Interview: Tomas Akvik of Lik

No one can deny the influence of the Swedish extreme metal scene for over thirty years now, with Bathory in the beginning to bands of today like Lik. There will never again be the heyday that death metal had in the late 80s or early 90s, but what bands like Lik do is try to make the new generation of fans aware of where it all began by recording albums reminiscent of the glory days that I was lucky to be part of. Bands like Lik are essential to keeping death metal alive, especially when they make music this good. It gives me a sense of relief that death metal is alive and as strong as it ever was.

I have stated that I have never felt so strongly about the state of death metal in a long time as it is today, how there are so many quality bands releasing quality albums and one such band is Lik. I urge you all to listen to Carnage and support Lik. Here I caught up with guitarist/vocalist Tomas Akvik to talk about Carnage and the old days.

First of all, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for our readers at Moshville Times. Let’s start off with an easy one first and tell our readers how things with Lik began?

First of all, thanks for having me. Well, it was back in 2014 when Chris ended up in Nale’s rehearsal room to practice his drums. But he got bored with just playing by himself so he asked me to come down and jam with him, and by our mutual love for Dismember we started writing a few songs and then we asked Nille to join on bass but he said “No, I want to play guitar” and that’s it. We did a 3-song demo called Behold the Beheaded and that landed us the deal with War Anthem Records to release Mass Funeral Evocation.

You must be extremely proud of Carnage as you are not only making us older fans, like me, relive the glory days but establishing a fan base with new younger fans. How have the press and the metal world accepted Carnage?

Yes, of course we are, it turned out really cool and it’s really cool to hear that people all over the world at different ages likes it. I know we wanted to get that feeling back, when death metal was raw, unpolished and had a more punkish approach. Nowadays I think everything is recorded too perfect and the musicians are like masters on their instruments. Death metal wasn’t like that before, it was a struggle and you played from your heart and did the best you could, and that makes the music come “alive” and gives death metal it’s right sound. At least that’s what I think anyway.

The press have been really good to us from what I’ve read. Some say we are copying Dismember and we only take that as a compliment because then we know we are doing something right. I mean, this band is just paying homage to the bands from those days. Dismember, Entombed and Carnage, so we are really happy to be compared with our favourite bands.

After releasing your debut album and EP through War Anthem Records, Lik have been signed up by arguably the biggest metal label in the world, Metal Blade. How did they get in contact with you, were you surprised when they contacted you and how has the relationship been with the label so far?

It was actually us who contacted them, and other labels too, to release our second album with. We all felt we needed a different label than War Anthem Records. Jarne is a super guy and we appreciate all he’s done for us but then he did not have the time needed to put into the band since he’s doing the awesome Party San Open air. It was Metal Blade that we got the best gut feeling from in terms of liking the band and having a genuine interest in music, and so far everything’s been really good from what I’ve heard. It’s mostly Nille who has all contact with the label and he’s doing an awesome job with that.

How often is the band able to get together and rehearse in the studio? Where do you get together and record?

At the moment, we are really slow but when we are writing music we see and talk to each other almost everyday. Sending ideas and lyrics back and forth. We rehearse in Stockholm city and share the rehearsal room with my other band, Nale. And all of us live fairly close to each other so it’s not so hard to meet up and make things happen. Recording the final demos we do in the rehearsal space but recording records we do together with Lawrence Mackrory who lives in Uppsala and nowadays works at Dug Out Studios there. He is the man behind the sound on both Mass Funeral and Carnage. He does it all, recording, mixing and mastering for both albums and always the results is more than great.

How are the songs constructed in the studio? Are there the main songwriters of songs that take care of everything or is Lik a band where all members contribute to the songs?

For me, I usually have a clear picture of a song and usually a simple demo with programmed drums and some crap vocals on it. Nille adds his ideas and riffs when we rehearse and Chris, he’s bombarding me with riffs that he sings and records onto his phone while driving home or too work. Then we jam all this stuff when we get together, so everyone is involved in the process of making the album. A perfect example is the song “The Deranged” which I had a complete demo for but it was up tempo and fast, then all of a sudden Nille just said “Why don’t we just play it really slow instead?” And, of course, it made the song perfect, in my opinion and I guess that’s how it should be in a band.

It’s very clear that you are influenced by the Swedish death metal scene. Having band members that have played in Witchery, Katatonia and Kaamos amongst others, what made you want to start a band like Lik?

Mainly just to have fun and worship Stockholm death metal which is by far the best death metal “style” there is. Of course, I get paid to said that, but does it matter? It’s the best death metal anyway.

How hard has it been to juggle the touring side of things with the everyday jobs? Do you have plans to go on bigger tours and further afield in 2018?

Right now, no problems at all since we haven’t played that much since we haven’t got that much offers, just some shows here and there, so it’s been really easy. But for carnage we plan to play a lot more and further afield if we get the chance, yes. Actually, we have some cool stuff coming up for the Fall and I really hope it all sorts itself out.

There seems to be a resurgence of old school aesthetics and releasing cassette versions of EP/albums. Is this something that you see yourselves doing with Carnage?

Yeah I’ve seen that and of course, cassettes are cool but I don’t think we will do it now, but who knows? Is there anyone who actually listens to the cassettes or is it just collector’s value? And of course, in between writing this interview I saw a friend on Instagram posting a picture of his old Walkman and a Desultory cassette so I guess people do.

I love the band name Lik, which when translated in English means “corpse”. I have said in a previous article at Moshville Times that I have never felt more positively about the death metal scene as I do in 2018. Do you feel that the corpse of death metal has risen once again?

Well, thank you and I agree, it’s a really cool name and it fits the band perfectly. It was Chris’s idea, but what made me really like the name was the logo that Anders Nyström did when he heard it. It was like, yes this is exactly what the band needs, and yes there are a lot of death metal acts coming up at the moment so that hopefully is the case. But I don’t think that it ever will be as cool as it was back in the 90s but something similar would be really kick-ass.

Another highlight of the album for me was the sound. You again used the established Lawrence Mackrory to master and mix the album Carnage. What does he bring to the sound of Lik?

Well, he’s doing all of the work as I mentioned before. Recording, mixing and mastering. And he is the one responsible for us sounding brutal and that’s what he’s doing. He just knows exactly what it is we want sound wise, and also how he wants us to sound which is I guess almost the same. And he of course does some producing as well, mostly with the vocals. I don’t know if you guys know but Lawrence is an awesome singer and adds a lot of great ideas to our songs. Also, he’s just the best guy for us and for all death metal bands I’d say.

Recorded at Dugout Studios owned by well-known Swedish producer Daniel Bergstrand, was there a difference in the way that Carnage was recorded to your debut album Mass Funeral Evocation? Were there things that you could do at Dugout Studios that you could not before?

Both studios are the of the same kind, only dug out has a smaller live room, so we did almost exactly as with mass funeral, the only difference was that we had the guitar amplifiers in the same room as the drums, blasting HM-2 death metal guitars into the drum mics on Carnage, on Mass Funeral we had the amps in a different isolated room. Drums and guitars recorded live. Bass vocals and solos added afterwards. No strange business.

How hard is it for an extreme metal band like Lik to survive in the current climate where bands have to tour non-stop and sell merchandise in order to bring money back into the band?

We don’t know, we are not making any money, so to live on the music would be impossible. Maybe if we get some touring going on but as it is now it’s only at a hobby level. Still really serious though as in terms of being serious with our music and the whole band thing.

With Niklas playing guitar and bass on all Lik recordings, is it a case of not finding a suitable bassist for the band or are you happy for Lik to record being a three piece? Does this make things easier in the studio or more difficult?

Recording wise, I demand that Nille plays the bass on the recordings. I mean he’s one of the best bass players there is in Sweden, in my opinion, and I think that everything runs really smooth as it is now. Live – we have two session bass players and that works fine for now but we’ll see what the future brings.

I thank you for your time in answering these questions. A fun question to end this interview. If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?

Again, thanks for having me to talk about Lik; really cool!

It’s always hard to answer these kinds of questions since there are a lot of good music out there but maybe these records:

  • Jimmy Eat World – Chase this Light
  • Dismember – Indecent and Obscene
  • Dissection – The Somberlain
  • Massgrav – Stockholm Rockers
  • Paramore – Brand New Eyes

I’ll guess I would mostly play the Chase this Light album cause it’s a non-stop hit record. Actually, all the albums are but Jimmy Eat World is my favourite band at the moment.

Any last message for our readers here at Moshville Times?

Yes, of course I do! Thanks for taking your time reading this lovely interview and stay in school and be nice to each other! Cheers!

Carnage is out now via Metal Blade Records

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