Martin Rosendahl and Jesper Frost interviewed by PSL
How did the idea of reforming Iniquity come around?
Martin: It all came about when I talked to Brian about it back in 2010. I was tired, and still am, of getting shiploads of emails from fans all over the world asking all sorts of questions. Of course I politely answer all mails regardless, but a lot of them was from fans who never got the chance to experience the band live. So first I talked to Brian and he was totally up for it, but due to commitments in other bands, namely Corpus Mortale we didn't go further with it until this spring when I contacted several other members. From the start Brian and I agreed that unless Jesper was up for it we would of course not go through with it. In June we managed to convince both Jesper and a bit later Jens Lee to finally do it.
Why did the band disband after Grime?
Jesper: In 2003 Mads and I was the only members left and we began writing new material in 2004 but it soon became evident that the commitment and the inspiration wasn't there anymore so after a few hard months we decided to end it all. None of us found it fun anymore. We were bored and sick with each other. We split up as friends though.
I guess it's obvious to ask why Mads Haarløv isn't a part of Iniquity 2012?
Martin: When I wrote the old members about the reunion Mads was the first I contacted and he simply replied that he "did not want to participate" so Jens Lee was the next on the list. On the other hand it would have been a bit weird with Mads, Brian, Jesper and I since Mads and I never was in Iniquity at the same time. He re-joined the band when I left.
Iniquity has had a lot of line-up changes during the years. Do you feel the 2012 line-up is the closets you get to the original line-up?
Martin: I think it is for several reasons. First off Jakob is retired and so are all the dudes playing on the demo's and Serenadium. Zeeberg, Nielsen, Gnist, Friis, Jacob and the dudes from the first demo tape are not active anymore, at least not in metal anyway. And since Petrowsky is dead this is the earliest complete line-up that is possible to gather. The four of us was the line-up from early 1997 to late 1998 and is probably the longest lasting line-up the band ever had. Furthermore we toured our asses off to promote Serenadium so I think it is justified by that fact alone.
The setlist, is it going to focus solely on The Hidden Lore and Serenadium?
Martin: well, mostly it will. We're going to play four or five songs off Serenadium, two, three off The Hidden Lore and finally we'll include two songs from Five Across the Eyes, those being songs that Brian and I wrote after The Hidden Lore was released, but before Lee and I left the band. We've chosen to completely ignore Grime due to the fact that only Jesper had anything to do with that album. Furthermore the tuning of that particular album would complicate things quite a bit and we'd be forced to bring a shitload of guitars and basses for the shows which would be ridiculous just in order to play a few songs from an album most of us has nothing to do with.
When you rehearse, do you play by ear or do you have tabs of the songs?
Martin: We started off by Brian and I rehearsed the songs together. The few riffs or details we couldn't remember we got right from listening to the recordings. Then Lee and Brian have been rehearsing together later on and I think Lee's has been plotting the songs in some kind of tab-program. At the same time Jesper has been practicing on his own. Currently we've begun rehearsing together to get the feeling and all back. And I got to say that it all came very easy to us. We're 15 years better than the last time we played together, and the musical chemistry and friendship is still there. So we're really enjoying ourselves.
Let's talk a bit about The Hidden Lore. I understand that the idea to make the EP more or less came out of the blue?
Martin: Oh yeah, that's a crazy story. Serenadium was released by Emanzipation Productions which later became Mighty Music, but the album was distributed through Progress / Diehard and in order to get them to distribute the next Iniquity album we were sent into the studio to record a demo so they could be assured that the quality was not compromised regarding all the changes in the line-up since Serenadium was recorded. We booked the studio and had three songs prepared. But so it happened that about 10 days before we were due to start the recordings we got a phone call from Emanzipation explaining that the agreement with Diehard was history and now we were supposed to make it an EP with four songs. In ten days we had to complete a song which we had barely started composing because we had been busy rehearsing and perfecting the initial three songs. It was pretty fucked up. I had to write the lyrics in the studio at the same time Brian was recording the guitars. Quite stressful and a bit left handed. In the end the producer also fucked up during the mixing so we had to get Jakob Hansen to do the mixing. Luckily for us he was at the time not as famous as he is today. He was just starting to establish himself as a producer so we got him to do it for almost nothing. And he really saved the whole thing. In the end we were quite satisfied, but with a couple of more weeks to prepare it could have been way better I think.
In terms of song-writing, did you try to uphold the feel and lyrical theme from Serenadium?
Martin: We most certainly did. As we were a whole new team of musicians we had two choices, one was to do whatever we wanted and risk to disappoint all the fans of the Serenadium album or we could do a mix of new ideas and at the same time use some of the things that made Serenadium so great. Musically we really tried hard to get the same feeling into the material partly through borrowing certain details here and there, but also to push it further. You know making it more technical and faster. Put some blast beats in there as well. I think we it turned out pretty authentic and true to the old material. Lyrically we also tried to get it right. Actually the lyrics for the title track were written by the old drummer Jacob Olsen as Petrowsky had left behind a folder with a bunch of old unused lyrics. I had to change some lines here and there to make it fit the music so it's like 75% the original lyrics written around 1994/ 1995. The rest was written by Brian and me.
Contrary to Serenadium there was no use of keyboards or cello on The Hidden Lore. Why was that?
Martin: We talked about using both cello and keyboard, but we didn't do it in the end partly because we didn't have the time to set it up once we got the "news" about it being an EP and not a demo, partly because we felt that it wouldn't really suit the music and also to avoid copying the older material more than we did in the first place.
How extensive do you expect the reunion tour to be, and is it just going to focus on Denmark and Europe?
Martin: We've agreed to only play shows during 2013 with one or two exceptions being the AMF festival in Denmark in November and possibly a one-day festival in London, UK in December. So when the last show in 2013 has been played it's all over and we won't do another reunion at a later time, at least not with this line-up. 2013 is the 25th anniversary of the band, it's the 15th anniversary of The Hidden Lore and it is the 10th anniversary of Iniquity's last live show back in 2003. So the timing is perfect. We're mainly playing in Denmark, but so far we've booked a festival in USA. Shows or festivals in Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Spain and France are currently in the works but nothing is certain yet. And as mentioned it looks like we're going to the UK to headline a festival in London in December this year. The initial plan was to get to play in as many countries as possible to satisfy all those Iniquity fans who never got the chance to see us or haven't discovered the band until after the split-up.
Do you know if there are plans to reissue any of the Iniquity albums? I mean some of these are hard to find these days.
Martin: Unfortunately no. The guys behind Mighty Music don't seem to appreciate Iniquity's ever growing popularity nor the demand for the old albums which has been pressed in very small quantities. I don't get it because those guys have the full rights for all the releases and they could probably earn quite a bit of money if they wanted to and at the same time make all the fans happy. It makes absolutely no sense to me. Furthermore I'm aware that several people and labels have approached Mighty in regard of buying the right or just licenses to repress some of the releases, but either they're turned down or their claims are too unrealistic to make it possible. I mean who would pay 30 Euro's for a re-issue for an example?
I guess it's obvious to ask if there will be a new Iniquity album?
Martin: That is not going to happen. A lot of people are asking about it, but we haven't even considered doing it. Why destroy the memory of a good time and an awesome band? I'm really glad that nobody in the reunion line-up or any of the former members is interested in doing it. It would just be plain wrong. I'm not much into reunions in the first place and we do it only for the fans and to have some fun and get to travel around meeting those fans and old friends. We will on the other hand print some shirts. As there never was a shirt for The Hidden Lore we've got the original cover artist Terkel Christensen, who also did the Serenadium artwork to make a t-shirt design which will be available at the shows, but we'll of course sell them online as well. Besides that we're planning to get him to make some new genuine artwork for a "tour" shirt which will have all the shows listed on the back print, old school style.
As most people know former vocalist/guitarist Brian Petrowsky passed away in 2011 as a result of drug abuse. Was it also drugs that got him fired from the band shortly after Serenadium was released?
Martin: It most certainly was. The story of Brian Petrowsky is a sad one and I won't go into too much detail in respect of his memory. To put it simple he just wasted his life, his talent, everything. And I'm quite amazed that he lasted as long as he did. 17 years on heroin is fucking crazy. But I and the rest of the guys respect what he did and what he was and despite his fuck up's in the past I don't blame him, I just felt sorry for him and his family. May he rest in peace.
Did any of you stay in contact with him?
Martin: Actually we did, or at least we tried to. I remember we hung out with him at his place a couple of times in 1996 / 1997 just on a friendly basis, having a barbecue and a few beers. We never talked about him rejoining though and he didn't seem interested in it anyways. No one has been in contact with him since as far as I know. Only I have a friend whose parents associate with Brian's parents and through him I've been getting "reports" now and then, but all the info I ever got was things like "he's still alive" and "nothing is changed".
There's an anecdote on the Mighty Music website that Iniquity met up with Trey Azagthoth from Morbid Angel at a concert and when the band introduced themselves, Trey started memorizing his favorite riff from Serenadium. Did that happen?
Martin: Well that's a true story. Actually it happened on the day we held the release party for The Hidden Lore. Morbid Angel and Vader played at Pumpehuset that same night so after the shop where the party was held closed we and about 100 other people roamed around the centre of Copenhagen to go to the show - piss drunk and very disorderly. It was an awesome day. When the show was over I was hanging out in the bar at the venue and I noticed Trey chatting with one of my band mates from Corpus Mortale and shortly thereafter Trey approached me inquiring "you're the guy from Iniquity right?!" As soon as I responded "yes I am" he started off humming the opening riff of "Spectral Scent" [laughs]. I never got to tell him how cool their set was. I'm a huge Morbid Angel fan. He was so eager to talk about the Iniquity album that I didn't get a word in there. He explained that he only had a promo copy which does not include the titles so that's probably the reason why he was humming the riffs whenever he mentioned a particular song. He also stated that he had been listening to it in his car for several months and that it was one of the best album he had heard in years, quite a compliment from the ultimate riff-god of death metal. And the funny thing is that after I told Michael of Mighty Music about it, the incident was mentioned in all future press material including flyers for both Five Across the Eyes and Grime and was also quoted in the Iniquity Bloody Iniquity rarity album and at the Mighty Music website as well. But it's a nice story anyway.
Anything you'd like to add to conclude this interview?
Martin: On behalf of Iniquity I'd like to say thank you for the interview. We hope to see a lot of the old fans and all the new ones as well at the shows.