Interview: Martin Abrahamsson (Vapnet)

When I was offered the chance to interview Martin Abrahamsson of Vapnet I gladly accepted it, as their recent full length "Jag vet hur man väntar" has been a staple in my CD player since I received it at the beginning of the summer. However, it never dawned on me that maybe he doesn't speak the best English, even though the album is obviously not in the language. Maybe I could have stated the questions a bit more straightforward, but anyway, I'd just like to thank Martin for taking the time to do this, and I'd say it went well.
- Matt Giordano

MG: When a listener first hears music he/she can project some of their favourite groups as influences on the group being currently listened to. As an artist, when a fan comes up to you and says "you remind me of x, y, z" what is your initial response? Would you rather have someone come up and say that, or do you find it surprising to hear what they hear in your music? Also, is it possible in modern music to sound like nothing?

MA: If they can pick out the right influences I feel flattered, or if they mention a band I like, but hasn't influenced me. But that happens all too seldom. Often they compare us to other Swedish bands, even though the Swedish language is the only thing we have in common. Of course it's impossible to sound like nothing before, and I can't see the point why one should.

MG: When I first heard "Thomeégrand" last year I knew your sound was something special, and although I do not speak Swedish, it did not interfere with my enjoyment of the music. Does it matter to you if some of the audience has no idea what you're saying, or do you hold the view that great music is great music, no matter what language?

MA: If I had my way, everybody should learn Swedish to get a complete understanding of Vapnet songs. But I think the music can stand for itself too. I would estimate that 80 percent of all pop lyrics are a waste of melodies. Most Swedish bands that get exported abroad have English lyrics, but I don't think that anyone in the UK, for example, buys an album from a Swedish rock band for their lyrics.

MG: Compositionally, Vapnet seems to be based around the electronic drum beats. When skeletons of songs are being formed, do you work on them until you feel the others need to add their instrumentation, or is the creative process more band-oriented?

MA: The process is the counterpart from band-oriented. I tell my musicians what to play and when. But some horn arrangement have been worked out by the horn section. They use terms that I don't understand.

MG: The artwork for your three releases seem to portray a sort of overcast, somewhat gloomy feel, but the actual music is the opposite. Was this intended to be ironic, or completely accidental? (And from an artistic aspect the design is top-notch).

MA: The two latest artwork have a connection to the theme of the songs on "Jag vet hur man väntar". All the songs on the album takes place in Östersund and the photos are taken there. I think that the LP cover captures the feeling of the album, I've aimed at something both beautiful and slightly sad.

MG: Is it tough for Vapnet to perform in a live setting, or does this offer the audience another whole perspective on what has been created — a surprise, so to speak, when they are attending a Vapnet show?

MA: I don't think that our live shows offer much more than the recordings - but they offer a way of hearing the songs in a new way. Sometimes better and/or out of tune and off timing. In live settings, the horn section play a greater part.

MG: Are you currently working on more Vapnet material, non-Vapnet material or in another medium entirely?

MA: I'm working on new Vapnet songs, it will end up either as a EP or a mini-album next spring, hopefully. Me and Martin H, the singer, have another band: Sibiria. We have recorded a new album in a cottage on the Swedish eastcoast, during one week this summer. It will be released this autumn. I have also unrealistic plans of learning to write short stories.

MG: Personally, what excites you to make your music, and just to be creative in general? Also, what just excites you in life?

MA: The moment when a melody and chord progression fits togehter or when a mix starts to sound bigger than its parts is very fulfilling. And when lyrics are completed. Creativity is rewarding in the sense that it shows you that you can create something that stands for itself, without you as a person necessarily involved. You could say that it's a strive after immortality, in a very small way. And it's a way of proving that your capable of something.

Aside from music I get my greatest thrills from good conversations.

MG: Lastly, give the readers a parting message about what is to come from either you personally or Vapnet.

MA: Sorry, I don't know.