There aren’t many bands that recreate the classic early eighties sound of commercial metal – you know, that spine tingling mix of Judas Priest and AC/DC that sets the toes tapping and the head banging all at the same time – as Sweden’s Bullet, so of course, what with Sentinel Daily revelling in anything that’s even vaguely either eighties or metal, we wanted them to participate in our ongoing Seven Ages of Metal Series…
Before we kick off – for the benefit of our readers, please identify yourself and tell us what you do in Bullet… “I‘m Hampus Klang – Flying V guitar player in the band”.
Here you are then – entering the world of metal, probably in your early teens, mewling about the unfairness of it all and puking on cheap white cider… Which band was your introduction to metal? How did you find out about them? And which bands generally do you think make the best ‘entry level’ metal music? “When I was seven years old my family was into going to horse jumping competitions. I remember my brother played the cassette of bands like Twisted sister, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi at loud volume in the bus on the way to the competitions and I really liked to sing along. Twenty years later I was sitting beside my father driving the Bulletbus singing along with a beer in my hand. Haven’t thought of it before but that’s probably one of the reasons I like listening to metal in the Bulletbus so much. The best entry level bands are: W.A.S.P, Rose tattoo, Slayer, Thor, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Accept, Metallica, Riot, Judas Priest, Scorpions and Guns n Roses to name a few”.
You’re in! The magical and bewildering world of metal lies at your feet… you’ve assembled a small collection of records and tapes – or CDs of course, if you’re a youngster – but you’re still very much a School child, whining because the olds won’t let you go to a gig – until the scales fall from their eyes – and you’ve got the Golden ticket in your sweaty little palm! Who were the first band you saw in the live arena? Did it confirm your suspicions about just how massive this hidden world was, how inspiring? Or was first ‘in the flesh’ contact a little disappointing? “My father brought me to a Scorpions gig when I was ten. It was on the Crazy World Tour in Stockholm, very loud and earplugs were just as unusual as safety belts back then! My ears were ringing for a week. I bought a shirt where the back print of the shirt said ‘I went crazy with the Scorps’ and my brother bought the one that said ‘Tease me Please me’. Many years later when I was working on the lyrics for the song Bite the Bullet I came up with the lines ‘She used to tease me every single night but now she just please me and it feels so goddamn right’… Reptile brain lyrics that would probably not happened if I didn’t see Scorpions. My father still says it was the most value for the money he ever spent to make his child happy for weeks. We also had a jailbird that got some kind of permission to live in our house instead of being in jail. He had lots of heavy metal records and tattoos all over his body. I was in his room listenings to those albums every day. He bought the Live in the Raw livelbum by W.A.S.P for me as a Christmas gift. I still like that album very much. I saved all my money to buy records, later I got into more brutal music and I bought so many albums – I have thousands now”.
You’re now a full-grown acolyte, a fully-fledged lover of the dark arts, as it were. But listening and watching isn’t enough. You need to consummate your love, by forming or joining your own metal band – tell us about your formative bands and what life was like on the bottom rung of the ladder… “I began to play acoustic guitar when I was nine in school. The first lesson was to sit the right way with the guitar, next lesson was to play on one string. The guitar I had was the worst I had ever seen and one day the teacher said don’t come back here if you don’t have a better guitar. I talked to my grandmothers and they paid fifty per cent each and bought me a real acoustic guitar. After that I played for ten hours a day. After some years of nagging on my father he bought me an electric guitar and a Marshall rig (I still use the same marshall rig twenty seven years later). I did some really crappy demos by myself on a Fostex cassette player and a Boss drum machine but nothing serious. I had a guitar teacher that was extremely good at playing and very much into Van Halen and Michael Schenker, he also made a huge impact on me when I was young. I crashed my motocross bike into a roadblock when I was twelve. The doctor said my hands are five per cent invalid, which is good to complain about when my solos aren’t that fast! When I was thirteen or fourteen I began to play with Gustav Hector (now bassist in Bullet) and a drummer that was called Markus. We called our self the Psycho Toastmaster and we thought we played heavy metal until someone said that it was punk. We played some local gigs but never recorded any serious demos. We got into motorcycles, beer and playing very early and quit all the sports I had been into before. When we were sixteen we met Hell Hofer and a guy called Erik Stenemo in school. They were much into Iron Maiden, Accept, Twisted Sister, AC/DC and that kind of style so we started to play covers of those bands together. We called ourself Breakers and played at biker clubs and some local gigs. Hell Hofer was eighteen and the only one driving a Harley Sportster to school, he was the coolest. Erik is now working as guitar tech for John Norum in Europe.
Some years went on and we made some line up changes and tried to write our own songs but it didn’t really work. For a while we had Adde and Alex from Birdflesh in the band. I joined Birdflesh on bass some years later. I was much into playing more aggressive music around this time. In 1999 I joined a local thrash metal band called Hypnosia. They had already recorded two demos and a mini LP that I really liked. We recorded the Extreme Hatred album just after my twentieth birthday. Around 2002 I was in four bands – Bullet, Hypnosia, Birdflesh and a death/grind band called Jigsore Terror. It was playing every night and every day. I was working in a factory for six months and it sucked so I quit and haven’t had a real job since then”.
Ah, yes – real jobs… The bane of the gigging musicians life! Anyway – it’s mission accomplished – you’re in a band. A Soldier of metal mired in the trenches fighting for our way of life, possibly on a tour of the toilet venues of your home locale – what was your first tour like? What valuable lessons were learned? Or was there just to much fun to be had to worry about tedious life craft? “With Hypnosia we did a small European tour in a Honda Civic. I did regret I brought a backup guitar that I had on my knees in the back seat the whole tour. We had the backdrop as a blanket as we were sleeping on the stage after the shows. Good fun times! We did a UK tour with Birdflesh that was the most miserable tour I ever been on. The van was a old crappy one with a wooden seat. We had a dreadlocked driver playing crust at loud volume all the time, no PA, no backstage, no beer/food, no money and hardly any any audience. With Bullet we’ve never done any real misery tours. After we recorded the Bite the Bullet album it was impossible to be in more bands than Bullet so I had to quit them. We toured heavily for many years after that album”.
Away from you now – your career is in full bloom. But what of the elder Statesmen, the justices who still reign, Saturnine and all-knowing? Which of the old-but-still-living Gods still command the most respect in your eyes? And why? “I like bands that write good songs and can do it over many years. AC/DC is still number one but Judas Priest are also up there at the top. Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath too. Old Metallica of course until they released the Load albums. It’s sad but its a fact that not many bands that are really good for more than five years”.
And what about those who’ve maybe pushed it a little too far, those bespectacled and pantalooned ‘legacy’ artistes on their nth farewell trip across the globe? Is there anyone on our world you think might like to think about hanging up the old Les Paul and giving themselves and us a rest? “Well, I think Kiss should have quit after the seventies but I understand that you don’t stop that million dollar money making machine that easy. I have seen some miserable Ozzy shows too. But at the end of the day I would rather want them to tour and never give up then sit at home in a rocking chair. The Rolling Stones are a hundred years old now and they are still good live:.
And the final age, of course, is death. We’ll all be left Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything eventually. Which deceased metallian do you miss most? And what are your happiest memories of them? “The first name I come up with is Cliff Burton. He died close to where I live. Metallica was such a big influence for me growing up. I remember when I bought the And Justice for all… album in 1988 I couldn’t listen to it cause it was too brutal (laughs). I guess I saw the Cliff em all and A year and a half videos hundreds of times when I was young sitting home and playing guitar”.