Full of primal rage and belly laughs, Aeon are Swedish metal lords. Far removed from their peers in bands like Entombed and Nihilist, Tommy Dahlstöm the bands singer shares with us some wisdom from his life on the road. Interview by Matt Bacon From Marchs' 2015 Edition - Cover Story READ MORE ARTICLES, INTERVIEWS & MORE FREE
So how’s it going Tommy?
Tommy: So far so good. It’s the perfect tour for us, we’re touring with two of the biggest bands in metal so we play in front of huge crowds every night. It’s awesome. It’s the best tour I’ve been on. We are very satisfied.
Related to that, do you feel like this is the next step for Aeon, do you think you’re about to become huge?
Tommy: We have a long way to go but this tour will definitely help us to go in the right direction.
Aeon’s Black came out in 2012, can we expect a new record anytime soon?
Tommy: No. When we go home from this tour we will continue to write some new songs, we have a few, but when we did the European tour and then this tour we had to stop writing for a while. Hopefully we will get more stuff done when we get back home. If we are lucky we will have a record out in late 2015, but that’s only if we are very luck.
So it’s more likely going to be early to middle 2016?
Tommy: Yeah… I should think so.
Are you concerned about losing fans with that kind of gap?
Tommy: A little bit yes. We’re touring a lot more now though, and we gain fans every time we hit the stage so I think we’re good.
Where do you go from here now that you’ve toured with Cannibal Corpse?
Tommy: That’s the thing! We’re always telling Cannibal Corpse and Behemoth “It’s all downhill from here!” (Laughter) I don’t know actually. Every good tour we can get on we take. We try to make the best of it, so let’s see what happens.
Do you still have a day job?
Tommy: Nope, still got a day job. I’m a truck driver, I listen to death metal and drive in a truck all day long.
Do you ever get weird looks?
Tommy: Sometimes! (Laughter)
How do you balance that with being in a band?
Tommy: It’s hard. Luckily I have a good boss. If I plan ahead and show him what days I need off then he’s fine with it.
Do you find the artist support structure out in Sweden helpful?
Tommy: We don’t play Sweden that much… The artist support doesn’t help us much. Seb our guitar player and I have been playing together since 1991. We had been playing together for fun, and suddenly we’re here, it’s kind of amazing. Nobody taught us how to do it, we learned ourselves!
So you guys have just started up a pretty big tour then?
Tommy: Well we’re just good pals man. It’s kind of easy. Maybe we have been into one verbal fight once in all our time together. We want the same thing and we go in the same direction, that’s why it’s so easy to get along with him.
It’s essentially a marriage… Tommy: Sort of. When we go back home though he does his stuff and I do my stuff. When were younger we would hang out every day. We don’t do that as much anymore, he has a family and stuff like that. We talk regularly and rehearse. He’s like a brother.
So by having that kind of core you are able to keep the band going no matter what?
Tommy: Yeah, totally. We have fought many uphill battles to get here but we always end up on top. Things work, it’s awesome!
What charmed me about Aeon was that you’re extremely brutal there’s always a sense of groove, to what degree is that supposed to be an aspect of the sound?
Tommy: We always try to have the groove. I think that if you lose the groove then you lose a lot of fans. People want to feel the groove, they want to be able to headbang and feel it. That’s important. You can still make brutal stuff and have groove in it, if you have groove in it, it’s a plus. That’s how we feel at least. It’s something we work hard to achieve.
I’ve always felt you were kind of separated from Swedish Death Metal, how did that come about?
Tommy: I remember Seb and I listening to music and we always were listening to bands like Suffocation, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse. For me, the Swedish type of death metal was a little boring. I wanted blast beats and more aggressive stuff.
Was that just through tape trading?
Tommy: Tape trading and record stores back home.
To what degree back in the early 90s were you part of the Swedish underground? I remember reading in Choosing Death about having shows in the subway… did that actually happen?
Tommy: We had shows almost like that .We had one in a bus station. It was the first show we were ever supposed to do. We went on stage, sound checked, somebody complained that it was too loud, so we gave them the finger, took our equipment and went off stage. We just sound checked for one song. That was ’90 or ’91.
Did you see the guys in bands like Entombed around?
Tommy: We didn’t. We live in the north of Sweden, they live in Stockholm so they are like 6-7 hours away from us. We are from a pretty small town.
Where there a lot of other people like you?
Tommy: Not many. Just a few. We had at that time I think three or four death metal bands, and now we have maybe three. It’s a small town.
And you have no desire to leave?
Tommy: No, if I leave that town I will leave the country I think. I can move to Stockholm but it won’t make our music better. So we will stay in our boring town where we can concentrate on music.
What kind of differences do you find in touring in the US versus Europe?
Tommy: I think it’s more fun in the US!
People usually say it’s the other way around!
Tommy: Everybody looks at me when I say that. I think people go crazier when we play here. Aeon is bigger in the States than we are in Europe. So that’s good too.
Do you think that you’re bigger in the States because of the American sound you tried to emulate?
Tommy: Maybe. It might also be because every record company we have been on is from the States.
When Aeon’s “Black” came out it kind of felt like Metal Blade was stagnating and now they’re on the premiere metal labels in the world again. How has it felt to be on the label throughout that?
Tommy: For me ever since I was a kid I wanted to be on Metal Blade because I thought the logo was cool. When that happened it was just kind of dream come true. It feels like all the dreams are coming true though. Just five years ago Aeon was a much smaller band than we are now. I’m enjoying it…
So five years from now you can stop being a truck driver?
Tommy: Hopefully! The music business is very hard to crack these days though… especially with this kind of music and especially these days. I think it was easier to be a big band in the late 90s then it is now. We have the internet to share our files but there’s no record stores anymore.
Has Metal Blade been helpful though?
Tommy: They have worldwide distribution though, so of course they help us with that. It’s cool to see our records being sold all over the world!
What inspires you to keep doing this? The dream is starting to come true but you’re still a truck driver, what makes you keep going?
Tommy: Making music and seeing the fruits of something I have done is awesome. Sharing it with you guys on stage is a drug, it’s a rush. That’s the inspiration I have. That’s what I love so much about music. If I stopped doing this it would be a big black hole in my life that I couldn’t fill.
Any final comments?
Tommy: Keep supporting death metal!