The crossover / rap metal legend CLAWFINGER conquered the Wiesbaden slaughterhouse on October 10 with a best-of program. Before the concert, Lydia and Michael from the Metalogy.de team talked to singer ZAK TELL. The second part of the four-part interview is about the new CLAWFINGER song, the message in the songs, and the metal scene in general. Read here the second part of the English version of the interview Series with Zak Tell.
You just released a new song – “Tear You Down”. Can you tell me something about the message in it?
Zak: Yes, there were quite a few Hungarian fans who were really mad because the video features a bunch of faces of fascists and politically right-wing leaders. The picture that can be seen everywhere, that looks like a still life, and that can be seen on social networks, is a picture of Victor Orban. So some Hungarians were really angry. But the haters always scream the loudest anyway. But overall there are significantly more people who love the song than those who hate it.
I originally wrote the text about a guy in a Swedish party. It is a right-wing party with Nazi roots. “Tear You Down” is actually a song against him. Then I decided to write the song so that it fits different people. Otherwise, people who do not know the Swedish politician and who do not live in Sweden could not do anything with the song. The very fact that we got these reactions from Hungary proves that the message came across.
Now we are “left communist bastards” ourselves. Bla Bla Bla etc. Generally, the song criticizes right-wing sentiments. So it’s a typical CLAWFINGER song. We are still the same guys and we still have the same opinions. We still believe in equal rights for everyone. So very basic stuff. I don’t even know how we got the idea for the song back then. It just happened: I had a basic idea that I had sent to Bard (Torstensen) and he added something else. And then my wife and I visited Bard, our guitarist, at home in Norway. He has a small studio in the basement there. And after a few beers, we got the idea to put a few vocals on the song, which sounded really good.
Then we sent the song to Jocke (Skog), our keyboard player and programmer, who really liked it. Then he added a little bit and then suddenly…. No, suddenly nothing comes from us. We only release a song every two years. But it was very interesting because, firstly, we don’t meet as often anymore to write songs, and secondly, because it seldom happens that we all find a song equally good. Everyone in a band has a different taste and you usually go in different directions. But this time we all loved the song from the start. This is us. And we are proud of the song, which was a really good feeling.
We would never publish anything that we don’t like anyway. An album always consists of songs, of which each band member has their different favorites. There is a song that I like and then there is a song that our keyboard player, for example, likes a bit more. You never have an album where everyone likes the songs equally well. Otherwise it wouldn’t work either.
For which song do you burn most?
Zak: It’s always different and depends on when you ask me. It also depends on why I like the song. There are songs that are more fun to play live. And then there are songs where I like the message or where the production on the album was very good.
Which song is important for you regarding the message?
Zak: I actually always liked “Two Sides” – live and on the album. I always liked the song because it has a lot of groove. It has a different groove than the typical CLAWFINGER songs. But there are many songs that I like for different reasons. It’s hard to pick one out of there.
Which message is most important to you in general?
Zak: As long as people understand that we are not racists, not homophobe, no sexists or anything like that, everything is alright and I think our songs make that clear.
It’ really hard to pick one. But, if I can only select one song now, that is of course “nigger”. He’s just such a big part of the band’s history. The song got the ball rolling in the first place. That’s why it has a special place in my heart. We have probably played it about 1,500 times by now because we haven’t played the song once. It’s also not the song that gives me the biggest kick on stage. It is different for different reasons.
How important is it to you to convey messages through your songs?
Zak: That is absolutely important to me. As a teenager, I loved old punk bands and early hip hop before it became stupid. I mean bands like Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul and the rap that had a message. And I grew up with a mother who heard Bob Dylan and Bob Marley and things like that from the 70s. A lot of it shaped me. I’ve always liked music that has a message. Of course, the music itself had to be good. But the lyrics were always just as important to me. For me that’s 50:50.
It was clear to me from the start that I didn’t want to be in any of these rock’n’roll party bands. Nothing against them. There will always be Mötley Crue’s that pull this rock’n’roll thing through. But it quickly became clear to me that I didn’t want to be in any band where I had to sing about partying every day. Not that we don’t like parties and that we don’t like music. But I couldn’t sing about that in front of so many people. Something like (Zak sings) “I wanna drink all night and wanna sleep all day. Yeah.”
What do you think about the latest wave of Swedish bands that sing more about beer, Odin and party?
Zak: I never liked these things. For me it belongs in the same corner as the sleaze thing. That is just a variant of it. But frankly, of course, every band can do what they want. This Viking stuff never came to me either. Not in the slightest. But I’m not a typical metalhead either. I just didn’t grow up with metal or hard rock. Maybe that’s why I never got it. The first bands I heard were those like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and stuff like that. I actually only started listening to metal when I met Bard and our first guitarist Erlend. That was back in 1991 when we worked in the same hospital. At the time, bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Faith No More were current. I’m more on that side of the rock scene.
What is special about the metal scene for you?
Zak: Metalheads are incredibly dedicated and devoted. They stay by your side for a lifetime. The fact that we’re playing here today is proof of that. Even if we are not true metal or old school metal, we are somehow part of the metal scene. I can’t think of any other music scene in which the fans being that dedicated. Metal fans still buy the albums too. They buy posters and go to the shows and are active. You have a burning passion for it. For example – I could be wrong – but I can’t imagine that Justin Bieber will still have the same fan base in 10 or 15 years. I could be wrong, but it’s actually not important. It should only be an example.
I think metalheads are really something special that way. Wacken is also a great example of this. We have played there twice. When I was there for the first time, I could hardly believe it. They built their own city there – in the middle of the field. And everything is perfectly organized. And everyone is really nice. Everything is done efficiently and planned perfectly. I love it. I have a lot of respect for the metal scene for this dedication.
And they also do a lot of good things in Wacken. They have the foundations to help musicians and kids. That’s great. Just unbelievable. And besides, Wacken is a festival where it is incredibly fun to play. There are so many people.
On such occasions we always try to fool ourselves. This is the advantage when you get older: you realize that not everything has to be taken so serious. You can have fun and laugh and still have an important message. You don’t have to look grim all the time. I always have to think of the bands that are made up like corpses. I know that they are not serious about it all the time. But their stage character must always be grim. They could also be more relaxed and just have fun. Give someone a beer or something from the stage. Go down and dance with the fans. This is our party together. We are all here together. We are lucky to be on stage, but we are all here for the same reason. So easy now and are not always so serious.
Do you think society can learn from the metalheads?
Zak: Absolutely, whereby “society” is a very broad word. There are people in different parts of society who do equally great things. But yes, absolutely, society could learn something there. Like teamwork-thing, for example. Because that is something that is becoming increasingly rare these days. Everything is only about people who only think about themselves and only act for themselves. The idea of creating something together is disappearing more and more from this world. That really scares you.
The third part of the four-part interview with Zak von Clawfinger follows tomorrow
Lest hier alle 4 Teile des vierteiligen Interviews mit ZAK TELL von CLAWFINGER auf DEUTSCH
Exklusiv-Interview mit ZAK TELL von CLAWFINGER – Teil 1
Exklusiv-Interview mit Zak Tell, Frontman von CLAWFINGER – Teil 2
Exklusiv-Interview mit ZAK TELL, Sänger von CLAWFINGER – Teil 3
Exklusiv-Interview mit ZAK von Clawfinger – vierter und letzter Teil
Und hier unsere FOTOSTRECKE vom Gig
und hier ein CLAWFINGER Video gegen Trumpismus
Lydia Dr. Polwin-Plass
Promovierte Journalistin und Texterin, spezialisiert auf die Themen Kultur, Wirtschaft, Marketing, Vertrieb, Bildung, Karriere, Arbeitsmarkt, Naturheilkunde und Alternativmedizin. Mehr über Dr. Lydia Polwin-Plass auf ihrer Website: http://www.text-und-journalismus.de