Thrash titans, THE HAUNTED, should’ve collapsed years ago. But they’ve defeated record label woes and original band members leaving (and returning) to remain as one of the most relevant extreme bands on the planet. With the return of original vocalist, Peter Dolving, and a resulting brilliant, new album in rEVOLVEr, THE HAUNTED are set to climb higher than ever. APESHIT spoke with Peter during their most recent U.S. tour with SHADOWS FALL and (the ill-fated) DAMAGEPLAN. What APESHIT found was an artist even more charismatic and straight up than his music.
Peter: I got a terrible fucking cold and I’m feeling sorry for myself. That’s okay. I’ll stop feeling sorry for myself in about two minutes as soon as I finish my coffee and the drugs start to kick in.
APESHIT: So how’s everything going outside the cold?
Peter: Really good. It’s going really good. We’re having a good time and we’re doing good shows. The audience is coming out and yeah, it’s fun.
APESHIT: Awesome! Well hopefully I can ask you some questions that you haven’t answered a million times.
Peter: I’ll answer them a million times more. Go right ahead. Have no shame. It’s part of my job.
APESHIT: So you guys are on Century Media Records now after three successful albums on Earache Records. What led you to put your faith in Century Media?
Peter: Initially they presented us with two different companies. Actually, they [approached us]. These guys came up with the most realistic proposition, the most realistic feet to the earth…[they] were very straightforward. You know, doing this in so many forms over the years, I think what we respect more than anything else is honesty. And over the months here, it’s been going really well with them…working out good. Seems like we’ve [made] the right choice. The people that work for Century Media are happy, happy kids. It’s seems to be an environment…a positive environment where people do what they want to do and there’s a lot of respect inside the company.
APESHIT: Were there any major label considerations?
Peter: Actually, no. And I’m kind of glad. But that has to do with so many things. The entire music business is in a state of upheaval at the moment. Within the major label sphere, there’s really very little faith towards anything. They’re really fucking terrified over the internet. They’re terrified over the generational change within the music business to what it is and why it is and so forth. I don’t know. I think it’s pretty good. I mean, we really don’t belong in that kind of environment. That wouldn’t work.
APESHIT: It’s no secret that you guys have had tons of problems with Earache…
Peter: And we don’t anymore because we’re not on them anymore! We’re really happy and I think everyone involved is happy.
APESHIT: So how did the relationship deteriorate?
Peter: From day one. (Sigh) There’s so many little details. I’ll just say that Earache Records have a lousy psychology within the company. Whether you want to do it the old, traditional capitalist way, that’s not going to work. And if you’re going to do it the alternate/punk rock way, it’s still not going to work, because you have to treat people with respect. It’s as simple as that. And if you don’t, well, it just hurts everyone around you. It’s kind of sad to see because they initially started out as one of the most innovative metal/punk rock labels in the world and now they’ve been decimated to a bad joke.
APESHIT: The legal side of things is something you guys as a band have had to deal with. Do you ever get lawyers involved to step in and clean up the mess?
Peter: Well, the thing with the whole Earache mess was that everyone was really young and really naive. What happened was that the guys signed a deal with AT THE GATES [their previous band] and they couldn’t get out of that when AT THE GATES stopped being an entity. There’s really no excuse for that and they’re not making any excuses for that. Just except for the fact that they were young and naive. The only thing that we can do as a band is warn other kids out there to take it seriously, take your musical calling, your artistic aspirations seriously. You might not be the best musician or the coolest motherfucker on the planet to start out with but that doesn’t matter. Take it seriously and get involved. Find out what the legal sides are all about and if you have a hard time with that, then ask someone because there are people who are good at it. Take your time. Don’t rush into shit because if you do, you’re going to get fucked. Just, take your time.
As part of the whole thing with living out and being an artist on tour…we as artists have to start understanding that it’s a goddamn job, you know. It’s got to be taken fucking seriously. You can fucking party all you want, but you got to do the goddamn show when it comes to the point. And that’s the shit. That’s where it’s at. It doesn’t matter how rad you are, if you can’t take care of business, then you’re going to get stiffed. There’s a reason why Elvis was doing the old “taking care of business”…why he had that as a saying. I’m not propagating the capitalist world. I’m not really enjoying the capitalist idea but fuck, we live in it. If we’re going to live in it, we’re going to have to accept the fact that it’s there and if we’re going to be able to change it or work in a good way, then we’re going to have to understand what it’s about and how it functions so we can do something good with it instead of just going along with the shitty sides of capitalism.
APESHIT: Switching back to the beginning of the band, with the release of the first album there was so much critical acclaim, and the band catapulted into the upper echelons of the underground scene. What’s it like to have spent time away from the others and watch them continue their success, winning music awards and then suddenly reunite with the band and then deliver another great album? How did and how do you feel about that?
Peter: I feel spoiled. I’ve been watching the band from the side like a jealous lover, longing to be in it. Feeling like, “man, that’s really my job.” Although I really respect [previous vocalist] Marco [Aro] in many ways, I’ve been really looking from the outside going, “that’s really my job. I should be doing that.” So I’m really happy to be back. I’ve been missing it and I’m overjoyed.
APESHIT: When Marco left the band, who else besides you was considered for the job as vocalist?
Peter: I haven’t asked them. I know they had a list. I honestly haven’t asked them who they considered. (Turns to guitarist Jensen) Hey Jensen, you did you guys consider besides me?
Pavarotti, Henry Rollins, Wayne Newton…that’s the answer I got! (Laughs)
APESHIT: (Laughs) For the first album, the writing, was most of the music written before you came and added the vocals/lyrics?
Peter: No…the thing with THE HAUNTED is, at least as far as I’m concerned and how we, the five of us, work together, is we do shit together and that’s how we get stuff done. It’s very much a group effort.
APESHIT: So it was the same situation with the new album?
Peter: Absolutely. Absolutely. We had a really good time. The thing is that we started pretty quickly right after we decided that we were all going to go ahead and do it [in] a matter of a week or something like that. The first hour we were kind of shy like little girls. But it took about an hour and we started jamming to first and the last album, the first and the second album. It went really well. We worked basically everyday for about four months. The thing is that it’s so good to live close to each other. It just takes about 15 minutes to get down to the rehearsal room and just work out and made songs.
APESHIT: What was the band’s mindset when setting out to write the new album?
Peter: We just wanted to make something that we enjoy to play and we can have as much fun [with]. That’s always been the goal with this band. From day one, we have all been doing things with other bands where the effort of actually playing would overshadow the joy of playing. When all the other bands ended and we came together as THE HAUNTED, I think we mutually had the same emotion–we decided that we wanted to do something that we really could play and enjoy…have a good time with. Not only enjoy artistically but have a good time with, and that’s what we’ve been doing ever since…back since ’96/’97.
APESHIT: Your lyrics are really expressive and really in-your-face. There aren’t really any metaphors. You know exactly what you’re talking about. On rEVOLVEr, you discuss a lot of different aspects about social problems as well as the ills of human condition and just human nature. How do you know where to draw the line between expressing your feelings/observations and preaching from a soapbox?
Peter: I don’t. I try to just say things that I think needs to be said. I’m not preaching and I’m not out to preach. I don’t think that people think that I’m preaching either. I have friends. One of my best friends is Dennis [Lyxzè] from THE (INTERNATIONAL) NOISE CONSPIRACY and I have a lot of respect for him, but he’s a preacher. He’s a preacher and he’ll get up there and preach. And I respect him for it. But it’s my not thing. It’s never been my thing. I’ve only seen like, I don’t know…I think only a couple of people who can do that a get away with it. It’s not for me. I just kind of point out things that I see and I feel and I say it. But I think everyone fucking understands that I’m not out to convince anyone. I’m just out to say my point of view. And if you agree, you agree. And if you don’t, you don’t. If it makes you think, then good. It’s as simple as that. But I’m not out to fucking change the world. I’m out to have a good time, and if I’m lucky, I’ll change parts of myself to better things. A lot of the time, I’ll just change to avoid things. (Laughs) It’s kind of an ongoing thing.
APESHIT: Keeping your subject matter in mind, in a perfect world, what would you write about?
Peter: I’d write love songs. I’d write the prettiest poetry. I’d write about love, harmony, all that incredible stuff. I’d write about the dynamics of the silhouettes of tree lines and shadow and heaven. I would too, for reals. Fuck, in the perfect world I’d be occupied with watching the clouds.
APESHIT: You have sang on numerous albums throughout your career with many different bands such as MARY BEATS JANE, PETER DOLVING BAND. Where do you rank rEVOLVEr compared to your catalog of work?
Peter: I’d say it’s one of the best albums. But it’s hard to say that I’ve done one album better than anything else because I’ve done so much work. The thing is, to me, I don’t consider metal or punk rock or country to be any…I don’t look at genres like that whole thing. I look straight across it. I look at music. I love music. It’s a hell of a lot wider a perspective than that. I think that there’s loads of songs that are incredible. But as far as when it comes to playing live, I have two favorite bands, THE HAUNTED, that’s number one and BRING THE WAR HOME, which is my side project. That’s the group of people that I enjoy playing with more than any other group.
APESHIT: THE HAUNTED is one of those bands without some flashy gimmick or some type of superficial selling points. How does this relate to your vision of the band and your music?
Peter: That’s what it is. That’s exactly the thing. It’s just us and the songs. That’s our vision of it. That’s the whole point. If we can’t deliver with all the bling bling and all the flash, then hey, where’s our credibility? That’s what this band is about. It’s about achieving something strong and powerful by simple means, very raw.
APESHIT: THE HAUNTED’s no frills approach to music transcends the underground scene and could translate to a lot of different people. If you were presented with the opportunity to play Ozzfest or something more mainstream, would you jump at the chance?
Peter: Of course! It would be great because it would mean that we would reach a larger audience with what we do. We think it’s fun. If you offered us to be the fucking rock stars of the world tomorrow, we’d jump up there and fuck around with it. We’d probably rape the entire concept of what it’s all about. Make us superstars, fuck! God, we’ll have a good time with it. I’ll wear the fucking shades and come down the street in the limo. You bet! It seems like a bunch of fun crap to just fuck around with. Take it seriously? Duh, no! (Laughs) It’s bullshit because it’s all the same. The fact is that one day you’ll be playing to 20,000 people. The next day, you’ll be playing in front of 20. That’s the thing. If you tour a lot, that’s the thing you kind of understand. Our tour manager, he’s been out with a guy like Dio. Dio is like 60 years old. He’s been playing since the end of the 50’s! He’s been doing everything from pop music to playing with the biggest stars in the world. And he is in his own right a superstar and at the same time, he’ll be playing shows for 200 people and the next show for 15 or 20,000. And that’s kind of the realities of it. It’s just a really fucking cool job. And you get to play rock ‘n roll and you get to travel and you get to meet all these cool people involved in it. If you love it, it’s one of the best jobs in the world. It’s not for everyone. It’s not for everyone. I think it takes certain kind of creative people to get into it and really enjoy it. It’s a great job. It’s so much fun. I don’t know, it’s really rewarding.
APESHIT: After your debut album was released to much critical acclaim, it seemed like a bunch of bands were playing “thrash metal” again like THE HAUNTED. Sounding like THE HAUNTED suddenly became a selling point?
Peter: That’s kind of how the business works. There’s always going to be the thing where if something goes well, everyone will say that it’s kind of like that to describe things and give it a little extra go for a selling point. Whether you like it or not, we live in a capitalist world. That’s how capitalism works.
APESHIT: Yeah, exactly. Are you guys sick of being labeled as “featuring former members of AT THE GATES?”
Peter: We don’t anymore. I think the last the trend of that was with the last album, One Kill Wonder. I don’t think we have that problem anymore. It’s not even a problem. We don’t have it anymore. We’re THE HAUNTED. We’ve been THE HAUNTED for eight years and that’s what we are that’s what we do.
APESHIT: Your vocals are quite intense to say the least. How do you psyche yourself up before a show?
Peter: I warm up. I’m this little Pavarotti doing all these gay vocal warm ups. I’m going, “La La La La La La.” I do physical warm ups and I’m being very, very not macho…very not rock ‘n roll. And I fucking go out there and crush every night because I love it. That’s the shit. That’s where it’s at.
APESHIT: You have made your opinions of George W. Bush known. How do you feel about his reelection?
Peter: Well, that’s alright. The people voted. You have to respect that. I don’t agree with those who won but that’s okay. There’s like how many million that had my opinion? So that’s alright.
APESHIT: Are you surprised at the number of conservative people that support Bush who listen to underground metal and punk?
Peter: It’s a bit of a paradox, yes. But I’m not surprised because that’s just psychology. Often the victim will defend the perpetrator. Why that is, I don’t know. The imaginations of fear and the possibilities that one day I’ll reach that point where I can place all those emotions or desires and shove in downwards in the pyramid, you know?
APESHIT: Recently, at a NAPALM DEATH at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, frontman Barney Greenway was talking shit about Bush and people were booing him. It was a bizarre paradox of “how can you guys be into NAPALM DEATH and at the same time, support someone like George W. Bush?” It’s kind of mind blowing actually.
Peter: I think you have to take into consideration the fact that no matter what, NAPALM are not American. They are from the UK and we’re from Sweden. If you get involved in a situation where you start preaching when you’re not from a place, of course people are going to get upset. It might even be people who agreed with his points that fucking hated Bush. But the fact that you have someone from another country criticizing your country…that’s in effect what’s going on in a situation like that. I hope you understand that this is in no way a slagging of Barney. I love the guys in NAPALM DEATH. They’re friends of ours. We’ve had a lot together. But I think that might be what happens with someone who is standing in that audience and what goes on in your mind is that you might even dig that whole thing with someone is questioning what’s going on in your country when they’re not from it. It’s complicated. I agree with what you’re saying in terms of the ideological points. I find it bizarre. But you got to give it to America…I really respect that. It’s one of those places where you’re supposed to speak out what your ideas are and I think that’s good.
As offensive as I thought it was, yesterday we were in Portland and we went over to the hotel to take a shower and I turned the channels on the hotel TV and I got a white power channel. And I was like, “what the fuck is this?” It’s like this shitty ass, lousy, crappy, homemade piece of shit program. It had the worst shit. It was really funny because it was brain dead. But to a certain point, you know, good. Good for you that you can actually have a society where you’re actually allowed to speak out. Even though I don’t agree with them, I think it’s kind of cool that anyone with a brain who saw that showed, laughed. It’s like a comedy show. You look at it and go, “wow, that’s fuckin funny.” In a repressed society, you won’t be able to do that.
APESHIT: Yeah, that’s true. Just politics is complicated and crazy.
Peter: Yes, it is complex.
APESHIT: So what do you guys have planned after this tour wraps up?
Peter: Tour, tour, tour, tour. (Laughs) We’ll be playing a lot. With this album, I think we’ve all just decided, “let’s just fucking go.” We have the possibility to do that so we’re really happy about that. We decided that we’re just going to tour as much as we can. We’ll probably be doing one, one and half years straight.
APESHIT: Cool. And in America, it seems that this kind of music is getting more mainstream recognition at least like with Headbanger’s Ball on TV again.
Peter: That’s kind of cool isn’t it?
APESHIT: And SHADOWS FALL selling a 100,000 records.
APESHIT: That’s insane. Anyways, Thanks for taking the time to chat and kick ass on the road!
Peter: Thank you for taking the time. Take care.