to see people we don’t know down there. That’s what I care about. That was kind of a warm up for us. It was the first time we were together, the five of us.
Jimmy: We’ve never practiced all together before that.
Johan: Never. That was our first practice yesterday. We were expecting less. That’s what warms our hearts. There were kids there that none of us knows. The first thing when I got off stage was that I was stopped by two kids that no one in the band has ever seen and go “dude, that was fucking sick!”. And then I went five steps and I met another dude, “dude, that was fucking sick! I’ll see you in the next gig”. So it was above all our expectations.
Renata: And Sebastian from BatAAr, who got on stage to sing “Fist Face Bleed”? How did that come about?
Jimmy: That’s a Kriss question.
Thomas: Kriss knows a lot of people and he played a couple of artists for us to choose from. We chose Sebastian because he resembled Martin and could maintain the tone and energy that Martin brings to the song. Sebastian is the best choice, definitely. And I’ve never met the guy, so after having him up on stage was like “okay, I officially love this guy!”. He was just all over the place, Then we met him after the show, had a couple of beers and get along very well. So I think it’s a thing we will maintain.
Johan: He’s an awesome dude. And BatAAr, his band, has been around the Swedish scene for a long time. They are a big band, especially in Japan, so it’s kind of an honor to have him jumping in and he being so psyched about it. It was really cool.
Renata: And still speaking of Rockbitch Boat, they used precisely “Fist Face Bleed” for the trailer of the event. Is there anything else where you’d like to see your music as soundtrack?
Jimmy: Fäbodjäntan! (famous Swedish porn movie)
Johan: Because I’m a gamer, I would love to have our music in a game but I don’t know if it works… Maybe in a Battlefield-ish story, a game of intense action. I would love that, but I’m not sure. I don’t think it fits in a movie either, but if it would, cool. If they did another “Die Hard” with a young John McClane…
Thomas: “Married… with Children Reunion”! That would be fucking awesome! (starts singing the chorus of “Lost In Transition”)
Renata: The last verse of “Metal Mulisha” is “world domination”. Is that the goal for your music?
Jimmy: yes, yes, YES!
Johan: I think that’s how you should think. When you dream about being a rock star when you’re a kid, you dream about being in a stadium tour. Being a rock star isn’t going around in a fucking small Toyota through Sweden, spending more than you earn. That’s not what you dream about, that’s not what we have in mind. Well, we have the music in mind, of course, but playing in stadiums, that’s world domination.
Renata: And I really hope you achieve it. Thank you once again and keep up the good work!