“Aftermath is kind of like the five stages of grief” – Johannes Carlsson from The Hawkins exposes the backgrounds of “Aftermath” and “Live In The Woods” EPs

Author Aleksi Parkkonen - 22.10.2021

Swedish rock band The Hawkins released new EP “Aftermath” on the 15th of October. Chaoszine approached the band by email and got answers from singer-guitarist Johannes Carlsson. The Interview focused on “Live In The Woods” and “Aftermath” EPs.

Hi Johannes! So, how has year 2021 been so far? Better than previously one?

Johannes: It’s had its ups and downs. I think the ups being that the second half of 2021 has brought hugs back to my life. I love hugs. And doing music with friends. And crayfish parties. 2020 had none of that. The down part of 2021 is that I am really broke and stressed out! But things are getting better.

Sad to hear that, but it’s no wonder after this pandemic. The Hawkins released the Silence is a Bombalbum last year. Live in the Woodswas released at the beginning of this year and Aftermathwas released on the 15th of October. What explains your activity with album making?

Johannes: “Live in the Woods” came as a result of not being able to play shows for other people. We had to make something more, we were about to release “Silence is a Bomb” and thought this might be a really cool extra project.

As for “Aftermath”, we had been working on a few more songs while making “Silence is a Bomb” and figured we wanted to make a mini-album follow up. And basically, we had no tours booked so we made new music instead.

Before you tell more about Aftermath, Id like to ask about Live in the Woods. Live record which were recorded in woods, in a barn and Brasstacks Brewing. How did you chose those places?

Johannes: I think Martin got the brilliant idea to play in the middle of the woods, with no walls and no roof. Just us and nature. So we drove out in the woods to play in front of birds and quite a few mosquitos (unfortunately). I recorded it and our good friends filmed it.

At this time we had also started working on doing a new batch of beer together with Brasstacks Brewing and we figured we should play in their brewery while the beer was cooking. And they were really up for it, so we did it. Then we got really drunk, as should.

Finally, we wanted to do something dark and epic for “Fisherman Blues”. So therefore we went to this big barn at Albins childhood home and brought along my good friends Ida, Hannes and Linn for backing vocals. It was foggy, late summer and an amazing day.

In the woodshas good vibes. Live album sounds organic and has been recorded in authentic place. Mention, in the woodscould also be connected to horror films. To Nordic people woods are quite common thing, but how do you see personally woods? Does those mean places where you can relax, wander or does them raise fears?

Johannes: I think the woods has this overwhelming comforting effect. Entering the woods is letting all else go, if only for a moment. It’s almost as much a spiritual experience as music can be. But there’s also a mystique to the woods that I connect back to music; early experiences of Norwegian Black Metal and the genre’s aesthetics. But also growing up listening to Anna Ternheim. To me Anna Ternheim is the soundtrack to disappearing in a soothing adventure on a gravel road through a thick forest. 

There is a constant melancholia to the woods. A sort of darkness. A strong and calm darkness.

The woods, barn or brewery must have been quite different places to record album than studio. Did you have any problem or challenges with recording in those places? They didnt leave any traumas?

Johannes: Haha, no other trauma than mosquito bites and horrible hangovers. The forest was actually a great place to record. Due to the lack of reflective surfaces, microphone leakage and phase issues were minimal. One issue though was that we had to figure out how to get electricity in the middle of the woods. But we managed and things ran smoothly actually! We also had amazing pizza. Pizza is the best thing.

As for the brewery, it was a bit more tricky. Concrete walls with a lot of reflections, but you also have to use it to your advantage and take in the room of the recording as a part of the sound. I also remember me being an asshole when rigging everything and doing the soundcheck. I should probably apologize at some point.

The barn was a great place to record. It took a lot of work to set the scene, visually, but the room sounded amazing. 

Aftermathwas released on the 15th of October. It contains six new songs. What kind of things inspired you this time to write music?

Johannes: I went through a rough break up and a couple of panic attacks. They inspired a whole lot. Aftermath is kind of like the five stages of grief. There is denial in ignoring the signals of destructive relationships. There is anger toward self profiteering martyrdom and recurring self-hatred from constantly fucking things up. Bargaining and begging for someone else to help you out of misery. Depression as an outcome in almost everything and acceptance in letting go.

Thanks for reflecting lyrics! When I listened Aftermathand Live in the WoodsI noticed that The Hawkinss sound has reached new level. I think your sound has the same heart; groove and harsh sound but at same it has became wider and more relaxed. Feels like you dare to push bands musical boundaries even more. How do you see it? Has The Hawkins developed more?

Johannes: Glad to hear it! I want to evolve constantly with all I do in music, and most of all in songwriting. I want to push myself to do anything basically. I want to do all music. I love it.
I want to see it like this; I have no free will – we are most probably living in a deterministic universe – but I can still find a good life in embracing the illusion and make the most of my illusion. And I’ll do that by evolving my music and keeping my creative ‘freedom’. 

Im not aware what kind of situation you have in Sweden but is there any changes to you guys play music in this fall? Any plans with shows?

Johannes: We have a couple of Swedish shows this year but also a two week Spain tour in October and November. We’ve been working on a new set for a few weeks now that sounds awesome! And we are really pumped to go on tour, playing a whole lot of new music!

In Finland, there has been few campaing in social media which has revealed sexual harassment and crimes in punk and many other music scenes. Has that kind of things been shown in Swedish social media? What do you think about these kind of things?

Johannes: Interesting! It seems like it has become at least a bit easier, socially, for victims of sexual harassment to tell their story now. Not only in Sweden, I guess this is somewhat a global result of 2017. It’s good that we keep evolving our society, and trying new and different ways to handle adversity and injustices. One of my “almost axioms” – oxymoronic, I know – is that true information can never be bad. Therefore, it is a positive thing that truth comes out.

Thanks for your time and answers, Johannes! As a last question, please send some greetings to readers if you will. 

Johannes: Thank you for taking your time reading this! We hope to see you on tour in Finland 2022! Puss & kram, everyone! Take a listen “Aftermath”!

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Interviewed by: Aleksi Parkkonen

Photo by: Torbjörn Skogsberg