Astma intrigued us 10 years ago with the blistering power packed track “449 Metal Bullets”. Many of us thought a proper album was on the horizon, but it took a long time. 2015 unveiled an impressive collection of tracks that found a home on Astma’s debut double album ‘600 Pounds Of Body’ on Electro Aggression Records. We thought it was time to catch up Robert, Stefan and Magnus to find out what’s going in the world of Astma.
Congrats on the 600 Pounds Of Body 2CD. Why did it take so long to release a proper album? We heard 449 Metal Bullets back in 2006 and only a handful of compilation tracks were released along with some CDrs. What was the process like in creating this mammoth double CD? Why so long to finally release an album?
Astma: Thanks! Well, the correct answer is that we are busy guys and it takes a lot of time to finish a huge project like the 600 Pounds of Body 2CD.
Electro Aggression Records (EAR) is legendary for their 150 minutes of music on each double CD they release. Was it difficult to come up with 42 songs for the album? Is Nader a pain in the ass? Also, why did you choose to work with EAR?
Astma: Yes, it’s hard to come up with 42 songs, but we have had a big help from the 19 contributing bands on CD 2 (with the remixes). Nader can be very demanding yet very dedicated, and that’s why we choose to work with EAR.
There a few unreleased songs that haven't appeared anywhere to my knowledge, "Lord Of Chaos", "Friend Or Foe" and "Hammer On Metal". What's the background regarding these rare tracks?
Astma: About 42 more Astma songs are more or less completed which are not included on the 2CD. Some of them are not that bad, but when we selected the songs for the 2CD we picked the ones that we thought fit best together as a unit.
I grew up listening to punk in the 80's and Sweden was a hotbed for killer bands like Asocial and Asta Kask to name a few. Your music definitely infuses the punk ethos. We find the punk feel in other Swedish EBM bands like Container 90 and T.W.A.T. Is punk an important part of the Swedish EBM scene? Is there a lot of crossing over to other genres?
Astma: We believe that the punk scene and its attitude have had a big impact on several different bands from the early EBM days in Sweden, like Cat Rapes Dog and some of the early Poupee Fabrikk songs. We also have more recent bands like Ekobrottsmyndigheten and Kommando XY with a lot of punk ethos.
Who are the upcoming acts in Sweden these days? Any artists we should look out for?
Astma: There is a new lady on the Swedish EBM scene. Joanna Reinikainen with her new project called Rein. Johanna is not a completely unknown name on the EBM scene since she was (or still is) a member of The Blister Exists. We also have bands like Wulfband and The Operating tracks. Check them out!
Your themes to your songs seem to be influenced by just about everything from telephones, serial killers, soccer, war, coffee, the seasons, snakes, parking police, Japan, aging etc. How many times a day do you get inspired by your day to day routine for possible song ideas? What songs do find are fan favorites?
Astma: The creative process often starts with Magnus presenting a new song idea to the other band members (Robert and Stefan), and then we gather and try to work with the lyrics. The lyrics are usually inspired of the hot topics the recent days. It can almost be about anything like you already mentioned above. Some of it can be experienced by us and some is pure fiction. If we are talking about the most popular Astma songs, maybe some of our earlier material like Mr. Miller, 449 Metal bullets and Body in Japan are more popular among the fans. Well, it’s hard to say since the taste varies.
What can you tell us about the attention Mr. Miller received. He has some great company with the likes of Signal Aout 42, Plastic Noise Experience, The Blister Exists and Full Contact 69. Other artists hanging out on the 2nd CD of 600 Pounds Of Body include The Psychic Force, Anstalt, MRDTC, Ekobrottsmyndigheten, Autodafeh, DRP Serpents and a few others. It must have been a great feeling working with seminal acts like Signal Aout 42, Plastic Noise Experience, Serpents, DRP and The Psychic Force.
Astma: Well, for a previously unreleased and pretty unknown band we were a bit surprised that so many bands were contributing on the 600 pounds of body DCD. And we are honored that they did.
What's next for Astma? Any gigs? Also, when can we expect new material?
Astma: The next show will be in Krakow at the Front Fabrik Festival in April. If we are talking about new material we would like to finish our idea of an EP about the four seasons called, ‘Four Seasons, Four Reasons To Hate’. Earlier this year we created the theme song for spring called “Spring Time Party Time”. The songs about summer and winter are already included on the ‘600 pounds of Body’ DCD. What is left is a song about autumn/fall. We also have an upcoming live DVD from our show last year in the Ukraine. The release date is not yet decided.
Aside from music, what do the members do for fun? Favorite TV shows, movies?
Astma: Stefan likes to drink beer, eat chili and watch sports. Magnus is more into technical stuff like music equipment, home theatres, computers, fast cars and gaming. Robert is the hard working family guy that likes working out and watching sports. He also likes cars (but only the fast ones). About our favorite movies and TV shows, both Magnus and Stefan like sci-fi, fantasy and horror and Robert is more into comedy and car shows.
Do you have any thoughts on the US Presidential race? Bernie Sanders seems to favor educational and health care practices in Scandinavian countries, Donald Trump hates everyone and Hillary is not so great with secure email. There is quite a cast of characters for the future leader of the United States?
Astma: Recently Magnus watched the latest season of House of Cards and started to realize that reality almost surpasses fiction when it comes to bizarre and unreliable characters running for president. He would rather give his vote for Frank Underwood if the other candidate were Donald Trump. And that says a lot. Stefan and Robert would both give their votes for Mr. Sanders.
Thanks for your time. Feel free to add any other thoughts here.
Astma: Live long and prosper, and to the children reading this we would like to say: Remember to always finish your spinach or you may get asthma.
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance
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