Makthaverskan and Getting to Know the Often Ambiguous

Although I always appreciate the ambiguous to a pretty profound degree, I must admit that interviewing artists that seem exceptionally ambiguous has proven, through past experiences, to be a...

Although I always appreciate the ambiguous to a pretty profound degree, I must admit that interviewing artists that seem exceptionally ambiguous has proven, through past experiences, to be a bit nerve-wracking (If artists don’t want audiences to know anything about them, I’d much rather them decline the chat than indulge me in short, smarmy answers revolving around bad puns… Yeah, it happens a lot.)  So… I didn’t know what to expect when prepping my chat with Makthaverskan, Swedish indie rockers whose backstory [and present story] remain largely in the shadows, leaving listeners little but the music itself to make something of them.  And their music, which rarely falls far short of brilliant and always retains an attitude of the authentically punk, ranges from a morbid aggressiveness reminiscent of Siouxsie at her best, to enchantingly ethereal new wave, and the dreamiest kind of art rock.  The two LPs the band has released since 2009 present a charming hodge-podge of the most important sounds of music’s most poignantly disenfranchised of the past three-four decades.  Their most recent single, “Witness,” is along the lines of a slightly-goth take on something like surf rock.  Makthaverskan kicked off a US tour last night in LA and will be at our very own Ortlieb’s next Friday, October 9th.  And in preparation I got a chance to chat with bassist Irma Krook, who is also in charge of the band’s visuals, and who proved to be as charming, light-hearted, jokey, and up-for-talking-about-their-band as anyone I’ve chatted with all year, who actually tells me that the band’s ultimate goal is to have and inspire fun.

Izzy Cihak: Not to start with a huge question, but considering that you’ve been together for more than half a decade, I’m curious what you consider to be some of the highlights of the band so far, whether especially cool reactions to your music or just especially cool experiences?

Irma Krook: I feel like everything successful that’s been happening to Makthaverskan since the start has been cool experiences. Big or small. Just to get signed by Luxury was unbelievable, and having more and more people coming to your shows as a result of the records is amazing. Now that we’re heading to the US again (!!), I’m still having trouble grasping it even though I’m leaving for it tomorrow [laughs]. We really cherish to get the chance to see new places, to play and to have the opportunity to work with our music and release it.

Izzy: How would you characterize your process of writing and recording together, if there is even a particular process?

Irma: Our songs are usually created starting with an idea of a melody on the guitar. Then we build up the whole song together, with room for inputs and ideas. Maja creates her melody, and then later the lyrics as well. It’s usually a pretty quick process once we get started [laughs].

Izzy: What would you currently consider to be your most significant influences, whether musical, or something from some other artistic medium, or just some aspect of life in general?

Irma: We rarely talk about what kind of influences we have on to our songs. We don’t really work in that way, to have something of ours sound more like anything other we listen to. It’s often the opposite. “This doesn’t sound too gothic, does it?” [laughs]. Perhaps our influences are more shown on our “image,” if we’d ever have one. Especially on our drummer, Palle.

Izzy: So you’re about to start a US tour. Are there any gigs you’re especially excited to play or cities that you’re especially excited to visit or revisit?

Irma: It’s going to be great to catch up with all the cities we missed out on the last tour, and we’re all looking forward to see Canada as well! And it’ll be fun to hang around in New York a bit more, so you’ll get a chance to really see the city.

Izzy: And what can be expected of the live experience this time around?

Irma: As it always is: I have absolutely no idea [laughs]. Hopefully both we and, especially, the audience will have a lot of fun.

Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you?

Irma: When we get back home we’ll probably work our asses off on what’s going to be our third album. Hopefully some shows in between so I’ll remember how to play the bass. On stage, that is.

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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.