…words to live by.
And here’s our band of the month for January 2015, the mighty Iron Lamb. First catching my ears with their 2011 Pulverised Records debut, The Original Sin, these Swedes are back stronger, groovier and catchier than before with their sophomore full length album, Fool’s Gold. Along with new vocalist Bragman, the band brings us back to the good early days of bands like Motörhead with punk and heavy metal influences. There’s a reason for Fool’s Gold being our pick of January, so let’s find out what goes on behind the scenes with guitarist Johan.
Greetings Johan! The band was formed in 2009, and has been unleashing some of the most addictive rock ‘n’ roll tunes since. How did the formation of Iron Lamb come about?
Hi there!! Yeah!! Well, we had some time over due to other projects being put on ice etc, so we took the chance to do something of an idea we´d had in our minds for a few years. It was really just a matter of time before we would have done something similar anyway. Now, six years, two full-lengths, many EPs and live shows later, it feels like it was a good decision 🙂
What does the band name, Iron Lamb refer to? What’s with the interest in lambs and what is the significance of its name to the band’s lyrics?
It refers to anything and nothing really. Originally we more or less choose it cause it sounded cool (as opposed to some peoples opinion, hehe), but with time other meanings have found their way into the band and the name. The lyrics to the song “Iron Lamb” from our first album deals with one interpretation, but there are others as well.
These days I´d say the band name reflects our general attitude and non-conforming ways of doing this band. We´re not interested in belonging to any specific scene, or flock of sheep mentality, we just do what we love to do and that’s it.
The band’s debut, The Original Sin, was released in 2011 under Pulverised Records and features a nice, Motörhead feel throughout the record along with some punkish vibes – a huge contrast to many of the band members’ other projects. How did the sound of Iron Lamb come about on the debut
Well we just wrote the songs and tried to record them as good as possible. I´m pretty happy with that album looking back at it, but I´d say Fool´s Gold represents more how we intended this band to sound in the first place. Looking back at it The Original Sin sounds furious, which is cool obviously, but I´m more content with how we sound these days.
One thing that a lot of people don´t know when comparing Iron Lamb to our previous bands, is that none of us were a major songwriter in most of our old bands. Sure, some of us wrote a song here or there, but most of those bands had other members than us writing the songs, so any comparison doesn´t really make any sense (apart from the obvious fact that the styles are very different).
What, in your opinion then is the “Original Sin”?
Biblically speaking it´s the heritage of sin in mankind, that has gone inherited from Adam and on through history of mankind. Basically it means that man, according to Christianity, is a sinner from start. I like the idea of that.
The lyrics to the specific song “The Original Sin” from our first album are a rather goofy reflection of how Rock and/or Roll is the sinners’ music. I wrote the lyrics of the first album, mostly cause no one else wanted to, and to be honest, that one is not the one I´m most proud of, hehe… I prefer our more serious themed songs. Our new vocalist Bragman writes all the lyrics from now on, fortunately.
This year sees the band’s sophomore being released. Entitled Fool’s Gold, the record sees the band expanding on the sound created on The Original Sin, resulting in a more diverse and exciting sound. What was the difference in the songwriting approach this time round, compared to that of The Original Sin?
The biggest difference is that the whole band was more involved in the song writing. On the first album I wrote 99.99% of all music and lyrics, but this time around Daniel (bass) wrote a couple of songs, as well as our old vocalist Grga, and the lyrics were done by several people. I´d also say that the actual arranging process was more of a band effort. We worked more together in the rehearsal space, arranging and trying a lot of different things.
In regards to the recording, we tried to keep it as pure as possible. We only laid down one guitar track each (no rhythm guitar overdubs) and the drum and bass sounds are also very organic sounding. We also tried some new things with using piano, timpani, acoustic guitar and some special percussive effects. I think everything added up to expanding the sound, not only the actual songs themselves.
As mentioned, Fool’s Gold is a much more varied listening experience, with the sounds of old school heavy metal on songs like Smile Now Cry Later to an almost gothic/deathrock vibe on Leave Me Be. What are some of the inspirations in the writing of Fool’s Gold this time round?
The inspiration or influences haven´t changed really, it´s still the same classic rock that we grew up listening to. But I think we managed to caress it better this time around. Really, most of the songs on Fool´s Gold could have been on The Original Sin as well music-wise, but I think the production, new vocals etc., plus some of the more odd songs gives the impression that the whole album is very different.
Speaking of Leave Me Be, how did the track come about, and what was the reason behind having a song that is so different from the rest of the album to be on Fool’s Gold?
When we wrote and rehearsed that track, we didn´t think it would end up sounding like it did. We had something rougher in mind, more of a old school Misfits style, or maybe something like Dead Moon. Garage-y punk-y rock. However, when we started recording it, it somehow took it´s own direction, and when the time came to put down vocals on it, Bragge didn´t feel comfortable with doing it. So we got in touch with Rob Coffinshaker, who has been a personal fave of mine for many years, and he was glad to take on the challenge. I think he did a stellar job, and I think the track is awesome. Obviously it sounds very different from the other songs, but on the other hand songs like Pink Mist, or Deadend Blues, or Rip it Up, also sounds pretty different. So in reality, about 50% of the album sounds pretty different from each other, hehe.. A lot of the old classic rock albums had odd songs on them, think for example of Black Sabbath who always included (sometimes jazzy) instrumentals, piano ballads etc., or bands like Deep Purple or Judas Priest who had a very wide sound.
There were oddball tracks on The Original Sin also (the afore mentioned Iron Lamb track for example), and in the end, it´s only Iron Lamb who decides what will be an Iron Lamb song or not.
Fool’s Gold, of course, apart from referring to the faux-gold metal, seems to refer to the superficial nature of the human condition as well. Were there any particular events that inspired the lyrics on the album?
Hey that´s cool you picked up on that meaning!! A few of the songs were directly inspired by particular events, like “Rip it Up” for example goes out to the French band with the same name, that we played a show together with in Berlin back in 2011.. That night was a bit chaotic and some people got upset, but that´s how it goes sometimes. “Pink Mist” is also loosely based on the phenomenon of school shootings, and how the information society in general inspires a lot of things, both good and horrible. “Mockingbird” is something as different (for us) as a kind of political song, about the current right wing movement in Sweden. “One Way Track” and “Deadend Blues” are to be considered part 1 and 2 of a theme based on general hopelessness. “Smile Now Cry Later” is a song based on deeply personal happenings of the faux writer who wrote it. “Leave Me Be” is also based on a specific event. I guess most of the songs are based on more or less daily life happenings.
The title however is, as you imply, based on superficiality, and how nothing really objectively can be measured in monetary values. Be it of arts, politics, economy or anything else. Why is gold worth many many times more than silver or even brass? Basically just cause someone originally said so, and the rest of the world agreed and followed. That way of thinking can be applied to anything in life really. Judging by who you speak to, everything is Fool´s Gold in one sense or another. I like that idea.
What is the band’s favourite track to play off the new album, and why? I personally really love the grooviness on Smile Now Cry Later a lot…
Yeah that one is definitely one of our faves as well!! I´d say One Way Track, Smile Now, Feed the Fire, Mockingbird and Rip it Up are the general band faves that everyone enjoys playing and listening to. Some of the songs are more fun to listen to than to actually play, and also the other way around. It´s hard for us to judge also since some of the songs have been with us for as long as four years by now, and some of them are much much newer.
The band filmed a video for the closing track, Deadend Blues, with a nice old school, no-nonsense rock ‘n’ roll vibe. What was the filming process like?
It was hot!! Extremely hot. It was filmed on the hottest day of last year, in the end of July. Andreas, the guy who filmed and edited it, is the old vocalist for Thomas previous band Dr Living Dead. Andreas is studying to be a graphic designer and is very good with these things. He does his company “Atmanoid”, check it out on Facebook or somewhere else.
Since we didn´t have a high budget (no budget at all in reality) we went for something basic. I always think low budget rock videos where the band members are trying to be actors usually end up very cheesy, so we went for a “live without audience” thing, as a lot of classic bands did back in the late 70´s and early 80´s. I think it turned out great, even though in retrospect it might had been wiser to choose a different track. We were aware of that this song was a weird choice when we did it, but we felt like doing it, and we never really made any “wise” decisions for the sake of it either so..