Interview with Tor Nyman from Negative Self14th March 2015
I recently reviewed Negative Self’s self-titled album, giving it 9 out of 10 and stating “Negative Self have created a truly impressive debut album… if you’re a fan of crossover thrash then you need to buy yourself a copy of this album. Outstanding!” so I was thrilled when Tor Nyman (guitars, backing vocals) agreed to a Skype interview with All About The Rock.
Interview with Tor Nyman from Negative Self
Saturday 14th March 2015
Hi Tor, how are you?
I’m fine thanks, how are you?
First of all, thanks very much for your time today – I love the Negative Self album, and really appreciate you giving me and our readers a chance to learn some more about the band and the debut album.
So, let’s start with the album ‘Negative Self’ – it was released yesterday – what’s the initial reaction been like?
It’s been good. We’ve had some really positive reviews saying it’s the album of the year and stuff like that, and a few saying it’s too close to Suicidal Tendencies – and we are completely fine with that. We are all well aware of the situation, and we love Suicidal Tendencies – so we’re not surprised by that. The best response we’ve received has been from the fans – from the people buying and listening to the album – writing to us and saying that they really love our album and that we really need to go out there and play and go to all these places, and that’s really amazing to get.
I mean, this all started out with me and Andreas (Sandberg – vocals, drums) just wanting to play together. We’d known each other for years and neither of had an active band at that time and we just wanted to write some songs. And that evolved into this project that has basically just grown by itself. We haven’t done any advertising or anything. We have a decent following on Facebook, and the album was released yesterday and that’s basically all by itself.
Yeah, well it was through Facebook that I heard about you guys – through a Suicidal Tendencies group when someone posted a link to the Negative Self bandcamp page and said you have to check these guys out.
And as I said in my review, you guys are clearly influenced by Suicidal, but you’re far from being clones of them – because your album does have its own unique style and sound.
That’s exactly our point of view as well.
So you’re cool with reviewers and fans mentioning a Suicidal Tendencies influence?
We’re completely fine with that. Suicidal Tendencies is the greatest band I’ve ever known, so I’m not bothered by that at all. And I think that most bands that are put under the Suicidal Tendencies label don’t actually sound like Suicidal at all. The guitarists, they don’t have the How Will I laugh / Lights Camera Revolution sound – for example, Municipal Waste – great great, band – I love their stuff, but I don’t see them as a Suicidal Tendencies band – I mean they have the skateboarding and they have the bandanas and everything but that’s basically it.
So we had some people telling us that they really appreciate a band doing it all the way, so to speak. And I appreciate that. I would love to hear a band like that myself.
Negative Self have got that sound, but for me it’s also about the general vibe and the lyrical content of your album – about acknowledging dark feelings but turning them into a positivity.
I love what you guys are doing and am so pleased that the initial reaction for the album has been so positive.
Yeah, we’ve had a few thousand plays on bandcamp in the last 24 hours, and people are starting to buy the album. So we are really psyched about it. And we’re starting to see a lot of positive stuff spreading on social media with people Tweeting and talking about it on Facebook and everything. So it’s pretty good.[bandcamp width=100% height=120 track=154009329 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]
And I’m sure word will continue to spread – because the album is so well done, with killer tracks, and no filler.
Thanks. We’ve been working really hard on doing well crafted songs. Not just finding the coolest riff but including stuff like acoustic guitars and harmonising vocals.
Can you tell us a little more about how Negative Self came about? You said it started as a bit of a project between yourself and Andreas…?
We known each other for years, we met through music. I was playing in an old school thrash band and he was playing in Dr Living Dead. And we talked on the internet. I was living on the west coast of Sweden, he was living in Stockholm. And there weren’t that many thrash metal bands around at the time – this was just before the retro explosion of thrash bands – so we started talking, and then I moved up to Stockholm and we started to hang out. We were friends for a couple of years and then after Andreas quit the band, Dr Living Dead, we started talking about doing some stuff together, and we’d show each other riffs and share song ideas. Then we got in touch with the record label, High Roller Records, who were interested in doing some work with Andreas again, and we just took the opportunity and started to do some songs and contacted them again and said yeah we’re able to do an album. So we wrote the album together, just the two of us. Every now and then we’d go to the rehearsal space, and lay down some ground tracks – and we realised pretty soon that we shared the vision completely – we both knew exactly how it was going to sound when we recorded it. So then we contacted one of my best friends, Frank (Guldstrand – bass), and he liked what we were doing and wanted to join the band. And we just made it up as went along in the studio, putting more and more stuff on to there and realised pretty soon that shit this is going to be quite good. So yeah it was a really nice experience doing the recording as it was a really creative process. Everything was written and recorded pretty much within a year – we weren’t in the studio every day or anything as we all have busy lives, but about a year.
Cool. Can you tell us a bit about each of the guys in the band?
Well, I’m originally from the west coast of Sweden, both Frank and Andreas as from Stockholm. Frank is studying to become a geophysicist and is about to pursue a PhD, Andreas is a graphic designer doing commercials and stuff like that and is also a director doing music videos for a bunch of bands, and I’m working as a programmer of a film festival.
And we have a rhythm guitar player in the band now, Viktor (Svensson) who used to be in a band called Guilty, and he works in a coffee shop in Stockholm.
So you guys are officially a foursome now rather than a trio?
So have you guys played live much?
No. We haven’t played live once, because it started out as a studio project. But we want to play live and take the album on tour and everything – but since we all work it’s difficult to make the time to do all this stuff. But we hope to hit the stage sometime in May or June. And we plan on doing a bunch of weekend mini tours – flying down to places like Germany, or the UK, to play.
That would be very cool – I’d love to see you guys play live.
So in terms of your own guitar playing who are your personal influences?
I think the first hard rock / heavy metal band I started listening to was the Scorpions way back when I was like 7 or 8 years old – and the Hey Stoopid album by Alice Cooper – Alice Cooper has been my favourite artist ever. And both Hey Stoopid and the 1980’s Scorpions albums are really packed with cool guitar work – so Matthias Jabs from the Scorpion and Stef Burns who played guitar on Hey Stoopid have influenced me so much. Rocky George also, as he really stepped it up.
When it comes to riffs, I’m more influenced by the likes of Exodus and Vio-lence and the bands from the Bay Area thrash scene, as well as Megadeth. And in fact the Megadeth Youthansia album is a really big influence on the Negative Self album – both in terms of the song writing and the production.
Cool. Yeah, I can hear that influence now that you’ve said that.
So how you summarise your own approach to creating music?
Both me and Andreas we work really fast when we write songs. I believe that when it comes to creativity it’s all about capturing the moment and not over thinking it too much. To do the core of the song really fast and after that building up from there, adding the melody, adding the lead guitars, adding the vocals and everything. Because you need to catch a feeling when you write a song. To just go with it.
And in terms of life in general, how would you describe your attitude and approach?
I can be quite pessimistic at times, watching the world kind of crumble down, with everything going to hell. But I’m doing what I can. I’m a vegetarian, in fact most of us the band are. I’m on the left-side of politics. Just caring about each other, that’s the most important thing, not always focusing on yourself. To try and see what would help other people. Empathy for others and helping each other out is so important. It’s often overlooked because we live in an era when a lot is focused on the individual, and now there is so much racism and xenophobia all round Europe. I really believe in trying to watch the bigger picture and focusing on the collective side of it to help each other out.
That’s very cool, I know what you mean.
Going back to the music side of things, what’s the metal scene like in Sweden like right now?
I’m really not that involved in the metal scene. I’m more of a hardcore punk guy.
Ah, ok. What’s the punk scene like in Sweden then?
Yeah, we have some really good bands. Svart Städhjälp are really cool – they play an old school Minor Threat-ish hardcore, all in Swedish. Really cool guys and good friends of mine. There’s also Hårda Tider – they’ve just finished their first run of shows in the UK. They’ve had a huge influence on the whole Swedish hardcore punk movement – they came out 2007 / 2008 and the whole scene just exploded because they put in so much energy into the scene. Frank also plays in a band called Undergång which is also really amazing, really fast furious hardcore thrash. And me and Frank also have a band called Christer Pettersson which is our violence grindcore band. We are actually releasing an album in a month or so – a split 10 inch with a Japanese hardcore band called Dudman.
Cool. Thanks for that – I’ll check those out!
Going back to yourselves in Negative Self, what are the plans for the band? What happens next?
We want to start playing live. We want to go to some other countries and tour. We’ve already started writing some new songs – I think we have 7 or 8 new songs now.
Yeah. We started writing them during the mixing process of the first album. And we think it will be another full album, rather than an EP or something, because we want to do anther album as soon as possible.
That is fantastic news!
Thanks. We think the new material is so good.
And do you guys have plans to do any t-shirts? Because I would love to be able to get my hands on a Negative Self t-shirt.
Yeah, we have some finished designs that Andreas did. There should be a couple of t-shirts and a sweatshirt available very soon – we’ll be announcing them on Facebook in the next few days.
Excellent! And something I meant to ask earlier, was it Andreas that did the album cover?
It was Andreas. We’ve done everything with the album ourselves. We wrote everything and we recorded, mixed and mastered everything ourselves, and we did the artwork ourselves too. We wanted to have full control on everything. We have a strong vision of what we want and we want to as focused as possible. And I should say that now Frank and Viktor share in that vision and are fully involved in the song writing process and everything. It’s a real democracy and everyone gets to have their say.
Viktor’s guitar playing is much more New York hardcore – aggressive and edgy – and I think that makes a really good mix for the new songs along with my way of playing the guitar.
Cool. Can’t wait to hear the new stuff!
Well, thank you so much for your time today, Tor – it’s been great to hear about the band and your plans for Negative Self going forward.
Thanks. I really do appreciate the support. We really do need to have a beer when we come to the UK.
Great stuff. Cheers.
‘Negative Self’ is out now on High Roller Records –
http://www.hrrshop.de/NEGATIVE-SELF – to buy a physical copy (sky blue vinyl, black vinyl, and CD)
http://negativeself08.bandcamp.com – to buy a digital copy
The album will shortly also be available on iTunes and Spotify.