INTERVIEW: Niklas Källgren – Truckfighters

Swedish fuzz-gods TRUCKFIGHTERS are celebrating 15 years in 2016 with the release of their fifth studio album, V. This release comes two years after the bands last album Universe hit the shelves with a very good reception. We caught up with guitarist Niklas Källgren about this albums direction and key differences, what it’s like working with new people and the recording techniques that have gone into V.

It’s been over two years since Universe was released, now that the album has been out for a while how do you feel about it? Now that you have had time to reflect on it.

Niklas: I think it’s been really good, I think all songs have their like, special touch to them. So I’m happy with them, still of course maybe when I look back I think the sound was slightly too… slick, somehow, maybe a bit too nice. It’s something we thought about when we were making the new album, to do it a little, little bit more rough than the last one.

And it certainly shows, so V will be your newest album release since Universe, has the process changed at all since then?

Niklas: Not really, we wrote the songs similarly so like Ozo writing, and then there comes the drummer and we kinda decide what he’s playing together, we try stuff and record and push to death almost in the studio [laughs]. The difference this time was that we were literally didn’t know who was going to record the drums, so instead of waiting we recorded with a lot of guitar and bass that we intended to use for real, before any drums. So that was the biggest difference between this album anything before in the recording process.

And what was it like working with El Danno?

Niklas: I think it was good, I mean it was quite nice in the way that he really didn’t mind doing long days where we’d be pushing him to try things and do things and he was really open minded. So I think it was good in that sense, its fun also to record with new drummers to be honest – to see what happens, to get a little bit of different input from different people.

What made you decide to get Peter Damin in for drums in on The 1?

Niklas: Nah that was just because I know him a bit, he’s an extremely good drummer, so we wanted to have him play in a song at least. So that’s fun, he’s a professional drummer, he does mostly more commercial things in the Swedish music industry. He plays for example in the Swedish version of Let’s Dance he sits there and plays the drums, (Really?) yeah, he played on a PARADISE LOST album as well. He’s just a talented drummer and since I’ve known him I wanted him to play something sometime so we thought we should ask him.

Did you guys have any themes or concepts for the album? Did anything serve as inspiration for V?

Niklas: No not really, I mean for us its more like we are influenced by what happens around us in the world in general; a special thing or another band or something like that. So I kinda think it [V] reflects the moods in the world right now, it’s weird that are people acting strange and they don’t like foreigners anymore you know? It’s a bit harder, the climate in the world, and Britain leaves the European Union [laughs]. So I feel, at least lyrically it is maybe darker than ever in some ways.

What makes V stand out, what can listeners expect to hear?

Niklas: Oh, I think they can expect to hear really intricate, weird, cool songs with vocals with a lot of feeling and emotion as well. I think whole of the music is very emotional, at least to me, but it’s also transmits some kind of energy to the listeners somehow. For me that connection is the most important thing, but it’s also interesting how you transmit that energy to the listener on the record. The music gives feelings and emotions to listener always in someway, it affects people and I think that the feeling of this album is quite serious and gives some mood I guess to the listener.

V certainly has a huge punch to it! What bands and musicians influence you guys to put that sort of power behind the music this time round, as well as the climate.

Niklas: Well….we’re very powerful guys [laughs]. No we just wanted to make it a bit more ‘fat’ than before, to get a bit more rougher feeling and I think it fits the songs as well – they can be a bit more powerful and a bit more darker and just a bit more dramatic I guess. The songs themselves aren’t necessarily super heavy, not all parts of them, it’s a dramatic mood over it. (The recordings sound thicker, there’s a lot of mass to the soundscape.) I agree, we try to push it to the edge [laughing].

Are there any parts of V that stand out more to you? Bits you enjoyed more or bits that were harder to record?

Niklas: Yeah, I mean with Calm Before the Storm it was quite hard to find the right feeling for the first part of the song, especially when we wrote it because I didn’t know what I was going to play. So I played some notes and then we said “make something up here”, so that took a long time to figure out… and I don’t really remember what I played so now I have to learn it for the fall tour. It’s like that with many songs, I don’t really know what’s playing, seriously I have to learn our old songs. Because it’s the heat of the moment, I come up with something and then I listen to it a week later and I’m like “Wow, this is so cool, how did I do this?” So on Gehenna, the second verse was like an a-ha moment because there were so many rhythms going against each other, the bass and the guitar plays to a different time signature and then vocals work at a different one from that. It’s weird and it’s good somehow. When you listen to it doesn’t sound strange, but when you pin-point the instruments by themselves and listen to the details it’s very strange – and it’s going to be very hard to learn that and play it, but it’s fun.

Do you hope that the release of V will take you anywhere? New pastures or directions?

Niklas: Well, to me I can listen to it and it think that it’s more commercial, even though the sound is a bit rougher it feels like it might be more commercial in some strange ways, compared to the last album. Because it is even more melodic in its hooks and chorus’ but at the same time it’s more progressive and alternative, so I don’t know. The songs are long, so it’s difficult to know who’s actually going to like it, I hope that we are going to get more fans and do bigger shows. That the whole thing is going to progress, because progression is something that drives us and makes it fun. And doesn’t necessarily mean like a really big step where we make millions and millions, that’s not the important thing, it is about progress. We have this kind of small, slow, steady progress I think in both the musical way where we write songs and also with our popularity every year. It is still going up and we’ve been playing for 15 years now and I hope it can continue to grow, of course.

Are you guys planning on visiting the UK any time soon?

Niklas: In December! Like the first or second week of December, I can actually take a look right now. I’m not going to say any details until it is official of course, let’s see know, the whole December 5th to the 10th, so 5 or 6 or 7 shows. (It’s a bit to early to tell?) Yeah. I think we are kind of waiting to get that little bit of an uprising from the fans outside of London, because London has always been, well maybe not the first time, but over the past 8 years [London] has been a good place to play. And the rest of the places in the England haven’t been as good as London, but of course that’s hard as London is just the biggest place. So it will be fun to do a little bit more of crazy shows outside of London.

Is there anything you guys want to add? A message for fans or anything?

Niklas: I don’t know, come to the shows and keep on enjoying the fuzz and support some of the bands that don’t play commercial hit-based, stupid electronic music [laughs]. That’s the message.

Well thank you very much Niklas!

Niklas: You too, have fun! And we’ll hopefully see you all in December.

V is to be released on September 30 via Fuzzorama Records and Century Media.

For more information on TRUCKFIGHTERS like their official page on Facebook.