Former MARDUK singer Legion (a.k.a. Erik Hagsted) recently spoke to Garry Sharpe-Young of Rockdetector.com about his departure from the Swedish black metal outfit and his new project REBELANGELS, which also features ex-MARDUK bassist B. War. A couple of excerpts from the interview follow:
Rockdetector.com: It seems strange to fans you left MARDUK when the band was achieving a lot of success. Why did you go?
Legion: "I decided for real that I wouldn't go on much longer in 2001. I really felt like we were not on the same page anymore and I felt stuck screaming vocal patterns instead of having an instrument to get better at.
"Me, Fred and B. War also felt really frustrated that with the success the band structure changed to everything being hush hush. We didn't get any sales statement or anything. If we asked about it we got a 'Well, urrm... I don't know you know the distributors take so long to get back errr... hmmm' and all of a sudden it was obviously not a team effort anymore.
"To add some spice to it I saw that Morgan [Håkansson, guitar] was cutting back on the mechanical royalty side too. I got statement from STIM (the Swedish composers agency) with my work being diminished from 33% to 25% of the songs that we did together. I mean, I totally think that Morgan should have something extra out of how hard this guy actually broke his back to keep the machine going, but when you left your crew starving and snap at them, 'Well, then get a fucking job,' and at the same time flashes money like a high-roller and not even share any info on how the sales are going and still expect everyone to work like it is a team effort, it's like wanting to eat the cake and still keep it, if you ask me.
"But the real reason why I got so pissed that I really wanted out was all the shit-talking though. Morgan dissed the crap out of me when B. War was with him and vise versa when we spent time, like we were not talking to each other."
Rockdetector.com: So what caused the final split?
Legion: "Back in the day I thought the band had something awesome going and I really loved being a part of it but there is only so much abuse you can take before enough is enough. The big blowout came when I took my wife along for some South America shows though. Ha ha! Morgan must have really thought she is Yoko Ono and after that he basically wanted me to chose between her and him, but that was basically not a choice, since I already was determined to quit when it felt right and there it was."
Rockdetector.com: You've also said before that you were not satisfied by the black metal scene any longer. Can you explain?
Legion: "I don't know if it has got to do being older or just changing but back in the day it felt like a completly different deal. That Swedish-Norwegian anti-everything-else scene was on the rise and everything was just so fucking exciting about it. We used to travel around up North and hook up with like-minded people all over the place. It was this feeling of belonging, being a part of something clandestine and mythic that really turned me on."
Rockdetector.com: Did you and MARDUK discuss taking the band in a new musical direction before you left?
Legion: "No, the last year I was in the band we barely talked at all. We stopped hanging out and I think we both felt we didn't have all that much to dicuss anymore."
Rockdetector.com: Obvious question — why relocate from Sweden to Los Angeles?
Legion: "I've always for some reason felt close to the American way, I have relatives in the Bay Area and sierras. When I was younger I always pictured myself going over there sooner or later and ever since we went there on tour there has not been a single day that I did not wake up frustrated about not living there. I like the pulse of the bigger places, the higher pace and the more for the taking. The reason for sticking around here was for the band but now there is nothing that I feel stands in the way. Sweden might be scenic and all but it really makes me feel like a caged animal."
Rockdetector.com: How much work has gone into REBELANGELS so far? Any recordings?
Legion: "B. War is sitting on a lot of ideas, I have the tracks I mentioned before plus 5-10 songs worth of raw material that I haven't started on yet. Other than that I've been practicing my ass off since I'm gonna perform all different from MARDUK. The new vocal performance is gonna run in the veins of Morrison/Plant/Ozzy carrying melodies rather than sheer power and I always can work some more which feels great. Now the sky's the limit."
Rockdetector.com: You've said this is "dark heavy" music. Does that mean no Satanic lyrics?
Legion: "I guess old dogs can't learn to sit and I'm really proud of all of the MARDUK lyrics but now I have a wide range of inspiration. The Christ-bashing on the last few albums was pretty constipated and I'm sure people noticed that too."
Read Legion's entire interview with Rockdetector.com at this location.