In December 2008 the Swedish four-piece The Arson Project put out their debut EP Blood and Locusts via German label Power It Up. It's a brutal effort of grindcore that brings associations to both Nasum and Rotten Sound. I recently contacted vocalist Niklas Larson to discuss the EP, the inspiration and lots of other things. It turned out to be an interesting conversation as Niklas was informative in his answers.

Niklas Larson interviewed by PSL

How did the band form and why the name The Arson Project?
The band was formed mainly because we were sick and tired of the lack of good bands in our hometown. Since it's so small it wasn't that strange we were the first band there to play anything harder and more metal focused than hardcore. This was like a new thing for people so it went some months before they finally realised we weren't just bashing on our instruments as hard as we could. About the band name, we first got the idea from a Crowpath song called "The Arsonist", but we then found out that there already was a Swedish death metal band under the name Arsonist. I think it actually was Oscar who first came up with the idea of naming the band The Arson Project. It did sound good and the meaning of it was far from obvious. It simply gave people an opportunity to get their own ideas about what it was about.

Blood and Locusts is an intense and diverse effort. There's a good mix between the fast and the more moderate in the songs. Is this something you think about when you write music?
Absolutely. One of not-so-good sides of many grind bands is that it easily gets boring, therefore the short songs and not too complex structures. We didn't want to make "the standard grindcore album". Still we weren't trying to make history creating some kind of new grindcore fusion. We wanted it to contain the best parts of what's common in the scene, and still be able to mix it with influences from other genres we like. To us it feels like that is exactly what Blood and Locusts have become.

Nasum, Gadget and Rotten Sound appear to have been a huge inspiration. Could you say something about who has inspired you? Do you limit yourselves to the grindcore genre when you write songs or do you try to mix different inputs in as well?
Yes, you couldn't get away with that. But like I said before, we try not to have any musical boundaries when we write music. The same goes when it comes to bands that inspire you. We want to be able to use anything we want. It doesn't make any difference if it comes from a pop song or from the new Nile album. I feel that we constantly have in mind what is our sound, and it never lets you down. As long as we still can identify ourselves in the songs we write there are no rules. Comparisons like Nasum, Rotten Sound and such are good in that way that I believe fans of those would find interest in what we do.

How is the process of creating songs? Do you write in the practice room or at home?
Mostly we write stuff when we rehearse. It let everyone there have an opinion before the song is complete and it often turns out way better in the end. Sometimes Daniel or I bring an idea from something we wrote at home, but it rarely sounds the same after we've put it in a song. I could say that 90% of our songs are built on sudden ideas during a jam session.

How prepared are you when you enter the studio? Is there room for spontaneous inputs when you record?
We have always aimed to be fully prepared, but like you probably already have figured out that's mostly far from reality. The songs mostly tend to be finished and ready to go when we start the recording, but something that more than once haven't been that prepared are the lyrics. A reason might be that I take a big responsibility for the song-writing and the writing of the lyrics sometimes come in second. When I've finished a song I often start to write a new instead of completing the lyrics. A lot of great ideas we've used on our recordings are results of things we've came up with in the studio. For example our studio-engineer on Blood and Locusts William Blackmon helped out a lot with perspective views and inputs.

You recorded at Studio Overlook. Could you say something about what made you go for that studio?
We really didn't have any good ideas about which studio to use for the recording. We had decided not to sign any record labels and wanted to keep the recording for promotional use. That also meant we had to pay all the costs from our own pockets. First we were invited to record at Panu Posti's studio in Helsinki. But since our budget was way tight we had to get rid of as much of the travelling costs and such as we possibly could, and picked a Swedish studio instead. We knew William had recorded Gadget's latest release The Funeral March so Daniel called him. We had no idea about prices, but still we had nothing to lose. William seemed eager to do the recording and gave us a really good offer when it came to the price as well. We owe him a lot of thanks for Blood and Locusts turning out such a great success!

I can't help thinking of Nasum and Rotten Sound when it comes to the production on Blood and Locusts. Did you use their type of sound as some sort of guideline or is it a coincidence that the production turned out the way it did?

[Laughs] you're not alone. In a way I think we did. Of course we wanted to keep up with their high standard and at the same time we wanted a sound that did fit us. We compared the sound with countless productions just to get an honest picture of how we wanted it to be. But for us there isn't something like a perfect production, I'm sure that we'll experiment and try different things on the next recording. We had no goals about how it should sound, it depends on the songs and what fits them the best.

Lyrically what kind of subjects do you write about?
Lyrically it's just like when we write music. We try to have no boundaries. Of course we don't write about anything. The lyrics wouldn't be a part of the music if we wrote about how cute puppies are or my last vacation in Greece. As a concept it's mostly focused on things that happened in our lives and how we see things that is happening around us and around the world. It could be things like social issues, war and people suffering from injustice or religion and so on. In that way we are more old school than when it comes to lyrics than with regards to the song writing.

You're signed to Power It Up Records. How did you end up with them?
After we had played at Obscene Extreme in 2007 Tom from Power It Up came up to me on the festival grounds. He was really excited about our show and said he would be interested in a future release with us. We hadn't released anything besides demo material at that time so we couldn't really agree to anything back then. We had at that time been rather inactive since our start in 2005 because of line-up changes and similar hinders, but after the gig at Obscene Extreme we decided to take the band seriously. I had promised Tom to contact him when we had songs for a release and so I sent him a copy of the recording when we got the first mix from William in February 2008. He never had any hesitation to release it and all I can say that we are very happy with the co-operation with Power It UP. Everything has being going way better then we could have asked for.

Do you have any split CD's, 7' or other releases in the works?
We'll keep this one secret for a little while longer. What I can say is that we are working on new material and that we've already got a lot ready for the future. But what kind of release, when and on which label it will out on I can't tell you at this point. All these plans are a work in progress!

What next do you have planned for the band?
First off, to promote Blood and Locusts. Also to make it possible for our European fans to see us live when we're simultaneously are writing new songs. Hopefully we'll once again be able to make people appreciate what we do! The more people supporting us, the more opportunities we'll have when it comes to touring and releasing new stuff.

The Swedish grindcore scene appears to be very active. Being very much a part of the scene how do you see it? Are there any upcoming bands that people should look out for?
Yes it seems to be highly respected and to have made a great impression worldwide the past years. I still haven't realised that we in any way could be a part of this. I remember when we wrote our first song in some basement and did it just for the fun. About a year later our demo got on the internet and people went crazy about that shit. We really didn't know much about the grindcore scene at that time and still in the past three years we've become a bigger and bigger part of it. I can't get how we've come to this point where we stand today. It's just lately I've been starting to understand our role in what's happening with it. I don't know what to compare it to, but I hope you understand what I'm trying to explain. Much of our success have come because of bands like Splitter and Afgrund who always have pushed us and been talking good about what we do. There's lot's of good bands, but I'm sure that the most people who read this have a way better clue about them than I do [laughs].

Anything you'd like to add to finish this interview?
I want to say thanks for one of the most amusing interviews I've done lately. Anyone who read this check out our website for updates, gigs and whatever might happen there. Also I finally hope get back to Denmark soon, it's always fun to play and drink beer with you guys!

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