[The following interview with Pelle Åhman was originally published in Spanish in El Perro de Maldoror zine — October 2017. The questions and answers below haven’t been edited at all.]
– You named the band No Future, an effective (and trite) statement that most people associate with early punk, a whole aesthetics of rejection, a call for action here and now and an entire bunch of other things I’m not gonna reproduce here. But I suspect you may have given it yet another twist. What does it mean to you personally? Why No Future?
– Now. We say a loud NO to all powers in the world seeking to even out the individual. It denotes to feelings of alienation and madness, of ecstasy and totality. One can either look at the moment or the past. If you look! Its up to each individual moment. But the future is ALL that we have. It is a call for action to rise above the idleness. To strive for something better in ones immediate surrounding. To mourn what was lost and celebrate whats about to be revealed. The genuine. Theres always the alternative. Sex Pistols said something to us when we were young. But the future we say no to is a different one than theirs. There is at least five deffetent ones in this band. Interesting words anyway both combined and partial. No future means no past. What does that mean?
– An otherworldly and desperate sound, to say the least. Are there any other bands or musicians with whom you may feel indentified? I say so because you do have a quite personal approach; DIY, dark, from the guts, with a “rustic” touch…
– In that sense I think we identify with anyone whose methods are homemade. Who have no choice in the matter but to create. Musically I dont know if we identify with anyone.
– I’d like to broaden the last question beyond music. In which artists, in general, can you recognize yourselves? Not necessarily in an obvious way. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Stooges or Viennese Actionism…
– Around the forming of NF we came out of a million strong impressions from all directions. It boiled down to NF from all those things. The stern authenticity of Black Metal underground culture, litterature, art, Punk and avante garde music. Life in general, as we saw it. Theres really too much to mention. My biggest source at that time was to mold music that encapsulated my memories of a certain feeling connected to barrenness.
– What do you read?
– I’m not an as avid reader I used to be. That goes in circles like everything else. When I do I usually pick up things that are instrumental to me and I read them with reverence. At the moment I am re-reading Mare Kandre’s Deliria and Erik Axel Karlfeldt’s collected poetry. Two of my all time favourite authors. Both of them Swedish. Apart from that its mostly documentative litterature.
– You’ve released very little recorded material and in little quantities as well. And in your very own label that seems created precisely to put out this material and little more. The shows have also been scarce. Is it part of the band ethos or is it circumstantial? Do you need to maintain the mystery? I guess the advantages of controlling the entire process without exception also play a big part in this…
– It is both ethos and circumstantial. We are not in a rush. We let things develop naturally and we release things when they are ready. Neither are we interested in ’making it big’ in any sense of the word. We burn our money fast. Success to us is when we do a good gig or release something substantial. In other words, we have reached the ”success” we aim for. Albeit the timespan between releases and gigs. To us, a seven inch is a victory and a gig is a magical adventure to remember and draw power from. Döda Barn has much more to offer in the future. So don’t say no! Everyone in the band is involved in other projects as well that takes up a lot of time and energy.
– Two of those few shows were in Madrid. And I also saw some sick pictures of a gig in Berlin in a quite peculiar location. Can you tell us a bit more about those?
– We played in a crematorium in a cemetary in Berlin. It was Midsummer and we raised a maypole at the enterance of the cematorium. It was wild night. We played on the altar in the far end of a beautiful big hall. There was a natural reverb in the hall that suited our music perfectly and the hall was completely dark apart from a few lamps. After the gig I dropped LSD and wandered around the cemetary where the crematory was and ended up in a big house of a friend. I was Alice and Berlin was wonderland.
– “Splendour of my hometown”. You come from Uppsala. Is your sound directly connected with your geography? How? Is it nature or the city?
– It is about Uppsala. The good and bad sides of living here. The power of being ”outside of society”, in the wildnerness. On the other side of the fence. The peculiar and magnificent characters who happen to come from here and gather with us. They are ”old Gods on new streets”.
– Do you feel like you’re part of something? There used to be this idea that a lot of creative stuff was going on over there, that you were all doing magick…
– I definitely feel part of something. An ecology of people, animals and spirits. A couldron of ideas. I guess. But also I feel part of a musical heritage that is growing all the time. Its interesting to think how it’ll seem looking back, if we ever do.
– What does “Den Sista Blomsterkransen” mean? Literally and not.
– The title is Swedish and means ”The last flower wreath” and is about the death of Sifwert Andersson who was the last person to be executed in the province of Jämtland in 1852. This theme opened up to something else. A more psychadelic perspective of his death.
– Lyrics. As there’s nowhere to read them, we can only guess. Please, shed some light. At first glance I find them somehow close to the ones in In Solitude’s last album. What do they deal with? Death and rebirth? Plunging into the Other? Dark night of the soul?
– We might publish the lyrics in the future. We have nothing to hide there. Its been inconvenient to have them included. They deal with all of the above and more. We’re often concerned with the microcosm of things in these lyrics.
– You have a song called Louise. There’s a track of the same name by a late 70s punk band called Satan’s Rats. The songs sound completely different so I guess there’s no correlation, but…
– It’s a rendition of the Satan’s Rats song with the same name. We made a few changes in it both musically and lyrically and made it our own. I dont think they would care. There is also a resitation in the song from a book called Pölsan by the swedish author Torgny Lindgren (RIP) recalling a scene where a boy drinks milk straight from the teat of a sick cow he meets in the forest. Read aloud by our basist Olof who also sings in Reveal.
– In the fanzine where this is hopefully coming out there’s also an article on a short film by Kenneth Anger. Anger has a quote that goes: I have found a definition of the Beautiful, of my own conception of the Beautiful. It is something intense and sad… I can scarcely conceive… a type of Beauty, which has nothing to do with Sorrow. I think this resonates a bit with what you do too. What do you think?
– I agree with him. I think sadness has a bad reputation. What we portray and channel is full to the brim with sadness. The type you find on a mountaintops seeing the clouds pass by under you, or watching the sun rise with cloudy eyes and vomit around your mouth. Ecstatic sadness. Timemachines. Adversary holds the carrot we’re after. Music from the other side of the obstacle. Kenneth is a good boy. We love his movies. They capture something we relate to and find beautiful. Lucifer has risen.
– To conclude, any last words? Any advice for the wandering youth?
– See through the manipulative bullshit that tries to hold you down. Laugh in contempt in the face of all agents and devices of indifference and apathy. All waits in a strange glade. This is the only chance we’ve got. We’re ”here to go”. Listen to the music. The circumstances of the next place might be very different and our loved ones might not be there. See as much as you can and make firm conclusions of it. I think we’ll need it in the end. I’m talking to myself and everyone should. Hail Pan have horrible fun!