Posted: Monday, 12 March 2007 00:37
Here's the second part in the "Masterblasters" series. This time I have interviewed Ove Wiksten of Sayyadina, an old friend of mine. Now, Ove is quite a different drummer from Tobben who I interviewed last time (although they are from the same part of Sweden), but that's what this series is all about - getting to know different drummers in the scene who all know how to blast. So, let's go for the second time:
(Photo from www.returntothepit.com)
My first contact with you was in the 90's when I got a compilation tape with a bunch of bands from the small village of Torsby (internationally known for being the home village of soccer coach Sven-Göran Eriksson). Now, you are known under the nickname "Grind-Ove" - how did you first come to enjoy and ultimately play grind?
- I guess it was early 1991 I first got in touch with you, ordering Hymen [my old fanzine (1990-1994) - Anders], then sending the SMM comp tape in December maybe.
- Well, my first encounter with grindcore was not very pleasant at all. In 1989 I borrowed some Napalm Death vinyls ("Scum", "FETO" and "Peel Sessions" ) from my friend Blom, who said it was his new favorite band, and honestly I thought it pretty much sucked. I was into thrash metal, hardcore and crossover like Assassin, DRI, Nuclear Assault, Protes Bengt, SOD and Wehrmacht, but Napalm Death's stuff was a bit too chaotic and noisy for me, like they didn't play together, not keeping pace, or something. Later that year another friend of mine got the "Grindcrusher" comp lp from his uncle and I immediately fell for Morbid Angel, Intense Degree and Filthy Christians, and soon realized that the rest on there was great as well, so I had to borrow Blom's ND records again and this time I enjoyed them. (What appears as a mystery is that I thought Terrorizer were just avarage on that comp, until I heard their whole album, then they were The Best!)
- As for playing grind myself... It started 1990 with Gula Kulor - a recording project consisting of the four persons out of Torsby's population who liked somewhat extreme music. Two of them could actually play instruments (the already mentioned Blom being one) and I wanted to be a drummer and knew only a little more than how to hold the sticks. The recordings Gula Kulor made (three sessions 1990-1991 - no rehearsing) turned out to be some sort of hardcore/death metal crossover. Then me and Blom wanted to go grind, so we recorded a bunch of spontaneously created compositions under the name Purgative Klyster, New Year's 1991/1992, but of course the result was more noise than grind because I still had close to zero clue about how to play drums. We tried it again in 1993 with slightly better result.
- In November 1994 I became the drummer of local hardcore act Scamp (that Blom also figured here) and borrowed a drum kit (from the guy I replaced, actually) so I could practise. I bought a double pedal and learned how to blast, and realised "being a drummer" was more fun than I'd thought.
- I don't know when the nick "GrindOve" appeared or who it was that came up with it, but I first heard it in Kristinehamn and those Burst guys Linus and Jesper called their friends, going "Hey, GrindOve is here for a visit, come over and have some pizza and beer with us", mid-90s, something.
For me you don't seem like the tech guy who are concerned about your gear, am I right? What's your set-up?
- I suppose you got it right there! I haven't even learnt how to mention drum sizes correctly, so I only go for the circular diameter (skin sizes)...
White Yamaha RC 9000 (I think):
24" bass drum
13" and 15" toms
14" Pearl snare
14" Ufip hihat
18" Zildjian crash
20" Ufip ride
16" Samatya (Istanbul) crash
18" East China (for rehearsals)
(15" Sabian China on the album, and for gigs because it fits into my cymbal case.)
Tama Iron Cobra Power Glide double pedals
(That's my normal, grindcore, set-up. No China or left foot bass drum pedal for my punk rock set-up.)
Vater Manhattan 7A sticks with nylon tip (wooden tips are broken within a couple of songs, not because I hit hard, but because my precision is bad so I hit rims or other things around the kit)
- I bought the drums used in 1995 - my first kit (my oldest cymbal is the ride, bought in 2001). Shortly after, I bought a 14" tom as well (because I found it difficult doing fills with the huge gap between the 13" and 15" toms) but I didn't bring it with me when moving from Torsby to Stockholm in 1998. This, of course, destroyed my dream of learning cool fills but allowed me to get a compact set-up, with the ride very close to the snare, which I now see as important when playing, as well as having the China and crash on my right close to the ride.
You are one of the few drummers I know who actually suffered injuries partly in regards to the drumming, and for a while you had to stop playing the drums. Tell me about it. What are your injuries and how did they appear? Are they drum related or work related?
- Yes, a three year hiatus from drumming. I suppose it was a combination of an intense period at work (lots of lifting, carrying and throwing stuff) and rehearsing without warming up, so the injury was related to both. I got problems with my right shoulder. It appeared to be chronical inflammation ("Supraspinatus tendinitis", as one doctor concluded, while another doc said "Tendonitis? No, that's VERY unusual nowadays, you're so young" ).
- When my shoulder had been sore for a couple of weeks, in April 2002, I went to a doctor who gave me a cortisone shot which gave no result, so seven weeks later he gave me another one and still nothing happened. When he wanted to give me a third dose I thoght he was sponsored by the cortisone manufacturer and said "hold it!" and left. He was scary - took only 20 seconds to decide where to put the needle! ("Arms up! Bend back! Arms down! Lift 'em up! It hurts? Ok, you need cortisone! Was it the left one? No? Ok, the right then. There you go, good luck and goodbye!" )
- I went to see a professional sports doctor, and instead of just guessing he used a very logical and thorough method and took 20 minutes to find exactly where the sore point was situated before the cortisone injection (and it appeared NOT to be where the first doc had guessed).
- Then I was mostly sick-listed and had a surgery in September 2003, followed by physiotherapy at a sports injury clinic.
- In February 2005 I tried drumming again and it worked, but only a couple of times a week and not two days in a row. By June I quit going to the gym because my left shoulder started to hurt...
How do you feel today? You are back as a drummer in Sayyadina and also in the fairly new band Nice Idiot. To what extent can you play today?
- Sadly I'm not that much better now than two years ago and I still haven't tried grinding the drums two consecutive days. I was almost up for that last year when we rehearsed quite a lot for a while so my muscles got built up, but then we stopped practising to concentrate on finishing the new Sayyadina album. With Nice Idiot I think I can play again the following day as it's just punk/hardcore and pretty relaxed.
Back to the drumming - what drummers do you see as inspirations for your style?
- This is difficult. Some I see as great drummers but they haven't exactly influenced me while others have, but it probably won't show in my playing anyway because I'm not good enough. If keeping it short I think the most obvious are Rich Hoak (Brutal Truth), Hoccy (G-anx), Scott Lewis (Brutal Truth), Rob Proctor (Assück), Pete Sandoval (on "World Downfall", that is), Sveden (Raped Teenagers) and Max Ward (Spazz).
- To extend the list I'd also like to mention Pete Fratta (Hail Of Rage), Steve "Thee Slayer Hippy" Hanford (Poison Idea), Anders Jakobson (Nasum/Coldworker), Keule (Cyness), Adde Mitroulis (Birdflesh/General Surgery/Jigsore Terror/Sayyadina), Randy Odierno (Disrupt), DH Peligro (Dead Kennedys), Bruce "Ted" Slesinger (Dead Kennedys), Neal Smith (Alice Cooper Group), Glenn Sundell (Monster/I Quit!) and Phil Taylor (Motörhead) as sources of inspiration for my drumming in one way or another.
- Other excellent drummers I really admire are Nicke Andersson (Entombed), Clive Burr (Iron Maiden), Brann Dailor (Today Is The Day/Mastodon), Doc (Vader), Tobben Gustafsson (Vomitory), Kai Hahto (Rotten Sound), David Sandström (Refused), Josh Sinder (The Accüsed) and Dave Witte (Discordance Axis/Municipal Waste/Melt-Banana). I love listening to those but what they do is so far away from what I can do. If I sit down and try some of their stuff I only get frustrated (although I did try to copy a Doc fill and a Kai thing on the new Sayyadina album - risky!).
What are your strengths/weaknessess in your opinion? What do you need to work on to develop your drumming? One strength as I see it is that you probably are the fastest blaster in the Swedish grindcore scene. Comments on that?
- Thanks! I'm not so sure I'm the fastest, but yes, my blasting speed may be a strength. Probably my only one, sadly...
- I'm useless when it comes to double bass. I was about to start controlling it by 1996 and had my peak when recording the Scamp mini CD, August that year. Then I had sort of a break from drumming for a year and I still can't get my feet going like back in 1996.
- I'm also having problems with my d-beat. I kind of lost it in 2001, between the first and second Sayyadina recording. If I play slower it's ok, but I want it to match my blast beat tempo, and to reach that I've now learnt to play d-beat using both feet. It's a bit tricky to control and on the new Sayya album I only dared to do it on one track.
- I'm no good at fills or using the toms - a short snare roll in the middle of a grind part here and there is what I do. Practising fills is the most boring thing to do, so I never do it. (That's the correct attitude, right?)
- Technique is also a big weakness for me. That goes for hands and feet. I don't even hit the same way with both my hands, and my left foot/leg is like a stiff piece of wood compared to my right.
- Unfortunately I don't do much practising at all. Sometimes I go to the rehearsal place myself but instead of trying to get better at double bass or fills I just run through the songs which are to be recorded, or the current setlist if there's gig approaching.
Sayyadina has a new full-length "Mouring the unknown" slated for release in April. It's been a work in progress for quite some time. Why has it taken so long time to finish the album? How does it differ from your previous album?
- We started recording the drums in March last year and didn't do the last vocals until November or December. We realized that with my shoulder condition the only way we could do it was by ourselves at the rehearsal place with bassist/vocalist Andreas engineering, allowing me to do a few songs one evening and then rest for a couple of days before next session. Going to recordings on week days also gave us short sessions as Andreas gets off work at 5 in the evening, then one hour drive and probably some food before even reaching the rehearsal room. And having no deadline made us excessively picky with things - redoing a certain part thousands of times and in the end not even being sure it's better than it was on the first take.
- Also, Jon was away on tour with Victims all of May and Andreas recorded an album with Sunday Morning Einsteins during the summer and went touring with them in September then taking a couple of weeks off from all things music.
- The major differences between "Fear gave us Wings" and "Mourning the Unknown" must be the drumming and the vocals. Me and Adde are quite different as drummers. He's great at d-beat and fills while I'm blasting a little bit faster than him - so less d-beat and more speed on the new one. As for the vocals, I probably did 90% or so of them on "Fear..." but not a single word on "Mourning..." - it's split between Andreas and Jon again, as on our early recordings.
"Mourning the unknown" is also the first full-length that you play the drums on - how frustrating was it not to play on the first album "Fear gave us wings"?
- Not that much, actually. I'd almost gotten quite accustomed to being the singer, and watching Adde nail the 19 songs for the album in just one day - including some tracks he was introduced to the previous evening - was pure pleasure! I'm not sure but maybe Adde had some concerns about the speed, but we learned that if we only annoyed him a couple of times between takes he got a bit sulky, went "Fuck you, fuckers!" and sped up prominently. My only frustration was "If I'm ever getting back to drumming I can't do any of those fills or play d-beat that fast..."
And going back to the theme of drum injuries for the final question - what do you do today to avoid feeling sore and all that after a rehearsal or a show? What have you learned about dealing with your situation?
- I'm warming up, and that's what I recommend every drummer of this kind of music to do. It is quite physically demanding, and why do sportsmen warm up? Yes, to perform better AND to avoid injuries. It's easy before rehearsing - I just let my feet go pretty slow/midtempo and do the same with my hands on the snare for several minutes. I don't blast or hit cymbals until I start to sweat. (During this Andreas and Jon do some freeform jamming.) At shows I get sweaty by just rigging my stuff and adjusting the kit before it's our turn to play, then I try to get my hands, wrists, arms and shoulders going by just drumming on something backstage until we go on stage.
- My playing is slightly different now compared to before the hiatus/surgery. I think one can hear it if listening closely to the details and only concentrate on what my right hand is doing. It's all about adjusting my playing to what my shoulder can take.
- I've definitely learnt that I'm a better/nicer/more friendly person when I'm able to play drums, and that's exactly what all of my friends deserve - a better Ove.
Thanks a lot for the answers, Ove. Check out Sayyadina at MySpace to hear some stuff from the upcoming album.