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Star of the Month (The Generals)

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No other band between late 2009 and the first half of 2010 have debuted with the sheer strength, vigour, arrogance, and fuck-the-world confidence than The Generals. Their “Stand Up Straight” debut that had a grinning skull on the cover (isn’t there always a grinning skull on metal albums these days?) crackles with so much energy you might as well surrender to their macho-man charms and buy a few dozen copies. The Generals, who are four rock n’ roll Swedes who like it grooving, might not be the most technical players or poetic songwriters, but the music they create is second to none. Pure undiluted Scandinavian moshpit boogie. Still not convinced? Just purchase/download/steal "Stand Up Straight."


Oh right, below is an interview with their singer-bassist-frontman Hednar. He’s a funny guy.


Hello guys! Has there been a swagger in your step ever since “Stand Up Straight” came out? Does it make you feel ten feet tall knowing your first album is a masterpiece?

Hednar: Thank you very much! It has made us feel ten feet tall just knowing  we have an album out in the market, really. We were a bit nervous about the reviews but mostly we've received top grades, so that’s just awesome. But maybe our upper lips have been a little stiffer these past few months, haha!


Honestly now, with album number one out since March, what kind of roadwork have you guys been doing to support it? How many thousands of people have had The Generals crammed down their ears live?

Hednar: We've just been doing some club shows around Sweden so far and we still have a few more scheduled.  But in July we’re doing our biggest show yet at Getaway Rock Festival with bands like Motörhead, Megadeth, Devildriver, Slash, Meshuggah, etc. and if everything goes the way we plan we'll be hitting the European roads this autumn.


Oh yes, live. I mean playing live. It’s the ultimate test for a metal band. How would you rate yourselves as a live band? What do the four of you bring onstage live that’s absent in the studio?

Hednar: We've always considered ourselves to be a live band first and foremost. I mean, we've just released our debut album but we've allready done about 150 live shows. We have had the same members since the start several years ago so we know each other pretty damn good, onstage and off. We're four friends basic that do what we love and that's playing metal and we can't wait to show every fucking metalhead out there what we can do on stage. I'm off topic, sorry...We bring our good looks onstage live. Hehehe...


You’re called The Generals. Who came up with the name?

Hednar: I don't really remember. It's a really uncool story. We got a gig and had no name, so we looked around and someone noticed a label on a speaker, it said "General Electra." There it is, The Generals,  and it just stuck.


Now take us to day one. When did it all begin? Who met whom? Was it bromance at first sight?

Hednar: I met Dick (guitarist) in the army. In Sweden we have this mandatory service for a year or so and he played guitar in another band at the time and they searched for a bass player. I joined this band who MetalMartin (our drummer) at the time played the other guitar in. Dick and his old highschool buddy Rickard (who, by the way, is the only one of us who hasn’t served) wanted to start a rock band and so they did. Somehow I got mixed up in this and so did Martin. The other band died and we got booked all the time with this new band we had, The Generals, so we thought what the hell, let's do this. And that's me making a long story short!


Which member of the band is bald and has a beard that reaches to his tummy?

Hednar: That would be Mr. MetalMartin, our mighty drummer. If someone would cut his beard in his sleep I believe he would commit murder/suicide. I really do.


From the time the four of you came together to when you entered the studio to record “Stand Up Straight,” how did the band prepare the material for the album?

Hednar: Since we've been together for seven years we've had plenty of time to work on our debut. In the beginning we were a rock band so most of our early songs obviously didn’t make it to "Stand Up Straight.” You can say that there's three older songs on the album and the rest were written about a year or two before the recording, and some were only a month old when we entered the studio.


The Swedish countryside.

Where did you guys go to record the album? What was the environment like in the studio while working on “Stand Up Straight”?

Hednar: We went to the famous Sunlight Studios owned by legendary Tomas Skogsberg. It was fucking fantastic, I love that guy. If you havent ben there it's hard to explain. He's just so rock n’ roll, you know? First of all, Sunlight Studios is no longer in Stockholm. He's moved it out to the woods, inside an old barn. If you didn’t know it's there you'd never find it, believe me. When we first arrived it was winter, so we asked Tomas if we could take off our shoes before entering, and he said fuck that or someting like it and we smoked everywere, put coffee cups on the mixing table and between the takes we worked on his tractor or his Moped, drinking beer and carrying wooden boards from one place to another. It was crazy but fucking fantastic.


How long did it take from laying down the drum tracks to the final mix? Hearing the album two months after it was released, is there anything you’d like to change?

Hednar: It took a lot longer than we'd planned, I can tell you that much. We aimed for having it all on tape within a few weeks but in the end it took over a year, including mixing and mastering. But we're glad we did it that way because the album ended up the way we wanted. I'm not sure it would have if we'd rushed the recordning. So no, there's nothing we want to change. We're pretty fucking pleased with our debut.


Who are the main songwriters in the band? Does everyone chip in, or is there one true general among The Generals who gives all the orders?

Hednar: Basically we all participate. We do all the songs at rehearsel. We don't have a band Hitler and that's a good thing because that's what makes our sound, I think. Mixing all our backgrounds. We listen to all kinds of stuff, everything from death metal to old blues to hardcore to 70s rock.


I can honestly say your songwriting skills are top notch. How did you guys learn to write great songs? Do you actually learn it or does it come naturally?

Hednar: Haha! Thanks. I don't know. I guess it comes natural. But at the same time you learn as the yeras go by, you know.


What I like the most about the band is the overall level of musicianship I hear on the album. Everything comes together perfectly. The riffs, the melodies, the guitar solos, the attitude. How would you describe the musical background each of you have?

Hednar: As I said, we have different backgrounds. We all have our specifics though. MetalMartin is clearly the most death metal dude, Dick comes from a punk background, Rickard has allways liked older rock n roll and I started off as a hardcore guy, but we all like everything these days. It’s what makes us what we are and how we sound, and hopefully people will dig it.


A gameplay scene from Command & Conquer: Generals. Why? Cos we had no idea what else to use as pics since the band have a chronic shortage of promo shots. 

The Generals play death n roll, so comparisons to Entombed are inevitable. Is the way the band sounds on “Stand Up Straight” exactly how you envisioned it?

Hednar: Yeah, more or less. I mean, we sought Tomas up for a reason; we loved his sound and we wanted it, allthough we had more canditates. But when we decided for Sunlight our vision was pretty clear and it turned out the way we wanted.


Rickard and Dick are quite the accomplished guitarists. How much time do they devote to practice? Is blending thrash metal riffs and rock n roll ever difficult?

Hednar: They sure are. I have no idea, really. I guess they’re shredding at home a couple of hours a day or so. Sometimes it's difficult and sometimes not. If you try something out you'll instantly hear if it works or not, you can't just mix it up, it has to work. I don't know. It's kind of hard to explain.


And of course, there’s Metalmartin, the drummer. He’s rather versatile, if I might say. How long has Metalmartin been pounding the kit? What kind of exercises keeps his chops in top shape?

Hednar: Yeah, he is fucking amazing. If he left the band it would probably die for sure. The funny thing is that he's not really a drummer, he's actually a guitarist. These days I might catagorize him as a drummer, but even so. He's playing our songs, that’s exercise enough I believe!


Will you be perfectly happy if your life were spent touring year in and year out? What is the ultimate goal for The Generals?

Hednar: Hell yeah, that's our goal man! We won’t rest until we're there. We're a determined bunch of idiots, believe me...Haha!


Leopard 2A5. Deadly armored whupass of the Swedish Army.

You all live in Karlstad. How is life down there at the moment? Here in the Philippines it’s the middle of summer. It’s so hot, all of the mosquitoes have died. But I still listen to your album.

Hednar: Haha, nice! Well, the summer has just kicked off over here. The winter was long and fucking cold so I'm glad that shit's over.


Have the four of you ever been drunk and naked at the same time?

Hednar: Too many times. This is what happens when you're in a rock band and get free beer everywhere, hahaha!


How much IKEA furniture is in your house?

Hednar: A lot. IKEA is the shit. Cheap and good looking,. It’s an unbreakable combo as long as you don't have to go there every week with your girlfriend just looking at stuff!


Too bad this is all the time we have. I would have loved to go shopping for IKEA furniture with you guys. Thanks for the good times, The Generals. You want to leave us with a quotable quote?

Hednar: Just buy our fucking album!!!