I was extremely happy to interview Sebastian Ramstedt of NECROPHOBIC, as he is a truly dedicated metalhead and his answers are heart-felt and maximally informative. He talked interesting things not only about the band's freshest album, but deepened well in the explanation of his rare guitars and vinyls too. Quite exciting epistolary transmission, so to say. Read it, enjoy it and don't forget to listen to some "Mark of the Necrogram" stuff during it!
Infernal greetings Sebastian! The 8th full-length album of NECROPHOBIC, the ideally titled "Mark of the Necrogram", in my sincere opinion is a hell of a huge material, it is monumental, it is melodic, it is dynamic and still dark the way it has to be! How the creative process for the 10 songs of it looked like this time? I mean did you change anything regarding the songwriting methods or habits of yours?
- Thank you! It was important to write an album that would be not only a follow up to "Death to All", but also a statement that the true NECROPHOBIC is back. Except for two tracks I have written all the music at home by myself. I get a vision or inspiration of what I wanna create. Very often it's a theme of a melody that just appears. Almost like a voice in my head. I often get the overall feeling of how the whole song will be at once. That's why I rarely write with others. I just channel the music that is given to me from the spirit realm. Then comes the great work of getting these themes and structures into actual music. I record at my home studio. Then I present the song to the band. They give me input back and I rearrange things if necessary. This time there was actually very little to add. The songs given to me were great in its pure form. The big difference from earlier albums is that I did not have the interference of a problem struck band. There have been many strong wills in this band. Me and Tobias did a lot of work together, but sometimes it led me astray from my original ideas. I would not say that that was bad, but it was different from this time when I finished my ideas by myself. Alex and Anders did write half of the lyrics. They had great ideas and I think it widened the overall feel of the album.
Its success was kind of perceptible and predictable in some ways for those who did listen to your 7" teaser called "Pesta" last year, which also marked the beginning of your cooperation with Century Media Records. How did you hook up with them?
- We had a "guy" shopping around for us. We were given some different offers, but C.M. was far the best. They have been great and it's a pleasure to work with professionals. I hate the business side of music business. I just want to concentrate on writing and performing music.
You've been away from NECROPHOBIC along with Johan Bergebäck about 5 years. During that period of time you've started a new band called ORDO INFERUS and managed to release with it an EP in 2013 and a full-length called "Invictus et Aeternus" in 2014. What should we know about this Death Metal alliance? Will there be any new stuff released by ORDO INFERUS in the near future?
Yeah, ORDO was a great project. It's actually Henrik and Janne of old EXCRUCIATE who stands behind that project. They asked me to join as a pure solo guitarist. So I did only play the leads of the full-length. It's Martin Halfdan (ex-NECROPHOBIC) who plays on the EP. I don't know about a follow up. It's up to Henrik. I hope so!
There is a definite spectral touch in your leads with a big dose of old-school Heavy Metal feeling, which I really love and prefer. Thus it would be great to know more about who inspired you back in the time when you've touched your first guitar or do inspiring you lately?
- I am a big fan of Heavy Metal. It is what I grew up with. Great guitar solos that fits the songs. Not built on only showing of. IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST always had good solos that was a natural part of the music. I think I just want to make solos that lifts the song instead of making it break the song and stand out as a performance of its own. Of course, a little bit of technicality can be fun, but there must be a great theme to remember. At some gigs the audience have actually sung along in some of my solos and that's when I know I did something great. As for influences I think Wolf Hoffmann, Uli Roth, Ritchie Blackmore and more than anyone Jake E. Lee was of great, important for me at the beginning. And still is. The work on "Bark at the Moon" is Heavy Metal's proudest moment I think. Lately I have been inspired by the 80's L.A. bands' guitar magicians. Like Eddie Van Halen and Warren DeMartini. I don't think you can hear that in my playing, but I get a trick or two from every solo I try to learn with my heroes. Except for Yngwie, I'm not much impressed by shredders. I admire a great theme more than extravagant arpeggios.
Let's talk about your guitars. You have plenty of them. Can you list them here? Which are your most favorite ones and why? Do you have in plans to own some more of them? If so, which models are missing as of yet?
- Oh! My favorite subject! I will include some pics of my collection! At the moment I mostly play Jacksons. I think my all-time favorite guitar must be the Stratocaster. I have had a crazy Gibson Flying V collection in the past, but I have narrowed it down to only 4 vintage Gibson V's. I will get more. I will get many more. This is nowhere finished! Think I gonna have to be buried with at least one of my guitars! You know as a Viking, a must bring my weapons to the afterlife!
What I have right now:
1975 Gibson Flying V. Mahogany.
1976 Gibson Flying V. Black limited edition.
1980 Gibson Flying V. Dakota Red.
1981 Gibson Flying V. White with binding.
Fender American Special Stratocaster. White. Modified with relic and scalloping and new pickups.
Fender American Special Stratocaster. Candy Apple Red. Scalloped. Custom plastics and pickups.
Fender Road Worn 60's Stratocaster.
Jackson/ESP Star Hybrid. Built by myself and scalloped from 10th fret.
Jackson RR1 2004. Black with gold pinstripes.
Fernandes JS-100 Randy Rhoads copy. Red. (Totally amazing guitar.)
Kramer 1987 Baretta FF Blue.
The main live guitar at the moment is the Jackson RR1, but I always bring guitar on the feeling I have for the day.
I know you are a die-hard vinyl freak and collector of rare stuff, especially I see an affinity of yours to the Eastern bands, especially to the ones from Russia and Czechoslovakia. Please name us your beloved releases from those areas and if you're still searching for some particular gem from those lands of metal.
- Yes, I love vinyls. At the moment, I buy records that look cool on the cover. Yesterday I bought MISSIÓ's "1" from Hungary. I have no idea how they sound, but the artwork was great! I love ÀÐÈß, POKOLGÉP and many, many more. I have too many to mention. Some of my favorites are ÌÀÃÍÈÒ "Äåíü ãíåâà (Dies Irae)" and ÃÀËÀÊÒÈÊÀ "Â àòìîñôåðå ãëàñíîñòè".
I really need to get an original cassette of ARIA's "Megalomania" at some point! I recently got a record with VITACIT from my wife. A band I just heard of for so many years, but never listened to. One of my all-time favorite song is CITRON's "Zahradní slavnost". I think TURBO's "Dorosle dzieci" might be my favorite album of all from the East! There is a different feeling of the eastern European bands. The pain seems more real. It like they are desperate in every beat or chord. I also love that I don't get the lyrics. I don't get disappointed. I try to ignore that my favorite CITRON song is about a garden party though. I choose it to be about war and Satan! Ha-ha!
During your absence from NECROPHOBIC there was only one album released and it was "Womb of Lilithu" in 2013. What is your opinion about that material in general? Do you play any songs from that album live?
- It is a different album. A side track if you ask me. It is good, but it does not sound like NECROPHOBIC. Fredrik is a fantastic guitar player and song writer, but his style is very different from mine. We play a couple of songs. I think we will still do "Furfur" in the future.
You've been visiting 70000 tons of metal, the world's biggest Heavy Metal cruise, a little while ago. Please share your personal thoughts and impressions on that metal occasion.
- That is one crazy trip to make! What a ship! There were many great bands. Personally I thought DESTRUCTION, EXCITER and SEPULTURA were the best. But NAGLFAR and METAL CHURCH were great as well. I'd love to go there again.
The cover artwork for "Mark of the Necrogram" by Kristian Wåhlin became evil and impressive at the same time, totally representing the music enclosed. Whose idea was to hire him again, as if my memories are right it was only the cover of "Darkside" he did before? And in fact, there is a slight similarity between them, don't you think so? I mean not coloring-wise, but thematically.
- You are absolutely right. It is the continuation of "Darkside". We asked Kristian to paint what is beyond the red gates in the middle of the "Darkside" album. I have actually had this idea ever since 1997 when I first saw the "Darkside" cover. You know, I always loved how IRON MAIDEN did let traces from the last album appear on the next record. Like the pyramids on the back of "Somewhere in Time". I wanted NECROPHOBIC to do something similar. And now the time was just right! He made a great job!!!
Please leave your dark remembrances at the end and reveal us the future plans of NECROPHOBIC. The space is yours, Sebastian!
- At the moment we are going out on the roads. I am also writing for the next album! Hope to see you all out there soon! Stay true to Metal! Never surrender!
Thanks for the interview. This have actually been the greatest questions anyone have asked. Everybody wants to now the same stuff. Like Bio and so on. This was more personal. Thanks for that!