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INTERVIEW: Marco Aro – The Haunted

To say that THE HAUNTED have had a turbulent time as a band is an understatement. With an merry-go-round of lineup changes throughout the band’s career, it is therefore somewhat surprising that the band has been able to consistently produce strong records. 2017 has kicked off with a bang for the Swedish outfit with a touring run in support of fellow countrymen and metal heavyweights MESHUGGAH. We caught up with vocalist Marco Aro, now in his second stint with the band, to talk touring, positive vibes and unveil what progress the band has made to their next studio record.

So we’re approaching the latter end of the UK dates in support to MESHUGGAH how has the tour been for you?

Marco: It’s been fucking amazing! Seriously, this has been the best tour we could get on because their new album has been doing really good and the venues have been pretty much sold out, pretty much all of them!

Has there been any standout shows in particular?

Marco: That’s a hard pick because for us they a show is always a great show because we get to play it! It would be unfair to point out one show from another because they have all been special. I would say it’s been really good throughout. Some places have been a bit slow at the start because it was a Tuesday night but they came around after two or three songs, we’ve had pits and everything, so it’s been great.

So in terms of the setlist balance, THE HAUNTED have got quite a discography. How have you balanced the setlist for this tour?

Marco: We’ve only got 45 minutes this time so we pretty much went for the personal favourites and also the songs we know we haven’t played for a long time. Usually when we do a setlist for a tour we have a set for one hour and 15 minutes we usually pick from all our albums so everybody get theirs.

With being the only support band to MESHUGGAH on this tour, has there been any pressure with being that?

Marco: No, we’ve known these guys for over 20 years so the metal scene is kind of inbred! Everybody has got something to do with somebody at some point so I’ve known these boys for well over 20 years. My first show with FACE DOWN was supporting MESHUGGAH in Stockholm and that was in ’94 so we’ve know each for a very long time so there’s no pressure because this is like an adult day care centre on tour! It was like with AT THE GATES in the US, we’ve be sharing rehearsal rooms for 20 years and now we’re sharing a bus, even if somebody is drunk and says something stupid nobody cares, he’s just going to regret that, it’s just a lot of fun!

So for you guys it’s very much touring with very good friends?

Marco: Yeah it is and these guys are the greatest guys to tour with. They go above and beyond to make sure we have everything we need, we accepted this tour knowing we aren’t going to make any money at all because we can’t even afford a crew, so we’re humping it all ourselves. They actually paid to get our sound engineer for the last three shows, that’s the type of guys they are. So we’re still humping it ourselves, sweaty, standing out in the crowd in the cold, but it’s a really nice piece of humble pie because it reminds you of what you do every day. It’s a good reminder.

It’s been three years since your last album, Exit Wounds, we know you have all your songs written for the new one, what’s the progress like at the moment?

Marco: We’re actually touching up stuff right now, we actually had songs for almost two years now, when you look in our Dropbox it was like last updated two years ago! But we’re starting to brush up on them right now and I guess at the end of February we’ll have our pre-production and then we’re scheduled to go into the studio in March. The official date of release is somewhere around August or September. The album in our heads is already done but we just need to get down on tape.

THE HAUNTED have had quite the lineup changes over the years, would you say this has every affected your creative writing process?

Marco: Well not really because I left because I was in a bad place and I needed to sort that shit out. When you have three love affairs, your family, you have music and you have one love affair that is constantly trying to kill you. Just in order to get back to square one I kept one love affair and left the others and I guess that’s what happened to the other members, not the bad place thing, you just get sick of it after a while because there are so many sharks in this business and they take advantage of you. You think you can spot them a while away but you can’t as they are hiding there in the bushes and you get sick of it. Constant touring gets to you, if you’re not a nomad it’s not for you and I’m not a nomad. I love being home with my family and that’s why we are doing these short tours and everything. But the lineup changes so far, Peter [Dolving] he’s probably the one guy we have least contact with we know each other, I’ve know Peter for as long as I’ve known MESHUGGAH. We kept in touch but he moved to Brazil so no one is in contact with him, but there is no animosity, there is no fighting, no nothing. That’s all cleared up. And Anders is Anders, he’s just at home watching TV and Per has got his other band so I think he’s doing good for himself. We don’t speak on a daily basis but we all keep in contact because we’re all still good friends.

You mentioned before that you left the band because you had a series of personal problems, now that you are back, are you feeling revitalised?

Marco: Oh most definitely because this was something I really really love. I decided I was done with the industry and when you’re sat at home on your computer, on Facebook, and all your friends are on tour having a great time. Once I got in a better place my old guys from FACE DOWN called me and wanted to put the band back together. So we did that and we released one album and after a while we realised why we broke up in the first place because we hated each other. So we broke that up and then me and Jesper [Strömblad] started THE RESISTANCE and that started off okay but then it went sour. It’s hard to deal with people when we aren’t in a good place, he’s in a much better place now as he’s sober, but that kind of died. Again, we’re still good friends but we don’t speak on a daily basis.

So with you going through the trials of the music industry once before, do you feel by coming back you are in a much better place to judge new challenges?

Marco: Yeah because we aren’t on that level anymore, and if we moved to that level we know what to look before. Even though I said you can’t spot a shark a mile away, it’s all fun and games now. We all have jobs, it’s not about the money. Back then we did it for a living but now we all have jobs, we all have families. My job pays better than this so this is just like Jonas says, a short vacation! Having a super fun time with your friends and play to these amazing people who have come out to watch you do what you do.

So it’s very much for the love for music and for the fans?

Marco: It’s only for the love. You can see when we play today the amount of joy that flows through us when we do this, I wouldn’t change this for the world.

The band originally formed, I know it was before you joined, when AT THE GATES split up. Now AT THE GATES are back, for the members of THE HAUNTED who are involved with AT THE GATES, how do you balance your time as a band?

Marco: We actually have this touring schedule because all the members in those two bands are in other bands as well. So we have this schedule and once you mark a date in that it’s yours until you say something else. So Jonas is tired because he’s managing both AT THE GATES and THE HAUNTED! It’s never a conflict of interest because we knew AT THE GATES were doing their album and that was the priority and now that we are doing an album that takes priority. That’s how it works and we don’t have any issues or problems.

And really our last question for you is that after this tour comes to an end, I imagine the focus will be on the new album but what else does 2017 have in store for THE HAUNTED?

Marco: Well we actually have another small tour again, like 10/11 dates, with ARCH ENEMY, LACUNA COIL and us in Europe. That will start in late March, that’s what we’re doing. Then after that we are just waiting and seeing what comes. We aren’t doing any festivals this summer, little by choice but also but the offers were shitty slots, it wouldn’t even cover the air fare to be honest. Once we have a new album it makes more sense to do the festivals and I think my wife would appreciate it if I was home for one summer!

Well thank you very much for talking to Distorted Sound, best of luck for tonight and whatever else you have in store for 2017!

Marco: Thank you so much!

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