Dozer are one of the best stoner rock bands in the world. And I’m not just saying that. It’s science. Go back and look at albums like 2000′s In the Tail of a Comet and 2001′s Madre de Dios and you’ll still only get a cursory understanding of the greatness of these Swedes and the impact they’ve had on their country’s ever-stronger scene. Their songwriting ability, riffs and pure rock fury hold their own against any name you want to put to them, including American acts like Nebula, Fu Manchu, Clutch or even Kyuss.
With their latest album, Beyond Colossal (Small Stone Recordings), Dozer have crafted not only an immense, powerful stoner rock album, but a striking statement of European metal in general. It is stunning how much of a stoner record it isn’t; they’ve clearly come a long way from their days putting out splits with Demon Cleaner — whose Karl Daniel Lid?n not only drummed for Dozer, but in Greenleaf with Dozer guitarist Tommi Holoppa up to 2007′s Agents of Ahriman, and engineers here — and guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin sounds as furious and confident as ever, his voice reaching for and hitting notes that would have been a dream even on 2002′s Call it Conspiracy
Boasting two guest appearances from Clutch‘s Neil Fallon — on “Empire’s End” and the ground-shaking “Two Coins for Eyes” — Beyond Colossal is the fulfillment of the promise 2005′s excellent Through the Eyes of Heathens began to see through. The sound is that of the band pushing itself harder, writing stronger songs and compromising none of their edge or aural passion. You can hear it on “Exoskeleton (Part II),” truncated here from its appearance with “Part I” on a 2007 split with Iceland‘s Brain Police, at the 1:39-mark launching of “The Ventriloquist,” on the more traditionally stoner “Grand Inquisitor” and even the quiet “Bound for Greatness” which closes out the album. Dozer are not only on top of their game, they’re well beyond it.
Submitted for your approval following the jump is a spirited, smiley-laden email interview with Mr. Holoppa, who fills The Obelisk in on Dozer‘s process, the reaction to the new album, the possibility of a US tour and even when we might see a new Greenleaf record.
You’ve obviously known Karl Daniel Lid?n for a long time through having him in Dozer and being in Greenleaf together, the splits with Demon Cleaner, etc. How does it compare working with him in a band as opposed to having him engineer the album?
I like working with Daniel! We have the a lot of the same influences, the same ideas on what sounds good or bad. Yeah, what can I say? We share the same musical vision and this makes it easy to work with him. The only difference in working with him in a band or having him engineer a Dozer album is that when we record a Dozer album the members of Dozer have the last word. Other than that there is not much difference — we all come with ideas, etc., etc. We are one big happy family. :-)
What was the dynamic like in the studio, with you and Fredrik producing and Daniel co-producing? Did everyone just throw out ideas, or was it more structured? What parts were recorded at Rockhuset? Was there something specific about Studios 301 that made you want to work there?
The dynamic was good most of the time. Daniel was sick for a few days at the end of the recording so he was bit “off” for a few days, but other than that it all worked out really good! I think the recording was pretty structured this time compared to the recording of Through the Eyes of Heathens (the Through the Eyes sessions were a bit all over the place — too much to do in too little time, but in the end it all turned out good). When it comes to producing we all just throw out ideas and go with the idea that sounds best in the end.
All the drums are recorded at Studios 301 and the rest at the Rockhuset here in Borl?nge. The reason we wanted to record the drums at 301 is the microphones they have and the room where you record the drums. Big room makes big sound. :-)
Is the title Beyond Colossal just a statement about the band’s sound, or is there another meaning behind it?
It is definitely a statement! We actually had the title before we had any of the songs written. This is the first time this has ever happened; usually the album title is the last thing that comes up. Anyway, when we started writing songs for this album we knew what kind of album we wanted to make — we wanted it to be heavy, dark and almost a bit epic sounding. We wanted everything? to be Beyond Colossal! Maybe on the next record we should try to have all the song titles ready before we have anything written, ha ha ha ha! Hmmmm… this is actually a cool idea!
The album strikes me as going in the same direction as Through The Eyes Of Heathens, but further. The songwriting has grown and it’s still definitely a rock record, but it goes to different places. Do you think of Dozer as having an established sound, or is it a matter of whatever comes out of the writing process is what sticks?
“Big Sky Theory,” “Until Man Exists No More” and “From Fire Fell” were the songs from Through the Eyes of Heathens that showed us the direction for Beyond Colossal (So you are totally correct when you say that it goes in the same direction as Through the Eyes, but a bit further).
I think we have an established sound with Dozer… Even if we try some new directions or ideas people will always hear that it is Dozer. For every album we do we try to grow a little bit, try to make it sound fresh and not reuse old riffs or vocal melodies. This keeps it interesting for us. It gets harder and harder for every record we write but it’s totally worth it! We don’t want to turn into a band like AC/DC and do the same record over and over again.
Between you and Fredrik, where do the majority of the riffs come from, and how are they fleshed out into songs? Dozer follows traditional structures, but as time has gone on the songs have become more and more involved. Listening back to In The Tail Of A Comet now and comparing it to the new album, it’s clear the band is exploring different ideas. Are these things you go for purposely?
I write most of the riffs but we all make my riffs and ideas into songs together in the rehearsal room. And I think that by doing all the songs together is what makes them special. Most of the time when I come with an idea to the rehearsal room at the end that idea has turned into a song that sounds a lot different than the idea I had in my head from the start. And I think this is really cool, ’cause most of the time the song kicks ass! Ha ha ha!
As a said in the previous answer we all try to grow as musicians and songwriters for every album we do, so I guess that’s why the songs get more and more involved.
And speaking of what’s on purpose, having “Two Coins For Eyes” and “Bound For Greatness” close out the album certainly seems like the band was going for ending on a high note. How much thought goes into the structure of the album? Was the vinyl release a consideration?
A lot of thought goes into the structure of the album! First of all we try to make an interesting album. It should be like a journey when you listen to it, with lots of ups and downs and so on, and never stuck in one place! That’s why the track order is very important! I ?think I worked with this for like two weeks before we got everything into the right place – and yeah, it’s always good to end on a high note! :-)
We always try one way or another to release everything we do on vinyl. Small Stone Records doesn’t release vinyl so we very happy when GMR (Small Stone‘s distribution in Sweden) wanted to release it!
When did you start writing for Beyond Colossal and was there anything specific you wanted to do differently from Through The Eyes Of Heathens?
Olle [M?rthans, drums] joined the band in the Summer of 2007, so I would say we started rehearsing and writing for the album in Summer/Autumn that year. We didn’t really want to do anything differently from Through the Eyes of Heathens, just try to make the best record we ever could.
There are a lot of contrasting moods and directions the album takes, from the more aggressive “The Throne” to a kind of serene “Bound For Greatness.” What kind of mindset leads to writing these songs?
Well, when I sit down with my guitar at home I never know what will come out, I just play and what comes out comes out. If I come up with something that I like I record it with my cell phone so I don’t forget it (yeah, I have like a million short clips with riffs and song ideas on my phone). I really try not to think too much about what kind of song I’m gonna write ’cause that doesn’t work for me. It all just has to come naturally and feel good. One day it will be more aggressive stuff and the other day more mellow stuff…I guess it all depends on what kind of mood you are in.
“Grand Inquisitor” strikes me as the most traditional fuzz rocker on the album. Do you guys ever feel any pressure from fan expectation? Do you still feel the same way about desert rock as you did when the band first got together?
We don’t really feel any pressure from our fans. We can’t please them all anyway; some like the first two albums the most and some like the Through the Eyes of Heathens the most, etc., etc., so it’s better if we just concentrate on making albums that we love and are proud of and just keep our fingers crossed that our fans like it as much as we do. I think we do feel the same way about desert rock but we just don’t listen to it as much as we used to do.
How do you feel the band has changed in its 14 years, in terms of how you work together writing, recording and playing on stage?
We kick more ass at everything now. :-)
Do you still think of Dozer as a stoner rock band? Did you ever? The Swedish scene seems to have gone in many different directions from where it was at the turn of the century. What’s your take on its evolution? Can you recommend any great bands that the States is missing out on?
I guess we were more typical stoner 10 years ago than we are now… now it’s more… ?hmmmm… This is a hard question! I hate explaining our sound, ha ha ha! It’s heavy rock with a lot of energy and great hooks! We try not to put ourselves in a category, but if people like to call us stoner rock we don’t really mind — as long as they listen to our music. :-)
Yeah the Swedish scene has always been very rich! Lot of good bands! 10 years ago we had a lot of “typical” stoner bands like Lowrider, Demon Cleaner, Astroqueen, etc., etc. Now there is a pretty big scene with bands that play more classic, retro, psychedelic doom kind of stuff. Bands like Witchcraft and Graveyard are doing really well. So yeah, the heavy rock scene is still alive and well in Sweden. I can really recommend you a great band from Sweden called Elope! They sound a bit like early ZZ Top meets Cream meets Beatles! Great stuff! And the new band from Peder [Bergstrand; ex-Lowrider] is fucking great! I are Droid! Check them out!
You did almost a month across Europe with Tank86 November to December. How was the reaction to the new songs live?
The album had not been out for more than a couple days when we started the tour so considering that I think the reaction from the crowd was really, really good!
Any chance of US shows?
I hope so! We had fun last time we were over! It all depends on when we can afford the plane tickets and all that.
Any chance Dozer will be a last-minute addition to Roadburn?
Would be cool, but I don’t think so… I have the feeling that the booker at Roadburn doesn’t like Dozer.
And finally, I still rave every chance I get about Agents of Ahriman. Are there any plans for a follow-up, or does Greenleaf stay pretty much dormant while you’re working on Dozer and Oskar [Cedermalm, vocals] is with Truckfighters?
I have started writing some new stuff so there will be a follow-up for sure!
Tags: Dozer, Small Stone, Sweden