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Violent Divine: A few beer with God

Swedish rock band Violent Divine is another Mama Trash Family artist, which has gained a lot of attention in Sweden and Finland over the last few years. Right after their tour in Finland we talked to the band and now itīs time to introduce them to the rest of the world because this band you definitely shouldnīt miss. Mike Divine, singer of the band, answered our questions.

Hello guys, how are you doing today?
Hi, Sandy! Weīre great, actually. Weīre in this over-creative mode, writing and rehearsing new material. Itīs what you do in Sweden when summer is over and itīs getting dark and cold – bands like us hibernate in the rehearsal room and in the recording studio.

You have played a few shows in Finland recently. How was it to be back? You have been here last time when you played at Trash Fest II...
We had a blast like always in Finland, meeting old and new friends. This time we were happy to tour with British rockers New Generation Superstars and also one show with Spiritraiser. Finland is probably one of the top countries in the world when it comes to having a vital rock and roll culture. Lots of clubs and loads of rock fans and the occasional jack & coke... Weīll be back next year to check on you all!

Howīs Finland compared to Sweden when it comes to playing gigs?
I think the main difference is that rock fans in general go to clubs to check out new bands and wherever you go, there seems to be a rock and roll party going on, music blasting out of the speakers, rock fans gather to party, everything seems to be open 24/7. As far as I know, there are a few places in Stockholm like that but itīs not like in Finland where it seems to be an entire rock and roll culture.

What do you think are the differences between Sweden and Finland in general?
Well, on one hand weīre very much the same. After all Sweden has a huge Finnish population also. On the other hand, the countries have very different histories, which I believe shaped the people a bit differently. Finland is also a bit more up north so itīs colder and darker... itīs the Vampire Empire :)

Can you tell us little bit about the bandīs history? When was it formed? How did you meet each other?
Actually, I think we wanted to form a band like Violent Divine for years but all of us seemed to have had other commitments in life, so it wasnīt until 2005 that Gus gave me a ring to check if I wanted to put down some vocals for a project he and Q had been working on. As we met and tried out a few songs the energy was massive and it was like this is what we all wanted to do for so long – what kept us? At that time we didnīt have a bass player so Gus asked long time brother in arms Klaus if heīd care to join us, and the band was complete.

Thee band is quite young then (formed only in 2005), what have you been doing so far? Touring, releases etc., What has been your greatest success, biggest disappointment so far?
We released 2 albums, numerous singles and videos and generally done what bands are supposed to do, write songs, rehearse, record, go on tour, drink beer and all that stuff that dreams are made of. Itīs hard to rank whatīs been the greatest success. Personally, I love to play festivals but of course working on the In Harmīs Way album together with Hammerfall guitarist Pontus Norgren was, of course, awesome and resulted in the band taking a huge step forward musically. But I mean, generally, success to me is all about to be able to do what I love and to meet friends on tour. I donīt know about disappointments really. No time for that shit! We just go go go, sort of.

What were your expectations in the beginning? Did they come true already? Is working within the music business a harder/more fun job than you thought?
I donīt think any of us had any expectations. We just had a few songs and enjoyed playing together in the rehearsal room. All of a sudden it started to grow. More songs and we upped a few to our MySpace site and all of a sudden we got signed. Wasnīt a plan really. All we were looking for was a bit of feedback on our songs. But I mean, of course, we all shared a dream of one day being in a band that got to tour the world and make albums and videos so, in that perspective, the expectations or dreams have come true.

The business part of the music is what it is. You still have to be involved and we try to be as much as possible since, well I guess weīre a bunch of control freaks. Weīve been lucky to have worked with people in the industry who have given us lots of whatīs called creative freedom and we wonīt have it any other way. And itīs not like weīre a young boy band that donīt know what to do on stage, in the studio or at parties. Our attitude is to take part in the biz, take as much control as we can, and enjoy the ride.

Some say the biz is easier now with the internet, MySpace and Facebook where everyone can promote their music, some say itīs harder because there are no rules left. My take on that is that it sure is different and we try to use as many channels as we can to get the band out to new fans. Physical CDīs never looked good anyway, not like vinyl albums so you might as well download your music from ITunes or Amazon or wherever. I mean if I buy a CD, the first thing I do is to put it in the computer and convert it into mp3 to play on my IPod, so why do I need this ugly piece of plastic.

What are you influences? Who are your idols? Whatīs the most over-rated singer/band at the moment?
Oh, any 80s party metal band like Mötley Crüe, Ratt but also more industrial metal like Rob Zombie, Ministry, RATM, and of course more metal like Metallica... but on the other hand, we have some pop-ish influences as well.

Idols, well I know Gus is a huge Mötley fan, Q is a lot into guitar-oriented rock like Black Label Society and Slipknot, Klaus is the master of all things brutal and, besides Metallica, I canīt even pronounce the names of the band he likes. I like, well, right now itīs Foo Fighters, Muse, The Used, Disturbed... but itīs all subject to change since Iīm a bit manic in my taste.

Overrated, well I donīt know really. I mean, if I donīt like a band I donīt listen to them and donīt have time to get annoyed about it but generally lots of emo isnīt that good... but I donīt even know names of bands. Is The Used emo? Well...

Can you tell us about your musical history? Like what you have done before Violent Divine?
Most of us have been playing together earlier but not all at the same time. Me and Gus were in a sleaze band in the early 90s. Me and Q had a power-pop band in the late 80s. Gus, Klaus and Q had this indie band once. But looking back now I can see that whatever weīve done earlier, the element of rock was always present and itīs like with Violent Divine all the pieces finally fit.

How did you end up playing that instrument youīre playing now?
Hey, thatīs a hard question. As a singer, I am obviously an attention seeker so I guess it was the only place to be. Gus likes to be in control so drums it had to be. I guess Klaus chose bass because itīs such a brutal instrument. I mean, the bass guitar is huge, the amps and cabinets are huge and the sound is thundering just like his personality. My theory of why Q chose the guitar is that itīs such a romantic glorified instrument and you can learn all this endless trivia about guitars, amps, guitarists and itīs also the instrument where you get to buy the most gear and gadgets, which I guess fits his personality like a glove.

What are you guys doing when you are not in the band? (working, studying etc) or what would you do when youīd get kicked out?
You mean as Divine civilians? Well, me and Gus study at the university to try and become a bit smarter. Klaus and Q bring in the cash by working. And I guess thatīs what weīll do if Violent Divine ever stops since being kicked out of the band isnīt really an alternative. This is a rock & roll family and Violent Divine is the chemistry between us.

You have a new single out now called “Happy Ever Afterlife”, which was actually chosen by your Myspace fans. Whatīs the song about, how was it written?
Well, Gus initially came up with the song which is based on this guitar riff and the groove. I added lyrics that were a bit inspired by religion and two religious hot topics; the afterlife and the concept of sin. I think itīs a shame that people live in fear of punishment for their sins while they instead should enjoy life to the fullest and Iīm sure the afterlife will be like going on a long and wild vacation. A Happy Ever Afterlife.

Do you think there is an afterlife? If yes, how do you think it looks like?
Ha ha, well, Iīm really an agnostic and I donīt really worry. Whatever sins I have done, Iīm sure God and me can sort that out over a couple of beers while listening to an AC/DC album.

How did you come up with the idea to let your fans choose, which song they wanna have as a single? Did you expect theyīd choose this song? If not, which was your favorite?
Well, we actually didnīt have a clue on what to choose and the label gave us freedom of choice so, why not let the fans decide. I mean, after all we had some clues about what songs had been given great reception live so, well, we had scenarios for most of the songs worked out with the video producer and weīre all sort of standing by to get the job done. As always in a total rush to get ready. Iīm not sure I have a personal favorite, maybe Days of Sorrow but, well I donīt know, Iīm very happy with how this turned out.

How much do the fans have influence on what you do as a band? Do you think it should be the fans that make decisions like choosing the next single rather than a record company?
Well, I think rock fans have a huge influence on what we do, or really how come we exist as a band. After all, weīre also rock fans and like to party and enjoy good rock music. And rock fans are actually the experts here, and record company executives are not. Rock fans buy the albums, go to concerts so why wouldnīt they be involved in the process. After all itīs their lives. As a band weīre just orchestrating their Saturday night parties.

Are you already working on a new record or what are the plans for this and next year?
Right now weīre writing new songs, rehearsing and recording demos for the next album. I think we have some 25 songs already but itīs a long process that will take us a few months. Donīt have a clue when the next album will be out but it will come out next year. Seems like weīll start touring again in February also. But weīll be indoors making rock and roll until then since itīs so damn cold anyway up north.

Do you have some final words for our Stalker readers?
Hope to see you in the front row of a Violent Divine show next year. Weīll do our very best to come to where you live to rock like fuck!

Thank you for the interview and all the best

Author: Sandy Mahrer, photos: Violent Divine
Date: 2009-11-11

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