Swedish horror metal band Mister Misery are set to release their sophomore album A Brighter Side Of Death via Arising Empire on 23rd April 2021. You can expect catchy choruses, anthemic sounds, and enough metal grit to get you up and ready for a live show. We caught up with Harley Vendetta (Vocals, Guitars), Rizzy (Drums), Alex Nine (Lead Guitar), and Alex Alister (Bass) via the powers of Zoom, to discuss some of the tracks on the album; some of which tell horror legends and tales of monsters told from a different perspective.
RAMzine: How’s it been over in Sweden in terms of Covid restrictions, have you had a lockdown? When was the last time that you played a gig?
Alex: No we haven’t had a lockdown, we only have recommendations. Restrictions and recommendations but no lockdown.
We did a livestream for Wacken in May 2020, that was the last time that we did a performance. The last time that we had a gig was on our headline tour last February/ beginning of March. When the virus broke out we had one week where we were in Hanover, we had a couple of weeks left of the tour [at that point] – the breakout was in North Italy and was going to Berlin… we were like ‘woah is this really happening?’ It was really crazy. Then it came to Sweden as well.
RAMzine: It’s been a long time since you’ve played a show at a gig then, just over a year.
Rizzy: It’s almost like we’ve forgotten how it feels like. When you get back it’s almost like it’s like a dream, like it never happened.
RAMzine: You’re releasing your new album The Brighter Side of Death in April, tell me about your songwriting process this time around. Did the pandemic change things for you?
Harley: Zoom and WhatsApp are good tools to work around that, as we haven’t seen each other that much, since the pandemic. We live far apart, the only people who live in the same town is Alex and Alister. Rizzy is in Gothenburg and I live in the middle of Sweden and so we have to try and work around that.
As far as the process, Rizzy really did a fucking awesome job playing the drums for this record and the production on all the big orchestral parts and everything, he really shined there.
I mean other then that it wasn’t anything different from the first album I would say.
RAMzine: So it was just the fact that you couldn’t physically be in the same room as each other so had to send bits and bobs over to each other?
Rizzy: Yeah, we had a lot of zoom meetings and stuff going around back and forth. Saying ‘what do you guys think of this one’ and having a meeting there, and stuff like that so just meeting up virtual from Zoom. That’s a pretty awkward thing to do, but it worked out pretty good I suppose.
Yeah, you work with what you have.
RAMzine: You open the album with ‘The Ballad of The Headless Horseman’ which is an epicly shot video. I wondered if you could talk through the track and what Mr Crane’s role is within relation to the story?
Harley: When the [inital] idea came up We talked about this well-known character, the character that Johnny Depp played [in Sleepy Hollow]. We settled on the Hoseman character as it was a cool elemental kind of creature. And we didn’t want to make it like ‘we just sing about a monster that is super scary’, we wanted to make it more relatable and more emotional – so we wrote it as if you can hear the Horseman sing, so it’s through the Horseman’s perspective. It’s not all just about cutting heads off, it’s more about a guy that is basically cursed to kill for no reason other than he’s under some sort of spell. So he wants to get out of that and he does his best to do that and he needs Mr Crane’s help, so it’s basically like the tale from the movie, towards the end the Horseman needs Mr Crane to help him get away from the curse and be free.
That’s just how we wrote it, it wasn’t supposed to be super scary and everything. If you read the lyrics you’ll understand that it’s the Horseman’s emotions that are coming out and he cries for help and he needs this Crane guy, the detective, to find out who it is that cursed him to do this.
RAMzine: That makes sense, in your video there is the part when the Horseman throws Mr Crane the book.
Alex: Yeah exactly! We wanted to present how to break the spell and how to set him free. It’s really funny that you actually noticed that detail, I remember that we discussed that very very much… like ‘will people realise that he’s giving him the book, or did he drop it’ – it’s really fun that you noticed that.
It’s also our first video incorporating story elements too, which was new to us, we never did that before. We only did performance videos, so we wanted to step up the game and to do this character was awesome, we are really happy with the results.
RAMzine: I think it looks really good and the production value is great. And the same goes for your video for ‘The Devil In Me’ which features the girl being possessed by the devil. Where did you shoot these videos was it in Sweden?
Alex: Yeah, it was in Sweden, ‘The Ballad of The Headless Horseman’ was shot at a friend of mine living out on the countryside, having the stable, having the horses and everything which was the perfect Sleepy Hollow vibe.
‘The Devil In Me’ we did in a theatre in Gothenburg and Rizzy is the stage manager by the way, so that was easy peasy to go there.
RAMzine: You close the album with an orchestral version of ‘The Headless Horseman’, how did the idea to record that come about and do you think you’ll end up playing that one live at all?
Harley: We did an orchestral version of the ‘The Blood Waltz’ [from 2019 album Unalive] and the fans really really liked that song, so we thoughts naturally ‘oh so we should try to do more of these songs’. The ballad was the first single of the album so we thought why not do an orchestral version for that one as well. So I think it came out really naturally. We have discussed if we would do it live as well, of course we need an orchestra or maybe we can do something like an acoustic kind of middle of the set or something or experiment with those kinds of elements, definitely!
RAMzine: Yeah, that would be pretty cool, a nice track to break up a heavy set.
Harley: Yeah and also that song made total sense, when we browsed over the songs. I said early on that I have an idea to an orchestral version for this song, it’s got to be this one because you have the piano in the intro, with the lead line laying in there. It would actually be so fun to do that on a stage at some point.
You should be able to play all the songs with an acoustic guitar, it shouldn’t be that hard.
Yeah a good song is when you can… or let’s say a good metal song at least is when you can take away all the elements that make it what it is and it’s still a really simple song, so you could make pop music of this song too. I mean it would be fairly simple I think. So if you can do that it’s probably a good song that’s what I always say.
RAMzine: Another fun track from the album was ‘Clown Prince of Hell’.
Harley: oh yeah that’s awesome!
RAMzine: Talk up through the story of that track…
Harley: Oh man, so I actually had an idea for a merch design and I saw this Mister Misery-fyed super clown and he was super creepy, like Tim Burton with a hat sitting on a throne and stuff. And I thought oh man it’s like an entity from hell, that Lucifer created and he’s a murderous clown, kind of like Pennywise. And I thought that should be a song and it should be fucking crazy, and it should have all the crazy elements like screaming vocals and everything and it just needs to always constantly be annoying almost, like it needs to be super heavy.
So that’s how that song came about, I wanted to write a song about a character that I made up myself. Not like Mr Hyde, or the Horseman or something, just something on my own, so that was the thing. He’s The Prince of Hell and he’s a clown and it should be totally fucking crazy, and the lyrics are supposed to be him just saying what he’s about and what he likes to do. To me, it’s a mindless song in that you don’t touch any deep topics, but I love that too, it’s for entertainment, it’s strictly to just have fun and go crazy. It’s really awesome I think, I like that song a lot too.
RAMzine: Yeah that one stood out for me and you know what, clowns are scary!
Did you invent a slightly new look for this album? I noticed some updates to the make-up, did you update your stage clothing?
Harley: Clothing wise it’s the same outfits, we’re all just experimenting a little bit because it’s fun.
Alex: I think it was more like the clothes that we wear now, are of course going to be associated with this album, but not like hey let’s do something completely new. Also, I haven’t been in that band for very long. They are the Brighter Side of Death outfits, so it was more that rather than let’s do something that we haven’t done before.
Harley: I remember that we talked about the colour scheme, so I go with black and purple. Alex is black and red, Aliter is black and yellow/greenish type, Rizzy is black and white.
Rizzy: As well when we go live we have a natural progression of the make-up, we do kind of the same make-up every night but we also want to experiment with the details around the eyes and mouth and stuff like that. So I think it’s a natural progression for our make-up so you never know, one day we’ll probably have one idea like let’s do a whole kind of other stuff…
Harley: It’s exactly what Rizzy just said because every single night when we tour at least, it can just be anything like obviously we don’t look like Kim Kardashian in the make-up [the whole band laughs], but we can experiment like I’ve been a clown on a few shows, and maybe it will be a bit more dramatic make-up for one show, then the other one is more calm.
Alister: We don’t have that thing where you have to look like that, like in KISS they are like you have to have those perfect lines, it’s none of that.
Alexl: We’re just experimenting and having fun with it and I think that makes it special too. It’s like today all the members really had a hard time digging themselves up from their grave, so now they look even more fucked up and then we do, even more, it varies.
With or without the make-up.
RAMzine: If you had to summarise the album as a whole for someone, what would you say?
Alex: It’s like the first album but on steroids.
Harley: A complete horror metal spectacle that will leave you speechless.
RAMzine: Yeah we are all dying for gigs! Do you have any favourite UK bands?
Harley: The Sex Pistols maybe…
I mean we got Judas Priest right!
Harley: No, wait, Queen.
Queen and Judas Priest are definitely high up there.
RAMzine: Who are some of your favourite Swedish Metal band?
Alex: In Flames, Arch Enemy, Avatar!
RAMzine: I hear that you are keen to tour once things open up again, where are the key places that you’re going to try and get to?
Harley: Obviously, our goal is set upon the entire world, but as of now the tour dates that we have are for our tour in November/December are pretty much the areas that we might go to.
Alex: There’s a lot of new countries like Russian, we got Italy, we got Finland… Poland… Slovakia… Budapest… Europe. It feels great to know that we’re definitely expanding a little bit but we dream of going to Australia, or Japan or the USA, New Zealand – that would be insane!
RAMzine: Would you say that Sweden has a good music scene, what’s it like in terms of shows and metal bars and things like that?
Alex: In comparison to Germany not many. There’s been a lot of cutdowns in Sweden in the past 10 years, closing bars just in Stockholm where I’m based. Just in the past 3 years over 6 venues has closed down, which is a lot. So I would say that the music scene is dying in Sweden if you compare it to many other countries.
Harley: It’s also like a genre thing too, because for a band like us, we’re kind of the underdogs that people in Sweden (generally if your a rock person) are kinda rooting for us. They are like ‘Yes! They are doing that shit’ because what’s really popular here right now is Swedish rap and stuff and I don’t get it because you can’t expand with that because no one understands Swedish other than Swedish people. But for us rock people [on the music scence] it’s kind of shit but if your a rapper or a pop artist kind of thing… there’s a lot [more] of that stuff going on right now [in Sweden].
RAMzine: Is there anything else that you would want to promote or say to our readers?
Alex: We’re coming back to the UK in December with Beast In Black and we’re really excited about it. We really like the UK, we have heard so much about the music scene there so we really want to check it out even more and we can’t wait to kick your ass… in a good way!
Mister Misery have recently released another new track from the forthcoming album titled ‘Mr Hyde’.