Interview with Lord K. Phillipson | By Eric May
The Project Hate has certainly been kicking up some steam recently, but it’s not like they haven’t been known for it. Most hardcore metalheads would cringe if you told them that you were going to mix traditional Swedish death metal with elements of industrial and electronic atmospheres, then top it all off with female vocals. But The Hate have been widely received by their intricate fanbase who apparently loved the band so much that they donated enough money for the group to record their latest opus The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda or TCRA for short. The band has recently come under fire for their unwillingness to release the album in a physical format or submit promos to press, stating that “it was not made for the press, it was made for the fans.” I feel most grateful that I was able to interview the mastermind behind all of this and Lord K. Phillipson lays everything down without cutting any corners, even though this interview is bound to offend someone. But what do they care? They’ve been pissing off people for years, so it’s not like they’re going to stop now; especially right off the heels of one of the best albums in the band’s history. And if you’re reading this in the hopes that the band might announce a tour, then I will tell you to not hold your breath and just buy the new album instead.
The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda is probably your most ambitious album to date. At a whopping 78-minutes in length, it just about fills up all of the space on an average CD-R and matches the length of an overzealous prog album. It really seems like you went above and beyond with this one. Was it your plan from the beginning to make something as bombastic as this, or did this just happen?
It was the plan all along when I started to work on the album, to make it something majestic on all accounts. I didn’t just wanna write a bunch of songs and leave it at that; I wanted it to be a full circle album. I made sure everything on there has a meaning and nothing was left to chance. There’s so much time put into this, so many layers, it’s fucking insanity in audio form – controlled, calculated chaos on all accounts. There’s a meaning with “TCRA.” It’s not just an album; it’s an experience into what TPH is all about. It’s gospel. It’s as close to musical perfection as I can come. Next time I’ll make sure I get even closer.
The fans paid for this album and it seems like you’ve really given them the best for their efforts. This is easily one of the best albums that you guys have ever recorded and it really shows how you’ve evolved as a band. What was the process like for making this album? Where did you record it? Who produced and mastered the disc?
I worked on this over the course of almost two years on a more or less daily basis, making sure it all came together as I envisioned it to. I always push myself harder, and wanna do better and unless I believe I have done so, there will not be another TPH album. This is the pinnacle of TPH. It’s on another level on all accounts. Everyone’s efforts on “TCRA” is just out of this world. The people I got to help me construct this beast… Man, it’s just amazing. I could never have fucking ever done this without them. The concept is there and my ideas were there, but I couldn’t realize them without the help from all of these guys. I created the vision and the backbone of everything, but they were the ones who made it come alive in the end. It was a long process and a very easy one since the goal with “TCRA” was clear to me; to surpass everything we have done and step it up another notch. We did just that and more, on all accounts. Just listen to the production, courtesy of the magnificent Dan Swanö. I mean… fuck me, that is how it’s supposed to sound. This is the sound that does TPH justice. What an incredible job he’s done, probably the best production ever from Mr. Swanö. “TCRA” was recorded all over the globe to answer your question. All of the body work (guitars, bass, electronics, orchestras, etc) was done in my home studio The Dungeon. Vocals were recorded in Portugal and Sweden. The guitar solos were recorded in Stockholm (ART Studios, the same one used for J’s vocals) and in people’s home studios. The great Peter Dolving recorded his stuff by himself and delivered some insane shit. Today’s technology makes it much easier to get people to participate and help out. I certainly do not miss the old days when it comes to this, that’s for sure. Again, I thank everyone who made “TCRA” what it is.
Let’s discuss the element of Satanism in the band. Do you purport the belief in an actual devil, as one would put it? Or do you believe in more of the Luciferian concept of freewill, breaking the chains of enslavement? What does being a Satanist mean these days? Is there a fine line, as LaVey put it; “between Satanism and devil worship?”
I believe in my own actions and my own being. I put myself first and foremost. I consider this way of thinking plain rational since the one you’re going to spend your life with 24/7 is you, no one else. I am strongly against Christianity and all other religions and support anything that decimates the power it holds in this world. Destroy it all. I’m not a Satanist and I don’t worship the Devil, but I definitely agree with a lot of what the Luciferian concept has brought forth. Then again, to me it’s rational thinking. And I guess my stance on this is pretty clear.
Since the band’s beginning, there has always been that element of mixing electronics with the traditional style of Swedish death metal and female vocals. This is much different than anything bands were doing back in the late nineties obviously, so how were you received in those days? I’m also curious as to the decision behind the female vocal element. I personally love the idea, but I’m just wondering what was behind the decision to mix extreme death metal with electronics and female vocals? How do you think that the band has evolved since the early days when you didn’t even have a drummer?
I think people were a bit surprised initially that someone took all of these ingredients and made something out of them. Have in mind that I started this in 1998/1999, which is some time ago. What is even more impressive is that I have taken this project to dimensions unknown over the years. I have made it more impressive, deeper and more intricate and still after all these years no one is even close to doing what we do as a whole. What is was about for me was to mix up everything that I listened to and make something unique out of it. If you listen to what we did on the first album it might not be as groundbreaking by today’s standards, but we did this initially many, many years back which is something you have to keep in mind to understand it. After that, I just went all in and decided to work harder and harder on the idea that I had from the beginning, all in the quest of satisfying myself and making a mixture of music no one else is obviously capable of creating. As I have said a million times; we might sound like a lot of bands but there is not one single band that sounds like us. That is the whole point. As far as progression goes, I believe the albums speak for themselves.
We’re a different band today compared to what we initially were, which is just natural as you grow into the sound you’re trying to create and work with the vision in your head. I always push myself to do more and take my concept further. TPH is what I am and what I was destined do since day one.
As far as I’m aware, you’ve been through three female vocalists since the start of the band. As one is aware that changes occur in music, people come and go; but what happened between the band and the last female vocalist for the band who even had the honor of penning the band’s fifth release, “In Hora Mortis Nostrae?” I would also imagine that it would be a quite difficult thing to find a woman who wants to beautifully sing blasphemies in a Satanic death metal band. How did you come upon Ruby Roque, who not only added the female vocal element, but also wrote lyrics for some of the tracks?
With our first vocalissa, Mia; I had come to an end with her ways and her line of thinking did not go hand in hand with mine so I fired her. Real simple. Second one, Jonna… After we did The Lustrate Process I felt I had come to a point where I wanted something else vocals-wise in the female department. I don’t think she burned as much for TPH anymore compared to how she burned initially. I let her go. I don’t think she minded it too much to be honest, and she didn’t make any drama about it – fully seeing my point of view. I wish both of them all the best with whatever they do music wise, if anything. Jonna has her Siren On project, which is fantastic, and she sure could get a career going if she finds the right people to work with promotion wise. She’s a very talented girl. I don’t even know if Mia is even into music these days, I haven’t spoken to her in many, many years and I seriously don’t give much of a shit. I found Ruby thru her old band Witchbreed that I stumbled upon over the Internet. Her voice floored me completely and we started to talk a bit. I had no thoughts about getting her into the band at that point actually. It just happened and brought my vision even closer to perfection when it did. She’s an amazing, amazing girl.
When it comes to them writing lyrics, all of them did write, if not everything, most of their stuff themselves with me changing up some things if needed. I think it’s better to have the one who’s going to sing put their own words into it to make the flow work as they feel it should. When that is done I look over things and change whatever needs to be changed. It has never been a problem. About the Christ-despising lyrics… If you have an issue with what we write about, I guess you’re in the wrong fucking band, huh?
This album is full of guests, which certainly makes it a spectacle. Peter Dolving, Lars Johansson, Magnus Soderman, Danny Tucker, Petter S. Freed, Tobben Gustafsson, and Dirk Verbeuren all came together to make this album unique with their presences. How did all of this come about?
All of these guys really stepped up their game and delivered some amazing guest parts. I have nothing but absolute respect for each and every one of them, and I can never thank them enough for doing this for me, as mentioned. How did it come about? I asked them, that’s the simple answer. When the album was completed I went more in-depth on this, so in case you missed out on it – here you go:
Dirk Verbeuren. I have a few favorite drummers in this world: Sean Reinert, Gene Hoglan, Tobben Gustafsson, Nicke Andersson, Ed Warby. And that’s pretty much it. It’s not exactly a laundry list of drummers. And Dirk’s always been one of my absolute favorites. Even to the point where I have went to one of his drum clinics and I don’t even care about drum clinics in the first place. That says quite a bit. When Tobben Gustafsson decided to step down for the recording of “TCRA” due to lack of time it put me in a tricky situation. Who the fuck was going to play? I mean, we’re not playing the most advanced kind of music, but I demand more from the drumming in TPH than the work of a regular Joe, if you know what I mean. I wanted someone with a recognizable style. Someone who, just like Tobben, plays like he means it. There are too few of such drummers in the world. Since I had met Dirk a couple of times on some festivals and expressed my admiration for his drumming on more than one occasion in the process, I thought I could at least ask him if he thought he could do it. Not only that, but if he could do it and not get paid like he should be or normally is. Sounds like a sweet deal huh? You get to play on 15 minutes songs with so many parts it’s not even sane AND not get paid accordingly. Or even reasonably. I must be one absolutely lovable bastard to make such an awesome offer work. Fuck knows if I had been Dirk I would have said no. Dirk said yes with some restrictions (such as doing it when time allowed it). Still to this day I have no idea why he decided to help us out on this album, because it sure as fuck couldn’t be because of the great payday. He is a Torture Division fan maybe that helped. (laughs)… Anyways, it’s a dream for me to have Dirk’s drumming on this album. I never thought that would happen in a million years. Dirk’s one of the nicest guys I have ever met in this business, and I have met a lot of people. Not only is he an absolute phenomenon when it comes to laying down beats, he’s so friendly, so determined and so awesome to work with that I understand why you won’t find a single bad word about him on the Internet, nor hear anyone badmouth him in the least. I can never thank him enough for the work he’s done on “TCRA”. It’s drumming orgasms 24/7.
Tobben Gustafsson. Naturally we had to include my other close friend and Torture Division comrade, Tobben, in some other way since he didn’t have the time to do this album drumming wise. So, the natural move for a drummer who’s not drumming would be to… Well, I guess you’ll see that when you have the album in front of you. It was actually Tobben’s idea about his inclusion that came to fruition, and it did wonders for the specific part in the song he’s in. Thanks, Golden T.
Peter Dolving. Peter is one of those guys that I have always respected a shitload. A truly excellent vocalist and multi-talented musician who rubs a lot of people the wrong way with his honesty and opinions. I salute such human beings and I support them a hundred percent, maybe because I am one of them (laughs)… I have wanted to do something with Peter for quite some time and I knew that if I approached him about it and he accepted, I would get something more than your normal guest vocals. Well, you could say that I did. I asked him to do a few things for “TCRA” and what I got was something like 10 different files that when put together became absolute annihilation. I knew he wouldn’t make something simple. I knew he would take the fucking ball and run with it. That guy is a genius and I am honored to have him on board on “TCRA”. Respect. Total respect, Peter.
Lars Johansson. It feels like I am repeating myself with these “dreams come true” things, but prepare yourself for another one – because here it comes. When I was a young teenager I used to go to Candlemass concerts as often as possible, simply because they were (and to some extent still are) one of my favorite bands. I used to be in their fan club and got to meet the guys once or twice for autographs and so forth. That was huge being a kid, you know. A few years back I ran a blog that dealt with tons of awesome stuff and in some post I directed a message directly to Lars that I wanted some solos from him for this album I am currently working on since he’s a fantastic guitarist and I always loved his playing. Have in mind I hadn’t really ever talked to him, and even less so since I left teenagedom (laughs)… One day I get a mail saying:
“The guitar and I are ready / LJ”.
That was all.
And now Lars is doing a bunch of solos on MY album?! Solos that are so amazing I further understand why I never gave a fuck about learning how to play them myself. You can’t really teach yourself to play like that. Either you have it or you don’t. Not only is Lars another one of those incredibly awesome people to be around, he’s a guitarist I admire to the fullest and to have him playing on “TCRA” is blowing my mind. Just wait until you hear his stuff. Oh, and don’t forget; the guitar that he’s used for his parts is of course the very same one used on Candlemass’ Nightfall album. Because it was the only demand I had. (laughs)… Thank you, Lasse. Thank you so fucking much.
Magnus Söderman. And this fucking guy… I used to play with Magnus in a Swedish band called Rosicrucian back in the early 90′s. He even did all the guitar solos for the first album I ever recorded, Leukemia‘s Suck My Heaven, back in 1993 or so. He played the fuck out of everyone even back then and it’s not like he’s gotten worse over the years. You might remember him from a TPH album released a few years back as well. Once again Magnus helped out on very short notice when the amazing Mike Wead had to step down. I so appreciate it, Magnus. And the work he’s done is just brilliant, as always. The fact that this guy is not playing in a huge metal band is so wrong on so many levels.
Danny Tunker. Tobben actually said to me, when he learned about Mike Wead stepping down, “You remember Danny that we met in Holland, who sorted the guitar sound for you on stage. Ask him to play some leads cause he’s awesome”. If Tobben says so – I listen. And so I contacted Danny and explained the situation. He gladly accepted the invitation and how he delivered – GODDAMN! We had some fun times of total confusion with me missing some files he sent, talks about changing some drumbeats (which we didn’t, I might add (laughs) and whatnot to fit one of the solos since the pre-production had different patterns than what Dirk put down in the end. It all turned out fucking fantastic and Danny delivers with the best of them. Kudos for stepping up on such short notice and delivering stuff I could never, ever even dream about doing myself.
Petter S. Freed. You remember Petter. He played with TPH for quite a bunch of years and is still to this day one of my best friends as well as an excellent guitarist. I didn’t originally plan to include Petter, it just happened as he was visiting me. There was this part in a song where I felt I could need another solo and was about to ask one of the already included guys if they could do it before it dawned on me that, of course; Petter must play it. He turned in a killer performance in a nicely – at the time – alcohol infused environment (The Dungeon) in one fucking take. Feels great to have Petter in here as well considering the insane amount of music we have been writing together over the years. Thanks, Mazza
The Project Hate has not played a concert in years, but if there were ever a way to play one major show in Sweden with all of the musicians that it took to assemble this album, would you do it? I’m quite sure if you announced to the fans the possibility of one live show right there in your homeland, people would be booking plane tickets this very minute. Not only that, but they would completely clean out the merch tables and you could film the whole thing for a live DVD. People have gotten plane tickets to see shitty pop bands that have enough money to travel the world, so I’m sure you’d get some very dedicated fans to see you guys live in Sweden for one night only.
We’re a small band in a small genre. I don’t think a gig under those circumstances would be a smash hit or anything, and it absolutely doesn’t matter because it will never happen. If you didn’t see us on stage when we still played live, you’ll never get another chance to do so. We will never play live again. I am not even interested in it in the least. And can you imagine what it would take to make it work to be able to perform our material as it is presented on the albums, with all the guests and everything? Just drop it, it will never happen. Never. And that is final.
Let’s talk about the tech that you used on this album. What programs did you use? What kind of instruments? What was it that made you want to play this kind of music in the first place?
I touched upon this earlier, what made me wanna write this type of music. It’s real simple – no one’s writing the exact things that I want in it. So I figured that I’d better do it myself so that it gets done properly. When it comes to gear I work with the amazing Toontrack products, my Ibanez Xiphoses, my Yamaha bass, Cubase 6, Symphobia 2, Heavyocity Evolve & Reason 5.0. I also work with a shitload of various samples that I record and distort myself for atmosphere effects and whatnot. I am always looking for new ways to improve and challenge myself.
What bands and electronic groups could you cite as inspiration for The Project Hate? What bands are you currently listening to now that you’d recommend? Being a fan of electronic music, what is your opinion on the plague known as dub-step?
Dubstep grows pretty old fast, but in small doses I absolutely love it. I’m not into any certain artists or anything; I’m just a fan of the genre itself to some extent. The Prodigy will always be my number one inspiration when it comes to electronic music. I truly admire those guys and what they have created over the years. Astral Projection is another band that I really take a liking to, as well as that whole scene. There’s so much stuff out there that people don’t even know about and are missing out on. To me it seems absolutely retarded to just devote yourself to one genre since exploring other genres broadens your thinking when it comes to creating stuff on your own. TPH wouldn’t be what it is if it hadn’t been for electronic music and the impact it has had on my musical life, naturally.
What do you do when you’re not recording music? Are there any interesting films or novels that you’ve enjoyed or found inspiration in? Do you play any video/computer games? Would you consider yourself a studier/practitioner of the occult?
Sure I play games every now and then and the occasional movie is digested as well. But what I am truly obsessed with is Mixed Martial Arts and the fighting organizations of the world. I read quite a bit of stuff from time to time and when I don’t spend time working in a warehouse I create music and pay respect to the powers below. Doesn’t everyone? If not, they should.
What is your opinion on this musical Illuminati stuff? Let’s be honest, as a devout believer of Satanism, these people claim to follow Lucifer and hold themselves as the most elite and power-hungry of all human beings – yet they’ll have nothing to do with metal music. Many of their images and signs can be found in the modern popular music and movies, especially here in the states where many believe they are located. Do you think it’s all just a hoax to sell crappy pop albums? Or do you think there’s a possibility that they plan to wipe us all out, so they can have the planet for themselves?
Everyone is selfish when it comes down to it and the last man standing wins. We are all going down – fast. Enjoy your life while you can, it will soon be over. And our symbols are ours. These people that you’re referring to are just delusional.
Do you think we need a good cleansing?
I don’t think a reboot of mankind is the answer. We will never learn. We will just postpone the inevitable, but it’s called “the inevitable” for a reason. Mankind is stupid and we are all fucked.
A record label offered to make an official CD out of TCRA, but you declined them. Why? I’d love to have an official copy of the album.
“TCRA” was made for the people who made it come alive, as mentioned before. I have had these thieving, ignorant cum stains claiming that all we wanna do is make money off it, that’s why we charge 15 Euros for a copy of “TCRA”. After all, it should be free, right? Fuck them. I hope they all die. If I wanted to make more money I would have let this label release it right away when I got the question if they could do so, but that’s not the point. After the album was leaked the orders to buy it from us completely stopped, which says it all. That’s so sad and really is testament to the mindset of the youth of today. I’m not opposed to the idea of releasing this one on a CD since it deserves it very much, but it has nothing to do with making money. But I am also thinking if there’s a reason to do so, will people buy the album again? The right thing to do would be to release it on a label and give everyone who donated and made “TCRA” come alive get a free copy, but that’s impossible. The money for postage would exceed what it cost to record the damn thing in the first place. Maybe I’ll let someone release it on a disc in the future, but again – it has nothing to do with making a shitload of money off of it. Because we won’t and we never have.
Finally, if you were given the ability to look ten or twenty years into the future, what would you see? What would you hope to see?
In ten years I will be fifty years old, or dead. I can’t see myself stop creating unless I am physically unable to do so. I hope it is exactly the same as it is today – I am still challenging myself, topping myself and outworking myself on a daily basis to come even closer to what I consider to be musical perfection. I have been doing this since the late fucking 80’s and I see no end to it. I want no end to it.
I wanna thank you for an incredibly good interview. It’s highly appreciated when the interviewer in question gives a shit and puts his own touch on things to come up with interesting questions. People should learn from you and I applaud you.
I wanna thank The Haters for being amazing. I wanna thank www.toontrack.com for endorsing me with all of their products. The same goes for Ibanez and Crafton AB.