Maggot Heart’s Linnéa Olsson on Rock N’ Roll and Suffering (10/19 at KFN)

Today iconoclastic Berlin trio Maggot Heart – led by former guitarist of The Oath, Linnéa Olsson — released “Archer,” the third single off of their forthcoming third full-length, Hunger,...

Today iconoclastic Berlin trio Maggot Heart – led by former guitarist of The Oath, Linnéa Olsson — released “Archer,” the third single off of their forthcoming third full-length, Hunger, set to drop September 29th, via Svart Records and Rapid Eye Records.  The single follows up last month’s “This Shadow,” a song whose chorus Olsson admits she wrote with the hope of one day being able to impress Courtney Love, and whose music video seems very likely to please the gods of metal…  Maggot Heart began as a solo project, when Olsson relocated to Berlin from Sweden in 2016.  Since then, they’ve released two full-lengths – 2017’s Dusk to Dusk and 2020’s Mercy Machine – and toured back and forth across Europe and the States with the likes of Earthless, High on Fire, and Amyl & The Sniffers.  Hunger was recorded and mixed by producer and engineer Ben Greenberg, known for his work with PHILTHY favorites METZ and Show Me The Body.  Maggot Heart will be bringing their latest sounds to US stages this October and November, when they do almost a month worth of double-headlining dates with Italian doom rockers Messa, and earlier this week I got a chance to chat with Linnéa Olsson about what you can expect, and the origins of Hunger.

Izzy Cihak: You’re gearing up to release your third album, Hunger.  How do you feel like both the sounds and the writing and recording process for this one compared to Dusk to Dusk and Mercy Machine?

Linnéa Olsson: The previous two albums were recorded in Studio Cobra in Stockholm with Martin Ehrencrona, so they share sound similarities from being made in the same studio, and experience wise by going there and working with him.  But on the first record, we weren’t really a band yet.  Olivia doesn’t play on that album.  There weren’t any demos made beforehand, so nobody knew what I had in mind for the vocals – we recorded the instrumentals only in Stockholm, and then I put the vocals on in Berlin afterwards.  Mercy Machine was a bit more put together.  Sound wise it is more aggressive and more guitar oriented.  Both of these records were quite quickly written, quickly rehearsed, and quickly recorded, we did not have more than a week in the studio on each one.

Hunger took a lot longer to write and rehearse.  We had a longer period of pre-production.  We made proper demos.  We were all set to record in December 2022, but it was postponed as I had to have emergency surgery on my neck to decompress a nerve.  I came out of the hospital not being able to lift my left arm properly and had lost sensation in half my hand.  I started rehabilitation to regain strength and movement in January, so I was in rehab in the mornings, and then the studio in the afternoons and evenings.  This affected the recording in the sense that I couldn’t play for long periods of time.  I was less meticulous with my own takes, and kept the live takes, instead of recording overdubs.

Regarding the material itself, I thought a bit more about whole song structures, rather than riff by riff.  A lot of them are written as simple chord progressions rather than riffs.  All in all, I think Hunger is more straight to the point and has less fat than the other two albums.

Izzy: You recently released the single “This Shadow.”  Have you gotten any favorite reactions to the song from fans, or even just friends?

Linnéa: I’m happy for any and all reactions. The song is pretty undeniable, I had a feeling it would go down alright.

Izzy: You also released a really cool music video for the song.  How did the concept for the music video come about?

Linnéa: It was made by the Finnish visual artist Tekla Valy.  She was inspired in part by Plato’s Allegory of the cave.

Izzy: Maggot Heart definitely seems to have a lot of significant non-musical influences.  What are some of the things that inspired this latest batch of songs?

Linnéa: It took a long time to write this record, because most of 2022 was a blur of physical pain and mental health issues.  I felt really uninspired and empty for the most part, and I didn’t leave my apartment much.  I’m not one of these people who thrive artistically when they’re suffering.  I found pockets of relief in which I got some momentum.  80% of the record was written pretty late in 2022.  You know the Buddhist concept of all suffering originating from one’s desires?  If you eliminate desire, then suffering will end.  That’s more or less Hunger in a nutshell.

Izzy: Your songs regularly get compared to a pretty wide variety of artists, so I’m curious what are some of your all-time favorite albums, whether you consider them to directly influence you in any way, or not?

Linnéa: From the top of my head: Black Sabbath Sabotage, Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks…, The Stooges Raw Power, Voivod Dimension Hatröss, Rolling Stones Exile on Main St., Patti Smith Radio Ethiopia, Killing Joke Night Time, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Pushing the Sky Away, Scratch Acid S/T, Mayhem De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Neil Young Harvest Moon, Blue Öyster Cult Secret Treaties, David Bowie Station to Station, Wu-Tang Clan Enter the Wu-Tang, Dark Angel Darkness Descends, Poison Idea Feel the Darkness, Gun Club Miami...

Izzy: I know that you’re currently based out of Berlin.  How would you characterize the music and arts scene there at the moment?

Linnéa: Experimental and electronic music, still going strong.  There is an underground punk scene in Berlin, but not really anything heavier.  Leipzig is delivering on the underground metal, with the crowd surrounding Into Endless Chaos Records.  But Berlin is always pumping, you know – there is always something going on here.  The city is changing and getting more expensive, but the spirit is alive.

Izzy: You’re definitely celebrated for the amount of time that you spend on the road.  Do you have any particularly significant touring rituals that you think keep day-to-day life especially interesting and enjoyable, or even just keep you centered amidst all of it?

Linnéa: Underground touring is no picnic.  For every three weeks on the road there’s 6-9 months of logistical and practical preparation.  The tour itself is hard, physical work.  There are a lot of anxieties involved, mainly financial.  I try to stay centered by staying physically healthy, so I try as much as possible to keep a decent diet and get enough sleep.

Izzy: This October you embark on a double-headlining tour of America with Messa.  What can be expected of these dates?

Linnéa: Really looking forward to coming back to the US.  We were on a roll in 2019, we worked super hard on the road in North America that year.  Then of course everything came to a standstill.  By the time we’re back in the USA this year we’ve released two full-length albums and one split EP since last time we visited.  We’ve really stepped it up as a band.  We’ve released our best material.  We’re a great rock band, doing something that nobody else is doing – as in, I think we are unique.  I think what can be expected out of our set is an honest manifestation of emotion and energy through rock n’ roll.

Izzy: You seem to play a mix of like grimy rock bars, and then fairly large festivals.  Do you approach your performances in each setting differently?  And, does one seem to be easier or more satisfying than the other?

Linnéa There’s always a bit more pressure playing headline shows.  But I’m happy to play in front of anyone interested enough to listen.

Izzy: Finally, what’s next for Maggot Heart?  What are you hoping and planning for the final part of 2023 and the first part of 2024, after these dates wrap?

Linnéa: We’ll be back in North America in 2024 and we’ll tour Europe next year as well.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.