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you tell us a bit about Clawfinger?
Zak: "Two Swedes & two Norwegians
who met each other working at a hospital for old
people, we became work friends and realized we all
had the love for music in common, one thing led to
another and we started making demo tracks just for
the fun of it! Eventually we won a demo competition,
got a song played 5 nights in a row on the national
Swedish radio and landed a deal with MVG records,
this was in 1992! Since then we've released 5 albums,
done more than 550 gigs and toured all over the place!"
Anders: Why did you name the
band Clawfinger? Does it mean anything special?
Zak: "We spent weeks and weeks
trying to come up with names, we wrote down
suggestions on pieces of paper, went to the library's
english departments looking at book titles and
basically just brainstormed in every way we could!
In the end we had a deadline to take into consideration
as we were about to send out demo cassettes to all
the record companies we thought seemed interesting &
five minutes before we posted them Bård came up with
the name Clawfinger and as none of us had any better
suggestions we said "Okay let's go with it, we'll
get used to the name" Since that day we've been
called Clawfinger!! As for the meaning of it, well
there is a swedish word called klåfingrig which is
basically someone who is nosey and can't keep his
fingers off of things, also I've heard it's a medical
term for when the muscle in the hand is cut off and
your hand flips back but I don't know if it's true?"
Anders: Why are there only 4
guys in the band? Aren't the other two permanent
Zak: "Simply because we were
the four guys who met eachother, wrote all the songs,
recorded the demos and got the record deal for the
first album, the other guys did not surface until we
needed bass & drums in the studio and when it was
time to tour! Since then we've just kept it that way
as it has felt like the most convenient way of doing
it, I think it's a good deal cos the guys make money
even when we do the gigs where the rest of us don't
make any money & hardly even breakeven"
Anders: You have always been
very politically aware in terms of your lyrics, how
come you haven't lost that over the years?
Zak: "Well I've never felt like
a very political person, it's always been more a
case of standing on the outside looking at what goes
on & then commenting on it! I just feel concerned
about what the world is coming to and how we are
treating each other as human beings! I haven't lost
my interest in addressing social issues along the
way because I still think it's important to be aware
of what goes on even if I don't understand everything!"
Anders: How would you describe
what kind of music Clawfinger plays?
Zak: Naive, aggressive, from
the heart primitive screaming rapvocals mixed with
staccato riffs & heavy drums, simple basic & very
Anders: Have you had a steady
line up all the time or have there been any member
changes? And if so, why?
Zak: "We are now on our third
drummer, Henka Johansson but apart from that it's
been the same line-up since day one, drummers seem
to explode on stage and disappear into outer space,
I've never understood why but it's an unwritten rule
in the rock 'n' rool business? As for the reason why
well, I guess as always it's a question of getting
along with people and working as a team, when that
doesn't work then it's better to find a replacement!"
Anders: I have followed you
since the beginning of the 90's, what is your opinion
of the different metal styles that have come and
gone? Clawfinger has refused to follow any new trend,
Zak: "There are originators and
there are imitators, there are people who state their
influences but still come up with something new and
original in their own music. And there are bands who
don't even deserve the plastic their music is printed
on because they are simply copying what has already
been done better by other bands in the past! I like
bands that play music from the heart and are more
concerned with song writing than their imagery! We
don't really follow trends because we don't know how
to and we don't care to. We are influenced by bands
we like, but we have sounded the way we do since
day one simply because we are the individuals we are
and come from different musical backgrounds. There
was never a master plan or a scheme! There are good
and bad metal bands within the metal scene just as
in all other scenes, and I don't really have any
special opinions on the different trends that have
come and gone, the trends that have quality last and
the ones that don't disappear!"
Anders: Why have you cut down
Zak: "Because the sales haven't
been as good as in the past, which leaves us with
a smaller budget. Because we are all getting older
and because some of us have wives and families and
we want to spend more time at home with them! In
the future we will try and do more gigs than in the
last few years, but try and keep the schedules more
tight so we can do more gigs in less days! Last but
not least we need to do more in Scandinavia as we
have neglected our fans here, but it's about interest
from the promoters and money as always!"
Anders: Why did it take so long
to follow up the Clawfinger album from '97? The next
album came out in '01
Zak: "Record company bullshit
more than anything else, the album was recorded and
ready to be released already in the summer of 2000,
but thanx to incompetent bosses at MNW records things
got delayed time and time again! Also in early 1998
we bought our own studio equipment and rented a small
studio and it took time to learn how everything
worked! Also it's easy to spend too long writing
songs when you have your own studio, the songs just
never quite seem ready enough to be finished songs!"
Anders: What is your opinion on
that your old record company has released a
compilation album with you, have you approved that?
Zak: "We had nothing to do with
it, and I personally think it's a lame product. No
extra bonus material (b-sides, remixes etc), no stories
or photos in the booklet from gigs, or fun episodes
in our career, and not even a completely correct
collection of our singles! I don't know why they didn't
let us be involved. I guess maybe they thought we
weren't interested as we were no longer on the label,
but they are still our songs, so I would have loved
to have made sure that the fans got something extra
for their money!"
Anders: Why did you choose to
call your new album "Zeroes & Heroes" does
it mean anything special?
Zak: "Well first of all it's
related to the cover, it's a photoshopped picture
of the four of us as statues in a museum! We're
playing with the idea that we could be considered
heros or icons if Clawfinger is an important group
to you! On the other hand we feel that the real
heros most often are the people who have the
underpayed 9 to 5 jobs, cleaning toilets & driving
the buses and undergrounds. Without these people
society would stop working within hours! The hard
workers never get the attention they really deserve
as everything is so focused on the media these days!"
Anders: What was the response
from the fans/press on the new album?
Zak: "The response from the
fans has mostly been good, as for the press, well in
Sweden not a lot of people really seem to care about
our new release. I guess we're not the flavour of
the month any more and Linkin Park & Limp Bizkit have
cooler tattoos than we do. We got a lot of mail
every day from all over the world from people who
say they love our new album and we're still making
music the way we want to, and that is all that
matters! The press in outside Sweden has been good
so we'll just have to wait and see how it sells!"
Anders: Are you going to tour
on the new album? If so, where?
Zak: "We will be touring
Scandinavia and Europe with our new album in
Sept/Oct/Nov but I can't say exactly which
territories yet as it's all being planned right this
very moment! We will be back though so just hang in
there and keep your Clawfingers crossed that we come
to a city near you!"
Anders: How does the co-operation
with your new company work?
Zak: "They're doing a good job
in their home territory for sure, the problem is
they're a German company, so outside of Germany we
have to rely on BMG network to take care of
distribution & promotion. In some of other
territories they simply don't care about Clawfinger
enough as they have bigger & better selling acts to
attend to. In other words they don't have the time
Anders: Who writes the
lyrics/music in Clawfinger?
Zak: "I write 95% of the lyrics
and we all sit together and write the music. Of
course we all play our different parts and
contribute with different bits & pieces but we
always try and sit together as a team when we make
the songs...sometimes it works"
Anders: Are the lyrics on the
new album about anything special?
Zak: "My lyrics are always
about something special, they're always based on
ideas and thoughts that are going through my head.
Some serious, some less serious, some personal, and
some based on stories I've heard! I can't go through
every song here but if anyone has questions about
any specific lyric of mine then I'll gladly answer
Anders: Do you have any favourite
song on the album?
Zak: "One of my favourite tracks
is a song called "Kick It" simply because it has an
uptempo beat and a good groove. Also the chorus has
some sort of 50's rock'n'roll/beach boys vibe to it,
but in a Clawfinger sort of way! I have a whole
bunch of favourites obviously, but that is the first
song that comes to mind when I read the question"
Anders: Are there any more
material that that band is going to release as bonus
on MCD on this new album?
Zak: "There is a limited
edition of the album with 3 bonus tracks that is
also available. But apart from that I don't think
there is a whole lot of left over material that is
good enough to be made available for the fans, if
there is, then it will be used as b-side material.
Hopefully there will be a b-side compilation of our
whole career up until now sometime in the not too
distant future. We certainly have enough material
to make one"
Anders: How was it to support
Rammstein through Europe on your last album? How was
the response from the Rammstein's fans?
Zak: "It was great fun
supporting Rammstein. They treated us like kings
and made us feel totally at home in every possible
way. As for the fans, well they were very open
minded as well, which we were happy about as we
were worried they would all stand there screaming
"RAMMSTEIN!" through our entire set. I think for
Rammstein it was a way to pay us back for old times
because in 1995 they supported us on a bunch of our
European gigs, this is when they were small and we
Anders: How many fans does
Clawfinger have now compared to when you started
Zak: "I'm sorry but that
question is totally impossible to answer. In the
very beginning we didn't have any fans at all, a
year later we had loads and loads, a few years later
not quite as many and it just continues to go up and
down like a rollercoaster ride. I don't have any
figures and I don't know how to do that calculation,
all I know is that we would like to have as many
fans as possible."
Anders: Which song is the most
requested when you're playing live?
Zak: "I would have to say that
"Do What I Say" is definitely one of the most
requested songs. There are always a bunch of people
in the crowd who demand that song when we are
Anders: Why haven't you released
more albums through the years?
Zak: "Well, I think 5 albums in
10 years is pretty reasonable and more than alot
of bands manage to release in their entire career!
The reason we haven't released more is simply because
we need time to write songs, we are not very fast
and we need to work a lot on each track before we
are satisfied with the result."
Anders: Do you have any
favourite album by Clawfinger? Do you have one that
you're not content with?
Zak: "My personal favourite is
the third self titled album, but ask the other guys
in the band and they will most surely give you a
completely different answer. I can't say there is an
album I like the least, but I have songs on each
album that I think should have been b-sides instead
and there are always a bunch of b-sides that I
personally think should have made it onto the albums."
Anders: Do you have any song
that's fun to do live?"
Zak: "Do What I Say" simply
because' it always gets my adrenaline pumping so
madly, and because the crowds always start up small
moshpits when the song starts"