RAM are a traditional heavy metal behemoth from Sweden, a country containing many of the most promising prospects of the heavy metal genre of late. RAM have had a very healthy underground following with two studio albums behind them, ‘Forced Entry’ and ‘Lightbringer’. 2012 brings RAM’s third release ‘Death’, via Metal Blade records. ‘Death’ is an album that shows the band moving forward, in some respects getting a little darker, but not at a cost to their musical routes. Vocalist Oscar Carlquist was kind enough to spend some time answering questions for Ave Noctum, here is what he had to say….
Ave Noctum: ‘Death’ is a solid release, you have received a lot of good reviews, how does that make you feel? It must be rewarding for all your hard work.
Oscar: Yeah sure of course you enjoy good reviews. But I try to not let that enter my creative sphere, we don’t want to bring any outside views of our work into the process of creation, so I tend to not react to much upon either good or bad reviews.
Ave Noctum: To me, ‘Death’ is a very dark album (especially ‘…Comes from the Mouth
Beyond’), compared to ‘Lightbringer’ and even ‘Forced Entry’. Was there any up front effort to take such a path?
Oscar: I would say that mostly our music is very dark. We don’t want an album to have only one aspect so we deliberately hold the darkness back at times to create more diverse albums but the centre from which we reach out creatively is a place of darkness.
Ave Noctum: You were previously with AFM Records, and you also had a single with HRR, how did you get involved with Metal Blade?
Oscar: We were searching for a new label after our contract with AFM had expired, and Metal Blade is a hard working and rather big legendary label. It was also obvious, since they had signed Portrait and In Solitude that they had an ear for good music so we got in touch and signed with them.
Ave Noctum: Is it correct you recorded ‘Death’ prior to the Metal Blade deal?
Ave Noctum: Why did you choose to record at Welfare Sounds Studio’s? Was it for convenience? Or was there a particular sound or tone you were looking for from a recording studio?
Oscar: Gothenburg is full of talented producers and great studios so there is no reason for us to go to another city to record, and in all honesty we are not especially impressed with the sound that the big metal producers have come up with the last ten years or so. It is more important for us that we
work with someone that we have a very good communication with and that we know understands all aspects of the music and musicianship even the more hidden or underlying aspects. Per Stålberg and Olle Björk are totally hardworking, dedicated blue collar producers and this is what attracted us,
there is no bullshit attitude. We hate studios that are tidy, have a really expensive espresso machine and nice leather chairs, and some producer who was hired for his looks rather than what sound he
produces, that’s the part of the music industry that we hate sincerely.
Ave Noctum: Are there particular tracks on the release that mean more to you or RAM or rather are there songs that are more favourable to play?
Oscar: No not really, an equal amount of work has gone into the tracks, we are perfectionists, so all tracks are what they are supposed to be and therefore equal in a sense, all the tracks have a role to play in the whole of the album and therefore I like them all the same.
Ave Noctum: What has Tobbe brought to the RAM sound since he joined?
Oscar: Metal attitude, die hard metal attitude, which was what we needed. Leif was an amazing bass player, he could do anything with a bass, Tobbe may not have the same skill set, but he brings something else, a total connection to that Heavy Metal spirit, we benefit far more from that than excellence in musicality.
Ave Noctum: Who is the main creative force, or does the whole band contribute to the music?
Oscar: Myself and Harry are the main creative forces, Daniel is also involved, but everybody has an equal say in what we and they do contribute now and then in the song writing.
Ave Noctum: You have previously completed a mainland European tour; do you think you will get the opportunity to pop across the water to the UK?
Oscar: I certainly hope so, it would be nice to re-fertilize the mother soil of Heavy Metal.
Oscar: No, I value my right arm too much. We will play any gig at any time, of course we will rather be seen in a context that fits us than one that does not but if there is a stage we will be there and destroy it, which has always been our attitude.
Ave Noctum: You are often labelled as Traditional Heavy Metal, who are the major influences to RAM’s music?
Oscar: We grew up with bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Mercyful Fate, so that is in our blood we can’t escape those influences even if we wanted to. When we write, old School Heavy Metal is what comes out, it’s just natural to us, so there is a lot of honesty in our sound. We might not be the most original band on the planet but we would rather play good unoriginal music than bad original music which is the case most of the times than someone that puts on their smarty pants and tries to do something new.
Ave Noctum: Apart from RAM’s influences, what 3 albums define heavy metal for you?
Oscar: RAM – Forced Entry, RAM – Lightbringer, RAM – Death! (Ave Noctum: I walked straight into that one!)
Ave Noctum: Do you take vocal coaching?
Oscar: I have in the past and I might return, but all I did was learn warm up techniques and how to protect my voice during long tours, I don’t want to be influenced by someone else too much when it comes to my vocal expression.
Ave Noctum: Congratulations with ‘Death’ and all its metal glory, do you have any parting words or a message for our readers?
Oscar: Heavy Metal Tyranny will hunt you down!
‘Death’ is available now through Metal Blade Records!
Interviewed by Paul Maddison