It’s been seven years since Craft graced the black metal underground with “Void“, a powerful malignant record. With White Noise And Black Metal being released this June i was lucky enough to catch up with Joakim and discuss the band’s emerging plans for the new album.
This Is Black Metal: Thank you for this interview, it’s a pleasure talking to you. Everyone is familiar with the history of Craft but before you started it, how did the idea for the band come to you?
Joakim Karlsson: One of my friends back then had just bought the first Burzum album and none of us had any idea what it was or what to expect. We put it on and it had me hooked within the first few minutes. I have listened to that album hundreds of times, it’s still one of the best Black Metal albums of all time in my opinion. Two of us got really hooked on it: Me and Daniel, our first drummer, and we formed the band together. We started digging up all kinds of Black Metal, especially all the Norwegian stuff. And we decided to start a band of our own. We probably tried to sound like all those bands we were listening to. We didn’t exactly pull that off but it got the ball rolling. We were about 15 at the time and hadn’t the faintest idea what we were doing, we couldn’t even play any instruments. We just decided “OK, I’ll play guitar and you do the drums” and went from there.
TIBM: In the beginning the band was called Nocta, why did you decide to change name?
Joakim Karlsson: It was a shitty name and we had been on kind of a break while Daniel and John had moved away to study music elsewhere, so when Daniel came back and we decided to record the demo we thought we should change the name before we went any further. Obviously it didn’t really work. I don’t know why that name is mentioned so often. I think some asshole wrote it into some unofficial biography online and it just stuck with us for no good reason. It’s completely unimportant as we haven’t released anything or really done anything under that name. I don’t think we even had a logo or anything, we were basically just spending a lot of time in the rehearsal place figuring out how to play.
TIBM: Did you ever consider releasing the demo you recorded under the name Nocta?
Joakim Karlsson: At first, but I wasn’t really happy with it in the end so we decided to scrap it. I’m glad we didn’t release it.
TIBM: Your first live performance was in 2014, twenty years after the band started, why didn’t you start playing gigs before that?
Joakim Karlsson: I didn’t want to play live so I was the one saying no all those years. I didn’t feel comfortable with being on stage doing shows, posing for photographs or doing interviews. I didn’t like the attention, that’s why there are so few interviews done in the last ten years (I think I did two interviews for Void and that’s it) and why there are basically no pictures. I want to do shows now because it’s a challenge and I have a goal to improve it, but a week or two before we’re traveling somewhere I still wonder why the hell I agreed to it, every single time. I don’t like spending time on airports or in shuttles or hotels. It’s very boring. You don’t get to see anything besides roads and hotel rooms anyway. But the actual being on stage is OK, and the hours after the gig works too, but I definitely wouldn’t have done it to begin with if the others in the band hadn’t wanted it, so really I did it for them.
TIBM: In the past you used to release albums every 2/3 years but for your 2 latest releases Void and White Noise and Black Metal it took you 6 and 7 years respectively. Why is that so?
Joakim Karlsson: Not having the common sense to set a real deadline. That’s the main reason. We wrote tons and ton of songs and kept replacing songs on the albums. Finally we had to book a studio for laying down the drum tracks, otherwise we would never have stopped writing new material. We actually switched a few songs on the car ride to the studio, that’s a good example of how it works. So now we have enough songs for many more albums, and most of them I think no one will ever hear. But I guess it would be cool to release some of that stuff as some kind of in between release, just to show everybody what we were up to all those years when people thought we were gone. I’m also thinking of posting some of them online.
Craft – Void
TIBM: What can fans expect for White Noise and Black Metal? Is it going to be on the line of the previous work?
Joakim Karlsson: There’s more of Total Soul Rape and Terror Propaganda in it, but the riffs are still going forward from Void. I think the album is much more diverse than Void musically. We have pushed the boundaries a bit from what we have done in the past, but we also tried to go back to that old, primitive feel of the early albums. But better, of course.
TIBM: Would you consider this new work as your best so far?
Joakim Karlsson: I have to say that either way, don’t I? I also think Fuck the Universe is up there at the top. But all albums are the best so far when you release them, and then it’s a waiting game to see if they stand the test of time. That’s why Fuck the Universe is my favorite album out of the old ones. I like it even more now than when we released it.
TIBM: What topics do you explore in it?
Joakim Karlsson: Destruction (not surprisingly), some human nature, how this god thing people insist on makes humans into drones. There are also some stories. A few are somewhat abstract and I’ll leave it up to the listener to make their own interpretations. My favorite is “Darkness Falls” from the new album.
TIBM: As a band what do you think about its evolution since its earlier days until now?
Joakim Karlsson: We know how to use greater levels of detail to make thing more interesting. Back when we released our first albums we didn’t really think about the little details, it’s all pretty basic and without finesse at times. That has its charm too, but I think the very tiny details can make a track go from good to fantastic. Our riffing has changed a lot and we can play our instruments a hell of a lot better. Back then we did the basic things like power chords with some simple melody in minor on top. Now we do dissonant stuff in ways we weren’t able to when we released Total Soul Rape and Terror Propaganda. Our song writing and lyrics are miles ahead of what they were in the beginning. And the lyrics were completely horrible on the first albums. They are lyrics written by a 20 year old me. I was naive and all hate no nuance.
TIBM: Do you think nowadays it’s still worth releasing physical albums or digital format is the future?
Joakim Karlsson: I think physical sales will always be the biggest thing. Personally I don’t care much about it, I sold my entire record collection and I gave away most of my CD’s. I just kept the ones that were given to me as gifts. I mean I’m glad that people get our albums no matter if it’s in digital or physical form as it’ll allow us to keep doing albums for as long as someone thinks it’s worth the investment. I believe streaming services are the future, but physical copies won’t go away anytime soon. I look at them as more of collectors’ items.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KPSv4_IRIw
Craft – Fuck The Universe
TIBM: And regarding illegal music download, what is your position?
Joakim Karlsson: I do it myself sometimes if I want to check out something new, but mostly I use streaming services. I don’t care if people illegally download music. Illegal downloading will never go away. It’s pointless to fight it. The future for sales I think lies in well thought out physical releases, like vinyl boxes with additional items like books or posters and such.
TIBM: Concerning the events that have been happening in the Black Metal scene lately with Marduk and Taake being accused of Nazi Sympathies, Rotting Christ being arrested in Georgia under charges of suspicion of terrorism, and the events with MGLA, Behemoth, etc., what is your opinion on the matter?
Joakim Karlsson: I am so tired of this. I really find it funny that no one bats an eyelash at all the antichristian, satanic, devil worshiping, nihilist and misanthropic messages out there, but if someone is suspected of having the wrong political opinion, no matter how unfounded, then stop the fucking presses… But Craft does what Craft does and what happens in Black Metal beyond that isn’t really that interesting. I don’t want to be involved in all this ridiculousness.
TIBM: What are the plans for the future of Craft? Do you have any concerts planned for the upcoming months, is there going to be a tour to support the new album?
Joakim Karlsson: Not in the coming months because we have some stuff to figure out regarding our live situation, but as soon as we’ve taken care of that we’ll get out there. A tour isn’t planned, I think it will mostly be festivals and single shows, that’s the way I like it at least. But we do want to play the new songs live.
TIBM: I have no further questions, please leave a message for your fans and This Is Black Metal readers!
Joakim Karlsson: FTW!
Craft – Darkness Falls