'Playing festivals makes me feel bulletproof!" -Metal as Fuck hunts down the latest on Grand Magus with vocalist JB..

The Swedish trio is back with another great album...

Metal as Fuck is having a little doze on the sofa when the phone rings as a lazy Friday afternoon starts to turn crimson, orange and purple at the edges, at the onset of early evening. Who could it be? Well, it turns out that the voice at the other end of the transcontinental line belongs to none other than an unexpected Janne ‘JB’ Christoffersson, guitarist and vocalist of Swedish pillagers Grand Magus, and he’s here to talk about said outfit’s impressive new outing, The Hunt. Gathering our wits swiftly about us, we make like professionals and start the interview, buying a bit of time with a quick ‘where are you today? gambit. “Actually, I’m at my old drummer’s house sitting on his couch because I don’t have a proper phone, so…”

Metal as Fuck is at the head of a long line of interviews for the day for JB, so it’s probably an act of keen intelligence to equip oneself with kit that can do the job, and this seems like a sensible move. Okay, we’re ready for some better questions. JB – The Hunt is a splendid album, as GM records always tend to be, and it displays a very different sound from, and a definite progression upon, your last two albums (2008’s Rise Above release Iron Will and Hammer of the North, which came out in 2010 on Roadrunner). Is it something you strive for, or is it just a magic ability to make each album sound the same in terms of stylistics whilst actually being quite different? “I guess so, there’s not much point doing the same thing, recording the same record again and again. Its heavy metal, but we don’t really want for all albums to be the same.”

So did you find yourselves rejecting riffs in the writing process if you felt they were a bit too similar to something you’ve done before? “Yes, this time much more so than normal. We don’t want it to become like some sort of sleek, production line thing, you know?”

So, touring? Big plans? “Yes, of course, it’s getting to the Summertime here in Europe, so we will be doing a lot of festivals. There is a touring festival this year called Metalfest – very original – that starts off in, I think Germany, then goes to Croatia, Austria, those places. We’re playing Bloodstock in the UK, and Metal Camp in Slovenia, blah, blah blah…”

That blah blah blah sounds a bit ominous – do you like playing festivals? “I love playing festivals. There’s a release of energy there, it makes you feel like you’re bulletproof!”

So you don’t mind playing in broad daylight? I know many metal musicians don’t particularly like that. “Well, obviously playing in the daytime means you are not one of the bigger bands, but I don’t mind at all. I mean, I would prefer to play at dusk, in the twilight, when you can use some stage lights but there’s some natural light still, that’s the magical time.”

So, you’ll be playing a fair amount of stuff from the new album i've no doubt. Grand Magus is a three piece – do you consider what you’ll be able to reproduce live in that format when you write the material? “No, no. I believe albums are albums, and live is live, if you see what I mean. We never consider what we can play live when we are in the studio because they are two seperate areas I think. There are a few songs on The Hunt that we will probably never play live for that reason.”

So you write an album as an album? “Yes, we’re old-fashioned enough to still call them that!”

The way people are listening to music these days has changed though, hasn’t it? Many young people just don’t buy albums any more. They just cherry pick certain tracks. Writing an album in the old sense is almost a dying art. I’m interested that you still think in terms of writing, say ten or eleven songs to be listened to like that, as an album. “Well, I think that’s good, I like that. I think that is what separates heavy metal from, say, pop music. Take some classic heavy metal, like The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden, You’ve got great songs, Run to the Hills, Number of the Beast, that were designed to be listened to all together as an album.”

I’m about to go into a rant about this, about the way that record companies take liberties like inserting b-sides like Total Eclipse into the original running order of that particular record, but there are other spaces on MaF for that, so back to the matter in hand. Will you get the chance to see many other bands at these other festivals? “I really don’t know, we’re travelling by bus for these Metalfest shows, which we’ve never done before. Usually for a festival we’ll go down the site, play the next day then leave after that. But this is a travelling festival and so I’m hoping it will be painless – play the show, get in the Nightliner, go to sleep and wake up at the next venue. So I guess we’ll get the chance to hang out and see a few bands.”

It must be quite exciting to undertake your first ‘Nightliner’ tour (for the uninitiated amongst you a Nightliner is the sort of tour bus that is equipped – hopefully – with bunks ensuring a snug and comfortable night’s sleep) did you think it would come to this when you started out as a band? “No, never. I mean when we first started out, we just wanted to release an album. In those days, at the end of the last century, there were a lot of Indie labels, but it was still a big deal to actually put something out.”

And now its somehow become a way of life! Does that seem strange to you now? “Yes! I was thinking the other day how have I become this weird guy, you know? It’s almost happened without me noticing!”

So Festivals notwithstanding, will you be doing your own shows as well? “Yes, but not until the Autumn over here.”

Any chance of some Australian action? “We’d love to. We have many friends in other bands who say it’s great down there, it would be a great thing for us, so I hope we can make it possible.”

So do we, JB – Promoters… over to you!