Wednesday, March 21, 2018

interview: Dracena (part 2)

This is the second part of the interview with Dracena, traditional extreme metal from Sweden. The person answering the interview is Mia, who is the creative force behind Dracena. The objective is to do an extensive interview that covers the past and present of Dracena. This segment covers from the 1980s until about 1997.
Also, in case you missed it or are interested in checking it out, here is the link to part 1. In the first part you can read a lot more about the latest album Cursed to the Night.
Staying in the 80s for a minute, did you listen to the complete albums by Kiss, Twisted Sister and WASP and other bands after you watched those famous videos? Were your friends excited about this music at the time or were you pretty much alone getting into it?
Me and my friends used to listen to all the great bands of the time, there was always someone who had purchased the latest album which could be recorded on cassette and traded, weather it was the whole album or a best of tape of a collection. In my school there were a few metal heads in different classes, but we used to get together during breaks and hang out and talk about the bands and albums, what was new and trade cassettes, VHS and posters and stuff.
What did your parents think about it?! I mean, WASP, and stuff, you know?! They must have thought you were going off the deep end!
As I can remember my parents took it pretty well and didn’t have any particular problem either with my choice of music or my choice of clothing and hair style. My room was covered in posters and pictures from different bands and idols and at one time I even painted a huge portrait of one of my favourite bands right on the wall with water colours. That was not too popular at first, I recall. But they have always been very supportive to my interest although it turned out to be quite extreme.
Is the 1980s your favorite era of Kiss? Have you gone back to listen to the earlier Twisted Sister albums? Of course, WASP had a great run of albums in the 80s, too, right? How do you feel about those old albums now?!
Actually, I am more a fan of the 70’s and early 80s Kiss albums, up to the Creatures of the Night album and also some of their solo albums and spawn off bands. I still listen mostly to anything recorded pre-90s, whatever the genre, simply because that’s the kind of metal I love the most! Then there are some of those bands still active today which have made truly amazing recordings in the last decades and survived with the torch held high. The WASP 80s album releases are each a favourite, different from each other and yet held together by that unique sound like so many of the other great 80s bands used to have, like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Accept etc.
So what happens after those bands? Did you become interested in thrash at all? Where does your interest in metal music take you after bands like Twisted Sister?
In the mid-80s my best friend used to listen to Kreator, Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth, but I was more interested in Mötley Crüe, Ozzy and Alice Cooper before I got into thrash and speed and later on introduced to the early black metal scene.
When did you hear that some students from school are starting to form bands? Did any friends show you their demos at the time, inspired by the big successful metal of the time, like Judas Priest?
In the city where I grew up the local scene was not big and the bands did not play heavy metal but more hardcore, punk or rock.
When did you hear that there were demo bands in Stockholm? Is anyone you know getting those Stockholm demos at the time, getting those cassette tapes?
It wasn’t until I moved to Gothenburg in the beginning of the 90s that I got more connected to the underground scene, simply because most of my friends’ bands were still unsigned. I didn’t have a lot of contact with any Stockholm-based band except for occasional meetings at mutual friend’s parties.
So, as you go from being a fan of metal music, excited by WASP, and later, by the crop of quality bands in Gothenburg, like Sacramentum and Swordmaster, at a time when Dissection is also getting international attention, what are you thinking then? What do you? Are you thinking: Hey, I need to start a band, too! Do you have a plan?
The idea of forming a band and specifically with all girls, (if possible), surfaced in 1993-1994, when almost all of our male friends got signed and started to release their first or second albums on major labels. Which they played loud and proud at every party. I already rehearsed with some girls since a few years back but that “band” was more a thing to get together and play an instrument than any serious attempt to launch a metal band. So we made a few line-up changes and began to write our own songs.
Later, how do you start finding friends who want to form a band? Where do you find friends for a band? At school? in the neighborhood? Is it difficult to find the right people for a band?
I asked female friends at parties if they had an interest in playing in a band, but it took some time to form a lasting line-up, mainly because most of them had never played an instrument. The greatest challenge was to learn how to play. Luckily, we shared rehearsal room with some other bands and had access to a good back line, so it wasn’t necessary to buy a lot of equipment in the beginning. After we finally had settled for a line-up we started to write the material for the first demo.
By the way, do you know what you want your music to sound like at this time? Or, are you mostly just interested in making some noise with some friends, but there’s no style in mind that you are aiming for?
We all definitely wanted to play metal, extreme metal. We rehearsed as often as we could, not necessarily the whole band, sometimes just me and the drummer, or whomever was available. There was a good mix of different genres between us and we each had different favourite bands we got our influences from. All of the members contributed with material for the songs and that’s probably why it gave the early demos such a unique sound.
Was Dracena your first band or were you in other bands early on? Were you in other not-so-serious garage bands early on?
Dracena was the first band constellation we had a name on, before Dracena it was mostly just a get together and play whatever cover was interesting, or sit home and play alone.
How did you decide on the name Dracena? At the time, did you record any of those early sessions? Do you have tapes of those early sessions?
At first we had a lot of different names, most of them already taken, and finally we settled for Dracena - which originates from the Greek word Drakaina, meaning She-dragon. Dragons are my favourite creature so it was just perfect. I still have all the rehearsal recordings on cassette, some promo material we recorded on porta studio and a bunch of live shows on VHS.
Then in 1997 there is the first Dracena demo! Where did you record it? It must have been exciting to have the demo out for people to hear?
1997 we decided it was time to record the first demo. Three songs and a cover of Venom’s “In League with Satan” were chosen and we booked a studio in a town north of Gothenburg which was frequently used by the Swedish west coast underground metal bands, Studio Lobster.
At this demo all the instruments were recorded live and then we added the vocals on a second track and we also had backing vocals from Peter of Dissection and Terror from Sacramentum. It was pressed in a limited edition of 100 copies on cassette, very exciting to, at last, have a real demo recording!
Do you remember the reaction in your city? Were you playing house parties at this time? Were you playing shows in the city, like at bars at this time?
As I recall it, most friends and fans thought it was cool that there was a band with an all-girl line-up playing some kind of metal. There was also a lot of attention from zines and even the bigger magazines which gave us a lot of support already early on. Every show we played the place was always packed with people. We had several gigs in Gothenburg and the surrounding cities, in Germany and also at the (in-)famous 2 Heavy 4 You festival in Falkenberg, where Root and Deströyer 666 made their first gigs in Sweden and Nifelheim had their first gig ever.
I’ve never played any house party, except for a local MC Club, if that counts? Usually the show was a metal club or a bar with a scene and we supported bands like Lord Belial, Siebenbürgen, Ancient, Agathodaimon and Sacramentum. \

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