Meshuggah were in London for just a couple of days promoting their latest album and here is what Marten Hagström had to say.

R13: Can you just introduce yourself ?
M: Yeah sure I'm Marten Hagström, I'm playing the rhythm guitar so yeah that's what I do in the band Meshuggah. (laughs)

R13: You're on the scene since 1987...
MH: Well yeah. They keep saying that well Thomas is always saying that but when Meshuggah formed in 1987, it was like, we were not really Meshuggah back then. I would say it started about 90 when we signed a deal on Nuclearblast. But yeah we've been pretty around since 1987.

R13: How do you think you evolved since then?
MH: Wow a lot. We started like being this progressive thrash metal I think that the album after that called None kind of find this way to be more what we are today. We started to find our own identity. The first album that we, sort of, put us on the map was. In 1995 and since then we are more like progressive metal, I don't know we're kind of ambiant aggressive metal, I don't know how to put it. A lot of stuff happened since the 90's but now vocally we are more engaged and our sound is pretty recognisable whereas back in the day we were pretty coloured by our influences.

R13: But now you've found your identity?
MH: Well I guess so, People say so we're like in a bubble, try to please ourselves. If I wanted to I would be a lawyer, I'd try to be a soccer player, whatever. This is something that is hard to do and that we love and it happens that we make a living for now. We're like four guys, and we're like what do we want to hear now and try to write it.

R13: You don't have any pressure from your record company for your writings
MH: We get suggestions but to be honest, we've been on the same label for years and I have to say that we've had our differences, no doubt but it had rarely something to do with what we wanted to put on our album because even though they might not be happy with everything kind of let us do because they know better, being metal heads than to mess with us cause we're really big heads. We're really hard to deal with when we don't get our way. So they know that ok we can go in here and discuss, I think you should this and that and bla bla bla but they know they won't have an album for five years. That's how long it's going to take. We don't compromise; we're not good at that. We can be diplomatic we can compromise when it comes to other things but when it comes to the band we don't. That's why we have our own studio and we produce everything ourselves. We don't add outside appearances.

R13: So now you're the ones who do everything?
MH: Yeah its kind of incestuous (laughs) We're all like four guys like, two of us are writing the lyrics, Thomas got the artwork for the album, a bunch of us is writing the songs, we're engineering the album, we decide what equipment to use for the album, we do everything just the way we want. I know it sounds a bit stubborn but we wouldn't really have it any other way because at the end of day we are the ones who represent the product.

R13: Do you manage to make a living with your music as many bands still need to have jobs outside their career in music?
MH: No. That's my job. That's what I'm saying (laughs). A lot of bands do work but to be honest we've been there as well. It's not like you make a choice cause I mean a lot of people ask how did you realise that you want to do this. For us is like you never decide for anything. I started playing guitar. When I wrote my first song (and I'm glad I don't remember that one (laughs)) I was like 12 years old I was hooked, this is what I want to do and it's not like you get a choice. You know what you want to do and you know what your will is. The body and the mind help you. You don't help them. That's why I think a lot of people do wrong. Sometimes it's like you're listening to so much what is appropriate for you to do. But to me there was no discussion, no internal conflict. My mom and dad wanted me to get a proper job but to me I'd rather starve for a couple of years but I'm pretty stubborn. (laughs).

R13: Many many acts are coming out now arriving from Scandinavia, what makes you different?
MH: I don't know a lot of people ask us if we do it on purpose to be darker or whatever. We just happened to be this way. What makes us different is I think that it's with a lot of music now it has more to do with what is common. We try not to be that way. It's not that it has to be very technical or really complicated. What is important is what you hear, what you listen to, what impression can be made of our music and what are the tools to make it happen.

R13: What influences you in your music?
MH: It can be anything: movies, books, people I meet.
The music that we listen to was a greater influence to us back in the days because you're more influenced and you haven't really found what you want to do. So you mimic a lot of things to make it happen. So that's also what makes you realise what you want to do and don't want to do. So growing up there's been a lot of bands like Rush, the old school Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer. Nothing original. They influence while you grow up. So I guess that's what makes the difference to what we are today.
Nowadays, like if I go to a movie and I feel that this movie had a vibe. Then I would love the people to have the same feeling in our music. Even with a book. So I'm more influenced by stuff that isn't music now.

R13: Are there any artist you would like to collaborate with on an album?
MH: The thing is I like collaborating with musicians but we are from a background where we just stayed together. In a lot of bands they always play in a whole bunch of different bands. I never played with another drummer in my entire life. So collaborating is stepping of the way from the vision that I'm having.
Having that said there are some people that I have a tremendous amount of respect for like Mike Patton. I'm pissed off that he's not around anymore.
I wouldn't have any problem seeing us working with any other band. The only problem that we have is that we don't have time to get together so I don't see where we would fit that in.

R13: How do you see the music industry nowadays as it has changed a lot in recent years and it's now more about making money and not about music anymore.
MH: True. I think that it's perhaps why the major record label are going down right now because if you at the labels it's the sub-culture that's going big which means that the guys who buy the albums want the lyrics, they want the artwork, they want the song and they want to support their favourite band and they want to do it now. The labels they just to have one song, get it out and next week get another song. It's about who are they married to, what parties they are going to, how much attention they will get on MTV because somebody paid for it, it's not about music anymore. Back in the 80's the labels gave time to the artists to settle down and get noticed. Not anymore.
It might sound cynical but I'm not pissed off about it. Well not anymore. I was when I was 22, I was furious. Now I am just like it's the order of things. I'm just glad that what we have is US. I would love to sell millions of albums, but I'd rather sell a hundred thousand of ME and the BAND.

R13: What's been your biggest achievement so far?
MH: Might sound a bit daaa but every record we release. I don't know what people think it's like but for us releasing an album is really rough. First it's the chaos in this bubble and then we're done and then we're like what is this, is this music, is it good, is it f***** up? So to be able to be happy with what you've done is probably the biggest achievement.

R13: Next album: What can we expect on it ?
MH: I don't know. That's what I always answer cause I know the fans don't know what they're going to get but honestly I don't know either. Because when we write is just like ideas coming and if we like them we work on them.

R13: When will you be on tour here in the UK?
MH: I'm not entirely sure but we're starting the 20th May in Stockholm and we finish here at Download but I'm not sure for later dates. They need to be confirmed.

R13: Next step for the band?
MH: Going back home and tour and continue touring I guess. That's how far we take our plans.

If you want to listen to their new surprise, Go and get 'Catch 33', their latest album!