“The riff and the rhythms dictate it all”
~ Interview with Martin Wegeland of Swedish Doomsters DOMKRAFT ~
‚Heavyness redefined‘ could be a good slogan for Stockholm‘s DOMKRAFT, a power trio rooted deeply in stoner and Krautrock, psych doom, sludge and all things heavy around. Their third full-lenght ´Seeds´ has already been praised by us here, so it was high time to address some questions to band head, bassist and vocalist Martin. Enjoy an intimate insigth into doom cult, man-made apocalyse, the power of a good groove and the smell of dead skunks soaked in a summer festival urinal!
In German “Domkraft” has a religious meaning, in Swedish, as far as I understand it, more of a legal one. What does your band name mean for you? Is Doom your religion, or have you founded your own, the cult of repetition?
As much as I would like to create a cult, I’m afraid the answer is way less exciting. Domkraft is the Swedish word for “jack”, as used for changing the tires of a car. But dissected, it is a combination of the words “judgement” and “power”, so you are kind of right about the legal reference also. Basically, we picked it since it sounds ok in Swedish and way better in almost every other language. Plus, people can interpret it however they want to.
DOMKRAFTs style has changed over and over since your first EP in 2015; one could assume that you wanted to try out everything possible in the stoner / doom / psych / sludge area. With ´Seeds´, however, I have the impression that you have finally arrived in your very own style. Do you think so, too? Where would you classify yourself in terms of genre today?
I don’t know if it’s that different really. But the songs are more pure and focused on ´Seeds´. They are all based on clearer ideas, and a bit more open. The major difference lies in the production, the sound is bigger and warmer, which opens for more detail. And as far as genres go – we do operate in all those sub-genres, I guess, but I think we just classify ourselves as a heavy rock band. But it’s all up to the listener, really. We’re ok with all of those genres, we just want the freedom to move freely between them.
Part of your development is the changing importance of vocals – you have proven several times that you also have enough to say as an instrumental band. On ´Seeds´ the vocals have become more significant again. What are your lyrics about? Is the theme of the apocalypse finally closed – and the future now open to you?
Yeah, something like that. I guess we felt it was not that stimulating to stay in that theme for another album and, looking at the world even before the pandemic hit, there was no need to feed that beast anymore. Humans are completely able to create post-apocalyptic tensions without our riffs accompanying them. So, as a feeble attempt at setting the scene for something a little brighter, we went a slightly more hopeful route this time. That said, whatever we sing about must work with the music. The lyrics should emphasize the feeling, not the other way around.
A very characteristic and fundamental part of your music is repetition, the seemingly eternal, spiral replay of riffs and themes, the extremely slow, meandering, deliberately delayed build-up of tension, which rises, falls off and eventually discharges – but everything in a very controlled, cool way, not like in pure ecstasy. Is the journey the goal for you?
Well put. That’s pretty much on the spot. It’s about getting in the zone rather than waiting for that big chorus or massive crescendo. But, of course, some journeys get better and more exciting if there is some kind of attractive destination at the end. So, we are not purists in any way, but you are right, we like to lock in a good groove more than being super dramatic.
What are your musical influences, past and current? Sometimes one can get the impression, especially when coming back to repetition (pun intended!), that you may like Psytrance – or just Krautrock. Does current electronic music play a role in your lives? What is getting you high?
We all listen to all kinds of stuff. And, yeah, Krautrock is definitely an influence. There’s a lot of Can, Amon Düül, Neu! and their likes in our record collections – as well as minimalistic techno, prog, space rock, hip hop, classic rock, jazz and, of course, loads of heavy music. As long as it makes you feel something real and/or gets you in the zone, it works.
Tell us something about the cover design of ´Seeds´! Was the video for ´Dawn Of Man´ made by the same artist(s)?
The cover was made by Björn Atldax, who has done all our albums. He basically just gets the raw mixes and the lyrical themes, and then does whatever he wants. We totally trust him and it always turns out really cool. He sort of works in his own weird universe that you can get totally sucked into – which feels like it fits the music perfectly. And this time he outdid himself – I’ve never seen anything quite like it. He did not do the video, though. That one was made by a guy named Lukasz Jaszak, who also did a great work in capturing that spirit with very little means.
How is the Doom- and general Metal scene in your hometown Stockholm at the moment? Here in Germany many clubs had to close due to the pandemic, but already before it, live music didn’t play as big a role as it did in the last century – how is it in Sweden? Are there still enough live clubs and other performance opportunities? Are there currently any plans for tours and festivals again for DOMKRAFT?
The live scene in Stockholm is a tragedy these days. There’s just a handful of venues left, and most of them rarely ever host heavy stuff. It’s a shame. There are really good promoters here, but they struggle to book shows since the venues are too expensive or over-booked. We usually only play Stockholm once, or possibly twice, due to this. Which is kind of strange. But, hopefully, we’ll do some shows in Sweden later this year, and, if all goes well, Europe in ’22.
You are a doomy power trio, in this tight line-up you have to allocate your resources really well. With your elastic drum groove, the strong emphasis on riffs and bass, and the guitar acting above these layers, one gets the impression of a perpetuum mobile – infinite energy that arises from itself, contrasted by the minimalism of the stylistic devices used by you. Are you actually pushing each other forward when playing together? How do you create new songs?
It almost always starts the same way. With a riff. We bring it to the practice space, jam on it, record the jam, then listen, add or subtract something, jam again, record again – until we have something that works. That is the backbone of the track, then we start looking into how we can vary the theme and who does what. The final things that happen, once the riffs, rhythms and basic structure is set, are the solos/space parts and the vocals. It’s pretty methodical, really. But the riff and the rhythms dictate it all.
As a big Type O Negative fan, I am always happy to hear ´Krank Blekhet´, but I also know that after that ´Audiodome´ comes, which for me is the strongest track on ´Seeds´. This one really combines all of your strengths. Is it an indication of the band’s future?
I think that was one of the first songs we wrote for the album, really. So, I am not sure if there is an element of future in that one, but, agreed, it turned out really good. And I could easily see us doing more tracks with that kind of dramaturgy, so – who knows? Clean melodies are kind of nice sometimes also.
As usual, I’ll close the interview with a few synaesthesia questions…
If you had to assign animals to your three instruments, what would each be for drums, bass and guitar? Where and how would they live?
Drums: Armadillo. Living in a dumpster outside of our practice space, feeding off dead rats and seagulls. Bass: Sloth. Living in the back of an Ampeg 8×10 cab, surviving on tobacco and pretzel crumbs. Guitar: Ferret. Living in a pile of vintage stompbox packaging, feeding off string grease.
What are your favorite foods, and what feelings do you remember when you taste them?
All kinds of seafood. Makes me think of the sea. Ah, the vast oceans…
Choose three songs from ´Seeds´ – what material are they made of, how heavy would they be, how would they feel in your hands?
´Seeds´ is made of steel wool and concrete. Weighs like Dodge Charger and seems way cuddlier than it is. ´Perpetuator´ is made of thunderstorms and tears, seemingly weightless but heavy enough to shake the foundation when it hits. ´Into Orbit´ is just a freight container of mud. Wet, nasty, and grainy but still kind of warm.
What are your three favorite (distortion) effects, and which colors would they produce, respectively?
As a bassist, there’s only three – fuzz (brown), overdrive (more brown) and wah (all the colors of the rainbow).
What are the most unbearable noises or tones you know? How would they smell?
The gut-wrenching blast when you turn off the mixer before the PA. Smells like a swift burst of dead skunks covered in stale sardines lying in the sun by the urinals on the fourth morning of a summer festival…
Wow, with this quite impressive outlook to the return of the well-known festival feeling, I’d like to thank you for this interview, Martin!
And to you, readers: buy their heavy stuff! You will definitely not be disappointed…
Pictures by Tobias Ohls